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Toward Justice

Our experiences and what we do with them shape and determine our trajectory. Often, they change us gradually; sometimes, they are immediately life altering. So much so that months, even years later, a thought, a song, even an aroma can transport us, abruptly, into the past. Some events are wonderful. Others are brutal.

The phone call from my sister, telling me that Chase was killed in Iraq, is among the brutal.

My nephew, Chase Comley, died a little over five years ago. He enlisted in the military because he believed our freedoms were in jeopardy, a message George Bush gaveled into the American psyche after 19 hijackers used planes as weapons to attack US symbols of power on 9/11.

This week, we mark the ninth anniversary of that turning point, the day that invokes images of death and destruction, and the date that heralded our post-9/11 world with its increased militarism/imperialism resulting in more death and destruction, mainstream media failure, the Patriot Act, a surveillance state, torture, indefinite detention, military tribunals, corporatism, economic collapse, and Islamophobia.

I have just watched 9/11 Press for Truth at the urging of Jon Gold, a friend and fellow member of Peace of the Action. Gold has worked diligently to bring justice for 9/11 families.

Less than two minutes into the film, George Bush says: “Today our fellow citizens, our way of life, our very freedom, came under attack.”

Members of the Bush Administration tell us there were no warnings. Condi Rice states: “No one could have imagined them taking a plane, slamming it into the Pentagon … into the World Trade Center, using planes as a missile.”

We learn, however, that 14 nations alerted our intelligence agencies to the threats, and that on the eve of the event, Bush stayed at a resort whose roof was mounted with ground-to-air missiles, a safeguard never before taken.

The film navigates tragedy, fear, courage, hope, perseverance, strength, anticipation, disappointment, anger, disbelief, and futility. Its heroes are those who scratch and claw for honesty. They are the “Jersey Girls,” Lorie Van Auken, Patty Casazza, Mindy Kleinberg, and Kristen Breitweiser, four women whose husbands perished in the towers. There are other heroes, of course, but the Jersey widows, bound by heartbreak, researched, questioned, attempted to connect dots, and walked the halls of Congress. Eventually, they held a rally in DC to unite 9/11 families, form a larger group, and push for a formal investigation. Frustrated by the Bush Administration’s position and a lack of support from the public, they made the decision to open their private anguish to the press. Their efforts, finally, forced George Bush to authorize an independent commission to investigate 9/11.

Patty Casazza uses the word adversaries when she talks about the Bush Administration. It is not an antonym for hero. Villain is, but I’ll stick with Casazza’s noun. George Bush and Dick Cheney resisted the investigation of 9/11 and, thus, became adversaries of honesty and justice. Recall that they insisted on a not-under-oath tandem testimony.

Many readers have written and asked me to address 9/11 as an “inside job.” That’s not my intention. I have no knowledge to support grand conspiracy ideologies. My comprehension resides with family grief and an acknowledgement that the 9/11 Commission was a contrivance that failed to provide a thorough, transparent, and factual assessment.

Evidence can be manipulated or ignored. An investigator can look at what he or she wants and shift an examination in any direction. Even down a road leading nowhere.

A week after my nephew was killed, I poured my feelings into an essay. I was naïve, then, and believed my article might prevent other families from hearing the words my brother received: “We regret to inform you.”

The families who were unwilling to accept the government’s account of September 11, needed assurance that tragedies like theirs would never be repeated. They expected to find answers that would make the world safer for their children.

Their questions led to more questions:

Why did it take two hours for standard air defense operating procedures to be put in place when there was an obvious attack on the United States?

Why, when George Bush had been briefed (August 6, 2001) that Osama bin Laden was determined to strike within the United States, did he do nothing to prevent an attack?

Why, when the north tower was hit, were people told to remain in the building and why weren’t those in the south tower immediately evacuated?

Why was then Attorney General John Ashcroft told to avoid commercial air travel in the days before 9/11?

Why was Henry Kissinger selected to chair the 9/11 Commission when he had an obvious conflict of interest—one exposed by Lorie Van Auken when she asked if his consulting firm had any Saudi clients named bin Laden?

Why did the mainstream media fail to accomplish what Paul Thompson achieved when he compiled an online timeline of reports and articles that became the basis for his book, The Terror Timeline, whose content is the foundation for the film?

Why did the United States invade Afghanistan?

Why did the US allow Osama bin Laden to escape from Tora Bora?

Why were al-Qa’ida and Taliban members flown from Afghanistan to Pakistan?

What role did Pakistan play in 9/11, and why did the US ally with this country?

Why did the chief of Pakistani intelligence (ISI) order Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh, a man who was both a member of al-Qa’ida and the ISI, to wire $100,000 to Mohammad Atta?

Why did members of the Bush Administration meet with that same chief of Pakistani intelligence in the weeks and months prior to 9/11?

Why, given all that was exposed by Paul Thompson, did the 9/11 Commission find that the events of September 11, 2001 were the result of a “failure of imagination”?

Americans need to know what happened that day. Why? Not just because we owe it to those who died and to their families but, also, because every single day, our country commits acts of unspeakable horror in the name of 9/11.

Journalist Ron Suskind wrote an article, “Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush,” for the October 17, 2004 New York Times Magazine, in which he said:

In the summer of 2002 … I had a meeting with a senior adviser to Bush. He expressed the White House’s displeasure, and then he told me something that at the time I didn’t fully comprehend — but which I now believe gets to the very heart of the Bush presidency.

The aide said that guys like me were ‘in what we call the reality-based community,’ which he defined as people who ‘believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.’ I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ‘That’s not the way the world really works anymore,’ he continued. ‘We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.

This is astonishing thought and language. It underscores the hubris of a power-mad administration. And it’s a glimpse into a mindset that, perhaps, allowed terrorists, “determined to strike within the United States,” an opportunity. The Bush Administration was, at the least, negligent. In a very deliberate way. The warnings were there and they were not obscure.

As George Bush concluded his address on 9/11, he said, “This is a day when all Americans from every walk of life unite in our resolve for justice and peace.”

Justice has not been served. Peace seems far from our grasp. The 9/11 Commission was a farce, conducted by “history’s actors,” those aligned with the distortion that: “… when we act, we create our own reality.”

This created “reality” promotes the fear necessary to prevent critical thinking at a time when a premium must be placed on “the judicious study of discernable reality.” Let us not be told what to think, what to believe. We need a REAL, independent criminal investigation of 9/11, justice for the families, justice for families whose troops were sent to avenge a disaster that possibly could have been averted, and justice for those who have died, their lands destroyed, in the countries we invaded in a revenge frenzy.

Please watch the movie, 9/11 Press for Truth, read Paul Thompson’s comprehensive book, The Terror Timeline, and never forget the words often attributed to Martin Luther King, Jr., an admirer of Theodore Parker, the 19th century abolitionist and Unitarian minister, who originally spoke them: “I do not pretend to understand the moral universe; the arc is a long one … But from what I see I am sure it bends toward justice.”

Missy Beattie lives in Baltimore, Maryland, but she’s considering other locations. Reach her at

More articles by:

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail:

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