Editor’s Note: This editorial was originally published at TRANSCEND Media Service.
Sixty years later it behooves us more than ever to penetrate the tenacious ignorance of which Kennedy spoke. To honor my friend and colleague, TRANSCEND member Prof. Graeme MacQueen, who passed away in April, this editorial addresses topics he was passionate about, namely peace, justice and truth, in particular 9/11 truth.
If we’re not willing to open our minds to the abundant evidence refuting the narrative, fed to us mere minutes after the heinous crimes of 9/11 unfolded before our eyes, that a band of foreign militants from the Middle East was solely responsible for those crimes, then we risk continuing to fall prey to propaganda leading to unending wars and suffering.
Johan Galtung introduced me to Graeme at a 2011 TRANSCEND symposium in North Carolina. 9/11 was not on the formal agenda, but came up in side conversations as the 10-year anniversary approached. Galtung has always promoted open dialog on challenging topics, bucking the penchant of academic institutions and major media platforms to ignore dissenting views on 9/11 and dismiss them as crazy conspiracy theories. He thus proposed adding a session on 9/11 to the symposium and opening it to the general public. Three of us presented our views, followed by Q and A.
Galtung accepted the official narrative that 9/11 was perpetrated by foreign Muslim extremists, viewing it as blowback from the many injustices the US had inflicted on the Middle East. He called it a public execution of 3 buildings (World Trade Center 1 and 2, and the Pentagon) that symbolized the US military-financial complex.
Graeme and I enumerated unexplained anomalies pointing to complicity of key agents within the US Government and cast doubt on the culpability of Al-Qaeda operatives. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, alleged mastermind of 9/11, confessed involvement only after being subjected to prolonged torture via waterboarding, while videos of Osama bin Laden claiming credit for the attacks look suspiciously fake.
We all agreed, however, along with most peace activists, that the US response to the events of 9/11 was reprehensible: declaring the unending war on terror, fomenting widespread Islamophobia, curtailing civil liberties, decades-long military incursions in Afghanistan and Iraq that ruined both countries and cost countless lives. The US leadership justified its violent response by the fear, outrage and desire for revenge that swept across much of the nation, horrified at the shock and awe it had witnessed that fateful day. How could that have been prevented?
Imagine what our world might look like if the propaganda machine set in motion the morning of 9/11 had failed. What if most journalists, commentators, engineers, pilots, firefighters, police, and politicians on mainstream media had pressed for answers to valid questions, like:
How could damage and fires on the upper floors have caused both twin towers to explode and disappear into their footprints? How could World Trade Center 7, a third skyscraper not hit by a plane, have imploded symmetrically at free fall speed? How could an alleged hijacker who flunked flight school on small planes have executed a harrowing maneuver to ram a passenger jet into the Pentagon going 500 mph at ground level? How did the US, with its hundreds of billions in defense spending, fail to defend the nerve center of its military headquarters in the nation’s capital?
Once it was announced hijacked planes were crashing into buildings, why did Secret Service agents allow President Bush to remain in a Florida classroom with children, leaving them vulnerable to attack? Who made money on a significant increase in stock market betting right before 9/11 that prices of American and United Airline stocks would drop?
What if honest eyewitness journalists, who in the morning had reported explosions both before and during the destruction of the towers, had continued to develop that thread and ask deeper questions throughout the day and following days, rather than being diverted by select experts and pundits who silenced the “explosion” theme, supplanting it with unproven assertions that Osama bin Laden did it.
Had these questions — many raised also by 9/11 victims’ family members — been relentlessly pursued, the flimsy tale of Muslim extremists from remote parts of the world with no ties to any government being the lone perpetrators of this apocalyptic theatrical display would have soon disintegrated.
Forensic evidence of explosives would have been scrutinized, along with records of who had access to the buildings and could have installed sophisticated controlled demolition charges. Partially destroyed metal beams would have been preserved for forensic analysis rather than shipped off to China for recycling within days. Key leaders of air defense and air traffic control would have been fired for dereliction of duty. A public investigation into the many exercises simulating terrorist attacks that occurred nearly simultaneously with the real ones would have been undertaken. Records of who benefitted from stock trades demonstrating foreknowledge would have been daylighted.
The public would have demanded real answers and would have rejected the knee-jerk decision to invade another country that was not at war with us and had not attacked us. No Patriot Act, no war in Afghanistan, no war in Iraq, no destabilizing Syria, no endless war on terror, no surging military budgets, no increasingly invasive security procedures at airports, no more “Sorry to curtail your rights, but in the post-9/11 world we have no choice.”
To peace activists clinging to the conviction that, while the US response to 9/11 was unacceptable, the official story of who did it is sound, I join MacQueen in asking if it is possible for you to even imagine, purely hypothetically, that powerful individuals in key positions within the highly secretive and hierarchical US military-intelligence apparatus, backed by shadowy unnamed oligarchs, might ever conspire to commit unspeakable atrocities and blame them on someone else in order to advance self-serving agendas without critical resistance from the general populace? If not, why not?
If such a chilling scenario were possible, would it shake your foundational world view such that you can’t even consider it? Only when your conceptual framework does not exclude this hypothesis can you avoid ignoring the evidence that favors it. The day after President Kennedy’s 1963 assassination, Fidel Castro sounded this warning:
“Intellectuals and lovers of peace should understand the danger that maneuvers of this kind could mean to world peace, and what a conspiracy of this type, what a Machiavellian policy of this nature, could lead to.”
To those who would end the discourse by hurling the CIA-coined epithet “conspiracy theorist”: do you really mean to suggest that the US ruling class, in pursuing its imperial interests, has never conspired? Consider the military-intelligence apparatus track record of exercising tight control over key agencies and consolidating mass media ownership in order to mislead us, both before and after 9/11.
What we were repeatedly told and was widely believed: After North Vietnam attacked a US ship in the Tonkin Gulf we must escalate fighting against North Vietnam. Otherwise, the dominos will fall and the evil communist empire will sweep across the world, destroying our American lifestyle.
What happened: North Vietnam won the war after millions (mostly Vietnamese along with tens of thousands of US soldiers) were killed. Daniel Ellsberg exposed the lie of the Tonkin Gulf incident. Communism didn’t sweep across the world.
What we were repeatedly told and was widely believed: If we don’t intervene militarily in Afghanistan, Iraq (with its weapons of mass destruction), and Syria, the terrorists who flourish there will continue to threaten us.
What happened: Post-9/11 wars killed an estimated 4.5 million people, displaced millions more, while terrorist organizations were strengthened. Iraq didn’t have any weapons of mass destruction, as insiders knew before that war started.
What we were told repeatedly and was widely believed: In 2020 a lethal virus has spontaneously emerged that could kill us all if we don’t hide in our homes, keep children out of schools and submit to being injected with a “safe and effective” vaccine developed at warp speed.
What happened: The CIA and pharmaceutical industry led multiple exercises before 2020 rehearsing hypothetical pandemic response, designed to suppress dissent and maximize vaccine uptake. The infection fatality ratio of covid-19 proved miniscule for all but the very elderly. The extreme anxiety and stress during lockdowns exacerbated poor health outcomes. The new vaccines caused record numbers of deaths and adverse events and were not particularly effective.
What we are now being told repeatedly and is widely believed (at least in the West): Russia is an evil empire that invaded defenseless Ukraine without provocation. It will expand the war and threaten us all unless we keep supplying Ukraine with massive weapons shipments and intelligence support.
What is happening: For the last 30 years Russia has tried every peaceful and diplomatic means to resolve its security concerns regarding NATO expansion, as well as protecting the rights and self-determination of ethnic Russians in southern and eastern Ukraine. It will no longer tolerate NATO’s bullying. A draft peace agreement between Russia and Ukraine had been reached over a year ago, but was scuttled by the US and the UK, which continue to pour fuel on the flames of this proxy war that is bringing death, destruction and displacement to Ukraine and is dangerously close to becoming a nuclear conflagration.
Once you’re aware of the devious tactics used to push war on otherwise unwilling decision-makers, they become easier to recognize. MacQueen elucidates here how the classic T-U-R, or Threat-Unity-Response, device has intimidated lawmakers. On 9/11, US Congress members felt threatened by attacks on their own turf by alleged foreign terrorists. They then banded in unity on the Capitol steps, singing God Bless America and hugging across party lines. The understandable unity gestures sprang from an emotionally fragile state, rendering lawmakers vulnerable to being manipulated into responding by repressing dissent, nearly unanimously authorizing President Bush to invade Afghanistan and passing the pre-written Patriot Act.
The more we recognize T-U-R, the better we can withstand manipulation. When perceiving a grave threat, let us closely examine the nature of that threat, looking for any contradictions or inconsistencies in how it is reported, reserving judgment on who might be responsible until all evidence can be analyzed. Let us be unified in striving to safeguard our rights while avoiding violence or harm to anyone. Let us respond by welcoming a diversity of voices in a thoughtful decision-making process on how to resolve the threat and prevent future ones. As MacQueen exhorted us: “We need to find our courage, find community with each other, find our intelligence and use it!”
Exposing uncomfortable truths is risky, and leaders who do so can face targeted executions masqueraded as random isolated assassinations. John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy all paid the ultimate price for calling out the military-industrial complex, but those who planned and carried out their murders have successfully avoided prosecution or even widespread suspicion, thanks to the tightly controlled media message. Numerous meticulously researched analyses debunk the lingering myths that provide cover for the actual culprits.[i] Spoiler alert: It is abundantly clear that neither Lee Harvey Oswald, Sirhan Sirhan, nor James Earl Ray fired the fatal shots.
While likely suspects’ individual identities may be elusive, systemic inside complicity can be demonstrated, as with the CIA’s involvement in the two Kennedy murders. In 1999, the jury in a civil trial brought by the King family concluded that certain government agencies (notably the Memphis Police and US Army) conspired in the civil rights leader’s murder. He was, after all, calling for an end to the Vietnam war that was so profitable to President Johnson’s friends in the arms industry.
So, whodunnit on 9/11? As a starting point, chemist and researcher Kevin Ryan offers names and evidence for some of the prime insider suspects in his 2013 book Another Nineteen: Investigating Legitimate 9/11 Suspects. All are connected to impenetrable agencies within the deep state. Both the individuals and the alphabet soup they operated within (CIA, FBI, DOD, FAA, COG, SAIC, and more) warrant close examination.
As more people raise questions and distrust of corporate media on these issues grows, high-quality independent resources are increasingly available. The International Center for 9/11 Justice[ii] is a repository of scholarship to help unravel the illusive threads of the elaborate regalia the emperor purports to be wearing but that dissolve into thin air upon scrutiny. We must empower ourselves to critically evaluate information sources for whichever current events concern us most.
Broader awareness of the treachery and betrayal of perpetrators from within the US military-intelligence complex committing mass murder on US soil will be a shock to the system. But it needn’t be fatal. Most people have a strong moral compass and want to live in a country where fair, robust constitutional structures are actually adhered to. They will want to ensure they are no longer fooled or grievously taken advantage of. They will insist on breaking up news monopolies and demand wide distribution of media ownership. They will reject false narratives that drive the proliferation of weapons and wars. They will demand a reduction in the obscene wealth gap that enables those with hegemonic aspirations to purchase hearts, minds, souls, loyalty and obedience—attributes that should never be for sale.
An honest conversation in the public sphere about the US role in complex acts of political violence could lead to a complete restructuring of the US security apparatus, including but not limited to:
- Breaking the CIA into a thousand pieces and scattering it to the winds (as JFK wanted to do), or at minimum terminating its entire covert operations function
- Removing all US military bases from other countries
- Exiting NATO and advocating its dissolution
- Prioritizing initiatives for global arms control, aimed at total elimination of nuclear weapons
- Banning torture and extrajudicial killing
- Respecting the sovereignty of other countries by ceasing all efforts to interfere in their elections or domestic policies, whether by coup d’etat, corruption, or cognitive infiltration
In other words, US citizens and government could adopt an attitude of viewing themselves as one nation among a family of 193 nations on this earth, with a commitment to inhabit our planet collaboratively and resolve any conflicts peacefully.
The vast sums saved by implementing this restructuring could be put to good use re-training everyone who would lose their current job in the process, and re-employing them and other jobless people in building and healing professions that would enhance everyone’s quality of life and give the economy a positive boost.
As the 2024 US presidential campaign heats up, the only candidate so far who openly advocates the above policies and persists in speaking truth to power despite being vilified and censored by mainstream media is Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. We all deserve the genuine peace his uncle aspired to five months before the warmongers murdered him, namely
[i] Including: JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters, by James Douglass, A Lie too Big to Fail: The Real History of the Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, by Lisa Pease, and The Plot to Kill King: The Truth Behind the Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., by William Pepper. There are many more.
[ii] Note: While the author is a board member of IC911, the views expressed here are solely her own.
Marilyn Langlois is a member of TRANSCEND USA West Coast. She is a volunteer community organizer and international solidarity activist based in Richmond, California. A co-founder of the Richmond Progressive Alliance, member of Haiti Action Committee and Board member of the International Center for 9/11 Justice, she is retired from previous employment as a teacher, secretary, administrator, mediator and community advocate.