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Charges of Sabotage Plague NY 9-11 Ballot Initiative


By Mark Anderson

NEW YORK, N.Y.—The New York City 9-11 ballot proposal is dead, as backers confirmed in writing on Oct. 19. It was intended to be put before city voters Nov. 3.

Members of New York City Coalition for Accountability Now, or NYC CAN, decided not to appeal State Supreme CourtJudge Ed Lehner’s Oct. 8 decision to uphold the court referee’s recommendation to deny the petition. The petition sought voter approval for a new 9-11 investigation.


NYC CAN spokesman Ted Walker informed AMERICAN FREE PRESS of this development with an eight-page statement entitled “Turning Point” which already makes a new proposal: A long-term public relations campaign that urges, among other things, 9-11 groups to unify behind this campaign to reach a greater cross section of the American public with a multi-media approach. The claim is that this will require less money than an advertising campaign, but hiring a PR firm, which is not free, is clearly contemplated, as indicated below in a statement excerpt:

“Lessons learned? With the experience gained in persuading 80,000 NYC voters to act, the strategy that will work has become ever more clear: a national public relations campaign to persuade the American public to rethink the bill of goods they were sold and now accept as bible truth . .... The right PR firm not only partners in shaping strategy and message to convey the desired image, but also maintains the media contacts to bring that message directly to the public. The most daunting challenge PR firms face in effectively conveying an image with which the public will identify lies in identifying trusted spokespersons that can articulate [a] message in a manner that engenders their support. Those individuals have already been identified. All that remains is the crafting of the message and the vehicle for the right spokespeople to drive that message home.”

While these spokespersons have not yet been named, AFP has chronicled over the last two years that a prior 9-11 ballot proposal was abandoned – some allege toppled—in 2007. The ripples are still being felt today.

Former Steering Committee member Allan Rohde is among those who recalled that the original New York City 9-11 ballot proposal that called for creating a new office of a city-level attorney general as a proposed funding mechanism, via legal actions including anti-trust suits, was abandoned but perhaps should have been maintained. He feels this matter is especially notable now, in light of the fact that the City Clerk’s office on July 24, 2009 stated in a denial letter that lack of a funding mechanism was among the reasons for denying the current ballot proposal.

According to Rohde’s allegations, longtime 9-11 ballot-petition leader Les Jamieson originally supported this local attorney general idea but backed away from it when William F. Pepper, a self-described barrister, entered the scene in the summer of 2007. “Pepper came along and demanded that it (the city AG idea) be removed. As soon as Pepper came along, Jamieson went over to his side,” according to Rohde. “When he made this demand we (the steering committee) thought it was a pretty suspicious move.”

Rohde alleged that Jamieson was promised funding by Pepper and the local AG idea was then removed.

The local-AG component of the original 9-11 ballot proposal was reported by AFP in the spring of 2007. This specific idea’s creator is Manhattan attorney Carl Person, who at the time offered himself as the candidate to be the first-ever city-level attorney general in the nation.

Person recalled as this AFP edition went to press that the N.Y. City Council can simply adopt any ballot proposal without the petitioning process. “If they want it, they adopt it, so having not passed it [themselves] they are in opposition to it,” he said of the current 9-11 proposal.

Rohde believes that, contrary to Pepper’s and Jamieson’s view that the local AG idea would have been too radical a change to get past city election authorities, it may have been the very thing that would have given the ballot idea a better chance because the new AG would have worked on various matters to help New York City citizens besides spearheading a new 9-11 investigation, bringing in money through litigation and giving the city government a new stream of significant revenue.

“If a city AG could raise money, the city might want it to pass, if even for the AG idea itself,” Rohde said.

Rohde recalled that committee members looked into Pepper’s background and determined that, in their opinion, “We found out that he was a pretty mysterious man,” as the allegation goes.

AFP stopped at St. Mark’s Church on Manhattan’s lower-east side for the “We Demand Transparency” event where Pepper was to speak the evening of Sept. 12. However, he did not show up, even though he was described as “chief counsel to NYC CAN” in the event’s advance publicity online. He has authored several notable books, and according to Wikipedia online, he represented James Earl Ray and tried to prove his innocence in the shooting of Martin Luther King “some years after King’s death.”

Still, the overriding concern is whether the 9-11 ballot proposal intended for the Nov. 3, 2009 election was allegedly mishandled, or worse, in a manner that resulted in legal precedents against such a concept, thereby making any future ballot attempts harder to advance in a legal landscape slanted against a new 9-11 investigation.

The NYC CAN statement also states: “Our best and current expert legal advice indicates that no petition of this kind, however framed, can ever be assured success in New York City. Hence, no more time, energy, or money will be spent on this court action or a new petition effort.”

Rohde added that he is surprised that NYC CAN got more than 30,000 signatures approved, given allegations that some petitions were signed by someone other than the actual circulator [i.e. petitioner] in a city that has invalidated petitions for far lesser flaws.

The statement continues: “Those who wield political power will be swayed neither by rational dialogue nor by the best interests of those they are meant to serve, as their motivation to act is based upon that which it always has – an insulating propagation of self-interest. Only by winning the hearts and minds of the people will our voice be heard in the halls of power that govern this country. Only when that voice echoes our message will it reverberate through those halls too loudly to be ignored. Only when the people wield the threat of their vote will those in power be forced to act. It is to the people we must make our appeal. Only then will we succeed.”

But this statement announcing the move to a “PR mode” did not sit well with all NYC CAN supporters. Kevin Barrett, a well-known lecturer on 9-11 issues, told AFP: “As a strong supporter of NYC CAN, I am disappointed by their decision to give up the legal fight. Their press release announcing that decision [not to appeal] was not very impressive. It was little more than a long-winded, repetitious diatribe about how the truth movement needs to improve its PR techniques. The thesis was that by abandoning the ballot initiative struggle, and issuing a poorly-written email urging us to get better at PR, NYC CAN was somehow taking the battle for 9/11 truth to the next level. I am baffled by this press release. I would have preferred a clear and concise explanation of precisely why they’re abandoning the project they’ve worked so hard on. ‘Because we ran out of money to pay the lawyers’ would have sufficed.”

Person disagrees with the city Law Department’s assessment [reported in AFP last week, No. 43, Oct. 26] that the special investigative commission that would have been created had the 9-11 ballot proposal been fully approved lacked legal authority to subpoena witnesses, etc.

“It was to be a government agency,” given authority by the voters, Person explained, adding, however, that the lack of a clear funding mechanism and the proposed commission’s make-up consisting of a lot of non-New Yorkers helped diminish the petition’s chances, in his view.

MARK ANDERSON is AFP's corresponding editor. 

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(Issue # 32, August 10, 2009)

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