Sunday, September 30, 2007

Next step to 9/11 justice

Next step to 9/11 justice
By Joel S. Hirschhorn
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Sep 25, 2007

Everyone thinks of terrorism and homeland security for lessons learned from 9/11. There is another opportunity. Make our government trustworthy and truthful.

The 9/11 truth movement is stronger than ever, though it is generally derided by politicians and ignored by the mainstream media. It is fueled by people passionate about alternative explanations to the official 9/11 story. Understandable, considering that the co-chairs of the 9/11 Commission admitted: “We were set up to fail.”

In 2006, Time magazine said: “The population of [the 9/11 truth movement] is larger than you might think. A Scripps-Howard poll of 1,010 adults last month found that 36 percent of Americans consider it ‘very likely’ or ‘somewhat likely’ that government officials either allowed the attacks to be carried out or carried out the attacks themselves. Thirty-six percent adds up to a lot of people. This is not a fringe phenomenon. It is a mainstream political reality.”

A 2006 Zogby International poll found that 42 percent of Americans more likely agree with people who believe that “the US government and its 9/11 Commission concealed or refused to investigate critical evidence that contradicts their official explanation of the September 11th attacks, saying there has been a cover-up.”

This year Zogby found that 31 perecent of likely voters do not buy the official 9/11 story [72 percent for ages 18 to 24 and nearly 60 percent for Hispanics and singles]; 51 percent still await a congressional investigation of Bush's and Cheney's actions before, during and after the 9/11 attacks [88 percent for ages 18 to 24 and 77 percent for Hispanics and singles]; and 67 percent fault the 9/11 Commission for not investigating the anomalous and still unexplained collapse of World Trade Center building 7.

So, six years later, a large fraction of Americans question the government’s official 9/11 story. Countless groups and websites sustain the 9/11 truth movement with many conferences held nationwide. There have been several best-selling books and many well known political, military, law enforcement and academic persons publicly support alternative theories of 9/11 and/or the need for a new investigation. Yet, being a 9/11 truth seeker exposes one to ridicule as a conspiracy nut by those brainwashed by establishment propaganda and lies, or afraid to face the painful truth, or too lazy to think for themselves.

Writing recently in the Guardian, Peter Tatchell made important points: “The 9/11 Commission was hamstrung by official obstruction. It never managed to ascertain the whole truth of what happened on September 11 2001. . . . 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.”

In other words, the truth movement has set the stage for taking their passion to a higher political level that even more Americans can support -- government reform.

Specifically, waiting is a reform mechanism as old as the Constitution itself. Few Americans realize they have a constitutional right to a national convention of state delegates that can propose constitutional amendments. Once convened, delegates can debate and propose amendments without government review, but like amendments proposed by Congress, still must meet the tough ratification requirements of Article V. Though all 50 states have applied for a convention, well in excess of the 34 required by the Constitution, Congress has refused to call one. The nonpartisan Friends of the Article V Convention at seeks the nation’s first Article V convention.

The Framers of our Constitution created the convention option because they feared one dark day the public would lose confidence in the federal government. With record-low approval of Congress -- just 11 percent - and so little truth about 9/11, that day has crashed our democracy. Unsurprisingly, just like a new 9/11 investigation, Congress fears what may come out of an Article V convention. The truth is not politically popular.

The nexus between the 9/11 truth movement and the Article V convention effort is this: When a sizable fraction of the population wants a more comprehensive and credible government investigation into a matter of great public concern, but Congress and the Executive Branch refuse, a new legal mechanism is needed. Considering how the Bush administration used 9/11 to start the insane Iraq war, the public has profoundly good reasons for a new option for obtaining trustworthy information. Surely there will be other events and issues in the future that raise the same need for reliable analysis and conclusions independent of the usual web of government circles and tricks.

A new constitutional amendment can establish a framework for citizens to petition and seek “redress” from their federal government without going through elected representatives adept at ignoring them. Here is a possible approach. The highly respected and independent General Accountability Office could be given constitutional responsibility for collecting citizen petitions for investigations. If a threshold number is reached, then GAO would conduct a nonpartisan investigation using its staff and any other persons deemed necessary. This would be a taste of direct democracy, akin to a national referendum. The threshold might be one million citizen requests, with at least 10,000 coming from each of at least two-thirds of the states.

The intense 9/11 truth movement has a historic opportunity to seek a permanent means to counter bipartisan government intransigence and untrustworthiness that now is the rule, not the exception.

I urge 9/11 truth seekers to join Friends of the Article V Convention, recognizing that Congress’ refusal to re-investigate 9/11 is matched by its refusal to permit an Article V convention. Our common goal is to compel the federal government to be accountable to the Constitution, federal law and the people. 9/11 truth seekers must become government reform seekers to achieve their objectives through smart political strategy.

Other political strategies also merit support, notably the current effort in New York City to obtain a ballot initiative to establish a new independent commission and investigation:

Consider what Mark Twain wisely observed: “In the beginning of a change the patriot is a scarce man, and brave, and hated and scorned. When his cause succeeds, the timid join him, for then it costs nothing to be a patriot.” Our patriotic crusade for 9/11 truth and systemic government reform is still at the first stage. Courage is needed to persevere. Truth does not come easy.

Joel S. Hirschhorn is a member of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, a co-founder of Friends of the Article V Convention, former full professor of engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and senior staffer at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the National Governors Association, and author of Delusional Democracy -- Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government.

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