The Financial Times and the ‘Self-Confessed Mastermind of 9/11′
By James Petras
August 28, 2008
In recent days there is mounting evidence of the advance of totalitarianism
in the political and media mainstream. The entire Western world, led by the
United States, has embraced a Georgian regime, which invaded South Ossetia totally
demolishing its capital city of 50,000 residents, assassinated 1500 men, women
and children and dozens of Russian peace keepers. The US has mobilized a naval
and air armada off the Iranian coast, prepared to annihilate a country of 70
million people. The New York Times published an essay by a prominent
Israeli historian, which advocates the nuclear incineration of Iran. All the
major mass media have mounted a systematic propaganda campaign against China,
supporting each and every terrorist and separatist group, and whipping up public
opinion in favor of launching a New Cold War. There is little doubt that this
new wave of imperial aggression and bellicose rhetoric is meant to deflect domestic
discontent and distract public opinion from the deepening economic crises.
The Financial Times (FT), once the liberal, enlightened voice of the
financial elite (in contrast to the aggressively neo-conservative Wall Street
Journal) has yielded to the totalitarian-militarist temptation. The feature
article of the weekend supplement of August 16/17, 2008 — “The Face
of 9/11″ — embraces the forced confession of a 9/11 suspect elicited
through 5 years of hideous torture in the confines of secret prisons. To make
their case, the FT published a half-page blow-up photo first circulated by former
CIA director George Tenet, which presents a bound, disheveled, dazed, hairy
ape-like prisoner. The text of the writer, one Demetri Sevastopulo, admits as
much: The FT owns up to being a propaganda vehicle for a CIA program to discredit
the suspect while he stands trial based on confessions obtained through torture.
From beginning to end, the article categorically states that the principle
defendant, Khalet Sheikh Mohammed, is the “self-confessed mastermind of
the September 11 attacks on the US.” The first half of the article is
full of trivia, designed to provide a human-interest feel to the courtroom and
the proceedings — a bizarre mixture discussing Khaled’s nose to
the size of the courtroom.
The central point of departure for the FT’s conviction of the suspect
is Khaled’s confession, his ‘desire for martyrdom’,
his assumption of his own defense and his reciting the Koran. The crucial piece
of the Government’s case is Khaled’s confession.
All the other ‘evidence’ was circumstantial, hearsay and based on
inferences derived from Khaled’s attendance at overseas meetings.
The FT’s principle source of information, an anonymous informant “familiar
with the CIA interrogation program” states categorically two crucial facts:
(1) How little the CIA had known about him before his arrest
(my emphasis) and (2) that Khaled held out longer than the others.
In other words, the CIA’s only real evidence was extracted by torture
(the CIA admitted to ‘water boarding’ — an infamous torture
technique inducing near death from drowning). The fact that Khaled repeatedly
denied the accusations and that he only confessed after 5 years of torture in
secret prisons renders the entire prosecution a case study in totalitarian jurisprudence.
Having been subjected to unspeakable torture by US judicial investigators, facing
accusations based on a confession extracted through torture, it is no wonder
that Khaled refused a court appointed military lawyer — a lawyer who is
part of a system of secret prisons, torture and ‘show trials’. Rather
than portray Khaled as a fanatic seeking martyrdom for rejecting a lawyer, we
must recognize that he is completely in his right mind to at least preserve
the limited space and time allocated to him to state his beliefs and to relate
his willingness to die for those beliefs. Confessions extracted
from torture, have no validity in any court, especially after 5 years of solitary
confinement. What the FT calls “the super terrorist” based on his
stated “desire for martyrdom” is the admission of an individual
who has suffered beyond human endurance and looks to death to end his horrible
The FT’s embrace of the CIA and military’s coerced evidence and
therefore their use of torture, puts them squarely in the camp of the totalitarian
state. The right-turn of the FT mirrors the European turn toward US military
confrontation with Russia, and the military build-up in Poland, the Czech Republic,
Kosovo, Iraq and Georgia. The FT by legitimizing torture has opened the door
to making totalitarian judicial practices, arbitrary arrests, secret prisons,
prolonged solitary confinement, torture, show trials and cover-up feature stories
part of normal Western political life. Genteel British fascism is no less ugly
than its blustery US version.
James Petras’ latest book is Zionism, Militarism and the Decline
of US Power, Clarity Press 2008.