Strategy for a Personal Effort
Campaigning for a new, independent investigation of 9/11 by writing personal letters/emails to people of influence, such as columnists and commentators has not received much comment in this space or others. However, it may offer a real—even if quiet to the point of invisibility—strategy for changing public opinion.
Columnists in particular, on both the left and the right, often write columns about the issue-of-the-moment. In recent months that would include the use of drones, invasive spying by the NSA, and whistle blowing. No matter what the political persuasion of the writer, nearly all journalists/columnists will write from an assumption that the events of 9/11 offer some justification for actions that, before 9/11, we would have judged to be illegal or—in the case of whistle blowing—a citizen's appropriate constitutional duty (regardless of legal prohibitions to the contrary).
Writing comments on Web pages is certainly one form of expressing a concern about weak assumptions adopted by writers and public speakers. However, an email or letter allows a great deal more freedom of expression because it is—unlike online comments—only intended for the writer's eyes. The obvious weakness of this personalized approach directly to columnists is that it can be a lot of effort for a target of one. However, that is also its greatest strength, since the email writer can bring in details that are personal to the columnist/journalist/public speaker that might not have been appropriate when writing for a larger audience (like column comment readers, for example).
Bill Moyers made a speech to the History Makers organization a while back. In it he made use of the "conspiracy theorists" term as a pejorative to describe people still seeking the truth about 9/11. Following are excerpts from a letter written to him about his speech. (The physical facts that make the official conspiracy theory impossible have been deleted as unnecessary for this audience.)
I've read at Truthout.org your speech to the History Makers organization. The title for the speech on the site was "Facts Still Matter..." I take exception to your remarks about "9/11 Truthers" made in that speech. There are indeed a large number of theories about what happened on that day, some more credible than others. However, the observable facts of the day, that no one disputes, make the official version of what happened impossible.
Here are the observable facts I am referring to:
... [deleted recitation of obvious physical flaws in the official conspiracy theory]
Conan Doyle's character Sherlock Holmes said it best, "How often have I said that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?" The observable facts above have eliminated the official story of 9/11 as even being possible. We don't know what the truth of other explanations of these observations might be, but those of us for whom facts do matter can be certain that the truth of who murder 3,000 Americans is not known.
No matter how successful a journalist's career, success doesn't give that person the right to selectively ignore significant evidence in the pursuit of the truth and still call themselves a journalist. Your speech to the History Makers was a good one. You should read back through it, particularly the examples of denizens of the 4th estate who use the facts to help guide them to a better understanding of events, when everyone else was overwhelmed by the emotion and rhetoric of the moment.
It should be clear that to be effective the "personalization" of these communications should be used to help convince the person to whom the letter/email is addressed to look at the physical evidence of 9/11 in a new light. Insults and anger have no place in this approach since they will reduce an effort at communication to a personal rant.
More recently columnist Eugene Robinson wrote of the effects of Edward Snowden's detailed exposure of NSA's surveillance of the world. Mr. Robinson made clear that he felt that Snowden's revelations were a positive contribution to public discussion on the actions we as a country have taken as a result of 9/11. While he questioned whether the loss of liberties had been taken too far, he didn't question whether there was any need at all for anything more than a thorough police investigation. Following is part of an email sent to him raising that question.
Permit me to thank Mr. Snowden for opening, and you for continuing, the public debate on the "security" measures that we have been subjected to without any real discussion since 9/11. As you point out, we wouldn't be having this discussion if it weren't for Edward Snowden's willingness to expose the dark underbelly of the surveillance beast. It's also clear from the statistics that you quote ("...three-fifths...said it was 'more important right now' to investigate possible terrorist threats than to respect privacy.") that the public is still deeply concerned about the nature of vulnerability to the threat of terrorism.
The justification for so many Americans being afraid of new attacks from terrorists rests on their understanding of the events of 9/11. For those most afraid of a repeat of 9/11, it lives as a moment in our history where a handful of suicidal Arab men were seemingly able to completely defeat the defenses of our nation, killing thousands and instantly making the world a more dangerous place for all of us. We continue to be afraid of terrorist attacks even though we've destroyed Iraq, taken Afghanistan from the 5th century back to the 3rd, spent trillions from our treasury, and sacrificed thousands of our soldiers. In spite of all this, nothing we have done in the last 12 years has really reduced our concerns.
However, that needn't continue to be so. Edward Snowden's acts exposing the reality of our "security" services have probably laid the ground work for a safer world, In a much larger way, a new conversation about what actually happened on 9/11, why our defenses were so incomplete, why our buildings were so weak, and why our journalists so incurious would begin the process of demystifying 9/11. Demystification means that we will stop being driven by fear and we can take effect steps to reduce the possibility of a replication of 9/11.
All of this begins with nothing more than a careful review of what nearly everyone in the world knows about the collapses of the buildings in New York.
...[deleted recitation of obvious physical flaws in the official conspiracy theory]
In short, what we can readily see about the collapses makes it clear that the official story--which is the foundation for the Great Fear Society--cannot be true. As we are learning the hard way, it doesn't take armies or treasury or loss of civil liberties to free us from the Great Fear Society. It only requires the beginning of a new public conversation about what happened on 9/11. Exposing the official conspiracy theory to a meaningful discussion will bring its collapse and with it most of the justifications for turning ourselves into an Orwellian society.
Just like Snowden, each of us has within us the ability to reasonably call--though not without risk--for a new conversation about key structures in our society. Just as Snowden realized with the security apparatus, it is long past time for the journalists of our society to acknowledge the weaknesses in the foundation stone of the Great Fear Society, 9/11. Call for a new conversation on what happened on that day. Support the efforts of nearly 2,000 architects and engineers and call for a new subpoena-empowered investigation of 9/11 at Rethink911.org.
Writing to columnists in a civil and informed way has—at least the potential for—changing that one person's mind. One is a small number, but if the person one writes to has a big public presence (and a lot of courage) they could make a big difference in how the events of 9/11 are perceived.
It seems that we—as a community—are good at identifying uninformed public commentary about what happened on 9/11 and then exposing the errors in their comments in an appropriate public forum. However, perhaps there is a larger set of public commentators whose views on 9/11 should be equally open to challenge, the set of public leaders who aren't talking directly about 9/11, but are expressing opinions that are clearly based on the assumption that the events of 9/11 are accurately described by the official conspiracy theory. Finally, perhaps—in addition to commentary in public forums (Letters to the Editor, comments on the Web, and etcetera)—we should appeal to this broader segment of public figures on a personal level through personal letters and emails where the weight of the physical evidence cannot so easily be drowned out.