Front Page Coverage of the Vancouver 9/11 Truth Conference

Front Page Coverage of the Vancouver 9/11 Truth Conference

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True believers
by Mark Hasiuk-staff writer

It’s six-o’clock on Friday evening and a slow-moving wave of mostly white men and women aged 18 to 80 flows into the Maritime Labour Centre on Triumph Street for the three-day international 9/11 Truth Conference.

A sense of fellowship permeates the spacious auditorium, approximately the size of two basketball courts. People talk excitedly and settle into rows of temporary seating that surround a lectern next to a large white projection screen, which every speaker will use for slide shows and PowerPoint presentations. Veteran “Truthers” know one another from other Truth conferences or from online chat rooms where the movement thrives.

Conference emcee Kevin Barrett, an American and a former professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was allegedly canned by the university after going public with his belief that factions in the United States government are responsible for the attacks on 9/11 and the London subway bombings.

A tall gangly man with a greying goatee and glasses, Barrett kicks off the conference with visual red meat-a full-colour Photoshopped image of President George W. Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney and former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld cackling hysterically in front of a photo of the smoking World Trade Center towers shortly before they collapsed. He then launches into a convoluted tale of conspiracy involving Mohamed Atta, reported ringleader of the 9/11 hijackers, and the CIA.

Barrett, like other speakers who follow him during the three-day event, is preaching to the converted.

The audience hangs on his every word and applauds on cue at the end of each punch line. Besides the occasional nodding amen, most remain silent and motionless, except to crane their necks, or lean to their left or right to gain a better view of the projection screen.

When Barrett asks the crowd, “How many of you don’t know about building seven?” (a 47-storey building in the World Trade Center complex many Truthers believe was intentionally demolished on 9/11) only two people raise their hands and the crowd laughs sympathetically.

Last weekend, roughly 300 skeptics of the official version of 9/11 gathered in Vancouver for a three-day conference featuring 23 hours of presentations from 21 leaders of the “9/11 Truth” movement, including university professors and award-winning journalists, who believe the truth is out there.

Tracey Smith knows about building seven. In fact, the burly 40-year-old Chilliwack resident and heavy equipment operator can quote chapter and verse from several 9/11 conspiracy theories.

“I have over a dozen books on 9/11 that I carry around in the trunk of my car,” says Smith, who strikes a defiant pose in the Labour Centre lobby wearing a 9/11 Truth ball cap and a black T-shirt that reads “9/11 was an Inside Job.”

Before 9/11, Smith was politically inactive and knew little about street-level activism. Now an outspoken advocate of the local Truth movement, he regularly attempts sidewalk conversions on strangers, including an encounter with a Buster’s tow truck driver on his way to tonight’s conference.

“I gave him a couple of DVDs and he appeared to want to know what’s going on,” says Smith, who burns hundreds of DVD copies of Truth documentaries, such as 9/11 Mysteries and The Road to Tyranny, which he hands out for free to almost anyone who will take one.

He repeats the common theme of conference attendees-touting theories of explosives in the Twin Towers and high-level involvement by the U.S. government-and attributes his passion for the movement to his frustration with the mainstream media and the Canadian government.

“I am incensed. The highest levels of news media have put a clamp down on this information,” he says, adding that all members of parliament are either enabling a cover-up or wallowing in ignorance. “If I can figure this out, so can they.”

Roughly 25 per cent of conference attendees are female, including Elizabeth Pears, a retired school district worker from Lacombe, Alta., and a first-time 9/11 Truth conference attendee.

“I certainly have read enough to question the official story,” says Pears, a diminutive woman with an easy smile. “So I came hear to listen to people who knew more than I did and see what I can learn.”

Pears became interested in the movement after watching Loose Change, a 2007 documentary that presents evidence of a 9/11 conspiracy theory. “It was the first time it ever occurred to me that explosives were planted beneath the buildings rather than they had just collapsed because of the planes.”

Unlike many at the conference, Pears is measured in her criticism of the U.S. government and George W. Bush. “I don’t want to believe it’s possible that the administration did this,” she says, adding that she will continue her online research and read more books and magazines on 9/11 Truth. “I don’t want to think that monsters live south of the border.”

It’s difficult to gauge the popularity of the 9/11 Truth movement. Estimates among conference attendees vary wildly, from 25,000 to one million hardcore followers worldwide. But there is little doubt the movement is growing. An October 2006 New York Times/CBS poll found that 53 per cent of Americans believe the Bush Administration is hiding something about 9/11, an increase of nearly 30 per cent from similar polls conducted in 2002. The same 2006 poll discovered that 28 per cent think the government is lying about the attacks.

The 9/11 Truth conference is run by the Vancouver 9/11 Truth Society, a group of approximately 30 locals who meet three or four times a month to discuss the movement and compare research. The society is funded by its members.

Truth society director Drew Noftle, a 27-year-old Mount Pleasant resident, is one of several chief organizers of the conference. He says proceeds from the three-day event-ticket prices ranged from $25 on Friday evening to $50 each for all-day sessions on Saturday and Sunday-will be reinvested back into the society to help pay for future conferences.

Noftle originally viewed 9/11 as “America getting its just desserts” but has since become convinced of a mass conspiracy. He joined the movement mainly because of Canada’s mission in Afghanistan, which he believes is predicated on the big lie of 9/11. “By exposing September 11, it really opens up people’s eyes about the war on terror.”

Although Noftle would not disclose exact speaker fees, he said everyone in the movement makes sacrifices. “I’ve put in a couple of thousand at least of my own dollars that I don’t even want to see back,” says Noftle, who says he works for various Canadian non-profit organizations, including Narcotics Anonymous. “The more you put in the more you get out of it. Seeing people learning about this stuff is payment enough.”

Many of the movement’s faithful travel long distances to hear details about 9/11 theories and rub elbows with hundreds of kindred spirits.

Doug Brinkman, a middle-aged husband and father of four, made the pilgrimage to Vancouver from his Edmonton home. A short and stocky man, Brinkman works nights as a printer for the Edmonton Journal newspaper and dedicates the daylight hours to 9/11.

“During the day I’m a fulltime 9/11 Truth activist,” he says, from the floor of the auditorium during a break in Saturday’s presentations. “Being a part of the media, these are issues that are not getting out to the public as easily as I’d like to see.”

Like Tracey Smith, Brinkman feels

compelled to spread the word about the movement, and he often proselytizes in the streets of his hometown.

“I have a little tape recording that’s about five minutes long and I ask people if they can give me five minutes of their time,” he says, in reference to a snippet he recorded from a 9/11 conspiracy documentary.

Fuelled by the excitement and intrigue involved with investigating an iconic event, Brinkman frequently visits the Alberta legislature, wearing a 9/11 Truth placard, to implore MLAs to investigate 9/11 theories. So far these efforts have produced no results, and Brinkman’s wife and kids, who range in age from 13 to 35, are skeptical of his 9/11 obsession. “I don’t think they want to talk to Dad too much about it,” he laughs.

Although Brinkman plans to continue his word-of-mouth campaign, he knows the movement owes its existence to the Internet. The World Wide Web is home to hundreds of websites dedicated to 9/11 Truth. During the conference he’ll digitally record several presentations-an act encouraged by event organizers-and post them on his 9/11 Truth website and other online venues like YouTube.

Besides fresh video footage, Brinkman hopes to leave Vancouver Monday morning with a renewed sense of vigor and esprit de corps. “This is the first time I’ve ever had the chance to be around a lot of people who have the same passion as myself. I never knew we had a family until I came here,” he says. “It’s empowering knowing I’m on the right path, but I think I’ve always known that.”

The weekend’s main event is the keynote address by Webster Tarpley, a Washington, D.C. resident, Princeton graduate and former longtime journalist with the Executive Intelligence Review, a magazine dedicated to global political issues.

Tarpley is the reigning pope of the 9/11 Truth movement. Heavy-set and bald with a bellicose voice, he appears intermittently on various U.S. television networks including CNN and FOX, and speaks at Truth conferences throughout Europe, Canada and the United States.

Like many presenters, Tarpley takes a long time to reveal his ideas about the events of Sept. 11. His first slide is a full-colour image of the dust jacket of his latest book, entitled 9/11 Synthetic Terror: Made in the U.S.A. During his well-crafted two-hour presentation, he outlines the effect of western intervention in the Middle East, the geopolitics of the Persian Gulf and a hypothetical incident involving Iran, Russia, intercontinental ballistic missiles and World War Three, while repeatedly recommending his book to anyone interested in the whole story.

Like any good preacher, Tarpley commends his flock for their steadfastness and warns of future persecutions from the powers that be. “The politicians and the media are all against us, but the people are with us,” he thunders. “The work we do to bring people out of the cave and into the light is not always going to get us thanks from people, and that’s something we have to live with.”

In his final 15 minutes, Tarpley touches on the architecture of the Twin Towers, the “too small for an airliner” hole in the Pentagon wall, and the slow reaction time of U.S. fighter planes on 9/11. All 28 copies of his $20 book sell out within 15 minutes of his presentation ending.

Tarpley wouldn’t reveal how much he was paid to speak at the conference, but on Saturday afternoon he tells the Courier he is motivated by the truth-not financial gain. “This is not a business trip for me,” says Tarpley. “Henry Kissinger gets $50,000 for an appearance. I haven’t quite made it to that level, and that’s about all I can say, other than I get a small fraction of that.”

Like most public pieties, the 9/11 Truth movement has spawned a cottage industry of merchandise for both the hardcore follower and curious passerby. At the rear of the auditorium, several long tables are stacked with rows of Truth books, DVDs and T-shirts.

Matt Dayton, a 22-year-old resident of Austin, Tex. and a student at the University of Texas, sits behind a table full of DVDs with titles like 9/11: Press for the Truth and books like The Terror of Conspiracy and The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distractions.

Dayton, skinny and soft-spoken, sporting a flat cap and sparse blond beard, is a committed member of the movement. As an employee of Brave New World books, an Austin-based bookstore specifically established one year ago to cater to 9/11 Truthers, he follows the conference circuit selling Truth doctrine literature. Dayton dismisses the notion that he is more profiteer than political polemic, and asserts that Truth conference vendors are crucial components of the movement.

His commitment to the movement has sparked interesting dinner table conversation at his parents’ home. Dayton’s mother is interested in hearing alternative theories, while his father-an employee of General Dynamics, a large U.S. weapons manufacturer-is less open to his son’s activities. “He can’t conceptualize or really rationalize because of what it would mean for his personal involvement,” Dayton says.

While speakers stress the need for a united citizenry involving a wide range of political ideology, the auditorium crowd instinctively hisses at images of any politician or public figure recognized for his or her right-wing leanings. Reactions like these cause many non-believers to question whether left wing politics is at the core of the 9/11 Truth Movement.

Barrie Zwicker rejects this perception. A respected and experienced Canadian journalist, Zwicker spent decades as a reporter at publications like the Globe and Mail and the Province. He now dedicates his professional life to the 9/11 Truth movement, and last September released the book Towers of Deception: The Media Cover-up of 9/11.

“I get really pissed off when people call me anti-American-it’s a sweeping put down that I reject,” says Zwicker, in an interview with the Courier before his Saturday presentation. “What I am against is hyper-militarism and lying and cheating and corruption at the highest levels. I would hate the same things just as much in Canada, or India or Latvia.”

Zwicker, a grey-bearded 69-year-old resident of Newmarket, Ont., further points to two prominent members of the Truth movement-former Brigham Young University professor Steven Jones, a registered Republican, and retired United States Air Force Lieut. Col. Bob Bowman-as proof of the movement’s ideological colour-blindness.

Noting the power of the anti-American smear, Zwicker says perception plays a large role in the 9/11 Truth movement’s uphill battle for credibility. He takes issue with condescending reports by the mainstream media, most recently a piece in Saturday’s Globe and Mail entitled “Smoke and Mirrors,” that paints 9/11 Truthers as paranoid nut jobs. “When very powerful forces unleash major events, and the story about those major events-as given by historians, the media and the educational authorities-doesn’t make sense to the public, that causes the spontaneous growth of people saying, ‘I don’t believe that.'”

After two and half days of presentations and roundtable discussions detailing every possible 9/11 scenario, and the dreary future for mankind if the plotters and their lies are not soon exposed, the conference wraps up Sunday evening with a mix-and-mingle of attendees, vendors and speakers on the auditorium floor. In light of the widely accepted geopolitical implications of 9/11, and the Truth movement’s incendiary speculation about U.S. government involvement in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, an observer is left pondering a singular burning question above all others.

If what was presented at this weekend’s conference is true, then why haven’t enterprising journalists-from big media companies with resources or even independents-worked night and day to break what would surely be the story of the century?

The answer, says Kevin Barrett, lies in the deadly tactics of 9/11 conspirators.

“One reason is what happened to Daniel Pearl,” says Barrett, referring to the late Wall Street Journal reporter who was beheaded in Pakistan in January 2002. “He went over to Pakistan to track down CIA connections to 9/11 and he got killed.”

While it is true Pearl was investigating Inter-Services Intelligence, a Pakistani intelligence organization with reported links to the CIA, there is no evidence linking the agency to Pearl’s death.

Barrett’s answer, cloaked in conventional wisdom but highlighted by an unsubstantiated claim of a heinous crime, represents much of the information presented over the last three days. Many conference speakers seem genuinely interested in the injustices of a world run by western military powers and plutocratic elites. And many conference attendees sacrifice their time and money for a cause outside of themselves. But the evidence presented, while interesting and entertaining, remains suspended in the realm of conjecture. If the truth about 9/11 is out there, yet to be revealed, this energetic and passionate movement must uncover more tangible evidence before it loses steam and fades away. The clock is ticking.

Original article here*.

*Original article no longer available at its’ source.

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