Since 2004, the Northern California 9/11 Truth Alliance has held 9/11 truth film festivals at the San Francisco War Memorial Veterans Building and at the Grand Lake Theater in Oakland with the generous support of the Grand Lake Theater owner, Allen Michaan. As the ten- year anniversary drew near, we began to plan an expanded program of film festivals to commemorate this significant date. We also discovered that the annual Power to the Peaceful Festival, which we have always participated in through a march and a rally, was cancelled. We learned that the Toronto Hearings on 9/11 were being organized by some outstanding activists. And the world premiere of "Heart of a Soldier," an opera based on the story of a man who predicted the attacks and evacuated 2700 of Morgan Stanley's employees before perishing on 9/11, was scheduled for September 10th in the San Francisco Opera House adjacent to the Herbst Theatre.
Inspired by conversations with Graeme MacQueen, and aware of the fact that the Power to the Peaceful Festival was cancelled, I thought of organizing a Power to the Truthful Festival at the San Francisco War Memorial Veterans Building, which was quite an ambitious undertaking considering that there was less than two months of
organizing time. Nonetheless, I received some critical support, bumped into a number of obstacles and brick walls, and received backing from the Northern California 9/11 Truth Alliance. Quite a large number of people became involved in producing what we decided to call 9/11 Reclaiming the Truth, Reclaiming Our Future, a two-day film festival with speakers and live streaming of the Toronto Hearings and of One the Event- Shifting from Fear to Love (a three-day event in Seattle organized by the founder of Firefighters for 9/11 Truth, Erik Lawyer). At least that was the original plan, which changed as circumstances evolved.
We tried to showcase the best of the old 9/11 Truth films, including the very latest edition of Loose Change: 9/11 An American Coup and of Hypothesis with filmmaker Brett Smith, plus the latest films from Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, including Architects and Engineers Solving the Mystery of WTC 7 and 9/11 Explosive Evidence - Experts Speak out. We also showcased two authors with new books touching on 9/11: Professor Anthony J. Hall, author of Earth into Property: Colonization, Decolonization, and Capitalism, and Professor Paul Rea, author of Mounting Evidence: Why We Need a New Investigation of 9/11. We also had numerous other outstanding authors speaking about 9/11 in the larger context, including Joanna Macy whose new book is entitled Active Hope: How to Face the Mess we're in without Going Crazy, Kevin Danaher (author of Building the Green Economy: Success Stories from the Grassroots , Peter Phillips - President of the Media Freedom Foundation , and Anodea Judith (author of Waking the Global Heart - Humanity's Rites of Passage from the Love of Power to the Power of Love. Our mistress of ceremonies was Bonnie Faulkner, host of KPFA's Guns and Butter, one of the very few radio programs to champion 9/11 truth from the very start. Michele Little, sister of slain firefighter David Weiss, joined us, as well as Mike Daly, an ironworker and labor activist, filmmaker Ken Jenkins, who is also a steering member of the Citizens 9/11 Commission Campaign, director of Project Censored Mickey Huff, the talented comedian Sherry Glaser, and the talented musician from The Away Team, Nik Green.
In the run-up to the film festival, we handed out nearly 10,000 cards and flyers to diverse groups of people in the streets, at political events, at the San Francisco Opera House, at anti-nuclear rallies, and at the Herbst Theatre. Not relying on the corporate media or even the independent media to spread word of our events, we
earmarked our meager budget towards direct outreach and radio spots rather than print ads.
Our group is the oldest, locally based, regularly meeting 9/11 truth group, including members who have worked together for over nine years, but we frequently attract new members as well, many originally from New York City. Heather, an activist from New York, championed the idea of a large elephant to draw attention to the "elephant in the room - the 9/11 cover-up." Scott Page took responsibility for honing down a message to display on the elephant. He then collaborated with his sister, a talented graphic artist, to get a banner with this message made for the elephant. We first tested it at the Art and Soul Festival in Oakland, where several of us passed out hundreds of cards. When the "Heart of a Soldier" opera premiered, the elephant graced the sidewalk directly in front of the Opera House where we distributed hundreds more cards about our upcoming event in the Herbst Theatre and about more general 9/11 truth information. Word of the elephant spread, and at the official commemoration of 9/11 in Golden Gate Park where the mayor spoke and highlights from the opera were performed, there were requests from members of the orchestra for our literature. The elephant was a great success.
The Bay Area is home to over 900 non-profit organizations, including numerous anti-war groups, and we have tried for a decade to combine the truth movement with the anti-war movement with limited success. On September 11th, Code Pink and other groups organized an action on Golden Gate Bridge, and there were numerous activities and events for peace and justice, for community building, and against corporate rule, including a forum entitled "Ten Years After 9/11 - A South Asian Reaction" at the nearby public library. My original hope was to draw together many of these groups, which generally come together at the Power to the Peaceful Festival. I was very surprised, however, that my key ally over the years, Veterans for Peace, which in the past has helped us secure additional space for other groups at the San Francisco War Memorial Veterans Building, failed to support our efforts.
I acknowledge that I have a tendency to try to do the impossible and tackle projects that require more time, skill, talents, and people than I can realistically muster, although every once in a while they do come together. Every success we have seems to provoke a backlash, however, particularly in response to our actions challenging the official narrative of 9/11. A glance at the media coverage is telling. When Kevin Ryan had a chance to speak on the "On Point" radio show, he was given a scant five minutes, while James Meigs, editor-in-chief of Popular Mechanics magazine, and Jonathan Kay, author of Among the Truthers, were given the lion's share of time to denounce Kevin and the truth movement in general. Kevin posted a video entitled The Popular Mechanics 9/11 IQ Test which details how "conspiracy theorist" was coined deliberately to discredit those who legitimately questioned the Warren Report back in the sixties. The more that hard evidence was unearthed to challenge the "Lee Harvey Oswald lone gunman silver bullet theory," the greater were the attacks that were launched upon whoever questioned the Warren Report. This has gone on for decades and has been revived and amplified with every challenge to the "19 guys with box-cutters conspiracy theory" (most brilliantly and succinctly challenged in a five-minute video entitled 9/11: A Conspiracy Theory by Corbett. I say, often, that the most ridiculous 9/11 conspiracy theory is the one used to sell the Iraq War to the American people by linking Saddam Hussein to 9/11.
The media ignored my press advisories until September 8th when I released a very short press release on PR Newswire; our annual 9/11 Truth Film Festival suddenly was relabeled a "Conspiracy Film Festival," which drew thousands of people to the 9/11 Reclaiming the Truth, Reclaiming Our Future webpage, and illustrated, for me at least, the difference between virtual reality and the physical world. (See Bay Area to Host 9/11 Conspiracy Movie Festival, 9/11 Conspiracy Movie Festival Brings "Truthers" to Herbst Theatre, , and the hit piece 9/11: A Hard Day for Progressives. The original press release was posted on 105 websites. Most visitors spent over four minutes looking at the program on the website.)
Richard Gage, AIA, is a member of the Northern California 9/11 Truth Alliance, although the organization that he founded has outgrown us, and now we are under the 501c3 umbrella of his Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth. At one of our regular meetings, Richard showed us the five-minute video to be aired on PBS, which was an extract from the fifteen-minute Architects & Engineers - Solving the Mystery of WTC 7 which we showed at the Grand Lake Theater in Oakland. I interviewed Richard Gage and Chris Sarns, (who wrote the script for the 15-minute version) on my radio show on August 25th when Richard was in Los Angeles working on the edits to meet the September 1st deadline for9/11 Explosive Evidence - Experts Speak Out," which was scheduled to premiere at the Herbst Theatre as well as in Toronto and in numerous cities across the United States. Chris clarified that although the excellent Architects & Engineers - Solving the Mystery of WTC 7 drew from the interviews that were featured in the longer documentary, it was not a trailer but a separate entity entirely. I learned that the new film was a full two hours and fifteen minutes long, making it a real challenge to fit inside of our program. I applaud and appreciate Richard and Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth"s efforts. However, the incredibly long, unfinished version of 9/11 Explosive Evidence Experts Speak Out took some of the wind out of my sails and required a lot of time for editing. I had to decide at the last minute how to edit down the long film into a ninety-minute slot. I just wished that I had had more time or that some very skilled editor had had more time to hone it down. There are some great interviews and powerful messages in the film, particularly the new material presented at the end on cognitive dissonance by psychologists. The version we received, however, contained far too many redundancies. In the end, I decided to introduce 9/11 Explosive Evidence Experts Speak Out as a diamond in the rough.
We experienced other logistical problems as well. The schedule for the hearings in Toronto didn't fit in with the time slots we had available in Oakland and San Francisco. We also had insurmountable technical difficulties getting a live feed from Seattle, so we had to adapt to the situation as best we could, adding question and answer periods to each of the speakers presentations in San Francisco. I had to fill holes in the program when I learned a week before our event that former Senator Mike Gravel was flying to Toronto on the day he was scheduled to speak in Oakland, and that Penny Little would be flying to New York to film an addendum to her film 911 Dust and Deceit at the WTC. Dealing with these last-minute glitches in the schedule made it difficult for me to concentrate on promoting the events and keeping in touch with the press. Despite the challenges that arose, however, we had a good turnout and the audience was understanding, receptive, and rated most of the films very highly.
The Toronto Hearings, the Remember Building 7 campaign, and the numerous rallies, marches, events, actions, and freeway blogging all have helped in some way to overcome the public resistance to accepting disturbing but vital information about 9/11. The breakthroughs in Italy, France, and the U.K. have helped in the realm of global opinion, but Americans seem to be the most resistant, the last to know that they have been betrayed by their trusted leaders.
At the Toronto Hearings, Laurie Manwell spoke about the direct and indirect ways of educating people about 9/11 and how the direct way was most likely to encounter the greatest resistance. I hoped that our events would inspire curiosity and an openness to new ideas and information, which was why I included Scott Noble's film Psywar, Paul Manly's film You, Me and the SPP, and Rob Graydon's Satyagraha: 100 Years of Nonviolence, in addition to the 9/11 truth films and the excerpts from 9/11 Press for Truth and We Were Also Killed. I hoped that the speakers and films together would help people view 9/11 within the larger historical context, illuminating the weakness and excesses of an empire in decline that is clinging to power using lies, terror and war.
In addition to presenting films and speakers at the Grand Lake Theater and the Herbst Theatre, we also gathered at the Gandhi statue in San Francisco on the morning of September 11th, which was the 105th anniversary of satyagraha a term meaning literally "pursuit of truth" and used to describe the movements that Gandhi catalyzed against racist laws in South Africa and against empire in India. Ten years after 9/11, and six months after Fukushima, the need for truth and action have never been greater. Our truth troubadour, Vic Sadot, brought the sound system and rallied folks to the statue with 9/11 truth and justice songs. Marylia Kelley from Tri-Valley Cares spoke about her experience with the nuclear weapons industry, located in her hometown of Livermore. Ruel Bernard, of the No Nukes Action Committee spoke eloquently as follows:
"Ten years ago, the twenty-first century opened up with the big lie known as 9/11, followed by a barrage of lesser lies—WMDs, links between Iraq and Al Qaeda, torture and rendition— with disastrous consequences worldwide.
"Ten years later, the events of 3/11 this year will go down in history as the second big lie of this century, which is called Fukushima, the big lie being that nuclear power is safe and controllable, a lie that has been festering since the dawn of the nuclear age.
"The events of March 11—the earthquake, tsunami and subsequent meltdowns and explosions at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power complex—have likewise led to the spinning off of a web of lies by the nuclear industry and the politicians they own: lying about the severity of the damage to the plant, lying about the conditions of the plant before the accident, lying about the levels of radiation contamination in the countryside surrounding the plant, leading to the exposure of hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of people to dangerous levels of radiation.
"CHILDREN IN NEARBY SCHOOLS WEAR DOSIMETERS AND MASKS TO SCHOOL, CAN'T PLAY OUTSIDE AND ARE FED CONTAMINATED LOCAL FOOD. THIS IS REAL. OUT OF A THOUSAND CHILDREN TESTED IN ONE STUDY IN FUKUSHIMA, HALF TESTED POSITIVE FOR HIGH LEVELS OF RADIOACTIVE IODINE IN THEIR THYROID.
"Before the nuclear meltdown, the region was one of the most productive agricultural areas of Japan, growing rice, beef, fruits, and vegetables, and one of Japan's top fisheries in a country that eats a lot of fish.
"Gone. No more. Radiation poisoning has destroyed the entire
agriculture and fishing industry there for many years to come, maybe forever. All those jobs, that way of life, gone. For what? For the lie of nuclear power, god damn it.
"Let me warn you, here and now. They say they have it under control. What have you heard in the last few weeks about Fukushima? Nothing! But I and others who are paying attention and receiving daily reports are here to tell you it's not okay, it's far from under control. Those plants are melting down and releasing huge amounts of radiation constantly, every second, every minute of every day and they can't stop it. Where is that radiation going? In the ocean and in the air and into the soil of the surrounding area. They have built a tent around one plant to contain the radiation so workers can get near it. But the radiation and gases and heat build up inside that tent and have to be vented, so they're vented in a big smokestack high into the
air, away from the plant, but then the radiation becomes airborne. And they're burning radioactive debris because there's so much of it they can't store it all. Once again the radioactive particles are released up the smokestack and fall wherever the weather takes them, including here in California…
"Take a breath. Today, like every day, all day, I'm breathing in air that has come from that direction, from the West, from over the Pacific Ocean. Breathing it in and out. Some of it is radiated air, that has already been well documented, carried with the jet stream, mixed and dispersed and combined and brought down here to you and me,
illustrating our interdependence and connectedness with the web of all humanity. We breathe the same air. I am Fukushima. You are Fukushima. We are one. Their air is our air, their danger is our danger, their pain our pain. Their future is our future; we have a shared destiny. Their lessons are our lessons. Therefore, the wisdom and understanding that they've gained through this disaster can provide an awakening for us as well.
"Thanks to the terrible tragedy at Fukushima, the people of Japan have seen through the big lie of big science, and now understand that they have been lied to over and over again by their government and by the nuclear industry. Geiger counters are in the hands of organized people so they can see for themselves where the levels of radiation are dangerously high, and publish their results online. The ondustry, the government and a compliant press no longer have a monopoly on information. With the facts out, the people can move. Look at Germany, closing down all its nuclear plants. And Italy and Switzerland, the states of Bengal and Tamil Nadu in India, and Vermont and New York in the United States, saying no to the dangers of nuclear power.
"Here in California, we can and I believe we will close down Diablo Canyon and San Onofre. They are, just like their cousins across the water in Fukushima, old reactors located on earthquake faults at the edge of the ocean and are accumulating spent radioactive fuel in dangerous pools with nowhere to send it, waiting for a disaster…
"Right now, there's a statewide campaign gearing up to close those two dangerous monster facilities. This is a battle we can win, this is something the younger generation can be proud of, a viable way to express the outrage we have over the whole damn system, a place we can hold the line. The nuclear power industry is more vulnerable right now than it has ever been in my lifetime. A little bit of effort on our
parts and we can give our children and grandchildren the amazing gift of a nuclear-free California. Please pay attention and get involved."
9/11 is one deadly deception amongst many that has the potential to expose Americans to the fact that they have been lied to and manipulated, and that we need to rein in control over our government, the media, and the institutions that no longer serve us but instead are a threat to us, our children, and our future.
When we first marched down Market Street demanding an investigation of 9/11 back in January 2002, we were a very small group. Ten years later there were more of us, and the focus was not just on 9/11 but on the need for truth on many levels, for peace, for justice, for our health, and for our overall well-being. The larger truth movement will continue to grow, and so will the attacks upon the 9/11 truth movement.
The latest "revelations" from Richard Clarke mask the nature of"Al Qaeda," which has been an asset of the CIA and Pakistan's ISI for decades, a partner in crime in hot spots throughout the world, and a convenient enemy when needed to launch attacks in strategic locations. My own words were twisted by the press, and literally taken out of my mouth by "former U.S. Sen. Bob Graham, the Florida Democrat who cochaired the bipartisan congressional Joint Inquiry into the attacks" and "called on the U.S. government to reopen its investigation into 9/11." The mainstream articles fail to mention that Graham used to work for the CIA and persuaded the CIA's Porter Goss to run for Congress, nor do they mention that the two of them were having breakfast on the morning of September 11th with the ISI's Lt. General Mahmud Ahmed, who had $100,000 wired to the alleged hijacker Mohammed Atta. Neither Goss nor Graham in the first joint Senate/House Inquiry investigated their own role in 9/11 nor that of Lt. Gen. Mahmud Ahmed. With the whole narrative failing, it seems that the media is trying to spin "damage control" by blaming "communications failures within the CIA," rather than looking at the involvement of key people within the highest levels of government.
The battle over facts, opinions, and the public mind takes place in cyberspace, on the radio, in newspapers, in the streets, at events, in living rooms, at meetings, within organizations, and within movements for social change. We included a survey within the program for our recent events, and a modest percentage of the audience responded that we had raised awareness and that they were willing to volunteer, join our discussion and events list, and help us with future events. We will continue to hold meetings twice a month, to organize 9/11 truth events, to participate in street actions, to produce educational materials, and to support the work of others in the truth movement. Although we didn't fill the Grand Lake Theater and the Herbst Theatre, we drew over 500 people to the film festival, and we are glad that we provided this resource to the community. It feels good to be part of a worldwide effort to bring the truth to light, and I hope that the excellent speeches and presentations from the film festival will be posted online and reach even more people.
Citizen journalist, Abby Martin, filmed and posted the two talks which focused on media censorship and 9/11 given by Project Censored's Director Mickey Huff and former Project Censored Director Peter Phillips who hosted a debate on 9/11, during the ten years retrospective, on the Pacifica Network.