The World Social Forum (WSF) is, as the organizers proclaim, “the largest gathering of civil society for finding solutions to the problems of our time.” At the 2016 WSF, the 9/11 Consensus Panel presence underscored two important aspects of the theme “finding solutions to the problems of our times.” First, an evidenced-based process can be employed to sift through competing claims and reach a consensus about any event. Second, when subject to such a process, the official story about the events of 9/11 can be shown to be not credible.
The workshop entitled, “Speaking the Whole Truth to Power: Why We Need to Uncover the 9/11 Deception” was put together under the auspices of the 9/11 Consensus Panel, whose work is available in six languages. The WSF prefers to host groups, not individuals, and several members of the 9/11 Consensus Panel thought that they had an important message and that they would be considered an exemplary group—which they were.
As evidenced by the 9/11 panel at the Left Forum this past May, it seems that more and more an alternative view of 9/11 is being considered a legitimate topic for discussion.
The panel was moderated by Sean Sweeney, a professor of labor studies and an activist based in New York. Sean introduced the topic and gave his own impressions of 9/11, which he lived through as a resident of NYC. The WSF panelists were:
- Elizabeth Woodworth – Coordinator and co-founder of the 9/11 Consensus Project
- Graeme MacQueen – Former director of the Centre for Peace Studies at McMaster University, and current co-editor of the Journal of 9/11 Studies
- Niels Harrit – Emeritus professor at the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Chemistry and international lecturer on the scientific aspects of 9/11
Elizabeth grounded the workshop by explaining what the Consensus Panel is, what its principles and methods are, and how it arrives at best evidence. She is a retired health science librarian who has coordinated the “best evidence” medical methodology used to refute 48 (to date) of the official claims made regarding the events of 9/11. Her presentation can be seen here. pdf 9/11 Consensus Panel WSF 2016 (2.42 MB)
Graeme focused on the psychological aspects of the targeting of people’s minds on 9/11. He stressed the salient features of both the events of 9/11 and the subsequent anthrax attacks. He observed that the attacks were meant to cause fear—which the perpetrators were very successful in doing. In responding to these events, civil society needs to gather information and make use of evidence through a process like that employed by the 9/11 Consensus Panel to truly understand the events. Graeme’s presentation used eyewitness evidence to underscore the forensic evidence.
Niels focused on the destruction of WTC 7. He explained how the official story violates inflexible laws of physics and cannot be accepted.
According to Elizabeth, “As far as we know, this is the first time there has ever been a workshop on 9/11 at a World Social Forum.” Approximately 35 persons attended the workshop which was satisfactory to the organizers.
Commenting on the turnout, Elizabeth noted, “I counted 170 concurrent sessions to ours, at 9:00 a.m., August 10, in the WSF program. These were held in many diverse locations around Montreal's universities. Ours was held at McGill University.” Some attendees already knew a fair bit about 9/11, including a few Montreal activists, but others were completely new to the subject. According to Graeme, “Our panel was well received.”
Significance of Evidence to the World Social Forum
All three of the panelists emphasized the necessity of high-quality evidence. According to Graeme, “Of all the sessions I attended at the WSF, ours was the most explicit in its discussion of evidence and how to be sure one is using strong evidence.” Additionally, he observed that it is not just the gathering of evidence. A process to create a consistent explanation of the events is also necessary. Graeme continued, “Given the stigma against 9/11 dissent, it was imperative that our panel cover the evidence issue thoroughly. Fortunately, thoroughness is central to the 9/11 Consensus Panel.”
Elizabeth explained the relevance of the Consensus Panel to the World Social Forum’s charter by observing, “With many of the diverse issues facing peoples around the world, it is important to have a process to understand the origins of the pervasive global war on terror. That is one of the key messages we wanted to convey at the 2016 World Social Forum.”
The World Social Forum
Started in 2001 in Brazil, the WSF brings together tens of thousands of participants to attend more than a thousand “self-managed” activities such as workshops, conferences, artistic performances and other events. These events have various themes reflecting society, solidarity, the economy, the environment, human rights, democratization and many others. The first principle in the WSF charter states:
“The World Social Forum is an open meeting place for reflective thinking, democratic debate of ideas, formulation of proposals, free exchange of experiences and interlinking for effective action, by groups and movements of civil society that are opposed to neoliberalism and to domination of the world by capital and any form of imperialism, and are committed to building a planetary society directed towards fruitful relationships among Humankind and between it and the Earth.”
This was the first time the WSF met in the northern hemisphere. Attendance at the 2016 WSF was anticipated by the organizers to be 35,000, although others such as rabble.ca reported 50,000 to 80,000 activists from all over the world. In an astonishing turn of events, reports in the press noted that the Canadian government refused to grant visas to hundreds of the attendees that needed entry visas. Among those denied visas was Aminata Traoré, a former minister of tourism and culture in Mali, who is currently a candidate to succeed Ban Ki-moon as United Nations secretary general.
Bad Publicity Is Better Than No Publicity
The presence of the 9/11 Consensus Panel (one out of 1,300 self-managed activities on the WSF calendar) was noticed and commented on in an opinion piece published in the Montreal Gazette. Rabbi Reuben J. Poupko, writing on behalf of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs, said, “But behind these [WSF conference] slogans hide some disturbing elements of the event. At the conference, to be held next week in Montreal, the WSF is granting conspiracy theorists a podium to blame the West for the 9/11 terror attacks ...”
In fact, the Rabbi had it wrong. The internationally-based 9/11 Consensus Panel is a 22-member organization which reviews official evidence and does not offer conspiracy theories.
Because the Montreal Gazette has been silent about the discrepancies between the actual events and the official story of 9/11, this letter alerted Gazette readers to the presence of concerns about the veracity of the official account of 9/11. With the letter appearing five days before the workshop, this gave attendees the opportunity of consider attending and listening to informed speakers, underscoring the old adage, “bad publicity is better than no publicity.”