The Financial Times and the “Self-Confessed Mastermind of 9/11”

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 sub-human existence.

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, Kosova, 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, a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, owns a 50-year membership in the class struggle, is an adviser to the landless and jobless in Brazil and Argentina, and is co-author of Globalization Unmasked (Zed Books). Petras’ most recent books are The Politics of Empire: The Us, Israel and the Middle East (2014) and The Arab Revolt and the Imperialist Counterattack. He can be reached at: jpetras@binghamton.edu. Read other articles by James, or visit James's website.

7 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. bozhidar balkas said on August 27th, 2008 at 8:32am #

    neo-con.ism or is it same-con.ism? i think it same-cons. what is different now from 5,000 yrs ago is that killing/maiming people by sword was tiresome and one had to take a breether or gets killed beacause there was no more strength left to fight.
    now a pilot sits in a comfy seat and just pushes a button and kills dozens of people + animals.
    mind you, nobody counts animals. and the pilot, doesn’t know or doesn’t care about or count the harvest. pilot did what he was commanded to do.
    basic elements were there 8,000 yrs ago and basic elements are here/now and possibly for millennia to come.
    how now brown cow? i am mad. my wife tells me, Bob, why don’t you tie yourself up in knots; you’ll feel much better. thank u

  2. johndoraemi said on August 27th, 2008 at 11:40am #

    Prof. Petras,

    I hope you will do an in-depth report on the state of the 9/11 Cover Up, the numerous pieces of the puzzle that the government refuses to release, and their chilling implications.

    One such list:

    http://crimesofthestate.blogspot.com/2007/02/no-george-monbiot-these-are-facts-of.html

    See also the Taking Aim report on Khalid S. Muhammed (who was reported dead in a gunfight with Pakistani security forces). The US government has never proven that the man in custody actually IS KSM.

    http://takingaimradio.com/mp3/takingaim070320.mp3

  3. John Hatch said on August 27th, 2008 at 3:47pm #

    When I think of 9/11 I think of those poor souls, who, faced with an impossible choice, jumped from high in the twin towers (the plight of the other victims is no less sad).

    To think that the government which beyond any doubt perpetrated this monstrous act of mass murder is still torturing (and no doubt killing) people as part of an inane cover-up is beyond chilling.

    People who would do this are eminently capable of bringing an end to all human life.

    After all, we’d only be in heaven with Jesus. Wouldn’t we?

  4. Gary Corseri said on August 28th, 2008 at 10:00am #

    James Petras serves his readers well in probing beneath the veneer of British genteel media.

    I used to look to the BBC and FINANCIAL TIMES as antidotes to the patently biased reports and incomplete or incorrect “backgrounding” that has been standard fare in the American media for too many decades now. But, Petras is clear: the American disease has been borne by winds and tides to infect our cousins across the pond.

    Perhaps readers abroad will let us know how matters progress with the media in Italy, France, Germany, et. al. Given the enthusiasm with which the “leaders” of those governments have embraced the West’s mini-war against Russia in support of Georgia, one suspects the “fix” is in there, too–at least with the MSM. At least we’ve still got the Internet–for now!

  5. bozhidar balkas said on August 28th, 2008 at 12:25pm #

    gary,
    canadian media and politicians (conservatives and liberals)
    they are strongly (on a scale from 0-10, it is about 10) antipalestinian, chinese, venezuealan.
    socialists are in the main for a just peace. i am an egalitarian/socialist who’s only for palestine. zionists can leave it or accept it.
    unfortunately even chomsky et al arr for a nonpossible two-state ‘solution’.
    a two state ‘solution’ wld represent a reward for terror and warfare.
    i’ll never agree to that.
    but even arabs may not ever gladhand a jewish state.
    thank u

  6. charles said on August 30th, 2008 at 3:31pm #

    Shame.

  7. Financial Times ve “11 Eylül’ün Kendini Ele Veren Beyni” – James Petras « Gerçeğin Günlüğü said on November 19th, 2009 at 3:35am #

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