This book has been approved by the Department of Homeland Security. It contains no seditious acts or acts of treason. Each word has been examined and analyzed by a team of terrorism experts to insure that it gives neither aid nor comfort to The Enemy. This book reveals no state secrets nor does it make public any classi.ed documents that may cause embarrassment to the United States of America or its commander in chief. No hidden messages to terrorists are contained within. This is a good Christian book, written by a patriotic American who knows that we will crush him should he ever step out of line. If you have purchased this book we are required to notify you per Section 29A of the USA Patriot Act that your name has now been entered into a database of potential suspects should the need to declare martial law ever arise, which we are sure will never happen. Being on this list of names also quali.es you for the grand prize drawing where ten lucky winners will receive all new Formica kitchen counters, compliments of Kitchen Magic. If you are indeed a bona .de terrorist and have purchased this copy in a bookstore, or obtained it at a library in the hopes of using the information embedded on these pages, rest assured that we already know who you are. This page you are .ngering right now is made of a top-secret linen paper that registers an automatic .ngerprint and beams it to our central command in Kissimmee, Florida. Do not attempt to tear this page out of the book—IT IS TOO LATE. Do not attempt to run because we’ve got a lock on you right now, you dirty no good evildoer . . . FREEZE! DROP THE BOOK! HANDS IN THE AIR! YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO . . . SCREW IT! YOU DON’T HAVE ANY RIGHTS!! YOU NO LONGER EXIST! AND TO THINK IF YOU HAD ONLY APPRECIATED OUR WAY OF LIFE YOU COULD HAVE HAD YOUR OWN STAIN-RESISTANT FORMICA COUNTERS!
—Tom Ridge, Secretary of the Homeland —George W. Bush, Commander in Chief of the Fatherland
ALSO BY MICHAEL MOORE
Stupid White Men Downsize This! Adventures in a TV Nation
(with Kathleen Glynn)
Copyright © 2003 by Michael Moore
All rights reserved.
Warner Books, Inc.,
1271 Avenue of the Americas,
New York, NY 10020
Visit our Web site at www.twbookmark.com.
An AOL Time Warner Company First eBook Edition: October 2003 ISBN: 0-7595-0809-7
for Rachel Corrie will I ever have her courage will I let her death be in vain
for Ardeth Platte, Carol Gilbert will I go sit in their cell they would come sit in mine
for Ann Sparanese one simple act, a voice was saved are there a million more of her to save us all
1 7 Questions for George of Arabia 1
2 Home of the Whopper 41
3 Oil’s Well That Ends Well 85
4 The United States of BOO! 95
5 How to Stop Terrorism? Stop Being Terrorists! 119
6 Jesus W. Christ 129
7 Horatio Alger Must Die 137
8 Woo Hoo! I Got Me a Tax Cut! 157
9 A Liberal Paradise 165
10 How to Talk to Your Conservative Brother-in-Law 183
11 Bush Removal and Other Spring Cleaning Chores 203
Notes and Sources 219
About the Author 251
I love listening to people’s stories about where they were and what they were doing on the morning of 9/11, especially the stories from the ones who, through luck or fate, were allowed to live.
For instance, there’s this guy who had just returned the day before from his honeymoon. That night, on September 10, his new bride thought she’d make him her special homemade burrito. The burrito was horrible, like eating tar stripped off the center line of the Major Deegan expressway. But love ignores all of that and what counts is the gesture, not the digestion. He told her how grateful he was and how much he loved her. And he asked for another.
The next morning, September 11, 2001, he’s on the subway from Brooklyn to his job on one of the top .oors of the World Trade Center. The subway might have been heading to Manhattan, but the burrito was heading south, and I don’t mean the Jersey shore. He starts to get sick, real sick, and decides to get off just one stop before the World Trade Center. He runs up the subway stairs in a desperate search for facilities. But this is New York and that was not to be. And thus, on the corner of Park Row and Broadway, he became a poster boy for Depends.
Embarrassed and humiliated—but feeling much better!—he flagged down a gypsy cab and offered him a hundred dollars to take him home ($9 for the ride, and $91 toward the price of a new car).
When the man got home, he ran inside to take a shower and to put on a new set of clothes so he could get back to Manhattan. Coming out of the shower he .ipped on the TV and, as he stood there, he watched the plane slam right into the .oor where he worked, where he would have been right now had his loving wife not made him that wonderful—that absolutely perfectly incredible amazing . . . He broke down and began to cry.
My own 9/11 story wasn’t so close a call. I was asleep in Santa Monica. The phone rang around 6:30 a.m. and it was my mother-in-law. “New York is under attack!” is what I heard her say through my half-awake ear. I wanted to say, “Yeah so what’s new— and it’s 6:30 in the morning!”
“New York is at war,” she continued. This made no sense other than, again, it always feels like war in New York. “Turn on the TV,” she said. And so I did. I woke up my wife and as the television faded on there were the towers, on .re. We tried to call our daughter back home in New York, no luck, then tried to call our friend Joanne (who works near the World Trade Center), no luck, and then we just sat there stunned. We didn’t leave the bed or the TV until .ve that afternoon when we .nally found out that our daughter and Joanne were okay.
But a line producer we had just worked with, Bill Weems, was not okay. As the networks started to run a scroll along the bottom of the TV with the names of those who were on the planes, along came Bill’s name on that screen. My last memory of him was the two of us horsing around at a funeral home where we were shooting a piece about the tobacco industry. Put two guys with a dark sense of humor around a bunch of undertakers and you’ve got what we would call nirvana. Three months later he was dead and—how do they say it?—“life as we knew it changed forever.”
Really? Did it? How has it changed? Is there enough distance from that tragic day to ask that question and .nd an intelligent answer? Things certainly changed for Bill’s wife and his seven-year-old daughter. There’s the crime, right there, to have her daddy taken from her at such a young age. And life changed for the loved ones of the other 3,000 who were murdered. They will never lose the sorrow they feel. They are told that they “must move on.” Move on to where? Those of us who have lost someone (and I guess that’s eventually everyone) know that while life does “move on,” the sock in the gut, the sorrow in the heart, will never leave, so ways must be found to embrace it and make it work for you and the living.
Somehow we all work our way through our own personal losses and we get up the next morning and the morning after that and .x the kids’ breakfast and do another load of laundry and pay the bills and . . .
Meanwhile, in faraway Washington, D.C., life is changing, too. Taking advantage of our grief, and our fear that “it” may happen again, an appointed president uses the dead of 9/11 as a convenient cover, a justi.cation, for permanently altering our American way of life. Is that why they died, so that George W. Bush can turn the country into Texas? We’ve already conducted two wars since 9/11, and an upcoming third or a fourth is not all that unlikely. If this is allowed to continue, then all we will have accomplished is to dishonor those 3,000-plus dead. I know Bill Weems didn’t die so he could be used as an excuse to bomb innocents overseas. If his death, his life, is to have a greater meaning from this moment forward, it is to make sure that no one else like him will have to lose his or her life in this insane, violent world, a world we now seem hell-bent on running any way we damn well please.
I’m lucky, I guess, that I even get to write these words you are reading. Not just because I get to live in the most wonderfulest country in the whole wide world!, but because after 9/11, my former publisher, Regan Books (a division of HarperCollins which is a division of the News Corp which owns Fox News and it’s all owned by Rupert Murdoch), was trying its hardest to make sure my career as an author would come to an early end.
The .rst 50,000 copies of Stupid White Men came off the printing press the day before 9/11, but when the tragedy struck the next morning, the trucks that would carry them to the nation’s bookstores never left the loading dock. The publisher then held the books hostage for .ve long months—not simply out of good taste and respect (which I might have been able to understand), but out of a desire to censor me and the things I wanted to say. They insisted I rewrite up to 50 percent of the book and that I remove sections that they found offensive to our leader, Mr. Bush.
I refused to change a word. A standoff ensued until a librarian in New Jersey heard me talking about the phone call I had just received from the Murdoch publisher telling me that it looked as if they had no choice, thanks to my stubbornness, but to “pulp” and recycle all 50,000 copies of my book that were gathering dust in a warehouse in Scranton, Pennsylvania. I also was told by others not to expect much in the way of a book career after this, as word would spread that I was considered “trouble,” a royal pain in the ass who wouldn’t play ball.
This librarian, Ann Sparanese, a woman I did not know, sent out an e-mail to a list of librarians, telling them that my book was being banned. Her letter shot around the Internet and, within days, letters from angry librarians were .ooding Regan Books. I got a call from the Murdoch police.
“What did you tell the librarians?”
“Huh? I don’t know any librarians.”
“Yes you do! You told them about what we are doing with your book and now . . . we’re getting hate mail from librarians!”
“Hmm,” I replied, “I guess that’s one terrorist group you don’t want to mess with.”
Fearing there would soon be a crazed mob of wild librarians storming down Fifth Avenue and surrounding the HarperCollins building, refusing to leave until either my book was liberated from the Scranton warehouse or Murdoch himself was drawn and quartered (though I would have settled for making Bill O’Reilly wear his underwear on his head for a week), the News Corp surrendered. They dumped my book in some bookstores with no advertising, no reviews, and the offer of a three-city tour: Arlington! Denver! Somewhere in New Jersey! In other words, the book was sent to the gallows for a quick and painless death. It’s too bad you wouldn’t listen to us, one Murdoch operative told me, we were only trying to help you. The country is behind George W. Bush and it is intellectually dishonest of you not to rewrite your book and admit that he has done a good job since 9/11. You are out of touch with the American people, and your book will now suffer as a result of it.
I was so out of touch with my fellow Americans that, within hours after the book’s release, it went to number one on Ama-zon—and within .ve days it had gone to its ninth printing. It’s in its .fty-second printing as I write this.
The worst thing to tell a free people in a country that’s still mostly free is that they are not allowed to read something. That I was able to be heard—and that my book would go on to be the number-one selling non.ction hardcover book of the year in the United States—screams volumes about this great country. The people will not be intimidated and they will not be bullied by those in charge. The American people may look like they don’t know what’s going on half the time, and they may spend too much time picking out different-colored covers for their cell phones, but when push comes to shove, they’ll rise to the occasion and be there for what is right.
So here I am now with this new book at none other than AOLTIMEWARNER and Warner Books. I know, I know, when will I learn my lesson? But here’s the good news. During the entire time I’ve been writing this book, AOL has been trying to get rid of Warner Books. Why would a media company want to get rid of its book division? What did Warner Books do to upset the gods of AOL? I .gure if AOL wants to dump these guys, they have to be okay. Plus, the other Warner folks in this tangled web—Warner Bros. Pictures—are the people who distributed my .rst .lm, Roger & Me. They were good and decent and they never threatened to “pulp it.”
Okay, I’m rationalizing. Six media companies own everything. Break up these monopolies for the good of the country! The free .ow of news and information in a democracy must not be in the hands of just a few rich men.
Yet, I have to say, they seem to be behind me here 100 percent. 1000 percent!! Not once have they said I was “trouble.”
But then, it’s not me they really need to worry about.
It’s the librarians.
Michael Moore Somewhere over Greenland August 15, 2003
7 Questions for George of Arabia
AT FIRST, it seemed like a small plane had accidentally .own into the north tower of the World Trade Center. It was 8:46 a.m. on September 11, 2001, and as the news leaked out across America, no one stopped what they were doing. It was a freaky occurrence to be sure, but most of the country carried on with getting itself to work or school or back to sleep.1
Seventeen minutes later, reports came in that, now, a second plane had hit the World Trade Center. Suddenly the collective thinking of a nation shifted, in one fell swoop, to one single thought: “This is no accident!”
1. A NOTE ABOUT NOTES IN THIS BOOK: For all other chapters, I have placed sources and notes in the back of the book so as not to interrupt the reading .ow. But this chapter contains so many serious questions, facts and charges, I thought it best to include them right here on the pages. Many of these source articles will be posted on my Web site, www.michaelmoore.com where you can read them in full.
TV sets everywhere were .ipped on. It was unlike anything you had ever seen. Your brain, now confronted with an event for which it had no prior reference, was scanning itself trying to .gure out what it all meant, and in particular, what it all meant for your own personal survival, whether you were watching from your rooftop in Tribeca or on CNN in Topeka.
You were in a daze, paralyzed in front of screen or a radio, then you called everyone you knew, 290 million Americans all asking each other the same question: What the hell is going on????
This was the first of many questions that arose about the tragedy of September 11. Now, I’m not into conspiracy theories, except the ones that are true or involve dentists. I believe that all dentists must have gotten together at some point and decided that the real money was in root canals and full sets of X-rays every time you go in. No other mammal in the animal kingdom has to go through this.
The questions I have about September 11 are not about how the terrorists got past our defense system, or how they were able to live in this country and never be detected, or how all Bulgarians who worked at the WTC got a secret communiqué to not show up to work that day, or how the towers came down so easily when they were supposedly built to withstand earthquakes, tsunamis, and truck bombs in their parking garage.
These were all questions that a special commission investigating September 11 was supposed to answer. But the very formation of that commission was opposed by the Bush administration and the Republicans in Congress.2 Reluctantly, they .nally agreed—but then they sought to block the investigative body from doing its job by stonewalling them on the evidence that they sought.3
2. Ken Guggenheim, “Advocates for 9/11 commission blame White House after deal collapses,” The Associated Press, October 11, 2001.
3. Joe Conason, “Can Bush Handle Panel’s Questions?” The New York Observer, April 7, 2003.
Why wouldn’t the Bush people want to .nd out the truth? What were they afraid of? That the American people would learn that they screwed up, that they were asleep at the wheel when it came to terrorist threats, that they belligerently ignored the warnings of the outgoing Clinton of.cials about Osama bin Laden4 simply because they hated Clinton (SEX! BAD!)?
The American people are a forgiving lot. They didn’t hold it against Franklin Roosevelt when Pearl Harbor was bombed. They didn’t shun John F. Kennedy over the Bay of Pigs fiasco. And they still don’t care that Bill Clinton had those forty-seven people mysteriously murdered. So why, after this monumental breakdown of national security, does George W. Bush not come clean, or, at the very least, stop prohibiting the truth from coming out?
Perhaps it’s because George & Co. have a lot more to hide beyond why they didn’t scramble the .ghter jets fast enough on the morning of September 11. And maybe we, the people, are afraid to know the whole truth because it could take us down roads where we don’t want to go, roads that end with a sinking feeling because now we know too much about the people who run this country.
Though I myself was .lled with the healthy skepticism that is required for a citizen in a democracy, I also shared the basic mind-set held by most Americans in the fall of 2001: Osama did it, and whoever helped him with it must be tracked down and brought to justice. I hoped that this was what Bush was doing.
And then one night in November 2001, as I lay in bed, half asleep reading The New Yorker magazine, in an article by investigative journalist Jane Mayer, I stumbled across a paragraph that made me sit up and read it again, because I couldn’t believe what it said. It read:
4. Michael Elliot, et al., “They had a plan,” Time magazine, August 12, 2002.
Around two dozen other American-based members of the bin Laden family, most of them here to study in colleges and prep schools, were said to be in the United States at the time of the attacks. The New York Times reported that they were quickly called together by of.cials from the Saudi Embassy, which feared that they might become the victims of American reprisals. With approval from the FBI, according to a Saudi of.cial, the bin Ladens .ew by private jet from Los Angeles to Orlando, then on to Washington, and .nally to Boston. Once the FAA permitted overseas .ights, the jet .ew to Europe. United States of.cials apparently needed little persuasion from the Saudi ambassador in Washington, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, that the extended bin Laden family included no material witnesses.5
What? How had I missed this story in the news? I got up and went back through The New York Times, and there I found this headline: “Fearing Harm, Bin Laden Kin Fled From U.S.” The story began:
In the .rst days after the terror attacks on New York and Washington, Saudi Arabia supervised the urgent evacuation of 24 members of Osama bin Laden’s extended family from the United States . . .6
So, with the approval of the FBI and the help of the Saudi gov-ernment—and even though .fteen of the nineteen hijackers had been Saudi citizens—the relatives of the number one suspect in the terror attacks were allowed not only to just up and leave the country, but they were assisted by our own authorities! According to
5. Jane Mayer, “The House of bin Laden: A family’s, and a nation’s, divided loyalties,” The New Yorker, November 12, 2001.
6. Patrick E. Tyler, “Fearing harm, bin Laden kin .ed from US,” The New York Times, September 30, 2001.
The London Times, “The departure of so many Saudis worried
U.S. investigators, who feared that some might have informationabout the hijackings. FBI agents insisted on checking passports, including the royal family’s.”
That’s all the FBI could do? Check some passports, ask a few brief questions, like, “Did you pack your own bags?” and “Have your bags been in your possession since you packed them?” Then, these potential material witnesses were sent off with a bon voyage and a kiss goodbye. As Jane Mayer wrote in The New Yorker:
When I asked a senior United States intelligence of.cer whether anyone had considered detaining members of the family, he replied, “That’s called taking hostages. We don’t do that.”
Was he serious? I was dumbstruck. Had I read this correctly? Why wasn’t this being reported more widely? What else had happened? What else was going on that we weren’t being told or, if we were, why weren’t we paying attention? Wouldn’t the rest of America—and the rest of the world—like to know the whole truth?
I got out a big-ass legal pad and started making a list of all the questions that just didn’t add up. Of course, I was never good at math, so to help me add it all up, and analyze what it all meant, I .gured I needed the help of, say, a graduate of the Harvard Business School.7
So, George W., how about giving me a hand? Seeing how most of the questions involve you personally, you are probably the best individual to help me—and the nation—sort through what I’ve dug up.
7. In 1975, George received a master of business administration degree from Harvard Business School, according to his White House biography.
I have seven questions for you, Mr. Bush, and if you would be so kind, I would like you to answer them. I ask them on behalf of the 3,000 who died that September day, and I ask them on behalf of the American people. I know you share the same sorrow we all feel, and I would hope that you (or the people you know who may have accidentally contributed to this tragedy) would not be so reticent with the truth. 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. I know you want the same, so please help me out with these seven questions . . .