Werther Memorandum: 
Is 9-11 Evolving into America's Reichstag Fire???

January 11, 2004

Comment: #504

Discussion Threads - Comments #s: 503 and related comments

The attached CBS news report says that tonight's edition of "60 Minutes" will include a segment where former treasury secretary Paul O'Neill (who was fired by President Bush because of his opposition to tax cuts) alleges that the decision to remove Saddam Hussein via a preemptive war was made well before the 9/11 terrorist attacks [on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon] traumatized our nation's people and the popular press into accepting a nation ruled by the politics of fear. I asked my good friend Doctor Werther, a frequent contributor to these Comments (see Comment #s 494, 492, 466, 458,453, 441, and 419), for a brief memorandum describing his assessment of O'Neill's stunning allegation. What follows is that memorandum:

Werther Memorandum: 9-11: An American Reichstag Fire?

January 11, 2004

"The State is not force alone. It depends upon the credulity of man quite as much as upon his docility. Its aim is not merely to make him obey, but also to make him want to obey." H. L. Mencken Minority Report: H. L. Mencken's Notebooks (New York: Knopf. 1956). p. 217.

Former Secretary of the Treasury Paul O'Neill has provided a significant corrective to the naive or disingenuous assertion that 9/11 was a catalyzing event which wrenched the Bush administration from its alleged intention to follow a "humble" foreign policy. Instead, there is an accumulating body of evidence that 9/11 was a suspiciously useful pretext (like the Reichstag fire) rather than a bolt from the blue that "changed everything."

Mr. O'Neill's comments dovetail symmetrically with Bob Woodward's stenographic rendition of a president who regarded the September 11 attacks as an "opportunity" to reorder the world rather than as a shock that befell a peaceful and somnolent republic.

In that light, the thesis of many observers like Joan Didion that the Bush administration is motivated by sincere if badly misguided evangelical zealotry needs to be demoted to the status of political camouflage. A better explanatory model is found in the corporate histories of Krupp and IG Farben. In this dark version, Osama bin Laden, the Frankenstein monster from Langley's test tube (as the record of the anti-Soviet jihad in Afghanistan bears out) plays the role of the eternal stooge: as poor Marinus van der Lubbe, wandering about the blackened shell of the Reichstag with matches in his hand.

American history is now following a trajectory described by the corporate ambitions of Halliburton, Bechtel, Unocal. Their political patrons or servants, who now decide our collective fate, already had the emergency decree in their pockets. How convenient.


* Werther is the pen name of a defense analyst based in Northern Virginia.

The link below describes the CBS report Werther is commenting on.


Chuck Spinney

"A popular government without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or perhaps both. Knowledge will forever govern ignorance, and a people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives." - James Madison, from a letter to W. T. Barry, August 4, 18

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