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2004 -- The Year of the Law and of Living Dangerously

Seemingly Unsolvable Legal Traps Face an Administration Running Out of Wiggle Room

Something “Big” Will Prevent Saddam from Coming to Trial


Michael C. Ruppert

© Copyright 2003, From The Wilderness Publications, All Rights Reserved. May be reprinted, distributed or posted on an Internet web site for non-profit purposes only.

December 31, 2003 2000 PDT ( FTW ) – FTW has stressed that events in the five years following September 11th 2001 would determine the course of human history for the next five hundred years. In looking at the tectonic pressures building during a presidential election year -- as driven by the emerging reality of Peak Oil and Gas -- it now appears that, of those five years, 2004 may well be marked by some of the greatest political, economic and military changes in history. Much of this upheaval will have been caused by the success of independent journalists, researchers, activists, courts, and congress in challenging the actions of the US Empire at home and abroad since 9/11 and holding it accountable for its own statements, actions and documents.

This brings to mind the proverb, “Be careful of what you pray for. You just might get it.” This beast is dangerous now and signs are abundant, from the unrealized terror scares over the holidays, to the re-emergence of Mad Cow disease, to a suddenly renewed government interest in anthrax, that nothing is beyond the pale if the beast is threatened. Even the Washington Post's David Rothkopf planted seeds on November 24th when he suggested that a terrorist attack might “disrupt” the 2004 presidential elections. We should not be surprised.

With attacks on US and coalition troops in Iraq having intensified since the December 14 “capture” of Saddam Hussein and with the US losing the peace in Afghanistan, as attested in a recent report from the Council on Foreign Relations, it appears that some major distractions are going to be needed to keep the American economic and political machine operating. A December 28th story in the Post revealed that the rate of US casualties in Iraq had doubled in the four month period from September through the end of the year. There was to be no post-Saddam dividend on that account.

It's an open question whether the customary economic moves to grow the economy in advance of an election are not going to reveal some of the darker aspects of Peak Oil and Gas before the election even gets here. As the US, Chinese and European economies expand (China's is exploding), so does energy consumption. It is a deadly game to increase oil and gas use now and risk more blackouts and price spikes before next November.

A strong breeze is hitting the house of cards.

The success of challenges to the US version of 9/11 and to the fraudulent intelligence justifying last March's invasion of Iraq has put some major obstacles in front of Wall Street's and Washington's post-9/11 agenda. In the context of a presidential election year those obstacles will be of primary concern to the Bush administration as it seeks to hold on to its position as CEO of an emerging New World Order, and it must do everything possible to remove or neutralize all of them before then.

It is for that reason that Thomas Kean, the Republican chair of the so-called Independent Commission investigating 9/11, chose on December 17th to advance a modified limited hangout saying that the attacks could have been prevented had it not been for incompetence and intelligence failures on the part of middle managers. The timing of that announcement, just four days after the “capture” of Saddam Hussein, was a weak attempt to bury unresolved questions about 9/11 in boosted Bush approval ratings. The fact that Kean decided to make his announcement after having subpoenaed FAA records of Air Force and government actions on 9/11, but before receiving them; and after agreeing to the tepid compromise of reviewing partial extracts of George Bush's pre-9/11 intelligence briefs, but before seeing them, is ample evidence of his political motive. Investigative bodies rarely pass public judgment before reviewing the evidence.

If backed into a corner, the neocons and the global economic system which committed its support to them in 2000 will likely resort to extreme and draconian measures which may mark the end of the façade of American democracy. 2004 is going to be a very dangerous year. The major challenges faced by the Bush administration are both legal and self-created. They reflect inevitable challenges to positions adopted and statements made by the neocons since the US embarked on a course of infinite war for oil. They call to mind another old adage once expressed by a recovering alcoholic who said, “If you don't tell a lie, you don't have to remember what you said”. The Bush administration is walking an unraveling tightrope.

Cheney's Energy Task Force

  FTW has long maintained that the deepest and darkest secrets of 9/11 lay buried in the records of Vice President Cheney's National Energy Policy Development Group (NEPDG) which concluded its work and published a report admitting critical shortages in energy supplies in May of 2001. While those admissions were vague --- and located almost exclusively in buried sections of the report not mentioned in executive summaries or press accounts --- they clearly indicated that a major national priority was the acquisition of new sources of hydrocarbon energy against a backdrop of ever-decreasing domestic production.

Shortly after the report was submitted, a battle ensued between the House Government Reform Committee and Democrat Henry Waxman over the records of who had met with the panel and what had been discussed. While much of the early attention was focused on the participation of corporations like Enron, ExxonMobil and BP, FTW asserted that the real secrets had to do with the task force's awareness of peaking world oil and gas supplies and looming impacts on human civilization. Since the task force had been paid for with taxpayer money, Congress rightly felt that the public had a right to know who had been invited and what had been discussed.

Initial suits by the Government Accounting Office (GAO) and citizen groups including Judicial Watch and the Sierra Club affirmed the constitutional right (imperative) of Congress and the people to have access to the files. An initial ruling in US District Court agreed and the US Court of Appeals declined to intervene after a White House appeal. As a result, a very incomplete set of records was released by agencies that assisted the task force while the White House itself, arguing executive privilege, has steadfastly refused to reveal a single page of its records.

On December 15, 2003, as reported by the Associated Press, the US Supreme Court announced that it would make a ruling in the case sometime in July 2004, just three months shy of the presidential election. This presents a real problem for the Bush administration. Legally, there is little to sustain its obviously illegal actions. And presenting the American people with another politically-tainted Supreme Court ruling just months before the election could easily rekindle debate over the Court's illegal Bush v. Gore ruling which stopped the Florida recount in 2000.

Aside from reminding the Court through widespread publication of stories about the pending decision there is little the American people can do to influence the outcome. However, the Court is already feeling enough pressure as a multitude of Bush administration extralegal positions come under increasing fire and close public scrutiny. In order for the machine to continue to function it must protect the value of the American brand name as reflected by its ability to convince large portions of the populace that the system still works. While the American people may not fully understand the implications of a Supreme Court ruling favoring the Bush administration in this case, the lawyers who make the system work and journalists who report on it most certainly will.

This is the ultimate high-stakes, must-win decision for the administration in the coming year. Full disclosure of Cheney's records would enable publications like FTW to once and for all answer for the American people and the world the single biggest question about 9/11, “What would motivate them to do such a horrible thing? What could have been so important?” In a criminal trial for murder this would be one of the three basic elements required for a conviction: the motive. The method and opportunity have already been established.


Only one person in the entire world has been convicted of anything connected to the attacks of 9/11. Very few people have ever heard of Mounir el-Motassadeq who was arrested in Germany in November 2001 and, according to a December 16 Wall Street Journal report, convicted this year as an accessory to 3,066 murders. His conviction is about to be overturned solely as a result of the failure of a related German prosecution. That case failed recently because the US refused to produce a key witness who might have offered exonerating testimony, Ramzi bin al-Shibh.

Bin al-Shibh, reportedly captured in Pakistan a year to the day after the attacks, has been elevated to the status of principal planner in the 9/11 legend. Like one of the other alleged key planners, Khalid Shaikh Muhammad (KSM), he has yet to make a single public appearance while reams of convenient confessions from him and KSM are released by the US government to support its unsupportable version of events. Bin al-Shibh is reportedly being held at Guantanamo, outside the reach of media, lawyers and the Constitution. The credibility risk to the US government, as it spins a tangled web of conflicting data, is that at some point, in order to maintain any credibility at all, it will have to produce real and verifiable statements from those it holds in custody. It must produce the witnesses themselves, and in the flesh.

On December 11, 2003 the German trial of a second person charged with complicity in the 9/11 attacks, Abdelghani Mzoudi, collapsed when a statement from bin al-Shibh was presented to the court exonerating Mzoudi from any knowledge of the 9/11attacks. The statement made its way into court after German intelligence defied a US request to keep the statement out of court and obeyed German law which -- like US law -- demands that any exculpatory evidence be disclosed during trial. According to stories in The Guardian and The New York Times, German intelligence had had the exculpatory material in hand before Mzoudi's trial began. This leaves open the question of why the US government had sought to illegally suppress evidence demonstrating Mzoudi's innocence.

The answer is clear. The US needs a 9/11 conviction, any 9/11 conviction, desperately.

The German judge who dismissed Mzoudi's case opened the door for an immediate appeal and reversal in the case of Motassadeq who, like Mzoudi, was connected with members of Mohammed Atta's Hamburg cell. Both men are Moroccans and both had sought bin al-Shibh's testimony in their defense. That access had repeatedly been denied to Motassadeq's attorneys. In an omen for future 9/11 prosecutions – if they ever happen – Judge Klaus Ruhle said, as reported in the Times on December 12, “that while he had strong doubts about the reliability of the evidence, he could not properly evaluate it without testimony from bin al-Shibh.”

This leaves open the additional possibility that in order to avoid future and more dangerous exposures of its own criminal conduct, the US government created the bin al-Shibh testimony in order to prevent Mzoudi's trial from exposing even more glaring defects in the US-created 9/11 legend after it became clear that German courts were not going to yield to John Ashcroft's wishes.

In a very revealing passage at the end of its report the Times' Desmond Butler seemed to acknowledge lingering worldwide questions about whether KSM and bin al-Shibh had ever actually been taken into custody. He wrote, “ According to the police's letter to the court, the witness presumed to be Mr. bin al-Shibh made his statement last month.”

If Motassadeq's conviction is overturned, renewed examination of bin al-Shibh's role in 9/11 and subsequent “capture” could risk exposure of other lies about 9/11. This is especially true with regard to the deliberately confused identity of the “paymaster” for the attacks, Omar Saeed Sheikh, and the man who ordered him to transfer $100,000 to Mohammed Atta just weeks before 9/11 -- then-Pakistani intelligence chief General Mahmud Ahmad. Ahmad was known to have close ties to CIA Director George Tenet and was in Washington during the week of the attacks, meeting with Tenet, senior members of the Bush administration and key congressional leaders like House Intelligence Chair Porter Goss and Senate Intelligence Chair Bob Graham.

Zacariahs Moussaoui, the so-called 20th hijacker, jailed in Minnesota shortly before 9/11, was made famous by the legendary Rowley Memorandum, written by the FBI's Minneapolis legal affairs agent Coleen Rowley, TIME Magazine's Woman of the Year in 2002. In her memo she described deliberate, heavy-handed and successful attempts by FBI headquarters personnel, including Radical Fundamentalist Unit chief David Frasca, to suppress an investigation that might have prevented the attacks. As time has passed it has become apparent that details in the Rowley memorandum have become enshrined – as noted by one researcher – as “holy scripture” about 9/11. But what if some of those details were part of a fabricated legend made more credible by Rowley's protestations? For an excellent analysis of this scenario please see There's Something About Omar: Truth, Lies, and the Legend of 9/11 by Chaim Kupferberg at: .

Since his incarceration and the filing of charges against him, Moussaoui has repeatedly sought the testimony of Khalid Shaikh Muhammad, Mustafa Ahmed Hawsawi and bin al-Shibh. As in the above cases the US government has refused to allow depositions or the questioning of witnesses that might exonerate him. A US district court eventually ordered the witnesses to be produced and depositions to be taken. As a result, Moussaoui's prosecution stalled while John Ashcroft's Department of Justice appealed to a higher court for a ruling which is not likely to come down in Ashcroft's favor.

Given the outcome in the German trials it is extremely likely that going into the November election the Bush administration will not have a single 9/11-related conviction to show the American public; a fact which will surely be mentioned by the Democratic nominee and noted in the press.

Two additional recent US court decisions have further impaired the administration's ability to keep a lid on the lies of 9/11 and seriously compounded the above problems. On December 20, the AP reported that, in two separate Appeals Court rulings, it had been decided that the US could not keep detainees held in Guantanamo Cuba indefinitely outside the US legal system (i.e. the public eye) and that American citizens like alleged dirty-bomb suspect Jose Padilla could not be denied constitutional protections because they were allegedly “enemy combatants” being held outside US territory.

The result of the first ruling is to guarantee an inevitable point in time when the US government will have to produce Khalid Shaikh Muhammad, bin al-Shibh and other key figures in the 9/11 legend for public inspection. FTW has not a single doubt that the government's credibility will undeniably collapse at that moment if even the most basic questions are asked by the world's press and defense lawyers with an IQ higher than that of a baked potato.

The result of all these precedents would make it impossible for the government to successfully maintain the credibility of its accounts of 9/11.


What were they thinking?

Assuming that it is the real Saddam Hussein that was officially taken into custody on December 14 th FTW cannot conceive of a single scenario in which the US government will ever let him come to trial. The world will not accept a secret trial.

The New York Times wrote on December 17th, “The trial of Saddam Hussein must do several things at once. It must educate Iraqis and the world about the nature of his regime, adhere to the highest international standards of fairness, and provide a mechanism for appropriate punishment. The best way to achieve those goals is by creating a tribunal inside Iraq under United Nations authority, staffed by Iraqi and international judges and prosecutors.”

But the dilemma faced by the US was made clear by the Agence France Presse which wrote on December 20th, “Controversial French lawyer Jacques Verges says he is willing to defend Saddam Hussein in court and, if he can, bring world leaders to the witness stand, in what could be a huge embarrassment for the United States, France and other countries.

“…He insisted that ‘all Western heads of state,' from the time of the 1980-1988 Iraq-Iran war to the latest Iraq conflict, should take the stand when the imprisoned former Iraqi officials go on trial… ‘When we reprove the use of certain weapons (we need to know) who sold these weapons,' he said about Iraq 's past purchase of arms from France, Britain, the United States and Russia.”

Joe Conason of The New York Observer observed on Dec 22nd that, “ An obvious prospective witness is Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who acted as a special envoy to Baghdad during the early 1980's. On a courtroom easel, Saddam might display the famous December 1983 photograph of him shaking hands with Mr. Rumsfeld, who acknowledges that the United States knew Iraq was using chemical weapons. If his forces were using Tabun, mustard gas, and other forbidden poisons, he might ask, why did Washington restore diplomatic relations with Baghdad in November 1984?

There are many problems with the details of Saddam's convenient capture at a time when Bush popularity was sinking. A number of world papers from Britain to Australia have noted that Kurdish rebel groups laid claim to Saddam's capture before US sources released an official story. The Kurdish stories are credible but do not reveal the date of capture which might account for the former Iraqi dictator's disheveled appearance.

On December 21, FTW received the following unsourced photograph in an email titled “From a friend in Saudi Arabia.” The picture purports to show two US soldiers demonstrating how they lifted a Styrofoam block seal to Saddam's hiding place. The picture poses two problems for the US story. First, it clearly depicts ripened dates hanging from a tree branch. This ripening only occurs in the summer months and by December dates have either long since been harvested, rotted black on the branch or have fallen from the trees. Next to the dates is a line holding an unknown meat drying in the sun. Again, this is a process – according to Iraqi and Arab sources – which only occurs during the summer months.

A search of various news websites revealed that the photograph was an AP photo which – along with at least four others showing the ripened dates – is still posted on the CBS News website at: .

(Go to “The Capture of Saddam” and then click on “Photo Essays”).

The AP photos dispel other rumors that Saddam had been trapped under a concrete block. AP close-ups of the block above clearly indicate that it is lightweight. This is supported by the less-than-aggressive hand grips used by the soldiers in the photograph. While it is possible that bricks had been placed on top of the foam seal, it remains true that if Saddam had been captured sometime earlier, he was held a prisoner in the spider hole while his captors occupied the Spartan farmhouse above.

The timing and manner of Hussein's capture defy logic. He can only be tried in public and even if convenient confessions from him, unsupported by video or sworn testimony, allow the US to locate planted weapons of mass destruction, the cards of this poker hand are going to have to be fully disclosed at some point. The Bush administration knows this and FTW concludes that even as it announced his capture, it also had decided that Saddam Hussein would never be tried in public or allowed to defend himself. This makes his capture an incredibly ominous event. Something big will have to happen to prevent the trial from taking place.


Finally, a December 26th story in The Washington Post reported that a fourth prosecutor has been added to the Department of Justice team investigating who it was in the White House who leaked the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame to journalist Bob Novak last year. Plame is the wife of former US Ambassador Joseph Wilson who was dispatched on the orders of Dick Cheney to investigate documents purporting to show that Saddam Hussein had been attempting to purchase uranium from Niger. The documents were crude forgeries, yet President Bush mentioned them in his state-of-the-union address and much of his cabinet relied upon them to justify the Iraqi invasion even after Wilson had reported that they were fakes and the claims were false.

According to the Post story FBI sources have indicated that a grand jury may shortly be empanelled to investigate the case. If so, Bush administration problems will multiply as more and more of the evidence appears before a body over which John Ashcroft cannot exert complete control.

The Post story added that, “On Monday [Dec. 22] the Senate minority leader and the ranking Democrat on the Armed Services committee sent a letter to Attorney General John Ashcroft demanding more information about the probe. ‘We request that you provide us with an overall status of the investigation, including the number of people the Justice Department has interviewed, the number of briefings you have received, the general types of information you are briefed on, what conditions you have placed on the scope of these briefings to ensure the independence of this investigation, and whether you have discussed this case with senior administration officials outside the Justice Department…

“The Senators said that it is an apparent conflict of interest for Ashcroft to be briefed on the subject, and again requested a special counsel to prosecute the case…”

The Daschle-Levin letter apparently hit home. In a surprise announcement on December 30th – as reported on CNN – John Ashcroft announced that he had recused himself from any role in the investigation and that control of the case would pass to the US Attorney in Chicago, Patrick Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald's selection was apparently governed by nothing more than political concerns. But it should be noted that under US law, US Attorneys operate independently of the Attorney General. (See: )

This development further weakens Bush's ability to control a legal powder keg that, like so many others, could topple his regime.

Of key interest in this investigation is a document which surfaced out of the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research and the fact that there have been several mysterious deaths in that unit in recent months. (FTW is currently preparing a detailed subscriber-only investigation of the links between these developments, the deaths and the fact that the CIA and the Bush administration are in a feud just short of a “shooting war”.)

If a grand jury is empanelled in this case it could – as was the case with the Watergate grand jury and Richard Nixon – spell the end of the Bush administration. The current regime has proven itself an inept manager of world affairs for the benefit of the financial system and offensive to most of the world's population. As FTW has said for a year, George W. Bush may be unbeatable in the election. He will certainly raise more money than all of his challengers and, if the three preceding years are any measure, he has demonstrated that he will go to any lengths to retain power. But that does not make him unstoppable. Richard Nixon believed that he was unstoppable and played a tough poker hand to the very end. The difference between Richard Nixon and George W. Bush is that Richard Nixon capitulated when he saw that further struggle would destroy the country.

Against the backdrop of Peak oil and Gas and what lies inevitably in our future, George W. Bush may see no similar grounds for restraint.

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Truth And Lies About 9-11