D.C. Press Conference
Punches Big Holes in 9-11 Official Line
by Michael Davidson and
FTW Staff Writers
[© COPYRIGHT 2002, All Rights
Reserved, Michael C. Ruppert and From The Wilderness Publications,
www.fromthewilderness.com. May be copied and distributed
for non-profit purposes only.]
June 20, 2002, 15:00 PDT (FTW) -- A new
coalition of 9-11 researchers, journalists, victims' families,
and other truth seekers held an inaugural press conference
June 10 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
The goal of UnansweredQuestions.org's press event and public
inquiry was "to pose pointed, as yet unanswered, questions
regarding the failure of our national security infrastructure,
and the response that has sacrificed civil liberties and
rewarded failure as opposed to ensuring performance and
guaranteeing freedoms, now and in the future," according
to a press release put out by the group. "UnansweredQuestions.org
is being launched by an independent, non-partisan network
of citizens concerned about the growing number of issues
surrounding Sept. 11 that have yet to be addressed or resolved;
and their related public safety and constitutional implications."
The event was moderated by Kyle Hence and former Assistant
Secretary of Housing Catherine Austin Fitts, who have been
at the helm of launching UnansweredQuestions.org. The day's
two panels featured Mike Ruppert, FTW publisher/editor,
as well as a host of researchers and activists focused on
bringing out the truth regarding the U.S. government's actions,
or lack thereof, relating to the 9-11 terrorist attacks.
Mary Schiavo is the lawyer for 32 victims'
families. The former inspector general of the Department
of Transportation and aviation expert was also a featured
speaker at the press conference. Schiavo joined several
of her colleagues who addressed the more than 300 in attendance
in calling for an independent commission to investigate
the events of Sept. 11.
"In every single aviation disaster,
whether there was criminal activity or not, in every single
one in the course of aviation history it has been followed
-- not only where necessary a national criminal investigation
-- but also a National Transportation Safety [Board] investigation
into what went wrong in the aviation system so that it never
happens again," said Schiavo. "This is the first
time that families have been attempted to be silenced through
a special fund, which I believe is about silence more than
it is about money."
Another speaker, Lorna Brett of the Nolan
Law Group, made a similar point, stating, "I live in
the Midwest, and I feel like I'm doing focus groups when
I'm out in my neighborhood and I ask people, 'What do you
think about what happened on 9-11?' And it's amazing how
many people say we couldn't have stopped it, it couldn't
have happened, nobody could have known. And the truth is
that a lot of people should have known."
Brett and Schiavo pointed out the cozy
relationship that exists between the airline industry and
the federal agencies designated to regulate it, particularly
when it comes to security. Four federal investigations into
airline security took place before Sept. 11, Schiavo said,
"I know, I led up two of them. My successor has carried
out more, including one investigation done after 9-11 that
found security could be breached at will. Why?" Schiavo
continued. "Is it business as usual? Is it cheaper
to have lax security? One would think that when they heard
the statements of the administration when they said, 'Well
yes, we knew there might be hijackings. We knew that something
was afoot, but we thought they'd be traditional hijackings.'
Does that truly mean that they were willing to risk passengers
and planes, and even compromise the aviation system, because
it was cheaper to allow it to happen than to take the necessary
steps to prevent it?"
Schiavo concluded her point saying, "That
is what we will prove in court. But that isn't enough, because
there are many more questions than the court can answer,
and that can only be done with a government investigation."
Another speaker on the panel echoed the
call for a non-partisan, full and open government investigation.
Julie Sweeney lost her husband, Brian, on United Flight
175 and is one of the victims' family members pursuing litigation
against the government. On why she declined "$2 million"
from the federal fund for 9-11 victims, Sweeney said, "I
want the answers, and I want the answers to lead to accountability.
And I want this accountability to be the catalyst for change
in the airline industry and everything that goes along with
Sweeney expressed her dissatisfaction with
the government's relationship with the airlines. "I
will not sit back and be bought out in order to protect
an industry that will never be destroyed because the American
people depend on it too much," said Sweeney. "It's
not going to go anywhere, planes will always be flying in
the skiesHiding behind the truth is an embarrassment
to this country, leading to mistakes and lax attitudes.
First and foremost, we need to begin to heal, and we need
to make sure that this cannot be repeated."
Derrill Bodley, the father of a 9-11 victim,
was in attendance as well. He had this to add in response
to a statement made May 16 by Condoleezza Rice, Bush's national
security advisor. "My biggest unanswered question today
is this: Did my daughter, my 20-year-old daughter, my only
child, have to die on Sept. 11 for the sake of the well-being
of the civil aviation system? I have a big question in my
mind whenever government officials denigrate the value of
human life and well-being by comparing it to the value of
a system." Responding to questions from the press about
Bush Administration foreknowledge of 9-11, Rice said the
government did nothing because "we would have risked
shutting down the American civil aviation system with such
Bodley also questioned Rice's statement
from the same press conference that no one could have foreseen
commercial jets being crashed into buildings, despite revelations
in recent months from several whistleblowers that many in
the U.S. intelligence community were warning of the likelihood
of just such kinds of attacks from Islamic militants. "If
the terrorists had envisioned it, if the U.S. government
knew they had envisioned it, why didn't our intelligence
community, including the NSA, envision it and compelthe
airlines and the airports to protect us, to keep my daughter
from dying on Sept. 11," said Bodley.
According to Brett, her law firm's suit
on behalf of 9-11 victims has been prevented from really
getting off the ground. The case's first status meeting,
before the discovery phase starts, has not yet been scheduled.
This, despite the fact the suit was filed in December.
"It's stunning to me that some of
the people questioning some of our agencies are accused
of being unpatriotic," Brett told the conference. "The
world is watching us right now. If we can't examine ourfederal
agencies, our government, the influence of lobbyists on
politics,if we can't self-examine and cleanse that
wound, reset that broken bone, what kind of example are
we setting? Are we a super power, or are we super cowards?"
Steve Camarota, research director for the
Center for Immigration Studies, spoke on how the U.S. immigration
system is unable to keep terrorists out of the country.
His group recently issued a report that found 48 terrorists
have entered the U.S. "by every conceivable means"
since 1993, the year the World Trade Center was bombed.
Camarota said virtually all of these 48 terrorists have
since been linked to Osama bin Laden. He also stated the
Immigration and Naturalization Service and the State Department
are overwhelmed by the number of visa and citizenship requests.
"Congress just doesn't give them enough resources,"
he said, which is largely due to pressure from interest
groups in favor of lax enforcement of immigration laws.
Researcher and freelance writer Richard
Ochs posed the notion that there was a specific political
agenda in the timing of the anthrax attacks on government
officials last year. He said the anthrax letters sent to
Democrats on Capitol Hill, the Supreme Court, and members
of the media coincided with efforts to ram the USA Patriot
Act through Congress. The Patriot Act has been criticized
by many, including another panelist [see below], as unconstitutional.
After all the questions (and some heart-wrenching
statements) following the first panel, a much needed break
was taken. When the press conference reconvened, the second
panel was on the dais with some new faces and some carryovers
from panel one.
Catherine Austin Fitts opened the proceedings
by introducing FTW's Mike Ruppert, who was on a telephone
hook-up from Vancouver, British Columbia where he was giving
a 9-11 lecture during a 12-day speaking tour. Ruppert began
with a heartfelt and passionate declaration of condolences
for, and solidarity with, the families of the 9-11 victims.
He said they were "foremost in his heart." He
then read a statement, published elsewhere in this issue,
outlining the work FTW has been doing for the past nine
After Ruppert, Fitts introduced independent
investigator and researcher John Judge. Judge is one of
the co-founders of the National Coalition on Political Assassinations,
which is responsible for getting the "JFK Records Act"
passed. Judge's work has resulted in the release of over
six million documents, the largest in U.S. history.
Judge began very simply, stating there
most certainly was a point at which it was clear the United
States, and particularly Washington, D.C., were under attack.
That point was 9:05 a.m. on Sept. 11. That was the point
at which a shoot-down order for Flight 77 was issued. Oddly,
the plane continued unmolested towards the most restricted
airspace in the world for 40 minutes before hitting the
Pentagon. During this time Washington, D.C.'s Channel 8
broadcast that the plane was heading there and many government
buildings were evacuated.
Judge quotes a Pentagon spokesman as saying
that there was no mechanism to respond to this type of event.
Yet Judge, a lifelong Washington, D.C. resident, says he
is personally aware that fighters routinely intercept commercial
planes that are only slightly off-course to escort them
out of the area. No thinking person can believe that the
largest, most powerful, and most sophisticated military
in history has no way to protect its own headquarters.
Judge went further down this path in describing
a march he organized in the late-1990s. The march, "A
Day Without The Pentagon," was to end at the Pentagon,
and Judge had to negotiate the physical movements of the
marchers with, among others, Pentagon security. Judge was
shown the absolute limit the marchers would be allowed to
go to, explaining that the building was on "Delta Alert,"
the highest state of alert due to the constant threat of
attack, especially by airplanes being flown into the building.
Security explained that the threat was so serious the marchers'
own safety required they be kept at a specific point on
the grounds. Judge observed radar installed on the Pentagon
roof, as well as anti-aircraft batteries on the grounds.
One of the questions Mike Ruppert posed
in his opening was, "Why was the Andrews Air Force
Base website changed after 9-11 to erase information about
their combat readiness?" Judge went on to list the
active military bases that had the ability to respond to
Flight 77's approach to Washington, D.C. He listed the 121st
Fighter Squadron of the 113th Fighter Wing, 321st Marine
Fighter Squadron and the 49th Marine Air Guard. These three
groups are based at Andrews, only 10 miles from the Pentagon.
Yet the fighters that were launched against Flight 77 were
scrambled from Langley Air Force Base, 140 miles away. Doing
the math, Judge said, shows the fighters flying at sub-sonic
speeds. He also reminded the audience that Anacostia Naval
Air Station, the home of the District of Columbia National
Guard, is right near the Pentagon as well.
Another source of protection for Washington,
D.C. could have been provided by the 177th Air National
Guard stationed at Pomona, N.J. This base could have provided
coverage for both Washington, D.C. and New York yet was
instructed to cease routine sorties two weeks prior to 9-11.
Judge also quoted a Pentagon official who referred him to
a New York Times article stating that on Sept. 8 half of
U.S. fighters were taken out of service. A personal friend,
whose son is stationed at Otis Air Force Base on Cape Cod,
Mass., told Judge that fighter pilots who specifically requested
permission to attempt the interception of Flight 77 were
John Judge has the firm belief that a lot
of the public's questions about the events of 9-11 will
be answered when we find out what took place during the
40-minute period between the 9:05 shoot-down order and the
impact at the Pentagon at 9:45.
The third speaker on the second panel was
Tom Flocco, Philadelphia teacher and investigative journalist.
Flocco is a good friend of FTW, and has done a great deal
of work regarding the suspicious put option trading that
took place prior to 9-11. At the UnansweredQuestions.org
press conference, however, Flocco said he would go beyond
that issue, lay out a series of new dots, and connect them.
One of his key points was that the investigation
of financial activities surrounding 9-11 has produced a
"control" list of 38 stocks to be scrutinized.
This list has never been made public, and much of the investigation
has been conducted in a manner that seems designed more
to protect the possibly guilty than to provide Americans
One of his most damning dots was the fact
that on Oct. 19 investigators asked member firms of the
National Association of Securities Dealers, which is every
broker you can name, to "privately" share information
with those "directly effected" by the inquiry.
The government further requested that those handling the
issue be "senior personnel who appreciate the sensitive
nature of the case."
Flocco quoted a Boston Globe article reporting
the National Security Agency (NSA) has been continuously
destroying data since 9-11. The Globe reporter who wrote
the article is unaware of any other information that's been
published on this issue. NSA officials say the data is being
destroyed because it involves Americans or American businesses,
and they are not allowed to conduct such spying. Why they
collected the information and saved it if it is illegal
was not revealed.
But Flocco quotes the former head of FBI
counter-terrorism as saying that the NSA's collection of
data on Americans is perfectly legitimate if it involves
either foreign espionage or terrorist activities. Whoever
is correct on this issue is moot; the data is gone.
While not mentioning the put options directly,
Flocco did discuss other anomalies that suggest foreknowledge.
One of these is a surge in Treasury bill purchases. Treasury
bills are the safest investment known, being backed by the
full faith and credit of the United States. Just prior to
9-11 there was a single Treasury bill transaction of $5
Another reason to suspect foreknowledge
is the recent indictments of two FBI agents who were apparently
playing the stock market based on information derived from
investigations. They were also passing this information
on to others, and in one case an individual connected to
the agents cashed out a $300,000 portfolio, telling the
broker he expected the Dow Jones index to soon drop by about
Other issues covered by Flocco included
the employment by Enron of former CIA agents, the employment
by Enron of current CIA agents who were given leaves of
absence from the agency to work for Enron, and the truly
Byzantine entanglements of Deutschebank, the CIA's no. 3
man A.B. "Buzzy" Krongard, Bayer, United Air Lines,
and former Bush I counselor John Schmitz.
Flocco ended his presentation with a stinging
attack on C-SPAN. Despite repeated pleading and begging
using C-SPAN's own policy of covering events at the National
Press Club, C-SPAN chose to ignore the UnansweredQuestions.org
press conference, instead airing reruns of Capitol Journal.
Next up was Michael Springmann, an attorney
with 20 years of government service, who had been head of
the visa section at the U.S. consulate in Jeddah, Saudi
Arabia. Springmann reported that at least 100 visas he had
denied were eventually issued by consular officials that
were known CIA agents, or persons Springmann suspected were
He denied visas to two Pakistanis who wanted
to go to a trade show, but didn't know what trade show they
were going to, or even what city it was in. He denied visa
approval for a Sudanese individual he felt had no legitimate
reason for entering the U.S. but was overruled by a consular
official, who said "we need him" for national
While this was going on in the late-'80s
Springmann thought he was witnessing "visa fraud,"
believing that people were paying bribes to officials to
get visas they would otherwise be denied. He later found
he was wrong. What Springmann actually saw was the CIA bringing
terrorists into the United States for training against the
Soviet Union's troops in Afghanistan. He believes this is
still going on and points out that 15 of the 19 named 9-11
hijackers got their visas in Jeddah at, in one of the more
amazing Freudian slips in history, what Springmann calls
the "CIA consulate."
He points out that all of these visas were
issued under the "visa express" program, a system
under which questionable visa paperwork is mingled with
large amounts of ordinary paperwork in the hope it will
sail through unnoticed. Celerino Castillo, former Drug Enforcement
Agency officer says the "visa express" program
was commonly used for CIA assets in Central America. Springmann
rattled off a long list of major mainstream media outlets
he has approached with his story. Not one has expressed
While the events of 9-11 have sparked widespread
skepticism of the official government story and an almost
equally widespread belief that our government is a criminal
enterprise, the reaction to that September day is having
tremendous ramifications for every American. Speaking to
that point was Jennifer Van Bergen. Van Bergen is an attorney,
a faculty member at the New School for Social Research in
New York, and a contributing editor to truthout.org. Van
Bergen published a six-part series on the Patriot Act on
truthout.org and spoke about it at the press conference.
She pointed out that the act, which at
about 400 pages is not known to have been read in its entirety
by a single legislator voting on it, nullifies several portions
of the U.S. Constitution. It also significantly increases
the burden on law enforcement, and shifts a huge amount
of power to the president. She also pointed out that no
one has said 9-11 would have been prevented had the new
law been in effect.
Specifically, Van Bergen pointed out that
Section 216 of the Patriot Act allows law enforcement agents
to tap an individual's phone and computer without probable
cause. All that's required for the rubber stamp warrant
is an officer's statement that the tap will be "relevant"
to an investigation. Section 218 allows secret searches
of private homes and businesses if the search has a "significant
foreign intelligence purpose."
Section 802 creates a new crime, "domestic
terrorism," defined as "any act designed to intimidate
or coerce change in government policy." Van Bergen
said that under the act, all civil disobedience is now "domestic
terrorism," and a crime. Section 411 states any organization
endorsing the type of behavior criminalized in Section 802
will be classified as a "terrorist organization."
So conceivably under the Patriot Act, parents blocking an
intersection to demand a traffic light be installed to protect
their children going to and from school are criminals.
Despite being shutout by C-SPAN, the UnansweredQuestions.org
press conference was well attended, with a great deal of
domestic, as well as foreign, media present. It's obvious
the mainstream media has a vested interest in following
the Bush Administration's story blindly, and so the world
will have to rely on the "alternative" press to
get the information it needs. The press conference was the
first event to bring people from different disciplines together
to search for the truth. It signaled the beginning of a
time in which, according to Tom Flocco, "People can
no longer follow First Lady Laura Bush's advice when she
says, 'Don't worry. Tell your children not to be afraid.'"