By Senator Mike Gravel
04 July, 2011
As each anniversary of 9/11 rolls by, the import of this tragedy looms ever larger in our history. Especially looming like storm clouds on the horizon of American politics are the unanswered questions about these events. And as new evidence and new whistleblowers come forward seemingly every week, the import of the 9/11 truth movement multiplies in historic significance. All of this points to the urgent need for a new, independent investigation with subpoena and other grand jury powers—a citizen’s commission that is truly free of partisan political interference.
As we approach 9/11’s tenth anniversary, we are reminded—each time we pick up a newspaper—that the government’s Ïofficial 9/11 storyÓ resulted in three interminable wars: Afghanistan , Iraq , and the War on Terror. The official line also conveniently set the stage for the Patriot Act that abridged so many of our liberties and civil rights, plus a long list of other abuses such as egregious torture of Ïterror suspectsÓ in the name of national security. Our dilemma ten years later reminds me of a prescient statement made by James Madison: ÏIf Tyranny and Oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.Ó
The U.S. government’s investigations that culminated in the 911 Commission Report purported to set the record straight about the perpetrators of terrorism on our soil and the mistakes made by those whose sacred task is to defend our shores. But this 2004 report has since been called into question by a very long list of credible voices, not only within the United States , but throughout the world. Even the co-chair of the Commission, Governor Thomas Kean, admitted failure: ÏWe think the Commission, in many ways, was set up to fail. Because we had not enough money, we didn’t have enough time, and we [were] appointed by the most partisan people in Washington.Ó
Thousands of civic volunteers calling themselves the 9/11 truth movement have gone on to parse the events of that fateful day, offering scientific and rational arguments for why the government’s official account is inaccurate, incomplete, implausible, and in fact constitutes a flimsy conspiracy theory. This body of new evidence and argumentation, combined with the refusal of our political leaders to even countenance a new investigation—along with the systematic marginalization of 9/11 truthers by mainstream media—adds to our suspicions that something profound is amiss.
Direct Democracy: The Way Forward
Presently, our heroic 9/11 truth activists can continue to educate Americans and the world’s people with the hope of pressing the government to act; however, it is evident to me that the federal government simply won’t act to change the 9/11 equation—and the American people simply can’t act, other than to continue to educate and agitate. That’s because of one obvious reality: the way to meaningful change is blocked by the elites now in control of the mainstream media and of Washington (regardless of party), and by the fact that citizens lack any other recourse. We lack access to the legislative procedures needed to implement the central power of government––lawmaking––at the federal level. Indeed, this is true as well in most governmental jurisdictions of the United States . But fortunately there are 24 states that have some form of initiative lawmaking process .
A new activist organization I founded, the citizen’s 9/11 Commission Campaign, has been exploring the feasibility of utilizing the state initiative process by filing state ballot propositions that would create an independent 9/11 commission funded by the citizens themselves . This effort launches on July 4 because of its extreme patriotic import.
As my team and I begin this work, we are heartened by one unassailable fact: the 9/11 truth movement has grown and prospered for nearly a decade, gaining millions of supporters through outreach and education in one of the most remarkable grassroots movements in American history . Our effort builds upon the movement’s innumerable breakthroughs and hard-won lessons. We believe these lessons point to a new approach to our common goals based on citizen power.
Of this I am certain: the 9/11 truth movement is grassroots; that sovereign power lies with the people; and that our fellow citizens are now awakened to 9/11 truth in vast numbers. It is time for a winning approach to change: the method of direct democracy— the state ballot initiative .
Direct Democracy for 9/11 Truth
The cause of direct democracy has been my principal passion since my two terms in the Senate (1969–1981). I founded and served as president of the Democracy Foundation, Philadelphia II, and Direct Democracy, nonprofit corporations dedicated to the establishment of direct democracy in the United States through the enactment of the National Initiative for Democracy, that would, in essence, empower the American people themselves to be lawmakers. We have not achieved this goal yet, but the process of direct democracy still thrives at the state level. And that’s why, a t a gathering of 9/11 truth advocates in New York City in September 2010, I suggested a new path to 9/11 truth and justice: that of using the initiative process in several states as a vehicle to enact a law creating a new 9/11 citizen’s commission that would investigate the intelligence failures prior to 9/11, the events of that day, and the aftermath that resulted in wars and the disfigurement of America’s cultural values. My suggestion was well received at the meeting in New York and subsequently in talks with 9/11 truth activists across California , the state most known for its initiatives. My idea was not original in that it followed upon a campaign for an initiative under New York City law propounded by truth advocates, one that had garnered more than 80,000 petition signatures, only to be thrown out by the New York State Supreme Court.
Building on the New York experience, I approached the California Legislative Counsel in October 2010 for assistance in drafting a prospective law that would create a new investigative commission––independent of federal and state governments––but with the necessary powers to get to the facts (i.e., subpoena and oath taking). The vision of the commission would be to pursue an investigation wherever the evidence leads. No person would be immune from criminal implication, regardless of political station in or out of government (domestic or foreign).
I am convinced that the independence of the new commission can only be guaranteed if the appointment of its members is controlled by a 9/11 truth vision, rather than the customary commission-appointment process typically conducted by governors and legislators. The California initiative text includes the use of a Joint Powers Agreement whereby other government jurisdictions can endorse and participate by adding their powers to the powers of the California commission—when and if it is approved by voters on November 2, 2012 .
Key Considerations Point to Oregon , Massachusetts , and Alaska
California is, of course, a very large and complicated state. Additional legal investigations we are now pursuing have led us to consider other states with simpler initiative laws that may present fewer challenges than California . With respect to these states, we are especially interested in their statutes and constitutional provisions that govern the following key issues:
• their commission-appointment process
• rules concerning a ÏJoint Powers AgreementÓ
• the number of signatures needed to get on their ballots
We have since concluded that the initiative process in California is overly expensive and otherwise not ideal for a number of reasons, and that we should prioritize our work in three states: Oregon , Massachusetts , and Alaska . You will learn more about these considerations at our website, 9-11cc.org.
A primary objective is to build a nationwide grassroots movement in support of a new commission, especially once a new 9/11 commission has been authorized in the first state to pass one of our initiatives. We are especially focused on how to harmonize the powers granted to the new commission with the governmental powers of other political jurisdictions across the U.S. Through this harmonization process, other states and local governments would be able to geographically enlarge the jurisdiction of the new commission by passing Participation Initiatives or Resolutions of Support . Such votes would extend the commission’s authorized legal and financial powers to their jurisdiction—including subpoena power.
The Challenge Ahead: Building an Effective Citizen’s Campaign
The issues surrounding 9/11 are national and global in character. We can capitalize on that awareness by injecting the creation of a new commission as a wedge issue in the presidential contest in 2012 and all the key political races. This opportunity will not present itself again until 2016. Success or failure will be determined by the resources that can be brought to bear on our organizational efforts, the additional research, and the petition campaigns to qualify the initiatives, all culminating in the political drive to secure their enactment––but, of course, it takes money to fund this huge effort.
If we are able to raise the necessary funds for this undertaking, I believe there is no possibility of failure even if no initiative is enacted into law. A much bigger national debate on 9/11 advances our present goal––alerting more Americans to the problem, and more importantly, pointing to a solution. Again, our plan will encompass an exploratory effort in several initiative states, examining the legal possibilities of interrelating state (and local) jurisdictions to establish and fund the new commission for a citizens’ 9/11 investigation.
Fundraising will not be confined to the U.S. alone. This task will be pursued globally. Awareness of the need for a new investigation of 9/11 is guaranteed regardless of whether any initiative is enacted into law or not. We are adding an actionable goal to the existing mission of the 9/11 truth movement that may actually bring about the best tool for truth and justice: a new citizens’ investigation commission independent of federal and state governments.
Mike Gravel was a two-term Senator from Alaska (1969–1981), during which time he was best known for his lengthy filibuster that ended the draft, and for reading the Pentagon Papers into the Congressional Record , the legality of which was confirmed in an historic Supreme Court case. Gravel later founded and served as president of the Democracy Foundation, Philadelphia II, and Direct Democracy, nonprofit corporations dedicated to the establishment of direct democracy in the United States through the enactment of the National Initiative for Democracy. Gravel founded the Citizens 9-11 Commission Campaign in 2010. http://9-11cc.org/