9/11 Conspiracy Theories

2 Corinthians 13:1

From time to time readers of these pages e-mail me, commending me on the progress of my studies, but urging that to attain perfect understanding I must visit Alex Jones' InfoWars.com or PrisonPlanet.com. As the five-year anniversary of the attack recedes into the rear-view mirror, alternative theories are gathering strength, not fading away. Web-sites like Physics911 and the Google video 'Loose Change' grow daily in popularity. There are 'unanswered questions:' no doubt, there are unanswered questions about the Titanic sinking. For these readers, I have set up this page.



9/11 Conspiracy Theories

9/11
Free Fall
The Government Did It
Dig a Pit
Building 7
Fire Safety
Topple Like a Tree
Squibs
Replication
China Vase
Betty Ong
Lizzie Borden
Public Anger
The Illuminati
Private Network
Stranger than Fiction
Western Union
The Flash
Voice Morphing
Motivation
Stalinist Wedding-Cake Architecture
Explosions
A Perfect World
Mother of All Conspiracy Theories


9/11

On that fateful day, the possibility that explosive charges had been set in the towers was suggested numerous times by newsmen and eye-witnesses. Moreover, witnesses reported seeing and hearing 'explosions' prior to the twin towers' collapse. These occurrences, whatever their explanation, would turn out to play no significant role in the 'official version.'

The early speculation about explosive devices set in the towers focused on the assumption that such detonation charges, if they existed, would have been placed by confederates of the hijackers. Only later would come the leap into the void that 'the government did it.' The terrorists,  in Mr. bin Laden's 'candid' video with visiting Saudi clerics, adopted the meme, 'The World Trade Center attack succeeded beyond our wildest dreams, praise Allah;' was this sincere, or only a pose to mollify their financial backers in the governments of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia?

The 'official version,' as the skeptics call it, was and remains a work in progress. Immediately after 9/11, talking heads on TV made wild claims about fires so hot they melted steel girders into puddles. Some 'skeptics' continue rebutting these claims, though the 'official version' does not know of any melted structural steel, only floor trusses weakened, not melted, to the point where they sagged. The degree of heat required to weaken steel is within reason and within reach. According to the 'official version' as of the first NOVA TV show, these sagging floor trusses tugged at the bolts holding them to the steel perimeter columns at an unexpected angle, a demand against which they had been only weakly engineered. The once rigid and horizontal floor trusses relaxed into the curve of a clothesline, then gave way, pancaking down upon one another. Now the lower, receiving floor is bearing more weight than it was designed to hold, its own and that of the floor collapsed from above; it too gives way, leading to a progressive collapse all the way down.

Some of the last, ominous phone communications out of the doomed south tower reported collapsing floors and ceiling cave-ins:

"The voices from the 105th floor, twenty stories above the top of the imapct zone, grew more urgent. One woman called 911 and said the floor was collapsing. A moment later, a man called from 106 and said a floor below was collapsing. . .Calling from the 93rd floor, Greg Milanowycz spoke to his father and then to a colleague of his father's, Marcia De Leon. 'The ceiling is caving,' Milanowycz said. 'The ceiling is caving.'" (102 Minutes, pp. 207-208, Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn).

The steel columns, deprived of the lateral supports holding them rigid, become spindly and unreliable things. Break off a small length of spaghetti and it is strong, but push down on a long stalk and it bows outward. If you place a bundle of spaghetti on the table, it will collapse all in different directions, but bind rubber bands around the top and the bottom, and it is stable. This lateral tying and bracing was accomplished by the floors. 9/11 'Truthers' object to the characterization of the World Trade towers as 'hollow tubes,' but so they are.

It was widely reported when the towers went up that the builders employed the novel technique of making the facade serve as structural support. Though this is not normal practice with steel-frame skyscrapers, it is a reversion to construction techniques used for most of human history. In most people's houses, the outer wall, along with other structures, holds up the roof, though in normal steel-frame sky-scraper construction, the outer skin supports nothing, but is itself limply hung on the steel frame. The twin towers took the old, more travelled road:

"The pinstripe columns that gave the towers their distinctive look — and kept the windows a mere twenty-two inches wide, comforting their height-fearing architect — were not simply ornamentation, or panic handles for acrophobiacs. They actually held the buildings up. The towers had columns in the central core, but most of every floor was open space. Those external pinstripes made the open floors possible by carrying the great weight of the building, running it down to the foundation, into the bedrock, and doing it with strength to spare." (102 Minutes, Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn, pp. 39-40).

So when the 911 Truthers say there was no structural damage to the buildings from the airplane crash, anyone can see that is not so. Though we cannot inspect the condition of the central columns, the external load-bearing columns are visibly broken. Even when still whole, they were helped in their task of holding up the building by the humble lateral floors. If you take the long, rectangular box in which tin foil or Saran Wrap came, and push on it from above, its shape will distort. But if you place within it small rectangular sections of cardboard taped to the sides, they will stiffen the structure, making it resistant to bowing. It is this function which the floors of the World Trade towers performed. Suspicion soon focused on the floor attachment points as the weakest link; the heat from the fires could have weakened this weak link, though later computer simulations identified different concerns. Once the stiffening is gone, the Saran Wrap box can freely bend and twist, and gravity is no friend to any structure out of plumb. The south tower's lethal departure from vertical can be seen in the videos, and the circling helicopters saw it in the north tower as well: "'The remaining tower, the north tower is leaning to the southwest at this time, ' Hayes said. 'It appears to be buckling in the southwest corner.'" (Helicopter transmission, quoted p. 227, 102 Minutes, Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn).

Sometimes 9/11 'Truthers' remind me of the old story about an airplane in distress. Looking out the window, the passengers saw a flame-out and a puff of smoke; then the captain came on the radio and said, 'Folks, we've lost an engine, but don't worry; we'll arrive at our destination just a little bit later.' Relieved, they settled back in their seats. Then another flame and puff of smoke! The captain's soothing voice was again heard, 'Don't worry folks, we've lost a second engine, there will be a slightly longer delay.' They watched with alarm as the third engine flamed out! A country boy onboard complained, 'Boy, I hope the fourth engine doesn't quit on us, or we'll be up here all day!' This is a needless concern, because when the fourth engine quits, the plane will not remain in the sky but will plummet to earth. The airplane does not 'want' to stay in the sky. A massive sky-scraper does not 'want' to stay upright, with gravity relentlessly tugging at it; an unstiffened structure free to twist out of plumb will come down, no explosive charges needed.

9/11 skeptics like David Ray Griffin allege that pancaking floors should have left the building looking like an old vinyl record player with the records collapsed, but the central columns yet standing like the spindle. The upright core columns, and for that matter the exterior columns, once the untethered floors had pancaked past, were not bearing any weight but their own; why would they collapse? Yet come down they did; they are not now standing. In fact the core of the North Tower begins its descent before the exterior walls, as can be seen on video. But it is not as if someone pressed a release latch, and the floors all let go cleanly and simultaneously. Moreover the pancaking did not begin with the undamaged top floor, but in the fire-damaged floors above the impact zone. The chunk of the building above the fire zone would then have been perched upon unstable, swaying stilts, stressing them to the point of failure. An unstiffened vertical column free to sway and bow is not a source of strength.

Reportedly the 'pancaking floors' scenario could not be made to work in the computer simulations at the heart of the NIST investigation. Thus the new and improved 'official version.' This is the same as the old up to the sagging floor trusses. Yet now, instead of giving way at their weak point,— the welded and bolted connection between floor and column,— the sagging floor trusses actually pull the steel columns inward until the solid steel snaps. It is as if a homeowner, disgusted by a dilapidated shed blighting his property, brought it down by tying a rope to two opposite walls, then, giving it a good yank, pulled the walls in and down. To an untutored mind innocent of structural engineering, such as my own, this seems counter-intuitive: wouldn't the structure fail at the weak point, as in the first story? It's really a shame, as the 9/11 'Truthers' bitterly complain, that the twisted and smashed steel girders were not preserved, because then it would be possible to determine what did happen, not what can be made to work in a computer simulation.

The first NOVA documentary followed the original hurried and underfunded FEMA investigation in collaboration with the American Society of Civil Engineers. These investigators, led by W. Gene Corley, employed an investigative technique no other investigators ever will: visual inspection of the ruined structural steel recovered from Ground Zero. This crucial crime scene evidence was shipped to the Orient for scrap after only cursory examination. The second investigation was conducted by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST). Unfortunately for the perplexed lay-person, the two investigations report, not complementary, but mutually exclusive conclusions: (FEMA) failing floor trusses, pancaking floors, progressive collapse; and (NIST) sagging floor trusses holding on for dear life to the point of pulling in the perimeter columns, and a building interior tied together so robustly the top part of the buildings can come down as a unit. There are, however, eye-witness reports from within the building of floors collapsing, at least in part:

"10:24:17: D. Engine 3-9 acting, report on the 22nd floor, reporting a floor collapse at that location, K."
New York Times,
RESPONSE TAPE 2 SIDE A, 10:22-11:10 a.m.
"We got a report maybe 69th floor, 64th floor, partial collapse." Firefighter Michael Byrne (Transcripts of Firefighters' Oral History, Transcripts 500-510).
"A moment later, Sterling said, Chief John Paolillo appeared. 'He thought there was a partial collapse of the 65th floor of our building and that we should drop everything and leave,' Sterling said." ('After 4 years, new 9/11 revelations,' International Herald Tribune, by Jim Dwyer and Michelle O'Donnell, Published: Friday, September 9, 2005)

It may be that the last ten or fifteen minutes of these buildings' lives were a complex and chaotic struggle in which some floors failed while others valiantly hung on, though not to strengthen and stiffen the columns but only to pull them out of plumb. The lay-person can only hope some consensus on these points will emerge.

In most modern steel skyscrapers, what holds the building up is invisible to passersby. The exterior wall is only a facade, and indeed may be only of a weak and fragile material like glass. The inner steel skeleton,— what you don't see,— is what supports the structure. But for most of the history of architecture, the visible exterior walls are holding up the roof and the upper stories, bearing the weight alongside any interior columns. The World Trade towers were a throw-back to that earlier era. The exterior aluminum-clad steel columns were support columns; they, along with the massed columns of the inner core, held the building up. These structures were reportedly far stronger than they needed to be, like a man wearing both belt and suspenders.

From the moment the airplanes penetrated the steel exoskeleton, the buildings had suffered structural damage. But the damage was survivable, because the structure was so much stronger than it needed to be. The man's belt, we may say, was marred and cut.

What of his suspenders, which we cannot see through his jacket? Have they, through some process unseen, become frayed; are they about to snap? What damage did the intruding air-planes with their explosive fire-ball do to the central columns? Certainly, once we see the man's pants fallen around his ankles, we know that both systems have failed. And when we watch his belt give way, it will begin to fail around the damaged area. Where else would it come apart, in the undamaged section? But where his belt begins to fail cannot tell us when or why his suspenders began to fray. Perhaps if his suspenders had held, the belt never would have broken at all, not having had to bear the entire weight of the pair of pants. That where the belt starts to fail tells us why and when the suspenders failed is often stated by those rebutting the 911 Truthers, but it is a non sequitur. Though a wide variety of theories are are out there, many of the 'demolition crew' do not believe explosive charges were placed among the perimeter columns to blow additional holes in the exoskeleton, rather they think they were placed to cut the box columns of the central core. This swift kick to the heart of an already weakened structure would be enough to start the collapse, an otherwise unanticipated outcome.

If the central core was weakened by explosive charges, the already damaged outer columns would be left to bear the building's weight. They would fail where there was a gaping hole, where the planes went in. The 9/11 hijackers were by all accounts inexpert pilots. Just as an unskilled darts player cannot reliably place a dart in the same location, so an inexpert pilot cannot hit an 'x' on a building. Thus, critics claim there cannot have been any pre-set explosives, because the failure of the exoskeleton begins visibly at the place weakened by the plane impact and fire, not at any other point. But the theorists' assertion is not that explosives were set at some other point on the exoskeleton to punch another hole where failure might begin, rather to cut the core columns. The TV antenna atop the North Tower begins its descent a moment before the tower's face begins to collapse. There is nothing that one sees on the videotape which is inconsistent with the theory.

This writer lacks the technical expertise to formulate any opinion as to why the towers collapsed. But the poisoned atmosphere in which these speculations have been vilified bewilders me. The theory of pre-set explosive charges is not crazy but within the realm of possibility. To be sure those attracted to such speculations should focus on likely suspects, not make wild leaps to 'the government did it,' a perfectly evidence-free scenario. Could the terrorists have brought explosives into the buldings? Al Qaeda are gifted at bringing explosives into secure environments, which is why you cannot carry a bottle of shampoo onto an airplane. They might have placed someone on the maintenance staff of the World Trade Center, or rented office space, then brought in coffee urns containing undetectable precursor chemicals. Amongst the explosives listed on the inventory of Ted Kaczinski's cabin was 'sugar.' All manner of innocuous things can be made to blow up, if combined in lethal mixtures. How could building security prevent tenants from bringing in sugar for their coffee breaks?

On the day of the assault, the World Trade Center was one of the most secure buildings in America. Building managers responded to the earlier bombing in 1993 by requiring visitor to pass through check-points. But this system broke down almost immediately after the attack, according to witnesses. The planes' impact brought chaos to the lobbies, with large groups of people coming and going, no one monitoring who was who or what their business was. Any terrorist who cared to put on a black raincoat could have stuffed a yellow cylinder with explosives and placed it where he liked. The commercial demolition industry has convinced everyone that setting explosives takes weeks of exhaustive work, yet this industry's goals: preserving public safety, preventing property damage to adjacent addresses,— are no concern to terrorists. If a suicide bomber wearing an EMS shirt sauntered past the milling rescue workers, clutched the central support columns, and detonated himself in the midst of pre-positioned fuel stacked in innocuous boxes labelled 'toner' or 'Cremora,' this would have brought about what Ramzi Yousef had wanted from the beginning: the towers' collapse.

Osama bin Laden, an inveterate liar who has also claimed to be uninvolved in 9/11, asserts on videotape that the towers' collapse was an unlooked-for bonus to a mission only expected to damage several floors. But al Qaeda is known for revisiting past efforts, even unsuccessful ones, and trying again. Ramzi Yousef's earlier effort intended to bring down both towers, toppling one into the other, killing tens of thousands of people in a moment of time. Why reprise that effort by looking to put only an ugly black scar on still-standing buildings? It looks like an admission of failure, like the terrorists had given up trying to defeat these buildings. Perhaps they had not abandoned Ramzi Yousef's dark vision.

On the other hand, no explosives were planted in the other structures targeted that day. Where were the cached explosives in the Capitol or the Pentagon? And isn't such a complex plan: planes plus explosives, perfectly coordinated,— really too daunting to pull off? It certainly matters whether 9/11 was intended to be exactly what it was or something much lesser. The 'official version' has the odd consequence that bin Laden planned a pin-prick, but he intended it to start a war, something no pin-prick is likely to do. The intent of this provocation, it is generally conceded, was to lure the United States into war in Afghanistan, which the terrorists fondly imagined would end just as had the Soviet adventure in that blood-drenched land, with the dissolution of the American union. The actual event was a big enough provocation to achieve the desired end,— war,— but the purported planned event was not. This conundrum would, however, be more pressing did the reader of bin Laden's turgid screeds come away convinced he is a rational or an intelligent man.

In a perfect world one would like to believe that the 'demolition-charge' theory was examined with an open mind, but abandoned once inspection of structural steel recovered from Ground Zero showed none of the distinctive signs of damage by explosives. However, 9/11 brought in a strange atmosphere in which asking questions was equated with treason, and much of the salvaged material was shipped away as scrap without receiving much scrutiny.

The 'official version' has been justly criticized for circularity. Since plugging in empirically known starting conditions in the towers did not yield a collapse, the starting conditions were 'tweaked' until the computer simulation produced the looked-for result. But this is to assume one's conclusion, not demonstrate it. Perhaps we will never truly know what brought these buildings down with the kind of certainty once but no longer attainable by a proper forensic investigation. There is no substitute for, not imagining what could happen, but looking and seeing what did happen; and that option is forever lost.



  • "I think we are welcomed. But it was not a peaceful welcome."
  • (President George W. Bush, December 12, 2005).

  • "And history has proven that democracies don't war."
  • (President George W. Bush, March 21, 2006)

  • "I'm not the expert on how the Iraqi people think, because I live in America, where it's nice and safe and secure."
  • (President George W. Bush, September 23, 2004, dubyaspeak.com)





Free Fall

Steven Jones, who until recently taught physics at Brigham Young University, is one of the luminaries of the 9/11 skeptics movement. The interested reader may find an essay by this author here. While this author's investigations incorporate abstruse considerations which fall outside my capacity to evaluate, the crux of his argument is that the time it took for the towers to collapse (oft stated, and repeated in the 9/11 Commission Report as 10 seconds) is so close to free-fall time (9.2 seconds) that no pancaking of floors can have occurred,-- there wasn't time. (The earlier 'official' version, not the later, involved progressive failure as the floors collapsed onto one another.)

But the ten second figure is at best a rough estimate. Though widely repeated in the press, no bell goes off at ten seconds on any of the videos signalling the process has reached its end. What event occurs at ten seconds which signalizes the completion of the collapse? Perhaps observers see the outermost constituents of the debris cloud hit the ground and begin to splash back up; yet these are objects in free fall,-- they have become detached from the structure and come to earth without hitting anything,-- so it comes as no surprise that they should fall at free-fall speed. The largest outermost free-falling pieces win the race to the ground, because the remainder is not falling at free-fall speed. The falling parts of the structure that do come into contact with still-intact pieces of the structure are in the center, hidden by an impenetrable dust cloud. It is an old magician's trick to fool people into timing what they can't see by what they can see. What is at issue here is precisely what you can't see.

Notice in the still photo below the large pieces of debris at the lower right racing to the ground while the bulk of the building remains standing. Either these pieces are falling at faster than free fall speed: if so, somebody better notify Galileo,— or else the as-yet uncollapsed portion of the building is not, in fact, coming down at free fall speed.


WTC Collapse


When the smoke and dust begin to clear, what the viewer sees, in the Hoboken footage, is not nothing, but still-standing building components which in turn slowly commence their dainty collapse. Though not visible in available video footage, at least one eye-witness saw something similar in the south tower's collapse: "Then there was  great roar behind him: 'Thousands of us turned around and we saw the upper floors of Tower Two give way.' All he could make out through the haze of smoke was a silhouette: 'it seemed to become thinner and thinner. . Finally, there was nothing left but a thin spine of elevator shafts. And then that seemed to distintegrate.'" ('Disaster!', John Withington, p. 264). So what exactly does happen in the media's ten-second time window? Does the whole building come down in that time frame? Or even the whole of the outer facade?

While physicist Steven Jones objects that the observed collapse time does not leave room for pancaking, he fails to state how long a pancaking collapse should take. If he would advance such a number, and explain how he arrived at it, it could be tested against other observed structural failures.

I have been unable to verify empirically that pancaking collapses take any great length of time. L'Ambiance Plaza's two towers came down within five seconds, "Suddenly, a loud metallic bang rang out. With an ominous rumble, cracks spread through the ninth-floor slab as through a shattering sheet of ice. The slab collapsed, pulling the ones above down with it. As the upper floors dropped, each lower floor crashed in succession in what is known as 'progressive collapse.' The attached east tower was wrenched into failure as well. Within five seconds a heap of crumbled concrete punctuated with twisted steel was all that remained of the structure." (Breakdown, Deadly Technological Disasters, Neil Schlager, p. 243.) This structure, under construction, had risen to a height of perhaps 100 ft. 100 ft.=16.08*sec2. Two and a half seconds free-fall time, versus observed collapse time of "within five seconds," that is to say less than twice. Twice the calculated free-fall time for the towers of 9.2 seconds is 18.4 seconds (pardon my seat-of-the-pants calculation). A loud rumbling roar is heard as the towers begin to come down, and a nearby seismograph recorded ground shaking, which provide estimates for the total duration of the collapse closer to this figure than to 9.2 seconds.

Professor Jones notes that the law of conservation of momentum requires the falling upper part of the towers to slow upon impacting the still-intact lower structure. This is certainly true. But how much? Is five seconds not enough? If not, why not? This author proposes that blowing out the central columns would enable the structure to fall at close to free-fall speed since the falling upper part encounters the lower part only as it, too, begins to fall. Yet since one cannot verify, not from any collapse videos I have seen, that the falling material in the center comes to earth at near free-fall speed, this is an explanation chasing its fact. While a careful terrorist wishing to make sure the buildings collapsed to the ground might well purchase the 'insurance policy' of blowing out the central columns from within, taking advantage of the breakdown in building security caused by the airplane intrusion, there is no 'smoking gun' to take us from the hypothetical to the real. And to promote the malefactor from a terrorist to the government escapes earth's gravity altogether.

The Google video 'Loose Change' draws attention to how very weighty and massive the structure's components were, as if this great mass were a guarantee that the structure would stand forever, rather than the very engine which is to bring it down. Gravity is a mighty force; it sends the planets rocketing along in their orbits. The two towers standing at 110 stories held within themselves a massive amount of potential energy. The law of conservation of momentum does require that, when Mr. Peabody's coal train, racing down the mountain, collides with a child's plastic tricycle left on the railroad tracks, the tricycle will then be going faster than it was, the coal train slower. But not necessarily a whole lot slower. The mass of the building coming down is immense, and it's being 'caught' by floors never designed to bear that great weight; they do not impede its progress for long. Or so it looks to my inexpert eyes.


Guest Book Discontinued

The Government Did It

As noted, when speculations were first voiced, on the very day of 9/11, that explosives had been planted in the buildings, the assumption was that these explosives would have been planted by confederates of the hijackers. The current skeptics' movement blame, instead, the U.S. government. I have seen no affirmative evidence supporting this accusation. Certainly it is true that, as the 9/11 Commission documents, the Bush administration ignored very many prior warnings pointing to this event. But there is a difference between negligence and active complicity. No direct evidence has been advanced which suggests the latter.

By way of showing the plausibility of the charge, conspiracy theorists offer Lyman Lemnitzer, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who proposed in 1962 to stage a fake terrorist campaign, to be blamed on Communist Cuba. The Joint Chiefs of Staff in the period wanted to invade Cuba, a project for which the general public showed little enthusiasm. The public may have suffered from a guilty conscience, as decades of close American ties with Cuba had brought that island's people only corrupt, Cosa Nostra-influenced governance. To drum up war fever, the Joint Chiefs proposed to invent a phony terrorist threat. Lemnitzer's project, as explained in the Google video 'Loose Change,' intended, not to cause large casualties, but to pretend that there had been such,-- that is the point of staging mock funerals and broadcasting 'May Days' from empty drone aircraft. But 9/11 produced, not fake casualties, but real ones, in massive numbers.

The Reichstag fire was Adolf Hitler's cue, as 9/11 was George W. Bush's, to gut the civil liberties to which his populace had become accustomed. But the Reichstag fire occurred at night, when the building was not in use. As a precedent for mass murder of its own citizens by a democratic state morphing into a police state, it is null because there was no mass murder.

For those conspiracy theorists who wish to deny there were any Muslim hijackers, the Reichstag fire is no precedent either. There actually was a Communist arsonist, a Dutchman named Marinus van der Lubbe. The German security apparatus was aware of his plan to torch the building, and did nothing to stop him. This arsonist's skill level was such that it took all the storm troopers could do to keep the fire going. Immediately after the fire, Hitler issued his own 'Patriot Act,' decreeing that "Restrictions on personal liberty, on the right of free expression of opinion, including freedom of the press; on the rights of assembly and association; and violations of the privacy of postal, telegraphic and telephonic communications...are also permissible beyond the legal limits otherwise prescribed." (The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, William L. Shirer, p. 194). For a people so keen on precedent, who like to point out that no steel-frame building had ever collapsed in a fire prior to 9/11, the conspiracy theorists need to provide an example of a state which has actually committed mass murder against its own citizens, not having risen in insurrection, as a pretext for depriving them of their liberty. The Cuban Missile Crisis is not such a precedent, nor is the Reichstag fire.

It would increase the light in the world and turn down the heat if the loose ends and conundrums raised by the 9/11 skeptics could be de-coupled from their inflammatory charge that 'the government did it.' This they cannot prove. It does not follow that, if there were demolition charges in the twin towers, the government must have placed them. To be sure, explosives were prohibited in the towers, yet you can only keep out what you can detect. Al Qaeda have shown how to sneak precursor chemicals in front of the noses of security personnel, later combining them into explosives. If the skeptics' concerns are as stated: that the 'official version' of the towers' collapse does not make sense,-- then they should leave unstated who placed the explosives, as this is unknown.

Building 7

The crown jewel of the 9/11 skeptics movement is Building 7, which collapsed later on the afternoon of 9/11. This building, which was not struck by any airplane and which at the time of its demise suffered no visible problems except scattered fires, falls down very quickly in a picture-perfect commercial demolition-style collapse, leaving a neat little debris field. The building comes down so neatly, vertically and symmetrically that denying viewers are watching a planned demolition sounds like asking, 'Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?' Modern steel buildings do not, as a rule, collapse in fires.

Moreover, Alex Jones replays in his documentary an interview with Larry Silverstein, leaseholder of the building, who recounts a conversation with New York Fire Department personnel, concurring that the best course of action was to "pull" the building. Perhaps he only meant they had decided to 'pull' their personnel from the building; perhaps we are misunderstanding Mr. Silverstein, or perhaps Mr. Silverstein misunderstood the fire official. To be sure it is not normal for steel-framed buildings to collapse due to fire; however it is also not normal for a fire to rage unchecked in a modern city, but that is what happened to Building 7. Though the word 'pull' can mean different things in different contexts, in context it might refer to demolition. Suppose it did?

The skeptics make, if not a credible case, at least a less incredible case, that this building was, in fact, demolished. But according to Mr. Silverstein's admission, this must have been done by the New York City Fire Department. If this was the case with Building 7, it cannot have been the case with buildings 1 and 2, whose collapse entombed hundreds of fire-fighters. The other buildings on the site have also come down, by planned demolition; according to the evidence presented by Alex Jones, Building 7 might have been the first of this second wave of deliberate demolitions, not the third of the catastrophic collapses.

Why would the Fire Department bring a building down? This is not commonly done. But it was widely assumed on 9/11 that very many living people were trapped in the wreckage of buildings 1 and 2, after those giant towers had come down. Perhaps the firemen ranked extricating their comrades, presumed trapped, above fighting a fire to preserve an abandoned, empty building. Reportedly, they had no water to fight it with in any case, the water main having been severed by the twin tower collapse. Indeed there was little actual fire-fighting that deadly morning; there is simply no way to fight such fires, which right from the outset exceeded the capacities of the Fire Department. Speaking of the twin towers, "With multiple hose lines, they might be able to battle a fire that stretched across a single trade center floor of 40,000 square feet, but not five floors, and certainly not, as it turned out, without water. So the three chiefs in charge at the lobby — Pfeifer, joined by Deputy Chief Peter Hayden and Assistant Chief Joseph Callan — decided that the companies would not extinguish the fire, but would concentrate on helping people evacuate." (102 Minutes, by Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn, p. 50). Even the populated twin towers, not just the empty Building 7, were given over to the fire. Nor should this have come as a surprise. Years ago a 'B' movie came out called 'The Towering Inferno,' which made the point that the fire company's ladders are not tall enough to fight fires, nor to extricate victims, effectively in very tall buildings. Everybody already knew this.

Anyone who doubts the power of fire and fire alone to bring down buildings need only look at a 'before' and 'after' picture of Dresden's down-town. The 'skeptic' idea that Building 7 would never have come down, and would be still standing today, absent carefully placed demolition charges, is a fable. However it remains conceivable, if 'pull' means 'demolish,' that Building 7 was helped along in its death throes. A burning building cannot be ignored; did some inventive spirit decide the best solution was to bring Building 7 down? Though the 9/11 skeptics oft repeat that weeks and months of exhaustive planning are required to bring a building down, I find this hard to believe. If you asked a military demolition team to bring down a building in Baghdad damaged by bombing, would it take them weeks or months to do it? Certainly the demolition industry has remarkably good public relations; many people seem to think that, not only does it take weeks or months to bring a building down right, but that buildings will never come down at all unless the charges are set 'just so.'

Ordinarily, the Fire Department's denial that any such thing happened would end the discussion. But in the world of 9/11 Truthers, who live under the old X-Files slogan, 'Trust No One,' denial is next to proof: why else would they be denying it, they wonder, unless it really happened? Why has it never been acknowledged, if indeed the Fire Department deliberately brought Building 7 down? Perhaps insurance adjusters would be startled to hear of firemen bringing down buildings because they do not want to fight fires in them. We are spoiled in the modern era; we expect fires to be extinguished, promptly and completely. But this has not always been possible, and building demolition was long one of the tools in the old-time fire-fighters' tool-box: ". . .the authorities started blowing up buldings to try to halt the fire's progress." (John Withington, 'Disaster!' The Chicago Fire, p. 288). With Building 7, their strongest case, the 9/11 skeptics may be on to something, but not what they think.

Because it does not follow that, as goes Building 7, so go buildings 1 and 2. The very features which mark Building 7's fall as a planned demolition testify to the contrary with the twin towers. Building 7 comes down vertically, Building 2 leans way over. In fact this building was observed to be tilting even prior to its collapse:

"We now were aware that the second plane had struck the south tower and we could see the smoke and fire from that crash. The upper portion of the south tower appeared to have a slight tilt to my left." (Memorandum, William Ross, March 6, 2002)
http://www.thememoryhole.org/911/pa-transcripts/pa-police-reports01.pdf

Building 7's debris field is a neat little pile, whereas the twin towers blanketed lower Manhattan with their debris. And Building 7's pretty and symmetrical collapse excites no horror, no realization that there are still people in there, because there were none. It is the odd man out, not part of a trend.



Election 2004

Bush and the Bible
Impeach Bush
Election '04
Repackaging
Stay the Course?
WWJD
Links

Christians Against Bush

Dig a Pit


  • "Whoever digs a pit will fall into it,
    And he who rolls a stone will have it roll back on him."
  • (Proverbs 26:27).

Prior to the invasion of Iraq, the neoconservatives were greatly entranced by Dr. Laurie Mylroie, whose diagnosis of terrorism was 'Saddam did it.' (Perhaps now that Saddam is incarcerated and terrorism continues unabated, she has adopted another theory.) Interestingly, this academic employs the same logic and investigative techniques as do Alex Jones and others in the 9/11 skeptics community. These may be summarized as, 'if there are grounds for suspicion, then you are guilty.' Having succeeded in digging up leads for further investigation, they sit back in triumph, in their own minds having proved guilt. For example: One conspirator in the 1993 Trade Center bombing, Aboud Yasin, was born in Indianapolis of Iraqi descent. After the bombing he relocated to Iraq and moved in with relatives in Baghdad. Another conspirator, Ramzi Yousef, a man with many identities and many passports, entered America travelling on an Iraqi passport, though he is not Iraqi. And Iraq to be sure had a motive to strike America, having recently lost the first Gulf War. Defeat in war is a bitter pill to swallow; it is what set Adolf Hitler down his vengeful path. So was there an Iraqi connection in the first Trade Center bombing? All these are valid threads of suspicion. And so the people Dr. Mylroie despises as the 'bureaucracy' followed them up, and found they led nowhere. In fact none of these points prove guilt. Another conspirator was Egyptian, yet no one thinks Hosni Mubarak did it. Yousef's travelling companion presented a fake Swedish passport, yet no one suggests we invade Sweden. And others too had motive; the first claim of responsibility after the bombing came from Serbian nationalists. Yet this 'proof' that Iraq was behind the first Trade Tower bombing 'proved' also that it was behind the second.

What Bush and his cronies did unto others, is now being done unto them, and no doubt they do not like it one bit. The pit they dug is now their bunker. The conspiracy theorists say: Mr. Bush benefited politically from 9/11, therefore he did it. One would sympathize for the injustice, but for the fact that Mr. Bush perpetrated the same injustice against others.

For all those who claim to believe the Bible, not many seem to have read it. There is an entire law code in the Bible, the Mosaic law, and it does contain a 'due process' requirement: "One witness shall not rise against a man concerning any iniquity or any sin that he commits; by the mouth of two or three witnesses the matter shall be established." (Deuteronomy 19:15). There is no, repeat there is NO, 'sincerity standard' in the Bible, such that if you falsely accuse another of a crime, of which you really in your heart believe him to be guilty, then you did nothing wrong. Rather, God's standard is 'diligent inquiry:' "And the judges shall make careful inquiry..." (Deuteronomy 19:18).

As Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount, the law of Moses does not represent the perfect will of God; some of its provisions, such as those on divorce, are intended rather to ameliorate existing social conditions, because the people were unteachable. (Matthew 19:8). But in no case can Christian conduct fall below the standard set by the law, because "For I tell you, unless your righteousness exceeds that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:20). In it simply inconceivable that Christian people can convince themselves they are allowed to fantasize that others are guilty of crimes, and then punish them in accordance with their fantasies rather than making a 'diligent inquiry.' This nation imagined that Iraq was guilty of 9/11, and then invaded that sovereign nation to punish those people...for something they had not done.

People get upset about things which God in the Bible says hardly anything about, yet on this topic, on which He has a great deal to say, they pay Him no mind. God despises false accusers! The 9/11 skeptics movement, which attracts many Christians, is the flip side of Laurie Mylroie. They lightly accuse nations and individuals like Larry Silverstein of bloody, ghastly crimes, merely on suspicion with no actual proof. At the end of this road is the 'Protocols of the Elders of Zion.' Christian folk are not allowed to make baseless accusations, rather they must make 'diligent inquiry.'



John Stewart Curry, John Brown


Fire Safety

One good thing about Alex Jones' web-sites is that he is a patriot who understands the value of American liberty, and realizes how shameful it is that it was given up without a fight. Yet he is not the man you'd want around the house if there's a fire. Who ever heard of a five-alarm fire that simply goes out?

When you call the fire department and tell them your house is on fire, they come in a hurry, with lights flashing and sirens blaring. If fires were very likely to put themselves out, they'd tell the people who call them, 'just sit outside for a while, then go back inside when the fire has gone out.' Certainly fires go out in the end, after they have exhausted all available fuel. . .but any people in the vicinity are all dead by then, and any exposed structural steel is fatally weakened. People do not fling themselves out the window and plummet down to the ground because they are escaping scattered, little fires. The conspiracy theorists should stop minimizing the trade tower fires, which were massive, multi-floor, and burned uncontained and uncontrolled.

Topple Like a Tree

Conspiracy theorists object to the 'official version' on grounds it demands physical impossibilities. If it does, they themselves are not far behind in demanding things that cannot physically happen, like the author of the Google video 'Loose Change' expecting that, if a light pole is the end of the line for a light plane, surely it will also stop cold a far more massive airliner. Or the idea that a 110-story sky-scraper might be very likely to topple over intact, like a tombstone pushed over by vandals. This author finds tree-cutting a plausible analogy:

"One might have expected the buildings to tip over at an angle starting at the points where they had been hit like a tree which leaves a stump as it falls toward the side where it has been most chopped, but they did not topple and there were no stumps; apart from some initial asymmetry in the top of the South Tower, the two towers both collapsed down on themselves in a perfectly symmetrical way, a suspicious sign and one of the prime goals and hallmarks of controlled demolition. . .If gravity and not explosives brought down the towers, then the tipping top of the South tower had to keep falling by inertia and plunge into the street, not turn back onto its foundations. The section was reportedly leaning over 23 degrees -- half-way to a 45 degree angle -- when it disappeared in a cloud of dust and debris. It appears a detonation timing error had been corrected by further charges which pulverized the wayward top section." ('9/11 Synthetic Terror, Made in USA,' Webster Griffin Tarpley, pp. 243-248).

It is asking an awful lot for a building to be so strongly knit together that it would topple like a tree, or that a large chunk of it would, rather than break apart. Architects labor to keep their creations from falling down. Gravity is not omnidirectional. Once a structure wavers out of plumb, and the unwavering force of gravity begins acting on a diagonal direction which the structure has not been engineered to withstand, gravity becomes a force for dissolution, tearing the structure apart. It would be more of a marvel if the structure had come down to the sidewalk in one piece, rather than breaking up.

Squibs

In collapse videos there are visible, in floors below the tearing of the exterior skin, little jets of dust, smoke and debris ejected from the building. 9/11 skeptics see these 'squibs' as evidence of demolition charges. Others point out that office buildings contain a huge volume of air. For the building to come down, this air must be forced out, along with the dust and smoke it contains. In the collapse of the North Tower, this downward rush of air makes itself visible as a bellows effect, flaring up the fire just as the building goes down. To my eyes, seeing these puffs of smoke travelling down below the coming-apart of the building is confirmation of the 'pancake' theory, which has fallen out of favor. Apparently this is what happens first: the floors collapse, then the rest of it falls down.

Replication

Another odd correspondence between Laurie Mylroie and the 9/11 truth movement is their tendency to multiply entities without need. We know that some people left home clutching a ticket in their hand for Flight 11 or Flight 175, and these people did not come home. And yet, to hear some tell it, these planes flew into nothing, rather drone aircraft were substituted for them. So then what happened to these passengers from whom no one has heard since that fateful day? Were they marched into a room and shot? The 'official version' has the virtue of simplicity; one story explains, not only why people saw planes slamming into the towers on that horrible day, but also why these passengers did not come home. Laurie Mylroie also prefers to make one thing into many, insisting that Ramzi Yousef is not the same person as one of his aliases. The FBI thinks he is the same person, because the finger-prints on the finger-print card are the same. Yet as all true conspiracy buffs know, this is only proof that the malevolent authorities substituted one finger-print card for another.



China Vase

"How does a plane of those dimensions fit into a hole only 65 feet across?" (Dave vonKleist, '911 In Plane Site.')

When you hurl a china vase against the wall, even if you fling it hard enough to leave a hole, you do not expect the hole to be a perfect cut-out of a china vase. An aluminum-bodied aircraft might be expected to shatter upon contact with a reinforced concrete building like the Pentagon, not punch a little plane-shaped hole into it.

It is striking that nothing recognizable as airplane wreckage is visible in photos of the scene at the Pentagon. Yet those who prefer to believe it was a cruise missile rather than an American Airlines passenger jet are discounting eye-witness testimony to the contrary. Cases of passenger jets crashing into dirt hillsides are not fully comparable, because dirt 'gives' a little. Ask long-jumpers to exchange their dirt landing pit for a concrete pad and few would agree, for fear of a broken fibula. As is widely reported in conspiracy sources, the impacted portion of the Pentagon had been renovated and strengthened, a shoddy job indeed if the contractors' best effort at blast resistance left a structure in which an aluminum projectile could punch a self-outline.

Betty Ong

The Google video 'Loose Change' alleges that the calls between people in the hijacked flights and people on the ground were faked by voice mimicry technology. As proof they offer eccentric terminology and, in their view, inappropriate affect displayed by the callers. For instance, Flight Attendant Betty Ong retains a cool and professional demeanor while describing colleagues stabbed and other distressing events. Why did not Ms. Ong follow the old rubric, 'When in danger, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout'?

Perhaps fewer people do follow that rubric than is commonly assumed. My late father, who served aboard a U. S. bomber flying out of England in World War II, went to see a Hollywood movie called 'Memphis Belle.' But he walked out of it, he said, because the movie-makers had depicted the airmen as "hysterical school-girls," which he found altogether unrealistic. It is easy to see why Hollywood movies give in to the temptation to 'over-act.' Had the movie-makers depicted the airmen talking over the radio in the calm and laconic manner they actually used, the audience may not have felt the danger looming. Over-acting draws the audience in. Commercials for GEICO auto insurance couple 'real people,' speaking in their flat, uninflected cadence, with a celebrity like 'Little Richard,' who jazzes up what the real person just said. The Google video 'Loose Change' demands to see a 'Little Richard' performance from Betty Ong, and not seeing it, declares her a fake. But it is nothing but a tribute to Ms. Ong's bravery that she did her job. Perhaps 'Little Richard' expresses himself the way he does because he is in the entertainment industry.

Lizzie Borden

When the police first asked Lizzie Borden where she had been while her parents were murdered, she explained that she had been in the barn loft, looking for fishing sinkers. But when they went to the barn loft, they found a thick layer of dust on the floor. No one had been up there recently. Confronted with this fact, Lizzie obligingly changed her story. But that never helps. If Lizzie had not been involved in the axe murder of her parents, why would she lie?

In their testimony before the 9/11 Commission, air defense personnel likewise told varying and inaccurate stories: "'We to this day don't know why NORAD [the North American Aerospace Command] told us what they told us,' said Thomas H. Kean, the former New Jersey Republican governor who led the commission. 'It was just so far from the truth...'" ('9/11 Panel Suspected Deception by Pentagon; Allegations Brought to Inspectors General,' by Dan Eggen, Washington Post Staff Writer, Wednesday, August 2, 2006.)

Why would NORAD lie, unless they were implicated? Was there a 'Stand Down' order?

Concealing incompetence is one conceivable motive. Reasons to conceal incompetence would include career conservation and even patriotism. Perhaps they did not want this nation's adversaries to realize that, at times, no one is minding the store.



Election 2004

Reflections on the Fourth of July







  • "...a man which hates -- who hates America, a man who loves to link up with al Qaeda, a man who is a true threat to America, to Israel, to anybody in the neighborhood."
  • (George W. Bush, on Sept. 28, 2002, describing Saddam Hussein to an audience in Phoenix, Arizona as "a man who loves to link up with al Qaeda.")

  • "You can't distinguish between Al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror."
  • (George W. Bush, Sept. 25, 2002, quoted in Newsweek, Michael Hirsh, Column, 'Making Enemies,' copyright 2006 Newsweek.)

  • "Q. What did Iraq have to do with that?

    "THE PRESIDENT: What did Iraq have to do with what?

    "Q. The attack on the World Trade Center?

    "THE PRESIDENT: Nothing, except for it's part of -- and nobody has ever suggested in this administration that Saddam Hussein ordered the attack."
  • (George W. Bush, August 21, 2006.)


Furthering the Islamic Revolution








Proverbs 12:22


War in Iraq

The Wrong War


















Return to Answering Islam...


Proverbs 3:31


Pet Goat

9/11
Jubilee
Karla Faye Tucker
The L-word
Bringing Home the Bacon
False Prophecy
Red States
Vengeance is Mine


John 7:51


Public Anger

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 Illuminati

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.

Private Network

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.

Western Union

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 Flash

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..?

Voice Morphing

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 real time:"

"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 1, 1999)

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 1, 1999)

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 industry.

Motivation

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)
http://www.physics911.net/islamnotsuicidal

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.

Explosions

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 down.

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. 235.)

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 'boom.'

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 becuase it conained 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, p. 68).

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 unexplored issues.

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,