Project Reports this Week on Whistleblowers, Conventions
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.
The Whistle Blowers Summit each year since 2007 has presented speakers who describe the hardship, hope and often heartbreak that civic-minded employees experience when they dare to tell their stories.
Attracting the attention of the media has become increasingly difficult as major media have downsized drastically in the wake of lost advertising from the Internet. Alternative media are often thinly financed also, and tend to have less impact when they cover a story because of their niche audiences.
The panel below provides a guide to this challenging situation. The 90-minute panel begins at 3 p.m. in Room 201-A at the Capitol Visitors Center, following an opening of the three-day event at 9:30 a.m. that day in the same room.
Getting the News Coverage You Want: Trends & Tips
- Tony Norman, chairman, Pacifica Radio Foundation (co-sponsor of “Whistle Blower Summit 2016”), attorney, and former chairman of Pacifica’s DC outlet WPFW-FM
- Ray Locker, USA Today Washington enterprise editor (shown in a file photo), former reporter, and author of Nixon’s Gamble: How A President’s Own Secret Government Destroyed His Administration
- Dianne Andrews, host of Louisiana-based show “Dianne Andrews In Black and White” and author of the motivational book Gumbo For The Heart and mystery Third Man Out
- Moderator: Andrew Kreig, Justice Integrity Project director.
More generally, polls show that Americans are deeply disappointed with the media, as for many institutions. Whistle blowers have special reason for concern because they rely on media coverage that is increasingly hard to obtain in an era of reduced staff at major media. Experts here provide practical guidance plus cutting edge analysis on the important trends and topics in the news.
In March, for example, Louisiana broadcast host Dianne Andrews interviewed for her In Black & White Talk Show Michael McCray, who is co-chair of the annual Whistle Blower Summit on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC and an author, attorney and "The 40 Million Whistle Blower." As a civil rights lawyer and federal whistleblower, McCray became known as the “$40 Million Whistleblower” when he reported that sum in government waste, fraud and abuse at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Andrews more recently has focused on the horrific shootings of police officers in Baton Rouge, her home. An African-American of generally conservative views, her perspectives are complemented by those of Tony Norman, former chairman of the generally progressive Pacifica Radio Foundation.
Locker is taking time from his day job, helping edit USA Today's convention coverage this week, to provide the invaluable perspective for an editor for one of the nation's largest newspapers.
Understanding New 9/11 Revelations
That evening on July 28, the McClendon Group at the press club hosts for a dutch-treat dinner open to the public Mick Harrison, an Indiana-based attorney representing whistle blowers and researchers. He has played an important part in providing a legal analysis used by those successfully pressuring for release this month of the “28 pages” of a suppressed 2002 congressional report describing primarily Saudi funders of the 19 accused 9/11 hijackers Sept. 11, 2001.
He will appraise the contents of the 28 pages, next steps for research and litigation – and some of the stunning challenges for the 2016 as officials and candidates assess how much disclosure to permit on the roots of the so-called Global War on Terror. The dinner is at 6 and the lecture discussion is at 7 p.m.
The McClendon Group, named for former the late White House correspondent Sarah McClendon, has previously hosted speakers describing how doomsday rhetoric about terror threats has led to relentless attacks upon civil liberties in the U.S., vast spending on a military-intelligence complex, and continued wars in the Middle East.
The current and future basis of this process stems the attacks of 9/11. The so-called 28 pages of the 2002 Senate-House Joint Report describes funding and other assistance to the accused 9/11 hijackers that opens the door to many other truths about 9/11.
More Counter-Terrorism 9/11 Analysis On Capitol Hill
On the morning of July 28, Harrison joins a 9:30 a.m. panel we have assembled back at the Whistle Blower Summit at the Steward Mott House between the Senate Hart Office building and the Supreme Court:
Next Steps Following ’28 Pages’ Revelations on Terrorism Financiers
- Former U.S. Senator and Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Larry Pressler (R-SD) (shown in a file photo), author of An Independent Mission and a former House member, Vietnam War veteran, Rhodes Scholar, Harvard Law School graduate, and Fulbright professor
- Jeff Steinberg, editor, Executive Intelligence Review, author, and longtime advocate/strategist for “28 pages” disclosure
- Mick Harrison, Indiana attorney focused on whistle blower, FOIA and constitutional rights issues, and author of the forthcoming law review article on 28 pages secrecy, “The Pentagon Papers Revisited: Congressional Secrecy And Transparency in the Post-9/11 Era”
- J. Michael Springmann, author of Visas for Al Qaeda, attorney, and former Foreign Services Officer based in Saudi Arabia (shown below at right)
- Panelists will decode the findings of the report and discuss the implications for similar whistle blower advocacy, new research and foreign policy. CBS “60 Minutes” summarized background on the “28 pages” advocacy effort in a hard-hitting “60 Minutes” broadcast this spring entitled: Top secret "28 pages" may hold clues about Saudi support for 9/11 hijackers, with the caption: “Senator Bob Graham and others urge the Obama administration to declassify redacted pages of a report that holds 9/11 secrets.”
The conference’s full agenda, including an awards ceremony for whistle blowers and other civic heroes from around the nation, may be seen at the website: http://whistleblowersummit.com.
Why Tell This?
You may wonder why you see such a detailed description for events that can attract as a practical matter only tiny part of our widely dispersed audience.
Part of reason is, of course, to illustrate the activities of thought-leaders on important issues that are often neglected elsewhere, including by government and most media. Another reason is that we here have been publishing less frequently in recent weeks while undertaking longer-term projects (including the stories behind both recent terrorism events and presidential candidacies) and wanted to show our readers at least some of what we’ve been doing.
Most important, however, is that these sessions and organizations exemplify what we can all do – and must try to do – to elevate others and their messages by working with community and other civic groups. The reform community is filled with reformers. But none of it is going to gain traction unless we take time from our own pet themes to helpful amplify others.
Related News Coverage
New York Times, Congress Releases Secret 9/11 Document Detailing Possible Saudi Ties to Al Qaeda, Mark Mazzetti, July 15, 2016. Congress on Friday made public a long-classified document detailing possible connections between the Saudi government and the Sept. 11 terrorist plot.
The 28-page document is a wide-ranging catalog of possible links between Saudi officials and Qaeda operatives. It details contacts that Saudi operatives in Southern California had with the hijackers and describes the discovery of a telephone number in a Qaeda operative’s phone book that was traced to a corporation managing a Colorado home of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, then the Saudi ambassador to Washington.
Washington Post, Congress releases long-classified '28 pages' on alleged Saudi ties to 9/11, Karen DeYoung, Karoun Demirjian and Adam Goldman, July 15, 2016. A long-classified document, detailing suspected connections between Saudi Arabia and the hijackers who carried out the Sept. 2001 attacks, was released Friday by the House Intelligence Committee after being redacted by U.S. intelligence. The document, referred to as the “28-pages” throughout a years-long battle over whether it should be made public, had taken on a near-mythic status. Victim families and some lawmakers had pushed for the release, charging that the government had tried to cover up possible Saudi links to the attacks, in which 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudi citizens.
Justice Integrity Project, Readers Guide To Suppressed Report On Funders Of 9/11 Hijackers, Andrew Kreig, July 18, 2016. 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.
Justice Integrity Project, Report On Saudi 9/11 Terrorists Prompts Outrage, New Questions, Andrew Kreig, July 18, 2016. 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.
Washington Post, White House says 28 pages of 9/11 report show no evidence of Saudi role, Josh Earnest (White House spokesman), video, July 15, 2016. U.S. intelligence officials have finished reviewing 28 classified pages of the official report on the Sept. 11 attacks and they show no evidence of Saudi complicity, says White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.
Washington Post, The mystery surrounding 28 pages said to show links between 9/11 plotters and Saudi Arabia, Adam Taylor, July 15, 2016. What is the official line on the Saudi role in the 9/11 attacks? Of the 19 hijackers who carried out the 9/11 attacks, 15 were from Saudi Arabia. They were all affiliated with al-Qaeda, the terrorist organization founded by Osama bin Laden, the scion of a wealthy and connected Saudi family. The Saudi royal family also has been accused of tolerating extremist clerics within the kingdom in exchange for domestic stability and political support.
Florida Bulldog, The release of the 28 pages isn’t the last word in the search for who was behind 9/11, Dan Christensen (shown at right), July 15, 2016. It took 13 1/2 years and enormous public and political pressure to force President Obama to order today’s release of the suppressed chapter from Congress’s Joint Inquiry report about apparent Saudi support for the 9/11 suicide hijackers. The pages, however, were not released in full. Nearly every page is speckled with black marks where information was redacted. In some cases, those deletions are of entire paragraphs, almost certainly meaning that controversy about the 28 pages will continue.
Those 28 pages, however, aren’t nearly the last word about the people and events behind 9/11. Tens of thousands, likely hundreds of thousands, of additional U.S. government investigative documents about the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks remain classified.
“I hope the 28 pages are the cork in the bottle and that all that other material will now be released,” said former Florida Sen. Bob Graham. Graham (shown at left in a file photo) co-chaired the Joint Inquiry and has long advocated for the public release of the chapter that was withheld from publication at the direction of President George W. Bush.
CBS 60 Minutes, Top secret "28 pages" may hold clues about Saudi support for 9/11 hijackers, Steve Kroft, April 8, 2016. Current and former members of Congress, U.S. officials, 9/11 Commissioners and the families of the attack's victims want 28 top-secret pages of a congressional report released. Bob Graham, the former Florida governor, Democratic U.S. Senator and onetime chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, says the key section of a top secret report he helped author should be declassified to shed light on possible Saudi support for some of the 9/11 hijackers. Graham was co-chair of Congress' bipartisan "Joint Inquiry" into intelligence failures surrounding the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, that issued the report in 2003.
Graham and his Joint Inquiry co-chair in the House, former Representative Porter Goss (R-FL) — who went on to be director of the CIA — say the 28 pages were excised from their report by the Bush Administration in the interest of national security. Graham wouldn't discuss the classified contents, but says the 28 pages outline a network of people he believes supported hijackers in the U.S. He tells Kroft he believes the hijackers were "substantially" supported by Saudi Arabia.
Asked if the support was from government, rich people or charities, the former senator replies, "all of the above."
"I think its implausible to believe that 19 people, most of whom didn't speak English, most of whom had never been in the United States before, many didn't have a high school education, could have carried out such a complicated task without some support from within the United States," says Graham.
Graham and others think the reason for classifying the pages was to protect the U.S. relationship with ally Saudi Arabia.