9/11 Commission: A Giant ‘Snipe Hunt’?

Michael Saba, Arab News
Publication Date: 
Sat, 2004-04-17 03:00

WASHINGTON, 17 April 2004 — Almost every American boy has been taken on a “snipe hunt” sometime during his childhood. Your older friends take you out in a field at night and usually give you a box and a pair of gloves. They instruct you to wait until a “snipe” comes running toward you and to capture the bird and put it into a box. They tell you to then return with the captured “snipe’. It is part of a rite of initiation for young boys in America.

Only after you have spent considerable time in the field do you realize that there is no such thing as a ‘’snipe”. You have been tricked. Maybe what we are seeing today with various ongoing investigations such as the 9/11 Commission is really just a form of a giant “snipe hunt”. And the taskmaster for the 9/11 Commission “snipe hunt” might very well be its executive director, Philip Zelikow.

Though Zelilow has no vote on the commission and operates out of public view, he picks the areas of investigation, the witnesses, the type of questions for the witnesses, the hearing topics and the briefing topics. And Zelikow is apparently not an innocent bystander when it comes to 9/11 issues. Zelikow has historically worked very closely with Bush National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice co-authoring a book with her. Zelikow also served on the Bush 2 transition team for national security again with Rice and was briefed by Richard Clarke on the growing Al-Qaeda threat prior to 9/11.

A pair of public interest groups, the 9/11 Family Steering Committee and the 9/11 Citizens Watch have repeatedly called for the resignation of Zelikow citing both conflict of interest and overt participation in American counterterrorism efforts prior to 9/11. In a letter the Family Steering Committee wrote, “It is clear that (Zelikow) should never have been permitted to be a member of the commission, since it is the mandate of the commission to identify the source of the failures. It is now apparent why there has been so little effort to assign individual culpability. We now can see that trail would lead directly to the staff director himself.” In the November/December 1998 issue of the Foreign Affairs journal, Zelikow co-authored an article titled “Catastrophic Terrorism.” In this article, the authors said, after pointing out that the 1993 explosion at the World Trade Center could have been much more catastrophic, “.....the resulting horror and chaos would have exceeded our ability to describe it. Such an act of catastrophic terrorism would be a watershed event in American history. It could involve loss of life and property unprecedented in peacetime and undermine America’s fundamental sense of security, as did the Soviet atomic bomb test in 1949.

Like Pearl Harbor, the event would divide our past and future into a before and after. The United States might respond with draconian measures scaling back civil liberties, allowing wider surveillance of citizens, detention of suspects and use of deadly force. More violence could follow, either future terrorist attacks or US counterattacks. Belatedly, Americans would judge their leaders negligent for not addressing terrorism more urgently.” This is a very prescient statement by the authors and one of them, Philip Zelikow is, in fact, helping to judge our leaders for not addressing terrorism more urgently.

When we interviewed Bob McIlvaine, one of the members of Sept. 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows and the father of the late Bobby McIlVaine who died at age 26 in the Sept. 11 tragedy, he stated that he felt nothing would come of the call for the resignation of Philip Zelikow. He said that he was “100 percent” sure that “they knew it was coming” and didn’t really want the true facts made public. And he pointed out that he was being criticized by conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh for being nothing more than a spokesman for the Democrat Party and was “out to get Bush”.

McIlvaine , however, pointed out an interesting comparison when he was read the statement in the Zelikow authored Foreign Policy article from November/December 1998. He stated that in a letter sent in 2000 to President Bush by the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) entitled “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” spearheaded by neocons and other conservatives such as Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney, PNAC members were betting on “some catastrophic and catalyzing event — like a new Pearl Harbor”. McIlvaine mentioned the interesting similarities in these statements particularly the references to “Pearl Harbor”, which has been heard many more times since 9/11.

In a March 29, 2004 article by Emad Mekay by Inter Press Service, Mekay noted that Zelikow had stated at a symposium at the University of Virginia on Sept. 10, 2002 that a prime motive for the invasion of Iraq was to eliminate a threat to Israel while the Bush administration continues to insist that it launched the war to destroy Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, protect the United States and liberate the Iraqi people. “Why would Iraq attack America or use nuclear weapons against us? I’ll tell you what I think the real threat (is) and actually has been since 1990 — it’s the threat against Israel”, stated Zelikow.

No other major media picked up on the Mekay story about Zelikow. Let me add one more Zelikow fact. He did a Masters thesis at Tufts University titled, “Law and Policy in the British Suppression of the Arab Revolt in Palestine 1936-39”.

Possibly Philip Zelikow was taken on a “snipe hunt” as a youngster and after learning that there were no “snipes”, he vowed that he would get even someday by taking others on a really big “snipe hunt.”

— Dr. Michael Saba is the author of “The Armageddon Network” and is an international relations consultant.

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