By Pepe Escobar
It's September 11 all over again - eight years on. The George W Bush administration is out. The "global war on terror" is still on, renamed "overseas contingency operations" by the Barack Obama administration. Obama's "new strategy" - a war escalation - is in play in AfPak. Osama bin Laden may be dead or not. "Al-Qaeda" remains a catch-all ghost entity. September 11 - the neo-cons' "new Pearl Harbor" - remains the darkest jigsaw puzzle of the young 21st century.
It's useless to expect US corporate media and the ruling elites' political operatives to call for a true, in-depth investigation into the attacks on the US on September 11, 2001. Whitewash has been the norm. But even establishment highlight Dr Zbig "Grand Chessboard" Brzezinski, a former national security advisor, has admitted to the US Senate that the post-9/11 "war on terror" is a "mythical historical narrative".
The following questions, some multi-part - and most totally ignored by the 9/11 Commission - are just the tip of the immense 9/11 iceberg. A hat tip goes to the indefatigable work of 911truth.org; whatreallyhappened.com; architects and engineers for 9/11 truth; the Italian documentary Zero: an investigation into 9/11; and Asia Times Online readers' e-mails.
None of these questions has been convincingly answered - according to the official narrative. It's up to US civil society to keep up the pressure. Eight years after the fact, one fundamental conclusion is imperative. The official narrative edifice of 9/11 is simply not acceptable.
1) How come dead or not dead Osama bin Laden has not been formally indicted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) as responsible for 9/11? Is it because the US government - as acknowledged by the FBI itself - has not produced a single conclusive piece of evidence?
2) How could all the alleged 19 razor-blade box cutter-equipped Muslim perpetrators have been identified in less than 72 hours - without even a crime scene investigation?
3) How come none of the 19's names appeared on the passenger lists released the same day by both United Airlines and American Airlines?
4) How come eight names on the "original" FBI list happened to be found alive and living in different countries?
5) Why would pious jihadi Mohammed Atta leave a how-to-fly video manual, a uniform and his last will inside his bag knowing he was on a suicide mission?
6) Why did Mohammed Atta study flight simulation at Opa Locka, a hub of no less than six US Navy training bases?
7) How could Mohammed Atta's passport have been magically found buried among the Word Trade Center (WTC)'s debris when not a single flight recorder was found?
8) Who is in the possession of the "disappeared" eight indestructible black boxes on those four flights?
9) Considering multiple international red alerts about a possible terrorist attack inside the US - including former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice's infamous August 6, 2001, memo - how come four hijacked planes deviating from their computerized flight paths and disappearing from radar are allowed to fly around US airspace for more than an hour and a half - not to mention disabling all the elaborate Pentagon's defense systems in the process?
10) Why the secretary of the US Air Force James Roche did not try to intercept both planes hitting the WTC (only seven minutes away from McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey) as well as the Pentagon (only 10 minutes away from McGuire)? Roche had no less than 75 minutes to respond to the plane hitting the Pentagon.
11) Why did George W Bush continue to recite "My Pet Goat" in his Florida school and was not instantly absconded by the secret service?
12) How could Bush have seen the first plane crashing on WTC live - as he admitted? Did he have previous knowledge - or is he psychic?
13) Bush said that he and Andrew Card initially thought the first hit on the WTC was an accident with a small plane. How is that possible when the FAA as well as NORAD already knew this was about a hijacked plane?
14) What are the odds of transponders in four different planes be turned off almost simultaneously, in the same geographical area, very close to the nation's seat of power in Washington, and no one scrambles to contact the Pentagon or the media?
15) Could defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld explain why initial media reports said that there were no fighter jets available at Andrews Air Force Base and then change the reports that there were, but not on high alert?
16) Why was the DC Air National Guard in Washington AWOL on 9/11?
17) Why did combat jet fighters of the 305th Air Wing, McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey not intercept the second hijacked plane hitting the WTC, when they could have done it within seven minutes?
18) Why did none of the combat jet fighters of the 459th Aircraft Squadron at Andrews Air Force Base intercept the plane that hit the Pentagon, only 16 kilometers away? And since we're at it, why the Pentagon did not release the full video of the hit?
19) A number of very experienced airline pilots - including US ally Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, a former fighter jet pilot - revealed that, well, only crack pilots could have performed such complex maneuvers on the hijacked jets, while others insisted they could only have been accomplished by remote control. Is it remotely believable that the hijackers were up to the task?
20) How come a substantial number of witnesses did swear seeing and hearing multiple explosions in both towers of the WTC?
21) How come a substantial number of reputed architects and engineers are adamant that the official narrative simply does not explain the largest structural collapse in recorded history (the Twin Towers) as well as the collapse of WTC building 7, which was not even hit by a jet?
22) According to Frank de Martini, WTC's construction manager, "We designed the building to resist the impact of one or more jetliners." The second plane nearly missed tower 1; most of the fuel burned in an explosion outside the tower. Yet this tower collapsed first, long before tower 2 that was "perforated" by the first hit. Jet fuel burned up fast - and by far did not reach the 2000-degree heat necessary to hurt the six tubular steel columns in the center of the tower - designed specifically to keep the towers from collapsing even if hit by a Boeing 707. A Boeing 707 used to carry more fuel than the Boeing 757 and Boeing 767 that actually hit the towers.
23) Why did Mayor Rudolph Giuliani instantly authorized the shipment of WTC rubble to China and India for recycling?
24) Why was metallic debris found no less than 13 kilometers from the crash site of the plane that went down in Pennsylvania? Was the plane in fact shot down - under vice president Dick Cheney's orders?
25) The Pipelineistan question. What did US ambassador Wendy Chamberlain talk about over the phone on October 10, 2001, with the oil minister of Pakistan? Was it to tell him that the 1990s-planned Unocal gas pipeline project, TAP (Turkmenistan/Afghanistan/ Pakistan), abandoned because of Taliban demands on transit fees, was now back in business? (Two months later, an agreement to build the pipeline was signed between the leaders of the three countries).
26) What is former Unocal lobbyist and former Bush pet Afghan Zalmay Khalilzad up to in Afghanistan?
27) How come former Pakistani foreign minister Niaz Niak said in mid-July 2001 that the US had already decided to strike against Osama bin Laden and the Taliban by October? The topic was discussed secretly at the July Group of Eight summit in Genoa, Italy, according to Pakistani diplomats.
28) How come US ambassador to Yemen Barbara Bodine told FBI agent John O'Neill in July 2001 to stop investigating al-Qaeda's financial operations - with O'Neill instantly moved to a security job at the WTC, where he died on 9/11?
29) Considering the very intimate relationship between the Taliban and Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), and the ISI and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), is Bin Laden alive, dead or still a valuable asset of the ISI, the CIA or both?
30) Was Bin Laden admitted at the American hospital in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates on July 4, 2001, after flying from Quetta, Pakistan, and staying for treatment until July 11?
31) Did the Bin Laden group build the caves of Tora Bora in close cooperation with the CIA during the 1980s' anti-Soviet jihad?
32) How come General Tommy Franks knew for sure that Bin Laden was hiding in Tora Bora in late November 2001?
33) Why did president Bill Clinton abort a hit on Bin Laden in October 1999? Why did then-Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf abort a covert ops in the same date? And why did Musharraf do the same thing again in August 2001?
34) Why did George W Bush dissolve the Bin Laden Task Force nine months before 9/11?
35) How come the (fake) Bin Laden home video - in which he "confesses" to being the perpetrator of 9/11 - released by the US on December 13, 2001, was found only two weeks after it was produced (on November 9); was it really found in Jalalabad (considering Northern Alliance and US troops had not even arrived there at the time); by whom; and how come the Pentagon was forced to release a new translation after the first (botched) one?
36) Why was ISI chief Lieutenant General Mahmud Ahmad abruptly "retired" on October 8, 2001, the day the US started bombing Afghanistan?
37) What was Ahmad up to in Washington exactly on the week of 9/11 (he arrived on September 4)? On the morning of 9/11, Ahmad was having breakfast on Capitol Hill with Bob Graham and Porter Goss, both later part of the 9/11 Commission, which simply refused to investigate two of its members. Ahmad had breakfast with Richard Armitage of the State Department on September 12 and 13 (when Pakistan negotiated its "cooperation" with the "war on terror") and met all the CIA and Pentagon top brass. On September 13, Musharraf announced he would send Ahmad to Afghanistan to demand to the Taliban the extradition of Bin Laden.
38) Who inside the ISI transferred US$100,000 to Mohammed Atta in the summer of 2001 - under orders of Ahmad himself, as Indian intelligence insists? Was it really ISI asset Omar Sheikh, Bin Laden's information technology specialist who later organized the slaying of American journalist Daniel Pearl in Karachi? So was the ISI directly linked to 9/11?
39) Did the FBI investigate the two shady characters who met Mohammed Atta and Marwan al-Shehhi in Harry's Bar at the Helmsley Hotel in New York City on September 8, 2001?
40) What did director of Asian affairs at the State Department Christina Rocca and the Taliban ambassador to Pakistan Abdul Salam Zaeef discuss in their meeting in Islamabad in August 2001?
41) Did Washington know in advance that an "al-Qaeda" connection would kill Afghan nationalist commander Ahmad Shah Massoud, aka "The Lion of the Panjshir", only two days before 9/11? Massoud was fighting the Taliban and al-Qaeda - helped by Russia and Iran. According to the Northern Alliance, Massoud was killed by an ISI-Taliban-al Qaeda axis. If still alive, he would never have allowed the US to rig a loya jirga (grand council) in Afghanistan and install a puppet, former CIA asset Hamid Karzai, as leader of the country.
42) Why did it take no less than four months before the name of Ramzi Binalshibh surfaced in the 9/11 context, considering the Yemeni was a roommate of Mohammed Atta in his apartment cell in Hamburg?
43) Is pathetic shoe-bomber Richard Reid an ISI asset?
44) Did then-Russian president Vladimir Putin and Russian intelligence tell the CIA in 2001 that 25 terrorist pilots had been training for suicide missions?
45) When did the head of German intelligence, August Hanning, tell the CIA that terrorists were "planning to hijack commercial aircraft?"
46) When did Egyptian President Mubarak tell the CIA about an attack on the US with an "airplane stuffed with explosives?"
47) When did Israel's Mossad director Efraim Halevy tell the CIA about a possible attack on the US by "200 terrorists?"
48) Were the Taliban aware of the warning by a Bush administration official as early as February 2001 - "Either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs?"
49) Has Northrop-Grumman used Global Hawk technology - which allows to remotely control unmanned planes - in the war in Afghanistan since October 2001? Did it install Global Hawk in a commercial plane? Is Global Hawk available at all for commercial planes?
50) Would Cheney stand up and volunteer the detailed timeline of what he was really up to during the whole day on 9/11?
Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).
He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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