9112001terrorismThe apparent misdeeds and cover-ups of the administration of George W. Bush related to the terrorist attacks of 2001 remain in historical limbo.  Neither presidents, nor the Congress, nor the media have gotten to the bottom of these tragic events.  (The 9/11 Commission Report, while providing hundreds of useful details, did not ask fundamental questions and so must be considered in effect a cover-up.)  As a result, the American public has not come to closure on the 9/11 attacks or on the anthrax mailings of 2001, nor is there a shared understanding of such a critical issue as the real reasons that the US attacked Iraq in 2003.

These failures have left the field open to wild speculations regarding these events, generally termed “conspiracy theories”, though this term obscures the crucial distinction between elaborate prospective plots involving many actors (silly in the context of an open society) and retrospective cover-ups that government officials who have made embarrassing mistakes are all too prone to engage in (very realistic and plausible).  However, it is also true that simple prospective plots involving two or three individuals can occur.

Failure to reach a full, shared understanding of major events that led to unending wars and occupations in the Middle East and Southwest Asia as well as to the undermining of civil liberties has helped to alienate Americans from their government and media, a  triumph for America’s enemies.  So we must make every effort to establish a clear common interpretation of what actually happened.

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A top secret Canadian Security Intelligence Service report leaked on August 27, 2004 may provide the missing piece of evidence needed to identify the long elusive Anthrax Mailer of 2001.

While confirmation is still lacking, we now have enough shreds of evidence to piece together a theory of the case that resolves key anomalies. In turn, that theory can point us toward where we might find confirmatory evidence. Continue reading »

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kennedyUnfinished business in a nation’s history can undermine citizens’ trust in government and sense of participating in a meaningful collective life.

In the case of fatal moments such as assassinations and terrorist attacks, the damage adds to the impact of the attacks and helps the attackers achieve their goals of demoralizing the people and fraying the social fabric. Compounding the problem, government agencies and the media often show reluctance to reveal what they learn because they lack 100% assurance of its validity, because they fear the public reaction, or because they are covering up their own mistakes. As a result, people often believe that certain crimes remain unsolved or are even unsolvable when in fact they have already been solved but the information is being denied to the public. Continue reading »

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jdeyIt is a curious fact that, after extensive investigations accompanied by intensive media coverage, the United States Government has failed to get to the bottom of any of the three major attacks launched against it by al Qaeda in the autumn of 2001.

Three attacks?

Yes, and therein lies part of the problem.

When we speak of intelligence failures, we ordinarily refer to the mistakes made by intelligence agencies in the time leading up to an event. But there is another kind of intelligence failure: Retrospective Intelligence Failure (RIF). Continue reading »

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bush

Anomalous Mistake-driven Opportunity Creation (AMOC) occurs when a government official charged with a certain problem commits an extraordinary errorone so inconceivable that no one can imagine that he/she has perpetrated it. And therefore the official gets away with it. Continue reading »

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On November 12, 2001 American Airlines Flight #587 crashed in Queens, New York shortly after take off, killing 265. Some observers were quick to suggest that terrorists had brought the aircraft down. But the October 26, 2004 official report by the National Transportation Safety Board blamed the crash on the co-pilot, who jerked the rudder back and forth in an effort to correct for turbulence from a preceding jet.

The crash was soon eclipsed by the repercussions of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the anthrax mailings, and the war in Afghanistan. Yet suspicions lingered. Many eyewitness accounts, for instance, seemed consistent with an on-board explosion, yet the report brushed them aside as contradicting each other and generally unreliable. Continue reading »

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