Conspiracy Watch

by Berry Friesen (July 21, 2016)

Recent events have pushed conspiracies out into the open.  Ever so carefully, let’s have a look.

First up is the conspiracy between Tony Blair, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, and George W. Bush, former President of the United States, to invade Iraq under false pretenses. We find the ugly details in the 6,275 page Chilcot Report (formally known as The Iraq Inquiry), published July 6.

The crucial period was July, 2002.  The British Cabinet convened on the 23rd to discuss recent meetings with the Bush Administration about Iraq.  The minutes of the Cabinet meeting—the so-called Downing Street Memo—include the comments of Richard Dearlove, head of British intelligence.  The Bush Administration viewed military action against Iraq as “inevitable,” said Dearlove; the problem was a lack of justification for war since the claim that Saddam was responsible for 9/11 was falling apart.  “But the intelligence and the facts [are] being fixed around policy,” Dearlove said.
                                                                                                                           
Five days later (July 28), Blair wrote Bush about the upcoming invasion.  “I have been told the U.S. thinks [evidence of an Iraqi threat] is unnecessary,” Blair said.  He went on to indicate he disagreed with that assessment.  Nevertheless, Blair wrote, “I will be with you, whatever.” 

Blair went on to propose a strategy to win over public opinion.  “If we recapitulate all the WMD [weapons of mass destruction] evidence; add his [Saddam’s] attempts to secure nuclear weapons capability; and, as seems possible, add on the al-Qaeda link, it will be hugely persuasive.”

Blair ended his note to Bush by suggesting an invasion in January or February, 2003.  “The crucial issue is not when, but how.”  (For a full review of Blair’s correspondence with Bush, click here.)

James Cusick provides this summary:  “Blair attempted to dispense with examining intelligence evidence and an exhaustive effort to broker peace, and instead replaced them with a public relations exercise in manipulation that involved duplicity against his own ministers, Cabinet, MPs in the House of Commons and many in the wider international community.”

Philippe Sands reaches a similar conclusion.  Describing Blair’s written defense of the war’s legality, submitted to the Cabinet on the day it made the final decision to join the invasion, Sands says:  "The document did mislead.  It was the product of calculated manipulation enabled by silences and lies, a grand and disastrous deceit."  

Next up is a conspiracy launched by the Bush White House in the fall of 2001 to pin the blame for 9/11 on Iraq and its leader, Saddam.  According to Lawrence Wilkerson, chief of staff to Bush's Secretary of State Powell, when the administration authorized torture, "its principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at pre-empting another terrorist attack on the US, but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al-Qaeda."

During 2002, while the Congressional Joint Inquiry on 9/11 was underway, the campaign to pin the blame on Iraq continued.  Yet the Joint Inquiry found no Iraqi link; instead it found many links with Saudi Arabia, which it summarized in its final report in December 2002.  To prevent this information from reaching the American people, the Bush Administration removed those pages from the report on national security grounds. 

On July 15, nearly 14 years later, the Obama Administration released those 29 pages to the public.  The suppressed pages detail evidence connecting Saudi government officials, members of the royal family, Saudi naval officers, Saudi government-owned businesses and Saudi intelligence agents with several of the Saudi hijackers living in the United States. 

As 9/11 widow Kristen Breitweiser puts it, "No other nation is given such singular prominence in the Joint Inquiry's Final Report.  Not Iraq. Not Iran. Not Syria. Not Sudan. Not even Afghanistan or Pakistan."

CIA Director John Brennan, CIA Station Chief in Saudi Arabia from 1996-99, wants us to believe that Saudi involvement was considered and dismissed by a subsequent investigation.  "The 9/11 Commission looked very thoroughly at these allegations of Saudi involvement.  Their conclusion was that there was no evidence to indicate that the Saudi government as an institution or senior Saudi officials individually had supported the 9/11 attacks.” 

Breitweiser's response is worth quoting at length:

“To be clear, the 9/11 Commission did NOT fully investigate the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Staff Director Philip Zelikow blocked any investigation into the Saudis. Zelikow even went so far as to fire an investigator who had been brought over from the Joint Inquiry to specifically follow up on the Saudi leads and information uncovered in the Joint Inquiry. I will repeat — the investigator was fired.

“In addition, Zelikow re-wrote the 9/11 Commission’s entire section regarding the Saudis and their connection to the 9/11 attacks. Former 9/11 Commissioners John Lehman, Bob Kerrey and Tim Roemer have all acknowledged that the Saudis were not adequately investigated by the 9/11 Commission. Thus, for any government official to hang his or her hat on the 9/11 Commission’s Final Report when Commissioners themselves have admitted that the Saudis were not fully investigated is absurd and disgraceful.”

Breitweiser goes on to point out that the controversy about the redacted 29 pages concerns primarily the alleged terrorists living in San Diego (with a brief mention of alleged terrorists in Phoenix).  Information from some 80,000 documents about 9/11 terrorists living in Florida has never been disclosed or investigated by either the Congressional Joint Inquiry or the 9/11 Commission.

So the conspiracy to obscure the Saudi role in 9/11 facilitated the conspiracy to commence a war of aggression against Iraq. 

Last but not least in this review of conspiracies in the news is last week’s attempt by portions of the Turkish military to seize control of its government.  Numerous mainstream media outlets have speculated that Turkey’s President Erdogan “staged” the coup and is using its defeat as a pretext to expand his own powers.  (See here and here and here.)

How dare the mainstream media engage in conspiracy thinking?  If you or I were to engage in such speculation, we’d soon find ourselves crowned with those dreaded tinfoil hats.

Ah conspiracy, what a flexible political weapon you are!  Yes, you may be found anywhere.  But it we wish to avoid being labelled “kooks,” we must utter your name at the right time and about the right place: long after the conspiracy occurs and about places far, far away.