(L) 9-11, Photo: bu.edu (C) Mick Harrison (R) OKC bombing, Hoffman’s book
by Mary W Maxwell, LLB
Wow. What a day. January 21, 2022. The US Court of the Southern District of New York vouchsafed to let a man from the Lawyers Committee for 9-11 Inquiry speak unto them. Indeed, to a panel of three judges. He, Attorney Mick Harrison of Bloomington Indiana, was allotted 10 minutes, which he chose to divide into 8 minutes presentation, and a 2-minute rebuttal after “The Government” spoke.
You may recall that back in the mists of time, specifically in 2018, two men, Mick Harrison and David Meiswinkle, carried their parcel– related to NIST’s poor study of the collapse of the Twin Towers — to Geoffrey Berman, the US Attorney in NY (that is, the DoJ’s man).
The team of two, representing more than two thousand professionals such as architects and engineers, requested (or I guess you could say demanded, what’s the point of groveling?) that their parcel be handed to the foreman of the Grand Jury.
I have wondered about it, during the 3.5 years following the 2018 handover from the DoJ (Berman) to the incumbent Foreman (name unknown). While I did not expect the matter to ever see the light of day (come on, would the feds ever indict the real 9-11 suspects?), it didn’t occur to me that there would be no handover at all. Nada.
That is, I under-rated the power of the Bermans of this world to pocket the parcel instead of letting the Grand Jury have a look-see.
In court today was the Lawyers Committee for 9-11 Inquiry asking for reversal of the district court’s “Get lost, you don’t have standing” dismissal. The 8 minutes plus 2 minutes rebuttal consisted of Mick Harrison putting his case as beautifully as it could be put, with the three judges breaking in with the most tame, nitpicking questions you could imagine.
I found it shocking that nothing was said in the SDNY court today about the true purpose of the grand jury, given that this is the real issue in the case. So let us now go back further in the mists of time, to, say, the 12th century. Of course I’m referring to the experience of grand juries in England, as the tribes of the native Americans do not have written history — but you can be sure they had something akin to an accusatory body.
Humans love to gossip; anthropologists put gossiping on the list of cultural universals. One major topic for gossip is criticism of the bad guy du jour. In a culture where marital fidelity is publicly guarded, a mere batting of the eyelashes could consign a woman to “fame” as a sinner. And if that society had a punishment for infidelity, the reports of her indiscretion would have to be delivered in some way to whatever party was tasked with punishing her.
Looking around for bad behavior is so normal and natural that you couldn’t stop it if you wanted to. (And who would want to?) We don’t need a formal system for it, but we do habitually create systems. Thus it’s not surprising that King Henry II, in 1166, formalized a sitting of court at Clarendon to be called the Clarendon Assize (assize is the Middle English word for sitting, from the Latin assidere, to sit down or settle).
King Henry was not the DoJ. He did not, as far as we know, want to direct the procedure. He asked the people, who sat at Clarendon, to go out and fetch information for him. That was a half-century before the Magna Carta’s words on jury trials. The assize did not try any individual. It looked to see if a trial was warranted — it looked for probable cause, so to speak.
The Grand Jury
Our modern version of the Clarendon Assize is the grand jury — grand only in the sense of having 23 members while a “petit” jury has 12. When the Mayflower arrived at Plymouth in 1620, we can assume that England’s grand jury system was on deck.
As noted in William E Nelson’s Americanization of the Common Law (1975), colonists were empaneled as grand jurors for two years at a time. Those grand jurors did more than look for crime; they looked for any problems. If you lived in the neighborhood, in the seventeenth century, and noticed a broken bridge, you could report it to the grand jury Foreman.
But in 2018, you can’t alert the nation that there’s mischief in the Report of the 9-11 Commission? WHAT? Hello? Who said you can’t?
In the title of this article I announced “History was made today concerning 9-11 guilt.” Oops, I may have pulled a bait and switch on you — the word “9-11” was barely heard in the courtroom today and “9-11 guilt” certainly did not appear. But from where I was sitting, it was historic.
(Note: “where I was sitting” was at home in comfort. Didn’t hop to Manhattan as planned, as I heard that the court would be closed other than by audio link, thanks to … Covid.)
The judges said they reserve their decision. But it could come as soon as next week. I am jumping the gun when I conjecture that they will not grant Mick Harrison’s request. But I do so because there was no conversation about the people’s right to grand jury. The history that was made (unless they surprise us) was their missing such a historic opportunity.
The judges indicated that everything, for them, depends on predecdent. Well, how about the precedent from US v Williams (1992)? In that US Supreme Court decision, Justice Scalia wrote the opinion of the Court, opining:
“The grand jury is mentioned in the Bill of Rights [the Fifth Amendment] but not in the body of the Constitution. It has not been textually assigned, therefore, to any of the branches described in the first three Articles. It ‘is a constitutional fixture in its own right.’ In fact the whole theory of its function is that it belongs to no branch of the institutional government, serving as a kind of buffer or referee between the Government and the people.”
Yay buffer! Yay referee! Above, I described the role of a grand jury in enabling a prosecution, but in fact, thanks to the people’s essential prerogative of nullification, a grand jury can also defy what it considers bad legislation.
Famously, a publisher named Zenger was to be indicted for seditious libel — he had offended the royal governor of New York. (Yes, I said royal, this was prior to the American Revolution.) In a 2007 article in the Fordham Law Review, Kevin K Washburn tells us:
“Consistent with prevailing practice, the Crown presented its case to a grand jury in New York and sought an indictment. When the grand jury declined to issue the indictment, the Crown presented the case to a second grand jury, which also refused to indict.
“The Crown then bypassed the grand jury altogether and prosecuted Zenger on the basis of a charging instrument called an ‘information,’ which, unlike an indictment, was not the product of a grand jury. Following a jury trial, Zenger was acquitted of the offense.”
In short, the colonists “weren’t having” it.
Are You Having It?
In the federal system, the DoJ prosecutors have made short shrift of the citizens’ authority in their role as grand jurors. The Prosecutor today sits in the grand jury room dictating what the members can and cannot do. (In many of the 50 states, too, the situation is like that.)
In my opinion, history was made today at the SDNY — or will be made as soon as the judgement comes down, if the Court reinforces the silly idea that US Attorney Geoffrey Berman did not have to “pass the parcel” to the Foreman.
Years of meticulous work by the Architects and Engineers went into the making of that parcel. It is about the right of Americans to find out the truth of 9-11. It’s hard to find words to express the wrongness of throwing out Mick Harrison’s perfectly sensible plea for standing.
I think the word “egregious” will suffice for now.
Memories of Timothy McVeigh
Update: I sent a draft of this article to a friend this evening who amazed me with the fact that a grand juror, named Hoppy Heidelberg, got kicked off the Grand Jury investigating the April 18, 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City.
It is recounted in the excellent book written by David Hoffman in 1998. I had read that book but did not absorb the significance of this item. Also I was ignorant, until the SDNY judge mentioned it today, that “the grand jury is an arm of the court.”
The guy in Oklahoma City had questioned the lead prosecutor, Joseph Hartzler, over the fact that the explanations of the event in local OKC newspapers differed from what Hartzler was presenting to the grand jury. (Seems reasonable, doesn’t it?) Hartzler then told Hoppy Heidelberg to write to the US District Court Judge David Russell. This is the reported letter:
October 5, 1995
1210 Federal Court House
200 N.W. 4th
Oklahoma City, OK 73102
Dear Judge Russell:
Pursuant to instructions from lead prosecutor, Joseph Hartzler, I write you this letter to express my concerns about the Oklahoma City bombing investigation. January is coming upon us fast and I am concerned that there will then be no one in authority with sufficient motivation to pursue the case. The families of the victims deserve to know who all was involved in the bombing, and there appears to be an attempt to protect the identity of certain suspects, namely John Doe II, evidenced by the following:
— The hoax perpetrated by authorities that John Doe II was a Ft. Riley private who rented a truck on a different day. The Ft. Riley private was not with Tim McVeigh, nor does he remotely resemble the police sketch of John Doe II.
— The lack of witnesses relating to John Doe II, namely:
- a) the manager of the Great Western Inn on I-70 in Junction City, Kansas, where John Doe II registered using a foreign name and reportedly stayed in room #107. This manager apparently reported that John Doe II spoke in broken English and was driving the mystery “second Ryder truck.” Strangely, this manager has reportedly “disappeared” and cannot be found;
- b) the Elliott’s Body Shop employee that reportedly gave the FBI artist the description of Tim McVeigh and John Doe II. The McVeigh sketch was almost perfect and there is no reason to doubt that the John Doe II sketch is less so;
- c) the Oklahoma City tire shop employee who saw John Doe II in the Ryder truck with McVeigh shortly before the explosion.
— The lack of the use of the John Doe II sketch in interviewing witnesses that had apparently seen him in locations other than those previously acknowledged.
Perhaps a new Grand Jury should be empaneled in 1996 dedicated to this investigation. If so, I suggest the following list of witnesses that need to be subpoenaed for testimony:
The manager (at the time of the Oklahoma City bombing) of the Great Western Inn on I-70 in Junction City, Kansas, if he is still alive and can be found.
The Ft. Riley private identified by authorities as John Doe II.
Architects, structural engineers and explosive experts selected by the Grand Jury.
Area seismologists and geophysicists, including Ray Brown.
All video surveillance tapes from cameras near the Murrah Building, including the one made by a Southwestern Bell camera which reportedly shows John Doe II getting out of the Ryder truck before McVeigh drove it to the Murrah Building.
Ralph McPeak, Jr., Vickie Beemer, Tom Kissinger, Hilda Sostra, Mike Moroz, James Rosencrans.
Time may be of the essence before witnesses disappear or lose their memories or their materials. The truth is as important to you as it is to me, I trust; therefore your response will be eagerly awaited.
Very truly yours,
Hoppy Heidelberg, Rt. 6, Box 164, Blanchard, Oklahoma 73010. Tel. 404-485-3030.
According to Hoffman’s book, “the Judge … dismissed Hoppy from the Grand Jury and had the nerve in his dismissal letter to remind Hoppy of his secrecy obligation…. [and] The FBI came to his house to threaten him with violence should he go public with his information.”
Note: In my (Maxwell’s) opinion, today’s lockout of the truth was a throwback; it’s not the wave of the future. The wave of the future, thanks to the Covid overreach, is that thousands of us at-home researchers are coming out, noticing our numbers, and deciding not to put up with this nincompoopery anymore.
Also, here is a de-incentivizer for nincompoopery:
18 USC 1503 “(a) Whoever corruptly, or by threats or force, or by any threatening letter or communication, endeavors to influence, intimidate, or impede any grand or petit juror … in the discharge of his duty … shall be punished as provided in subsection (b). If the offense under this section occurs in connection with a trial of a criminal case, and the act in violation of this section involves the threat of physical force or physical force,
“the maximum term of imprisonment which may be imposed for the offense shall be the higher of that otherwise provided by law or the maximum term that could have been imposed for any offense charged in such case.”
McVeigh got execution, did he not?
Finally, here is the audio of Mick Harrison’s oral argument in New York today, which was broadcast live on YouTube: