In the wake of 9/11, the public was given a misleading narrative explaining the cause behind the attacks. Believing that our Twin Towers crumbled because Osama bin Laden “hates freedom” or because the Quran told him to has allowed the American government, largely unopposed, to continue and intensify the policies that actually provoked the September 11 attacks.
Shortly after the attacks, President George W. Bush gave a comforting speech to the American people. In it, he mentioned that
America was targeted for attack because we’re the brightest beacon of freedom and opportunity in the world, and no one will keep that light from shining.
This patriotic statement was highly appropriate in the immediate wake of such a horrifying atrocity. To expect an actual explanation of what caused the attacks in the midst of such chaos is unreasonable. What is reasonable, however, is to expect the president to give the actual reasons behind the attack, after a period of investigation.
A few days later, on September 20, President Bush addressed a joint session of Congress to discuss the September 11 attacks. In the address, Bush explains who attacked us, namely al Qaeda, and what we will do to stop them. The “War on Terror” had begun. At one point in the address, he gave an explanation for the motives behind al Quaeda and Osama bin Laden.
They hate what they see right here in this chamber – a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms- our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other.
Sadly, the president of the United States did not feel obligated to be honest with the people who had elected him.
During that address on September 20, fear and confusion were still in the air. It is acceptable that President Bush would once again use the same patriotic, yet misleading explanation to inform the American people. What is interesting about all of this is that over a decade later, this explanation that was only appropriate in the immediate wake of the attacks is still being used by politicians today.
During the GOP debates running up to the 2012 presidential race, Senator Rick Santorum harshly condemned a statement which Congressman Ron Paul had posted on his website. During the debate, Santorum said to Paul:
On your website on, 9/11, you had a blog post that basically blamed the United States for 9/11 on your website, yesterday. You said it was our actions that brought about the actions of 9/11. Now Congressman Paul, that is irresponsible. A president of the United States, someone who is running for the president of the United States in the Republican party should not be parroting what Osama bin Laden said on 9/11. We are not being attacked, and we were not attacked because of our actions. We were attacked, as you talked about, because we have a civilization that is antithetical to the civilization of the Jihadists. And they want to kill us for who we are and what we stand for, and we stand for American exceptionalism. We stand for freedom and opportunity, for everybody around the world and I am not ashamed to do that.
When Ron Paul responded, he was quickly drowned out by a booing audience. In response to Santorum, Paul said
Osama bin Laden and al Quaeda have been explicit and they wrote and said that we attacked America because you had bases on our holy land in Saudi Arabia, you do not give Palestinians fair treatment and you have been bombing….
An attempt to give a accurate explanation for the cause of 9/11 was immediately met with an incredibly hostile response from the audience. The people in the audience that booed Ron Paul were not interested in the truth. They were interested in hearing Bush’s simplified, nationalistic and dishonest narrative that he spoke over ten years ago. There is no possible way we can ever hope to solve any of these kinds of complex problems if we do not understand them. Aggressively turning a blind eye to the crimes we commit will only perpetuate this cycle of violence.
After 9/11, Osama bin Laden wrote his “Letter to America”, detailing his reasons for orchestrating the attack. In the letter, he details the many grievances he has against the United States. Several of his complaints are about Americans not adhering to Sharia Law, but his main point is that he attacked the United States “Because you attacked us and continue to attack us.” Osama bin Laden elaborates on this further throughout the letter. This article will focus on his statement about the sanctions against Iraq that devastated the country for over a decade.
Iraq: Before 9/11
In his letter, Osama bin Laden says about the effects of U.S. and U.N. imposed sanctions:
You starved the Muslims of Iraq, where children die every day. It is a wonder that more than 1.5 million Iraqi children have died as a result of your sanctions, and you did not show concern. Yet when 3,000 of your people died, the entire world rises and has not yet say down.
Anupama Rao Singh, county director for the U.N. Children’s Fund, estimated that the sanctions killed 500,000 children under 5 years of age in the ten year period after the sanctions were imposed in 1990. Malnutrition was blamed for the high mortality rate among the children.
On November 8, 2000, journalist Amy Goodman interviewed president Bill Clinton. During the interview, Goodman asked the president about the sanctions.
The past two U.N. heads of the program in Iraq have quit, calling the U.S. policy – U.S.-U.N. policy ‘genocidal.’ What is your response to that?
President Clinton responds:
…it is an absolute fact that he [Sadam Hussein] has more money today than he did before the embargo. So if any child is without food or medicine, it’s because he has made a deliberate decision to let them die, to try to build up a pressure to lift the embargo, so he can spend the money however he wants. He doesn’t want to spend that money on his people. He wants to spend that money to become the military dictator of the Middle East again.
The children of Iraq did not invade Kuwait. They did not support the brutal dictator and former U.S. ally Saddam Hussein. Yet, they are the bearers of the burden placed upon Iraq. If the goal of the sanctions was to weaken Hussein, then the plan was obviously a catastrophic failure if as the president said, “he has more money now than he did before the embargo.” So if the sanctions aren’t hurting the enemy, and instead starving hundreds of thousands of children to death, what is the possible justification for this? The answer is simple. There is never a justification for the indiscriminate murder of innocent children, and the president will never admit that his actions were genocidal to the civilian population of Iraq. This is why it is much more convenient to say that Osama bin Laden attacked the United States because “he hates freedom” than to speak the truth.
Iraq: After 9/11
Iraq, in 2014, is in ruins. As if a decade of brutal sanctions wasn’t enough, the people of Iraq were the victims of a brutal occupation by the United States starting in 2003. In 2008, the Center for Public Integrity released the results of an investigation of public statements made by eight top Bush administration officials from September 11, 2001 to September 11, 2003 regarding Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction and Iraq’s links to al-Quaeda. The findings show that at least 935 false statements were made in a propaganda campaign to sell the Iraq war to the American public.
What was the result of this propaganda campaign? According to WikiLeaks, which posted the classified Iraq War Logs:
The reports detail 109,032 deaths in Iraq, comprised of 66,081 ‘civilians'; 23,984 ‘enemy’ (those labeled as insurgents); 15,196 ‘host nation’ (Iraqi government forces) and 3,771 ‘friendly’ (coalition forces). The majority of the deaths (66,000, over 60%) of these are civilian deaths. That is 31 civilians dying every day during the six year period. For comparison, the ‘Afghan War Diaries’, previously released by WikiLeaks, covering the same period, detail the deaths of some 20,000 people. Iraq during the same period, was five times as lethal with equivalent population size.
President Bush, who likens Osama bin Laden to Hitler and Stalin, murdered far more innocent people than the deranged lunatic that orchestrated the September 11 attacks.
To be continued in part 2: Israel and Palestine Before and After 9/11.
by Cesar Hernandez
September 10, 2014