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The 15th anniversary of the 9/11 Disaster will shortly be observed this year. No single event in recent history has had such an impact on history itself. I, and many, many others have been writing on it, and the still un-answered questions about it, from the time almost immediately after it happened. In the view of many of us, the truth about what really happened has yet to be told. On September 10-11, at New York City’s Cooper union, Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, the Lawyers Committee for 9/11 Inquiry, the NY State Legislative Action Project for 9/11 Justice, the 9/11 Consensus Panel, and the 9/11 Truth Action Project will be holding the next in the series of “Justice in Focus” symposia on the topic of “9/11 Truth” which have been held annually for some years now.
“9/11” is a subject that I have visited periodically over the years, most recently on The Greanville Post last April, upon the publication of the redacted version of “The 28 Pages.” This time around I thought to go back to some of my earliest writing on the subject. It appeared on a long-closed webmagazine called “The Political Junkies.net.” This time around, because the 9/11 disaster and the U.S. Republican government’s response to it has had such a profound impact on world affairs, the multi-faceted and super-deadly current conflict in the Middle East being just one of them, I thought that it might be useful to re-visit a singular event that occurred a long time ago, that also had a huge impact in subsequent years, That would be the Reichstag Fire, that occurred in Berlin, Germany, on February 27, 1933, just about a month after Adolf Hitler became the German Chancellor. There are some remarkable comparisons between the governmental responses to the two events, of which this column will only scratch the surface. This text is drawn from several columns of mine on the subject of 9/11 and the Reichstag Fire which I have written over the years, the first being done in November, 2001.
For those who may not be au courant with the history of Nazi Germany, let me lay out the bare facts of the period. On January 30, 1933, the then President of the German Weimar Republic (1919-1933), the World War I hero Field Marshall Paul von Hindenburg, as part of a deal with the non-Nazi Right-Wing political parties, appoints Adolf Hitler, the leader of the National Socialist German Workers (Nazi) Party as Chancellor. Among other things, the Nazis begin moving very quickly against the trade unions and the two left-wing parties, the Socialists (SPD) and the Communists (KPD), arresting certain members of their leaderships and driving others into exile. On February 27, the grand, historic, German Parliament building in Berlin, the Reichstag, is hit by a fire that would make it unusable until it was eventually restored after the end of World War II.
The story of “the cause” that was released almost immediately (within hours) by the Nazis was that the fire was set by a mentally-handicapped Dutch former Communist turned anarchist, acting entirely alone, one Marinus van der Lubbe. (The Reichstag conveniently happened to be decorated with highly flammable furniture, drapes, and wall-coverings. Apparently, a few matches did the trick.) Within hours, Hitler, Goering, and Goebbels, et al had proclaimed the fire to be the result of a KPD plot. It happened that the KPD knew nothing of it and that the “incriminating documents” quickly produced by the Nazis were later proved to be forgeries. But that meant nothing at the time.
The Nazis quickly created a national hysteria over the “threat of the KPD and the SPD,” lumped together as “the Marxists,” to the “peace and tranquility of the German nation,” to the “security of the German volk.” To deal with “the Marxist threat,” on Feb. 28, the day after the Fire, before there could be any kind of investigation beyond the Nazi declarations and proffered false documents, with Pres. Hindenburg’s approval, and in accord with a provision of the post-World War I Weimar Republic’s Constitution, all of the civil liberties protections in it were suspended. But this wasn’t enough for the Nazis.
On March 24, 1933, a Reichstag from which all the elected Communist deputies had been purged along with a number of the Socialist deputies, and in which many of the Centrist Deputies were totally intimidated (at the time of the vote, the Reichstag’s temporary chamber was surrounded by members of the Nazis’ private army, the Sturm Abteilung, the SA [or “Brownshirts”]), passed a Constitutional Amendment giving virtual dictatorial power to Hitler and his cabinet for a four-year period. It was called the Enabling Act. In practice, it made Hitler into a dictator with no checks of any kind on his power (unless it were to come from another non-Constitutional power bloc, like the Army). It is fascinating to note that the sticklers for the “law” that they were, the Nazis, in what subsequently passed for the “Reichstag,” dutifully renewed the Act every four years of the Hitlerite period. And so, the Reichstag Fire enabled the Nazi Party to gain something that would have been much more difficult for them to achieve without it: dictatorial control of the nation of Germany.
SIDEBAR | By Patrice Greanville
False flags—the art of devious criminal statecraft— has a long history, and, contrary to propaganda, it is the Anglo-Americans, and especially the US, who have always excelled at this. The 20th century is rich in examples, some even thwarted in time, like “Operation Northwoods” (a proposed false flag operation against the Cuban government, that originated within the Department of Defense (DoD) and the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) of the United States government in 1962. The proposals called for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or other U.S. government operatives to commit acts of terrorism against American civilians and military targets, blaming it on the Cuban government. For foggy reasons, JFK turned down the plan.) In all cases, the central question is cui bono? Who benefits the most? Who has the incentive to do such a thing? The answer to this question is given clearly and irrefutably by history: The world’s ruling classes, headed in our time by the US corporatocracy headquartered in Washington.
SIDEBAR ENDS HERE. REGULAR ARTICLE BY S. JONAS RESUMES HERE
Interlude: Who set the fire?
For many years: no one knew for sure. Was it indeed the mentally-handicapped Dutch anarchist Marinus van der Lubbe, acting on his own, who then Prussian Interior Minister Hermann Goering had had arrested at the scene, was it Van der Lubbe acting for Goering in one way or another, or was it a ten member Sturm Abteilung (SA) detachment operating under Goering’s orders?
An article, “The Reichstag Fire Trial, 1933-2008” (Tigar, M.E. and Mage, J., The Monthly Review, Vol. 60, No. 10, March 2009), based on evidence both from the time and more recently uncovered, set the record straight. Van der Lubbe was on the scene, for one reason or another, but the fires were clearly set by the Goering detachment. Interestingly enough, most of the members of that detachment were murdered during “The Night of the Long Knives,” June 30, 1934. On that night, Hitler’s operatives killed just about any members of the Nazi Party who could possibly become rivals to him, including the commander of the SA, Ernst Roehm, whose gangsters had been so important in Hitler’s coming to power in the first place. It happens that the conclusion that, if van der Lubbe played any role at all in the Reichstag Fire it was a minor one, was upheld by the Federal Court of Justice of the Federal Republic of Germany when, in January, 2008, it overturned the conviction and subsequent death penalty on him.
OK. So the Nazis set the Reichstag Fire and immediately (that is within hours) blamed it on the KPD. Well, why would they do that? A month into his reign, things are not going so well for Hitler. He has already made his first roundups, of known Communists and left-wing labor leaders. But, the Depression is still on, he still has Pres. Hindenburg to deal with, the army is on the fence (in fact, many of the Old Prussians can’t stand the “Little Corporal,” a Great War enlisted man and an Austrian to boot), and there is still a functioning Reichstag to deal with. It is minus the elected Communist deputies, but there are enough Socialists and other Nazi-opponents left to deny him the two-thirds majority he needs to change the Constitution. What to do?
The Nazis either get a mentally-handicapped person to really set the fire for them or let himself get set up as the scapegoat. But in any case, everything is blamed on the “Communist terrorists.” Hitler then manipulates the remaining membership of the Reichstag in his favor by scaring off some of the Socialists who are still there, intimidating a few other opponents, and making a bargain with the Catholic “center” party that in power, the Nazis will leave Catholic education alone. They get the Enabling Act passed by the two-thirds vote it needs, since it is a Constitutional amendment. The rest is history.
Okay. So what was the possible parallel in the US, at the time of 9/11? How about the following? In 2000, the Right-Wing and their industrial partners such Big Oil and the military-industrial complex, succeed in getting a President in place. That was very important for them for if Gore had won, he might, just might, have been there for eight years and he would not have been as easy a target as Bill Clinton had been. Although to be sure, like Clinton he was a right-wing Democrat, on matters like energy policy, global warming, and the environment he might, just might, have gotten things done. So, they, the U.S. Right, avoided that horrible prospect (horrible for Big Oil, at least), by getting the U.S. Supreme Court to elect George W. Bush President, by one vote. BUT, less than one year into Bush’s first term, just like the Nazis had, they faced certain problems:
- They know that their man didn’t really win, and further, in terms of the popular vote, was a minority President (a fact the media completely ignored). (Interesting: the Nazis never got more than 37% of the vote in any open election in pre-Nazi Germany.)
B) Their guy is a weakling (just like Hindenburg was).
C) There is a recession underway.
D) They have, as least temporarily, lost control of the Congress through the defection of Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont. Since that happened, none of their programs, from energy/environmental policy to more tax-cuts for the wealthy and the large corporations, were going through.
E) The Enron bubble had burst.
F) Cheney wouldn’t tell what he had talked about with his oil cronies (energy prices? Enron? Invading Iraq [already very quietly on the table, according to Clinton national security advisor Richard Clarke] to gain a secure supply for many years to come, perhaps?)
What to do? Meet their needs, of course. At what cost? At whatever cost, just as long the whole thing is kept secret.
The needs to be met included the following:
A) Replacing a weak chief executive with a strong one, either literally or functionally.
B) Finding an excuse for the recession, so that this doesn’t get blamed on this Bush and the Republicans, as was the last one.
C) Bypassing or having a compliant Congress on important measures (since they couldn’t possibly win votes on stuff like securing major, retroactive tax cuts for the large corporations, or trashing the environment).
D) Being able to ignore the judiciary (which, despite their efforts since the Reagan years, still had some judges who knew what the Constitution is.
E) Eliminating Constitutional rights by Presidential decree (see The Patriot Act), but even more important, establishing that the President could commit such a revolutionary act by decree.
The document that became the Patriot Act, introduced to Congress about two weeks after “9/11,” was already secretly being written. It had to be, for two reasons. First of all, the original was about 340 pages of dense legal language. Among other things, it overturned, conveniently enough by statute, not by Amendment, major portions of the Constitution, such as the Fourth Amendment which guarantees protection against unreasonable, non- judicial, search and seizure, the Fifth Amendment, which guarantees due process of law, and the Sixth Amendment, which guarantees jury trials in criminal cases. The bill was introduced into Congress only some two weeks after 9/11. Try writing a 340-page, extremely complex bill in two weeks. Moreover, if you are already writing such a bill [that would be DOA in normal times] and you really wanted to get it passed, wouldn’t you hope for, or worse yet try to create, times so abnormal that you could rush the legislation through a panicked Congress?
F) Giving the President the possibility of presiding over a “permanent war” against “terrorism” (the War on Iraq at that time being only a gleam in the eyes of Cheney, Wolfowitz, et al).
But, the Right-Wing-Republican/religious-fundamentalist cabal being postulated here couldn’t accomplish that agenda with a finger snap. Just as Hitler could not have gotten anything like the Enabling Act through the Reichstag with the Communists and Socialists in place, so the cabal had no chance as things stood to achieve their principal goals. In fact, at the time of the 9/11 disaster the political tide was beginning to turn against them, especially with the economy going into recession and the Senate in the hands of a functional Democratic majority that was proving not-too-pliable.
How nice would it be in terms both of politics and policy to have an excuse to get their program going in such a way that could withstand criticism from most people and most countries around the world too. And then, if the same event that could do those things could open up the possibility of beginning the destruction of Constitutional democracy at home. As noted above, we are not talking here simply about the invasion of individual rights, but also the end of “checks and balances:” the bypassing of the independent judiciary, the bypassing of the legislature, and the substitution of rule by Presidential Decree. And then to top it all off, to be able to sneak through their right-wing domestic agenda under the cover of “fighting terrorism.” What better than a grand “terrorist” event, like the destruction of the WTC? Or, in Berlin of 1933, the destruction of the Reichstag?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Senior Editor, Politics, Steven Jonas, MD, MPH is a Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University (NY) and author/co-author/editor/co-editor of over 30 books. In addition to being Senior Editor, Politics, for The Greanville Post, he is: a Contributor for American Politics to The Planetary Movement; a “Trusted Author” for Op-Ed News.com; a contributor to the “Writing for Godot” section of Reader Supported News; and a contributor to From The G-Man. He is the Editorial Director and a Contributing Author for TPJmagazine.us. Further, he is an occasional Contributor to TheHarderStuff newsletter, BuzzFlash Commentary, and Dandelion Salad. Dr. Jonas’ latest book is Ending the ‘Drug War’; Solving the Drug Problem: The Public Health Approach, Brewster, NY: Punto Press, available on Kindle from Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Ending-Drug-War-Solving-Problem-ebook/dp/B01EO9RGKO/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1461783388&sr=1-4&keywords=Ending+the+Drug+War
His most recent book on US politics is The 15% Solution: How the Republican Religious Right Took Control of the U.S., 1981-2022: A Futuristic Novel (Trepper & Katz Impact Books, Punto Press Publishing, 2013, Brewster, NY), and available on Amazon.
Patrice Greanville is The Greanville Post’s Editor in Chief.