UQ Wire: Big Holes Punched in 9-11 Official Line
D.C. Press Conference Punches Big Holes in 9-11 Official Lineby Michael Davidson and Joe Taglieri
FTW Staff Writers
[© COPYRIGHT 2002, All Rights Reserved, Michael C. Ruppert and From The Wilderness Publications, www.fromthewilderness.com. May be copied and distributed for non-profit purposes only.]
June 20, 2002, 15:00 PDT (FTW) -- A new coalition of 9-11 researchers, journalists, victims' families, and other truth seekers held an inaugural press conference June 10 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
The goal of UnansweredQuestions.org's press event and public inquiry was "to pose pointed, as yet unanswered, questions regarding the failure of our national security infrastructure, and the response that has sacrificed civil liberties and rewarded failure as opposed to ensuring performance and guaranteeing freedoms, now and in the future," according to a press release put out by the group. "UnansweredQuestions.org is being launched by an independent, non-partisan network of citizens concerned about the growing number of issues surrounding Sept. 11 that have yet to be addressed or resolved; and their related public safety and constitutional implications."
The event was moderated by Kyle Hence and former Assistant Secretary of Housing Catherine Austin Fitts, who have been at the helm of launching UnansweredQuestions.org. The day's two panels featured Mike Ruppert, FTW publisher/editor, as well as a host of researchers and activists focused on bringing out the truth regarding the U.S. government's actions, or lack thereof, relating to the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
Mary Schiavo is the lawyer for 32 victims' families. The former inspector general of the Department of Transportation and aviation expert was also a featured speaker at the press conference. Schiavo joined several of her colleagues who addressed the more than 300 in attendance in calling for an independent commission to investigate the events of Sept. 11.
"In every single aviation disaster, whether there was criminal activity or not, in every single one in the course of aviation history it has been followed -- not only where necessary a national criminal investigation -- but also a National Transportation Safety [Board] investigation into what went wrong in the aviation system so that it never happens again," said Schiavo. "This is the first time that families have been attempted to be silenced through a special fund, which I believe is about silence more than it is about money."
Another speaker, Lorna Brett of the Nolan Law Group, made a similar point, stating, "I live in the Midwest, and I feel like I'm doing focus groups when I'm out in my neighborhood and I ask people, 'What do you think about what happened on 9-11?' And it's amazing how many people say we couldn't have stopped it, it couldn't have happened, nobody could have known. And the truth is that a lot of people should have known."
Brett and Schiavo pointed out the cozy relationship that exists between the airline industry and the federal agencies designated to regulate it, particularly when it comes to security. Four federal investigations into airline security took place before Sept. 11, Schiavo said, "I know, I led up two of them. My successor has carried out more, including one investigation done after 9-11 that found security could be breached at will. Why?"
Schiavo continued. "Is it business as usual? Is it cheaper to have lax security? One would think that when they heard the statements of the administration when they said, 'Well yes, we knew there might be hijackings. We knew that something was afoot, but we thought they'd be traditional hijackings.' Does that truly mean that they were willing to risk passengers and planes, and even compromise the aviation system, because it was cheaper to allow it to happen than to take the necessary steps to prevent it?"
Schiavo concluded her point saying, "That is what we will prove in court. But that isn't enough, because there are many more questions than the court can answer, and that can only be done with a government investigation."
Another speaker on the panel echoed the call for a non-partisan, full and open government investigation. Julie Sweeney lost her husband, Brian, on United Flight 175 and is one of the victims' family members pursuing litigation against the government. On why she declined "$2 million" from the federal fund for 9-11 victims, Sweeney said, "I want the answers, and I want the answers to lead to accountability. And I want this accountability to be the catalyst for change in the airline industry and everything that goes along with that."
Sweeney expressed her dissatisfaction with the government's relationship with the airlines. "I will not sit back and be bought out in order to protect an industry that will never be destroyed because the American people depend on it too much," said Sweeney. "It's not going to go anywhere, planes will always be flying in the skies…Hiding behind the truth is an embarrassment to this country, leading to mistakes and lax attitudes. First and foremost, we need to begin to heal, and we need to make sure that this cannot be repeated."
Derrill Bodley, the father of a 9-11 victim, was in attendance as well. He had this to add in response to a statement made May 16 by Condoleezza Rice, Bush's national security advisor. "My biggest unanswered question today is this: Did my daughter, my 20-year-old daughter, my only child, have to die on Sept. 11 for the sake of the well-being of the civil aviation system? I have a big question in my mind whenever government officials denigrate the value of human life and well-being by comparing it to the value of a system." Responding to questions from the press about Bush Administration foreknowledge of 9-11, Rice said the government did nothing because "we would have risked shutting down the American civil aviation system with such generalized information."
Bodley also questioned Rice's statement from the same press conference that no one could have foreseen commercial jets being crashed into buildings, despite revelations in recent months from several whistleblowers that many in the U.S. intelligence community were warning of the likelihood of just such kinds of attacks from Islamic militants. "If the terrorists had envisioned it, if the U.S. government knew they had envisioned it, why didn't our intelligence community, including the NSA, envision it and compel…the airlines and the airports to protect us, to keep my daughter from dying on Sept. 11," said Bodley.
According to Brett, her law firm's suit on behalf of 9-11 victims has been prevented from really getting off the ground. The case's first status meeting, before the discovery phase starts, has not yet been scheduled. This, despite the fact the suit was filed in December.
"It's stunning to me that some of the people questioning some of our agencies are accused of being unpatriotic," Brett told the conference. "The world is watching us right now. If we can't examine our…federal agencies, our government, the influence of lobbyists on politics,…if we can't self-examine and cleanse that wound, reset that broken bone, what kind of example are we setting? Are we a super power, or are we super cowards?"
Steve Camarota, research director for the Center for Immigration Studies, spoke on how the U.S. immigration system is unable to keep terrorists out of the country. His group recently issued a report that found 48 terrorists have entered the U.S. "by every conceivable means" since 1993, the year the World Trade Center was bombed. Camarota said virtually all of these 48 terrorists have since been linked to Osama bin Laden. He also stated the Immigration and Naturalization Service and the State Department are overwhelmed by the number of visa and citizenship requests. "Congress just doesn't give them enough resources," he said, which is largely due to pressure from interest groups in favor of lax enforcement of immigration laws.
Researcher and freelance writer Richard Ochs posed the notion that there was a specific political agenda in the timing of the anthrax attacks on government officials last year. He said the anthrax letters sent to Democrats on Capitol Hill, the Supreme Court, and members of the media coincided with efforts to ram the USA Patriot Act through Congress. The Patriot Act has been criticized by many, including another panelist [see below], as unconstitutional.
After all the questions (and some heart-wrenching statements) following the first panel, a much needed break was taken. When the press conference reconvened, the second panel was on the dais with some new faces and some carryovers from panel one.
Catherine Austin Fitts opened the proceedings by introducing FTW's Mike Ruppert, who was on a telephone hook-up from Vancouver, British Columbia where he was giving a 9-11 lecture during a 12-day speaking tour. Ruppert began with a heartfelt and passionate declaration of condolences for, and solidarity with, the families of the 9-11 victims. He said they were "foremost in his heart." He then read a statement, published elsewhere in this issue, outlining the work FTW has been doing for the past nine months.
After Ruppert, Fitts introduced independent investigator and researcher John Judge. Judge is one of the co-founders of the National Coalition on Political Assassinations, which is responsible for getting the "JFK Records Act" passed. Judge's work has resulted in the release of over six million documents, the largest in U.S. history.
Judge began very simply, stating there most certainly was a point at which it was clear the United States, and particularly Washington, D.C., were under attack. That point was 9:05 a.m. on Sept. 11. That was the point at which a shoot-down order for Flight 77 was issued. Oddly, the plane continued unmolested towards the most restricted airspace in the world for 40 minutes before hitting the Pentagon. During this time Washington, D.C.'s Channel 8 broadcast that the plane was heading there and many government buildings were evacuated.
Judge quotes a Pentagon spokesman as saying that there was no mechanism to respond to this type of event. Yet Judge, a lifelong Washington, D.C. resident, says he is personally aware that fighters routinely intercept commercial planes that are only slightly off-course to escort them out of the area. No thinking person can believe that the largest, most powerful, and most sophisticated military in history has no way to protect its own headquarters.
Judge went further down this path in describing a march he organized in the late-1990s. The march, "A Day Without The Pentagon," was to end at the Pentagon, and Judge had to negotiate the physical movements of the marchers with, among others, Pentagon security. Judge was shown the absolute limit the marchers would be allowed to go to, explaining that the building was on "Delta Alert," the highest state of alert due to the constant threat of attack, especially by airplanes being flown into the building. Security explained that the threat was so serious the marchers' own safety required they be kept at a specific point on the grounds. Judge observed radar installed on the Pentagon roof, as well as anti-aircraft batteries on the grounds.
One of the questions Mike Ruppert posed in his opening was, "Why was the Andrews Air Force Base website changed after 9-11 to erase information about their combat readiness?" Judge went on to list the active military bases that had the ability to respond to Flight 77's approach to Washington, D.C. He listed the 121st Fighter Squadron of the 113th Fighter Wing, 321st Marine Fighter Squadron and the 49th Marine Air Guard. These three groups are based at Andrews, only 10 miles from the Pentagon. Yet the fighters that were launched against Flight 77 were scrambled from Langley Air Force Base, 140 miles away. Doing the math, Judge said, shows the fighters flying at sub-sonic speeds. He also reminded the audience that Anacostia Naval Air Station, the home of the District of Columbia National Guard, is right near the Pentagon as well.
Another source of protection for Washington, D.C. could have been provided by the 177th Air National Guard stationed at Pomona, N.J. This base could have provided coverage for both Washington, D.C. and New York yet was instructed to cease routine sorties two weeks prior to 9-11. Judge also quoted a Pentagon official who referred him to a New York Times article stating that on Sept. 8 half of U.S. fighters were taken out of service. A personal friend, whose son is stationed at Otis Air Force Base on Cape Cod, Mass., told Judge that fighter pilots who specifically requested permission to attempt the interception of Flight 77 were called back.
John Judge has the firm belief that a lot of the public's questions about the events of 9-11 will be answered when we find out what took place during the 40-minute period between the 9:05 shoot-down order and the impact at the Pentagon at 9:45.
The third speaker on the second panel was Tom Flocco, Philadelphia teacher and investigative journalist. Flocco is a good friend of FTW, and has done a great deal of work regarding the suspicious put option trading that took place prior to 9-11. At the UnansweredQuestions.org press conference, however, Flocco said he would go beyond that issue, lay out a series of new dots, and connect them.
One of his key points was that the investigation of financial activities surrounding 9-11 has produced a "control" list of 38 stocks to be scrutinized. This list has never been made public, and much of the investigation has been conducted in a manner that seems designed more to protect the possibly guilty than to provide Americans with information.
One of his most damning dots was the fact that on Oct. 19 investigators asked member firms of the National Association of Securities Dealers, which is every broker you can name, to "privately" share information with those "directly effected" by the inquiry. The government further requested that those handling the issue be "senior personnel who appreciate the sensitive nature of the case."
Flocco quoted a Boston Globe article reporting the National Security Agency (NSA) has been continuously destroying data since 9-11. The Globe reporter who wrote the article is unaware of any other information that's been published on this issue. NSA officials say the data is being destroyed because it involves Americans or American businesses, and they are not allowed to conduct such spying. Why they collected the information and saved it if it is illegal was not revealed.
But Flocco quotes the former head of FBI counter-terrorism as saying that the NSA's collection of data on Americans is perfectly legitimate if it involves either foreign espionage or terrorist activities. Whoever is correct on this issue is moot; the data is gone.
While not mentioning the put options directly, Flocco did discuss other anomalies that suggest foreknowledge. One of these is a surge in Treasury bill purchases. Treasury bills are the safest investment known, being backed by the full faith and credit of the United States. Just prior to 9-11 there was a single Treasury bill transaction of $5 billion.
Another reason to suspect foreknowledge is the recent indictments of two FBI agents who were apparently playing the stock market based on information derived from investigations. They were also passing this information on to others, and in one case an individual connected to the agents cashed out a $300,000 portfolio, telling the broker he expected the Dow Jones index to soon drop by about two-thirds.
Other issues covered by Flocco included the employment by Enron of former CIA agents, the employment by Enron of current CIA agents who were given leaves of absence from the agency to work for Enron, and the truly Byzantine entanglements of Deutschebank, the CIA's no. 3 man A.B. "Buzzy" Krongard, Bayer, United Air Lines, and former Bush I counselor John Schmitz.
Flocco ended his presentation with a stinging attack on C-SPAN. Despite repeated pleading and begging using C-SPAN's own policy of covering events at the National Press Club, C-SPAN chose to ignore the UnansweredQuestions.org press conference, instead airing reruns of Capitol Journal.
Next up was Michael Springmann, an attorney with 20 years of government service, who had been head of the visa section at the U.S. consulate in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Springmann reported that at least 100 visas he had denied were eventually issued by consular officials that were known CIA agents, or persons Springmann suspected were CIA agents.
He denied visas to two Pakistanis who wanted to go to a trade show, but didn't know what trade show they were going to, or even what city it was in. He denied visa approval for a Sudanese individual he felt had no legitimate reason for entering the U.S. but was overruled by a consular official, who said "we need him" for national security reasons.
While this was going on in the late-'80s Springmann thought he was witnessing "visa fraud," believing that people were paying bribes to officials to get visas they would otherwise be denied. He later found he was wrong. What Springmann actually saw was the CIA bringing terrorists into the United States for training against the Soviet Union's troops in Afghanistan. He believes this is still going on and points out that 15 of the 19 named 9-11 hijackers got their visas in Jeddah at, in one of the more amazing Freudian slips in history, what Springmann calls the "CIA consulate."
He points out that all of these visas were issued under the "visa express" program, a system under which questionable visa paperwork is mingled with large amounts of ordinary paperwork in the hope it will sail through unnoticed. Celerino Castillo, former Drug Enforcement Agency officer says the "visa express" program was commonly used for CIA assets in Central America. Springmann rattled off a long list of major mainstream media outlets he has approached with his story. Not one has expressed any interest.
While the events of 9-11 have sparked widespread skepticism of the official government story and an almost equally widespread belief that our government is a criminal enterprise, the reaction to that September day is having tremendous ramifications for every American. Speaking to that point was Jennifer Van Bergen. Van Bergen is an attorney, a faculty member at the New School for Social Research in New York, and a contributing editor to truthout.org. Van Bergen published a six-part series on the Patriot Act on truthout.org and spoke about it at the press conference.
She pointed out that the act, which at about 400 pages is not known to have been read in its entirety by a single legislator voting on it, nullifies several portions of the U.S. Constitution. It also significantly increases the burden on law enforcement, and shifts a huge amount of power to the president. She also pointed out that no one has said 9-11 would have been prevented had the new law been in effect.
Specifically, Van Bergen pointed out that Section 216 of the Patriot Act allows law enforcement agents to tap an individual's phone and computer without probable cause. All that's required for the rubber stamp warrant is an officer's statement that the tap will be "relevant" to an investigation. Section 218 allows secret searches of private homes and businesses if the search has a "significant foreign intelligence purpose."
Section 802 creates a new crime, "domestic terrorism," defined as "any act designed to intimidate or coerce change in government policy." Van Bergen said that under the act, all civil disobedience is now "domestic terrorism," and a crime. Section 411 states any organization endorsing the type of behavior criminalized in Section 802 will be classified as a "terrorist organization." So conceivably under the Patriot Act, parents blocking an intersection to demand a traffic light be installed to protect their children going to and from school are criminals.
Despite being shutout by C-SPAN, the UnansweredQuestions.org press conference was well attended, with a great deal of domestic, as well as foreign, media present. It's obvious the mainstream media has a vested interest in following the Bush Administration's story blindly, and so the world will have to rely on the "alternative" press to get the information it needs. The press conference was the first event to bring people from different disciplines together to search for the truth. It signaled the beginning of a time in which, according to Tom Flocco, "People can no longer follow First Lady Laura Bush's advice when she says, 'Don't worry. Tell your children not to be afraid.'"