Political Deception -The Missing Link
By Michel Chossudovsky
May 12, 2003
Was it an 'intelligence failure' to give red carpet treatment to the 'money man' behind the 9-11 terrorists, or was it simply 'routine'?
-- The "foreknowledge issue" is a RED HERRING: "A Red Herring is a fallacy in which an irrelevant topic is presented in order to divert attention from the original issue." --
ON May 16th The New York Post dropped what appeared to be a bombshell: "Bush Knew . . . " Hoping to score politically, the Democrats jumped on the bandwagon, pressuring the White House to come clean on two "top-secret documents" made available to President Bush prior to September 11, concerning "advance knowledge" of Al Qaeda attacks. Meanwhile, the U.S. media had already coined a new set of buzzwords: "Yes, there were warnings" and "clues" of possible terrorist attacks, but "there was no way President Bush could have known" what was going to happen. The Democrats agreed to "keep the cat inside the bag" by saying: "Osama is at war with the U.S." and the FBI and the CIA knew something was cooking but "failed to connect the dots." In the words of House Minority Leader, Richard Gephardt:
"This is not blame-placing. . . . We support the President on the war against terrorism -- have and will. But we've got to do better in preventing terrorist attacks." 1
The media's spotlight on 'foreknowledge' and so-called "FBI lapses" served to distract public attention from the broader issue of political deception. Not a word was mentioned concerning the role of the CIA, which throughout the entire post-Cold War era, has aided and abetted Osama bin Laden's Al Qaeda, as part of its covert operations.
Of course they knew! The foreknowledge issue is a red herring. The "Islamic Brigades" are a creation of the CIA. In standard CIA jargon, Al Qaeda is categorized as an "intelligence asset." Support to terrorist organizations is an integral part of U.S. foreign policy. Al Qaeda continues to this date (2002) to participate in CIA covert operations in different parts of the World.2 These "CIA-Osama links" do not belong to a bygone era, as suggested by the mainstream media.
The U.S. Congress has documented in detail, the links of Al Qaeda to agencies of the U.S. government during the civil war in Bosnia-Herzegovina, as well as in Kosovo.3 More recently in Macedonia, barely a few months before September 11, U.S. military advisers were mingling with Mujahideen mercenaries financed by Al Qaeda. Both groups were fighting under the auspices of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), within the same terrorist paramilitary formation.4
The CIA keeps track of its "intelligence assets." Amply documented, Osama bin Laden's whereabouts were always known.5 Al Qaeda is infiltrated by the CIA.6 In other words, there were no "intelligence failures!" In the nature of a well-led intelligence operation, the "intelligence asset" operates (wittingly or unwittingly) with some degree of autonomy, in relation to its U.S. government sponsors, but ultimately it acts consistently, in the interests of Uncle Sam.
While individual FBI agents are often unaware of the CIA's role, the relationship between the CIA and Al Qaeda is known at the top levels of the FBI. Members of the Bush Administration and the U.S. Congress are fully cognizant of these links.
The foreknowledge issue focussing on "FBI lapses" is an obvious smokescreen. While the whistleblowers serve to underscore the weaknesses of the FBI, the role of successive U.S. administrations (since the presidency of Jimmy Carter) in support of the "Islamic Militant Base," is simply not mentioned.
Fear and Disinformation Campaign
The Bush Administration -- through the personal initiative of Vice President Dick Cheney -- chose not only to foreclose the possibility of a public inquiry, but also to trigger a fear and disinformation campaign:
"I think that the prospects of a future attack on the U.S. are almost a certainty. . . . It could happen tomorrow, it could happen next week, it could happen next year, but they will keep trying. And we have to be prepared." 7
What Cheney is really telling us is that our "intelligence asset," which we created, is going to strike again. Now, if this "CIA creature" were planning new terrorist attacks, you would expect that the CIA would be first to know about it. In all likelihood, the CIA also controls the so-called 'warnings' emanating from CIA sources on "future terrorist attacks" on American soil.
Carefully Planned Intelligence Operation
The 9-11 terrorists did not act on their own volition. The suicide hijackers were instruments in a carefully planned intelligence operation. The evidence confirms that Al Qaeda is supported by Pakistan's military intelligence, the Inter-services Intelligence (ISI). Amply documented, the ISI owes its existence to the CIA:
"With CIA backing and the funnelling of massive amounts of U.S. military aid, the ISI developed [since the early 1980s] into a parallel structure wielding enormous power over all aspects of government....The ISI had a staff composed of military and intelligence officers, bureaucrats, undercover agents and informers estimated at 150,000."8
The ISI actively collaborates with the CIA. It continues to perform the role of a 'go-between' in numerous intelligence operations on behalf of the CIA. The ISI directly supports and finances a number of terrorist organizations, including Al Qaeda.
The Missing Link
The FBI confirmed in late September, in an interview with ABC News (which went virtually unnoticed) that the 9-11 ring leader, Mohammed Atta, had been financed from unnamed sources in Pakistan:
"As to September 11th, federal authorities have told ABC News they have now tracked more than $100,000 from banks in Pakistan, to two banks in Florida, to accounts held by suspected hijack ring leader, Mohammed Atta. As well . . . "Time Magazine" is reporting that some of that money came in the days just before the attack and can be traced directly to people connected to Osama bin Laden. It's all part of what has been a successful FBI effort so far to close in on the hijacker's high commander, the money men, the planners and the mastermind."9
The FBI had information on the money trail. They knew exactly who was financing the terrorists. Less than two weeks later, the findings of the FBI were confirmed by Agence France Presse (AFP) and the Times of India, quoting an official Indian intelligence report (which had been dispatched to Washington). According to these two reports, the money used to finance the 9-11 attacks had allegedly been "wired to WTC hijacker Mohammed Atta from Pakistan, by Ahmad Umar Sheikh, at the instance of [ISI Chief] General Mahmoud [Ahmad]." 10 According to the AFP (quoting the intelligence source):
"The evidence we have supplied to the U.S. is of a much wider range and depth than just one piece of paper linking a rogue general to some misplaced act of terrorism." 11
Pakistan's Chief Spy Visits Washington
Now, it just so happens that General Mahmoud Ahmad, the alleged "money man" behind 9-11, was in the U.S. when the attacks occurred. He arrived on the 4th of September, one week before 9-11, on what was described as a routine visit of consultations with his U.S. counterparts. According to Pakistani journalist, Amir Mateen (in a prophetic article published on September 10):
"ISI Chief Lt-Gen. Mahmoud's week-long presence in Washington has triggered speculation about the agenda of his mysterious meetings at the Pentagon and National Security Council. Officially, he is on a routine visit in return to CIA Director George Tenet's earlier visit to Islamabad. Official sources confirm that he met Tenet this week. He also held long parleys with unspecified officials at the White House and the Pentagon. But the most important meeting was with Marc Grossman, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs. One can safely guess that the discussions must have centred around Afghanistan . . . and Osama bin Laden. What added interest to his visit is the history of such visits. Last time Ziauddin Butt, Mahmoud's predecessor, was here, during Nawaz Sharif's government, the domestic politics turned topsy-turvy within days." 12
Nawaz Sharif was overthrown by General Pervez Musharaf. General Mahmoud Ahmad, who became the head of the ISI, played a key role in the military coup.
Condoleezza Rice's Press Conference
In the course of Condoleezza Rice's May 16 press conference (which took place barely a few hours after the publication of the "Bush Knew" headlines in The New York Post), an accredited Indian journalist asked a question on the role of General Mahmoud Ahmad:
Q: Dr. Rice?
Ms RICE: Yes?
Q: Are you aware of the reports at the time that the ISI chief was in Washington on September 11th, and on September 10th $100,000 was wired from Pakistan to these groups here in this area? And why was he here? Was he meeting with you or anybody in the Administration?
Ms RICE: I have not seen that report, and he was certainly not meeting with me.13
Although there is no official confirmation that General Mahmoud Ahmad met Dr. Rice, she must have been fully aware of the $100,000 transfer to Mohammed Atta, which had been confirmed by the FBI. Lost in the barrage of media reports on 'foreknowledge,' this crucial piece of information, on the ISI's role in 9-11, implicates key members of the Bush Administration including: CIA Director George Tenet, Deputy Secretary of State, Richard Armitage, Under-Secretary, Marc Grossman, as well as Senator Sam Biden, Chairman of the powerful Senate Foreign Relations Committee (who met General Ahmad on the 13th of September).14
The Bush Administration had not only provided red carpet treatment to the alleged "money man" behind the 9-11 attacks, it also had sought his 'cooperation' in the "war on terrorism." The precise terms of this 'cooperation' were agreed upon between General Mahmoud Ahmad, representing the Pakistani government and Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, in meetings at the State Department on September 12 and 13. In other words, the Administration decided in the immediate wake of 9-11, to seek the 'cooperation' of Pakistan's ISI in "going after Osama", despite the fact (documented by the FBI) that the ISI was financing and abetting the 9-11 terrorists. Contradictory? One might say that it's like "asking the Devil to go after Dracula."
CIA Overshadows the Presidency
Dr. Rice's statement regarding the ISI chief at her May 16 press conference, is an obvious cover-up. While General Ahmad was talking to U.S. officials at the CIA and the Pentagon, he had allegedly also been in contact (through a third party) with the September 11 terrorists. What this suggests is that key individuals within the U.S. military-intelligence establishment knew about these ISI contacts with the September 11 terrorist 'ring leader,' Mohammed Atta, and failed to act. But this conclusion is, in fact, an understatement. Everything indicates that CIA Director George Tenet and ISI Chief General Mahmoud Ahmad, had established a close working relationship. General Mahmoud had arrived a week prior to September 11 for consultations with George Tenet. Bear in mind that the CIA's George Tenet, also has a close personal relationship with President Bush. Prior to September 11, Tenet would meet the President nearly every morning at 8:00 AM sharp, for about half an hour. 15 A document, known as the President's Daily Briefing, or PDB, "is prepared at Langley by the CIA's analytical directorate, and a draft goes home with Tenet each night. Tenet edits it personally and delivers it orally during his early morning meeting with Bush." 16 This practice of "oral intelligence briefings" is unprecedented. Bush's predecessors at the White House, received a written briefing:
"With Bush, who liked oral briefings and the CIA director in attendance, a strong relationship had developed. Tenet could be direct, even irreverent and earthy."17
The Decision to go to War
At meetings of the National Security Council and in the so-called "War Cabinet", on September 11, 12 and 13, CIA Director George Tenet played a central role in gaining the Commander-in-Chief's approval to the launching of the "war on terrorism."
George W. Bush's Timeline -- September 11 (from 9:45 AM in the wake of the WTC-Pentagon Attacks to midnight)
Circa 9:45 AM: Bush's motorcade leaves the Booker Elementary School, Sarasota, Florida.
9:55 AM: President Bush boards "Air Force One" bound for Washington.18 Following what was as a "false report" that Air Force One would be attacked, Vice-President Dick Cheney had urged Bush (10:32 AM) by telephone not to land in Washington. Following this conversation, the plane was diverted (10:41 a.m.) (on orders emanating from Washington) to Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. A couple of hours later (1:30 PM), after a brief TV appearance, the President was transported to Offut Air Force base in Nebraska at U.S. Strategic Command Headquarters.
3:30 PM: A key meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) was convened, with members of the NSC communicating with the President from Washington by secure video.19 In the course of this NSC video-conference, CIA Director George Tenet fed unconfirmed information to the President. Tenet stated that "he was virtually certain that bin Laden and his network were behind the attacks. ..."20
The President responded to these statements, quite spontaneously, off the cuff, with little or no discussion and with an apparent misunderstanding of their implications. In the course of this video-conference (which lasted for less than an hour), the NSC was given the mandate by the Commander-in-Chief to prepare for the "war on terrorism". Very much on the spur of the moment, the "green light" was given by video conference from Nebraska. In the words of President Bush: "We will find these people. They will pay. And I don't want you to have any doubt about it." 21
4:36 PM: (One hour and six minutes later . . .) Air Force One departed for Washington. Back in the White House, that same evening (9:00 PM) a second meeting of the full NSC took place, together with Secretary of State Colin Powell who had returned to Washington from Peru. The NSC meeting (which lasted for half an hour) was followed by the first meeting of the so-called "war cabinet". The latter was made up of a smaller group of top officials and key advisers.
9:30 PM: At the war cabinet: "Discussion turned around whether bin Laden's Al Qaeda and the Taliban were one and the same thing. Tenet said they were." 22 By the end of that historic meeting of the war cabinet (11:00 PM), the Bush Administration had decided to embark upon a military adventure which threatens the collective future of humanity.
Did Bush Know?
Did Bush, with his minimal understanding of foreign policy issues, know all the details regarding General Mahmoud and the "ISI connection"? Did Tenet and Cheney distort the facts, so as to get the Commander-in-Chief's "thumbs up" for a military operation which was already in the pipeline? In a bitter irony, a meeting between Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage and General Mahmoud, the 9-11 "money man", was scheduled at the State Department for the morning after September 11 to discuss their strategy.
1. Quoted in AFP, 18 May 2002.
2. There are numerous documents, which prove beyond doubt the links between Al Qaeda and successive U.S. administrations. See Centre for Research on Globalisation, Foreknowledge of 9-11: Compilation of key articles and documents, http://globalresearch.ca/articles/CRG204A.html May 2002, section 3.
3. U.S. Congress, Clinton-Approved Iranian Arms Transfers Help Turn Bosnia into Militant Islamic Base, Republican Party Committee, Congressional Press Release, Congress, 16 January 1997, http://globalresearch.ca/articles/DCH109A.html . See also Michel Chossudovsky, 'Osamagate', Centre for Research on Globalisation, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CHO110A.html , 9 October 2001.
4. See Centre for Research on Globalisation, Foreknowledge of 9-11: Compilation of key articles and documents, op. cit. section 3. See articles by Isabel Vincent, George Szamuely, Scott Taylor, Marina Domazetovska, Michel Chossudovsky, Umberto Pascali, Lara Marlowe and Macedonian dailies.
5. See Bin Laden Whereabouts Before 9-11, CBS Evening News with Dan Rather; CBS, 28 January 2002, Centre for Research on Globalisation (CRG) http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/CBS203A.html Alexandra Richard, The CIA met bin Laden while undergoing treatment at an American Hospital last July in Dubai, Le Figaro. http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/RIC111B.html
6. The Boston Globe, 5 June 2002.
7. Fox News, 18 May 2002.
8. Ahmed Rashid, The Taliban: Exporting Extremism, Foreign Affairs, November-December 1999. See also Michel Chossudovsky, Who is Osama bin Laden, Global Outlook, No. 1, 2002.
9. Statement of Brian Ross reporting on information conveyed to him by the FBI, ABC News, This Week, September 30, 2001.
10. The Times of India, Delhi, 9 October 2001.
11. AFP, 10 October 2001.
12. Amir Mateen, ISI Chief's Parleys continue in Washington, News Pakistan, 10 September 2001.
13. Federal News Service, 16 May 2002. Note that in the White House and CNN transcripts of Dr. Rice's press conference, the words "ISI chief" were transcribed respectively by a blank "--" and "(inaudible)" . Federal News Service Inc. which is a transcription Service of official documents provided a correct transcription, with a minor error in punctuation, which we corrected. The White House transcript is at: http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/05/20020516-13.html . All three transcripts were verified by the author and are available on Nexus. Federal News Service documents are also available for a fee at http://www.fnsg.com/ For details on the transcripts, see text box below.
14. New York Times, 14 September 2002,"According to Biden, [Ahmad] pledged Pakistan's cooperation."
15. The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, 17 May 2002.
16. Washington Post, 17 May 2002.
17. Washington Post 29 January 2002.
18. Washington Post, 27 January 2002.
TRANSCRIPTS OF DR. CONDOLEEZZA RICE`S PRESS CONFERENCE OF MAY 16TH 2002
Below are the transcripts of the same Condoleezza Rice press conference respectively from CNN, the White House (FDCH) and Federal News Service. The latter is the source quoted in this article. The other two sources (CNN and the White House) were manipulated
CNN: SHOW: CNN INSIDE POLITICS 16:00, May 16, 2002 Thursday, Transcript # 051600CN.V15
QUESTION: Are you aware of the reports at the time that (inaudible) was in Washington on September 11. And on September 10, $ 100,000 was wired from Pakistan to these groups here in this area? And while he was here, was he meeting with you or anybody in the administration?
RICE: I have not seen that report, and he was certainly not meeting with me.
FDCH Federal Department and Agency Documents REGULATORY INTELLIGENCE DATA, May 16, 2002 Thursday, AGENCY: WHITE HOUSE
Q Dr. Rice, are you aware of the reports at the time that -- was in Washington on September 11th, and on September 10th, $ 100,000 was wired to Pakistan to this group here in this area? While he was here meeting with you or anybody in the administration?
DR. RICE: I have not seen that report, and he was certainly not meeting with me.
Federal News Service May 16, 2002 Thursday, SECTION: WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING, HEADLINE: SPECIAL WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING
Q Dr. Rice?
Q Dr. Rice?
MS. RICE: Yes?
Q Are you aware of the reports at the time that ISI chief was in Washington on September 11th, and on September 10th, $ 100,000 was wired from Pakistan to these groups here in this area? And why he was here? Was he meeting with you or anybody in the administration?
MS. RICE: I have not seen that report, and he was certainly not meeting with me.
Notice the difference between the three transcripts. Both the White House and CNN exclude the identity of the "ISI chief" to the extent that the transcripts are totally unintelligible.
Copyright. Michel Chossudovsky and Global Outlook 2002. Permission is granted to post this text on non-commercial community internet sites, provided the original source and the URL are indicated, the essay remains intact and the copyright note is displayed. To publish this text in printed and/or other forms, including commercial internet sites and excerpts, contact Global Outlook , at email@example.com