Some wonder why those in the 9/11 skeptics movement are so angry at their government. It is hard to imagine that
any patriotic person is not angry at this government. Imagine someone who went to sleep forty years ago and woke up
today; could this sleeper explain or comprehend the reversal of polarity this nation has undergone? Then, we heard lurid tales
of how the KGB deprived prisoners of sleep and made them stand out in the cold; what horrid torturers, we thought. Latin American
generalissimo's 'disappeared' prisoners; we, with our long commitment to habeas corpus, did not. Now our sleeper awakes and
discovers we've got it all, even the secret prisons. But not to worry, it is only bad people who 'disappear'
into them. (No one in this government has even heard of the principle 'guilty
till proven innocent;' if you are arrested on suspicion of terror, then
what could be clearer than that you are a terrorist.) But as the 14th amendment
asserts, the law is the same for all; there is not one law for terrorists,
another for innocent persons. If Jose Padilla does not have the right to
due process, then neither do you or I, dear reader. Torquemada used simulated
drowning, as did Hitler's SS; they called it the 'bath-tub.' Why has our
national dialogue devolved down to choosing our favorite torture technique?
Ideologues are drawn to torture, because it makes crazy ideas mainstream.
Long ago it was noticed that, in nations which did not torture, witchcraft
prosecutions tended to peter out, while in nations which practiced torture,
they could go on for years, gathering in an ever widening crop of witches.
When not tortured, witches do not confess, as those accused in Salem did
not; they went to their grave protesting their innocence. Only torture
them, and they not only confess, but also name their confederates. Torture
is the magic bullet which 'proves' there is such a thing as witchcraft.
It can also 'prove' Saddam was behind 9/11, or that American pilots were
bombing nursery schools in Vietnam, or whatever else you would like to 'prove.'
When the Soviet Union adopted socialism, the workers' paradise seemed in
view. And yet when the crops were gathered into the barns, the results
were downright disappointing. Can it be that the longed-for system is a
failure...or are meager statistics not rather proof of sabotage? The police,
employing normal investigative techniques, found no saboteurs. But only
introduce torture, and all at once you have saboteurs in crowds, weeping
as they confess.
The reason people like Bush and Cheney are so fond of torture is because
it removes the barrier between their idea world and reality. Saddam really
was behind 9/11...because we tortured al Libbi, and he even admitted it.
The 2004 Presidential election featured a contest between two members of
the same small secret society, Skull and Bones. How weird is that?
Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones brings up many valid points in his political
analysis, pointing to the long-standing business relationship between the
Bushes and the bin Ladens. Conspiratorial thinking assumes cause is proportionate
to effect; if the U. S. invaded Iraq, it must be to grab their oil, because
that is a rational, if venal, goal. But does real life necessarily deliver
rationality, especially if one individual, who admits to operating on instinct,
is allowed to amass all power into his hands? The U.S. Congress surrendered
its power to declare war to this person. But there is a reason why the
Constitution's framers did not design a Presidential dictatorship; one-man
rule is as good, or as bad, as the one man. Give all power to a slow, bullying
frat boy with a sadistic streak, and who can tell what disasters lie ahead?
Any one given individual may be rational, partly rational, or confined
to an institution. Perhaps Mr. Bush only wanted to show right-wing radio
talk hosts that he is tougher than his dad.
Because we have a de facto two-party system, patriots who hope to cleanse our republic of Mr. Bush and his
legacy have one practical choice: vote Democratic. Yet neither Alex Jones' listeners, nor this writer, really want to vote
Democratic, because the modern Democratic party has made support
of legal abortion a litmus-test issue. Democrats like Michael Moore offer
a 'softer' critique of Mr. Bush. Mr. Moore's camera lingers on the bewildered,
deer-in-the-headlights face of Mr. Bush as he listens to a child's story
about a pet goat. Who can imagine a real president like LBJ just sitting
there like that, while the nation is under attack? Mr. Moore's camera lingers
painfully, making the point that this empty suit is not up to the task.
Conspiracy theorist Alex Jones thinks it foolish to diagnose the problem
as one man. But in favor of the 'softer' critique, it is apparent that
Mr. Bush is genuinely and unfeignedly unintelligent. When Mr. Bush was
young, he often heard patriotic speakers explain that, after Pearl Harbor,
or after Russia's development of the inter-continental ballistic missile,
America's oceans could no longer protect her. In truth, the oceans have
always been highways as well as moats, and this nation was birthed from
a mother beyond the sea. After World War I, a war which like the Iraq war
was promoted with every high-sounding sentiment but which delivered only
mass death, apologists for war lost face. But as these Cold War patriotic
speakers pointed out, advancing technology had created a security environment
that left withdrawal from the world stage no longer an option. Even though
Mr. Bush heard this Cold War chestnut over and over in his youth, he nevertheless
announces that on 9/11 we discovered our oceans would not protect us. Who
but a clueless person can discover the same thing over and over?
Another example: critics complain that, rather than lessening the terror
threat, the Iraq war has increased it. Iraq's western desert was not, prior
to our invasion, crawling with armed Islamofascist terrorists, yet now
is. How is this progress? One can dispute the metrics of measuring terrorism.
Personally I cannot fathom why they say there have been no jihadi attacks
in the U.S. since 9/11, when John Allen Muhammad's sniper attacks, to judge
by his personal resume, may well have been so motivated, as have others.
But here is Mr. Bush's rebuttal: anti-American terrorism cannot now be
increasing, because it existed prior to 9/11, as 9/11 itself demonstrates.
A question about whether something is increasing or decreasing is met by the rebuttal that it existed.
Certainly Mr. Bush promotes his policies on the basis that they are intended to decrease the terrorist threat; is this
not theoretically possible, inasmuch as the terrorism threat exists? Only if one's brain is not wired with both
categories, 'On/Off' and 'Less/More,' can Mr. Bush's rebuttal seem consequential.
A third example: As Clausewitz famously said, the invader desires peace
because thus he can traverse territory unimpeded: "A conqueror is
always a lover of peace (as Buonaparte always asserted of himself); he
would like to make his entry into our State unopposed." (von Clausewitz,
On War, Book Six, Chapter 5, quoted in Christopher Bassford, Clausewitz
in English: The Reception of Clausewitz in Britain and America, 1815-1945,
on web). Mr. Bush likes to say much the same thing: "As we think through
Iraq, we may or may not attack. . . But it will be for the objective of
making the world more peaceful." (George W. Bush, quoted in Bush at
War, Bob Woodward, p. 340). Without a hint of irony, Mr. Bush was proposing
to start a major war. . . all for the sake of peace. He loves peace, so
naturally he would start a war; isn't peace so precious as to justify any
aggression, provided only it be for the sake of peace? The era of hereditary
monarchy saw feeble-minded candidates ascend the throne, with similar impact
on the art of rhetoric.
Mr. Bush calls himself the "decider." After 9/11, dissent was
equated with treason and Mr. Bush was permitted to amass power. If you
allow one irrational, uninformed person to grab all the levers of government
in his sweaty little hands, how is this different from deciding policy
by tossing sticks in the air, or throwing dice? The result cannot make sense, so conspiracy theories that assume it must are ill-founded.
When conspiracy theorists say 'the Government did it,' none understand
this to mean that the very last USDA egg inspector was in on the plot.
Only a small number can be privy to a secret, or it's no secret. Some take
this approach further, seeing Bush or even the glowering Cheney as puppets
of a secret network operating within the government, of whose existence
not only the public but even most governmental personnel are unaware:
"It is hardly likely that the command center of 9/11 could have been
in the upper reaches of government, and far more likely that it was outside
of government altogether. Since Reagan's first term, the US intelligence
community has been largely privatized under the aegis of Executive Order
12333. This means that the really crucial capabilities for an operation
like 9/11 are no longer to be sought in the George Bush intelligence center
in Langley, Virginia which houses the headquarters of the CIA, but rather
in a myriad of private military firms, technology companies, think tanks,
law firms, public relations firms, and front companies of all types. It
is here, rather than a secret government office, that the planning and
command center for 9/11 would normally be sought. . .It is not the visible,
elected government which plots terrorism, but rather the parallel, invisible,
or secret government, and that secret government is hidden inside the public
and elected one. The essence of this phenomenon is a private network which
has ensconced its operatives in decisive, influential positions, from which
entire bureaucracies can be controlled, manipulated, or paralyzed."
(9/11 Synthetic Terror, Made in USA, Webster Griffin Tarpley, p. 104).
But this is where we came in. Al Qaeda is a private network, some of whose
sympathizers are ensconced within the governments of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan.
Yet we are told Al Qaeda cannot have conducted this attack because it lacks
the technical capacity to carry it out. What is it, after all, that the
Anglo-American financiers who these people imagine to rule the world have
that others don't? Money. And the bin Laden clan has sacks of it. What
kind of technical capability is unavailable to those willing and able to pay for it?
Stranger than Fiction
When the conspiracy theorists talk about planes under remote control crashing
into buildings, most people scratch their heads in wonder. Is it not much
harder to hit such a target under remote control than with a live pilot
who can observe and correct for unpredictable variables like the air currents
gusting up from Manhattan's urban canyons? How likely or familiar this
scenario sounds depends on your tastes in entertainment. Just this scenario,--
of a nefarious governmental power seizing control of a commercial flight,--
was featured on Fox TV prior to 9/11:
"In this film, the good guys board Atlantic National Flight 265 for
its 6:50 PM takeoff from gate 34 at Boston's Logan Airport...the airplane
is seized by a mysterious remote control system against which the pilot
is helpless; the controls do not respond. The plane seems headed towards
New York City, and soon the twin towers of the World Trade Center loom
ahead. Realizing what is happening, the good guys use their laptop to attempt
to hack into the Overlord computer...They take back control of the airplane,
which misses the World Trade Center towers by a hair." ('9/11 Synthetic
Terror, Made in USA,' Webster Griffin Tarpley, p. 196).
Like most people, I missed this episode of 'The Lone Gunmen,' a series
from which viewers stayed away in droves. This episode was reportedly aired
on March 4, 2001.
The authors of the Google Video 'Loose Change' find it suspicious that
government pamphlets raising the terror alarm prior to 9/11 show the World
Trade Center in the cross-hairs. Was the 'elite' telegraphing their intention
to bring these buildings down?
Certainly after the first World Trade Center bombing, no clairvoyance was
needed to draw a target over these buildings. But well before that people
were speculating about an attack:
"Musing once over a little sliver of metallic U-235 about the size of a stick of chewing gun, [physicist]
Ted Taylor remarked, 'If ten per cent of this were fissioned, it would be enough to knock down the World Trade
Center.'" (John McPhee, 'The Curve of Binding Energy,' p. 15).
This book, which is copyrighted 1973, 1974, also lists the Pentagon, the
White House and the Capitol building as potential targets:
"A low-yield bomb exploded inside one of the World Trade Center towers
could bring it down. . . The Pentagon is a hard target, because it is so
spread out. . .A one-fiftieth-kiloton yield coming out of a car on Pennsylvania
Avenue would include enough radiation to kill anyone above the basement
level in the White House. A one-kiloton bomb exploded just outside the
exclusion area during a State of the Union Message would kill everyone
inside the Capitol. 'It's hard for me to think of a higher-leverage target,
at least in the United States,' Ted Taylor said one day. . .'A fizzle-yield,
low-efficiency, basically lousy fission bomb could do this.'" (John
McPhee, 'The Curve of Binding Energy,' pp. 221-222).
It seems distinctly unlikely the 'elite' was telegraphing their intent
at that early date, nearly thirty years before striking. Indeed, why would
conspirators telegraph their intent at all, instead of plotting in secret?
Rather, these are obvious targets.
At first controversy swirled around the World Trade Center, which many
New Yorkers perceived as an eyesore ruining New York's distinctive art
deco skyline. The television anchors' iconography advertised these buildings
as the triumph of capitalism. But they were built by a governmental agency,
the Port Authority. For years they could not find tenants. It wasn't the
private real estate market which perceived the need for them; the visionaries
who saw them rising into the sky were the Rockefeller brothers, and the
'capitalists' who financed them were the long-suffering tax-payers. The
'public-private partnerships' so popular in the New York of that era left
the 'public' with the bill, while well-placed insiders like Larry Silverstein
found a way to profit. As will be noticed later, the gigantism which produces
a target-rich environment for terrorist strikes goes along with governmental
initiatives like public housing and zoning, more so than with genuine private enterprise.
But in the New York of the tourist brochures the towers loomed large. To
the terrorists' immigrant eyes they must have seemed a wonder. And the
buildings do seem to have outlived their early unpopularity, earning a
place in the hearts of New Yorkers. While under other circumstances pointing
out the target in advance raises suspicion, in the case of such an obvious
target as the twin towers, at one time the world's tallest buildings, it cannot.
The web-site Letsrolls911.org points to the bright
flash visible as the planes make contact with the World Trade Center as evidence a missile was fired from a pod
on the planes' under-carriage. Rather this flash would seem to arise from the same cause as the flash visible when
steel strikes flint: friction. As the plane touches the building and begins to disintegrate, it must make contact first
with the tip of its nose, not in the region around the wind-shield.
Collegiality surprisingly prevails in the skeptics' community even when
their speculations cancel each other out. If missiles first breached the
buildings' steel facade, leaving a garage-door sized hole for the planes
to enter intact, there is no telling how much damage these still-whole
projectiles could have inflicted on the buildings' central core; and once
unsupported, the buildings' masses of concrete and steel become hazards,
not a source of strength. But if the planes breached the core unimpeded,
why again are detonation charges required..?
On the morning of 9/11, a disparate collection of Americans rose and travelled
to the airport, there boarding four ill-omened flights. These people never
came home. The 'official version' explains their failure to return home
thus: the airplanes on which they were seated smashed into buildings or
the Pennsylvania country-side. Conspiracy theorists generally do not explain
what happened to these people, nor display much curiosity as to their fate.
What about the phone calls these passengers placed from the air to surviving
witnesses on the ground, reporting hijackers armed with box-cutters? According
to the conspiracy theorists, these phone calls were faked using voice morphing
technology. This remarkable technology mimics speech patterns in "near
"By taking just a 10-minute digital recording of Steiner's voice,
scientist George Papcun is able, in near real time, to clone speech patterns
and develop an accurate facsimile." ('When Seeing and Hearing Isn't
Believing,' http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/dotmil/arkin020199.htm, by William M. Arkin, special to washingtonpost.com, Monday, February
Left unexplained is how these real-time conversations were managed with a technology that allows "near real
time" results. This technology requires a "high quality" voice sample:
"To refine their method, they took various high quality recordings of generals and experimented with creating
fake statements." ('When Seeing and Hearing Isn't Believing,' http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/dotmil/arkin020199.htm, by William M. Arkin, special to washingtonpost.com, Monday, February
When were these samples obtained? Did the military knock on people's doors
and ask, 'How do you do, we'd like a voice sample please?' How would the
military know what passengers were going to show up and board the planes?
There is more to impersonating another person than mimicking voice quality;
one must also recognize children's names, work-place, and other familiar
things with which the speaker may be challenged by the other party. Did
the military compile dossiers on these people with this kind of information,
to help the impersonators furiously typing at their key-boards to achieve
their potential near real-time results? How did none of them fail? Why was there not one typo?
Why not give the same scrutiny the 9/11 skeptics apply to the 'official
story' to their own speculations? What is the motive of the alleged plane
switch? If the military wanted to get rid of these people, what more efficient
way than to pack them onto an airplane and ram it into a building? What
was achieved by the alleged substitution?
A Canadian Muslim, Kee Dewdney, tried the experiment of carrying cell phones
onto a Cessna, to see whether they worked and at what altitudes. At cruising
altitude for a commercial airliner, results were poor; only as the planes
descended to their targets would cell phone calls have been practical.
But the most efficient correction to draw from Professor Dewdney's experiment
is that the passengers were using air phones provided by the airline, not
personal cell phones, when calling at that altitude. Some of their language
implies they are waiting in line to use the phone, unnecessary with one's
personal phone. Jumping to the 'voice-morphing technology' theory retires
one difficulty by raising a whole host of new impossibilities.
Several of the 9/11 skeptics' contentions took flight from media reporting
which might best be described, not as erroneous, but as imprecise. Such
are the widely reported 'cell phone calls' the passengers aboard the doomed
flights made to relatives and airline personnel. It is certainly possible
to make phone calls from an airliner, but using a personal cell phone is
not only discouraged but evidently also futile at cruising altitude. Another
instance is the widely reported 'ten seconds' it took the trade towers
to collapse. A noise like thunder is heard while this process unfolds.
The rumble begins before the outer facade visibly begins to tear. Processes
we can't see: floors pancaking, internal components collapsing, or bombs
going off as some suppose, do their damage before the visible collapse
starts. The rumbling noise continues as the debris cloud hits ground and
begins to splash back up, showing that parts of the building are still
falling down. But because the 'ten second' number sped across the airwaves,
not 'fourteen seconds,' or longer, skeptics pounced: that speed is close
to free-fall. Buildings can collapse at near free-fall speed, if demolition
charges knock out the lower supports as the upper stories cascade down
onto them. But the trade towers did not fall at near free-fall speed. More precise reporting would have forestalled a burgeoning conspiracy
Though sometimes presented as ordinary engineers or economists driven by
the evidence to an unwelcome and unfamiliar conclusion, in fact many 'Truthers'
commonly explain catastrophic events as government provocation. Alex Jones
so explains the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building. Webster
Griffin Tarpley, a familiar face in Alex Jones' videos, is, according to
his Wikipedia biography, a former associate of Lyndon LaRouche, whose televised
diatribes against Queen Elizabeth, carried by the major networks owing
to an oddity of the federal election laws, are not so fondly remembered
by past generations of American TV-viewers. Lyndon LaRouche explained everything
as a conspiracy, most revolving around the Queen of England. It should
come as no surprise that his followers reach for this explanation
first, not only after having exhausted all other possibilities. Professor
Dewdney is generally disposed to discredit reports of Muslim suicide bombers,
on grounds suicide bombing is un-Islamic. Does he admit the Tamil Tigers
blow their non-Muslim selves up from time to time?
Abundant evidence of a kind normally considered reliable documents suicide
bombings by self-professed Muslim 'martyrs', including eye-witness testimony,
physical remains, and videotaped pre-explosion confessions. The principle
employed by Professor Dewdney: 'it should not be, therefore it is not,'--
is familiar enough. Liberal Bible scholarship employs this principle to
debunk the New Testament report of Jesus' trial. The Talmud disallows night
trials. Reportedly the Sanhedrin reconvened during day-light hours (Luke
22:66), perhaps to legitimize an otherwise irregular proceeding. Modern
scholars insist rather that no such trial can have taken place at all,
because if it had, it would have been improper. The principle 'it should
not be, therefore it is not' requires for its validity an unstated premise:
'No human being has even done anything which was not according to Hoyle,'
to whose untruth human experience voluminously testifies. And what is 'according
to Hoyle' in this case? Professor Dewdney's rejection of suicide bombing
is not shared by other professing Muslims such as Sheikh Yassin.
His analysis hinges upon
a hadith which condemns a jihadi who commits suicide, but not while attacking the enemy:
"Then the (brave) man got wounded seriously and he decided to bring
about his death quickly. He planted the blade [handle] of the sword in
the ground directing its sharp end towards his chest between his two breasts.
Then he leaned on the sword and killed himself."
(Bukhari, Vol. 1, Bk. 52, #147)
Mohammed condemns this self-mercy killer as one of the people of the fire.
But the case is not a suicide attack. What would Mohammed would have made
of Samson, who pulled down a building onto himself and also his enemies
(Judges 16:30)? As a Westerner, the Canadian Dewdney likely shares his
countrymen's horror and revulsion at those who make slaughter-houses out
of restaurants and bus stops. Two thousand years of Christian civilization
have established the principle of non-combatant immunity. While as a professing
Muslim Professor Dewdney is entitled to his opinion that suicide bombing
is un-Islamic, he is not entitled to wave away otherwise well-documented
events on grounds of cognitive dissonance.
Stalinist Wedding Cake Architecture
Stalinist architecture was panned in the West. While deriding their Soviet colleagues for building brutal, stolid structures,
Western architects encased their clients in ethereal glass boxes. Did these architects think war had been abolished, and the Age of Aquarius
was dawning? What is brutal or totalitarian about designing buildings so that they do not become the client's tomb?
When the World Trade Center was completed, critics were puzzled. Here are
the boxes the buildings came in; where were the buildings? The Soviet architects
preferred the ziggurat to the box. This configuration, with upper stories
smaller in cross-section than larger lower floors, is inherently more resistant
to progressive collapse than the box. Besides, a tapering outline is more
aesthetically pleasing. Who does not like looking at the Empire State Building?
The building's facade can be a shield against incoming missiles, or it
can shatter into shards. At one extreme is 'riot architecture,' with tiny
slits for windows and massive block walls. At the other extreme are the
glass box death traps of the modernists.
In the absence of zoning regulation, as in the some parts of New Hampshire,
development follows the 'sprawl' or 'strip' paradigm. City planners have
valiantly struggled against this natural tendency, trying to force a recalcitrant
population into city centers. Not only have they restricted human freedom,
they have produced a target-rich environment for terrorist bombers. If
you let people do as they wish with their property, they build in a decentralized,
scattered pattern that frustrates an enemy picking targets for aerial assault.
Architectural styles of the past reflected the security concerns of the
day. Romanesque walls are thick to keep the barbarians at bay. It is not
'giving in' to the barbarians to build walls competent to keep them out.
It is an oddity of our present world that uncivilized peoples, awash in
oil wealth, have the means to blow things up. It is not 'giving in' to
these barbarians to retire the box and replace it with the ziggurat, which
naturally resists falling down.
In the live television coverage of the 9/11 aerial assault, the
word 'explosion' was thrown around rather liberally by news anchors
and commentators. Some of these speakers were using the word 'explosion'
imprecisely, describing the catastrophic failure of the South Tower as
an 'explosion.' This is not new information, but an imprecise use of
a word. 'Explosion' means, "...a bursting or sudden expansion of any
elastic fluid with force and a loud report; a sudden and loud
discharge caused by the application of fire, as of gunpowder or a
flammable gas..." (Webster's International, 1965). Other
eye-witnesses describe seeing and hearing 'explosions,' perhaps accurately
so described, prior to the building collapse. The 9/11 'Truthers'
complain that this evidence is ignored by proponents of the
'official version.' They believe this evidence shows that the government must
have set explosive charges in the twin towers, causing them to come
To the extent that proponents of the 'official version' ignore
eye-witness testimony of 'explosions' and 'bombs going off,' I
suspect this is partly through habituation, because almost all
reports of major structural failures will include such language.
For example, residents who lived near the Schoharie Creek bridge
described its collapse in this language:
"When asked about the collapse, nearby residents
related that a sound like an explosion was audible from the area
of the bridge, followed ten minutes later by a noise that 'sounded
like a bomb going off.' These two noises, investigators
determined, signaled the collapse of two spans of the highway."
(Breakdown, Neil Schlager, Schoharie Creek Bridge collapse, p.
This deadly bridge disaster was not the result of a terrorist
bomb, but of the raging waters scouring away the ground supporting
pylons. Water errosion, not explosives, brought this bridge
and the motorists gliding upon it down. People reported hearing
'bombs' and 'explosions' because that is just what it sounds like
when a big structure fails. As already noted, individual floors
were already collapsing in the towers prior to their visible total
failure, while observers were still able to make phone calls out.
Moreover, there was an uncontrolled five-alarm fire. Big fire
behavior, when the sucking, hungry fire finds fresh sources of
fuel or oxygen, or when flammable material is heated to just right
temperature, can all by itself produce fireballs, flash-overs and
startling events which are likely to be described as 'explosions.'
A building collapse is not silent, but noisy; the failing
structure, as its components collapse upon themselves, goes
Another possibility, of course, is that the 'explosions' people
heard were caused by bombs planted in the structure. One hopes
this possibility was given careful scrutiny by investigators. The
point at which I must part company from the 'Truthers' is when
they make the leap from the possibility of supplemental explosives
planted in the towers to the certainty that 'the government did
it.' How does one follow from the other? Because the World Trade
Center had strict, state of the art security and did not allow
bombs to be brought into the building? No doubt, and airlines have
strict security and do not allow bombs to be brought on board
airplanes, but the Underwear Bomber and the Shoe Bomber brought
bombs on board. Does it follow that the Shoe Bomber and the
Underwear Bomber are government agents?
A Perfect World
Many of the 9/11 conspiracy theories originated in the Arab
world, fueled by shame that people like them could be responsible
for such monstrous deeds. They still carry the trace of their origin
in the faith that, if everything is not done according to Hoyle, the
only possible explanation is conspiracy. For example, if NORAD did
not intercept the hijacked planes, this can only be because NORAD
was ordered to stand down; inattention, carelessness and disbelief
cannot be factors. Third world people can plausibly think like this,
but no one else can. It's a common factor in the post-mortem
examination of disasters that things were not done according to
Hoyle. The Ronan Point tower collapse in London in the 1960's
touched off public debate about pre-fab construction design which
turned out to be somewhat beside the point, because the builders had not
implemented the design:
"On a previous project, a government engineer
concerned about insufficient connection between the walls and
floors had required the addition of steel bolts running vertically
through the wall panels. At a joint, the end of the bolt would
extend through a tie plate in the lower edge of the upper wall; a
nut atop the bolt could be tightened to press the tie plate firmly
into contact with the concrete poured between the wall and floor
panels. Apparently Philips Consultants was not convinced of the
need for the bolts, which were also included in the Ronan Point
design — a postcollapse inspection would reveal that the bolts
were uniformly left untightened." (Breakdown, by Neil Schlager,
Ronan Point tower collapse, pp. 197-198)
It's a truism that what is designed and what gets built are often not
the same thing. The World Trade Center, whose broken pieces were shipped
to the Orient as scrap, is no doubt the only large construction project in
human history built just as its architect envisioned it. Certainly no one
can prove any differently now. There are suggestions however in the
documented history of this building that theorizing about fire-proofing
being blown off by the airliners is perhaps gilding the lily. Some of it was
never there to begin with:
"In a breathtakingly dense litigation, the Port
Authority sued the manufacturer of one of its fireproofing
products because it contained asbestos, viewed as a serious health
hazard. Expert witnesses reported that hunks of the fireproofing,
whether asbestos based or not, had fallen off the steel, leaving
it exposed. In some cases, they said, it appeared never to have
been applied at all." (102 Minutes, by Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn,
It's a shame that the only World Trade Center left to examine is the virtual one, which
sprang fully formed like Athena from Zeus' brow. This is the one which turns
up in the computer simulations, and it's hard to make it fall. Perhaps the real one had
One minor irritant in the weeks and months following 9/11 was
the way 'talking heads' on TV kept referring to the World Trade
Center as a symbol of capitalism. How could the WTC possibly be a
symbol of capitalism of all things, when it was built by the
Rockefellers with tax-payer money? Private enterprise had nothing
to do with it. It will be a surprising discovery if it turns out
bureaucrats are the most efficient, and blueprint-compliant, builders.
Mother of All Conspiracy Theories
Those who claim to discern a U. S. government hand in the events of 9/11,
whether as enabler or prime mover, bristle at the designation 'conspiracy
theorist,' though accurate. They point out that the 'official version,'
according to which a person hidden in a cave in Afghanistan and several
of his lieutenants conspired with 19 emigres, is itself accurately described
as a 'conspiracy theory.' It is an cruel and unfortunate slight to see
so much careful investigation and well-turned prose dismissed without consideration
by mere labelling as a 'conspiracy theory.' The penumbra that surrounds
this phrase, 'conspiracy theory,' directs the reader's expectation toward
a tale long on paranoia but short on facts.
The mother of all such weakly sourced conspiracy theories is the belief held by the majority of the U. S. population, even
at this late date, that former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein conspired with Saudi heir Osama bin Laden to harm the United States.
As of July, 2006, fully 64 percent of the populace still believed this: "Sixty-four percent say it is true that Saddam Hussein had
strong links to Al Qaeda (the same as 64% in February 2005)." (Harris Poll, July 21, 2006).
Why does this belief persist when there is no evidence in its favor? Perhaps
because, if this were not so, the U.S. invasion of Iraq would have counted
as unprovoked military aggression.
9/11 conspiracy theories appeal to people on the right, people on the left, and people who are so far right they're left.
For an atheist take on these themes, see,