William A. (‘Bill’) Christison (1928-2010)
William A. (“Bill”) Christison, a former senior analyst for the Central Intelligence Agency who became a supporter of the 9/11 Truth Movement, died June 13, 2010, due to a rapidly advancing neurological disease, which he had contracted three months earlier. He leaves behind his wife, Kathleen McGrath Christison (who had also been a CIA analyst), two daughters (Lynda Carlson and Judith Wooten), and a son (Eric). He had been preceded in death by two other sons (Robert and Thomas). The memorial service was held in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on Friday, June 18.
Born in Boston in 1928, Christison graduated from Princeton in 1950 and immediately joined the CIA to begin what would become a distinguished 28-year career. Starting out as an analyst on Soviet affairs, he worked in the 1960s on the problem of global nuclear proliferation, with special emphases on France, Israel, India, and Pakistan. In the 1970s, he became the National Intelligence Officer for South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Africa. (He and Kathleen met while they were both working in Saigon.) He finished his career as Director of the CIA‘s Office of Regional and Political Analysis, supervising over 200 analysts covering, between themselves, every region of the world.
In 1979, he and his wife retired from the CIA and moved to Sante Fe, where he started becoming more critical of US foreign policy, especially when he saw that the fall of the Soviet Union, which by ending the Cold War was supposed to bring a “peace dividend,” did no such thing, but instead prompted the United States to advance its imperial interests.
Becoming especially critical of US policy with regard to Israel and the Middle East, he (along with his wife) began writing articles for Counterpunch . Some of Christison’s most important work, Counterpunch editor Alexander Cockburn told the Santa Fe New Mexican (Steve Terrell, “Former CIA Agent Bill Christison Advocated for Palestinians,” The Santa Fe New Mexican , June 15, 2010), came in the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. In a March 2002 Counterpunch article, Christison wrote:
“My number one root cause (of terrorism) is the support by the U.S. over recent years for the policies of Israel with respect to the Palestinians, and the belief among Arabs and Muslims that the United States is as much to blame as Israel itself for the continuing, almost 35-year-long Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.”
At that time, Christison accepted the idea that the 9/11 attacks were “blowback” for US foreign policy, especially in the Middle East — a view that was controversial enough. But he later came to accept an even more controversial view, which he articulated in an article entitled “Stop Belittling the Theories About September 11,” which he posted August 14, 2006, on the Dissident Voice website (Bill Christison, “Stop Belittling the Theories About September 11” , Dissident Voice , August 14, 2006), and in which he wrote:
“Why is it important that we not let the so-called conspiracy theories surrounding 9/11 be drowned out? After spending the better part of the last five years treating these theories with utmost skepticism, I have devoted serious time to actually studying them in recent months, and have also carefully watched several videos that are available on the subject. I have come to believe that significant parts of the 9/11 theories are true, and that therefore significant parts of the ‘official story’ put out by the U.S. government and the 9/11 Commission are false. I now think there is persuasive evidence that the events of September did not unfold as the Bush administration and the 9/11 Commission would have us believe.”
Then, after listing nine judgments that had led him to this conclusion — one of which was that the “North and South Towers of the World Trade Center almost certainly did not collapse and fall to earth because hijacked aircraft hit them” – he added:
“If [these] judgments . . . are correct, they . . . strongly suggest that some unnamed persons or groups either inside or with ties to the government were actively creating a ‘Pearl Harbor‘ event, most likely to gain public support for the aggressive foreign policies that followed — policies that would, first, ‘transform’ the entire Middle East, and second, expand U.S. global domination.”
Moreover, contrary to the view that any attempt to bring this issue into political debates would be politically suicidal, Christison suggested that “the untrue stories peddled by The 9/11 Commission Report are clearly susceptible of being turned into major political issues.” He based this judgment partly on two polls: The Scripps Howard/Ohio University poll of July 2006 — which found that “more than a third [36 percent] of the American public suspects that federal officials assisted in the 9/11 terrorist attacks or took no action to stop them, so that the United States could go to war in the Middle East” — and the Zogby poll of May 2006 — which found that 42 percent of Americans believed there had indeed been a cover-up of the true events of 9/11 (with an additional 10 percent “unsure”). This Zogby poll, Christison said, “suggested even more strongly that the issue could become a ‘big one’ if aggressively publicized.”
Seeing these polls as implying the existence of “considerable support for making a major political issue of the subject,” he suggested that we “work as hard as is humanly possible to defeat . . . any candidate who refuses to support a no-holds-barred investigation of 9/11 by the Congress or a high-level international court. No more evidence than is now available is needed in order to begin this process.”
Christison argued that an international trial, resulting in the conviction and punishment of the criminals responsible for 9/11, would be of great benefit: “Such a trial, accompanied by actual change in U.S. policies, would show that some people on this globe are at least trying to move closer to more just and decent behavior in human relationships around the world.”
Contrary to those members of the left (like his friend Alexander Cockburn) who regarded the 9/11 Truth Movement as a distraction from more important issues, Christison wrote:
“A manageable volume of carefully collected and analyzed evidence is already at hand . . . that elements within the Bush administration, as well as possibly other groups foreign or domestic, were involved in a massive fraud against the American people, a fraud that has led to many thousands of deaths. This charge of fraud, if proven, involves a much greater crime against the American people and people of the world than any other charges of fraud connected to the run-up to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. It is a charge that we should not sweep under the rug because what is happening in Lebanon, Gaza, Iraq, Syria, and Iran seems more pressing and overwhelming. It is a charge that is more important because it is related to all of the areas just mentioned — after all, the events of 9/11 have been used by the administration to justify every single aspect of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East since September 11. It is a charge that is more important also because it affects the very core of our entire political system. If proven, it is a conspiracy, so far successful, not only against the people of the United States, but against the entire world.”
Explaining in an email letter to friends, the same day the article was posted (August 14, 2006), why he had written it, Christison said:
“I spent the first four and a half years since September 11 utterly unwilling to consider seriously the conspiracy theories surrounding the attacks of that day. . . . [I]n the last half year and after considerable agony, I’ve changed my mind. The subject is a difficult one, and I fully recognize that many of you will feel that I’ve made a monstrous mistake. But I can live with such criticism, and will continue pressing to force a new and independent high level investigation of the events of 9/11. The only real investigation to date, that of the 9/11 Commission, was a joke. We can do better.”
In March 2009, when Intelligence Officers for 9/11 Truth was formed, Bill Christison was the first person to accept the invitation to join.
Finally, giving the lie to the claim that a concern for 9/11 truth prevents people from working on other causes, he in 2009 published Palestine in Pieces: Graphic Perspectives on the Israeli Occupation , which he co-authored with his wife, and which earned high praise from Ramzy Baroud, John Pilger, and Richard Falk.
David Ray Griffin’s most recent book is The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the Final Official Report about 9/11 is Unscientific and False (2009). His next book will be Cognitive Infiltration: An Obama Appointee’s Plan to Undermine the 9/11 Conspiracy Theory.