The following article was submitted to the Guardian's "Comment is Free" site by Peter Tatchell for 11th September 2007, they didn't run it, comment is not free in the mainstream media.
Even the Chair of the 9/11 Commission now admits that the official evidence they were given was "far from the truth"
Six years after 9/11, the American public have still not been provided with a full and truthful account of the single greatest terror attack in US history.
The Chair and Vice Chair of the 9/11 Commission, respectively Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, assert in their book, Without Precedent , that they were "set up to fail"  and were starved of funds to do a proper investigation. They also confirm that they were denied access to the truth and misled  by senior officials in the Pentagon and the Federal Aviation Authority; and that this obstruction and deception  led them to contemplate slapping officials with criminal charges .
Despite the many public statements by 9/11 Commissioners and staff members acknowledging they were repeatedly lied to, not a single person has ever been charged, tried, or even reprimanded, for lying to the 9/11 Commission.
From the outset, the Commission seemed to be hobbled. It did not start work until over a year after the attacks. Even then, its terms of reference were suspiciously narrow, its powers of investigation curiously limited and its time-frame for producing a report unhelpfully short - barely a year to sift through millions of pages of evidence and to interview hundreds of key witnesses.
The final report  did not examine key evidence, and neglected serious anomalies in the various accounts of what happened. The Commissioners admit their report was incomplete  and flawed, and that many questions about the terror attacks remain unanswered. Nevertheless, the 9/11 Commission was swiftly closed down on 21 August 2004.
I do not believe in conspiracy theories. I prefer rigorous, evidence-based analysis that sifts through the known facts and utilises expert opinion to draw conclusions that stand up to critical scrutiny. In other words, I believe in everything the 9/11 Commission was not.
The failings of the official investigation have fuelled too many half-baked conspiracy theories. Some of the 9/11 "truth" groups promote speculative hypotheses, ignore innocent explanations, cite non-expert sources and jump to conclusions that are not proven by the known facts. They convert mere coincidence and circumstantial evidence into cast-iron proof. This is no way to debunk the obfuscations and evasions of the 9/11 report.
But even amid the hype, some of these 9/11 groups raise valid and important questions that were never even considered, let alone answered, by the official investigation. The American public has not been told the complete truth about the events of that fateful autumn morning six years ago.
What happened on 9/11 is fundamentally important in it’s own right. But equally important is the way the 9/11 cover-up signifies an absence of democratic, transparent and accountable government. Establishing the truth is, in part, about restoring honesty, trust and confidence in American politics.
There are dozens of 9/11 "truth" websites and campaign groups. I cannot vouch for the veracity or credibility of any of them. But what I can say is that as well as making plenty of seemingly outrageous claims, a few of them raise legitimate questions that demand answers.
Four of these well known "tell the truth" 9/11 websites are:
4) Patriots Question 9/11,  perhaps the most plausible array of distinguished US citizens who question the official account of 9/11, including General Wesley Clark , former NATO Commander in Europe, and seven members and staffers of the official 9/11 Commission, including the Chair and Vice Chair. In all, this website documents the doubts of 110+ senior military, intelligence service, law enforcement and government officials; 200+ engineers and architects; 50+ pilots and aviation professionals; 150+ professors; 90+ entertainment and media people; and 190+ 9/11 survivors and family members. Although this is an impressive roll-call, it doesn’t necessarily mean that these expert professionals are right. Nevertheless, their scepticism of the official version of events is reason to pause and reflect.
More and more US citizens are critical of the official account. The respected Zogby  polling organisation last week found that 51% of Americans want Congress to probe President George Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney regarding the truth about the 9/11 attacks; 67% are also critical of the 9/11 Commission for not investigating the bizarre, unexplained collapse of the 47-storey World Trade Centre Building 7 (WTC7). This building was not hit by any planes. Unlike WTC3, which was badly damaged by falling debris from the Twin Towers but which remained standing, WTC7 suffered minor damage but suddenly collapsed in a neat pile, as happens in a controlled demolition.
In a 2006 interview  with anchorman Evan Soloman of CBC’s Sunday programme, the Vice-Chair of the 9/11 Commission, Lee Hamilton, was reminded that the Commission report failed to even mention the collapse of WTC7 or the suspicious hurried removal of the building debris from the site – before there could be a proper forensic investigation of what was a crime scene. Hamilton could only offer the lame excuse that the Commissioners did not have "unlimited time" and could not be expected to answer "every question" the public asks.
There are many, many more strange unexplained facts concerning the events of 9/11. You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to be puzzled and want an explanation, or to be sceptical concerning the official version of events.
On the sixth anniversary of those terrible events, the survivors, and the friends and families of those who died, deserve to know the truth. Is honesty and transparency concerning 9/11 too much to ask of the President and Congress?
What is needed new and truly independent commission of inquiry to sort coincidence and conjecture from fact, and to provide answers to the unsolved anomalies in the evidence available concerning the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon. Unlike the often stymied first investigation, this new commission should be granted wide-ranging subpoena powers and unfettered access to government files and officials. George Bush should be called to testify, without his minders at hand to brief and prompt him. America - and the world - have a right to know the truth
I am very surprised and disappointed by the way some of the posts on this list have seriously misrepresented what I wrote in the article above.
They have used the insinuation of “conspiracy theorist” (which I am not and which I reject) as a convenient way to evade serious engagement with the issues I have raised.
What I tried to do in my article is make a clear distinction between wild, unfounded conspiracy theories, and legitimate, credible questioning of the official account.
You don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to realise that there are serious unanswered questions concerning the 9/11 attacks. To point this out, and to ask for answers, does not make me or others a conspiracy theorist. Indeed, I explicitly criticised the conspiracy theorists and the sloppiness of some of the 9/11 truth websites in my article.
Contrary to some insinuations on this thread, asking questions and seeking answers is not a sign of conspiratorial madness. An inquiring mind used to be the axiom of progressive politics. To hold government to account was once a good thing.
The fundamental issue at stake is the way the official accounts of 9/11 violate the vital progressive principle of freedom of information and the allied vital principles of democratic, transparent and accountable government. That ought to concern all Americans (and the rest of world, given that the US often wields and abuses immense political, economic and military power).
Don't take my word for it. As my article explains, the leading Bush-appointed 9/11 Commissioners say they were "set up to fail," obstructed and misled by key military and aviation officials. Are the critics saying that we should we not take the Commissioners’ claims seriously?
I do not, I repeat NOT, believe that the 9/11 attacks were a conspiracy by the CIA, neo-cons etc. But it does mean that when a right-wing Republican administration and key US state agencies obstruct an official inquiry (according to the Commissioners) we should be sceptical of the final report and continue to seek a full and proper explanation. It’s called democracy.
The crude bid to dismiss me as a conspiracy theorist or an apologist for conspiracy theorists, does not stand up.
Indeed, my article was explicitly critical of conspiracy theorists. This is what I actually wrote:
“I do not believe in conspiracy theories. I prefer rigorous, evidence-based analysis that sifts through the known facts and utilises expert opinion to draw conclusions that stand up to critical scrutiny….
“The failings of the official investigation have fuelled too many half-baked conspiracy theories. Some of the 9/11 “truth” groups promote speculative hypotheses, ignore innocent explanations, cite non-expert sources and jump to conclusions that are not proven by the known facts. They convert mere coincidence and circumstantial evidence into cast-iron proof. This is no way to debunk the obfuscations and evasions of the 9/11 report….
“There are dozens of 9/11 “truth” websites and campaign groups. I cannot vouch for the veracity or credibility of any of them. But what I can say is that as well as making plenty of seemingly outrageous claims, a few of them raise legitimate questions that demand answers….”
Some of my critics seem to saying: you may have reasonable queries, but don’t dare raise them because you will give a boost to nutters.
Is that the logic of a democracy? Is it right to tell people they should shut up and go away, because their concerns may encourage others to talk nonsense?
Judge me on my words, not on how others may misuse them.
It is a sad day when supposed progressives don’t believe in open government and freedom of information, and when they don’t want to even consider the concerns expressed by the leaders of the official 9/11 Commission. If the Commissioners have doubts and unanswered questions, then a new inquiry seems entirely appropriate and proper.
You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to want a full and frank inquiry. It is surely the best way to clear up doubts and debunk wild, unfounded speculation.
More than half of the American public have doubts and concerns about the official 9/11 report. They deserve answers and reassurance. That is what democratic, accountable government is supposed to be about.
Will my critics please address one of the central theses of my article, namely this paragraph from my article:
"The chair and vice chair of the 9/11 Commission, respectively Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, assert in their book, Without Precedent, that they were "set up to fail" and were starved of funds to do a proper investigation. They also confirm that they were denied access to the truth and misled by senior officials in the Pentagon and the federal aviation authority; and that this obstruction and deception led them to contemplate slapping officials with criminal charges."
You don't have to be a "truther" to accept that these are serious allegations, meriting investigation.
These allegations don't come from me, but from the heads of the official 9/11 Commission.
How can such allegations simply be ignored or dismissed as a conspiracy theory?
This will, I hope, be my last post on this subject. Sorry it is so long.
I have listened carefully to all the comments, including the very harsh criticisms. The central theses of my article were:
1) The leaders of the 9/11 Commission say they were obstructed and lied to by the Pentagon and the Federal Aviation Authority, and were unable to get to the full truth.
2) This raises important issues about the honesty, transparency and accountability of the US government and its agencies. In turn, this has wider implications beyond 9/11, reflecting a malaise at the heart of American governance. It is a subversion of democracy itself, which needs to be challenged and prevented in future, in order to ensure that the US administration is open, transparent and accountable to the American people on ALL issues. That is why this issue is important, way beyond what actually happened on 9/11.
3) To clear up any doubts, and dispel the wilder conspiracy theories, there should be a new inquiry into 9/11.
I stand by these central theses. But I do have some regrets.
I should have pre-emptively made it clear in my original article that I do not doubt that Islamist hijackers were responsible for the 9/11 attacks, that I do not believe the CIA blew up any buildings, and so on.
It is, however, a sad day for democratic debate when a person is not judged on what they wrote but on ideas that they failed to explicitly disown. Attacking someone for failing to reject and denounce particular ideas strikes me as rather sinister and Orwellian. It was a hallmark of McCarthyism (which I also experienced during my distant youth in Australia’s version of the American senator’s anti-red witch-hunt).
I also regret mentioning the bit about WTC7 collapsing, as if in a controlled demolition. I was trying to make the point that the 9/11 Commission’s non-explanation of why and how WTC7 collapsed was odd, and that other explanations concerning falling Twin Tower debris did not seem plausible. I did not mean to imply that I believed that WCT7 was blown up by the CIA, Osama or anyone else. All I was attempting to say was that the standard explanations for WTC7 collapsing do not seem credible.
I also, as I have previously stated, regret not giving links and a summary of the websites that debunk the 9/11 conspiracy theorists. That would have been fairer and more balanced.
But some of my critics have serious charges to answer too:
a) Why the hysterical, vicious tone of their condemnations?
b) Why have most of them consistently and maliciously misrepresented what I said and tried to scurrilously lump me together with “man in the moon” style 9/11 conspiracy theorists – or as an apologist or fellow traveller with such theorists?
c) And why the nakedly nasty tone on what is supposed to be the website of a progressive, liberal newspaper? According to some, because of this one article I wrote, they no longer respect me and will no longer trust anything I say. One lapse of judgement, as they see it, and I am to be written off and dismissed. Forty years of campaigning for democracy, human rights and social justice apparently count for little, from now on.
While I have reflected carefully on what the critics have said and critically re-examined my original article, I do not see that I made any factual errors (although I acknowledge that there are some possible credible explanations as to how WTC7 collapsed – even though I am not convinced by them).
I don’t regret writing the article. I think it raises legitimate issues of public concern – albeit, that I could have expressed some of them better. I hope most people will judge me on the thousands of others articles I have written in the last four decades, and not just on this one. But if they regard this article as the litmus test of my credibility, that’s their right.
My main concern is that this article has provoked such nasty, knee-jerk, irrational and inaccurate criticisms from some people I have previously respected. I won’t stop respecting them, but it is a worrying trend when people descend to smear and guilt-by-association tactics, instead of engaging with what a writer has actually said.
I based my doubts on the publicly stated views of the Chair and Vice-Chair of the 9/11 Commission. They have said that they were obstructed and misled by the Pentagon and the Federal Aviation Authority. They say they were "set up to fail" and admit their report was, consequently, "far from the truth."
My article did not say 9/11 was a conspiracy. Indeed, I explicitly rejected conspiracy theories and was critical of such theories. I specifically criticised the sloppiness of some of the 9/11 truth websites in my article.
When a right-wing Republican administration and key US state agencies obstruct an official inquiry (according to the 9/11 Commissioners) we should be sceptical of the final report and continue to seek a full and proper explanation. What's wrong with defending open, transparent government and holding the state to account? Since when has this become a bad thing?
Despite making all this crystal clear, I was subjected to an astonishing barrage of smears and misrepresentation - both on CIF and on the normally quite considered and rational Harry's Place blog:
Some people on Harry's Place love to accuse the SWP, Respect and George Galloway of "smears", "misrepresentation", "dishonesty", "sectarianism" and "dirty tricks." Yet many of these people used the same tactics against me - painting me as a wild conspiracy theorist or accusing me of giving credence to such theorists. I am no such thing. I merely questioned the adequacy of the official 9/11 inquiry, as the Commissioners themselves have done.
The sheer hate, spite and dishonesty of most of my critics came as quite a shock. It led me to wonder why a little bit of 9/11 scepticism should generate more bile than I have seen most of these people direct against the perpetrators of genocide, war crimes and torture.
They used the accusation of "conspiracy theorist" (which I am not and which I reject) as a convenient way to evade serious engagement with the issues I (and others) raised.
Some even claimed that my denial that I was conspiracy theorist was proof that I was really was one, since denial is, they claim, a hallmark of all purveyors of conspiracy theories.
The trith is that what I tried to do in my CIF article was make a clear distinction between wild, unfounded conspiracy theories, and legitimate, credible questioning of the official 9/11 account.
The critics responded by lumping me and other rational, evidence-based doubters together with wacky and bizarre conspiracy theorists - denying and negating the obvious differences in our positions. It was a clever, but totally dishonest, sleight of hand.
You don't have to be a conspiracy theorist to realise that there are serious unanswered questions concerning the 9/11 attacks. To point this out, and to ask for answers, does not make me or others a conspiracy theorist or a crackpot.
Contrary to some insinuations on CIF, asking questions and seeking answers is not a sign of conspiratorial madness. An inquiring mind used to be the axiom of progressive politics. To support freedom of information and hold government to account was once a good thing. Not anymore, according to some people. Seeking answers and the truth now, apparently, marks one as a loon and a tin foiler.
This demonisation of doubt and scepticism echoes the mentality and language of The Inquisition and of Stalinism.