September 11

Stolen valor; there is no reason to believe faithless elector Chris Suprun’s 9/11 first responder stories

Ask 9/11 first responders who they went with to the World Trade Center, Shanksville, and Pentagon. Ask them who they worked with while there. Many saw co-workers from previous station houses or from bloody crimes scenes, horrific accidents, and raging fires. They are all seared into memory. Some hugged fellow first responders who were also family members or best friends, and saw them for the last time on this earth.

click on image to learn more about 'Firefight; Inside the Battle to Save the Pentagon on 9/11

Just don’t ask Chris Suprun for names; he won’t answer those questions. He will say he responded to the Pentagon the morning of September 11, 2001, but that’s about all.

There is no need for someone to pad their resume with a phony 9/11 story. That day serves as a stark reminder that those who wear the mantle of ‘first responder’ have a tough, often dangerous job. Rightfully, most are seen as everyday heroes.

Yet there are a few who fail to live up to their oaths either by abusing their authority, corruption, negligence, or a lack of integrity. They bring discredit upon themselves, and cause the public to wonder about the fidelity of those they serve with. They need sunlight.

WFAA-TV in Dallas, Texas has shed some on Chris Suprun. He put himself into public view by vowing as an elector for Texas to not vote for Donald Trump on December 19, 2016, and asking fellow Electoral College members to do the same. And he obviously hoped to add weight to his argument in an op-ed in the New York Times with this passage:

“Fifteen years ago, as a firefighter, I was part of the response to the Sept. 11 attacks against our nation. That attack and this year’s election may seem unrelated, but for me the relationship becomes clearer every day.”

At least one unidentified (identity protected) witness said Suprun told him and others two different versions of his 9/11 heroics:

“He claimed to be a first responder with the Manassas Park Fire Department on September 11, 2001, and personally told us stories: “Well, I was fighting fire that day at the Pentagon. No, I was on a medical unit that day at the Pentagon.””

Chris Suprun claims he never said he responded as a member of the Manassas Park FD and their Fire Chief says Suprun did not begin working there until October 10, 2001. However, while he now says he responded to the Pentagon as a member of the Dale City Volunteer Fire Department, Suprun’s LinkedIn resume says he was with Manassas from September 2001 to April 2004 and never mentions Dale City:

Screen shot extract from Chris Suprun's current LinkedIn resume

Perhaps Suprun’s most detailed 9/11 first responder story was told to Philadelphia Inquirer columnist (now editor) Daniel Rubin in 2012:

“Suprun’s own 9/11 story began with a decision that runs counter to everything he has taught in disaster management classes – he dispatched himself. He was 27, a volunteer paramedic at the Dale City fire company in Northern Virginia, and he was teaching emergency medical response at George Washington University. When his beeper sounded after the first jet struck in Manhattan, he drove with a buddy to the fire station, where he always kept a fresh uniform. As they dressed, preparing to drive to New York, they watched a TV report from the Pentagon, where a third jet had just smashed into the 30-acre building. They roared up I-395 toward the thick, black smoke, which they could see from five miles away. “It’s not like the movies,” he said. “People weren’t screaming. But you could smell burning Jet A [fuel], burning paper, burning material. …” He and his partner were put to immediate use. In a parking lot, they administered basic first aid until 6 that night, then were deployed to a recreation center, where they treated the first responders for six hours more.”

Surely Chris Suprun remembers who he raced up I-395 with and the names of first responders he assisted at the recreation center or while doing first aid.

Until he provides them and they confirm it, there is no reason for anyone to believe his 9/11 first responder stories.

Integrity matters. Stolen valor matters.

9/11 Commission mission failure; withheld key documents are owed to the American people

By January 14, 2009, only 35% of the 9/11 Commission’s staff documents had been processed by the National Archives. They are Congressional records not subject to the Freedom of Information Act. There are nearly 2,000 memorandums for record (MFRs) of the summaries and transcripts of interviews conducted by 9/11 Commissioners and staff, as well as the briefings they received.

117 MFRs are still pending declassification review. Key interviews among them illustrate the 9/11 Commissioners’ lip service last week to transparency. They briefly called for declassification on page 39 of their 49-page “update” to their original 2004 recommendations:

“The job of fully informing the American people is incomplete, however. The commission’s records, including summaries of our interviews and important intelligence and policy documents, are held by the National Archives. Some of those documents and records remain classified and are thus unavailable to the public. Authority to declassify those documents rests with the agencies that created them.”

On July 21, 2004, 9/11 Commissioners met to decide when to release this body of work. Richard Ben-Veniste asked: “Is the theory here the great cover-up of partisan differences?” The notes of the meeting do not show he received an answer. Regardless, the vote was 6 to 3 to kick the responsibility 4 1/2 years down the road. [1]

What motivated Samuel “Sandy” Berger in 2004 to steal classified documents from the National Archives while he acted as former President Bill Clinton’s designated representative to the 9/11 Commission? The answer may be within the 9/11 Commission interviews of Richard Clarke, George Tenet, and Sandy Berger held by the National Security Counsel. [See correction at Note 4].

Surely the Commission asked former CIA Director Tenet what efforts were made to alert the NSC and President Clinton on the movement of al Qaeda operatives immediately preceding and following the Millennium terrorist attacks plots.

On January 15, 2000, two known al Qaeda operatives, future 9/11 hijackers Nawaf al-Hazmi and Khalid al-Mihdhar, arrived in Los Angeles. During December 1999, the CIA had tracked their movements in Southeast Asia, observed their meeting with Walid bin Attash (now at Guantanamo awaiting military commission trial alongside Khalid Sheikh Mohammed), and covertly photocopied the open-ended U.S. visas within their passports. Beginning in March 2000 and before September 11, 2001, more than 50 people at the CIA knew they had entered the United States.

The 9/11 Commission staff also prepared a 78-page monograph of NSC counterterrorism efforts from 1998 to 9/11. Yet the 9/11 Commissioners have never publicly spoken of its existence which is not classified. I filed for declassification review of it in 2009.

In addition, there is the still classified (by the FBI) 9/11 Commission interview of former FBI Director Louis Freeh. Subsequent to my April 2009 request, a previously unheard of staff monograph was declassified in June 2009. [2] It was prepared by staffer (and former DOJ IG) Barbara Grewe on the intelligence sharing “Wall.” It concluded: “Simply put, there was no legal reason why the information could not have been shared.” Indeed. A MFR declassified and released on January 15, 2009 of 9/11 Commission staff interviews of former Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick states in part:

“Gorelick said she did not know anything about how the wall was structured within the FBI. She did not believe that the FBI was required to erect a wall between intelligence and criminal agents, particularly those on the same squad and working related intelligence and criminal cases. She said she was surprised that the FBI interpreted the provisions that way.”

Strangely, the 9/11 Commissioners reminded no one that Executive Director Philip Zelikow and Commissioner Jamie Gorelick had authored a 7,000-word summary [3] of presidential daily briefs (PDBs). It is in former President George W. Bush’s records. It has been subject to declassification review by the NSC since January 20, 2014 as federal statute mandates a 5-year delay after a President leaves office. And there is the still classified MFR summarizing the President Bush-Vice President Cheney interview conducted by all 10 Commissioners.

Massive finger pointing as the WTC Pile, Pentagon, and a field outside of Shanksville still smoldered would have distracted key government personnel then scrambling to rally our Nation’s defense, and it would not well serve us now. Yet the American people must know the rest of the story. 2,978 names and the face of a 9/11 firefighter on a funeral mass card that I’ve long carried in my wallet haunt me; we owe it to them and future generations.

The 9/11 Commissioners can finally raise their voices and fulfill their charter to provide a “complete account of the circumstances surrounding the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, including preparedness.” I pray they do.

Note 1: Also present were “PZ” Philip Zelikow and “GC” General Counsel Daniel Marcus.

Note 2:
Legal Barriers to Information Sharing: The Erection of a Wall Between Intelligence and Law Enforcement Investigations
Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States
Staff Monograph
Barbara A. Grewe
Senior Counsel for Special Projects
August 20, 2004

Note 3: Zelikow confirmed its existence in a 2011 Reuters report.

Note 4: Tenet’s interview remains pending declassification review by the CIA while Clarke’s and Berger’s interviews are being held back by the NSC.

Obama living in a Muslim country did not make us safer

It was fantasy, one sold as fact to the American people on November 21, 2007 by then Presidential candidate Barack Obama during an interview:

Living in Malaysia for a few years when he was young could not possibly have equipped Obama with all he needed to know about Islam to make America safer 30 years later.

The world changes.

It changed dramatically on September 11, 2001 when Islamic terrorists executed a terrorist plot — born during the Clinton administration — by slamming commercial airliners into the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and Pennsylvania field.

Osama bin Laden was a very rich man. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was well educated. The 19 hijackers all came from middle to upper middle class families. What drove them to mass murder was their ideology and hatred of all non-Muslims.

Barack Obama did not learn that lesson. On September 19, 2001, he wrote this in the Hyde Park Herald about the 9/11 attacks:

Such a failure of empathy, such numbness to the pain of a child or the desperation of a parent, is not innate; nor, history tells us, is it unique to a particular culture, religion, or ethnicity. It may find expression in a particular brand of violence, and may be channeled by particular demagogues or fanatics. Most often, though, it grows out of a climate of poverty and ignorance, helplessness and despair.

Three year later, in the 2004 preface to his autobiography, Dreams From My Father, Obama added this:

I know, I have seen, the desperation and disorder of the powerless: how it twists the lives of children on the streets of Jakarta or Nairobi in much the same way as it does the lives of children on Chicago’s South Side, how narrow the path is for them between humiliation and untrammeled fury, how easily they slip into violence and despair. I know that the response of the powerful to this disorder-alternating as it does between a dull complacency and, when the disorder spills out of its proscribed confines, a steady, unthinking application of force, of longer prison sentences and more sophisticated military hardware-is inadequate to the task. I know that the hardening of lines, the embrace of fundamentalism and tribe, dooms us all.

President Obama now blames the September 11, 2012 attacks upon our embassies in Libya and Egypt on an obscure video made by a petty criminal in California.

We are not safer.