Reflections – January 2013
Friends:Those who’ve followed these postings know that my legal battle with the federal government over a $16,000 fine (for traveling to Iraq to bring medicine without a U.S. license) has ended. The judge dismissed the government’s efforts to collect saying the government waited too long to sue. See Bert’s Case for a history of the legal issues.
Last month I wrote about my first meeting with NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman. This month I’ll discuss my second (very brief) meeting with him – under circumstances that were unusual and memorable for me.
Less than one month after September 11, 2001, I was traveling by train from Boston to New York. The woman taking our tickets came by excited and pleased: she said the U.S. had started bombing Afghanistan.
In New York City I went to visit an acquaintance studying at NYU. In the course of our meeting he suggested I walk the two miles south to lower Manhattan to the scene of the destruction of the World Trade Center Towers. I decided to do this.
There have been three times recently in my life when I’ve been filled with a profound sense of deep sadness. One was on a five-day Bearing Witness retreat to Auschwitz-Birkenau in Poland; one was in the children’s wards of Iraqi hospitals; and the third was as I neared the site of the World Trade Center.
The air was still thick with the dust of pulverized concrete, office furnishings, human remains. The sidewalks and streets were covered with inches of this gray dust everywhere. On the walls of buildings and on make-shift bulletin boards were the tragic posters and photos from family members and friends pleading for any news of their missing loved ones.
I was profoundly affected and saddened by what I saw that afternoon.
My sadness was not only an emotional reaction to this scene of great suffering and death. There was an added dimension to it. Remember that at this time I was traveling once or twice a year to Iraq. I went to bring medicines which the U.S. had embargoed to children in need. And to bring back the reality of Iraqi suffering which Americans were so ignorant of. My natural assumption at the time, four weeks after 9/11, was that the 9/11 attack was blowback – the unexpected consequence of anger at the U.S. policy of causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children to overthrow the Iraqi regime.
This knowledge contributed to my state of mind the rest of that day and the next: I felt that I knew something of urgent importance to the country: I knew (at least one reason) why there was such great anger towards the U.S. that would lead people to so hate us that they would kill thousands on September 11th.
The next morning I wandered in New York City in a daze. I was still affected by my belief that if the country could only wake up to what we had done in Iraq – to the destruction of Iraq’s civilian infrastructure and economic sanctions and the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, sick and elderly – then we could understand what had happened … and prevent another disaster.
I was near Times Square and knew where the New York Times building is located. I walked there, still in a daze. A cameraman was standing outside the main door and I said to him – I needed to say it to someone! – Do you know that half a million children have died in Iraq? He at first gave me the reflexive response he’d been taught: Well whose fault is that – it’s Saddam Hussein’s fault. Then when he saw the deep grief in my face he softened his manner. But I didn’t want to continue talking to him.
Instead I walked inside the building, thinking perhaps there might be someone on the foreign desk who’d be willing to talk with me. Inside the lobby of The NY Times I looked around for a building phone. As I was doing this, Tom Friedman came across the lobby. I said, “Mr. Friedman” and he answered, “Yes” – and I asked if I could have just a minute of his time. He said, “No,” rather abruptly, but then softened a bit and said that he was in a hurry to get somewhere.
So here I stood, in the halls of media power of the American Empire. And about a month after 9/11 I could find no one interested in what I had to say. I still felt dazed, like moving through a dream. As I stood there, a security guard came up and told me to leave. I did. But he followed me onto the sidewalk and told me to leave there. I was not in a mood to argue that this was public property, I left and continued to wander aimlessly the streets of New York City trying to process my emotions.
(I think this kind of dissonance is what American soldiers feel when no one here wants to hear what they have to say about the reality of a war they’ve come from. Few want to hear their truth!)
I continued to believe the official story of 9/11 except for the reason given, “they hate us because of our freedoms.” I continued to believe that this was a case of blowback. About a month after 9/11, Chalmers Johnson wrote an excellent article supporting his belief in blowback in The Nation magazine. When he spoke in Seattle, I reminded him of the impact of U.S. foreign policy on Iraqis – and he thanked me for that good reminder. As he wrote in his article, “The suicidal assassins of September 11, 2001, did not ‘attack America,’ … they attacked American foreign policy.”
I continued to believe that 9/11 was a dramatic instance of blowback until a few years after 2001. A friend invited a dozen of us to his office and gave each of us a copy of Professor David Ray Griffin’s book The New Pearl Harbor. I read it and was seriously impressed, but did nothing after. Except for reading his next book on 9/11, then the next, finally after enough books I had to ask myself, Well, what do I really believe? The answer came back, I simply cannot believe the government story of 9/11: it involves too many contradictions and impossibilities … too many miracles, as it were.
I am now encouraged in my opinion by the thousands of professional scientists, architects and engineers, CIA and other intelligence professionals, commercial and military pilots and military veterans who also do not believe the official story. Please have a look at the credentials of several dozens of these people who have signed their names to the various organizations calling for an independent investigation into the events of 9/11.
You will see that there are distinguished scientists, architects and engineers with decades of experience, 28- and 30-year veterans of the CIA (including one who prepared the President’s Daily Brief for three U.S. presidents); 35- and 40-year career military and commercial airline pilots; and highly decorated Marine, Navy, Army and Air Force officers. These are not impressionable young people, perhaps taken in by selected evidence, but experienced, mature adults with decades of service in their professions.
For those readers who may wish to dismiss what I write – based on the almost total lack of any mainstream media coverage of a credible, respected challenge to the official government story of 9/11 – may I respectfully ask first that you take a look at the credentials of a few of the thousands of those professionals who have been willing to admit their serious doubt and demand a serious investigation.
Eighteen months ago on this website, I posted my article about one aspect of the 9/11 events. It is the most easily, visually shown: the collapse of the third steel-framed high-rise skyscraper on 9/11. If you are willing, now, to begin to look into the reasons why so many competent professionals have questions about 9/11, please look at a new 15-minute Special Feature video narrated by Ed Asner with testimony from many scientists, architects, and building engineers. (It’s at tinyurl.com/EdAsnerOnPBS.)
If the video of the collapse of World Trade Center 7 has caught your interest, here is a link to an hour-long video which Colorado Public TV aired as part of their fund-raising drive. It deals with evidence about the collapse of the iconic Twin Towers. After Colorado PBS broadcast this video, it became the most widely watched on PBS’ national online website! (It’s at tinyurl.com/911OnPBS.)
Finally, the best author I know in presenting 9/11 information is David Ray Griffin. He has written ten books challenging different aspects of the official story. If you don’t want to read all ten, you could not do better than to read his 2011 book 9/11 Ten Years Later. The subtitle of the book is When State Crimes Against Democracy Succeed.
In 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. One poll showed that 75% of Americans do not believe that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone assassin. There are dedicated investigators who have continued to work for almost 50 years to bring to light what really happened. One of them is Vincent Salandria. He recently wrote an interesting article about his meeting with Arlen Specter, the originator of the ‘magic bullet’ theory of the JFK assassination. Here is a brief part of his article:
I gave Specter a copy of James W. Douglass’s book, JFK and the Unspeakable. I said it was the best book on the assassination, and that it was dedicated to a friend of mine and me.
…. I know now, that even if the U.S. public ever was ready to accept the true historical meaning of the Kennedy assassination, that there are and have been no institutional structures open to them with which they could hope to countervail successfully the Kennedy killers, the enormous power of the U.S. empire and its warfare state.
I know that my efforts to convince people to oppose Kennedy’s assassins were feckless. But was that same effort of a small community of people to establish the historical truth of the Kennedy assassination valueless? I think not. I feel that historical truth is the polestar which guides humankind when we grope for an accurate diagnosis of a crisis. Without historical truth, an accurate diagnosis of the nature and cause of crisis, we would have no direction on how to move to solve societal disease.
Chalmers Johnson wrote in his book Nemesis: the Last Days of the American Republic:
“A nation can be one or the other, a democracy or an imperialist, but it can’t be both. If it sticks to imperialism, it will, like the old Roman Republic, on which so much of our system was modeled, like the old Roman Republic, it will lose its democracy to a domestic dictatorship.”
For those who may still be in doubt as to why the issue is important and deserves their time and attention, please go to the hour-long video I mentioned above – tinyurl.com/911OnPBS – and watch just the first 90 seconds. After reminding us of what has happened already because of our story of 9/11, it concludes this way: “Ignoring the World Trade Center evidence is no longer an option.”