Report from
The New England Antiwar Conference (1/30/10)
&
The Northeast 9/11 Truth Conference (1/31/10)

Minutes, Notes and Analysis by Sander Hicks

(Feedback is welcome. This document will be updated.
Contact the author through Facebook or here.

Introduction and Summary

Boston, Massachusetts – During the weekend of January 30 and 31, I attended the New England Antiwar Conference and the Northeast 9/11 Truth Conference, and witnessed some historic and contentious events, as the left wing of the Antiwar Movement, and the 9/11 Truth Movement inched closer to an understanding.

On Saturday, I joined Boston 9/11 Truth as they participated in the New England Antiwar Conference, spearheaded by members of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) and other peace and justice groups.

The good news is that through some careful diplomatic outreach, the Boston 9/11 Truth Movement got “a seat at the table.” Boston 9/11 Truth ran a workshop info session, and arranged for Peter Dale Scott to give a significant speech to the entire body. Scott spoke during the plenary session – titled “Debunking the War on Terror” – on the subject of history, deep politics, and the Truth Movement.

However, the Truth issue is still quite controversial, especially among the leadership of this conference. The socialists at times trip over themselves to maintain a standard of political correctness. In doing so, they fail to perceive the great opportunities for mass anti-imperialist organizing presented by a Truth Movement/Peace Movement alliance.

I invite Truth Movement activists, anti-Truth Movement socialists, and people on the fence to read this Report. Think of it as a Superbowl of Peace. What happened the last weekend of January was important.  I think with more understanding and communication, we can create a bigger, stronger, mass movement against war, and the terror of the State. As you can see from the Table of Contents, there are several important subjects covered, and important events happening in March.

Our message to the world should be: We are all ONE Antiwar Movement. In this regard, we need unity, not factionalization. We need to realize that all camps who come to a conference like this share a desire to resist empire, imperialism, and war.

9/11 Truth is the most controversial – and, arguably, most important – peace and justice issue today. How do we know? Look at White House official Cass Sunstein’s documented plan to execute “cognitive infiltration of extremist groups.” This document, written in 2008, was only discovered in January 2010, and needs to be exposed. Sunstein wrote: “Government agents (and their allies) might enter chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups and attempt to undermine percolating conspiracy theories by raising doubts about their factual premises, causal logic or implications for political action.” Like Obama, Sunstein is a “constitutional scholar” whose words and actions are clearly contemptuous of the Bill of Rights.

The Report discusses what we learned at this historic Conference, and what challenges still lay ahead.


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Table of Contents

Left Resistance to 9/11 Truth

>>

The Peter Dale Scott Speech

>>

Zarembka on Left Resisitance to 9/11 Truth

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Hicks’ Thoughts on Left Leadership Resistance to 9/11 Truth

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Others’ Comments on 9/11 Truth Resistance from the Antiwar Left Leadership

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The Cass Sunstein W.House "Infiltration"

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The Israel/Zionist Question

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More Thoughts on Building the Movement

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Actions

Final Note About Left Intimidation

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Important Links

>>

New England Events Coming Up in March

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Left Resistance to 9/11 Truth

The Northeast 9/11 Truth Conference on Sunday started off with a group dialogue about what worked on Saturday, and what was learned about how to overcome Left resistance to 9/11 Truth.

Richard Krushnic said, “People manage their worldview unconsciously according to their paradigm…People will go die for it, as soldiers. Their paradigm must protect them from things they can’t handle. It’s almost always subconscious…but people go to extraordinary lengths. It takes work to building a new paradigm.”

The Scott Speech

It was pointed out that the best approach to the Antiwar Left is to use Peter Dale Scott’s historical “Deep Politics” perspective. It’s worth noting that Scott’s speech on Saturday, delivered via videoconference, went over quite well. This was the first time someone on the Truth side was allowed to give a speech at a major antiwar conference.

Richard Krushnic pointed out that it pays to understand Noam Chomsky’s objections to the Truth Movement, in order to bypass them. Chomsky and his followers argue that, in the US, power resides with “institutions.” He argues that conspiracy theorists don’t understand this simple fact, and instead argue that political injustices originate with “a few bad apples” who conspire against the majority.

Our response to this needs to be: We agree with the institutional analysis. Power does reside with institutions (e.g., the White House, CIA, Pentagon, media, lobbyists – all of whom represent the interests of capital). But our contribution to the resistance is to point out that these very same institutions do, in fact, conspire to use shock and awe, media, spectacle, violence, and fear in order to quell a dissident and sometimes unruly peace- and freedom-loving people. These institutions are smart: they have created a docile, frightened population, willing to support and pay for an empire.

 

Zarembka on Left Resistance to 9/11 Truth

Professor Paul Zarembka listed four reasons why the Antiwar Left does not connect with 9/11 Truth:

  1. There are “State” agents and “gate-keepers” throughout the Left.
  2. Nationalism is very deep, even on the Left.
  3. The history of violence being used against the American people is a long one, but we don’t discuss it in this country. [N.B. Perhaps this is a reaction based on trauma. People do not study history enough. A prime example: the working class in the South does not recognize that the closest that the US has come to revolution was the 1934 textile strike in the South. Older people resent the hardships they remember, if they remember the strike at all.]
  4. There is a perception that the 9/11 Truth Movement is dominated by “Rightist,” or cultist, elements.

 

Hicks on Left Leadership Resistance to 9/11 Truth

 

  1. COINTELPRO.  As with Zarembka above, students of US State repression first have to realize that nothing is what it seems at first glance. Every potent social movement in US history has been infiltrated and disrupted by agents of the complex State apparatus.

  2. FEAR.  On Friday, at the pre-Antiwar Conference meeting at Krushnic’s house, an email from Marc Stahl, one the antiwar organizers, rejected our proposal to have Canadian journalist Barrie Zwicker replace Peter Dale Scott, who could not attend in person. Stahl claimed that the Canadian liberal’s politics were “far right,” and that his “long association” with Webster Tarpley suggested that he was a “LaRouchite.” It was an absurd fear, and did not bear out: no LaRouchites attended the Conference. It seems that some antiwar organizers are letting their fears inform their perceptions. I noted that Webster Tarpley is not a LaRouchite: he made a very public break with LaRouche years ago. As well, Tarpley’s book, 9/11 Synthetic Terror: Made in USA, is quite good. We noted with regret the damage Tarpley did to his reputation with the Kennebunkport memo, and the debacle with Cindy Sheehan. Some pointed out that this could have been a provocation from the forces who seek a division between the 9/11 Truth and Antiwar movements. This needs to be further explored.

  3. POLITICAL CORRECTNESS.  The partisan Left suffers from a set of assumptions that a certain brand of labor and working-class organizing, along economic lines, is the only valid form of organizing. The 9/11 Truth cause is more “populist” and is a working-class movement, but it doesn’t use those terms. So, at first glance, the Truth Movement looks like a politically confused movement with no class struggle understanding. Antiwar organizers and partisan lefties dismiss the Truth Movement for not having the “correct” position on class and imperialism. But the objection over “class” is actually a superficial distinction, and the objection over “imperialism” is just plain wrong. It is instructive to consider that everyone at the meeting – including progressives, Marxists, lefties, “political atheists,” Christians, and Libertarians – were all against empire, and all felt that the 9/11 Truth Movement was the best way for them to live out that creed.

  4. IMMATURE UNDERSTANDING OF MEDIA AND POWER RELATIONS.  Probably one of the funniest moments at the Saturday Antiwar Conference was when I was having a heated conversation with three young lefties outside in the lobby. They were adamant that there was nothing worth knowing in 9/11 Truth. Their primary argument was that if there was a story here, The New York Times would have covered it. I pointed out that the Times is the prime media vehicle that sold the Iraq War to the American people, with Judy Miller using Ahmed Chalabi as a “source” for Saddam Hussein’s alleged “weapons of mass destruction.” When the three young lefties remembered that, they countered that the 9/11 Truth story should be on Democracy Now! then. The truth is that no one mainstream media vehicle is comprehensive, or objective, or free from outside foundation or US intelligence influence. That conclusion comes from 20 years of studying US media as an antiwar activist. Holding up either the Times or DN as a trusted filter against disturbing realities is anti-intellectual, lazy, and politically immature.

  5. PASSION.  After recent events in NYC and Cambridge, I have begun to realize that one significant difference between 9/11 Truth activists and Antiwar activists who do not also identify as Truth activists, is passion. Passion is a crucial factor in this movement. Recall that in Sun Tzu’s Art of War, the author notes that a small army can defeat a much larger army if that smaller army has the “one-ness” of purpose. After a recent 9/11 Truth event at Catholic Worker in NYC, some older antiwar activists accused Truthers of being “fundamentalist” in their dedication to the cause. They were critical of Truthers’ willingness to listen to critiques. Some of that is understandable. But in the same way that there have been factual distortions about our politics, there seems to be some deliberate denigration of the passion and dedication that we have about what we have chosen to do. By way of illustration, I approached Ashley Smith of the International Socialist Organization during the lunch break on Saturday. He had just denigrated the 9/11 Truth cause, saying that it was distractive when “most people” were already on the antiwar side. I pointed out that this was a tragic lost opportunity for the ISO: to choose to be dismissive of an issue that many people care about creates an unnecessary barrier between different sections of the antiwar movement. I pointed out that of all the admirable passion I have seen on the Left, I have never seen the level of dedication and passion that I have seen in the Truth movement. Ashley seemed to take this as a personal attack and, in a high-pitched voice, responded, “I have plenty of passion!” I pointed out that his speaking style was rather dry, and that he would benefit from not just reading quickly from a prepared speech, but looking at the audience more often, making both a cerebral and an emotive connection. Apparently not mollified, Ashley left the room in a huff.

  6. LIVELIER INTELLECTUAL ACTIVITY. 
    It seems that there was a cloak of fear and intimidation thrown over the entire weekend, based on the fears of the antiwar organizers. I will go into this more later, regarding the direct intimidation of antiwar lefties who are also potentially interested in 9/11 Truth. First, I want to make two notes about independent Left journalists who were invited speakers at the Saturday Antiwar Conference, for both of whom I have great respect: Danny Schechter and Glen Ford. Both of them chickened out a little, and tip-toed around the 9/11 Truth issue in their public comments on Saturday. Glen Ford was asked directly about 9/11 Truth in the first Q&A session on Saturday. I asked him why he “deferred to Ashley Smith,” and he said that he wanted to be “diplomatic” to the organizers. Danny Schechter gave a funny speech in which he pointed out that even in Boston, the first 21st Century “tea party” took place as a modern protest movement, before this movement was co-opted by the Right. But Schechter for some reason could not find the time (courage?) to clarify that the first modern “tea party” was an event pulled off by Boston 9/11 Truth, in which a gigantic replica of The 9/11 Commission Report was thrown into Boston Harbor. This event was well-executed, and garnered good media coverage. But due to pressure from the “leaders” of the Antiwar Conference, speakers were clearly dissuaded from mentioning the words “9/11 Truth Movement.” This may be because our movement is less rigidly organized, and less hierarchical. We value free speech, we respect dissent, and we value free intellectual activity.

  7. AGAINST POSTMODERNISM.  One of the crucial differences the Truth Movement has with current trends in thought is our very name: we stand for Truth; we believe it exists. This places us in opposition to the dominant zeitgeist of Postmodernism, which holds that there is no truth, there is only subjective opinion. Notice how the neo-con Right has capitalized on this, and has exploited this belief to its advantage. They have engaged in multiple forms of evil: torture, war, scape-goating, myth-making, and the manipulation of an entire world. It seems evident that the neo-con Right is relying on the continued numbness of a postmodern population. 9/11 Truth seeks to give people a new way to stand up to the evils of empire. We are like Jesus Christ, subverting the empire of Rome with a new vision of a kingdom of love, debt-forgiveness, and mercy. (See Christian Faith and the Truth Behind 9/11, by David Ray Griffin.) We are like Gandhi doing direct action non-violent disruption of the British Empire, by using Satyagraha, or “truth-force.” We are like Karl Marx, who wrote The 18th Brumaire of Louis Napoleon, where he rejected the official story, dug deeper, and explained the real history of the conspiracy that brought about the rise of a fascist leader. We are against evil. We love the struggle against it. We love truth. This scares people.

  8. TALK IS CHEAP.  Many people on Saturday denounced imperialism. We do so as well, but we also act. We are a movement that directly confronts political criminals. We freely distribute information on the Internet, and in cheap DVDs. We move. We are growing. And with the “underwear bomber” and his tenuous “ties to Al Qaeda in Yemen” – and with the impending trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others – our movement is increasingly relevant.

Ultimately, the Truth Movement is a part of the larger Antiwar Movement. It should not be two movements. We need more unity through understanding.

 

Others’ Comments on 9/11 Truth Resistance from the Antiwar Left Leadership

There were several other insightful comments made on Sunday by various members of the New England 9/11 Truth groups.

David Rolde pointed out the break those on the Left have with Ron Paul people, and gave some insight into why SWP and other Left antiwar organizers fear/shun Truthers who are Ron Paul disciples. Ron Paul, it turns out, has called for a “Separation Wall” to be built in Mexico, to keep Mexicans out of the US. [It looks like Dave is right about Paul, as per this link.]

Liz Fenton pointed out that Democracy Now! and Amy Goodman “freeze up” when asked about 9/11 Truth, and her “dismissive” reaction is “weird.” “Why are they completely irrational? They act as if they are under tremendous threat.” Liz also reported: “Tariq Ali got explosive when asked [about 9/11.] He said, ‘It doesn’t matter who did 9/11!’ There’s something really weird going on.”

Susan [a Libertarian] said: “Antiwar activists…hanker back to a bygone day and tactics. Direct confrontation tactics are best. Really, there are two political parties: those who support freedom for people, and those who support the deprivation of freedom for people.” To her right, Jonathan, also a Libertarian, added: “How can we blame the people when we don’t have real elections in this country? We need tax resistance!”

Frank Tolepko, paraphrasing something from Monthly Review, said: “Our ability to reform, our elections, are broken. The jobs of Amy Goodman and other progressive media outlets are over. [They advocate for a reform that is not possible.] 9/11 Truth shows just how broken the system is.”

Bill Woodward is a New Hampshire professor who has explored the psychological resistance to 9/11 truth. He almost lost his job over this.

Dan LaLiberté: It’s an issue of “trust.” They don’t trust us. But who do you trust? Your friends and your family.

“Richard” expressed concern that perhaps he bent the truth a little in his representations of the 9/11 Truth Movement by de-emphasizing the Ron Paul and Alex Jones elements, and instead emphasizing the left/liberal side of 9/11 Truth. He said he felt guilt, but in the view of the author of these notes, no guilt is necessary. The SWP and Left antiwar organizers are well aware of the Paul/Jones elements; they see these, plus some who are not there (witness their weekend-long fright of “LaRouchites” taking over the Saturday Antiwar Conference). What Richard and the antiwar Left do not recognize is that a lot of Alex Jones’ fans are actually seeking a new politics that is beyond the “Left/Right” bifurcation. Jones talks often of the need to outgrow the “Left/Right” paradigm, because it seeks to de-fang a united opposition to the elite.

“Rodney” noted: “Peace activists are nice. They are afraid we will take over.”

Barrie Zwicker recommended two books: Pretensions to Empire, by Lewis Lapham, and Empire of Illusions, by Chris Hedges. Zwicker has a funny quote about Canadians’ view of the US: “The 48th parallel is the longest one-way mirror.” He also shared a good Chris Hedges quote: “Inverted totalitarianism…finds expression in the anonymity of the corporate state.” The Hedges book includes this quote from Charlotte Twight: “Participatory fascism [is what we have now instead of democracy]. Washington has become our Versailles…politicians, pundits, media are our courtiers.”

Alfons Olszewski said: “We need to work on our image. We need better PR. We are not just for ‘truth,’ we are for ‘truth, justice and peace.’”

Jack Shimek of New Hampshire said that you have to understand that some people in the Antiwar Movement have a “need to belong” that is stronger than their need to question some stories. “It’s not America did XYZ crimes and wars”; it’s the US Government did these things. Shimek argued that America is us, and we are separate from the criminal acts of our Government.

The Sunstein Infiltration

Someone pointed out that Cass Sunstein, an advisor to Obama, allegedly said, in regard to 9/11 Truth, “This movement must be crushed...Disinformation agents be sent out to infiltrate the 9/11 Truth Movement.”

My personal reaction at first was, "Surely Sunstein didn’t say this!" Ah, how naive I was.

The truth once again outstrips reason:

From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cass_Sunstein:
Conspiracy Theories and Government Infiltration

            Sunstein co-authored a 2008 paper with Adrian Vermeule, titled Conspiracy Theories, in which they wrote, “The existence of both domestic and foreign conspiracy theories, we suggest, is no trivial matter, posing real risks to the government’s antiterrorism policies, whatever the latter may be.” They go on to propose that, “the best response consists in cognitive infiltration of extremist groups,” where they suggest, among other tactics, “Government agents (and their allies) might enter chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups and attempt to undermine percolating conspiracy theories by raising doubts about their factual premises, causal logic or implications for political action.”

            Sunstein and Vermeule also analyze the practice of secret government payments to outside commentators, who are then held out as independent experts; they suggest that “government can supply these independent experts with information and perhaps prod them into action from behind the scenes,” further warning that “too close a connection will be self-defeating if it is exposed.” Sunstein and Vermeule argue that the practice of enlisting non-government officials “might ensure that credible independent experts offer the rebuttal, rather than government officials themselves. There is a tradeoff between credibility and control, however. The price of credibility is that government cannot be seen to control the independent experts.” This position has been criticized by some commentators, who argue that it would violate prohibitions on government propaganda aimed at domestic citizens.

Background: Who is Cass Sunstein?

Cass Sunstein is head of the White Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

“Sunstein has been tapped for one of the more wonky jobs in the White House – reviewing the effectiveness of federal regulations.” – Politico

 

It is worth noting that neither the ISO, the SWP,  nor other elements of the Antiwar Movement are getting the level of US Government suppression that the 9/11 Truth Movement is getting.

We are not alone in noting this. Both the libertarian John Stossel and Salon.com’s Glen Greenwald have denounced the Sunstein infiltration suggestion.

The "Sunstein Suppression" makes Greg from Boston's comment timely: He recalled that Bill Moyers once privately noted, “There are certain things we are not allowed to talk about.”

 

The Israel/Zionist Question

“David” commented on the Israel question. There is resistance on the Left to being too critical of Israel because of the sensitivity to possible accusations of anti-Semitism. Our message is that we reject anti-Semitism as racist. But we also reject Zionism. Zionism is not a religious movement; if you actually talk to Zionists, they identify it as a national movement to support the State of Israel no matter what. There are historical connections between the power structure in the US who were involved in 9/11 and the cover-up. Several key players are/were Zionists. Several hold dual US/Israeli citizenship. This is a touchy subject, but I urge people to go beyond fear, and investigate it. But use good sources, and steer clear of anti-Semites. Here is a good article by USAF veteran and historian Douglas Herman for Rense.com:

http://www.rense.com/general72/conect.htm
The neo-cons and Zionists did have a long range plan for a coup, going way back to a 1968 book. See leading American scholar of 9/11, Kevin Barrett, on this important issue:

http://www.mujca.com/luttwak.htm

 

More Thoughts on Building the Movement

Mark Basile, also in New Hampshire, reported on his local efforts to get the 9/11 Truth cause recognized at his local town meeting. As in independent Christian, he follows “Two rules: Love God, love your neighbor. In the US, we have been wonderfully blessed. But we view the government (like Obama) as celebrities. Our government is unrestrained. This is a problem.” Out of 60-70 people approached in his town to sign on to his petition to get 9/11 Truth discussed at the town meeting, Basile got 30.  An impressive rate!

“Edith” asked: Where are the blacks? It’s time to go into those communities to expand the Truth movement.

“Doug” from New Hampshire: It’s people closest to changing their paradigm who are most vocal about resisting. Doug also said, “How do people perceive us vs. how do we perceive ourselves?” Should we rebrand ourselves? Is the “Truther” label off-putting and didactic? [I would argue no, although it does pay not to be too strident, and to work on listening skills. On Friday, it was pointed out that one good thing about Dale Carnegie is that he taught that the way you win people over is that you listen to their concerns and perspective first. Then try to connect what they are saying to your issue.]

“Al” said, “To those who say 9/11 was yesterday’s crime, and that we must protest today’s wars: that when you are bailing water from a leaky boat, it’s also important to plug the leak. Any society that does not identify crimes cannot function.”

“Susan,” a Libertarian, said she was “tremendously proud” of our professional participation in the Conference on Saturday. “Patience is a virtue; success does not come in an instant, it comes through persistence.”

Tracy Blevins said, “We need a counter-narrative.”

Richard K said that he was “really quite pleased” that we were able to participate on Saturday. “We succeeded in securing a place at the table. We need to work with Veterans’ groups to build our movement.”

Chris Gruneur suggested, “We are scared of two things: being called ‘crazy,’ and being effective.”

 

Actions

“Abdul” suggested outreach to the Nation of Islam. He pointed out that Minister Louis Farrakhan wrote a 2003 letter that covered a number of false flag operations, and the topic of controlled demolition. We all know how controversial Farrakhan is. The speech and some commentary are here:

http://www.prisonplanet.com/louis-farrakhan-speaks-out-on-911-federal-reserve.html

Earlier, Abdul discussed his background as an American Muslim. Since he had no Christmas, and was outside the myths of American life, he saw 9/11 right away as a myth: “How does truth enlighten the spirit, and falsehood kill it?”

Abdul reported that he recently played Barack Obama in a video submitted in the Charlie Sheen YouTube contest.

“Susan” discussed how, in New Hampshire, the “underwear bomber” scare led otherwise rational lawmakers to begin considering legislation that would have allowed full body scans, and photos of all adults and children, in the nude. This is a violation of child porn laws, and was shot down, but it shows hot much hysteria we are dealing with in an emerging police state.

Mark Basile: We are not going to drag people to 9/11 Truth. They have to walk with us. Mark recently held a public “Science Expo” showing the science of 9/11 Truth. It was well-attended.

Kelly Hawkins has been showing the Conspiracy Theory With Jesse Ventura 9/11 episode in the local library.

 

Final Note About Left Intimidation

Boston Left activist David Rolde recently sent me a note that SWP organizers saw that he attended the 9/11 Truth Conference on Sunday. They knew he was supportive of Workers World Party politics, and warned him that participating in Truth events would jeopardize his chances of working with WWP. This is not true, but it shows the kind of cheap intimidation in which SWP is engaging. [Don’t live in fear. My advice is like that of the Tai Chi master Professor Cheng Man-ch’ing: Relax, and live in truth.]

Important Links

            9/11 Truth at Catholic Worker, January 2010, highlights published now on Sander's blog.

New Primer on 9/11 Truth, from Ian Alterman, here on the Sander blog.

Also: see the short article on NJ truth activist Don Messerlian, Member, AE9/11Truth, took to New Jersey Municipal Court, regarding his Misprision of Treason complaint.

Events Coming Up in March

            Treason in America conference: Philadelphia, PA, March 6 & 7

            9/11 Truth Returns to the Left Forum:
Rejuvenating the Left Critique of the War on Terror, with Sander Hicks, David MacGregor, and Paul Zarembka,

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