My Turn: The history of how we get into wars

Posted: Wednesday, October 24, 2001

In all the discussion of the U.S. "war against terrorism" that has appeared on the opinion page of the Empire, little or no attention has been paid to the continuing relationship between Osama bin Laden and certain elements of the U.S. financial and foreign policy establishment. If al-Qa'eda really is behind the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, these relationships would appear to be far more significant than those involving the 820 or so Arab-Americans rounded up so far in the FBI dragnet.

In the Sept. 27 Wall Street Journal, an article appeared which was not picked up by any other media in North America. It discloses that the Saudi bin Laden Group, a $5 billion business, has made major investments in the Carlyle Group, a Washington merchant bank that specializes in buyouts of defense industries, and is thus likely to profit handsomely from the ongoing military buildup and campaign. The bin Laden group was founded by Osama's father, and is the "family business" of the bin Ladens.

While the family of Osama maintains that it is estranged from him, the National Security Agency has bragged that it listens in on phone conversations between Osama and his mother. Further, the San Antonio Express-News reports that the director of the House Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare has stated that Osama maintains connections with some of his nearly two dozen brothers. The newspaper adds that "he would not elaborate."

The Journal article claims that Osama was only "briefly" involved with the family business, but according to researcher Jared Israel, there is evidence that Osama directed his family's Group in carrying out at least two large projects for the CIA, one in the 1980s and one in the late 1990s, building facilities to be used by terrorists.

The CEO of the Carlyle Group is Frank Carlucci, who served as Defense Secretary under Reagan and the elder Bush and as National Security advisor under Reagan. Also on the board is Cap Weinberger, Secretary of Defense for Reagan, and James Baker, Secretary of State under the elder Bush. As for G.H.W. Bush himself, he is senior advisor to Carlyle's Asian Partners Fund and does consulting work for the firm.

Bin-Laden was reported by the Daily Oklahoman to be involved in both Bosnia and Kosovo as a "partner" to the drug dealers and terrorists whom the United States supported in those wars, and was issued a passport by Albania.

Last week, the Times of India reported that the head of the Pakistani intelligence organization ISI was recently pressured into resigning when the FBI was informed that he had had a subordinate pay $100,000 to Mohammed Atta, the alleged leader of the Sept. 11 action. The ISI has worked closely with the CIA since it was founded in 1948, so it stretches credulity to imagine that no one in U.S. intelligence circles knew of the impending attack. According to the New York Times, airline and insurance stocks sold at roughly five times normal volume in the week of Sept. 4.

Looking at the history of 20th century wars in which the U.S. was a combatant, the acquiescence of the public to each was secured by deceit. From the sinking of the battleship Maine that precipitated the Spanish-American War through the "Kuwaiti incubators" story that goaded Congress into approving Operation Desert Storm, it has required the deliberate fomenting or invention of incidents, followed by dehumanization of an official enemy, to create the proper atmosphere of hysteria that will allow a normally decent people to cheer the deaths and disfigurement of thousands or millions of fellow human beings. In war, as has been said before, the first victim is truth.

Since Sept. 11, Bush Junior has been granted the power to decide on his own, with no appeal, who is and is not a terrorist supporter, and to pursue military action of any kind, anywhere he pleases, without having to seek further Congressional authorization. The military, including National Missile Defense, has been reinvigorated, and Congress is voting to inaugurate a police state on the say-so of an illegitimate President who hijacked democracy in Florida less than a year ago.

If we want to know how we really got involved in bombing one of the poorest countries in the world, we should be asking, "Who benefitted from Sept. 11?"


Ron Reed is a long-time non-violent activist and former New Yorker who has lived in Juneau since 1983.

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