Excerpt from Author’s Postscript in The Accidental President
Some readers of my previous novel, After Kamisiyah, and of the manuscript for The Accidental President have asked me where I got the idea for the novels and how much of them is fact and how much is fiction.
Both novels are, of course, a blend of fact and fiction. My goal as a novelist is to entertain the reader, and mixing fact and fiction has been a methodology to achieve that result used in varying degrees in novels like the Da Vinci Code and by writers like Ken Follett and Jack Higgins to name only two.
My interest in writing After Kamisiyah, the prequel to the Accidental President arose out of a slow to develop news story about claims of returning veterans that they had contracted strange diseases in connection with their Gulf War service. The George H. W. Bush administration and then the Clinton administration insisted that the mysterious illnesses had no medically discernible foundation. Like many Americans, I first believed the complaints were not genuine. I thought it was most likely just another case of people looking for a free ride, this time American service people. As the complaints multiplied, I began to suspect there was more to it. What I learned was shocking.
We may wish it weren’t so, but during the five-year period following the end of the 1991 Gulf War, the U.S. Government consistently denied that the illnesses of our service people, lumped together as “Gulf War Syndrome,” could have resulted from exposure to chemical or biological weapons. It was not until 1997 that the Pentagon finally acknowledged that it had been previously warned that chemical weapons were stored at Kamisiyah, and not until July 24, 1997, that it admitted that almost 100,000 American troops had been exposed to Sarin gas and other contaminants. Congressional investigations to determine what happened at Kamisiyah remain to this day frustrated by bad memories and “lost” government records. That is fact.
As the story of the cover-up developed, I began to think about writing After Kamisiyah. Before I finished the novel, more of the truth became known, although the whole story has still not been discovered. For those interested, more of the facts concerning the cover-up at Kamisiyah are compiled in the Foreword of After Kamisiyah and for those who want more information about Gulf War Syndrome, I recommend they visit www.gulfweb.org., an excellent non-profit web site for Gulf War veterans.
While the Government’s failure to heed the warnings it had received that chemical and biological weapons were stored at Kamisiyah could have been excused as a tragic blunder, treating the many and varied illnesses of our returning servicemen and women with denials of responsibility and deception was a national disgrace. Those events helped create the fictional antagonist of the prior novel who continued to play a major role in this one.
This novel borrows from another series of likely mistakes by the U.S. Government, which may have had and may continue to have serious consequences. Many believe that the lack of cooperation between the CIA and the FBI and other agencies may have contributed to the disaster of September 11. That failure to cooperate is undeniably true. But there are other errors that also have played a part and bureaucrats within the Federal government have again met those errors with denials of responsibility and deception.
Could avoidance of criticism and career advancement considerations have led to those bad memories and “lost” records that resulted in depriving our Gulf War returning servicemen and women of the support they had earned? I can find no other explanation. Are those forces again at work in the aftermath of September 11 as they were in the aftermath of Kamisiyah?
It should be no surprise that the twin evils of careerism and of the denial of responsibility that affect business corporations may reach into government agencies as it did with the Kamisiyah cover-up, but, where the security of the citizenry is involved, the stakes are too high for it to be tolerated.
I believe that those evils and the long-standing denial of state sponsorship of terrorism caused the continuing mishandling of investigations into prior attacks against the people of the United States and that those errors contributed to the Sept. 11 disaster. Perhaps September 11 could not have been avoided. Congressional investigations have been frustrated and we may never know all of the truth, but the failure to seek the truth and remedy the failures may result in more disasters like 9/11.
The U.S. Government, primarily through the CIA and FBI, has denied that the September 11 attack and those that preceded it were state sponsored despite the growing wealth of materials from reputable sources casting doubt on that conclusion. Could the critics of the CIA and the FBI be correct? We would hope not. But whether the critics are right or wrong, there are lessons to be learned from their criticism.
New York Times journalist William Safire, writing about a warning pertaining to the activities of Mohamed Atta received from Czech intelligence sources about four months prior to September 11, said on May 9, 2002,
A misdirection play is under way in the C.I.A.’s all-out attempt to discredit an account of a suspicious meeting in Prague a year ago. Mohamed Atta, destined to be the leading Sept. 11 suicide hijacker, was reported … to have met … with Saddam Hussein’s espionage chief…If the report proves accurate, a connection would exist between Al Qaeda’s murder of 3,000 Americans and Iraq’s Saddam. … Accordingly, high C.I.A. and Justice officials--worried about exposure of the agency’s inability to conduct covert operations--desperately want Atta’s Saddam connection to be disbelieved. … They are telling favored journalists: Shoot this troublesome story down. … Everybody jumped aboard the C.I.A bandwagon.
The Washington Post, Newsweek, Time Magazine and several others attacked the credibility of the Czech intelligence services. Safire writes in his May 9 article that the New York Times discredited the Czechs report of the Atta meeting by reporting,
a senior Bush administration official appeared to close the matter, saying F.B.I. and C.I.A. analysts had firmly concluded that no meeting had occurred.
Generally unreported, except by Mr. Safire in a May 29 column was the response to those efforts to discredit the Czech intelligence information. He reported that the Czechs continue to stand by their report that Atta met with the Iraqi espionage officer in Prague prior to the Sept. 11 attack. Safire asks,
Whom do you believe -- a responsible official on the scene speaking on the record, with no ax to grind, or U.S. spooks who may be covering up a missed signal from Prague about Sept. 11 …?
Is it possible that the CIA could miss important warnings like that sent by Czech intelligence? One would hope not, but consider this December 11, 2002 MacNeil/Lehrer Productions copyrighted Online NewsHour report. In it Democrat Senator Carl Levin of Michigan asked the CIA,
My question is do you know why the FBI was not notified of the fact that an Al Qaeda operative … was known in March … 2000 to have entered the United States? Why did the CIA not specifically notify the FBI?
An unnamed spokesman for the CIA responded,
Sir, if we weren’t aware of it when it came into headquarters, we couldn’t have notified them. Nobody read that cable in the March timeframe. It was an information-only cable from the field and nobody read that information-only cable.
Rather surprisingly, it seems that some of the intelligence materials coming into the CIA is simply filed and not looked at.
In that same report, PBS’ Gwen Ifill questioned Florida’s Democrat Senator Bob Graham the chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence about the report of the committee’s investigation into September 11.
GWEN IFILL : Senator Graham, are there elements in this report, which are classified that Americans should know about but can’t?
SEN. BOB GRAHAM : Yes, … I was surprised at the evidence that there were foreign governments involved in facilitating the activities of at least some of the terrorists in the United States. I am stunned that we have not done a better job of pursuing that to determine if other terrorists received similar support and, even more important, if the infrastructure of a foreign government assisting terrorists still exists for the current generation of terrorists who are here planning the next plots.
GWEN IFILL : Are you suggesting that you are convinced that there was a state sponsor behind 9/11?
SEN. BOB GRAHAM : I think there is very compelling evidence that at least some of the terrorists were assisted not just in financing--although that was part of it -- by a sovereign government…
GWEN IFILL : Do you think that will ever become public, which countries you’re talking about?
SEN. BOB GRAHAM : It will become public at some point … but that’s 20 or 30 years from now….
While the official position adopted by the Clinton administration and followed by the subsequent Bush administration is that there was no state sponsorship of 9/11 or any prior attack on the United States, not everyone is willing to accept that pronouncement.
Micah Morrison, a senior editorial page writer at the Wall Street Journal wrote a September 5, 2002 article about two women who refused to accept that government conclusion. One is former Clinton White House advisor Laurie Mylroie who asserted that Iraq was probably involved in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The other is former Oklahoma City TV journalist Jayna Davis who believes that Iraq was most likely involved in the 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City Murrah Building. In his article, Morrison quotes former CIA Director James Woolsey saying about the two women,
…when the full stories of these two incidents are finally told, those who permitted the investigations to stop short will owe big explanations to these two brave women. And the nation will owe them a debt of gratitude.
The Justice Department prosecuted and convicted four Muslim individuals for their participation in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. Ms. Mylroie claims that others were involved. According to Mylroie, one other was an Iraqi named Abdul Yasin. He was picked up after the bombing, but managed to talk his way out of a FBI interrogation and then immediately left for Baghdad. Mylroie claims that another conspirator in the bombing, Ramzi Yousef, entered the United States with an Iraqi passport and left with a Pakistani one in the name of Abdul Basit. She claims that Ramzi Yousef is an Iraqi agent and that the bombing was probably “an Iraqi intelligence operation with the Moslem extremists as dupes.” A growing number of people agree with her. Morrison also writes in his Wall Street Journal article,
She [Ms. Mylroie] says that the original lead FBI official on the case, Jim Fox, concluded that “Iraq was behind the World Trade Center bombing.” In late 1993, shortly before his retirement, Mr. Fox was suspended by FBI Director Louis Freeh for speaking to the media about the case … Ms. Mylroie says that Mr. Fox indicated to her that he did not continue to pursue the Iraq connection because Justice Department officials “did not want state sponsorship addressed.”
In a May 29, 2002 article in National Review on Line, Ms. Mylroie wrote,
A decade ago major terrorist strikes on US targets were considered to be state sponsored. For all practical purposes, that meant Iran, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. Yet that is supposed to have changed with the first attack on the World Trade Center, in February 1993, one month into Bill Clinton’s first term … The Clinton administration claimed that the bombing represented a new kind of terrorism that did not involve states… And thus was born the notion that major terrorist strikes were carried out by individuals, or “networks,” without the support of states. The predictable happened. Terrorism continued. In fact, it grew far worse because the state sponsor ... was never identified… Like the FBI, the CIA accommodated Clinton’s aversion to hearing that Iraq was attacking the US and is now committed to its past… Senior officials are now involved in what William Safire politely terms, “covering their posteriors.” That exercise is so irresponsible as to defy belief.
It is beyond the scope of this Postscript to fully present all the evidence Mylroie has compiled of Iraq’s complicity in terrorist activities. To those of you interested in learning more of Ms. Mylroie’s views concerning the Iraq connection to the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center, I recommend her book, Study of Revenge: The First World Trade Center Attack & Saddam Hussein’s War against America.
The materials compiled by Oklahoma City journalist, Jayna Davis indicating state sponsorship of the Oklahoma City bombing are equally if not more compelling than the arguments of Ms. Mylroie about the 1993 World Trade Center. Assigned to cover the Oklahoma City bombing by the TV station that employed her as an investigative reporter, Ms. Davis had no agenda other than to discover what she could about the Murrah Building bombing and then report it. It was soon apparent to Ms. Davis and the rest of the world that the perpetrators of the Oklahoma City bombing were former army buddies, Tim McVeigh and Terry Nichols. Official assurances soon followed that the guilty parties had been apprehended and we were told that the perpetrators were angry white men, upset by the US handling of the Waco and Ruby Ridge cases. We were assured they acted alone and that no foreign terrorists or governments were involved. Those assurances did not fit with the earliest announcements by the FBI and were contrary to what Ms. Davis discovered in her investigation of the tragedy.
Ms. Davis had utilized a FBI bulletin, arrest warrant and sketches of two men seen together as leads. One of the sketches was of Tim McVeigh. The other sketch and description was of a middle-east man with a tattoo on his left arm. Ms. Davis found a man matching the description with the tattoo and she obtained affidavits from many witnesses who placed him near the Murrah Building shortly before the explosion and with Tim McVeigh. The Wall Street Journal reported that [in a court proceeding] the person Ms. Davis identified,
“bears a strong resemblance to the sketch”…including tattoo on his left arm, that he was born and raised in Iraq, that he had served in the Iraqi army, and that his Oklahoma City employer had once been suspected by the federal government of having “connections with the Palestine Liberation Organization.”
The Journal article continues and states,
Evidence supporting Ms. Davis’ suspicions surfaced during…the McVeigh trial. A FBI report … records a call … from Vincent Cannistraro, a retired CIA official… He told Kevin Foust, a FBI counter-terror investigator that … there was a “squad” of people currently in the United States, very possibly Iraqis, who have been tasked with carrying out terrorist attacks against the United States. … [Cannistraro’s Saudi source] claimed … that the first on the list [of targets] was the federal building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Judge Leonard pointedly noted the indictment of McVeigh and Nichols included a charge of conspiracy” with others unknown.” In sentencing Nichols, U.S. District Judge Richard Matsch remarked, “It would be disappointing to me if the law enforcement agencies of the United States government have quit looking for answers.”
That is of course precisely what they did, only worse. They refused to accept the “gift wrapped” package of evidence meticulously put together by Ms. Davis. As in the 1993 World Trade Center attack, official Washington didn’t want to hear about a state sponsor for the Oklahoma City attack..
None of us want to believe that U.S. government officials who are supposed to protect our interests would so badly fail in the performance of their duties, but yet, even some of those very officials tasked with that obligation support the charge of failure by their agency.
Consider briefly the revelations by Coleen Rowley, Time Magazine’s 2002 co-person of the year, and an employee of the FBI’s Minneapolis office. Time reported,
When Rowley walked into her office on the morning of Sept. 11 and saw the Twin Towers burning on TV, she immediately thought of Moussaoui. For three weeks her office had been trying -- and failing -- to get FBI headquarters to allow a request for a search warrant of his computer. … Minneapolis agents pushed headquarters for approval to dig deeper, fearing -- before Sept. 11 -- that he might be part of a larger scheme to hijack commercial jetliners.
According to Time, Rowley who went public with her complaints about the FBI’s handling of the Moussaoui case was treated as a pariah by the higher ups in the FBI for her disloyalty to the Bureau. Perhaps Rowley’s loyalty to the people of the United States exceeds her loyalty to the Bureau. It’s reported that Rowley said,
The bureau could be great, … if only it put the goal of protecting Americans above the goal of protecting itself …
It seems that Moussaoui may not have been the only September 11 terrorist the FBI refused to permit its agents to act against and that MS Rowley was not alone in feeling frustrated by FBI procedures. From a Dec. 13, 2003 Washington Post story by Dan Eggen, we learn,
FBI lawyers refused to allow criminal agents to join an August 2001 search for Khalid Almidhar, who had entered the United States and would later help commandeer the airliner that crashed into the Pentagon. … information about Almidhar’s ties to al Qaeda obtained through intelligence channels could not be used to launch a criminal investigation. An angry New York FBI agent warned in an internal e-mail that was later revealed during congressional hearings that “someday someone will die” because of that decision.
A December 19, 2002 ABC NEWS.com story by Brian Ross and Vic Walter states, that two veteran FBI investigators claimed they were ordered to stop investigations into a suspected terror cell linked to Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda network. It was reported that in their interview they said,
“September the 11th is a direct result of the incompetence of the FBI’s International Terrorism Unit. … You can’t know the things I know and not go public. “ … Wright says that when he pressed for authorization to open a criminal investigation … his supervisor stopped him. “Do you know what his response was? ‘I think it’s just better to let sleeping dogs lie,…’ Those dogs weren’t sleeping. They were training. They were getting ready.”
The move [refusing to prosecute anyone] outraged federal prosecutor Mark Flessner. … Flessner said, ‘There were powers bigger than I was in the Justice Department and within the FBI that simply were not going to let it [a criminal case] happen. And it didn’t’.
In a manner consistent with William Safire’s claim that the bureaucracy is engaged in a disgraceful “cover your posterior” mode of operation, ABC NEWS reported that the“FBI … defended the agent [a Muslim FBI Agent] saying he had a right to refuse because the undercover recording was supposed to take place in a mosque. But former prosecutor Flessner said that was a lie and the mosque was never part of the plan. ‘What he [Abdel-Hafiz] said was, it was against his religion to record against another Muslim. I was dumbfounded by that response…and I had perfectly appropriate conversations with the supervisors of his home office and nothing came of it.’
The statements reported by ABC NEWS describing the way the FBI dealt with two veteran agents from the Chicago office are consistent with the way the FBI dealt with Ms. Davis when she attempted to deliver evidence of criminal activity to the FBI, even to their attempting to misrepresent what she did. And what about that evidence?
Responding to criticism of her work by federal appointee, Cate McCauley who termed it a “very small package of information”, Ms. Davis wrote the following:
Twenty-two witness affidavits supported by 25-hundred pages of corroborative evidence is hardly a ‘very small package of information,’ ... McCauley is wholly unqualified to criticize the complexities of the investigative dossier because she has never reviewed it.
I interviewed nearly 80 potential witnesses, but I deemed only two-dozen to be credible ... All confidently identified eight specific Middle Eastern men, the majority of whom are former Iraqi soldiers, collaborating with McVeigh and Nichols during various stages of the bombing plot. They have signed sworn affidavits…
After a thorough vetting process, this investigation has earned the ringing endorsement of … former Deputy Director of the State Department’s Office of Counter Terrorism Larry Johnson, former Director of the CIA James Woolsey, former Chief of Human Intelligence for the Defense Intelligence Agency Colonel Patrick Lang, the Director of Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare Yossef Bodansky, and the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal, including senior editorial writer Micah Morrison.
Former CIA analyst and Deputy Director of Counter Terrorism for the Department of State, Larry Johnson, has determined that ‘without a doubt, there is a definite Middle Eastern tie to the Oklahoma City bombing. As a Fox News consultant, he has expressed publicly his concern that the Islamic terrorist network, which assisted McVeigh and Nichols, is still operational and poses a threat to national security.
Frank J. Gaffney, Jr. writing in townhall.com on November 19, 2002 said of the materials compiled by Ms. Davis,
Unfortunately, it appears that at least some of the agencies charged with addressing the threat posed by Saddam’s operatives and their sympathizers fail utterly to comprehend the challenge the targeted groups and individuals constitute. For example, the Times reports that “according to the CIA,” there is no evidence that Iraq has engaged in terrorist activity against the United States” since 1993, when Iraqi agents tried to assassinate former President George H.W. Bush in Kuwait. This statement is deeply disturbing. … It … evinces an obliviousness to the historical record that raises a question as to whether the existing intelligence and law enforcement agencies are up to the task at hand. That record includes the impressive investigative research conducted by Jayna Davis, a former reporter with Oklahoma City’s KFOR television station. Since the Murrah Building was destroyed in April 1995, Ms. Davis has been tirelessly collecting, sifting and analyzing evidence ( including some 80 pages of affidavits from more than twenty eyewitnesses and 2000 supporting documents) of precisely the sort that the CIA says does not exist.
Another Journalist, Jim Crogan writing in the Indianapolis Star on February 17, 2002 reviewed evidence that the Oklahoma City bombing had Middle Eastern connections compiled by Davis and described it as “compelling.” Any reader of his column would have to agree. He went on to say:
Over the past seven months, I reviewed all of Davis’ documents, … I also conducted my own follow-up interviews and found no holes in her investigation... According to her attorney … Department of Justice attorneys prosecuting Nichols rejected Davis’ documents in 1997 because they didn’t want more material to turn over to the defense. … Is this a case of FBI incompetence, political interference or the Justice Department’s desire not to complicate a seemingly open-and-shut case … I don’t know.
I do know that too many questions remain unanswered. And I wonder if the FBI had followed through on these leads, might agents have turned up links to sleeper cells or networks that planned the Sept.11 massacre?
I urge anyone interested in learning more about the Oklahoma City bombing visit Ms. Davis’ web site at www.JaynaDavis.com and purchase her book on the subject scheduled to be published in the spring or summer of 2004.
In doing research for this novel, I learned of a terrorist training camp that had been situated at Salman Pak, Iraq. Some of the action in the novel occurs at a fictitious terrorist training camp I’ve called New Salman Pak. In doing so, I drew heavily from a PBS Frontline interview of an Iraqi defector named Sabah Khodada who had worked at Salman Pak, Iraq that was about 30 miles from Baghdad. In the interview, Khodada said that the camp trained Iraqis and non-Iraqis, mostly from the Gulf. While the Iraqis were kept segregated from the foreigners, they were trained by the same Iraqi intelligence service trainers. The training included what Khodada called,
…hijacking and kidnapping of airplanes. And … how to belt themselves…with explosives …
After stating that the training of Arabs was much harsher than the training of Iraqis, he was asked why and responded:
Arabs … who come to train … are going to be sent to very dangerous and important operations ... Those Arabs are real volunteers. They come in small numbers, and they come with the intention to do some real suicidal operations.
When asked if he thought some of the people trained at Salman Pak participated in the Sept. 11 attack on the United States, Khodada replied,
I assure you, this operation was conducted by people who were trained by Saddam. … this kind of attacks … has to be organized by a capable state … there’s a real whole 707 plane … standing in the middle of the training area in this camp.
According to the UK’s Guardian Unlimited, another defector, a former Iraqi intelligence service colonel code-named Abu Zeinab claimed he had worked at Salman Pak. The Guardian reported that he said,
…separated from the rest of the facilities … was a barracks used to house Islamic radicals, many of them Saudis from bin Laden’s Wahhabi sect, but also Egyptians, Yemenis … Zeinab said the foreigners’ camp was controlled directly by Saddam … The method used on 11 September perfectly coincides with the training I saw at the camp. Yesterday their [Zeinab’s and Khodada’s ] story received important corroboration from Charles Duelfer, former vice-chairman of UNSCOM, the UN weapons inspection team. Duelfer said he visited Salman Pak… .He saw the 707 in exactly the place described by the defectors.
On May 7, 2003, a U.S. District Court judge ruled that Salman Pak, played a material role in the Sept. 11 attacks on America. NewsMax.com in reporting the ruling two days later said,
In a bombshell finding virtually ignored by the American media, a U.S. district court judge in Manhattan ruled Wednesday that Salman Pak, Saddam Hussein’s airplane hijacking school located on the outskirts of Baghdad, played a material role in the devastating Sept. 11 attacks on America. …the New York Times and the Washington Post, which opposed the war in Iraq, have so far declined to report the first official ruling linking Saddam to 9/11. …
Among the obstacles that had to be overcome in the case, according to the story, was the CIA’s public denial that Iraq played any role in the Sept.11 attack and CIA Director George Tenet’s failure to include Salman Pak in his presentation of evidence tying Iraq to Al Qaeda. The article continues:
Tenet’s decision to ignore the critical role played by the camp is said to be based in part on friction between the CIA and the Iraqi National Congress, which helped several Salman Pak veterans defect to the U.S. and made them available to the media.
Tenet’s opposition is believed to have been key in the decision by the Bush administration not to spotlight Iraq’s 9/11 role, leaving White House officials with the sole argument that Saddam Hussein threatened the U.S. with weapons of mass destruction.
Ms. Mylroie wrote with an impressive degree of prescience concerning the debate on weapons of mass destruction,
George Bush … seeks to finesse the problem of the bureaucracies commitment to their Clinton-era positions by ousting Saddam on the basis of Iraq’s flagrant and undeniable breach of the UN sponsored cease fire: Its retention of proscribed weapons of mass destruction. That may work, if we’re lucky.
In considering whether Ms. Mylroie is correct in suggesting that the denial of state sponsorship for the attacks of the 1990’s is a continuation of the fiction invented by the Clinton administration, natural cynicism demands that we ask: why would President Clinton invent that theory?
We know that President Clinton wanted to make his mark in history by bringing peace to the Middle East. That laudable goal would be defeated by a Middle East war. State sponsorship by Iraq of acts of terrorism like those that occurred at the World Trade Center in 1993 and at the Murrah Building in 1995 would be acts of war against the United States. Their commission would require that the United States go to war against Iraq, even if the flagrant Iraqi violations of the 1991 cease-fire for failing to account for the chemical weapons such as were destroyed at Kamisiyah were disregarded. It would seem then, that to pursue the Clinton goal, it would be necessary to avoid the necessity for armed conflict and therefore deny state sponsorship of acts of terrorism and of the cease fire violations. The federal bureaucracy obliged. In retrospect, it was a bad gamble.
We can understand why CIA and FBI personnel may feel trapped by their prior denials that terrorism had a state sponsor, but why did the Bush administration go along?
…Al Qaeda and its home base in Afghanistan was the first target. Once the armed forces had achieved what they could there, the Bush administration looked at Iraq, probably as the major state sponsor of terrorist attacks against the United States. The problem was that the CIA and FBI were not going to admit they had been wrong in the past about state sponsorship and risk being held responsible for the Sept. 11 disaster. Perhaps it seemed to the Bush administration that insistence that Saddam Hussein account for his stockpile of chemical weapons (WMD) like those found at Kamisiyah would be a good compromise. It would be acceptable to the federal bureaucracy; and it would seem that the U.S. State Department agreed, believing that WMD would be seen as a unifying problem to most of the members of the UN in seeking international support. While there was a general feeling of sympathy towards the United States after Sept 11, it was primarily regarded as a U.S. problem. In any event, as is now abundantly clear, assigning concerns about weapons of mass destruction as the major reason for war against Iraq to obtain UN support was also a bad decision.
Perhaps the failure to obtain UN support should have been anticipated since the UN and several key nation members of the UN were earning substantial sums running the oil for food program that followed in the wake of the 1991 Gulf War. Those nations then lead UN opposition to the United States plan to enforce its own resolutions. We can never know, but did European opposition to the US persuade Saddam to refuse offers of asylum and lead him to believe the US would only wage a bombing campaign that would leave him in power?
In any event, the Bush administration continued the Clinton era denial of state sponsorship of acts of terrorism. Was it solely the reluctance of the CIA, FBI and other federal bureaucrats to admit their mistakes that led to that result? Perhaps, and again, we cannot know for certain, but there may be additional reasons. Perhaps it’s because there was more than just Iraq involved in those acts of terrorism. Many believe there was also state sponsorship by elements within the government of Saudi Arabia. If so, could that explain the refusal to release portions of the Senate’s investigation of the Sept. 11 disaster? Why would that information not be revealed? Could it be because of some personal relationship with members of the Royal Family or because of our dependence on Middle East oil? Perhaps those are factors, but I think it is much more likely that, as is suggested in the novel, what would replace the royal family in Saudi Arabia would be a Wahhabi sect regime that supports Al Qaeda in its avowed jihad against the United States and western culture.
In the news and in the novel, we find the word jihad. What exactly is meant by that term? It sometimes refers to an individual Muslim’s internal struggle to lead a good and moral life, but there is a second meaning that, according to the World Book,
developed in part from the example of Muhammad and his early followers. They launched a number of military campaigns to spread their faith. It also developed based on certain passages in the Qur’an—the holy book of Islam. The doctrine is based on three related ideas. First, Islam is a universal community. Second, God and Muhammad have commanded all free and physically able male Muslims to spread their faith, even by waging war against non-Muslims when necessary. Finally, Muslims must spread their religion until all people have converted to Islam or agreed to live under an Islamic government.
We should also recall that Osama Bin Laden is waging a jihad against the West, principally the United States and that he issued a fatwah or order to all his followers. He said in that order,
we issue the following fatwa to all Muslims. The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies--civilians and military--is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it,…
Many refused to believe the avowed purpose of Nazism was expressed in Hitler’s Mein Kampf. To our sorrow, we know that was a terrible mistake. Let us not make the same mistake with the Muslim terrorist declaration of jihad.
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