Columns » Bob McCord

Rewriting 9/11

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Because of the 9/11 anniversary, there’s been a lot of weird criticism around the world about President Bush.

• A book written by a professor at Brigham Young University — “9/11 and American Empire: Intellectuals Speak Out” — says that the World Trade Center was blown up by explosives, not the two airplanes crashing into the building on the orders of Osama bin Laden.

• Seven million Germans are seeing a TV movie that says that it was Bush, not bin Laden, who ordered the airplanes that plowed into New York City and Washington, D. C.. His purpose was his great dislike of Saddam Hussein and Iraq.

• Howard Dean, the Democratic Party chairman, said the president and vice president were speaking so much about the 9/11 anniversary so they could scare voters into electing Republicans in November. Vice President Cheney goes around saying “there has not been another attack on the U.S. in five years.”

• The Presbyterian Publishing Corp. has just published a book called “Christian Faith and the Truth Behind 9/11 — a Call to Reflection and Action” that says that the World Trade Center was blown up by controlled demolitions to spur wars in the Middle East.

Lately radio and television stations have been putting Tom Kean and Lee Hamilton on their programs to talk again about their report of what really happened Sept. 11, 2001. Kean and Hamilton were chairmen of the Congressional committee that investigated the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

Now I’m not a fan of President Bush. But I really liked what he said last week about what he intended to do with the 14 prisoners who had much to do in the killing of Americans and other people on that horrible day. These 14 are among the leaders that bin Laden selected. They are the ones who tell young Muslims that they will be heroes if they hide explosives on their bodies and explode them when they get close to their enemies. They are told that the suicide will make them a hero who will go to heaven into the arms of 40 young virgins. Not counting the United States, in five years these young killers have also struck in Madrid, London, Bali, Moscow, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and India.

For the first time President Bush said that the Central Intelligence Agency has been holding 14 people in secret prisons overseas in Europe. The prisoners are al Qaeda commanders, and they have just been moved to the U.S. detention center in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba to be put on trial. He explained this to a large crowd in the White House, telling the awful crimes attributed to some of the 14 and explaining why the Congress needs to pass laws that would make the trials possible. Several times the audience clapped and jumped to its feet, indicating that this might have been the best speech the president had ever made.

Of course, a few Democrats and some military lawyers are picking at the new laws that the president said are necessary. One rule I couldn’t understand in the president’s bills would allow the prisoners’ lawyers to see the classified evidence but the prisoner couldn’t. Republicans and Democrats have cautioned that if the treatment of the prisoner trial was unfair, American soldiers captured could be treated the same way in a trial in another country.

I spent a lot of time for two nights watching “The Path to 9/11,” ABC’s docudrama of the war between the United States and bin Laden. You missed something if you didn’t see it. even though it was very long — more than four hours on two nights. The acting and the writing were superb. This production contained some actual film of how the World Trade Center came apart. The best parts, in my opinion, were when those fine actors showed people how to live or die.

There were efforts to keep “The Path to 9/11” off TV. Complaints came from former Clinton administration officials, including Madeleine Albright, who was secretary of state when Bill Clinton was president. Actress Shirley Douglas played the role very well, showing that the president and Albright might have done more to try to eliminate bin Laden. President Clinton did try several times, but bin Laden got away. After all Clinton was close to leaving the White House before everyone knew much about Osama bin Laden. President Bush hasn’t been able to catch him in almost six years.


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