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Feature Story September 19, 2002
John O'Neill: An Unbelievable Life
By Mark Ames Browse author Email
Page 8 of 8
Few Americans can bring themselves to confront the horrible possibility that our leaders knew about the attacks in advance. Even after the evidence came in. Russians, who have openly debated the possibility that the FSB was behind the apartment bombings in 1999, might find the Americans to be comparatively squeamish and willfully ignorant when it comes to confronting painful truths. Russians as a rule seek out the painful, awful truth with as much energy as Americans avoid it.

Even the release of evidence that FBI field officers and others had warned their superiors of impending hijackings and air attacks failed to push America into asking the hardest, darkest truths about our government's role in September 11th. Instead, the debate centered on the much safer issue of incompetence, connecting dots, and communication between agencies. When an American is confronted with what is obviously an evil act by one of his leaders, he will always choose the "incompetence" excuse over the "they intended to be evil" explanation. Incompetence is the perfect alibi, as the Iran-Contra conspirators found out. Americans buy it. They want to believe it.

For Russian readers, using the supposedly-objective press to smear an important figure is nothing unusual. Tell an American that their press is used to smear, and most will argue that "it's not possible" because "it would get found out." Found out?! By whom, our press?! Are you fucking nuts?!?!

But the really difficult thing is explaining to a Russian audience is why the American press is so afraid of questioning those in power and their official version of events -- even after they've been exposed as lies. Russians, although no less traumatized by their apartment bombings in 1999, nevertheless have seriously debated and investigated the possibility that the FSB may have played a role in it. Novaya Gazeta suffered a series of bizarre and sometimes brutal attacks when it investigated the FSB's role in the Ryazan apartment bomb "hoax."

It took an FBI whistleblower from Minneapolis, not an investigative journalist, to first crack the government's lie that it had absolutely no idea that such an attack as 9/11 would, or even could possibly take place. It's taken Congressional sources, not investigative journalists, to keep the story alive. The media, rather than taking apart the rest of the government's version of events to see what else might crack, have instead helped them shore up the surviving parts of the official version of September 11th, using the "incompetence" palliative to keep the rest from falling apart. You stop asking questions about people's motives and actions once you all agree that people were "incompetent."

Even today's revelations from Congress about specific intelligence warnings last summer about hijacked airliners used as weapons won't rattle the American public or the media out of its slumber. Richard Shelby, the ranking Republican senator on the intelligence committee, was quoted in a September 10th New York Times article that there are "a lot more bombs out there" that will be revealed. The media pried no further.

The official version of 9/11 that we were fed in the weeks and months after didn't make sense at the time, yet everyone swallowed it. Some of the more obvious lies have been exposed.

The John O'Neill story is even more ludicrous, and full of more holes. A cub reporter poking this story could easily stumble onto something bigger. Otherwise, we're all stuck with this B-movie spy thriller version that we've been fed, written literally by a B-movie screenplay writer.

The Siege was a failure at the box office, nearly ruining Willis's career, responsible for steering him away from action star to New Age hack for M. Night Shyalaman. If this war against terror is just that -- a bad, expensive investment in a sloppy plot -- then we're in for something much worse than the national equivalent of a box office failure.

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