Michael Rectenwald responds to 9/11 activist
The author of INVESTIGATION: Sept 11th - Unanswered Questions, malcontentx, asked CLG Founder/Chair Mike Rectenwald to review his document. "...The reason I am writing to you is to update you on the status of the citizen's 911 investigation, (as I understand it) and hear of any opinions you may have... on how you think we may move forward.... justice is coming, malcontentx" Note: email trail begins at the bottom of the page.
Reply to malcontentx from Mike Rectenwald, April 12, 2002
Dear Malcontent x,
I thoroughly agree with what you have said here. We wouldn't have a link to the petition calling for an investigation otherwise--and I think that criminal negligence is the tack to take, and yes, see what the cat drags in. We have no real disagreement. I wasn't sure where you were coming from.
As for Latour, he's merely saying that facts are constructed: that they are social in character, and that one constructs facts using an array of "allies," some of which are what we normally think of as constituting the whole of "fact"--i.e., the evidence. I do not agree that the analysis is not apropos to social fact, because scientific fact from this standpoint IS a social fact as well. That's Latour's whole point. What he argues is that when a certain contingency is able to marshal enough allies, some of which are money, power, other social actors whose own 'facts' support their case, technology, advocates and other sources, then a claim can become a "fact." What he argues is that at some point, these facts become extremely difficult to interrogate--a fact, he says, is that construction that is simply too costly to overthrow. That is, overthrowing a fact that has been marshaled by a long string of allies and actors requires a lot of resources, regardless of whether the "evidence" is on your side or not--though that is an important ally. In terms of this case: is this one such construction that may be too costly to overthrow? After all, look at what happens when McKinney suggests something to this effect: she is virtually laughed off the stage.
But, I agree that we can attempt to enroll allies to help deconstruct the 'facts' as they stand. Without gaining some powerful allies, however, this will be a very very resistant 'black box' to open up.
That's all I am saying...
Reply to Michael Rectenwald from malcontentx, April 12, 2002
I appreciate your thoughtful reply.
You say, (in regard to 9/11) "I am particularly concerned with the credibility of each point in this overall discourse." I agree. A careful, step-by-step approach is necessary, or there is no approach at all.
You say, "So far, my concern with the "unanswered questions/anomalies" discourse has been this: I note that (and I haven't read yours, I don't think) that authors tend to group a bunch of points together, and, as if by sheer aggregation, the whole stands as an indictment."
This is exactly the point that I came to articulate today, when I re-read the e-mail I sent you... though I may have phrased it differently. I wrote, NOTE: This (my) suggested organization of the evidence proceeds not from the political/social/historical context; but from the factual details of what went on during 9/11; neither can that context be denied; rather, this "hard" evidence is what eventually justifies and allows for a deeper examination of the larger context.
Neither should readers be put off by the complexity of the case, if we start from the simple fact that Sept. 11th happened; proceeding from the question of why, as we do with UNANSWERED QUESTIONS Part 1, we discover there is ample justification for investigating further. In other words, some observers who are already convinced that something MAY have happened, (smelling of complicity) find in a large number of circumstantial evidence, sufficient case for a verdict of "guilty."
Alas, for the vast majority of people, and for responsible critics like yourself who have to be concerned for a movement's credibility, this is insufficient, and damaging to the process whereby citizens are invited to think independently of governmental authority. On the other hand, many are the opinions on the "left" or "libertarian" point of view who have shied away from seriously investigating ANY possibility of some kind of government complicity, and/or cover-up, for fear of discrediting themselves.
This is precisely why I avoided any leap into "conspiracy-theory," "conjecture," etc.; and instead, proceeded from an exhaustive examination of referenced fact. I think I have been very careful not to step ahead of what the facts imply; and I'm anxious to hear your impression.
You say,"But, I fear, upon close examination (which close examination I have NOT, frankly, undertaken), most of the points of argument may either fall apart upon close inspection, or the phenomenon in question lends itself to other, less credulous explanations." Yes. It's true. Until you have had a chance to examine a reasoned presentation of the facts, you cannot help but assume that the points would fall apart.
You say, "Given the enormity of the charge, and the weight of public opinion that such an argument would have to overthrow, it will never be enough to assert so many "anomalies." This is why I have strictly avoided making any assumptions about complicity, treason, etc.; instead, I have found and presented a clear case for criminal negligence, and its cover-up.
The question of treason I explore near the end of the document, as a possible explanation; but come to no definite conclusions either way. I have simply presented a compelling case for not believing the "official" story, and for the necessity of investigating it further. This will take time and effort, and collaboration: a "people's investigation."
You say, Rather, there will have to be a smoking gun, so smoking and so apparent, that its existence and connection to the "crime" will be undeniable. Otherwise, the case is, frankly, forever closed. This one place where I disagree. There doesn't have to be a smoking gun. The killer component lies in the fact that Bush and Cheney are stonewalling the Congressional inquiry, while they're declaring war on the world on the pretext of something which stinks of deception.
It is not necessary to prove that "they did it." It's simply enough to break the spell of mass addiction to the campaign of fear and insecurity "they" are creating.... by giving solid evidence to DOUBT.
And who knows what more filth the cat may drag in, once we build the foundation for an independent inquiry that DOES NOT QUIT, (that is, until we get some reasonable answers). One thing that many of the strongest voices on "the left" don't seem to understand is that the elite are actually DESPERATE to up the war machine ante to the next level; "they" are becoming more-and-more exposed, vulnerable, even as they usurp more power.
This is not a time where we should cut our losses, and attempt to achieve what we THINK we can, by simply saying "no to war," and "no to the policies which feed terrorism."
I think we need to expect and demand the WHOLE THING, by saying "no to governments which lie." I found your extended quotation by LaTour to be hard reading. The essential idea I got was about the ease with which "facts" appear by virtue of shared assumptions, (often feeble ones) and are often hard to prove or disprove. "Proof" in a laboratory sense is irrelevant to the question social justice. We can only make an intention to adhere, as much as possible, to the principles of logic, naming our sources, careful research; beyond that, it is what the people as a whole decides, that matters. If you could summarize what the LaTour position means for you, I would be interested to hear.
I hope you find my UNANSWERED QUESTIONS worthy reading; and look forward to talking with you soon.
in the search for truth,
Reply to malcontentx from Mike Rectenwald, April 5, 2002:
Dear malcontentx, As you know, I am an ardent political opponent of Bush. He is a usurper who assumed power via a coup d'etat. This happened right before the public eye--which eye was largely diverted by nonsensical blaming of the the OTHER side, even as it stole the White House! Likewise, I put nothing past them. However, I am very careful about what I will declare. That is because my credibility and my group's credibility depends on solid argumentation and disciplined opposition. Rash conjecture, proven wrong, or even said to be wrong by a lot of important players, which amounts to the same thing, will be disastrous to my group and my own political efficacy.
I will take a look at your site, and related sites you point to, and give you some assessment of what I think. I am particularly concerned with the credibility of each point in this overall discourse. So far, my concern with the "unanswered questions/anomalies" discourse has been this: I note that (and I haven't read yours, I don't think) that authors tend to group a bunch of points together, and, as if by sheer aggregation, the whole stands as an indictment. But, I fear, upon close examination (which close examination I have NOT, frankly, undertaken), most of the points of argument may either fall apart upon close inspection, or the phenomenon in question lends itself to other, less credulous explanations. Given the enormity of the charge, and the weight of public opinion that such an argument would have to overthrow, it will never be enough to assert so many "anomalies." Rather, there will have to be a smoking gun, so smoking and so apparent, that its existence and connection to the "crime" will be undeniable. Otherwise, the case is, frankly, forever closed.
In terms of how "facts" are established, I leave you with a very compelling argument, made by Bruno Latour, whom I have summarized elsewhere, and which summary I am excerpting for you here. I hope you don't mind. Frankly, I disagree with Latour's point that the blackboxes of history can't be reopened, but his points about how facts are constructed and deconstructed bears repeating. The question becomes, in this context, is the official S-11 narrative, "too costly to overthrow?" Although Latour is talking about scientific fact, this same analysis can apply to any social fact.
appreciate your email greatly, and will endeavor to weigh the arguments.
scientific setting. They described the construction of scientific facts as the process of shoring up modalized
statements, which statements finally become reified by “literary inscription” (passim). The subsequent
disappearance of the historical process by which a statement becomes a fact is the vital condition of its
factualness. Finally, facts are statements that have become “too costly” (243) to overthrow. In Science in
Action, Latour extends the study of scientific practice or science in action, and indicates what such study
implies for a historical consideration of scientific knowledge production. Introducing the figure of the two-
faced Janus (passim), Latour underscores the distinction between the way scientists and technologists
represent past science and finished technology on the one side, and knowledge and machines in the making
on the other. Latour terms this process of constructing facts and machines “black-boxing” (passim); facts and
good machines are black boxes that become resistant to re-opening. Such resistance comes from the amount
and strength of other facts and allies that scientists or technologists are able to link to their own claim or
machine, making for a black box that becomes too difficult to open. One example Latour adduces is that of
Pasteur, who tied his claims for a vaccine:
settling controversies only after such controversies have been settled. On the other side, while in the
knowledge-making mode, scientists are involved in enrolling an extensive array of allies (other scientists,
other facts, technological artifacts, other human and non-human actants) in order to settle controversies. An
appeal to nature in the process of knowledge making, Latour argues, would be absurd.
When you wish to attack a colleague’s claim, criticize a world-view, modalise a statement [speak out of left side of Janus] you cannot just say that Nature is with you; ‘just’ will never be enough. You are bound to use other allies besides Nature. If you succeed [speak out of Janus’ right side], then Nature will be enough and all the other allies and resources will be redundant (98).
Latour’s argument is that nature, as the outcome of controversies, cannot also be deemed the cause of such
science is necessarily a Whiggish history. The left-sided face of Janus insists that nature has caused settled
controversies, which “makes the study of past technoscience so difficult and unrewarding…Nature talks
straight, facts are facts. Full stop. There is nothing to add or subtract” (99, 100). Significantly, after having
gone to considerable lengths to assimilate the study of scientific practice to that of other-than-scientific
activity, Latour ends by “black-boxing” history and making it inaccessible to all but the most unrewarding,
[W]hen talking about a cold part of technoscience we should shift our method like the scientists themselves who, from hard-core relativists, have turned into dye-in-the-wool realists. Nature is now taken as the cause of accurate descriptions of herself. We cannot be more relativist than scientists about these parts and keep on denying evidence where no one else does. Why? Because the cost of dispute is too high for the average citizen, even if he or she is a historian and sociologist of science. If there is no controversy among scientists as to the status of facts, then it is useless to go on talking about interpretation, representation, a biased or distorted world-view” (100).
demonstrate this point. Latour’s contention with a historicist perspective is not that of the old empiricist
“internalist” historians of science. It is not that scientific rationality provides its own historical direction and
explanations. Indeed, the “justification” of facts is entirely social: facts are “justified” by ‘force,’ by being
obdurate social products. Nevertheless, in suggesting that the products of past science are too well
constructed for historical analysis, Latour’s version of social constructivism amounts to ascribing the same
sort of self-evident character to established knowledge, as had an empiricist historiography. The historicism
of Kuhn and SSK is abdicated and deemed impossible. Latour’s aversion for historicism thus returns SSK to
the acceptance of what Lukacs would term “reification,” or Kuhn and the Edinburgh School, the return to
empiricist realism, however “constructed.”
 Latour and Woolgar describe the process as an “agonistic” one that includes such social factors as rhetoric, competition, technological advantages, monetary differences, etc.; it is by no means purely “rational.”
 The disappearance of history as a condition of fact becomes important for Latour’s later proclamations about a history of science.
 Significantly, Latour introduces the “actor-network” thesis, a framework for describing the “social” (read “technical”) relations of scientists with other scientists, technologists, facts, technological artifacts, natural actants, business people, etc., along which scientists operate and from which resources they construct facts and machines. Natural objects are considered to be “actants” among the social participants who may be “enrolled” by scientists in an actor-network. Collins and Yearley are amongst those who have remarked that such a “radical symmetry” wherein natural objects are conceived of as “actants” in social decisions amounts to a backdoor readmission of naïve realism (303-17).
Countering the common sense notion that “technical” signifies “asocial,” Latour describes technical activity as the most social kind of activity. Scientists are thus those who are competent enough to extend their social relations to include scientific facts, technology, other scientists, artifacts, etc.
 Latour rejects the ontological priority assigned to the ‘social’ by SSK and sociology in general. The ‘social,’ he suggests, cannot be assumed to exist a priori. Instead, only what is observed in the literature and the laboratory are acknowledged: “Capitalism, the proletarian classes, the battle of the sexes, the struggle for the emancipation of the races, Western culture, the strategies of wicked multinational corporations, the military establishment, the devious interests of professional lobbies, the race for prestige and rewards among scientists?…we saw nothing of that sort” (62).
 Collins and Yearley are amongst those who have remarked that such a “radical symmetry” wherein nature is conceived as an actor in social decisions amounts to a reversion to naïve realism (303-17). Latour rejects the ontological priority assigned to the ‘social’ by SSK and sociology in general. The ‘social,’ he suggests, can’t be assumed to exist a priori.
First letter from malcontentx to Michael Rectenwald, April 5, 2002:
caught your interview with Meria Heller.
Great stuff. Thought I'd introduce myself. I'm the author of the 140 pg. document, SEPT 11: UNANSWERED QUESTIONS.
If you have not yet had a chance to review it, it's available at, http://www.communitycurrency.org/IndexMX.html (other documents as well) and mirrored at, http://falloutshelternews.com/Sept11th_Unanswered_Questions.html and http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/HL0202/S00079.htm (but without the active hyperlinks.) (angelfire yanked my first page, two weeks after I created it, after it received 5,000 hits.)
The reason I am writing to you is to update you on the status of the citizen's 911 investigation, (as I understand it) and hear of any opinions you may have... on how you think we may move forward.
In particular, I want to address the tendency in our progressive/libertarian community, where, we are so often responding to the latest elite machinations, "events," etc. -which compels us to consider the controversy surrounding Sept. 11 as recent/ancient "history," "dated," maybe even "irrelevant," etc.... in the light of the "latest" "breaking news."
This, of course, keeps us from penetrating to the bottom of the issue, which is exactly what the elite interests want. It is my belief that Sept. 11 represents a qualitatively different occurrence in the course of human history; a confluence of forces and perceptions which present to us the opportunity to examine, penetrate to, and outline the workings of our human civilization as a single whole, calling we who have the eyes to see it, to a different point of departure, towards a new destination.
It seems quite clear that the pretext for much of what is going to confront us in the days, months, and years to come, is the so-called "war on terrorism" -the main pivot of which is, (and will continue to be) the Sept. 11 attacks. I am firmly convinced that by a relatively small number of people committing themselves to continue building a solid case before the public, (largely on the Internet, to begin with) that the consciousness of larger and larger waves of people will continue to cycle back and pick up the cause.
Every event, whether global or local, whether of financial corruption such as Enron, the Israeli incursions into the Occupied Territories, the curtailment of civil liberties, and so on, is now directly reflected in the incongruency, cover-up and crime of 9/11.
From the beginning, it was my intention with the SEPT 11: UNANSWERED QUESTIONS document, to lay the foundations for a thorough, fully referenced, unhurried, rock-solid investigation. To what degree you think I have been successful or not, I am anxious to hear. Of far greater importance, is that each of us have the faith enough, that we continue to build on the investigation so far -to make it more and more solid, that more can have confidence in its conclusions, and fewer can push it aside.
Across the spectrums of political theory, each of us must know that within the vast majority of human beings, there lies the desire for an honest, just, honourable, and peaceful existence; and further, that the power to direct society towards those ends lies in the hands of the people, the masses, though they/we be burdened with the weight of diminished expectation and self-doubt. Does it not now seem obvious? -that, within industrialized 'western" culture, the critical battleground is no longer in the realm of outright, physical oppression, so much as in the capacity to manipulate the mass-mind?
And if a fundamental bubble of doubt should burst open, would it not bleed freely across the landscape of the broad, national, human experience... infecting and resurrecting the recollections of a revolutionary spirit?
I ask you to not give in to the assumption that the window on the crimes of Sept. 11 is closing down forever, or even for a long time. I ask you to seize upon this moment, to get involved: visit my website, let me know what you think, identify the areas in the case that you think are needing clarification, and let the various researchers, website operators who have made their contributions -know, how you think their/our presentation of the material can be improved. In this regard, of primary importance, (in my mind) is the need to present the vast scope of evidence in this "national, global" event in as clearly-organized a manner as possible.
To grasp the truth in this matter will take a significant amount of reading, there's no getting around that; yet by organizing the details in a logical framework, and a readable style, we can vastly improve the capacity of people to access the information they need to make the whole picture make sense TO THEM... and by-pass the information "burnout" which plagues many a sincere seeker of the truth.
There is no one way to do this. We each have our perceptive strengths and weaknesses, our unique contribution to make; yet by talking with one another, we can, through giving and receiving constructive criticism, make improvements in our presentation, and incorporate the contributions of others in with our own.
As an example, here is a suggestion of a framework I made to a website operator recently, (who has an enormous amount of archived documentation).
[Note: this framework stems from the content of the particular website. My own organization of the material differs somewhat, as you can see on my website, with the document, FURTHER Unanswered Questions, Part 2:]
On a separate page, under the Banner of "Sept 11 Attacks," the following categories: The Hijackings, (the failure of Civilian Air Defense) (sep. cat.:) The WTC Attacks, Attack on the Pentagon, Flight 93 AF Stood down, Guilty for 9/11 (Emperor's Clothes series,) George W. Bush, The Hijackers, The Collapse of the World Trade Center, Engineering Magazine Psyopps News
Under the Banner of Terrorism: Historical Terror Operation Northwoods, Oklahoma City Fake terror, Third Party Terror, Bio-Terror Profits, Terror Good for politics, Terror as response to Foreign Policy
Under the banner of Overviews: Jim Marrs Vision TV series Sept 11: Unanswered Questions
My organization of the above main categories follows from the following considerations: TERRORISM -as context ANTHRAX -as aftershock, aftermath (perhaps include in this section reports on John Walker, and the "shoe bomb terrorist," the fifteen year-old suicide pilot on acne medication, and the murder of the woman connected to false ID's) THE SEPT. 11 ATTACKS -as main section ADVANCED WARNING OVERVIEWS -to help reader see the integration of the various components RESOURCES -as a research aid, and to highlight sources that may have not been included under another particular heading, as per example: http://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/911inquiry.html or http://www.scoop.co.nz/mason/stories/HL0202/S00079.htm (specific page now under development) etc.
DEMAND FOR AN INVESTIGATION -as call for action, our ultimate goal. -but one example of a suggestion for increased clarity of perception. For a short listing of websites active in this investigation, see my article, "Thoughts On Research." A much more complete listing soon to follow. Though I cannot respond to emails as often as I would like, I look forward to hearing from you, in whatever capacity you feel so moved.
justice is coming,