The Moon Recommends - The Looming Tower

John O'Neill.
The Looming Tower is an American television miniseries, based on the book of the same name by Lawrence Wright, from 2018 and has just been screened on the BBC and is also available for free on the interweb

It covers the build up to the 11th September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and "the rivalry between the FBI and CIA" that "may have inadvertently set the path for the tragedy of 9/11". It also does not paint the Clinton regime and especially GW Bush regimes in a great light. Clinton is shamefully (from both sides) distracted by the Monica Lewinsky scandal, but the change in emphasis with the change of regime is startling . Lines attributed to Condoleezza Rice and the acts of CIA agents are barely believable and you would think are in conspiracy theory territory, but the story is based around testimony given to Congress in 2004. That it did not have such an impact at the time is no doubt down to the distraction of the invasion of Iraq.

It is a story that is rather similar to the Falklands War, only magnified 10 times, in that a regime managed to get away with one almighty fuck up which then helped to save it electorally and also emboldened it to go after their perceived enemies with devastating consequences.

The FBI chief of counter-terrorism was John O'Neill who had helped to capture the mastermind of the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and he and his team may well have been able to have prevented 9/11 if the CIA had shared the info they had. However, he "retired" or was forced out at the start of the Bush regime and his friend Richard Clark, the National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection and Counter-terrorism, who had reported directly to President Clinton was downgraded and side-lined. It all highlights, with what is now known about the Nixon, Reagan and GW Bush eras, that perhaps the current regime is not that unusual, it just has a terrible Twitter habit and a welcome aversion to collateral damage.

John O'Neill went on to become the Head of Security at the World Trade Center and was last seen co-ordinating the evacuation of the South Tower on 11th September 2001 just before it collapsed. He had a complicated personal life and is an example of how it is possible to be dishonourable privately, but honourable professionally and that it should not disqualify anyone from a top job. But is should go without saying that being dishonourable both privately and professionally should disqualify anyone from being a President or a Prime Minister.

His fate contrasts markedly with that of one of the main fictional CIA characters, played by the red headed Melinda Schmidt, but based on Alfreda Bikowsky who is also said to be the main inspiration to the heroine in Zero Dark Thirty as depicted by the red headed Jessica Chastain, and who is also known as "The Unidentified Queen of Torture". This does show that, in a time when many are calling for people to get on the right side of history, it is often the case that history is a bastard.


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