New York City activist

January 16, 2008

“9/11: Press for Truth” – my response to an official-story defender’s comments

ref1 has asked me to comment on this review of “9/11: Press for Truth”:

I’m not sure a simultaneous war with Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Palestine, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan is a good idea.

Indeed it wouldn’t be. But it might be a good idea to crack down on networks of spies from those countries (and from Israel too). It might also be a good idea to launch an investigation, based on the testimony of Sibel Edmonds and other recent national security whistleblowers, about possible treasonous networks within the U.S. government.

“The men named as the culprits allowed to escape”

The key word here is “allowed”. The US-arrogance syndrome dictates that, if they escaped, the US must have allowed it. There’s an obvious flaw in this logic. Al Qaeda were on their home turf. US forces were not that hot on alpine counter-insurrgent warfare.

Didn’t the U.S. forces have plenty of help from the Northern Alliance, who would have been better at this sort of thing?

Anyhow, the documentary mentions specific obvious blunders by the U.S. military, such as surrounding Tora Bora on only three sides and failing to bomb a known escape route. It also mentions a rather large and conspicuous Al Qaeda airlift from Konduz to Pakistan, which the U.S. forces surely would have noticed but did nothing to stop. (One person perhaps overstates his case by claiming that not even a single plane could have flown from Konduz to Pakistan without the U.S. forces noticing, but surely a large number of such planes, shuttling back and forth, would have been noticed.)

“The government officials who ignored warnings before 9/11 still in their positions”

As I said, I’ve yet to hear a single example of a credible piece of actionable intel regarding the 9/11 threat.

What does he think of Sibel Edmonds’s recent testimony? That’s something I should dig into and blog about soon. In the meantime, see the following:

Also, on various related topics, I should soon dig into the following:

Anyhow, back to that review of “9/11: Press for Truth”:

I’m not surprised the admin ignored vague rumours of threats. I’m sure the US public would have gone postal if the US government had clamped down on civil liberties BEFORE 9/11. People like Michael Moore would have had a field day.

Obviously the question is whether there were warnings specific enough and credible enough to constitute legal “probable cause.” Sibel Edmonds and others claim that there were. Beside the sources mentioned earlier, see also 911proof.com’s page about warnings, and see the following posts on George Washington’s blog: 9/11 Family Member Patty Casazza: Government Knew Exact Date and Exact Targets and How Foreseeable Was 9/11?.

I would be interested in Andrew’s comments on the particular warnings that were mentioned in 9/11 Press for Truth.

Many of those warnings might not have been specific enough to justify arresting someone, but they were specific enough to justify greater preparedness, by high officials and by both the FAA and NORAD, for a 9/11-style attack. At the very least, they were certainly specific enough to belie claims by both George Bush and Condoleeza Rice that “nobody in our government could envision … flying planes into buildings.”

Aside from the brief CT arguments at the beginning (NORAD stand down, buildings don’t collapse) the documentary actually offers no argument whatsoever that anything happened on 9/11 other than 19 Al Qaeda operatives hijacked 4 aircraft, flew three into buildings, while passengers on the 4th revolted and caused it to crash.

The documentary leans toward the theory that there may be treasonous networks within the U.S. government that deliberately allowed the alleged hijackers to do their thing. The documentary does include arguments for this theory, mostly near the end.

Even if it were proved Pakistan officially DID fund the attacks, how does “what happened on 9/11” suddenly change?

If there were people in the U.S. government who knowingly covered up said Pakistani involvement, this implies treason.

In any case, how can one possibly justify the 9/11 Commission Report’s claim that “Ultimately, the question of who financed the attacks is of little practical significance”? That sure sounds to me like an evasion.

It basically goes into a rant about the media and how they have to “hold everyone accountable”. It seems to imply that after 9/11 the media suddenly stopped doing serious investigating, pushing an agenda instead (never mind all the “failing to connect dots” the doco talks about occured BEFORE 9/11). It’s laughable. Did the media only suddenly become subjective, biased, corrupt, political, sensationalist, and straight out false AFTER 9/11? Please. It has been that way for decades.

The person who claims that the media have changed since 9/11 is Rebecca Abrahams, Assignment Editor of ABC News. Her claim is that there is more “caution” now.

There’s no claim that the media always did a good job before 9/11. That’s a straw man argument on Andrew’s part. Near the beginning of the documentary, one of the widows, Monica Gabrielle, says she had hoped in vain for “another Woodward and Bernstein,” suggesting a decline in media quality since Watergate, which was a long time before 9/11.

Apparently there’s no one “connecting the dots”. Of course, these “dots” are really mainly just “false articles”. These days journalists are so desperate to push a story first, they publish stuff that turns out to be false. Instead of retract it with a follow up, they just leave it hanging. Hence you get a “dot” (the Osama kidney dialysis myth is one of the “dots” the doco presents).

ref1, do you happen to know, offhand, how the “Osama kidney dialysis myth” was shown to be false? (This particular issue is one I haven’t yet dug deeply into.)

Anyhow, Andrew’s blanket dismissal of “the dots” as “mostly false articles” is not convincing. Certainly it’s true that not all news stories are true. Some news stories do indeed turn out to be almost totally bogus, and most news stories contain at least minor inaccuracies. (Without exception, every news story about any matter that I’ve had independent knowledge of has contained at least minor errors, most likely, in part, because reporters work on too-tight deadlines.) However, stories which are “left hanging” are not necessarily false in their essentials. There may be any number of other reasons why the media might decide not to follow up on a particular story. One possible reason, mentioned by several people in the documentary including CBS Evening News Anchor Dan Rather, is a fear of being labelled “unpatriotic.”

My favourite is the argument that basically runs “we should be questioning the official story because governments are evil liars”. Bravo. Nice objective reasoning there.

The Bush administration is indeed known to have lied about various things (e.g. about Iraq and about the air quality at Ground Zero immediately after 9/11). And that is indeed a good reason to question claims by anyone in the Bush administration, although it is not, in and of itself, sufficient to disprove any given specific official claim.

It’s the same tired “accepting the official story” line. No one here that I’ve seen “accepts” the official story. They’ve independently researched everything and come to the conclusion that the official story is accurate.

All people have their biases, and there are disagreements about many things even among people who are well-informed on a given topic. Anyhow, Andrew is definitely overstating his case by saying “No one here ….” As even Frank Greening has observed, the JREF forum tends to be full of arguments from authority and popularity. I concur with that observation, based on what I’ve seen of the JREF forum (admittedly not an extremely large sample, in my case).

Then we have pearls like “Yes they lied, they all lieds, whether consciously or unconsciously” (from one of the widows). How exactly do you unconsciously lie?

Obviously she mis-spoke. Obviously she meant something like “either they lied or they unconsciously promulgated other people’s lies.”

Of course, the documentary has never really presented WHAT they apparantly lied about.

The documentary’s focus is more on the inadequacies of the 9/11 Commission than on any specific theory of what really happened. The documentary’s main point is that a further official investigation is needed, by a panel without conflicts of interest such as Philip Zelikow’s ties to the Bush administration.

They can’t accept that the US was simply out-smarted (maybe no one has sat down and talked about this with them, because very few people seem willing to even consider it). Therefore US officials must be at fault.

Straw man. There are plenty of other reasons to suspect that “US officials must be at fault” besides an alleged a priori belief that the U.S. government can’t be outsmarted. For example, as discussed in recent posts here (e.g. Bush at Booker School on the morning of 9/11 and George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Richard Myers: Their whereabouts on 9/11), there was indeed plenty of lackadaisicalness on the part of high officials and/or their assistants. The only question is why they were so lackadaisical.

Andrew’s post is part of a longer JREF thread about 9/11: Press for Truth. I don’t have time to go over that entire thread in detail, but here are some of the highlights.

The thread starts off with “Childlike Empress” recommending the documentary and calling for an “international” investigation of 9/11. The word “international” pushes some people’s buttons, starting a spat about U.S. “sovereignty.”

I wouldn’t say that we need an “international” investigation, but we clearly do need an independent (of the Bush administration) investigation. The 9/11 Commission was supposed to be “independent” but wasn’t.

In post #19, gumboot (Andrew) claims:

The moment the 19 hijackers were on board the aircraft the nearly 3000 victims’ fates were sealed. There was nothing anyone could do to prevent 9/11 happening at that point.

An extreme claim. Based on what I’ve seen so far, I do not agree.

Pardalis wrote:

I’m 10 minutes into the movie and they are using the same CT rethoric and logical fallacies (how can these buildings collapse this way, there has never been a building collapse due to fire, WTC7, etc)

About the never-before-or-since collapses due to fire, that was “steel frame building” not “building” in general. Admittedly, she should have said “steel frame skyscraper.”

Anyhow, there’s a twist here that Pardalis is missing. The people saying these things in this movie are the founders of the Skyscraper Safety Campaign, one of the groups that fought to have the NIST investigation. And their point in saying these things is simply to call for an investigation, not to advocate any specific theory about what did or didn’t happen.

The rest of the first page of this thread is mostly just ad hominem, nothing substantial.

On page 2 of the thread, gumboot (Andrew) says:

The first 10 minutes of the film primarily deals with a claim of a NORAD stand down – they point out that NORAD were first informed at 0838, and the last aircraft crashed at 1003. One of the women claims that means “nearly 2 hours in which jets were flying around the US and the military did nothing”

Actually she says, “with no military response,” not “the military did nothing.” I interpret her statement as meaning “no intercepts,” which is true.

Furthermore, at this point in the movie, the women do not allege a deliberate “stand down” (and neither does the narrator). Originally they suspected merely incompetence or negligence, but felt that those who were incompetent or negligent should be held accountable. Only later did they begin to suspect deliberate complicity as a possibility.

Aside from the fact that 0838 to 1003 is 1 hr 25 mins (quite substantially less than 2 hours),

The “nearly two hours” begins at 8:14, when the first plane was hijacked. 8:14 to 10:06 (the Flight 93 crash time given in some early reports) is 1 hr 52 mins, which is indeed “nearly two hours.” Admittedly the documentary doesn’t make this clear. An editing error, I would say.

their statements are chocka full of falsehoods and deceptive dishonest comments.

Andrew doesn’t elaborate on what the alleged “falsehoods ad deceptive dishonest comments” are.

Further down on the page, Andrew/gumboot wrote:

rankly this doco stinks of exploiting grieving widows and their search for answers. I am disgusted at the documentary makers for such crass political tactics.

Far from being “exploited,” the grieving widows portrayed here were the leaders of the 9/11 Families movement, whose efforts this documentary chronicles.

In another post further down, Andrew/gumboot wrote:

For the record it’s mainly the filmmakers making these claims. The few “CT-like” statements made by the women themselves seem to be ones that are fairly understandable if you don’t know the details of the thing being discussed.

The statements made “by the filmmakers” at this point in the documentary are narrator summaries of the women’s research. As far as I am aware, the Jersey Girls endorse the movie.

In another post further down, Andrew/gumboot wrote:

A big part of the timeline is “warnings”. Most of these have little or no significance whatsoever (the sort of thing that only has significance from the predisposed position of “inside job”). A lot of people critical of the government for ignoring the warnings dump blame on Bush, despite the fact that the vast majority of these links and so-called warnings occured during Clinton’s administration.

The point is that there was enough relevant past history that the government could easily have been better prepared for 9/11. Furthermore, the “war games” prove that NORAD, at least, did in fact make relevant preparations for such an event. Hence any claim that NORAD was totally unprepared is a lie.

These same people show a severe lack of understanding of what constitutes “actionable intelligence”. The same people would froth rabid at the mouth if a cop pulled over someone in the vicinity of a bank robbery because they were black.

Again he’s confusing different kinds of “action,” arresting people vs. being prepared for a specific type of attack.

Further down is a post in which Gravy (Mark Roberts?) writes:

Remember a similar double-standard that you applied to citing the 9/11 Commission report as evidence: that it was wrong for us but not for you?

Here, Gravy seems to be objecting to what is in fact a sound principle: A given source should be considered more reliable when making statements that go against that source’s bias than when making statements consistent with its bias.

Further down, Andrew/gumboot quotes a post by David Wong, saying:

It’s impossible to stop every conceivable method of attack. And it’s awfully easy to come back after the fact and say, “WHY DIDN’T WE SEE THAT COMING?!?!?”

We didn’t, because those memos warning that Osama might try to hijack planes were buried under other memos warning of cyber terrorism, or poisoning water supplies, or sneaking a nuke on board cargo boxes, or growing biological agents in a lab, or sneaking a shoulder-fired missile to a hill outside an airport, or suicide bombing a shopping mall, or filling a truck full of bombs and running it into a hotel, or…

An evasion. Again, NORAD had training exercises specifically preparing for the possibility of hijacked planes crashing into buildings.

Furthermore, as I mentioned earlier, various whistleblowers have claimed that there were very specific warnings mentioning the day, nature, and targets of the attack. An investigation is needed to determine whether these claims are true.

Anyhow, it’s getting late and I don’t have time to continue plowing through that (mostly ad hominem and otherwise mostly insubstantial) thread, so I’ll go ahead and post this now.

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4 Comments »

  1. Good review. I just wanted to add a few points.

    Diane writes, “In any case, how can one possibly justify the 9/11 Commission Report’s claim that “Ultimately, the question of who financed the attacks is of little practical significance”? That sure sounds to me like an evasion.”

    I think boloboffin at JREF summed up their attitude best,

    “Basically, this is digging behind the seemingly absurd statement of the 9/11 Commission that finding out who funded the attacks “is of little practical significance.” The report gives good reasons for this: as cheap as the attacks were to carry out, the money could have come from anywhere.”

    Of course, the money did not come from anywhere. The money came from someone or some group and whoever funded the 19 men would be complicit in mass murder. If someone hires a hitman for $1,000 and someone else hires one for $50,000 the cost is not relevant. It is a crime either way. That statement by boloboffin is unfortunately to common among the JREF’rs, “I don’t know and I don’t care.” Good attitude regarding the death of 3,000 people.

    ref1? writes, “It’s the same tired “accepting the official story” line. No one here that I’ve seen “accepts” the official story. They’ve independently researched everything and come to the conclusion that the official story is accurate.”

    It seems that most people at JREF research the official story by reading and believing official government reports(They aren’t called “NISTIANS” for nothing). This would include the 9/11 Commission, the 9/11 Congressional Inquiry, the FEMA report, the NIST report, the FBI’s PENTTBOM investigation etc. How else would we know about NORAD’s response except through official reports. The timeline that NORAD released on 09/18/01 is different than the timeline released by the 9/11 Commission. Which should we believe? If we took all the official reports away, would independent researchers come to the same conclusions regarding 9/11?

    Comment by tanabear — February 2, 2008 @ 6:27 am | Reply

  2. How nice.

    I say I don’t know. I didn’t say I didn’t care. Thanks for imputing a scandalous motive to me so you could handwave us all.

    With the amounts of money we are talking about, the operation could have been funded by money diverted from Islamic charities. That means that a few fundraisers got a lot of innocent people to fund those attacks.

    It occurs to me as well that perhaps the government knows a lot more about the funding of the attacks than they want in the public domain. We can think of heinous reasons for this, but not tipping their hands to terrorists is a completely plausible reason for this as well. Until you have evidence to the contrary, my reasoning is as valid as anything else.

    Suggestion: unravel the plots with the evidence you have. Speculating about something you have no ability to actually investigate (like the funding of the 9/11 attacks) is wasting your time. There are far more fruitful areas, and who knows what you will find at the end of the trail?

    PS: The NORAD tapes are in the public domain. We can know about the NORAD response by listening to it.

    Comment by boloboffin — February 12, 2008 @ 1:46 pm | Reply

  3. tanabear quoted boloboffin as saying:

    “Basically, this is digging behind the seemingly absurd statement of the 9/11 Commission that finding out who funded the attacks “is of little practical significance.” The report gives good reasons for this: as cheap as the attacks were to carry out, the money could have come from anywhere.”

    boloboffin, is that an accurate quote from you or not? If indeed it’s an accurate quote, can you see why it comes across as not caring about the question of funding? Perhaps that’s not what you meant, but the above quote does indeed come across that way. Perhaps you could clarify it?

    Anyhow, tanabear rightly pointed that even small amounts of money are indeed of “practical significance” in establishing guilt for the attacks:

    The money came from someone or some group and whoever funded the 19 men would be complicit in mass murder. If someone hires a hitman for $1,000 and someone else hires one for $50,000 the cost is not relevant. It is a crime either way.

    boloboffin, do you agree with the abov? You subsequently wrote here:

    With the amounts of money we are talking about, the operation could have been funded by money diverted from Islamic charities. That means that a few fundraisers got a lot of innocent people to fund those attacks.

    If your speculation is true, then the fundraisers would be complicit in the attacks, even if the contributors aren’t. The fundraisers’ involvement, in that case, would not be “of little practical significance.”

    It occurs to me as well that perhaps the government knows a lot more about the funding of the attacks than they want in the public domain. We can think of heinous reasons for this, but not tipping their hands to terrorists is a completely plausible reason for this as well.

    Perhaps so, but the 9/11 Commission’s excuse on this particular issue was a different one, namely that the question allegedly “is of little practical significance.” That’s not at all the same thing as saying, for example, “we can’t reveal sources and methods.”

    Anyhow, I don’t claim to know how the attacks were funded. The key point here is that the 9/11 Commission dismissed an obviously very important question as unimportant. And that’s just one of the many ways in which many people consider the 9/11 Commission’s investigation to have been compromised.

    Comment by Diane — February 12, 2008 @ 7:47 pm | Reply

  4. […] 9/11: Press for Truth is one of the better 9/11 documentaries. Mostly it focusses on things like the 9/11 Commission and the coverups that have been acknowledged even by official sources. It also features the work of Paul Thompson, who does make an effort to be accurate and whose Cooperative Research website has been recommended as a “useful 9/11 resoruce” even by some “9/11 debunkers,” such as by Mike W. on the 9/11 Myths site. 9/11: Press for Truth does not advocate WTC demolition theories or anything similar. (It does contain a brief, somewhat ambiguous section which many viewers have interpreted as a nod to the WTC demolition crowd, but which isn’t really, at least if you know what the Skyscraper Safety Campaign was.) While it does contain some minor factual errors and editing glitches, on the whole it seems to strive for accuracy. (See some more detailed comments about it by me here.) […]

    Pingback by Reply to “Patrick from Cincinnati” « New York City activist — September 9, 2009 @ 10:23 pm | Reply


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