Understanding the Events of 11 September


Richard Moore

Draft article for New Dawn magazine.

Your feedback, additions, references, corrections, and
elaborations are eagerly invited.


           Understanding the Events of 11 September

Are we being told the truth about the Trade Center attacks?
First of all, I'd like you to understand that I don't have
any secret information, or leaked documents, about the
horrific events of 11 September in New York City.  I'm
writing this article while on the road, without my usual
reference books, and I'm working from U.S. television
reports and from articles that people have sent me over the
Internet. What we're going to do in this article is to look
at the events in the same way we'd investigate a murder
mystery: what are the possible scenarios?  What are the
relevant clues?  Which scenario best fits the facts?  

I'm not claiming this analysis is true, I'm only asking you
to consider the possibility.  As we review the historical
background, I'll be giving you my best understanding of
events - but I am not claiming that every statement is an
established fact. This article represents my _opinion as to
'most likely scenarios'.  Due to the scope of the material,
much of the presentation is highly abbreviated.  A
recommended reading list is provided at the bottom for those
who wish to investigate the ideas in greater depth.

For all I know, the scenario presented by the U.S.
corporate- government- media- elite Establishment might be
correct.  Perhaps the attacks came as a shocking surprise,
and the U.S. response has been hastily determined in
subsequent emergency meetings.  But this default scenario
opens many questions...

    (1) Within hours of the attacks we were already being told
    that the FBI knows who the hijackers were, and that they are
    linked to Bin Laden.  If this is true, then why were they
    allowed to buy tickets in their own names and travel
    together on commercial flights?  One of the suspects who
    bought a ticket in his own name, a TV report said, was on
    the FBI's most-wanted list!  And only a week before, we are
    told, Bin Laden had threatened that a major U.S. target was
    going to be attacked.  Could security really be that lax?
    (2) In the first day of media coverage there seemed to be a
    huge gap in the reports we were receiving.  Why were we
    being told nothing about air-traffic controllers, and their
    attempts to contact the planes?  Wouldn't that have made for
    dramatic television?...  "Flight 11, please come in. Flight
    11, do you read me?"   Why were we told nothing about
    scrambling fighter planes, and of attempts to intercept the
    hijacked airliners?  On September 15 the New York times
    published an 'explanation' of the events by Matthew Wald,
    and reported that some fighters did scramble.  But why was
    this completely omitted from the early reports?  The initial
    coverage seemed to be designed to give us the impression
    that no one knew what was going on until the first plane
    actually struck the World Trade Center.
    (3) And the NY Times explanation doesn't make sense.  The
    following excerpts are from an analysis of that article by
    Jared Israel, which can be found on the web at
        "In an analysis of the 9-11 nightmare, which we have been
        preparing, one of the things we asked is: how could the
        so-called third plane stay in the air, hijacked, for almost
        an hour after two other hijacked planes had struck the WTC
        Towers, and not be seen and intercepted by U.S. air defense
        forces? How could it fly to the Midwest, turn around and fly
        back to Washington, to the Pentagon, undisturbed?
        "Apparently it occurred to someone On High that ordinary
        folks might harbor such thoughts, hence the following
        article has been published by the 'N.Y. Times,' with the
        apparent intention of defusing such doubts.
        "But the cure is worse than the doubts. It is one thing to
        say the plane was not spotted. But to say, as this article
        does, that the plane was spotted, that it was tracked from
        the time it turned back from the Midwest until it struck the
        Pentagon, and yet nothing was done because they "didn't know
        what to do" - this is simply unbelievable.
        "If they knew the plane was coming, why didn't they force
        it down and failing that, shoot it down? Before you say
        'They wouldn't do a thing like that,' note that whoever
        edited the 'N.Y. Times' article left in the following
        damning sentences, regarding the fourth plane, the one that,
        we are told, crashed in Pennsylvania:
        "'Paul Wolfowitz, the deputy defense secretary, said today
        that the Pentagon had been tracking that plane and could
        have shot it down if necessary; it crashed about 35 minutes
        after the Pentagon crash.' (From article posted below)
        "So if they "could have shot" down the fourth plane, why
        didn't they shoot down the third? Why didn't they shoot down
        the first three, or at least planes # two and three? Once
        they "knew" these were suicide hijackings what were they
        waiting for them to do, hit the WTC Towers and the Pentagon?
        Or a nuclear power plant?"

    (4) If the attacks really came as a complete surprise, one
    would expect initial confusion at the highest government
    levels.  One would have expected days to go by while
    information was gathered and options were considered.
    Instead, we began seeing a coherent and final response
    within hours.  Within a day or two the perpetrators were
    known, $40 billion had been allocated by Congress, a
    protracted war was being announced, we were being told to
    expect major cutbacks in civil liberties, and the U.S.
    Senate had approved the "Combating Terrorism Act of 2001". 
    And within a few days after that, a multi-billion dollar
    airline bailout was being announced.

There are other objections that can be raised to the
official scenario, but I am not trying here to prove that
scenario to be wrong.  I wish only to express doubt,
suggesting that other scenarios deserve consideration.  When
seeking to identify the perpetrator of a crime, as we all
know from countless mystery dramas, one looks for motive,
opportunity, and modus operandi - as well as at
circumstantial and physical evidence.  For the scenario I'd
like you to consider, let us begin with modus operandi, or
"standard behavior of the suspect".

U.S. history - a series of suspicious warpath 'incidents'
As we look back at history, we find that every time the U.S.
has entered into a major military adventure, that has been
enabled by a dramatic incident which aroused public
sentiment overwhelmingly in favor of military action.  These
incidents have always been accepted at face value when they
occurred, but in every case we have learned later that the
incidents were highly suspicious.  And in every case, the
ensuing military action served some elite geopolitical

Consider for example the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, which gave
President Lyndon Johnson an excuse to begin major escalation
of the Vietnam War.  Supposedly, in that incident, a North
Vietnamese boat launched torpedoes in an attempt to sink an
American warship.  It is now generally accepted by
historians that the attack did not in fact occur, and that
Johnson had been preparing to escalate all along.

One of my correspondents on the Internet summarized the
situation this way:

  "The U.S. Government lied to the American People about
  the following events. Each of these incidents led the
  United States into War....
  "1898..THEY LIED about the sinking of the battleship
        Maine. (Spanish American War)
  1915..THEY LIED about the sinking of the ocean liner
        Lusitania (World War I)
  1941..THEY LIED about the attack on Pearl Harbor.
        (World War 2)
  1964..THEY LIED about the Gulf of Tonkin affair.
        (Vietnam War)"

In the media coverage of the recent WTC attack, the
comparison with Pearl Harbor has been frequently raised. 
Thousands of American troops were killed in the attack on
Pearl Harbor, and thousands of American civilians were
killed in the attack on the WTC.  In both cases the American
people responded (quite understandably) with deep shock and
outrage.  In both cases, overwhelming public sentiment was
for retaliation, and for giving the President total support
for whatever course he chose.  In 1941, as now, any
suggestion that the U.S. government knew in advance of the
attacks, and could have prevented them, would have been met
by angry disbelief by almost any American.  Nonetheless,
the evidence now seems to favor the view that President
Franklin D. Roosevelt _did know about the impending attack
on Pearl Harbor, and that he could have mounted an effective

We now know that elite U.S. planners, during the period
1939-1941, had come to the conclusion that the Japanese
conquest of Asia had to be stopped.  The planners determined
that Southeast Asia, in particular, was critical to U.S.
economic interests.  But U.S. public opinion was
overwhelmingly against entering the war.  It now seems that
FDR figured out a way to get the U.S. into the war, and that
Pearl Harbor was the key to his plan.

When the Japanese began to threaten Southeast Asia, FDR
froze Japanese assets in U.S. banks, resulting in a cutoff
of Japanese oil supplies.  This was considered an act of war
by Japan, and Japanese retaliation was expected by American
planners.  As the Japanese fleet approached Pearl Harbor,
intelligence services in Britain and the U.S. evidently knew
of that approach.  Prime Minister Churchill notified his
Pacific commanders that the Japanese were heading for Pearl
Harbor.  FDR, on the other hand, did not notify his
commanders.   Instead, he sent the most strategic ships (the
aircraft carriers) out to sea where they would be safe, and
instructed key observation outposts on the island of Kauai
to stand down.

It seems that FDR intentionally set the stage for a
'surprise' attack - shocking the nation and instantly
shifting public opinion from non-interventionism to war
frenzy.  I am suggesting that this same scenario must be
considered in the case of the recent WTC and Pentagon
attacks.  Unbelievable as this may seem, this is a scenario
that matches the modus operandi of U.S. ruling elites. These
elites show callous disregard for civilian lives in Iraq,
Rwanda, Yugoslavia, and dozens of other places around the
world.  Is it so surprising that they would sacrifice a few
thousand American civilians if they considered that
necessary in order to pursue their geopolitical objectives?

Let us now consider in more detail the possible motives for
such a crime scenario.

Global capitalism in crisis
Capitalism must have growth and change in order to operate. 
The engine of capitalism is driven by wealthy investors who
put their money into the economy in order to increase their
wealth.  If the economy offers no growth opportunities, then
investors withdraw their money and the whole system
collapses.  A minor collapse is called a recession, and a
major collapse is called a depression.  The history of
capitalism is punctuated by such collapses.

Capitalism came into existence along with the Industrial
Revolution in the late 1700s in Scotland and northern
England.  Before that time societies were not based on
growth. Certainly there were people before then who sought
to increase their wealth, but economies as a whole did not
require growth in order to operate. Societies were ruled by
aristocratic elites whose wealth was measured by the estates
they owned, and the peasants who worked their land.  Such
aristocrats were more interested in stability than change,
and more concerned with maintaining their estates than with
economic growth.

When the Industrial Revolution came along then all this
began to change. With the steam engine and other new
technologies, it became possible for an entrepreneur to make
a great deal of wealth rapidly.  A new wealthy elite began
to emerge made up inventors, industrialists, bankers, and
traders.  These were the people who built the factories,
invested in them, and figured out ways to get the new
products to markets.

The interests of this new elite clashed with those of the
old aristocratic elite.  The aristocrats favored stability,
and laws which provided stability - such as tariffs, price
controls, etc.  The new elite, on the other hand, wanted
change and growth - they wanted to develop new products,
build new factories, and capture new markets.  While
aristocratic wealth was based on land and stability,
industrial wealth was based on investment, development,
change, and growth.

This new kind of economics, based on investment and growth,
is capitalism.  And the new elite, gaining its wealth
through change and growth, is the capitalist elite.  At
first capitalism existed along side aristocracy, competing
with it to control the laws of society.  But then in
Britain, and later in other nations, the capitalist elite
won out. Laws, economies, and societies were transformed to
favor capitalism and growth over stability and land-based
wealth. Banking, monetary systems, and taxation were
re-engineered so as to compel businesses to seek growth
whether they wanted to or not.

No one can deny that capitalism and its growth have brought
many kinds of benefits to some people.  America was based on
capitalism from its very founding, and American wealth and
prosperity are legendary.  But there is a fundamental
problem with capitalism.  How is it possible for an economy
to grow endlessly?  How can growth be forever achieved in a
finite world?  Is capitalism, in the final analysis,

In fact, providing for ongoing growth has been the primary
challenge faced by every nation that has adopted capitalism.
The history of the 19th and 20th centuries has been
primarily the story of how nations have competed for markets
and resources to support growth.  Our history books tell us
about noble causes and evil enemies, but in truth every
significant war since 1800 has been about competition among
Great Powers for economic growth.

Before capitalism, nations built empires because kings or
individuals were greedy and wanted more territory and
wealth.  After capitalism, nations developed empires out of
necessity.  If they didn't expand their markets and access
to resources their economies would collapse.  As industrial
capitalism got into high gear in the late 1800s, that was
accompanied by an unprecedented expansion of imperialism on
a global scale.  

From 1800 until 1945 the world system was a matter of
competition among Great Powers for empires, in order to
provide for capitalist growth.  In each empire there was a
core nation which ruled over peripheral territories.  The
peripheral territories were exploited in order to provide
growth for the core ruling nation. The populations of the
core nations were convinced by propaganda that they were
helping or aiding the periphery to develop.  This propaganda
was lies.  The fact was suppression, exploitation, and the
prevention of healthy development in the periphery - so as
to enable capitalism to flourish in the core Great Powers.

In 1945 this global system was radically changed. Under
American leadership, with the help of both incentives and
coercion, a new paradigm of capitalist growth was launched.
Instead of competitive imperialism, a regime of cooperative
imperialism was instituted.  Under the protection of the
American military, the so-called "Free World" was opened to
exploitation by capitalism generally.  This led to the rise
of immense transnational corporations, who were no longer
limited in their growth to a single national empire.  This
new post-1945 system was invented in order to provide
another round of growth to capitalism.

Under the post-1945 system, part of the scheme was to
provide prosperity to the Western middle classes.  In
Europe, the USA, and in Japan as well, populations
experienced unprecedented prosperity.  Cooperative
imperialism provided immense growth room for capitalism, and
the wealth was being shared with the core-nation

But no matter what system might be set up, growth eventually
runs into the limits of that system.  The post-1945 system
was no exception.  By the early 1970s the growth machine was
beginning to slow down. Recessions began to replace
prosperity.  As a consequence, the global capitalist elite
designed yet another system, offering yet another round of
capitalist growth. This new system goes under the name
'neoliberalism', and it was launched under the auspices of
Ronald Reagan in the USA and Margaret Thatcher in the UK.

The purpose of neoliberalism was to rob the wealth of the
prosperous capitalist nations and transfer that wealth to
the capitalist elite and the corporations which they own and
control.  That's what privatization, deregulation, and other
so-called 'reforms' were all about.  In addition,
neoliberalism was aimed at disempowering democracy itself -
because it was the democratic nations which were
implementing laws which limited the power of corporations. 
Any limit on the power of corporation is a limit on
their ability to grow.  And the one thing capitalism cannot
tolerate is limits to its growth.  That is a matter of life
and death to capitalism.

Again, as must ALWAYS happen, the neoliberal system also
began to run out of growth room.  In this case, the system
only provided growth for about ten years, the decade of the
1980s.  And thus we were brought to the era of
GLOBALIZATION. Propaganda tells us that globalization is
simply the continuation of 'natural' trends in technology,
trade, and commerce.  This is not true.  Globalization
represents an _intentional and _radical policy shift on the
part of the global capitalist elite.

Globalization amounts to four radical changes in the world
system.  These are (1) the destabilization of and removal of
sovereignty from Western nation states, (2) the
establishment of an essentially fascist world government
under the direct control of the capitalist elite,  (3) the
greatly accelerated exploitation and suppression of the
third-world, and (4) the gradual downgrading of Western
living conditions toward third-world standards.  By these
means, elites hope to achieve yet another round of capital

During most of the decade of the 1990s globalization
proceeded almost unnoticed by the world's population.  The
WTO and IMF began to establish their tentacles of power
without publicity.  Government leaders worldwide, under the
pressure of capitalist elites, were quietly signing their
sovereignty over to the new global institutions.  When
globalization was mentioned at all in the media, it was
described in propaganda terms as sharing 'progress' with the
downtrodden of the world.  Lies as usual from the capitalist
elite and the media outlets which they control or own.

And then in December 1999 the people of the world began to
wake up.  The demonstrations in Seattle marked the beginning
of a new global movement.  In fairness, one must acknowledge
that there were earlier signs of the movement, in Europe and
the third world.  But only when the movement reached the USA
did it become 'real' in the eyes of the world.  And ever
since Seattle the movement has been growing by leaps and
bounds on a global scale.

The movement does not yet have well-defined goals, but it is
a very promising and very radical movement.  It is based on
a clear understanding that global capitalism is leading us
to ecological disaster and to tyranny.  The movement does
not have a clear organizational structure, but that itself
is promising.  The decentralized nature of the movement
points to the way to a new kind of genuine, grass-roots,
locally-based democracy - a democracy that is not subject to
elite manipulation as have been our Western
pseudo-democracies with their manufactured 'majorities'.

Having presented this (highly abbreviated) historical
background, I can now describe the nature of 'the global
crisis of capitalism'.  On the one hand, the capitalist
elite must accelerate the pace of globalization in order to
continue providing room for capital growth. On the other
hand, the people of the world, notably in the West, have
begun to wake up and oppose the dangerous and ominous path
of globalization. The elite know that as the path of
globalization is pursued more vigorously, more and more
people will rise in opposition.  The crisis of
globalization is a crisis of population control, requiring
the subjugation of the people of Europe and North America.

People in the third world have been subjected to imperialist
tyranny for centuries, and this has been possible because of
suppression by Western military force.  If the people of the
West arise in opposition to globalization, then the hegemony
of the capitalist elite is seriously threatened.  THIS IS

"War on Terrorism" - a solution to capitalism's crisis
  [In writing this section, I refer frequently to the
  Los Angeles Times of 21 September.]

President Bush calls it a "War on Terrorism", but what is it
really?  Let's look at some of the specifics...

  * Congress has authorized the President to do "whatever is
  * Congress has allocated 40 billion dollars to do
  * The $40 billion came from Social Security funds.
  * $15 billion is being allocated to bail out the airline
  * For the first time, NATO has invoked the treaty clause
  which says "an attack on one nation is an attack on all".
  * We've been told to expect significant curtailment of civil
  * Bush declared that "Every nation in every region now has a
  decision to make. Either you are with us or you are with the
  * Fleets, planes, and ground troops have been dispatched to
  the Middle East to do "whatever".
  * We are to expect a long, protracted war, much of which
  will be covert and we won't be told what happened even after
  it's all over.
  * After Bin Laden is dealt with, Secretary of State Colin
  Powell tells us "we will then broaden the campaign to go
  after other terrorist organizations and forms of terrorism
  around the world."
  * Bush tells us that "We will use every necessary weapon of
  war", and "Americans should not expect one battle, but a
  lengthy campaign unlike any other we have ever seen."
  * The Pentagon specifically refuses to rule out the use of
  nuclear weapons.

  * Bush tells us that "God is not neutral".
This is a very comprehensive list. Bush has a blank check to
do whatever he wants, wherever he wants, using whatever
means he chooses.  He has made it clear he intends to pull
no punches and that he will keep drawing on this blank check
for a long time to come.   From such an agenda, one cannot
easily predict where it will all lead.  In such a case, it
is instructive to look at the historical precedents.

Pearl Harbor aroused the wrath of Americans against the
Japanese... but as soon as the blank check was signed, it
was Europe that received the initial focus of American
military attention.  After the Battleship Maine was blown up
(from an internal explosion we have since learned), the
thirst for revenge was translated into the imperialist
capture of the Philippines.  In other words, when one of
these outrage incidents occurs, the modus operandi of the
U.S. elite is to pursue whatever objectives are most
important to it - regardless of the incident that provided
the blank check.

And the most important issue before the elite at this point
in history is the preservation of global elite rule, the
acceleration of globalization, and the suppression of the
anti-globalization movement.  They must deal with the crisis
of global capitalism. 

From this perspective, the real meaning of the "War on
Terrorism" begins to come into focus.  Permit me to
speculate as to the scenario which is likely to unfold...

    * Nearly every country in the third world has some local
    ethnic group which is struggling against some kind of
    dictatorial government, usually installed by the USA.  Every
    one of these ethnic groups can be labelled 'terrorist'. 
    Thus Bush can always intervene anywhere he wants for
    whatever reason and call it part of the "War on Terrorism".
    * In the Middle East, Balkans, and Western Asia, the U.S.
    will continue the process of turning much of the region into
    an occupied imperialist realm, as we now see in Kosovo. 
    Afghanistan occupies a very strategic geopolitical
    position, and military bases there will be important in the
    coming confrontation with China.  Vast reserves of oil
    remain in that region, along with other minerals, and
    control over these resources will be critical as global
    supplies become increasingly scarce.
    * U.S. dominance of the NATO agenda will be important in
    this region, as will the careful management of European
    public opinion.  One should not be surprised if U.S.
    intelligence agencies covertly arrange for terrorist attacks
    in Europe along the same lines as the WTC attacks.
    * Even without covert U.S. encouragement, one can expect
    terrorist responses to the indiscriminate U.S. bombing which
    is likely to be unleashed in Afghanistan and
    who-knows-where-else.  Any such terrorist attacks will
    galvanize Western public opinion still further, adding depth
    to Bush's blank check.
    * Already Greenpeace and many other progressive
    organizations are categorized as 'mildly terrorist' in the
    FBI lexicon.  And it is the anti-globalization movement,
    which includes such organizations, which is the real threat
    to the global capitalist elite.  Agent-provocateur tactics
    have already been used against the movement, from Seattle to
    Genoa, and in the media the movement has been falsely
    portrayed as being essentially a violent movement.  When
    Colin Powell talks about "other forms of terrorism", it
    seems very clear that the movement will be systematically
    suppressed on a global scale.  The overt fascism we saw in
    Genoa will be raising its ugly head in the U.S., Germany,
    the UK, and elsewhere.  Right-wing paranoia about
    FEMA-managed concentration camps in the USA will soon seem
    much less paranoid.

George Bush senior announced the New World Order, and it
seems that George Bush junior is destined to complete its
implementation.  With a blank check to dominate the globe
militarily, and to suppress the American people in the name
of 'security', there seems to be little to stand in his way.
This does not mean that the movement should give up.  It
means that the movement needs to be aware that the game
being played is totally hardball.  And hardball does not
mean violence, at least not on the part of the movement.
Hardball means to realize that the enemy is nothing less
than global fascism.  The sooner that we realize that and
organize accordingly, the greater chance we have of changing
things while there are still human beings alive on the

Copley Square
Boston, USA
25 Sep 2001


Suggested reading

Pearl Harbor book

bibio from Escaping Matrix

Escaping Matrix

Returning to our roots

Toward an American Revolution

Story of B

Brian Martin, "Nonviolence versus capitalism", War
Resisters' International, London, 2001.