UQ Wire: It’s Patriotic to Ask Why
It’s Patriotic to Ask Why: 9/11 Unanswered Questions
Offered by a friend of UQ *
June 18, 2002
On June 10th, a band of concerned citizens came together at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. to raise questions about September 11th. They called the meeting the 9/11and Public Safety Conference. Among them were members of families who had lost a loved one on September 11th. These people are not satisfied with the answers they are being given by our government about 9/11.
The quiet event of private citizens, not covered by major news media, may nonetheless one day be seen as having marked a turning point in American collective thought and in the course of democracy worldwide. While the Bush Administration declares victory against evil at every turn and uses its own declarations to justify further acts of aggression, Americans are slowly waking up to the true meaning of the Bush agenda.
On June 14th, The Guardian published a statement (titled “Not in My Name”) by another group of concerned Americans which states that the signers refuse to sit by and do nothing while their government abrogates more power to itself and tramples on the rights of citizens and foreign nationals alike.
The bi-partisan House Judiciary Committee has just issued a 15-page inquiry to the Department of Justice, asking Ashcroft to explain how, and under what authority, the USA PATRIOT Act and related measures have been implemented by the DOJ.
More and more family members of those killed on 9/11 are refusing to be bought out and silenced by accepting money from the 9/11 government fund, and are turning to litigation in order to get answers and redress wrongs they feel were committed by their own country.
The 9/11 and Public Safety Conference brought together a diverse and committed group, each of whom contributed unique information. Catherine Austin Fitts, former Assistant Secretary of Housing under Bush I, was the moderator.
In the first panel, Julie Sweeney, who lost her husband in United Airlines flight 175, said she was pursuing litigation rather than accepting money from the government relief fund because “I can’t accept money from our government under the façade of goodness and generosity when on the flip side, they have capped the funds available to be recovered and they have limited the liability of the airlines for the approximately 271 people on the four planes.”
Ms. Sweeney stated that when she researched the fund it became “blatantly obvious to me that the priority was not the victims and their families like they were saying, but the airline industry that they were determined to save and protect.” She said she felt “very let down by a government that I was taught from a very young age to trust,” adding that she “will not sit back and be bought out in order to protect an industry that will never be destroyed because Americans depend on it too much.”
Lorna Brett, Director of Media Relations at the Nolan Law Group in Chicago, said, “It’s patriotic to ask why. Are we a superpower or are we supercowards?”
Mary Schiavo, former Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Transportation under both Bush I and Clinton, and a lawyer for thirty-two families from all 9/11 hijacked planes, made a powerful case for egregious airline and government negligence. Schiavo, who also represents Ms. Sweeney, said she believed that “families have been attempted to be silenced” by those who initiated the special fund. She said that the actions of the airlines and government are “about silence more so than about money.” Why? “Because the money in the end is the same … If you want to bail out the airlines, bail out the airlines – you don’t have to silence the families of the victims to do so.”
Schiavo declared that the real question was not about what the government or airlines should have known, but about what they did know – “and believe me, they knew a lot.”
She stated that every single aviation disaster in history, except for 9/11, had been followed by not only a criminal investigation but a national transportation safety investigation.
Most importantly, Schiavo noted that she had discovered that airline lobbyists had approached members of congress “to get their bailout, their immunity,” from prosecution by victims starting on 9/11. Why did the airlines rush to the hill to change the law? Because of a damaging admission in court documents back in 1970 by Pan Am airlines that airline hijacking was both foreseeable and foreseen, that they knew that hijackers go after airlines, and that their insurance protected against it.
This, Schiavo pointed out, shows that the claim by the Bush administration that no one could’ve foreseen this happening is “absolutely false.” She emphasized that, contrary to government claims that they were prepared only for terrorist bombings, far from being unforeseen, in the past thirty years there have been 682 airlines hijackings worldwide, in contrast to 59 shoot-downs and only 31 bombings. Thus, what the government claimed they thought was the most likely scenario was, in fact, the least likely one. This is information as readily available to the government as to a private aviation attorney.
Schiavo ended with the question: “Does this truly mean they were willing to risk passengers and planes and even the compromise of the aviation system because it was cheaper to allow it to happen than to take the necessary steps to prevent it?” For her clients, Ms. Schiavo declared, “This is what we will prove in court.”
Panels 2 and 3 were made up of investigators and researchers.
Michael Ruppert, a former LAPD officer and the publisher of www.fromthewilderness.com, raised many questions. He asserted that the Bush Administration knew hijacked planes were going to be used as weapons. “Why else would the G-8 Conference in Genoa less than a year earlier have had extensive preparations to prevent hijacked aircraft from being used as weapons? President Bush was there, surrounded by anti-aircraft weapons. Was he not briefed?”
“Why has NO ONE forcefully demanded an explanation from the Administration as to why the head of the Pakistani Intelligence Service, the ISI, wired $100,000 to Mohammed Atta before the attacks and then was happily in Washington, D.C. meeting with the heads of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees on September 11th?
“Why is the Wall Street Journal, or any other major paper, not investigated the fact that the aide to the head of the ISI who wired the money to Atta – Ahmad Humar Shiekh – is also the lead suspect in the murder of reporter Daniel Pearl?”
Ruppert declared “I am one of those who believe that the last vestige of an uncompromised rule of law is in the civil courts,” and that congressional committees are likely to try to hide evidence. He closed with the statement that “unmitigated and fearless accountability is the standard for all of us today.”
John Judge, a D.C. resident, researcher, and co-founder of the Coalition on Political Assassinations, which was instrumental in obtaining the release of the JFK records, discussed air defenses, particularly in relation to the Pentagon. Judge had been told by Pentagon officials when he was there in the mid-1990s that the building was protected by radar and surface-to-air missiles. He pointed out that it is standard FAA and Norad procedure to intercept any plane flying without authorization into the highly restricted space around D.C.
Judge also noted several reports by other investigators of evidence that stand-down orders had been issued. One report was that the 177th Air National Guard in Pomona, New Jersey, closer to D.C. than Andrews Air Force Base, was told to stop putting jets in the air on a regular basis only two weeks before 9/11.
Tom Flocco, investigative journalist, discussed insider trading, connecting a string of press reports which at minimum collectively show that the statement of intelligence agency spokesman Tom Crispell when he remarked that he “had no way of knowing that operations are being affected by assets outside our country” was disingenuous.
J. Michael Springman, Esq., the former chief of the Visa Section in Juddah, Saudi Arabia and an attorney with twenty years in the U.S. foreign service, told numerous stories of CIA staff in Juddah overriding Springman’s denial of visas in the 1980s for Pakistani, Sudanese and other individuals, whom he felt had not satisfied legal requirements under the Immigration and Nationality Act to travel into the United States. Springman said that he later learned that these individuals were being recruited to fight in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union. He estimated that as many as 100 people got visas through him being overruled this way.
In contract to Springman’s personal testimony of intentional consular visa fraud by State and CIA officials, Dr. Stephen Camerado, Director of Research at the Center for Immigration Studies (www.CIS.org), stated that he did not find any evidence of conspiracy, but found much evidence of incompetence. CIS has issued a report of the immigration system weaknesses which concludes that the most of the cases where terrorists obtained entry into the United States were through visas issued overseas and about half of the cases involved violations of visa limitations, such as overstaying a tourist visa. Camerado concluded that the breaches were the result of “democratic processes” being “heavily penetrated by interest groups.”
Jennifer Van Bergen gave a short speech, published earlier this week on truthout, on the PATRIOT Act and the U.S. Constitution.
Richard Ochs, a freelance writer and researcher, spoke about the strange coincidence between the timing of the anthrax threats to Democratic senators, which occurred right when Democratic leaders were attempting to block the passage of the PATRIOT Act. He pointed out that Senator Leahy received an anthrax threat at the very time he was asking for hearings on Bush’s military tribunal order. Ochs further noted the ineptness of the FBI investigation into the anthrax threat, and the fact that the United States was reported to have been developing a genetically enhanced version of anthrax in violation of the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention.
The 9/11 and Public Safety Conference can be listened to via stream audio at http://www.unansweredquestions.org. Videos can be ordered and a full written transcript of the conference has been posted on the site for download or reading.
* - Offered by a friend of UQ.