By Craig McKee
There’s no going back now.
The recently announced 9/11 Consensus Panel has raised the stakes for the Truth movement. The panel cannot afford to fail because many of the most highly respected members of the Truth movement have lent their reputations to the effort – and none more than panel co-founder David Ray Griffin.
They simply have to get it right. And while a cautious start has been made, with 13 points achieving the required 85% support among the 22 voting members of the panel, this is only the beginning. It has to be. To have any impact at all, this list of points must be added to – and reasonably quickly. Hiding from controversy the way the Toronto 9/11 Hearings did simply will NOT work here.
Three members of the 9/11 Consensus Panel I interviewed recently expressed their hopes for the initiative as well as their concerns about the process.
Author and journalist Barrie Zwicker, retired Marine Corps fighter pilot Shelton Lankford, and retired NASA senior executive Dwain Deets joined the panel largely on the strength of Griffin’s considerable reputation within the movement. Despite having varying degrees of apprehension about the consensus process, all three say they remain hopeful that this effort will produce results that will help the media and the public see how wrong the official story of 9/11 is.
Zwicker says that with only four votes needed to derail any potential consensus point, the selection of panelists is hugely important. He says the process depends on panel members being honest and having no hidden agenda.
“In the case of the Consensus Panel I can’t guarantee that,” he says. “It’s open to manipulation by inauthentic persons.”
He says he is also concerned that important arguments against the 9/11 official story may be left aside in order to achieve “consensus.”
“Do we value unity above truth?” he says. “I choose truth.”
When it comes to the 13 points that have already achieved consensus, Zwicker is more positive but not without reservations. He says the points are “useful” and likely to make anyone who reads them more sceptical of the official story. At the same time, he feels that anyone looking at the list could be misled into thinking that this is the full extent of the case being made.
Zwicker, Lankford, and Deets share a concern that the process being used doesn’t allow for face-to-face discussion among panel members leading to consensus.
“I’m having difficulty with that problem,” Lankford says. “You’ve got to have a free flowing process.”
Deets says he would like to be able to discuss with members why they oppose any given point, although he believes the process will be improved in the weeks ahead.
Lankford says he feels that the panel should not be afraid to tackle contentious questions. He adds that it’s critical that important evidence against the official story not be “marginalized” or watered down so that consensus can be reached.
“The way to deal with controversy is to vigorously debate it,” he says.
Deets agrees: “My hope is that over the next six months to a year there will be more points on the Pentagon,” he says.
He believes the statements that were rejected in the first phase should be worked on more, because objections to a given point can be for very different reasons. He adds that there might be a benefit to including minority views.
Zwicker also says it’s important that the evidence compiled by Citizen Investigation Team – eyewitness accounts that place the large plane that approached the Pentagon on the north side of the Citgo gas station – should be considered. He calls this a “litmus test” for how successful the panel will be.
Panel co-founder Elizabeth Woodworth says it isn’t practical for the panel to meet face to face to discuss the points given that members are from all over the world. But she doesn’t believe this will stop the panel from dismantling of the official story of 9/11 through the creation of a bank of information the media can trust.
Woodworth says the use of the Delphi Method will bring a level of credibility to the panel’s work because this method is used to arrive at consensus in the medical field. She says it is particularly used to elicit expert input on a subject when there isn’t a lot of “measureable data.”
“Our aim is to provide information [to the public and the media] at the same level as it’s provided in medicine,” she says. “Our findings [so far] are not very dramatic or earth shaking but they are credible.
“The people who understand best evidence and the Delphi Method are really excited about it.”
The panel’s web site (consensus911.org) explains that the term “best evidence” is used: “… in the very narrow sense of the “best evidence” available with regard to any specific claim of the 9/11 official story that the Panel challenges. It does not mean the strongest evidence against the official story in general. It is simply the best evidence against each particular claim that the Panel addresses.
“Best evidence”, as used by the 9/11 Consensus Panel, is not evidence in support of alternative theories of what happened on 9/11.”
The success of the Consensus Panel depends not only on its willingness to be aggressive but also on the good faith of the participants making a sincere effort to build the strongest possible case against the official story of 9/11. It will mean not rejecting points outright without a damned good reason.
But if the panel goes too slowly or behaves too timidly, it risks being worse than irrelevant. This isn’t to say that the panel shouldn’t be prudent and meticulous in its assessment of individual points, just that contentious issues cannot be avoided.
We can’t settle for “lowest-common-denominator” evidence. The oft-repeated position that the Truth movement should “focus on the strongest evidence – the towers” has got to go.