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Why America Slept: The Failure to Prevent 9/11
By Gerald L. Posner
Random House
HC, 256 pg. US$24.95
ISBN: 0-3755-0879-1

Posner explains 'Why America Slept'

By Carol Devine-Molin
web posted September 8, 2003

Why America Slept: The Failure to Prevent 9/11Gerald Posner's latest work, Why America Slept: The Failure to Prevent 9/11, investigates the run-up to the September 11th terror attacks and its aftermath, with a view toward garnering pivotal insights. Not surprisingly, the author concludes that our nation's vulnerability on that fateful morning was the direct result of our flawed intelligence bureaucracies and President Clinton's unwillingness to properly tackle the scourge of Islamic terrorism throughout his tenure. Nothing new there. However, what's truly fascinating is Posner's ability to expose the behind-the-scenes machinations of America and its ostensible allies in dealing with the terror netherworld.

Posner zeros in on the unholy alliance that both Pakistani and Saudi Arabian power-players forged with al-Qaida. Certainly, the government of Saudi Arabia would have us believe that they were simply victims paying "protection money" to al-Qaida. But the relationship goes much deeper – many of the Saudi royals are thoroughly entrenched in the radical Wahhabi beliefs system and therefore support al-Qaida's goals and terror-tactics. Similarly, there are elements within the upper echelon of Pakistani leadership that are joined-at-the-hip with Islamic fundamentalism. It's understandable that these two nations are still hiding their history of links with al-Qaida and other Islamic terror groups.

In Chapter 10, "Rush to Judgment", Posner relays how our intelligence and law enforcement agencies gave short-shrift to evidence of Middle Eastern involvement in the Oklahoma City bombing. Despite a multitude of clues and expert analysis pointing to Muslim terrorism, the FBI quickly decided that the Oklahoma City attack was solely perpetrated by "homegrown" terrorists upon the arrest of Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols. "We went from a Middle East case investigation to all-domestic on the turn of a dime", said Buck Revell, a former FBI Assistant Director. And in another chapter, Posner cites how the Clinton administration failed to apprehend Osama bin Laden even when crucial intel was provided by both the Sudan and the Gulf State of Qatar. In fact, the US could have grabbed bin Laden and his cohorts when their plane stopped to refuel in Qatar, en route to Afghanistan. That was a missed-opportunity of tremendous magnitude that will continue to haunt Bill Clinton.

However, the final chapter entitled, "The Interrogation" is the true blockbuster of the book. On March 28, 2002 in Faisal Town, Pakistan, American Special Forces were able to capture Abu Zubaydah, Osama bin Laden's Operations Chief and one of the key members of al-Qaida's command. During the siege, Zubaydah was shot in the stomach, groin and thigh while attempting to escape. And Zubaydah's physical injuries were advantageous to interrogators who utilized "short-acting" pain relief, described as a "quick on" 5-10 minute narcotic with a "quick off". In essence, when Zubaydah began to cooperate, he was rewarded with longer-acting pain relief.

Three days after Zubaydah was taken into custody, he was flown to Afghanistan as part of a "false flag operation using fake décor" intended to lull him into believing that he had been moved to Saudi Arabia for further interrogation. The surroundings were specifically created to convince Zubaydah that he was ensconced in "a medical room in a Saudi jail...Two Arab-Americans, now with Special Forces, would play the role of his new inquisitors". Zubaydah was also given sodium pentothal. However, instead of fearing considerable torture and execution at the hands of the brutal "Saudis", Zubaydah was actually relieved and unwittingly spilled the beans. Zubaydah provided his interrogators with the names (and some telephone numbers) of four Saudi royals and a Saudi military official that were complicit in the funding of al-Qaida, believing that these individuals would have the wherewithal to arrange for his release. Upon learning that he had been subjected to a ruse, and speaking with Americans, not Saudis, Zubaydah tried to commit suicide.

Zubaydah identified the following as accomplices of al-Qaida: Prince Ahmed bin Salman bin Abdul-Aziz (owner of Kentucky Derby winner "War Emblem") often simply referred to as "Prince Ahmed", his cousin Prince Sultan bin Faisal bin Turki al-Saud, distant relative Prince Fahd bin Turki bin Saud al-Kabir, Mushaf Ali Mir, a high ranking military officer, and Prince Turki, the Saudi intelligence chief. All died within months, presumably killed on the orders of the top Saudi royals, except for Prince Turki who was removed from his intelligence post and reassigned as Saudi ambassador to Great Britain.

Air Marshall Mushaf Ali Mir, along with his entourage, died when their aircraft unexpectedly experienced difficulties and crashed. Saudi officials have yet to offer an explanation for the plane accident that occurred during favorable weather. Prince Ahmed died of a "heart attack" at age 43, and his cousin Prince Sultan bin Faisal bin Turki al-Saud, age 41, died in a "car accident" while supposedly speeding to Prince Ahmed's funeral. Lastly, Prince Fahd bin Turki bin Saud al-Kabir, age 25, ostensibly "died of thirst" due to the summer heat while traveling in the province of Remaah.

Died of thirst? With all that designer water that the Saudi royals have on hand? Nobody dies of thirst anymore. Unless, of course, you're among the elderly of France, shut-in at home during an abominable heatwave without air-conditioning, without proper supervision, and while government apparatchiks and everyone else for that matter are on holiday. I'll say one thing for socialist governments; they know how to cut their costs.

Obviously, the word came from the very pinnacle of Saudi power to dispose of those already fingered by Zubaydah. How did Prince Turki survive? Maybe he was a double-agent gathering information for the Saudi bigwigs. In any event, the purge was certainly more than a show of good faith to clean-up their ranks. The Saudi leadership was not going to turn these guys over to American custody - On the contrary, they were going to make sure that we never had the opportunity to interrogate the suspects. Why? No doubt, the information trail would have led to other quarters of the royal family.

Carol Devine-Molin is a regular contributor to several online magazines.

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