Inter Press Service
9/11 Sceptics Hold Inquiry
Paul Weinberg TORONTO, Jun 1  (IPS) - Washington's official version: that suicidal Islamic terrorists steered hijacked airliners into the World Trade Centre and Pentagon on Sep. 11, 2001 to the complete surprise of the U.S. military, whose members could not even have imagined the event, has come under considerable scrutiny from a variety of sources.
Former White House anti-terrorism advisor Richard Clarke has attacked the current administration of President George W Bush for jeopardising the safety of Americans by ignoring the dangers posed by the al-Qaeda terrorist group -- widely considered the perpetrator of the 9/11 attacks.
Bush "ignored terrorism for months, when maybe we could have done something to stop 9/11. Maybe. We'll never know," Clarke told a U.S. television audience in March.
From the time they entered office, the president and his officials were obsessed with overthrowing the regime of Iraq's Saddam Hussein, and ignored dangers of a terrorist attack at home, Clarke told a Washington commission of inquiry into the intelligence failures surrounding 9/11.
But small groups of self-styled "9/11 sceptics" have taken their misgivings down a more controversial road.
Questions such as why U.S. military planes did not scramble fast enough to counter the hijackers in the air before they hit New York's World Trade Centre and the Pentagon in Washington have not been fully explained by U.S. officials, said speakers who met in Toronto, May 25-30, at an international "citizen conceived, citizen-run and citizen-funded" inquiry.
One speaker, John McMurtry, said reluctance, even among people who would be considered part of the progressive left-wing in the United States, to consider the possibility of their government's complicity in 9/11 represents a "ruling group-mind" that "locks out all thought and evidence that doesn't fit the baseline presupposition."
"No mass media in the U.S. or Canada, or any democratic opposition politician, including (U.S.) presidential candidate John Kerry, are raising the most basic of all issues. What is self-evident is unthinkable," added McMurtry, a philosophy professor at the University of Guelph, west of Toronto.
On the other hand, according to 911inquiry.org, which organised the Toronto event, in a commissioned poll 63 per cent of Canadians agreed with the statement, "Individuals within the U.S. government including the White House had prior knowledge of the plans for the events of Sep. 11, and failed to take appropriate action to stop them."
The conference featured videos and presentations of what organisers described as the "obscuring" and "obstructing" of the truth behind the attacks. Among the speakers was Ellen Mariani, whose husband was a passenger in the hijacked plane that hit the World Trade Centre. She is currently suing the Bush administration for failing to prevent or warn of the disaster to come on Sep. 11.
But an investigative journalist with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), which months ago aired a show on 9/11 and the connection between the Bush administration and the leaders of Saudi Arabia -- birthplace of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden -- says he finds nothing in the research by 9/11 sceptics to prove the U.S. government either engineered the attacks or at least was warned that they would occur.
"Often, there are a lot of unanswered questions or circumstantial evidence, or apparent circumstantial evidence, that pops up that suggests there is more going on than the official story. When that occurs it snowballs into conspiracy," says Bruce Livesey, an associate producer for the television programme, 'The Fifth Estate'.
The Canadian journalist is not surprised by citizens' own "healthy scepticism of the U.S. government."
But some of the 9/11 conspiracy theories coming out of the Middle East and Europe alleging falsely, for instance, that all Jews were forewarned and left the World Trade Centre before the planes hit, "have an anti-Semitic aspect," said Livesey in an interview.
The U.S. government did have "extraordinary information" on the identity and activity of the 9/11 hijackers before their attacks, but officials did not appear interested "in really pursuing the war on terrorism legitimately because it led back to (their) allies, (Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Pakistan)," he added.
Much of the scepticism surrounding 9/11 stems from the U.S. government's own secrecy about the security failures or the actual mechanics of the collisions of the planes against buildings, says Chris Trendall, a spokesperson for Science for Peace, one of the sponsors of the Toronto inquiry.
All of the rubble from the two 9/11 sites, for instance, was shipped to other countries, rather than stored for a future investigation. "There is usually an investigation after a big engineering failure (but that didn't happen)," he added in an interview.
Trendall also criticised organisers of the conference for primarily featuring commentators or "second-order experts," while leaving out any scientists or structural engineers who might have more solid information.
Former president of Science for Peace and high-profile Canadian economist Mel Watkins had urged fellow peace activists not to attend the 9/11 inquiry, noting that very few of the leading leftist thinkers, including Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy, Edward Said, Naomi Klein, Robert Fisk, John Pilger, Tariq Ali and Eduardo Galeano, take seriously any assertion that the U.S. government was complicit in the attacks.
Watkins called the Toronto inquiry "a rigged event", where only "conspiracy" theorists were given a chance to present their conclusions. "There was no procedure for independent cross-examination."
Furthermore, Watkins told IPS, conspiracy theories perpetuate simple explanations of good and evil in the world, which "play(s) into the hands of George Bush." (END/2004)
• 911 Inquiry
• Fifth Estate TV Programme
To: Mark Robinowitz
From: IPS North America/Caribbean <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: serious mistakes in "IPS News" coverage of the 9/11 Inquiry in Toronto
I've had my say on the editorial side of this. You asked about our funding. There is a vague paragraph on the website, but here is more detail:
"IPS derives income from the market, is a beneficiary of multi-lateral and national development co-operation programmes and receives some project financing from foundations.
In 2002, according to the audited accounts, in addition to news agency sales, grants were received from the following:
Programme Grants: The Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, NOVIB; Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; NORAD - Norway; German Federal State of North Rhine Westphalia; CIDA, Canada; Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs; UNFPA; Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Germany and UNDP.
Project Grants: SIDA, Sweden; The Ford Foundation; C.S. Mott Foundation; The Rockefeller Foundation; European Commission; AUSAID."
To: IPS North America/Caribbean <firstname.lastname@example.org>
From: Mark Robinowitz
Subject: Re: IPS funding
Thanks for the information -- it fits in the pattern of "liberal / left" alternative media that refuse to discuss Bush's well-documented complicity in 9/11. Several governments. The Ford Foundation. Rockefeller money. The Agency for International Development (well documented that this is linked to a different three letter agency based in Langley Virginia). ...
The two best sites for the documentation are
Center for Cooperative Research - www.cooperativeresearch.org - the "Complete 9/11 Timeline," sourced entirely from the mainstream media
From the Wilderness - www.fromthewilderness.com - "Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil"
I suspect that if IPS news dared to profile their work, the foreign ministries and CIA linked foundations (Ford) would cut off your funding. Too bad your profile didn't mention the fact that Paul Hellyer, Canada's prior Minister of Defense, came to the Inquiry or that new information about how the Air Force was deliberately paralyzed with "war games" similar to the actual events. If the intent of the article was to be accurate, those inconvenient facts would have been mentioned.
Thanks for the reply, it confirmed my suspicions about who funds your operation.
THE HONOURABLE PAUL HELLYER, FORMER MINISTER OF NATIONAL DEFENSE
AND DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA
Interview with Kyle Hence of 911CitizensWatch.org (Transcribed by Bill Douglas of National 911Visibility.org, May 27, 2004, International 9-11 Inquiry Toronto, Canada.
[Paul Hellyer held the Canadian office equivalent to Secretary of Defense in the U.S., and was Deputy Prime Minister, Canadian equivalent to Vice President of the United States.]
Kyle Hence: Hello. Thank you for taking time with us. Please introduce yourself, with a little bit of your background, for our viewers.
Former Minister of National Defense, Paul Hellyer: Hi, my name is Paul Hellyer. I'm a former Canadian politician, a member of three administrations. I'm the former Minister of National Defense, and rose to the rank of Deputy Prime Minister in the Trudeau Administration.
Kyle Hence: Where were you when 9-11 (11 September 2001) occurred? Share with us some of your observations about how the world hinged on this event, and some of your concerns about the policies that have been put in place after 9-11.
Former Minister of National Defense, Paul Hellyer: I was in my office and one of the staff members herd something on radio and I said, well let's turn on the TV and see what we can find out and we did. And we watched as most people did, the terrible events unfold minute by minute. And you have that feeling of sick horror . . . sort of . . . you know, this has got to be some kind of surrealism . . . can't be real. But, the longer the day went on the more evidence there was that this was no joke. This was a real thing and that it was just so awful that it was beyond description. And so I was one of the people that just felt . . . well, like most of the world, and certainly most Canadians a deep grief and shared the loss of the people who'd lost friends, loved ones, as a result of the attack. And I did many of the things that people did. I went to a special church service, and signed the book and did the things I thought were appropriate for the circumstances.
Kyle Hence: There were many Canadians who died too.
Former Minister of National Defense, Paul Hellyer: Yes, absolutely. It was not obvious at the time, but this came later when the statistics were made public. So, my attitude never changed about that aspect of things. But, I think what did change over time were the consequences. When President Bush decided to declare war on terrorism. The war on terrorism . . . terrorism is a terrible thing, but this was a police problem and an intelligence problem. What was wrong with your intelligence? Why didn't you know this was going to happen? You spend billions and billions with spooks all over the world and surely you should have known what was going on. And, so I began to be concerned about that. And then questions were raised by others. Why did the President just sit in the schoolroom when he heard the news? Why did he not acknowledge that he already knew what was going on? As a former Minister of National Defense, the news came out [I had to wonder]. . . why did airplanes fly around for an hour and a half without interceptors being scrambled from Andrews [Air Force Base] . . . is it Andrews right next to the capitol?
Kyle Hence: Yes, that's correct.
Former Minister of National Defense, Paul Hellyer: . . . take them with a quick action alert they should have been there in five minutes or ten minutes. If not, as the Minister of National Defense, which in the United States is the Secretary of Defense, I would want to say "why not?"
Kyle Hence: Does it disturb you, or do you have concerns about your neighbors to the south that there's been no inquiry at a defense level relative to the specific failure to scramble jets?
Former Minister of National Defense, Paul Hellyer: I think the inquiry has been very shallow and superficial. And I would like to see a much tougher more in depth inquiry. The evidence is that some people were allowed to fly out of the United States after the attack when American citizens were not allowed to fly in. And Canadians had the pleasure, I guess in a sense, of the company of tens of thousands, several tens of thousands of them [Americans] in Canada for a few days, especially in Newfoundland where the people were most gracious in looking after them. But, why were some members of the Bin Laden family allowed to fly out of the United States? And . . . you know . . . just why? Why? Why?
There are so many questions. But, you say, what is going wrong here? Or, was there something going wrong? How much did they actually know? And you get into very deep territory because it's the same kind of thing as we saw with Pearl Harbor. Did the President know, or didn't he know? I don't know. But, it's a very good question.
Kyle Hence: But, there's some evidence to suggest he may have.
Former Minister of National Defense, Paul Hellyer: There is some evidence to suggest that he may have and it was a deliberate decision on his part to let the attack happen because he wanted to get the United States into World War II. And otherwise it was going to be difficult to get Congressional approval.
Kyle Hence: So you can understand why perhaps people are asking the same question about President Bush and the Bush Administration.
Former Minister of National Defense, Paul Hellyer: Absolutely. I think it's a fair question. I don't know what the answer is. But, I would like to ask the questions . . . or I would like to see someone in a position of authority ask these questions and insist on getting answers? At least to why some of the things happened that seem to be, for an ordinary person, inexplicable.
Kyle Hence: It seems like there's a fundamental lack of accountability and transparency, especially now in the wake of 9-11. Does that concern you in regards to what's happening in America with the Patriot Act, and the projection of American military power?
Former Minister of National Defense, Paul Hellyer: Oh, very, very much so. I'm very disturbed about a lack of transparency. Everyone talks about it, and no one is willing to come clean, as it were. I just had lunch, interestingly enough with the designer of the Aberaro [spelling ?] which was cancelled more than 40 years ago and one of the things we were discussing were the lies that people in government and the Air Force told at the time. And I guess this makes me all the more suspicious. If they lied about that, what else were they lying about? So, we were agreeing that you had to get behind the superficial and the spin and try and get at the truth. It's very difficult. It takes a lot of time. But, we have to try and get the truth. Because unless we do, as the good book says, "seek the truth and the truth will set you free." And I think that's what we've got to try to do and I hope that somebody has the courage and the persistence to keep at it until we can get it.
Kyle Hence: Thank you very much. I'll be in touch with you.
Former Minister of National Defense, Paul Hellyer: Good.