Justice Integrity Project
Former Senator Bob Graham urged pressure on Congress for more disclosure about Saudi Arabian interaction with 9/11 hijackers at an NPC Newsmaker event on Aug. 31. The public should pressure Congress for more disclosure about Saudi Arabian interaction with 9/11 hijackers, said former Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham, D-Fla., Wednesday to a National Press Club Newsmaker audience.
The U.S. House of Representatives, he said, must enable 9/11 victim families to sue Saudi entities suspected of complicity. “These almost 3,000 American victims and their families deserve justice,” said Graham, shown in a photo image by Noel St. John. “They deserve the right, in a court of law, to present the evidence they have gathered, which is voluminous, that will link the kingdom and other entities of Saudi Arabia to the 19 hijackers.”
The Senate unanimously passed the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) in May. The legislation would enable terrorism victims to overcome court rulings backed by the Executive Branch that Saudi defendants receive sovereign immunity from disclosure and liability. The bill is stalled in the House Judiciary Committee.
Graham, a three-term Florida Democrat who retired in 2005 from the Senate, said in remarks broadcast by C-SPAN and NPR that the House has not scheduled a vote on JASTA. Get involved in that fight, he urged the audience.
Saudi officials and some of their defenders in U.S. government have denied Saudi assistance for the hijackers, 15 of whom were Saudis.
In 2002, the Congressional Joint Inquiry into the 9/11 Attacks co-chaired by Graham published a comprehensive study. It included “28 pages” that reported who assisted the hijackers, primarily three based in San Diego.
Graham also called for release of thousands of pages of still-suppressed FBI reports being sought under Freedom of Information Act litigation regarding the other 16 hijackers.
Meanwhile, a statement by the Saudi embassy in Washington “expresses once again its strong disappointment at Senator Bob Graham's continued advocacy of the idea that the government of Saudi Arabia bore responsibility for the attacks of September 11, 2001.”
U.S. authorities have tried to restrict information about Saudi involvement, said Graham, who alleged the FBI has provided “incorrect” information on crucial matters.
“Why are you doing this?” he quoted the FBI’s deputy director as asking him in 2011. “Get a life.”
The sex scandals and political bias revealed at Fox News in recent weeks provide proof positive that the network functions as a propaganda operation that is even worse than its competitors.
The network’s corrupt “news” values are typified by Fox failure to cover for more than a few minutes the sex scandal allegations against Fox founding leader Roger Aisles by two former Fox anchors, Gretchen Carlson (a former Miss America shown at right) and Andrea Tantaros.
Carlson and Tantaros filed separate lawsuits this summer against Ailes in a scandal that prompted his resignation as chairman/CEO of the network he founded in 1996 with Rupert Murdoch's global empire.
More than a score of other Fox employees or former employees besides those plaintiffs are reputed to have exposed Ailes on similar grounds either privately or publicly in recent weeks. That's according to New York Magazine's intrepid reporter Gabriel Sherman, author of the 2014 biography The Loudest Voice in the Room.
Tantaros claimed in her suit that the network "operates like a sex-fueled, Playboy Mansion-like cult."
But as of Aug. 14, Fox had devoted just 11 minutes of airtime to six weeks to the scandal even though it prompted the chairman's resignation, according to a Washington Post story, Fox News confronts (but just barely) a scandal in its own house.
That self-censorship fits Fox's suppression of many other legitimate news stories and its biased treatment through the years hoking up phony scandals, including its transparently bogus reports this month claiming that Hillary Clinton is medically unfit for the presidency. Associated Press reporter Lisa Lerer debunked that story in her first-person account of a supposed uncontrollable fit by Clinton: Video proves Clinton suffering seizures? Not so, I was there.
Today’s column reports these specifics in the context of the long, disgraceful pattern whereby Fox and other major U.S. media have worked through the decades to spike vitally important stories and manufacture phony crusades for political purposes, ranging from presidential politics to more narrow back-stabbing. Last week, for example, it CNN reported: Revealed: Fox News' 400-page oppo file on Gabriel Sherman.
Slanted stories on the nation's most important events have always been a major problem, as indicated by the cover-up of the true facts behind President Kennedy's 1963 assassination, which all major media continued five decades later as we reported in Major Media Stick With Oswald 'Lone Gunman' JFK Theory as part of a 30-part "Readers Guide" to coverage of the murder.
Yet Fox News is especially corrupt even amidst such a grim landscape, in which public opinion polls rate the media as among the most dishonorable American organizations and occupations.
That should cause no surprise. Ailes and Murdoch are notorious in employing ruthless methods to achieve power, including brilliant strategies for combining patriotism, entertainment and sex into money-making success. Along with business and political success, Ailes is the author of the iconic best-seller You Are the Message, and worked with political hit man Lee Atwater on the Willie Horton smear campaign in the 1988 presidential election. His boss Rupert Murdoch has presided over many, many internal scandals through the decades.
Now, Ailes is also the target of particularly repulsive allegations that he used a form of mind-control to sexually and professionally subjugate a longtime staffer, Laurie Luhn, for 20 years, as described below.
Ailes, like Fox, has declined to respond in detail. But as one of the never-ending surprises of the 2016 presidential campaign, GOP nominee Donald Trump is reported to be drawing on Ailes for advice in debate and other campaign strategies.
Coverage of sex scandals provides solid evidence for serious criticism of this multi-billion-dollar new operation, strange as it might seem.
The reasons? For one, Fox and a number of its affiliates founded much of their success on sexually oriented content, including the New York Post's revelations Aug. 28 breaking up the marriage of Hillary Clinton's aide Huma Abedin and former Democratic congressman Anthony Weiner. So there's nothing more apt than an apples-to-apples comparison of how the Murdoch empire treats its own scandals.
Also, media revelations of sex scandals are often linked to political goals, both the ruthless destruction of targeted opponents and blackmail intimidation of other political targets who fear exposure unless they comply with secret demands for favorable decisions on policy.
Murdoch's companies, like some competitors, are well-acquainted with the dark side of such scandal manipulation. In 2011, for example, several top executives at Fox's parent company News Corp. were arrested on charges of using illegally hacked cellphone data to blackmail high-ranking officials in Britain on government policy, as we reported here in the 2012 column PBS Report on Murdoch Shows How ‘Hacking’ Led to Political Blackmail. The scandal reached to the highest levels of the company.
More generally, two score of the leading newspapers, broadcasters, magazines and wire services in the United States worked cooperatively with the CIA to foster CIA-friendly coverage in the Operation Mockingbird program during the 1950s and 1960s to misreport, among other matters, investigation into the JFK assassination, the crime of the century. That pattern has continued in many ways, as indicated below, tainting coverage to some degree at virtually all of the remaining media organizations on their current coverage.
We begin with a brief overview of the history of the Fox Network and its parent company's blackmailing and political intrigues, before before addressing more recent revelations of longstanding sex scandals at the Fox News.
The larger context of other such propaganda by media barons shows that news outlets have always been biased to some degree. But the manipulations at Fox are especially insidious because they are crafted with largely subconscious psychological tools to enrage viewers, helping foster angry voters without the basic information to take effective action.
Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter David Cay Johnston last week became the latest of Donald Trump’s biographers to denounce him and his presidential campaign.
“He’s a con man,” Johnston told a National Press Club audience Aug. 4 in describing his new book The Making of Donald Trump.
Worse, said Johnston (shown in a Justice Integrity Project photo during his talk), Trump is the product of unusually corrupt or otherwise disturbing relationships. These include Trump's KKK-supporting father, the ruthless late superlawyer Roy Cohn, plus powerful leaders in the Gambino and Genovese Mafia families, as well as oligarchs surrounding Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“If people want to elect Donald Trump after they read my book, then they should vote for him, but they should know who they are voting for,” said Johnston, who said he met Trump 28 years ago. “They are voting for a man that doesn’t know anything about anything, who bluffs his way through everything, who has one skill and that is how to make deals that bring cash to him to support the lifestyle that creates the appearance of being a billionaire, and who has no regard for his fellow man.”
Johnston thus joins The Art of the Deal ghostwriter Tony Schwartz in bashing Trump in harsh terms. Schwartz has been saying in recent weeks that the 1987 book that made Trump famous should have been entitled The Sociopath because Trump is too greedy and deranged to merit the presidency.
Schwartz, told the New Yorker in an exclusive interview with Jane Mayer published July 18 that the thought of a Trump presidency is “terrifying.”
“I genuinely believe," Schwartz said, "that if Trump wins and gets the nuclear codes, there is an excellent possibility it will lead to the end of civilization.” Conservative MSNBC "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough separately added a similar concern, as reported Aug. 2 by the Huffington Post in, Joe Scarborough: Donald Trump Repeatedly Asked Why We Couldn’t Use Nukes.
Such serious attacks are rare in a presidential campaign by writers of stature, long study and access to a candidate.
Three recent anti-Hillary Clinton books were listed in the top 10 of the Washington Post's Aug. 7 regional best-seller list. They were by former uniformed Secret Service agent Gary Byrne, conservative pundits Dinesh D'Souza, and Dick Morris and the latter's wife Eileen McGann.
But each has been attacked as partisan or otherwise biased. For example, a Politico article in June headlined, Secret Service veterans denounce anti-Clinton tell-all book, reported "The author of a new tell-all book about Hillary Clinton could never have seen any of what he claims — he was too low-ranking — say several high-level members of Secret Service presidential details, including the president of the Association of Former Agents of the United States Secret Service."
By contrast, Johnston and Schwartz are major New York Times and otherwise credentialed reporters with rare access to Trump that began for each of them nearly 30 years ago.
Johnston, whose book is already a best-seller after publication Aug. 2, says he believes his book draws on the largest collection of Trump-related documents anywhere in the hands of the press thanks to the generous cooperation of other Trump biographers, such as Wayne Barrett.
Schwartz is speaking out for the first time against Trump after the two made millions of dollars from the 1987 Art of the Deal book. Trump's lawyers immediately filed a demand for return of the money July 20 after Schwartz's interviews but Schwartz says his main priority must to be warn the public against Trump, not fear litigation.
Beyond these two, Trump faces similar attacks from his wealthy business colleagues and retired government executives that dwarf what even the opponent he calls “crooked Hillary” has ever had to face.
Billionaire businessman and former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who won his first two mayoral terms as a Republican and last as an independent, endorsed Clinton at the Democratic National Convention with the comment that the nation needs a "sane and competent" president, not a "demagogue." Bloomberg, ranked this summer as the world's eighth richest person, was one of a number of business, military, intelligence, and Republican thought leaders to denounce Trump in recent days.
The annual Whistle Blowers Summit this week in the nation’s capital features three sessions on 9/11 and the media organized by our Justice Integrity Project, which also continues our presidential convention coverage.
Our first major panel at the Summit, a free event held annually on Capitol Hill, will analyze media treatments of cutting-edge issues July 27. One speaker is USA today enterprise editor Ray Locker, author of the recent investigative book Nixon's Gamble.
That evening of the 27th, a Wednesday, 9/11 expert Mick Harrison speaks at the National Press Club on the recently released “28 pages” from a long-suppressed 2002 congressional reported release July 15 under pressure from 9/11 victim families.
They and others wanted to know congressional findings on the identities of the long-hidden funders of the hijackers blamed for the terrorism. Harrison joins a panel on the same topic the next morning as other experts analyze the congressional findings and describe next steps in the search for truth and public safety.
Meanwhile, our project continues coverage of this year’s presidential races with on-the-scene coverage of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, following up our reporting of last week’s Republican National Convention.
Much of our work has been reporting on long-term, in-depth topics not yet published. Each convention has hosted approximately 15,000 reporters. Therefore, curating and showcasing what’s most important is our focus, and a big part of that has been to work with other organizations and experts to present findings in events accessible to the public.
A Readers Guide summarizing news coverage during 2016 of the so-called "28 Pages" (actually 29 pages) is provided below to show the background of the controversy that prompted authorities to release on July 15 a redacted version of the 2002 Senate-House Inquiry on who funded 9/11 terrorism hijackers.
This Readers Guide is a companion piece to the Justice Integrity Project comprehensive column on the topic published July 18, Report On Saudi 9/11 Terrorists Prompts Outrage, New Questions.
It noted how Karen Breitweiser, shown on the cover of her 2006 memoir and supported by four other prominent 9/11 widows, published a hard-hitting Huffington Post column “29 Pages Revealed: Corruption, Crime and Cover-up Of 9/11.”
"First and foremost," she said of those officials claiming there was nothing new in the day's revelations, "here is what you need to know when you listen to any member of our government state that the newly released 29 pages are no smoking gun — THEY ARE LYING."
The summary is below, and will be updated as needed.
Some of the 9/11 hijackers received support from individuals probably connected to the Saudi government, according to a long-classified 2002 Senate-House report released in redacted form on Friday, July 15.
White House spokesman Josh Ernest said the report shows "no evidence" of a Saudi role, and Saudi Ambassador to the United States Abdullah Al-Saud put out a statement welcoming the report's publication as administration officials suggested further that recent investigations have vindicated Saudis from the 2002 report's claims.
But Karen Breitweiser and four other prominent 9/11 widows aptly responded with a hard-hitting Huffington Post column 29 Pages Revealed: Corruption, Crime and Cover-up Of 9/11.
"First and foremost," she said of those officials making announcements, "here is what you need to know when you listen to any member of our government state that the newly released 29 pages are no smoking gun — THEY ARE LYING." She continued:
Our government’s relationship to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is no different than an addict’s relationship to heroin. Much like a heroin addict who will lie, cheat, and steal to feed their vice, certain members of our government will lie, cheat, and steal to continue their dysfunctional and deadly relationship with the KSA — a relationship that is rotting this nation and its leaders from the inside out.
Former Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Bob Graham praised the disclosure as a way to allow families and other investigators to pursue the truth about the attacks that killed more than three thousand Americans on Sept. 11, 2001. Graham, shown in a file photo, has helped lead the fight for release of the report he co-authored in 2002 but has been forbidden to describe until now.
Responding in similarly strong but measured tones was U.S. Rep. Walter Jones, a North Carolina Republican and the most senior incumbent member of congress leading the effort.
Jones said newly declassified pages from a congressional report into 9/11 will give victims' families and the American public more insight into the tragedy, as reported by the Reflector.com in Greenville, NC.
"I'm just delighted for the 9/11 families and the American people that they can see this part of 9/11 and make some decisions for themselves," Jones said. "I said all along that America's strength is when the American people know the truth about a tragedy like 9/11, one of the most horrendous things to happen to America."
President George W. Bush initially classified the report. President Barack Obama, other Executive Branch, and most congressional officials continued the classification. Meanwhile, public pressure has mounted, including a CBS 60 Minutes episode with Steve Kroft broadcast April 8 (and rebroadcast in June), Top secret "28 pages" may hold clues about Saudi support for 9/11 hijackers, making the case for the report's release.
“This has been a long journey on behalf of the 9/11 families who have felt the horrific pain of that day for years," Jones said. "We are happy that President Obama kept his promise to the 9/11 families."
The redacted document names individuals who helped the hijackers get apartments, open bank accounts and connect with local mosques. Fifteen of the 19 hijackers were Saudi nationals and several were not fluent in English and had little experience living in the West.
Jones is shown at the center of our Justice Integrity Project photo last week. It portrays also 9/11 widow Terry Strada at a microphone outside the Capitol building July 6 calling for release of the report. Reps. Stephen Lynch (D-MA) and Thomas Massie (R-KY) are at the right and left of Jones, respectively.
None of the participants in the years-long struggle to release the 2002 report apparently knew the report was going to be released, or even its correct length of 29 pages. The suppressed report has always been called “the 28 pages.” Those pages have been kept locked up under such tight security that even members of Congress who wrote it — and supposedly provide oversight to the FBI, CIA and other Executive Branch agencies — could not discuss it without facing imprisonment.
That deference to the Saudis and their allies within the United States is the most important part of this episode and so shapes our coverage.
We shall cite all relevant viewpoints but note that mainstream media for the most part ignore critics of the official reports. One was former Bush Administration counter-terrorism advisor Richard Clarke.
"The fix is in," he recalled (to a biographer) telling a White House colleague in early 2003 upon hearing news that the 9/11 Commission had hired as its executive director Philip Zelikow. Zelikow, part of the Bush administration transition team in 2000, was a close ally of the administration and a fierce opponent of Clarke, a National Security Council staffer who had unsuccessfully warned about al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden before the 9/11 attacks.