Archive for al Qaeda

What Americans Should Learn From 9/11

Posted in On Foreign Affairs, Playthell on politics with tags , , , , on September 12, 2012 by playthell

The second airliner heads into the tower

 Facing Some Unpleasant Truths

It was a crystal clear day just like today, with blue cloudless skies, when the great terror struck New York a decade ago.   And as I survey the panoramic view of downtown Manhattan form my window on Harlem’s Sugar Hill, while listening to replays of the actual broadcasts on WNBC; it all comes back to me, bubbling up from the dusty basements of my consciousness.

The skyline of Manhattan looks natural now, but for a long time after the hijacked airliners crashed into the towers, bringing them down before our eyes, the city looked lopsided.  The Twin Towers were clearly visible from my windows, and I witnessed the second plane crash into the tower and saw them fall!

The towers looked different ways on different days, depending upon how the sun rays were reflecting off them.  They were a daily part of my life.  Hence I felt an acute sense of loss and had a hard time adjusting to the look of the city without the giant towers.

Since I began writing down my responses to the tragedy within hours after it happened, there is a clear record of my reaction. Then as now, I was appalled by the widespread sense of denial by my countrymen. Their expressions of disbelief and insistence on America’s innocence rang hollow with me.

I had been expecting a terrorist attack for several months because of the Palestinian Intifada provoked by Israeli leader Ariel Sharon when he created and incident at the “Dome of the Rock,” which Muslims call “The Mosque of Omar.” As I watched the violence on television, with Palestinians throwing rocks and the Israeli’s firing bullets, I became convinced that we would see a terrorist attack in response.

As the Palestinian people danced in the streets at the sight of the collapsing towers, I was convinced I had been right – in spite of a swift statement of denial from Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat. But history would prove me wrong – I had the right string but the wrong yo yo, as the song goes.  The attack had been the result of misguided American policy in the Middle-East, but the perpetrators had a different argument with the US and the Palestinian issue was almost ancillary.

Al Qaeda, was a far more deadly enemy, and unlike the Palestinian issue there is no obvious solution to the conflict between us; theirs is a historic grievance inspired by a rejection of modern secular society itself.  We had made an enemy that would never go away; entered a state of total war that wouldn’t end until one side or the other was annihilated.  The Bushmen’s misunderstanding of the nature of global Jihad made the 9/11 assault possible.

Despite ongoing attempts to cast the Bush Administration as innocent victims of volatile clandestine forces that nobody could have predicted, the historical record shows otherwise.  The evidence reveals a pattern of arrogance, ignorance and indifference to the advice of intelligence experts that led directly to 9/11, and the Iraq and Afghan wars that we are still fighting 11 years later.

This is the lesson of two very important books on the subject “Your government Failed You” by Richard Clark, written shortly after the attack, and the newly published 500 Days: Secrets and Lies in the Terror Wars,” by Kurt Eichenwald, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and a former reporter for The New York Times.

The unique value of Dick Clark’s book is that it provided an insider’s view of the struggle to get then National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice to call a meeting of the different intelligence agencies and have them compare the bits and pieces of intelligence on Al Qaeda and see what picture would emerge, sort of like putting the pieces of a puzzle together.  She refused.

Dr. Rice was an expert on the Soviet era Russian military and nuclear war strategy.  Hence she was so obsessed with building the “Star Wars’ that she ignoring Dick Clarke’s warnings.  I fact, she was scheduled to present an important speech on “National Security” on the day of the attack.  But that speech was not on the looming threat from the Islamic Jihadists in Al Qaeda, but how to build the anti-missile system around Russia, although the soviet threat was gone!  History will not be kind to this wicked witch of the west.

The revelations in Kurt Eichenwald’s book shows how the neo-cons from the Project for a New American century, brought into the Bush Administration by Dirty Dick Cheney confused matters with their obsession with toppling Sadam Hussein in Iraq, a man who posed absolutely no threat to the US.

It was at their insistence that the CIA’s warning about the intention of Al Qaeda to launch a massive terror attack on the US.  And it was this same crew who came to prominence in the Bush foreign policy establishment after the attack, who talked Bush into invading Iraq, the most disastrous foreign policy decision in American history!

I have written at considerable length about how this decision was reached; for a detailed analysis of the decision making process that led to the attack on Iraq read “How the Iraq War was Hatched in a Think Tank” and “The Iraq attack: Bush’s March of Folly” on this blog.  What both of these essays show is that we got into the Iraq war the same way we got into the catastrophic Vietnam War: politicizing intelligence in order to justify a preconceived policy.

Later today I shall be posting a commentary on the present crisis in the Middle East – a complex, multifaceted, dangerous mess – and Mitt Romney’s response to it.  However it is critical that all Americans understand a minimal essential lesson we must from the 9/11 attack to avoid disaster in the future: Meddling in Middle Eastern politics is a very dangerous business, and politicizing intelligence to justify a war of choice deadly folly!

A Warning of Things to Come?

“Ye shall reap what ye sow”


Playthell G. Benjamin

Harlem, New York

September 12, 2012


Osama bin Laden Is Dead….What Now?

Posted in On Foreign Affairs with tags , , , on May 2, 2011 by playthell

 Leader of the Modern Jihad

A roar went up around the world when President Obama announced to that upon his directive Osama bin Laden, the iconic leader of the Modern Jihad led by al Qaeda, had been killed.  I could hear the swelling sound outside my window. As people rushed into the streets, the crowds around Ground Zero caused the police to reroute traffic.  This was personal for many New Yorkers, who knew someone that was killed or injured in the terrorist attack of 9/11. Some of my neighbors lost loved ones… and I lost my first wife as a result of the attack; a compassionate councilor to young college students who inspired them to reach for the sky.

One of my neighbors was working in the vicinity of the attack and is slowly deteriorating before my eyes as a result of breathing the toxic mixture that polluted the air- which is the same thing that killed my former wife. Hence the boisterous celebration I hear outside my window is heartfelt and justified.  It is the sound of national catharsis: The feeling that justice has finally been done.

The covert operation was carried out with great courage and efficiency.  The entire nation owes those brave soldiers a deep debt of gratitude; for they put their lives on the line in service to our nation. There is no greater love…it is the essence of heroic.  Whatever political differences one may have with government policy; the soldiers acted from a sense of duty, honor and love of country.  They deserve our gratitude and respect for their selfless service!

However as the nation rejoices I can’t help pondering the future and wondering what now?  Given all we know about the dynamics of mass transformative movements in general, and Al Qaeda in particular, our troubles may well get worse before they get better.  Thus I fear it would have been better to take Osama alive and put him on trial if it had been possible.

The fact that Osama’s body was seized by the American forces and buried at sea by infidels will surely be considered an insult to Islam and inspire recruits to the Jihad.  Yet for the US to bury the body in the ground, or leave it lay where he fell, would have created a shrine that could be used as a tool to recruit future Jihadist.  I cannot swear that they gave him a proper Muslim burial – although it is wise to say so, and I believe President Obama wanted it that way because he has a genuine respect for Islamic beliefs, yet it wouldn’t surprise me if they simply threw him overboard with steel shoes where he made a tasty meal for sharks

However Osama went out, among the Jihadist the highest calling is to die in the service of Islam.  Hence whereas Americans view the death of bin Laden as justice for the slaughter of innocents, the Jihadists and their sympathizers view it as the crucifixion of a righteous soldier of Allah at the hands of “The Great Satan.”  The Hamas statement has said as much!  And thus there is a real possibility that Osama will become a more potent force in death than he ever was in life.

Overnight he has metamorphosed from a crafty, illusive, warrior priest to a Martyr for Islam resting in the bosom of Allah.  And that portends trouble ahead.  I fear that we have not seen the end of Muslim Jihadists who are willing to commit mass murder or suicide in order to establish a global theocracy under Sharia Law.  Hence the struggle for modern secular society must go on….and it promises to be a bloody affair.  As for Osama bin Laden, the full page headline in the Daily News that accompanied his picture on the cover expressed the attitude of most New Yorkers: “Rot in Hell!”



Playthell Benjamin

Harlem, New York

May 2, 2011


The Obama Administration Must Chastise Dirty Dick!

Posted in On Right Wing Pundits and Bloviators, Playthell on politics with tags , , , , on January 5, 2010 by playthell



President Obama At War

 Anyone who understands the symbiotic relationship between mass media and their audience will recognize the danger in the reckless rhetoric that has become the Republican stock-in-trade. Media outlets like FOX television and WABC radio employ a rogue’s gallery of verbose charlatans, fools and soulless whores to harangue the listener 24/7, spouting slickly packaged disinformation that the untutored mob enthusiastically accepts as truth, they are generating a dangerous rage in an economically insecure and increasingly desperate segment of American society.  Since the GOP has become the party of the neo-Confederacy, that menacing mob is mostly white, Christian and racist.  Working in concert with the Republican Party leadership, The latest campaign of slander and hysteria by the far right verbal arsonists in the media was sparked by the nearly successful attempt by a 23 year old Nigerian student to blow an American airliner out of the sky on Christmas Day. 

If there are those who still hope that the Republicans will behave responsibly in a national crisis, i.e. put the interests of the nation above partisan politics, Dirty Dick Cheney – who along with Rush Limbaugh has emerged as the voice of the Republican Party – made it clear that that hope is misplaced.  Rather than rally round the flag and try and calm public anxiety by assuring them that the holes in our security net will be repaired, and all we need fear is fear itself, Dirty Dick has seized upon this near tragedy to launch more cheap shots at the President and cast himself in the role of an all knowing elder statesman.  Alas, Dirty Dick is not alone in this malicious and dangerous folly.

 Dirty Dick!


 Would you buy a used car from this creep?


I have not heard one constructive comment on this near tragedy from the Republican leadership; they have nothing useful to offer, and what is worse they don’t seem to give a damn!  Not really.   Their opposition to President Obama goes far beyond simple disagreements on political philosophy or policy issues. It is becoming a danger to the national security that borders on treason because it could well hamper the President’s ability to carry out his constitutionally mandated duties; thus giving aid and comfort to the enemy.  For instance, the reason that we have no Director of the TSA, which is tasked with airline security, is because Republican Senator Jim DeMint is holding up the president’s nominee for purely ideological reasons.  And still the Republicans have the unmitigated gall to howl about the Obama Administration not taking the terror threat seriously.  Only a person who is convinced that his audience is composed of morons would dare make such an argument.

The recklessness of the increasingly rancid Republican attacks could even lead to the assassination of the President.  If anyone thinks this is an overblown reaction to the incendiary rhetoric employed by Dirty Dick and other Republican leaders, they should check out what the experts on Presidential assassinations like Gerald Posner – author of “Killing The Dream” – have to say on the matter.  For instance, Posner was a law student in San Francisco when the Mayor Moscone and Harvey Milk  were murdered by the right-wing nut Dan White, and he says the hostile atmosphere the Republicans are creating around President Obama today reminds him of the atmosphere in San Francisco when that tragedy occurred.  This is the same thing that Speaker Of the House Nancy Pelosi, who was also in San Francisco at the time, also recalls.

Yet if all of those gun totin so called “Tea Party Patriots” believe the things that Dirty Dick and his co-conspirators on Fox and WABC are saying about the President, then it is not a big leap to believe that his murder would be construed as a patriotic act in defense of the nation.  After all, this is what happened to the last Illinois legislator who became President in troubled times: Abraham Lincoln.  Ironically, the problem is concentrated in the same region of the country and at bottom the issue is fundamentally the same: The proper status of black men in America!

For millions of racist whites the election of a black president with a Muslim name is an abominable blunder made possible by white race traitors in league with non-white minorities – whom many see as inferior mud men – and this catastrophe must be corrected by any means necessary, including murder. Some of these self-styled white Christian nationalists are unambiguous on this issue; showing up at presidential appearances brandishing guns while displaying signs that declare “The tree of liberty must be watered with the blood of tyrants and patriots.”  Word’s chillingly reminiscent of the words of John Wilkes Booth, Lincoln’s Assassin. No serious person can deny that if members of the Revolutionary communist Party had shown up at President Bush’s appearances with guns they would have been arrested if not shot!  And they same right wing charlatans who offer simple minded apologia for these pistol packin misfits – even trying to justify the murder of Dr. Tiller because he performed abortions.  These are very dangerous people.

Hence it is a serious mistake to believe that the scurrilous attacks upon the President by the racist untutored mob, egged on by Dirty Dick and his deranged Republican posse, can simply be ignored with no serious consequences. The manner in which these right wing propagandists have so confused the issue of health care that millions of Americans believe it contains death panels – Sarah Palin’s contribution to our political discourse – and are the equivalent of Nazi Concentration camps, should provide all of the evidence we need that big lies allowed to go unchallenged can become reality for “Boobus Americanus.”  Especially if the issue is wrapped up in the issue of race.  Hence the Obama Administration must began to respond to the volatile lies of Dirty Dick and his butt boys, or sit idly by and witness the erosion of the American people’s confidence in President Obama’s ability to lead  our nation in these increasingly troubled times.


The Right Man To Chastise Cheney!


 Joe Biden: Smart and Scrappy


I am not suggesting that the President himself answer Dirty Dick; the forked tongue paleface should not be granted that level of importance. This would be a great task for Vice President Biden – who is both a compelling orator and an expert on foreign affairs – in league with National Security Advisor General Jim Jones and especially Secretary Of Defense Bob Gates, who also held the same position in the Bush Administration after the myriad blunders of Reckless Rummy forced the old murderous fart out of office.  Since most Americans have the attention span of a five year old struggling with attention deficit problems, the administration’s response should carefully reiterate Dick Cheney’s actual record on national security matters.  And it ain’t pretty!

 Since I have written at length about Dirty Dick’s role in the deadly debacles of the bush era in a 108 page essay “The Emperor’s New Clothes” which will be published in a forthcoming collection of my essays and commentaries, and the passages relevant to this discussion will be posted here within the next few days – I will refrain from a detailed discussion of Cheney’s foibles, follies and crimes in this commentary. Suffice it to say that the Bushmen had many warnings of the impending attack on 9/11; the facts were so clear that it has spawned an international fraternity of doubters who believe that the Bush Administration planned the whole thing in order to create a climate of crisis where a panicked American electorate would allow them to vastly expand the police powers of the government. As far fetched as this is, they simply can’t believe that such incompetence is possible in a survellience society that expends upwards of thirty billion dollars a year on clandestine intelligence operations.   

While it is child’s play to expose such views as paranoid foolishness for anyone who is conversant on the relevant evidence, as is this writer, I very nearly came to blows in a television studio recently when a fellow panelist and I discussed this issue.  It’s a good thing we weren’t on the air at the time because we got to calling each other muthafuckas!   The situation became so volatile that I refused to go back on camera with him.  The very existence of  such passionate  9/11 doubters tells us that the level of incompetence in the Cheney/Bush administration was such that many otherwise reasonable and intelligent people refuse to accept the possibility that such a thing is possible on the part of officials entrusted with managing the most powerful nation in the history of the world! Hence it is shameless hypocrisy for Dirty Dick to be running all over the place accusing the President of not recognizing that we are at war; It was they, the Bushmen, who refused to believe that we were at war!

Not only had I stopped going through tunnels for a year before the 9/11 attack, I implored my children and everyone I cared about not to go through tunnels if they could avoid it.  I told them we were due for a terrorist attack and blowing up a tunnel was the most terrifying thing I could imagine. I had no crystal ball in which to gaze and predict the future; my conclusion was based upon my analysis of American policy in the Muslim world; especially our government’s support for the repressive policies of Ariel Sharon toward the Palestinians.   Although I thought first of the Palestinians when I wondered who flew the jumbo jet I saw crash into the second world Trade Tower, It came as no surprise that the attackers came from Egypt and Saudi-Arabia, for we had long been supporting murderous dictatorships in both countries. I knew radical Arabs were after us; they had already blown up the World Trade Center once.  The burning question is: Why didn’t Dirty Dick and the Bushmen know that we were at war with the Muslim Jihads? 

Furthermore, after the 9-11 attack Dirty Dick was also the major architect of the ill fated and criminal invasion of Iraq.  I, however, opposed this action from Jump Street and wrote a 3000 word commentary explaining the basis of my opposition and published it before the invasion.  Titled “The Iraq Attack, Bush’s March Of Folly,” it can be read on this blog.  This essay also provides a detailed analysis of the pro-war hyperbole that flowed from the purple pens of leading American print pundits.  I thought all of the saber rattling from chatty chicken hawks was dangerous nonsense then, and I think it dangerous non-sense now!  That’s the point the Obama administration must  make it unmasking and chastising that shameless charlatan and soulless scoundrel Dirty Dick Cheney!

 He Had A bird’s Eye View Of The Sins Of Dirty Dick

 Robert Gates:

Secretary Of Defense in the Bush and Obama Administration



 Playthell Benjamin

Harlem New York

Janurary 5, 2010