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(page 3 of 4)

 

2. The Fear of Being Distracted

 

The second fear – that the focus on a false conspiracy theory has been distracting many people from more important matters – is equally valid. But this fear has been directed toward the wrong conspiracy theory. Nothing has distracted the United States and its allies from issues such as global apartheid, the ecological crisis, nuclear proliferation, and corporate power more than the “war on terror” - with its huge operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, its incessant terror alerts and stories of attacks prevented, and its depletion of our national treasuries. Lying at the root of this so-called war on terror, both historically and as present justification, is the official account of 9/11. So it is, as I wrote in response to Cockburn in Le Monde Diplomatique three years go, “The Truly Distracting 9/11 Conspiracy Theory.”177

 

Had the falsity of this account been exposed within weeks – as it certainly could and should have been – the war in Afghanistan, which has now been using up our time, talent, and treasury for almost a decade, could have been avoided altogether. If the falsity of the Bush-Cheney 9/11 conspiracy theory had at least been exposed within a year, the fiasco in Iraq could have been avoided. If the truth had been exposed within three years, those wars could have been closed down long ago and the Bush-Cheney administration dismissed before it had a second term. If so, the next administration, not distracted by two major wars and exaggerated fears about terrorist attacks on the “homeland,” might have focused on the fact that many environmental regulations needed to be tightened up. One consequence might have been that the Gulf oil blowout (not “spill”), which could turn out to be extremely destructive to our planet’s ecosystem, might never have occurred. The fact that the official conspiracy theory about 9/11 has distracted the United States and its allies from the ecological crisis is, therefore, no trivial matter – and this is merely one of many illustrations that could be given.

 

That the 9/11 Truth Movement, by contrast, cannot be rationally considered a distraction from more important matters was persuasively expressed in August 2006 by former CIA official Bill Christison, who by the end of his 28-year career had risen to the position of Director of the CIA’s Office of Regional and Political Analysis (and who, sadly, died while this essay was being written178). In an article entitled “Stop Belittling the Theories About September 11,” Christison wrote:

 

“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 [and] 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.”179

 

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.”  

 

Then, explaining why the evidence for this conclusion cannot reasonably be dismissed as a distraction from more important matters, he 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.”

 

In this passage, Christison expressed this charge of fraud conditionally, saying “if proven.” He later made clear, however, that he had personally found the evidence convincing, referring to the 9/11 attacks as “an inside job.”180

 

In any case, besides saying that 9/11 is more important than America’s crimes in the Middle East because “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,” he also, in saying that the 9/11 fraud “affects the very core of our entire political system,” anticipated the above-cited symposium in the American Behavioral Scientist, which treated 9/11 as a probable instance of its topic: State Crimes against Democracy. Christison’s implicit message to Chomsky, therefore, was: Given your concern with “real and ongoing crimes of state,” I would respectfully suggest that you do what I finally did: Actually examine the evidence that 9/11 was one of these crimes.  

 

As for the concern to prosecute war criminals, what bigger war criminals could there be than people within our own government who engineered these attacks, then used them as a pretext for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which have killed millions?181

 

As for the hope of stopping these horribly deadly and terribly expensive wars, what better means could be had than proof – which scientists, architects, engineers, firefighters, and pilots in the 9/11 Truth Movement have provided – that the official account of 9/11 is a lie and that the attacks had to be, at least in part, an inside job?

 

Concluding Statement

 

I recently completed a 15-city tour, presenting a lecture entitled “Is the War in Afghanistan Justified by 9/11?” My hope was that, by providing clear evidence that it is not – because the official account of 9/11 is false from beginning to end – “the 9/11 Truth Movement and more traditional Peace and Anti-War groups [would] be able to combine forces to oppose this illegal and immoral war.”182 I have written the present essay with the same hope. But if this hope is to be fulfilled, erstwhile left-leaning despisers of the 9/11 Truth Movement will need to prove that Cockburn’s charge about this movement’s members – “They’re immune to any reality check” – and Corn’s charge – they “are not open to persuasion”183 – are not instead true of themselves.

 

David Ray Griffin is the author of 36 books dealing with various subjects: philosophy, theology, philosophy of religion, philosophy of science, and 9/11 and US imperialism. In September 2009, The New Statesman ranked him #41 among “The 50 People Who Matter Today.” His 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 (September 2010). He wishes to thank four scientists – Jim Hoffman, Frank Legge, Kevin Ryan, and John Wyndham – and three other superb critics - Matthew Everett, Tod Fletcher, and Elizabeth Woodworth – for help with this essay.

Notes

 

1 As those who know the history of modern theology are aware, one of its seminal writings was Friedrich Schleiermacher’s Speeches on Religion to Its Cultured Despisers (1799). These “cultured despisers” of religion were people whom Schleiermacher admired and with whom he agreed on most issues. He believed, however, that they had a blind spot with regard to religion, mainly because they did not understand its true nature and the experience on which it is based. I address those I call “left-leaning despisers of the 9/11 Truth Movement” in the same spirit.

 

2 David Ray Griffin is the author of 36 books dealing with various subjects: philosophy, theology, philosophy of religion, philosophy of science, and 9/11 and US imperialism. In September 2009, The New Statesman ranked him #41 among “The 50 People Who Matter Today.” His 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 (September 2010). He wishes to thank four scientists – Jim Hoffman, Frank Legge, Kevin Ryan, and John Wyndham – and three other superb critics - Matthew Everett, Tod Fletcher, and Elizabeth Woodworth – for help with this essay.

 

3 Alexander Cockburn, “The 9/11 Conspiracy Nuts,” ZNet, September 20, 2006 (http://www.zcommunications.org/the-9-11-conspiracy-nuts-by-alexander-cockburn-1). A shorter version appeared in the September 24, 2010, issue of The Nation.

 

4 Alexander Cockburn, “The Conspiracists, Continued – Are They Getting Crazier?” The Free Press, September 16, 2006 (http://www.freepress.org/columns/display/2/2006/1433).

 

5 Alexander Cockburn, “Conspiracy Disproved: Distractions from Awful Reality,” Le Monde Diplomatique, December 2006 (http://mondediplo.com/2006/12/02dconspiracy).

 

6 Ibid.

 

7 George Monbiot, “9/11 Fantasists Pose a Mortal Danger to Popular Oppositional Campaigns,” The Guardian, February 20, 2007 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2007/feb/20/comment.september11).

 

8 Matt Taibbi, “The Idiocy Behind the '9/11 Truth' Movement,” AlterNet, September 26, 2006 (http://www.alternet.org/story/42181). This date, incidentally, refers to the original posting of the article at Rollingstone.com. It was not posted on AlterNet until May 7, 2008. In another article, posted on Rollingstone.com a couple of weeks earlier (September 14, 2006), Taibbi had offered a different diagnosis, saying that people who thought that the towers had been wired with explosives were “clinically insane” (Matt Taibbi, “Americans in Denial about 9/11,” AlterNet June 6, 2008 http://www.alternet.org/story/41635).   

 

9 Christopher Hayes, “9/11: The Roots of Paranoia,” The Nation, December 8, 2006 (http://www.chrishayes.org/articles/911-roots-paranoia).

 

10 “Chomsky: 9/11 Truth Movement Pushes Non-Scientific Evidence,” YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBg3aFZVATk).

 

11 “Chomsky Dismisses 9/11 Conspiracy Theories As 'Dubious'” Rense.com, December 13, 2006 (http://rense.com/general74/dismiss.htm).

 

12 Terry Allen, “The 9/11 Faith Movement,” In These Times, July 11, 2006 (http://www.inthesetimes.com/site/main/article/2702).

 

13 David Corn, “When 9/11 Conspiracy Theories Go Bad,” AlterNet, March 1, 2002 (http://www.alternet.org/story/12536).

 

14 David Corn, “How 9/11 Conspiracy Poison Did in Van Jones,” Politics Daily, September 7, 2009 (http://www.politicsdaily.com/2009/09/07/how-9-11-conspiracy-poison-did-in-van-jones).

 

15 Ibid.

 

16 David Corn, “Van Jones and the 9/11 Conspiracy Theory Poison,” Mother Jones, September 7, 2009 (http://motherjones.com/mojo/2009/09/van-jones-and-911-conspiracy-theory-poison).

 

17 Matthew Rothschild, “Enough of the 9/11 Conspiracy Theories, Already,” The Progressive, September 18, 2006 (http://www.alternet.org/story/41601/).

 

18 David Ray Griffin, The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the Final Official Report about 9/11 Is Unscientific and False (Northampton: Olive Branch [Interlink Books], 2009), Chs. 4 and 5.

 

19 See David Ray Griffin, The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions (Northampton, Mass.: Olive Branch Press [Interlink Books], 2005), 29.

 

20 See David Ray Griffin, “Building What? How SCADs Can Be Hidden in Plain Sight,” 911Truth.org, May 27, 2010 (http://911truth.org/article.php?story=20100527162010811).

 

21 James Glanz, “Engineers Suspect Diesel Fuel in Collapse of 7 World Trade Center,” New York Times, November 29, 2001 (http://www.nytimes.com/2001/11/29/nyregion/nation-challenged-site-engineers-have-culprit-strange-collapse-7-world-trade.html).  

 

22 See FEMA, World Trade Center Building Performance Study, ed. Therese McAllister, ed. (Washington D.C., and New York: Federal Emergency Management Agency, 2002), Chapter 5, by Ramon Gilsanz, Edward M. Depaola, Christopher Marrion, and Harold “Bud” Nelson (http://www.fema.gov/pdf/library/fema403_ch5.pdf), 31. As the title of Glanz’s article in the previous note indicates, he had already suggested that the diesel fuel might provide an explanation.  

 

23 Debunking 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can’t Stand Up to the Facts: An In-Depth Investigation by Popular Mechanics, ed. David Dunbar and Brad Reagan (New York: Hearst Books, 2006), 53, 56.

 

24 Ibid., 53-54, 29.

 

25 Rothschild, “Enough of the 9/11 Conspiracy Theories, Already.”  

 

26 Hayes, “9/11: The Roots of Paranoia.”

 

27 Allen, “The 9/11 Faith Movement.”

 

28 As this example shows, Allen’s rejection of the 9/11 Truth Movement’s empirical claims seems to be based entirely on her taking on faith the claims of the Bush-Cheney administration as mediated through Popular Mechanics. It is quite ironic, therefore, that she caricatures the 9/11 Truth Movement as the “9/11 Faith Movement.” But she seems to have a special knack for getting things backwards: With regard to an In These Times editor’s question about me, “What could have transformed this sober, reflective scholar into a conspiracy theorist?” (which was his way of asking why I had rejected the government’s conspiracy theory in favor an alternative conspiracy theory), she replied: “I think part of it is that he's a theologian who operates on faith” (quoted in Salim Muwakkil, “What’s the 411 on 9/11?” In These Times, December 21, 2005 http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/2444). Given the fact that the primary issue at hand was my belief “that the towers were toppled by a controlled demolition,” for which there is (as we have seen) an overwhelming amount of empirical evidence, it is especially strange that she would say that the reason I believe this must be that I am “a theologian who operates on faith.” Besides the fact that she was obviously the one who was operating on faith with regard to 9/11, she was also assuming that, because I am “a theologian,” I must operate in the way she assumes all theologians operate. Since the 18th-century Enlightenment, however, there has been a great methodological divide within theology. Many theologians still do operate on the traditional basis, in which questions of truth are settled by appeals to authority, the pronouncements of which are taken on faith. But I have always practiced the Enlightenment-based type of theology, which, as I explained in a book subtitled A New Synthesis of Scientific Naturalism and Christian Faith, rejects the “method of authority” in favor of the method of “settling questions of truth and falsity on the basis of common experience and reason – that is, by reasoning on the basis of experience that is at least potentially common to all people” (David Ray Griffin, Two Great Truths: A New Synthesis of Scientific Naturalism and Christian Faith [Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004], 62). Also central to this type of theology is the rejection of “miracles,” in the sense of “supernatural interruptions of the world’s most fundamental causal processes” (ibid., 98). The centrality of this element in my theology is illustrated by the titles of two of my other books, Religion and Scientific Naturalism: Overcoming the Conflicts (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2000), and Reenchantment without Supernaturalism: A Process Philosophy of Religion (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2001). My explicit rejection of miraculous interruptions of the world’s normal causal processes may make me more sensitive to this issue than are some left-wing critics of the 9/11 Truth Movement, who to me seem puzzlingly unconcerned about the official account’s cavalier violations of principles that have long been considered inviolable laws of nature.

 

29 NIST NCSTAR 1A, Final Report on the Collapse of World Trade Center Building 7 (brief version), National Institute of Standards and Technology, November 2008, xxxvi (http://wtc.nist.gov/NCSTAR1/PDF/NCSTAR%201A.pdf). This document is henceforth cited simply as NIST NCSTAR 1A, which will always refer to the final (November 2008) version (as distinct from the Draft for Public Comment, which was issued in August 2008).  

 

30 Ibid., xxxvii.  

 

31 Ibid., xxxv.  

 

32 See, for example, Shyam Sunder, “Opening Statement,” NIST Press Briefing, August 21, 2008 (http://wtc.nist.gov/media/opening_remarks_082108.html); NIST NCSTAR 1-9, Structural Fire Response and Probable Collapse Sequence of World Trade Center Building 7, November 2008, Volume 2: 493, 617, 618 (http://wtc.nist.gov/NCSTAR1/PDF/NCSTAR%201-9%20Vol%202.pdf).

 

33 “NIST WTC 7 Investigation Finds Building Fires Caused Collapse,” NIST, August 21, 2008 (http://www.physorg.com/news138546437.html).

 

34 NIST NCSTAR 1A, xxxvii.

 

35 NIST NCSTAR 1-9, Structural Fire Response and Probable Collapse Sequence of World Trade Center Building 7, November 2008, Vol. 1 (wtc.nist.gov/NCSTAR1/PDF/NCSTAR%201-9%20Vol%201.pdf): 341.

 

36 Rothschild, “Enough of the 9/11 Conspiracy Theories, Already”; Allen, “The 9/11 Faith Movement.”

 

37 J. Gordon Routley, Charles Jennings, and Mark Chubb, “High-Rise Office Building Fire, One Meridian Plaza, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,” FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), 1991 (http://www.interfire.org/res_file/pdf/Tr-049.pdf); Robin Nieto, “Fire Practically Destroys Venezuela’s Tallest Building,” Venezuela News, Views, and Analysis, October 18, 2004 (http://www.venezuelanalysis.com/news/741).

 

38 Sunder, “Opening Statement.”

 

39 Griffin, The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: 170-77.

 

40 David Ray Griffin, Debunking 9/11 Debunking: An Answer to Popular Mechanics and Other Defenders of the Official Conspiracy Theory (Northampton, Mass.: Olive Branch [Interlink Books], 2007), Chap. 4.

 

41 Hayes, “9/11: The Roots of Paranoia.”

 

42 Griffin, Debunking 9/11 Debunking, 152-63.

 

43 See “WTC7 Demolition on 9/11 – Video Compilation,” YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DlTBMcxx-78). For video and analysis, see “WTC7: This Is an Orange,” YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zv7BImVvEyk&feature=related), and David Chandler, “WTC7: NIST Finally Admits Freefall (Part III)” (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3mudruFzNw) , at 2:25-4:00.

 

44 See Frank Legge, “9/11: Acceleration Study Proves Explosive Demolition,” Journal of 9/11 Studies, Vol. 5, November 2006 (http://journalof911studies.com/volume/200611/911-Acceleration-Study-Proves-Explosive-Demolition.pdf).

 

45 Daniel Hofnung, Patriots Question 9/11 (http://patriotsquestion911.com/engineers.html#Dhofnung).

 

46 Chester W. Gearhart, Patriots Question 9/11 (http://patriotsquestion911.com/engineers.html#Gearhart).

 

47 Jack Keller, Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth (http://www.ae911truth.org/supporters.php?g=ENG#998929).

 

48 See “Danny Jowenko on WTC 7 Controlled Demolition,” YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=877gr6xtQIc). For more of the interview, “Jowenko WTC 7 Demolition Interviews,” in three parts (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3DRhwRN06I&feature=related).

 

49 “The Myth of Implosion” (http://www.implosionworld.com/dyk2.html).  

 

50 Liz Else, “Baltimore Blasters,” New Scientist 183/2457 (July 24, 2004), 48 (http://www.911research.wtc7.net/mirrors/new_scientist/BaltimoreBlast_Loizeaux.html).  

 

51 Hayes, “9/11: The Roots of Paranoia.”

 

52 NIST NCSTAR 1-9, Draft for Public Comment, Vol. 2 (http://wtc.nist.gov/media/NIST_NCSTAR_1-9_vol2_for_public_comment.pdf), 596.

 

53 “WTC 7 Technical Briefing,” NIST, August 26, 2008. Although NIST originally had a video and a transcript of this briefing at its Internet website, it recently removed both of them. However, Nate Flach has made the video available at Vimeo (http://vimeo.com/11941571), and the transcript, under the title “NIST Technical Briefing on Its Final Draft Report on WTC 7 for Public Comment,” is available at David Chandler’s website (http://911speakout.org/NIST_Tech_Briefing_Transcript.pdf).

 

54 Ibid.

 

55 David Chandler, “WTC7 in Freefall - No Longer Controversial,” September 4, 2008 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rVCDpL4Ax7I) , at 2:45.

 

56 NIST NCSTAR 1-9, Vol. 2: 607.

 

57 Chandler, “WTC7 in Freefall – No Longer Controversial,” at 3:27.

 

58 Chandler, “WTC7: NIST Finally Admits Freefall (Part III),” January 2, 2009 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3mudruFzNw) , at 1:19.

 

59 “Questions and Answers about the NIST WTC 7 Investigation,” NIST, August 21, 2008, updated April 21, 2009. Whereas the original version of this document denied free fall, the updated version affirms it. Although both versions have been removed from NIST’s website, Jim Hoffman’s website has both the 2008 version (http://911research.wtc7.net/mirrors/nist/wtc_qa_082108.html ) and the 2009 version (http://911research.wtc7.net/mirrors/nist/wtc_qa_042109.html).

 

60 Chandler, “WTC7: NIST Finally Admits Freefall (Part III),” at 2:20, 3:15.

 

61 NIST NCSTAR 1-9, Draft for Public Comment, Vol. 2: 595-96, 596, 610.

 

62 NIST, Final Report on the Collapse of the World Trade Center Towers, September 2005 (http://wtc.nist.gov/NCSTAR1/PDF/NCSTAR%201.pdf) , 146.

 

63 NIST, “Answers to Frequently Asked Questions,” August 30, 2006 (http://wtc.nist.gov/pubs/factsheets/faqs_8_2006.htm), Question 2.

 

64 NIST NCSTAR 1, Final Report on the Collapse of the World Trade Center Towers, 146.

 

65 NIST, “Answers to Frequently Asked Questions,” Question 6. In the italicized portion of this statement, NIST was quoting NIST NCSTAR 1, Final Report on the Collapse of the World Trade Center Towers, Section 6.14.4 (page 146).

 

66 Jim Hoffman, “A Reply to the National Institute for Standards and Technology's Answers to Frequently Asked Questions” (http://911research.wtc7.net/reviews/nist/WTC_FAQ_reply.html).

 

67 William Rice’s statement is quoted at Patriots Question 9/11 (http://patriotsquestion911.com/engineers.html#Rice).

 

68 Steven E. Jones, Frank M. Legge, Kevin R. Ryan, Anthony F. Szamboti, and James R. Gourley, “Fourteen Points of Agreement with Official Government Reports on the World Trade Center Destruction,” Open Civil Engineering Journal, 2/1 (2008): 35-40 (http://www.bentham-open.org/pages/content.php?TOCIEJ/2008/00000002/00000001/35TOCIEJ.SGM).

 

69 “Request for Correction Submitted to NIST,” Journal of 9/11 Studies, Vol. 12: June 2007 (http://www.journalof911studies.com/volume/200704/RFCtoNISTbyMcIlvaineDoyleJonesRyanGageSTJ.pdf). This letter, dated April 12, 2007, was also signed by Bob McIlvaine, Bill Doyle, and Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice.

 

70 Gordon Ross, “Momentum Transfer Analysis of the Collapse of the Upper Storeys of WTC 1,” Journal of 9/11 Studies, Vol. 1: June 2006 (http://www.journalof911studies.com/articles/Journal_5_PTransferRoss.pdf) : 32-39, at 37.

 

71 NIST, “Answers to Frequently Asked Questions,” Question 7.

 

72 Alexander Cockburn, “The 9/11 Conspiracy Nuts: How They Let the Guilty Parties of 9/11 Slip Off the Hook,” Counterpunch, September 9/10, 2006 (http://www.counterpunch.org/cockburn09092006.html).

 

73 Hayes, “9/11: The Roots of Paranoia.”

 

74 Thomas W. Eagar and Christopher Musso, “Why Did the World Trade Center Collapse? Science, Engineering, and Speculation,” JOM, 53 (12), 2001 (http://www.tms.org/pubs/journals/jom/0112/eagar/eagar-0112.html).

 

75 NIST NCSTAR 1, Final Report on the Collapse of the World Trade Center Towers, 90.

 

76 Don Paul and Jim Hoffman, Waking Up from Our Nightmare: The 9/11/01 Crimes in New York City (San Francisco: Irresistible/Revolutionary, 2004), 34.

 

[Continued here]

 

 

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