Guantánamo Anniversary – Democracy Now Interviews, Sami al-Hajj – Maybe it’s Time to Understand Why?

This morning I watched a very disturbing interview of Sami al-Hajj, the only journalist to be detained and tortured at Guantánamo. Amy Goodman with Democracy Now did an amazing job with the very sensitive interview. After watching it, I was upset that what we are told about the “War on Terror” is so wrong. Currently, we as a country are not addressing the real issues that were created during 2001 to 2008- false imprisonment, torture, deaths of thousands and destruction of cities and homes based on false evidence.

We are also unable to ask, why did this happen? And receive honest evidence, a fact based response that is validated by science and accounts on all sides. You would think that we as a country would lead the world with justice, thorough investigation on behalf of its citizens and desire to create peace. However after seeing this, it makes you really wonder how a country that signed the Geneva Conventions could do this and what was our motivation to do this?

In my opinion, the only way we can heal the present and the future is by examining the past and having a better understanding of why. Without that, the same scenario may continue to repeat itself over and over because there is no 100% true understanding for what caused an incident to happen, and how to prevent it in the future. This all starts with the question, why?

Why did this happen to Mr. al-Hajj? Mr. al-Hajj was an al-Jazeera camera man with the first name of Sami, the same first name as another al-Jazeera reporter that had interviewed Osama bin Laden. However, al-Hajj could prove that he was not this reporter with his passport. So why was he taken anyway? As Stafford Smith noted bluntly and accurately in his book, The Eight O’Clock Ferry to the Windward Side: Seeking Justice in Guantánamo Bay, “Sami was a prisoner in the Bush Administration’s assault on al-Jazeera.”

According to another article, Sami al-Haj: the banned torture pictures of a journalist in Guantánamo,  Smith discovered that “every one of the hundred-plus interrogations to which he had been subjected in Guantánamo had focused solely on the administration’s attempts to turn him into an informant against al-Jazeera, to “prove” a connection between the broadcaster and Osama bin Laden that did not exist.”

When you look at connections to bin Laden, every citizen in the US was not really concerned about bin Laden himself. They were concerned about finding the group and individuals responsible for the deaths of the 3,000 plus people on September 11, 2001 and the destruction of the World Trade Center twin towers and building 7. How did we know it was bin Laden so fast after 9-11-01 when we had not combed through the evidence of the towers and gone through every bit of information? With the attack on Benghazi, a much smaller incident but tragic, the real timeline has not yet been released with knowledge of who did it and how it was orchestrated. This is months later now.

For an incident as large as 9-11-01, we went to war in Afghanistan less than a month later and were preparing for war against Iraq for which the administration was trying to prove had a connection to the attack on September 11, 2001, within months of the attack happening.

The interesting thing is that in an exclusive interview on September 28, 2001, the Pakistani paper, Ummat reported that bin Laden categorically denies his involvement in the 9/11 attacks.

He may be lying, but why would he deny the attack if it had been so massive. If he did lie, how did he pull off such a grandly horrific event based on his circumstances and why did we do nothing to stop it?

All of this impacts Mr. al-Hajj because what happened after 9-11-01 became a war against people who looked like Mr. al-Hajj. I remember being told about terrorist cells in this country and people around me looked at every Middle Eastern person like they may be guilty of terrorism. 

You can desire to look forward with all of your heart, but we need to understand why we were told to look at people this way. We need to know that we really went after the real “bad guys,” if we are to be safe in the future. We need to be confident in out leaders that they are on the side of justice and are impartial to bias.

One person who went around the country in 2002 talking about what was known and unknown at the time was Michael Ruppert, a former LAPD narcotics investigator who discovered CIA trafficking in drugs in 1977. Here is his timeline for 9-11-01.

Mr. Ruppert cited many incidents where we were warned about 9-11-01 and did not respond to the warnings. Why? What was going on at the time?

The strange thing about 2001 is that the Bush Administration was in negotiations with the Taliban regarding the Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India Pipeline (TAPI). According to John Foster, a Canadian energy economist, in the Journal of Energy Security article entitled, Afghanistan, the TAPI Pipeline, and Energy Geopolitics:

“The US has promoted the TAPI pipeline since the 1990s. When the Taliban was governing Afghanistan, two consortia vied for the right to take on the project, one led by Unocal (an American firm) and the other by Bridas (an Argentinean firm). The US government supported the Unocal consortium. US negotiators participated in the Six-plus-Two conferences (the six countries bordering Afghanistan plus the US and Russia) from 1997 to 2001. The aim was to convince the Taliban to form a government of national unity.  

“At the time, the Taliban controlled 90 percent of Afghanistan but not the area held by the Afghan Northern Alliance. Unocal testified to Congress that the pipeline “cannot begin construction until an internationally recognized Afghanistan government is in place. For the project to advance, it must have international financing, government-to-government agreements and government-to-consortium agreements.” The Bush Administration urged the Taliban regime to form a government of national unity that would include the northern tribes. Bridas took a different approach—they negotiated separately with different tribes. The president of Bridas spent eight months visiting tribes along the pipeline route and reportedly had secured their cooperation for the venture.

“Negotiations with the Taliban broke down in July 2001, just before the attacks of September 11. In October, the US ousted the Taliban, with the assistance of the Northern Alliance. The Pashtun—roughly 40 percent of the population—are a major source of Taliban insurgents, and the pipeline route goes through the Pashtun area in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. There are about 30 million Pashtuns on both sides of the Afghan-Pakistan border. It’s an artificial border—the so-called Durand Line that was imposed by British India in 1893. It was drawn intentionally to break up the Pashtun tribes. In fact, Pashtuns in Kandahar were independent from Kabul for ages, and, until recently, Pashtuns in Pakistan were relatively independent from Islamabad.”

Here is another timeline with lots of links about the pipeline

An important statement was made on May 15, 2001, regarding the placement of the Unocal Pipeline; a US Official delivered this ultimatum to the Taliban (via the Pakistani delegation acting as their interlocutors): “Either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs.” (Ref: Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie in “Forbidden Truth” (31) (Book’s Preface online-pdf format (32))

Then in an article written by Jean-Charles Brisard on written June 5, 2002, ”Al-Qaida monitored U.S. negotiations with Taliban over oil pipeline” details how the pipeline negotiations were followed by al-Qaida.

“A 1998 memo written by al-Qaida military chief Mohammed Atef reveals that Osama bin Laden’s group had detailed knowledge of negotiations that were taking place between Afghanistan’s ruling Taliban and American government and business leaders over plans for a U.S. oil and gas pipeline across that Central Asian country.

“The e-mail memo was found in 1998 on a computer seized by the FBI during its investigation into the 1998 African embassy bombings, which were sponsored by al-Qaida. Atef’s memo was discovered by FBI counter-terrorism expert John O’Neill, who left the bureau in 2001, complaining that U.S. oil interests were hindering his investigation into al-Qaida. O’Neill, who became security chief at the World Trade Center, died in the Sept. 11 attack.

“Atef’s memo shines new light on what al-Qaida knew about U.S. efforts to normalize relations with the Taliban in exchange for the fundamentalist government’s supporting the construction of an oil and gas pipeline across Afghanistan. As documented in the book I coauthored with Guillaume Dasquie, “Bin Laden: The Forbidden Truth,” the Clinton and Bush administrations negotiated with the Taliban, both to get the repressive regime to widen its government as well as look favorably on U.S. companies’ attempts to construct an oil pipeline. The Bush White House stepped up negotiations with the Taliban in 2001. When those talks stalled in July, a Bush administration representative threatened the Taliban with military reprisals if the government did not go along with American demands.”

Was bin Laden prompted by the pipeline negotiations to attack the US on 9-11 and/or was the US already planning to attack Afghanistan prior to 9-11 to secure the oil pipeline? Why did no one cite this as a potential reasoning behind the attack and why did the US respond the way it did, before, during and after the attack with no jets immediately scrambled and no investigation into 9-11 scientifically addressing molten steel at the tower cite and building 7? Who were the winners and losers? One definite looser was Mr. al-Hajj and other Middle Eastern people falsely identified, targeted or killed.

The strange thing about the time in 2001 was that from several accounts, the Taliban and bin Laden were weak.

An article written in the Guardian, “Taliban forces stretched as they face fresh attack by Rory McCarthy on August 27, 2001 discussed how the Taliban were stretched at the time even though they had out of country fighters operating in country, “Taliban troops, reinforced by motivated fighters from Pakistan and Arab countries, have found themselves stretched too thinly to launch their summer offensive this year. Although they made key military gains last year, particularly the capture of Taloqan, the opposition’s administrative headquarters in the northern province of Takhar, they have found it hard to extend their victories.

“‘The Taliban are too over-exposed to put in a summer offensive,” said one western aid worker. Opposition resistance across the country, although still limited, has drained their manpower. “At the moment they just can’t do it,’ the aid worker said.”

Another article is written on UPI in June 14, 2001 by Arnaud de Borchgrave entitled “Mullah Omar: bin Laden – ‘Null and void” discusses an interview de Borchgrave had with Omar saying that, “‘Bin Laden is not entitled to issue fatwas as he did not complete the mandatory 12 years of Koranic studies to qualify for the position of mufti,’ said Mullah Mohammad Omar Akhund, known to every Afghan as amir-ul-mumineen (supreme leader of the faithful).”

The article also goes on to cite Omar as saying, “Afghanistan, . . . , has suggested to the United States (via the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan) and to the United Nations that international “monitors” keep bin Laden under observation pending a resolution of the case, “but so far we have received no reply.”

If they could not launch their summer offensive, how could the outside fighters and the Taliban be training the hijackers and the other individuals involved in 9-11-01? If the Taliban wanted the US to monitor bin Laden, why did we not respond? Was Omar also afraid of bin Laden and the power he had to influence Afghanistan?

A later article written by Rory McCarthy on September 5, 2001, “Bin Laden foreign legion fuels hardline expansion,” said that the outside fighters’ presence has grown to 12,000 operating in country. 

“‘There is a project to build up a foreign legion,’ the aid worker said. ’The western presence here is alien to that. If these people come into the ascendancy then clearly sooner or later they will get rid of all the westerners.’

“Analysts believe there are up to 12,000 foreigners – a quarter of the movement’s military force – fighting with the Taliban.

“The Taliban are believed to run camps where they train Chechen fighters, Pakistani sectarian extremists and soldiers from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan.”

How did things change so quickly from August 27th to September 5, 2001?

Was the pipeline in the background for the war in Afghanistan? How did the locals feel with the foreigners in Afghanistan? Would they have wanted assistance to remove the foreigners? Was that also a pre-text for war in Afghanistan?

Also declining in 2001 was the heroin drug trade because Omar had imposed a ban in July 2000 collaborating with the United Nations to eradicate heroin production in Afghanistan. According to Wikipedia, “He declared that growing poppies was un-Islamic, resulting in one of the world’s most successful anti-drug campaigns. As a result of this ban, opium poppy cultivation was reduced by 91% from the previous year’s estimate of 82,172 hectares. The ban was so effective that Helmand Province, which had accounted for more than half of this area, recorded no poppy cultivation during the 2001 season. The Bush administration paid a 43 million dollar ‘eradication’ reward payment to the Taliban in 2001.”

Then what happened after the war began?

According to an article in the Christian Science Monitor

“The post-Taliban boom in opium production means that drug money now permeates every stratum of Afghanistan’s society – from the farmers cultivating poppies in the east to those in the highest levels of the central government of Kabul, according to senior Afghan and European officials working here.”

“‘We are already a narco-state,’ says Mohammad Nader Nadery at the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission, which has studied the growing impunity of former military commanders and drug dealers who now work within the Afghan government. ‘If the governors in many parts of the country are involved in the drug trade, if a minister is directly or indirectly getting benefits from drug trade, and if a chief of police gets money from drug traffickers, then how else do you define a narco-state?’

“Abdul Karim Brahowie, Afghanistan’s minister of tribal and frontier affairs, says that the government has become so full of drug smugglers that cabinet meetings have become a farce. ‘Sometimes the people who complain the loudest about theft are thieves themselves,’ he says.”

So oil and drugs were the winners? Then who are the losers? Americans, Afghans, Iraqis and those wrongly attacked, as well as many people who have lost their freedom in the process when laws like the Patriot Act passed.

It seems strange that we, the US had opportunities to prevent 9-11-01 and did not heed the warnings or do anything to alert people about the possibility that something was about to happen as was cited in Michael Ruppert’s timeline.

Then not only did we not warn the people in the US, but we did not scientifically investigate the crime scene as much of the steel was overlooked and we did not examine the one issue which would have made the event impossible – the extremely high temperatures needed to melt steel that could not have been caused by hydrocarbon and office fires. According to, “FEMA documents in their Appendix C of its May 2002 WTC Building Performance Assessment Team study, for sample 1, ‘evidence of a severe high temperature corrosion attack on the steel, including oxidation and sulfidation with subsequent intergranular melting.’ A ‘sulfur-rich liquid’ containing ‘primarily iron, oxygen, and sulfur’ ‘penetrated” into the steel.’

“The extremely high temperatures contradict the official story. Office and hydrocarbon fires burning in open air (~500° to 1,500° F) cannot reach temperatures in the range that iron or structural steel melts (2,700° F). This was even acknowledged by NIST’s Co-Project Leader, John Gross, in the same public talk where he stated regarding the phenomena of molten steel, ‘I know of absolutely nobody, no eyewitnesses that said so, nobody that’s produced it.‘ Yet there is abundant proof of the molten metal, which subsequent tests reveal to be iron, in the debris piles. Furthermore, NIST itself performed extensive fire tests to establish the temperatures reached by the WTC office and jet fuel fires. The temperatures established are far below the temperatures required to produce all of the above phenomena – which occurred both before and during the destruction and at Ground Zero.

“The steel problem was “solved” by NIST by excluding most of the steel from being systematically examined for failure modes and heat excursions. The steel collected by the Port Authority, which has been stored in Hangar 17 at JFK Airport, was not included in the investigation except for 12 pieces. Of the 236 pieces that NIST possessed, many were excluded based on the circular argument that only columns from impact and fire floors were of interest in the investigation. Thus, NIST avoided having to discuss 51 of its 55 core columns. Sample 1 from FEMA’s Appendix C was also excluded.”

According to, a fire occurred in a building built with similar construction in Philadelphia in 1991, One Meridian Plaza. The fire raged for 18 hours and gutted eight floors of the building, the building did not collapse. Also in 1988, the First Interstate Bank Building in Los Angeles, California caught fire and burnt out of control for 3 1/2 hours. This fire gutted 4 floors of the 64-foot tower and the building did not collapse. There is no way that the fire could have burned hot enough to melt the steel. The World Trade Center Towers themselves were designed to withstand impact of planes. There is no explanation for building 7, how fire could have brought that building down when it was not struck by planes, even if you believe that the planes striking the Twin Towers ultimately brought them down.

So we have an event, the September 11, 2001 attack that was very tragic and has not been scientifically investigated enough to answer all questions by architects and engineers as well as the public. We have two wars that were launched based on that event, thousands of human rights issues that were caused by actions said to be in retaliation for the event and a huge tax bill for those wars and abuses.

I posted on Facebook this morning that it is “sad and is done in our name. We pay for this torture.”

“Why isn’t there a focus on justice and rule of law even in War.? If someone had verified this reporter’s documents they would have found that he was not the one who interviewed Bin Laden, and he would have been released. What do people think that wrongful arrest and torture does to the US reputation overseas? It is certainly not smart and just serves to cause more animosity and hatred. Maybe that’s what the powers that be want, to stimulate the economics of the military industrial complex – because both sides buy weapons. Ultimately when the US is less significant in the world, who will write our history and what will they say about us and the American Ideal? We will be called a complacent people where torturous thugs had too much power and influence and that our government by and for the people was run by people who weren’t disciplined and accountable enough to monitor their own actions or face the thugs allowing this to happen.”

Now we have the third winner to add to oil and drugs, arms – weapons manufacturers. Hopefully we can wake up on this anniversary of the opening of Guantánamo to realize that we have lost too much, so that we can no longer be too blind to see and to question the events that happened from 2001 to 2008 that contributed to the torture of too many, including Mr. al-Hajj. Thanks to Mr. al-Hajj for telling his story to Amy Goodman

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