I was in China when a July Harris Poll reported that 50 percent of Americans still believe that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction when Bush invaded that country and that 64 percent of Americans still believe that Saddam Hussein had strong links with al-Qaida.
The Chinese leaders and intellectuals with whom I was meeting were incredulous. How could a majority of the population in an allegedly free country with an allegedly free press be so totally misinformed?
The only answer I could give the Chinese is that Americans would have been the perfect population for Mao and the Gang of Four, because Americans believe anything their government tells them.
Americans never check any facts. Who do you know, for example, who has even read the report of the 9-11 commission, much less checked the alleged facts reported in that document. I can answer for you. You don't know anyone who has read the report or checked the facts.
The two co-chairmen of the 9-11 commission report, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, have just released a new book, "Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9-11 Commission." Kean and Hamilton reveal that the commission suppressed the fact that Muslim ire toward the United States is due to U.S. support for Israel's persecution and dispossession of the Palestinians, not to our "freedom and democracy," as Bush propagandistically claims. Kean and Hamilton also reveal that the U.S. military committed perjury and lied about its failure to intercept the hijacked airliners. The commission even debated referring the military's lies to the Justice Department for criminal investigation. Why should we assume that these admissions are the only cover-ups and lies in the 9-11 commission report?
How do you know that 9-11 was a Muslim terrorist plot? How do you know that three World Trade Center buildings collapsed because two were hit by airliners? You only "know" because the government gave you the explanation of what you saw on TV. (Did you even know that three WTC buildings collapsed?)
I still remember the enlightenment I experienced as a student in Russian studies when I learned that the Czarist secret police would set off bombs and then blame those whom they wanted to arrest.
When Hitler seized dictatorial power in 1933, he told the Germans that his new powers were made necessary by a communist terrorist attack on the Reichstag. When Hitler started World War II by invading Poland, he told the Germans that Poland had crossed the frontier and attacked Germany.
Governments lie all the time — especially governments staffed by neoconservatives whose intellectual godfather, Leo Strauss, taught them that it is permissible to deceive the public in order to achieve their agenda.
Some readers will write to me to say that they saw a TV documentary or read a magazine article verifying the government's explanation of 9-11. But, of course, these Americans did not check the facts, either — and neither did the people who made the documentary and wrote the magazine article.
Scientists and engineers, such as Clemson University Professor of Engineering Dr. Judy Woods and BYU Professor of Physics Dr. Steven Jones, have raised compelling questions about the official account of the collapse of the three WTC buildings. The basic problem for the government's account is that the buildings are known to have fallen at free-fall speed, a fact that is inconsistent with the government's "pancaking" theory in which debris from above collapsed the floors below. If the buildings actually "pancaked," then each floor below would have offered resistance to the floors above, and the elapsed time would have been much longer.
These experts have also calculated that the buildings did not have sufficient gravitational energy to accommodate the government's theory of the collapse. It is certainly a known and non-controversial fact among physicists and engineers that the only way buildings can collapse at free fall speed into their own footprints is by engineered demolition. Explosives are used to remove the support of floors below before the debris from above arrives. Otherwise, resistance is encountered and the time required for fall increases.
Engineered demolition also explains the symmetrical collapse of the buildings into their own footprints. As it is otherwise improbable for every point in floors below to weaken uniformly, "pancaking" would result in asymmetrical collapse as some elements of the floor would give sooner than others.
Scientific evidence is a tough thing for the American public to handle, and the government knows it. The government can rely on people dismissing things that they cannot understand as "conspiracy theory." But if you are inclined to try to make up your own mind, you can find Jones' and Woods' papers, which have been formally presented to their peers at scientific meetings, online at www.st911.org/
Experts have also pointed out that the buildings' giant steel skeletons comprised a massive heat sink that wicked away the heat from the limited, short-lived fires, thus preventing a heat buildup. Experts also point out that the short-lived, scattered, low-intensity fires could barely reach half the melting point of steel even if they burned all day, instead of merely an hour.
Don't ask me to tell you what happened on 9-11. All I know is that the official account of the buildings' collapse is improbable.
Now we are being told another improbable tale. Muslim terrorists in London and Pakistan were caught plotting to commit mass murder by smuggling bottles of explosive liquids on board airliners in hand luggage. Baby formula, shampoo and water bottles allegedly contained the tools of suicide bombers.
How do we know about this plot? Well, the police learned it from an "Islamic militant arrested near the Afghan-Pakistan border several weeks ago." And how did someone so far away know what British-born people in London were plotting?
Do you really believe that Western and Israeli intelligence services, which were too incompetent to prevent the 9-11 attack, can uncover a London plot by capturing a person on the Afghan border in Pakistan? Why would "an Islamic militant" rat on such a plot even if he knew of it?
More probable explanations of the "plot" are readily available. According to the Aug. 11 Wayne Madsen Report, informed sources in the United Kingdom say that "the Tony Blair government, under siege by a Labor Party revolt, cleverly cooked up a new 'terror' scare to avert the public's eyes away from Blair's increasing political woes. British law enforcement, neocon and intelligence operatives in the United States, Israel and Britain, and Rupert Murdoch's global media empire cooked up the terrorist plot, liberally borrowing from the failed 1995 'Oplan Bjinka' plot by Pakistan- and Philippines-based terrorist Ramzi Ahmad Yousef to crash 11 trans-Pacific airliners bound from Asia to the U.S."
There are other plausible explanations. For example, our puppet in Pakistan decided to arrest some people who were a threat to him. With Bush's commitment to "building democracy in the Middle East," our puppet can't arrest his political enemies without cause, so he lays the blame on a plot.
Any testimony against Muslim plotters by "an Islamic militant" is certain to have been bought and paid for.
Or consider this explanation. Under the Nuremberg standard, Bush and Blair are war criminals. Bush is so worried that he will be held accountable that he has sent his attorney general to consult with the Republican Congress to work out legislation to protect Bush retroactively from his violations of the Geneva Conventions.
Tony Blair is in more danger of finding himself in the dock. Britain is signatory to a treaty that, if justice is done, will place Blair before the International Criminal Court in the Hague.
What better justification for the two war criminals' illegal actions than the need to foil dastardly plots by Muslims recruited in sting operations by Western intelligence services? The more Bush and Blair can convince their publics that terrorist danger abounds, the less likely Bush and Blair are ever to be held accountable for their crimes.
But surely, some readers might object, our great moral leaders wouldn't do something political like that!
They most certainly would. As Joshua Micah Marshall wrote in the July 7 issue of Time magazine, the suspicion is "quite reasonable" that "the Bush administration orchestrates its terror alerts and arrests to goose the GOP's poll numbers."
Marshall proves his conclusion by examining the barrage of color-coded terror alerts, none of which were real — and, yes, it all fits with political needs.
And don't forget the plot unearthed in Miami to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago. Described by Vice President Cheney as a "very real threat," the plot turned out to be nothing more than a few harmless wackos recruited by an FBI agent sent out to organize a sting.
There was also the "foiled plot" to blow up the Holland Tunnel and flood downtown New York City with seawater. Thinking New Orleans, the FBI invented this plot without realizing that New York City is above sea level. Of course, most Americans didn't realize it, either.
For six years, the Bush regime has been able to count on the ignorant and naive American public to believe whatever tale that is told them. American gullibility has yet to fail the Bush regime.
The government has an endless number of conspiracy theories, but only people who question the government's conspiracies are derided for "having a conspiracy theory."
The implication is even worse if we assume that the explosive bottle plot is genuine. It means that America and Britain by their own aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan, and by enabling Israel's war crimes in Palestine and Lebanon, have created such hatred that Muslims, who identify with Bush's, Blair's and Israel's victims, are plotting retaliation.
But Bush is prepared. He has taught his untutored public that "they hate us for our freedom and democracy."
Gentle reader, wise up. The entire world is laughing at you.
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Paul Craig Roberts [email him] was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration. He is the author of Supply-Side Revolution : An Insider's Account of Policymaking in Washington; Alienation and the Soviet Economy and Meltdown: Inside the Soviet Economy, and is the co-author with Lawrence M. Stratton of The Tyranny of Good Intentions : How Prosecutors and Bureaucrats Are Trampling the Constitution in the Name of Justice. Click here for Peter Brimelow's Forbes Magazine interview with Roberts about the recent epidemic of prosecutorial misconduct.