I appreciated Steve Chase’s thoughtful article about the controversies surrounding what happened on 9/11 ("Sifting through the Rubble: the 9/11 Controversies," FJ August 2008). I agree it is important to know what led to the events of that fateful day and that many troubling questions remain unanswered. Friends Bulletin (the official publication of Western unprogrammed Friends) ran a series of responses to David Griffin’s first book, The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11(2004), not long after it was published. David Griffin, a leading exponent of process theology, received his PhD at Claremont Graduate School and maintained close ties with the Claremont community through his mentor, John Cobb. Griffin is known and highly respected by Claremont Friends and his efforts to get at the truth about 9/11 were deeply appreciated.
I don’t feel that Friends "slavishly accept the Bush administration’s explanation for 9/11," as Steve suggests. Most Friends I know are deeply skeptical about anything that the Bush administration has said or done.
Since the publication of Griffin’s book, the deceptive practices of the Bush administration have been revealed to be pervasive. Incontrovertible evidence has been uncovered revealing that the administration lied about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, about torture, about domestic spying, and about many other matters.
When I think of 9/11 and the Bush administration, I am reminded of the words of "Big Daddy" in Tennessee Williams’ play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof: "There ain’t nothin’ more powerful than the odor of mendacity.
. . . You can smell it. It smells like death."
The smell of mendacity (and death) has permeated Washington for so long that we have become used to it, the way that Angelenos are used to the smog. Mendacity has become the norm in U.S. political life.
That’s why I don’t think it is enough for Friends simply to "study the matter." Given the government’s secretive methods, it is impossible for private citizens to know for certain what really happened behind locked doors. And even if we somehow found the truth, so what? Many books have been written revealing the Bush administration’s lies and nothing has come of such exposés.
We in this country need and deserve a public investigation of what has happened in the White House over the past eight years. As Steve Chase pointed out, the 9/11 Commission had a limited mandate and was not interested in finding out who was responsible for 9/11. Nor did it have the authority to investigate the events that followed this tragic event.
In light of these grave and persisting doubts about whether government officials were complicit in 9/11, we need a credible governmental commission to be appointed—perhaps akin to South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission—with the power to subpoena witnesses and demand documents that are now being locked away so that the truth can never be known.