You’ve heard the President and Vice President say it over and over in various ways: There was a connection between the events of September 11, 2001 and
Numbers and comparisons
*1,536 Iraqis died in
*By the beginning of September, 2,974 U.S. military service members had died in Iraq and in the Bush administration’s Global War on Terror, more than died in the attacks of 9/11. (Twenty-two more American soldiers died in
*Five years later, according to Emily Gosden and David Randall of the British newspaper, the Independent, the Bush administration’s Global War on Terror has resulted in, at a minimum, 20 times the deaths of 9/11; at a maximum, 60 times. It has “directly killed a minimum of 62,006 people, created 4.5 million refugees and cost the
*Last week, the U.S. Senate agreed to appropriate another $63 billion for military operations in
*In 2003, with its invasion of
While Americans are planning to remember 9/11 with four vast towers and a huge, extremely costly memorial sunk into
While the various New York memorial constructions can’t get off (or into) the ground, due to disputes and cost estimate overruns, what could be thought of as the real American memorial to Ground Zero is going up in the very heart of Baghdad; and unlike the prospective structures in Manhattan or seemingly just about any other construction project in Iraq, it’s on schedule. According to Paul McGeough, the $787 million “embassy,” a 21-building, heavily fortified complex (not reliant on the capital’s hopeless electricity or water systems) will pack significant bang for the bucks — its own built-in surface-to-air missile emplacements as well as Starbucks and Krispy Kreme outlets, a beauty parlor, a swimming pool, and a sports center. As essentially a “suburb of
*Roadside bombs (or IEDs), “the leading killer of U.S. troops,” rose to record numbers this summer — 1,200 in August, quadrupling the January 2004 figures according to the Washington Post, while bomb and attack tips from Iraqi citizens fell drastically. They plummeted from 5,900 in April to 3,700 in July. (“It will improve once it’s not so darn lethal to go out on the street,” was the optimistic observation of retired Army Gen. Montgomery C. Meigs, director of the Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization.)
*According to a recently released quarterly assessment the Pentagon is mandated to do for Congress, Iraqi casualties have soared by a record 51% in recent months, quadrupling in just two years.
*From the same report, monthly attacks on
*A sideline record in the War on Terror:
The Iraqi Condition
Along with civil war, the ethnic cleansing of neighborhoods, the still-strengthening insurgency, and the security situation from hell, Iraqis are also experiencing soaring inflation, possibly reaching 70% this year (which would more than double last year’s 32% rise); stagnant salaries (where they even exist); an “inert” banking system; gas and electricity prices up in a year by 270%; massive corruption (“An audit sponsored by the United Nations last week found hundreds of millions of dollars of Iraq’s oil revenue had been wrongly tallied last year or had gone missing altogether”); lack of adequate electricity or potable water supplies; tenaciously high unemployment, ranging — depending upon the estimate — from 15-50/60% (the recent Pentagon report to Congress offers Iraqi government figures of 18% unemployment and 34% underemployment); acute shortages of gasoline, kerosene, and cooking gas in the country with the planet’s third largest oil reserves, forcing the Iraqi government to devote $800 million in scarce funds to importing refined oil products from neighboring countries and making endless gas lines and overnight waits the essence of normal life (“Filling up now requires several days’ pay, monastic patience or both…”); an oil industry, already ragged at the time of the invasion, which has since gone steadily downhill (its three main oil refineries are now functioning at half-capacity and processing only half the number of barrels of oil as before the invasion, while the biggest refinery in Baiji sometimes operates at as little as 7.5% of capacity); government gas subsidies severely cut (at the urging of the International Monetary Fund); malnutrition on the rise and, according to that Pentagon report to Congress, 25.9% of Iraqi children are stunted in their growth.
In other words, economically speaking,
On December 9, 2001, Vice President Cheney began publicly arguing on Meet the Press that there were Iraqi connections to the 9/11 attacks. It was “pretty well confirmed,” he told Tim Russert, that Mohamed Atta, the lead hijacker, had met the previous April in
These were claims debunked within the intelligence community and elsewhere before, during, and after the invasion of
As is often the case, under such lies and manipulations lurks a deeper truth. In this case, let’s call it the truth of wish fulfillment. The link between 9/11 and
Think of that link this way: In the immediate wake of 9/11, our President and Vice President hijacked our country, using the low-tech rhetorical equivalents of box cutters and mace; then, with most passengers on board and not quite enough of the spirit of United Flight 93 to spare, after a brief Afghan overflight, they crashed the plane of state directly into Iraq, causing the equivalent of a Katrina that never ends and turning that country — from Basra in the south to the border of Kurdistan — into the global equivalent of Ground Zero.
Tom Engelhardt, who runs the Nation Institute’s Tomdispatch.com (“a regular antidote to the mainstream media”), where this article first appeared, is the co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The End of Victory Culture, a history of American triumphalism in the Cold War, The Last Days of Publishing, a novel, and in the fall, Mission Unaccomplished (Nation Books), the first collection of Tomdispatch interviews.