Press conference featuring 9/11 victims’ family members ignored by media
UnansweredQuestions.org web site launch features 9/11 victims' family members, but fails to gain media attention.
Julie Sweeney's voice wavered on the verge of breaking as she addressed those gathered at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.
"I don't want anybody to ever deal with the phone call I dealt with at 8:58 that morning from my husband from United [Flight] 175, saying goodbye."
Sweeney was one of a number of family members of the victims of 9/11, along with their lawyers, independent researchers, and members of the media who gathered on June 10 to mark the launch of UnansweredQuestions.org. The web site, co-founded by Tom Flocco and Kyle F. Hence, is dedicated to giving voice to the unanswered questions of 9/11, and demanding their answers.
The conference also gave voice to the concerns of the victims' families, concerns that have been largely ignored by the mainstream media. C-SPAN, in violation of their own policy regarding major news conferences at the National Press Club, declined to even tape the event for possible future broadcast.
The idea for the press conference was born when Hence, an independent researcher and writer, judged the timing was right following news of the Phoenix and Minneapolis FBI memos, and the disturbing warnings in the August 7th briefing of the President. Influenced also by a call by victims' families to hold a rally in D.C. in support of an Independent Commission, Hence called Flocco, for whom he had done research on insider trading and who had contact with lawyers for the victims' families.
Flocco then telephoned Catherine Austin Fitts, former Assistant Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under the first Bush administration. Fitts is now a financial analyst and independent journalist who has written several articles related to 9/11, including "The Real Deal on 9/11: Rewarding Failure" published on New Zealand news site Scoop at:
"Tom Flocco called," said Fitts, "and said 'I've had it. We're going to do something about this. There are too many questions on 9/11.'"
Flocco and Hence began making arrangements to book a number of speakers for a conference to announce the web site launch, and Fitts agreed to come to D.C. to moderate the event. One of the first speakers was Hence, who described what the site was all about.
"This is sort of the penultimate in grassroots effort at this stage, and my hope is that it will continue to be that," said Hence. "I feel that, being here, I'm exercising my freedom to ask these questions."
On the web site, questions are accepted from the readers, and then a voting system allows those who log onto the site to vote for which questions they would most like to have answered. Said Hence of the questions they have received:
"Some are general, and some are extraordinarily detailed with copious references. Some are complex; others are just straightforward. What unites them all is a deep underlying skepticism by those who pose them about the official story offered us of what happened on September 11. And they hunger to know the whole truth."
After Hence's description of the web site's purpose, Fitts began to introduce the legion of speakers who had gathered in support of the site's launch. The first of these was Sweeney, wife of Brian Sweeney, a jet pilot instructor for the Department of Defense who died when Flight 175 crashed into the South tower of the World Trade Center. Sweeney has declined to accept money from the federal fund for 9/11 victims, which stipulates that recipients take no further legal action related to 9/11.
"I am, as I was introduced, one of the few but increasing number of people that have decided to pursue litigation in this event as opposed to accepting the government fund. I want the answers, and I want the answers to lead to accountability. I want this never to happen again. Morally, this is what I feel I had to do."
Sweeney spoke passionately of her disappointment with what she saw as an attempt to buy off the victims while shielding the government and airline industry from further liability.
"I can't accept money from our government under the facade of goodness and generosity when, on the flip side, they have capped the funds available to be recovered and they have limited the liability of the airlines for the approximately 271 people on these four planes.
"They literally changed laws overnight in secret without us knowing that they were doing it. To me, immediately that just flagged 'we're hiding something.'"
Sweeney's skepticism grew as she did her own research into the 9/11 fund.
"After really researching the fund, it was blatantly obvious to me that the priority was not the victims and their families, like they were saying, but the airline industry that they were determined to save and protect."
According to Sweeney, she expects that her motives will be questioned by those who may feel she is only seeking a larger settlement from the government through a lawsuit. But Sweeney feels that litigation is her best tool to force the facts about 9/11 into the public consciousness.
"I want the information out. I want everything disclosed. I want someone to connect the dots and give the American public the big picture.
"I feel very let down by a government that I was taught from a very young age to trust, and that they do good and righteous things for us. When we put our trust in businesses that are federally regulated... the government should stand behind the common person because we have smaller voices then they do if something were to go wrong. This isn't happening, and red flags are popping up everywhere that mistakes were made."
Sweeney concluded that she felt her actions would be of benefit even to those victims' families who choose to accept the 9/11 fund.
"I'm also here in support of the McCain-Leiberman Bill which hopefully will help bring about the change and give the answers to the people that need them, that can't pursue a lawsuit or choose not to. And again, that should be everybody's choice.
"I hope that this lawsuit will help instigate change so no one has to deal with that again. I will not sit back and be bought out in order to protect an industry."
The other speakers at the conference were Lorna Brett, director of media relations for the Nolan Law Group in Chicago, which represents victims' families from the hijacked planes; attorney Mary Schiavo, lawyer for 32 passengers' families from planes hijacked on 9/11 and former Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Transportation under the first Bush administration and the Clinton administration; former LAPD detective Michael C. Ruppert, an independent journalist who publishes the web site FromtheWilderness.com, and who spoke via satellite from a speaking tour in Canada; author/researcher John Judge, co-founder of the Coalition on Political Assassinations; attorney J. Michael Springman, former Chief of the Visa Section of the U.S. Embassy in Saudi Arabia; attorney Jennifer Van Bergen, editor and contributing writer for Truthout.org and faculty member at the New School for Social Research in New York; Dr. Stephen Camerado, director of research for the Center for Immigration Studies; and freelance writer and researcher Richard Ochs.
A summary of the presentations of the other speakers is upcoming in the second part of this article. RealPlayer audio of the entire press conference is available at http://www.unansweredquestions.org/audio.php and a video of the conference is available for purchase at UnansweredQuestions.org.
According to Bill Douglas, a researcher who has done an immense amount of work putting out the facts about 9/11 through his "Find Truth" email group ( firstname.lastname@example.org), Sweeney is not alone in her decision to pursue litigation. In the most recent mailing for the Find Truth group, Douglas reprinted an article from the San Francisco Examiner which mentions the D.C. press conference, and claims 400 family members of the 9/11 victims nationwide are now involved in a suit alleging criminal negligence by the Bush administration. The full text of that article can be found here:
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