Alan Sabrosky (Ph.D, University of Michigan) is a ten-year US Marine Corps veteran and a graduate of the US Army War College.

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Demystifying 9/11: Israel and the Tactics of Mistake

“I am also absolutely certain as a strategic analyst that 9/11 itself, from which all else flows, was a classic Mossad-orchestrated operation. But Mossad did not do it alone.”

 

By Dr. Alan Sabrosky

 

Many years ago I read a fascinating discussion of the “tactics of mistake.” This essentially entailed using a target’s prejudices and preconceptions to mislead them as to the origin and intent of the attack, entrapping them in a tactical situation that later worked to the attacker’s strategic advantage.

This is what unfolded in the 9/11 attacks that led us into the matrix of wars and conflicts, present (Afghanistan and Iraq), planned (Iran and Syria) and projected (Jordan and Egypt), that benefit Israel and no other country — although I concede that many private contractors and politicians are doing very well for themselves out of the death and misery of others.

I am also absolutely certain as a strategic analyst that 9/11 itself, from which all else flows, was a classic Mossad-orchestrated operation. But Mossad did not do it alone. They needed local help within America (and perhaps elsewhere) and they had it, principally from some alumni of PNAC (the misnamed Project for a New American Century) and their affiliates within and outside of the US Government (USG), who in the 9/11 attacks got the “catalytic event” they needed and craved to take the US to war on Israel’s behalf, only eight months after coming into office.

Genesis of the Deception

That was not how it seemed at first, of course. Lists of names and associations of the alleged hijackers quickly surfaced in official US accounts and mainstream media (MSM) reports, pointing to Osama bin Laden and his Al-Qaeda group, then largely in Afghanistan. Bin Laden denied responsibility, saying in effect that while he thanked Allah that the attacks had occurred, he had not done it, but the US demanded that the Taliban governing Afghanistan turn him over to the US.

The Taliban response was reasonable: “Show us the evidence he did it and we’ll give him to you.” But the US brushed it off and attacked. Why? Because it had no convincing evidence, and never would — even on the eve of his public death in 2011, the FBI did not include 9/11 on his internet-based “Most Wanted” charge sheet.

As the war in Afghanistan for very dubious reasons extended into a war in Iraq for even more specious ones, the essential USG view of 9/11 became embedded in the public ethos. The 9/11 Commission Report, despite being handicapped when it was prepared and later revealed to have been deeply flawed, still appeared as the basic reference work on the attacks.

Details may have been compromised, but the prevailing view was that 19 Arab hijackers had flown four planes into three buildings and one crash site, and that was the end of it. This was the position taken by the Bush Administration in 2001, and reaffirmed a decade later by the Obama Administration. Politicians of every stripe, most pundits and rafts of mainly Protestant pastors and evangelists added their endorsements.

Neither I nor most Americans had any particular reason to doubt the veracity of these claims, then or later. Nonetheless, I had strong suspicions that something was very wrong with the official US account of the tragedy only weeks after the incident, while responding to a request from a local journalist for background information. Too much made no sense whatsoever: warnings after the fact when there should have been no warnings, bizarre misbehavior by the alleged hijackers that ran counter to both the mission and their faith, skills required that far exceeded any skills the named hijackers themselves could ever have possessed for the mission, and especially the total absence of any recognition for what they had done from anyone except their supposed victims – something without precedent for actions of the sort that supposedly happened on 9/11. These and similar discontinuities reinforced my suspicion that something in the entire exercise was rotten to the core.

Potentially far more significant than individual musings was the gradual appearance of dissent that eventually crystallized in the so-called “9/11 Truth” movement, which rapidly proliferated into scores of major and many minor organizations and websites dissecting the attacks, the Commission report, the motivations and agendas of assorted elected and appointed officials, and alternatives to the orthodox view.

But “9/11 Truthers” have been doing their version of the Maoist “Hundred Flowers” Campaign, throwing out so many different assessments of so many different aspects of so many different issues that the core message has been lost. Nor is it a matter of too little evidence invalidating the USG position on 9/11 being available, but too much to permit a clear focus on what happened (so many trees no one can really see the forest).

Mind you, it isn’t that what has been presented is irrelevant or even necessarily wrong, although some pretty bizarre theses have been tossed around along with a good deal of thoughtful and balanced work. A substantial segment also have resisted closure under any circumstances – especially when Israel came into the equation in any way – thus keeping the rhetorical pot boiling inconclusively, more than a few for reasons that could not withstand close scrutiny as to their affiliation and motivation.

Critiquing the 9/11 Critique

The real difficulty with much, but not all, of the effort to critique and question the official US position on 9/11 is that the “9/11 Truth” proponents have been unable to communicate their concerns – much less any conclusions – to the general public in any significant way. So much of the discussion is only partially comprehensible to some within the movement, largely unknown to the general US public, and so complicated in all its dimensions to those who do become aware of it that they fail to follow up on the arguments. It is as if critics of the official position on 9/11 have been attempting to try the case in court before they have even gotten an indictment – the analytical equivalent of putting the argumentative cart before the public horse of the need to rethink the issue, thereby creating an evidentiary Gordian Knot of sorts.

This analogy has long struck me as an appropriate way of rethinking our approach to the 9/11 controversy. It is not that the issue isn’t complex – it is, in ever so many ways, and that complexity would have to be addressed at some point, but there is no need to confuse the public with its complexity at the very beginning.

Remember that at least in the US, the evidence and voting requirements are very different in a grand jury which can issue an indictment, than they are in a petit jury that actually tries the case. The latter needs proof of guilt; but the former only needs sufficient indication that a specific crime may have been committed, and that the accused may have done it. That is where we need to go, and where I will take this argument: to focus on those essentials necessary for an indictment in a way that will be understandable and credible to a reasonably intelligent person without requiring them to have the skills of (e.g.) a civil engineer or an aviator.

Peeling Away the Layered Details

There are so many flaws in the official US Government’s position on 9/11 that it is sometimes difficult to know just where to start. For example, the miraculous survival of a passport, used to identify one of the hijackers, which somehow worked its way through the aircraft’s impact, explosion, fire, and an 800-plus foot free-fall to be found by a well-dressed man and given to a New York City police detective at the base of the twin towers is a standout.

The superstar-like ability of named pilots to go from the controls of a single-engine propeller-driven light plane to the cockpit of a passenger airliner and do anything except put it into the ground within a minute of turning off the autopilot is another – who would ever have thought that the Microsoft Flight Simulator program was so superlative?

And the explanations given for the multiple failures of NORAD (the North American Air Defense Command) to have fighters on all four planes within minutes of their straying off course are individually dubious and collectively preposterous – only in Hollywood would they have any credence, perhaps because that is where they originated.

The debate on these and many other points, and the implications thereof, has been extensive and sometimes ferocious, even if not particularly effective. What is not open to debate, however, is that WTC-7 — the third tower to collapse that day, and the only one not hit by a plane — absolutely was brought down by a controlled demolition, as anyone not trying to shield the attackers knows from a real-time video of its collapse.

That is, WTC-7 went straight down into its own footprint in seconds without any visible catastrophic external trauma, which means only some catastrophic internal trauma could have brought it down. And if it had been wired for a controlled demolition, then so were the other towers (WTC-1 and WTC-2) that collapsed. That gives the plane impacts a gruesome cosmetic role, designed explicitly to conceal the true cause of the collapse of the buildings, while shocking the public into something akin to numbness.

 
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The case of WTC-7 has long been known to critics of the US government position on 9/11. What does not seem to have been fully appreciated, at least at first (this is changing somewhat now), is that it is not merely “an” issue, but the single issue that can be used simply, directly to the American public, and effectively to discredit the US Government’s case, and thus its rationale for so many fallacies and misdeeds: not only needless foreign wars (Afghanistan being a “pump-priming” conflict to get the US into war in the region, and to lay the groundwork for later wars), but a substantial infringement of American civil liberties under the misbegotten “Patriot Act,” the unbelievably widespread acceptance of torture (including a technique openly named “Palestinian Hanging,” which assuredly did not originate in Boston and says something about Israeli habits), and the creation of known and secret prisons and detention centers in various countries.

 Second only to the actual controlled demolition of WTC-7, and supplementing the thesis that with or without impacting aircraft the buildings were brought down by other means, is extensive extensive audio-visual evidence on 9/11 while the Twin Towers were still standing from what became “Ground Zero.” This evidence includes real-time clips of secondary explosions at ground level in both WTC-1 and WTC-2 (you can hear the detonations and see smoke and debris billowing out), reports on many networks of those explosions and of strange vans inside and around those buildings prior to the secondary explosions, reports from EMTs (Emergency Medical Technicians) of the same thing and of people inside and around the lobbies of those buildings who were not emergency personal and were not fleeing the disaster – all of this on 9/11 and widely reported as it happened that same day.

 
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And a third element, building on the above and adding its own dimension, is the presence of a number of (mostly white) vans owned – as far as can be determined, given the extent to which information on them and the people with them has disappeared from the public record – by an Israeli company (or rather a company owned by an Israeli, to be precise) in New Jersey. Some of these vans were regularly around the World Trade Center itself. But two stand out, and need to be examined in some detail for their significance to be appreciated.

First, Bergen, NJ residents saw five people on a white van filming the attacks and visibly celebrating. They had set up their cameras before the first plane hit. Police arrested them. All were Israelis (now referred to as the “dancing Israelis”). Bomb-sniffing dogs reacted as if they had detected explosives, although officers were unable to find anything. The FBI seized the van for further testing. All five were later released at the instigation of Israeli & American Jewish leaders, some in the US Government. Details are still classified. This incident quickly disappeared from the mainstream media, following a brief mention in the New York Times three days after the attacks, that was not followed up.

A second van was stopped on the approaches to the George Washington Bridge. As CBS’s Dan Rather said in his live report: “Two suspects are in FBI custody after a truckload of explosives were discovered around the George Washington Bridge. That bridge links New York to New Jersey over the Hudson River. Whether the discovery of those explosives had anything to do with other events today is unclear, but the FBI, has two suspects in hand, said the truckload of explosives, enough explosives were in the truck to do great damage to the George Washington Bridge…“ Those suspects –also Israelis — and the incident then seem to have disappeared from the public record and mainstream media “examinations” of 9/11, just like discussions of the first van, the secondary explosions at ground level within WTC-1 and WTC-2, and the precipitous collapse into its own footprint of WTC-7.

The combined impact of these and many other factors is both chilling and compelling. Think of it: Secondary explosions at ground level where there should be no secondary explosions. The catastrophic collapse of the 47-story WTC-7 into its own footprint in seconds, without any significant external trauma, where by rights there should have been no collapse. Vans with targeting maps, explosives or traces thereof, cameras pre-positioned to film the World Trade Center, and especially Israelis with those vans where there should have been no Israelis present with any of those things in those places at that time.

Any of these matters ought to have been sufficient to stimulate a searching re-examination of the official USG interpretation of 9/11, and especially of the actual or putative role of Al-Qaeda in it. The vans alone pointed away from Al-Qaeda, unless one assumed that Al-Qaeda was an Israeli front, or that Mossad at a minimum had run a parallel and more murderous operation to whatever Al-Qaeda may have done. What is fascinating is how little impact it has had on public awareness of the details of 9/11, much less official US policy based on it. A “cloak of silence” had descended over any official or mainstream media discussions of 9/11 that did not conform to the official interpretation, thereby keeping such dissonance from the general public.

The Cloak of Silence Over 9/11 

There have been three elements to the “cloak of silence” covering efforts to expose the failings of the official US position on 9/11 to the public. One is within the Executive Branch. Another is within the Congress. And the third is the mainstream media (MSM).

The first is not at all surprising, as so many of its key members (and especially its so-called “neo-conservatives”) were the authors of the “19 named Arabs in 4 planes” thesis, and its de facto apologists on the professional staff of the 9/11 Commission. Indeed, many of them had a vested personal and professional interest in maintaining the validity of the official position.

A surprising number had been on the strongly pro-Israel Project for a New American Century (PNAC) when it published a report asserting that some “catalytic event” akin to the Pearl Harbor would be needed to move the US in the direction they desired (and which would be of enormous benefit to Israel). The 9/11 attacks gave them their catalytic event, and they visibly capitalized on that opportunity. Many were Jewish, often with dual US-Israeli citizenship and a controlling commitment to Israel. All were Israeli partisans. And it took no great inferential leap to understand that a US consumed with anti-Arab and anti-Muslim rage would inevitably and inexorably do things that would directly or indirectly benefit Israel – which, of course, is precisely what has happened over the past decade.

Overtly more surprising was Congressional acceptance of the official explanation, or rather the lack of searching inquiries into it and the events of 9/11, at least by the Democrats. But in reality, that wasn’t at all surprising. It was not just that Administration officials were essentially “speaking with one voice” on this issue, or that the Republicans in the Senate at least could have kept Democrats from holding hearings, at least in the beginning. It is that while many (especially Democrats) came to question later the war in Iraq, and some more belatedly the war in Afghanistan, there was and remains no discernable legislative effort to delve into the details of 9/11 – and especially the numerous contradictions, inconsistencies and unbelievable aspects in the official explanation. This is a predictable outcome of a substantial lobbying effort by AIPAC (the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee) here, “encouraging” Senators and Representatives of both parties to do in this matter what they do best – nothing – and punishing the handful who balked by marginalizing their efforts while in office, and working successfully for their electoral defeat later.

Overlapping these two branches, and a critical element in the Zionist control of the US Government that is sometimes overlooked, is their domination of the political appointment and confirmation process. The White House Personnel Office has been largely dominated by them at least since 1980, and perhaps before, thereby reducing the likelihood that people unfriendly to Israel or unsupportive of its “ways and means” will be nominated in the first place.

The vetting of nominees by key organized Jewish groups in the US before they go before the US Senate for their confirmation hearings has also been a fixture of this process for decades, as Ha’aretz (an Israeli newspaper) among many others has pointed out, and forces otherwise excellent nominees to withdraw if said Jewish groups find them to be unsuitable. And the leverage of AIPAC in the US Senate is in this respect crucial: anyone AIPAC wants confirmed will be confirmed, and anyone who manages to reach that point and is not acceptable to AIPAC doesn’t stand a chance.

This is why under both Republicans and Democrats, the staffs in and around the President and the Vice-President, the National Security Council, the State Department and the Defense Department (among others) look the way they do. Many are Jewish and actively Zionist, often with dual US-Israeli citizenship (not that the absence of an Israeli passport matters all that much to the others). Some are Christian Zionists who need no persuading to take the pro-Israel positions they do – I can only shudder to think of the type of a staff and appointments that would come from a president like Michele Bachmann or Mike Huckabee. Others are what the communists used to call “useful idiots,” frequently intelligent people like Condoleeza Rice or John Bolton who have made their own Faustian bargain in the furtherance of their own careers. And the rest of us live with the consequences of all of them, not least of which was 9/11 and the ensuing wars.

But it is the role of the largely Zionist-owned mainstream media (MSM) in allowing the official US government view of 9/11 to go virtually unchallenged that is most fascinating, and has been most effective in letting any possible public debate on 9/11 largely lie fallow. This was contrary to its entire post-Vietnam (and especially post-Pentagon Papers/post-Watergate) ethos, which put investigative journalism on a pedestal and made a fetish of investigating and exposing corporate and government wrong-doing, both for profits and for professional advancement.

Remember, that at least since the publication of the so-called “Pentagon Papers” during the Vietnam War, the normal instinct of the MSM is to investigate and to reveal, unless that discloses Israeli misconduct or reflects negatively on Israel, in which case its virtually primeval instinct is to conceal and to protect.

The MSM’s normal inquisitorial impulse was not in evidence in the case of 9/11. This is because critical inquiries into 9/11 have been largely ignored or repressed by the MSM — which would not do that if its largely Zionist ownership did not know, suspect or fear that an exposed evidentiary trail would lead, in whole or in part, directly or indirectly to Israel. Indeed, if the evidentiary trail had seemed to lead to (e.g.) Iran instead of Israel, or if its provenance was even moderately uncertain, the MSM would have vociferously shredded the USG case long ago, and the “9/11 Truth” movement would find its views presented on the front pages of major newspapers and highlighted in favorable TV/radio broadcasts.

That this did not happen quickly becomes clear as one examines the MSM’s approach to 9/11. Its role has been threefold: : (a) disinformation – to affirm, or at least not openly question, the USG case; (b) distraction – to direct attention away from Israel and the PNAC/neo-cons; and (c) doubt – to ignore or ridicule those who question the official US case. What people choose to conceal speaks volumes about the dynamics of the situation, and the end result of MSM actions has been the fabrication of an aura of disbelief and doubt where there should be none.

This process began almost immediately. Dramatic and revealing real-time reports about the details of the attacks appeared on 9/11, including many that did not directly involve the hijacked airliners. Over the next few days, some local papers and stations in the area still were reporting dissonant events (e.g., the van with the “dancing Israelis”). But within a week, most dissonance was gone or relegated to inside pages and their electronic equivalents, especially anything pertaining to WTC-7, whose collapse became a non-event, or the presence of Israelis in the vans and elsewhere, as the US Government’s propaganda machine – aided actively by most of the MSM – went into high gear first against Al-Qaeda and then in support of the invasion of Afghanistan. 

The Path to 9/11

The provenance of the 9/11 attacks becomes even clearer once they are examined as a classic exercise in covert operations. Generally speaking, there are three requirements for evaluating the origin and prospects for success of all covert intelligence operations: (a) motivation, (b) expertise, and (c) local support for access to the target and post-attack evasion and escape.

Let us look first at motivation. It is a bitter commentary on how far the US has gone from its strategic requirements and its own principles that so many movements and governments around the world not only dislike and distrust the US, but hate it with a passion and with better cause than I care to think about. I recently came across a remark by a Jesuit priest to the effect that “Every time I hear that Israel is America’s only friend in the Middle East, I remember that before Israel, America had no enemies in the Middle East” – a point well worth remembering.

But the interesting thing about the assorted movements and governments that might have an actual or perceived reason to do harm to the US, is that all but one has had a negative incentive to do that: to punish the US for some actual or assumed failings or misdeeds. The one exception is Israel. It has no negative incentives at all (I exclude some real fringe fanatics), simply because without US aid and diplomatic support, it would find itself in even worse straits than did apartheid-era South Africa, and with better cause. But it is the one state with a positive incentive, if it believed it could get away with it, which is to enrage the American public against Muslims generally and Arabs in particular, and to make the US an active belligerent in the region – spending American lives and treasure in the service of Israel’s interests.

Expertise is different and more diffuse. There are many intelligence and special operations forces in the world with the expertise to wire large urban structures for a controlled demolition. There are many combat engineer units in many countries that could do the same thing. And there are many private firms that specialize in them as well. Yet neither Al-Qaeda as an organization, nor any of its known affiliates – much less the 19 named Arabs supposedly on those four planes – possessed that expertise, or anything even remotely close to it; had they done so, the Green Zone in Baghdad would have been a pile of rubble.

But it is local support that is the crucial determinant. All well-crafted covert operations require some measure of local support, official or unofficial, unless the target area is so irredeemably hostile that none is available. Any domestic or foreign intelligence agency targeting the WTC would absolutely have required it, and Mossad would be better placed than any other to access such support for entry, access, execution and escape.

This is especially true, given the security company overseeing the WTC. CIA and/or Defense Department personnel (which is not the same as the CIA or the Defense Department as organizations) could have had access, but only if that had Israeli endorsement – one does not casually cut open walls, implant explosives, run cables and wire everything together in buildings with state-of-the-art electronic surveillance and 24/7 on-site security.

Mossad would have no such need for those niceties, given the ownership of the WTC and the management of the company overseeing its security. Remember that we are not talking about large numbers of people in any case: given time to prepare the three buildings and protection from detection, as few as a dozen could have sufficed, a number small enough to be effectively unnoticed in a large organization.

Retrospect and Prospect

So let us recapitulate the basic conclusions of this analysis. First, the core official US Government position on 9/11 is that any and all aspects of it are directly attributable to 19 named Arabs on 4 planes, conducting a terrorist operation planned and executed by Osama bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda. This position is at best incomplete, and at worst a complete fabrication engineered by those directly or indirectly responsible for what happened on 9/11, and the wars afterward.

Second, Al-Qaeda and many different countries and groups had negative reasons, real or contrived, to want to harm the US. But only Israel and its neoconservative wing in the US had a positive incentive to do so, which was to enrage Americans and make the US an active belligerent against Muslim countries, thereby cementing its bonding to Israel and Israel’s interests.

Third, there is no doubt that fully-loaded civilian airliners, especially with nearly-full fuel loads, impacting the Twin Towers (WTC-1 and WTC-2) would do great damage to those buildings, and might under a chain of extraordinary circumstances precipitate a chain of events leading to their collapse. But there is absolutely no way that those airliners impacting 800-1000 feet above the ground could have produced visible and audible secondary explosions in those buildings at ground level, nor precipitated the collapse of a third building (WTC-7)which was not hit by any aircraft and had no massive external trauma from debris produced by the Twin Towers.

Fourth, Al-Qaeda – and perhaps other groups as well – had the theoretical capability to carry out a simultaneous four-plane hijacking, perhaps flying the aircraft to Cuba (the four 9/11 aircraft should have been able to make a one-way flight there at the beginning of their operational day without difficulty, depending on their actual loads), which would have been spectacular in itself. But neither Al-Qaeda nor any of their affiliates had the expertise and local support necessary to allow them the needed access to any of the buildings at the World Trade Center, cut open the walls and wire them for controlled demolition, and then to escape and evade afterward.

Fifth and finally, in addition to being unique in having a positive incentive to make the 9/11 attacks, only Israel had the essential expertise and local support required to bring down the three World Trade Center buildings with controlled demolitions, and the leverage within and around the US Government to let their operatives evade detection, to be released without fanfare if apprehended unexpectedly, and to cloak their actions from public scrutiny – all of which happened on and after 9/11.

People often ask about some new evidence or proof tying 9/11, in whole or in part, to Israel. Now I understand that there can never be absolute proof for some people barring a public confession from one of the Israeli planners or their American supporters, and that, I suspect, we will never obtain – although some of the statements made later in Israel by three of the Israelis arrested in Bergen, NJ filming the burning Twin Towers comes very close to that: One stated categorically that “our purpose was to document the event,” which should leave little doubt that they knew in advance of the attacks, whether or not they themselves personally had any further role in them.

But it is not necessary to have such a confession, any more than it is necessary to have a confession in a criminal court to convict a person of murder, if the other evidence is sufficiently compelling. Here there is a mountain of physical, technical, analytical and circumstantial evidence, far more than any unprejudiced person needs to understand far beyond any reasonable doubt whatsoever, that (1) the USG case is fatally flawed, and (2) this was a Mossad-directed operation orchestrated at the highest levels of the Israeli government (because of the target) with local support within the US and elements of the US Government itself.

Given the pervasiveness of Zionist influence in the US government and its intelligence and security agencies (including of course the Defense Department), two broad scenarios are possible. One is that the neo-cons and their cohorts were in the driver’s seat with Israel in the passenger seat with a map and the baggage. The second sees Israel driving with the neo-cons and others handling the map and baggage. But they were both in the same car on the road to and from 9/11. Both were embedded in aspects of the planning and execution of the catastrophe, the wars it spawned and the wars its architects now want us to wage in Israel’s name, linking treason and treachery in tandem no matter where the emphasis is placed.

Unraveling that issue is something to be left for a future investigation, interrogations and trials, followed by punishments appropriate to the magnitude of the crimes for all of the participants. Bringing an awareness of these events to the American public and others abroad in a practical and actionable way is the subject of the final piece in this series: Riposte Against Zionism: Go Tell It To The People.

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*Alan Sabrosky (Ph.D, University of Michigan) is a ten-year US Marine Corps veteran and a graduate of the US Army War College. He can be contacted at docbrosk@comcast.net

Charcoal is key to flavorful outdoor cooking

Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review April 18, 2007 | Karin Welzel Talking to Rick Rodgers about charcoal grilling is like discussing a game of pool.

He mentions “banking” hot coals for graduated sources of heat — best for cooking thick steaks and boneless chicken breasts — and “pocketing” them to cook burgers without a flare-up. charcoalgrillnow.com charcoal grill

And about those flare-ups: “They are the bane of the grill,” Rodgers says.

On cue, he offers quick suggestions for “layering” flavors for meats, poultry and fish. And he wants Pittsburghers to know he’s ready to be peppered with tough grilling questions when he appears Saturday at Giant Eagle Market District stores.

Rodgers’ latest book, “Kingsford Complete Grilling Cookbook” (Wiley, $19.95 paperback), is an in-depth guide for the charcoal grill. Ever since Rodgers cooked a dual-fuel dinner for a cooking class, he discourages home cooks from using gas grills.

“In one class I taught, I had to use gas and charcoal grills side- by-side to make barbecued ribs,” he says in a call from his home in New Jersey. “The hands-down favorite were the ribs cooked on the charcoal grill. Nothing illustrated the difference better than that.” The distinction was flavor — and lots of it.

“Why cook something if it’s not going to taste good?” he says. “Grilling is about sizzle and smoke and flavor — it’s not about turning the knobs.” “I don’t buy that gas grilling is easier than charcoal anymore,” he says, adding that the recipes in the book were tested on a standard 22-inch Weber kettle grill.

“Charcoal grills have changed. They are bigger and better, and you can cook in them many times before you have to change the ash bucket.” A crucial part of successful charcoal grilling is that “people need to understand that they can control the heat,” says Rodgers, who has written or collaborated on nearly 30 cookbooks.

In February, Williams-Sonoma released “Food Made Fast: Grilling” ($17.95) by the prolific author and cooking instructor, which differs from the Kingsford book in that it focuses on three categories: meals that can be completed in fewer than 30 minutes; meals that can be ready to cook in fewer than 15 minutes; and make-ahead recipes.

Rodgers also is the author of “Barbecues 101” (Broadway, $15 paperback) — it covered the logistics of outdoor parties — and collaborated on “The Firehouse Grilling Cookbook” by Joseph Bonanno (Broadway, 1998).

The waiting time to cook over charcoal is shorter than ever, Rodgers says, thanks to newly formulated briquettes that burn hotter and longer.

“The coals will be ready within 15 minutes,” he says. “It takes that long to heat a gas grill to temperature.” The difference between charcoal-grilled foods and those made on a gas grill — regardless of how many wood chips are added — “is like squeezing fresh lemons to make lemonade vs. adding water to a powdered mix,” Rodgers says. “If you had a charcoal grill at one time and have switched to gas, you’ll remember the smokiness — and it’s gone.” Rodgers says he has five grills at his home. Even if he’s cooking for two, he likes to use a smaller charcoal grill — an 18-inch or tabletop — to prepare items such as steak or chops. “You use fewer coals, and they will light even more quickly.” He’s not big on long-term marinades, either for tenderizing meat or for adding flavor.

“Marinating does not tenderize meat. You will get plenty of flavor if you allow food to marinate at room temperature while the coals ignite, no more than two hours.

“It’s best to use a flavored oil, like sesame oil, or a nut oil, and cut way back on the amount of it. That way, a marinade adds flavor without just lubricating the meat, and there is less oil to drip onto the coals and cause flare-ups.” Why the distaste for flare-ups?

“If the grill is uncovered, and the flames are fanned with oxygen, the fire will burn even hotter,” he says.

Solutions are to set up coals so there are empty areas to move dripping food away from them. Or, cover the grill while cooking, which eliminates unwanted flaming.

Rodgers is big, however, on rubs, wood-smoking and sauces — three more ways to layer flavors on food in addition to flavor from burning charcoal.

“It’s a restaurant technique,” he says, “but it doesn’t have to be complicated.” In the Kingsford book, Rodgers offers step-by-step instructions for grilling everything from beef and poultry to fruits and vegetables.

“When I write a cookbook, I want to teach people things, including details that will make your fish, chicken, steak or ribs turn out better than the last time.” While the concept of charcoal grilling is elementary and can be mastered by any home cook, says Rodgers, he urges people to not only read cookbooks but to attend cooking demos and classes whenever they can to expand their horizons.

“There is more to grilling than throwing meat over the coals,” he says.

Charcoal methodology Banking Banking is the most useful method of charcoal grilling, better than direct or indirect cooking techniques, according to Rick Rodgers, author of “Kingsford Complete Grilling Cookbook” (Wiley, $19.95 paperback).

Two zones — one of high heat, one of moderate heat — are offered, which is best for cooking thick steaks and boneless chicken breasts. The idea is to develop a deeply browned exterior — searing over high heat — then finishing cooking with gentler heat to keep the meat from drying out.

To bank coals, pour 5 pounds of them into a grill and separate into two piles, one with a double or triple layer of coals on one side and a single layer on the other. Light and let them burn down until covered with gray ash. Sear the meat over the high heat area (the layered area), then move it to the lower heat.

In the pocket Empty spaces among hot coals on the grill might look weird, but Rick Rodgers suggests “pocket” grilling as the best way to cook burgers without flare-ups. The idea is to surround the patties with high heat while providing an empty space underneath each so dripping fat won’t ignite.

Build a fire with 5 pounds of charcoal. When almost covered with ash, use long tongs to dig one pocket per burger in the coals. Sear the burgers over the coals, then move them over the pockets; cover the grill to complete the cooking.

Pancetta-Wrapped Shrimp with Rosemary Pancetta is Italian bacon. Ask for it to be cut about 1/16-inch thick.

Banked grilling allows for two zones — one of high and one of moderate heat. Build the fire with 5 pounds of charcoal. Spread the charcoal in a bank in the bottom of the grill, with a double- to triple-thick layer on one side of the grill and a single layer of coals on the other side.

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary 1 clove garlic, crushed through a press 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 12 shrimp (15 count per pound), peeled and deveined, tail segment attached 12 slices pancetta, not paper-thin, about 4 ounces Vegetable oil, for oiling grill grate 12 wooden toothpicks, soaked in cold water for at least 30 minutes, drained Mix the oil, rosemary, garlic and pepper in a medium bowl. Add the shrimp and mix to coat.

Unwind the pancetta slices. Starting at the straightest end, cut off a 2- to 3-inch length of pancetta, saving the curved portion for another use. Wind a pancetta slice around each shrimp and secure with a soaked toothpick. Cover and refrigerate while building the fire.

Build a charcoal fire in an outdoor grill for banked grilling and let burn until the coals are almost completely covered with white ash.

Lightly oil the grill grate. Place the shrimp over the hotter area of the grill and cover. Grill until the pancetta on the underside is beginning to crisp, for about 3 minutes. Turn and grill until the other side is crisped, for about 2 minutes. Transfer to a platter and serve hot.

Makes 12 appetizers, 3-4 servings.

Lamb Rib Chops with Mint Butter 12 lamb rib chops, 2 1/2 ounces each, cut 1 inch thick Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste Vegetable oil, for oiling the grill grate For the mint butter:

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice 1 clove garlic, crushed through a press Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste To make the mint butter: Mash the butter, mint, lemon juice and garlic clove together, using a rubber spatula, in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside at room temperature until ready to serve. The butter can be made as long as 1 week ahead, covered and refrigerated. Bring the butter to room temperature before serving.

Season the lamb chops with salt and pepper and let stand at room temperature while building the fire. Build a charcoal fire in an outdoor grill for direct high-heat grilling: Remove the grill grate, make a mound of coals in the center of the grill, let burn until the coals are almost completely covered with white ash, then spead the coals out evenly and replace the grate.

Lightly oil the grill grate. Place the lamb on the grill and cover. Grill, turning occasionally, until the lamb is browned on all sides and feels somewhat firm when pressed, for about 5 minutes for medium-rare meat, longer if desired. If you want to try measuring the internal temperature, insert an instant-read thermometer horizontally at the center of the chop; it should read 125 degrees for medium rare.

Transfer 3 chops to each of 4 dinner plates. Top with a dollop of the butter and serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

The Easiest BBQ Ribs 5 pounds spareribs, cut into 3 slabs 1 3/4 teaspoons salt 1/3 cup The Ultimate Spice Rub (recipe follows) Big Apple Barbecue Sauce (recipe follows) Season the ribs all over with the salt, then sprinkle with the spice rub. Wrap each slab in a double thickness of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Let stand while building the fire.

Build a charcoal fire in an outdoor grill for direct high-heat grilling: Remove the grill grate, make a mound of coals in the center of the grill, let burn until the coals are almost completely covered with white ash, then spead the coals out evenly and replace the grate. Place the foil-wrapped ribs on the grill and cover. Adjust the vents to partially open to maintain the heat at medium. Grill, occasionally turning the packets, using long tongs, without piercing the foil, for 45 minutes. go to web site charcoal grill

Open the vents all the way. Cover and grill, occasionally turning the packets, until the ribs are tender (open a packet to check, but be careful, because the juices are hot and steamy), for about 30 minutes more. Transfer the packets to a platter. Open carefully and discard the juices.

Remove the grill grate from the grill and add about 3 pounds of charcoal briquettes to the coals. Let the fresh briquettes burn until they are almost completely covered with white ash. Spread the coals in an even layer and return the grate to the grill.

Return the ribs to the grill. Brush with half of the sauce, turn the ribs, and brush with the remaining sauce. Grill until the undersides are glazed, for about 2 minutes. Turn and glaze the other sides for about 2 minutes longer. Transfer to a cutting board. Let stand for 5 minutes. Cut into individual ribs and serve hot.

Makes 4-6 servings.

The Ultimate Spice Rub 1 tablespoon cumin seeds 1 tablespoon fennel seeds 3 tablespoons sweet paprika, preferably Hungarian or Spanish 1 tablespoon dried thyme 1 tablespoon dried sage 1 tablespoon dried oregano 2 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper 2 teaspoons onion powder 2 teaspoons garlic powder 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper Heat an empty small skillet over medium heat. Have a lid handy. Add the cumin and fennel seeds. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the spices are aromatic and toasted (you might see a wisp of smoke), for about 1 minute. If the spices jump out of the pan when heating, cover the skillet with the lid.

Transfer the toasted spices to an electric spice grinder or a mortar and pestle and let cool. Grind the spices coarsely. Add the paprika, thyme, sage, oregano, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and cayenne and pulse to combine well. The rub can be made as long as 2 months ahead, stored in a cool, dark place in an airtight container at room temperature.

Makes about 2/3 cup, enough for 8 pounds of meat, poultry or seafood.

Big Apple Barbecue Sauce 2 tablespoons vegetable oil 1 large onion, finely chopped 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped 1 cup ketchup-style chili sauce 1 cup tomato ketchup 1/2 cup cider vinegar 2/3 cup apple butter 2 tablespoons spicy brown or Dijon-style mustard 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 2 tablespoons steak sauce, optional Hot pepper sauce, to taste Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed medium-size saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, for about 8 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, for about 1 minute.

Add the chili sauce, ketchup, vinegar, apple butter, mustard, Worcestershire sauce and steak sauce if using. Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring often to be sure the sauce isn’t sticking, until slightly reduced, for about 20 minutes. Stir in the hot pepper sauce. Transfer to a bowl and let cool.

The sauce can be made as long as 6 weeks ahead; cool, store in an airtight container and refrigerate.

Makes about 4 cups.

Radicchio with Olio Santo 1 head radicchio (11 ounces) Salt, to taste 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, preferably aged balsamico For the olio santo:

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 2 cloves garlic, chopped 3 sprigs (3-inch) fresh rosemary 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper Build a charcoal fire in an outdoor grill for banked grilling (see instructions for Pancetta-Wrapped Shrimp with Rosemary) and let burn until the coals are almost completely covered with white ash.

To make the Olio Santo: Heat the oil, garlic, rosemary and crushed red pepper in a small saucepan over low heat until tiny bubbles form around the garlic, for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

Cut the radicchio into quarters, leaving the core intact. Brush the radicchio all over to coat lightly with some of the Olio Santo and season with salt. Place the radicchio quarters over the cooler area of the grill and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the radicchio is wilted and crisp-tender, for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a platter. Drizzle with the remaining Olio Santo and the vinegar and serve hot.

Makes 4 servings.

Italian Macaroni Salad To prepare the pepper for grilling, Cut off the top and bottom to make lids. Cut down the side and open it up into a large strip. Cut away the ribs and seeds. The strip and lids can be grilled over charcoal to blacken the skin. Cool until easy to handle, then remove and discard the charred skin.

Salt Water 8 ounces ditalini or other short tubular pasta 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar 3/4 cup mayonnaise 3 ribs celery, chopped 1 large grill-roasted red bell pepper, chopped 1/2 cup chopped, pitted kalamata olives 1/3 cup chopped red onion 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil Freshly ground black pepper, to taste Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender, for about 8 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold running water until cool. Drain well. Transfer to a large bowl.

Sprinkle the pasta with the vinegar. Add the mayonnaise, celery, red pepper, olives, red onion and basil; mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, for at least 2 hours. The salad can be made as long as 2 days ahead, covered and refrigerated. Serve chilled.

Makes 8 servings.

Karin Welzel

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