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Tin-Foil Hat Time: The Richard Clarke Edition

Source: Philly.com
Category: BLOG

Another 9/11 conspiracy nut is outed:

With the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks only a month away, former CIA Director George Tenet and two former top aides are fighting back hard against allegations that they engaged in a massive cover-up in 2000 and 2001 to hide intelligence from the White House and the FBI that might have prevented the attacks.

The source of the explosive, unproved allegations is a man who once considered Tenet a close friend: former White House counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke, who makes the charges against Tenet and the CIA in an interview for a radio documentary timed to the 10th anniversary next month. Portions of the Clarke interview were made available to The Daily Beast by the producers of the documentary.

In the interview for the documentary, Clarke offers an incendiary theory that, if true, would rewrite the history of the 9/11 attacks, suggesting that the CIA intentionally withheld information from the White House and FBI in 2000 and 2001 that two Saudi-born terrorists were on U.S. soil—terrorists who went on to become suicide hijackers on 9/11.

This story appears on the T-minus-one-month date of the big 9/11 anniversary; there will soon be a flood of articles from all angles about the event that was so remarkably horrific that it’s hard to believe it was 10 fairly long years ago. As I’ve noted in this space in the past (although not recently), there seems to be only two prevailing views about what happened that day and how it happened: The official, immutable and unquestionable government version — or beyond the “Twilight Zone” totally whacked- out conspiracy theories.

I have always believed in what you could call “the third way” — that the evidence is overwhelming that the basic story line of 9/11 is pretty much what we think it is, that the attacks were planned and carried out by known members of al-Qaeda and masterminded by Osama bin Laden, to boost bin Laden’s stature in the Muslim world (which lasted just a brief time, thank Allah) and to sow chaos in America (which worked, sadly.) There were no holograms or whatever, and real hijacked jetliners were what crashed into the Pentagon and into that field in Shanksville. George W. Bush did not know of the attacks in advance — if he did, do you really think he would have had that dazed look on his face when he was told the second plane struck the World Trade Center?

But I also believe in what the great muckraker I.F. Stone said, that all governments have one thing in common: They lie. I think within the broad contours of what we know about 9/11, there’s a lot that we don’t know, and a lot of baloney that’s been put out there. Even the chief counsel of the the 9/11 Commission believes there was a cover-up related to the failed air-defense response that morning. There are still valid questions about whether it was Cheney or Bush calling the shots in the initial moments. We don’t know everything we should about what our government knew about what Pakistan or Saudi Arabia knew before 9/11. In that context, Richard Clarke’s “conspiracy theory” seems highly plausible.

I think that will be one positive aspect to the upcoming 10th anniversary overload — the passage of time will make it less taboo to talk about some of those issues. Hopefully by the 15th anniversary, we’ll have a better understanding of 9/11 than we do today, on the eve of the 10th.

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