University of California, Berkeley

A Review of "The Road to 9-11 – Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America"

Peter Dale Scott, Professor Emeritus of English at the University of California, Berkeley, has written numerous books over the years examining what he terms the "deep state" of American politics. His newest book, The Road to 9/11: Wealth, Empire, and the Future of America , looks at the current crisis in America demonstrated through the current War on Terrorism, but with a thorough discussion of the roots of Islamic fundamentalism, the role of the deep state in supporting the growth of extremism, and how these relations have served to "blow back" at the United States. Even this, though, contributes to furthering the plans of the deep state, though, always at the expense of the public state.

The book provides an overview of how elements hidden in the American government, through the past thirty years at least, have consistently supported short term oil or security interests at the expense of the public's (and their own) long term interests. Scott's 423-page book is nearly half-filled with endnotes, which gives the reader many more avenues of study, because the book itself is densely packed with information. An important aspect of the book is that, like other studies he has done, Scott does not name specific parties as guilty of one crime or another, accuse the US government of facilitating the attacks of 9/11, or merely on untested and untestable hypotheses to come to his conclusions. As the book states, "this book makes a more general argument that the bureaucratic paranoia inside the American deep state, undisciplined by the available wisdom of the public state, helped years ago to create al Qaeda and then to create the circumstances in which, almost inevitable, elements in al Qaeda would turn against the United States. " Through the work, he meticulously connects the dots between the same players, institutions, and concepts that have so affected American foreign and domestic policy.

First, though, any reader of this book should soon come to understand Scott's distinction between the public state of politics, and the deep state. The book examines "the top 1 percent's direct or indirect control of certain specific domains of government, beginning in the 1940's with the creation of the CIA … Those parts of the government responding to their influence I call the" deep state (if covert ) or "security state" (if military). "Once the reader understands the fundamental difference between the public and deep state, superficial distinctions (such as Republican or Democrat) disappear, as the hidden elite work together behind the scenes for their shared interests more often than they work against each other for the good of the public.

The erasure of these superbicialities is apparent when Scott examines the three presidencies of Ford, Carter, and Reagan. Gerald Ford's short period in Oval Office is seen as the pivotal administration in recent American history, as it brought to the forefront of American politics the team of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld in the White House and George HW Bush as Director of Central Intelligence. But even further, Scott sees this presidency as the defining moment in the battle in the deep state between the old preservatives (affected by the Rockefellers and the Council on Foreign Relations) and the neoconservatives (influenced by the American Enterprise Institute).

Although Ford was replaced by Jimmy Carter, the foreign policy ideas of the previous administration were continued by the new National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski. It was under Carter that aid to the Islamic militants in Afghanistan was first provided, even before the Soviet Union invaded the country in 1979. It was Brzezinski's goal to drag the Russians into their own Vietnam War, turning public opinion against the USSR, bankrupting the nation, and destabilizing the Soviet Union in general. This policy of supporting the Afghan mujahideen continued under Reagan's administration, mainly under the guidance of CIA Director William Casey.

Scott also examines numerous other connections and undercurrents to the Afghan War. The often-overlooked role of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International is examined, as is the increasing flow of heroin from Afghanistan to the United States during this period (and after). One of the more enlightening parts of the book is a chapter called "The Al-Kifah Center, Al Qaeda, and the US Government, 1988-1998," which examines various relations between the government, the support of institutions heavily affected by Islamic extremism in America, and the growth of al Qaeda through the world. Scott also examines the role of FBI and CIA informant Ali Mohamed, "a close ally of Osama bin Laden," and connections between the Saudi establishment, US establishment, and al Qaeda.

However, some of the most revelatory information in the book concerns plans for the Continuity of Government (COG), that had been worked on by Cheney and Rumsfeld and originally disclosed during the Iran-Contra affair. According to Scott, the COG plan "called for 'suspension of the Constitution, turning control of the government over to FEMA, emergency appointment of military commanders to run state and local governments and declaration of martial law during a national crisis.' The plan also possesses the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which had been involved in drafting it, sweeping new powers, including internment. " Disturbingly, the same team that worked on COG plans was put back together in May 2001 by President George W. Bush to institute a task force on terrorism. Furthermore, the attacks of September 11, 2001, resolved in the first implementation of the COG plans.

Another connection that the book points to is that the same team, headed by Cheney and Rumsfeld, had been part of the Project for a New American Century, which argued for greater military involvement in the Middle East. In effect, the events of 9/11 allowed this team to implement the two plans they had been working on since the 1980's: wars in two Middle Easter countries and various parts of the COG planning, including warrantless detentions and warrantless eavesdropping. As Scott asks, "Were these practices decided on after 9/11, as the Bush administration maintained? Or were they already being prepared for as part of the COG planning revived by Cheney and FEMA in May 2001?"

In the final chapters, Scott examines how COG was implemented on 9/11 by Cheney, and the failures of the 9/11 Commission to look at this issue in any detail, covering up Cheney's actions on that day. The omissions of the 9/11 Commission Report point to what really may have happened on that day, and the chapter is quite revealing. It is also an in-depth discussion that needs to be read in its entirety for Scott's arguments to be followed completely.

In the end, though, The Road to 9/11 points out how influences in the deep state on American politics have served various interests of the establishment and elite of the country, while putting the public in greater danger of the attacks the government is supposedly to protect against. Even further, the catastrophic attacks of 9/11 have led to the implementation of two relevant plans that higher-ups in the administration currently in power have been working on for years, in some cases decades. Whether these plans were in the public's interest or not after such an event, the fundamental problem for Scott lies in the fact that this deep state has taken such broad control of the government, reducing the public state to little influence. Scott sums up his book by citing "over the past half century, the open politics and representative institutions of the American resublica (the public state) have been progressively subordinated to a res privata (a restrictively controlled locus of top-down decision making in the deep state). "

The final pages of the book discuss various ways that the public can begin to take back their power, and provide the entire work with hope in the public state in the face of urgency to combat the effects of the deep state. It will be an understanding of people by people that bridges the gap between the civilizations of America and the Islamic world, not continuing military involvements, and it is only through the free exchange of information and ideas, through the Internet and other non-state or corporate controlled media that this exchange can take place, and the true role of the public in restricting the private state and creating a multinational civil society can be restored.

Follow us