Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America's Intelligence Agencies

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America's Intelligence Agencies

Article excerpt

A Pretext for War: 9/11, Iraq, and the Abuse of America's Intelligence Agencies By James Bamford. Doubleday, 2004, 420 pp. List: $26.95; AET: $18.

The most remarkable aspects of this book are its candor and revelations. Also remarkable is the fact that it was published by a leading New York publishing house-and twice quoted in Time magazine and twice reviewed in The New York Times! (The Sunday reviewer angrily rejected one of the book's central theses, while the weekday reviewer accorded it a more nuanced hearing.)

Since author James Bamford's central theses are "controversial"-i.e., he largely blames Israel for igniting terrorism, and presents evidence that top-level pro-Israel hardliners in the Bush administration conceived the Iraq war to benefit Israel-his book provides some confirmation to those who for decades have criticized and opposed unbalanced American support of Israel, as well as the war on Iraq.

Those theses won't be novel to Washington Report readers, but they are earthshaking to the overwhelming number of Americans who rely on the mainstream media for their Middle East information.

Few American books about the excruciating events of 9/11 are forthright and honest enough to link them to Israel's treatment of the Palestinians-especially since such observations immediately draw angry charges of anti-Semitism.

But Bamford lifts the lid for those Americans who read books. According to the investigative journalist-author of Body of Secrets and Puzzle Palace, two well-received books on national security issues-the evidence linking Osama bin Laden and the events of Sept. 11 to Israel's treatment of the Palestinians was prefigured in a note signed by the "Liberation Army" and passed to The New York Daily News after the initial attempt to bring down the World Trade Center Towers in February 1993.

Demanding an end to military and diplomatic aid to Israel, as well as an assurance that the U.S. "not.. .interfere with any of the Middle East countries' interior affairs," the note justified the attempted World Trade Center operation by stating that American "civilians who got killed are not better than those who are getting killed by American weapons." That first attempt, of course, only partly successful, soon was forgotten.

Bamford documents that, two years later, Philippine police alerted the FBI in Manila that Middle Easterners were training for suicide missions "inside and outside the United States." "It was clear," writes the author, "that the United States had become a target and would be at great risk in the future. It was equally clear that the reason for the attacks was the country's support for Israel and its occupation and treatment of the Palestinians."

According to Bamford, Osama bin Ladens interest in the Palestinian diaspora first was awakened in the late 1970s by a displaced Palestinian teacher, who motivated his wellto-do student to establish a training school for mujahadeen recruits. Indirectly refuting revisionists who dismiss Bin Laden's Palestinian motivation, Bamford reveals that, before being turned toward the Palestinians' plight, Bin Laden wanted to fight Saddam Hussain's invasion of Kuwait.

Other bloody events intruded, however. Israel, apparently fixed on seizing Lebanese land-and on the eve of Prime Minister Shimon Peres' bid for re-election-launched a savage 10-day aerial bombardment of southern Lebanon, culminating in its missile attack on the U. …

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