The following is a comprehensive update from Mick Harrison, litigation director of the Lawyers’ Committee for 9/11 Inquiry, of the organization’s ongoing legal initiatives, including the Grand Jury Investigation Project and the FBI 9/11 Review Commission Lawsuit. Having partnered with the Lawyers’ Committee on these projects, we at Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth are grateful for the expertise, creativity, and perseverance they have brought to the pursuit of 9/11 Justice. We also thank the many dedicated activists and donors who have made these endeavors possible over the past year.
The Lawyers’ Committee for 9/11 Inquiry, Inc. is a non-profit organization whose mission is to promote transparency and accountability regarding 9/11. The Lawyers’ Committee is committed to uncovering, and ensuring that the public is fully informed of, the full truth of the events surrounding the tragedy that occurred on September 11, 2001. The Lawyers’ Committee’s primary methodology is to apply the law to the many years of research, investigation, and analysis by scientists, engineers, architects, and investigators and use legal options including federal court litigation to bring the full truth regarding 9/11 to light and to ensure that the victims (direct and indirect) of 9/11 receive substantial justice.
Although the prior work of independent researchers, investigators and scientists has gone a long way towards discovering and informing the public as to the truth of what occurred on 9/11, many key facts have yet to be disclosed or acknowledged. Because, as the evidence developed to date indicates, criminal activity and corruption are involved, and because some or all of the federal agencies (and private parties) involved have not been forthcoming with the public regarding all the information they possess regarding this tragedy, the use of Freedom of Information Act litigation and the subpoena and discovery powers that accompany other federal civil litigation options is critical to achieving transparency and accountability regarding 9/11. Under the circumstances, key information necessary to a full understanding of what occurred on 9/11 can only be obtained via legal compulsion.
The Lawyers’ Committee, in furtherance of its mission, is in the process of conducting multiple federal lawsuits and several independent investigations into various aspects of the events surrounding 9/11. An update on the status of these efforts is provided below.
Lawyers’ Committee’s Federal Lawsuit Against the FBI for Disclosure of 9/11 Evidence
Considerable public pressure from family members of the victims eventually caused the Congress via legislation signed by the President in November 2002 to establish the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (commonly known as the “9/11 Commission”). The 9/11 Commission was tasked to prepare a full and complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11 attacks. However, the 9/11 Commission suffered from several publicly acknowledged limitations. Commission Co-Chair Hamilton stated that there were all kinds of reasons that he and others on the Commission thought they were set up to fail. Ultimately, the 9/11 Commission produced a voluminous report which addressed some, but not all, of the then-available evidence relating to the 9/11 attacks. The 9/11 Commission’s 2004 report left many of the key questions of the 9/11 victims’ family members (again) unanswered. The members of the 9/11 Commission themselves acknowledged that additional evidence relating to the attacks would likely be brought forward after their report was issued. Over the ten years that followed, significant additional evidence regarding the 9/11 attacks was in fact publicly reported.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation’s (FBI) 9/11 Review Commission was established some ten years later in January 2014 pursuant to a congressional mandate. The Review Commission was tasked specifically by Congress to produce, among several other independent assessments, “3) An assessment of any evidence now known to the FBI that was not considered by the 9/11 Commission related to any factors that contributed in any manner to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.” The enabling legislation also required the FBI Director to report to the Congressional committees of jurisdiction on the findings and recommendations resulting from this review.
The Lawyers’ Committee’s active lawsuit against the FBI before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (case # 1:19-cv-00824) is designed to obtain a federal court order to force the FBI to assess and disclose to Congress, as mandated by Congress, all 9/11 evidence not considered by the original 9/11 Commission, including: 1) evidence of the use of pre-planted explosives and incendiaries at the World Trade Center (WTC) on 9/11; 2) evidence regarding the arrest and later release of several individuals who were observed celebrating the attacks at the WTC early on 9/11 (referred to in FBI reports as the “High-Fivers”); 3) evidence of Saudi and other financing of terrorism and assistance to the alleged 9/11 hijackers; 4) video evidence regarding the Pentagon attack on 9/11; 5) evidence regarding aircraft wreckage and parts recovered at the Pentagon, Shanksville, and WTC; and 6) evidence regarding phone calls reportedly made on 9/11 from hijacked aircraft. The 2014-2015 9/11 Review Commission failed to assess any of the above referenced categories of significant 9/11 evidence.
This federal lawsuit has the potential for the Lawyers’ Committee to obtain and use court authorized discovery powers including subpoena power to obtain key evidence and testimony in the process of obtaining the requested court order to ensure that all this 9/11 evidence is provided to Congress and made public, as Congress intended. The Lawyers’ Committee has filed a federal Complaint to initiate this case in the United States District Court for the District of Columbia and the government was served with summons and the complaint. The FBI has filed a motion to dismiss the case on legal procedural grounds challenging the Lawyers’ Committee’s and the other Plaintiffs’ standing as well as the enforceability of the mandate from Congress at issue. The Lawyers’ Committee has filed its Memorandum in opposition to the government’s motion and a decision from the District Court could be forthcoming at any time. If the plaintiffs survive the government’s procedural motion, then the parties will brief the merits of the Lawyers’ Committee’s allegations regarding the FBI’s failure to honor this mandate from Congress and the court will decide whether the FBI and the Department of Justice (DOJ) will be ordered to take appropriate actions to assess and report to Congress all of these key categories of 9/11 evidence.
Lawyers’ Committee’s Petition to the U.S. Attorney for Submission to Special Grand Jury and Follow-Up Federal Mandamus Lawsuit
The Lawyers’ Committee made a public commitment to petition the U.S. Attorney to present 9/11 evidence regarding WTC demolition to a special grand jury. Pursuant to that commitment, on April 10, 2018, the Lawyers’ Committee filed a fifty-plus page original Petition with the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. The Petition was accompanied by fifty-seven exhibits containing extensive scientific and eyewitness evidence confirming that explosives were used to destroy three WTC buildings (WTC1, WTC2, and WTC7) on 9/11. That evidence included independent scientific laboratory analysis of WTC dust samples showing the presence of high-tech explosives and/or incendiaries; numerous first-hand reports by First Responders of explosions at the WTC on 9/11; expert analysis of seismic evidence that explosions occurred at the WTC towers on 9/11 prior to the airplane impacts and prior to the building collapses; and expert analysis by architects, engineers, and scientists concluding that the rapid onset symmetrical near-free-fall acceleration collapse of three WTC high rise buildings on 9/11 exhibited the key characteristics of controlled demolition.
In the months that followed the Lawyers’ Committee also filed with the U.S. Attorney an amended petition on July 30, 2018, adding several 9/11 related federal crimes, and supplements to the amended petition (including related to persons who may have material information regarding the crimes reported) which, like the original petition, focused on the issue of the (heretofore uninvestigated or prosecuted) use of explosives at the WTC on 9/11. The U.S. Attorney replied to the Lawyers’ Committee in a letter dated November 7, 2018 stating: “We have received and reviewed The Lawyers’ Committee for 9/11 Inquiry, Inc.’s submissions of April 10 and July 30, 2018. We will comply with the provisions of 18 U.S.C. § 3332 as they relate to your submissions.”
The Lawyers’ Committee’s Petition requests that the U.S. Attorney present this evidence to a Federal Special Grand Jury pursuant to a statutory duty, and the U.S. Attorney has replied to the Lawyers’ Committee via the aforementioned letter that he intends to comply. The grand jury/DOJ petition supplements filed include information regarding those individuals and entities that may have material information regarding these crimes of 9/11, including those who know of, or were involved in, funding and assisting any of the alleged hijackers or other perpetrators and planners of the crimes of 9/11. The Lawyers’ Committee’s Petition to the DOJ to submit 9/11 evidence to a federal Special Grand Jury is intended to facilitate a grand jury using its own subpoena power to get to the bottom of what happened on 9/11, and determine who perpetrated the crimes of 9/11 and who financed and otherwise assisted the commission of those crimes.
Attorneys from the Lawyers’ Committee had a telephone conversation with one of the Assistant U.S. Attorneys (AUSA) who signed the U.S. Attorney’s letter to the Lawyers’ Committee, asking if the U.S. Attorney could disclose to the Lawyers’ Committee the status of the Lawyers’ Committee’s Petition and whether the Lawyers’ Committee’s evidence had in fact been submitted to the Special Grand Jury. The AUSA stated that he could not share this information with the Lawyers’ Committee. The Lawyers’ Committee’s attorneys advised that they were hoping to avoid the need for filing a federal mandamus lawsuit against the U.S. Attorney regarding their Petition and asked if there was any information the AUSA could share with the Lawyers’ Committee regarding the status of the Lawyers’ Committee’s Petition or grand jury process that would prevent the Lawyers’ Committee having to file such a mandamus action. The AUSA stated he could not disclose any such information. As a result, concluding there was no other option to confirm that the Lawyers’ Committee’s Petition and evidence had been submitted to the Special Grand Jury (and that the U.S. Attorney had in fact complied with the law), the Lawyers’ Committee filed a federal mandamus Complaint and Motion for Disclosure of grand jury records in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.
Federal law, 28 U.S.C. § 1361, provides for a suit to compel a federal official to perform a mandatory (not discretionary) duty, and Rule 6 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure allows for motions seeking to have a court disclose some or all of a grand jury proceeding for good cause. If the court denies the Lawyers’ Committee’s motion for disclosure, or grants the motion and the disclosure shows that the U.S. Attorney has not presented the Lawyers’ Committee’s Amended Petition and evidence to the Special Grand Jury, then the Lawyers’ Committee would proceed via the mandamus petition to seek an order requiring the U.S. Attorney to comply with 18 U.S.C. § 3332 and submit the Lawyers’ Committee’s Amended Petition and evidence, as supplemented, to the Special Grand Jury.
The summons and Complaint in this case (case # 1:19-cv-08312) were served on the U.S. Attorney, US Attorney General, and the DOJ on December 5, 2019. The government will have 60 days to file their answer to the allegations in the Complaint and both sides are likely to file motions with the court thereafter to brief the court regarding the merits of the Lawyers’ Committee’s legal claims. A decision could come from the court as early as Spring of next year.
Lawyers’ Committee’s Freedom of Information Act Campaign
The federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) allows for lawsuits to compel federal agencies to produce records improperly withheld from citizens who request such records. The FOIA is an important tool in promoting transparency regarding 9/11. In order for the victims of 9/11 to prevail in federal litigation regarding the crimes of 9/11, they need to obtain access to as many of the government’s records, including FBI and CIA records, regarding the events of 9/11, and regarding potential perpetrators and aiders and abettors, as possible. The public and the Congress also need to see, and are entitled to see, these same records so that appropriate actions may be taken to prevent a recurrence of such horrible crimes. Only when such crimes, and all of the perpetrators of them, are fully understood, can such tragic history be prevented from repeating itself, and justice be achieved. Towards this end, the Lawyers’ Committee is pursuing multiple FOIA lawsuits, FOIA administrative appeals, and FOIA requests.
The Lawyers’ Committee has thus far filed three federal court lawsuits, all currently active, before the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia under the FOIA to obtain federal agency records related to the demolition of WTC buildings on 9/11. These on-going lawsuits focus on obtaining all raw data collected during the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Building Performance Study (case # 1:15-cv-01991), obtaining National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) records of interviews done with First Responders during 2003-2004 (case # 1:19-cv-01070), and obtaining WTC7 data about Column 79 measurements (Column 79 is where NIST claims the collapse of building 7 initiated) (case # 1:19-cv-01182). The Lawyers’ Committee also is actively pursuing an appeal in a New Jersey (NJ) Open Public Records Act (OPRA) lawsuit in the NJ courts which is aimed at obtaining records including photographs related to the arrest on 9/11 of individuals the FBI refers to as the “High-Fivers.” In addition, the Lawyers’ Committee has played a key role in supporting Attorney David Meiswinkle (in his private capacity) in pursuing 9/11 records regarding the Flight 93 crash near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. Attorney Meiswinkle’s records request and subsequent appeal led to a mediation which then led to two site visits by Attorney Meiswinkle, the Lawyers’ Committee Executive Director, and Litigation Director Mick Harrison to the Coroner’s Office near Shanksville where voluminous 9/11 records were maintained. As a result, the Lawyers’ Committee obtained many heretofore unavailable 9/11 records related to the Shanksville incident and Flight 93 victims.
The Lawyers’ Committee has plans for a more comprehensive FOIA campaign to obtain government agency records related to all key areas of the Lawyers’ Committee’s 9/11 investigation including funding and assistance to alleged hijackers or other perpetrators or planners of the crimes of 9/11, the incident at the Pentagon, the incident at Shanksville, and potential FBI and other agency 9/11 related misconduct. The Lawyers’ Committee, if available resources allow, will file several more FOIA lawsuits regarding government records in each of these areas of 9/11 investigation that have been withheld by various agencies, including the FBI, DOD, and national security and intelligence agencies.
Lawyers’ Committee’s Multi-focused 9/11 Investigations and New Grand Jury Petitions
In addition to our on-going inquiry into what happened at the WTC on 9/11, the Lawyers’ Committee is initiating, within the limitations of available resources, investigations, including field investigations and witness interviews, regarding several major aspects of 911 including the Pentagon, Shanksville, and potential government misconduct and obstruction of justice. These new Lawyers’ Committee investigations will include an effort to develop and preserve witness testimony, including by depositions and voluntary affidavits, and to obtain and preserve physical evidence related to key aspects of 9/11. The public will be invited to contribute to these new investigations. Once complete, depending on the results from these new investigations, the Lawyers’ Committee anticipates that additional petitions may be submitted to one or more U.S. Attorneys for further evidence submissions to special grand juries related to Shanksville, the Pentagon, and government misconduct/obstruction of justice.
Other Potential Investigations and Legal Actions by the Lawyers’ Committee
The Lawyers’ Committee is also evaluating the feasibility of the Lawyers’ Committee preparing and submitting petitions and testimony to relevant committees and subcommittees of Congress in support of a formal investigative and oversight effort by Congress on key 9/11 issues. Congress has authority to conduct oversight of the FBI and other federal agencies as well as the power to subpoena FBI, CIA, and other agency 9/11 related records and testimony from key government officials. The other legal actions and investigations by the Lawyers’ Committee described above are designed to produce both sufficient information to inform such investigative efforts by Congress and to motivate such investigative efforts by Congress. By implementing legal strategies focused on all three branches of the government, the Lawyers’ Committee intends to create a synergy that allows each action to strengthen and facilitate the others.
Although no one of these legal and investigative actions may, standing alone, bring out the full truth of 9/11 and achieve complete justice for the families and accountability on behalf of the public, use of all the above legal actions and investigations together maximizes the potential for achieving these worthy goals.