James Clay Fuller

Things We're Not Supposed to Say

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Different ways of looking at 9/11

We are just on the edges now of what is about to become a firestorm of blather about 9/11.

Not all of the countless columns of newsprint and hours of air time will be filled with nonsense, of course. Just 85 or 90 percent of it. You can rely on the corporate press and broadcasters to be both stupid and cowardly, in the main. Serious commentary, and there is and will be some of that, too, will be found mostly on the Internet – as will a high percentage of the most egregious stupidities.

Dick Bernard, a Twin Cities-based conductor of a daily on-line newsletter for peace and justice advocates, asked for comments from his readers and already has posted some. Those I've seen thus far have been thoughtful and relevant.

On the other hand, the big hand, ABC Television is planning a heavily-promoted phony docudrama, produced by a right wing activist under the auspices of Disney Corp., a generous supporter of right wing causes.

From the accounts of several people who've previewed the show, it is an egregious attempt to rewrite history, blame Bill Clinton for the disaster and absolve the Bush and make him appear as he characterizes himself, as the “free world's” savior. We've gone from lies to the foretold damned lies.

(As an aside, don't you wonder how such an obvious boob and sociopathic coward as Bush can hang onto his delusions about his own worth?)

Clinton has demanded that ABC remove the lies from the show or cancel the broadcasts. Neither action is likely; the ABC show is what one particularly smug pundit who works for my old newspaper calls “modern journalism,” which is to say, propaganda on behalf of the (Republican) power elite. Facts are not an important concern, honesty is of no concern whatever.

Seems to me that there really are three legitimate streams of thought, or ways of looking at, the destruction of the World Trade Center.

One is purely personal.

We all recall seeing the shots of the planes crashing into the towers and the towers collapsing.

(Isn't it interesting, however, how little film there was of the Pentagon plane or the hole it left, and how quickly what was available disappeared from the air, never to be shown again. I draw no conclusions from that, but it does raise questions.)

My own reaction was the same horror shared by millions around the world. There was disgust, an inability to breathe properly, a physical illness at the realization of what was happening inside those buildings, rage at the perpetrators. And there also were questions, which have yet to be adequately answered.

Even on first viewing, the collapse of the buildings didn't make sense to me. There was, of course, devastation on the floors hit and those in close proximity above and below, but should the structures have simply tumbled straight down as they did? It looked like the implosion of buildings I've seen taken down by crews of artful demolition experts.

Yeah, yeah. Anything other than total acceptance of the official story is to give credence to a “conspiracy theory.”

That's the government's and news outlets' way of shutting off questions, reasonable or not, without actually dealing with the questions or facts. It's been used so often that polls on various topics at least suggest that a majority of people now assume the use of the “conspiracy theory” defense means there is a conspiracy.

The questions linger. I don't and never did expect straight, complete answers. And that doesn't imply that I believe the theories of participation by our own government are correct, that we have seen another Reichstag fire on a far greater scale.

Our Republican government is so corrupt, and so afraid of the public knowing anything about anything, that the motivation for blocking discovery may be just the same old imperial belief in the rulers' right to operate in the dark and outside the law.

At any rate, after several viewings of the crashes, I could watch no more. I hung on the news, but turned my eyes from the repeated showings of those awful impacts. I still do not watch when they are shown. Some people react as I do, others find they cannot turn away from the pictures. We react differently, but we're all sickened and appalled.

A second set of concerns deals with the direct and immediate, or almost immediate, aftermath of the disaster. And in this there damned well are conspiracies on the part of the government, abetted by the right wing political machine and an irresponsible and cowardly news business.

This way of looking at the disaster is less personal for most of us, though gut-wrenchingly personal to the survivors of those who died in the disaster and to those who were on the ground in the days immediately following the collapse of the building – the cops, firemen, ambulance people, medics and others who sifted the rubble in attempts to find and save anyone who might have survived the blasts and building collapses.

The first crimes were perpetrated almost immediately by officials who denied that there was any serious danger to the rescuers from the dust and residue of the buildings. Subsequent reports have shown those officials knew the truth from the beginning; they were lying. Presumably, they were trying to avoid public panic, but that doesn't in the least excuse them. They knowingly contributed to the harm that has since befallen many of the rescuers.

Questions about that fallout and residue, and about the quick government claims of safety, came to many of us.

As one who has spent his life as a reporter and editor, I cannot believe those same questions didn't occur to every journalist dealing with the WTC stories, and since they had to know what the questions were, I cannot understand nor accept that officials, scientists, environmental experts, and others were not pressed relentlessly until straight answers were found.

Within the past week, the Associated Press and the New York Times reported that almost 70 percent of the recovery workers who were at the World Trade Center site have suffered lung problems, and that hight rates of lung abnormalities continue. More cases keep appearing.

The study that produced those facts was conducted by doctors at Mount Sinai Medical Center. The physicians concluded that, without doubt, working in the toxic dust at “ground zero” caused the illnesses and that an unknown number of the rescue and recovery workers will suffer from the effects the rest of their lives.

New York's Republican Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, who has no medical expertise, responded that there is no “direct proof” that working at ground zero caused the lung problems.

On the other hand, apparently finally tired of continuing criticism for the city's failure to provide decently for the ill recovery workers, Bloomberg announced a few days ago that the city had a “wide ranging” plan to care for them. It would make sense to keep track of what actually happens.

In truth, it's the same old thing: As with veterans of the Vietnam and Iraq wars, the government denies there is proof that the experience caused the illness. If officials admit the truth, the folks who are injured or ill will demand compensation, and the government would rather use the money to feed the coffers of its major contributors. And, perhaps more importantly, there might be political fallout in admitting that you, the politician, knew from the first day about the health hazards.

Think that's too cynical? Then you tell me why such denials of obvious truths have become routine.

Another angle on the same piece of the story is how the government has treated the survivors of those who died in the tragedy. That is to say, with lies, stonewalling, refusing to answer questions and fighting to avoid paying compensation in at least some cases. The right wing pols and commentators go so far as to vilify the family members of the dead for pushing for answers about what really happened to their loved ones, and for seeking financial aid. Those who suffered those awful personal losses are accused of “enjoying their notoriety” and “trying to get rich from the deaths of their family members.”

That's in the right wing blogs, and even in the newspaper columns of right-wing commentators. Fox News goes for it, too.

Then there is the broader, still more awful fallout from the 9/11 disaster, the fallout caused by the Republican use of it for political purposes.

Oh, yes: the Bush crowd used the WTC attack as one of the main themes of its campaign to justify attacking Iraq, though of course those who follow the news know, and knew, that Iraq played no part in the Sept. 11 event.

On Sept. 3 of this year, a few days ago, the U.S. Military announced the deaths of four more of our soldiers in Iraq, raising the total dead to 2,974. The World Trade Center attack killed 2,973 people, according to the most widely-used calculation, made by CNN.

That ignores the many thousands injured and permanently disabled in Iraq, and the tens of thousands of Iraqi casualties, but Americans have decided to not think about such unpleasant things.

If the Bush crowd had not so effectively and without conscience manipulated the 9/11 story to persuade a great many U.S. Citizens that 9/11 and Iraq were closely tied -- and if a majority of U.S. citizens were not so ignorant and gullible, of course -- the invasion and occupation of Iraq could not have happened.

And the public's willingness to believe that Bush and crowd were making the world safe for democracy and us safe from terrorists has allowed the neocons to stay in power, perpetrating not only the war, but all of their other evils, accelerating the destruction of the environment, dismantling the U.S. Constitution, destroying the economy by shifting all wealth to the very rich and all the rest of it.

We face more and probably greater horrors in the future. The Bush actions in Iraq and elsewhere in the Mideast have been possible to a great degree because of how Americans ate up the brilliant manipulation of 9/11. Those actions have created immense hatred for the U.S. throughout the Muslim world and beyond, and multiplied the number of terrorists and would-be terrorists worldwide by at least tenfold, probably a hundredfold. Even top officers in the Pentagon and commanders in Iraq and others who deal with the threat first hand have admitted that, much to the Bush Administration's chagrin.

You won't see such conclusions, obvious as they are, in most of the millions of words about to assault your ears and eyes in the corporate press or on television, but don't lose sight of them.