Parallels with 9/11

Northwoods, Pearl Harbor: every war needs an excuse

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. In the first stage of life the mind is frivolous and easily distracted, it misses progress by failing in consecutiveness and persistence. This is the condition of children and barbarians, in which instinct has learned nothing from experience."
-- George Santayana, The Life of Reason, Volume 1, 1905

Nero burned Rome, blamed Christians
Guy Fawkes (1605)
Remember the Maine! (1898)
Reichstag Fire (1933)
Pearl Harbor
Operation Northwoods (1962)
coup against JFK (1963)
Gulf of Tonkin (1964)
Oklahoma City (1995)
9/99 Russian apartment bombings (1999)
September 11 (2001)

a short list, woefully incomplete - every war is started with lies
This new version was published by the Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade (COAT) in issue #50, of Press for Conversion! (January 2003). For information on obtaining a copy of that issue, which contains 40 pages of articles by numerous authors on US war pretext incidents, between 1846 and the present, please see the information after this article.

Going to War: Unraveling the Tangled Web of American Pretext Stratagems (1846-1989) 
By Richard Sanders, coordinator, Coalition to Oppose the Arms Trade, and editor, Press for Conversion!

For more than a year now the U.S. has seemed on the verge of attacking Iraq.  All that is stopping them is their inability to find a credible pretext for war.
         Throughout history, war planners have used many forms of deception to trick their enemies.  Because public support is so crucial to the process of initiating and waging war, the home population is also subject to deceitful stratagems. Creating false pretenses to justify war is often a major step in gaining public support for such deadly ventures.
         Like schoolyard bullies who shout 'He hit me first!', war planners know that it is irrelevant whether their rival really did 'throw the first punch.'  As long as the attack can be made to appear unprovoked, the aggressor can 'respond' with force.  Bullies and war planners are experts in the art of taunting, teasing and threatening.  If enemies cannot be goaded into 'firing the first shot,' it is easy enough to fabricate lies about what happened.  Such lies are used to rationalize schoolyard beatings or genocidal wars.
         Such expedient artifice has no doubt been used by every military power in history.  Roman emperors had their cassus belli to conceal real reasons for waging war.  Over the millenia, although weapons and battle strategies have changed greatly, the deceitful strategem of using pretext incidents to ignite war has remained remarkably consistent.  In examining this history, certain patterns repeatedly emerge, a distinct modus operandi is detected, and the institutionalized, criminal ploys of war planners can be seen.
         Perhaps the most commonly used war pretext device is an apparently unprovoked enemy attack.  Through history, such "attacks" have been deliberately incited, completely fabricated, allowed to occur, or engineered and then blamed on the desired enemy.  The event is then exploited to arouse widespread public sympathy for the victims, to demonise the attackers and to build widespread support for military "retaliation" among the general population, as well as among politicians and other leaders of public opinion.
         War pretext incidents, in themselves, are not sufficient to spark wars.  Rumours and allegations about the tragic events must also spread throughout the target population.  Constant repetition of the official version of what happened, helps to spawn dramatic narratives that are lodged into public consciousness.  The stories then become accepted without question and legends are fostered.  The corporate media is central to the success of such war propaganda.  Politicians rally people around the flag, lending their special oratory skills to the call for a military "response."  Demands for "retaliation" then ring out across the land, war hysteria mounts and, finally, a war is born.
         Every time the U.S. has gone to war, pretext incidents have been used as triggers to justify military action.  Later, the conventional views of these controversial events have been challenged and exposed as untrue.  Historians, investigative journalists and others, have cited eyewitness accounts, declassified documents and statements made by the perpetrators themselves to demonstrate that provocative incidents were used to stage manage the march to war.
         There are dozens of other examples from U.S. history besides those exposed in these pages.  During the Cold War, dozens of covert and overt wars were promoted using specific pretext episodes.  However, the crusade against communism was the generic backdrop for all rationales.
         As the Cold War wound down, the "War on Drugs" was developed as a new cover story.  Lurking behind U.S. lies about wanting to squash illicit drug production and trafficking, are the actual reasons for financing and training so many right-wing, military governments.  The "War on Drugs" pretext has been used to boost counter-insurgency operations aimed at destroying those opposed to U.S. corporate profiteering. The CIA has not only used drugs as a pretext to arm regimes that themselves profit from illegal drug sales, it has also financed many of its own covert wars using the highly lucrative trade in heroine and cocaine.
         The latest thematic pretext for war is the so-called "War Against Terrorism." It is vitally important to expose this latest attempt to fraudulently conceal the largely economic and geostrategic purposes of war.  By unraveling the intricate web of pretenses woven to deceive the public, we can begin to reveal how corporations are the main benefactors of war.  By throwing light on repeated historical patterns of deception, we can promote a healthy skepticism about government and corporate media yarns that are now being spun to promote wars of the future.
         If asked to support wars so that wealthy elites can safely plunder the natural and human resources of foreign lands, people would likely 'just say no.' Therefore, over the millennia, war planners have developed a special martial art - the creation of war pretext incidents.   These elaborate webs of deceit are woven to create the appearance that wars are fought for just, moral and humanitarian reasons.
         The knowledge of how people have been repeatedly tricked into going to war, is like a vaccine.  It can be used to inoculate the public with healthy doses of distrust for official, war pretext narratives and other deceptive stratagems.  Through such immunization programs we can help to counter our society's susceptibility to "war fever" and, hopefully, prevent the next bout of war from infecting us.

War on Terror:
The Police State Agenda
By Richard K. Moore
How had the US government come up so quickly with such a comprehensive and coordinated response? How had they decided within hours that an extended War on Terrorism was the appropriate action? How did they know that $40 billion was the exact amount needed? And then as background reports began to appear, my suspicion deepened. It turns out that the airlines were already in deep trouble, before the attack. And the US had other reasons to go after Afghanistan, having to do with oil reserves, and pipeline routes. And there had been earlier signs that the social-security funds might be raided for other uses. And still, no actual evidence had been produced linking Bin Laden to the attacks.
The whole scenario began to fit a very familiar pattern, a pattern that has characterised American history from its earliest days. This led me to a quite different analysis of the events than we were being fed over the mass media. I am not claiming that this alternative analysis is correct, I offer it only for your consideration. ....
¬†US History – A Series of Suspicious Warpath ‘Incidents’
As we look back at history, we find that every time the US has entered into a major military adventure, that has been enabled by a dramatic incident which aroused public sentiment overwhelmingly in favour of military action. These incidents have always been accepted at face value when they occurred, but in every case we have learned later that the incidents were highly suspicious. And in every case, the ensuing military action served some elite geopolitical design.
Consider, for example, the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, which gave President Lyndon Johnson an excuse to begin major escalation of the Vietnam War. Supposedly, in that incident, a North Vietnamese boat launched torpedoes in an attempt to sink an American warship. It is now generally accepted by historians that the attack did not in fact occur, and that Johnson had been preparing to escalate all along.
One of my correspondents on the Internet summarised a portion of the history this way:
“The US Government lied to the American People about the following events. Each of these incidents led the United States into War....
“1898…THEY LIED about the sinking of the battleship Maine. (Spanish American War)
“1915…THEY LIED about the sinking of the ocean liner Lusitania (World War I)
“1941…THEY LIED about the attack on Pearl Harbor. (World War II)
“1964…THEY LIED about the Gulf of Tonkin affair. (Vietnam War).”
In the media coverage of the recent WTC attack, the comparison with Pearl Harbor has been frequently raised. Thousands of American troops were killed in the attack on Pearl Harbor, and thousands of American civilians were killed in the attack on the WTC. In both cases the American people responded (quite understandably) with deep shock and outrage. In both cases, overwhelming public sentiment was for retaliation, and for giving the President total support for whatever course he chose. In 1941, as now, any suggestion that the US government knew in advance of the attacks, and could have prevented them, would have been met by angry disbelief by almost any American. Nonetheless, the evidence now seems to favour the view that President Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR) did know about the impending attack on Pearl Harbor, and that he could have mounted an effective defense.
We now know that elite US planners, during the period 1939-1941, had come to the conclusion that the Japanese conquest of Asia had to be stopped. The planners determined that Southeast Asia, in particular, was critical to US economic interests. But US public opinion was overwhelmingly against entering the war. It now seems that FDR figured out a way to get the US into the war, and that Pearl Harbor was the key to his plan.
When the Japanese began to threaten Southeast Asia, FDR froze Japanese assets in US banks, resulting in a cutoff of Japanese oil supplies. This was considered an act of war by Japan, and Japanese retaliation was expected by American planners. As the Japanese fleet approached Pearl Harbor, intelligence services in Britain and the US evidently knew of that approach. British Prime Minister Churchill notified his Pacific commanders that the Japanese were heading for Pearl Harbor. FDR, on the other hand, did not notify his commanders. Instead, he sent the most strategic ships (the aircraft carriers) out to sea where they would be safe, and instructed key observation outposts on the island of Kauai to stand down. It was over Kauai that the Japanese made their approach to Pearl Harbor.
It seems that FDR intentionally set the stage for a ‘surprise’ attack – shocking the nation and instantly shifting public opinion from non-interventionism to war frenzy. I am suggesting that this same scenario must be considered in the case of the recent WTC and Pentagon attacks. Unbelievable as this may seem, this is a scenario that matches the modus operandi of US ruling elites. These elites show callous disregard for civilian lives in Iraq, Rwanda, Yugoslavia, and dozens of other places around the world. Is it so surprising that they would sacrifice a few thousand American civilians if they considered that necessary in order to pursue their geopolitical objectives?
Pearl Harbor aroused the wrath of Americans against the Japanese... but as soon as the blank check was signed, it was Europe that received the initial focus of American military attention. After the Battleship Maine was blown up (from an internal explosion we have since learned), the thirst for revenge was translated into the imperialist capture of the Philippines. In other words, when one of these outrage incidents occurs, the modus operandi of the US elite is to pursue whatever objectives are most important to it – regardless of the incident that provided the blank check.
And the most important issue before the elite at this point in history is the preservation of global elite rule, the acceleration of globalisation, and the suppression of the anti-globalisation movement. They must deal with the crisis of global capitalism.


Guy Fawkes - 1605

filmmaker Barrie Zwicker at the 9/11 Citizens Commission, September 9, 2004

in 1605 there was the so-called gunpowder plot against the British parliament buildings. Now, now I’ll allow myself a digression here because it shows just how conned we can be. It so happens that my birthday is November the 5th. So I grew up knowing about Guy Fawkes Day, which is November 5th. And I always knew the little rhyme “Remember, remember the fifth of November/ Gunpowder, treason and plot.” And I always assumed that there was a guy named Guy Fawkes who took barrels of gunpowder under the bridge of parliament buildings in 1605 and tried to light them to blow up the parliament buildings against to the detriment of the king.

And it turns out, I just learned a few months ago, that that was a deception by King James. It was cooked up and Guy Fawkes was framed and his co-conspirators, alleged co-conspirators, were frame and they were hanged. And it was to aid the king in his wish for war with Spain and to generally buttress his reign. And I’ve gone literally my whole life not knowing about a deception pulled off by a ruler of old . . . and I just didn’t know. And my son – last night I phoned him and his did some checking on the internet – and the official story about Guy Fawkes Day is still the one most people believe.

from the transcript at


Pearl Harbor, 1941 -- FDR "let it happen on purpose"

The Pearl Harbor attack was allowed to happen (the US was intercepting Japanese radio signals and codes and knew it was imminent) in order to galvanize a divided nation to support world war. However, FDR did not need to provide the Japanese Navy with technical assistance to ensure the success of the attack.


September 11, 1941 was the groundbreaking ceremony for the construction of the Pentagon. 9/11 (the attack) happened on the 60th anniversary. The groundbreaking was three months before Pearl Harbor, at a time when the US government promised it was not going to get involved in war unless it was attacked first. Pearl Harbor was allowed to happen. The US had intercepted the Japanese radio traffic by decrypting their codes -- and Roosevelt knew the attacks were imminent yet chose not to defend the base nor warn the local commanders. Sacrificing over two thousand people was deemed an acceptable price to pay for galvanizing a divided country to support World War. That war was in many ways an oil war - the US was able to wage the war because the American oil industry had recently reached the peak of domestic oil discoveries and had enough oil to wage global war. In contrast, Germany, Italy and Japan do not have oil, and eventually ran out of fuel to power their war machines. Germany tried to capture the rich oil fields of the Caucausus, but after the Stalingrad battle (on the way to the Caucaucus region), it was clear that the Nazi mechanized military would lose the war. Japan seized oil fields in Indonesia, but when they were driven out they lost much of their oil supply for their military imperialist expansion, and the US naval blockade of Japan ensured their defeat.

"Hitler and Goering had counted on the new jet fighters driving the Allied air forces from the skies, and well they might have -- for the Germans succeeded in producing more than a thousand of them -- had the Anglo-American flyers, who lacked this plane, not taken successful counteraction. The conventional Allied fighter was no match for the German jet in the air, but few ever got off the ground. The refineries producing the special fuel for them were bombed and destroyed and the extended runways which had to be constructed for them were easily detected by Allied pilots, who destroyed the jets on the ground."
-- William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, (1962), pp. 1426-7


Pearl Harbors, old and new

"The Pearl Harbor of the 21st Century took place today."
-- President George Walker Bush, diary entry, 11:30 pm, September 11, 2001

"Out of these troubled times, the New World Order can emerge."
-- President George Herbert Walker Bush, September 11, 1990


The Old Pearl Harbor

December 7, 1941 was the "Day that lived in infamy," the supposed sneak attack upon Pearl Harbor. Contrary to the official myth, there is overwhelming evidence that President Roosevelt knew the attacks were about to happen due to US decryption of Japanese communications. The US had secretly made plans to enter the war, yet promised the public that this would not happen unless the US was attacked first. The Army and Navy commanders were later blamed for failing to prevent the attacks, yet they had been kept out of the loop of the intelligence that the Japanese were about to declare war on America, and therefore it wasn't really their fault. There have not been any formal declarations of war by the Congress on any other country since 1941 -- now, attacks by the empire are made without pretense of constitutional obligation.

The New Pearl Harbor

September 11 was widely claimed to be a surprise attack similar to Pearl Harbor. The psychological shock on the public galvanized a divided nation to back efforts to engage in World War. 9/11 and Pearl Harbor had roughly similar casualty figures (although nearly all 9/11 victims were civilian).

9/11, like Pearl Harbor, was a surprise to most in the military, but key decision makers had foreknowledge. Specific warnings came from at least 15 countries. At least five investigations into the flight schools were impeded by FBI management, any one of which could have prevented the attacks. Insider trading on American and United Airlines in the week before the attack (betting the values of the stocks would drop) showed foreknowledge among certain financial institutions, including a firm whose former director was the Executive Director (number 3 position) at the CIA on 9/11. Mainstream media accounts document that several political, military and corporate leaders were warned not to fly or were moved out of the way. The only remaining questions about 9/11 are the levels of technical assistance provided by key parts of the Bush administration to ensure the success of the attacks - the best analyses of these issues are the books "Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil" by Michael Ruppert ( and "The Terror Timeline: Year by Year, Day by Day, Minute by Minute," by Paul Thompson (


"We need a new Pearl Harbor"

A year before 9/11, the Project for a New American Century, a think tank composed of most of the key officials of the Bush administration, wrote a report titled "Rebuilding America's Defenses" that urged the US to take over the world, starting with the oil rich areas of the Middle East. The PNAC's members stated that this would probably require a "new Pearl Harbor" to enable.
The televised nature of the 9/11 images provided a form of "shock and awe" broadcast world wide. It is obvious, yet uncomfortable to acknowledge, that without 9/11, the PNAC's goals of taking over the Middle East would have been impossible to accomplish. The psychological shock of 9/11 -- not the false claims of Saddam Hussein's mythical Weapons of Mass Destruction -- is what gave the Bush team the "political capital" required for the seizure of Iraq's oil fields, the second largest on Earth.

Two very good books on this topic:

"Infamy: Pearl Harbor and its Aftermath," by John Toland Doubleday Books 1982

"Day of Deceit: The Truth about FDR and Pearl Harbor," by Robert B. Stinnett, Free Press, 1999

Stinnett has a website at
December 7, 1941: A Setup from the Beginning
December 7, 2000
Robert B. Stinnett
Honolulu Advertiser
Pearl Harbor attack was known in advance by Pres. Roosevelt, he knew it would galvanize US to support war

"My belief is that General Short and I were not given the information available in Washington and were not informed of the impending attack because it was feared that action in Hawaii might deter the Japanese from making the attack. Our president had repeatedly assured the American people that the United States would not enter the war unless we were attacked. The Japanese attack on the fleet would put the United States in the war with the full support of the American public." -- Admiral Kimmel, 1958 interview
One Day in History: Dec. 7, 1941
By John Keegan

Almost the only consolation for the U.S. Navy was that none of its aircraft carriers were present at Pearl Harbor on December 7. They were either in the continental United States or delivering aircraft to U.S. island bases elsewhere in the Pacific. ....
In London, Winston Churchill, who had based all his hope of a successful outcome to the war on "dragging the Yanks in" was, since Britain's expulsion from the European continent in 1940, almost the only person at a high level of government in any of the nations at war, to see a silver lining to the news. As he retired to bed on the evening of December 7, he confided to himself "so we had won after all." ....
December 7, 1941, changed almost every important international relationship in the world--to the disadvantage of the Axis (Germany-Japan-Italy) and to the advantage of the Allies (United States-United Kingdom-Soviet Union), which would dominate the world in subsequent years.


Operation Northwoods

1962 Pentagon plan to attack US civilians that would be blamed on Castro's Cuba to "justify" US invasion, made public knowledge four months before 9/11. It is not precisely the same scenario as 9/11, but there are some startling similarities.

In his new exposé of the National Security Agency entitled Body of Secrets, author James Bamford highlights a set of proposals on Cuba by the Joint Chiefs of Staff codenamed OPERATION NORTHWOODS. This document, titled “Justification for U.S. Military Intervention in Cuba” was provided by the JCS to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara on March 13, 1962, as the key component of Northwoods. Written in response to a request from the Chief of the Cuba Project, Col. Edward Lansdale, the Top Secret memorandum describes U.S. plans to covertly engineer various pretexts that would justify a U.S. invasion of Cuba. These proposals - part of a secret anti-Castro program known as Operation Mongoose - included staging the assassinations of Cubans living in the United States, developing a fake “Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington,” including “sink[ing] a boatload of Cuban refugees (real or simulated),” faking a Cuban airforce attack on a civilian jetliner, and concocting a “Remember the Maine” incident by blowing up a U.S. ship in Cuban waters and then blaming the incident on Cuban sabotage. Bamford himself writes that Operation Northwoods “may be the most corrupt plan ever created by the U.S. government.”

read the original text of Northwoods at


Gulf of Tonkin incident, 1964

Gulf of Tonkin - 11/30/2005

On 30 November 2005, the National Security Agency (NSA) released the first installment of previously classified information regarding the Vietnam era, specifically the Gulf of Tonkin incident. This release includes a variety of articles, chronologies of events, oral history interviews, signals intelligence (SIGINT) reports and translations, and other related memoranda.

Skunks, Bogies, Silent Hounds, and the Flying Fish: The Gulf of Tonkin Mystery, 2-4 August, 1964