By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
The professed lag in reacting to the hijacking of Flight 93 is just as striking. NORAD acknowledged learning of the hijacking at 9:16, yet the Pentagon's position is that it had not yet intercepted the plane when it crashed in a Pennsylvania field just minutes away from Washington, D.C. at 10:06, a full 50 minutes later.
In fact, there are a couple of other circumstantial details of the crash, discussed mostly in Pennsylvania newspapers and barely noted in national wire stories, that suggest Flight 93 may have been shot down after all. First, officials never disputed reports that there was a secondary debris field six miles from the main crash site, and a few press accounts said that it included one of the plane's engines. A secondary debris field points to an explosion on board, from one of two probable causes--a terrorist bomb carried on board or an Air Force missile. And no investigation has ever intimated that any of the four terror crews were toting explosives. They kept to simple tools like the box cutters, for ease in passing security. Second, a handful of eyewitnesses in the rural area around the crash site did report seeing low-flying U.S. military jets around the time of the crash.
Which only raises another question. Shooting down Flight 93 would have been incontestably the right thing to do under the circumstances. More than that, it would have constituted the only evidence of anything NORAD and the Pentagon had done right that whole morning. So why deny it? Conversely, if fighter jets really were not on the scene when 93 crashed, why weren't they? How could that possibly be?
16) The Bush administration had a plan for restoring essential services and rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure after the shooting war ended.
The question of what the U.S. would do to rebuild Iraq was raised before the shooting started. I remember reading a press briefing in which a Pentagon official boasted that at the time, the American reconstruction team had already spent three weeks planning the postwar world! The Pentagon's first word was that the essentials of rebuilding the country would take about $10 billion and three months; this stood in fairly stark contrast to UN estimates that an aggressive rebuilding program could cost up to $100 billion a year for a minimum of three years.
After the shooting stopped it was evident the U.S. had no plan for keeping order in the streets, much less commencing to rebuild. (They are upgrading certain oil facilities, but that's another matter.) There are two ways to read this. The popular version is that it proves what bumblers Bush and his crew really are. And it's certainly true that where the details of their grand designs are concerned, the administration tends to have postures rather than plans. But this ignores the strategic advantages the U.S. stands to reap by leaving Iraqi domestic affairs in a chronic state of (managed, they hope) chaos. Most important, it provides an excuse for the continued presence of a large U.S. force, which ensures that America will call the shots in putting Iraqi oil back on the world market and seeing to it that the Iraqis don't fall in with the wrong sort of oil company partners. A long military occupation is also a practical means of accomplishing something the U.S. cannot do officially, which is to maintain air bases in Iraq indefinitely. (This became necessary after the U.S. agreed to vacate its bases in Saudi Arabia earlier this year to try to defuse anti-U.S. political tensions there.)
Meanwhile, the U.S. plans to pay for whatever rebuilding it gets around to doing with the proceeds of Iraqi oil sales, an enormous cash box the U.S. will oversee for the good of the Iraqi people.
In other words, "no plan" may have been the plan the Bushmen were intent on pursuing all along.
17) The U.S. has made a good-faith effort at peacekeeping in Iraq during the postwar period.
"Some [looters] shot big grins at American soldiers and Marines or put down their prizes to offer a thumbs-up or a quick finger across the throat and a whispered word--Saddam--before grabbing their loot and vanishing."
--Robert Fisk, London Independent, 4/11/03
Despite the many clashes between U.S. troops and Iraqis in the three months since the heavy artillery fell silent, the postwar performance of U.S. forces has been more remarkable for the things they have not done--their failure to intervene in civil chaos or to begin reestablishing basic civil procedures. It isn't the soldiers' fault. Traditionally an occupation force is headed up by military police units schooled to interact with the natives and oversee the restoration of goods and services. But Rumsfeld has repeatedly declined advice to rotate out the combat troops sooner rather than later and replace some of them with an MP force. Lately this has been a source of escalating criticism within military ranks.
18) Despite vocal international opposition, the U.S. was backed by most of the world, as evidenced by the 40-plus-member Coalition of the Willing.
When the whole world opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the outcry was so loud that it briefly pierced the slumber of the American public, which poured out its angst in poll numbers that bespoke little taste for a war without the UN's blessing. So it became necessary to assure the folks at home that the whole world was in fact for the invasion. Thus was born the Coalition of the Willing, consisting of the U.S. and UK, with Australia caddying--and 40-some additional co-champions of U.S.-style democracy in the Middle East, whose ranks included such titans of diplomacy and pillars of representative government as Angola, Azerbaijan, Colombia, Eritrea, and Micronesia. If the American public noticed the ruse, all was nonetheless forgotten when Baghdad fell. Everybody loves a winner.