Four Things About September 11th

Four Things about September 11th

One: For evil to occur, all good men have to do is nothing.

What went so horribly wrong leading up to 9-11? How is it possible 9-11 occured given how many well-qualified professionals we have in our multiple security agencies, in our defense industry, in our huge and powerful law firms, in our insurance companies, and in our corporate boardrooms? 9-11 revealed that if 19 muslim men could pull off an attack of that magnitude and mass scale of death and destruction. then ANY TERROR GROUP could have. So how did America drop the ball on national security? Where did we go wrong? Increasingly Americans are not fully satisfied with the reasons offered in the 9-11 Commission's Report. They sense, rightfully, that there is much more to this story than is being told and they want to know what is being hidden from them. This website will detail my efforts to alert authorities to stop the Islamic bojinka airline attacks which occured on 9-11.

Two: Ignoring Reality: The Seeds of Trouble

How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg. Likewise, when Philip Zelikow in 1998 called concern over cyberattacks a major threat, requiring a new agency, a new building, and thousands of new employees - it didn't make it a real threat. It was still just a waste of time and resources - and a decoy for the real McCoy - the catastrophic bojinka plot. Now the Bojinka plot had legs and was running full-speed ahead and stopping it would have required much more attention to airport security issues. Yet how much attention did Zelikow give to airport security issues in his report on catastrophic terror? None.

The Islamic Bojinka plot was the most reprehensible and vile catastrophic terror plot ever attempted in the history of mankind and yet Zelikow would not mention a single word about the plot, or hijackings, or airport security at all in his 1998 report on Catastrophic Terrorism. To make matters even worse, Zelikow also recommended creating a new think tank which had keeping probable terror threat scenarios out of public view as its number one objective. Is it really any wonder then if the bojinka plot scenario ended up in Sandy Berger's socks after Sullivan, Elson, and others came forward with the truth?

When you read Zelikow's report one has the sense of a person who is mesmerized by the prospect of a catastrophic attack on America which he says would be a New Pearl Harbor and a Watershed Event that would leave Americans complaining too little and too late to fault their leader's negligence.

It is more than a bit bizzarre that in his report he would fault the public for not putting pressure on leaders to address terrorism more urgently while at the same time urging a deceptive policy that will reduce the likelihood the public will KNOW what truly threatens them. If they took careful note of Zelikow's three recommendations, the public would 1.) Clamor loudly for a new agency to stop cyberattacks, 2.) Ask our leaders to make nuclear weapons and other wmds illegal and 3.) Pressure leaders to make a new think tank which cannot release to the public ANY of the most probable threats facing the country. Following every point of his 3-point program to stop catastrophic terror would instead lead America right to it.

In 2000, I had never heard of Philip Zelikow or his three-point plan to ignore Catastrophic Terrorism. Yet his was not the only negligent vision but in fact negligence in airport security issues had taken firm root in our political landscape. One of the outward signs was the aggressiveness with which many our nation's lawyers sought to soften our nation's underbelly. It became a matter of sport for them to turn the world upside-down by demonizing the good guy and painting a sorrowful sympathetic portrait of the abuser. Attorneys who grossly intrude on the personal lives of Americans on behalf of a foreign entity pose a serious risk to our national security. Already the outcome has been nothing less than devastating to our Intelligence capability. They came to the aid of Abu-Aziz while tar-and-feathering a United Airlines stewardess who had joked that her co-worker Aziz fit part of a terrorist profile. The result was not just an Oakland jury award of 2.9 million dollars to Abu-Aziz and attorney John Riley but a shockwave which envelopped both the airline and counterterrorism industries. Out of frustration, a dark pall was cast over counterterrorism efforts and a sarcasm emerged which belied a deeper resentment and loss of control. As a consequence of this misguided political-correctness, the blade of Jihad was not being turned into a plowshare but was being sharpened for the slaughter.

Three: If You Want Success You Must First Imagine It

"If you want success, you must first imagine it." These are the words Zelikow uses to conclude his paper on Catastrophic Terrorism which is peculiar in that it neatly echoes his opening header "Imagining the Transforming Event" and essentially nothing else. The FBI touted the first WTC attack as a watershed event - yet Philip Zelikow and many others remained unimpressed. It was not a successful watershed event for those who view reasonably tight security as both an impediment to a completely free society and as a barrier to the transformative power of New Pearl Harbor catastrophism. As an example of a transforming event, Zelikow imagines if the Twin Towers had been completely destroyed by the first World Trade Center attack. There would have been "unparalleled peacetime casualties" and a slow-to-respond, stunned public would complain too late that our leaders were negligent in addressing terrorism - and yet one never obtains any sense - after reading Zelikow's 3-point solution - that his plan would bring America one smidgen closer to preventing ANY known catastrophic terror threat. If Zelikow truly intended to use image-training as a tool for stopping Bojinka and other terrorist plots - he would have given the public a clear picture of a successful intervention strategy not a trio of time-consuming, resource-hogging boondoggles that would lead us not to safety, but down the path where the beast is waiting hungrily for us.

Four: Learn From Mistakes - How I Tried But Failed To Stop the 9-11 Islamic Bojinka Attacks

If we are ever to succeed, we must make note of our failures, and use the experience to improve our performance in the future. I tried to stop the Bojinka plot before it happened but I failed. I had front-row seats to the mistakes which lead up to the 9-11 attacks and I am shocked that many lawyers feel - in the face of their neglect - that remaining silent is the best solution. For that reason, I am concerned we are still not facing the bold truth about Islamic Terror and are letting off easy those who went to outrageous lengths to ignore the pleas of Americans to STOP the plot and secure our gates.

Liberals are often accused of putting their collective head in the sand and ignoring national security. But it would be wrong to assume Bojinka Plot Negligence began and ended at the doorstep of Liberals. Neocons, too, must shoulder their fair share of responsibility for the intelligence failure leading up to 9-11. If anything the 9-11 Commission's report suggests they are colluding to cover eachother's mistakes up by not focusing in on the problem - THE IGNORING OF EXISTING THREATS. We absolutely deserved a high standard of preparedness in airport security before 9-11 and we certainly deserve it now, after the facts of 9-11.

I saw the Islamic Bojinka Threat emerge during my years in Japan (1991-1997). By 2000, I knew the Bojinka threat was likely still a grave threat for several reasons. First, only a few people were ever prosecuted after jurisdiction for prosecuting the Bojinka plotters and Ikegami's killers was passed from Philippine and Japanese authorities to the hands of New York prosecutors. Secondly, there was an alarming quote of an unnamed US official in the Japanese press following the Bojinka Plot's exposure which indicated simply a plan to keep tabs on the terror cells around the world even while admitting some cells were already operating inside the United States. We had narrowly escaped the most heinous, catastrophic attack ever plotted and yet the response was alarmingly low-key. I had very nearly called the U.S. embassy in Japan to protest our muted response. I also wanted to inform them my head was burning with the realization the terrorists would likely opt for a kamikaze-syle attack such as the one Tom Clancy wrote about, only substituting Islamic bojinka terrorists in place of Clancy's fictional vision of a crazed JAL pilot targeting the Pentagon.

Although I had failed to press the matter successfully to Ms. Oishi or another official as I had done in 1993, I was given a second chance to alert authorities in 2000 and 2001 during an over year-long debriefing in therapy. The therapist had clear and verifiable ties to law enforcement. I instructed her to use those ties to alert authorities to the danger of simply monitoring bojinka plotters. I guessed correctly that it was very likely Bush was being poorly advised in regards to the Islamic bojinka airline plot if he was being told anything about it at all. I was overcome with images of arabs hijacking planes and plowing them into our buildings. I had recurrent images of a man leaping from a tall building to his death to escape the situation. I repeatedly thought of myself in that man's shoes. My only hope was to stop the attack and unveil the plot. Therefore I demanded that our lives be spared and I ordered the plot which would allow muslims to plow planes into our buildings stopped. I gave two recommendations for stopping it - look in our flight schools for the plotters and empower airport security and the airlines to stop this threat by encouraging profiling as well as liberal use of interrogation, delay, and detentions.

Symbolic of the light-heartedness many took the bojinka plot's exposure was the comic-relief image of bungling plotters causing a chemical fire in their apartment and thereby exposing themselves to Philippine authorities - but missing was the solemn and bold determination to put an end to these threats. Questions remain: why did this terror cell risk exposure by placing a bomb on a single airliner and departing the flight only a month prior to their planned attack on 10 or 12 airliners? It would seem that Ramzi Yousef was not expecting the airliner to survive the attack. Some have speculated it was only meant to be a "test" but a caller follwing the incident claiming to represent Abu Sayaf - a Philipinne Islamic Terror Group - claimed to have blown up one plane so it is most likely the intention was to completely destroy the plane but by plumb luck they fell short of their mark. As a reliability engineer, I understood that relying on plumb luck to prevent a catastrophic attack was just plumb crazy.

It was (and still is) imperative that we adopt a new-sheriff-in-town attitude that would keep the Jihadists out of our flight schools, out of our airports, and out of the United States of America. Apparently, as demonstrated by Philip Zelikow's paper on Catastrophic Terror those who likely KNEW the risks were keeping mum about them and not going to any length - however small - to inform the public as to what was coming down the pipe. For this reason, I think Philip Zelikow should be fired. I'd like to reiiterate the point I made at the beginning: 9-11 was proof of a CATASTROPHIC FAILURE of national security because if 19 Jihadists were an able danger ignored, capable of carrying weapons aboard four planes with a 100% success rate that means that ANY terror group could have accomplished the same feat with little to no resistance. This is completely unacceptable, especially coming after retiring FAA agent Brian Sullivan broke with protocol by helping a TV news station cover the issue of airline screening failure. He did so because he felt an attack was imminent. He felt the public was being kept in the dark and fed lies which downplayed the catastrophic Islamic threat facing the public.

Who were the people at the FAA and the DOT who were ignoring the threat? When a spokesman from the DOT came to a conference I attended in 1999, he opened by saying, "I look around and see so many big names here today that it makes me think, 'Wow. What a perfect opportunity for a terrorist attack.' I protested his comment by walking out. Perhaps to some, it was merely a joke. But frankly what I saw was somebody who did not have a clear grasp of his responsibilities as a government spokesman for the Department of Transportation. If I had had confidence that he and his agency would protect us from Islamic bojinka plotters, I might have shrugged the remark off as dark humor, but I didn't have confidence in him to protect America and that's why I left the room to check security and think things over.

The path I had taken through Japan went far beyond exposure to the Islamic Bojinka plot through Japanese media. Japan is where the famous fatwa against Salman Rushdie and translators drew blood. Few in the West realize the fatwa resulted in the murder of a Japanese professor and translator Hitoshi Igarashi in what was probably a coordinated attack. Only weeks earlier Ettore Capriolo, an Italian translator of "The Satanic Verses," was stabbed in his apartment in Milan and survived. With the murder of a friend in Cambodia, the murders of Igarashi and Ikegami (on Flight 434) weighed more heavily on my mind.

I brought the incident at the conference to my therapist's attention - to demonstrate why my experience in Japan could be very helpful to the DOT and the U.S. government. I did not have confidence our leaders were protecting us from these threats but I felt fortunate to have a means of relaying my concerns through the center. The prosecution of the Bojinka plotters in New York as opposed to Japan had failed to impress on policy-makers and government officials the scope of the problem of radical Jihadists targeting airliners. The center was regularly discussing my concerns with law enforcement and legal experts. I expressed my concern that we stood as the best hope to stop the airliner plotters. “The (airline) plotters are in our flight schools, aren’t they?” “You want the plot stopped,” the center responded. “Yes!” I exclaimed.

Brian Sullivan and Steve Elson were exactly right - our guard was being lowered by people who should have had every reason to be raising it. Something wasn't right. When your government addresses you and says it's the perfect opportunity for a terrorist attack, you should relieve him of his responsibilities and find someone who will say, "We will do our level best to protect you." That's the attitude which will win our trust and confidence.

Blake Austin lives in Houston, Texas and spent many summer vacations visiting family in New York and D.C. He spent five years teaching English and History at his school, Alamo, in Okayama, Japan.

photo of twin towers