By John Albanese
On September 10, 2001, Donald Rumsfeld announced that an estimated $2.3 Trillion in Pentagon spending was missing — and unaccounted for — from the Pentagon. One day later, on 9/11, the story also disappeared, along with any semblances of governmental accountability and journalistic integrity.
In the wake of 9/11 America was a traumatized nation where asking difficult questions was often perceived as unpatriotic and equated with disloyalty.
Forget the fact that $2.3 Trillion equals the GDP of Italy. Forget that the military only spent an estimated $311 billion in the year 2000 – and that approximately 7.5 times that amount had disappeared. We were at war the very next day on 9/11 — and that was all that mattered. Forget that Italy had just disappeared from the map.
That was the power of 9/11.
And in the years that followed it appeared that no lie was too big, no claim too outrageous, no initiative too insane, to trigger an appropriate response from either the media or the public. Accountability was replaced with blind nationalism and comforting platitudes.
“United We Stand.”
“We Will Never Forget.”
Sadly, nine years after 9/11, we neither stand united nor care enough to remember.
Nine years after 9/11 our 9/11 first responders are still denied the critical medical care they need — in plain sight — with nary a peep from a war-weary populace still sporting their fading 9/11 “We Will Never Forget” car magnets on their SUVs.
And nine years after 9/11 even the most fundamental questions regarding the events of that day, as well as the most fundamental questions associated with the myriad lies and tragic events in the days that followed, remain to this day unanswered.
The events of 9/11 were, as the neo-conservative think tank “Project For The New American Century” predicted (and seemingly called for), in its September 2000 report “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” — a “New Pearl Harbor”:
“Further, the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event—-like a new Pearl Harbor”
And, like the original Pearl Harbor, transformation is indeed what we got. A short nine months after the neo-conservatives took possession of the White House, a “New Pearl Harbor” shocked and awed the world and transformed the psyche of the American public.
But instead of building a new society unified in its resolve to reinvent itself as a better nation, with better policies, with a superior moral compass capable of leading the world through example, the neo-conservatives instead usurped the trust and unity of a nation gripped in fear, usurping their advantaged political position to begin ‘the process of transformation’ – to divide us- and build a new America populated by people scared to ask questions and conditioned to be void of any individual sense of personal responsibility – or obligation – to demand the truth. And instead of rediscovering ourselves in the aftermath of 9/11 as a nation based on principals and ideals worth fighting for, they transformed us into a nation devoid of any semblance of legal or journalistic integrity.
To be fair, legitimate questions were occasionally raised. Questions regarding Iraq’s reconstituted nuclear program and Valerie Plame’s outing and even questions regarding 9/11 were raised. But they died quickly on the vine as the cumulative weight of the wartime propaganda machine, and FoxNews, and the war party aficionados of the far right, crushed and distilled our questions down into cheap media sound-bites – indistinguishable from the prurient tabloid conspiracy theories bombarding us on almost a daily basis from the fevered imaginations of such professional liars as Alex Jones and the Tea Party and the Birther movements. And our legitimate questions were buried and eventually got lost in the mix.
Instead of truth — we got governmental entitlement and war profiteering. Dick Cheney was entitled to invade Iraq, resulting in hundreds of thousands dead and millions others displaced, while governmental cronyism siphoned off billions of dollars into the same ether into which an indignant Donald Rumsfeld claimed $2.3 trillion had disappeared. The facts didn’t matter. The truth didn’t matter. We simply relied on the same old time-worn bromides that have gotten us into one unnecessary war after another. We are AMERICA! — and we are entitled to lash out at any real or invented enemies!! Lord knows we’ve done it before.
And lash out we did — with shock and awe — bringing catastrophe down on the heads of others – as a direct result of our own failure to ask questions — and our own failure to demand answers – in the thin atmosphere of American exceptionalism that our leaders cooked up in the incubators of hyper-nationalism that was post-9/11 America.
And instead of using our resources to build a morally stronger America, they built a complex house of cards built of lies on top of lies, that resulted in the squandering of our national resources — and the looting of our treasury — and the destruction of our moral standing abroad — and the unnecessary loss of hundreds of thousands of human lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. And now as we stand on the precipice of total economic and social collapse, having borrowed and spent ourselves into near oblivion, bogged down in two quagmires of wars that should have ended on the drawing board long before they ever even began, we ask and wonder — when may we begin to go back and revisit some of those myriad unanswered questions?
Specifically, when is it permissible to expect accountability on the issue of 9/11?
Nine years after 9/11 we still have not yet set the historical record straight. It was with a growing sense of unease that the American public turned to new leadership. We knew something was wrong. We could feel it in our bones. We could feel the betrayal in the air. Today we lose our homes and jobs and healthcare and hope as a result of our failure to act — and ask questions — and demand accountability. And we know it is simply fundamentally wrong when our new leaders brazenly perpetuate and protect the lies of the past by telling us that we must not ‘look back’ — and we must all ‘look forward’ to the future.
Accountability requires looking back.
Social justice and criminal prosecutions require that we look back.
The task may feel almost insurmountable. The last nine years have been a blur, to be sure. But accountability and truth demands that we look back and make some sense of the mess we are in today.
There are those who would seek to marginalize our questions by referring to us as conspiracy theorists. And in many ways they are correct. It does not serve our interests to speculate and confuse opinions with fact. Conspiracy theories only serve to muddy the already murky-black waters of the last 9 years. We must resist the urge to do so.
But to those who would seek to silence us by conflating our legitimate questions with conspiracy theories — please know that you cannot heal our national wounds by adding more insult to our injuries — by distorting and misrepresenting our intentionality — and ultimately aiding and abetting those whom the 9/11 Commissioners themselves accused of lying and stonewalling them.
It is never wise to try to silence the public and marginalize their fears and concerns. Conspiracy theories are the last tragic refuge of a society that has been repeatedly lied to and betrayed and abandoned by their leaders and investigative journalists. It is only human nature that we will try to fill the vacuum left by lies — and connect the dots ourselves.
Demanding answers is the only solution. It is clear and elegant in its simplicity. We need to ask questions — and demand answers.
That is the foundation on which the 9/11 Truth movement is built. There are those who would distort these intentions by spreading outlandish claims, misinformation or intentional disinformation. But let us be clear — the foundation of 9/11 Truth is based upon the public’s right to know the truth — and as long as questions remain unanswered and documented lies are allowed to stand — our work will not be done.
TRUTH is the cornerstone of any healthy society. Truth is, after all, the essential ingredient that makes democracy and social justice work. And as long as lies, rumors and urban myths associated with 9/11 are allowed to continue to stand and proliferate, we must continue to search for the right questions and demand honest answers. We must continue to expose all lies — whether from our elected officials — or from those among us who claim to represent the interests of 9/11 Truth but spread misinformation or disinformation in our name. No one is exempt from accountability and the truth. The truth knows no loyalty to any one nation, political persuasion, nationality, religious belief system, conspiracy theory or 9/11 researcher. Truth stands on its own.