- Michael Moore fired his opening salvo against George
Bush and his rightwing cronies with his bestseller Stupid White Men. Now
the president is in his sights again. In this second extract from his new
book he asks his old enemy seven awkward questions...
- I have seven questions for you, Mr Bush. I ask them on
behalf of the 3,000 who died that September day, and I ask them on behalf
of the American people. We seek no revenge against you. We want only to
know what happened, and what can be done to bring the murderers to justice,
so we can prevent any future attacks on our citizens.
- 1. Is it true that the Bin Ladens have had business relations
with you and your family off and on for the past 25 years?
- Most Americans might be surprised to learn that you and
your father have known the Bin Ladens for a long time. What, exactly, is
the extent of this relationship, Mr Bush? Are you close personal friends,
or simply on-again, off-again business associates? Salem bin Laden - Osama's
brother - first started coming to Texas in 1973 and later bought some land,
built himself a house, and created Bin Laden Aviation at the San Antonio
- The Bin Ladens are one of the wealthiest families in
Saudi Arabia. Their huge construction firm virtually built the country,
from the roads and power plants to the skyscrapers and government buildings.
They built some of the airstrips America used in your dad's Gulf war. Billionaires
many times over, they soon began investing in other ventures around the
world, including the US. They have extensive business dealings with Citigroup,
General Electric, Merrill Lynch, Goldman Sachs, and the Fremont Group.
- According to the New Yorker, the bin Laden family also
owns a part of Microsoft and the airline and defence giant Boeing. They
have donated $2m to your alma mater, Harvard University, and tens of thousands
to the Middle East Policy Council, a think-tank headed by a former US ambassador
to Saudi Arabia, Charles Freeman. In addition to the property they own
in Texas, they also have real estate in Florida and Massachusetts. In short,
they have their hands deep in our pants.
- Unfortunately, as you know, Mr Bush, Salem bin Laden
died in a plane crash in Texas in 1988. Salem's brothers - there are around
50 of them, including Osama - continued to run the family companies and
- After leaving office, your father became a highly paid
consultant for a company known as the Carlyle Group - one of the nation's
largest defence contractors. One of the investors in the Carlyle Group
- to the tune of at least $2m - was none other than the Bin Laden family.
Until 1994, you headed a company called CaterAir, which was owned by the
- After September 11, the Washington Post and the Wall
Street Journal both ran stories pointing out this connection. Your first
response, Mr Bush, was to ignore it. Then your army of pundits went into
spin control. They said, we can't paint these Bin Ladens with the same
brush we use for Osama. They have disowned Osama! They have nothing to
do with him! These are the good Bin Ladens.
- And then the video footage came out. It showed a number
of these "good" Bin Ladens - including Osama's mother, a sister
and two brothers - with Osama at his son's wedding just six and a half
months before September 11. It was no secret to the CIA that Osama bin
Laden had access to his family fortune (his share is estimated to be at
least $30m), and the Bin Ladens, as well as other Saudis, kept Osama and
his group, al-Qaida, well funded.
- You've gotten a free ride from the media, though they
know everything I have just written to be the truth. They seem unwilling
or afraid to ask you a simple question, Mr Bush: WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?
- In case you don't understand just how bizarre the media's
silence is regarding the Bush-Bin Laden connections, let me draw an analogy
to how the press or Congress might have handled something like this if
the same shoe had been on the Clinton foot. If, after the terrorist attack
on the Federal Building in Oklahoma City, it had been revealed that President
Bill Clinton and his family had financial dealings with Timothy McVeigh's
family, what do you think your Republican party and the media would have
done with that one?
- Do you think at least a couple of questions might have
been asked, such as, "What is that all about?" Be honest, you
know the answer. They would have asked more than a couple of questions.
They would have skinned Clinton alive and thrown what was left of his carcass
in Guantanamo Bay.
- 2. What is the 'special relationship' between the Bushes
and the Saudi royal family?
- Mr Bush, the Bin Ladens are not the only Saudis with
whom you and your family have a close personal relationship. The entire
royal family seems to be indebted to you - or is it the other way round?
- The number one supplier of oil to the US is the nation
of Saudi Arabia, possessor of the largest known reserves of oil in the
world. When Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990, it was really the Saudis
next door who felt threatened, and it was your father, George Bush I, who
came to their rescue. The Saudis have never forgotten this. Haifa, wife
of Prince Bandar, the Saudi ambassador to the US, says that your mother
and father "are like my mother and father. I know if ever I needed
anything I could go to them".
- A major chunk of the American economy is built on Saudi
money. They have a trillion dollars invested in our stock market and another
trillion dollars in our banks. If they chose suddenly to remove that money,
our corporations and financial institutions would be sent into a tailspin,
causing an economic crisis the likes of which has never been seen. Couple
that with the fact that the 1.5m barrels of oil we need daily from the
Saudis could also vanish on a mere royal whim, and we begin to see how
not only you, but all of us, are dependent on the House of Saud. George,
is this good for our national security, our homeland security? Who is it
good for? You? Pops?
- After meeting with the Saudi crown prince in April 2002,
you happily told us that the two of you had "established a strong
personal bond" and that you "spent a lot of time alone".
Were you trying to reassure us? Or just flaunt your friendship with a group
of rulers who rival the Taliban in their suppression of human rights? Why
the double standard?
- 3. Who attacked the US on September 11 - a guy on dialysis
from a cave in Afghanistan, or your friend, Saudi Arabia?
- I'm sorry, Mr Bush, but something doesn't make sense.
- You got us all repeating by rote that it was Osama bin
Laden who was responsible for the attack on the United States on September
11. Even I was doing it. But then I started hearing strange stories about
Osama's kidneys. Suddenly, I don't know who or what to trust. How could
a guy sitting in a cave in Afghanistan, hooked up to dialysis, have directed
and overseen the actions of 19 terrorists for two years in the US then
plotted so perfectly the hijacking of four planes and then guaranteed that
three of them would end up precisely on their targets? How did he organise,
communicate, control and supervise this kind of massive attack? With two
cans and a string?
- The headlines blared it the first day and they blare
it the same way now two years later: "Terrorists Attack United States."
Terrorists. I have wondered about this word for some time, so, George,
let me ask you a question: if 15 of the 19 hijackers had been North Korean,
rather than Saudi, and they had killed 3,000 people, do you think the headline
the next day might have read, "NORTH KOREA ATTACKS UNITED STATES"?
Of course it would. Or if it had been 15 Iranians or 15 Libyans or 15 Cubans,
I think the conventional wisdom would have been, "IRAN [or LIBYA or
CUBA] ATTACKS AMERICA!" Yet, when it comes to September 11, have you
ever seen the headline, have you ever heard a newscaster, has one of your
appointees ever uttered these words: "Saudi Arabia attacked the United
- Of course you haven't. And so the question must - must
- be asked: why not? Why, when Congress released its own investigation
into September 11, did you, Mr Bush, censor out 28 pages that deal with
the Saudis' role in the attack?
- I would like to throw out a possibility here: what if
September 11 was not a "terrorist" attack but, rather, a military
attack against the United States? George, apparently you were a pilot once
- how hard is it to hit a five-storey building at more than 500 miles an
hour? The Pentagon is only five stories high. At 500 miles an hour, had
the pilots been off by just a hair, they'd have been in the river. You
do not get this skilled at learning how to fly jumbo jets by being taught
on a video game machine at some dipshit flight training school in Arizona.
You learn to do this in the air force. Someone's air force.
- The Saudi air force?
- What if these weren't wacko terrorists, but military
pilots who signed on to a suicide mission? What if they were doing this
at the behest of either the Saudi government or certain disgruntled members
of the Saudi royal family? The House of Saud, according to Robert Baer's
book Sleeping With the Devil, is full of them. So, did certain factions
within the Saudi royal family execute the attack on September 11? Were
these pilots trained by the Saudis? Why are you so busy protecting the
Saudis when you should be protecting us?
- 4. Why did you allow a private Saudi jet to fly around
the US in the days after September 11 and pick up members of the Bin Laden
family and fly them out of the country without a proper investigation by
- Private jets, under the supervision of the Saudi government
- and with your approval - were allowed to fly around the skies of America,
when travelling by air was forbidden, and pick up 24 members of the Bin
Laden family and take them first to a "secret assembly point in Texas".
They then flew to Washington DC, and then on to Boston. Finally, on September
18, they were all flown to Paris, out of the reach of any US officials.
They never went through any serious interrogation. This is mind-boggling.
Might it have been possible that at least one of the 24 Bin Ladens would
have possibly known something?
- While thousands were stranded and could not fly, if you
could prove you were a close relative of the biggest mass murderer in US
history, you got a free trip to gay Paree!
- Why, Mr Bush, was this allowed to happen?
- 5. Why are you protecting the Second Amendment rights
of potential terrorists?
- Mr Bush, in the days after September 11, the FBI began
running a check to see if any of the 186 "suspects" the feds
had rounded up in the first five days after the attack had purchased any
guns in the months leading up to September 11 (two of them had). When your
attorney general, John Ashcroft, heard about this, he immediately shut
down the search. He told the FBI that the background check files could
not be used for such a search and these files were only to be used at the
time of a purchase of a gun.
- Mr Bush, you can't be serious! Is your administration
really so gun nutty and so deep in the pocket of the National Rifle Association?
I truly love how you have rounded up hundreds of people, grabbing them
off the streets without notice, throwing them in prison cells, unable to
contact lawyers or family, and then, for the most part, shipped them out
of the country on mere immigration charges.
- You can waive their Fourth Amendment protection from
unlawful search and seizure, their Sixth Amendment rights to an open trial
by a jury of their peers and the right to counsel, and their First Amendment
rights to speak, assemble, dissent and practise their religion. You believe
you have the right to just trash all these rights, but when it comes to
the Second Amendment right to own an AK-47 - oh no! That right they can
have - and you will defend their right to have it.
- Who, Mr Bush, is really aiding the terrorists here?
- 6. Were you aware that, while you were governor of Texas,
the Taliban travelled to Texas to meet with your oil and gas company friends?
- According to the BBC, the Taliban came to Texas while
you were governor to meet with Unocal, the huge oil and energy giant, to
discuss Unocal's desire to build a natural-gas pipeline running from Turkmenistan
through Taliban-controlled Afghanistan and into Pakistan.
- Mr Bush, what was this all about?
- "Houston, we have a problem," apparently never
crossed your mind, even though the Taliban were perhaps the most repressive
fundamentalist regime on the planet. What role exactly did you play in
the Unocal meetings with the Taliban?
- According to various reports, representatives of your
administration met with the Taliban or conveyed messages to them during
the summer of 2001. What were those messages, Mr Bush? Were you discussing
their offer to hand over Bin Laden? Were you threatening them with use
of force? Were you talking to them about a pipeline?
- 7. What exactly was that look on your face in the Florida
classroom on the morning of September 11 when your chief of staff told
you, 'America is under attack'?
- On the morning of September 11, you took a jog on a golf
course and then headed to Booker elementary school in Florida to read to
little children. You arrived at the school after the first plane had hit
the north tower in New York City. You entered the classroom around 9am
and the second plane hit the south tower at 9.03am. Just a few minutes
later, as you were sitting in front of the class of kids, your chief of
staff, Andrew Card, entered the room and whispered in your ear. Card was
apparently telling you about the second plane and about us being "under
- And it was at that very moment that your face went into
a distant glaze, not quite a blank look, but one that seemed partially
paralysed. No emotion was shown. And then ... you just sat there. You sat
there for another seven minutes or so doing nothing.
- George, what were you thinking? What did that look on
your face mean?
- Were you thinking you should have taken reports the CIA
had given you the month before more seriously? You had been told al-Qaida
was planning attacks in the United States and that planes would possibly
- Or were you just scared shitless?
- Or maybe you were just thinking, "I did not want
this job in the first place! This was supposed to be Jeb's job; he was
the chosen one! Why me? Why me, daddy?"
- Or ... maybe, just maybe, you were sitting there in that
classroom chair thinking about your Saudi friends - both the royals and
the Bin Ladens. People you knew all too well that might have been up to
no good. Would questions be asked? Would suspicions arise? Would the Democrats
have the guts to dig into your family's past with these people (no, don't
worry, never a chance of that!)? Would the truth ever come out?
- And while I'm at it ...
- Danger - multi-millionaires at large
- I've always thought it was interesting that the mass
murder of September 11 was allegedly committed by a multi-millionaire.
We always say it was committed by a "terrorist" or by an "Islamic
fundamentalist" or an "Arab", but we never define Osama
by his rightful title: multi-millionaire. Why have we never read a headline
saying, "3,000 Killed by multi-millionaire"? It would be a correct
headline, would it not?
- Osama bin Laden has assets totalling at least $30m; he
is a multi-millionaire. So why isn't that the way we see this person, as
a rich fuck who kills people? Why didn't that become the reason for profiling
potential terrorists? Instead of rounding up suspicious Arabs, why don't
we say, "Oh my God, a multi-millionaire killed 3,000 people! Round
up the multi-millionaires! Throw them all in jail! No charges! No trials!
Deport the millionaires!!"
- Keeping America safe
- The US Patriot Act and the enemy combatant designation
are just a hint of what Bush has in store for us. Consider a brainchild
of Admiral John Poindexter, an Iran-contra perp, and the Defence Advanced
Research Projects Agency (Darpa): the "policy analysis market",
which the government was to put up on a website.
- Apparently, Poindexter reasoned that commodity futures
markets worked so well for Bush's buddies at Enron that he could adapt
it to predicting terrorism. Individuals would be able to invest in hypothetical
futures contracts involving the likelihood of such events as "an assassination
of Yasser Arafat" or "the overthrow of Jordan's King Abdullah
II". Other futures would be available based on the economic health,
civil stability and military involvement in Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel,
Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Turkey. All oil-related countries.
- The proposed market lasted about one day after it was
revealed to the Senate. Senators Wyden and Dorgan protested the Pentagon's
$8m request, and Wyden said, "Make-believe markets trading in possibilities
that turn the stomach hardly seem like a sensible next step to take with
taxpayers money in the war on terror." As a result of the uproar over
this, Poindexter was asked to step down.
- Giving Saddam the key to Detroit
- In Las Vegas, an armoured fighting vehicle was used to
crush French yogurt, French bread, bottles of French wine, Perrier, Grey
Goose vodka, photos of Chirac, a guide to Paris and, best of all, photocopies
of the French flag. France was the perfect country to pick on. If you're
a cable news company, why spend priceless reporting time on investigating
whether Iraq really does have weapons of mass destruction when you can
do a story about how rotten the French are?
- Fox News led the charge of pinning Chirac to Saddam Hussein,
showing old footage of the two men together. It didn't matter that the
meeting had taken place in the 1970s. The media didn't bother to run (over
and over again) the footage from when Saddam was presented with a key to
the city of Detroit, or the film from the early 1980s of Donald Rumsfeld
visiting Saddam in Baghdad to discuss the progress of the Iran-Iraq war.
The footage of Rumsfeld embracing Saddam apparently wasn't worth running
on a continuous loop. Or even once. OK, maybe once. On Oprah.
- © Michael Moore 2003. To order a copy of Dude, Where's
My Country?, by Michael Moore, for £11.99 plus p&p (rrp £17.99),
call the Guardian book service on 0870 066 7979. Published by Allen Lane
on October 7.
- Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited