Clayton Eshleman on 9/11
"The most important thing is for us to find Osama bin Laden. It is our number one priority and we will not rest until we find him."--George W. Bush, 9/13/01
"I don't know where bin Laden is. I have no idea and really don't care. It's not that important. It's not our priority."--George W. Bush, 3/13/02
"Fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can't get fooled again."--George W. Bush, 9/17/02
Sure we can. Among major American poets, only Amiri Baraka and Clayton Eshleman have challenged the official version of 9/11. On Hunger Magazine, 2003, Eshleman was asked by J. J. Blickstein: "How are you addressing the current events on the world theater, 9/11, the imminent 'War for Oil' with Iraq, the North Korean conflict, in your work?" He answered:
My initial response to the 9/11 assaults, as a reader/investigator, was to start making myself more aware of what we might have done to others, beyond our borders, to instigate such action. I read William Blum's Rogue State, and am now reading his Killing Hope. Learning of Bush's bizarre and utterly irresponsible immediate response to the assaults (he continued listening to school children read to him in a Sarasota grade school for nearly a half hour), I also began to learn more about him by reading Mark Crispin Miller's The Bush Dyslexicon. Then Gore Vidal alerted me to the considerable possibility that the official version of what happened on 9/11 was bogus. Vidal's information was based on Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed's The War on Freedom which I studied for several weeks, at the same time checking its information with the numerous 9/11 sites (e.g., Paul Thompson's The Complete 9/11 Time-site). I have not found any information that contradicts Ahmed's. There is additional material in David Icke's Alice In Wonderland and the World Trade Center Disaster, but one must ponder it in a context that is Blakean and obsessed with global fascist conspiracy controlled by reptilian "entities."
After studying the Ahmed book, I wrote "The Assault," which opens with compressed time-line data on some of the evidence that contests the official 9/11 version. Part II is my own lyric response, written out of the angry indignation I associate with Robert Duncan's "Uprising," the key declaration by a poet during the Vietnamese War. My poem can be read on the Skanky Possum web site.
The 9/11 matter has taken up nearly all my political reading time over the past months. I try to make myself aware of the political dimension but not be taken over by it. I am of course dead set against an invasion of Iraq, and see it as stepping stone #2 after our despicable bombing of Afghanistan (there is still no evidence that would hold up in court that bin Laden was responsible for the 9/11 assaults--in fact there is considerable evidence that bin Laden is a CIA asset, and that the assaults were either permitted to happen or arranged by our own government in order to get the public outrage backing to go into Afghanistan, an invasion that was planned months before 9/11--primarily to get rid of the unreliable Taliban, which we created in the first place, and to install a government amenable to a UNOCAL oil pipeline into the Caspian reserves).
I haven't spent much time on the North Korean situation and probably know less about it than you do.
I think there are certain occasions that call for a politically-focused poem; in that sense I wanted to get possible government conspiracy on 9/11 into the poetic record. Beyond that, I seek to build an atmosphere of political awareness into everything I write. I have done this for some years. I want a sense of my own time, in a national and international way, to permeate my language. The only way the American poem can remain human, as our government expands its imperialist domination of the world (and space), is for the poet to ceaselessly indicate awareness of the monstrous interventionist framework within which, as a tiny and impotent god, he mixes his poisons and proceeds. In this sense, I am an alchemist with one eye on fire, literally and figuratively.
Mid-July 2001: The US government—having decided that the Taliban regime was too unstable and too hostile to serve as a vehicle for US entry into Central Asia—had planned on an Afghanistan invasion for October.
National support for such an invasion depended upon a widely-perceived direct threat. Now known “enemy attacks” used to whip up and mobilize people for war included: the US Battleship Maine, the Lusitania, Pearl Harbor, Tonkin Bay. Our atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki: the beginning of the Cold War.
September 10: Bin Laden was in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, courtesy of the ISI, for kidney dialysis (in July he met with the local CIA agent in Dubai; no attempt was made to arrest him).
September 6-10: United and American Airlines stock shares were massively sold short, as were shares at Morgan Stanley Dean Witter (occupying 22 WTC floors) and Merrill Lynch (headquarters near the WTC). Insiders with advance knowledge of an approaching national catastrophe are believed to have made over 15 million. If they knew, would you tell me that Bush, The Secret Service, The Air Force, and the Pentagon did not know?
(The alleged lead hijacker Mohammed Atta, with an expired 2000 tourist visa, re-entered 3 times in 2001 for flying lessons—for which he lacked the required M-1 work visa—while under FBI surveillance for stockpiling bomb making materials)
August 2001: The FBI was informed that Zacarias Moussaoui was linked by French intelligence to bin Laden (top FBI officials blocked field agents’ requests to search Zacarias’s computer).
August 2001: Attorney David Schippers was approached by FBI agents and given the names of the hijackers, their targets, proposed dates, and the sources of their funding. He tried to contact Ashcroft who did not return any of his calls. Schippers’ informants were pulled off their investigation and threatened with prosecution if they went public (Schippers is now representing one FBI agent in a suit against the US government in an attempt to subpoena its testimony, so he can legally speak about the blocked investigation on public record).
Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) requires fighter jets to scramble and intercept under emergency conditions. No approval from the White House is required (when Payne Stuart’s Learjet pilot failed to respond to the air controller at 9:33, 21 minutes later, an F-16 traveling at 1500 mph reached the Learjet at 46,000 feet).
On September 11, Flight #11 was clearly way off course by 8:20. SOP called for
immediate notification and response.
North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) was not informed of
an emergency by Boston air traffic control until 8:38.
Initially, according to former NORAD Commander Gen. Richard Myers, no jets
were scrambled until after Flight #77 struck the Pentagon at 9:40
(1 hour and 20 minutes after #11 was suspected of being hijacked).
Within days, this story changed: at 8:44, we are told, 2 F-15s were scrambled at Otis
(Cape Cod), 190 miles from Manhattan.
If these jets flew at top speed (1850 mph), they would have reached the Towers in
But at 9:03, when Flight #175 struck the South Tower,
the Otis jets were unexplainably still 70 miles from Manhattan
(and why sent from Otis? McGuire, a major, active facility in New Jersey, is 71
miles from the WTC. Arrival time: 3 minutes. No planes were scrambled from
The apparent shut down of SOP on Flight #77 is even more sinister:
known to be hijacked by 8:50 (at which time it was also known #11 and #175 were
hijacked, meaning a national emergency was at hand), NORAD was not notified
and, after NORAD was notified, jets were scrambled from Langley (130 miles from
Wash DC) instead of from Andrews (10 miles away), with 2 combat-ready squadrons
(the Langley jets arrived 15 minutes after the Pentagon was plowed into).
9:16: NORAD was informed that Flight #93 had been hijacked (at which time it was
known that 3 other flights had been hijacked and that 2 had already blown up their
No jets were scrambled to intercept #93.
No one has been charged with incompetence.
After both Towers had been struck, President Bush, in Sarasota, visiting a grade
school, was informed.
He continued to listen to children read to him for 25 minutes before informing
Americans of what they already knew.
Myers, at the Capitol, was chatting (about “terrorism”) with Senator Max Cleland.
They saw a TV report that a plane had hit the WTC. “We thought it was a small
plane or something like that,” Myers said.
So the two men went ahead with the office call.
Meanwhile, the 2nd Tower was hit. “Nobody informed us of that,” Myers said.
After the Pentagon was struck (3/4 of the assault now successfully completed),
a cellphone was handed to him; finally, the Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staffs
According to Assistant Secretary of Defense Victoria Clarke: “Rumsfeld stayed in his
office until the Pentagon was hit, with the excuse that he had some phone calls to make.”
A composite vision: our callow, illiterate, Supreme Court-
appointed Fool, drifting in photo-op with school children,
Myers discussing “terrorism” with Cleland,
Rumsfeld, in effect, hiding in his office,
drink debris-blocked staircased bodies.
My head shudders with
the mortification of finding Bush in my own eyes,
yes, for I do not see myself outside the male coagulate.
Part of me is a lazar born of mass guilt,
funhouse horticulture, where the decency facets
I’ve struggled to file ripple with
“Full Spectrum Dominance”
Out the window, in autumnal weak green:
tent caterpillar encampments, opaque, milky,
creating as if under camouflage deadly screens—
elected American presidents in the democracy-subverted
Bush Junior entangled with pa
crawling Nixon’s raging animus, the Nobel Carter
mottled with Khmer Rouge horror,
Johnson cloaked in “We seek no wider war,”
whipping out his big dick to reporters, declaring
“This is why we’re in Vietnam!”
Reagan as a goggle-wearing grub, chirping: “Contras are
the moral equivalent of our Founding Fathers.:
These nest camps where
baby Pinochets bud (Nobel Kissinger
on his knees gripping the altar-bowl
vomiting up a stomach hash of millions—
suddenly his ghost stands up through him, called
to lead the 911 investigation.
The nests enweb electronically through the American mind.
Whitman’s visionary eternal present has become
the language of TV, tending always to transfix
the audience in an eternal now.
I’m taken in, as are you, fellow citizens,
failing to instantly recall background particularities.
A week later, I come to, recalling, while reading,
details I should have brought to bear.
The mainstream media cartel
beams its needles out of the screens,
who is not injected, anesthetized by conversion-
Like a depth charge dropped into 911: 50 years of Cold War
mobilization against the Soviet Union has left the country with
“a boiling residue of paranoid anxiety.”
Greed become a crazed intoxication to redetermine history,
if the Bush family becomes trillionaires, might they,
led by angels, slip through eternity,
skipping over death?
Jackknifed bodies plummeting against
the photo-serenity of a Tower,
not Crane’s “bedlamite,” but a secretary
exploding in blue September sky
Living in America now is like being on a revised Flight #11.
The nave of this self-righteous citadel extends for miles—
section after section of our cluster-bombed Yugoslavians,
our jerking nerve-gassed Laotians, our napalmed Vietnamese girls,
our chopped- apart Guatemalans, our mowed-down East Timorese
and there’s our Sharon, in high heels, tightening
the thumbscrews on Palestinian immiseration
--and below? Right here? Bush is in my gas,
Cheney’s in my steering-wheel, Ashcroft’s under our bed!
Should 911 be seen as a 3000 body count down payment on
a Turkmenistan-Afghanistan-Pakistani UNOCAL oil pipeline?
3000 dead? More like 8000—
for this figure must include the Afghanistan dead
bombed in retribution—for what?
Nothing they did but inhabit land we
--and here “we” partitions my heart—
seek to exploit.
The unutterable humiliation of 911!
Holocaust of firemen to make millionaires billionaires!
Workers, executives, of the capitalist epi-center,
but much more importantly, beloved citizens
who went to work that day
(overhearing me, bored Bush turns aside:
“Adolf, let’s go fishin.”)
In our hearts we know
In our hearts we do not know
Baby Bush now spectre-entangled in the entrails of the nation.
[November-December, 2002, Ypsilanti]
[NOTE: the compressed time-line data is mainly taken from Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed's The War On Freedom, Tree of Life Publications, Joshua Tree, CA., 2002. I was alerted to Ahmed's book by Gore Vidal's "The Enemy Within," which appeared in the UK Observer, 27 October 2002. I also drew upon material from Mark Crispin Miller's The Bush Dyslexicon, Norton, NYC, 2002, and William Blum's Rogue State, Common Courage Press, Monroe, Maine, 2000. The lyric outrage is all my own (other than when factual), and participates in the tradition of the sirvente; Robert Duncan's "Uprising," which blasts Johnson for the bombing of Vietnam and which may be found in Bending the Bow, New Directions, NYC, 1968, hovers over "The Assault," a predecessor ghost.]
Linh Dinh was born in Saigon, Vietnam in 1963, came to the U.S. in 1975, and has also lived in Italy and England. He is the author of two collections of stories, Fake House (Seven Stories Press 2000) and Blood and Soap (Seven Stories Press 2004), and the novel Love...