The Real American Traitors
October 5, 2001
by William Rivers Pitt
"Whenever you hear a man speak of his love for his country, it is a
sign that he expects to be paid for it."
- H. L. Mencken
Two weeks ago, I would have believed it impossible to imagine that
anything I saw or heard could be more wretched, wrenching or
enraging than watching those two airplanes slice into the World
Trade Center Towers.
Two weeks ago, I would have believed that I could never be more
horrified than I was when I realized that those tiny dots on my
television screen were human beings who, when faced with the choice
between fire and falling, chose the high drop to meet their death.
Two weeks ago, I would never have believed I could feel as much
sorrow as I did when beholding the walls in Manhattan depicting the
names and faces of the missing and the doomed.
It is with awe, and with the purest disgust I have ever known, that I
report to you another outrage, comparable to what transpired on
September 11th. American Republicans are, right this minute, using
the dead and the lost in New York and Washington for political
vengeance and gain. There are many who do this, among whom are
Congressmen and columnists, television pundits and hired hacks. By
their actions, our American dead are being murdered again.
To truly understand the depth and breadth of this depraved and evil
hypocrisy, we must begin by reaching all the way back to the heady
days of the Reagan administration. In those days there were two
hot wars blazing, and both were used by Reagan to further his Cold
The first was the protracted fight between Iran and Iraq that lasted ten
years. Saddam Hussein, now known as a bloodthirsty demon, was in
those days a boon compatriot of American interests. We armed
him and his military to the teeth in their fight with Iran, because that
nation was receiving weapons and funding from the Soviet Union.
American SEAL teams fought alongside Iraqi troops, blowing up
bridges and fighting the kind of covert guerilla war they are famous
for. In the end, Iraq fought Iran to a stalemate, and found itself at
the end of the war among the most well-armed and well-trained
nations in the region.
We all know how this ended. Barely two years later, Hussein was
charging into Kuwait with his army and threatening to disrupt the
flow of oil from the Middle East. America, under the leadership of
the first George Bush, gathered a coalition of nations and drove him
in flames back to Baghdad.
In the process, however, we established military bases in Saudi
Arabia, the original home nation of Osama bin Laden. bin Laden,
appalled that the 'Crusaders' were again assembled under arms in
his homeland, swore eternal holy war against the United States.
The other hot war being waged at the time was much more vividly a
Cold War conflict. In 1979 the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan,
and the Reagan administration poured untold millions of dollars worth
of weapons and arms into that nation, to be used by the Afghani
The Mujeheddin freedom fighters, compared by Reagan to our
Founding Fathers, were pledged to drive the Soviets from their land,
and were more than happy to accept the help of the United States.
The CIA trained scores of Mujeheddin fighters, among them Osama
bin Laden. A number of these men were trained right here in America
at Fort Benning, Georgia.
In the end, the Soviet military smashed themselves into broken
oblivion against the unyielding Afghani landscape, and were bled
nearly to death by the stings of the American-armed Mujeheddin
fighters. When they left, the once-united freedom fighters fell to
war amongst various factions for control of the nation.
Soon, the group now known as the Taliban assumed near total control
of the country, and instituted a regime based upon a harshly
interpreted version of fundamentalist Islam. Osama bin Laden, deeply
involved in the fight against the Soviets, made a home with the
Taliban, and was given their protection. In 1998 agents of bin Laden
used a plastic explosive called Semtex, originally given to the
Mujeheddin by the Reagan administration, to destroy two American
embassies in Africa.
This tangled web of Cold War loyalties and conflict has as much to do
with our present state as any other factor. Arguments regarding the
righteousness and validity of our involvement in these wars can,
and have, raged for years. Both sides can boast persuasive arguments
to bolster their opinions. This is not where foul hypocrisy has made
The sickening, opportunistic Republican political vampires have
ignored this very basic American history in the region from which our
current woe has sprung, and instead have chosen a favorite partisan
target to blame for this entire awful episode.
You guessed it. The whole mess is Bill Clinton's fault. Forget the Cold
War. Ignore the Gulf War. Leave aside the Mujeheddin warriors who
became the Taliban by using American weapons to gain power and
influence. In our darkest days, these Republican whores have
plundered the graves of our American dead to attack, once again
without foundation, a former President whose political viewpoint they
A columnist named Andrew Sullivan crystallized this revisionist
nonsense, now parroted with glee by the worthless denizens of the
Fox News Channel as well as other equally repugnant members of the
conservative news media, in a recent column:
"The decision to get down and dirty with the terrorists, to take their
threat seriously and counter them aggressively, was simply never
taken. Former president Bill Clinton, whose inattention to military
and security matters now seems part of the reason why America was
so vulnerable to slaughter."
The facts of the matter are far different. In 1999, the Clinton
administration initiated a bold plan to capture or kill bin Laden by
training approximately 60 members of Pakistani intelligence for the
task. This was done in response to the attacks upon our African
embassies, and may well have succeeded.
The plot collapsed when Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was
overthrown in a coup by General Pervez Musharraf, who remains
today the leader of Pakistan. Musharraf refused to support the plot,
and it withered on the vine through no fault of Clinton.
Earlier, the Clinton administration, acting upon information provided
with an imprimatur of certitude by the Pentagon, launched some 66
cruise missiles into Afghanistan. These missiles were aimed at a
training camp the Pentagon believed was sheltering bin Laden. The
information proved to be erroneous, and bin Laden was unharmed.
Again, the Clinton administration acted boldly, but was foiled by
circumstances beyond its control.
The Clinton administration spoke often about the need to augment
America's defenses against terrorist attack. Clinton, having presided
over the first bombing of the World Trade Center, the destruction
of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, and the destruction
of American embassies in Africa, knew in an acutely personal way
what needed to be done.
His attempts to address the threat were not only foiled by
circumstance, and were not only foiled by an American mood that
neither knew or could even conceive of an attack like that which
transpired on September 11, 2001. Clinton's attempts to address the
threat of terrorism against the United States were disrupted and
diverted by the same Republicans who seek today to blame him for
The most potent weapon Osama bin Laden has to wield against
America is his financial resources, and the means to move that money
secretly from cell to cell. Bluntly, it takes a man of means to fight a
nation of means. During his administration, Clinton offered legislation
that would give the Treasury Secretary broad powers to ban foreign
nations and banks from accessing American financial markets unless
they cooperated with money-laundering investigations that would
expose and terminate terrorist cash flows.
The legislation was killed by Texas Republican Senator Phil Gramm,
who doubtless rationalized this now-portentous obstructionism by
reminding himself that Clinton was a Goddless womanizer who wished
only to strip him and his constituents of their American freedoms.
Asked in September 2001 to defend his actions, Gramm responded, "I
was right then and I am right now. The way to deal with terrorists is
to hunt them down and kill them."
The idea of choking off their financial resources, now so popular as
to be almost axiomatic, apparently does not resonate with Senator
Gramm. In the guise of this balding failed Presidential candidate lives
yet another wall thrown up by opportunistic and narrow-minded
Republicans, whose desire to stick it to Clinton aided and abetted the
murderers who visited New York last month.
The hypocrisy behind current Republican attempts to blame Clinton
for the World Trade Center attacks finds its roots far beyond the
opportunistic posturing of Phil Gramm. It reaches back to the
viciously partisan Republican-controlled Congress of 1996, which
thwarted legislation offered by Clinton that would have substantially
augmented America's ability to defend against terrorist threats.
In 1996 Senator Orrin Hatch referred to several threats which
Clinton warned us of, threats that now are as commonplace as stores
that have sold out of gas masks, as "phony threats." He used these
words to attack Clinton's legislation, helping to create a legislative
environment that gave birth to a watered-down, Congress-driven
version of an anti-terrorism bill that has been proven to be utterly
Senator Trent Lott, with his powers as Republican Majority Leader,
did everything in his power to hamstring Clinton's attempt to enact
real protections against American threats in 1996. Yet he found
within himself the unmitigated gall to stand in the well of the Senate
during a debate about the current reiteration of Clinton's
anti-terrorism measures on October 2nd, 2001 and say, "If anything
happens, if there is a terror attack, the Democrats will have to
explain to the American people why they didn't pass this bill."
This is bottomless, bottomless hypocrisy, and the story of it only gets
worse from here.
On January 31, 2001, the Hart-Rudman report was published. This
report voiced dire warnings about threats to American security
posed by terrorist attacks. Further, this report recommended the
creation of an Office of Homeland Defense that would be responsible
for the implementation of defensive measures to combat this threat.
The Hart-Rudman report was summarily dismissed and ignored by the
On February 12, 1997, Vice President Al Gore delivered to President
Clinton a report entitled 'White House Commission on Aviation
Safety and Security.' In this report, Gore outlined numerous ways in
which the airline industry could protect its aircraft and passengers
from the threat of terrorism. Many, if not all of these
recommendations would have gone a long way towards thwarting the
September 11 attacks. Like Hart-Rudman, the warnings voiced by
Gore's report were ignored by the Bush administration.
What is most reprehensible about the treatment the Gore report has
received can be explained through the simple geometry of the airline
industry marketplace, which has one of the most powerful lobbying
voices to be found on the floor of the Republican-controlled
It has been no secret within the airline industry that security at
American airports is a bad joke. These checkpoints are mostly
manned by poorly-trained workers who make minimum wage. Between
1991 and 2000, FAA agents managed to smuggle grenades, guns and
other weapons aboard aircraft at Logan airport in Boston with a 90%
success rate. Logan, it must be noted, was the point of origin for the
aircraft that stuck the Towers. The terrorists had done their
The FAA, during the Clinton administration, proposed sweeping
changes to the way security is enforced at airport checkpoints. These
measures were fought every step of the way in the
Republican-controlled Congress by the aforementioned airline
industry lobby, to good effect. None of the changes desired by
the FAA have been legislated, because the airline industry did not
want to pay for them.
Even today, after all that has happened, Republicans in Congress
fight the idea that some sort of Federal presence at these vulnerable
security checkpoints might not be a bad idea. A healthy bottom line
for Delta and American is more important to the Republican
Congressmen who accepted their share of the $35 million in campaign
contributions from said lobbies, apparently, than the safety and
security of the nation.
No credence was given to the Hart-Rudman report or the Gore
Commission report by the Republican-controlled Congress, on whom
falls the responsibility for enacting legislation based upon such
warnings. This was done for purely partisan reasons, and nothing
The New Republic, in an article published in 1997, commented
prophetically about the demise of the Gore Commission report:
"The truth is, there is not a whole lot that can be done to stop a
trained professional terrorist. Terrorism will continue, and, in calmer
moments, people will recognize that any attempt to stamp it out
completely would impose such extraordinary costs and time delays as
to destroy the airline industry altogether. The Gore Commission
inaugurated with such fanfare, will likely see their recommendations
disappear into archival history. And everything will settle down until the
Recently, the Republican-controlled Congress gave a multi-billion
dollar bailout to the airline industry, whose greedy culpability in the
events of September 11th is beyond question. This industry was given
approximately four times the amount they had lost while grounded,
money that was once earmarked for Social Security and Medicare.
Immediately after receiving this bailout, United Airlines ordered
almost a dozen planes from a French airline manufacturer.
According to OpenSecrets.org, Republicans received 60% of the
total campaign contributions donated by the airline industry,
amounting to $4,115,439. In 1998 they received a meager 59% of the
contributions, amounting to $2,440,897.
Since the attacks of September 11th, anyone who dares criticize
Republican President George W. Bush has been labeled a traitor.
Reporters have been fired for doing so, talk show hosts have been
repudiated for doing so, and the White House Press Secretary
himself has warned all of America to "watch what we say."
The reasons for this intellectual lockdown are articulated as being
necessary to combat the threat of terrorism, and to present a united
front against our enemies. Most of those demanding this united front
are Republicans who have wrapped themselves in the flag. They do so
not out of patriotism, but to hid their shameful and guilt-ridden faces
from a public that deserves to know the truth.
For this, and for everything described above, I accuse them of
For attempting to obscure fundamental American history that could
help to explain to a shocked America where these attacks have come
from, I accuse them of treason.
For attempting to blame a former President for their own actions and
partisan-motivated lack of action that led directly to this horror, I
accuse them of treason.
For using the blood and bones and woe of American dead to further a
repulsive and apparently ceaseless jihad against the Democratic
Party, I accuse them of treason.
For stifling dissent in a land founded upon the freedoms expressed by
the First Amendment of the Constitution, I accuse them of treason.
For aiding and abetting the noxious greed of an airline industry that
stands in deep taint for their refusal to address clear and present
threats, because such actions would cut into profits, I accuse them
They are guilty. The facts are clear. You cannot hide from history.
The Republicans are the real American traitors. They are the shame
and the sorrow and the scourge of this nation.
The dead remember. So do the living. So do I. So should you.
If you make yourself really small, you can externalize virtually everything.
Daniel Dennett, 1984