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Interview :: Civil & Human Rights

Mariani-Berg Interview with Internet Radio Project

9-11 widow, Ellen Mariani, was in Kansas City with her attorney Philip Berg, former Deputy Attorney General for the State of Pennsylvania, for a full day of speaking engagements on Sunday, February 22, 2004. The previous night, Internet Radio Project (www.communityradio.ws) members, Tom Crane, Michael Murphy and Sharon Lockhart had an opportunity to interview them due to a last minute cancellation by KCUR and Walt Bodine.
Mariani is suing the Bush administration (Cheney, Ashcroft, Rumsfeld, Tenet, Rice, et al.) under the RICO act [Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act]. Her complaint alleges that they knowingly allowed the 9-11 attacks to take place through deliberate inaction for the purpose of political and financial gain, and subsequently are engaging in criminal obstruction of justice by concealing relevant 9-11 facts and documents. Ellen said that she was pursuing this in honor of her husband, Neil.

She said the media is doing everything possible to keep her from being seen or heard, which has made her more determined. It was a reporter who first broke the news of her husband’s death to her, and the media was very friendly at first. That was, until a lawsuit was filed. Ellen said, "The truth hurts. All's I want are questions answered. I'm not out here to play a chess game. These are human loved ones that we lost."

We asked them both when they first smelled a rat. Ellen said it was right away, when she was detained in a room and made to wait seven hours in Chicago’s Midway Airport by United Airlines personnel. Ellen and Neil were en route to California for her daughter's wedding, and due to circumstances, were flying on separate flights. Neil flew United. After the Chicago reporter had told Ellen of the tragedy, a Midway trauma counselor stayed with her through this ordeal as she waited to get some answers. "For the next seven hours, I was glared at. We were locked in a room. We were an inconvenience to them. So right there, that's one red flag."

Having no idea of the involvement he would eventually have, Philip Berg (Mariani's third attorney) said he first thought something was wrong while watching television the morning of September 11th. Berg said that after seeing the second plane hit, "because of the photo-op with President Bush in Florida that morning and the events I saw then, I knew at that moment something was wrong. I saw Chief of Staff, Andy Card, lean over to the President of the United States and though we didn't know what he said, it came out within minutes that he told the President,---I hate to call him President, but--- that the government, our country was under attack”.

“The second plane had hit the World Trade Center, and there was no reaction from Bush. NO reaction from this person. Right here and right now, sitting in this house, if we heard screeching of brakes outside, all of us would turn and probably run to look out the window. We would be concerned. The country is under attack and no reaction. We know he's not the smartest individual in the world, but when I saw 'no reaction', I knew something was wrong”.

And then he continued on—“I'm not sure if he was reading or listening to a goat story--for the next fifteen or twenty minutes. Then he reads a written statement. But the flashback was always to the moment that he was told that the country was under attack, and no reaction."

Berg also pointed out how strange it was that Vice President Cheney was abruptly spirited away by the Secret Service while the nation was under attack, while at about the same time they did nothing to whisk the President to safety, leaving the schoolchildren potentially at risk.

Berg and Mariani, want to know--if there's nothing to hide, why hide it? They are asking the public to show support by signing their online petition at www.911forthetruth.com. "Let's get the President's Daily Briefings. “We'd like those," Ellen said that night,
" out of respect for those two thousand seven hundred and some odd that have given their lives for nothing, and all the veterans over there fighting where they shouldn't be. We deserve respect, and honor."

Berg asks, "If there's nothing to hide, why did we have to force the 9-11 Commission; why, when the 9-11 Commission wants to be extended, is there a fight; why is there a fight of what documents to deliver to this commission? I mean, they're hiding under the guise of national security. The only national security disaster is the people in the White House and the crew around them. "

Mariani pointed out that it had taken several steps to get where things are today. She fired her first attorney for "conspiring with Kenneth Feinberg" who is the individual in charge of distribution of the compensation fund to the 9-11 families. This compensation, which Mariani turned down, comes with the unprecedented requirement that recipients waive any future legal action. Number One Attorney, as she calls him, got a grieving Ellen to sign a contract granting him power of attorney, despite the fact that she had competent adult children. He also asked her to visit a psychiatrist. Also she says, she has in her possession a personal note from "Ken," scrawled at the bottom of an official letter to Number One Attorney, asking when he was going to get his client into the fund. Feinberg is now named in her suit.

Number Two Attorney, Mary Schiavo (former DOT Inspector General and author of 1997’s “Flying Blind, Flying Safe”) was also let go by Mariani, for having a secret meeting immediately prior to her second hearing in New York.

Current Attorney Berg has praised the Internet as a way of getting the word out, and was excited about Kansas City's Internet Radio Project (www.communityradio.ws) and www.911visibilty.org. He also spoke of the upcoming international 9-11 conference in San Francisco the last week in March, with follow-ups in Toronto and Europe, as well as the tremendous research that has been done and books that have been written on the subject. "We are the vehicle to seek the truth," says Berg. He adds that the government has just filed another motion to dismiss, which they are in the process of answering.

Berg blames the media and Congress for giving the administration a free pass on much of the obstruction he says takes place. Specifically, he cites the 900 plus page Congressional report on 9-11, which has had 28 pages expunged from it, supposedly on Saudi Arabia. (It is well known that the Bush family goes back a long way with both the Bin Laden family and the Saudi royal family.)

Berg finds it interesting that while we knew nothing about 9-11 before-hand, within several hours of its occurrence, "they had the names of all the supposed hijackers and pictures, because they could identify these people." He also wants to know why at 5:30 that afternoon, WTC Building 7, which had not been hit, IMploded.

Berg expressed his frustration that none of the Democratic Candidates have been willing to touch 9-11, “other than Dean making the one statement.” They look for other ways of getting the word out. They are trying to contact Bruce Springsteen, who in a recent interview expressed outrage over 9-11, to hold a concert to bring the issue to light. “If Springsteen would hold a concert,” Berg hoped, “the media would have to cover it.” Kansas City native, Ed Asner has recently endorsed Phil’s and Ellen’s efforts, and they are working with his Speakers’ Bureau to schedule more speaking engagements such as the Kansas City talks.

They are working to keep their case as mainstream as possible, in order to avoid the pitfall of being dismissed or marginalized with the label ‘conspiracy theorist’. “Legitimate questions,” Berg reiterated throughout the conversation, as if it were a personal mantra. Legitimate questions such as: Although security films have been released of the alleged hijackers boarding in Maine, why have we not seen films of these people boarding at Boston’s Logan Airport, from where the hijacked planes last took off? Why have the flight manifests not been released?

Ellen had legitimate questions about how Red Cross donations were diverted from families. She says that some of it went toward paying the cleanup crew at Ground Zero for a year, which should have fallen under the responsibility of FEMA {Federal Emergency Management Assistance}. “They sat there and let the Salvation Army come in and help us, while we were in need. United Way came in. Safe Horizon came in. And that took away their job, and they did not come in and do theirs, as far as giving us the funds that we needed. I appreciate what you people [Red Cross Donors] did, but I don’t appreciate what the government did.” Ellen asserts that diverting funds from the families was done as a way “to starve us to the fund.” The more people remained desperate, the more likely they would be to sign over their right to litigate in order to accept the fund money, she suggests.

Ellen and Phil also spoke of their recent appearance on MSNBC’s Scarborough Country. Since the two were geographically apart, they were told that there would be a split screen where they could see each other. Phil could not hear or see Ellen until fifteen seconds before they cut to him. Phil came out of the gate with, “For 9-11 to have occurred, you would have needed 116 governmental agencies and failsafe systems to have failed.” Phil then raised some pertinent timeline issues but was quickly cut off by host, Joe Scarborough, who said that that was all the time they had. With Mariani and Berg gone, Scarborough said that for Berg to make reckless charges like this, he better have some facts to back it up. Berg, having been promised twenty minutes, sat off camera with facts in hand.

In their complaint, they allege one hundred facts that the government knew about 9-11 before 9-11. “And that’s without subpoena power, without depositions…, without interrogatories…” says Berg. That’s why they have filed this RICO action. “Our position is ‘there’s a Mob in the White House’,” Berg says to explain the use of this legal tool originally created to go after the Mafia. They have had several people offer their service to help with the daunting legal work, but they are careful about whom they work with.

While Berg seemed encouraged by 9-11 Commission Chair Thomas Kean’s recent announcement that 9-11 could have been prevented, the commission’s work has not exactly won him over. “The biggest fault of the 9-11 commission is they’re not asking the right questions!”

“It’s time for our country to have a peaceful revolution,” Berg quotes their website (www.911forthetruth.com), “a time where we stand hand in hand and shoulder to shoulder, and demand the truth.”

“Open your hearts,” pleads Ellen Mariani. “Don’t turn your back on us and walk away. Walk with us.”

To listen to this conversation in its entirety, please visit (www.communityradio.ws/IRP-Views/Mariani.html).

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