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Nader Issues Statement on 9/11 Anniversary

Thursday, September 11, 2008 at 12:00:00 AM

Press Release
Contact: Toby Heaps, 202-441-6795


Statement by Ralph Nader on the 7th anniversary of 9/11:

The Massacre of September 11, 2001 -- before, during and after -- continues to raise many questions among millions of Americans who believe they have not been told the truth about what really happened that day. These questions include ones relating to the procedures of the 9/11 Commission, its independence, the depth of the inquiry, and the scope of the explanations as to what happened in each of these three stages.

From the beginning, public skepticisms were fed by the early refusal of the Bush Administration to authorize an independent investigation into the attacks -- a response that would have been automatic for a prime minister of Canada, the United Kingdom or Australia, for example. Only the tenacity and probing efforts of the bereaved families changed the White House's mind. Then the 9/11 Commission aborted its expected or prudent objectives by announcing at the outset that it would neither name names nor assign responsibility for various segments of the sequences that led to the tragedy and delineated its aftermath. By failing to name names, or assign responsibility, the commission betrayed its duty to the American public.

The White House helped to fan the flames of skepticism further by initially allocating only $3 million for the 9/11 Commission's work, a paltry sum compared with, for example, the $50 million spent to investigate the Columbia shuttle disaster -- a far less complex, deadly event.  

Public confidence was additionally eroded by unexplained concessions to the closed, secret testimony by President Bush and Vice President Cheney which was not under oath. No recording was made of the session, no stenographer was allowed in the room, and no transcript exists.  

Not surprisingly, when public confidence in such a commission's work erodes, criticism ranges from the very sound, to the heuristic, to the plausible to the outlandish. Plausibility is not evidence. But that does not vitiate the need for more evidence -- an insufficiency only partly of the Commission's own making. But partly is still significant in an episode with many dimensions and penumbras.

Closing the books on the federal government's 9/11 Commission is a syndrome nourished by fatigue and the desire for "closure" or "for putting it behind" the nation. Unfortunately, the sense that the commission was unnecessarily incomplete and unfinished seems to be growing with more commentary, criticism, documentaries, rumors and charges. Other jurisdictions may see the need for extending the investigation -- most notably New York City, New York State, Virginia and Pennsylvania. An effort to establish such an independent commission of inquiry, by registered voters backing a referendum, seems to be continuing in New York City.

It helps our country little to stereotype the critics of the 9/11 Commission categorically. Their range covers nearly the entire spectrum of the human imagination, critical analysis, and capacity for suspicion. That is to be expected with major sudden traumas to a society. What should not be expected is to use stereotypes as the basis for dismissal of all the critics, regardless of the quality of their procedural and substantive queries. A further authoritative and properly funded inquiry is in order.

For starters, why not a four hour debate at the National Press Club (with an intermission) between a leading proponent of the 9/11 Commission's performance and a leading critic on the other side? This may join, clarify or jettison issues that have festered.