9/11 and Nationalist Faith:
How Faith Can Be Illuminating or Blinding
David Ray Griffin
[Note: This lecture was delivered October 19, 2007, at Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado.]
It is often said that Christian faith is the dominant form of faith in America. It is also often said that faith is a bad thing, which prevents religious people from determining the answers to various vital questions on the basis of the relevant evidence. Faith, in other words, is regarded as not simply blind, but blinding.
The truth about America, however, is more complex. Another kind of faith, radically different from Christian faith, is actually the dominant faith in our country. Even within the church, Christian faith tends to subordinate to this other form of faith. With regard to certain truths, moreover, this other form of faith is blinding, while Christian faith at its best is illuminating.
One of these truths is the truth about 9/11. “The evidence that 9/11 was an inside job,” I said at the outset of my book Debunking 9/11 Debunking, “is overwhelming. Most people who examine this evidence with an open mind find it convincing.”1 The only real problem is to get people to examine this evidence, at least with, in Richard Falk’s phrase, “even just a 30-percent open mind.”2
Why is it so difficult for many people, including journalists, seriously to examine the evidence? There are many reasons, especially when we are talking about journalists. But one of those reasons, probably the main one, I will suggest, is the blinding power of the dominant faith of Americans.
I will then suggest that Christian faith at its best opens us to the truth about 9/11 by allowing us to look at the evidence without flinching. Christian faith is not necessary, of course: Many members of the 9/11 Truth Movement are not Christians. But it can help, partly because it contains warnings against the kind of faith that makes it difficult for many Americans, and especially for America as such, to see the truth about 9/11.
The Truth about 9/11: A False-Flag Attack
What is this truth? It is, as I already suggested, that 9/11 was an inside job, orchestrated by forces within our own government. It was a false-flag attack, with evidence planted to make it appear to have been planned and carried out by Arab Muslims. The expression “false-flag attack” originally referred to operations in which the attackers, perhaps in ships, literally showed the flag of an enemy country, so that it would be blamed. But the expression has come to be used for any attack made to appear to be the work of some country or group other than that to which the attackers themselves belong.
Imperial powers have regularly staged such attacks when they wanted a pretext to go to war. When Japan’s army in 1931 decided to take over Manchuria, it blew up the tracks of its own railway near the Chinese military base in Mukden, blamed Chinese solders, then proceeded to slaughter hundreds of thousands of Chinese. This “Mukden incident” began the Pacific part of World War II.3
In Germany in 1933, the Nazis, wanting a pretext to arrest leftists, shut down unfriendly newspapers, and annul civil rights, started a fire in the German Reichstag and blamed it on Communists. Their proof that Communists were responsible was the presence at the site of a feeble-minded left-wing radical, who had been brought there by the Nazis themselves.4
In 1939, when Hitler wanted a pretext to attack Poland, he had Germans dressed as Poles stage raids on German outposts on the Polish-German border. In some cases, a dead German convict dressed as a Pole was left at the scene. The next day, Hitler, referring to these “border incidents,” attacked Poland in “self-defense,” thereby starting the European part of World War II.5
We Americans, viewing our country as the “exceptional nation,” like to believe that our wars have not originated in such deceit. But an examination of the historical evidence reveals otherwise—for example, the Mexican-American war, with its false claim that Mexico had “shed American blood on the American soil,”6 the Spanish-American war, with its “Remember the Maine” hoax,7 the war in the Philippines, with its false claim that the Filipinos fired first,8 and the Vietnam war, with its Tonkin Gulf hoax.9
After World War II, moreover, the United States organized false-flag terrorist attacks in European countries, such as Italy, France, and Belgium, to discredit Communists and other leftists, to prevent them from coming to power through the ballot box. NATO, guided by the CIA and the Pentagon and working with right-wing organizations, organized terrorist attacks that killed innocent civilians and then, by having evidence planted, got the attacks blamed on leftists.10
Would the US military do this if it involved killing US citizens? In 1962, shortly after Fidel Castro had overthrown the pro-American dictator Batista, the Joint Chiefs of Staff prepared a plan, known as Operation Northwoods, that contained “pretexts which would provide justification for US military intervention in Cuba.” American citizens would have been killed in some of scenarios, such as a “Remember the Maine” incident, in which: “We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantánamo Bay and blame Cuba.”11 Only President Kennedy’s veto prevented these plans from becoming operational.
Were there reasons why the Bush-Cheney administration and its Pentagon would have staged the 9/11 attacks to make them appear to have been orchestrated by Muslim terrorists from the Middle East? This administration, wanting to control the oil from the Caspian Sea area, had made plans to go to war in Afghanistan several months before 9/11.12 It also, as is now well known, had an attack on Iraq at the top of its agenda when it came into office.13 Finally, General Wesley Clark has revealed, the Pentagon under this administration was planning on attacking six more predominantly Muslim countries: Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran.14
Accordingly, the idea that 9/11 was an inside job, with evidence planted to make it appear to be the work of Middle Eastern Muslims, should not be ruled out a priori. Indeed, those with the responsibility to discover what really happened, including our major media, should have been alert for evidence that 9/11 was a false-flag operation.
Evidence that 9/11 Was a False-Flag Attack
For those with eyes to see, such evidence is abundant. I will give some examples.
The Destruction of the World Trade Center
It is not difficult to see that the official account of the World Trade Center cannot be true.
According to the official account, the Twin Towers came down because of the impact of the airplanes and the resulting fires. This is the account given by NIST, the National Institute for Standards and Technology. NIST is an agency of the Commerce Department and is, thereby, presently an agency of the Bush-Cheney administration. A document signed by over 11,000 scientists, including 52 Nobel Laureates and 63 recipients of the National Medal of Science, has said that this administration has repeatedly “distort[ed] scientific knowledge for partisan political ends.”15 Such distortion runs throughout the NIST report on the Twin Towers.16
NIST claims that explosives played no role. The evidence clearly suggests otherwise.
First, steel-frame high-rise buildings have never collapsed except when they have been brought down by explosives in the process known as controlled demolition. Therefore, the natural hypothesis—the scientific hypothesis—would have been that explosives brought the towers down. But NIST refused even to explore this hypothesis.
Second, at least 200 people, including over 100 members of the Fire Department of New York, reported evidence of explosions in the towers. For example, Fire Department Captain Dennis Tardio said: “I hear an explosion and I look up. It is as if the building is being imploded, from the top floor down, one after another, boom, boom, boom.”17 Wall Street Journal reporter John Bussey said: “I . . . looked up out of the [WSJ] office window to see what seemed like perfectly synchronized explosions coming from each floor. . . . One after the other, from top to bottom, with a fraction of a second between, the floors blew to pieces.”18 I could fill this whole lecture with such testimonies. But NIST simply ignored them.
Third, the towers did not merely collapse; they disintegrated. The top flowers exploded. The explosions were so powerful that steel beams were ejected horizontally for several hundred feet. Some of them were plastered on to neighboring buildings, as can be seen in videos such as “9/11 Mysteries” and “Loose Change: Final Cut.” Gravity pulls things straight down. Only very powerful explosives could have caused these horizontal ejections.
Fourth, after these explosions, the towers came straight down at virtually free-fall speed. This means that the bottom floors were offering no resistance to the material above them. And yet each tower was supported by 287 steel columns—240 columns around the periphery and 47 massive columns in the core. For the buildings to come straight down, all 287 columns had to fail simultaneously. That’s what explosives do in controlled implosions. It is not something that fire can do.
Fifth, virtually all the concrete and everything else, except the steel, was pulverized into tiny particles. According to NIST, fire and gravitation were the only sources of energy, beyond the impact of the airplanes. Fire and gravitation could not have caused such pulverization.
What do experts say about these matters. Here are the words of internationally known architect David A. Johnson:
“[A]s a professional city planner in New York, I knew those buildings and their design. . . . So I was well aware of the strength of the core with its steel columns. . . . When I saw the rapid collapse of the towers, I knew that they could not come down the way they did without explosives and the severing of core columns at the base. The spewing of debris from the towers where the planes entered also could not have occurred simply with just a structural collapse. . . . Moreover, the symmetrical collapse is strong evidence of a controlled demolition. A building falling from asymmetrical structural failure would not collapse so neatly, nor so rapidly. . . . [T]he official explanation doesn’t hold water.”19
Dr. Johnson, moreover, is simply one of some 200 architects and engineers who, by joining an organization called Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, have publicly announced their rejection of the official story.
What about Building 7 of the World Trade Center? The falsity of the official account of it is even more obvious. This building was not hit by a plane and had only a little external damage and fires on only a few floors—resulting, we are told, from debris from the collapse of the towers. And yet this 47-story building completely collapsed at 5:20 that afternoon in about seven seconds. Explosions in the building were reported by several people, including two city officials.20 The collapse of this building exemplified all the standard features of controlled implosion. Any expert looking at a video of the collapse can immediately tell what happened.
In 2006, Danny Jowenko, a demolition expert in the Netherlands, who had not known that Building 7 collapsed, was shown videos of its collapse. The interviewer, without telling Jowenko what building it was, asked him to explain what he saw. Jowenko said: “It starts from below. . . They have simply blown away columns. . . . A team of experts did this. . . . This is controlled demolition.” When he was then told that this building had also collapsed on September 11, he was incredulous, asking repeatedly, “Are you sure.” After Jowenko was convinced and had examined the evidence more extensively, he said: “This is professional work, without any doubt.”21
Dr. Richard Gage, who founded Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, says that there is “very clear evidence that all three World Trade Center high-rise buildings, the Twin Towers and Building 7, were destroyed not by fire, as our government has told us, but by controlled demolition with explosives.”22
Once this is clear, the idea that the attacks were orchestrated and carried out by foreign terrorists becomes implausible. Foreign terrorists surely would not have had the courtesy to make sure that the buildings came straight down, rather than falling over and thereby destroying dozens of other buildings in lower Manhattan. Foreign terrorists also could not have gotten access to the buildings for all the hours needed to plant explosives. If it is wondered how homegrown terrorists could have gotten such access, a clue might be provided by the fact that Marvin Bush, the president’s brother, was one of the principles of a company that handled security for the World Trade Center.23
No Hard Evidence for bin Laden’s Responsibility
But do we not know that Osama bin Laden was responsible for the attacks. Nothing is more basic to the official story. However, although Colin Powell, who was then the secretary of state, promised to provide proof of bin Laden’s responsibility,24 this promise was quickly withdrawn and the proof was never provided.25
That, of course, was 2001. Surely by now, we would suppose, the FBI would have a massive amount of evidence of bin Laden’s guilt. However, when you turn to the FBI’s page on bin Laden as a “most wanted terrorist,” you will find that 9/11 is not listed as one of the terrorist attacks for which he is wanted.26 And when Rex Tomb, the FBI’s chief of investigative publicity, was asked why not, he replied, “because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11.”27
But surely, one might respond, even if there is no proof that bin Laden himself authorized the attacks, there were many kinds of evidence that the planes were hijacked by members of al-Qaeda. When this evidence is closely examined, however, it all evaporates.
Hijackers’ Passports Found: One proof provided was that the passports of some of the alleged hijackers were found. A week after 9/11, authorities reported that the passport of one of the hijackers had been found in the street a few days earlier.28 We are supposed to believe, in other words, that after one of the airliners hit a tower, creating a fiery inferno, and after the tower exploded, pulverizing virtually all of its concrete into dust, one of the passports floated down to the ground. Perhaps because this story was subjected to some ridicule in the press,29 it was later changed. According to a 9/11 Commission staff report: “A passerby picked it up . . . shortly before the World Trade Center towers collapsed.”30 This version, according to which the passport only had to escape from the plane and then survive the fiery inferno, was evidently thought more believable.
Even more absurd was the claim that the passports of two hijackers on United 93 were found at the crash site in Pennsylvania. At least it was supposed to be the crash site: Everyone who came there reported that no plane was visible. The official explanation for this fact was that the hijacker pilot had flown the plane downward at 580 miles per hour so that. When it hit the soft Pennsylvanian soil, it went completely into the ground, so that not even the tail section was visible. Nevertheless, we are told, the authorities found two of the hijackers’ passports.31 (Actually, I suppose this is believable: Some of us, when we’re flying a plane 580 miles an hour, leave a window open, so things fly out.)
Given the implausibility of these claims, we cannot use the passports as evidence that there were hijackers on the planes.
Cell Phone Calls: However, the main evidence for hijackers was phone calls from the planes, in which passengers on the airliners reported that their planes had been hijacked. Many of these calls, especially from United Flight 93, were believed to have been made on cell phones. Deena Burnett, for example, reported that she had received four calls from her husband, Tom Burnett. He had used his cell phone, she knew, because she recognized his number on her phone’s Caller ID. She reported this on TV programs, to reporters, and in a book.32
In 2006, however, at the trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, the so-called “20th hijacker,” the FBI presented a report about phone calls from the four airliners. According to this report, there were only two cell phone calls from United 93—one from a passenger who called 911, and one from a flight attendant.33 Both of these calls were reportedly made shortly before the plane crashed, when it was down to 5,000 feet. This is significant, because most of the cell phone calls had reportedly been made when Flight 93 was above 30,000 or even 40,000 feet, and there had been an ongoing dispute whether, given the cell phone technology in 2001, cell phone calls from airliners at high altitude were possible. Members of the 9/11 Truth Movement had said No, while defenders of the official story, such as Popular Mechanics, said Yes. So it is significant that, when the FBI had to present testimony in a court of law, it did not claim that any high-altitude cell phone calls had been made. In any case, the FBI report indicated that Deena Burnett did not receive any cell phone calls from her husband.
What do we do about here statement that she saw his cell phone number on her Caller ID? Must we conclude that she was lying? No. The probable answer, I have argued, is that she and the others was duped. The calls were faked. The technology of voice morphing had been sufficiently developed prior to 2001 to fool people’s best friends, even their spouses, and there are devices that will fake other people’s phone numbers as well as their voices.34
This conclusion that the calls were faked is strengthened by evidence from some of the reported conversations that the calls were not genuine. For example, when passenger Mark Bingham’s mother answered the phone, the caller said: “Mom, this is Mark Bingham.”35
In any case, if the reported cell phone calls were faked, as the FBI report indicates they must have been, we must conclude that all the reported calls from the airliners were faked.
Were the Alleged Hijackers Devout Muslims? Once examined, all the other purported evidence for hijackers also dissolves. This does not mean that the men charged with hijacking the planes did not exist. There really were men going by those names. But did they fit the official story’s portrait of them as devout Muslims who, being ready to meet their Maker and collect their heavenly reward, had no reluctance to commit suicide?
Let us look in particular at Mohamed Atta, said to have been the ringleader of the operation. According to The 9/11 Commission Report, Atta had become very religious, even “fanatically so.”36 According to a letter that authorities claim was written by Atta, he said that he planned to kill himself so he could go to heaven as a martyr.37 But when we look at the actual behavior of Mohamed Atta—at least the man who was going by this name—we see something very different. Like at least some of the other alleged hijackers, Atta drank lots of alcohol, took cocaine, went to strip clubs, and seemed to be especially fond of lap dances. He even lived with an exotic dancer in Venice, Florida, in March and April of 2001. The government and the 9/11 Commission went to great lengths to cover up these facts, and for good reason. As a professor of Muslim studies said:
“It is incomprehensible that a person could drink and go to a strip bar one night, then kill themselves the next day in the name of Islam. . . . Something here does not add up.”38
What role did Atta and others play in the operation? Were they hired to play this role? We will not know until there is a real investigation. We know enough, however, to say that the 9/11 attacks were not orchestrated, or even assisted, by devout Muslims.
Hijackers and the Pentagon Attack
This conclusion is strengthened by problems in the official story of the attack on the Pentagon. Although there are lots of these problems, I will have to limit myself to two.
Hani Hanjour and the Pentagon Attack: According to the official story, the Pentagon was struck by American Flight 77 under the control of al-Qaeda hijacker Hani Hanjour. Numerous reports had indicated, however, that Hanjour was a terrible pilot, who could not even safely fly a single-engine plane. As one flight instructor quoted by the New York Times put it, “He could not fly at all.”39 And yet the plane that hit the Pentagon, according to the official story, was flown with military precision. After completing a 330-degree downward spiral, it came in at ground level to hit the Pentagon between the first and second floors, and it did this without even scratching the Pentagon lawn. The Washington Post wrote: “Aviation sources said the plane was flown with extraordinary skill, making it highly likely that a trained pilot was at the helm.”40 Hani Hanjour, who could barely fly a Cessna, could not have done this in a Boeing 757. As Ralph Omholt, a former 757 pilot, has said: “The idea that an unskilled pilot could have flown this trajectory is simply too ridiculous to consider.”41 If you check out Pilots for 9/11 Truth, you’ll see that lots of other pilots agree.
Barbara Olson’s Alleged Calls: The most well-known report of hijackers on the planes came from Ted Olson, who was the Department of Justice’s solicitor general. He told CNN on the afternoon of 9/11 that his wife, the CNN commentator Barbara Olson, had called him twice from American Airlines Flight 77—the flight that reportedly hit the Pentagon—and told him that hijackers, armed with knives and box cutters, had taken over the plane.42 This claim played some vital roles. Besides telling the world that Flight 77 was hijacked, it was the only evidence that this plane was still in the air: It had disappeared from radar in the Midwest and there were reports that an airliner in that area had crashed. The reported calls from Barbara Olson made it seem at least possible that the Pentagon really was, as the government said, struck by American Flight 77.
However, Ted Olson’s report is highly problematic. One problem was that he went back and forth on whether his wife had used a cell phone or a passenger-seat phone. He finally settled on the latter,43 thereby avoiding the problem of whether a cell phone call would have been possible. In 2006, however, an American Airlines representative, in response to a query, said: “we do not have phones on our Boeing 757. The passengers on flight 77 used their own personal cellular phones to make out calls during the terrorist attack.”44 Ted Olson’s claim was even further undermined by the report presented by the FBI at the Moussaoui trial. According to this report, the only call attempted by Barbara Olson was an “unconnected call,” which, therefore, lasted “0 seconds.”45
This is an amazing development. The FBI is part of the Department of Justice, and yet it failed to support the claim by the former solicitor general of this department to have received two phone calls from his wife on the morning of 9/11. In doing so, the FBI undermined the only evidence that Flight 77 was hijacked and flown back to Washington.
There are lots of other problems in the official story about the Pentagon strike. But these two, involving Hani Hanjour and Barbara Olson, provide all we need to know to conclude that that story is not true.
Faith: Nationalist and Christian
My lecture is titled “9/11, Evidence, and Faith.” I have now discussed some of the evidence pointing to the conclusion that 9/11 was a false-flag operation, perpetrated by forces within our own government. There is far more evidence, as I have shown in my recent book, Debunking 9/11 Debunking. But what I have summarized here should be sufficient, for those with eyes to see, that the official story is, at the very least, deeply problematic. Not everyone, however, has eyes to see. Many Americans have a kind of faith that blinds them to the truth about 9/11. This faith also prevents this evidence from being discussed in the mainstream media. What is this faith?
I am drawing here from an essay, unpublished at this time, by Christian theologian John Cobb. Pointing out that people generally presuppose “the vision of reality” of the society in which they grow up, he says: “We may call [this] largely unconscious underlying and overarching view of the world, as well as the more conscious beliefs in which it is expressed, ‘a faith.'” “For a thousand years prior to the Renaissance,” Cobb adds, “the ‘faith’ of the great majority of Europeans was Christian.” In the modern world, however,
“one’s loyalty and one’s identity [came to be] defined by geography rather than religion. . . . Virtue was redefined as patriotism. . . Saints were replaced by national heroes. The stories of one’s nation took over from the Christian story in education and in public functions. . . . [B]eing a Christian became optional. Public debates pro and con Christianity are fully acceptable. But . . . [t]here is no public debate about national loyalty. In short the dominant “faith” of most people in the modern world has been nationalist.”46
What is the American form of this nationalist faith? It is that “the United States is a fundamentally virtuous nation.” This faith does not mean that there can be no criticism of a America’s actions. “But the criticism is [only] that the nation’s actions are not in its true interests or do not accord with its true character.” These criticisms hence express the nationalist faith, which is that our country is essentially good, never deliberately doing evil.
From the point of view of this faith, the claim that 9/11 was an inside job simply cannot be true. After pointing out several facts that make the official story extremely implausible, Cobb says:
“The response of most Americans [to a recitation of such facts] shows how powerful is the hold upon them of their nationalistic ‘faith.’ They do not want to hear that members of their government may have deceived them on a matter of such importance. They do not want to examine the evidence. They ‘know’ in advance that the questioner is out of line. They ‘know’ this because the alternative does not fit with their ‘faith.'”47
But surely, we may respond, Americans by now know that the Bush-Cheney administration lied us into the war in Iraq. Why would most Americans continue to accept this administration’s astounding story about 9/11? “The answer,” Cobb suggests,
“may be that deception about matters of who has what weapons can be tolerated. We can understand that the real motives for fighting a war are often different from the announced reason. But to believe that high officials in an American administration . . . would organize a massive attack killing thousands of American citizens would deeply wound the American sense of the basic goodness of the nation, a conviction which belongs to the depths of our national faith.”48
Given the pervasiveness of this faith in our country—and especially in the public sphere, controlled by the mass media—it is easy to marginalize those of us who question the official story about 9/11. The chief method, other than simply ignoring us, is to label us “conspiracy theorists.” This label lets people know that we are irrational, that our claims are simply products of fevered minds, so that even examining our claims to refute them would be a waste of time.
From a purely rational-empirical point of view, the effectiveness of this label is remarkable. A conspiracy, according to my dictionary, is simply “an agreement to perform together an illegal, treacherous, or evil act.”49 To hold a conspiracy theory about some event, accordingly, is simply to believe that it resulted from such an agreement. We accept new conspiracy theories every day, insofar as we believe news reports about cigarette companies conspiring to conceal the dangers of smoking, oil companies conspiring to deny the reality of human-caused global warming, and corporations conspiring to defraud customers. We are all conspiracy theorists.
Everyone is, in fact, a conspiracy theorist about 9/11, because the official theory is itself a conspiracy theory. It says that 9/11 resulted from a secret agreement between Osama bin Ladin and various members of al-Qaeda.
Nevertheless, the term “conspiracy theorist” is used only for people who reject the official conspiracy theory in favor of the alternative theory, according to which 9/11 was an inside job. For example, Jim Dwyer wrote a New York Times story entitled “2 U.S. Reports Seek to Counter Conspiracy Theories About 9/11.”50 A more accurate title would have been: “2 U.S. Reports Say Government’s Conspiracy Theory Is Better than Alternative Conspiracy Theory.” But the Times would never have used any such headline.
This one-sided use of the term does not occur only in the mainstream media. It is just as prevalent on the left. For example, Salim Muwakkil, a senior editor of In These Times, wrote in 2005:
“The [9/11] movement caught my attention when I saw Dr. David Ray Griffin speaking at the University of Wisconsin at Madison on C-SPAN earlier this year. . . . Griffin . . . has written several well-regarded books on religion and spirituality. . . and is considered one of the nation’s foremost theologians. I . . . regard him as a wise writer on the role of spirituality in society.
“So, it was shocking to see him pushing a radical conspiracy theory about 9/11 on C-SPAN. . . . What could have transformed this sober, reflective scholar into a conspiracy theorist?”51
I, of course, had been a conspiracy theorist all along. The only thing that changed in 2003 was that I rejected the official conspiracy theory in favor of the alternative theory.
From the point of view of In These Times, however, that was when I first became a conspiracy theorist, leading the magazine to ask, “what happened to Griffin?” Another writer for the magazine, Terry Allen, answered: “I think part of it is that he’s a theologian who operates on faith.”52 My own answer—that I finally looked at the evidence—was evidently ruled out a priori, because there could be no good evidence for a conspiracy theory. These two writers also seemed to be completely devoid of any suspicion that their rejection of my position was itself based on faith—the nationalist faith that our leaders would not do such a thing.
These two examples, in any case, show how the term “conspiracy theory” is used in this discussion. It is not used in the generic sense, to mean any secret agreement to do something illegal. It is used for a theory alleging that our own government did something not only illegal but so terrible as to contradict our faith in our nation’s goodness.
The fact that such theories are not to be seriously entertained in public discourse was made clear by President Bush in his address to the United Nations two months after 9/11. He said: “Let us never tolerate outrageous conspiracy theories concerning the attacks of 11 September—malicious lies that attempt to shift the blame away from the terrorists.”53 What would an outrageous conspiracy theory be?
If we were operating in a philosophy-of-science context, it would be clear. A good theory is one that can explain, in a coherent way, all or at least most of the relevant facts and is not contradicted by any of them. A bad theory is one that is contradicted by some of the relevant facts. An outrageous theory would be one that is contradicted by virtually all of the relevant facts. By this criterion, the official conspiracy theory is clearly the outrageous one.
However the public discussion of 9/11 occurs not in a philosophy-of-science context but in a political context, and in this context, the alternative theory is the outrageous one, because it says that members of the Bush Administration ordered it, not Osama bin Laden. That claim makes it outrageous by definition. Evidence has nothing to do with it.
The Media’s Non-Toleration of My Books
In warning people not to tolerate outrageous conspiracy theories, Bush was reminding people, especially people who control the mainstream media, that anyone saying that 9/11 was an inside job was not to be given a sympathetic or even neutral hearing.
This injunction has been obeyed. Since I know my own case the best, I will use myself as an example. Although I have published five books about 9/11, not one of them as been reviewed by a mainstream newspaper or magazine, even though my first book, The New Pearl Harbor, has sold about 150,000 copies in English and been translated into several other languages. Before I started writing on this topic, moreover, I was a fairly well-respected philosopher of religion and theologian, who had written over 20 books. One would think the fact that such a person was now writing books accusing members of the Bush administration of orchestrating the 9/11 attacks would be just the thing newspapers and magazines would headline in order to increase sales. But contrary to widespread opinion, there is something more important than sales: never publicly contradicting our national faith.
I did, to be sure, appear once on a national talk show, that of Tucker Carlson. But this was not a normal interview, in which I was allowed to present my ideas in a sympathetic or even neutral atmosphere. Rather, Tucker denounced me, even calling my statements “blasphemous” and “sinful”54 —thereby perfectly illustrating that his faith in American goodness is a religious faith. I have been interviewed calmly on television shows in Canada and some European countries, even England. But never in this country. In the public sphere, where our national faith rules, the alternative conspiracy theory is not to be tolerated.
Christian Faith and 9/11
In the church, however, things should be different. Here, one would presume, the dominant faith would be Christian faith, and Christian faith at its best would allow people to look at the evidence that 9/11 was an inside job. Why?
Christian faith is first of all faith in God, and faith is best understood as fidelity or loyalty. The Greek term for faith in the New Testament, pistis, is often best translated fidelity. The issue, as Richard Horsley explains in Jesus and Empire, is whether one was loyal to God or the Roman emperor.55 In speaking of God, one is speaking of the creator and lover of all peoples.
Christian faith also teaches that God is truth, so that to be loyal to God is to be committed to knowing and proclaiming the truth. From the point of view of Christian faith, therefore, it would be idolatrous to regard our nation as worthy of ultimate allegiance. Christians can, of course, be patriots, loving and serving their country. But they cannot, without forsaking their Christian faith, give ultimate loyalty to their nation, so as to blind themselves to, or hide from others, ugly truths about their own nation.
Another relevant feature of Christian faith is its doctrine of original sin. Although this doctrine has often been expressed in mythological ways, its basic point is that the tendency to sin is universal. No party, no religion, no country can be assumed to be free from the tendency to sin. What is this tendency?
On the one hand, our unique capacities as human beings allow us, unlike other creatures, to understand that we are simply one among others. All people are children of God, hence all people should have equal rights, equal opportunities, including equal access to the world’s resources. We know that we should love our neighbors as ourselves and hence do unto others as we would have them do unto us. (We can even know, as the Dalai Lama puts it, that we should care more for others than we do for ourselves: there are so many more of them.)
And yet we generally do not. We generally use our unique capacities, as Reinhold Niebuhr pointed out, not to treat ourselves as simply one among others, but to gain advantages for ourselves and those to whom we are close, even when this means harming, perhaps killing, others. This tendency especially comes out in people who gain political power. This point was expressed most famously in Lord Acton’s dictum: “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”56
Christians should, therefore, be especially suspicious of political and military leaders who show signs of seeking absolute power. Andrew Bacevich, a Christian who is a political science professor and a former military officer, has said that the US military has been attempting “to achieve something approaching omnipotence.”57 The attempt by the Bush-Cheney administration to achieve virtually absolute power is also well known by now. Christians should suspect, therefore, the presence of absolute corruption—corruption sufficient, at least, to orchestrate 9/11.
Unfortunately, the fact that Christians in America think of themselves as Christians does not mean that their Christian faith trumps their American faith. They often seem to take the latter with greater seriousness. I have never had a lecture in a church cancelled because someone took exception to my christology or doctrine of God, but more than one church has cancelled lectures I was scheduled to give about 9/11, and many more churches have refused to rent their buildings out for this purpose in the first place. The leaders of these churches are unwilling to expose their people to, or be seen as supporting, such heresy.
I have, to be sure, spoken in a few churches. And I have been supported by a few theologians, such as John Cobb, Rosemary Ruether, Joe Hough (the president of Union Theological Seminary in New York), and the late William Sloane Coffin. But I have been attacked by others.
For example, after my first book, The New Pearl Harbor, was published, Christian ethicist Ian Markham, while he was the Dean of Hartford Seminary, published a critique of it in a Christian magazine. He said: “There needs to be limits to the range of possibilities considered; and I want to suggest that Griffin is outside them.” Explaining this statement, he said:
“When a book argues that the American President deliberately and knowingly was ‘involved’ in the slaughter of 3000 US citizens, then this is irresponsible.”58
Having read Markham’s critique, I wrote to him, saying that it seemed to me that “our difference on 9/11 has to do primarily with a priori assumptions as to what the US government, and the Bush administration and its Pentagon in particular, would and would not do.” Markham confirmed this judgment, saying: “yes, I am operating with an a priori assumption that Bush would not kill 3000 citizens for the sake of a political justification to invade the Middle East for oil.”59
My third book, Christian Faith and the Truth behind 9/11: A Call to Reflection and Action, was reviewed in the Christian Century magazine, which has long been a voice for liberal, socially concerned Christian faith. However, editor David Heim, who took it upon himself to write the review, said not a word about my chapters on Jesus and empire, demonic evil, or my call to churches to reflect about 9/11. Rather, he devoted his review entirely to discouraging such reflection by ridiculing my claim that 9/11 was an inside job.
Using the same technique as secular critics, he gave his review a belittling title, “Whodunit? A 9/11 Conspiracy Theory.” He then made clear the heretical nature of the book in the first sentence:
“According to theologian David Ray Griffin, the attacks of 9/11 were not the work of jihadist suicidal terrorists but were orchestrated by the Bush administration to provide the pretext for its military adventures and its quest for global dominance.”60
Calling my argument “loopy,” he suggested that my problem was that I had “drunk deeply from the murky well of the ‘9/11 truth’ forums on the Internet.” Then, demonstrating that my arguments are easily refuted, he wrote:
“[Griffin] notes that though the hijackers are alleged to have been devout Muslims, during their time in the U.S. they drank alcoholic beverages and visited strip clubs. The 9/11 commission never admitted or resolved this contradiction, Griffin says, apparently scoring his first point against the official explanation. Griffin ignores the many reports showing that some hijackers . . . exhibited exactly this psychological profile: they were alternately attracted and repelled by the moral laxity of the West; their sense of its allure spurred their sense of repulsion. Such modest nuances of reflection seem too much for Griffin.”61
By thus demonstrating his own superior capacity for nuance, at least to his own satisfaction, he implied that he had taken care of all the questions about the hijackers.
With regard to the World Trade Center, Heim answered all questions by appealing to the report put out by NIST, the National Institute for Standards and Technology. As mentioned earlier NIST is a agency of the Commerce Department and hence of the Bush administration, which has repeatedly “distort[ed] scientific knowledge for partisan political ends.”62 This fact did not trouble Heim, however. His implicit argument seemed to be: We can know a priori that the Bush administration was not responsible; we can, therefore, trust the report put out by NIST, because NIST would have had no motive to lie.
After using such circular arguments to deal with other questions, he said:
“The war on terrorism has been invoked to sponsor a foolish military adventure. The disastrous overreach in Iraq was fueled by imperialist delusions about remaking the Middle East. But tying that critique of U.S. policy to an outlandish theory about U.S. complicity in 9/11 can only invite ridicule.”
Heim provides a perfect illustration of nationalist faith. The invasion of Iraq was foolish, based on delusions, not evil, based on a lie. To suggest otherwise is outlandish and invites ridicule.
Heim closed his review by asking: “Why did a Presbyterian publishing house sign up this corrosive and monomaniacal book?”63
Heim was not alone in criticizing Westminster John Knox for publishing my book. The Institute for Religion and Democracy put out a press release headed: “IRD: Presbyterian-Published 9/11 Conspiracy Book is Absurd.” The IRD’s Mark Tooley said: “That senior mainline church officials would publish this kind of absurd revisionist history is a scandal.”64
Especially severe criticism of Westminster John Knox came from conservative factions within the Presbyterian church. John H. Adams, the editor of the Presbyterian Layman, said that it is not the Presbyterian Church’s place to publish a conspiracy theory, and that for Westminster John Knox to do so is tantamount to saying the denomination agrees with the view that 9/11 was orchestrated by forces within our own government. Although Adams admitted that he had not actually read the book, he felt free to describe the book’s thesis as “a hare-brained idea” and to criticize the press for moving into “the pulp category of theology.”65 Just knowing the book’s claim about the Bush administration was obviously sufficient to make such charges.
Toby Brown, a Presbyterian pastor in Texas, who also had not read the book, said: “Why, out of all the things they could be publishing, would the church choose this? What business does the church have getting involved in theories about 9/11? It makes it look like our church might be endorsing the book’s ideas.” Many Presbyterians, he added, were planning to boycott the publisher.66
James Berkley, the director of Presbyterian Action for Faith and Freedom, called WJK’s decision to publish my book “laughable,” “pathetic” and “kooky”67 and said that it had damaged the image of Presbyterians.68
The Rev. Joan Gray, the moderator of the Presbyterian Church of America, said: “To me personally, and I am sure for the great majority of Presbyterians, the idea that the United States government engineered the 9/11 attacks is too over the top to be taken seriously.”69
Such attacks led Davis Perkins, the president and publisher of Westminster John Knox, to issue a defense. It said:
“In his preface to the controversial Christian Faith and the Truth behind 9/11 . . . , David Ray Griffin writes ‘One of our main tasks as theologians is to deal with current events in light of the fact that our first allegiance must be to God, who created and loves all people-indeed all forms of life. If we believe that our political and military leaders are acting on the basis of policies that are diametrically opposed to divine purposes, it is incumbent upon us to say so.’ At Westminster John Knox Press we share Griffin’s primary allegiance and seek to encourage sustained, informed, and respectful dialogue about the most pressing issues of our times. Professor Griffin’s thorough research and intellectually rigorous arguments have persuaded us that this book should have a place in that conversation, regardless of the conclusions readers come to accept.”
Perkins thereby clearly said that for Westminster John Knox Press, allegiance to God must take priority over our allegiance to our political and military leaders.
But the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation’s board of directors, in face of mounting criticism from within the denomination, would not support Perkins. In an official statement, Kenneth Godshall, the chair of this board of directors, said:
“David Ray Griffin is a distinguished theologian who has published a number of books with PPC. This particular volume is not up to WJK editorial standards and not representative of the PPC publishing program.”
What was wrong with this book?
“The book makes the extraordinary claim that the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 were orchestrated by the federal government and made to appear to be the work of al-Qaeda. . . . Griffin’s theological reflections are helpful and timely. The Board believes the conspiracy theory is spurious and based on questionable research.”70
So, the reason this book is “not up to WJK editorial standards” has nothing to do with its theology. The problem is only the book’s claim that contradicts our nationalist faith. Godshall did not, of course, put it that way. He said that the board had concluded that the book was based on “questionable research.”
But as I told the Louisville Courier-Journal, which contacted me about this: “This [issue] is something I’ve worked on almost daily for years. . . .I doubt any of the . . . members of the board have spent nearly the time on it I have. They were really not in the position to make such a statement.”
How did Godshall defend his charge? According to the Courier-Journal, he said “that Griffin failed to take into account rebuttals of his theories, such as one published by Popular Mechanics.”71
That, however, was false. In 2005, Popular Mechanics magazine had published an article entitled “9/11: Debunking the Myths.”72 In my chapter on the destruction of the World Trade Center, I pointed out that “Popular Mechanics . . . completely ignores the suddenness, verticality, rapidity, and totality of the collapses as well as failing to mention the testimonies about molten steel, demolition rings, and the sounds of explosions.”73 If you cannot explain why the buildings came straight down at virtually free fall speed, and you have to ignore part of the relevant evidence, you have not explained the collapses. Also, referring to the article by Popular Mechanics as “a spectacularly bad article,” I pointed out some absurd claims it made, then referred readers to two critiques in which it had been “effectively debunked.”74
Furthermore, at the time Godshall made his statement, I was writing Debunking 9/11 Debunking, the subtitle of which is: An Answer to Popular Mechanics and Other Defenders of the Official Conspiracy Theory. Had Godshall really wanted to know my response to the claims made by Popular Mechanics, I could have sent him my written response to its book, Debunking 9/11 Myths, which had come out a few months earlier. My response shows that not a single one if its main claims stands up to scrutiny. There are, of course no reviews of my book in the mainstream press where one can see if reviewers have concurred. But if one reads the customer reviews of the Popular Mechanics book on Amazon.com, one will see that virtually all reviewers who have read both that book and mine say that I have thoroughly debunked it.
I have spent some time on this because the only support Godshall gave for his allegation that my book contained a “spurious” conspiracy theory based on “questionable research” was his claim that I had not responded to the counterclaims of Popular Mechanics. The fact that Godshall made no effort to determine the truth of this allegation suggests that his real reason for censuring my book was to placate members of his denomination who objected to Westminster John Knox’s publication of my book solely because of its violation of their faith in America’s goodness.
Godshall, moreover, did not merely censure my book and Westminster John Knox for publishing it. The two men at the press who made the decision to publish it were soon to depart.
According to the story in the Louisville-Courier Journal, “Godshall said no one would be disciplined for approving the book” and that “the board would continue to defend the editorial independence of the corporation.”75
In fact, however, Godshall began micromanaging, so Davis Perkins, who was already angry at Godshall for having apologized for the publication of my book, resigned as president and publisher of Westminster John Knox to take another position. One week later, Jack Keller, the vice president for publication, was fired.
What is the message? While Jack Keller was vice president for publishing at WJK, it had published several books by me. One of them, God, Power, and Evil, rejects the traditional doctrine of omnipotence. It even specifically criticizes this doctrine as held by John Calvin, the founding theologian of the Presbyterian Church. Another book explicitly denies that God can interrupt the world’s normal causal relations, which means that there can be no miracles as traditionally understood and no infallibly inspired scriptures. But no one was fired for publishing these books. No one screamed that by publishing these books, the press was implying that the Presbyterian Church accepted these ideas.
So what is the message to publishers at church presses? It is that they can publish books that are highly critical of traditional Christian doctrines without losing their jobs. But they had better not publish anything that challenges the idea that America is fundamentally good, the exceptional nation, because this is the one religious belief that cannot be challenged.76
Do we not here have a clear illustration of the fact that all too often, Christian faith is less important to Christians in America than their American faith? The evidence that 9/11 was an inside job, I have argued, is overwhelming to anyone with eyes to see, and Christian faith at its best serves to open people’s eyes to this evidence. When Christian faith is subordinated to faith in American goodness, however, it becomes a blinding faith, producing Christians with eyes wide shut.
In working so long to expose the truth about 9/11, one of my central hopes has been that this exposure will lead American Christians to repent of this idolatrous subordination. And once Christians in our country see 9/11 for what it was—a pretext to extend the American empire in predominantly Muslim countries—I hope that they will realize that to be loyal to Jesus, who preached an anti-imperial gospel,77 they will need to oppose American imperialism as strongly as they have opposed other forms of imperialism.
1 David Ray Griffin, Debunking 9/11 Debunking: An Answer to Popular Mechanics and Other Defenders of the Official Conspiracy Theory (Northampton: Olive Branch, 2007), 1.
2 Richard Falk, “Foreword” to David Ray Griffin, The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions About the Bush Administration and 9/11 (Northampton: Olive Branch Press, 2004), vii.
3 On the Mukden incident, see Walter LaFeber, The Clash: U.S.-Japanese Religions throughout History (New York: Norton, 1997), 164-66; Louise Young, Japan’s Total Empire: Manchuria and the Culture of Wartime Imperialism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), 40; or “Mukden Incident,” Encyclopedia Britannica, 2006 (http://www.britannica.com/eb/article-9054193).
4 Proof that the Nazis themselves set the fire was confirmed in 2001 with the publication of Der Reichstagbrand: Wie Geschichte Gemacht Wird, by Alexander Bahar and Wilfried Kugel (Berlin: Edition Q, 2001). For a review of this book, see Wilhelm Klein, “The Reichstag Fire, 68 Years On,” World Socialist Website, 5 July 2001 (http://www.wsws.org/articles/2001/jul2001/reic-j05.shtml).
5 See “Nazi Conspiracy and Aggression, Vol. II: Criminality of Groups and Organizations” (http://www.nizkor.org/hweb/imt/nca/nca-02/nca-02-15-criminality-06-05.html); Ian Kershaw, Hitler: 1936-45: Nemesis (New York: Norton, 2001), 221; and “Gleiwitz Incident,” Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gleiwitz_incident#References).
6 Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States (1980; New York: HarperPerennial, 1990), 150. Richard Van Alstyne, The Rising American Empire (1960; New York, Norton, 1974), 143.
7 Stuart Creighton Miller, Benevolent Assimilation: The American Conquest of the Philippines, 1899-1903 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982), 11.
8 Ibid., 57-62.
9 George McT. Kahin, Intervention: How America Became Involved in Vietnam (Garden City: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1987), 220; Marilyn B. Young, The Vietnam Wars 1945-1990 (New York: HarperCollins, 1991), 119.
10 Daniele Ganser, NATO’s Secret Armies: Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe (New York: Frank Cass, 2005).
11 This memorandum can be found at the National Security Archive, 30 April 2001 (http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/news/20010430). It was revealed to US readers by James Bamford in Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-secret National Security Agency (2001: New York: Anchor Books, 2002), 82-91.
12 See Griffin, The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11 (Northampton: Olive Branch), 89-92.
13 See Ron Susskind, The Price of Loyalty: George W. Bush, the White House, and the Education of Paul O’Neill (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004), and “Bush Sought ‘Way’ to Invade Iraq?”, CBS News, 11 January 2004 (www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/01/09/60minutes/main592330.shtml). See also Richard Clarke, Against All Enemies: Inside America’s War on Terror (New York: Free Press, 2004), 264.
14 Wesley K. Clark, Winning Modern Wars: Iraq, Terrorism, and the American Empire (New York: Public Affairs, 2003), 120, 130. Clark has stated this more recently on Democracy Now!, “General Wesley Clark Weighs Presidential Bid,” 2 March 2007 (http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/03/02/1440234), and in his book, A Time to Lead: For Duty, Honor and Country (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007).
15 Union of Concerned Scientists, “Restoring Scientific Integrity in Policymaking” (http://www.ucsusa.org/scientific_integrity/interference/scientists-signon-statement.html).
16 A scientist who formerly worked for NIST stated that it has become extremely politicized. See “NIST Whistleblower,” George Washington’s Blog, 3 October 2007 (http://georgewashington.blogspot.com/2007/10/former-nist-employee-blows-whistle.html). He wrote: “By 2001, everyone in NIST leadership had been trained to pay close heed to political pressures. There was no chance that NIST people ‘investigating’ the 911 situation could have been acting in the true spirit of scientific independence, nor could they have operated at all without careful consideration of political impact. Everything that came from the hired guns was by then routinely filtered through the front office, and assessed for political implications before release.”
17 Quoted in Dennis Smith, Report from Ground Zero: The Story of the Rescue Efforts at the World Trade Center (New York: Penguin, 2002), 18.
18 John Bussey, “Eye of the Storm: One Journey
Through Desperation and Chaos,” Wall Street Journal, 12 September 2001 (http://online.wsj.com/public/resources/documents/040802pulitzer5.htm).
19 Johnson’s statement is at Patriots Question 9/11 (http://patriotsquestion911.com/engineers.html#Djohnson).
20 See the chapter on explosions in the WTC in Griffin, 9/11 Contradictions: An Open Letter to Congress and the Press (Northampton: Olive Branch, 2008).
21 This interview can be seen at “Demo Expert Confirms WTC-7 Was ‘Controlled Demolition'” (http://www.911blogger.com/node/2807).
22 Quoted on Patriots Question 9/11 (http://www.patriotsquestion911.com/engineers.html#Gage). Gage has a two-hour video presentation, “How the Towers Fell” 911Blogger (http://www.911blogger.com/node/10025).
23 See Margie Burns, “Secrecy Surrounds a Bush Brother’s Role in 9/11 Security,” American Reporter 9/2021 (20 January 2003), who reports that the company’s present CEO, Barry McDaniel, said that the company had had an ongoing contract to provide security at the World Trade Center “up to the day the buildings fell down.” Marvin Bush’s role in the company is mentioned in Craig Unger, House of Bush, House of Saud: The Secret Relationship between the World’s Two Most Powerful Dynasties (New York & London: Scribner, 2004), 249.
24 This promise was given on “Meet the Press,” NBC, 23 September 2001 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/nation/specials/attacked/transcripts/nbctext092301.html).
25 The promise was withdrawn at a press conference in the White House Rose Garden the next day, “Remarks by the President, Secretary of the Treasury O’Neill and Secretary of State Powell on Executive Order,” White House, 24 September 2001 (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/09/20010924-4.html).
26 Federal Bureau of Investigation, “Most Wanted Terrorists: Usama bin Laden” (http://www.fbi.gov/wanted/terrorists/terbinladen.htm).
27 Ed Haas, “FBI says, ‘No Hard Evidence Connecting Bin Laden to 9/11′” Muckraker Report, 6 June 2006 (http://www.teamliberty.net/id267.html). Claire Brown of INN World Report, after calling Tomb to confirm that he had said this to Haas, reported it 7 June 2006 (this portion can be viewed at http://muckrakerreport.com/sitebuildercontent/sitebuilderfiles/bin_laden_fbi.mov). I have given a fuller account in Griffin, 9/11 Contradictions, chap. 18, “Does the Government Have Hard Evidence of Bin Ladin’s Responsibility?”
28 “New Arrest Warrants Issued in Terrorism Probe,” CNN, 17 September 2001 (http://archives.cnn.com/2001/US/09/16/inv.investigation.terrorism); “Ashcroft Says More Attacks May Be Planned,” CNN, 18 September 2001 (http://edition.cnn.com/2001/US/09/17/inv.investigation.terrorism/index.html).
29 Anne Karpf, “Uncle Sam’s Lucky Finds,” Guardian, 19 March 2002 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/september11/story/0,11209,669961,00.html), wrote: “the idea that [this] passport had escaped from that inferno unsinged would [test] the credulity of the staunchest supporter of the FBI’s crackdown on terrorism.”
30 “Staff Statement No. 1,” The 9/11 Investigation: Staff Reports of the 9/11 Commission (http://books.google.com/books?id=qLCn_D7lX5kC&pg=PA2&ots=4OD5QCyzYg&dq=Staff+Reports+of+the+9/11+Commission&sig=Hzx83vHMF6Jw7g-tHzl0C0mrYzQ#PPP1,M1), 3.
31 For the report of the two passports found, see Thomas H. Kean and Lee H. Hamilton, with Benjamin Rhodes, Without Precedent: The Inside Story of the 9/11 Commission (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2006), 135. For the claim that the plane was flying downwards at 580 miles per hour, see The 9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, Authorized Edition (New York: W. W. Norton, 2004), 14. It was also claimed that one of the red bandanas, reportedly worn by the hijackers was also found; for a photograph, see “The Crash of Flight 93″ (http://911research.wtc7.net/disinfo/deceptions/flight93.html).
32 See “Two Years Later…,” CBS News, 10 September 2003 (http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2003/09/09/earlyshow/living/printable572380.shtml); Greg Gordon, “Widow Tells of Poignant Last Calls,” Sacramento Bee, 11 September 2002 (http://holtz.org/Library/Social%20Science/History/Atomic%20Age/2000s/Sep11/Burnett%20widows%20story.htm); and Deena L. Burnett (with Anthony F. Giombetti), Fighting Back: Living Beyond Ourselves (Longwood, Florida: Advantage Inspirational Books, 2006), 61.
33 A reporter at the Moussaoui trial, summarizing the FBI’s testimony about phone calls from United 93, wrote: “In the back of the plane, 13 of the terrified passengers and crew members made 35 air phone calls and two cell phone calls to family members and airline dispatchers, a member of an FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force testified Tuesday” (Greg Gordon, “Prosecutors Play Flight 93 Cockpit Recording,” McClatchy Newspapers, KnoxNews.com, 12 April 2006 [http://www.knoxsingles.com/shns/story.cfm?pk=MOUSSAOUI-04-12-06&cat=WW]). For the report on United 93, see United States v. Zacarias Moussaoui, Exhibit Number P200054 (http://www.vaed.uscourts.gov/notablecases/moussaoui/exhibits/prosecution/flights/P200054.html). These documents can be more easily viewed in “Detailed Account of Phone Calls From September 11th Flights” (http://911research.wtc7.net/planes/evidence/calldetail.html#ref1).
34 See Griffin, Debunking 9/11 Debunking: An Answer to Popular Mechanics and Other Defenders of the Official Conspiracy Theory, Revised and Updated Edition (Northampton: Olive Branch, 2007), 84-92, 296-97.
35 Jere Longman, Among the Heroes: United 93 and the Passengers and Crew Who Fought Back (HarperCollins, 2002), 129-33.
36 9/11CR 160. The text says: “When Atta arrived in Germany, he appeared religious, but not fanatically so. This would change, especially as his tendency to assert leadership became increasingly pronounced.” Accordingly, it seems warranted, especially when those statements are combined with the assertion that he “adopted fundamentalism” (161), to say that the Commission claimed that Atta had become fanatically religious.
37 Joel Achenbach, “‘You Never Imagine’ A Hijacker Next Door,” Washington Post, 16 September 2001 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A38026-2001Sep15¬Found=true).
38 Jody A. Benjamin, “Suspects’ Actions Don’t Add Up,” South Florida Sun-Sentinel, 16 September 2001 (http://web.archive.org/web/20010916150533/http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/local/southflorida/sfl-warriors916.story).
39 Jim Yardley, “A Trainee Noted for Incompetence,” New York Times, 4 May 2002 (http://newsmine.org/archive/9-11/suspects/flying-skills/pilot-trainee-noted-for-incompetence.txt).
40 Marc Fisher and Don Phillips, “On Flight 77: ‘Our Plane Is Being Hijacked,'” Washington Post, 12 September 2001 (http://www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn?pagename=article&node=&contentId=A14365-2001Sep11).
41 Email from Ralph Omholt, 27 October 2006.
42 Tim O’Brien, “Wife of Solicitor General Alerted Him of Hijacking from Plane,” CNN, 11 September 2001, 2:06 AM (http://archives.cnn.com/2001/US/09/11/pentagon.olson). Although this story, as now found in the CNN archives, indicates that it was posted at 2:06 AM on September 12, reports of the story started appearing on blogs at 3:51 PM on the 11th (see http://www.fantasticforum.com/archive_2/911/11sep01_barbaraolsonkilled.pdf and http://forum.dvdtalk.com/archive/index.php/t-141263.html).
43 Toby Harnden, “She Asked Me How to Stop the Plane,” Daily Telegraph, 5 March 2002 (http://s3.amazonaws.com/911timeline/2002/telegraph030502.html).
44 Quoted in Griffin, 9/11 Contradictions, ch. 8, “Did Ted Olson Receive Calls from Barbara Olson?”
45 Quoted in ibid.
46 John B. Cobb, Jr., “Truth, ‘Faith,’ and 9/11″ (unpublished essay).
49 The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (The American Heritage Publishing Co., 1969).
50 Jim Dwyer, “2 U.S. Reports Seek to Counter Conspiracy Theories About 9/11,” New York Times, 2 September 2006 (http://www.911review.com/reviews/nyt/markup/02conspiracy.html).
51 Salim Muwakkil, “What’s the 411 on 9/11?” In These Times, 21 December 2005.
53 President George W. Bush, “Address to the General Assembly of the United Nations,” 10 November 2001.
54 “Tucker,” MSNBC, 9 August 2005 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxKW3EqbfRE). In a response to Carlson, one person wrote: “Regarding your comment: ‘I’m merely saying it is wrong, blasphemous, and sinful for you to suggest, imply, or help other people come to the conclusion that the U.S. government killed 3,000 of its own citizens.’ I would like to suggest keeping things in perspective; we are not talking about God here. We are talking of a government, an institution consisting of people and as history bears out, no government and in particular no individual is immune to corruption. Profit, greed, and hunger for power can corrupt any individual and in turn corrupt institutions. The framers of our Constitution understood this, and as strong as it is, it is not foolproof.” See “David Ray Griffin on MSNBC on Tucker Carlson” (http://forum.truthout.org/blog/story/2006/8/17/19114/4265).
55 Richard A. Horsley, Jesus and Empire: The Kingdom of God and the New World Disorder (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2003), 27.
56 Lord Acton, Essays, ed. Rufus F. Fears (Liberty Classics, 1985), Vol. II: 383. Acton’s statement is quoted in Garry Wills, Papal Sin: Structures of Deceit (New York: Doubleday, 2000), 2.
57 Andrew J. Bacevich, The New American Militarism: How Americans Are Seduced by War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 133.
58 Ian Markham, “Did Bush Cooperate with Terrorists? Making Conspiracy Theories Respectable Can Be Dangerous,” Zion’s Herald, November/December 2004 (http://www.zionsherald.org/Nov2004_perspective2.html). Markham’s essay and my response are contained in “Two Theologians Debate 9/11: David Ray Griffin and Ian Markham,” Scholars for 9/11 Truth (http://www.scholarsfor911truth.org/ArticleTwoSpeak02May2006.html).
59 Email from Ian Markham to David Griffin, 24 March 2005; quoted with permission.
60 David Heim, “Whodunit? A 9/11 Conspiracy Theory,” Christian Century, 5 September 2006: 8-9.
62 See note 15, above.
63 Heim, “Whodunit?”
64 Institute of Religion and Democracy, Press Release: “IRD: Presbyterian-Published 9/11 Conspiracy Book is Absurd,” 26 September 2006 (http://www.ird-renew.org/site/apps/nl/content2.asp?c=fvKVLfMVIsG&b=390529&ct=2925837).
65 Quoted in Juli Cragg Hilliard, “9/11 Book Stirs Church Controversy,” Religion BookLine, Publishers Weekly, 16 August 2006 (http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6363014).
66 Quoted in Daniel Burke, “September 11 Conspiracy Book from Presbyterian Publishing Corporation Raises Eyebrows,” Religion News Service, 9 August 2006 (http://www.pcusa.org/pcnews/2006/06402.htm).
67 Quoted in Jason Bailey, “Official Presbyterian Publisher Issues 9/11 Conspiracy Book,” Christianity Today, 31 July 2006 (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2006/131/12.0.html). This review by Bailey in Christianity Today, incidentally, was the most responsible review in a Christian publication that I had seen at the time I was writing this essay.
68 Jason Bailey, “Presbyterian Publisher Seeks Distance from 9/11 Conspiracy Book,” Christianity Today, 15 November 2006 (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2006/novemberweb-only/146-22.0.html).
69 Quoted in Heather Wilhelm, “Anything Goes: The Presbyterian Church Gets into the 9/11 Conspiracy Business,” Wall Street Journal, 8 September 2006 (http://www.opinionjournal.com/taste/?id=110008914). Wilhelm’s article, incidentally, was the source of some of the misinformation that about my views that has been circulated. She falsely claimed, for example, that I said that having a global democratic government “would bring the kingdom of God to earth” and that I believe that Jesus “was a political activist who wanted to overthrow the Roman Empire.” Given these misquotations combined with her suggestion that I am “irresponsible” and a “total wingnut,” I wonder if her title, “Anything Goes,” gives away her view about what is permissible when a reporter’s intent is to defame someone.
70 “Statement of the Board of Directors of the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation: Comments on David Ray Griffin’s Christian Faith and the Truth Behind 9/11,” 8 November, 2006.
71 Peter Smith, “Church Publishers Criticize Own Book: Author Says Bush Planned 9/11 Terror,” Louisville Courier-Journal, 18 November 2006 (http://www.courier-journal.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061118/FEATURES06/611180396).
72 “9/11: Debunking the Myths,” Popular Mechanics, March 2005. The title of the online version is “Debunking The 9/11 Myths” (http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/defense/1227842.html?page=1&c=y).
73 Christian Faith and the Truth behind 9/11: A Call to Reflection and Action (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 2006), 43-44.
74 Ibid., 207-08, n. 58.
75 Smith, “Church Publishers Criticize Own Book.”
76 After the editorial board of PPC, led by Ken Godshall, published its statement apologizing for the publication of my book, Alan Wisdom, an IRD spokesman said: “Let us hope that the (corporation) editors will learn a lesson and refrain from future dalliances with the loony left” (quoted in Smith, “Church Publishers Criticize Own Book). You will never, however, see IRD criticizing any publishers for their alliance with the rabid right.
77 See Griffin, Christian Faith and the Truth behind 9/11, Chap. 7, “Jesus and the Roman Empire.”