If you were to ask skeptics – known presently as truthers from our mindless, crude efforts to marginalize disturbing points of view – whether official accounts of 9/11 hold up, how would they answer? Skeptics would answer no, official accounts do not hold up. Asked why, they would recall the evidence we have does not support official accounts. In fact, the evidence we have contradicts the official story. Asked to propose alternate accounts, skeptics counter that we need a new investigation before we can do that. They maintain that only a new investigation, properly conducted, can build the evidentiary foundation we need to determine what happened.
That raises a necessary question. Who, in the present environment, could possibly conduct a truly independent investigation? A major task for investigators of any crime is to persuade people who have evidence to cooperate. In this case, many suspect the federal government of criminal behavior, complicity in criminal behavior, negligence, or at the least, dishonesty. The suspected institutions hold most of the information investigators seek. How could investigators possibly persuade members of the federal government to reveal classified information about 9/11?
In this environment we have to ask, what would happen if the New York Times, or the House Intelligence Committee, convened an independent commission to investigate 9/11? What would we learn?
We know from many examples, dating back to Kennedy’s murder, what suppressive measures government is willing to use when it wants to restrict information. We also know how effective these measures are. It uses these methods whenever it wants to prevent secret information from becoming public: intimidation, distraction, impoundment, arraignments, indictments, imprisonment, solitary confinement, interrogation, detention without trial, unwarranted searches, interrogation, subpoenas, murder, delay, harassment, threats, character assassination, tax investigations, bribery, and the most common methods of all: dishonesty and bureaucratic obstruction, also known as foot dragging.
So we have to press a question: in this environment, what would an independent investigation look like? Who would conduct it? How would it be organized? What methods of inquiry would it use? What evidence would it uncover that we do not already have? Even with limited goals, what are its prospects for success?
We could add one more question about larger purposes to these practical matters. Do members of the 9/11 truth movement believe that a successful investigation would lead to reform, reduction, or even disintegration of the national security state? I believe processes of discovery about 9/11 will occur in the opposite direction. As the national security state loses its legitimacy, due to disclosures from courageous people like Edward Snowden and the terrible effects of inconclusive wars, investigations to reveal the truth about what happened on 9/11 become more and more productive.
I wonder if, at bottom, 9/11 skeptics want to place the imprimatur of prestige and authority on evidence we already have when they call for a new investigation. They crave the weight of a formal body behind evidence already collected but ignored. Formal bodies might also produce explanatory narratives from skilled attorneys. That is why they mention Congress as a candidate to organize or sponsor the investigation. Quite often, skeptics mention the way mainstream media overlook their advocacy and evidence. Clearly people hope that if some body with prestige and authority undertakes a new inquiry, the overall effort to overturn official accounts might receive more attention from the media. Then, they hope, more people would hear and believe what skeptics have said for more than a decade.
That scenario is not realistic. The federal government will not release its information. All of the investigators’ energy would go toward fighting the national security state for information it should have released on September 12, 2001. Even with rock solid credibility and abundant resources, such a body cannot win a contest for control over evidence currently classified. If an investigative body adds its imprimatur to evidence we already have, would that make a difference to people who currently regard members of the truth movement as nuts?
Such a change of opinion will not occur while mainstream media ridicule skeptics, and condemn anyone who voices these beliefs to intellectual ostracism: the fringe regions reserved for paranoid extremists and everyone else liable to question authority when they shouldn’t. These social pressures help to maintain an orderly environment. They remain both strong and effective. Most of all mainstream media, mainstays of orderliness, cannot change their well established positions about 9/11 unless their contacts in Washington call for a change, and no one expects that to happen.
Sarcastically, would investigators set up a witness protection program for all whistle blowers? Perhaps they could persuade whistle blowers to join Edward Snowden, a truth teller forced to accept Vladimir Putin’s protection because his own government considers him a spy. Alternately, the feds may want to set up a witness protection program for themselves.
No one can crack open that safe at the moment. The evidence is locked up. Nevertheless, current campaigns for truth argue that Congress or the media, or the two together, ought to undertake a new investigation. These two institutions have the required resources, the argument goes, as well as independence and prestige. They can be thorough, and do what the 9/11 Commission did not do: follow the evidence where it leads.
These points summarize problems with this line of reasoning:
- The federal government possesses information to answer the question, “What happened on 9/11?”
- The federal government has classified most of the information it has about 9/11. Unclassified information is already published.
- During the first round of investigations, the federal government clearly stated that it would not release classified information related to 9/11.
The conclusion hardly needs elucidation. Information a high profile body needs to discover what happened on 9/11 is classified. Therefore the federal government will not release it. Even if it is not classified, the information reveals complicity by members of the national security state, or by friends of the national security state. No government agency will release it at the behest of Congress or any other organization that would make the information public.