Secret Agent Man
There's a man who leads a life of danger
To everyone he meets he stays a stranger
Parsing the statements of George Bush is of course handicapped by the man's uncommon illiteracy, though when he sticks to his prepared texts we can get some indication of what his keepers want us to hear, even if Bush himself doesn't know what he's saying. Take, for one bizarre instance, the opening remarks to his Rose Garden news conference last Friday.
In defence of torture and secret prisons he boasted of the "valuable information" obtained by the CIA from waterboarding "men like Khalid Sheikh Mohammed" (whose telephone conversations with Mohammed Atta, including final approval for the attacks on September 10, are known to have been monitored and translated by the NSA, but apparently not acted upon).
Much like Atta's unacknowledged Florida life of strippers, booze and cocaine, the supposed mastermind of September 11 was a high-living womanizer who loved clubbing and lavish hotels, and who once impressed a girlfriend by flying a helicopter past her office window trailing a banner that read "I love you."
There remains the mystery of his arrest, which even today can only be called an alleged arrest, not least because he was confidently reported killed in a shootout on 9/11's first anniversary. ("Now it has emerged that Kuwaiti national Khalid Shaikh Mohammed did indeed perish in the raid," said Asia Times.)
A witness present in the house when Khalid was said to have finally been seized was adament that "the only people in the house were my brother, his wife and their kids.... I have absolutely no idea why the police came here." For The Guardian, Isobel Hilton wrote that in Pakistan, the story of his arrest "appears to be almost entirely fictional." And there's the famous photo of Khalid, fat and unshaven against a wall of peeling paint. But according to The Sunday Times a "thorough search of the house shows there is no such wall."
To allay doubts of Khalid's capture, Pakistan's ISI held a first-ever press briefing and screened a laughable eight minutes of footage purportedly taken during the raid. "Broken doors, blood-stained walls and wrists in handcuffs were all shown but curiously, no face shots...not even the well publicized 'arrest' photo of Mohammed that has been widely circulated and questioned. When one CNN reporter, Tom Minter asked why, the ISI said the tape had been edited but that the actual footage did record his face but had been edited out for the presentation." Pakistani intelligence had its own good reasons to attempt deception as, like 9/11 paymaster Omar Saeed Sheikh, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was not only an al Qaeda commander but also an ISI operative. Which is why both men wanted Daniel Pearl dead.
If Khalid actually is in custody, he has remained out-of-sight from all but his CIA minders. The Kean Commission relied heavily upon Khalid's account of 9/11 to construct their own story - he's mentioned in 272 paragraphs of the report - but no commission representative was permitted to meet him or take his testimony: there is no corroboration that the account given was actually his own. The commission supplied questions to his captors, and his captors returned transcripts of interrogations that allegedly contained Khalid's answers. Its claim of authenticity rests solely upon the goodwill of the Agency.
But back to Bush and his Friday remarks:
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed described the design of planned attacks of buildings inside the U.S. and how operatives were directed to carry them out. That is valuable information for those of us who have the responsibility to protect the American people. He told us the operatives had been instructed to ensure that the explosives went off at a high -- a point that was high enough to prevent people trapped above from escaping.
Even allowing for the bell curve of his usual nonsense, what sense does this make?
The Guardian transcript has Bush saying that Khalid "described the design of plane attacks," rather than the official "planned attacks." The video, available from the White House website, confirms "planned." Perhaps the Guardian couldn't quite believe what it was hearing. Because Bush went on to say that the operatives of the planned attacks were instructed in the placement of explosives. Adding, as though it's the clearest thing in the world, that Khalid disclosed the explosives were to detonate at "a point high enough to prevent people trapped above from escaping."
Before we rush to judgement, believing Bush is letting it slip that the towers were demolished, watch the video. Bush isn't riffing here; he isn't straying from the prepared text. His remarks were crafted with care. So why would he be given such lines, which could so easily be construed by 9/11 skeptics as an inadvertant admission of controlled demolition? Perhaps because, as I believe was Rumsfeld's intention when he "misspoke" of a "missile" striking the Pentagon the very week Thierry Meyssan launched his "no plane" website, that's precisely where they want our attention, whether or not demolition is a fact. (And it will only be our attention, as the corporate press either don't have the ears or the stomach for it.)
So here's the scene: the White House invoking invisible man Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to excite our imagination with an oddly-worded statement strongly suggestive of demolition, when our attention would be better rewarded by considering Khalid himself, his service to the ISI and the ISI's service to US intelligence. But Bush will never be written the words to encourage such thoughts.