May 2, 2012
By Craig McKee
Two members of David Ray Griffin’s Consensus 9/11 Panel have quit in protest following the dismissal of fellow member Paul Zarembka.
Journalist and author Barrie Zwicker and Pilots For 9/11 Truth core member Shelton Lankford resigned from the Panel last week in solidarity with Zarembka (author of The Hidden History of 9-11) and over disagreements the three have with Griffin and Panel co-founder Elizabeth Woodworth about how the project is being administered.
“I felt Paul’s treatment was kind of a last straw,” Lankford said in an interview. “For me the Consensus Panel process was functioning as a gatekeeper, and evidence deemed controversial was not going to be considered.”
Zarembka added in an interview: “It’s kind of an authoritarian process. They determine what questions are dealt with, how they are dealt with, and even how many points are considered. They chose the panel members; they chose the structure of it.”
The departures leave the Panel without three of the strongest supporters of the research efforts of Citizen Investigation Team, which contends that the plane that approached the Pentagon flew on a flight path (north of the Citgo gas station) that was inconsistent with the physical damage path and with impact of any kind. In fact, the three listed the complete absence of CIT evidence being considered by the Panel among reasons they lost confidence in the project. None, however, says they renounce all the points the Panel has agreed upon.
With the departures, the chances of the Panel approving any points based on this evidence in the future have been markedly reduced if not eliminated. The effect on the Panel’s credibility remains to be seen.
Woodworth responded to a request for comment with a written message in which she said all three departing members had done good work on the first set of consensus points.
“Most of our Panel Members understand that the Consensus Panel is not a forum for discussing and attempting to settle unresolved evidence. It is basically a ‘blind’ review and approval process for straightforward evidence that has achieved peer review through publication, or that represents a logical contradiction within the 9/11 account.” Griffin was unavailable for comment.
Lankford explained some of his concerns with the Consensus Panel process in his letter of resignation:
“The Consensus process, as it is being administered, seems by design to exclude any evidence that contradicts the framework within which the 911 Commission operated … The removal of Paul Zarembka from the panel would seem to cement the enforcement of an authoritarian view of evidence as being what the co-founders say it is.”
The Panel uses the Delphi Method originally created by the RAND Corporation. With this project, points are formulated by the founders and submitted to the members (although new provisions were announced to members in March allowing them to submit points as well) to be considered and voted upon.
Zarembka questions the value of the Delphi Method to arrive at “best evidence” of what is false in the 9/11 official story (members are given points against an element of the official story and asked to approve or not. Each point requires the support of 85% of the members to be adopted. The Panel is currently working on its third set of points).
“I didn’t understand why it was useful in the 9/11 context,” Zarembka said. “I still don’t. It’s not by any means a democratic process; it’s a top-down process.”
Zwicker added in an interview: “There’s too much power residing with Elizabeth and David. There wasn’t sufficient room to question why a particular point was brought forward and how it was worded.”
The Panel was founded for the purpose of creating a bank of points that contradict individual elements of the 9/11 official story. These points are intended to stand as reference material for the public and media. There is no limit to how many points may be added over time.
Woodworth has argued that the process is both an academic and a scientific one that is very useful in determining what the “best evidence” is against the official story.
Woodworth and Griffin jointly wrote to Zarembka on April 22 stating that his objections to certain points under consideration by the Panel and his written assessment of those points were “irresponsible” in that he didn’t stick to the assignment to comment only on whether the points effectively showed the falsity of the official story. Zarembka countered that some of the points had other problems with them that needed to be addressed.
One point of contention was a proposed point that would have implicated Donald Rumsfeld in the 9/11 crimes. Zarembka objected to the point on the grounds that it could be libelous and expose the Panel to possible legal action. When the points were sent out to members for a second round of consideration, no mention was made of Zarembka’s concern. He says this was the only time he violated the rule against communicating with other members about points under consideration, and that he did this so they’d be aware they could be legally vulnerable.
Zarembka also objected to the wording of another point because it referred to the Sept. 11 “attacks,” a term he feels reinforces the official story that an external enemy attacked the United States. This term is sprinkled throughout the Consensus 9/11 web site. Both Griffin and Woodworth have stated that they consider “attack” to be a neutral term that does not support the image of the event as an external attack.
Zwicker has been the most vocal on this point. In his resignation letter he writes:
“After all these months, the website still refers to ‘Why the attack on the Pentagon was not prevented,’ a persistence in significant self-sabotaging language that verges on the perverse.”
He added in an interview: “How reasonable and intelligent people can argue that ‘attack’ is perfectly good is beyond me.”
Zwicker joined Lankford in supporting Zarembka’s stand on the “stonewalling” of CIT evidence, contending that the controversy over CIT has been artificially created.
“The work and reputation of CIT can be deemed ‘controversial’ only because they have been subject to a most destructive disinformation campaign,” he wrote to Woodworth and Griffin.
The dispute between Zarembka and the founders came to a head when Zarembka was given an ultimatum in writing from Woodworth and Griffin. He was given three choices:
- Revise his “irresponsible” report on the third set of Consensus Points
- Report that he was unable to write the report with a promise to do better in the future
Zarembka refused to do any of these, stating he had done nothing wrong and that the objections he had raised concerning the process and individual points were justified.
Underlying a lot of the frustration that all three departing members have expressed with Consensus Panel process is a concern about the direction Griffin himself has taken in recent months, notably with the publication of his book, 9/11 Ten Years Later: When State Crimes Against Democracy Succeed.
In it, he devotes an entire chapter to the Pentagon, reviewing at some length the arguments of those who attack CIT and claim a 757 did hit the Pentagon but not mentioning CIT at all (in the chapter, does Griffin effectively lay out the non-CIT evidence against impact).
“From an academic point of view that’s unconscionable, to do a whole chapter on the Pentagon and not to mention CIT’s existence,” Zarembka said. “That’s unforgiveable.”
In the book, Griffin lays out his “consensus approach” which takes emphasis away from whether a plane hit and focuses on the fact that a 757 piloted by al-Qaeda could not have. All three of the departing panelists believe this is a significantly weaker position because CIT has shown conclusively that the flight path of the large plane that approached the Pentagon could not have caused physical damage like felled light poles – proving inside job.
Speaking at the Toronto Hearings last September, Griffin repeatedly quoted CIT opponents like David Chandler, Jonathan Cole, and Frank Legge, all of whom have written papers attacking CIT. But again, no CIT evidence was mentioned.
“Dr. Griffin’s shunning of CIT and their well-supported and documented evidence, and embracing their chief critics was a serious mistake,” Lankford said. “Far from identifying best evidence, it seems likely to further marginalize it.”
Where does the panel go from here? Zwicker says there is still the hope that something positive will come of the project and that its credibility hasn’t necessarily been fatally compromised.
Zarembka says the ball is back in their court.
“The personal advantage for me is that my name doesn’t have to be associated with something deeply problematic.”
The Panel added Aidan Monaghan as a member in February. The changes in the Panel’s membership have been laid out on the web site under the innocent heading: “Consensus Panel comings and goings.”