Truth and consensus: jury still out on Griffin’s new 9/11 expert panel


By: Craig McKee
Date: 2011-11-21

Maybe we should start calling it the 9/11 Consensus Movement.

Recent developments in the struggle to widely expose the truth about the fake “terrorist attacks” of Sept. 11, 2001 have focused on apparent efforts to overcome divisions between different factions in the movement. Ironically, these attempts at consensus have themselves been highly controversial.

The latest, and possibly most consequential, move towards consensus is the creation of a collection of experts in a panel called “Consensus 911: The 9/11 Best Evidence Panel.”

The group, announced in September, was put together by prolific 9/11 researcher and author David Ray Griffin, his associate Elizabeth Woodworth, and lawyer William Veale, who represented April Gallop in a 9/11 lawsuit against Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and Richard Myers.

In an interview this week, Woodworth emphasized that what sets this project apart from other approaches is that the consensus panel is academic, not political, and it is not an effort to unify the movement.

“The question is not how important the 9/11 truth community thinks each point to be,” she says. “It is only the question of whether the point has correctly stated an element within the official story and then, under ‘the best evidence,’ provided good evidence against that element.”

What isn’t clear is whether “consensus” about the greatest weaknesses of the 9/11 official story will lead to greater unity – and therefore credibility – for the movement or whether it will lead to a watered-down case where “controversial” areas of investigation are sidelined or simply discarded from the debate.

The jury’s still out, and the stakes are very high.

Woodworth says the consensus points that do make the list can then be used to “penetrate the media.” She says resistance to the consensus project is based on a misconception of what the effort is all about.

“I think it created a lot of ill feeling and misunderstanding and people feeling left out,” Woodworth says. “But we’re not trying to represent the whole Truth Movement’s best evidence.”

According to the group’s web site (consensus911.org), the best evidence is founded on:
  • The opinions of respected authorities, based on professional experience, descriptive studies, and reports of expert committees
  • Physical data in the form of photographs, videotapes, court testimony, witness reports, and FOIA releases
  • Direct rather than circumstantial evidence.
Woodworth and Griffin initially formulated 16 initial points to be considered by the panel. The points were first submitted to the members in March 2011. They were submitted a total of three times as modifications were made resulting from members’ suggestions.

The result was 13 points that achieved the required 85% support (this approach is based on the Delphi Method, which Woodworth says she learned about during her 25 years as chief librarian for the British Columbia Ministry of Health). These 13 points are now listed on the web site along with an explanation of the methodology.

The vast majority of the points involve the World Trade Center. There is only one point dealing with the Pentagon event and one that looks at Flight 93, which, according to the official story, crashed in a field near Shanksville, Penn.

The Pentagon point, dealing with the unlikelihood of alleged hijacker Hani Hanjour being able to negotiate an incredibly difficult (if not impossible) 330-degree spiral to fly into the ground floor of the Pentagon, is valid enough. My concern, however, is that any journalist or member of the public who reads the list as it stands now might be left with the impression that the case against the official story, as it pertains to the Pentagon, is very weak.

Woodworth acknowledges that it would have been a good idea to make it absolutely clear on the site that this is just the beginning of the process and that many more points will be added.

“We plan to develop dozens if not hundreds of points,” she says.

Woodworth explains that the three points that didn’t quite make the cut the first go-round read as follows:
  • “The FBI’s report on phone calls from the 9/11 planes, which became public in 2006, said that Barbara Olson attempted only one call from Flight 77 – a call that was “unconnected” and lasted “0 seconds.”
  • “Although airliners have hundreds of (virtually indestructible, serially controlled) “time-change” parts, which can conclusively prove the identity of any airliner, the government did not point to time-change parts to prove the identity of any of the four 9/11 planes.”
  • “Although some 80 cameras were focused on the Pentagon, as the Department of Justice has acknowledged, the government has not provided a single video that clearly supports the government’s claim about what damaged the Pentagon.”
As far as I know, this is the first time the panel has released these three rejected points to the public. Woodworth points out that as evidence evolves any of these points can be reworked and presented to the panel again, conceivably gaining consensus status in the future.

Currently, the panel is considering another five points, two of which Woodworth says deal with the Pentagon. She says this process will continue, likely for years, which is why it wasn’t possible to wait until the list was complete to release any points.

The panel is made up of 22 members, so it only requires four to oppose or be uncertain about any point for that point to be rejected. This has raised concerns that strong information – particularly involving the overwhelming evidence that an airliner did not hit the Pentagon – might be discarded because of the efforts of a small minority who may or may not be well intentioned.

Woodworth says she believes the panelists are honourable and that she has not seen any pattern in the responses that would suggest that any members have been acting in concert to block particular points.
“Most people are trying to build the points and make them stronger,” she says.

Fortunately, there isn’t heavy representation from the group that regularly attacks and ridicules the work of Citizen Investigation Team and Pilots for 9/11 Truth. One CIT critic on the panel is David Chandler, a high school and junior college physics teacher who has gained a reputation for his research regarding the World Trade Center but who has a far more dubious (if not discredited) “body of work” on the Pentagon.

The rest of the panel includes familiar 9/11 researchers and activists like Steven Jones, Shelton Lankford, Barrie Zwicker, Paul Zarembka, Dwain Deets, Niels Harrit, Tod Fletcher, Graeme MacQueen, Robert Bowman, Roland Morgan, and Daniel Sunjata. The complete list, with accompanying biographies, can be found here.

One notable absentee is Richard Gage of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth. Gage declined, Woodworth says, because he wants the credibility of AE9/11Truth to rest on the reputations of the more than 1,600 architects and engineers who are on record as supporting its conclusions.

“They don’t want to be associated with anybody,” Woodworth says. “They’re trying to wing it alone. But I completely understand this; Richard has the right to decline to be associated with other organizations that may not always speak his message.”

The quest for consensus was a feature of the recent Toronto Hearings into 9/11 and of David Ray Griffin’s latest book (9/11 Ten Years Later: When State Crimes Against Democracy Succeed). I strongly criticized the Toronto Hearings organizers for staying away from evidence deemed by some to be controversial (like that from CIT and Pilots for 9/11 Truth) and from the Pentagon almost entirely (less than 90 minutes of the four-day event dealt with the Pentagon). I also criticized Griffin’s Pentagon presentation for relying so much on CIT critics Chandler, Jonathan Cole, and Frank Legge.

Chapter 7 of his new book also mentions their views extensively (while ignoring CIT and P4T), but fortunately it then makes a strong case that they are wrong in their contention that a 757 did hit the building. My concern about the consensus approach all along has been that it is based on the premise that all sides in the battle over the Pentagon are well intentioned, which I don’t think they are.

But there are a lot of smart and well-intentioned people on this panel who are willing to give this process a shot. If they are, then I will try to keep an open mind and watch what develops with keen interest.

But if strong evidence that a plane crash was faked at the Pentagon doesn’t make the consensus list at some point reasonably soon, there will be vocal objections ahead – perhaps raised by panel members themselves. On this point, Woodworth says evidence will become clearer over time and that patience will be required.
One of the best things about the panel is that it serves as a media resource with contact information for individual experts posted on the site. It is broken down by subject, so reporters with specific questions can find the right person to answer them.

A terrific resource. The trick will be getting journalists to use it.

The article is reproduced in accordance with Section 107 of title 17 of the Copyright Law of the United States relating to fair-use and is for the purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research.

No comments: