How Controlled Explanations Are Achieved

After September 11th just like after Kennedy’s assassination, it was necessary to appease doubts with a Presidential Commission of inquiry. The 9/11 Commission was created in November 2002, and was led by Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, but its executive director was Philip Zelikow, who also happened to be the senior editor of the NSS 2002 document defining Bush’s preemptive war doctrine. In 2006, Kean and Hamilton revealed in their book Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission, that the Commission “was set up to fail” from the beginning, Zelikow having already written a synopsis and a conclusion for the final report before the first meeting. He controlled all the working groups, prevented them from communicating with each other, and gave them the singular mission to prove the official story; Team 1A, for example, was tasked to “tell the story of Al-Qaeda’s most successful operation—the 9/11 attacks.” All information, and any request for information, had to pass through him. On top of that, most of the information obtained by the commissioners from the CIA and NORAD was “far from the truth,” according to Kean and Hamilton. The Commission had no access to any direct evidence or even the recordings of the interrogations of the suspected Al-Qaeda members, which came to them third hand “in the form of reports, not even transcripts.” Commission members had to be content, for example, with CIA affirmations that the confessions of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (described as the operational manager of the attacks), obtained between 183 waterboarding sessions, were certifiable evidence that bin Laden had authorized and supported the operation. Before the Commission published its final report in July 2004, several members expressed their frustration and resigned. One of them, Max Cleland, called the Commission a “national scandal”: “One of these days we will have to get the full story because the 9-11 issue is so important to America. But the White House wants to cover it up.” John Farmer, the Senior Counsel, said for his part in The Washington Post: “what government and military officials had told Congress, the Commission, the media, and the public about who knew what when—was almost entirely, and inexplicably, untrue.”

The Commission also threw a veil over one of the most disturbing facts around 9/11, which happened on the stock exchange: between the 6th and the 10th of September 2001, there were massive purchases of “put options,” twenty-five times higher than average, on American Airlines and United Airlines, whose shares fell 40% after the attacks, but also on companies housed in the WTC such as Morgan Stanley Dean Witter & Co. and Merrill Lynch & Company. The International Organization of Securities Commissions (IOSCO) concluded on October 15th that the gains had been in the hundreds of millions of dollars and could be the “largest insider trade ever committed.” The Commission rejected the hypothesis in a few lines: “further investigation has revealed that the trading had no connection with 9/11. A single US-based institutional investor with no conceivable ties to Al-Qaeda purchased 95 percent of the UAL puts on September 6 as part of a trading strategy that also included buying 115,000 shares of American [Airline] on September 10.” In other words: postulating that the culprit was Al-Qaeda, and noting that the investors in question did not have the Al-Qaeda profile, enabled the Commission to conclude implicitly that these suspicious transactions were just an unfortunate coincidence. The “institutional investor” in question was Alex Brown Inc., a subsidiary of Deutsche Bank whose former CEO and Chairman A.B. “Buzzy” Krongard (until 1998) had just become Executive Director of the CIA in March 2001.