“The first casualty of war is the truth” is more than a cliche in the United States; historically, it is almost national policy. Time and time again, the United States government has resorted to invented and heavily modified tales concocted to gain widespread public support for mass movements, many of the sort that the average American might balk at. One such episode of strategic mendacity is revealed by recent releases of formerly top secret files about Pearl Harbor. The freshly unearthed information shows with icy clarity just how detailed was U.S. understanding of the “purple” and other codes used by the Japanese on the eve of the Day of Infamy. So well understood were the implications of captured signal intelligence (“Sigint”) about Japanese intentions that the U.S. Navy had all the time in the world to move its valuable assets out to sea, leaving only crusty World War I “junk” open to a torpedo bomber attack–itself almost a clone to a drill conducted in the thirties by the same Pacific Fleet.

When. Where. Who–the whole shootin’ match (so to speak) down to individual Japanese pilots’ target lists was known to a small number of people–a conspiracy. The rest of us chumps just trusted, followed orders and FDR got his high-shock, relatively low-casualty PR event needed to reign Americans collectively into the costliest war in U.S. history, a new sort of battle that extended the U.S.’s reach beyond anything in the nation’s experience. Sound familiar?

It should. The United States has a long tradition of conjuring or utilizing false “surprise attacks” to get us into fights.

The wrecks from the last century alone litter the seas. From the magazine explosion whipped into a mythical mine attack on the USS Maine that set off the Spanish-American War in 1898, to the loss of U.S. citizens over the RMS Lusitania set-up and World War I to Pearl Harbor, to the Gulf of Tonkin incident, to name a few, there is a lengthy tradition of custom-made causus belli stretching back to the Mexican War.

Strategists can argue until the cows come home that there are some fights we need to be in, whatever the cost, but past that, the ethics of the duplicity begin to be a bit troubling. Knowing how it happened steeps the crisp martial tributes to dead American heroes with a different, sourish flavor.

Which brings me, once again and probably finally, to 9/11. I received a detailed riposte to some of the questions I raised in my last column. And yuh got me. I misstated the time of the South Tower collapse.

The rest of it I stand by, admitting a little streamlining to condense some important details.

Sept. 11 is all about details. You want some more? How about how Dick “Lucky Boy” Cheney and Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown & Root avoided a zillion dollar mandatory WTC asbestos clean-up via convenient collapses; or that the South Tower was powered down from floor 50 up for 36 hours the weekend before “to install new broadband”–akin to shutting down Fuquay-Varina to run TV cable; or that Marvin Bush sat on the boards of Stratesec, the WTC’s security provider, as well as a company that insured the complex. Oh yeah, and just where was Marvy that day?

“Your mother says you were riding the Subway that day, Mr. Bush?”

“Any law against that, Lt. Columbo?”

“I dunno. There maybe should be, nasty as it is. Heh, heh. Seriously, it just seems like a man of means would have a limo–at least a car service–instead of rats and squashed coffee cups.”

“I was sightseeing.”

“I got you. Feedin’ the pigeons down at the Battery or something? It was an awful nice day.”

“It certainly was.”

Yessir, there are details galore of that strange day, most of which you will never hear. But then, in this new world where they can make whole aircraft carrier fleets disappear, what’s a little fact?

How many of you have heard about “Summer Pulse ’04?” No? Not some offering from Coca-Cola, Surge is the most powerful naval armada in the world’s history: seven U.S. carrier battle groups conducting co-joined naval exercises in five theaters. Ready to take on the world, this Great White Fleet for the New World Order has the Chinese (and people who follow such things) a bit edgy–a nascent Mexican knife fight with our largest trading partner–well-equipped with some truly bitchin’ anti-ship weapons: Sunburn missiles that cook along at Mach 2.2 at an altitude of nine feet, 300-mile-per-hour Squall rocket powered torpedoes. Could be a bumpy year.

With this sort of selective control, it is not surprising that more people aren’t equipped or willing to question much. Americans are superbly and continuously conditioned to be ignorant, and to disregard their own intuition and critical thinking skills.

The freaky part is how even supposedly thoughtful progressives will aggressively (franticly) support 9/11, sweeping piles of genuine weirdness under a rug with a wave of a hand and an airy, “Oh, that’s simple,” unwittingly serving as a Greek chorus for a criminal organization that spews great casks of lies every time they open their lyin’ yaps.

One may have issues with the direction that the New Deal took the nation, but even Roosevelt haters will grudgingly admit that his was an administration noted for good clean government–scarcely a hint of scandal. If a leader in possession of a stainless reputation like FDR was willing to expose Americans to certain death for a political end, and in light of repeated lies that have gotten us into numerous armed conflicts, why does BushCo get a pass on 9/11? Why are we to accept 9/11 without question when history shows that fake attacks are a typical ploy? Remember the Maine–or the Reichstag fire, an inside job blamed on a halfwit “Jewish communist.”

People want to trust. That is a natural human quality. We are attracted to systems, religious and political, that appear to reflect honest intentions and support positive sentiments we perceive our culture to be based upon.

But the zeal to hang on to the impossible in the face of really damning stuff begins to be a psychological high-wire act, an irrational reaction, desperately cramming details into a bad fit to make it all make sense, molding reality to conform to a perspective as false, calculated and comforting as a Japanese garden.

It isn’t like that. Do it like a cop–power past the excuses with an eye for the details that form the detective’s triumvirate–motive, means and opportunity: Who has most to gain, who has a way to commit an act and a window to execute it. Occam’s razor.

In view of this method, tried and true, the official 9/11 line sounds like I missed the bus, I got mugged, the dog ate my homework, my computer crashed and I got struck by lightning–all in the same day.

So, after this, no more details about 9/11 for you. I have ’em like Carter has Little Liver Pills. Sick of ’em. I’ll lay the whole fat file on you if you want, but if you want any more, you’re going to have to get off your duffs and find them yourselves.

The point is that we are poised on a pinnacle of history–a tipping point. If the big plan is to remain the sole superpower and retain our global hegemony, it would seem sensible for the curious American to make the effort to find out how things got like they are, instead of setting oneself up like Charlie Brown to be later shocked, shocked I tell you, by another example supporting a pattern of deception that is one of this nation’s few growth businesses.

We live in a world increasingly indistinguishable from systematic and well-orchestrated vertical corporate structure–controlled fascist corruption. Folks being what they are in this privatized world, increasingly lacking even the weak check of government, they will lie, cheat, steal and kill and chalk it up to the cost of doing business to gain an advantage of power, influence–but mostly cold, hard cash.

Acceptance of the truth can be a brutal experience. But exposing oneself to cognitive dissonance via making a lie make sense is hazardous to one’s psychological underpinnings, to our actual bodies. There are some good reasons for downward trends in political involvement and new disturbing trends in human pathology.

Many Americans don’t know why they feel so alienated, why they feel so detached from the direction of this nation, but the results are mirrored by the fact that millions no longer take the time to vote and have a skyrocketing list of meds. There is a growing, submerged sense that the systems that form our culture have universally been compromised, leaving us with a loss of moral direction and a growing realization that we are quite alone.