When I visited the U.S. in August of 2002, nine months after the mass murders by death-cult muslims, I was surprised by the collective memory loss surrounding much of what had happened. Foremost was the insistence by many people that Iraq and its fiendish leader Saddam Hussein was in cahoots with Al Qaeda in planning the terrorist attacks.
Few people had paid attention to the early revelation by the FBI that 15 of the 19 attackers were from Saudi Arabia, one from Lebanon, two from the United Arab Emirates and one from Egypt. None were from Iraq.
A week after the attacks, Vice Presient Cheney admitted on TV’s Meet the Press that nothing could be found linking Saddam Hussein to the attacks.
But Cheney and his boss, George W. Bush, soon were blurring the facts by the tactic of “conflating“ – that is, mentioning separate items in the same breath so that they fused as one in the minds of listeners. For example a White House or Pentagon statement about the terrorist attacks would invariably make an immediate reference to Saddam Hussein as being a man to fear. Result: 911 = Iraq. Subliminal action.
Or: 911 = Al Qaeda = Iraq, because Saddam was close to Osama Bin Laden. Serious foreign-policy analysts found that equation absurd: Saddam Hussein was a secular despot who was despised by Bin Laden, a religious fanatic. And Saddam, a paranoid psychopath, considered all terrorists a danger to his own regime. You could read that in reports by Arab scholars all over the internet.
Soon conflation morphed into outright charges that Saddam Hussein was a serious threat to the United States, indeed, to the world. He had Weapons of Mass Destruction and was ready to use them. As the war drums got louder, no one noticed that Hussein had only a peasant army and an ineffective air force, and that his “long range” Scud missiles couldn’t fly more than a few hundred miles.
And so, two years later, and six months after the U.S., invasion of Iraq, 70 percent of Americans believed Iraq was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. Last time I looked, the credibility gap was down to 36 per cent, which shows that flim-flams don’t last forever. Too late, though: Iraq is a bombed-out land: Millions of its citizens are either dead or maimed, internally displaced or in foreign exile. Many of their homes, hospitals and schools are destroyed. Water, electricity and basic services are very scarce. It is a smashed country that may never be put back together.
Those are just a few of the things I remember bitterly about 911 and its aftermath. Now I read that there is growing nostalgia for George W. Bush, and that his smiling face is showing up on bumper stickers. Memory can sure play tricks on you – or rather, people can sure play tricks on your memory.