911 and the Reichstag Fire: have we seen this show before?
Based on a talk for Eugene Forum for Peace Education, given 11/9/03
by Jerry Russell
In the view of the notable historian William Shirer and many others, it has been established "beyond a reasonable doubt" that on Feb. 27, 1933, a team of Hitler’s commandos fanned out through the Reichstag building (the German parliament), using incendiary fluids to quickly touch off a massive blaze. Before the fire had died down, Hitler proclaimed that the outrage must have been the responsibility of the Communists.
Apparently, by and large, the German public believed Hitler was telling the truth: the Enabling Act was passed giving Hitler a dictator’s powers — and in the general election a few days later, the National Socialists cemented their hold over the German government. Communist leaders stood trial, accused of participating in a vast conspiracy to destroy the Reichstag — and, by extension, the German people themselves. Finally, a pogrom was commenced against the Communists — which culminated years later, in WWII, with the German war against the Soviet Union which killed ten million people or more.
One item in the litany of evidence of Nazis’ conspiratorial role in the Reichstag fire is the eyewitness testimony of an SA member named Adolf Rall, who levied his accusation in an interview in the magazine Pariser Tagiblatt, and was later murdered by the Nazis. Other testimony to this effect came at the Nuremberg trials. Also, technical analyses of the spread of the fire have led to the conclusion that it spread so rapidly that it must have been set by an organized team of arsonists. Unfortunately, one potential source of testimony is not available to us — the entire team of SA commandos, fingered by Rall, were said to have been killed by the Nazis in 1934. The pattern of murders seems to indicate that a cover-up of the crime was underway.
Hitler’s team also arranged to have a "patsy" on the scene at the Reichstag. A young Dutch communist, half blind, named Marinus van der Lubbe, had an encounter with the German police a few days earlier. According to some accounts, he had just recently attempted to set fire to an unemployment office; and he was overheard at a bar, threatening to burn the Reichstag itself. Now, given that van der Lubbe was a suspect in one crime, and known to be plotting another, one might imagine that the Nazis would have been prudent to keep him under custody. But they let him loose, and by some strange synchronicity, van der Lubbe was caught setting fire to the Reichstag just as Hitler’s men were finishing their work. At trial, Hitler’s experts provided conclusive evidence that van der Lubbe could not have started the fire alone, so a conspiracy must have been afoot. Yet all of the Communist leadership on trial were ultimately absolved of any responsibility, due to air-tight alibis. Van der Lubbe repeatedly testified that he alone was responsible for setting the fire, and so he alone was convicted and executed.
To this day, not everyone is convinced of the Nazi’s conspiratorial role in setting the blaze. Some historians maintain that van der Lubbe truly did set the fire alone, and Hitler got a bad rap in this instance. Perhaps given the inflammatory nature of the accusation, it is best to concentrate on other aspects of the event: Hitler’s illogical response in blaming an entire political movement, and ultimately an entire country, for the purported actions of just a few individuals; the rush to judgment and the eagerness to fix blame on the "vast Communist conspiracy" before the embers had a chance to cool; the coverup and the mysterious deaths of so many of those involved with the incident; and the moves to squash individual rights and freedoms in Germany, along with the death throes of German democracy, and the onset of world war. Even if Hitler’s minions did not directly set the fire at the Reichstag, certainly Hitler’s response was more than sufficient to earn the contempt of history.
Nevertheless, with all of the circumstantial evidence and all of the testimony pointing to Hitler’s guilt for the Reichstag fire, it is also enlightening to look at those who confidently proclaim his innocence. One such figure is the journalist Sefton Delmer, who wrote in his 1961 book "Trail Sinister" that "the ‘Hitler, Göring and Goebbels did it’ legend has been thoroughly exploded". Delmer, who was a member of Hitler’s inner circle in 1933, provided a great deal of colorful eyewitness detail which tended to support Hitler’s innocence; evidence which is poorly corroborated elsewhere, to say the least. However, Delmer’s own life story turns out to be most interesting: he was recruited in 1940 by the British Special Operations Executive to organize "black propaganda" broadcasts into Germany. In this intelligence capacity, he has recently been accused of fabricating a failed Nazi invasion of Great Britain out of whole cloth, according to reports by the BBC.
The lesson here is, that it is important to know when you have entered the hall of mirrors created by intelligence operatives. Why would a British journalist go out of his way to exonerate Hitler? It is hard to explain by any conventional analysis, yet I maintain that it can and does happen. Perhaps for the same sorts of reason that Americans like Prescott Bush and George Herbert Walker, the founders of the Bush dynasty, worked so hard to provide funding for Hitler’s brownshirts — and for the same reason that many German intelligence operatives were brought into the US intelligence fold after WWII, to create the embryonic CIA.
It has now been more than seventy years since the Reichstag fire, so we have the benefit of some historical perspective. It has only been a little more than two years since 9-11, so we’re just starting to accumulate some of that same sense of perspective. Nevertheless, we can now see quite clearly that war has been launched, first in Afghanistan and later in Iraq, and the attacks of 911 have been given as the justification. Speaking about recent American casualties in Iraq, President Bush stated on Nov. 4, 2003: "We are at war, and it is essential that the people of America not forget the lessons of September 11, 2001." This in spite of the fact that no credible evidence has emerged linking 911 to Iraq. So here we have the first analogy to the Reichstag Fire: a campaign to scapegoat an entire population (in this case, Middle Eastern Islamics) for the purported actions of a few, and along with that, an aggressive campaign of warfare.
Another clear parallel is that there has been a cover-up, or at least a remarkable lack of interest by the authorities and the mainstream media in following-up the anomalies of 9-11. Consider, for example, the insider trading that has been researched by Mike Ruppert, Tom Flocco and Kyle Hence. Obviously, if we want to know who was really responsible for the 9-11 attacks, it would be helpful to know who had managed to learn about them in advance. Yet, as Ruppert notes at his web site:
To quote 60 Minutes from Sept. 19, "Sources tell CBS News that the afternoon before the attack, alarm bells were sounding over unusual trading in the U.S. stock options market."
It is hard to believe that they missed
– A jump in UAL put options 90 times (not 90 percent) above normal between Sept. 6 and Sept.10, and 285 times higher than average on the Thursday before the attack. [CBS News, Sept. 26]
– A jump in American Airlines put options 60 times (not 60 percent) above normal on the day before the attacks. [CBS News, Sept. 26]
– No similar trading occurred on any other airlines. [Bloomberg Business Report, the Institute for Counterterrorism (ICT), Herzliyya, Israel citing data from the CBO.]
ABC World News reported on Sept. 20, "Jonathan Winer, an ABC News consultant said, ‘it’s absolutely unprecedented to see cases of insider trading covering the entire world from Japan, to the U.S., to North America, to Europe."
How much money was involved? Andreas von Bulow, a former member of the German Parliament responsible for oversight of Germanys intelligence services estimated the worldwide amount at $15 billion, according to Tagesspiegel on Jan. 13. Other experts have estimated the amount at $12 billion….
Not a single U.S. or foreign investigative agency has announced any arrests or developments in the investigation of these trades, the most telling evidence of foreknowledge of the attacks. This, in spite of the fact that former Security and Exchange Commission enforcement chief William McLucas told Bloomberg News that regulators would "certainly be able to track down every trade."
As Ruppert also noted we know exactly where the trail was leading, when it suddenly went cold:
the trading in United Airlines stock — one of the most glaring clues — was placed through the firm Deutschebank/Alex Brown, which was headed until 1998 by the man who is now the executive director of the CIA, A.B. "Buzzy" Krongard.
But beyond the cover-up and the political use and mis-use of 911, what evidence do we have of real US government complicity? As the Internet columnist David McGowan wrote:
let’s start with what is perhaps the only incontrovertible evidence in the case our own observations, as witnesses, of what played out that day on live television.
Tens of millions of people across the country witnessed what happened, and had the images of that day seared into their memory. But what we want to focus on here is what we didn’t see happen that day, because some of the most compelling evidence lies, strangely enough, in what no one saw happen that day.
No one, for example, saw any defensive measures taken during the entire time that the lengthy spectacle played out. None whatsoever.
No one saw any jets scrambled to intercept any of the hijacked aircraft, though their locations and flight-paths were known and there was more than ample time for a military response. No one saw any jets scrambled to secure the airspace over Washington, though some of the hijacked flights were known to be headed that way, and interceptors were sitting on the tarmac just minutes away from likely targets.
And strangely enough, no one saw or heard any demands by television talking-heads for the military to respond in some capacity, or any questioning of why no response had yet materialized. Not after the first WTC tower was hit. Not after the second WTC tower was hit. Not during the agonizingly long interval before the Pentagon was hit. Not even after the Pentagon was hit.
We were all assigned the task of sitting back in fear and watching helplessly as the attack continued and the death toll mounted, encouraged to feel powerless not only as individuals, but as a nation — as if we had no choice but to participate only as passive spectators, watching dumfounded as the carnage unfolded.
So the events of 911 were orchestrated to create feelings of fear and helplessness in the face of surprise attack — fears which were later exploited by the Bush administration’s imagery that the moribund Iraqi nuclear weapons program, could be restarted and then unveiled by a mushroom cloud over a US city.
Yet, in the strange lack of response of the US military on 9-11, we have our first evidence of the actual complicity of the US government. For how could the hijackers themselves have arranged for the failure to respond to the Pentagon attack? As Bykov & Israel noted in their groundbreaking article "Guilty for 9-11 Bush, Rumsfeld, Meyer":
Some of what happened on 9-11, such as planes flying into buildings, is unusual. But most of what happened, such as commercial jets flying off-course, transponder failures and possible hijackings, are everyday emergencies…. these emergencies are routinely handled with expert efficiency based on clear rules.
Bykov & Israel went on to argue quite persuasively that because of the hierarchical and distributed nature of the chain of command of the US military, it is impossible that these procedures would have failed so spectacularly unless there were explicit orders, right from the top, voiding standard response procedures.
The Reichstag fire gives us another clue as to how to understand the events of 9-11 look very carefully at the alleged perpetrator of the crime. What sort of patsy has been put forward as responsible for the disaster?
Just as in the case of the Reichstag Fire, there was a rush to judgment on the part of the US government and the media after the catastrophe: it was immediately announced that Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaida was the only organization with the capability and malice to do such a thing. Within days, names and photos of the alleged hijackers were released, and the evidence connecting them to Al Qaida was claimed to be beyond dispute. Yet details emerged painfully and slowly, in self-contradictory fits and starts. Only now, two years later, do we have a reasonably complete narrative from official sources, regarding the alleged mechanisms by which the hijackings were organized and carried out. According to this tale, mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (under the watchful eye of Osama Bin Laden) assembled a team of terrorists headed by Mohammed Atta and Ramzi Binalshibh. The hijackers went to the United States for flight training, and funds were supplied by a paymaster named Mustafa Ahmad Al-Hiwasi.
The story was covered most recently in an article from Der Spiegel, translated and re-printed in the New York Times, entitled "Operation Holy Tuesday", appearing on Oct. 27, 2003. The article covers a "confession" by the alleged mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. And it conveys at least one clear message this "confession" was obtained by torture. The article stated
US interrogators have never had any doubts about the purpose of their jobs. According to the CIA, it is in the national interest that everything that the two men know about Al Qaeda be extracted from them "If they are silent, it will cost our blood." Even American politicians are uncomfortable about this ultimatum-like approach. Without specifically mentioning the word "torture," members of the intelligence committees in the US Congress have asked whether force is being used. "All I can say to that is that there is a before and an after September 11th," responded Cofer Black, former director of counterintelligence at the CIA and currently charged with the same duties at the State Department. He added that "we have taken off our kid gloves."
Omar al-Faruk, a sort of Southeast Asia representative of Bin Laden until his arrest, discovered exactly what this means. In his isolation cell in Bagram, the light was left on day and night, and Faruk was forced to squat on the floor at night. His interrogators would suddenly raise the temperature in his cell to a tropical 100