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A New 9/11 Commission: Defining Amnesty

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Every country seems to have its Velvet Revolution sometime, and, it seems, we may go through ours.  The question I have posed in past articles and discussions is: If you believe 911 was an inside job, and you believe that in order to get at the truth, it may be necessary to grant officers in the military and in the civilian branches like the CIA some sort of immunity, that is, full or partial amnesty for their role or knowledge of the events, how do you determine who gets what?

Surely someone who knew he would be killing innocent civilians merits different consideration than one who did not.  Some may have been following orders which they felt uneasy obeying, sensing that something was amiss.  Some may have felt that the consequences of not following questionable orders would be severe.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but during the Cold War it required two men to simultaneously push their own button in the command bunker to launch a nuclear warhead, a safety measure against one nut flipping out.  Each man's order came from a different officer, an assurance that this was a command decision.  But to be equally safe from enlisted men who understood better than their superiors that this would be the end of humanity, a measure was in place to enforce the pushing of both buttons.  Each man in the bunker had a sidearm, and if one of you refused to sign your name to the Apocalypse, the other man had orders to shoot you.  Communications to the outside world were cut off so you had no way of knowing if your whole family was already dead in a nuclear strike.   Leave it to West Point to think of everything.

Partial amnesty in a new 911 investigation, in one possible scheme, could mean a light sentence for those under duress but who had no idea of the full magnitude of the consequences of their orders.  Full amnesty could be granted to those in the military or civilian chain of command who have knowledge which leads to uncovering the truth in the chain of events, but who personally did not give or carry out any questionable orders. 

A new US House of Representatives resolution could be filed bipartisanly, such as by Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich.  Then the normal democratic process takes over, of lobbying your congressman to become a co-sponsor, showing up at his or her town meetings, calling, writing.  In other words, doing democracy.  Some definition of amnesty should be written into the body of the resolution.

In other truth and reconciliation movements, such as Argentina's, officers admitted to giving the order to kill, or themselves killing, some of the "disappeared" in the "Dirty War."  The Mothers of the Disappeared, as the mothers and grandmothers of the victims called themselves, stood before government buildings in silence with pictures of their loved ones, challenging the government to silence them by killing them as well.  Thus the government was embarrassed into opening investigations.

Some soldiers wept and begged forgiveness in the courtrooms of Argentine Truth and Reconciliation.  The country has moved on.  The aim of new 911 investigations should be to, first, get at the truth, second, punish the highest level of plotters, perpetrators, and intellectual authors of 911, and third, to enable the country to heal and move on. 

The Argentine Dirty War was partially financed and assisted militarily by the American CIA at the time, so we can now learn from those whom we have oppressed.  Who would've thunk these countries could teach America anything?

Ralph Lopez is the author of "Truth in the Age of Bushism."


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Ralph Lopez majored in Economics and Political Science at Yale University. He writes for Truth Out, Alternet, Consortium News, Op-Ed News, and other Internet media. He reported from Afghanistan in 2009 and produced a short documentary film on (more...)

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