The hijackers knew almost everything: the timing, the flights, the history, and the money, and their own personal reasons for wanting to die.
They may not have known who was financing the operation or directing it. They probably didn't know everyone who knew something about the plot.
Opinions vary widely about who knew what before 9-11. There is considerable speculation on what GW Bush knew. He obviously knew there was a threat from Arab Extremists. Anyone who had any interest in politics knew that. Some say that he had detailed knowledge of the date, time, and method of attack. They cite the theory that he acted weird on 9-11 as proof. I don't know what he knew, and when he knew it, but I find the evidence of his weird behavior unconvincing. As far as I can tell he very likely acts weird on most days. What president doesn't? You couldn't design a situation more likely to disconnect a person from reality than the job of President of the USA, and there is little evidence that his connection to the real world was strong when he started the job.
GW Bush is a faith-based president who believes he talks to God. In other words, the leader of the free world hears voices and takes their advice very seriously. I would find this situation more frightening if I didn't believe that most heads of state have been quite unbalanced throughout history.
Perhaps it is significant that most of the hijackers came from Saudi Arabia and the Bush family has a long-standing friendship with the rulers of that country?
Bush could have known all the details of the plot, and it wouldn't have made any practical difference unless some of his associates also knew. I don't claim any special knowledge, but it is interesting to speculate who might have been in on the plot if there was a plot.
We could get some idea by tallying the agencies whose unusual behavior helped make it possible for the plot to succeed. The justice department and the FBI are high on the list. The FBI got a new chief on the 4th of September, just one week before the attack. The agency ignored several warning signs. A conspiracy theorist might think that the head of the justice department, John Ashcroft, would have had to be involved. Perhaps the timing of the personnel changes was designed to throw the agency off balance at a critical time. Then again, if there were people in the Bureau who “knew”, it need not have been the top management. Or the personnel changes could be a coincidence. The fog of statism obscures every political action.
Apparently, there was a policy that commercial airliners whose transponders stopped responding were supposed to be tracked by US Air Force fighters within 15 minutes. This was not done on 9-11. Exactly who was it that caused this to happen? Was it the Air Force, or was it the Federal Aviation Administration? Was it intentional, or was it just that there had not been a hijacking for so long, the machinery had become rusty?
What about the theory that a missile rather than an airliner hit the Pentagon? Someone would have had to fire the missile. There was no publicly disclosed crime scene investigation of either the Pentagon or the Twin Towers. If there is any evidence of anything, it has now been destroyed.
And some believe that a missile downed the airliner that crashed in Pennsylvania. If that were true, someone would have had to fire that missile.
It would take quite a few people to perform all these illegal actions. It would have been a “black op” of major proportions, and it would seem to be difficult to maintain cover for such an operation for long.
So we go from “who knew?” to “who knows”. Who is now alive that knows the truth of these allegations? If I were investigating, I would not start with the heads of the various agencies, but with the mid-level functionaries that are responsible for implementing the policies that seem to have been compromised. If there was a plot, the higher ups may or may not have been involved, but it is certain that these nuts and bolts people must have been a part of any alleged plot. But it's not likely that I will be doing any investigating. I am not brave enough for that dangerous job.
I get the impression that the 9-11 commission is more interested in whitewash than investigation. I'm not expecting them to come up with answers, or even good questions. We can only hope that the truth will eventually come out.
We hear much about how the various agents who were supposed to be protecting the country from attack did not talk to each other. The “wall” prevented it. The real reason is that violence and deceit go hand in hand, and these agents are violent and deceitful people. Deceit impedes communication. When you have to remember what lies you told to whom before you can talk, it becomes easier not to talk at all.
I have no idea what the real truth is, but I suspect that it is stranger than we can imagine.
But all the above is a diversion from the real question I would like answered. Why did the Bush Administration use every means at its disposal to antagonize the Arabs from the moment it assumed power? Why not meet with Arafat? Why gaze into the Russian Premier's eyes and proclaim fellowship while he was in the midst of destroying Moslem Chechnya? Why finance every whim of the warlike Sharon government in Israel, while refusing to even allow the Palestinians the right to keep and bear arms. Why support sanctions that were killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children.
It is as if George W. Bush really intended to launch a crusading clash of civilizations even before he assumed the power of the United States Presidency. I suspect the Presidents fundamentalist religious persuasions have led hem astray. But it seems he may not have read the entire Holy Bible. He apparently never got to the part that says: “Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you”. Or perhaps, he doesn't think it applies to Arabs. I somehow doubt that he would appreciate being inculcated with Moslem cultural values through the agency of bombs, missiles, artillery, and small arms fire. I suspect that he might find checkpoints and arbitrary imprisonment a little more troubling if he were the one suffering these indignities. He might have a little more caution about collateral damage if it were his collateral that was being damaged.
But George Bush is far from alone in his religious and political opinions. If he is delusional, then many others share his delusion. To err is human, but when you're the President of the United States, the consequences can be severe. The more power is concentrated in the fewer hands, the more a misstep by those in power will cost. If we really want to keep all this from happening again and again we need to severely limit or eliminate the power of the State.