Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Shilling of Sept. 11

The Carrboro Citizen, Carrboro NC, 9-13-07

CHAPEL HILL - With every year that passes, September 11, 2001 recedes further into history. But this year marks the fifth anniversary of another dark time for our country. The first time we memorialized the victims of 9/11, our (fraudulently) elected leaders were hard at work exploiting this national tragedy by conning us into an unnecessary war of choice in Iraq.

The day after the first 9/11 anniversary, on September 12, 2002, George W. Bush addressed the United Nations and served up one fiction after another about why Iraq, not al Qaeda, was America's most important enemy. "al Qaeda terrorists escaped from Afghanistan and are known to be in Iraq," said Bush. He assured the world that Iraq has "failed to account for more than three metric tons of material that could be used to produce biological weapons," and "retains physical infrastructure needed to build a nuclear weapon."

Also on September 11, 2002, citizens in communities across the nation, including Chapel Hill, were speaking out against the rush to war. Sensible voices cautioned not to let the urge to avenge 9/11 blind us to the fact that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11.

We were warned that an unprovoked war would enrich defense contractors like Halliburton, could help multinational oil companies get their hooks into the world's second largest proven oil reserves, and might boost Bush's re-election chances in 2004. But it wouldn't help America in the long run.

Unfortunately, the Bush administration's crusade to take the country into war in Iraq was on a fast track. Secretary of State Colin Powell would go on TV a few days later, September 15, to help make Bush's case against Iraq.

Appearing on NBC's Meet The Press, he asserted that "Iraq does present a danger," referred to Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction activities," and said the threat the U.S. faced was that Saddam Hussein would continue "enhancing his ability to acquire and use weapons of mass destruction."

The 2002 mid-term congressional campaigns were heating up, and the timing of Bush's push to war was seen by many observers as an especially transparent attempt to boost support for Republican candidates. In Georgia, Democratic U.S. Senator and triple amputee Vietnam war hero Max Cleland would be defeated for re-election that fall by a Republican campaign that questioned his national security record, including ads featuring pictures of Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden.

Five years later, the war drags on with no end in sight. We've seen more than 3,700 U.S. soldiers needlessly killed and nearly 28,000 wounded, according to the Pentagon's official figures. America has poured almost half a trillion dollars down the drain, only to end up less safe today than we were before the war started.

North Carolina's communities have borne their share of Iraq's casualties. Last Thursday, Chapel Hill native Army sergeant Lee C. Wilson became the latest N.C. servicemember to die in Iraq, killed when a bomb exploded near his vehicle during combat in Mosul. The 30 year-old had enlisted in 2001, was on a mind-boggling fourth deployment, and due to return home in December. When contacted by reporters, his father said, "We always talked about what we were going to do when he got out. He didn't want to be there."

Bush has destroyed Iraq while supposedly trying to liberate it, and thrown the Middle East into turmoil in the process. The bungled U.S. occupation has turned out to be the greatest recruiting tool al Qaeda could have hoped for. Iraq has become a shooting gallery where a new generation of terrorists are honing their skills using our troops as sitting duck targets.

And the Sept. 11 mastermind, Osama Bin Laden? Last week he released another propaganda video, implicitly taunting the United States for having failed to capture him, referring to events so recent it erased any doubt he was still alive.

Another 9/11 anniversary wouldn't be complete without another well-timed push to rally the nation around the flag in support of the Iraq fiasco. This time, it's Gen. David Petraeus who's shilling for Bush, having delivered his Sept. 10 report to Congress on how this year's "surge" in troops is coming along.

Despite his history of exaggerating progress in Iraq, most notably in a Washington Post op-ed published six weeks before the 2004 elections, Petraeus is Bush's last hope as a salesman for staying the course. There's nobody else left in his administration with any credibility. Meanwhile, more and more nervous Republicans are peeling away over Iraq, realizing voters are fed up with the war and want the troops to come home.

Unless the Republican Party wants to suffer more congressional losses in '08, and probably elect a Democratic President, it's far past time for Bush to declare victory in Iraq and leave. There's always a chance this message has finally gotten through Bush's thick skull, and true, he has been recently hinting at troop reductions. Yet considering his stated desire to hand Iraq over to his successor, any cutbacks in U.S. forces are likely to turn out to be a shell game, taking troop numbers down only to pre-surge levels.

As long as he's in the White House, the Decider will determine whether and how fast we extricate ourselves from Iraq. Forget about what the citizens want, forget about what military officials more candid than Petraeus advise, and forget about what's in the best interest of the United States. Bush will continue playing with our soldiers' lives until his term runs out. But he's wrong to think one more Sept. 11 snow job will salvage his tattered political legacy.


RoseCovered Glasses said...


-Ken Larson-

I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces today.

The Pentagon is a giant, incredibly complex establishment, budgeted in excess of $500B per year. The Rumsfelds, the Administrations and the Congressmen come and go but the real machinery of policy and procurement keeps grinding away, presenting the politicos who arrive with detail and alternatives slanted to perpetuate itself. The U.S. Department of Defense, headquartered in the Pentagon, is one of the most massive organizations on the planet, with net annual operating costs of $635 billion, assets worth $1.3 trillion, liabilities of $1.9 trillion and more that 2.9 million military and civilian personnel as of fiscal year 2005.

It is difficult to convey the complexity of the way DOD works to someone who has not experienced it. This is a massive machine with so many departments that no president, including Bush totally understands it. Presidents, Congressmen, Cabinet Members and Appointees project a knowledgeable demeanor but they are spouting what they are told by career people who never go away and who train their replacements carefully. These are military and civil servants with enormous collective power, armed with the Federal Acquisition Regulation, Defense Industrial Security Manuals, compartmentalized classification structures and "Rice Bowls" which are never mixed.

How can any anyone, be he a President, a Congressman or even the new Sec. Def. Mr. Gates, understand such complexity, particularly if heretofore he has not had the clearance to get the full details? Answer- he can’t. Therefore he accepts the alternatives provided by the career establishment that never goes away and he hopes he makes the right choices. Or he is influenced by a lobbyist or two representing companies in his district or special interest groups. From a practical standpoint, policy and war decisions are made far below the levels of the talking heads who take the heat or the credit for the results.

Our society has slowly given this power structure its momentum which is constant and extraordinarily tough to bend. The cost to the average American is exorbitant in terms of real dollars and bad decisions. Every major power structure member in the Pentagon's many Washington Offices and Field locations in the US and overseas has a counterpart in Defense Industry Corporate America. That collective body has undergone major consolidation in the last 10 years. What used to be a broad base of competitive firms is now a few huge monoliths, such as Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon and Boeing and SAIC.

Government oversight committees are carefully stroked. Sam Nunn and others who were around for years in military and policy oversight roles have been cajoled, given into on occasion but kept in the dark about the real status of things until it is too late to do anything but what the establishment wants. This still continues - with increasing high technology and potential for abuse. It will implode by its own volition, go broke, or so drastically let down the American people that it will fall in shambles. Rest assured the day of the implosion is coming. The machine is out of control.

This giant policy making and war machine will eventually come apart and have to be put back together to operate smaller, leaner and on less fuel. But that won’t happen until it hits a brick wall at high speed. That brick wall is the Pentagon's own arrogance. We will then have to run a Volkswagen instead of a Caddy and get along somehow. We better start practicing now and get off our high horse. Our golden aura in the world is beginning to dull from arrogance.

We have bought into the Military Industrial Complex (MIC). Through a combination of public apathy and threats by the MIC we have let the system get too large. It is now a systemic problem and the system is out of control. Government and industry are merging and that is very dangerous. There is no conspiracy. The system has gotten so big that those who make it up and run it day to day in industry and government simply are perpetuating their existence.

The politicians rely on the MIC for details and recommendations because they cannot possibly grasp the nuances of the environment and the big system. So, the system has to go bust and then be re-scaled, fixed and re-designed to run efficiently and prudently, just like any other big machine that runs poorly or becomes obsolete or dangerous.

This situation will right itself through trauma. A government Enron is on the horizon, with an associated house cleaning. The next president will come and go along with his appointees and politicos. The event to watch is the collapse of the MIC.

Ken Larson is a disabled Vietnam Veteran and a retired Aerospace Manager. He lives at the Minnesota Veteran's Home, Hastings, Minnesota. Ken worked 36 years in the US and in many foreign countries including the Middle East for the largest American defense industrial corporations. He can be reached at larsoke3@hotmail .com. His web site is

Chuck said...

I know of Christian through conversations with his dad, a former CHT bus driver. I used to chat with Lee Wilson daily as I rode the N to campus. He is a terrific guy. I hope the community will rally in support of the Wilson family.

Please read Lee's comments to the Canadian media. (Christian's death was a front-page story on

Note also Lee's statement to the El Paso Times.

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