I thought telling “the story” from the perspective of a single murder might help some to understand.
On March 3rd, 2009, the September Eleventh Advocates wrote an open letter to Sen. Patrick Leahy. Co-founder of Student Scholars For 9/11 Truth, Michael Jackman, is currently doing a weekly podcast entitled, “You Don’t Know Jackman” for the Keene Equinox. This week, he decided that he was going to read the September Eleventh Advocates letter for everyone to hear. Michael did a fantastic job reading this letter. Please spread this around, and let everyone hear what the family members have to say.
March 3, 2009
Dear Senator Leahy,
We felt compelled to write to you regarding your recent call for the formation of a “Truth Commission”. According to your press comments, this Commission is supposed to look at the following:
- the politicization of prosecution in the Justice Department
- the wiretapping of U.S. citizens
- the flawed intelligence used to justify the invasion of Iraq
- the use of torture at Guantanamo and so-called black sites abroad
These are serious allegations of criminal activity by certain members of the Bush Administration. While we applaud your initiative in looking into these matters, we feel this approach is wrong.
As the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, you already have the responsibility and legal authority to investigate matters relating to federal criminal law without having to form a special commission. You are also bound by your oath of office to support and uphold the Constitution by ensuring that those who govern also abide by the rule of law.
Furthermore, a “Truth Commission” will not fix the real problems that our country faces, nor will it guarantee that we will get to the truth.
The 9/11 Commission, which you want to model your commission after, is a perfect example of that flawed process.
The 9/11 Commission was mandated to follow the facts surrounding the events of September 11, 2001 to wherever they might lead and make national security recommendations based upon those facts. Sadly, prior to even beginning their investigation, like you, the 9/11 Commissioners agreed amongst themselves that their role was to /fact find, not fault find/.
This decision resulted in individuals not being held accountable for their specific failures. These people were shown to be incompetent in the 9/11 Commission’s Final Report but were left in their positions, or worse, promoted. No one should be allowed to make this compromise on behalf of the American people. How can any agency be deemed fixed or reformed if the people working there are inept? How can anyone feel safer?
At the 9/11 Commission hearings, little actual evidence was ever produced. Many individuals were not sworn in, critical witnesses were either not called to testify or were permitted to dictate the parameters of their own questioning, pertinent questions were omitted and there was little follow-up. Whistleblower testimony was suppressed or avoided all together. The National Security Agency, an intelligence agency that is responsible for the collection and analysis of foreign communications and foreign intelligence, was barely investigated at all.
With the narrative of the 9/11 Commission’s final report predetermined and with the preexisting intention to never hold anyone accountable in place, the 9/11 Commission was doomed to fail as a real investigation.
The end result of the 9/11 Commission’s work was that some of the recommendations that they produced were in fact, based on distortions and omissions. Since their mandate of a complete accounting was ignored, the recommendations were incomplete at best.
There was clearly no desire on the part of Congress to force the Commission to meet its legislative mandate. Accordingly, there were no repercussions for the fact that the investigation and its recommendations were incomplete. It could be surmised that holding no one accountable was more important than uncovering and disclosing the truth. This could compromise the future safety of American citizens.
Why then would you want to model another Commission after it? Why would you want another Commission at all?
Senator Leahy, in light of the fact that the 9/11 Commission’s worst offense was not fully investigating the September 11th attacks, completing that investigation should also be included on your list of matters to be examined.
America’s founding fathers, prescient in their fears of unrestrained power, created three separate but equal branches of government. They had hoped to maintain and enforce the limits of the Executive Branch.
The Bush Administration was allowed to circumvent too many Constitutional restrictions effectively undermining America’s system of justice, our nation’s integrity and commitment to the rule of law. The Bush Administration’s seizing of power proves the adage that “absolute power corrupts absolutely”.
The days of no fault government must end; and where there is clear criminal activity, people must be prosecuted. The law must be upheld without exception before we can be assured of the safety of the nation.
These duties cannot be ignored for the sake of expediency.
Senator Leahy, our nation needs you to investigate and, if warranted, refer the cases for criminal prosecution in transparent trials. We do not need another meaningless commission resulting in no accountability at the taxpayers’ expense. Show all Americans that you have the courage to uphold the law, bring accountability to those who abuse their positions of power and prevent such abuses from happening again.
The November 2008 elections proved that Americans want the rule of law restored for those in Washington who are elected to represent us. You, Senator Leahy, are in the position to lead the way and work toward the change we were promised.
September 11th Advocates
Lorie Van Auken
In the comments in this thread, I said, “whether or not this was just a PR stunt, only time will tell.” Strike one. - Jon
Press Conference by the President
8:01 P.M. EST
February 9, 2009
THE PRESIDENT: Good evening, everybody. Please be seated.
Before I take your questions tonight, I’d like to speak briefly about the state of our economy and why I believe we need to put this recovery plan in motion as soon as possible.
I took a trip to Elkhart, Indiana today. Elkhart is a place that has lost jobs faster than anywhere else in America. In one year, the unemployment rate went from 4.7 percent to 15.3 percent. Companies that have sustained this community for years are shedding jobs at an alarming speed, and the people who’ve lost them have no idea what to do or who to turn to. They can’t pay their bills and they’ve stopped spending money. And because they’ve stopped spending money, more businesses have been forced to lay off more workers. In fact, local TV stations have started running public service announcements that tell people where to find food banks, even as the food banks don’t have enough to meet the demand.
Read the rest of this entry »
For Immediate Release
February 10, 2009
The Military Commissions System at Guantanamo Bay was an attempt by the Bush Administration to create an “extralegal zone”, wherein the rule of law was ignored. Many Guantanamo detainees were subject to detention without charges, rendition and illegal torture. The Military Commissions System, which allowed evidence obtained through torture and coercive interrogation tactics, has been a dismal failure both legally and practically. The Supreme Court has rejected the policies of this system each time it has reviewed them. Because of the Bush Administration’s mistaken belief in its ability to craft a new legal system, which clearly created avoidable moral and legal challenges, justice may never be served.
President Obama has paused all proceedings at Guantanamo Bay for 120 days in order for his legal team to attempt to design a system in which the verdicts will withstand the scrutiny of the inevitable appeals process. He is rightfully attempting to fix the quagmire that was created by the previous administration.
If, ultimately, the detainees held at Guantanamo Bay are unable to be properly prosecuted because of the fatal flaws in the system, then those in the Bush Administration who were responsible for creating that failed system should be held accountable.
# # #
Lorie Van Auken
Additionally, please see earlier statements.
September 11th Advocates Statement Regarding the Closing of Guantanamo Bay
January 23, 2009
The Guantanamo Bay Detention Center continues to be an enormous stain on America’s reputation. Newly elected President Obama has taken the first step in removing this stain by keeping his campaign promise to the American people.
The temporary halting of proceedings at Gitmo gives us the “audacity to hope” that President Obama will be able to restore America’s good name, which has been repeatedly tarnished during the past eight years.
We appreciate the tough decisions that President Obama has been forced to make and admire him for taking these difficult tasks on. We look forward to hearing his plan for closing Guantanamo Bay forever, finding a just way to try the detainees and putting an end to this horrific chapter in America’s history.
# # #
Lorie Van Auken
September 11th Advocates Statement
April 3, 2008
As women whose husbands were killed on September 11 2001, we feel strongly that the perpetrators of that horrific crime should be brought to justice. But first it is imperative to prove that these six detainees are indeed the guilty parties.
Unfortunately, the Administration insists on trying the suspects in the broken military commissions system. Prosecuting these men within a system that is secretive in nature and lacking in due process, and which uses evidence tainted by questionable interrogation methods and possibly even torture, is a dangerous endeavor. All Americans, and indeed the entire international community, must have the opportunity to witness for themselves the body of evidence that ties these individuals to the 9/11 terrorists’ plot. Otherwise the credibility of any verdict will lack legitimacy. Moreover, unless these trials are above reproach, any convictions will bring the wrath of the international community, damaging what is left of America’s standing in the world. Considering that we continue to rely heavily on cooperation from other nations to provide us with intelligence information on would be terrorists, this course of action can only be detrimental to these crucial relationships, thereby jeopardizing our national security.
These trials, when they finally take place, will be scrutinized around the globe. Unless the victims’ families, the American public and the entire world can be convinced that we are trying and convicting the people who are truly responsible for the 9/11 crimes, these trials will be seen as a miserable failure, dimming our prospects of improved international relationships, and making us more vulnerable to terrorist attacks in the future.
On behalf of ourselves, our husbands, and our families, we support the American Civil Liberties Union in its pursuit of justice and insistence on due process. The only outcome worth pursuing is the truth, and the only way get there is by fair trials that uphold the Constitution.
September 11th Advocates
Lorie Van Auken
Yesterday, President Obama met with several 9/11 Family Members. Those that are familiar to us would be Sally Regenhard, Lorie Van Auken, Mindy Kleinberg, Patty Casazza, and Kristen Breitweiser.
Washington Post reports:
Lorie Van Auken, a leader of September 11th Advocates, a group headed by four New Jersey women who lost their husbands in the attacks, called the meeting “impressive,” saying Obama gave detailed answers to their questions and allayed many of their concerns. She said the president did not rule out some form of military commissions in the future and acknowledged shortcomings in dealing with terrorism suspects in regular criminal courts.
“He acknowledged this was quite a mess and it really needed to be looked at by his legal team and by him,” said Van Auken, whose husband, Kenneth Van Auken, was killed in the World Trade Center and whose group supports closing Guantanamo Bay. “I think everybody recognized, no matter which side of the issue they’re on, that this is a quagmire that will not be solved easily.”
Mindy Kleinberg, another member of the group, said Obama also made clear that “nobody is just going to get freed by the closing of Guantanamo.”
“I think the point was that you have to make sure they have a system in place that can actually work,” said Kleinberg, whose husband, Alan Kleinberg, also died in the World Trade Center. “I think even the people who came to the meeting who wanted to keep it open could understand his point of view.”
Sally Regenhard had this to say:
“He said that he’s going to make sure that justice is done regarding the terrorists,” she said in a telephone interview. “And we’ll have an open line of communication with the White House regarding the family members. That’s revolutionary.”
“He assured us that he wants the same things that we want,” Regenhard added.
Now, I’m no fan of President Obama, but the fact that he was willing to give time to the families, and promised them “an open line of communication with the White House” is as Sally Regenhard said, “revolutionary.” Especially when you take into account how the previous White House treated the 9/11 families.
So thank you President Obama for giving them the time of day.
Michael D. Shear, Peter Finn and Dan Eggen
The Washington Post
Thursday, February 5, 2009; 6:23 PM
President Obama will gather tomorrow with victims and families of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and U.S.S. Cole bombing for a face-to-face meeting as his administration struggles to decide how to handle detainees at Guatanamo Bay, Cuba, several of those invited said.
The previously undisclosed meeting at the White House tomorrow afternoon will give the new president a chance to explain his decision to close the controversial prison facility where the U.S. has placed many suspected terrorists since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
Obama has been assailed by conservative critics who say the decision to close the facility within a year will lead to putting many of those terrorists back on the street. In a recent interview, former vice president Dick Cheney, an architect of the Bush administration’s war on terror, criticized the decision as reckless.
In an interview with Politico.com, Cheney accused the Obama administration of following “campaign rhetoric” on Guantanamo and warned that the new president’s policies could put the country at greater risk of a new attack.
“When we get people who are more concerned about reading the rights to an al-Qaeda terrorist than they are with protecting the United States against people who are absolutely committed to do anything they can to kill Americans, then I worry,” Cheney said.
Obama has defended his decision, saying that closing the facility will make the country safer by putting an end to one of the most controversial symbols of the U.S.-led war against terrorism. He said that symbol has helped terrorists recruit new volunteers.
One 9/11 activist, who declined to be identified talking about the meeting, said “fireworks” are likely at the gathering because it will include both relatives who oppose and those who support Obama’s plan to close Guantanamo Bay. “There’s been some noise that some families don’t like the idea and others do, so this is a chance to discuss that,” the activist said.
Jim Riches, a retired New York firefighter whose son, Jimmy Riches, died in the 9-11 attacks, said in an interview Thursday that he wants to hear directly from President Obama what the government intends to do with the prisoners.
“I want to know, are they going to drop the charges? Are they going to try them in another court?” he said. “I want to let them know that these men are dangerous.”
Riches praised Obama for agreeing to a meeting so soon after taking office.
“The issue tomorrow is what are they going to do with those detainees. We want justice for the ones that said they did it,” he said. “Some people may say it’s a political move. But I want my voice to be heard. It’s a sign of an open door policy, and that’s good.”
Obama aides did not respond to questions about the meeting. The administration may want to impress on families that they are not dropping charges against alleged terrorists, including Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the 9/11 attacks who is facing capital charges in Guantanamo, and that he and others will be brought to justice.
Obama had instructed military prosecutors to seek a 120-day continuance in the military commissions in Guantanamo Bay while the administration studied how to handle the approximately 245 detainees at the facility when the prison in Cuba is closed. In an executive order, Obama said the prison should be closed within a year.
But the request for a stay was rejected by the chief military judge in Guantanamo, who decided to proceed with the arraignment Monday of Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, who is accused of organizing the 2000 attack on the U.S.S. Cole.
The refusal by Judge James Pohl, an Army Colonel, has left the administration with little choice but to withdraw the charges “without prejudice” against Nashiri, a procedural move that allows the government to halt proceedings without reference to the judge.
The administration has yet to act in the case, and Friday’s meeting may, in part, be to explain that the charges can be reinstated at a later date in some reformed military commissions system. The tactic was also used by the Bush administration when it wanted to stop various proceedings in Guantanamo. The Pentagon has dismissed without prejudice charges in six cases, and reinstated them later in three of those cases.
If Nashiri, a Saudi facing capital charges, pleads guilty Monday, he could box in the administration as the legal principle of double-jeopardy would apply and it would be very difficult to move his case to another court, according to defense attorneys.
Withdrawing the charges against Nashiri could also trigger a withdrawal against all 20 other detainees currently facing trial in Guantanamo. Defense lawyers said they would insist that all detainees be treated equally during the review process.
The president may also want to explain some possible alternative to military commissions, including moving proceedings to federal court or military courts martial.
The relatives of 9/11 victims have divided along somewhat partisan lines in the seven years since the attacks, with some strongly supporting Bush’s policies and others growing increasingly dismayed by the direction of U.S. counterterrorism efforts. As a result, Obama’s plan to close Guantanamo Bay prompted differing reactions among various groups.
September 11th Advocates, for example, issued a statement last month praising Obama’s announcement and calling Guantanamo “an enormous stain on America’s reputation.”
“The temporary halting of proceedings at Gitmo gives us the ‘audacity to hope’ that President Obama will be able to restore America’s good name, which has been repeatedly tarnished during the past eight years,” said the statement from the group, which is led by four New Jersey widows of 9/11 victims. “We appreciate the tough decisions that President Obama has been forced to make and admire him for taking these difficult tasks on.”
A group called 9/11 Parents and Families of Firefighters, by contrast, questioned Obama’s decision to suspending the trials of several detainees while he maps out the closure of Guantanamo Bay. “We cannot understand why it has taken so long for the prosecution of the detainees in cases where substantial evidence exists of direct or
indirect involvement in the terrorist attacks” of 9/11, the group said in a Jan. 25 statement.
For Immediate Release
September 26, 2008
?NIST has finally released its long awaited investigative report regarding the collapse of World Trade Center 7. WTC 7 was the third building in the World Trade Center Complex to collapse at 5:20 PM on September 11, 2001. However, this building was not hit by an airplane.
As family members of 9/11 victims, we were extremely interested in the findings of this report. We had hoped that NIST’s report would serve to explain the cause of a total collapse of a conventional steel building and be able to refute the rampant conspiracy theories. We also hoped that this report, in conjunction with NIST’s final reports on WTC 1 and 2, would offer recommendations for improved building and fire codes to ensure public safety in ALL buildings going forward.
While we feel that technical experts should review, critique and replicate the findings within this report, we also feel that we must express our concerns based on public comments by NIST regarding their findings.
Over the past seven years, the Families of the 9/11 Victims have been repeatedly told by fire experts, engineers and architects that we should NOT FOCUS our efforts on advocating for building and fire code changes based on the collapse of the WTC 1 and 2 towers. We were continuously reminded that the crashing of airplanes into buildings was a unique event. Additionally, we were told that the design and construction of WTC Towers 1 and 2 was unique and that there were no other buildings of that particular height or design in the world. We were repeatedly told that the key was WTC 7 since this building was of conventional design and height, yet it too collapsed without the unique event of an airplane striking it.
As admitted by Dr. Shyam Sunder of NIST, WTC 7 was a more conventional design, like many other buildings in NYC and across the country.
Essentially, the construction of WTC 7 utilized traditional steel frame skeleton (uniformly spaced column and beam construction), without the questionable bar joists and trusses used in the construction of the WTC 1 and 2 Towers. WTC 7 was not a “tube” building like the WTC Towers. It was a rectangular shape and was less than half the height of WTC 1 and 2.
Dr. Sunder also stated that WTC 7 met all New York City codes. Yet, WTC 7 is the first steel high-rise building of traditional construction in the United States – and the world, to completely collapse as a result of fire.? ?According to the briefing given by Dr. Shyam Sunder on August 21, 2008, the collapse of WTC 7 was due to fire that was ignited by debris from another WTC building which was then fed by office paper and furnishings – NOT the diesel fuel tank stored in the building by Giuliani and his Administration against the strong advice of the FDNY, NOT a plane, and apparently, as stated by Dr. Sunder, “there were no flaws with the construction of the building”.
We don’t how the rest of the country is feeling about this news, but we are very scared! These findings suggest that ANY EXISTING building is prone to a progressive collapse if a fire should start and the sprinkler system fails for whatever reason – regardless of how it starts! This is a distinct possibility, especially in earthquake prone areas where the water supplies can easily fail and the availability of firefighters is scarce or stretched very thin.??The ultimate purpose of advocating for the $16 million to have NIST study this event was to determine how to make buildings safer in the future. If we are now to believe that any skyscraper is subject to total collapse from fire, why isn’t NIST emphasizing the impact on EXISTING buildings? The actual quality of spray-on fireproofing is a well-known problem throughout the country. NIST’s report indicates that a complete burnout, without sprinkler system or fire department intervention, could lead to the complete collapse of ANY high-rise. NIST needs to rewrite its “new” recommendation B (5.12) and provide guidance for EXISTING buildings.
NIST should put the most important conclusion in plain English and announce it to the entire country: UNCONTROLLED FIRES IN HIGH-RISE BUILDINGS CAN LEAD TO THEIR TOTAL COLLAPSE. ? ?NIST also needs to be more aggressive with the code writing groups regarding this critical fact, communicating with them through a high-profile meeting that includes the Director of NIST and the leaders of these code groups.
NIST must address this dangerous issue immediately. The future safety of the public and the fire services hangs in the balance. ? ?Refusal to make changes based on economics, greed, willingness to retain the status quo, cowardice to accept responsibility, failure of leadership to promote reform and political expediency are a deadly combination to the public at large.
# # #
Lorie Van Auken ?
By Jon Gold
One of the things that drives me to do what I do is anger. Deep, burning in my gut, anger.
Anger that stems from the fact that our 9/11 heroes, those people we saw on the television sets fighting the good fight, trying to save our fellow Americans, those people that motivated us to go out and buy FDNY, and NYPD hats, those people that we saw attend the many funerals for their brothers and sisters lost that day, were lied to about the air quality down at Ground Zero, and then ignored by local, and federal Governments when they began to become sick and die.
Anger that stems from the fact that so many families had to fight this Government for an investigation into how their loved ones were brutally murdered because it didn’t want one, and when they finally got one, it was completely compromised, and the result of their “work” was nothing more than the biggest cover-up of our time, and a slap in the face to us, and those who wanted nothing more than justice.
Anger that stems from the fact that we were told to “never tolerate outrageous conspiracy theories concerning the attacks of September 11th” when in reality what we were being told is, “no matter how questionable certain aspects of the 9/11 attacks are, questioning them will not be tolerated.” In reality what we were being told is, “if you question any aspect of the 9/11 attacks, you will be ridiculed by the mainstream media, portrayed as someone who is unpatriotic, and made to be a terrorist sympathizer.”
Anger that stems from the fact that people in power today have used, and have had the AUDACITY to continue to use the 9/11 attacks for their benefit. Reminding us why it is NOT crazy to think that 9/11 was “designed” for purposes like this, and why those in power today have EARNED the title of suspect for the 9/11 crimes.
America needs to get angry because we are losing her. Non-violently and EFFECTIVELY.