in support of the 9-11 families' struggle for truth
An interview with Paul Hellyer, former Defense Minister of Canada
The following interview was conducted by Kyle Hence of 911CitizensWatch.org and Bill Douglas of 911Visibility.org, on May 27, 2004, at the International 9-11 Inquiry in Toronto, Canada. (Paul Hellyer held the Canadian office equivalent to Secretary of Defense in the U.S., and was Deputy Prime Minister, the Canadian equivalent to Vice President.)
Kyle Hence: Hello. Thank you for taking time with us. Please introduce yourself, with a little bit of your background, for our viewers.
Paul Hellyer: Hi, my name is Paul Hellyer. I’m a former Canadian politician, a member of three administrations. I’m the former Minister of National Defense, and rose to the rank of Deputy Prime Minister in the Trudeau Administration.
Kyle Hence: Where were you when 9-11 (11 September 2001) occurred? Share with us some of your observations about how the world hinged on this event, and some of your concerns about the policies that have been put in place after 9-11.
Paul Hellyer: I was in my office and one of the staff members herd something on radio and I said, well let’s turn on the TV and see what we can find out and we did. And we watched as most people did, the terrible events unfold minute by minute. And you have that feeling of sick horror . . . sort of . . . you know, this has got to be some kind of surrealism . . . can’t be real. But, the longer the day went on the more evidence there was that this was no joke. This was a real thing and that it was just so awful that it was beyond description. And so I was one of the people that just felt . . . well, like most of the world, and certainly most Canadians a deep grief and shared the loss of the people who lost friends, loved ones, as a result of the attack. And I did many of the things that people did. I went to a special church service, and signed the book and did the things I thought were appropriate for the circumstances.
Kyle Hence: There were many Canadians who died too.
Paul Hellyer: Yes, absolutely. It was not obvious at the time, but this came later when the statistics were made public. So, my attitude never changed about that aspect of things. But, I think what did change over time were the consequences. When President Bush decided to declare war on terrorism. Terrorism is a terrible thing, but this was a police problem and an intelligence problem. What was wrong with your intelligence? Why didn’t you know this was going to happen? You spend billions and billions with spooks all over the world and surely you should have known what was going on. And, so I began to be concerned about that. And then questions were raised by others. Why did the President just sit in the schoolroom when he heard the news? Why did he not acknowledge that he already knew what was going on? As a former Minister of National Defense, when the news came out I had to wonder. Why did airplanes fly around for an hour and a half without interceptors being scrambled from Andrews [Air Force Base]? Is it Andrews right next to the capitol?
Kyle Hence: Yes, that’s correct.
Paul Hellyer: With a quick action alert they should have been there in five minutes or ten minutes. If not, as the Minister of National Defense, which in the United States is the Secretary of Defense, I would want to say “why not?”
Kyle Hence: Does it disturb you, or do you have concerns about your neighbors to the south that there’s been no inquiry at a defense level relative to the specific failure to scramble jets? Paul Hellyer: I think the inquiry has been very shallow and superficial. And I would like to see a much tougher more in-depth inquiry. The evidence is that some people were allowed to fly out of the United States after the attack when American citizens were not allowed to fly in. And Canadians had the pleasure, I guess in a sense, of the company of tens of thousands, several tens of thousands of them [Americans] in Canada for a few days, especially in Newfoundland where the people were most gracious in looking after them. But why were some members of the Bin Laden family allowed to fly out of the United States? Why?
There are so many questions. What is going wrong here? Or was there something going wrong? How much did they actually know? And you get into very deep territory because it’s the same kind of thing as we saw with Pearl Harbor. Did the President know, or didn’t he know? I don’t know. But, it’s a very good question.
Kyle Hence: But, there’s some evidence to suggest he may have.
Paul Hellyer: There is some evidence to suggest that he may have and it was a deliberate decision on his part to let the attack happen because he wanted to get the United States into World War II. And otherwise it was going to be difficult to get Congressional approval.
Kyle Hence: So you can understand why perhaps people are asking the same question about President Bush and the Bush Administration.
Paul Hellyer: Absolutely. I think it’s a fair question. I don’t know what the answer is. But, I would like to ask the questions . . . or I would like to see someone in a position of authority ask these questions and insist on getting answers? At least to why some of the things happened that seem to be, for an ordinary person, inexplicable.
Kyle Hence: It seems like there’s a fundamental lack of accountability and transparency, especially now in the wake of 9-11. Does that concern you in regards to what’s happening in America with the Patriot Act, and the projection of American military power?
Paul Hellyer: Oh, very, very much so. I’m very disturbed about a lack of transparency. Everyone talks about it, and no one is willing to come clean, as it were. I just had lunch, interestingly enough with the designer of the Avro Arrow which was cancelled more than 40 years ago and one of the things we were discussing were the lies that people in government and the Air Force told at the time. And I guess this makes me all the more suspicious. If they lied about that, what else were they lying about? So, we were agreeing that you had to get behind the superficial and the spin and try and get at the truth. It’s very difficult. It takes a lot of time. But, we have to try and get the truth. Because unless we do, as the good book says, “seek the truth and the truth will set you free.” And I think that’s what we’ve got to try to do and I hope that somebody has the courage and the persistence to keep at it until we can get it.
Kyle Hence: Thank you very much. I’ll be in touch with you.