By Craig McKee
Can you make an “uplifting” Hollywood movie about 9/11? Should you try?
If your goal is to encourage people to question the official story, should you focus on the human cost of this horrific event with an eye to making the film a successful piece of dramatic entertainment? What evidence should be examined and what should be left out to avoid controversy within the Truth movement and condemnation from the media?
These questions haven’t been simple ones for first-time screenwriter Howard Cohen, who has written the script for A Violation of Trust (original title: Confession of a 9/11 Conspirator). The setting is the first day of a fictitious new investigation into the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Cohen says he believes that for the film to reach a wide audience that might question the events of 9/11, it has to reach them on an emotional level.
“Why can’t it be uplifting?” Cohen asked in an interview.
The film is being produced under the banner of Actors and Artists for 9/11 Truth and will tentatively star Ed Asner, Woody Harrelson, Martin Sheen, Daniel Sunjata and a number of other politically progressive actors. Cohen is still looking for most of the funding for the production, which he says should cost a modest $1 million. The casting can’t be finalized until the shooting schedule is decided.
The script has been revised many times with whole areas of evidence being excluded, included, then excluded again. The project is currently on its third director, Rafael Monseratte (Poundcake). Well-known French actor/director Mathieu Kassovitz (Amelie, Babylon A.D.) bowed out before Christmas. Cohen isn’t saying who the original director was.
Cohen says Kassovitz’s disaffection might have been the result of a dispute between organizers of the Citizens 9/11 Campaign and the group’s original frontman, former Senator Mike Gravel, over the disbursement of money. Kassovitz announced following the Toronto 9/11 Hearings last September that he was donating $50,000 to that effort.
“I don’t think [the dispute] put him in a great frame of mind,” Cohen says.
Most of the characters in the film will be real people who are being portrayed by actors. These include 9/11 Truth movement figures like David Ray Griffin, Richard Gage, Niels Harrit, and possibly April Gallop. Cohen says he’d like to use actual quotes from these people whenever possible.
A Violation of Trust is based on the writings of Griffin, the 9/11 Truth movement’s most prolific author, who recently co-founded the Consensus 9/11 project. The script is being written with Griffin’s participation and, one would assume, his blessing. But there are many important areas of research that Griffin examines in his books that Cohen isn’t touching – most notably the evidence that no 757 ever crashed into the Pentagon on 9/11.
I’ve read several versions of the script (the most recent one from December 2011), and some Pentagon and Shanksville evidence has been included at one time or another. But much of that has since been taken out in favour of safer evidence that Cohen believes will be less vulnerable to being picked apart by hostile mainstream media like Fox News.
“We’re trying to use bulletproof evidence in the script,” he says. “We’re not speculating about things that are not as factual or not proven.”
This includes evidence put forth by Citizen Investigation Team that a large airliner approached the Pentagon on the north side of the Citgo gas station but did not hit the building (proving that the fallen light poles were staged). Cohen says this eyewitness evidence is “not concrete enough.”
This cautious, safe approach is where Griffin has been trying to lead the 9/11 Truth movement for months. He has sought to get around the supposed controversy about whether anything hit the Pentagon by settling for points where consensus supposedly exists. Ironically, in trying to avoid what I would call contrived controversy, Griffin has created real controversy within the Truth movement over whether to put aside his own strong evidence for no 757 impact at the Pentagon.
Here are the steps Griffin has taken towards appeasing the anti-Pentagon-evidence crowd in recent months:
- His address at the Toronto 9/11 Hearings in September liberally quoted critics of CIT like David Chandler, Jonathan Cole, and Frank Legge.
- The Pentagon chapter in Griffin’s most recent book (9/11 Ten Years Later: When State Crimes Against Democracy Succeed) lays out the argument for and against Pentagon plane impact, again quoting the above three along with another CIT basher, Jim Hoffman. Griffin argues in the chapter that the evidence for no-757 impact is much stronger (he’s right, which makes it harder to understand why he would give these fringe anti-CITers so much credibility).
- He co-founded the Consensus 9/11 project (this actually goes back a year), which features a panel of Truth movement members who vote yes or no on points that contradict the 9/11 official story. For a point to make the consensus list, 85% of members have to vote for it.
- Now, he and Cohen appear to be pushing A Violation of Trust in the same “consensus” direction.
The first Pentagon point to make the Consensus Points list (consensus911.org) is also the one Cohen is betting his money on. He says the evidence that Hani Hanjour did not possess the skills to pilot Flight 77 into the Pentagon on the morning of 9/11 is a major blow to the official story. He says this is strong enough evidence without touching the question of whether anything hit the building in the first place.
But the Hanjour “evidence” is not nearly strong enough to prove inside job. In fact, it’s really quite weak on its own – not proof of anything. For the most part, the CIT bashers (whose motives I find suspicious) think we should drop the Pentagon altogether. I think, on the other hand, that it offers some of the strongest evidence that 9/11 was an inside job. If the Pentagon was indeed the scene of a faked plane crash, who else but the U.S. military could have staged it?
Here are a couple of problems I have with what I’ve seen of the script so far:
- Right off the bat, there’s a problem with terminology. The film opens with a voiceover (bold is mine): “On September 11, 2001 the United States was attacked with over 3,000 lives lost … The 9/11 Commission was to provide the fullest possible accounting of the terrorist attacks and the National Institute of Standards and Technology was to investigate what caused the Twin Towers and Building 7 to collapse.”
- The new investigation in the film is called by the U.S.’s first woman president who has decided there are enough unanswered questions to justify revisiting the subject (she’s concerned about “the kids.”) The problem with this is that it reinforces the false idea that the political leadership in the U.S. actually wants the truth. This misses the entire point: the elite will do everything in its power to hide the truth about 9/11; it certainly won’t permit a new president to blow the whole deal.
Cohen says more recent drafts of his script have emphasized the human element (involving the victims’ families) because he and the director feel that an emotional component to the film is essential for involving the audience in the story. This makes me nervous because I think of two pieces of 9/11 “entertainment” that focus on drama at the expense of facts: Oliver Stone’s awful World Trade Center and the purely fictitious United 93.
The vision statement for the A Violation of Trust, released in February by Cohen, referred to the objectives of the film including “healing, closure,” and the most incomprehensible of all, “forgiveness.” When I read this I was horrified. I’m hoping that this theme does not find its way into the film. It’s not closure or forgiveness we’re looking for, it’s the beginning of truth.
Here are some points the December script does cover:
- Firefighters reported explosions, forced to stay quiet
- Steel beams ejected from WTC at high speed
- WTC steel hauled away quickly to be recycled
- EPA withholds information about toxic air at Ground Zero
- Buildings supposedly collapsed because steel “weakened”
- Top of tower turned to dust in mid air.
- Thermite found in dust
- Thermite too fine for al-Qaeda to have produced
- Towers exhibited numerous characteristics of controlled demolition
- Building 7 also a controlled demolition
- BBC reported collapse of Building 7 half an hour before it happened
- Obvious conflict of interest for Philip Zelikow
- 9/11 Commission Report was pre-determined
- Torture used to get information from alleged al-Qaeda members
- The inexplicable “failure” of the military to intercept any planes
- No four-digit hijack code dialled by any pilots
- The fact that Hani Hanjour could not have flown Flight 77 into the Pentagon
- Lack of damage to Pentagon lawn
- No proof for claim that DNA of passengers was recovered from the Pentagon
- NORAD’s version of events changed
- Whereabouts of Dick Cheney prior to Pentagon event lied about(Mineta)
- Evidence that a plane was shot down over Pennsylvania
- No plane and no bodies in Shanksville field
- No evidence of jet fuel in field
- Evidence that the military was not kept in the dark by the FAA as claimed
- PNAC and the “new Pearl Harbor”
- Neocons wanted to redraw map of Middle East
- U.S. in Afghanistan provides chance for oil pipeline
- American media more about propaganda than truth
- Cognitive dissonance: inability of public to cope with challenge to their world view
My belief continues to be that the “safe” approach – whether with this film or the movement as a whole – is not going to create the breakthrough that all members of the Truth movement agree needs to take place.
Yes, the evidence should be solid and backed up by science. But we can’t let the best evidence get tossed aside because a small group has succeeded in getting it labelled “controversial.” There are certainly infiltrators in the movement who are doing all they can to marginalize some of the strongest and most provocative 9/11 evidence.
I just hope this film doesn’t help them do that.