Thursday, September 13, 2007

Peter Tatchell: '9/11 -- The Big Cover-Up?'

Peter Tatchell has stirred up a hornet's nest, writing in the Guardian:
Six years after 9/11, the American public have still not been provided with a full and truthful account of the single greatest terror attack in US history.

What they got was a turkey. The 9/11 Commission was hamstrung by official obstruction. It never managed to ascertain the whole truth of what happened on September 11 2001.

The chair and vice chair of the 9/11 Commission, respectively Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, assert in their book, Without Precedent, that they were "set up to fail" and were starved of funds to do a proper investigation. They also confirm that they were denied access to the truth and misled by senior officials in the Pentagon and the federal aviation authority; and that this obstruction and deception led them to contemplate slapping officials with criminal charges.

Despite the many public statements by 9/11 commissioners and staff members acknowledging they were repeatedly lied to, not a single person has ever been charged, tried, or even reprimanded, for lying to the 9/11 Commission.

From the outset, the commission seemed to be hobbled. It did not start work until over a year after the attacks. Even then, its terms of reference were suspiciously narrow, its powers of investigation curiously limited and its time-frame for producing a report unhelpfully short - barely a year to sift through millions of pages of evidence and to interview hundreds of key witnesses.

The final report did not examine key evidence, and neglected serious anomalies in the various accounts of what happened. The commissioners admit their report was incomplete and flawed, and that many questions about the terror attacks remain unanswered. Nevertheless, the 9/11 Commission was swiftly closed down on August 21 2004.

I do not believe in conspiracy theories. I prefer rigorous, evidence-based analysis that sifts through the known facts and utilises expert opinion to draw conclusions that stand up to critical scrutiny. In other words, I believe in everything the 9/11 Commission was not.

The failings of the official investigation have fuelled too many half-baked conspiracy theories. Some of the 9/11 "truth" groups promote speculative hypotheses, ignore innocent explanations, cite non-expert sources and jump to conclusions that are not proven by the known facts. They convert mere coincidence and circumstantial evidence into cast-iron proof. This is no way to debunk the obfuscations and evasions of the 9/11 report.

But even amid the hype, some of these 9/11 groups raise valid and important questions that were never even considered, let alone answered, by the official investigation. The American public has not been told the complete truth about the events of that fateful autumn morning six years ago.

What happened on 9/11 is fundamentally important in its own right. But equally important is the way the 9/11 cover-up signifies an absence of democratic, transparent and accountable government. Establishing the truth is, in part, about restoring honesty, trust and confidence in American politics.
... and so on. The piece is full of interesting links and has attracted hundreds of comments, many of which contain good links as well.

I wish at this point to draw your attention to one of the links in the hornet's nest. It's an MP3 file, from a radio interview by Charles Goyette with Davin Coburn, the chief researcher for the Popular Mechanics "debunking" project.

Excerpts follow:
CALLER: What about the [...] hijackers who came forward and said "We're alive. What are we doing on the FBI's list of so-called hijackers? We're alive and well." How do you explain that one?

DAVIN COBURN: Actually my explanation for that is that I have read that one BBC report...

CALLER: It's more than one BBC report...

DAVIN COBURN: But actually it's not. That's one of the things we looked into.

CALLER: Are you saying that is false?

DAVIN COBURN: I am saying that is false.

CALLER: OK, How did you verify that?

DAVIN COBURN: Have you seen any other reports, beyond...

CALLER: Let me ask you my question again. How did you verify it's false?

DAVIN COBURN: The remains of the hijackers who have been widely understood to have been on those planes...

CALLER: What remains?

DAVIN COBURN: There was DNA evidence collected all over the place.

CALLER: The building was incinerated. The concrete was turned to powder. There were molten pools of steel [...] that were still hot weeks after, and they were able to do autopsies on bodies?

CHARLES GOYETTE: Even if we presume that you're correct that they recovered the DNA of the 19 hijackers from the rubble, where did they get their original DNA against which to match it?

DAVIN COBURN: My point...

CHARLES GOYETTE: No, don't go to your point. Go to my point. Where did they get the original DNA of a bunch of Middle Eastern Islamic madmen? ... Where the hell did they get it? You're not even talking sensibly with me.

DAVIN COBURN: Off the top of my head I don't know the answer.

CHARLES GOYETTE: Of course you don't.

DAVIN COBURN: I'll bet back to you with it.

CHARLES GOYETTE: Is that a promise?

DAVIN COBURN: I will do my best.

CHARLES GOYETTE: Now do you understand why people scratch their head when they hear these kinds of representations are made?

DAVIN COBURN: No, actually I don't.

CHARLES GOYETTE: You don't understand? You tell us that they found the hijackers' DNA remains [...] and I ask you "Where did they get the original DNA from the hijackers to match it against?" Do you think that's bizarre to ask a question like that? Do you think it's conspiratorial just to want to know?

DAVIN COBURN: I think the way that you're framing it is ... not ...

CHARLES GOYETTE: How would you frame it? Frame it differently but get to the same issue for me. How would you frame it?

DAVIN COBURN: I think, I would take a different take on the entire question.

CHARLES GOYETTE: Well, ok, there's DNA evidence, you told me they have DNA evidence that matches the hijackers...

DAVIN COBURN: I think the entire question, however, is baseless. I think that is not even a question that is worth answering.

CHARLES GOYETTE: You're the one that told me that they had DNA evidence.

DAVIN COBURN: You're the one who wouldn't let me approach the question from the way that I would answer it.

CHARLES GOYETTE: Go ahead, then, and approach it.

DAVIN COBURN: And that is that if that report, if these men are still alive, why have we not seen any news reports?

CHARLES GOYETTE: Can I answer that for you?


CHARLES GOYETTE: I don't know the answer. That's my answer.


CHARLES GOYETTE: Now let me ask you a question in the same spirit. You've told me that they checked their DNA. Where did they get the original DNA to check it against?


CHARLES GOYETTE: You're the one with the answers, I'm not! I just have questions.

DAVIN COBURN: And I'm telling you that actually a seven-year-old can ask "Why?", over and over and over and there's ...

CHARLES GOYETTE: This is the worst attack on America in the history of this country. We've invaded two countries -- maybe a third -- because of it, we're gonna spend trillions of dollars. It's not a seven-year-old asking "Why?" I want to know where they got the evidence that they matched it against. What's so hard about that?

DAVIN COBURN: The way that you're framing it is intentionally difficult...

CHARLES GOYETTE: Of course it is. 'Cause it's five years later and we haven't heard the answer. And you haven't given it to us in Popular Mechanics. I swear to God, that's it. You see? It's the way I'm framing it makes it an illegitimate question. Well tell me how to reframe it. Tell me how to ask it differently.

DAVIN COBURN: I would start entirely over with the question that that gentleman asked, and I would say...
Unbelievable. Absolutely unbelievable.

Click here to listen.