February 19, 2013
By Craig McKee
An international conference on 9/11 being organized in France by a little known quantity within the 9/11 Truth movement, literature professor William Schnabel, has been cancelled for unknown reasons.
The conference was scheduled for Sept. 11-13 at the University of Lorraine in the city of Nancy. Schnabel, who teaches at the university, issued a “call for papers” last fall – with a Dec. 25 deadline for submission. Those wishing to make presentations to the conference were required to submit a 300-word abstract stating what their presentation would be about. Those selected would be informed by Feb. 1. Before that date arrived, however, we got the news that there would be no conference. Participants were informed in a brief email. No explanation was given.
I was part of a group that collaborated on one of the proposals. Had we been selected, our group would have made a presentation to the conference on our chosen topic – the evidence that no large plane hit the Pentagon on 9/11.
Our group consisted of Paul Zarembka, an economics professor at State University of New York at Buffalo and editor of The Hidden History of 9-11; Dennis McMahon, a lawyer who has represented 9/11 families and who is a member of the Consensus 9/11 Panel; and Shelton Lankford, a retired pilot and member of Pilots for 9/11 Truth. And me.
Noted truther Barrie Zwicker submitted his own proposal for a paper on the importance of language in shaping perceptions about 9/11. I would very much have looked forward to this presentation because I share Barrie’s views about the subject, which I have written about on Truth and Shadows. Zarembka also submitted a second proposal to the conference on the subject of the Toronto 9/11 Hearings, which took place in Sept. 2011.
Zwicker shared with me that he wrote to Schnabel recently to ask for details of the cancellation, but he has received no response.
I’m disappointed that the conference didn’t happen and that I’ll never know if our group would have been selected, but I’m not entirely surprised. There were questions about the conference from the beginning. The first concern I had was with the “call for papers.” This featured very troubling statements made as if they were uncontested facts. The first paragraph started things off in very problematic way:
“On September 11th, a series of airplane hijackings and suicide attacks were committed against strategic targets in the United States. Nearly three thousand people were killed in New York City, almost two hundred at the Pentagon and forty more died near Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in the open countryside, shortly after 10 a.m. The United States and the world were taken by surprise that fateful morning when hijackers seized four jet airliners.”
Schnabel, perhaps in an effort to appease colleagues unsympathetic to the 9/11 cause, made several assumptions in that first paragraph that are at best unproven and at most flat out wrong:
- The four planes were hijacked? – The evidence says no. In fact there is no proof that any of the 19 alleged hijackers ever stepped on any of the planes.
- Suicide attacks? – See above.
- Flight 93 crashed near Shanksville? – This is totally false. There was very little wreckage at the scene; just a ditch and some smoke. Oh, and a singed passport of one of the “hijackers.”
- Strategic targets attacked? Calling them attacks suggests that it was external enemies who were behind the event. False.
- The United States was taken by surprise? If he means the government, the evidence says otherwise. The military stand-down makes that clear.
That was just the first paragraph. Later, the paper makes this statement:
- America’s law enforcement and intelligence communities have addressed the nation’s vulnerabilities, the result of which has been the reorganization of the federal government, notably with the creation of Homeland Security, new FBI focus, the implementation of the Terrorist Threat Integration Center (TTIC) and the Patriot Act, increased border surveillance, and so on.
Again, an assumption is made that shouldn’t be, that America was vulnerable and that the creation of the Department of Homeland Security was a genuine response to that.
Here are a couple of other softball points:
- It goes without saying that not all researchers concur with the official version of the events.
- Many questions have been raised concerning the Kean-Hamilton Report, not all of which have been satisfactorily answered.
Have ANY been satisfactorily answered?
If one were to give Schnabel and whomever else was involved some benefit of the doubt, one could note these statements might have been written the way to keep the focus broad – in other words not exclusively on the question of whether 9/11 was an inside job. He may have been dealing with hostile colleagues who opposed the conference altogether.
The document concludes with this: “… there are several avenues of investigation possible: historical, psychological, geopolitical, legal, architectural, social, cinematographic, economic, scientific, militaristic, journalistic, and so on. Papers supporting the American government’s position are welcome, as are those critical of it, or taking a more neutral stand.”
That’s about as broad as you can get. Perhaps too broad.
Schnabel contacted Zwicker last August to invite him to be a speaker. In correspondence between the two, Zwicker offered his suggestions on things to watch out for in organizing the conference, choosing speakers, security, technical issues like sound, etc.
Zwicker has plenty of experience in these areas, having been involved in organizing the six-day International Citizens’ Inquiry Into 9/11, held at The University of Toronto in May 2004. He also collaborated with Citizen Investigation Team in organizing a screening of their film National Security Alert the night of the closing of the Toronto 9/11 Hearings in 2011.
One thing our group found strange was that Schnabel wanted personal information from each individual or group that included not only a curriculum vitae, photo and contact information but also a photocopy of a personal identity card.
Not all truthers in France are big supporters of professor Schnabel. The country’s largest 9/11 Truth group, Reopen 911, is not communicating with him at all. One point of contention, apparently, is that Schnabel wrote a letter to the editor to a French publication in which he mentioned support for a number of familiar 9/11 Truth movement figures (it included David Ray Griffin, Webster Tarpley, Thierry Meyssan, Barrie Zwicker and others). But among those listed were two very controversial figures, David Icke and Eric Hufschmid (Icke for his “reptilian” views and Hufschmid because he is seen by many as being anti-Semitic). The group evidently felt that by endorsing the latter two, the Truth movement could be open to ridicule.
For this and other reasons, some people may feel that the cancellation of the conference may not be such a loss after all.
The submissions won’t lead to anything directly, but the exercise was still a worthwhile one. At least it was for me since I had never been involved in anything like this before. The collaborative process went very well, I thought, especially considering the fact that we were all located in different cities – and in my case in a different country.
The “no large plane hit the Pentagon” presentation won’t happen in France this September, but that doesn’t mean you won’t see anything noteworthy offered on the subject this year. It’s a vital 9/11 subject and a case that has to continue to be made.