By Craig McKee
Many in the 9/11 Truth movement feel that demanding a new investigation into the crimes of 9/11 is doomed to fail.
We’ve seen numerous legal efforts to break through on 9/11 run head on into a combined brick wall of officialdom and the mainstream media. We saw Ellen Mariani’s legal case end in disappointment with the judicial deck stacked against her, not to mention any other victims’ family members who wanted their day in court.
April Gallop’s attempt to sue George W. Bush and company for being complicit in the 9/11 crimes ended in front of a judge who just happened to be the former president’s cousin.
The 2009 ballot initiative by the New York City Coalition for Accountability Now (NYC CAN) went down for a number of legal reasons (after the city fought the initiative at every turn).
And, of course, the Citizens’ 9/11 Commission efforts to raise money to get a new investigation on to the ballot in several states turned into a debacle after former Senator Mike Gravel departed with most of the money, which he then donated to an organization that he founded and that doesn’t deal with 9/11 (This plan had serious problems before Gravel put the final touches on things).
So, should we keep looking for chinks in the armor of the establishment? And if we give up on this approach, do we have something better?
NYC CAN president Ted Walter says his organization has learned from its defeat in 2009 and has come up with an approach that it believes will work this time. The group has a new ballot initiative, called the High-Rise Safety Initiative, that is aimed at using existing state law to amend the New York City charter to make it mandatory for its Department of Buildings to investigate all future high-rise building collapses as well as those that took place on or after Sept. 11, 2001.
“They would have to conduct a real investigation,” Walter said on the Feb. 26 conference call of the 9/11 Truth Teleconference.
NYC CAN has learned some valuable lessons from the failure of its 2009 ballot initiative that was deemed legally invalid after a City of New York court challenge. With its new effort, Walter says the group has addressed all the issues that tripped them up the first time.
In a follow-up interview, Walter said there are five elements to the plan:
- The fundraising: $250,000 has to be raised by June 1 to pay professional petitioners.
- The signatures: 75,000 names must be collected by July 3 and another 35,000 by Sept. 5 (The actual legal requirement is 30,000 and 15,000 respectively, but Walter says at least double the required number have to be collected to ensure the minimum number is reached after any signatures are challenged and found to be invalid. If the city council doesn’t act on the first set of signatures, then NYC CAN can force the petition to go on the ballot by submitting the second set.)
- The legal fight: The group must respond to any legal challenges the city launches.
- The campaign: Once the question is on the ballot, a campaign must be fought to win the November vote.
- The follow-ups: If the vote succeeds, then the group must follow up to ensure the city does a proper investigation of Building 7.
Excluded from this would be the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Included would be Building 7, which fell at 5:20 p.m. that day in 6.5 seconds (2.25 seconds of that at freefall acceleration), without being hit by a plane.
Excluding the towers may on the surface seem like a major concession, but it may actually be the shrewdest part of this plan. By leaving the twin towers out, a number of objections that voters may have to reopening the subject of 9/11 can be avoided. One obvious objection people might raise concerning the towers would be that both were hit by planes, and therefore these would reveal little about conventional building safety. It would also be harder to conduct a fraudulent investigation of Building 7 because this building destruction looks so much like a controlled demolition.
Walter suggests that Building 7 could be a “less painful” and “less controversial” topic for many people, and he’s right. Building 7, of course, was not hit by a plane. Also, no one died in Building 7’s “collapse” (at least no one we’ve been told about), which avoids the objection that reopening the subject would be disrespectful to the victims who died that day.
The report on Building 7 by the National Institute of Standards and Technology attributed the destruction of the building to a “new phenomenon” – thermal expansion leading to a progressive collapse due to fire. As Massimo Mazzucco points out in his new film September 11: The New Pearl Harbor, this new phenomenon, if it were true, would have necessitated the rewriting of building codes all over the world, because any high-rises could be vulnerable to collapse in the event of fire.
But, of course, there have been no such changes to how high-rise buildings are constructed.
This is where the “safety” angle only adds to the prospects of this initiative being successful. This is because the initiative will appeal not only to those who seek an investigation into what happened to Building 7 on 9/11 but also to members of the general public who are concerned about the safety of high-rise buildings in general and who think the city investigating collapses just makes good common sense. Saying no to the initiative will be that much harder.
“It comes down to being pragmatic about what the voters of New York City are likely to support,” Walter said on the conference call.
But what if the city doesn’t conduct an honest investigation? Or any investigation at all?
Walter says there would be tremendous scrutiny of these investigations of future – but particularly past – building failures.
“It would be very hard for them to lie about the collapse of Building 7.”
To avoid the legal problems that blocked the project in 2009, NYC CAN seeks to create new powers and new responsibilities for the Department of Buildings, Walter says. With this attempt, NYC CAN is not seeking to create a new commission (with powers that go beyond what the law allows) as it did in 2009. Instead, it is attempting to amend the existing city charter rather than going beyond its scope (and into federal jurisdiction).
A required financing plan has also been created. The petition proposes a 0.9% surcharge on the cost of building permits in the city that would raise an estimated $1 million per year to operate the program. The surcharge would be suspended once the amount in the fund reaches $3 million and would be reinstated should the fund drop below $1 million.
Of course, even if everything goes perfectly and the petition makes it on to the ballot, and the vote is successful then NYC CAN still has to follow up to ensure that the city does what it is legally required to do. If they do not, Walter says, or if they just defer to the NIST report, then a lawsuit will be launched to force them to follow the law.
Is it worth the time and money it will take to get this on to the ballot in November? That’s impossible to say with any certainty. But what I like about this plan is that it doesn’t demand a new investigation, it seeks to legally force one. And while that would be far from a guaranteed success, there could be some real benefits from the publicity and from any actual investigations – even if they are shams.
So far, the fundraising campaign has raised just under $24,000 of the $250,000 required. The effort is getting support, fundraising and otherwise, from Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth. Anyone interested in learning more about the High-Rise Safety Initiative or contributing to the fundraising campaign can go to their web site.