A View of 9/11 from North of the Border

I happened to be in Vancouver Sunday evening and all day Monday, so spent 9/11 north of the border. While people in the U.S. and other parts of the world only had The Path to 9/11 docudrama as a television viewing choice, I was fortunate to be able to watch two excellent documentary films about 9/11 and its aftermath aired by the Canadian Broadcasting Company (CBC). I also enjoyed the unique perspective of watching them in the home of Amy and Gregor Robertson, a member of the Britsh Columbia Legislative Assembly. Journalist Linda Solomon, who was living 15 blocks from the World Trade Center on 9/11, was also there. You can read her Vancouver Observer article about how 9/11 affected her here.

The Secret History of 9/11, written, directed, and produced by Canadian Terence McKenna, teased out the many threads that led to the spectacular failures of communication that enabled the tragedy of 9/11 to occur. It begins with the first bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, and traces both the terrorists and the government through the next 8 years. It also offered a clear and unflinching analysis of how George W. Bush used the tragedy of 9/11 to push through his plans to attack Iraq. As I watched extended interview clips with Richard Clarke, who was the counter-terrorism adviser on the U.S. National Security Council when 9/11 occured, I wished that people in the U.S. were watching him say, point-blank, what happened immediately after the attacks.

Well, in meetings on September 11th and on September 12th, the defence department officials, including Secretary Rumsfeld, began talking about the need to attack Iraq. I first thought that they were kidding and it became clear that they weren't. Rumsfeld said, well yeah, we could attack Afghanistan but there aren't very many targets to bomb in Afghanistan and they're not worth very much. So we should bomb Iraq where there are much better targets. I thought there's no connection between what just happened and Iraq. That didn't seem to bother them. I said well attacking Iraq actually will make it more difficult for us to get the kinds of support we need in the world particularly in the Muslim world. That didn't seem to bother them. Secretary Powell tried to have a restraining influence on this discussion. Secretary Powell said look the world is not going to understand if we don't go after Afghanistan. That's where the attack of September 11th was launched from. So reluctantly, during the course of the week, the defence department came around to a consensus and the consensus was called Afghanistan first that's what the President approved, an Afghanistan first policy. It was very clear what was second, and what was second was Iraq.

You can watch an eight-minute clip of The Secret History of 9/11 and read the entire transcript of the film here.

The second film shown Sunday evening on the CBC was 9/11: Toxic Legacy, written, directed and produced by Susan Teskey. Revealing the betrayal by the U.S. government of both area residents and rescue workers at the World trade Center site, this film was moving and disturbing. I found myself both furious and deeply saddened watching EPA head Christine Todd Whitman assuring people around the country that there were no abnormal levels of toxic substances at Ground Zero. This despite the fact that the combination of materials and the intense heat had produce substances that were not even identifiable to scientists. Not to mention that the tests conducted did not take into account the interaction with human bodies, moisture, and other factors.

The counterpoint to the lies of the administration was interviews with rescue workers who are now disabled as a result of their exposure and who are being thwarted by the systems that should be helping them as they seek relief. Watching people who on September 10th were just average people doing their jobs, who on September 11th became the most genuine kind of heroes, and on September 12th and beyond were worse than forgotten will stay with me for a long time. I hope you'll take the time to read parts of the full transcript of this film and to view an excerpt, which are available here.

I hadn't planned to be out of the country on the fifth anniversary of 9/11, but it was an incredible opportunity to view it from a slightly removed vantage point, while being able to watch some amazing filmwork that I wouldn't have had access to at home. It gave me hope, that there is truthtelling going on in other countries, even if it is rare here. It also made me even more proud to be part of the Center for Media and Democracy, as we continue to spread the truth about 9/11 and the war in Iraq through Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber's latest book The Best War Ever.