Saturday, June 21, 2008

Local Media: The Carbuncles Under Our Noses

Taking Back The (Local) Media: The Carbuncles Under Our Noses
by Gary Corseri

Between May 22 and May 25 of 2008, some two hundred fifty citizens from all parts of the U.S., joined by many from other countries, convened at Radford University in the town of Radford, Virginia, to participate in the “Building a New World Conference.” With a keynote speaker like Attorney Lynne Stewart, and session leaders and panelists like Cindy Sheehan, Father Roy Bourgeois, Kathy Kelly, David Swanson, William Blum, Clark Webb and Danny Schechter (to pick a few out of scores of worthies), the conference provided excellent opportunities to learn, to network, to inspire and be inspired; to strategize and to build.

One of the chief disappointments was the local coverage. Before this conference, I might have simply let the Roanoke Times’ hatchet job pass, remove the axes from my and others’ gory heads, and chalk matters up to provincial fear and ignorance. But, among the conference lessons was the need to identify and resist evil promptly. One of the panels was entitled “Taking Back the Media.” I was on it. If I knew then what I know now, I would have sharpened my wits and claws and advised re-directing some of our energy to taking back local media.

Many of us are painfully aware of the sordid state of mainstream media: the slanted, corporate coverage of national politics; the non-coverage of international events that impinge on all our lives: wars; the financialization of basic goods and services; the privatization of the commons; food and energy price manipulations; geocide. But sometimes we miss the trees for the forest. While dozens of websites correct the intentional “errors” of our mass media, few focus on the carbuncles under our noses.

I mean the following as a primer for action. It’s by no means a complete analysis. I’d need a book for that.

Four days before the conference was scheduled to begin, the Roanoke Times unleashed its cannonade in the form of one of its regular, “freelance” columnists, one Michael Miller. The RT blared its non-news with the following headline:

“Organization touts new theory for economy”
“Grab your hammers and carpenter's pants.” Mr. Miller began. Then, correctly identifying the dates and location of the Conference, he proceeded to lambaste the World Prout Organization.

Now, let’s back up. The “Building a Better World Conference” was the brainchild of Garda Ghista, who happens to host the World Prout Assembly website ( It’s a fascinating site—unabashedly eclectic, featuring the work of excellent progressive writers, and generously quoting the work of Srii Sarkar, an economist and mystical poet with whom Ms. Ghista studied during her many years in India. There’s an array of photos that capture our multifarious world now: children’s bodies torn by war in Iraq; fishing boats leaning against a Goa sunset; hyacinths in full bloom. In other words, Ms. Ghista covers the range!

Ms. Ghista also financed the “Building a Better World Conference.” There was no Prout money behind her—zilch. She’s an impecunious grad student in Kentucky—with a big heart and a big vision. I’ve known her for two or three years since she started posting some of my articles and poems on her site. In the past year, I got to know her a lot better, assisting her with the conference, never meeting her until the conference began, but exchanging e-mails and phone calls.

NEVER did Ms. Ghista propose using the conference to propagate the theories of Prout or Srii Sarkar. Had Mr. Miller done a little homework, he would have understood that. Instead, Mr. Miller took a whirlwind tour of the Prout website and told his readers the following about the conference:

“Prout is the world's worst acronym, standing for PROgressive UTilization Theory, which, according to its Web site,, is some sort of theory about progressive utilization. It's also about "nuclear revolution," which is not defined, and there are more references to the "collective" than a Star Trek episode about the BURG (sorry, I meant 'Borg.' Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated.)”

This is supposed to be humorous, in case you missed the tang in the writing. The fact that it is irrelevant to the conference does not impede Mr. Miller’s flow. He continues:

“This looks to be a very entertaining conference, potentially worth the $350 that it costs to register.”
Actually, the conference cost $110 for 4 days. I immediately wrote the Roanoke Times correcting Mr. Miller’s mis-statement about the cost, and rebutting his insouciant use of facts. Here’s what the RT printed in full from my letter:

“Radford conference offered a lot”

“It was disappointing to read Michael Miller's commentary, "Organization touts new theory for economy" (May 18), about the Building a New World Conference being held at Radford University (

“Among many inaccuracies was the citation of a $350 conference registration fee. In fact, at $110 for four days, this conference provided a splendid opportunity to hear venerable thinkers and artists (writers, musicians, etc.) inspire one another and their listeners as they seek to resolve some of the great political and economic issues facing our nation.

“With a recent Washington Post-ABC poll finding that 82 percent of Americans believe our country is ‘on the wrong track,’ this conference has nothing to do with Miller's dismissive charge about ‘touting’ a new economic theory and everything to do with smart, caring citizens addressing mutual concerns.

“If Miller would resist a priori condemnations and strive for balance and objectivity — to actually interview conference organizers and participants, for example — his readers would be pleasantly surprised to discover the seriousness in which we hold our Bill of Rights and the moral commitments we have made to understand and assist those who are suffering.”

The sharp reader will immediately note that my letter is presented in the past tense! (Not consistently, alas, confounding the grievance!) In fact, although I received a note from the Roanoke Times on the 19th of May approving my letter for publication, it did not appear until the 22nd of May—the day the conference ended, and obviously too late to correct the damage Mr. Miller had inflicted by mis-representing the cost and purpose. (I can only imagine the editing that took place the tenses with the facts and dates!)

For better or worse, I might have let this go. The conference tilled rich soil and really did “provide” much to contemplate, many opportunities to grow and build upon. In addition to the wisdom of the speakers, there were poets and musicians like Alice Lovelace, Fareed Bitar, Brant Lyon and Leonard McGann. Kathy Kelly shared a story about being under siege in a refugee camp in the Middle East—how the children had behaved, what they wanted “Am-ree-kah” to know. Cindy Sheehan shared her life experiences. (Those of us who have seen her up close over the past three years have observed a metamorphosis in her appearance and confidence. She has emerged from the cocoon of grief. The grief has strengthened her. It is in the marrow of her bones, and she is radiant now with even greater courage and determination to preclude needless suffering.)

There was much for me to think about, and then I picked up a bug and was out of commission for a week with flu-like symptoms. Just as I began to recover, I was surprised to find an e-mail from Michael Miller in my mailbox! It began auspiciously:

“Mr. Corseri, Thank you for responding to my column on the Radford conference...”
Then the roof collapsed:

“Just as a point of reference, I am a columnist, not a reporter, and furthermore I do not work for the Roanoke Times. I am a freelance writer. Thus, your plea for more balance and objectivity on my part is misguided. I am a satirist and so balance and objectivity in my opinion pieces is not relevant.”

I began a brief correspondence with Mr. Miller. I pointed out that nowhere in the article had he been identified as a “satirist.” (I mentioned, in passing, that the best satirists tended to work better with scalpels than with sledgehammers.) I expressed the opinion that if the editors of the Roanoke Times had assigned a known satirist (someone their regular readers would know as such) to cover a major conference in their area, then the editors had been extremely “misguided” and “prejudiced,” and I would have to conclude that the lack of balance started there.

Mr. Miller seemed to strike a less defensive posture with his next paragraph:

“As to the factual nature (or lack thereof) in my column, I will have to admit that I got the price of the conference wrong. In doing my research, I ran across the $350 number someplace, and mistakenly took it as the cost of attending the Radford event. That was a mistake on my part but not an intentional misrepresentation.”
I responded that "intentional misrepresentation" is certainly more offensive than carelessness, and is so recognized legally (murder being worse than manslaughter, for example).

Mr. Miller then zinged with:

“Had I realized the cost was only $110, I would certainly have used that in my column to better effect.”

I am not sure how to interpret that. Perhaps he would have made another allusion to “Star Trek.” He did admit, though, that “the editors probably should have caught this error in their fact checking.” To which I could not demur.

Then another zinger:
“I stand behind the statements in my column, which were lifted verbatim with appropriate quotation indications. True, I selected those which made my point for me, but they are all direct quotes.”

I responded that I did not care if there were "appropriate quotation indications" [sic]. The problem lay in the selection: first, the Roanoke Times' selection of the wrong person to cover a conference! In fact, it was clear that there had been no real intention to cover it — that would have required a professional journalist to ask questions, make phone calls, interview participants, attend a couple of sessions for him/herself. Second: rightly or wrongly, Mr. Miller had perceived his assignment to be a hatchet job. Why else would the RT assign a "satirist"?
Mr. Miller continued:

“In each response to my column, I have found the respondents straining to explain how they are focused on all the good work being done or envisioned, and not really associated with the political philosophy of the mother organization.”
I explained that I did not know about other responses to his column. I had not felt “strained” in my response. I had read his column with interest and in fairness and had responded after reflection. I pointed out that it was he who had made Prout the issue. I asked him to compare the dearth of discussions about Prout at the Conference, with what one was likely to find at a conference—or convention—of one of our ordained political parties; or at a conference of religious leaders, etc. We really were dealing with bigger issues. We had no ideology to impose. We were questioning, seeking, building bridges. You know—like democracy is supposed to work!

But, Mr. Miller was on a tear:

“When you wrap yourself in the mantle of the WPA [Prout], you have to take it all. And the WPA philosophy, as apparent from its own website materials, is clearly preaching socialism. It cannot be disputed. It's right there in black and white from the founder's and many supporters' lips.”

“Ah, now I see what this is all about!” I proclaimed to my worthy correspondent. “You wrap yourself in anti-socialism, or the free-market, or patriotism or whatever else — and then you justify an attack on people who were not essentially Proutists because of the association [loose] of Prout to the convening of this onference! [That old McCarthyite guilt by association game!]

Furthermore, neither I nor anyone associated with the conference were "wrapping" ourselves in any mantles! Nobody had done any "preaching" at this conference!

Mr. Miller acknowledged that “a minor apology regarding the cost mistake” might be in order, but he wanted me to know he felt the conference had been “more than compensated by the amount of free publicity the event garnered” from his column.

I responded that he thought too highly of himself, and that a “minor apology” was not the issue. Nor did I think he had made a “minor mistake”—and that if I had made such a “careless” mistake as a journalist, I would have been man enough to correct it in public. (Okay, my testosterone was kicking in about here.) I averred that we were not "compensated by the amount of free publicity the event garnered." That, in fact, we weren't looking for "free publicity" — and certainly not from a satirist! Again, I asserted that the issue was balance and objectivity.

In the age of Hamilton, our “duel” might have ended here, but Mr. Miller succeeded in getting one more slap in the face in the form of a postscript: “I must confess that I am totally clueless as to the relevance of your reference to the Bill of Rights. I'm sure you meant something important; it just escapes me as to what that might have been.”

To which I responded that the problem was that much “escaped” him. And, I exhorted him to open his mind. I then professed that I could no longer offer free “tutorials” at my age.

I thought this would be the end of the matter, but over the next couple of days, I heard from another Michael Miller. The second Michael Miller was far less confrontational. He explained that he had tried to get more info about the conference, but hadn’t gotten through. That was important information I could use to facilitate better conferences, smoother working in the future. Further, the second Mr. Miller expressed his surprise that nobody had been assigned to at least interview Cindy Sheehan while she was in town since she “has celebrity status.”

I began to like this second Mr. Miller. He had taken the time to think through my critique of his work and had responded with some ratiocination.

But there were still problems. Why had the Roanoke Times hired a free-lance columnist, a self-professed “satirist” to cover a conference that was bringing some 250 participants to that small metro area? (Not incidentally, the conference boosted the local economy by some $50,000.)

I called the editorial department at the Roanoke Times. I represented myself as a “journalist.” I have enough credits online and in print so I can do this without flinching. But, of course, anyone can call him/herself a journalist—just seek the facts; just seek the truth. Then get it “out there”—online, or in print, or shouting it from rooftops.

I was finally directed to one Mark Morrison, head of the New River Bureau of the RT. I left him an e-note, requesting a quick chat about the conference, and he had the courtesy to respond the next day.

I explained that I was upset because Mr. Miller’s column had overstated the fee for the conference by more than 200%, and that I had sent a letter online immediately correcting that information; further, that I had received a notice of intention to publish/post my letter the next day, but that my letter had not appeared until after the conference was over! Mr. Morrison expressed his regrets. He told me I should have called the paper. How was I to know that? I wondered. I could almost hear him shrug through the phone.

I pressed my points: Why had the New River Bureau of the Roanoke Times hired a columnist, a “satirist,” to cover a four-day conference by writing a hatchet-job column four-days in advance of the conference? In the interests of fairness, balance and objectivity, how did that make sense?

Mr. Morrison used that tired old argument about “allocation of resources.” I reminded him that the conference had sent news releases to the RT for months in advance. There seemed to be plenty of resources available for “cat-in-tree” stories during the conference, but no interest in attempting to know why 250 concerned citizens were gathering at the local university, exercising their “right of assembly” and their “right of free speech” to discuss the nation’s politics and economy and moral degradation. Had the citizens of Radford no interest in hearing the musicians and writers who were in their small city? Why had no one been sent to interview a national figure like Cindy Sheehan?

Mr. Morrison asked me if there was “anything else.” Apparently, I had exhausted the 2-3 minutes he’d allocated for our chat!

There was a lot more to ask, but not then; I knew it was futile then.

But here is a key point: While resistance may be “futile” in the short-term, it is never futile in the long run. Every act of resistance to overweening authority, illegitamate power, petty bureaucrats and ignorant or officious gate-keepers, strengthens our backbone, clarifies the mind and lets the next such act occur with greater ease—naturally and with more import.

All over this country there are these little fiefdoms of media power. They take a proprietary interest in their readers. They think they know what’s best for them, what the citizens within their borders need to know and don’t need to know. The proprietors do not disseminate news. They are gate-keepers who “kill” troublesome, complex stories. They bury pertinent facts—just as the national media bury the facts about our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan on back pages, or simply don’t convey them and disdain to print pictures of coffins off-loaded at Dover Air Force base, etc.

In recent years, courageous “New Journalists” have been setting the record straight. They take on the mainstream media with facts and tough opinion pieces that don’t cower before the proprietors—not Murdoch, or GE, or Clear Channel, et. al. They are making slow, but steady progress. There’s a great deal of sewage to wade through.

It’s different in the provinces. Except for some special places—Berkeley, Cambridge, Boulder—the little cities and towns are overlooked and neglected. We need websites for alternative news in the provinces. We need young journalists—and people’s journalists—developing those websites so those who are seeking can find the real news in their own communities. That is another way to build a new world. That is a grass-roots movement to transform this country. Circumvent the gate-keepers; ask the tough questions; investigate, and report the truth.

The headwaters of the Ganges, India’s “mother” of rivers, begin in trickling streams from bubbling springs and snow-melts in the Himalayas, then gather force to irrigate the Indo-Gangetic plain, bringing life to hundreds of millions. So it has been since the time of the Vedas—and in eons long before. So truths build on truths until they are irresistable and inseparable — one leading to another: a string-theory for the cosmos. There is no such thing as a small truth.

Gary Corseri has published novels and poetry collections, edited the Manifestations anthology, had his dramas produced on Atlanta-PBS and elsewhere. He has performed his work at the Carter Presidential Library and Museum, and has published/posted his work at hundreds of venues, including AtlanticFreePress, CounterPunch, CounterCurrents, AfterDowningStreet, DissidentVoice, The New York Times and Village Voice. He can be contacted at

Disappeared in British Colombia: Dozens Vanished

Dozens of young, healthy men have mysteriously vanished in southwestern B.C. in recent years. Many of their families suspect the disappearances are connected--police say no.

Sandra Thomas
Vancouver Courier - Wednesday, May 21, 2008
CREDIT: Photo-Dan Toulgoet [Sorry, my browser couldn't pick up the photo. But they're worth seeing - healthy, vigorous young men. - M.]

Dozens of young, healthy men have mysteriously vanished in southwestern B.C. in recent years. Many of their families suspect the disappearances are connected-police say no.

CREDIT: Submitted photo

Missing (clockwise from top left) are Derek Kelly of Langley, Kellen McElwee of Burnaby, Bryan Braumberger of Burnaby, and John Kahler of Langley.

CREDIT: Photo-Dan Toulgoet

Len McElwee's son Kellen was last seen March 19 after dinner at the Keg Steakhouse in Langley.

CREDIT: Photo-Dan Toulgoet

A Langley Starbucks bulletin board displays 'missing' posters of Kellen McElwee and Derek Kelly.

Chilliwack resident Michael Scullion, 30, last seen in Agassiz April 10, 2008.
Burnaby resident Kellen McElwee, 25, last seen in Langley March 19, 2008.
Langley resident Derek Kelly, 32, last seen at Bridge Lake Jan. 1, 2008.
Langley resident John Kahler, 29, last seen at Stave Lake Nov. 2, 2007.
Burnaby resident Brian Braumberger, 18, last seen June 1, 2007.

The day after Mother's Day, Jane Kahler is missing her son John. He was healthy, sociable and had no known connection to crime. He vanished last fall in a case that baffles police. And as too many families in the Lower Mainland believe, he is part of a growing list of painfully mysterious missing person cases. More than one parent wonders if their disappearances are connected. "Too many mothers are missing their sons," says Jane during an interview from her Langley home.

May 25 is National Missing Children's Day in Canada, but some groups are using the date to call attention to all missing persons, regardless of their age. In the past several years much media attention has deservedly been given to missing women in B.C. Besides the missing and murdered women of the Downtown Eastside, and the subsequent trial and conviction of serial killer Robert (Willie) Pickton, B.C. is home to the "Highway of Tears," a stretch of Highway 16 between Prince George and Prince Rupert. Initially, nine women were listed as having gone missing or were found murdered along the stretch of highway since 1989.

Last year police expanded their investigation and added another nine names to that list. But some families want attention paid to the dozens of men who've gone missing in the past four years in southwestern B.C. Using archives from B.C. newspapers, the Courier began with a list of almost 60 missing men. Men with possible explanations for their disappearances, such as serious mental or physical health problems, seniors in frail health, probable suicides and those known to police for links to gangs or drugs were eliminated, leaving a list of almost 40.

The Courier cross-referenced the remaining names with 15 RCMP and municipal police detachments, follow-up newspaper articles and the Crime Stoppers' website to determine if any of the remaining men had been found--dead or alive. In total, about a dozen have been located, but unfortunately less than a handful of these men are alive. There are more men missing, but because the Courier could not confirm their status, they're not named in this article.

The remaining 22 healthy, apparently happy, men from southwestern B.C. have simply vanished. Rumours of a possible serial killer at work are growing, but police departments discount any connections in the cases.

Vancouver resident Richard Tamassy, 42, last seen April 15, 2008.
Vancouver resident Greg Cyr, 43, last seen Oct. 26, 2003.
Vancouver resident Ron Carlow, 38, last seen June 20, 2007.
North Vancouver resident Matthew Price, 22, missing since July 15, 2004.
North Vancouver resident David McMorran, 45, last seen Feb. 14, 2005.

Randy Kahler says as far as he knows his son John didn't work with, or frequent the same places, as the other young men who've recently gone missing in the Lower Mainland. The similarities lie in their appearances. John Kahler, Derek Kelly, Michael Scullion and Kellen McElwee are white, young, clean-shaven muscular men with short hair who sport tattoos. Bryan Braumberger has a similar look, but no tattoos.

Each of the men was last seen eating or drinking with friends. The vehicles of Kahler, Braumberger and McElwee were found abandoned with no sign of foul play.

Kelly is from Langley. McElwee's parents live in Fort Langley. Kahler lived in Langley until just before his disappearance; his parents still live in Langley. Kellen McElwee is from Burnaby. Braumberger lived in Burnaby with his parents prior to his disappearance. Scullion is from Chilliwack.

"These guys are all in great shape. And they're all gone," says Randy.

Kahler's mother Jane wonders if a woman is involved in the disappearances. "But I don't know. The hardest is not knowing."

Kahler was attending a 4x4-truck festival at Stave Lake, located between Maple Ridge and Mission, Nov. 4, 2007, when he disappeared. Kahler, who'd been living in Whistler for six weeks before he disappeared, was last seen partying with friends at 4 a.m. Hours later his white Ford F-150 was found stuck in a sinkhole. The truck was running, the windshield wipers were operating, the radio was on, the doors were open and Kahler's cellphone was inside. There has been no sign of him since.

Mission RCMP Sgt. Greg Pridday says police thoroughly searched the area for Kahler, but with no luck. "It's strange," he says. "We've searched up and down and followed up on leads, but we've reached a dead end."

The family keeps in regular touch with the RCMP, but there are no new leads in their son's disappearance. Jane and Randy spend most weekends at Stave Lake searching for him. "We put up posters and talk to people," says Randy. "It's all we can do."

The couple says so many people attended the annual King of the Pit festival that weekend they're convinced somebody must have seen something. "We just don't know why they won't come forward," says Randy. The Kahler family posted a $25,000 reward for information leading to John's exact location. Crime Stoppers offers a $2,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case.

Burnaby resident Patrick Ratto, 43, last seen July 25, 2006.
Burnaby resident Terry Beckett, 55, last seen April 21, 2008.
Burnaby resident Asim Chaudhry, 24, last seen July 20, 2007.
Coquitlam resident Kenneth Shigehiro, 46, last seen March 4, 2008.

Len McElwee pins a missing poster to the bulletin board of a coffee shop located in Walnut Grove near Langley. The weather outside is sunny. The poster, asking for information about his missing son Kellen, goes up next to a missing poster for Derek Kelly.

McElwee does not miss the physical similarities shared by the young men on the posters.

"If you put their pictures side by side with a picture of Bryan [Braumberger] they have the same look," says McElwee. "They're all young men and they're all well built. But I've been assured by the Burnaby police that as far as they know, there's no connection."

McElwee says his son's case, as with the Braumberger and Scullion cases, has been transferred to the RCMP's Integrated Homicide Investigative Team.

Kellen was last seen March 19 having dinner at the Keg Steakhouse at the 200th Street overpass near Langley. After dinner Kellen and his friends went their separate ways. When Kellen didn't show up to work the next day at a Rogers call centre where he worked as a trainer, he was reported missing. His car, a bronze-coloured 2006 Honda Civic, was found March 26 on a quiet street kilometres from his apartment. The car was released to his parents after police searched it for clues and fingerprints.

"They found nothing," says McElwee. "It was the same with the neighbourhood where the car was found. We organized a search, but didn't find anything."

The same night Kellen disappeared, a man was caught on a security camera in his apartment building.

The man, not a resident of the building, wore a distinctive silver winter jacket with the hood pulled up to obscure his face. Police consider the man a person of interest in the case.

McElwee says as far as he, or anyone close to Kellen, knows, the 25-year-old had no ties to drugs or gangs. As McElwee speaks, his eyes occasionally well up with tears.

"When I heard a body had been found under the Knight Street Bridge, I felt sick, but it wasn't Kellen," he says. "It's like a bad dream that won't go away, but I won't entertain the thought he's not coming home. It's only been seven and a half weeks."

As with John Kahler's parents, McElwee and his wife Paula are convinced someone must have seen something. If Kellen's friends and acquaintances have any information, including details his son might not be proud of, McElwee wants them to come forward. A $50,000 reward has been offered for Kellen's safe return. "If anybody knows anything I want to ask them to please call Crime Stoppers. It's anonymous," says McElwee. "All we can do now is keep our fingers crossed."

Derek Kelly's sister Leeanne Kelly, revisits the places she's postered with pictures of her brother. "I want to keep them fresh, because one month went by, then two months, then three months and now four months," she says, fighting back tears.

Like the other families, Kelly sees the physical similarities in the missing men, but can't find any other connection. She also can't believe these men all literally vanished with no sign. "These days, you can't even drive through a red light without it taking your pictures. How can these boys just disappear with no sign?"

She adds in the case of her brother, no one attending the New Year's Eve party at Bridge Lake reported him missing. "The person he drove up with came back without him," she says. "And he still didn't report him missing."

She adds that, tragic as a car accident or a drive-by shooting might be, at least there would be a body and with that some closure.

"Every one of these boys are big, big parts of families and every one of them is unique," she says. "They're a huge missing piece in each of these families."

Chilliwack resident Brandyn Thomas Dirienzo, 20, last seen Oct. 4, 2006.
Abbotsford resident Beric Bason, 26, last seen at Loon Lake July 25, 2007.
Surrey resident Ranvir (Ron) Atwal, 28, last seen April 5, 2004.
White Rock resident Wade MacKenzie, 23, last seen in North Delta Jan. 16, 2008.

Kim Rossmo, one of the leading forensic profilers in North America, says an increase in missing men in B.C. would be hard to determine. "The interest could fluctuate by what's being covered in the media," says Rossmo, a former profiler with the Vancouver Police Department who now leads the Texas State University Center for Geospatial Intelligence and Investigation.

Rossmo sounded the alarm that a serial killer was at work in the Downtown Eastside and is considered a leading expert in geographic profiling and environmental criminology. Rossmo, who left the VPD in 2000 after his contract wasn't renewed and unsuccessfully sued the department for wrongful dismissal, has consulted on more than 200 serial crime cases around the world, involving almost 3,000 crimes. His high-profile cases include the Washington D.C. sniper, the South Side Rapist in Lafayette, Louisiana, and one of the largest manhunts for a serial rapist in Great Britain's history. The pilot for the TV series Numb3rs, was based on Rossmo's work. Rossmo also created a geographic profile for the 2007 movie Zodiac. The thriller is based on a string of unsolved murders in the 1960s that took place in the San Francisco Bay area.

Rossmo says 90 per cent of missing people are found within three weeks, and 98 per cent are found within two months. After that the chance of finding a missing person decreases.

Rossmo says the work of a serial killer in one area of the Lower Mainland could go unnoticed because of the "washout effect."

He explains if you compare a base rate, for example the number of missing men from Burnaby in 2007, to the number in previous years, it might show an increase. But if the base rate is too large, for example the number of missing men in Burnaby in 2007 compared to the average for the province, it will obscure or "wash out" any actual change. "This is because you have included too much of the population unaffected by your agent of change--for example a killer," explains Rossmo. "Just like a disease outbreak may show up on a local level with too many reported cases, the epidemic will disappear if you were examining cases on a national level because the number of local cases is small compared to all the cases in the country."

Rossmo says serial killers typically work close to home. If they kill across a long distance, they have a reason to be in those areas, he adds.

"You should start to see a pattern," he says. "If a serial killer is at work in the Lower Mainland, that's where they'd dump the bodies. But if there are no bodies you don't know that. You have to put on the serial killer's hat and look at this from his perspective, starting with how would you acquire your victims."

Rossmo says it's unusual for a serial killer to target young, healthy, heterosexual, middle-class men. Serial killers tend to choose marginalized victims who are easy to abduct or overcome, such as prostitutes or homeless people.

"Prostitutes are fantastic as far as serial killers are concerned because they get in the car and they drive off," says Rossmo. "The same with a skid row bum. The killer simply offers them booze and then gets them into an area where they can take control of them. Children are usually protected, but they're easy to physically overcome if they're not."

Rossmo cites Jeffery Dahmer as an example of a stealth killer. Dahmer picked up men from gay clubs in Milwaukee and dismembered their bodies in his apartment. He also targeted young boys. Rossmo says female serial killers are extremely rare unless they're a custodial killer, such as a woman helping her husband or boyfriend. Examples would be nurses who become killers, or Karla Homolka, who assisted her husband Paul Bernardo in the rape and murders of two teenage girls in Ontario. Homolka and Bernardo were also found responsible for the rape and death of Homolka's sister.

"You have to look at the examples and ask, 'Do they fit a pattern?'" says Rossmo. "You have to look at these cases from a hunter's prospective."

Rossmo discounts recent media reports about a possible group of serial killers operating across the U.S. dubbed the Smiley Face Killers. Earlier this year two retired New York police detectives, Kevin Gannon and Anthony Duarte, went public with their theory that the drowning deaths of 40 young healthy men in the U.S. could be the work of a nationwide organization of serial killers. One theory is the killers possibly met online.

In most of the cases the men had been out drinking before they disappeared, each was found in or near water and each case was initially ruled as an accidental drowning. In 2002 the case of victim and Minneapolis, Minn. resident Chris Jenkins was re-opened. Authorities concluded he'd been abducted in a van and tortured before being thrown in the Mississippi River. His death was initially called an accidental drowning. The detectives reported finding a smiley-face drawn near where some of the bodies were found, leading the media to dub the possible murderers as the "Smiley Face Killers."

In Metro Vancouver a number of missing men have been found deceased in and around water in the past several years, and their deaths were deemed suicide or accidental. On May 8 the body of a 22-year old Vancouver man, missing since March 28, was found in the Fraser River.

VPD Const. Tim Fanning, says none of those deaths appear suspicious.

"And our forensics are pretty good," he says. "There's been nothing to raise our suspicions."

Terry Foster, spokesperson for the B.C. Coroner's Office, says there is no news on the mystery of three severed right feet, belonging to men, washed up on the Gulf Islands between August 2007 and February of this year.

Last August a foot was found washed up on the shore of Jedediah Island, the second was found a week later on Gabriola Island and the third was discovered on Valdes Island in February. All the feet were found in sneakers--the first two were size 12.

At the time investigators were trying to determine if the feet were severed using a tool, which would indicate a human was responsible for their removal.

The feet also could have been cut off during a boating accident or naturally detached through decomposition. "The investigation is ongoing," says Foster.

Rossmo advises a pattern or trend in the disappearances of the missing men could point to a serial killer, but until he sees the evidence, he's doubtful. He does note it's unusual no bodies have been found in these recent cases.

"The chances of being killed by a serial killer are smaller than being struck by lightning," says Rossmo. "If you're a prostitute your risk is much higher, but for most people their chance of becoming a murder victim is low."

Kelowna resident Aaron Derbyshire, 22, last seen Sept. 30, 2006.
Kelowna resident Michael Bosma, 26, last seen Jan. 9, 2006.
Kelowna resident John Ernest Patrick, 40, last seen March 21, 2008.
Greenwood resident Gary Hansen, 52, last seen May 27, 2005.

As the June 1, one-year anniversary of her son's disappearance draws near, Janice Braumberger says the grief she feels is as strong now as the day Bryan went missing.

"People think it gets easier with time, but it doesn't," says the Burnaby resident. "I find it unbelievable that that amount of time has passed. For us it doesn't feel like that."

Braumberger wonders about the similarities between her son, McElwee, Kahler and Derek Kelly.

"But there's no way of me finding out," she says. "I'm not about to start contacting those parents because it's really difficult to speak to someone going through the same thing you are. It's tough. But I've looked at the pictures, I've looked at their age and the fact they're all males. I keep thinking there has to be some type of connection."

Braumberger closely follows all media reports related to the other missing men in hopes she'll hear something that could lead to a connection, such as a common interest.

"I keep waiting for one of their friends to say, 'I know that guy,'" she says.

Braumberger often searches the area where her son Bryan's car was found. Close friends also search the area when they have time. They continue to look despite a thorough police search with dogs immediately following the discovery of the car turning up nothing.

"There was nothing in the car. There was nothing around the car. There was no sign of a struggle. There was no blood. There's nothing. Just his car," says Braumberger. "I don't think we're missing anything, but it's as if the earth opened up and swallowed him. It's hard to believe none of these men have been found. Why aren't there any bodies?"

Like the other parents, Braumberger is convinced somebody knows something. She pleads with anyone with information to come forward. Even if they're responsible for Bryan's disappearance, she adds, she wants them to know there are many ways to offer information anonymously. A $30,000 reward is being offered for information regarding Bryan's whereabouts.

"At least give us that," she says. "Dealing with it the way it is now, some days I think, 'My God, I'm going to go crazy.' No one needs to know where the information is coming from. I just hope that someone will eventually have some kind of conscience and say, 'Enough is enough. We can't keep doing this to these people.'"

Anyone with information on these or anyother missing persons cases is asked to call the 24 hour Crime Stoppers toll-free line at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Crime Stoppers tipsters are guaranteed they will not have to give their name, be identified or testify in court. Because of this, Crime Stoppers gets valuable information that might not otherwise be provided. Crime Stoppers tipsters could be eligible to receive cash rewards of up to $2,000 upon an arrest and charge on a tip they provided.

© Vancouver Courier 2008

Torturegate: Truth, But No Consequences

by Chris Floyd
Friday, 20 June 2008

This has been one of the most extraordinary weeks in modern American history. The many isolated streams of evidence about the Bush Administration's torture system – and the direct responsibility of the Administration's highest officials for this vast crime – have now converged into a mighty flood: undeniable, unignorable, pouring through the halls of Congress and media newsrooms, lashing at the walls of the White House itself. In the course of the past few days, a series of events has laid bare the stinking sepsis at the heart of the Bush Regime for all to see.

It began last Sunday with the launch of a remarkable series by McClatchy Newspapers, detailing the torture, brutality, injustice and murder that has riddled the Bush gulag from top to bottom. Then came fiery Senate hearings, in which long-somnolent legislators finally bestirred themselves to confront and denounce some of the torture system's architects, including Dick Cheney pointman William Haynes III, who was left reeling, shuffling, dissembling – and bracing for perjury charges after his blatantly mendacious testimony.

Companion hearings in the House produced stunning confirmation of mass murder in the Bush gulag – a bare minimum of 27 killings, among the 108 known cases of death among Terror War captives. This evidence came from rock-solid Establishment figure Col. Larry Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell. (Of course, as many captives have been and are being held in "secret prisons," and an untold number of others have been hidden from the Red Cross, there is no way of knowing at this point how many prisoners have actually died or been murdered – or even how many prisoners there are in the gulag.)

And while the McClatchy series and Congressional hearings were going forward, a retired major general of the United States Army directly and openly accused the commander-in-chief of committing a war crime: authorizing "a systematic regime of torture." Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba – forced out of the service in 2006 for trying to honestly investigate the atrocities at Abu Ghraib – was unequivocal in his statement in a new report by Physicians for Human Rights:

"After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account…The commander-in-chief and those under him authorized a systematic regime of torture."

This shocking, perhaps unprecedented declaration by a senior military officer was just one of many instances during the week when Establishment figures – not just retired officials like Wilkerson and Taguba, but serving officers as well – confirmed and condemned the injustice and criminality of the Bush gulag system. Even corporate media types began openly using the "T" word, after years of ridiculing or marginalizing those who dare call the Administration's "harsh interrogation techniques" what they plainly are.

By week's end, the evidence that George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and other top government officials had deliberately created a system of torture which they knew was illegal – indeed, a capital crime – under U.S. law was so plain, so overwhelming, and so handily concentrated that it broke through the levees of institutional cover-up and media complicity that had held this clear truth at bay for so long. The grim facts had finally worked their way into "conventional wisdom." It was now permissible for good "centrist" folk to speak of such things, even condemn them, without being automatically relegated to ranks of "the haters," the "unserious," the "shrill partisans," etc.

And yet, even as this new consensus was forming, you could see the sandbags piling up in the background to make sure that the water didn't reach too far. A line of defense was being laid that would allow the purveyors of conventional wisdom to vent a bit of righteous outrage at official wrongdoing without actually having to do anything about it or admitting of any flaws in their fundamentalist doctrine of American exceptionalism. No one need take any risks, make any effort, or discomfort themselves in any way to rectify the injustice; indeed, even the perpetrators should be left undisturbed. Instead, our uniquely good and smooth-running political system will magically make everything all better, and somehow prevent the bad things from happening again.

This nascent coventional wisdom line was perfectly illustrated in a new piece by Tim Rutten of the Los Angeles Times. Rutten is a lifelong newsman, a liberal of the old school, whose columns have been scathing in their criticism of Bush and all his works. In his latest outing, Rutten doesn't flinch from telling it like it is on Bush's torture regime. Drawing on the Congressional hearings and other sources, Rutten gives chapter and verse on "how the White House forced the adoption of torture as state policy of the United States."

He notes also the highly significant fact that one major impetus behind the construction of the torture system was the Bush Faction's extremist "unitary executive" theory: the crank belief that a president can exercise unbridled, unaccountable authoritarian power in his role as "commander-in-chief." This includes the power to break the law -- and order others to break the law -- as he sees fit. As Rutten puts it:

The fact that these guys seem to have defined executive branch power as the ability to hold people in secret and torture them pushes the creepy quotient into areas that probably require psychoanalytic credentials.

In paragraph after paragraph, Rutten marshals the evidence that "has established definitively that the drive to make torture an instrument of U.S. policy originated at the highest levels of the Bush administration." He notes that the panicky reaction to these revelations in right-wing bastions like the Wall Street Journal "stems from an anxiety that congressional inquiries, like that of [the Senate] committee, will lead to indictments and possibly even war crimes trials for officials who participated in the administration's deliberations over torture and the treatment of prisoners."

In short, Rutten – an experienced, respected, liberal journalist writing for one of the largest newspapers in the land – lays out a compelling case that the President of the United States and his chief officers have committed capital crimes under American law. And what does he propose we do about it?


Absolutely nothing. In fact, he relegates all those who would seek redress of these high crimes to – where else? – the ranks of the unserious, the cranks, the effete whiners:

It's true that there are a handful of European rights activists and people on the lacy left fringe of American politics who would dearly like to see such trials, but actually pursuing them would be a profound -- even tragic -- mistake. Our political system works as smoothly as it does, in part, because we've never criminalized differences over policy. Since Andrew Jackson's time, our electoral victors celebrate by throwing the losers out of work -- not into jail cells.

The Andrew Jackson reference is puzzling. When did early (or late) American electoral victors ever throw the losers into jail cells? Did Thomas Jefferson clap John Adams in irons after besting him for the presidency? Did John Quincy Adams lock Jackson away after his disputed victory in their first contest? But Rutten's lack of historical clarity is nothing compared to the moral muddle that follows:

The Bush administration has been wretchedly mistaken in its conception of executive power, deceitful in its push for war with Iraq and appalling in its scheming to make torture an instrument of state power. But a healthy democracy punishes policy mistakes, however egregious, and seeks redress for its societal wounds, however deep, at the ballot box and not in the prisoner's dock.

The cognitive dissonance of this conclusion was so painful and severe that I had to read it several times to fully take in that it meant exactly what it said: Rutten believes with all his heart that the official practice of deliberate, systematic torture – a clear and unambiguous war crime which he himself has just outlined in careful detail – is ultimately nothing more than a “wretched mistake,” a “policy difference” that should not be “criminalized.” And how can this be? The answer is obvious, if unspoken: because it was done by the United States government – and nothing the United States government ever does can possibly be criminal, or evil. It can only be, at most, a mistake, a conceptual error, an ill-considered policy, a botched attempt at carrying out a noble intention.

If any other country had a policy “to make torture an instrument of state power, " Rutten would undoubtedly condemn it as a vicious evil. In fact, he might well bring out the quote from Thucydides that he used just a few weeks ago, in a piece lauding the stricken "Lion of the Senate," Ted Kennedy:

Kennedy's brother, Bobby, was fond of quoting the ancient Greeks. One of them, Thucydides, once was asked, "When will there be justice in Athens?" He replied, "There will be justice in Athens when those who are not injured are as outraged as those who are."

But it appears that Rutten's outrage at injustice has its limits. It does not extend to actually punishing those responsible for torture and murder – if those responsible are the leaders of the American government. They are to be allowed to finish their terms, then live out their lives in wealth, privilege, comfort and safety. To do otherwise, says Rutten – to insist that no one is above the law – "risks the stability of our own electoral politics."

(This is a point that I've never quite understood about American exceptionalists. On the one hand, they say the system is so strong and resilient that it can magically heal itself no matter what happens. On the other hand, it is apparently so weak and unstable that any attempt to actually apply its laws to the powerful could bring down the whole house of cards. A curious conundrum indeed; but then again, fundamentalisms invariably rest on such ineffable mysteries.)

Somehow, the "ballot box" will redress these "egregious mistakes," says Rutten. Yet surely the real lesson that future leaders (whatever side of the "ballot box" they are on) will take away from this shameful episode is that they will never be held legally accountable for any abuse of power, "however egregious," however clearly criminal it is. Sure, personal peccadilloes like financial chicanery or sexual hanky-panky might land you in hot water. But whatever you do as a matter of state – especially if it involves the infliction of suffering, ruin and death – will not be prosecuted.

This, to Rutten – and the conventional wisdom he represents here – is the mark of "a healthy democracy." Only weird foreigners and sissies ("the lacy fringe left") would wring their hands over bringing torturers and murderers to justice. Sure, mistakes have been made, but the system is strong, the system works smoothly, the system is self-correcting. All will be well, and all manner of things will be well. This is the quintessence of good "centrist" thought. This is the soft, fluffy quilt that will soon envelop the staggering revelations of capital crimes that we saw this week.

As we noted here a few weeks ago, Barack Obama – who has been busy this week bolstering "Blue Dog" supporters of executive tyranny and appointing a gaggle of dim warhawks, has-beens and imperial factotums as his national security team) – has given every indication he too sees the Administration's high crimes as "dumb policies" that don't require any legal redress:

Obama says that any decision to pursue "investigation" of "possibilities" of "genuine crimes" would be "an area where I would exercise judgment." He stressed the need to draw a distinction between "really dumb policies and policies that rise to the level of criminal activity." He said he would not want "my first term to be consumed by what would be perceived by Republicans as a partisan witch hunt."

He then tied his thinking on torture, illegal wiretapping, aggressive war and all the other depredations of the Bush Regime to his stance on impeachment:

"I often get questions about impeachment at town hall meetings. And I've often said, I do not think that would be something that would be fruitful to pursue. I think impeachment should be reserved for exceptional circumstances."

In other words, very strong, credible, evidence-based charges of launching a criminal war of aggression based on deception is not an "exceptional circumstance" worthy of the investigative and prosecutorial process of impeachment. It might just be a "very dumb policy." Very strong, credible, evidence-based charges of knowingly, deliberately creating a regimen of systematic torture is not an "exceptional circumstance" worthy of impeachment; it might not even be worth further investigation by the Justice Department. It too could just be a "dumb policy" that we should forget about – especially if Republicans are going to make a fuss about it.

In any case, it is obvious that to Obama, "what we already know" does not constitute "exceptional circumstances" – otherwise he would already be pressing for criminal investigation, via the impeachment process or by calling for a special prosecutor… He pretends that it is still an open question – "an exercise of judgment" – whether these crimes should even be investigated further, much less prosecuted. He pretends – or even worse, actually believes – that we are not in the grip of "exceptional circumstances," but are apparently just rolling along with business as usual, aside from a few "dumb policies" which he will tinker with and set right.

It has indeed been a remarkable week in American politics. But I fear that the most remarkable thing about it will turn out to be that it had no lasting effect at all.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008

I.F. Stone: Capital "J" Journalist for a New News Era

Izzy Stone, Patron Saint of Bloggers
by Jeff Cohen

It was nineteen years ago this week that I.F. (Izzy) Stone died. The legendary blogger was 81.

Confused? You say he died years before web blogs were invented?

Well, yeah, but when I think of today’s blunt, fact-based online hell-raisers, my mind quickly flashes on Izzy Stone. You may think of Josh Marshall or Glenn Greenwald or Arianna Huffington. I think of Izzy.

Before there was an Internet, Izzy Stone was doing the work we associate with today’s best bloggers. Like them, he was obsessed with citing original documents and texts. But before search engines, Izzy had to consume ten newspapers per day — and physically visit government archives and press offices, and personally pore over thousands of words in the Congressional Record. That’s how he repeatedly scooped the gullible, faux-objective MSM of his day in exposing government deceit, like that propelling the Vietnam War.

Izzy was the ultimate un-embedded reporter. His journalism was motivated by a simple maxim that resonates loudly in our era of Cheneys and Rumsfelds and WMD hoaxes: “All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.”

Month after month from 1953 to 1969 I.F. Stone’s Weekly (biweekly through 1971) exposed deceptions as fast as governments could spin them. His timely and timeless dispatches are gathered in an exceptional paperback, The Best of I.F. Stone.

In real time in August 1964, Izzy was virtually alone in challenging the Gulf of Tonkin hoax, an imaginary “unprovoked attack” on U.S. warships used by the Johnson administration to send several hundred thousand American troops into Vietnam. How did Izzy do it? By citing international law texts and finding nuggets of truth in the Congressional Record of the Senate debate (no C-SPAN then) and in contradictory reporting in mainstream publications.

Izzy’s expose began boldly: “The American government and the American press have kept the full truth about the Tonkin Bay incidents from the American public.” He fumed at the credulous MSM: “The process of brain-washing the public starts with off-the-record briefings for newspapermen.” Only two senators, Oregon’s Wayne Morse and Alaska’s Ernest Gruening, had voted against the Tonkin Resolution; Izzy noted that the press had “dropped an Iron Curtain weeks ago on the antiwar speeches of Morse and Gruening.”

Like today’s online journalistic entrepreneurs, being his own editor and boss allowed Izzy the freedom and space to parse out the distortions of government in detail. A year before the Tonkin hoax, he wrote: “In this age of corporation men, I am an independent capitalist, the owner of my own enterprise.” While most journalists “find their niche in some huge newspaper of magazine combine, I am a wholly independent newspaperman, standing alone.”

Bloggers battle today’s McCarthyites who smear Iraq War opponents as un-American abettors of our country’s enemies. Izzy battled the original Joe McCarthy, in issue after issue of his weekly. Indeed, he launched his publication the same month — January 1953 — McCarthy became chair of the Senate Operations Committee, enhancing his powers of intimidation. Izzy warned prophetically: “McCarthy is in a position to smear any government official who fails to do his bidding. With such daring and few scruples, McCarthy can make himself the most powerful single figure in Congress.”

Three months later, he wrote: “The most subversive force in America today is Joe McCarthy. No one is so effectively importing alien conceptions into American government. No one is doing so much to damage the country’s prestige abroad. . . .If ‘subversion’ is to be met by deportation, then it is time to deport McCarthy back to Wisconsin.”

Not until 11 months later did Edward R. Murrow air his first report on McCarthy.

Today, online media critics and bloggers expose the bigotry and fallacy gushing forth from Fox News and talk radio and the Rev. Moon-owned Washington Times, long-edited by Wes Pruden Jr. They blog about MSM being stenographers to rightwing extremists. When racists in Little Rock were obstructing court-ordered school desegregation in 1958, Izzy was on the scene reporting: “A staff correspondent in Little Rock quoted the Reverend Wesley Pruden the segregationist leader, as saying, ‘The South will not accept this outrage, which a Communist-dominated government is trying to lay on us.’ This was my introduction to a regional journalism which prints such statements matter-of-factly.”

The Communist-dominated regime referred to by Pruden Sr. was headed by Eisenhower.

Izzy loved to tell the story of how he found — hiding in plain view in different editions of the New York Times — one-paragraph “shirrtail” wire stories indicating that our country’s first underground nuclear test in Nevada in 1957 was detected in Toronto, Rome and Tokyo. Months later, just as hawks in Washington were preparing to attack a test ban treaty with the Soviets on the basis that nuclear tests could not be detected more than 200 miles away, Izzy found a seismologist in the Commerce Department who told him the test had also been detected as far away as Alaska and Arkansas. Izzy’s reporting obstructed the government’s lie before it could get its shoes on.

Starting out in his teens, Izzy was a daily reporter, editor and columnist. After moving to D.C. in 1940 to become Washington editor of The Nation, he exposed U.S. corporations still doing business with Hitler’s Germany. He was one of the first to sound the alarm about the Nazi holocaust, referring in 1942 to “a murder of a people.” An anti-racist, he battled the all-white National Press Club over exclusion of black journalists.

Izzy’s cantankerousness and “hound-dog tenacity” — in the words of his biographer — would make even the most stubborn blogger blush. Although he was a lifelong progressive, his journalistic hallmark was independence: “I felt that party affiliation was incompatible with independent journalism.” His writings show deep admiration for Franklin Roosevelt, yet his article on FDR’s death criticized his “deplorable disrespect for the constitutional amenities” in resisting a reactionary Supreme Court that knocked down one New Deal bill after another.

He wrote books passionately supporting the birth of Israel, but strongly criticized it for mistreatment of Palestinians. He advocated peace and negotiations with the Soviet Union, while increasingly vocal in denouncing its rulers: “The worker [in Russia] is more exploited than in Western welfare states.”

He despised racists, but fought for their free speech rights, and everyone’s: “Once you put ifs and buts in the Bill of Rights, nobody’s civil liberties will be secure.” That he marched to his own drummer can be seen in his dispatch from the 1963 March on Washington for civil rights, in which he criticized “respectables” for muting “Negro militancy” into support of JFK’s inadequate program, and referred to Martin Luther King as “a little too saccharine for my taste.”

Born of immigrant parents, Izzy was an American patriot who worshipped the Bill of Rights: “You may think I am a red Jew son-of-a-bitch, but I’m keeping Thomas Jefferson alive.”

And he worshipped our country’s tradition of press freedom: “There are few countries in which you can spit in the eye of the government and get away with it. It’s not possible in Moscow.” But Izzy was never naïve about American traditions that threatened freedom, and he had a 5,000-page FBI spy file to prove it.

Today’s muckraking bloggers are often belittled for working from their homes, far removed from the corridors of power. Izzy worked out of his home. If he were alive, he’d be applauding the Josh Marshalls and other independents, urging: Keep your distance from power.

I made no claim to inside stuff. . . I tried to dig the truth out of hearings, official transcripts and government documents, and to be as accurate as possible. . . I felt like a guerilla warrior, swooping down in surprise attack on a stuffy bureaucracy where it least expected independent inquiry. The reporter assigned to specific beats like the State Department or the Pentagon for a wire service or a big daily newspaper soon finds himself a captive. State and Pentagon have large press relations forces whose job it is to herd the press and shape the news. There are many ways to punish a reporter who gets out of line. . . But a reporter covering the whole capitol on his own - particularly if he is his own employer — is immune from these pressures.

Imagine the obstacles Izzy faced — did I mention his impaired eyesight and hearing? — launching a weekly and finding an audience at the height of McCarthy’s witch hunts (even at $5 for an annual subscription).

Far fewer obstacles face today’s bloggers who seek to follow in Izzy’s footsteps — blessed as they are with relative freedom and this awesome research outreach tool known as the Internet.

As these upstarts speak truth to power, I see Izzy Stone watching over them, from the heavens.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Tim Russert, Dick Cheney, and 9/11

Tim Russert, Dick Cheney, and 9/11
by David Ray Griffin

17/06/08 "ICH" -- -- While we are remembering Tim Russert and his years as moderator of “Meet the Press,” we would do well to recall his interview with Vice President Dick Cheney at Camp David on September 16, 2001, just five days after the 9/11 attacks.1 In fact, Cheney himself, during an interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer the morning after Russert died, reminded us of that Camp David interview, saying: “I always, when I think of Tim and think of ‘Meet the Press,’ that's the show that always comes to mind. . . . It was a remarkable moment in American history.”2

Commenting that he himself “remember[ed] that interview vividly,” Lauer asked: “Anything stand out from that interview?” In his reply, Cheney said: “We went back and reminisced to some extent about what had actually happened on the morning of 9/11. So it was---it was a remarkable moment in my career.”3

It was indeed. In reminiscing about his movements that morning, Cheney contradicted what was to become a crucial element of the account that the 9/11 Commission would give of those movements.

In praising Russert’s tenure on “Meet the Press,” Cheney said: “He would ask you tough questions, he would remind you of quotes you made previously in other settings or on earlier shows, so you never got away with anything going up vis-à-vis Tim.”4

Given Cheney’s appraisal of his interview with Russert as a “remarkable moment” in both American history and Cheney’s own career, we should apply Russert’s method to this interview, reminding ourselves of exactly what Cheney said, then comparing it with what was said about Cheney by the 9/11 Commission.

The Camp David Interview

After discussing with Cheney the US response to the 9/11 attacks, Russert turned to September 11 itself, asking Cheney where he was when he learned of the first attack on the World Trade Center. Replying that he was in his White House office, Cheney said that, after seeing the second attack on television, he convened a meeting in his office with Condoleezza Rice and others, then talked by telephone to President Bush (who was in Florida), discussing the public statement the latter might make. (This call would have needed to take place shortly after Bush left the classroom, which was reportedly at about 9:12,5 if it was to help him prepare his address to the nation, which was to be given at 9:30. The New York Times wrote: “[A]t 9:12, [Bush] abruptly retreated [from the classroom], speaking to Mr. Cheney and New York officials.”6) Cheney then said:

“While I was there, over the next several minutes, watching developments on the television and as we started to get organized to figure out what to do, my Secret Service agents came in and, under these circumstances, they just move. They don't say ‘sir’ or ask politely. They came in and said, ‘Sir, we have to leave immediately, and grabbed me and. . .”7

Russert asked: “Literally grabbed you and moved you?” Cheney replied:

“Yeah. And, you know, your feet touch the floor periodically. But they're bigger than I am, and they hoisted me up and moved me very rapidly down the hallway, down some stairs, through some doors and down some more stairs into an underground facility under the White House, and, as a matter of fact, it's a corridor, locked at both ends, and they did that because they had received a report that an airplane was headed for the White House.”

After confirming Russert’s supposition that this was Flight 77, Cheney continued:

“And when it entered the danger zone and looked like it was headed for the White House was when they grabbed me and evacuated me to the basement. . . . [O]nce I got down into the shelter, the first thing I did--there's a secure phone there. First thing I did was pick up the telephone and call the president again, who was still down in Florida, at that point, and strongly urged him to delay his return.”

After discussing that advice in terms of the need to secure “presidential succession,” Cheney continued the narrative about his own movements that day, saying:

“Once I left that immediate shelter, after I talked to the president, urged him to stay away for now, well, I went down into what's called PEOC,8 the Presidential Emergency Operations Center, and there, I had Norm Mineta . . . . I had Condi Rice with me and several of my key staff people. We had access, secured communications with Air Force One, with the Secretary of Defense over in the Pentagon. We had also the secure videoconference that ties together the White House, CIA, State, Justice, Defense.”

After giving still more details, Cheney said: “I was in a position to be able to see all the stuff coming in, receive reports and then make decisions in terms of acting with it.” Cheney made clear, in other words, that he had everyone and everything he needed in the PEOC to take charge.

He then added: “But when I arrived there within a short order, we had word the Pentagon's been hit.”

Summary of Cheney’s Account to Russert

According to what Vice President Dick Cheney told Tim Russert, only five days after 9/11, the sequence of events went like this:

1. The Secret Service came into Cheney’s office to take him downstairs after they “received a report that an airplane was headed for the White House.” Although the plane “turned away and . . . flew a circle and came back in and then hit the Pentagon,” it was “when it entered the danger zone and looked like it was headed for the White House,” Cheney said, that “they grabbed me and evacuated me to the basement.”

2. The Secret Service agents hustled Cheney down to the underground corridor (which he also called the “immediate shelter,” evidently meaning the part of the bomb shelter that one reaches first).

3. While in this corridor, he used the secure phone to talk to the president again, this time urging him to delay his return to Washington.

4. He went from this corridor to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center, or PEOC (which is also called the “shelter conference room”).

5. After he arrived in the PEOC, he learned that the Pentagon had been hit. Cheney’s statement here---“[W]hen I arrived there within a short order, we had word the Pentagon's been hit”---is ambiguous. Did he mean that he arrived there within a short order? Or that, within a short order after arriving there, he learned that the Pentagon had been hit? The latter seems more likely. The main point, in any case, is clear: Cheney learned about the Pentagon attack---which reportedly occurred at about 9:38---only after arriving in the PEOC.

This is significant because it contradicts what the 9/11 Commission would state three years later.

The 9/11 Commission’s Account

According to The 9/11 Commission Report, the sequence of events was as follows.

1. At 9:33, the Secret Service learned that an unidentified aircraft was coming toward the White House, but “[n]o move was made to evacuate the Vice President at this time,” because the Secret Service learned at 9:34, just before sounding the alarm, “that the aircraft was turning south.”

2. Just before 9:36, the Secret Service, having learned that the plane had started circling back, “ordered the immediate evacuation of the Vice President.”

3. After being hustled downstairs, “The Vice President entered the underground tunnel leading to the shelter at 9:37. Once inside, Vice President Cheney and the agents paused in an area of the tunnel that had a secure phone, a bench, and television.”

4. While there, “[t]he Vice President [telephoned Florida] and asked to speak to the President, but it took time for the call to be connected.”

5. “He learned in the tunnel that the Pentagon had been hit, and he saw television coverage of the smoke coming from the building.”

6. Mrs. Cheney, having arrived at the White House at 9:52, “joined her husband in the tunnel.”

7. “[A]t 9:55, the Vice President was still on the phone with the President, advising that three planes were missing and one had hit the Pentagon.” (The Commissioners “believe this is the same call in which the Vice President urged the President not to return to Washington.”)

8. “After the call ended, Mrs. Cheney and the Vice President moved from the tunnel to the shelter conference room. . . . [T]he Vice president arrived in the room shortly before 10:00, perhaps at 9:58.”9

As a comparison of these two timelines shows, the 9/11 Commission’s account differs significantly from the account that Cheney gave to Russert.

Contradictions between the Two Accounts

According to Cheney, he arrived in the PEOC, or shelter conference room, before he learned about the attack on the Pentagon. According to the 9/11 Commission, by contrast, he entered the PEOC after he learned about this attack (and, in fact, about 20 minutes after its occurrence at 9:38 AM).

This contrast leads to another: According to Cheney, the telephone call in which he urged the president to stay away from Washington occurred before he learned about the Pentagon strike. According to the Commission’s account, however, this call occurred after he had learned about the strike, so he was able to talk to Bush about it.

The two accounts appear, moreover, to contradict each other with regard to the time at which Cheney was taken downstairs to the underground corridor. According to what Cheney told Russert, this occurred as soon as the Secret Service agents heard that a plane was approaching the White House---they did not wait until the plane came that direction a second time---and this seems to have been shortly after Cheney called the president about the latter’s public statement---a call that, according to the New York Times, occurred at 9:12. If Cheney was taken down about five minutes later, his account would not conflict, at least not strongly, with the testimony of Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, who told the 9/11 Commission during an open hearing in 2003 that Cheney was already there when he got to the PEOC at 9:20.10

If Cheney meant something close to this, his account would, however, strongly contradict The 9/11 Commission Report, according to which he did not even head downstairs until 9:36 and did not enter the corridor until 9:37.

However, even if Cheney did not mean to imply that he had entered the PEOC before 9:20, the natural interpretation of his statement---“when I arrived there [in the PEOC] within a short order, we had word the Pentagon’s been hit”---would seem to be that the Pentagon attack occurred after he had entered the PEOC.

One can point out, to be sure, that Cheney did not actually say this. He said only that he learned about the Pentagon attack after he entered the PEOC. One who wanted to support the 9/11 Commission’s timeline might argue that, although the Pentagon was attacked at 9:38, Cheney did not hear about this attack until 20-some minutes later, after he, as the Commission says, entered the PEOC at 9:58. On that basis, one might argue, Cheney’s account and that of the Commission could be reconciled.

However, besides being extremely implausible (by suggesting that Vice President Cheney, who was formerly the secretary of defense and on 9/11 was the person in charge at the White House, would not have been notified about such an attack for over 20 minutes), this attempted reconciliation would also be ruled out by the Commission’s timeline, which says that Cheney learned about the Pentagon attack while he was still in the corridor, before he entered the PEOC. He told Russert that he learned about it after he entered the PEOC.

It is impossible, therefore, to reconcile the two accounts. If the story that Cheney told Russert at Camp David, just five days after 9/11, was true, then the story told by the 9/11 Commission in July 2004, almost three years later, was false.

The Unique Source for the 9/11 Commission’s Timeline

On what did the 9/11 Commission base its timeline? It claimed that the 9:37 time for Cheney’s entry into the corridor, from which the 9:58 estimate for his entry into the PEOC followed, was based on a timeline in a Secret Service report. By the Commission’s own admission, however, the Secret Service said that “the 9:37 entry time in their timeline was based on alarm data, which is no longer retrievable.”11 The claim that Cheney entered the corridor at 9:37, in other words, is based on no official documentation.

Could the Commission cite journalistic accounts to support its timeline? It appears that there was one journalistic account, and only one, that supported this timeline. This was an MSNBC-Newsweek article by Evan Thomas, which was dated December 31, 2001, at MSNBC and appeared in the January 7, 2002, issue of Newsweek. This article said: “Shortly before 10 a.m., the Cheneys were led into the PEOC conference room. . . . [T]hey looked up at the TV screens. It was 9:58 a.m.”12

In saying this, Thomas disagreed not only with what Norman Mineta would later tell the 9/11 Commission, but also with what Richard Clarke would say in Against All Enemies, which became a best-selling book while the 9/11 Commission was still holding hearings.

According to Clarke, shortly after the meeting that Cheney had with Condoleezza Rice after the second attack on World Trade Center, which occurred at 9:03, the Secret Service wanted Rice as well as Cheney to go down to the PEOC. Rice, however, first went with Clarke to the White House’s Video Teleconferencing Center, where Clarke was to set up a video conference. This conference, Clarke’s statements suggest, began at about 9:10.13 After spending a few minutes there, Rice said, according to Clarke: “You’re going to need some decisions quickly. I’m going to the PEOC to be with the Vice President. Tell us what you need.” Clarke replied: “What I need is an open line to Cheney and you.”14 Some minutes later, evidently at about 9:15, Norman Mineta arrived and Clarke, after receiving him in the Situation Room, “suggested he join the Vice President.”15 Clarke thereby seemed to imply that Cheney was in the PEOC prior to 9:15.

In an ABC News program narrated by Peter Jennings on the first anniversary of 9/11, Condoleezza Rice is portrayed as supporting the early descent time. After describing Cheney’s trip down to the PEOC with the Secret Service agents, ABC’s Charles Gibson said: “Up above, National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice is trying to find the rest of the President's team,” after which Rice is shown saying: "As I was trying to find all of the principals, the Secret Service came in and said, 'You have to leave now for the bunker. The Vice President's already there. There may be a plane headed for the White House.’” Gibson then added: “In the bunker, the Vice President is joined by Rice and Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta.”16 ABC agreed in advance, therefore, with Mineta’s account, according to which Cheney was down there before he arrived.

According to another ABC News program that same week, Cheney’s own White House photographer, David Bohrer, also supported the early descent time. Showing Bohrer describe the moment when the Secret Service agents told Cheney, “Sir, you have to come with us,’” ABC portrayed this event as happening “just after 9 a.m.,” presumably because that is what Bohrer himself had said.17

Mineta’s account was also supported in advance by a Wall Street Journal article, published about a month after 9/11, which told the story of that morning from the perspective of American and United Airlines. Discussing the actions of Donald J. Carty and Jim Goodwin, top executives of AA and UA, respectively, this article said:

“Mr. Carty and Mr. Goodwin . . . were talking on the phone with Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta, who was in a government command bunker with Vice President Dick Cheney. Mr. Carty told Mr. Mineta that American was ordering all 162 of its planes out of the sky; United already had ordered its 122 planes down. About five minutes later, the FAA shut down the skies over the U.S. completely to all but military aircraft. At [9:45 a.m.],18 American lost contact with a third flight, . . . But . . . radio contact was restored in 10 minutes. . . . Soon, reports began pouring in that a plane had crashed into the Pentagon.”19

Mineta had the FAA give two orders that morning. The first one, which was to prevent any more planes from taking off, was at 9:26. The second, which was for all planes to be brought down, occurred at 9:45, after the Pentagon was struck.20 In describing the FAA order that occurred before the attack on the Pentagon, the Journal erroneously called it an order to bring all planes down (confusion between the two orders was quite common).21 It is clear, in any case, that these two airline officials, as paraphrased by the Journal, reported that Cheney was present in the PEOC prior to the attack on the Pentagon.

The 9/11 Commission’s timeline, according to which Cheney arrived much later, was based on a twofold claim: that Cheney did not entering the corridor until 9:37 and that his phone call to the president then took about 20 minutes.

As we saw above, the alleged Secret Service claim that Cheney did not enter the corridor until 9:37 was, by the Commission’s own admission, undocumented. Surely this undocumented claim cannot trump the combined testimony of Norman Mineta, Richard Clarke, David Bohrer (as described by ABC News), American and United Airlines (as described by the Wall Street Journal), and even Dick Cheney himself (as given to Tim Russert five days after 9/11).

However, the claim that Cheney did not enter the corridor until 9:37 was mentioned by one journalistic account: the aforementioned MSNBC-Newsweek article by Evan Thomas. According to Thomas, it was 9:35 when the Secret Service entered Cheney’s office---where the vice president, incidentally, was not in a take-charge mode but was simply “standing by his desk, looking at the TV in the corner.” This article also has the other main elements later articulated in The 9/11 Commission Report: Cheney’s time-consuming phone call to the president (who was “not easy to reach”), Cheney’s being told about the Pentagon attack while he was still in the corridor, Lynne Cheney’s arrival while the vice president was still on the phone, and then the conclusion: “Shortly before 10 a.m., the Cheneys were led into the PEOC conference room. . . . [T]hey looked up at the TV screens. It was 9:58 a.m.”22

If the 9/11 Commission’s timeline was derived from the Thomas article, or else the source(s) for that article, the question becomes: Where did Thomas get the information on which he based his account?

The note provided by the 9/11 Commission for its conclusion that the Cheneys arrived in the PEOC “shortly before 10:00, perhaps at 9:58,” mentions three transcripts, all of which are White House transcripts: “Lynne Cheney interview with Newsweek, Nov. 9, 2001”; “Vice President Cheney interview with Newsweek, Nov. 19, 2001”; and “Rice interview with Evan Thomas, Nov. 1, 2001.” Evidently, therefore, the Evan Thomas MSNBC-Newsweek article of December 31, 2001, was based significantly on interviews with Condoleezza Rice and the Cheneys.

It would appear, accordingly, that the account given by Cheney to Newsweek in November differed significantly from what he had told Russert on “Meet the Press” two months earlier. He told Russert that he learned about the Pentagon attack after he was already in the PEOC, thereby suggesting agreement with all the witnesses who would indicate that he was in the PEOC prior to the attack. But according to the story that he (along with his wife and Rice) apparently told Newsweek, which was later accepted by the 9/11 Commission, Cheney did not enter the PEOC, where he took charge of matters, until about 20 minutes after the attack on the Pentagon had already occurred.

Possible Motives for Changing the Timeline

What possible motives would there have been for Cheney to change the timeline? What possible motives might the 9/11 Commission have had for accepting Evan Thomas’s timeline, even though it was apparently the only journalistic account that depicted Cheney as not entering the PEOC until almost 10:00?

I mentioned above the fact that Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta reported to the 9/11 Commission in 2003 that, when he arrived in the PEOC at about 9:20, Cheney was already there. Mineta then gave the following account of a conversation he witnessed:

“During the time that the airplane was coming in to the Pentagon, there was a young man who would come in and say to the Vice President, ‘The plane is 50 miles out.’ ‘The plane is 30 miles out.’ And when it got down to ‘the plane is 10 miles out,’ the young man also said to the Vice President, ‘Do the orders still stand?’ And the Vice President turned and whipped his neck around and said, ‘Of course the orders still stand. Have you heard anything to the contrary?’23

When asked by Commissioner Timothy Roemer how long this conversation occurred after his arrival at 9:20, Mineta said, “Probably about five or six minutes.” That, as Roemer pointed out, would have been “about 9:25 or 9:26.”24

During an informal interview in 2007, incidentally, Mineta reaffirmed that Cheney was already there when he arrived in the PEOC, saying “absolutely.” When he was told that the Commission had said that Cheney did not arrive until 9:58, Mineta expressed surprise and said: “Oh no, no, no; I don’t know how that came about.” Although Mineta said he “might have been mistaken on the 9:25,” he said that Cheney was definitely there before the Pentagon was struck, and “so was Mrs. Cheney.”25

Mineta’s 2003 testimony at the 9/11 Commission hearing created two problems for the official story of the day’s events. For one thing, it implied that Cheney---who, as he told Russert, was in contact with Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld---knew that an aircraft was approaching Washington about 12 minutes before the Pentagon was struck. This implication directly contradicted the official claim, according to which Pentagon officials did not know that an aircraft was approaching their building. This claim was essential for explaining why because the Pentagon had not been evacuated, with the result that 125 Pentagon employees were killed. For example, one Pentagon spokesperson, having been asked why this evacuation did not occur, said: “The Pentagon was simply not aware that this aircraft was coming our way.”26

A second problem created by Mineta’s story involved the nature of “the orders.” Although Mineta assumed, he said, that they were orders to have the aircraft shot down, no aircraft approaching Washington was shot down. Mineta’s interpretation also made the young man’s question unintelligible. Given the threefold fact that the airspace over the Pentagon is categorized as “forbidden,” meaning that commercial aircraft are never permitted in it, that two hijacked planes had already crashed into the Twin Towers, and that still other planes had been reported hijacked, the expected orders, if an unidentified plane were approaching that airspace, would have been to shoot it down. Had Cheney given those orders, there would have been no reason for the young man to ask if the orders still stood. His question made sense only if the orders were to do something unexpected---not to shoot it down. The most natural interpretation of Mineta’s story, accordingly, was that he had inadvertently reported that he had heard Cheney confirm stand-down orders.

That Mineta’s testimony was perceived as a dangerous threat to the official account is suggested by several steps taken by the 9/11 Commission. The first step was the one on which we have focused: the claim, based on the White House-supplied Newsweek story, that Cheney did not enter the PEOC---at which time he first went into his take-charge mode (prior to that he was simply talking with the president and watching television)---until 20 minutes after the Pentagon had been struck.

A second step was to make no mention of this portion of Mineta’s testimony in The 9/11 Commission Report.

A third step is suggested by the fact that this portion of Mineta’s testimony is missing from the 9/11 Commission video archive.27

A fourth step was the creation of an alternative version of the story about an incoming aircraft. The 9/11 Commission Report wrote:

“At 10:02, the communicators in the shelter began receiving reports from the Secret Service of an inbound aircraft. . . . At some time between 10:10 and 10:15, a military aide told the Vice President and others that the aircraft was 80 miles out. Vice President Cheney was asked for authority to engage the aircraft. . . . The Vice President authorized fighter aircraft to engage the inbound plane. . . . The military aide returned a few minutes later, probably between 10:12 and 10:18, and said the aircraft was 60 miles out. He again asked for authorization to engage. The Vice President again said yes.”28

Although this story has some elements in common with Mineta’s story, it differs in two major respects. It makes clear that Cheney issued a shoot-down, not a stand-down, order. And it came far too late to have had any relevance to the Pentagon attack.

In fact, by coming so late, it also---and this provides a second possible motive for the revised timeline---could have had no relevance to another controversial issue: Whether the US military had shot down United Flight 93 over Pennsylvania (which, according to the 9/11 Commission, crashed at 10:03).

There were reports that this indeed had occurred. For example, Major Daniel Nash, one of the F-15 pilots sent to fly over New York City that morning, reported that when he returned to base, he was told that a military F-16 had shot down an airliner in Pennsylvania.29 This rumor became sufficiently widespread that it came up during General Richard Myers’s confirmation hearing with the Senate Armed Services Committee on September 13. Chairman Carl Levin, saying that “there have been statements that the aircraft that crashed in Pennsylvania was shot down,” added: “Those stories continue to exist.”30 Myers denied that it had occurred, but several other military officers would later state that their fighters were in position to do it.31 Richard Clarke would later state, moreover, that Cheney had given the authorization at approximately 9:50,32 which would have been early enough for the military to have shot it down at 10:03.

According to the Commission, the incoming flight, which elicited Cheney’s shoot-down authorization at some time after 10:10, was indeed United 93. Unbeknownst to Cheney and the military, however, this flight had already crashed at 10:03.33 Insofar as this story was accepted, therefore, the military could not have, under Cheney’s orders, shot down United 93.

As we have seen, it would appear that the 9/11 Commission’s timeline, which rules out the possibility that Cheney could have been responsible for the attack on the Pentagon or the downing of United 93, came from Cheney himself, via the account that he himself---along with Lynne Cheney and Condoleezza Rice---gave to Newsweek.

Arguably the strongest evidence against this timeline is the account that Cheney gave to Tim Russert on the September 16, 2001, edition of “Meet the Press.” The 9/11 Commission’s timeline is, of course, also strongly contradicted by Richard Clarke, Norman Mineta, and others. Ignoring those accounts has, however, proved easy. It will be much more difficult to continue to ignore the given to Russert on “Meet the Press.” Besides the fact that this account was given by Cheney himself, it was also given just five days after 9/11, when the events of that day were still fresh in his mind.

Also, Russert’s interview with Cheney is very well known. Matt Lauer, for example, said: “I remember that interview vividly. . . . I was glued to that.”34 Cheney’s 2008 description of that interview as a “remarkable moment in American history,” moreover, has probably encouraged many people, including many journalists to review it.

In describing Russert’s typical method on “Meet the Press,” Cheney rightly praised him, saying: “He would ask you tough questions, he would remind you of quotes you made previously in other settings or on earlier shows, so you never got away with anything going up vis-à-vis Tim.” But Cheney has thus far gotten away with the contradiction between what he told Russert and what he apparently told Newsweek, which became the position of The 9/11 Commission Report. But perhaps that will not continue to be the case, especially now that Cheney has drawn the world’s attention to his Camp David interview with Tim Russert.

The contradiction between the 9/11 Commission’s report and Cheney’s own words exists only because of the response elicited from him by Tim Russert. What better tribute could journalists around the world pay to Russert’s life and work than to follow up on this contradiction, demanding answers to why it exists?

David Ray Griffin has published 33 books, the most recent of which are Debunking 9/11 Debunking: An Answer to Popular Mechanics and Other Defenders of the Official Conspiracy Theory (2007) and 9/11 Contradictions: An Open Letter to Congress and the Press (2008). He thanks Tod Fletcher and Elizabeth Woodworth for help with this essay.

1 “The Vice President Appears on Meet the Press with Tim Russert,” MSNBC, 16 September 2001 (

2 “Interview of the Vice President by Matt Lauer of NBC News,” 14 June 2008 (

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

5 William Langley, “Revealed: What Really Went On During Bush’s ‘Missing Hours,’” Telegraph, 16 December 2001 (), says that Bush left at 9:12. However, Bill Sammon suggests that Bush lingered longer (Fighting Back: The War on Terrorism: From Inside the Bush White House [Washington: Regnery, 2002], 89-90).

6 David E. Sanger and Don Van Natta Jr., “After the Attacks: the Events; In Four Days, a National Crisis Changes Bush’s Presidency,” New York Times, 16 September 2001 ().

7 “The Vice President Appears on Meet the Press with Tim Russert,” MSNBC, 16 September 2001 ( ).

8 The transcript has “call a PEOC,” but this was surely a mistranscription for “called PEOC.”

9 The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, Authorized Edition (New York: W. W. Norton, 2004) (, 39-40.

10 9/11 Commission Hearing, 23 May 2003 (). Mineta gave this account under questioning from 9/11 Commission Vice Chair Lee Hamilton and Commissioner Timothy Roemer. Mineta’s interchange with Hamilton can be viewed at, his interchange with Roemer at

11 The 9/11 Commission Report, 464 n. 209.

12 Evan Thomas, “The Story of September 11,” MSNBC, 31 December 2001. Although this article can no longer be accessed through the MSNBC URL, it is available as “The Day That Changed America,” Jersey Shore Today (, which states that it appeared in the January 7 issue of Newsweek.

13 Richard A. Clarke, Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror (New York: Free Press, 2004), 1-4.

14 Ibid., 2-4. Clarke a few pages later reported that he used this line to make requests shortly after 9:30 and was “amazed at the speed of the decisions coming from Cheney” (8).

15 Ibid., 5.

16 “9/11: Interviews by Peter Jennings,” ABC News, 11 September 2002 (

17 “Sept. 11’s Moments of Crisis: Part 2: Scramble,” ABC News, 14 September 2002 ().

18 The text has “8:45 a.m. CDT.” I converted this to Eastern Daylight Time to correspond with all the other times mentioned.

19 Scott McCartney and Susan Carey, “American, United Watched and Worked In Horror as Sept. 11 Hijackings Unfolded,” Wall Street Journal, 15 October 2001 (

20 Jane Garvey, the head of the FAA, said to the House Subcommittee on Aviation on 21 September 2001: “As soon as Secretary Mineta was aware of the nature and scale of the terrorist attack on New York and Washington . . . the Secretary ordered the air traffic system shut down for all civil operations. . . . . At 9:26 a.m., before either American Airlines Flight 77 or United Airlines Flight 93 had crashed, a national ground stop was issued that prevented any aircraft from taking off. At 9:45 a.m. all airborne aircraft were told to land at the nearest airport” (

21 See David Ray Griffin, 9/11 Contradictions: An Open Letter to Congress and the Press (Northampton: Olive Branch, 2008), Chap. 4.

22 Thomas, “The Story of September 11.”

23 9/11 Commission Hearing, 23 May 2003.

24 Ibid.

25 “9/11 Seattle Truth Meets Norm Mineta”

26 “Air Attack on Pentagon Indicates Weaknesses,” Newsday, 23 September 2001 (

27 See Gregor Holland, “The Mineta Testimony: 9/11 Commission Exposed,”, 1 November 2005 (

28 The 9/11 Commission Report, 41.

29 Kevin Dennehy, “I Thought It Was the Start of World War III,” Cape Cod Times, 21 August 2002

30 General Myers Confirmation Hearing, Senate Armed Services Committee, 13 September 2001


31 See Griffin, 9/11 Contradictions, Chap. 13, “Could the Military Have Shot Down Flight 93?”

32 See ibid., Chap. 5, “When Did Cheney Issue the Shootdown Authorization?”

33 The 9/11 Commission Report, 41.

34 “Interview of the Vice President by Matt Lauer of NBC News.”