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9/11 CitizensWatch and the DC American Civil Liberties Union recently hosted a preliminary meeting to discuss potential alternate witnesses to be proposed to the Commission on Terrorist Acts Upon the United States (commonly called the "9/11 Commission"). A series of panels for public testimony have already been scheduled from now until the Commission reaches its deadline in May, 2004, unless that is extended.
Many of these public hearings concern crucial foreign and domestic policy recommendations that the Commission will include in its final report. However, the witnesses chosen to date for such hearings have not testified under oath, and most of them have not addresses substantive issues of accountability and unanswered questions relating to the events of 9/11. The policies being discussed will have profound effects on the future of this country, and 9/11 CitizensWatch is concerned that concerned public policy and advocacy groups, crucial witnesses to facts, history and events and victim's family members will not be called to present their issues and information to the Commission.
Here is a list of the upcoming panels and their topics:
Nov 19 Hearing (NJ) - Drew University in Madison
Dec 8 Hearing (DC) Security and Liberty Jan 5 Hearing (DC) NORAD/FAA Jan 26-27 Hearing (DC) Borders and Transportation Feb 10-12 Hearing (DC) Law Enforcement, Intelligence, and
Homeland Security Inside the U.S.
Mar 22-25 Hearing (DC) The War on Terrorism and America's
Apr 28-29 Hearing (DC) September llth
Note that the final panel concerns what happened on 9/11, which one would assume to be the basis for discussing all the topics that precede it in any rational or fruitful fashion. Clearly the policy agendas being heard are coming from something other than a complete understanding of the context and particulars of whatever happened on 9/11.
We are sending this to you as an organizational member or individual who would be concerned about the topics to be discussed, or about the truth concerning 9/11. We want to invite you to participate in helping us create a list of credible and essential witnesses that we can propose to testify before the Commission at the upcoming panels.
DC ACLU and 9/11 CitizensWatch will be hosting a larger meeting on this topic on either Thursday, October 30 or Monday, November 3 at 2:00 pm. Please let us know which date(s) you can attend. The meeting will probably be at the Mott House on Maryland Ave., NE in DC. Once we know which date is best for people, I will send another announcement.
If you cannot attend either date, please send me lists and contact information about potential witnesses you would like to have testify before the Commission. If we present a consolidated list for each panel, then all of our organizations can put pressure on the Commission to accept them, which will have more weight than single groups or individuals. And if they refuse our witnesses, we can alert the public and the press.
We will also be discussing the formation of an ad-hoc alliance of groups and individuals to push the Commission to address the issues being raised by the victims' families and the research community:
- Conflict of interest regarding the current Director Philip Zelikow because of his close ties to Condaleeza Rice and the formation of the Bush National Security Council when he was on the transition team.
- Unanswered questions regarding the truth of 9/11 that remain to be investigated fully, as well as dismissals of some critical areas of inquiry by the Commission chairs because they "disagree with the premise" of the questions.
- Failure to require witnesses to testify under oath, and failure to call pertinent witnesses who can address the events of 9/11 and put them into their historical context.
- Failure to hold government officials responsible or accountable for the documented failures and shortcomings in their preparation for and response to 9/11.
- Failure of the White House, and other executive agencies to provide all documents and records that are necessary for any full investigation.
- Failure to release findings of fact and non-classified documents and evidence relating to the attacks on 9/11. By operating outside the "sunshine" laws and the Freedom of Information Act, the Commission's own penchant for secrecy obstructs a process of public inquiry and analysis that could bring a diverse range of expertise regarding fact-finding, analysis, conclusions and recommendations for the future.
This bipartisan Commission will doubtless be the last official body to investigate 9/11. The Bush Administration opposed forming such an investigation from the time of the attacks over two years ago. The funding and time given to this critical task is much less than demanded for the study of other more limited disasters and events. The Commission members have said that they want to get to the truth of what happened and how it happened on 9/11, and that they would go wherever the evidence takes them, with no stone unturned. Without testimony and input from a range of experts, the critical unanswered questions will never be addressed.
9/11 CitizensWatch includes victims' family members and independent researchers and concerned citizens, and serves as a watchdog group over the 9/11 Commission to pressure and assist that body in completing its task to find the truth.
We hope you will join us in these efforts to make this a full and transparent investigation that can create some accountability and an improved policy for the future both here and abroad.
Please RSVP soon to: