Friday, August 28, 2015
Little Nagging Inconsistencies
(Author's note: This post will almost certainly not be received well. I have tried to tone it down and approached my questions concerning one of the worst days in American history at least somewhat rationally. The readers will of course have to be the judge as to whether I was successful.)
It shouldn't really surprise me but I can't get over the idea there is almost an universal belief that the world, people, and even events should somehow make sense. That everything should fit together like a complete and orderly puzzle providing clarity to our lives and how we view the world. The trouble with that belief is, of course, hardly anything in our existence makes sense and any attempt to force the various pieces to come together usually results in numerous false assumptions as well as a lot of self delusions.
Most people do the best that they can trying to figure things out and what they can't is usually left to our religious and political leaders as well as friends and family. This has never been a perfect solution, despite the tenets of all major religions saying love thy neighbor and peace coming before all else untold millions of people all through history have died at the hands of those claiming to personally know the mind of god. Politics, the runner up for the justification of mass murder pretty much does the same, except that god is replaced with some charismatic dictator out to guide his people to some greater glory. The absence of a dictator doesn't guarantee sanity. Nations, ethnic groups, and any number of other human constructed entities often make sense of the world by collectively believing they are in some way superior, allowing them to conquer and then dominate others.
On a more individual level conspiracy theories are the favorite venue for trying to fit together the odd pieces of the world we live. Although they generally suffer from a lack of real evidence and the individual's greatly affected by preconceived notions, delusions, ignorance and simple prejudices.
No, I'm not posturing myself as some exception to everything I have listed above. I have numerous prejudices, preconceived notions, and probably enough well-developed and elaborate delusions to make a me a candidate for an old fashioned straight jacket.
This finally brings me to my main point. A couple of days ago I was cruising the documentary offerings on Netlfix when I stumbled upon one claiming to know the “truth” about the attacks on September 11th, 2001. I am not kidding when I write that ninety-nine percent of the time I totally ignore such drivel which includes the subjects of UFO's, Bigfoot, and supernatural occurrences. But since I was tired of all my usual documentary favorites I gave it a go, which lasted for about fifteen to twenty-minutes before all the swirling and interconnected conspiracies became too much forcing me to turn it off.
That being said, there are things that have always bothered me about the 9/11 attacks. Several inconsistencies in actions and behaviors that have never made sense to me. One of them being a bizarre segment of a certain talk radio show whose host will remain nameless that seemed to forecast something stupendous would catapult George W. Bush into the annals of history about two weeks before the attacks.
Before I go into the messy and possibly misguided details I have to admit to something that causes me great embarrassment even to this day. This might surprise a number of people but there was a short time I flirted with conservative Republican politics. Much to the chagrin of my family and several close friends, I have always had liberal tendencies but between the years of 1996 to 2003 I drifted over to the Dark Side having grown weary of all the Clinton's political machinations. I will say though that I was never a comfortable member of those conservative Sith Lords and neither was I ever fully accepted. I had a nasty habit of voicing an opposing opinion on many of the orthodox conservative tenets.
Like I said, I am embarrassed about ever entertaining those backward and oppressive views and this is probably the last time I will ever admit to such stupidity again.
However, this all begins on an extremely early August morning in 2001 with me driving to my National Guard unit for the mandatory weekend drill. The humidity that morning was bordering on utter torture and was made even worse because I was wearing the old army BDU's (Battle Dress Uniform). By this point in my military career I had long since burned out on all the gung-ho crap and was just trying to make it to the twenty-year mark so I could retire, which I would in February 2005.
I was already bored with the knowledge that things would only get worse until late that afternoon when the first sergeant released us until the next morning. To both keep me awake while driving and to relieve the boredom I turn on the local radio station dominated by the usual collection of republican blowhards.
That morning they were doing a rebroadcast of a particular person's radio shows from earlier that week. As you could expect this “person” was blathering about a whole host of issues that, as far as he believed, threatened the very fabric of the Republic while blaming the previous administration for causing them. In hindsight, every bit of this particular radio talk show host's daily offerings was political boilerplate drivel crafted to appeal to self-centered interests of individuals who carry a jagged chip on their shoulders made up of various prejudices. It only changed slightly from one program to next and quite honestly it was the hate-filled, day after day propagandic nature of the show that primed me for a return to my liberal nature.
The rebroadcast of the show on that humid August morning was slightly different though. As most now understand George W; Bush's election in 2000 was, to almost criminally understate things, highly problematic. Once the Supreme Court settled the matter allowing Second Bush to take office, talk almost immediately began that he would almost certainly follow his father in becoming a one-term president. While having been in office for less than a year W's poll numbers were sinking like a rock, to the point certain political pundits could be seen salivating at the probable disaster he would become for the Republicans during the 2004 election cycle. Another thing that didn't help W's political future was that he didn't look or sound presidential. The man could barely speak English and this helped reinforce the image of an incurious, bumbling fool whose chief advantage in life was not ability but having a well positioned and rich family.
That is why I believe the Unnamed Radio Talk Show Host entertained a question from a panicky caller asking whether or not W. would be reelected. Unnamed Host spent a minute of so calming the caller and then went into ten or so minute speech assuring the person that history would so make George W; Bush one of the greatest presidents ever. It was a speech like none other I have ever heard, Unnamed Host was completely self-assured and utterly overflowing with total adoration of George W. expressing with complete certainty that something would catapult him into the annals of history. In fact even though it has been years since that bizarre radio song of praise and glorification of George W. that I remember saying out loud to myself, “Just what the hell does that guy know?”
I didn't entertain the thought for long, I had a busy weekend ahead of me and of course the next month the attacks occurred and after that the greater portion of the country went insane. It wasn't until the conspiracy theorists started speculating a year or so after Iraq was invaded that with no WMD's being found and Dick Cheney's former employer getting the lion share of the contracts to “rebuild” the country that I remembered that bizarre Unnamed Radio Talk Show segment. On the face of it the very idea that a sitting president, even one illegitimately in office, would let this country be attacked so it would promote a certain agenda as well as his benefactors is insane.
Unnamed Talk Show host has always made his living as a dedicated propagandist and given to saying outrageous things both to secure his ratings and assure his less than intelligent listeners that they are the God's chosen ones. So I don't hold much stock in the idea that he had any foreknowledge of the 9/11 attacks. But honestly, after seeing W's reaction, or the lack of one, to the news the United States was attacked on September 11th sometimes I just don't know.
Given what the country went through during the attacks and after it's weird to me to think how normal September 11th started. I was working day shift at a manufacturing plant in my area and I remember talking to one of the production guys about a science fiction book I liked when word of the attacks first filtered down to me. One of my maintenance co-workers had just returned to the plant after performing an off-site errand for our boss when he came up and told me that he had heard a news flash on the radio about a plane flying into one of the World Trade Center towers.
Years ago back in my hometown of Georgetown. South Carolina one of my best friends worked at the small county airport. It was a pretty laid back job for him so I got to hang around the airport a lot and get to know a bunch of pilots that used the facilities for various reasons. Before long I quickly came to understand many of them had no qualms about flying while heavily intoxicated. So my first thought that day was that some idiot pilot had crashed his Cessna into one of the towers. Of course, a few minutes later I learned that the plane was not some small single engine Cessna but a huge jumbo airliner filled with passengers. From there things just got much worse with a second airliner crashing into the other tower, another being flown into the Pentagon, and yet another where the passengers attempted to recapture the hijacked aircraft but failed with it ultimately crashing into a Pennsylvania field.
Later that day video made it to the news networks showing George W. Bush at an elementary school being told about the attacks. The video takes place after the first hijacked plane has been flown into the first tower with him entering an elementary school classroom to view a reading lesson. Supposedly he somehow saw video of the first plane crashing into the building even though it occurred at 8:45am EST. While others have claimed that in itself is an impossibility given the immediacy of television news coverage, especially in a major city I don't have a real problem with that assertion.
What has always bothered me from the moment I saw the video of George W. Bush sitting in that elementary classroom was that while the nation was under attack he was not grabbed by his staff and whisked away to a safe location. It's not just the fact a president's itinerary is published well in advance but arrangements for that visit had to be made with that school as well as the numerous other state and local entities. As the hours and days after the 9/11 events unfolded we were told countless times the government had no idea if anymore attacks were planned. To have the president of the United States sitting in an elementary school classroom, even one secured with numerous secret service agents seemed the height carelessness given the circumstances of that day.
Things were made even weirder after Bush was back on Air Force One when pictures were released showing several heavily armed F-15 fighters escorting his plane. So the president was perfectly safe on the ground in an American school while the country was under direct attack but somehow in danger aboard his plane flying thousands of feet in the air in the middle of North American airspace a couple of hours later?
Of course, the number one absurdity of everything associated with 9/11 doesn't come until the buildup to the Iraq War a couple of years later. While the attacks themselves were largely carried out by Saudi citizens and planned from terrorist bases in Afghanistan George, Dick, and the rest of their team of neoconservatives number one concern was always the “defeat” of Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein. In many ways Afghanistan could be viewed as an unfortunate opening act because that poor example of a country was promptly dropped and largely forgotten about as various cohorts in both the media and government began beating the drums that we had to take out Saddam are risk the chance of him giving the bomb to terrorists.
After the 9/11 attacks the Bush/Cheney administration immediately and strongly began linking al-Qaeda to Saddam Hussein in every way possible. We were told that Saddam still had a massive nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons program and was edging ever closer to giving these weapons of mass destruction to groups that would use them on innocent civilians. This propaganda blitz culminated with then Secretary of State Collin Powell giving a presentation at the United Nation detailing all the evidence that Saddam had WMD's including satellite photos of supposed mobile biological weapons factories where his minions were cooking up all sorts of nasty agents.
I'll be honest and say the reason the missing WMD's bugs the living shit out of me is that during my time in the active army back in the mid-1980's I got to listen to many unclassified intelligence briefings where some far too motivated second or first lieutenant gave us the lowdown on Soviet intentions. This lieutenant, the battalion assistant S2, would enthusiastically explain to us enlisted types the Soviet NBC threat we would face if the “balloon went up”, a term signifying the start of the Third World War. In short we were told the, nuclear, chemical, and biological threat NATO forces faced was a nightmarish array of possible weapons that would cause any sane person to question the idea that humans were intelligent creatures.
In the course of these briefings the lieutenant would usually explain that much of this information about Soviet NBC weapons were gathered through Earth orbiting spy satellites using the same technology that allowed NASA space probes to tell us what made up the other bodies in our solar system. Coupled with intelligence gathered by humans on the ground, intercepted communications, as well as simple but crystal clear photos taken from space commonsense suggests that there was little room to doubt Saddam remained dangerous to the world. So when none other than Secretary Powell went before the United Nations listing all the evidence I, and many other people listened closely to what he had to say. Given my admiration of Collin Powell's army career, I would like to think that he himself was misled by others in the Bush-Cheney administration because allegations that the intelligence used to justify the Iraq War was falsified will just not go away.
The absurd thing that puzzles me even now was that after years of being assured beyond all doubt that not only was Saddam sitting on a massive pile nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons but had ties to Al Qaeda terrorists that when both turned out to be completely and totally false no one held Bush accountable. There were no cries of impeachment from an irate congress angry that the country had been mislead, nor did any of those fine national legislators become unhinged and begin a never ending series of congressional investigations seeking the “truth” but never quite moving beyond boilerplate soundbites.
The American people overwhelmingly ignored all those strange inconsistencies and continued on with their daily lives as if the war in Iraq was some poorly rated reality show. The only exceptions being a perfunctory observance of the ongoing conflicts by applying a magnetic yellow ribbon to their family minivan signifying they supported the troops or tearing up whenever Lee Greenwood sang that little song of his.
Yes, we as a nation were outraged by the attacks on 9/11 but that reaction became quickly muted and we left the oversight of the resulting wars to people whose true intentions had less to do with what was best for the country as whole but how these conflicts could benefit them. The one conspiracy I'm sure that exists is where a nation of people are so caught up in their own narrow, narcissistic existence that they willingly ignore the ruination of untold innocent lives along with their own futures being mortgaged.
Like I wrote at the first of this piece, life is full of inconsistencies. Taken individually they generally mean nothing but when the pieces begin to add up the probability that something is amiss increases dramatically. Whether that means the existence of a vast conspiracy, general incompetence on the part of our government, or just a people who don't want to be bothered with the little things like being involved in something greater than themselves is the unanswered question.