by Stephan Lebert and Norbert Thomma
"There are tracks like those of a stampeding herd of elephants."
The first suspicion came to him when he was in the German Parliament. Intelligence agencies were his theme. Andreas von Bülow believes them capable of the worst: involvement in the attacks on New York
He was Minister for Research and Technology in the cabinet of [former German Chancellor] Helmut Schmidt, and was for 25 years an SPD member of the German parliament. While serving on a committee investigating the Schalck-Golodkowski affair [a corruption scandal involving the former East German intelligence service] Andreas von Bülow, 64, experienced the work of intelligence agencies, and subsequently wrote a book on this subject, Im Namen des Staates (In the Name of the State). Von Bülow is currently a lawyer in Bonn.
You seem so angry, really enraged.
I can explain what has me upset: I see that after the horrible attacks of September 11th all political public opinion is being pushed in a direction that I consider false.
What do you mean by that?
I wonder why many questions are not asked. Normally with such a terrible thing, various clues and evidence appear that are then commented on by the investigators, the media, the government: Is something up here or not? Are the explanations plausible? This time, this is not the case at all. It began just a few hours after the attacks in New York and Washington and ...
In those hours, there was horror, and grief.
Right, but actually it was astounding: There are 26 intelligence services in the U.S.A., with a budget of $30 billion ...
More than the German defense budget.
... which were not able to prevent the attacks. In fact, they didn't even have an inkling they would happen. For sixty decisive minutes, the military and intelligence agencies let the fighter planes stay on the ground; 48 hours later, however, the FBI presented a list of [alleged] suicide attackers. Within ten days it emerged that seven of them were still alive.
Yes, yes. And why did the FBI chief take no position regarding the contradictions? Where the list came from, why it was false? If I were the lead prosecutor in such a case I would regularly go before the public, and give information on which leads are valid and which not.
The U.S. government talked about an emergency situation after the attacks: They said they were at war. Isn't it understandable that one does not share with the enemy everything one knows about him?
Naturally. But a government that goes to war must first ascertain procedurally who the attacker, the enemy, is. It has a duty to provide evidence. According to its [the U.S. government's] own admission, it has not been able to present any evidence that would hold up in court.
Some information on the perpetrators has been documented through investigation. The suspected leader, Mohammad Atta, left Portland for Boston on the morning of September 11th in order to board the plane that later hit the World Trade Center.
If this Atta was the crucial man in the operation, it's still strange that he took such a risk -- taking a plane that would reach Boston such a short time before the connecting flight. Had his flight been delayed a few minutes he would not have been on the plane that was hijacked. Why would a sophisticated terrorist do that? One can, by the way, read on CNN's website that none of these names were on the official passenger lists. None of them had gone through any one of the four the check-in procedures. And why did none of the threatened pilots key in the prearranged code 7700 over the steering controls to the ground station? Moreover, the flight voice and data recorders, which are fire and shock proof, contain no data that can be evaluated ...
That sounds like ...
... like assailants who, in their preparations, leave tracks behind them like a herd of stampeding elephants? They made payments with credit cards in their own names; they reported to their flight instructors with their true names. They left behind rented cars with Arab-language flight manuals for jumbo jets. They took with them, on their [alleged] suicide trip, wills and farewell letters, which fall into the hands of the FBI, because they were stowed improperly or addressed incorrectly. Clues were left to follow like in a child's game. There is also the theory of one British flight engineer: According to this, the steering was perhaps taken out of the pilots' hands from outside the planes. The Americans had developed a method in the 1970s whereby they could rescue hijacked planes by taking over the flight computer. This theory says the technique was abused in this case. That's a theory.
Which sounds really wild, and was never actually considered.
Look. I do not subscribe to this theory, but I find it worth considering. And what about the obscure stock transactions? In the week prior to the attacks, the transaction volume in American Airlines, United Airlines, and insurance industry stock, increased 1,200%. It was valued at around $15 billion. Some people must have known something. Who?
Why don't you speculate?
With the help of the horrifying attacks, the Western mass democracies were subjected to brainwashing. The bogeyman of anti-communism doesn't work any more; it is to be replaced by people of Islamic faith. They are accused of having given birth to suicidal terrorism.
Brainwashing? That's a strong term.
Yes? But the idea of the bogeyman doesn't come from me. It comes from Zbigniew Brzezinski and Samuel Huntington, two masterminds of American intelligence and foreign policy. In the mid-1990s Huntingon believed that people in Europe and the U.S. needed someone they could hate - this would strengthen their identification with their own society. And Brzezinski, the mad dog, as adviser to President Jimmy Carter, campaigned for the exclusive right of the U.S. to seize all the raw materials of the world, especially oil and gas.
You mean, the events of September 11th ...
... fit perfectly in the concept of the armaments industry, the intelligence agencies, the whole military-industrial-academic complex. This is in fact obvious. The huge raw materials reserves of the former Soviet Union are now at their [the U.S.'s] disposal, also the pipeline routes and ...
Erich Follach described that in great detail in Der Spiegel: "It's a matter of military bases, drugs, oil and gas reserves."
I can state: the planning of the attacks was a technical and organizational feat. To hijack four huge airplanes within a few minutes, and within one hour to guide them into their targets with complicated flight maneuvers! This is unthinkable without support from secret apparatuses of the state and industry over a number of years.
You are a conspiracy theorist!
Yeah, yeah. That's the jeer of those who would rather follow the official, politically correct line. Even investigative journalists are fed propaganda and disinformation. Anyone who doubts that, doesn't have all his marbles! Nonetheless that's their accusation.
Your career actually contradicts the idea that you are not in your right mind. In the mid-1970s you were state secretary in the Defense Ministry; in 1993 you were the SPD [Social Democratic Party] spokesman on the Schalck-Golodkowski investigation committee ...
[Alexander Schalck-Golodkowski was the deputy foreign trade minister of the former German Democracic Republic (East Germany). He controlled IMES, a state owned company that was at the center of an international smuggling network with secret bank accounts and shell companies in West Germany, Switzerland, and Liechtenstein. Swedish customs officials exposed IMES arms smuggling activites in 1985. Years later, however, IMES was still in operation, and was reportedly used by western intelligence agencies to provide arms to Central America, including during the U.S. Iran-Contra scandal. Schalck-Golodkowski himself was only charged with import export violations, and embezzlement. He was sentenced to a year in prison for the first charge, and eventually acquitted of the second. Reference: The Arms Fixers, by Brian Wood and Johan Peleman, a publication of the Norwegian Initiative on Small Arms Transfers.]
And it all began there! Until that time, I did not have any great familiarity with the work of intelligence agencies. And now we had to expose a great discrepancy: We shed light on the dealings of the Stasi and other East bloc intelligence agencies in the area of economic criminality, but as soon as we wanted to know something about the activities of the BND [Bundesnachrichtendienst, German intelligence] or the CIA, it was mercilessly blocked. No information, no cooperation, nothing! That's when I was first taken aback.
Schalck-Golodkowski mediated, among other things, various business deals abroad. When you looked at his case more closely ...
We found, for example, a clue in Rostock, where Schalck organized his weapons depot. Well, then we happened upon an affiliate of Schalck in Panama, and then we happened upon Manuel Noriega, who was for many years president, drug dealer, and money launderer, all in one, right? And this Noriega was also on the payroll of the CIA, for $200,000 a year. These were things that really made me curious.
You wrote a book on the dealings of the CIA and Co. In the meantime, you have become an expert regarding what was noteworthy about intelligence services' work.
"Noteworthy" is the wrong term. What has gone on, and goes on, in the name of intelligence services, are true crimes.
What would you say determines the first line of work of intelligence services?
So that we don't misunderstand each other: I find that it makes sense to have intelligence services ...
You don't think much of the earlier proposals by the Greens, who wanted to dismantle these agencies?
No. It is right to take a look behind the scenes. Getting intelligence about the intentions of an enemy, makes sense. It is important when one tries to put oneself into the mind of the opponent. Whoever wants to understand the CIA's methods, has to deal with its main tasks covert operations: below the level of war, and outside international law, foreign states are to be influenced by inciting insurrections or terrorist attacks, usually combined with drugs and weapons trade, and money laundering. This is essentially rather simple: One arms violent people with weapons. Since, however, it must not under any circumstances come out that there is an intelligence agency behind it, all traces are erased, with tremendous deployment of resources. I have the impression that this kind of intelligence agency spends 90% of its time this way: creating false leads. So that if anyone suspects the collaboration of the agencies, he is accused of paranoia [literally: the sickness of conspiracy madness]. The truth often comes out only years later. CIA chief Allen Dulles once said: In case of doubt, I would even lie to the Congress!
The American journalist Seymour M. Hersh, wrote in the New Yorker that even some people in the CIA and government assumed that certain leads had been laid in order to confuse the investigators. Who, Herr von Bülow, would have done this?
I don't know that either. How should I? I simply use my healthy common sense, and observe: The terrorists behaved in such a way to attract attention. And although devout Muslims, they were in a striptease bar, and, while drunk, stuck dollar bills into the dancer's panties.
Things like that also happen.
It may be. As a lone warrior, I cannot prove anything, that's beyond my capabilities. I have real difficulties, however, to imagine that all this was all concocted in the mind of a single evil man in his cave.
Mr. von Bülow, you yourself say that you are alone in your criticism. Formerly, you belonged to the political establishment, now you are an outsider.
That is a problem sometimes, but one gets used to it. By the way, I know a lot of people, including very influential ones, who agree with me in private. [literally: behind a hand held up].
Do you still have contact with old SPD fellow-travelers, such as Egon Bahr and former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt?
There are no close contacts any more. I wanted to go to the last SPD party congress, but I was sick.
Can it be, Mr. von Bülow, that you are peddling typical anti-Americanism?
Nonsense, this has absolutely nothing to do with anti-Americanism. I am a great admirer of this great, open, free society, and always have been. I studied in the U.S.
How did you get the idea that there could be a link between the attacks and the American intelligence agencies?
Do you remember the first attack on the World Trade Center in 1993?
In that attack a bomb killed six people and wounded over a thousand.
In the middle of it was the bomb maker, a former Egyptian officer. He had brought together some Muslims for the attack. Despite a State Department prohibition on their entry, the CIA piloted them into the country. At the same time, the leader of the band was an FBI informant. And he made a deal with the authorities: At the last minute, a harmless powder would replace the dangerous explosive material. The FBI did not stick to the deal. The bomb exploded, so to speak, with the knowledge of the FBI. The official account was quickly found: The criminals were evil Muslims.
You were in Helmut Schmidt's cabinet when Soviet soldiers marched into Afghanistan. What was it like, then?
The Americans pushed for trade sanctions, they demanded the boycott of the Olympic games in Moscow ...
... which the German government joined ...
And today we know: It was the strategy of the American security adviser, Brzezinski, to destabilize the Soviet Union from adjoining Muslim countries: They lured the Russians into Afghanistan, and then prepared for them a hell on earth, their Vietnam. With decisive support of the U.S. intelligence agencies at least 30,000 Muslim fighters were trained in Afghanistan and Pakistan, total good-for-nothings and fanatics who were, and still are today, ready for anything. And one of them is Osama bin Laden. I wrote years ago: "It was out of this brood that the Taliban grew up in Afghanistan, raised in the Koranic schools financed by American and Saudi funds, the Taliban who are now terrorizing the country and razing it to the ground."
Even though you say, for the U.S. it was a matter of raw materials in the region, the starting point for the U.S. aggression was the terrorist attack which cost thousads of human lives.
Completely true. One must always call this gruesome act to mind. Nonetheless, in the analysis of political processes, I am allowed to observe who has advantages and disadvantages from it, or what is coincidental. When in doubt, it is always worthwhile to take a look at a map, where are the mineral resources and the access routes? Then lay a map of civil wars and conflicts on top of that - they coincide. This is also the case with the third map: nodal points of the drug trade. Where this all comes together, the American [intelligence] services are not far away. By the way, the Bush clan is closely linked to the bin Laden family, through oil, gas, and weapon trade.
What do you think of the Bin Laden videos?
When one is dealing with intelligence services, one can imagine manipulations of the highest quality. Hollywood could provide the technology. I consider the videos unsuitable for use as evidence.
You believe the CIA would do anthing?
The CIA, in the interests of U.S. reasons of state, does not have to abide by any statute in interventions abroad, is not obligated by international law; only the President gives orders. There is terror, too, because there are services like the CIA. And when funds are cut, and peace is on the horizon, then a bomb goes off somewhere. In that way it is demonstrated that you can't do without the intelligence services; and that the critics are "nuts" as Father Bush called them, Bush who was once President and director of the CIA. The U.S. spends $30 billion on intelligence services, and $13 billion on the war on drugs. And what comes out of that? The chief of a special unit of the strategic war on drugs declared in despair, after 30 years of service, that in every big, important drug case, the CIA came in and took it out of [his] hands.
Do you criticize the German government for its reaction after September 11th?
No. To assume that the government was independent in these questions would certainly be naive.
Herr von Bülow, what will you do now?
Absolutely nothing. My task ends with saying: it could not have been that way. Search for the truth!
Thanks to John Chuckman of Yellow Times for pointing out this interview. The original appeared in the Berlin daily, Der Tagesspiegel on January 13, 2002. The translation and annotations were prepared by The Dubya Report staff.
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· The Arms Fixers: Controlling the Brokers and Shipping Agents