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We have to consider for a few moments the stated aim of individuals in the 9/11 truth movement. When people challenge their evidence, their reasoning, their implied conclusions, their analytical methods, or other elements of their case, 9/11 skeptics say that they simply request a new, impartial investigation. It is a reasonable aim, and a modest one. In its modesty, it deflects the challenges people would like to pose for the group.

A practical difficulty with this request is that movement leaders do not indicate who should conduct an impartial investigation. A qualified team of investigators would need resources, access to relevant information, and a variety of skills. They would need a charter of some sort to give their work direction and legitimacy. They would need to use methods of research that lend themselves to credible, defensible conclusions. Most of all, they would need to present their findings in a competent, reasonable manner.

With people like Cass Sunstein working for the White House, the battle lines in this conversation are already drawn. Some people will regard investigators’ results as incredible no matter what they conclude. In an adversarial arena, where so much is at stake, you have to imagine how an investigative team could produce results that would not be killed in the cradle, or – even worse in our political culture – simply ignored. Ridicule and disbelief are just two possibilities, oblivion is another.

Given these considerations, ask who would sponsor such a group of investigators. The sponsoring organization would select the group’s members, fund the group’s investigation, and help the group achieve its goals. It would facilitate the group’s activities, so the team could concentrate on research, organize and evaluate evidence, prepare summaries and reports, and assemble its results coherently. The sponsor could be inside of government, or outside of government. If inside, taxpayers would fund the investigation. If outside, money from private sources would fund the research, or volunteers would conduct the research gratis.

Whatever the source of funds, the group would need access to relevant evidence. Without access, it would have nothing to do.

To mount an independent investigation that has any connection with government would be a foolish, futile, and questionable enterprise. We already know from bad experience that government is untrustworthy. The 9/11 Commission already completed an investigation that is practically empty of answers to outstanding questions. Key agencies of government have no incentive or motivation to supply evidence required for an investigation. Why should we expect a new investigation conducted by government to improve the one it has already completed?

That leaves a privately sponsored investigation. Here the progress of research into the Kennedy assassination offers a good lesson. Efforts of private researchers over five decades revealed far more useful information about this event than the Warren Commission did in its twenty-six volumes. Pressure from private researchers, and from the public, gradually forced government agencies to make more documents available than they would have if left alone. The new evidence revealed since the Warren Commission report has made a difference. President Johnson’s purpose in creating the Warren Commission was to close the books on this crime. In that key aim, he and the Commission failed.

Credit belongs to the persistence and perseverance of all the Kennedy researchers who worked without sponsorship, without pay, and without an official charter to give weight to their results. They suffered mockery, threats, ridicule, ostracism, and contempt, yet they stayed with their research. Some individuals, like Mary Meyer, died for their loyalty to the truth. Others lost their jobs, their friends, and their reputations.

Researchers into the Kennedy assassination patiently made their case until they left their opponents looking like the Black Knight in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. A decisive preponderance of evidence has sliced off every defense for Warren Commission apologists, yet lone nut theorists continue to sputter their challenges. They used to speak so confidently, even superciliously, as if their opponents were beneath notice. Now, as evidence for a conspiracy accumulates, they stand as defeated, slightly pitiful amateurs who cannot admit they were mistaken.

As we think about prospects for a new investigation into 9/11, remember our government has become tyrannical in its desire to protect information. Certainly it is more closed about information related to 9/11 than it has been about records related to the Kennedy assassination. If government sponsored investigators could not gain access to relevant evidence, the same barriers would hold for private researchers. Freedom of Information Act requests will not do here.

As with the Kennedy assassination, private researchers have to rely on their ingenuity, their resourcefulness, and their investigative skills to make progress. We know that 9/11 is a more complex event than the Kennedy assassination. The operation required more coordination than sending a team of assassins to kill one man. Moreover, 9/11 does not have a prominent piece of evidence like the Zapruder film to serve as a touchstone for other work. The evidence about 9/11, like the operation, is more dispersed than for the Kennedy assassination.

No matter the difficulties, private groups and inidividuals will continue their work. Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, for one good example, have assembled sound evidence and arguments related to events in New York at the World Trade Center on September 11. They have professional pride, patriotism, and a sense of conscientious citizenship to motivate their work. If what the government says about 9/11 is true, then architects and engineers who design skyscrapers are incompetent and criminally negligent. If what the government says about 9/11 is false, we have some work to do. Credit belongs to this group, and to the professions it represents, for taking up this difficult fight.

Independent research into 9/11 may begin with skeptical, well reasoned assessments of official explanations. Naturally it does not end with that. Once more, the evolution of inquiry into the Kennedy assassination serves as a model for 9/11 researchers. What began as skepticism about the Warren Commission report evolved over years and decades into analysis of evidence that the official investigation ignored. Thirty years after the event, citizens demanded the government declassify records related to the murder. Fifty years after the event, numerous pieces of information assembled from multiple sources led to solid arguments that the Warren Commission was wrong.

Ultimately, government can and perhaps will have a role in uncovering what actually happened on 9/11. Under current conditions, however, no one in government would ever ever permit an open, thorough, and truthful investigation of the events that occurred in New York City, Shanksville, and Washington DC on that day. We are too close to the events, and government officials will not incriminate themselves. Neither would they do anything that compromises their ability to operate in secret.

Meantime, research conducted independently of government officials will continue – it must continue. Government would like the 9/11 truth movement to go away. We know that it will not, even if our republican freedoms continue to deteriorate. Part of the truth about 9/11, assembled in the United States and in other countries, has already convinced many citizens that the rest of the truth matters in this case. We know that, gradually, courageous people will compile evidence that places responsibility for 9/11 where it belongs.