Opinion and Editorial

Osama bin Laden Hype Misled Public

Karin Friedemann
Filed on May 4, 2009

A National Public Radio rehashing of the 1999 Egypt Air crash made me uneasy. It seemed like an effort to indoctrinate listeners to believe that Muslims would commit suicide by deliberately crashing passenger jets. I wondered what was coming.

The sky was blue and deceptively cheerful inNew Jerseya few weeks later on September 11, 2001, when I heard about the attack on the World Trade Center. My husband called and told me to turn on the television. As soon as I saw the flames and explosions, I recognised a professional made-for-TV event.

As I watched the endless repetition of dramatic camera shots, I perceived an attempt to hypnotise the public with a list of suspects that had emerged before any serious investigation could possibly have begun. One ridiculous news story claimed thatMohammed Atta had leftbehind a handwritten noteat the airport that began, “In the Name of Allah, my family, and myself!”No Muslim would ever use such a construction. Grandiosespectacles like 9/11 have not typically characterised Islamic militants. The Taleban used to kill a handful of Russian occupation soldiers a day. In the years since the WTC fell, there has never been any repeat attack on American soil.

Reuters reported on September 13, 2001, that Osama bin Laden told Taleban officials he had no role in the terror attacks in the United States. Bin Laden may be a lot of things, but he is not known to be a liar. “We asked from him, (and) he told (us) we don’t have any hand in this action,” stated Taleban ambassador Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef. Rather than provide evidence against bin Laden, the US imprisoned Zaeef in Guantanamo. He now lives under house arrest in Kabul.

On September 18, 2001, the Jerusalem Post reported that Israeli officials had warned Washington beforehand that “large-scale terrorist attacks on highly visible targets on the American mainland were imminent,” and specifically linked the plot to bin Laden.

Problems in the official version soon developed. Some of the TV photographswere faked, at least 7 of thealleged hijackers were alive, and one had died before 2001. Bin Laden videotapes aired on TV were proven fraudulent and mistranslated.

On June 5, 2006 Rex Tomb, Chief of Investigative Publicity for the FBI told Muckraker Report that bin Laden “has not been formally indicted and charged in connection with 9/11 because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting bin Laden to 9/11.” Robert Dreyfuss reported that former CIA officials claimed Department of Defense officials were “producing their own unverified intelligence reports to justify war.” Political analyst Eric Margolis notes, “Such ‘experts’ echoed the White House party line and all were dead wrong. Yet amazingly, many are still on air, continuing to misinform the public.”

A man whose nine children were killed when the US bombed his home told Yvonne Ridley, “There has been a lot of fighting around here between the Taleban and the Americans. They are searching for Osama bin Laden but everyone knows he is not here.”

The Pentagon has used the bin Laden hype for years to justify stationing warships and submarines off the Pakistani coast; kidnapping and torturing prisoners such as Abu Zubaydah and his uncle Khalid Sheikh Mohammad based on hearsay by anonymous sources; and testing new hi-tech weapons like Predator unmanned drones and air-sucking thermo-baric bombs on a defenseless population. The US government arrested thousands of Muslims and deported hundreds. Not a single one of them has ever been convicted on terrorism charges.

In February 2009, 9/11 widow Beverly Eckert died in a plane crash days after she voiced her concerns to President Obama about the 9/11 investigation. Eckert was suing the Federal government to force testimony about what went wrong that day. She formed a Family Steering Committee to address the 9/11 Commission with questions like why on September 9th the president already had a war plan on his desk to go into Afghanistan; how the passports of two alleged hijackers survived the inferno; why Mayor Rudy Giulianihad the metal from the collapsed towers sold as scrapfor recyclingoverseas.

“That metal was evidence which could have helped explain the collapse,” Eckert believed. She asked why high-ranking Pentagon officials cancelled travel plans for the morning of September 11 “apparently because of security concerns?” What are the names of the individuals and the financial institutions that bought “puts” on American Airlines and United Airlines during the three weeks prior to 9/11? Who profited? Why didn’t F-16s intercept the hijacked airliners? Why was protocol not followed on 9/11? Why did Dick Cheney hinder CIA and FBI investigations?

“If what the government has told us about 9/11 is a lie,” said William Rodriguez, a fireman who survived the WTC attack, “somebody has to take action to reveal the truth.”

Karin Friedemann is a Boston-based writer on the Middle East affairs and US politics

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