Beating the drums for justice: Calls for Bush's impeachment for 9-11
By Joyce Lynn
Online Journal Contributing Writer
January 23, 2003?The "I" word in connection with 9-11 has come out of the closet as activists and citizens call for impeachment of the Bush administration.
A delegation of about 30 people on January 15 visited the office of Palo Alto Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-Ca) urging her to introduce articles of impeachment against George W. Bush for his "crimes of 9-11."
"The administration is lying to the American people and trying to cover-up the truth about 9-11," said organizer Carol Brouillet, a member of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.
With local television cameras rolling, a staffer to Rep. Eshoo said she would relay the group's concerns.
At a community meeting on 9-11 the following night, Brouillet urged attendees to launch similar visits to their members of Congress.
Referring to the sign popular at peace marches, Brouillet asserted, "Regime change begins at home."
One participant likened post 9-11 fears of questioning the administration's story and the lockstep response to Bush's patriotic fever to the Germans' response to Hitler. "The German people were trained for over 100 years to be free from personal responsibility. They could feel free as long as they were obeying their leader. I see a lot of that obedience in Americans," she said.
Another questioned whether an administration that was illegally installed could be impeached.
The march came a year after Brouillet led a delegation to the San Francisco office Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein demanding a congressional investigation of 9-11.
At that time, the group raised questions about the business relationships of the Bush and bin Laden families through the Carlyle Group, the failure of fighter jets to intercept the four hijacked planes in violation of standard procedures, and questions about U.S. oil interests in the Caspian Sea Basin.
With pressure from 9-11 families and over administration objections, a joint House-Senate Committee was set up to investigate the intelligence communities and 9-11. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney urged then Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) to limit the inquiries.
Because of the administration's failure to fully cooperate with the Joint Committee and because its scope was limited to the Intelligence communities, the 9-11 families pushed for an independent commission. Legislation established the commission late last year.
Bush Ignoring Numerous Warnings
Among the first to sound the 9-11 impeachment siren were two veteran Democratic strategists. In June 2002, Bob Fertik and David Lytel launched "The Buck Stops Here" on their Democrats.comwebsite. Similar to Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge's color-coded system of terrorists' alerts, Fertik and Lytel have compiled a devastating indictment of Bush, Cheney, Rice, and Rumsfeld.
That call for impeaching Bush asserts Bush allowed the September 11 terrorist attacks to succeed by ignoring numerous warnings, failing to take precautions against hijackings, and then lying about it afterwards. As of January 16, Democrats.com's electronic petition to impeach Bush had 4,774 "signatures."
Asked whether the site, home to progressive Democrats, had garnered any congressional support for impeachment, Fertik said, "Look at what happened to Cynthia McKinney. Nobody wants to be next," he said. Challenging the administration on 9-11 "is a guaranteed ticket to political hell."
Last spring, McKinney, a Democratic congresswoman from Georgia, called for an investigation of the events surrounding 9-11. McKinney said, "The American people deserve answers about what went wrong on September 11 and why."
She accused the administration of warmongering in Afghanistan and connected the role of oil and defense interests to U.S. policies. Although her statement seems prophetic now, McKinney was ridiculed at the time. Political strategists of her own party on national television derided her. Her reelection bid went up in smoke when she was defeated in the primary election.
Fertik called the "real juice" for investigating 9-11 the "People's Investigation and the 9-11 families who are pushing to have a commission. They are unhappy with the rigged commission. They want the truth."
Despite the administration's resistance to an independent commission to look into 9-11, Bush finally agreed. However, he appointed Henry Kissinger to head the commission. Kissinger, who has served in four Republican administrations, has a controversial reputation and oil interests in the Caspian Sea Basin.
Kissinger resigned and Bush appointed Thomas Kean, who also has oil interests conflicts and financial ties to bin Laden's brother-in-law.
Disappointed with the administration's response, a loose association of citizens, researchers, and activists is assembling a 9-11 Truth Alliance to establish its own investigation of the many unanswered questions surrounding 9-11. The alliance is organizing a 9-11 Citizens Truth Commission and planning a conference in New York City in the spring.
Fertik said there were a myriad of warnings about 9-11 "but whether Bush was personally privy has not been established."
That kind of information could be put on the table after hearings begin. Fertik pointed out that the Watergate hearings revealed Richard Nixon was tape recording his Oval office conversations and those tapes provided the proof of the cover-up of the illegal break-in at the Democratic National Headquarters and hush-funds payoffs.
The 9-11 Independent Commission, which has an 18-month legislative life, is unlikely to release its findings before the 2004 presidential election. "Yeah, that is part of their game plan," Fertik said. "They control the clock." He said Karl Rove, Bush's chief political strategist, "is brilliant at this. If they want something, it has to happen immediately, like the bombing of Iraq. Otherwise they will run out the clock."
"'Finality.' Remember that?" Fertik asked ruefully referring to the Republican tactics during the 2000 election recount. The Republicans argued the future of democracy depended on knowing who the next president would be, rather than on counting the votes.
"They will run this out, too," Fertik said.
Then, pausing, he offered: "Bob Graham is serious about running for president. He's furious at the White House and Bush and the intelligence community for jerking them (the Joint Intelligence Committee) around, and they kept secrets from the committee."
Fertik also said former committee co-chair Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala) is "equally livid. Maybe Graham will start talking about it if he runs, " mused Fertik.
Regardless of the scenario, Fertik maintained, "The American people have the right to know what went on and who to hold accountable."
The committee's 50-plus page staff report released in September listed dozens of warnings about attacks on U.S. soil including terrorists plans to use planes as weapons. (Excerpts from the committee report are below.)
CIA director George Tenet has refused to declassify a memo containing what he told Bush about terrorists' threats in an August 6, 2001, briefing. Graham has also expressed concerns about how the terrorists were able to enter and travel in the U.S.
Asked if the Bush administration's recalcitrance related to 9-11 might be a campaign issue in a 2004 Graham for President campaign, Carson Chandler in Graham's Senate office had this response: "That is something (Graham) has continually brought up regarding 9-11." However, Chandler said, until the senator decides his political future, "he is not talking about his agenda for a campaign."
Graham has said he will announce whether he is running for the Democratic nomination in 2004 in late January after Bush's state of the Union Address. News stories report Graham is busy talking with Florida supporters.
Activists have questioned what Graham and his House counterpart on the Intelligence Committee,, Rep. Porter Goss (R-Mich), were doing on the morning of 9-11 at a breakfast meeting with the Pakistan ISI chief Lt. General Mahmoud Ahmad. In October 2001, the Pakistan intelligence head was accused of wiring $100,000 to Mohammed Atta, the alleged mastermind of the 9-11 hijackers. Top officials in the Bush administration also met with Ahmad in the days before and after 9-11.
University of Illinois law professor Francis Boyle and former Attorney General Ramsey Clark have drafted articles of impeachment against Bush for his Iraqi war policies.
They wrote similar impeachment articles against George H.W. Bush for the Gulf War 12 years ago. Rep. Henry Gonzalez (D-Tx) introduced the articles of impeachment, which Boyle credits for halting Bush's march into Iraq.
More Questions About 9-11
Questioning the administration's handling of 9-11, several noted figures have recently broken the shroud of public silence about the administration's veracity and actions (or lack of) before, on, and after 9-11.
During a presentation to the Fairfax City Council in Marin County, California, which was considering a resolution to oppose the USA PATRIOT Act, Daniel Ellsberg, on January 7, raised the issue of what the administration knew.
"They were waiting for such an incident to come," Ellsberg said. He said as a Defense Department analyst in the 1970s, he would have been instructed to write such legislation under similar circumstances.
Following the council meeting, Ellsberg said, "They were warned there would be a major terrorist event. What did they do? Nothing. Bush was briefed in July and August. What did they do? I feel morally certain they drafted a Tonkin Gulf-like resolution for Afghanistan and polished up the PATRIOT Act before 9-11."
The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution gave President Lyndon Johnson powers to drastically expand the U.S. war in Vietnam.
Ellsberg said he is not convinced "yet" Bush knew "precisely" when the events would happen. Afterwards, "they wanted to avoid blame. What government officials say after such events is almost never true. They always cover up afterwards."
Helen Thomas, a former UPI reporter and now a Hearst News columnist and dean of the White House Press Corps, is a lone voice among her colleagues in addressing 9-11. Upon release of the committee's final report and a call by Shelby for CIA director George Tenet to "take the fall," she asks if Bill Clinton and George W. Bush should be "held responsible" as well.
The corporate media has capitulated to fears of losing access to its news sources or approval of even more mergers and acquisition. The public broadcasting system fears losing its federal funding. Except for a few websites, even the independent media avoid reporting on 9-11 as if it were the worst of the 10 plagues.
Last fall, former Vice President Al Gore accused the administration of ignoring signs al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden planned to attack the United States on September 11. "The warnings were there before the attacks," he said. Gore also said Bush's Justice Department and the FBI had spent more time and money investigating a suspected New Orleans brothel than monitoring bin Laden and his terrorist network.
Yet, no U.S. government official has been held accountable. Instead, Bush has promoted and rewarded military and intelligence agency heads under whose watch 9-11 occurred. Members of Congress knew of the warnings and yet handed Bush, under whose watch 9-11 occurred, powers to invade Iraq.
Excerpts From Joint Inquiry Staff Statement of Eleanor Hill, Staff Director, Joint Inquiry Staff, September 18, 2002
From the Foreward: "According to the DCI (Director of Central Intelligence, George Tenet), the President's [sic] knowledge of intelligence information relevant to this Inquiry remains classified even when the substance of that intelligence information has been declassified. . . . (on two matters)
"The Joint Inquiry staff disagrees with the DCI's position on both issues. We believe the America public has a compelling interest in the information and that public disclosure would not harm national security. However, we do not have independent authority to declassify intelligence information short of a lengthy procedure in the U.S. Congress . . ."
The statement contained at least 11 references to terrorists using planes as weapons. Here are a few of those and other findings:
Copyright ? 2003 Joyce Lynn
- "[S]hortly after Osama bin Laden's May 1998 press conference, the Intelligence Community began to acquire intelligence information indicating that bin Laden's network intended to strike inside the United States. Many of these reports were disseminated throughout the Intelligence Community and to senior U.S. policy makers."
- "In June 1998, the Intelligence Community obtained information from several sources that Osama bin Laden was considering attacks in the U.S., including Washington, DC and New York. This information was provided to senior U.S. Government officials in July 1998." (Joint Inquiry Staff Statement, Part 1, 9-18-2002, pg. 15)
- "In August 1998, the Intelligence Community obtained information that a group of unidentified Arabs planned to fly an explosive-laden plane from a foreign country into the World Trade Center. The information was passed to the FBI and the FAA. The FAA found the plot highly unlikely given the state of that foreign country's aviation program. Moreover, they believed that a flight originating outside the United States would be detected before it reached its intended target inside the United States. The FBI's New York office took no action on the information, filing the communication in the office 's bombing repository file . . .
- "In September 1998, the Intelligence Community obtained information that Osama bin Laden's next operation could possibly involve flying an aircraft loaded with explosives into a U.S. airport and detonating it; this information was provided to senior U.S. Government officials in late 1998."
- "In the fall of 1998, the Intelligence Community received information concerning a bin Laden plot involving aircraft in the New York and Washington, DC areas."
- "In November 1998, the Intelligence Community obtained information that a bin Laden terrorist cell was attempting to recruit a group of five to seven young men from the United States to travel to the Middle East for training. This was in conjunction with planning to strike U.S. domestic targets . . ."
- "A December 1, 1998 Intelligence Community assessment of Osama bin Laden read in part: 'OBL is actively planning against U.S. targets . . . Multiple reports indicate UBL is keenly interested in striking the U.S. on its own soil . . . al-Qa'ida is recruiting operatives for attacks in the U.S. but has not yet identified potential targets.'"
- "A classified document signed by a senior U.S. Government official in December 1998 read in part: 'The intelligence community has strong indications that bin Laden intends to conduct or sponsor attacks inside the United States.'"
- "In the spring of 1999, the Intelligence Community obtained information about a planned bin Laden attack on a U.S. Government facility in Washington, D.C."
- "In the March of 2000, the Intelligence Community obtained information regarding the types of targets that operatives in bin Laden's network might strike. The Statue of Liberty was specifically mentioned, as were skyscrapers, ports, airports, and nuclear power plants."
- "A briefing prepared for senior government officials at the beginning of July 2001 contained the following language: 'Based on a review of all source reporting over the last five months, we believe that OBL will launch a significant terrorist attack against U.S. and/or Israeli interests in the coming weeks. The attack will be spectacular and designed to inflict mass casualties against U.S. facilities or interests. Attack preparations have been made. Attack will occur with little or no warning.'"
- "[I]n August 2001, a closely held intelligence report, for senior government officials, included information that bin Laden had wanted to conduct attacks in the United States since 1997. The information included discussion of the arrest of Ahmed Ressam in December 1999, and the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. It mentioned that members of al Qaeda, including some U.S. citizens, had resided or traveled in or traveled to the United States for years, and that the group apparently maintained a support structure here. The report cited uncorroborated information obtained in 1998 that bin Laden wanted to hijack airplanes to gain the release of U.S.-held extremists. F.B.I. judgments about patterns of activity, consistent with preparation of hijackings . . ."
Joyce Lynn is a journalist and was a political reporter for eight years in Washington, DC. She is editor of the Political Diary. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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