Yet Another Pie-In-the-Face Ending for the Movement
Remember the 9-11 Citizens' Commission?
have a website, but it has been suspended. You can still see it (for now) through the Wayback Machine. Well, they raised about $30,000, but now the money's gone and the finger-pointing has begun. Quoting from an email:
Did Mike Gravel Scam the Truth Movement? Posted on February 2, 2012 by willyloman by Scott Creighton Say it ain’t so Mike! It was recently brought to my attention by an old friend that Mike Gravel pulled a bunch of funding out of his foundation that was formed to put a measure on a state ballot in 2012 to create a new investigation into the events of 9/11. The organization that Gravel himself started was called the 9/11 Citizens Commission and the intention was to create a new commission, with subpena powers, like a Grand Jury of sorts, that could re-open the case and provide a new, truly independent investigation into the events of 9/11. Largely due to the hard work of many Truth activists (networking on Facebook, petitions, ect… ) they had managed to make some real headway in their efforts. They apparently had (if you believe the letter that was sent out) collected a nifty little nest egg to use in their campaign which should have been kicking off in full swing this close to the upcoming elections in November; somewhere in the neighborhood of 30 grand or so. Not Mitt Romney or Barack Obama money, but nothing to sneeze at either. But a funny thing happened on the way to the Diebold machines… a week ago a correspondence goes out to the 9/11CC donors saying Gravel had split, taken the money and rerouted it to another foundation he had been running since 2001, and stopped responding to the other members of their organization. Did Mike Gravel scam the Truth movement from the start? There are some interesting facts that may suggest he did just that. The 9/11CC website seems to be down (at least it is at the time of writing this) and Gravel is nowhere to be seen. Hmmm… did the Truth movement get scammed… again? (can anyone say “Ron Paul”, “nanothermite”, or “9/11 Blogger”?) At first I was very skeptical as you can see from the discussion I had with that friend of mine last night. But after doing a little research I came up with some rather disturbing information about Gravel. Look, the Truth movement is full of dedicated activists who will work their fucking asses off if they think they have a shot at exposing the truth about what happened on 9/11. They will dig deep and donate, they will go long hours volunteering their time to the cause. This makes them a powerfully focused grass roots army and unfortunately that strength also makes them a target for people who want to take advantage of their networks and their energy. It takes a special kind of asshole to take advantage of people like that. At first I didn’t think Gravel could have done it. But now… well… you decide. Here’s what I found so far: In 2010 Mike Gravel got together with We Are Change in what looks like a Denny’s in California to announce his plan to create a ballot initiative for 2012 to form a Citizens Commission to re-open the investigation into 9/11. Pay attention to what he says (and doesn’t say) in this video: . . “I started with my suspicions about 9/11 really right after the event” “If it is an inside job…” “What can we do in respect to this possible crime that has taken place…” “this activity, if it was done, was done in conspiracy…” Mike Gravel 2010 Gravel doesn’t seem to solid on his belief structure in that Denny’s discussion. It’s almost as if his lawyer instinct is keeping him from going too far out on that limb. A measured approach may be prudent, but when I saw this, I wondered if he had ever taken a harder line on the subject of 9/11 in the past… and I found one. On Sept. 10th 2007 Mike Gravel posted an article on the Huffington Post for reader to view the next day the 6th anniversary of 9/11. The article was called “The Real Lessons of 9/11” and this is in part what Mike had to say. Remember Mike’s words from 2010 as you read this “I started with my suspicions about 9/11 really right after the event“ As we mark the six anniversary of the 9/11 attack, it is time for Americans to face the real lessons of that horrible morning… Our government failed to protect us on 9/11 not because such an attack was unimaginable but because bureaucratic turf wars and incompetence at the highest levels impeded our counter-terrorist efforts… Let’s be clear, Bin Laden is not just a symbol — his hands drip with the blood of thousands of Americans who must be avenged… We should never negotiate with terrorists and we must hunt down Bin Laden and anyone else who attacks us… I do not believe 9/11 was a governmental conspiracy.” Mike Gravel, 2007 In 2007 Gravel was already talking about a new independent investigation with subpena powers but he wanted to do so in the context of pointing fingers at who was asleep at the switch when the evil Muslims attacked us on 9/11 as a result of blow-back for our foreign policy. That is, by all accounts, the definition of the official story of 9/11. Reconcile what Gravel told We Are Change with what you just read. Does it sound like Gravel had his suspicions about the official story since the day it happened? Can you now see why he would carefully infuse his speech with qualifiers like “if” and “possibly”? When Gravel officially launched his 9/11CC project in early 2011, he did so on the Alex Jones show. The Truth movement knows full well that Alex is not a mouth piece for us, and yet there he was. Why did he go there? Because Alex can generate cash. That’s why. I feel for the people who got passionately involved in this. I remember how I first felt when I first came to understand what Steven Jones really was. But, in the end, people have to remember that even if they had succeeded, the ballots would still be counted on Diebold electronic voting machines or ES&S or some other unverifiable system. So what did we really lose? Perhaps Gravel is just being railroaded and he will pop back up with a new organization and transfer the funds into that. Could happen. I wouldn’t hold my breath. The point is, if he said one thing to the Truth activists and said another thing to the readers at Huffington Post, there is no way to avoid the fact that at some point, Mike Gravel was lying. And lying doesn’t make for a good Truth advocate. I hope this doesn’t discourage another generation of Truth activists but I know to some degree it will. Some will be more resilient, some will be toughened a bit and skeptical, some will despair and go by the wayside. But Truth activists in the movement, like those who came before them (Suffrage Movement, Civil Rights Movement, Peace Movement, Labor Movement), understand that this is not a one battle conflict and it is not something we expect to see accomplished in a day or a week or even a decade. Most people in this country understand that the official story of 9/11, the story Mike Gravel was selling back in 2007, is bullshit and their numbers grow by the day. If Gravel did this some might think it will weaken the movement but they would be wrong. To me, it just goes to show the dishonesty REQUIRED to believe and cheer-lead for the Bush/Cheney official story of 9/11. If he did this and he’s gone… good. We don’t need liars in the Truth movement. Brush off the dust, lick the wounds, and chalk it up to experience… move on.Gravel's response:
From: Mike Gravel Date: Feb 3, 2012 Subject: Re: Did Mike Gravel Scam the Truth Movement? To: scott creighton Scott: You might of had the intellectual honesty to have informed yourself of my side of the story; rather than swallow hole the hidden agenda "an old friend." How do you spot double agents, CIA, military industrial complex and other government implants? It's difficult, but they generally come at you under the veil of sercrecy like: "an old friend told me so." Scott, shame on you. You seem brighter than that. Here's my side: Date: February 2, 2012 From: Mike Gravel Subject: Response to the email sent to donors on January 21, 2012 by the Board and General Manager of 9-11cc Dear Donor: Before addressing in detail my public statements and my actions with respect to the final disposition of the monies donated through the 9-11CC website to ultimately secure a new Citizens 911 Commission, let me clearly outline the legal status of our group during the entire course of 2011. In May 2011, Ken Jenkins and George Ripley were pushing me into a leadership role within the 911 movement that I was reluctant to take on. They went so far as to fill out the government forms that appointed me the Sole Principal and Treasurer of a California Recipient Committee. Either they were not willing to do the tedious work involved or they did not feel prepared or experienced enough to take an idea for a new Citizens 911 Commission from the concept stage to that of a legal initiative text that would be acceptable by the appropriate state government entity. California Recipient Committee The forms creating the California Recipient Committee called the “Citizens 911 Commission” were filed on May 13, 2011 and received by the Secretary of State on May 16th. My name as the “sole principal” is the only name associated with the entity in California. I secured an EIN number from the IRS on that basis and opened an account at Wells Fargo. No other names or persons are legally associated with this California entity or its bank account. As the authorized signer who opened the account at Wells Fargo, I made provisions with the bank for Jenkins, Belitsos and Ripley to access the account only to view its activity in real time. Additionally, I authorized our accountant, Patricia Yee, to sign on the account so that she could pay our bills and invoices. She submitted each payment to me for authorization prior to payment. All of our financial activities were reported on our website. Under California law a Recipient Committee can raise up to $25,000 (only from U.S. sources) without being required to report the identity of its donors or being required to organize itself into a political organization or corporation. The temporary Recipient Committee model seemed ideal for our purposes, since we had no way of knowing if the 911 Truth Movement would fully support and sufficiently fund the concept of using the direct democracy initiative process to bring about a new 911 investigation. As a California Recipient Committee, we had no operable bylaws and none were required to be filed by the state. I subsequently drafted Articles and Bylaws in anticipation of creating an IRS C4 corporation, which was the planned next step in our logical growth, going from a working group of volunteers into a legal corporate entity. In November and December, I felt it unwise to incorporate if we were not able to demonstrate an ability to raise sufficient funds to actually fund a single state initiative. Otherwise we would be raising and using the funds of dedicated donors to perpetuate the payment of self serving fees to an employee and other members of the group and paying the costs for unproductive meetings that were essentially therapy secessions for its participants. It is very important to understand the legal limited nature of our Committee during the entire course of 2011. We were actually no more than a group of individuals working together on a voluntary basis to realize our goals expressed on our website and in my speeches and media interviews. We pledged to bring about a new Citizens 911 Commission by the legislative actions of citizens voting on state initiatives or on a national initiative if a law making that possible came into being. I spoke of the latter repeatedly publicly and privately and was the basis of the Actionable Plan I wrote for the Citizens 911 Commission. Initially, our intent was to file an initiative in California. I visited and worked with the attorneys at the State’s Legislative Council in Sacramento, drafting my concept into a legally acceptable initiative proposal. However, it became obvious that a California initiative campaign was out of the question at this time; it would take several million dollars to qualify an initiative for the ballot and more to wage a viable enactment campaign. Since we planned no political activity in California and were limited in accepting foreign contributions, it was understood by all those involved (Jenkins, Freeland and Ripley) that we would dissolve the Recipient Committee before the end of the year or face extensive and expensive reporting requirements that were irrelevant to our national and global activity. In the event of dissolution, California law is very clear; whatever monies are in the Committee’s bank account must be donated to a government recognized charity or returned to the donors on a pro rata basis. The purpose of the law is to make sure that monies collected publicly and not reported to a government entity do not covertly end up in organizations supporting political candidates or initiatives filed in California. A pro rata return to donors would have been expensive accounting-wise and of deminimous impact to all but one donor. I chose to donate all the funds in the account to the Democracy Foundation, a 501 c 3 charity recognized under federal law. The Democracy Foundation, which I founded and chaired, is the educational sponsor of the National Citizens Initiative, an initiative that when enacted into law will empower citizens to make laws in every government jurisdiction. The process to enact the National Citizens Initiative can be undertaking in any country where citizens are allowed to vote. Obviously, if we able to enact the National Citizens Initiative, it would provide an excellent opportunity to enact a federal law creating a new Citizens 911 Commission with federal powers far superior to anything we would expect to secure with a state initiative. Oregon and Massachusetts After foregoing a campaign in California, we looked to more affordable initiative states with politically progressive constituencies. Oregon, Colorado, Ohio, Massachusetts, Alaska, Maine and the Dakotas were considered. After visiting officials in Ohio, it proved not to be a viable choice. I traveled to Salem, Oregon and worked with their Legislative Council attorneys to improve the text we had developed in California. In Portland I met with a group of 911 Truthers. They were attentive and interested but it was apparent that the group lacked any leaders or any burning desire to undertake a campaign. I traveled to Alaska and met with a large group of Truthers and discussed the concept with government officials. The group had interest but no viable leadership prepared to secure funding for an initiative. I met with three persons in Colorado, however, nothing matured beyond that contact. In Maine and the Dakotas we could not identify a viable group of Truthers to even approach. The concept of using the initiative to create a new Citizens 911 Commission is a concept somewhat “out of the box” and many people, even in initiative states, are not all that familiar with the initiative law-making process. This direct democracy legislative innovation was also difficult to get across to the leadership of the 911 Truth Movement. Massachusetts was a different story. A group stepped forward led by Richard Aucoin and Richard McCampbell, both experienced initiative campaigners. They filed the initiative text with the Commonwealth’s Attorney General. She certified the initiative for the ballot on September 7th.. We had until late November to raise the $300,000 to pay for a professional signature gathering contractor. The task was impossible The campaign had to be halted even in the face of great enthusiasm with the state’s 911 activists, who now looked to the 2014 election cycle to renew their efforts. Our Finances The following overview of the Committee’s financial situation is important to understand the nature of the dispute. My personal 911 fundraising experience went back to September 2010 when I first started traveling and working fulltime on the 911 direct democracy concept. 911 groups at which I spoke would canvas the audiences for donations to pay for my travel expenses. Even at that I had to fund some of my expenses personally. Once our website was up and my speeches and media interviews, permitting me to explain the details of my initiative concept, donations began to flow starting in July 2011 and remained encouraging into mid September 2011. The highpoint of our fundraising effort was my trip to Toronto in September 2011. Donations slowed to a trickle by the end of September and surged again as a result of Manfred Petrick’s blog in Zurich Switzerland, which has great influence with the 911 Movement in Europe. Since half of our donations came from foreign sources, it made sense to plan a European tour to meet with and seek more financial support from 911 European leaders. We had the good fortune to have the support of Annie Machon, a globally known outspoken voice for peace and justice issues and a 911 activist personally acquainted with 911 leaders throughout Europe. She organized speaking and media appearances for me in the eight cities we visited. The trip was not a financial success. Nevertheless, I view the trip as worthwhile for the contacts we were able to establish through Annie and the fact that it informed me of the 911 situation in Europe. The 911 Truth Movement is as marginalized in Europe by the media and governments as it is in the U.S. The Truthers are there in significant numbers but somewhat discouraged or burnt out. Surprisingly, there was greater interest in the National Citizens Initiative process of direct democracy to bring about a new Citizens 911 Commission than the use of state initiatives. I addressed both subjects in all my presentations. 911 leaders arranged my appearances at Occupy Wall Street encampments in Zurich, Paris and Amsterdam. This experience reinforced my view that this global revolution of the grassroots could well make the National Citizens Initiative an idea whose time has come. A Realistic Assessment that Led to the Dispute Putting aside the “he said, she said” arguments that prevail in all disputes or fanciful rosy interpretations of non-existent successes perrmitting you to milk donations from the uninformed, it is important to realistically understand the different opinions that caused the split within the Recipient Committee. There are two questions of paramount importance that must be addressed in assessing our progress. 1) Are there 911 volunteers in initiative states prepared to file a Citizens 911 Commission initiative and take on the liability of filing government reports? Are there 911 activists in sufficient numbers to wage a viable campaign to bring about the initiative’s enactment after sufficient petition signatures have been gathered to qualify the initiative for the ballot? 2) Is there a likelihood of raising sufficient funds to contract with a professional signature gathering company to qualify the initiative? Experience has shown that signature gathering cannot be done by volunteers alone. The minimum cost for such a contract is $300,000 in a politically viable state. This does not address the costs of an enactment campaign within the state once the initiative is qualified. Nor does it consider the overhead costs of a national organization––9-11CC––to oversee and sponsor various state efforts. All told we raised around $85,000 in 2011; and more than half has been spent on travel and overhead. By November, it was obvious the Recipient Committee’s efforts did not come close to satisfactorily answering either question with respect to state activists or sufficient funding. An honest appraisal of what took place in 2011 does not come near the fanciful upbeat report sent to you by the “board.” We failed to raise sufficient funds to launch an adequate campaign in any politically acceptable state. Except for Massachusetts we were unable to identify a viable group of 911 activists prepared to undertake an in-state initiative campaign. Additionally and of extreme importance, major leaders and important 911 organizations chose not to endorse the Citizens 911 Commission campaign or help by sharing their membership lists. Our initial fund raising plans were based on securing major angel contributors to kick off our multi state initiative effort. I relied on the views of Ken Jenkins and Byron Belitsos, both longtime 911 activists, who expected to raise substantial sums from angel donors who they knew personally and who had contributed substantial sums to 911 causes in the past. Their overtures to these contacts were turned down either due to burnout or a lack of conviction that the Actionable plan would work. George Ripley indicated in May 2011 that he could and would raise substantial sums. This was not realized. He did travel with me in Massachusetts and was personally very helpful. These early-on cues should have alerted us to the burnout within the 911 community or the lack of confidence in direct democracy. The movement is far from dead but its capacity to absorb and fund innovative strategies is limited. This realistic assessment in no way negates the importance of the donation we did receive and used to communicate with the 911 Truth Movement. I would not have been able to travel throughout the U.S. and abroad had it not been for your donations. I did not have the personal financial capacity to do it without your help. I am extremely grateful for your donations and your personal support. I do not feel that we failed you. We raise the visibility of direct democracy and the 911 issue worldwide and as leaders we now have a more realistic assessment of our capabilities and a clearer vision of what we need to do to bring about a new Citizens 911 Commission. Your donations made this possible. Thank you. The Dispute and the Parting of the Ways Upon my return from Europe on November 11th I reported to the committee that for health reasons and a desire to use my energies to refurbish the National Initiative into the National Citizens Initiative and thereby capitalize upon the opportunity the Occupy Wall Street revolution offers us. Nevertheless, I was prepared to continue working with the group and consider funding any reasonable project that kept faith with our pledges to donors. However, projects like funding national and local conferences to bring 911 leaders together in hopes of charting a new direction for our committee, which I considered to be at variance with our pledges to donors, made me very uncomfortable. Only four of our group of volunteers: Ken Jenkins, George Ripley, Ken Freeland (the only paid employee of the group) and Byron Belitsos, who has since resigned from the group, took issue with my position. Many more volunteers were supporting my position, particularly so when all the facts were made known. My approach to our organizational problem was straightforward and simple (I thought). If we were unable to raise sufficient financial support or muster activists to do state initiatives then maybe we should focus our energies on the other approach that direct democracy offers us. I have been talking about the National Initiative in all of my speeches, interviews and on our website. Now with the OWS on the scene this approach seemed viable. What followed was a month of interminable discussions leading nowhere except my exhaustion. Despite my age (almost 82) and various health issues, I have worked full-time on this 911 effort since September 2010 without remuneration. I have spent about three of the last fourteen months away from my wife Whitney (almost a month on the initial California trip, two trips to Sacramento, Portland, Anchorage, Cincinnati and Denver, more than two weeks in Massachusetts and more than two weeks in Europe). During the last two trips, I became ill and had to see local doctors. My supposed friends on the Committee want me to continue to be their spokesperson making speeches and traveling the world explaining the direct democracy concept. They want to use my reputation to raise money; then they want to control those monies by a process which sounds “democratic” but, in effect, holds my reputation and responsibilities to donors and supporters hostage to their decisions and judgments and most dangerously: even when they are wrong. From mid November to December 18, we met once or twice a week, going on for many hours, discussing and arguing over our different interpretation of the facts. I spent more than 10 hours in discussion with Jenkins alone. During these debates, I was subjected to insults––being charged with a lack of integrity is the most modest of the charges. The effect of this was pushing me further and further away from any possible accommodation of ever working together. By December 18, I concluded that the only intelligent solution was to go our separate ways. They could form their own organization and raise whatever funds they needed to pursue their vision. I was free to do the same. However, they wanted to take control of the remaining funds of the Recipient Committee (around $30,000). This was not possible under California law nor was it possible morally because of the pledges I had made to donors. It was my statements that had raised these funds and it was my responsible to see to their proper use. The best way for an objective observer to judge the right or wrong of a dispute like this is to judge the conduct of the disputants. If the “board” (Jenkins, Freeland and Ripley) are truly committed to the cause of using direct democracy to bring about a new Citizens 911 Commission, then one would expect them to do their best to limit knowledge of the conflict and minimize its disruptive effects on their avowed commitment and mine. They could have chosen to disagree without being so viciously disagreeable. However, the facts are just the opposite. They are publicizing the dispute far and wide and spreading falsehoods with no purpose other than to damage my reputation, all because I chose to deny them the opportunity to hold my reputation hostage. For my case, I have chosen not to address or discuss the dispute with anyone except in response to statements and charges that are addressed directly to me or brought to my attention by persons who want to know my side of the story. I am making this response to all our donors because one donor shared with me the email he received from the “Board.” The sentences in the email they sent ––“informing the proper legal authorities regarding this unauthorized removal of funds from our Campaign. An official investigation should soon be underway…” is the same threat they made to me back in December. Now, they are making it more subtlety, inferring some illegality on my part. This is ludicrous and borders on libel. Their ugly campaign to damage my character has the real effect of damaging the entire 911 Truth Movement. The following is an example of their work: Did Mike Gravel Scam the Truth Movement? « American Everyman It is emotionally disturbing to experience their viciousness toward me since I once considered them friends. I think Rudyard Kipling describes the situation best in his poem “If”: "If you can keep your heard when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you;....you'll be a man my son!" National Citizens Initiative In my judgment, the initiative process of direct democracy is the only way we will ever be able to enact a new Citizens 911 Commission, at this point in our history. It goes without saying that if we can improve on the initiative process, as I am attempting to do by launching a new campaign this spring to enact the National Citizens Initiative, then it obviously improves the likelihood of citizens creating a new Citizens 911 Commission, since the 911 issue will be one of the political issues featured in the campaign. One event this last year has changes the dynamics of all socially progressive cause-groups: the global protests of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement. An important part of their agenda is the creation of a new commission to investigate the events surrounding 911. It is my hope to persuade OWS that direct democracy is the only way to bring about the agenda they are protesting about. Existing funds in the Democracy Foundation and the new funds from the dissolved Citizens 911 Commission Recipient Committee are being used to prepare for a spring campaign to educate OWS about direct democracy and to persuade them to vote and help others to vote to enact the National Citizens Initiative into law. I am also in contact with C100, the organization of student body presidents in colleges and universities in the U.S. and abroad who indicate an interest in participating in our campaign this spring. As a result of my recent tour of Europe, there is substantial interest to pursue a National Citizens Initiative in Switzerland and in Denmark. These countries with the proper support could see the enactment of a National Citizens Initiative within a year. This would have a very favorable impact on the American enactment campaign. Please feel free to share with me your views about my actions. The 911 CC.org website is indisposed by the confusion of the dispute. However we will have a new site (www.votenci.org) up later this month, which will permit you to evaluate the new campaign, to address political issues like 911 in different languages, to register, to vote, and of course to contribute if you share our vision. Thank you. Sincerely Mike Gravel Scott: I hope you will have the sense of fair play to distribute my response to the same venues you delivered your own biased and malicious interpretation of what went on within the 911 Commission committee. mike.