Nine-hundred and 11 Missing Pieces
The Southern Solstice has passed, and with it the deadline for 9/11 families to file their claims with the "Feinberg Fund," as it has come to be known. Of an official death toll of 2976, claims have been filed by for 2,851. The claim involves signing off on any future litigation against the government, the airlines, the airports or any security firms.
One hundred and twenty-five claims remain outstanding, but little has been written about any of these families. Where is the coverage of those insisting on finding out what really happened on that day before they sign away their "claims?"
First to stand up were five widows: Kristen Breitweiser, Patty Casazza, Mindy Kleinberg and Lorie van Auken. Breitweiser’s husband was killed in his office at Fiduciary Trust on the 94th floor of the South Tower, while Casazza, Kleinberg and van Auken are Cantor-Fitzgerald widows. They began lobbying for answers early in 2002, navigating the labyrinth of American bureaucracy and hammering the bureaucrats for direct answers to direct questions. In September 2002, Breitweiser testified at the first televised public hearing before the Joint Intelligence Committee Inquiry (JICI) in DC.
Like many others, she wanted to know why, on May 16, 2002, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice stated that she didn’t "think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center… That they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile."
Breitweiser knows the historical facts say otherwise. She noted the following points in her statement. In her words:
• In 1993, a $150,000 study was commissioned by the Pentagon to investigate the possibility of an airplane being used to bomb national landmarks. A draft document of this was circulated throughout the Pentagon, the Justice Department and to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
• In 1994, a disgruntled Fed Ex employee invaded the cockpit of a DC-10 with plans to crash it into a company building in Memphis. That same year, a lone pilot crashed a small plane into a tree on the White House grounds, and an Air France flight was hijacked by members of the Armed Islamic Group with the intent to crash the plane into the Eiffel Tower.
• In January 1995, Philippine authorities investigating Abdul Murad, an Islamic terrorist, unearthed a plot to blow up 11 airliners over the Pacific, and in the alternative, several planes were to be hijacked and flown into civilian targets in the U.S. Among the targets mentioned were CIA headquarters, the World Trade Center, the Sears Tower and the White House.
• In September 1999, a report, "The Sociology and Psychology of Terrorism," was prepared for U.S. intelligence by the Federal Research Division, an arm of the Library of Congress. It stated, "Suicide bombers belonging to al Qaeda’s Martyrdom Battalion could crash-land an aircraft packed with high explosives (C-4 and Semtex) into the Pentagon, the headquarters of the CIA, or the White House."
Like many others, Breitweiser believes that American intelligence had long speculated that terrorist organizations could and would utilize airplanes as weapons.
She also included a March 11, 2002 statement by the director of the CIA, George Tenet: "[The United States] never had the texture–meaning enough information–to stop what happened." She offered a similar statement by the director of the FBI, Robert Mueller, from May 8, 2002: "[T]here was nothing the agency could have done to anticipate and prevent the attacks."
Once again Breitweiser argued that the facts indicated otherwise. As she said:
• Throughout the spring and early summer of 2001, intelligence agencies flooded the government with warnings of possible terrorist attacks against American targets, including commercial aircraft, by al Qaeda and other groups. The warnings were vague but sufficiently alarming to prompt the FAA to issue four information circulars, or ICs, to the commercial airline industry between June 22 and July 31, warning of possible terrorism.
• On June 22, the military’s Central and European Commands imposed "Force Protection Condition Delta," the highest anti-terrorist alert.
• On June 28, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice said, "It is highly likely that a significant al Qaeda attack is in the near future, within several weeks."
• As of July 31, the FAA urged U.S. airlines to maintain a "high degree of alertness."
• One FAA circular from late July noted, according to Condoleezza Rice, that there was "no specific target, no credible info of attack to U.S. civil aviation interests, but terror groups are known to be planning and training for hijackings, and we ask you therefore to use caution." Two counter-terrorism officials described the alerts of the early and mid-summer 2001 as "the most urgent in decades."
Breitweiser is resolute in her assertions. Airport security officials, she believes, could have done much more to prevent the hijackings. Beyond that, however, she wonders what September 11 would have been like had the government made the public aware of the threats. How many people, she asks, would have chosen to board planes that morning? And how many of those in World Trade Center 2 would have remained in their offices, watching the inferno of Tower 1, had they known of the possibility of an air attack?
One of the more compelling passages in Breitweiser’s statement concerns a July 5, 2001 White House gathering of the FAA, the Coast Guard, the FBI, Secret Service and INS wherein a top counter-terrorism official, Richard Clarke, stated that "[s]omething really spectacular is going to happen here, and it’s going to happen soon." Despite being put on heightened alert, intelligence agencies ignored–or at least dismissed–what is now widely known as the "Phoenix Memo."
On July 10, an FBI field agent in Phoenix, AZ, named Kenneth Williams reported suspicions of a hijacking plot. He recommended that the FBI investigate the possibility that al Qaeda operatives were training at U.S. flight schools, suggesting that Osama bin Laden’s followers may have been securing jobs as security guards, pilots and other personnel.
Too many questions remain, and Breitweiser is very thorough in outlining the possible failures of not only our government’s communication prior to the attack, but its response. She wonders why, for instance, the NY/NJ Port Authority didn’t evacuate the World Trade Center when they knew that a second plane was heading in? And why weren’t the F-16s and Stealth bombers that tracked on radar screens at approximately 8:05 a.m. used to prevent tragedy?
Concerning the attack on the Pentagon, Breitweiser notes that Washington Air Traffic Control Center was aware of the first plane before it hit the World Trade Center. And yet, the third plane–American Airlines Flight 77, soon to plunge into the Pentagon–made a few "loop de loops" over DC one hour and 45 minutes after Washington Center was made aware of the hijackings. Why, she asks, was our Air Force so late in its response?
In late 2002, the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States–now known popularly as the "9/11 Commission"–was reluctantly created, in large part due to the efforts of the widow Breitweiser. The commission’s object is not so much to get the facts straight, but to assign blame for "shortcomings" and "failures" in the bureaucracy. It’s what is known in intelligence circles as a "limited hang-out."
On September 12, 2003, the widow Ellen Mariani filed a civil RICO suit in the U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania naming George W. Bush, Richard Cheney, John Ashcroft, Donald Rumsfeld, George Tenet, Norman Mineta, Peter G. Peterson, Condoleezza Rice, George H.W. Bush and Kenneth Feinberg, in addition to "Other unnamed past, present, officials, representatives, agents, and private consultants of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" as defendants. She is demanding a jury trial.
She also fired off an open letter to President Bush in which she claims that he "intentionally allowed 9/11 to happen to gather public support for a ‘war on terrorism.’" She accuses him of being "fully aware of the unfolding events" yet "[choosing] to continue on to the Emma E. Booker Elementary School to proceed with a scheduled event and ‘photo op.’" With America under attack, she writes, our president "did not appear to blink an eye or shed a tear [but] continued on as if everything was ‘business as usual.’"
Speaking for the families of the victims, she poses the following questions to President Bush:
Why were 29 pages of the 9/11 committee report personally censored at your request?
Where are the "black boxes" from Flight 11 and Flight 175?
Where are the "voice recorders" from Flight 11 and Flight 175?
Why can’t we gain access to the complete air traffic control records for Flight 11 and Flight 175?
Where are the airport surveillance tapes that show the passengers boarding the doomed flights?
When will complete passenger lists for all of the flights be released?
Why did your brother, Jeb Bush, the governor of Florida, personally go to the offices of the Hoffman Aviation School and order that flight records and files be removed? These files were then put on a C130 government cargo plane and flown out of the country. Where were they taken and who ordered it done?
Her letter ends ominously: "I will prove this in a court of law!"
So many, many questions. Why did World Trade Center 7 collapse? No airplane hit that building, and before September 11, no steel skyscraper had ever collapsed because of a fire. Yet three fell–very neatly and virtually into their own footprints.
(Even if one allows the engineers their claims that WTC1 and WTC2 were designed to collapse in on themselves, what of the perfect collapse of WTC7?)
The firefighters who were in the two towers were not in the least concerned about a collapse, as demonstrated in the fire department’s transcript of their radio traffic. In fact, they stated that the fires were dying out and could be extinguished with just a couple of lines of hose. Jet fuel burns like kerosene or charcoal fluid–quickly and completely–yet Ground Zero burned for 100 days.
The idea of rigging the buildings for a controlled demolition was dismissed as unrealistic by even the most suspicious types. How to gain access? Well, President Bush’s other brother, Marvin, had a security company covering the World Trade Center, Dulles International Airport and United Airlines.
In The American Reporter (Jan. 20, 2003), Margie Burns raises the question of Marvin Bush’s role in September 11. She notes that two of the planes involved that day were United, and another took off from Dulles airport. The firm that handled security, formerly named Securacom, "listed [Marvin] Bush on its board of directors and as a significant shareholder. The firm, now named Stratesec, Inc., is located in Sterling, Va., a suburb of Washington, D.C., and emphasizes federal clients."
The company, Burns writes, was never investigated. Rather, it has benefited from increased security measures instituted in the wake of the attacks.
Some doubt altogether that a plane hit the Pentagon. On Sept. 12, Arlington County Fire Chief Ed Plaugher made some revealing statements. When asked about aircraft wreckage, he responded that "there are some small pieces of aircraft visible from the interior during this fire-fighting operation…but not large sections. In other words, there’s no fuselage sections and that sort of thing." When asked about jet fuel, he referred to a "puddle."
Look at pictures, however, and it’s hard to believe that a Boeing 757 flew into the Pentagon. The damage is not in proportion to the claim, especially when one considers that two Boeing 757s are said to have taken down three skyscrapers. The Pentagon was dented, the plane evaporated.
Nothing that has been reported as truth escapes examination. Even the 19 men at the controls, now infamously known as the 9/11 hijackers, cannot be tied with real evidence to the event itself. This, according to FBI Director Robert Mueller. "Mohammed Atta" appears to have been a stolen identity, as per the real Atta’s father and his passport, which went missing in 1999, and on Sept. 23, 2001, the BBC reported that at least four other of the 19 men identified as the hijackers were alive and well–and considerably unsettled.
Why would seismographs in the NYC area register two tiny quakes at Ground Zero at the commencement of the collapse of each tower?
Why were the planes up in the air for so long? And why did they fly over so many military bases? Was America’s defense team on a crack break, or was it a National Reconnaissance Office exercise, a wargame that involved hijacked aircraft being splashed into buildings in New York and DC? The two that took the towers flew within spitting distance of the Indian Point nuclear reactor facility.
Condoleezza Rice’s preposterous May 16, 2002, statement that no one could have foreseen this scenario was particularly ironic given that Pacifica Radio identified her that day as the source of San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown’s "airport security" call warning him not to fly on Black Tuesday.
The internet is boiling with analyses of the 9/11 event. In Europe, a fair number of people believe the American government was complicit in the attacks. According to recent polls, one-third of young Germans believe this. Print and broadcast media here ignore the questions, but it can’t be kept from public view forever. It’s all out there. It’s been two years, and we still have nothing but questions and Grassy Knoll theories. The answers lay scattered in shreds and pieces, waiting to be assembled.
Now come the widows, asking the right questions. Mariani’s lawyer, Phil Berg, makes a point to remind people that he is not in the least bit suicidal, or given to playing with loaded guns. They may not be able to reassemble or reanimate their loved ones in a literal sense, but these families who are choosing the hard road, the Narrow Way, will get to the truth.
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