Press "Enter" to skip to content

The 9/11 Conspiracists: Vindicated After All These Years?

We’re homing in on the tenth anniversary of the destruction of the Wall Street World Trade Towers and the attack on the Pentagon. One in seven Americans and one in four among those aged 16-24, (so a recent poll commissioned by the BBC tells us) believe that there was a vast conspiracy in which the US government was involved. But across those ten years have the charges that it was an “inside job” — a favored phrase of the self-styled “truthers” — received any serious buttress?

The answer is no.

Did the Trade Towers fall because they were badly built as a consequence of corruption, incompetence, regulatory evasions by the New York Port Authority, and because they were struck by huge planes loaded with jet fuel. No, shout the conspiracists, they “pancaked” because Dick Cheney’s agents — scores of them — methodically planted demolition charges in the preced­ing days inserting the explosives in the relevant floors of three vast buildings (moving day after day among the unsuspecting office workers), then on 9/11 activating the detonators. It was a conspiracy of thousands, all of whom — party to mass murder — have held their tongues ever since.

What has been the goal of the 9/11 conspiracists? They ask questions, yes, but they never answer them. They never put forward an overall scenario of the alleged conspiracy. They say that’s not up to them. So who is it up to? Whom do they expect to answer their questions? When answers are put forward, they are dis­missed as fabrications or they simply rebound with another question. Like most cultic persuasions they excitedly invoke important converts to their faith and the “1500 architects and engineers in the USA” who say the NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) official report is not thorough and needs another investi­gation. It’s a tiny proportion of the overall members of their profession. At least 80% of faculty economists in the US believe stoutly in long-discredited theories that have blighted the lives of millions around the world for decades. Their numbers don’t equate with intelligence, let along conclusive analysis.

The 9/11 conspiracists seize on coincidences and force them into sequences they deem to be logical and significant. Their treatment of eyewitness testimony and forensic evidence is whimsical. Apparent anomalies that seem to nourish their theories are brandished excitedly; testimony that undermines their theories — like wit­nesses of a large plane hitting the Pentagon — is dis­missed.

Many conspiracists say it wasn’t a plane but a mis­sile. (Other conspiracists denounce the “no plane” Pen­tagon theory as wacko.) Eyewitnesses of a large plane hitting the Pentagon — are contemptuously brushed aside.


There are some photos of the impact of the “object” — i.e., the Boeing 757, flight 77 — that seem to show the sort of hole a missile might make. Ergo, the 757 didn’t hit the Pentagon. It was a missile. It wasn’t smoke in some photographs obscuring a larger rupture in the fortified Pentagon wall.

On this last matter, Chuck Spinney, now retired after years of brilliant government service exposing the Pentagon’s budgetary outrages, tells me that “there are pictures taken of the 757 plane hitting the Pentagon — they were taken by the surveillance cameras at Pentagon’s heliport, which was right next to impact point. I have seen them both — stills and moving pictures. I just missed seeing it personally, but the driver of the van I just got out of in South Parking saw it so closely that he could see the terrified faces of passengers in windows. I knew two people who were on the plane. One was ID’d by dental remains found in the Pentagon.”

In fact hundreds of people saw the plane — people who know the difference between a plane and a cruise missile. The wreckage of the plane was hauled out from the site. Why does the obvious have to be proved? Would those who were wounded or who lost friends and colleagues that day assist in the cover up of a missile strike? Why risk using a missile, when you had a plane in the air and — to take one bizarre construct of the con­spiracists — had successfully crashed (by remote con­trol!) two into much more difficult targets — the Trade Towers?

This doesn’t faze the conspiracists. They’re immune to any reality check. Spinney “worked for the govern­ment.” They switched the dental records. The Boeing 757 was flown to Nebraska for a rendezvous with Presi­dent Bush, who shot the passengers, burned the bodies on the tarmac and gave Spinney’s friend’s teeth to Dick Cheney to drop through a hole in his trousers amid the debris in the Pentagon.

Of course there are conspiracies. The allegations that Saddam Hussein had WMD amounted to just such a one. I think there is strong evidence that FDR did have knowledge that a Japanese naval force in the north Pacific was going to launch an attack on Pearl Harbor. It’s quite possible Roosevelt thought it would be a rela­tively mild assault and thought it would be the final green light to get the US into the war.

It’s entirely plausible to assume that the FBI, US mili­tary intelligence, and the CIA — as has just been rather convincingly claimed again in the latter instance — had penetrated the Al Qaeda team planning the 9/11 attacks; intelligence reports piled up in various Wash­ington bureaucracies pointing to the impending onslaught and even the manner in which it might be car­ried out.

The history of intelligence operations is profuse with examples of successful intelligence collection, but also fatal slowness to act on the intelligence, along with eagerness not to compromise the security and future usefulness of the informant, who has to prove his own credentials by even pressing for prompt action by the plotters. Sometimes an undercover agent will actually propose an action, either to deflect efforts away from some graver threat, or to put the plotters in a position where they can be caught red-handed.

There is not the slightest need to postulate pre-placed explosive charges to explain why the towers collapsed at near free fall speeds. As Pierre Sprey, a former plane and weapons designer who knows a great deal about explo­sions, told me:

“1. Any demolitions expert concocting a plan to hit a tall building with an airplane and then use pre-placed explosives to undectably ensure the collapse of the building would never place the explosives 20, 30 and 60 floors below the impact point. Obviously, he would put the explosives on one or more floors as close as possible to the planned impact level.

“2. It is inconceivable that our demolitions expert would time his surreptitious explosions to occur hours after the aircraft impact. He couldn’t possibly be abso­lutely certain that the impact fires would even last an hour. Quite the opposite: to mask the booster explosions, he’d time them to follow right on the heels of the impact.

“3. To ensure collapse of a major building requires very sizable demolition charges, charges that are large enough to do a lot more than emit the “puffs of smoke” cited as evidence for the explosives hypothesis. I’ve seen both live and filmed explosive building demolitions. Each explosion is accompanied by a very visible shower of heavy rubble and a dense cloud of smoke and dust. Just that fact alone makes the explosives hypothesis untenable; no demolitions expert in the world would be willing to promise his client that he could bring down a tall building with explosions guaranteed to be indistin­guishable from the effects of an aircraft impact.”

Herman Soifer, a retired structural engineer, summa­rized the collapse of Buildings 1 and 2 succinctly, in a letter to me, remarking that since he had followed the plans and engineering of the Towers during construction he was able to explain the collapses to his wife a few hours after the buildings went down.

“The towers were basically tubes, essentially hollow. Tubes can be very efficient structures, strong and eco­nomical. The Trade Center tubes effectively resisted vertical loads, wind loads and vibrations and could probably have done very well against earthquakes. How­ever, the relatively thin skin of the hollow tube must be braced at intervals to prevent local buckling of the skin under various possible loads, otherwise the tube itself can go out of shape and lose its strength.

“For their interior bracing, the thin-walled tubes of the Trade Center towers depended primarily on the inte­rior floors being tied to the outer wall shells. These floor beam structures were basically open web joists, adequate for the floor loads normally to be expected. These joist ends rested on steel angle clips attached to the outer walls.

“As the floors at the level of airplane impact caught fire, the open web joists, which could not be expected to resist such fires, softened under the heat, sagged and pulled away from their attachments to the walls. Their weight and the loads they were carrying, caused them to drop onto the next lower floor, which was then carrying double loads also becoming exposed to the heat. Then that floor collapsed, and so it went. But as the floors dropped, they no longer served as bracing for the thin-walled main tubes.

This loss of bracing permitted the walls to buckle outward in successive sections and thus the house of cards effect.”

High grade steel can bend disastrously under extreme heat. The types of steel used in the WTC Towers (plain carbon, and vanadium) lose half their strength when heated to about 570°C, and even more as temperatures rise, as they did in WTC 1 and 2, to 1100°C.

The conspiracists’ last card is the collapse of WTC building #7 some hours after the morning attacks. But here again, as with the other two buildings, the explana­tions offered by the US government’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) are more than ade­quate. Collapse was caused by the rupturing of the building’s metal framework due to the thermal expan­sion of its floor beams, which were heated by uncon­trolled fires because the water main that supplied the building’s fire suppression system had been cut by the collapse of WTC 1.

The NIST team said that the smallest blast event capa­ble of crippling the critical column would have produced a “sound level of 130 to 140 decibels at a dis­tance of half a mile,” yet no noise this loud was reported by witnesses or recorded on videos. Sound at 130 to 140 decibels is about as loud as humans can tolerate, beyond this power one is really encountering a blast wave, a jump in pressure that delivers sensible force. Examples of loud sounds and their effects include: a jet engine at 100 meters (110-140 dB), hearing damage due to short term exposure, for example front row at a rock concert (120 dB), threshold of pain (130 dB), a rifle being fired at 1 meter (140 dB).

As discussed in Wayne Barrett and Dan Collin’s excellent book Grand Illusion , about Rudy Giuliani and 9/11, helicopter pilots radioed warnings nine minutes before the final collapse that the South Tower might well go down and, repeatedly, as much as 25 minutes before the North Tower’s fall.

What Barrett and Collins brilliantly showed are the actual corrupt conspiracies on Giuliani’s watch: the favoritism to Motorola which saddled the firemen with radios that didn’t work; the ability of the Port Authority to skimp on fire protection, the mayor’s catastrophic failure in the years before 9/11/2001 to organize an effective unified emergency command that would have meant that cops and firemen could have communicated; that many firemen wouldn’t have unnecessarily entered the Towers; that people in the Towers wouldn’t have been told by 911 emergency operators to stay in place; and that firemen could have heard the helicopter warn­ings and the final Mayday messages that prompted most of the NYPD men to flee the Towers.

That’s the real political world in which Giuliani and others have never been held accountable. The con­spiracists disdained the real world because they wanted to promote Bush, Cheney and the Neo-Cons to an ele­vated status as the Arch Demons of American history, instead of being just one more team running the Ameri­can empire, a team of more than usual stupidity and incompetence (characteristics I personally favor in imperial leaders). Actually, what Bush and Cheney never demonstrated was the slightest degree of competence to pull anything like this off. They couldn’t even manufac­ture weapons of mass destruction after US troops had invaded Iraq, and when any box labeled “WMD” would have been happily photographed by the embedded U.S. press as conclusive testimony. Arch-demon Cheney and his retinue of neo-cons couldn’t even contrive a provo­cation sufficient to justify his aim of waging war on Iran or giving Israel the green light to do so. Each day he gnashed his teeth as Bush, Condoleezza Rice and the Joint Chiefs of Staff foiled his machinations.

At least what Obama may have done is remind the left — at least those not forever besotted — that Bush and Cheney are not that much different from the politi­cians and overlords of US foreign policy who preceded them or followed them.

9/11 conspiracism, perhaps at last somewhat on the wane, penetrated deep into the American left. It has also been widespread on the libertarian and populist right, but that is scarcely surprising, since the American populist right instinctively mistrusts government to a far greater degree than the left, and matches conspiracies to its demon of preference, whether the Internal Revenue Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Black Helicopters or the Jews, and now Muslims.

These days a dwindling number of leftists learn their political economy from Marx. Into the theoretical and strategic void has crept a diffuse, peripatic conspiracist view of the world that tends to locate ruling class devilry not in the crises of capital accumulation, or the falling rate of profit, or inter-imperial competition, but in locale (the Bohemian Grove, Bilderberg, Ditchley, Davos) or supposedly “rogue” agencies, with the CIA still at the head of the list. The 9/11 “conspiracy,” or “inside job,” is the Summa of all this foolishness.

One trips over a fundamental idiocy of the 9/11 con­spiracists in the first paragraph of the opening page of the book by one of their high priests, David Ray Griffin, The New Pearl Harbor. “In many respects,” Griffin writes, “the strongest evidence provided by critics of the official account involves the events of 9/11 itself. In light of standard procedures for dealing with hijacked air­planes not one of these planes should have reached its target, let alone all three of them.”

The operative word here is “should.” A central characteristic of the con­spiracists is that they have a devout, albeit preposterous, belief in American efficiency. Many of them start with the racist premise — frequently voiced in as many words in their writings — that “Arabs in caves” weren’t capa­ble of the mission. They believe that military systems should work they way Pentagon press flacks and aero­space salesmen say they should work. They believe that at 8:14am, when AA Flight 11 switched off its radio and transponder, an FAA flight controller should have called the National Military Command Center and NORAD. They believe, citing reverently (this is high priest Grif­fin, who has written no less than ten books on 9/11) “the US Air Force’s own website,” that an F-15 could have intercepted AA Flight 11 “by 8:24, and certainly no later than 8:30.”


They appear to have read no military history, which is too bad because if they did they’d know that minutely planned operations — let alone by-the-book responses to an unprecedented emergency — screw up with monotonous regularity, by reason of stupidity, cow­ardice, venality and all the other failings, not excepting sudden changes in the weather.

History is generous with such examples. According to the minutely prepared plans of the Strategic Air Command, an impending Soviet attack would have prompted the missile silos in North Dakota to open, and the ICBMs to arc towards Moscow and kindred targets. The four test launches actually attempted all failed, whereupon the SAC gave up testing. Was it badly designed equipment, human incompetence, defense con­tractor venality or conspiracy?

Did the April 24, 1980 effort to rescue the hostages in the US embassy in Teheran fail because a sandstorm disabled three of the eight helicopters, or because the helicopters were poorly made, or because of agents of William Casey and the Republican National Committee poured sugar into their gas tanks in yet another conspir­acy?


Have the US military’s varying attempts to explain why F-15s didn’t intercept and shoot down the hijacked planes stemmed from absolutely predictable attempts to cover up the usual screw-ups, or because of conspiracy? Is Mr. Cohen in his little store at the end of the block hiking his prices because he wants to make a buck, or because his rent just went up, or because the Jews want to take over the world? Bebel said anti-Semitism is the socialism of the fools.

The conspiracy virus is an old strand. The Russians couldn’t possibly build an A bomb without Commie traitors in the US. The Russians are too dumb. Hitler couldn’t have been defeated by the Red Army marching across Eastern Europe and half of Germany. Traitors let it happen. JFK couldn’t have been shot by Oswald — it had to be the CIA. RFK couldn’t have been shot by Sirhan — it had to be the CIA. There are no end to examples seeking to prove that Russians, Arabs, Viet Cong, Japanese, etc., etc., couldn’t possibly match the brilliance and cunning of secret cabals of white Chris­tians.

Michael Neumann, a philosopher, and CounterPunch contributor, at the University of Trent, in Ontario, Can­ada, remarked in a note to me:

“I think the problem of conspiracy nuttery has got worse, and is part of a general trend. There really were serious questions about the Kennedy assassination, an unusual number of them, and it wasn’t too crazy to come to the wrong conclusion. There wasn’t a single serious question about 9-11. The main engine of the 9-11 con­spiracy cult is nothing political; it’s the death of any conception of evidence.

“This probably comes from the decline of Western power. Deep down, almost everyone, across the political spectrum, is locked in a bigotry which can only attribute that decline to some irrational or supernatural power. The result is the ascendency of magic over common sense, let alone reason.”

Yet some have discovered a silver lining in the 9/11 conspiracism. A politically sophisticated leftist in Washington, DC, wrote to me, agreeing with my ridi­culing of the “inside job” scenarios, but adding, “To me the most interesting thing (in the US) is how many peo­ple are willing to believe that Bush either masterminded it [the 9/11 attacks] or knew in advance and let it happen. If that number or anything close to that is true, that’s a huge base of people that are more than deeply cynical about their elected officials. That would be the real news story that the media is missing, and it’s a big one.”

“I’m not sure I see the silver lining about cynicism re government,” I answered. “People used to say the same thing about the JFK conspiracy buffs and disbelief in the Warren Commission. Actually, it seems to demobilize people from useful political activity. If the alleged per­petrators are so efficiently devilish in their plots, all resistance is futile. 9/11 conspiracism stemmed from despair and political infantilism. There’s no worthwhile energy to transfer from such kookery. It’s like saying some lunatic shouting to himself on a street corner has the capacity to be a great orator.

Anyone who ever looked at the JFK assassination will know that there are endless anomalies and loose ends. Eyewitness testimony is conflicting, forensic evi­dence possibly misconstrued, mishandled or just miss­ing. But in my view, the Warren Commission, as con­firmed in almost all essentials by the House Committee on Assassinations in the late 1970s, had it right and Oswald fired the fatal shots from the School Book Depository. The evidentiary chain for his guilt is persua­sive, and the cumulative scenarios of the conspiracists entirely unconvincing. But of course — as the years roll by, and even though no death bed confession has ever buttressed those vast, CIA-related scenarios — the con­spiracists keep on toiling away, their obsessions as unflagging as ever.

Richard Aldrich’s book on British intelligence, The Hidden Hand (2002), describes how a report for the Pentagon on declassification recommended that “inter­esting declassified material” such as information about the JFK assassination “could be released and even posted on the Internet, as a ‘diversion’,” and used to “reduce the unrestrained public appetite for ‘secrets’ by providing good faith distraction material.” Aldrich adds, “If inves­tigative journalists and contemporary historians were absorbed with the vexatious, but rather tired, debates over the grassy knoll, they would not be busy probing into areas where they were unwelcome.”

The conspiracists have combined to produce a huge distraction, just as Danny Sheehan did with his Com­plaint, that mesmerized and distracted much of the Nicaraguan Solidarity Movement in the 1980s, and which finally collapsed in a Florida courtroom almost as quickly as the Towers.

There are plenty of real conspiracies in America. Why make up fake ones?

This essay is drawn from my contribution to Counter­Punch’s CounterPunch Special Report: Debunking the Myths of 9/11, where Manuel Garcia Jr, physicist and engineer, presented his three reports, undertaken for CounterPunch and where JoAnn Wypi­jewski wrote her essay “Conversations at Ground Zero” after a day spent with people at the site.


  1. chuck becker September 8, 2011

    Man, that’s a lot of words to make the obvious point that the Truthers believe some pretty nutty things. I read somewhere, the other day, that entertainment has replaced education, and that’s not just in the United States of America. It’s everywhere that electronic media has penetrated. Add the fact that human beings are brain-wired to accept conspiracy theories, and you have the current situation in the world.

    At a certain level, only very slightly remote from the most local, government becomes another conspiracy theory. People begin to believe that the government can do things that in reality it can’t begin to do. People begin to believe that events and circumstances are the result of government actions, when they’re no such thing. We’re humans, that’s how our brains work: evolution could never work because there was nobody in charge!

    The thing to watch out for is the Pill Pocket ( Effect. In every conspiracy theory, there is the science, and there’s the agenda. A reasonable person’s first inclination might be to probe the science (the pill pocket) and leave the agenda (the pill) unchallenged. With a situation like the 9/11 conspiracy theories, the science is so bad that there’s no problem with that approach.

    In other situations (climate change, for example), the advocates have made exceptional use of their pill pocket approach to get us puppies to take our medicine. They have wrapped their bitter agenda pill in a yummy and nutritious scientific pill pocket. In a case like that, one should stipulate to the science and dismiss it, then drag the agenda into the light of day so it can be examined..

    If the science is bad, challenge the science. If the science is good, stipulate it, refuse any further discussion of the science, and move on to the agenda. Because in those cases, the agenda is where the real stinking, festering, putrid evil really lies. Don’t fall for the pill pocket.

  2. Coach Toohey September 14, 2011

    Seems to me like the “nutty” parts of the conspiracy theorists pursuits are born out of a need to find a piece of smoking gun evidence they can use to bring more attention to what is more likely the real ‘conspiracy’ behind the attack ten years ago. I’m speaking of course of the well known ties between the Bin Laden and Bush families in both the Arbusto Energy group, an oil company, and the Carlyle group, an American-based global asset management firm, specializing in private equity, based in Washington, D.C. who invest primarily in aerospace and defense. Such a firm would of course profit greatly from the endless war on terror this country has illegally engaged in.

    The Project for a New American Century, a think-tank including some of the core policy advisors for the Bush Administration, has become notorious for articulating the need for a “new Pearl Harbor” in its 2000 policy paper “Rebuilding America’s Defenses.” Of course this is a more public relation friendly way of saying that a new demand for defense must exist in order to increase military spending and feed the military industrial complex. Industries of which are largely owned or invested in by the same men involved with the think tank.

    There are many other seemingly premeditated profit motives for manufacturing 9-11: empire expansion, securing bases in resource rich territories, securing petroleum at a time of peak oil, corporate profiteering, corporate welfare (bailouts), insurance scams (urban renewal), drug trafficking (opium production) and a breakdown of traditional american liberties and privacy (patriot act). Its no secret that 9-11 was a springboard for moving desired policies and war actions foreword. So while the desire for all these things spurred by 9-11 existed before the event, its only logical to assume that there is a possibility that the very powerful and connected families who all now reap the profits of those events had a hand in seeing to it that such an event did in fact happen. Committing atrocities in the name of power is not such a far fetched idea when you look at the patterns of unscrupulous leaders in our human history, and the acquisition of wealth being the modern manifestation of power in the anti economical monetary system that runs our society today, it would be borderline reasonable to connect those who profit from 9-11 to the act itself.

    So as we condescendingly rebuke and label the “nuts” who look for that smoking gun, that one piece of tangible, physical, irrefutable evidence that may finally expose a possible truth, keep in my mind that a more reasonable suspicion exists at the top level of this event, if not in the ashes left below it.

    • dale ruff September 17, 2011

      The Defense Department confirmed that three of the hijackers, Mohamed Atta, Abdulaziz al-Omari and Saeed al-Ghamdi, “have the same names as alumni of American military schools.” A Mohamed Atta attended the International Officers School at Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama; an Abdulaziz al-Omari went to the Aerospace Medical School at Brooks Air Force Base in Texas; and a Saeed al-Ghamdi was at the Defense Language Institute at the Presidio in Monterey, California.” (wikipedia)

      Bush team and FBI stated that they had no hard evidence bin Laden was responsible. When US demanded Taliban hand over bin Laden, Taliban leaders said: show us the evidence and we will.

      Since the govt later admitted (after invading based on claim bin Laden was the mastermind) that they had NO evidence, it is clear that they could not show the Taliban that he was guilty. So they ignored the rational demand for evidence and invaded anyway, as bin Laden (and 9/11) was just a pretext.

      Bin Laden was executed to prevent a trial in which is CIA connections would be outed and because, as the govt admitted, they cannot show that he was responsible. The “confession” on tape is obviously a fake, with an actor with only half the bin Laden nose right handed, wearing a gold ring (forbidden)..just doesn’t look like bin Laden at all.

      There is so much deception and coverup connected both with 9/11 and the official story of who did it that nothing less than an independent investigation will serve the need for truth and justice. Cockburn is with the wrong crowd on this one!

      Note: Silverstein, who said “pull it” (bld 7) made 500 million on the insurance claim for bld 7. Destroyed records of fraud, abnormal insider trading, profits, neo-con exploitation and govt lies, and visual evidence of demolition are all red flags, which Cockburn wants us to forget about. We will never forget.

  3. Keith Soandso September 16, 2011

    I’m going on two decades as a Cockburn fan but I’m not so sure I agree with him on this one. There is peer reviewed work regarding the insider trading leading up to the event:
    Former CIA agents Ray McGovern and Susan Lindaeur have chimed in on the subject :
    While I never finished engineering school I did finish my physics and was a builder for 20 years, building seven falling from fire doesn’t make sense to me, nor does the molten steel or the nano thermite (to name but a few reasons).
    It’s sad to see Cockburn painting those that don’t agree with him as kooks. I still like AC, but this will probably bother me for a long time.

    • dale ruff September 17, 2011

      Keith, I agree with you. I have spent the last few days researching 9/11. Here is what I found:
      1. Republican chief investigator Kean (and investigator Farmer) both say that the govt lied to the commission about NORAD. Cockburn ignores this report in rationalizing why the planes were not intercepted (he claims govt incompetence).
      Either he doesn’t know this…or ignores it. It is a smoking gun, pointing to a cover up.
      2. Bldg 2 video, showing smoke puffs just where explosives would be placed (in line near edge of building), was obtained by Freedom of Information Act suit. Penthouse clearly collapses first. Perfect demolition fashion, with crimp in middle. This is the physical smoking gun. Cockburn ignores Bldg 7 and
      goes thru rote rationalization for how Twin Towers came down. Ignores smoking (literally) gun.
      3. Leaseholder Silverstein, who had just bought attack insurance, says “pull it.” As no firemen were in building, this could only mean: set it off. This is an admission the building was deliberately destroyed.
      4. 9/11 Commission report censors chapter on Saudi Arabian connection (with Bush/bin Laden connections).
      9/11 Commission ignores building 7.
      5. Day before 9/11, Rumsfeld was on tv discussing “missing” 2.3 Trillion from DOD. Records were destroyed on 9/11.
      6. Enron records destroyed; SEC records of bank fraud were destroyed.
      7. Half of Americans smell a coverup.
      8. Pointing to “nutty” conspiracy theories does not nullify factual discrepancies or unanswered questions. Cockburn resorts, for lack of a convincing narrative to support the official govt story, to name-calling: idiots, loon, etc.
      This is a giveway that rational discourse has been abandoned.
      9. All truthers want is the truth, which requires an independent and impartial investigation. Cockburn concentrates on various speculations to defame the
      earnest search for truth by thousands of engineers and architects. If Cockburn is right, an investigation will prove him right. If not…………………

      I used to admire Cockburn for his tough and uncompromising lefty stance. But since I read his article denouncing global warming as a hoax, I have been suspicious of him. He has zero understanding of science.

      Truthers want the truth; Cockburn wants to shame them with insults.
      To see Cockburn repeating govt lies (on Norad) and supporting the govt narrative makes me disappointed and sad. Such a long article, and he ignores the smoking guns. Alexander, what has happened to you?

    • David Gurney September 19, 2011

      A response to the imperious and myopic Alexander Cockburn, and his recent “9/11 Conspiracists” essay:

      The Critics of 9/11 Truth: Do They Have A Case?

      by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

      The short answer to the question in the title is no.

      The 9/11 truth critics have nothing but ad hominem arguments.

      Let’s examine the case against “the truthers” presented by Ted Rall, Ann Barnhardt, and Alexander Cockburn.

      But first let’s define who “the truthers” are.

      The Internet has made it possible for anyone to have a web site and to rant and speculate to their heart’s content. There are a large number of “9/11 conspiracy theorists”.

      Many on both sides of the issue are equally ignorant. Neither side has any shame about demonstrating ignorance.

      Both sides of the issue have conspiracy theories.

      9/11 was a conspiracy whether a person believes that it was an inside job or that a handful of Arabs outwitted the entire intelligence apparatus of the Western world and the operational response of NORAD and the US Air Force.

      For one side to call the other conspiracy theorists is the pot calling the kettle black.

      The question turns not on name-calling but on evidence.

      The 9/11 Truth movement was not created by bloggers ranting on their web sites. It was created by professional architects and engineers some of whom are known for having designed steel high rise buildings.

      It was created by distinguished scientists, such as University of Copenhagen nano-Chemist Niels Harrit who has 60 scientific papers to his credit and physicist Steven Jones.

      It was created by US Air Force pilots and commercial airline pilots who are expert at flying airplanes.

      It was created by firefighters who were in the twin towers and who personally heard and experienced numerous explosions including explosions in the sub-basements. It was created by members of 9/11 families who desire to know how such an improbable event as 9/11 could possibly occur.

      The professionals and the scientists are speaking from the basis of years of experience and expert knowledge. Moreover, the scientists are speaking from the basis of careful research into the evidence that exists.

      When an international research team of scientists spends 18 months studying the components in the dust from the towers and the fused pieces of concrete and steel, they know what they are doing. When they announce that they have definite evidence of incendiaries and explosives, you can bet your life that that have the evidence.

      When a physicist proves that Building 7 (the stories not obscured by other buildings) fell at free fall speed and NIST has to acknowledge that he is correct, you can bet your life that the physicist is correct.

      When fire department captains and clean-up teams report molten steel–and their testimony is backed up with photographs–in the debris of the ruins weeks and months after the buildings’ destruction, you can bet your life the molten steel was there.

      When the same authorities report pumping fire suppressants and huge quantities of water with no effect on the molten steel, you can bet your life that the temperature long after the buildings’ destruction remained extremely high, far higher than any building fire can reach.

      When the architects, engineers, and scientists speak, they offer no theory of who is responsible for 9/11. They state that the known evidence supports neither the NIST reports nor the 9/11 Commission Report. They say that the explanation that the government has provided is demonstrably wrong and that an investigation is required if we are to discover the truth about the event.

      It is not a conspiracy theory to examine the evidence and to state that the evidence does not support the explanation that has been given.

      That is the position of the 9/11 Truth movement.

      What is the position of the movement’s critics? Ted Rall says: “Everything I’ve read and watched on Truther sites is easily dismissed by anyone with a basic knowledge of physics and architecture. (I spent three years in engineering school.)

      Wow! What powerful credentials. Has Rall ever designed a high rise steel building? Could Rall engage in a debate with a professor of nano-chemistry? Could he refute Newton’s laws in a debate with university physicists? Does Rall know anything about maneuvering airplanes? Does he have an explanation why 100 firefighters, janitors, and police report hearing and experiencing explosions that they did not hear or experience?

      Clearly, Ted Rall has no qualifications whatsoever to make any judgment about the judgments of experts whose knowledge exceeds his meager understanding by a large amount.

      Ann Barnhardt writes: “I gotta tell you, I’ve just about had it with these 9/11 truthers. If there is one phenomenon in our sick, sick culture that sums up how far gone and utterly damaged we are as a people, it is 9/11 trutherism. It pretty much covers everything: self-loathing, antisemitism, zero knowledge of rudimentary physics and a general inability to think logically.” She goes down hill from here.

      Amazing, isn’t she? Physics professors have “zero knowledge of rudimentary physics.”

      Internationally recognized logicians have “a general inability to think logically.” People trained in the scientific method who use it to seek truth are “self-loathing.” If you doubt the government’s account you are antisemitic. Barnhardt then provides her readers with a lesson in physics, structural architecture and engineering, and the behavior of steel under heat and stress that is the most absolute nonsense imaginable.

      Obviously, Barnhardt knows nothing whatsoever about what she is talking about, but overflowing with hubris she dismisses real scientists and professionals with ad hominem arguments. She adds to her luster with a video of herself tearing out pages of the Koran, which she has marked with slices of bacon, and burning the pages.

      Now we come to Alexander Cockburn. He is certainly not stupid. I know him. He is pleasant company. He provides interesting intellectual conversation. I like him. Yet, he also arrogantly dismisses highly qualified experts who provide evidence contrary to the official government story of 9/11.

      Cockburn avoids evidence presented by credentialed experts and relies on parody. He writes that the conspiracists claim that the twin towers “pancaked because Dick Cheney’s agents–scores of them–methodically planted demolition charges.”

      Little doubt but there are bloggers somewhere in the vast Internet world who say this. But this is not what the professionals are saying who have provided evidence that the official account is not correct. The experts are simply saying that the evidence does not support the official explanation. More recently, an international team of scientists has reported finding unequivocal evidence of incendiaries and explosives. They have not said anything about who planted them. Indeed, they have said that other scientists should test their conclusions by repeating the research. After calling experts “conspiracy kooks,” Alex then damns them for not putting forward “a scenario of the alleged conspiracy.”

      Moreover, not a single one of the experts believes the towers “pancaked.” This was an early explanation that, I believe, was tentatively put forward by NIST, but it had to be abandoned because of the speed with which the buildings came down and due to other problems.

      Unlike Rall and Barnhardt, Cockburn does refer to evidence, but it is second or third-hand hearsay evidence that is nonsensical on its face. For example, Cockburn writes that Chuck Spinney “tells me that ‘there ARE pictures taken of the 757 plane hitting Pentagon–they were taken by the surveillance cameras at Pentagon’s heliport, which was right next to impact point. I have seen them both–stills and moving pictures. I just missed seeing it personally, but the driver of the van I just got out of in South Parking saw it so closely that he could see the terrified faces of passengers in windows.’”

      If there were pictures or videos of an airliner hitting the Pentagon, they would have been released years ago. They would have been supplied to the 9/11 Commission. Why would the government refuse for 10 years to release pictures that prove its case? The FBI confiscated all film from all surveillance cameras. No one has seen them, much less a Pentagon critic such as Spinney.

      I have to say that the van driver must have better eyes than an eagle if he could see expressions on passenger faces through those small airliner portholes in a plane traveling around 500 mph. Try it sometimes. Sit on your front steps and try to discern the expressions of automobile passengers through much larger and clearer windows traveling down your street in a vehicle moving 30 mph. Then kick the speed up 16.7 times to 500 mph and report if you see anything but a blur.

      Cockburn’s other evidence that 9/11 truthers are kooks is a letter that Herman Soifer, who claims to be a retired structural engineer, wrote to him summarizing “the collapse of Buildings 1 and 2 succinctly.” This is what Soifer, who “had followed the plans and engineering of the Towers during construction” wrote to Alex: “The towers were basically tubes, essentially hollow.” This canard was disposed of years ago. If Alex had merely googled the plans of the buildings, he would have discovered that there were no thin-walled hollow tubes, but a very large number of massively thick steel beams.

      Cockburn’s willingness to dismiss as kooks numerous acknowledged experts on the basis of a claim that a van driver saw terrified faces of passengers moving at 500 mph and a totally erroneous description in a letter from a person who knew nothing whatsoever about the structural integrity of the buildings means that he is a much braver person than I.

      Before I call architects kooks whose careers were spent building steel high rises, I would want to know a lot more about the subject than I do. Before I poke fun at nano-chemists and physicists, I would want to at least be able to read their papers and find the scientific flaws in their arguments.

      Yet, none of the people who ridicule 9/11 skeptics are capable of this. How, for example, can Rall, Barnhardt, or Cockburn pass judgment on a nano-chemist with 40 years of experience and 60 scientific publications to his credit?

      They cannot, but nevertheless do. They don’t hesitate to pass judgment on issues about which they have no knowledge or understanding. This is an interesting psychological phenomenon worthy of study and analysis.

      Another interesting phenomenon is the strong emotional reactions that many have to 9/11, an event about which they have little information. Even the lead members of the 9/11 Commission itself have said that information was withheld from them and the commission was set up to fail. People who rush to the defense of NIST do not even know what they are defending as NIST refuses to release the details of the simulation upon which NIST bases its conclusion.

      There is no 9/11 debate.

      On the one hand there are credentialed experts who demonstrate problems in the official account, and on the other hand there are non-experts who denounce the experts as conspiracy kooks.

      The experts are cautious and careful about what they say, and their detractors have thrown caution and care to the wind.

      That is the state of the debate.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *