What we still don’t know about 9/11 could kill us. By “we” I mean the public that has been kept in the dark for five years by a President who may know the truth but has chosen to ignore it. Instead of grappling with the thorny origins of that disaster, George Bush willfully turned the nation’s attention and resources to a totally unrelated and disastrous imperial adventure in Iraq.
Just how unrelated was definitively established last Friday with the belated release of the Senate Intelligence Committee’s second report, which concluded that there not only was zero connection between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda, but that Iraq was the one country in the region where Osama bin Laden could not operate.
Unfortunately, that was not true of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, the two countries that had recognized and otherwise supported the Taliban government that hosted bin Laden during the run-up to 9/11. Fifteen of the nineteen hijackers were from Saudi Arabia, and yet there has been no serious investigation of the extended Royal family’s role in the recruitment of bin Laden’s “soldiers” and the ease with which they secured legal visas to enter the United States.
While funds for Al Qaeda emanated from the Saudi kingdom, the essential logistical support for Al Qaeda came from Pakistan. Now, five years later, bin Laden and the remnants of his organization are assumed by the United States to have found refuge in Pakistan’s unruly tribal region, where the Pakistan government recently has reduced its forces, conceding that it could not defeat local tribesmen sympathetic to the Taliban.
Nor has there been any credible accounting of the role of Pakistan’s intelligence community, then and now, in support of Islamic terrorists on both sides of the Pakistan-Afghan border. Or in the passage of Pakistan’s nuclear secrets to what Bush refers to as “rogue nations.”
Recall that the predominant excuse for invading Iraq was the claim that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and would be willing to pass them on to rogue regimes and terrorists. Not only were such weapons not found, but the evidence from the accounts of former Administration insiders and the Senate Intelligence Committee makes clear that the Administration was consciously cherry picking the evidence to shore up its fraudulent case.
There were weapons of mass destruction being shipped to “rogue nations,” but they were coming from Pakistan in an extensive program headed by Abdul Qadeer (A.Q.) Khan, the father of the “Islamic bomb.” The Pakistan government has admitted that Khan passed on to North Korea, Libya and Iran technical know-how and vital materials for the creation of nuclear weapons. But Khan was pardoned of any crimes by Pakistan’s dictator general, President Gen. Pervez Musharraf. Khan is restricted only by a loose form of house arrest and has never been made available to U.S. investigators. Yet the Bush Administration dropped the sanctions originally imposed on Pakistan in reprisal for its development of nuclear weapons in return for Pakistan’s support in the “war on terror.”