If you’re of a certain age, you’ll remember that title sentence being the catchphrase for every neoconservative and neoliberal commentator alike.
“9/11 changed everything” was more than a statement that America was forever to be in both external wars, against various malefactors (many of whom were funded, aided, abetted by our allies). More than a statement that America would forever be at war with itself: the TSA for everyone, the Drug War for the Jim Crow states.
It was an affirmation that there was no real need to consider the way things used to be, before they became what they are now. Gone — the realpolitik of a Henry Kissinger, for example, who asked, regarding the Iran/Iraq War in the 1980s: “Why can’t they both lose?” Instead, it was flag graphics layered upon flag graphics: false tribalism, the invention of the trope The Homeland, a subjugation of critical thinking.
All that time, establishment media urged that people not look too deeply into anything but the iconography. There were a good couple of years, from the PATRIOT Act to Mission Accomplished, where the only way to escape the vacuous triumphalism of those heady, early “boots on the ground” days was to veer outside the discourse entirely.
Then it was over. By 2004, presidential candidates had nuanced debates about the Iraq quagmire. By 2006, Bush was the Worst President Ever, billed as a fascistic, megalomaniacal dupe and dunce. And by 2008, Hope and Change came to America.
And nothing was really different. In large part, because left unresolved are the issues of why 9/11 happened at all.
That’s a question most aren’t posing, even rhetorically, in 2016. Everyone “knows.” But no one really wants to put it
in the public record.
And that’s where Bob Graham comes in. The former Florida senator and perpetual almost-VP was Intelligence Chair back then. He saw the redacted “28 pages” and other documents, too hot for TV, and heard more than most anyone. And he’s left with a question.
“Who paid for 9/11? Who financed 9/11?”
Graham, as he told me, MSNBC, and NBC Nightly News last week in a Jacksonville TV studio (the other two by satellite) has a theory.
Last week, he said that a “strong finger of suspicion” points to Saudi Arabia, adding that it is “implausible that 19 people … poorly educated … who couldn’t speak English” could have pulled off that attack on the WTC, the Pentagon, and whatever else was thwarted.
Indeed, the stories are almost absurd. I still remember the one about the terrorist who ordered a bunch of Rooms To Go and shipped it all to relatives in Saudi days before the attack. Why not? Suicide bombers can go on the no-money-down installment plan.
We can joke about awful furniture forever. But what isn’t a joke: the 15-year burial of the truth about 9/11. One that Graham contends was done for political purposes.
The documents were classified for different reasons by George W. Bush than they were by Barack Obama, claims Graham.
The Bushes have a “close relationship with the Sauds,” which essentially led them to protect them, despite the preponderance of evidence that the Saudi royal family has aided and abetted Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and ISIS … but not for long, just a few decades.
And then there was the hope that Riyadh “would be helpful in avoiding future strikes” and, of course, our need for Saudi oil.
Graham found Obama’s motivations for keeping a lid on these secrets “more difficult to answer,” citing the “general instability of the region” and “the fact that Saudi Arabia has been a professed ally in trying to combat terror.”
However, Graham thinks the alliance has frayed. In our talk, he mentioned something the American media doesn’t: Riyadh’s “proxy war with Iran in Yemen.”
But who cares about Yemen? Who can even find it on a map?
Whether Obama ultimately is pressured into letting people see these documents or not is a matter of conjecture. To be sure, the Bushes would suffer profound embarrassment from details in them. And likely, other public officials would, too.
That may be the best thing for all concerned. The fact that America has not had a proper accounting of what actually got her neck-deep into the Vipers’ Nest of the Middle East should be worrisome. Even as it is typical: on issue after issue, the prevailing narrative is dumbed-down anger or even-dumber triumphalism. Easier to gin up false emotion than deal with truth.
Bob Graham is approaching the eighth decade of an eminently meaningful life. And he’s spending this increasingly precious time telling America that they need to demand the truth on what has become Year Zero in American history. It’s a brave act, and it’s one that merits tremendous respect — it would be easier for him to just keep his mouth shut rather than talk real about this unresolved, yet glaring, omission from the historical record.