From 11/22 to 9/11: Too Many Secrets

English: United Airlines Flight 175 crashes in...
United Airlines Flight 175 crashes into the south tower of the World Trade Center complex in New York City during the September 11 attacks (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Inquiring minds want to know: What, precisely, do 28 pages of the US Senate’s report on the 9/11 attacks say? Those particular 28 pages have remained classified since the report was issued in 2002.

Former US Senator Bob Graham (D-FL), lead author of the report, wants those pages released. He’s been somewhat forthcoming as to their content: “They point a very strong finger at Saudi Arabia as the [9/11 attackers’] principle financier.”

If you’re surprised that such information remains under wraps after nearly a decade and a half, you shouldn’t be. More than 50 years after the assassination of president John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, our masters in Washington still deem us unworthy to see certain documents relating to his murder.

The excuse for keeping such secrets, of course, is “national security.” It’s formally illegal for information to be classified and kept from the public for any other reason (including but not limited to concealing the crimes of, or avoiding embarrassing, politicians).

But “national security” is a malleable concept in the hands of the political class, easily shaped to serve those other ends.

If you’re Scooter Libby, you can blow the cover of a working CIA agent, be tried for lesser offenses and, when convicted, have your sentence presidentially commuted.

If you’re David Petraeus, you can hand over military secrets to your lover/biographer and avail yourself of a sweet plea bargain requiring not so much as a single inconvenient day in jail.

But if you’re Chelsea Manning or Edward Snowden and you dare expose actual government crimes to legitimate public scrutiny, just go ahead and pencil in a 35-year prison sentence, or indefinite exile in Russia, on your social calendar.

In what profession, other than politics, may the putative employee (the “public servant”) simply refuse to show his work product to the putative employer (the “public”)? None that I’m aware of.

What really happened on, and leading up to, 9/11?

What do those 28 pages have to say about it?

I don’t know. Unless you’re one of a handful of special, privileged people, you don’t either.

But we should. Even, nay, especially, if those pages establish that for nearly 14 years now, US foreign policy — both in its general outlines and more specifically the “war on terror” — has been based on falsehood.

That we don’t know makes it clear who’s really in charge: Not us.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.



Trans-Pacific Partnership: Secrecy Plus “Fast Track” Does Not Equal Free Trade

Free trade thumb
Free trade thumb (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


US Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) wants president Barack Obama to declassify details of an upcoming “free trade agreement,” the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Obama’s response incorporates two mutually exclusive claims:  First, that the deal isn’t secret and that Warren’s just tub-thumping to rouse her progressive base; second, that okay, yes, parts of it are secret, but the secrecy is necessary.

Setting aside Obama’s poke at her motivations, Warren is right. The TPP is a bad deal. The secrecy surrounding some of its components is there for a reason: Most of us won’t like what’s in it.

That’s also why Obama is pushing the US Senate to give him “fast track” authority, getting him a straight up-or-down vote as soon as he unveils the treaty instead of having to justify its details and face the possibility of amendment demands.

The first and most important thing to understand about the Trans-Pacific Partnership is that no, it’s not a “free trade” agreement.

Even if we knew none of the details of TPP (we do know some of them), we could reach that conclusion by noticing how lengthy, complex and detailed the negotiations are. Free trade is simple. All it requires is for the involved governments to forswear restrictions on commerce between their nations.

Heck, it could even be done unilaterally. The US could simply announce that it’s lifting all tariffs, quotas and limits from imports and exports, and invite other nations to do likewise. If worry-warts want a poison pill provision for “balance,” that’s easy too: Just mandate that if any nation imposes restrictions on American goods, the worst of those restrictions will be mirrored for all goods originating in the offending country.

TPP isn’t “free” trade.  It’s “managed” trade. Its managers are industry lobbyists and their pet politicians. They don’t care a fig for freedom. Their priorities are easy profits and political advantage.

We already know that in at least one sector — so-called “intellectual property” — TPP is the opposite of free trade, or for that matter freedom of any kind. We know this because whistleblower group Wikileaks procured and released a copy of the treaty’s draft chapter on IP.

That chapter would impose the worst parts of America’s draconian Digital Millennium Copyright Act,  patent system and other anti-freedom, anti-innovation laws on all parties, globally damaging the ability to copy, to improve, to innovate — and bringing de facto Internet censorship into force — all so Disney can wring a few more bucks out of its 88-year-old mascot mouse and Big Pharma can hold the world’s patients hostage to high drug prices for a little bit longer.

TPP is a bad deal for producers and consumers worldwide. Let’s demand REAL free trade instead.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.



America’s Not Ready for Hillary

Before the release, American Secretary of Stat...
Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hillary Rodham Clinton will not be the next president of the United States. She won’t even be the Democratic Party’s 2016 presidential nominee. Risky as it is to place one’s bets 18 months ahead of an election, I’m confident in those two predictions.


Well, the scandals, real and imagined, that have dogged her and her husband’s heels at every turn since the 1992 election cycle — from Whitewater to Vince Foster’s death to “bimbo eruptions” — don’t help.  Her handling of them helps even less, and the fuse is burning down on a big one: A forthcoming book by Peter Schweizer on the Clinton family foundation’s finances.

The charity is hard at work right now, massaging its old tax returns to correct “errors in reporting donations from foreign governments.” Good luck “correcting” what looks a lot like a straightforward $2.3 million bribe from Russia (with love) to then Secretary of State Clinton for approval of a sensitive uranium deal.

But it’s not financial hijinks, tall tales about Bosnian sniper fire, shrugging deflections of responsibility for American deaths in Benghazi, or even her Nixonian, and undeniably criminal, actions in controlling, concealing and destroying official emails as Secretary of State that sound the death knell for her presidential aspirations.

The real problem is that nobody seems to be able to think of any good reason why she should be elected president. Even among those Americans who are okay with politicians running their lives, there’s no great stampede on to let THIS politician run their lives. Maybe that’s because she so clearly relishes the idea.

Hillary Rodham Clinton is famous for being famous. “Power behind the throne” talk aside, she married a future president, rode his coattails to a safe Democrat US Senate seat in which she served without distinction (other than voting for the USA PATRIOT ACT and the invasion of Iraq, neither of which are exactly high points on a presidential resume these days), lost her “inevitable” 2008 Democratic presidential nomination to a freshman US Senator virtually unknown four years before, and kept the needle on her tenure as Secretary of State floating between lackluster and embarrassing.

America has a bad case of Hillary fatigue. And where her presidential ambitions are concerned, the affliction is terminal.

That’s the good news. The bad news is that the alternatives, Democrat and Republican alike, aren’t any better. Even the most allegedly “libertarian” of the pack, US Senator Rand Paul, seems a lot more interested in power than in freedom.

If we all write in “None of the Above” a year from this coming November, will the politicians leave us alone for four years? Of course they won’t. But we can daydream, can’t we?

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism ( He lives and works in north central Florida.