beyond the human tragedy: The other World Trade Center/Pentagon
November 4, 2001
ON September 11, the mass media presented the
world with images of human tragedy individuals jumping
out of windows, buildings collapsing, and heroic firemen and
policemen dying in attempts to rescue victims. We were told
that ten thousand US citizens were victimized by the terrorists'
indiscriminant attack against the United States.
Recent investigating journalism provides a profoundly
different picture of the events of September 11.
The total number of victims according to the US
Red Cross is 2,563. According to the Associated Press there
were 2,625 victims. Almost forty percent are foreign nationals
working in the US. In other words, the total number of victims
in New York may not exceed 1500 US citizens. The figure given
by New York City officials claim almost twice as many victims
(4,964) probably for political purposes, to extract more
funding from the Federal Government to rebuild the financial
district. The question that arises is whether the deaths of
1500 US citizens warrants a war which has already displaced 3
million Afghans and killed several thousand civilians from the
bombing, malnutrition and disease.
Secondly, the World Trade Center (WTC) was not
simply a "symbol" of economic power it was a
center for the CIA and the Secret Services, according to the
British newspaper the Guardian ( November 2, 2001 ). The basement,
seventy feet below the ground contained hundreds of weapons,
including assault rifles, bricks of cocaine and fake taxi cabs
used for covert operations in the US. In other words, the CIA
used the civilian cover of the WTC as an operational and logistical
center in the basement thus irresponsibly putting in jeopardy
civilians who were working in the above-ground offices.
Thirdly, the WTC basement was one of the world's largest gold
depositaries, valued at $350 million dollars. The tenants of
the WTC included the biggest financial groups in the US directly
responsible for many of the biggest foreign take-overs and debts
in the Third World. They included J.P. Morgan, Merril Lynch
and many of the most important financial houses that exercise
control over the world economy.
In other words, this was not an indiscriminant
attack against "America" but a political attack against
a major military financial target which is central to
US global empire.
In the case of the attack in Washington, the political
target, the Pentagon, is directly involved in the planning and
implementation of US military strategy to overthrow nationalist
and socialist regimes , to strengthen Washington's global hegemony
and to protect US financial and investment networks.
This raises a fundamental question of whether Washington's declaration
of war was based on the reduced number of US citizens killed
( possibly 1,500 ) or on the political-economic content of the
WTC and the Pentagon.
Housing the CIA and the Secret Service in a nominally civilian
building ( WTC ) provided a " protective cover " for
its activities in New York City, but placed WTC occupants directly
in the line of fire of the numerous adversaries of the CIA.
Some of the victims in the WTC are known swindlers.
Shortly after September 11, the directors of First Equity Enterprises,
which had offices in the WTC, used the terrorist attacks to abscond
with $100 million dollars in fraudulant funds.
Numerous other cases of fraud and commercial exploitation
have surfaced, including exaggerated insurance claims, the sale
of memorabilia by street vendors, disappearance of millions of
dollars in financial aid directed at the victims families ( the
President of the American Red Cross receives a salary of $350,000
dollars ). This is not surprising given the cut-throat competition
between financial institutions and the investment advisers housed
at the WTC. While there is no doubt that typists and janitors
were also killed in the attack, there was a disproportionate
number of highly paid financiers and foreign exchange speculators.
The theoretical point is that the explosion of Washington's
war sentiment, probably had more to do with the "quality"
and not the "quantity" of the victims and their real
influence over global financial markets. The subsequent shocks
to the US economy the fears of investors and bankers, the
decline in the stock market had little to do with secretaries
and janitors and more to do with the economic importance of the
financial institutions affected.
Moreover, the timing of the attack coincided with
the deepening recession and served to accelerate the economic
crisis. In October, over 450,000 workers lost their jobs
the highest monthly figure in recent history. Clearly the terrorists
decision was not an act of vengence based on religious criteria,
but based on strategic economic understanding of the spatial
and economic location of their target and the timing in the economic
cycle. Both timing and location were selected to maximize the
strategic effects on the US economy and not to inflict
the greatest amount of human casualties.
In summary, there are two faces to September 11:
the human tragedy and personal heroism presented by CNN and
the political and economic power conflict between US empire and
its Third World adversaries.
The mass media and Washington manipulate the human tragedy to
deflect attention from the economic and military dimensions of
the conflict. This manipulation has become evident even to sectors
of the US public. Less than 2 months after Sept 11, the same
New York City firemen, praised by mayor for their heroism, rioted
at the WTC ruins in protest against budgetary cut backs in personnel
searching the ruins. Mayor Guiliani denounced the firemen as
law-breaking rioters and praised the police for their repression
of the protest. The Mayor has cut the firemen's budget to finance
the rebuilding of the financial center. Yesterday's heroes are
Likewise the beneficiaries of federal subsidies are not the tragic
"ex-employees" who have lost their jobs but their billionaire
employers. The employees who suffered the tragedy of September
11 have become the victims again, this time at the hands of the
city government, their employers and Washington.
Once the tragic victims were no longer useful as
political propaganda in favor of the war, they were discarded
and reduced to lining the streets outside the unemployment offices.
What I am suggesting is that September 11 was a complex act in
which human tragedy and strategic political issues were intertwined.
The exploitation, distortions and cover-up by the government
and the mass media does not lessen the human tragedy. But it
also suggests that, given the strategic nature of the target,
that the terrorists acted with rational forethought: if the intention
was to challenge the empire, they chose a significant target
although the 'collateral damage' to civilians is excruciating.