Angry Robot


John LeCarre: The US has gone mad. Similarly, a reprint of Gore Vidal’s lengthy, disorganized, terrifying and to-be-famous-eventually “The Enemy Within” in this past October’s Observer. And here’s a chapter of the Brzezinski book Vidal references.

17 comments on "Mad?"

  1. ÿ says:

    Thank God Gore Vidal is an incoherent, paranoid lunatic who fabricates all his information, or I might think there was actually some cause for concern…

  2. D says:

    Here’s a rebuttal of Vidal’s thing.

  3. D says:

    Not a great one, mind you. This Pearl Harbour investigation transcript backs up Vidal’s Pearl Harbour assertions, at least in the sense that it’s clear intelligence was withheld. (It’s also righteously moving in parts, but long, of course.) It’s then a further step to prove it was withheld so the attack would indeed go ahead, providing the US with a powerful reason to go to war, and providing us, of course, with an historical precedent for some of Vidal’s accusations.

    This is also disturbing – and here is the motherfuckin’ US government report on terrorism from 1999. Sample quote:

    Al-Qaida’s expected retaliation for the U.S. cruise missile attack against al-Qaida’s training facilities in Afghanistan on August 20, 1998, could take several forms of terrorist attack in the nation’s capital. Al-Qaida could detonate a Chechen-type building-buster bomb at a federal building. Suicide bomber(s) belonging to al-Qaida’s Martyrdom Battalion could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives (C-4 and semtex) into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), or the White House.

  4. D says:

    I should credit the valiant mediareport for dropping some of these bombshells into otherwise puerile “discussion” that happened on metafilter whenever Vidal was brought up. What the hell happened to that place.

  5. mageebags says:

    Word on the mefi bullshit. I finally took that site off my bookmarks yesterday, after I realized I no longer cared about either the endless “news” posts or the increasingly emotion-driven pissing contests disguised as discussions.

  6. ÿ says:

    Metafilter blows.

    As for this whole Vidal debunking thing: like I said, thank God he’s an incoherent, paranoid lunatic! He’s paranoid! He’s crazy! Don’t listen to what he says – he’s incoherent!


    I’m more than willing to admit that some of what Vidal is putting forth is unverifiable speculation from a polemicist who has seen his time in the spot light come and go. But it’s a curious thing when debunkers set out to systematically undermine an argument and end up relying heavily upon the very devices they’re singling out for criticism.

    Vidal’s assertion that Bush Sr, [Carlyle Group], Bush Jr., [formerly of Harken], Cheney, [formerly of Halliburton,] Rice, [formerly of Chevron,] and Rumsfeld, [formerly of Occidental] may have felt an attack on America was not worth preventing if it enabled them to build their pipeline in Afghanistan (which they are now building) and move into Iraq (which they are doing,) might well be an implausible stretch. It certainly seemed implausible when a similar argument was applied to Pearl Harbor and the beginning of US involvement in WWll, at least, at first it did. The fact is, if these asses hadn’t stole their way into The White House, this argument – like the one that says Paul Wellstone was murdered – would be nothing more than the thinking of some delusional lunatic. But given that the shit-eating Aaron Brown has become the face of truth in America, (and CNN headquarters is chock full of CIA dudes) I’m not arrogant enough to think I have a clue what’s happening. I’m suspicious of anyone who says they are.

    I’m wary of aspects of Vidal’s piece: the Hitler/Rome thing is cute but unnecessary, and to say that Usama bin Lala was “‘chosen’ on aesthetic grounds” seems to lend itself particularly well to debunking, [to wit: it supplies Rosenbaum with a whopping four gleefully jab-ridden paragraphs!]). But I don’t think Vidal ever – as Rosenbaum writes – argues that Islamic Extremists don’t hate America, or that their “agency” doesn’t exist. What he is quite clearly saying is that US intelligence may have successfully tapped the Sheik, and the fact that Rosenbaum opts to misinterpret this elementary point is the first sign he’s out to smear, instead of fact-check.

    This Stan Goff guy sounds to me like he might be worth hearing. A retired US Army veteran who taught military science at West Point, Goff, “like the other astonished military experts, cannot fathom why the government’s automatic ‘standard order of procedure in the event of a hijacking’ was not followed.” I don’t know who Rosenbaum would prefer Vidal consult with on this, as I found this particular portion of the essay rather chilling. In particular, I don’t get Rosenbaum’s analogy between the ‘grassy knoll’ and Goff’s assertion that it should have been clear something was wrong at 8:15am, yet jets that were 10 minutes from the White House were still not in the air at 9:35 when the Pentagon was hit. I’m picturing all these military guys watching tv and, while they were undoubtedly – like everyone on the face of the earth – absorbed in what they were seeing, I doubt very much they were so absorbed they forgot they had a job to do. Rosenbaum is sure it was nothing more than “incompetence” and that Vidal is being sinister for having the audacity to suggest otherwise. His argument would have been stronger if he backed it up with something – like, you know, Were they actually in the air? What, exactly, was Maverick the Fighter Pilot doing between 8:15 and 9:35am?

    Then there are all the people who wanted to come forward with knowledge of the possibility of attack on the US back in July ’01. I assume they are living breathing people, as their stories would (or should) have been ‘debunked’ otherwise. If memory serves, Rosenbaum says next to nothing about them, or the issue of their imposed silence. Which brings me to my main point – Rosenbaum does more to shoot himself in the foot than he does to make Vidal look bad. A) anyone Andrew Sullivan suggests we ignore is more than certainly worthy of our attention, b) you don’t deride an essayist for riding two horses at once – it’s called dichotomous thinking, dorkwad, and c) at some point he seems to hope a certain amnesia will overtake us and that we will confuse Vidal’s essay with the essays of ‘internet conspirists’ who have posited that a missile was used to take out the trade centers, or that the plane was remote controlled. Now this does sound easy to debunk, only it doesn’t have anything to do with what Vidal’s talking about, and therefore shouldn’t have any place in Rosenbaum’s piece. Similarly, I had to wonder why he felt it necessary to mention Nixon’s penis, the inane Hamlet analogy, or to sarcastically label Vidal our “sage”. Most gallingly, where does he get off laying into Vidal for using rhetoric, when rhetoric was “plainly” his primarily tool – and this you’d have to be pretty dumb not to notice. If the essay was really as easy to debunk as Rosenbaum seems to think it is, none of this would have been remotely necessary.

    At some point as I was reading this ‘debunking,’ I felt: Jeepers, if this is the best you can do, Rosenbaum, then now I really do have to wonder. After all, his task as ‘debunker’ should be so much easier than his subject’s. Whereas Vidal is assimilating tons of information, half of which – if you take him at his word – has since been confiscated or confabulated, Rosenbaum’s job is quite simply to not take him at his word. If he’s being honest with himself, his task is to fact-check a ten page essay – it’s nothing more or less. Leave your hatchets at the door, thank you.

    I would say that from where we the people stand, it’s impossible to be sure it wasn’t just military incompetence. In which case, I agree with Vidal that there are some serious questions to be answered. Someone should be accountable for this incompetence. Bill was forced to answer a whole raft of questions about a blue dress. The difference being that none of that mattered.

    This does.

  7. D says:

    Yeah, that Rosenbaum thing is pretty weak, typical warblogger guilty-by-association smear nonsense.

    Stan Goff isn’t as interesting as you might think. NarcoNews published the thing of his that Vidal is using (skip the Giordano bumpf), and it’s full of irrelevant opinionating and colourful slurs. Not that it discredits what he’s saying about the timeline of Sept. 11th events.

    The troubling thing is that no-one has been court-martialed. If I had known only four fighters were flight-ready that day, and it would take them and hour to get in the air, I’d have moved my army in! That’s a complete security disaster. Forget hijacked planes, you could have flown in whatever you liked and bombed the Eastern Seaboard to rubble that day. So, if you don’t make someone a patsy, what’s going on? No inquiry, even?

    So a few points that we have:

    1. It’s not true that no-one had even thought of crashing hijacked planes into buildings. In fact, mediareport points to this which proves that Italy took the threat seriously enough to take substantial security precautions for the G8 summit. See also the report above.

    2. Security and response time on the day of sept. 11 was seriously fucked up. There needs to be an inquiry (one not headed by Kissinger), and the administration should know this. (In fact this really stuns me about them. Not to be cynical, but it’s not hard: launch sham investigation, find suitable patsy, begin scapegoating. But they haven’t even bothered.) Either it was incompetence, or deliberate ‘stand down’ orders were issued. We need to know which.

    3. I’m pretty convinced that FDR et al allowed Pearl Harbour to happen, although I’m slightly ahead of the facts, it’s one of two options (that or incompetence, once again). It’s the more plausible explanation, though, believe it or not. If it’s true, then there’s a significant historical precedent for allowing a known attack to proceed in order to provoke war.

    4. Because of the above points, don’t rush to discredit people like Vidal as paranoid conspiracy nuts. Go ahead and show their facts are false or their arguments unsound. Rosenbaum doesn’t do this and I haven’t found anything yet that does.

    Incidentally, while I myself am entertaining the conspiracy story, I’m not yet convinced. Furthermore, even if it happened we don’t know who did it really.

  8. ÿ says:

    I agree with that, D. I feel I didn’t emphasize enough that I don’t buy Vidal. I just wanted to de-bunk a de-bunker for fun!

  9. D says:

    Yeah. You don’t buy Vidal, though? Why not?

  10. ÿ says:

    Good question. Because I really really very badly don’t want to maybe? I’m not really sure.

  11. ÿ says:

    Maybe the reason I don’t ultimately buy Vidal is that I still have a hard time with the idea that Roosevelt actually allowed Pearl Harbor to happen. I think if he had intelligence suggesting the attack was about to unfold, he could have tipped off the military. There would still have been a battle, casualties, and enough damage done to get the US population’s support for their entrance into WWII. But he wouldn’t have had the casualities, and perhaps more importantly, the US wouldn’t have lost such a devastating portion its fleet.

  12. ÿ says:

    that should read ‘mass-casualities’.

  13. D says:

    But they didn’t – the bulk of the fleet was out of the harbor. If I’m remembering my John Keegan correctly.

  14. D says:

    Incidentally, what are you doing snooping around in year-old threads, dude?

  15. ÿ says:

    It’s Keegan who writes about it? Shit. Is that online somewhere? Or is that in paper form? I’d love to read what he has to say. That guy’s incredible.

    What am I doing snooping around year old threads?

    I don’t know. Feeling nostalgic for the self that I was a year ago?

    Nah, I’ve just been reading about WWII lately, and I thought I’d put this to you to see what chew say.

    Glad I did.

  16. D says:

    It’s in his WWII book. It’s not all conspiracy and shit or anything, but I recall him saying something about the bulk of the fleet being out of the harbour, which enabled the US to win at Midway. I could be talking out of my ass, however.

  17. D says:

    And also, last year’s y was a joke compared to the masterful mass of sheer excellence that is the modern-day y. Eyes on the prize! Size! Strength! Agility!

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