Interview with Ted Walter of NYCCAN
Ted Walter is the Executive Director of NYC Coalition For Accountability Now (NYCCAN), a non-profit “committed to bringing about a new and independent investigation into the events of September 11, 2001.” I first heard about NYCCAN through a friend, and when I went to the site to find out more about the organization, I was fascinated by their approach to such an extremely controversial topic. I was fascinated by the role that narrative plays in the conversation about 9/11, as well as the fact that NYCCAN is less interested in constructing their own narrative than seeking an objective truth. So I emailed Ted Walter with some questions about the organization.
The Faster Times: How did NYC CAN gets its start?
Ted Walter: Prior to my getting involved, the “NYC 9/11 Ballot Initiative” was started in late 2007. The goal was to use the New York State Municipal Home Rule Law ballot initiative process to amend the NYC Charter to create an independent local commission to reinvestigate the events of 9/11. Having been a student of the growing criticism of the official 9/11 account since 2006, I was aware of the ballot initiative and started volunteering in the spring of 2008.
By September 2008, we reached 30,000 signatures, the threshold needed to put the petition before the City Council for approval of its placement on the ballot, but it was too late and well below what would actually be needed because not all of the signatures would be valid. Having become the number two person, I assessed the situation and realized lots of things would need to change if we were going to get to 75,000 signatures by the summer of 2009. With the help of a close friend, a 9/11 family member, we revamped the effort, put in place a new image, brought on other 9/11 family members to help lead the organization.
The new name was NYC CAN (NYC Coalition for Accountability Now). It was an arduous political process to convince some of the people who had helped with the petitioning that the effort needed to be “mainstreamed”, but we eventually succeeded, and the national 9/11 truth movement recognized and supported the shift. In Spring 2009 the organization was formally started and we began fundraising effectively so that we could pay for the petitioning staff needed to reach 80,000 signatures, which we did.
In short, just like the six or seven other ballot initiatives that had been attempted in the last 25 years, the City would not allow the question on the ballot, and we had to go to court, where we lost. The only ballot initiative to ever win in court against the City was the famous term limits initiative (I believe in 1993).
TFT: What is the next step for NYC CAN? Will you continue to work on the ballot initiative, or are there other ways to achieve the goal of a new independent investigation?
TW: We are no longer using the ballot initiative strategy because it would require too much effort and the city would probably block it again. Our primary effort is to get the City Council to investigate the collapse of WTC 7. If you go to this link, it will explain what that is about.
We are also asking the Manhattan DA to investigate the collapse of WTC 7. Last week we had 400 supporters mail or fax the DA a letter, detailing the destruction of evidence at the WTC site. We think this is the most likely route the DA would take to opening any kind of investigation into 9/11. It also stands a better chance politically as we might be able to get FDNY groups and family member groups not usually associated with the 9/11 truth movement to support it.
TFT: Were you involved in activism before you started working at NYC CAN?
TW: I had been researching 9/11 since May 2006. From the winter of 2006 until spring of 2008, I was working on a documentary film that was documenting the official investigations into the destruction of the buildings, as well as the growing body of research contradicting the official theory. In May and June of 2006, I spent probably a couple hundred hours researching finally coming to the conclusion that the official 9/11 account was false. The most inspirational presentation I watched at the time was called “A New Standard for Deception” by a guy named Kevin Ryan, this inspired me to start doing the documentary about WTC collapse investigations.
I worked on my documentary for a year and half before putting it aside when I got involved in the ballot initiative, because the ballot initiative felt like a much more fruitful effort. But I did get some interesting footage including an interview with the chief structural engineer of the towers.
TFT: Was this documentary film you were working on ever released? How did you get involved in that project initially?
TW: It was not released. It’s just a lot of footage with a few edited short pieces. I started doing that on my own, wanting to document the engineering investigations done by the government.
TFT: What were your feelings about 9/11 before 2006?
TW: I accepted the official story and I actively tried to ignore it because I felt we were being bombarded with it as as a means of perpetuating the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Of course, that is still the case, the media and political establishment do not allow us to move on. Nine years later it’s the centerpiece of our policy making, which is why it is so important to understand what happened.
TFT: I believe I read that you were at NYU on 9/11. What was your initial reaction?
TW: I was puzzled at why they couldn’t have at least stopped the third plane from hitting the Pentagon, given they had so much time by that point to respond, and I was amazed that buildings could collapse like that. But I accepted the official story, and I immediately believed it was a response to our foreign policy in the Middle East.
TFT: Were you always suspicious of the 9/11 Commission report, or did you have a kind of revelation in 2006?
TW: Well, there was the revelation of Coleen Rowley in 2002 that I found very interesting. I remember talking to my dad about it, and we came to the conclusion that was a deliberate attempt on the part of FBI leadership to block her from finding out about the plot and preventing it. So without really thinking about it critically, I had come to the conclusion that people in the government knew and allowed it to happen. At that time I saw the role of the 9/11 Commission as being to keep 9/11 front and center in the public’s mind. Of course, I didn’t think they would actually uncover anything about people in the government knowing, which was my assumption at the time. But I did not think their role was to actually cover up the truth and create a complete fiction, which at this point I believe was their main task.
TFT: My impression is that NYC CAN as an organization doesn’t support any particular account of the events of 9/11, but is interested in reopening the investigation. Is there an account that the organization generally believes?
TW: NYC CAN does not support any account of the events of 9/11. Despite the best efforts of independent researchers, not enough evidence has been uncovered to create a cohesive account. This is why we need a new investigation. What is obvious to anyone who’s researched with an open mind is the falsity of the official account.
TFT: For someone who hasn’t done the research, what would you say are the main points of the official report that are erroneous?
TW: The collapse of the Twin Towers and Building 7 were all demolitions.
The story of our failed air defense is a complete fabrication. Why the planes were not intercepted is the most complicated aspect to understand because there is the least publicly available data, and there are opposing points of view among those who have studied it carefully.
The alleged hijackers did not have the expertise to pilot the planes.
As far as the Pentagon goes, if you want me to believe a plane hit it, all you have to do is show the footage. Since there’s no footage of course I have reason to be suspicious.
TFT: What are the goals of NYCCAN?
TW: Our goal is an independent, impartial investigation, whether conducted by a new commission, a prosecutor, or through a civil case.
TFT: What, if anything, do you personally think will be illuminated by a new impartial investigation?
TW: It depends entirely on who does the investigation and in what venue. A true investigation with full subpoena power would shatter the official story and lead to some accountability, though it will probably be impossible to identify everyone who was a part of the conspiracy.
TFT: Do you think there were political biases that led to the false claims in the official report?
TW: I think all of the commissioners and the Executive Director, Philip Zelikow, were fully aware of the truth and consciously endeavored to cover it up, therefore it was not “bias”. Whatever the staff thought didn’t really matter because Zelikow had full control of what was written. They knew they had to work within his parameters and they were chosen to be on the staff because of their willingness to.
TFT: Who do you think is primarily to blame for the inadequacy of the original investigation?
TW: Philip Zelikow. He was previously a member of the Bush Administration and he wrote the Preemptive War Doctrine, therefore it was a gross conflict of interest that he was in charge of the investigation.
TFT: Do you have friends that disagree with your beliefs about 9/11? Does this ever create tension in your social life, given the controversial nature of your work?
TW: None of my close friends or family disagree with my beliefs on 9/11. Some are more agnostic than I am, but they all believe the buildings were demolished.
Early on, in 2006 and 2007, I was more consumed in researching and talking about my research. I would say since 2008 I’ve been better at separating my 9/11 work from the rest of my life. Partly this is because I’ve overcome the emotional shock of realizing the official account of 9/11 was false, and partly because for the last year or two, it’s been my work as opposed to my hobby.
In social settings I do talk about 9/11, and I’ve figured out how to discuss it so as not to make people too uncomfortable. Largely this is because of the hundreds of hours of petitioning I did where I practiced talking to strangers and helping them identify their own doubt of the official 9/11 account.
TFT: In the comments in the Erik Lawyer video you sent, the user writes: “Ok, I am really pissed the World media ignored the AE911Truth press conference, not suprised, but pissed.” I’m not sure if this represents Erik Lawyer’s views, because I don’t know what his relationship is to that YouTube user, but it did make think about NYC CAN’s relationship to mainstream media. Is there a reluctance on the part of the mainstream media (CNN etc.) to cover the 9/11 truth movement? Have you had any difficulty working with media in your position with NYC CAN?
TW: Yes, it’s been very difficult getting the media to listen. A ballot initiative at the local level collecting 80,000 signatures is important. If it were for any other cause the media would have covered it more responsibly. I’m not saying front-page news, but certainly more people would have known about it. The little coverage we did get was almost universally positive. You can read those stories in the “News Corner” on the bottom left hand corner of our homepage.
Follow us on twitter@thefastertimes