Adam Curtis’ documentary The Power of Nightmares questions the evidence for the alleged links between Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden [see other article]. A documentary produced a few years later, Fabled Enemies (2008), takes Curtis’ doubts about Bin Laden one step further. The director is Jason Bermas, former co-director of the numerous versions of the infamous internet blockbuster documentary Loose Change. Bermas asks one big question: is Osama Bin Laden the real culprit behind the attacks on 9/11?
What Bermas believes to be the most telling piece of evidence in this regard is the fact that the FBI only lists the attacks on the US embassies in East Africa in 1998 and the attack on USS Cole in 2000 as Bin Laden’s crimes. This information became known after inquiries by the author Ed Haas. When he contacted FBI Headquarters on June 5, 2006, Rex Tomb, Chief of Investigative Publicity for the FBI stated quite conclusively: “The reason why 9/11 is not mentioned on Osama bin Laden’s Most Wanted page is because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting bin Laden to 9/11.” Tomb also added: “Bin Laden has not been formally charged in connection to 9/11.” This puzzling piece of information was also noticed by Project Censored, which every year publishes a ranking list of what they believe to be underreported cases. They rated it as number 16 of the top 25 cases in 2008.
MIT Professor Noam Chomsky made observations along similar lines in Znet on 20 May: “[…] the 9/11 Commission provided extensive circumstantial evidence of bin Laden’s role in 9/11, based primarily on what it had been told about confessions by prisoners in Guantanamo. It is doubtful that much of that would hold up in an independent court, considering the ways confessions were elicited. But in any event, the conclusions of a congressionally authorized investigation, however convincing one finds them, plainly fall short of a sentence by a credible court, which is what shifts the category of the accused from suspect to convicted.” Bermas also conveys other extraordinary stories concerning the other hijackers whom most people have probably never seen or heard of. One of the most striking comes from Michael Springmann, former head of the Nonimmigrant Visa Section at the US consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in 1987–88. In the documentary, he claims that the US has taken part in a covert program that goes as far back as 1987, during which they issued visas to unqualified applicants, among them to some of the 9/11 hijackers, and that several of them were sent to the CIA-training camp in Virginia, known as “Camp Peary”.
Of the many cases Bermas exposes in his documentary, the one which is most known to the public involves President Bush and Condoleezza Rice receiving a memo on August 6, 2001 entitled “Bin Laden determined to strike in the US” (read Bob Woodward’s State of Denial) and NORAD’s conducting of exercises two years before 9/11, on the scenario of hijacked airliners as weapons, where one of the targets was the WTC. The exercise was called Amalgam Virgo and featured Osama Bin Laden on the cover of the exercise instruction manuals. Still Bush claimed in public that “no one in our government… could have imagined flying airplanes into buildings on such a massive scale”
The American Government’s lack of interest in self-scrutiny also extended to the 9/11 Commission. In the documentary we are informed that it completely ignored information about how a secret data mining program led by U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) and the Intelligence Agency (DIA) called Able Danger identified Mohammed Atta and three other hijackers prior to 9/11. One of the leading researchers in the project, Colonel Anthony Shaeffer, was gagged every time he attempted to reveal this to the public.
He therefore turned to director Philip Zelikow and informed him that Able Danger had detected in advance two of the three cells which conducted the terrorist attacks on 9/11, but Zelikow did not find the information significant enough to include it in the Commission’s report. His leadership style and close ties with The White House offended many of the other members of the Commission, something which is apparent in the book Without precedent (2007), written by the two chairmen, Thomas Keen and Lee Hamilton, and The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation (2008) by Philip Shenon, journalist at the New York Times. The latter book reveals that around one third of the documents the Commission based its conclusions on, were produced as a result of interrogations at Guantanamo where the prisoners were exposed to torture. This is one of the reasons why former CIA-researcher McGovern and Michael Springmann claim in the documentary that the Commission is “a massive cover-up”. In August 2008, this scepticism boiled over when Dennis Kucinich, member of the House of Representatives, formally asked Congress to impeach the Bush Administration for “obstruction of the investigation into the attacks of September 11, 2001”. Bermas gives the public a chance to catch up
on what might have been missed by the official media. Sometimes he walks down blind alleys where the sources are probably impossible to find, like when he claims Israeli intelligence had contact with the 9/11 hijackers. But on the whole he has done an excellent job of backing his claims with real news stories and information from open sources. Today, we might not know any more about who Bin Laden is, but we are certainly one more step closer to eliminating the crimes we cannot prove he has committed.