One of the central elements of Mahatma Gandhi’s strategy to free the Indian people from British colonialism was what he called “satyagraha,” a Sanskrit word that is most often translated as “truth force.” What he meant by this was that those who seek justice should embody the truth in their actions.
The strongest element in the campaign for 9/11 truth is the very fact that we have truth on our side (and however “9/11 truth” became the consensus slogan of the movement, it was brilliant marketing). Seven years of independent research and investigation by thousands of concerned patriots, expert and amateur alike, have turned up enough evidence to make the official story of what happened on September 11, 2001, look highly implausible—and prosecutable.
Up to this point, most of the efforts of the 9/11 truth movement have been geared to educating the general public about the facts that refute the official story—the mysterious inaction of the US military; the inscrutable behavior of the chain of command, from Bush on down; the weird “coincidences” in both airline and World Trade Center security; the unexplained global stock trades on companies affected by the attacks; the deliberate confusion of US intelligence; the official attempts to hide the truth, from destroyed video and audio tapes, to manipulation of data in government reports, to profligate use of the “state secrets” privilege; and perhaps most important, the physical evidence, now in the hands of independent scientists, of controlled demolition of the World Trade Center.
It seems to me that 9/11 truth has reached a certain point of saturation in the information environment. The Internet has all the sites one could wish for to find all the information you would need to make the case for 9/11 truth. The Journal of 9/11 Studies, WTC7research, and other sites provide the scientific background. 911Truth.org has the authoritative expertise on other aspects of the case, backed up by at least hundreds of other sites (covering the whole spectrum of credibility). Patriotsquestion911, together with all the professional organizations for 9/11 truth, from architects to whistleblowers (and most recently, religious leaders) give 9/11 truth a necessary respectability among elites. 911blogger and others provide the latest news and grassroots networking capability.
(I don’t intend to slight anyone with this list. These are sites to which I’ve gravitated, personally, based on my individual understanding, whose possible imperfection I freely grant.)
Where the truth of 9/11 has trouble, as “truthers” (official name of 9/11 truth advocates, as certified by the New York Times) are exquisitely aware, is penetrating the corporate mainstream media, from which the vast majority of Americans still get their “news.” As most truthers are also aware, however, the corporate media—which many of us refer to as the Matrix—essentially function as the psychological operations arm of the Empire (the global power elite), and thus cannot be expected to cooperate in their own demise. This is where truthers have the advantage over mainstream American progressives, who seem constantly frustrated and bamboozled by the fact that media are not delivering on the expectation of the nation’s founders that the press would serve as a watchdog over government. Truthers know that 21st century media and government serve the same masters; most progressives still want to believe that the press is “free.”
Regardless of the virtual corporate media blackout of 9/11 truth, however, a substantial number of Americans have serious doubts about the official story. Zogby and Harris polls found that about four in ten think the Bush administration was complicit in the 9/11 attacks. About seven in ten think that, whatever the truth of 9/11, the government is hiding information about what happened. The 9/11 truth movement, in films, articles, pamphlets and grassroots street demonstrations, has succeeded in raising enough doubts about the official story to wound the Empire, which has begun striking back A film reviewer in Rupert Murdoch’s Sunday Times wrote last month that 9/11 truth (which he called “counter-knowledge”) could turn out to be a bigger threat to global monopoly capitalism (which he called “liberal democracy”) than “the authoritarian onslaughts of Stalin and Hitler.”
As a truther, I take that as a compliment.
I’ve been writing about 9/11 truth since shortly after the attacks happened—at first, in my regular weekly column in the Hampshire Review, which is published in one of the reddest counties in the red state of West Virginia (and where, as you might imagine, I was often derided, until I quit the paper in early 2003, as a “conspiracy theorist”); and for the past five years as a contributing writer for Online Journal. My writings have appeared at dozens of websites (both “conspiracy” sites and progressive/alternative sites like Common Dreams and Buzzflash), and I still write occasionally for mainstream media (most recently last month, in the Charleston (WV) Gazette).
For my whole adult life, I have also been a political activist working on peace and social justice issues. I have organized at the local, state and national levels. I have dealt with mayors, city and county councils, state legislators, members of Congress, and local, state and federal law enforcement agencies. I have canvassed, petitioned, phone-banked, licked envelopes, edited newsletters, chaired committees and meetings, marched, carried signs, organized demonstrations, served as a demonstration “peacekeeper” and nonviolence trainer, spoken to crowds, been interviewed on local and national television and radio, drafted state law and official resolutions, sued the West Virginia legislature, and once was arrested, tried and convicted for praying in the rotunda of the US Capitol—a conviction overturned by a full US Court of Appeals.
I present these “credentials” not as a boast, but as a “letter of introduction” to a 9/11 truth community who may wonder why someone who has not been particularly associated with 9/11 truth activism would presume to suggest a political strategy for the movement—which is the purpose of this essay.
Any strategic assessment of the 9/11 truth movement must begin with where we are today, in the context of a global world order which obviously, after seven years, doesn’t want the truth revealed. At this point, it seems to me, the movement has been successfully marginalized by the US political establishment, cordoned off into one of the single-issue ghettoes that keep any mass movement for fundamental change in American politics from coalescing. In this respect, it is similar to the movements for peace in Iraq and Afghanistan, or the movement for a single-payer health care program, or most especially, the decades-long effort to reveal the truth about the JFK assassination, which—no matter how many facts continue to come out, as more government documents are declassified—cannot escape the taint of being “ancient history,” and thus of no real relevance to average Americans.
The genius of 21st century American fascism (sometimes known as “neototalitarianism”) is that, by allowing dissidents to say anything they want on the Internet and in small-circulation publications (and only rarely in corporate media), the illusion of political “freedom” is maintained in the minds of the American majority, who thus have little awareness of the degree to which their fundamental rights have been curtailed. So they can watch their jobs being shipped overseas, and know that they are being blatantly and regularly lied to by government and business, and even have their hard-earned tax money transparently extorted by the trillions, yet still retain their faith (or “hope,” in the present case) in the basic integrity of the American political system.
Americans are politically paralyzed by both cognitive dissonance and by what psychologists call “learned helplessness,” the result of years of having one outrage after another foisted upon them, without there ever being any real accountability. So, as many truthers have discovered, the most common reactions of average Americans, when presented with the facts of 9/11, are either, “My government would never do that,” or, “Okay…but what can anybody do about it?”
A good question. The usual answer, and the rallying cry for the 9/11 truth movement, has been the demand for a new, independent investigation. But is this enough?
What virtually all the movements for progressive change in America and the world have in common is a common enemy: a global power elite (numbering in the thousands, perhaps—a tiny fragment of humanity’s billions) with neototalitarian systems of government acting as frontmen, and working in league with a vast underworld nexus, operating outside any concept of law. Both communism and capitalism are obsolete, left back in the 20th century. We live, for the first time in human history, under a system of global fascism—the natural end state of capitalism, as George Orwell predicted.
It’s also the Brave New World Order that Aldous Huxley envisioned. The mass populations of the post-industrial world are kept entranced not only by Prozac and other widely-consumed drugs (both legal and illegal), but by an imperial “bread and circus” so hypnotic that people spend their entire non-working lives interacting with its technology, mindlessly munching on genetically-modified snacks. The next time you want to start a revolution, try walking around the aisles of Walmart and evaluating your fellow working class insurgents. You’ll notice they’ve gotten a little flabby. I often say, if the Roman Empire had television, we’d all be speaking Latin.
So, as any progressive activist working today knows, these are the biggest challenges we face: global fascism and a barely conscious public. In light of that, I ask again: should the demand for a new investigation of 9/11 be the ultimate strategic goal of the 9/11 truth movement? Or should that demand be seen as a necessary first step toward a broader strategic goal of transforming a global system of government that manufactures endless 9/11s, in its efforts to retain power among an existing power elite (who may fight among themselves, but nevertheless work together to preserve the structure of the present global economic order)?
The reason I ask this question is, the goals of a movement should determine its strategy.
If the goal of the movement is a new, independent investigation, we’re already moving in the right direction. Public awareness of the inadequacy of the 9/11 Commission report is building—similar to the eventual public conclusions about the Warren Commission’s investigation of the JFK assassination, but helped along in this case by the doubts expressed by the co-chairs of the 9/11 Commission themselves, by revelations in recent years about information withheld from the commission, and even by “limited hangouts” in the corporate media, like Philip Shenon’s book about the commission’s internal dynamics. A few days ago, a column appeared in the mainstream blog, Huffington Post, calling for a new investigation, and even raising questions usually seen only on 9/11 truth sites. Most importantly, perhaps, we have a new president who, early in his candidacy, expressed his support for a new investigation (see the second part of my essay, “Obama and 9/11,” for details).
Where efforts have been lacking, from what I’ve observed, are in the courts and in legislative bodies. On the judicial side, this has less to do with the activities of victims’ families and other activists than it does with judges who have used “national security” as an excuse to keep government secrets hidden. You cannot eliminate the possibility of corruption or threats to personal safety being the underpinning of at least some of these decisions, but whatever the reason, the pattern is one of general obstruction in the judiciary.
On the legislative side, although there have been a few profiles in courage at both the national and state levels, there hasn’t been much activity. In the Congress, GOP Representative Ron Paul and Democratic Representative Dennis Kucinich have been most closely associated with 9/11 truth, but both have stepped back from their initial statements on the subject. Once again here, their behavior suggests an element of coercion—which would hardly be surprising, in this political environment.
But the failure thus far to achieve significant results in exposing 9/11 truth in either the judicial or legislative arenas (or the corporate media) offers a clue why a new investigation should only be seen as a step toward a broader strategic goal. It’s easy to imagine that a new investigation may prove to be only slightly more satisfying than the 9/11 Commission report, because it will be taking place in the same political context as the last one. Over the past few decades, America has witnessed any number of investigations of its government’s dark side—from the Church Committee’s report on CIA abuses, to hearings on BCCI and Iran/contra, to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s never-to-be-completed report on Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction—that slaked the public’s thirst for action without ever getting any real accountability. And there are plenty of secrets about 9/11 that can be exposed without revealing the underlying rot.
What makes a new investigation problematic, under the present circumstances, is the same thing that makes the truth of 9/11 so difficult for many people to accept: if the consensus position of the movement—that the US government conspired to stage false flag attacks on the American homeland, and that fact is being covered up by a complicit mass media—is true, then America can no longer be considered a democratic republic capable of self-investigation. The institutions of government are simply too corrupt.
This is a truly frightening thought. I think that even many truthers are in denial about the depth of corruption in American government, because it threatens the very foundations—political, economic, social and even psychological—on which most of us have built our lives. When we accept the truth of 9/11, we see clearly the enormity of the challenge we face to return our nation and world to a society based on principles of justice. It is daunting.
So I think, in order to be ultimately successful in its goal of exposing the truth of the 9/11 attacks to a skeptical American public, and having those facts accepted, the movement will have to address the underlying primal fear that 9/11 truth will, by definition, raise—the fear that the institutions by which we order our public lives are no longer valid, and the constitutional dream of democracy has become a totalitarian nightmare. It is a fear that bubbles not far from society’s surface, and is getting more difficult for the power elite to contain.
As is often said, 9/11 truth is the key that can unlock the chains that bind us to a world order that has condemned humanity to a future of exploitation, suffering and mass violence (not to mention environmental catastrophe). We thus have in our possession what may be the missing link that can bind the multiple movements for peace, social and environmental justice, human rights, and a thousand other issues that have labored separately toward what is in reality a common goal.
So my suggestion is that the 9/11 truth movement expand its focus beyond the immediate near-term goal of a new investigation, to the broader strategic goal of working to build a new global society, to transform America and the world. By expanding our strategic vision—while at the same time keeping a focus on 9/11 truth—we will open ourselves to collaboration and cooperation with the millions of other people who are increasingly aware that there is a cancer at the heart of the world’s political economy that must be removed if humanity is to survive. We are, by the very nature of our movement, radicals. And the world needs a radical change.
We can be that change, as Gandhi suggested, by fully accepting the meaning of 9/11 truth and becoming a global “truth force.” And with luck, perseverance, commitment, and faith in our fellow human beings, perhaps the truth will indeed set us free.