Many are the documentaries and specials reexamining 9/11 attacks and its aftermath this year, but only few were audacious enough to tackle it from a political and justice perspective involving perpetrators and a US diffusion of responsibility.
By looking up at these documentaries, some reflected historical scenes from the viewpoint of government official, others explored the lives of children in the aftermath of the attacks, and the heroes who continued to seek funding for healthcare…
One of such took the 20th anniversary of September 11, 2001 attacks from a different perspective.
“Justice & Policy” is the title of a film produced by “Michael” eying 9/11 attacks from a viewpoint that most of the Americans advocated themselves towards but were jabbed with ignorance from subsequent US presidents and lobbyists on the pretext that the truth could imperil “good relations with Saudi Arabia.”
The attacks, in which nearly 3,000 people were killed as hijacked airplanes crashed into New York’s World Trade Center, the Pentagon outside Washington, DC, and a field in western Pennsylvania, seem to be prescient of the kind of political arrogance we are witnessing in America today, that has precipitated yet another, even worse justice crisis.
US President George W. Bush promised to defeat al-Qaeda and other groups after the attacks. On September 20, 2001, Bush bragged about his new goal, “War on Terror”, saying “It will not end until every terrorist group of global reach has been found, stopped and defeated.”
Ever since then, and after two US-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that killed tens of thousands of civilians, and trillions of dollars spent, the threat of attacks on the US still looms.
While many of al-Qaeda’s leaders targeted by the US following the 9/11 attacks were captured or killed – most notoriously Osama bin Laden, who was killed in an American raid on his Pakistan compound in 2011 – al-Qaeda has remained resilient, with affiliated groups in as many as 17 countries, carrying out Bush’s stated goal of stamping out “terrorist groups”.
Experts have also warned that the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan could increase the ability of anti-US groups to organize and proliferate in a way they have not been able to in years, something we have seen intensifying in the wake of US troop withdrawal. Domestic threats have grown particularly among right-wing groups that rose during Former President Donald Trump in administration and continued to be a heightened ultimatum.
Michael’s “Justice and Policy” centers on JASTA (the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act), a 2016 federal law that was designed to allow US citizens to sue the Saudi government and individuals for their role in the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, combining evidence, data analysis and personal insights to reiterate a powerful exploration of what he clearly believes is the most critical issue of this or any other time in US history.
The documentary is peppered with interviews from the United States with attorneys, first-responders, and witnesses, exploring the US administration’s mistakes, oversights and missed opportunities in the run up to September 11.
First-responders, who gave testimonial-style examinations in 2001, are interviewed again – 20 years later – as they reflect on the tragedy and Saudi involvement down the way towards seeking justice against the country whose members of the government provided critical financial and logistical support to the hijackers prior to September 11.
Cancer after 9/11… When US Betrayed its Citizens
After narrating their insights on the aftermath of the attacks, the interviewees pointed fingers at US authorities’ inadvertence concerning the health effects arising from the September 11 attacks.
“There has been a spike of cancers,” said Attorney Noah Kushlefsky, an advocate on behalf of victims and their families, adding that up till now there is a statistical increase in the number of people that are being diagnosed with more that 50 to 60 types of cancer.
Michael O’ Connell, retired Lt. from New York City fire department, laments how his colleagues, fast responders, were until this day dying from diseases and cancers they contracted since the attack day, saying “they deserve justice.”
“I acknowledge that the US government lied to me when it said the air was safe to breath but it wasn’t,” John Feal of the Feal Good Foundation and an advocate for 9/11 responders said.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) told people back then that their air was safe to breathe and their water was safe to drink. However, more than 13,200 first responders and survivors have since been diagnosed with a variety of cancers, according to the World Trade Center Health Program.
“Shortly after 9/11, everybody was told that the air was safe, and that was by the Federal Government, and people went down there and volunteered without masks and protection, and the air wasn’t safe,” Kushlefsky said.
Another US Fallacy, Keeping Secrets on Saudi Involvement
Among other US government oversights, according to the interviewed responders and attorneys, was that of investigations and accusations that despite all proofs of Saudi involvement, Washington intensified its efforts to keep secrets about Saudi connections to 9/11.
First, there was the inescapable fact that, like Osama bin Laden, 15 of the 19 hijackers were Saudis, the documentary points out. It also states that the attacks were sponsored, funded, and trained by the Saudi government given a bunch of details and data on such involvement and that the extremist goals of hijackers were consistent with that of the Saudi Ministry of Islamic affairs.
“It’s a very dangerous government,” says Sharon Clemens, a survivor and administrator in social works, referring to the Saudi ideology of being angry if the US had to stop buying oil or trading with them.
The documentary went on to prove that despite clear indicators of Saudi role in 9/11, the US has worked to hide Saudi involvement, citing a testimony by Former White House Counter-Terrorism Adviser, Richard Clarke, who assured that the US received a warning a week before September 11 but nothing was done.
JASTA for Justice
Interviewees went on to deplore the lobbyists pressure that prevented JASTA from moving on and baring fruit in investigating Saudi officials. An investigation that could possibly see light after first responders and family members of the nearly 3,000 victims wrote a sternly worded letter to the US President Joe Biden. They accused the US of deliberately keeping the documents under wraps. Biden has consequently directed the Justice Department and other agencies to begin a six-month process of declassifying documents related to the FBI’s investigations into the September 11, 2001 attacks.
“We have investigators and finances for the next stage of this case. If the court will dismiss the case, then we’ll appeal, if it doesn’t and we survive the appeal, then we’ll be able to demand that Saudi Arabia provide witnesses,” Justin Green, an Aviation Analyst and Attorney representing 9/11 victims families, pointed out in the film, assuring that Saudi was playing a double game when it comes to supporting al-Qaeda.
Green brought up sensitive findings related to Saudi government links with terrorists. He said that Fahad al-Thumairy, a 32-year-old Imam and accredited diplomat at the Saudi consulate in Los Angeles from 1996 to 2003, met at the consulate with Omar Al-Bayoumi just before the latter met two of the hijackers at a restaurant, believing that al-Thumairy had provided the terrorists with assistance and support but fled the US suddenly after 9/11 without getting to question him by the FBI.
“JASTA is about getting justice for those who lost loved ones and for the people who survived,” Sharon Clemens says, while assuring that no money could compensate the long-term physical and mental damages inflicted by September attacks.
The greatest compensation would be them (Saudi Arabia) leaving our country, Michael O’Connell pleads at the end of the documentary.