Don't get used to it
It's undeniable what they'd have you to think.
It's indescribable, it can drive you to drink. - Bob Dylan
Some people knew as soon as the second plane struck the towers that they were watching, at least, a US domestic co-production. I feel silly admitting this now, but I wasn't one. Even though I'd known for years about black ops, I hadn't known about black magic, and the horrification ritual of that day caught me unaware.
It wasn't until the following week that I began to shake off the spell. I met a lawyer friend for dinner, someone I had known since grade school, someone I trusted implicitly, and he began recounting in a hushed tone the story of a client named Delmart Vreeland. My friend told me about his busy summer, trying to warn US and Canadian authorities of impending and catastrophic acts of terrorism, and that he had witnessed the signing and the sealing of Vreeland's note of a remembered translation, which included the line "Let one happen, stop the rest." (Because Vreeland's foreknowledge improbably warned of Russian and Iraqi collusion - reminiscent of the premeditated frame-up of Lee Harvey Oswald as a Soviet agent, and its purposeful abandonment for the less explosive sham of a "lone gunman" - I think it likely Vreeland was fed disinformation, and joined the event's hall of mirrors. Rather than decipher 9/11, Vreeland is one of its ciphers.)
A few weeks later saw the bizarre anthrax attacks upon the media and the Democratic leadership, just as the Patriot Act was in need a push, and things started coming into focus for me. Though when the FBI allowed the destruction of the original batch of Ames Strain anthrax, which made sourcing the anthrax more difficult, I could still think, How incompetent! (Later, when the anthrax was sourced to Fort Detrick, I was not still so naive as to be surprized.)
The spell was finally broken with the fiasco of the "Battle" of Tora Bora, where intentions were laid bare as bin Laden was surrounded on every side save the one which permitted his escape. An anonymous intelligence official later said that "It was obvious from at least early November that this area was to be the base for an exodus into Pakistan. All of this was known, and frankly we were amazed that nothing was done to prepare for it." Special forces were stood down and made to watch as Pakistani helicopters choppered him and his company to safety. ("The soldier, who said he was on the ground at Tora Bora when bin Laden was located, agreed to talk about the incident on condition that his name not be used, " The Fayetteville Observer reported the following August. "'I said, "There he goes."'") Curiously, these were the special forces which suffered a rash of apparent murder-suicides at Fort Bragg, shortly after their return from Afghanistan.
The war was to go on, seemingly forever. As was the legend of bin Laden.
Yet even as I fell down the 9/11 rabbit hole I kept grabbing at roots, not wanting to fall this far. I didn't want to believe it possible. So, They were incompetent, and got lucky. Nuh uh. They knew something was coming, but looked the other way. No. They let it happen. Still not there. The roots simply couldn't support the accruing weight of evidence. I had to fall quite a while before I realized that my belief, and disbelief, had nothing to do with the depth of the hole.
And now here we are, turning hard upon the fourth anniversary of 9/11, and Director of Central Intelligence Porter Goss says he has an "excellent idea" where Osama bin Laden is, that the United States is making "very good progress" on his capture, but "when you go to the very difficult question of dealing with sanctuaries in sovereign states, you're dealing with a problem of our sense of international obligation, fair play."
As with most pronoucements out of Washington, there are many incredibles to unpack in that sentence. For instance, that Porter Goss is CIA director should still make heads shake in disbelief. (And that he's been eclipsed by John Negroponte does nothing to cure our delirious tremens.)
And just think of this: nearly four years after invading Afghanistan to allegedly capture bin Laden, Goss is saying Let's not be too hasty; we need to respect a nation's sovereignty. We can't just go charging in.... But of course that's precisely what Americans believed they were signing on for in the Fall of 2001 as their blood was brought to a boil, though even then, authorities were shifting the goal lines.
In late September 2001, a deal brokered by Pakistan's two Islamic parties would have seen bin Laden extradited to Peshawar where he would be held under house arrest, and face an international tribunal which would assess the evidence for his guilt and decide whether to try him or deliver him to US custody. The US wanted no part of it. (As an offical later stated, "casting our objectives too narrowly" risked "a premature collapse of the international effort if by some lucky chance Mr bin Laden was captured.")
Though Bush had said he wanted bin Laden "dead or alive" (though he still has not presented the long-promised evidence that 9/11 was bin Laden's handiwork), in March 2002 he said "I truly am not that concerned about him." That April, Richard Myers even admitted that "the goal has never been to get bin Laden." And because that's true, they should claim a great success.
Recently, the suggestion, based on dubious intelligence, that bin Laden had "visited" Iran, was enough to sound the drumbeats that will, someday soon, accompany the cry of "On to Tehren!" Remaining unspoken is the fact that bin Laden has spent nearly all of the past four years as the guest of America's great friend, Pakistan. A friend so close that America's current Director of Central Intelligence was breakfasting with its own director of intelligence on the morning the spell was cast.
After more than four years, we shouldn't still be astonished. But we must be. Otherwise, we'll get used to it.