David Ray Griffin
[NOTE: This lecture was delivered March 30, 2006, at Grand Lake Theater in Oakland for the Progressive Democrats of the East Bay. Abbreviated versions of it were given in San Francisco for the Democratic World Federalists on April 2 and the Commonwealth Club on April 3.]
Although I am a philosopher of religion and theologian, I have spent most of my time during the past three years on 9/11—studying it, writing about it, and speaking about it. In this lecture, I will try to make clear why I believe this issue worthy of so much time and energy. I will do this in terms of the distinction between myth and reality.
I am here using the term “myth” in two senses. In one sense, a myth if an idea that, while widely believed, is false, failing to correspond with reality.
In a deeper sense, which is employed by students of religion, a myth serves as an orienting and mobilizing story for a people, a story that reminds them who they are and why they do what they do. When a story is called as a myth in this sense—which we can call Myth with a capital M—the focus is not on the story’s relation to reality but on its function. This orienting and mobilizing function is possible, moreover, only because Myths with a capital M have religious overtones. Such a Myth is a Sacred Story.
However, although to note that a story functions as a Myth in the religious sense is not necessarily to deny its truth, a story cannot function as a Sacred Myth within a community or nation unless it is believed to be true. In most cases, moreover, the truth of the Myth is taken on faith. It is not a matter of debate. If some people have the bad taste to question the truth of the Sacred Story, the keepers of the faith do not enter into debate with them. Rather, they ignore them or denounce them as blasphemers.
According to the official story about 9/11, America, because of its goodness, was attacked by fanatical Arab Muslims who hate our freedoms. This story has functioned as a Sacred Myth for the United States since that fateful day. And this function appears to have been carefully orchestrated. The very next day, President Bush announced his intention to lead “a monumental struggle of Good versus Evil.”1 Then on September 13, he declared that the following day would be a National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for the Victims of the Terrorist Attacks. And on that next day, the president himself, surrounded by Billy Graham, a cardinal, a rabbi, and an imam, delivered a sermon in the national cathedral, saying:
“Our responsibility to history is already clear: to answer these attacks and rid the world of Evil. War has been waged against us by stealth and deceit and murder. This nation is peaceful, but fierce when stirred to anger. . . . In every generation, the world has produced enemies of human freedom. They have attacked America, because we are freedom’s home and defender. And the commitment of our fathers is now the calling of our time. . . . [W]e ask almighty God to watch over our nation, and grant us patience and resolve in all that is to come. . . . And may He always guide our country. God bless America.”2
Through this unprecedented event, in which the president of the United States issued a declaration of war from a cathedral, French author Thierry Meyssan observed in 2002, “the American government consecrated . . . its version of events. From then on, any questioning of the official truth would be seen as sacrilege.”3
That attitude has remained dominant in the public sphere until this day, as the official account has continued to serve as a Sacred Story. When people raise questions about this story, they are either ignored, ridiculed as conspiracy theorists, or—as Charlie Sheen has recently experienced—attacked personally. When anyone asks what right the administration has to invade and occupy other countries, to imprison people indefinitely without due process, or even to ignore various laws, the answer is always the same: “9/11.” Those who believe that US law and international law should be respected are dismissed as having “a pre-9/11 mind-set.”
Given the role the official account of 9/11 has played and continues to play, the most important question before our country today is whether this account, besides being a Myth in the religious sense, is also a myth in the pejorative sense—that is, whether it is simply false.
As a philosopher of religion, I would emphasize that the fact that a story has served as a Myth in the religious sense does not necessarily mean that it fails to correspond with reality. Many religious accounts contain at least a kernel of truth that can be defended in terms of a rational examination of the relevant evidence.
In many cases, however, stories that have served as religious Myths cannot stand up to rational scrutiny. When such a story is stripped of its halo and treated simply as a theory, rather than an unquestionable dogma, it cannot be defended as the best theory to account for the relevant facts. The official account of 9/11 is such a theory. When challenges to it are not treated as blasphemy, it can easily be seen to be composed of a number of ideas that are myths in the sense of not corresponding with reality. Using the word “myth” from now on only in this pejorative sense, I will discuss nine of the major myths contained in the official story about 9/11. I will thereby show that the official account of 9/11 cannot be defended, in light of the relevant evidence, against the main alternative account, according to which 9/11 was an inside job, orchestrated by people within our own government. I will begin with a few myths that prevent many people from even looking at the evidence for this alternative account.
Myth Number 1: Our political and military leaders simply would not do such a thing.
This idea is widely believed. But it is undermined by much evidence. The United States, like many other countries, has often used deceit to begin wars—for example, the Mexican-American war, with its false claim that Mexico had “shed American blood on the American soil,”4 the Spanish-American war, with its “Remember the Maine” hoax,5 the war in the Philippines, with its false claim that the Filipinos fired first,6 and the Vietnam war, with its Tonkin Gulf hoax.7 The United States has also sometimes organized false flag terrorist attacks—killing innocent civilians, then blaming the attacks on an enemy country or group, often by planting evidence. We have even done this in allied countries. As Daniele Ganser has shown in his recent book NATO’s Secret Armies, NATO, guided by the CIA and the Pentagon, arranged many such attacks in Western European countries during the Cold War. These attacks were successfully blamed on Communists and other leftists to discredit them in the eyes of the voting public.8
Finally, in case it be thought that US military leaders would not orchestrate such attacks against US citizens, one needs only to read the plan known as Operations Northwoods, which the Joint Chiefs of Staff worked up in 1962, shortly after Fidel Castro had overthrown the pro-American dictator Batista. This plan contained various “pretexts which would provide justification for US military intervention in Cuba.” American citizens would have been killed in some of them, such as a “Remember the Maine” incident, in which: “We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantánamo Bay and blame Cuba.”9
At this point, some people, having seen evidence that US leaders would be morally capable of orchestrating 9/11, might avoid looking at the evidence by appeal to
Myth Number 2: Our political and military leaders would have had no motive for orchestrating the 9/11 attacks.
This myth was reinforced by The 9/11 Commission Report. While explaining why al-Qaeda had ample motives for carrying out the attacks, this report mentions no motives that US leaders might have had. But the alleged motive of al-Qaeda—that it hated Americans and their freedoms—is dwarfed by a motive held by many members of the Bush-Cheney administration: the dream of establishing a global Pax Americana, the first all-inclusive empire in history.
This dream had been articulated by many neoconservatives, or neocons, throughout the 1990s, after the disintegration of the Soviet Union made it seem possible. It was first officially articulated in the Defense Planning Guidance of 1992, drafted by Paul Wolfowitz on behalf of then Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney—a document that has been called “a blueprint for permanent American global hegemony”10 and Cheney’s “Plan . . . to rule the world.”11
Achieving this goal would require four things. One of these was getting control of the world’s oil, especially in Central Asia and the Middle East, and the Bush-Cheney administration came to power with plans already made to attack Afghanistan and Iraq. A second requirement was a technological transformation of the military, in which fighting from space would become central. A third requirement was an enormous increase in military spending, to pay for these new wars and for weaponizing space. A fourth need was to modify the doctrine of preemptive attack, so that America would be able to attack other countries even if they posed no imminent threat.
These four elements would, moreover, require a fifth: an event that would make the American people ready to accept these imperialistic policies. As Zbigniew Brzezinski explained in his 1997 book, The Grand Chessboard, the American people, with their democratic instincts, are reluctant to authorize the money and human sacrifices necessary for “imperial mobilization,” and this refusal “limits . . . America’s . . . capacity for military intimidation.”12 But this impediment could be overcome if there were “a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat”13 —just as the American people were willing to enter World War II only after “the shock effect of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.”14 This same idea was suggested in 2000 in a document entitled Rebuilding America’s Defenses, which was put out by a neocon think tank called the Project for the New American Century, many members of which—including Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz—became central members of the Bush administration. This document, referring to the goal of transforming the military, said that this “process of transformation . . . is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event—like a new Pearl Harbor.”15
When the attacks of 9/11 occurred, they were treated like a new Pearl Harbor. Several members of the Bush administration spoke of 9/11 as providing opportunities. Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said that 9/11 created “the kind of opportunities that World War II offered, to refashion the world.”16 It created, in particular, the opportunity to attack Afghanistan and Iraq; to increase the military budget enormously; to go forward with military transformation; and to turn the new idea of preemptive warfare into official doctrine. This doctrinal change was announced in the 2002 version of the National Security Strategy, which said that America will “act against . . . emerging threats before they are fully formed.”17
So, not only did the Bush administration reap huge benefits from 9/11. These were benefits that it had desired in advance. The idea that it would have had no motives for orchestrating 9/11 is a myth. But there is one more myth that keeps many people from looking at the evidence. This is
Myth Number 3: Such a big operation, involving so many people, could not have been kept a secret, because someone involved in it would have talked by now.
This claim is based on a more general myth, which is that is impossible for secret government operations to be kept secret very long, because someone always talks. But how could we know this? If some big operations have remained secret until now, we by definition do not know about them. Moreover, we do know of big some operations that were kept secret as long as necessary, such as the Manhattan Project to create the atomic bomb, and the war in Indonesia in 1957, which the United States government provoked, participated in, and was able to keep secret from its own people until a book about it appeared in 1995.18 Many more examples could be given.
We can understand, moreover, why those with inside knowledge of 9/11 would not talk. At least most of them would have been people with the proven ability to keep secrets. Those who were directly complicit would also be highly motivated to avoid public disgrace and the gas chamber. Those people who had knowledge without being complicit could be induced to keep quiet by means of more or less subtle threats—such as: “Joe, if you go forward with your plans to talk to the press about this, I don’t know who is going to protect your wife and kids from some nutcase angered by your statement.” Still another fact is that neither the government nor the mainstream press has, to say the least, shown any signs of wanting anyone to come forward.
I come now to:
Myth Number 4: The 9/11 Commission, which has endorsed the official account, was an independent, impartial commission and hence can be believed.
One needs only to look at the reviews of The 9/11 Commission Report on Amazon.com to see that this assumption is widely accepted. Perhaps this is partly because in the Preface, the Commission’s chairman and vice chairman tell us that the Commission sought “to be independent, impartial, thorough, and nonpartisan.” But these terms do not describe the reality. The Commission’s lack of impartiality can be partly explained by the fact that Chairman Thomas Kean, most of the other commissioners, and at least half of the members of the staff had conflicts of interest.19
The most serious problem, however, is that the executive director, Philip Zelikow, was essentially a member of the Bush-Cheney administration. He had worked with Condoleezza Rice on the National Security Council in the administration of the first President Bush. When the Republicans were out of office during the Clinton administration, Zelikow and Rice wrote a book together. Rice then, as National Security Advisor for the second President Bush, had Zelikow help make the transition to the new National Security Council. After that, Zelikow was appointed to the President’s Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board. Zelikow was, therefore, the White House’s man inside the 9/11 Commission.
And yet, as executive director, he guided the staff, which did virtually all the work of the Commission.20 Zelikow was in position, therefore, to decide which topics would be investigated and which ones not. One disgruntled member reportedly said at the time, “Zelikow is calling the shots. He’s skewing the investigation and running it his own way.”21
Accordingly, insofar as the Commission was supposed to be investigating the failure of the Bush administration to prevent the attacks, the Commission was no more independent and impartial than if Dick Cheney had been running it. (The only difference is that no one got shot.)
Zelikow’s ideological and personal closeness to the Bush administration is shown by one more fact that has until now not been widely known, even within the 9/11 truth movement. I mentioned earlier the Bush administration’s National Security Strategy statement of 2002, in which the new doctrine of preemptive warfare was articulated. The primary author of this document, reports James Mann in Rise of the Vulcans, was none other than Philip Zelikow. According to Mann, after Rice saw a first draft, which had been written by Richard Haass in the State Department, she, wanting “something bolder,” brought in Zelikow to completely rewrite it.22 The result was a very bellicose document that used 9/11 to justify the administration’s so-called war on terror. Max Boot described it as a “quintessentially neo-conservative document.”23
We can understand, therefore, why the Commission, under Zelikow’s leadership, would have ignored all evidence that would point to the truth: that 9/11 was a false flag operation intended to authorize the doctrines and funds needed for a new level of imperial mobilization.
The suggestion that 9/11 was a false flag operation brings us to:
Myth Number 5: The Bush administration provided proof that the attacks were carried out by al-Qaeda terrorists under the direction of Osama bin Laden.
One of the main pieces of alleged proof involved the claim that the baggage of Mohamed Atta, called the ringleader of the hijackers, was discovered at the Boston airport, from which Flight 11 departed. This baggage, besides containing Atta’s passport and driver’s license, also contained various types of incriminating evidence, such as flight simulator manuals, videotapes about Boeing airliners, and a letter to other hijackers about preparing for the mission. But the bags also contained Atta’s will. Why would Atta have intended to take his will on a plane that he planned to fly into the World Trade Center? There are also many other problems in this story.24 We appear to have planted evidence.
Another element of the official story about the alleged hijackers is that they were very devout Muslims. The 9/11 Commission Report said that Atta had become very religious, even “fanatically so.”25 The public was thereby led to believe that these men would have had no problem going on this suicide mission, because they were ready to meet their maker. Investigative reporter Daniel Hopsicker, however, discovered that Atta loved cocaine, alcohol, gambling, pork, and lap dances.26 Several of the other alleged hijackers, the Wall Street Journal reported, had similar tastes.27 The Commission pretends, however, that none of this information was available. While admitting that Atta met other members of al-Qaeda in Las Vegas shortly before 9/11, it says that it saw “no credible evidence explaining why, on this occasion and others, the operatives flew to or met in Las Vegas.”28
Another problem in the official account is that, although we are told that four or five of the alleged hijackers were on each of the four flights, no proof of this claim has been provided. The story, of course, is that they did not force their way onto the planes but were regular, ticketed passengers. If so, their names should be on the flight manifests. But the flight manifests that have been released contain neither the names of the alleged hijackers nor any other Arab names.29 We have also been given no proof that the remains of any of these men were found at any of the crash sites.
One final little problem is that several of these 19 men, according to stories published by the BBC and British newspapers, are still alive. For example, The 9/11 Commission Report named Waleed al-Shehri as one of the hijackers and reproduced the FBI’s photograph of him. It even suggested that al-Shehri stabbed one of the flight attendants shortly before Flight 11 crashed into the north tower.30 But as BBC News had reported 11 days after 9/11, al-Shehri, having seen his photograph in newspapers and TV programs, notified authorities and journalists in Morocco, where he works as a pilot, that he is still alive.31
But if there are various problems with the government’s story about the hijackers, surely it presented proof that Osama bin Laden was behind the operation? Insofar as this belief is widely held, it also is a myth. Secretary of State Colin Powell promised to provide a white paper providing proof that the attacks had been planned by bin Laden, but this paper was never produced. British Prime Minister Tony Blair did provide such a paper, which was entitled “Responsibility for the Terrorist Atrocities in the United States.” But it begins with the admission that it ”does not purport to provide a prosecutable case against Usama Bin Laden in a court of law.”32 (So, evidence good enough to go to war, but not good enough to go to court.) And although the Taliban said that it would hand bin Laden over if the United States presented evidence of his involvement in 9/11, Bush refused.33
This failure to provide proof was later said to be unnecessary because bin Laden, in a video allegedly found in Afghanistan, admitted responsibility for the attacks. This “confession” is now widely cited as proof. However, the man in this video has darker skin, fuller cheeks, and a broader nose than the Osama bin Laden of all the other videos.34 We again seem to have planted evidence.
There are, moreover, other problems in the official account of Osama bin Laden. For one thing, in June of 2001, when he was already America’s “most wanted” criminal, he reportedly spent two weeks in the American Hospital in Dubai, at which he was treated by an American doctor and visited by the local CIA agent.35
Also, after 9/11, when America was reportedly trying to get bin Laden “dead or alive,” the US military evidently allowed him to escape on at least four occasions, the last one being the “battle of Tora Bora,” which the London Telegraph labeled “a grand charade.”36 Shortly thereafter, Bush said: “I don’t know where he [bin Laden] is. . . . I just don’t spend that much time on him. . . . I truly am not that concerned about him.”37 (Sometimes the truth slips out.)
In any case, the idea that the Bush administration has provided proof for its claims about Osama bin Laden and the al-Qaeda hijackers is a myth. I turn now to:
Myth Number 6: The 9/11 attacks came as a surprise to the Bush administration.
Nothing is more essential to the official story than this idea. About 10 months after 9/11, for example, FBI Director Robert Mueller said: “To this day we have found no one in the United States except the actual hijackers who knew of the plot.”38 There is much evidence, however, that counts against this claim.
The Put Options: One type of evidence involves an extraordinarily high volume of “put options” purchased in the three days prior to 9/11. To buy put options for a particular company is to bet that its stock price will go down. These extraordinary purchases included two, and only two, airlines–United and American–the two airlines used in the attacks. They also included Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, which occupied 22 stories of the World Trade Center. The price of these shares did, of course, plummet after 9/11, resulting in enormous profits for the purchasers. These unusual purchases, as the San Francisco Chronicle said, raise “suspicions that the investors . . . had advance knowledge of the strikes.”39 It would appear, in other words, that those who made the purchases knew that United and American airliners were going to be used in attacks on the World Trade Center.
The 9/11 Commission tried to show these suspicions to be unfounded. It claimed, for example, that the purchases for United Airlines do not show that anyone other than al-Qaeda had foreknowledge of the attacks, because 95 percent of these options were purchased by “[a] single U.S.-based institutional investor with no conceivable ties to al Qaeda.”40 But the Commission thereby simply begged the question at issue, which is whether some organization other than al-Qaeda was involved in the planning.
Also, the Commission ignored the other crucial point, which is that US intelligence agencies closely monitor the stock market, looking for any anomalies that might provide clues about untoward events in the works.41 Therefore, regardless of who orchestrated the attacks, the US government would have had intelligence suggesting that United and American airliners were to be used for attacks on the World Trade Center.
Bush and the Secret Service: Further evidence of advance knowledge is shown by the behavior of President Bush and his secret service agents during the photo-op at the school in Florida that morning. According to the official story, when Bush was first told that a plane had struck one of the Twin Towers, he dismissed the incident as merely a “horrible accident,” which meant that they could go ahead with the photo-op.42 News of the second strike, however, would have indicated—assuming that the strikes were unexpected—that terrorists were using planes to attack high-value targets. And what could have been a higher-value target than the president of the United States?
His location at the school had been highly publicized. The Secret Service agents should have feared, therefore, that a hijacked airliner might have been bearing down on the school at that very minute, ready to crash into it. It is standard procedure for the Secret Service to rush the president to a safe location when there is any sign that he may be in danger. And yet these agents allowed the president to remain another half hour, even permitting him to deliver an address on television, thereby announcing to the world that he was still at the school.
Would not this behavior be explainable only if the head of the Secret Service detail knew that the planned attacks did not include an attack on the president?
The 9/11 Commission, of course, did not ask this question. It was content to report that “[t]he Secret Service told us they . . . did not think it imperative for [the president] to run out the door.”43 Maintaining decorum, in other words, was more important than protecting the president’s life. Can anyone seriously believe that highly trained Secret Service agents would act this way in a situation of genuine danger?
Mineta’s Report about Cheney: The attack on the Pentagon, as well as the attack on the World Trade Center, was said to be a surprise, even though it occurred over a half hour after the second strike on the Twin Towers. A Pentagon spokesperson, in explaining why the Pentagon was not evacuated before it was struck, claimed that “[t]he Pentagon was simply not aware that this aircraft was coming our way.”44 The 9/11 Commission claimed that there was no warning about an unidentified aircraft heading towards Washington until 9:36 and hence only “one or two minutes” before the Pentagon was struck at 9:38.45
But this claim is contradicted by Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta’s testimony about an episode that occurred in the Presidential Emergency Operations Center under the White House. In open testimony to the 9/11 Commission, Mineta gave this account:
“During the time that the airplane was coming in to the Pentagon, there was a young man who would come in and say to the Vice President, ‘The plane is 50 miles out.’ ‘The plane is 30 miles out.’ And when it got down to ‘the plane is 10 miles out,’ the young man also said to the Vice President, ‘Do the orders still stand?’ And the Vice President . . . said, ‘Of course the orders still stand. Have you heard anything to the contrary?’”46
Mineta said that that this final exchange occurred at about 9:25 or 9:26.47 According to Mineta’s account, therefore, Cheney knew about an approaching aircraft more than 12 minutes before 9:38, when the Pentagon was struck. Assuming that Cheney would not have kept this information from his good friend Donald Rumsfeld, Mineta’s testimony contradicts the claim of the Pentagon and the 9/11 Commission that there was no advance knowledge, at least not sufficient advance knowledge to have evacuated the Pentagon, which would have saved 125 lives.
This example gives us one of the clearest examples of the fact that the Zelikow-led 9/11 Commission cannot be trusted. Having claimed that there was no knowledge that an aircraft was approaching the Pentagon until the last minute or so, it simply omitted Mineta’s testimony to the contrary, which had been given in open testimony to the Commission itself, from its final report. Then, to rule out even the possibility that the episode reported by Mineta could have occurred, it claimed that Cheney did not even arrive in the Presidential Emergency Operations Center until almost 10:00 o’clock, hence about 20 minutes after the Pentagon was struck.48 But this claim, besides contradicting Mineta’s eyewitness testimony that Cheney was already there when Mineta arrived at 9:20, also contradicts all other reports as to when Cheney had arrived there, including a report by Cheney himself.49
In light of this information about the put options, the Secret Service, and Mineta’s testimony, we can reject as a myth the idea that the attacks were unexpected. However, even if the attacks had been unexpected, should they not have been intercepted? This brings us to:
Myth Number 7: US officials have explained why the hijacked airliners were not intercepted.
Actually, there is a sense in which this statement is true. US officials have explained why the US military did not prevent the attacks. The problem, however, is that they have given three explanations, each of which is contradicted by the others and none of which is a satisfactory explanation. I will explain.
According to standard operating procedures, if an FAA flight controller notices anything that suggests a possible hijacking, the controller is to contact a superior. If the problem cannot be fixed quickly (within about a minute), the superior is to ask NORAD—the North American Aerospace Defense Command—to send up, or “scramble,” jet fighters to find out what is going on. NORAD then issues a scramble order to the nearest air force base with fighters on alert.
The jet fighters at NORAD’s disposal could respond very quickly: According to the US Air Force website, F-15s can go from “scramble order” to 29,000 feet in only 2.5 minutes, after which they can fly over 1800 miles per hour.50 Therefore–according to General Ralph Eberhart, the head of NORAD—after the FAA senses that something is wrong, “it takes about one minute” for it to contact NORAD, after which, according to a spokesperson, NORAD can scramble fighter jets “within a matter of minutes to anywhere in the United States.”51 These statements were, to be sure, made after 9/11, so we might suspect that they reflect a post-9/11 speed-up in procedures. But an Air Traffic Control document put out in 1998 warned pilots that any airplanes persisting in unusual behavior “will likely find two [jet fighters] on their tail within 10 or so minutes.”52
If these procedures had been carried out on the morning of 9/11, AA Flight 11 and UA Flight 175 would have been intercepted before they could have reached Manhattan, and AA Flight 77 would have been intercepted long before it could have reached the Pentagon.
Such interceptions are routine, being carried out about 100 times a year. A month after 9/11, the Calgary Herald reported that in the year 2000, NORAD had scrambled fighters 129 times. Do these scrambles regularly result in interceptions? Just a few days after 9/11, Major Mike Snyder, a NORAD spokesperson, told the Boston Globe that “[NORAD’s] fighters routinely intercept aircraft.”53 Why did such interceptions not occur on 9/11?
During the first few days, the public was told that no fighter jets were sent up until after the strike on the Pentagon at 9:38. However, it was also reported that signs of Flight 11’s hijacking had been observed at 8:15. That would mean that although interceptions usually occur within “10 or so” minutes after signs of trouble are observed, in this case 80 or so minutes had elapsed before fighters were even airborne. This story suggested that a “stand-down” order had been issued.
Within a few days, however, a second story was put out, according to which NORAD had sent up fighters but, because notification from the FAA had been very slow in coming, the fighters arrived too late. On September 18, NORAD made this second story official, embodying it in a timeline, which indicated when NORAD had been notified by the FAA about each airplane and when it had scrambled fighters in response.54
Critics showed, however, that even if the FAA notifications had come as late as NORAD’s timeline indicated, NORAD’s jets would have had time to make the interceptions.55 This second story did not, therefore, remove the suspicion that a stand-down order had been given.
Hoping to overcome this problem, The 9/11 Commission Report provided a third account, according to which, contrary to NORAD’s timeline of September 18, 2001, the FAA did not notify NORAD about Flight 175 until after it had struck the south tower or about Flight 77 until after it had struck the Pentagon. But there are serious problems with this third story.
One problem is the very fact that it is the third story. Normally, when a suspect in a criminal investigation keeps changing his story, we get suspicious. Let’s say that the police ask Charlie Jones where he was Saturday night. He says he was at the movie theater, but they say, “No, the movie theater has been closed all week.” Then Charlie says, “Oh, that’s right, I was with my girl friend.” But, the police say, “No, we checked with her and she was home with her husband.” If at that point Charlie says, “Oh, now I remember, I was home reading my Bible,” you are probably not going to believe him. And yet that’s what we have here. The military told one story right after 9/11, another story a week later, and a third story through The 9/11 Commission Report in 2004.
A second problem with this third story is that it contradicts several features of the second story, which had served as the official story for almost three years.
For example, NORAD’s timeline of September 18, 2001, had indicated that the FAA had notified it about Flight 175 exactly 20 minutes before it hit its target and about Flight 77 some 14 minutes before the Pentagon was struck. The 9/11 Commission maintains that both of these statements were “incorrect”—that, really, there had been no notification about these flights until after they hit their targets. This, it claims, is why the military had failed to intercept them.56 But if NORAD’s timeline was false, as the Commission now claims, NORAD must have been either lying or confused. But it is hard to believe that it could have been confused one week after 9/11. So it must have been lying. But if the military’s second story was a lie, why should we believe this third one?
Further scepticism about this third story arises from the fact that it is contradicted by considerable evidence. For example, the Commission’s claim that the military did not know about Flight 175 until it crashed is contradicted by a report involving Captain Michael Jellinek, a Canadian who on 9/11 was overseeing NORAD’s headquarters in Colorado. According to a story in the Toronto Star, Jellinek was on the phone with NORAD as he watched Flight 175 crash into the south tower. He then asked NORAD: “Was that the hijacked aircraft you were dealing with?”–to which NORAD said “yes.”57
The 9/11 Commission’s claims about Flights 175 and 77 are also contradicted by a memo sent to the Commission by Laura Brown of the FAA. Her memo stated that at about 8:50 the FAA had set up a teleconference, in which it started sharing information with the military about all flights. She specifically mentioned Flight 77, indicating that the FAA had been sharing information about it even before the formal notification time of 9:24. Her memo, which is available on the Web,58 was discussed by the 9/11 Commission and read into its record on May 23, 2003.59 But Zelikow’s 9/11 Commission Report fails to mention this memo.
Because of these and still more problems, which I have discussed in my book on the 9/11 Commission’s report and also in a lecture called “Flights of Fancy”,60 this third story does not remove the grounds for suspicion that a stand-down order had been issued.
There is, moreover, ear-witness testimony for this suspicion. An upper management official at LAX, who needs to remain anonymous, has told me that he overheard members of LAX Security–including officers from the FBI and LAPD—interacting on their walkie-talkies shortly after the attacks. In some cases, he could hear both sides of the conversation. At first, the LAX officials were told that the airplanes that attacked World Trade Center and the Pentagon had not been intercepted because the FAA had not notified NORAD about the hijackings. But later, he reports, they were told that NORAD had been notified but did not respond because it had been “ordered to stand down.” When LAX security officials asked who had issued that order, they were told that it had come “from the highest level of the White House.”61
Accordingly, the idea that the attacks could not have been prevented is a myth. I turn now to:
Myth Number 8: Official Reports have explained why the Twin Towers and Building 7 of the World Trade Center collapsed.
This claim suffers from the same problem as the previous one: We have had three explanations, each of which contradicts the others and none of which is anywhere close to adequate. The first explanation, widely disseminated through television specials, was that the buildings collapsed because their steel columns were melted by the jet-fuel-fed fires. But this explanation contained many problems, the most obvious of which is that steel does not begin to melt until about 2800 degrees F, while open fires based on hydrocarbons such as kerosene—which is what jet fuel is—cannot under the most ideal circumstances rise above 1700 degrees.
A second explanation, endorsed by The 9/11 Commission Report, is a “pancake” theory, according to which the fires, while not melting the steel, heated it up sufficiently to cause the floors weakened by the airplane strikes to break loose from the steel columns—both those in the core of the building and those around the outside. All the floors above the strike zone hence fell down on the floor below the strike zone, causing it to break free, and this started a chain reaction, so the floors pancaked all the way down. But this explanation also suffered from many problems, the most obvious of which was that it could not explain why the buildings collapsed into a pile of rubble only a few stories high. The core of each of the Twin Towers consisted of 47 massive steel columns. If the floors had broken loose from them, these columns would have still been sticking up a thousand feet in the air. The 9/11 Commission Report tried to cover up this problem by claiming that the core of each tower consisted of “a hollow steel shaft.”62 But those massive steel columns could not be wished away.
The definitive explanation was supposed to be the third one, issued by the National Institute of Standards and Technology, often simply called NIST. The NIST Report claimed that when the floors collapsed, they, rather than breaking free from the columns, pulled on them, causing the perimeter columns to become unstable. This instability then increased the gravity load on the core columns, which had been weakened by tremendously hot fires in the core, which, NIST claims, reached 1832°F, and this combination of factors resulted in “global collapse.”63
But, as physicists Jim Hoffman and Steven Jones have shown, this account is riddled with problems. One of these is that NIST’s claim about tremendously hot fires in the core is completely unsupported by evidence. NIST’s own studies found no evidence that any of the core columns had reached temperatures of even 482°F (250°C).64 A second problem is that, even if this sequence of events had occurred, NIST provided no explanation as to why it would have produced global—-that is, total–collapse. The NIST Report asserts that “column failure” occurred in the core as well as the perimeter columns. But this remains a bare assertion. There is no plausible explanation of why the core columns would have broken, or even buckled, so as to produce global collapse.65
And this is only to begin to enumerate the problems in NIST’s theory, all of which follow from the fact that it, like the previous two theories, is essentially a fire theory, according to which the buildings were brought down primarily by fire. In the case of the Twin Towers, of course, the impact of the airplanes is said to have played a role. But most experts who support the official theory attribute the collapses primarily to the fires. NIST, for example, says that the main contribution of the airplanes, aside from providing jet fuel, was to dislodge a lot of the fire-proofing from the steel, thereby making it vulnerable to the fires.66 But these fire-theories face several formidable problems.
First, the fires in these three buildings were not very hot, very big, or very long-lasting, compared with fires in some steel-frame high-rises that did not collapse. A 1991 fire in Philadelphia burned 18 hours, and a 2004 fire in Caracas burned 17 hours, without causing even a partial collapse.67 By contrast, the fires in the north and south towers burned only 102 and 56 minutes, respectively, before they collapsed, and neither fire, unlike the Philadelphia and Caracas fires, was hot enough to break windows.
Second, total collapses of steel-frame high-rise buildings have never—either before or after 9/11—been brought about by fire alone, or fire combined with externally produced structural damage. The collapse of Building 7 has been recognized as especially difficult to explain. It was not hit by a plane, so the explanation has to rely on fire alone, and yet, because there was no jet fuel to get a big fire started, this building had fires on only two or three floors, according to several witnesses68 and all the photographic evidence.69 FEMA admitted that the best explanation it could come up with it had “only a low probability of occurrence.”70 The 9/11 Commission Report implicitly admitted that it could not explain the collapse of Building 7 by not even mentioning it. The NIST Report, which could not claim that the fire-proofing had gotten knocked off the steel of this building, has yet to offer an explanation as to why it collapsed.
And NIST, like the 9/11 Commission, evidently did not want citizens asking why Building 7 collapsed even though it was not hit by a plane. On its Website, it says that one of its objectives is to determine “why and how World Trade Center buildings 1, 2, and 7 collapsed after the initial impact of the aircraft”—thereby implying that building 7, like the Twin Towers, was hit by a plane.71
In any case, a third problem with the official account of the collapse of these three buildings is that all prior and subsequent total collapses of steel-frame high-rises have been caused by explosives in the procedure known as “controlled demolition.” This problem is made even more severe by the fact that the collapses of these three buildings manifested many standard features of the most difficult type of controlled demolition, known as implosion. I will mention seven such features.
First, the collapses began suddenly. Steel, if weakened by fire, would gradually begin to sag. But as one can see from videos available on the Web,72 all three buildings are completely motionless up to the moment they begin to collapse.
Second, if these huge buildings had toppled over, they would have caused enormous death and destruction. But they came straight down. This straight-down collapse is the whole point of the type of controlled demolition called implosion, which only a few companies in the world can perform.73
Third, these buildings collapsed at virtually free-fall speed, which means that the lower floors, with all their steel and concrete, were offering no resistance to the upper floors.
Fourth, as mentioned earlier, the collapses were total collapses, resulting in piles of rubble only a few stories high. This means that the enormous steel columns in the core of each building had to be broken into rather short segments—which is what explosives do.
Fifth, great quantities of molten steel were produced, which means that the steel had been heated up to several thousand degrees. Witnesses during the clean-up reported, moreover, that sometimes when a piece of steel was lifted out of the rubble, molten metal would be dripping from the end.74
Sixth, according to many fire fighters, medical workers, journalists, and World Trade Center employees, many explosions went off before and after the collapses. For example, Fire Captain Dennis Tardio, speaking of the south tower, 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.”75 Firefighter Richard Banaciski said: “It seemed like on television [when] they blow up these buildings. It seemed like it was going all the way around like a belt, all these explosions.”76 Thanks to the release in August of 2005 of the oral histories recorded by the Fire Department of New York shortly after 9/11, dozens of testimonies of this type are now available. I have published an essay on them, which will be included—along with an essay on “The Destruction of the World Trade Center,” which I am here summarizing—in a forthcoming book on 9/11 and Christian faith.77
A seventh feature of controlled implosions is the production of large quantities of dust. In the case of the Twin Towers, virtually everything except the steel—all the concrete, desks, computers—was pulverized into very tiny dust particles.78
The official theory cannot explain one, let alone all seven, of these features—at least, as Jim Hoffman and Steven Jones have pointed out, without violating several basic laws of physics.79 But the theory of controlled demolition easily explains all these features.
These facts are inconsistent with the idea that al-Qaeda terrorists were responsible. Foreign terrorists could not have obtained access to the buildings for the hours needed to plant the explosives. Terrorists working for the Bush-Cheney administration, by contrast, could have gotten such access, given the fact that Marvin Bush and Wirt Walker III—the president’s brother and cousin, respectively—were principals of the company in charge of security for the World Trade Center.80 Al-Qaeda terrorists would also probably not have had the courtesy to ensure that these huge buildings came straight down, rather than falling over onto other buildings. They also would not have had the necessary expertise.
Another relevant fact is that evidence was destroyed. An examination of the buildings’ steel beams and columns could have shown whether explosives had been used to slice them. But virtually all of the steel was removed before it could be properly examined,81 then put on ships to Asia to be melted down.82 It is usually a federal offense to remove anything from a crime scene. But here the removal of over 100 tons of steel, the biggest destruction of evidence in history, was carried out under the supervision of federal officials.83
Evidence was also apparently planted. The passport of one of the hijackers on Flight 11 was allegedly found in the rubble, having survived the fire caused by the crash into the north tower and also whatever caused everything else in this building except the steel to be pulverized.84 As a story in the Guardian said, “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.”85
To sum up: The idea that US officials have given a satisfactory, or even close to satisfactory, explanation of the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings is a myth. And they have implicitly admitted this by refusing to engage in rational debate about it. For example, Michael Newman, a spokesman for NIST, reportedly said during a recent interview that “none of the NIST scientists would participate in any public debate” with scientists who reject their report. When Newman was asked why NIST would avoid public debate if it had confidence in its report, Newman replied: “Because there is no winning in such debates.”86 In that same interview, Newman had compared people who reject the government’s account of the collapses with people who believe in Bigfoot and a flat earth. And yet he fears that his scientists would not be able to show up these fools in a public debate!
In any case, I come now to the final myth, which is:
Myth Number 9: There is no doubt that Flight 77, under the control of al-Qaeda hijacker Hani Hanjour, struck the Pentagon.
There are, in fact, many reasons to doubt this claim.
We have, in the first place, reasons to doubt that the aircraft that hit the Pentagon was under the control of Hani Hanjour. For one thing, the aircraft, before striking the Pentagon, reportedly executed a 270-degree downward spiral, and yet Hani Hanjour was known as a terrible pilot, who could not safely fly even a small plane.87 Russ Wittenberg, who flew large commercial airliners for 35 years after serving in Vietnam as a fighter pilot, says that it would have been “totally impossible for an amateur who couldn’t even fly a Cessna to maneuver the jetliner in such a highly professional manner.”88
Moreover, as a result of that very difficult maneuver, the Pentagon’s west wing was struck, but terrorists brilliant enough to get through the US military’s defense system would have known that this was the worst place to strike, for several reasons: The west wing had been reinforced, so the damage was less severe than a strike anywhere else would have been. This wing was still being renovated, so relatively few people were there; a strike anywhere else would have killed thousands of people, rather than 125. And the secretary of defense and all the top brass, whom terrorists would presumably have wanted to kill, were in the east wing. Why would an al-Qaeda pilot have executed a very difficult maneuver to hit the west wing when he could have simply crashed into the roof of the east wing?
A second major problem with the official story: There are reasons to believe that the Pentagon was struck only because officials at the Pentagon wanted it to be struck. For one thing, Flight 77 allegedly, after making a U-turn in the mid-west, flew back to Washington undetected for 40 minutes. And yet the US military, which by then clearly knew that hijacked airliners were being used as weapons, has the best radar systems in the world, one of which, it brags, “does not miss anything occurring in North American airspace.”89 The idea that a large airliner could have slipped through, especially during a time of heightened alert, is absurd.
Also, the Pentagon is surely the best defended building on the planet.90 It is not only within the P-56-A restricted air space that extends 17 miles in all directions from the Washington Monument, but also within P-56-B, the three-mile ultra-restricted zone above the White House, the Capitol, and the Pentagon. The Pentagon is only a few miles from Andrews Air Force Base, which has at least three squadrons with fighter jets on alert at all times. (The claim by The 9/11 Commission Report that no fighters were on alert the morning of 9/11 is wholly implausible, as I have explained in my critique of this report.91) The Pentagon, moreover, is reportedly protected by batteries of surface-to-air missiles, so if any aircraft without a US military transponder were to enter the Pentagon’s airspace, it would be shot down.92 Even if the aircraft that hit the Pentagon had been Flight 77, therefore, it could have succeeded only because officials in the Pentagon turned off its missiles as well as ordering the fighters from Andrews to stand down.
A third major problem with the official story is that there is considerable evidence that it could not have been Flight 77 because it was not a Boeing 757. For one thing, the strike on the Pentagon, unlike the strikes on the Twin Towers, reportedly did not create a detectable seismic signal.93
Also, according to several witnesses and many people who have studied the available photographs, both the damage and the debris were inconsistent with a strike by a large airliner. That issue, however, is too complex to discuss here, as is the issue of what should be inferred from the conflicting eyewitness testimony.
Deferring those topics to another time, I will conclude by pointing out that the suspicion that the Pentagon was not struck by a 757, as the government claims, is supported by the fact that evidence was destroyed. Shortly after the strike, government agents picked up debris and carried it off.94 Then the entire lawn was covered with dirt and gravel, so that any remaining forensic evidence was literally covered up.95
Also, the videos from security cameras on the nearby Citgo gas station and Sheraton Hotel, which would show what really hit the Pentagon, were immediately confiscated by agents of the FBI, and the Department of Justice has to this day refused to release them.96 If these videos would prove that the Pentagon was really hit by a 757, most of us would assume, the government would release them.
It would seem, for many reasons, that the official story of 9/11, which has served as a religious Myth in the intervening years, is a myth in the pejorative sense of a story that does not correspond to reality. One sign of a story that is a myth in this sense, I have pointed out, is that it cannot be rationally defended, and the official story has never been publicly defended against informed criticism by any member of NIST, the 9/11 Commission, or the Bush administration. An illustration: After Charlie Sheen had made public his skepticism about the official story, CNN’s “Showbiz Tonight” wanted to have a debate, about the points he had raised, between a representative of the government and a representative of 9/11Truth.org. But the producers reportedly could find no member of the government willing to appear on the show. In this unwillingness of the government to appear on an entertainment show to answer questions raised by an actor, we would seem to have the clearest possible sign that the government’s story is myth, not reality.
If so, we must demand that the government immediately cease implementing the policies that have been justified by this myth.
When charges were brought against some members of Duke University’s lacrosse team in March of 2006, the president of the university immediately cancelled all future games until the truth of the charges could be decided. But surely, as serious as the charges were in that case, the charges against the official story of 9/11 are far more serious, for this story, serving as a national religious Myth, has been used to justify two wars, which have caused many tens of thousands of deaths; to start a more general war on Islam, in which Muslims are considered guilty until proven innocent; to annul and violate civil rights; and to increase our military spending, which was already greater than that of the rest of the world combined, by hundreds of billions of dollars, partly so that weapons can be put into space.
Congress needs to put the implementation of these policies on hold until there is a truly independent investigation, carried out by qualified individuals who are not members of the very circles that, if 9/11 truly was a false flag operation, planned it, carried it out, and then covered it up.
911Truth.org, April 5, 2006
1. “Remarks by the President in Photo Opportunity with the National Security Team” (www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/09/20010912-4.html), quoted in Thierry Meyssan, 9:11: The Big Lie (London: Carnot, 2002), 77.
2. “President’s Remarks at National Day of Prayer and Remembrance” (www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2001/09/20010914-2.html), quoted in Meyssan, 9/11: The Big Lie, 76-77.
3. Meyssan, 9/11: The Big Lie, 79.
4. 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.
5. Stuart Creighton Miller, Benevolent Assimilation: The American Conquest of the Philippines, 1899-1903 (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982), 11.
6. Ibid., 57-62.
7. George McT. Kahin, Intervention: How American Became Involved in Vietnam (Garden City: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1987), 220; Marilyn B. Young, The Vietnam Wars 1945-1990 (New York: HarperCollins, 1991), 119.
8. Daniele Ganser, NATO’s Secret Armies: Operation Gladio and Terrorism in Western Europe (New York: Frank Cass, 2005).
9. This memorandum can be found at the National Security Archive, April 30, 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.
10. Andrew J. Bacevich, American Empire: The Realities and Consequences of U.S. Diplomacy (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2002), 44.
11. David Armstrong, “Dick Cheney’s Song of America,” Harper’s, October, 2002.
12. Zbigniew Brzezinski, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives (New York: Basic Books, 1997), 35-36.
13. Ibid., 212.
14. Ibid., 212, 24-25.
15. Project for the New American Century, Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century, September 2000 (www.newamericancentury.org), 51.
16. “Secretary Rumsfeld Interview with the New York Times,” New York Times, October 12, 2001. Similar sentiments were expressed by Condoleezza Rice and President Bush. On Rice, see Nicholas Lemann, “The Next World Order: The Bush Administration May Have a Brand-New Doctrine of Power,” New Yorker, April 1, 2002 (http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/020401fa_FACT1), and Rice, “Remarks by National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice on Terrorism and Foreign Policy,” April 29, 2002 (www.whitehouse.gov); on Bush, see “Bush Vows to ‘Whip Terrorism,’” Reuters, Sept. 14, 2001, and Bob Woodward, Bush at War (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002), 32.
17. The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, September 2002 (http://www.whitehouse.gov/nsc/nss.html), cover letter.
18. Audrey R. Kahin and George McT. Kahin, Subversion as Foreign Policy: The Secret Eisenhower and Dulles Debacle in Indonesia (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1995).
19. 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], xv. David Ray Griffin, The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions (Northampton: Interlink Books, 2005), 285-95.
20. Chairman Thomas Kean and Vice Chairman Lee Hamilton, in their Preface, say: “The professional staff, headed by Philip Zelikow, . . . conducted the exacting investigative work upon which the Commission has built” (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], xvi-xvii).
21. These statements are quoted in Peter Lance, Cover Up: What the Government is Still Hiding about the War on Terror (New York: Harper-Collins/ReganBooks, 2004), 139-40.
22. James Mann, Rise of the Vulcans: The History of Bush’s War Cabinet (New York: Viking, 2004), 316, 331.
23. Max Boot, “Think Again: Neocons,” Foreign Policy, January/February 2004, 18 (http://www.cfr.org/publication/7592/think_again.html).
24. See Rowland Morgan and Ian Henshall, 9/11 Revealed: The Unanswered Questions (New York: Carroll & Graf, 2005), 180-83.
25. The 9/11 Commission Report, 116.
26. Daniel Hopsicker, Welcome to Terrorland: Mohamed Atta and the 9/11 Cover-up in Florida (Eugene: MacCowPress, 2004). These details from Hopsicker’s book are summarized in his “Top Ten things You Never Knew about Mohamed Atta,” Mad Cow Morning News, June 7, 2004 (www.madcowprod.com/index60.html), and in an interview in the Guerrilla News Forum, June 17, 2004 (www.guerrillanews.com/intelligence/doc4660.html), summarized in NPH, 2nd ed., 243n1.
27. “Terrorist Stag Parties,” Wall Street Journal, October 10, 2001 (http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/?id=95001298).
28. The 9/11 Commission Report, 248.
29. The flight manifest for AA 11 that was published by CNN can be seen at http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2001/trade.center/victims/AA11.victims.html. The manifests for the other flights can be located by simply changing that part of the URL. The manifest for UA 93, for example, is at http://www.cnn.com/SPECIALS/2001/trade.center/victims/ua93.victims.html.
30. The 9/11 Commission Report, 19-20.
31. David Bamford, “Hijack ‘Suspect’ Alive in Morocco,” BBC News, Sept. 22, 2001 (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/1558669.stm). Several other alleged hijackers were reported to be alive in David Harrison, “Revealed: The Men with Stolen Identities,” Telegraph, September 23, 2001 (www.portal.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2001/09/23/widen23.xml). At least one of these claims, that involving Ahmed al-Nami, was based on a confusion. The al-Nami contacted by Harrison was 33, whereas the man of that name who was supposedly on Flight 93, which supposedly crashed in Pennsylvania, was only 21. See Christine Lamb, “The Six Sons of Asir,” Telegraph, September 15, 2002 (http://www.portal.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2002/09/15/wdoss215.xml). But no such explanation seems possible with Waleed al-Shehri, since the FBI photograph is clearly of a still-living man of that name.
32. Francis A. Boyle, “Bush, Jr., September 11th and the Rule of Law,” which can be found in The Criminality of Nuclear Deterrence: Could The US War On Terrorism Go Nuclear? (Atlanta: Clarity Press, 2002) or at http://www.ratical.org/ratville/CAH/CrimNukDetSI.html.
33. “White House Warns Taliban: ‘We Will Defeat You’” (CNN.com, Sept. 21, 2001). Four weeks after the attacks began, a Taliban spokesman said: “We are not a province of the United States, to be issued orders to. We have asked for proof of Osama’s involvement, but they have refused. Why?” (Kathy Gannon, AP, “Taliban Willing To Talk, But Wants U.S. Respect” [http://www.suburbanchicagonews.com/focus/terrorism/archives/1001/w01taliban.html]).
34. See “The Fake bin Laden Video” (http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/osamatape.html).
35. Richard Labeviere, “CIA Agent Allegedly Met Bin Laden in July,” Le Figaro, Oct. 31, 2001. This story was also reported in Anthony Sampson, “CIA Agent Alleged to Have Met Bin Laden in July,” Guardian, Nov. 1, and Adam Sage, “Ailing bin Laden ‘Treated for Kidney Disease,’” London Times, Nov. 1.
36. Telegraph, Feb. 23, 2002; Griffin, The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions, 60.
37. President George W. Bush, Conference, March 13, 2002 (http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/03/20020313-8.html).
38. Philip Shenon, “FBI Gave Secret Files to Terrorist Suspect,” New York Times, Sept. 28, 2002, citing Mueller’s testimony to Congress on June 18, 2002.
39. San Francisco Chronicle, Sept. 29, 2001.
40. The 9/11 Commission Report, 499 n. 130.
41. Investigative journalist Michael Ruppert, a former detective for the Los Angeles Police Department, has written: “It is well documented that the CIA has long monitored such trades–in real time–as potential warnings of terrorist attacks and other economic moves contrary to U.S. interests” (“Suppressed Details of Criminal Insider Trading Lead Directly into the CIA’s Highest Ranks,” From the Wilderness Publications (www.fromthewilderness.com or http://www.copvcia.com), Oct. 9, 2001. Nafeez Ahmed, besides quoting Ruppert’s remark, points out that “UPI reported that the U.S.-sponsored ECHELON intelligence network closely monitors stock trading,” citing United Press International, Feb. 13, 2001. See Nafeez Ahmed, The War on Freedom: How and Why America Was Attacked September 11, 2001 (Joshua Tree, Calif.: Tree of Life Publications, 2002), 120.
42. CNN, Dec. 4, 2001, The Daily Mail, Sept. 8, 2002, and ABC News, Sept. 11, 2002.
43. The 9/11 Commission Report, 39.
44. “Air Attack on Pentagon Indicates Weaknesses,” Newsday, September 23, 2001.
45. The 9/11 Commission Report, 34.
46. “Statement of Secretary of Transportation Norman Y. Mineta before the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, May 23, 2003” (available at www.cooperativeresearch.org/timeline/2003/commissiontestimony052303.htm).
48. The 9/11 Commission Report, 40.
49. See the summary of evidence in Griffin, The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions, 241-44, which includes discussion of the fact that the Commission cited no evidence for its revisionist timeline.
50. Cited in Griffin, The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions, 140.
52. Ibid., 141.
53. See the Calgary Herald, Oct. 13, 2001, and Glen Johnson, “Otis Fighter Jets Scrambled Too Late to Halt the Attacks,” Boston Globe, Sept. 15, 2001 [http://nl.newsbank.com/nl-search/we/Archives?p_action=print]). At an average of 100 scrambles a year, fighters would have been scrambled about 1000 times in the decade prior to 9/11. One of the many falsehoods in a essay entitled “9/11: Debunking Myths,” which was published by Popular Mechanics (March 2005), is its claim that in the decade before 9/11, there had been only one interception, that of golfer Payne Stewart’s Learjet. This essay’s “senior researcher,” 25-year old Benjamin Chertoff, has (on a radio show) tried to reconcile this claim with the fact that fighters are scrambled about 100 times per year by saying that these statements speak only of scrambles, not interceptions. But Chertoff’s position would require the claim that only one of the 1000 scrambles in that period resulted in interceptions—that the other 999 fighters were called back before they actually made the interception. Besides being highly improbable, this interpretation contradicts Major Snyder’s statement that interceptions are carried out routinely.
54. Griffin, The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions, 141-43.
55. Ibid., 139-48.
56. Ibid., 192.
57. Ibid., 176.
58. Laura Brown, “FAA Communications with NORAD on September 11, 2001,” available at www.911truth.org/article.php?story=2004081200421797.
59. National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States, May 23, 2003 (http://www.911commission.gov/archive/hearing2/9-11Commission_Hearing_2003-05-23.htm). Commissioner Richard Ben-Veniste, who read the memo into the record, reported that he had been told that it had been authored by two “high level individuals at FAA, Mr. Asmus and Ms. Schuessler.” However, I was told by Laura Brown during a telephone conversation on August 15, 2004, that she had written the memo.
60. Griffin, The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions, 155-226; “Flights of Fancy: The 9/11 Commission’s Incredible Tales of Flights 11, 175, 77, and 93,” Global Outlook, 12 (Fall-Winter 2006), and in Christian Faith and the Truth behind 9/11 (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2006).
61. “My Observation of LAX Security Events on 9/11,” by an Upper Management LAX Official. Although this official needs to remain anonymous, he has said that he would be willing to take a polygraph test if his anonymity could be protected.
62. The 9/11 Commission Report, 541 note 1.
63. Final Report of the National Construction Safety Team on the Collapses of the World Trade Center Towers (Draft), June, 2005, usually called the NIST Report, 28, 143.
64. And, as Jim Hoffman says, NIST’s claim about these tremendously hot fires in the core is especially absurd given the fact that the core “had very little fuel; was far from any source of fresh air; had huge steel columns to wick away the heat; [and] does not show evidence of fires in any of the photographs or videos.” All the evidence, in other words, suggests that none of the core columns would have reached the temperatures of some of the perimeter columns (“Building a Better Mirage: NIST’s 3-Year $20,000,000 Cover-Up of the Crime of the Century,” 911 Research, Dec. 8, 2005 (http://911research.wtc7.net/essays/nist/index.html).
65. See Hoffman, ibid., and Stephen E. Jones, “Why Indeed Did the WTC Buildings Collapse?” in David Ray Griffin and Peter Dale Scott, eds., 9/11 and the American Empire: Intellectuals Speak Out (Northampton: Interlink, 2006); also available at www.physics.byu.edu/research/energy/htm7.html.
66. The NIST Report (xliii and 171) says: “the towers withstood the impacts and would have remained standing were it not for the dislodged insulation (fireproofing) and the subsequent multifloor fires.”
67. “High-Rise Office Building Fire One Meridian Plaza Philadelphia, Pennsylvania,” FEMA (http://usfa.fema.gov/fire-service/techreports/tr049.shtm); “Fire Practically Destroys Venezuela’s Tallest Building” (http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/venezuela_fire.html).
68. Chief Thomas McCarthy of the FDNY said that while the firefighters “were waiting for 7 World Trade to come down,” there was “fire on three separate floors” (Oral History of Thomas McCarthy, 10-11). Emergency medical technician Decosta Wright said: “I think the fourth floor was on fire. . . . [W]e were like, are you guys going to put that fire out?” (Oral History of Decosta Wright, 11). These quotations are from the 9/11 oral histories recorded by the New York Fire Department at the end of 2001 but released to the public (after a court battle) only in August 2005, at which time they were made available on a New York Times website (http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/html/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/met_WTC_histories_full_01.html).
69. A photograph taken by Terry Schmidt can be seen on page 63 of Eric Hufschmid’s Painful Questions: An Analysis of the September 11th Attack (Goleta, Calif.: Endpoint Software, 2002) or on Schmidt’s website (http://www.nycwireless.net/Images/wtc2/). According to Schmidt, this photo was taken between 3:09 and 3:16 PM, hence only a little over two hours before Building 7 collapsed. It shows that on the north side of the building, fires were visible only on floors 7 and 12. Therefore, if there were more fires on the south side, which faced the Twin Towers, they were not big enough to be seen from the north side.
70. FEMA Report #403, World Trade Center Building Performance Study, May 2002 (www.fema.gov/library/wtcstudy.shtm), Ch. 5, Sect. 6.2, “Probable Collapse Sequence.”
71. Reported in Ed Haas, “Government spokesman says, ‘I Don’t Understand the Public’s Fascination with World Trade Center Building Seven,’” Muckraker Report, March 21, 200 (http://www.teamliberty.net/id235.html), referring to NIST’s “Investigation of the Sept. 11 World Trade Center Disaster” (http://wtc.nist.gov/pubs/factsheets/faqs.htm), as accessed on March 20, 2006.
72. See Jim Hoffman’s website (http://911research.wtc7.net/index.html) and Jeff King’s website (http://home.comcast.net/~jeffrey.king2/wsb/html/view.cgi-home.html-.html), especially “The World Trade Center Collapse: How Strong is the Evidence for a Controlled Demolition?”
73. Implosion World (http://www.implosionworld.com/dyk2.html).
74. Professor Allison Geyh of Johns Hopkins, who was part of a team of public health investigators who visited the site shortly after 9/11, wrote: “In some pockets now being uncovered they are finding molten steel,” Magazine of Johns Hopkins Public Health, Late Fall, 2001. Dr. Keith Eaton, who somewhat later toured the site with an engineer, said that he was shown slides of “molten metal, which was still red hot weeks after the event” (The Structural Engineer, Sept. 3, 2002: 6). On the dripping steel, see Trudy Walsh, “Handheld APP Eased Recovery Tasks,” Government Computer News, 21/27a, Sept 11, 2002 (http://www.gcn.com/21_27a/news/19930-1.html) and Jennifer Lin, “Recovery Worker Reflects on Months Spent at Ground Zero,” Knight Ridder, May 29, 2002 (http://www.messenger-inquirer.com/news/attacks/4522011.htm).
75. Quoted in Dennis Smith, Report from Ground Zero: The Story of the Rescue Efforts at the World Trade Center (New York: Penguin, 2002), 18.
76. Oral History of Richard Banaciski, 3-4. See next note.
“Explosive Testimony: Revelations about the Twin Towers in the 9/11 Oral Histories,” in Griffin, Christian Faith and the Truth behind 9/11. It is also available at 911Truth.org (http://www.911truth.org/article.php?story=20060118104223192). The oral histories of 9/11 recorded by the Fire Department of New York are available at a NYT website (http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/html/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/met_WTC_histories_full_01.html).
78. Jim Hoffman, “The North Tower’s Dust Cloud: Analysis of Energy Requirements for the Expansion of the Dust Cloud Following the Collapse of 1 World Trade Center,” Version 3, 9-11 Research.wtc7.net, Oct. 16, 2003 (http://911research.wtc7.net/papers/dustvolume/volume.html). The available evidence, Hoffman says, suggests that the dust particles were very small indeed—on the order of 10 microns. Also Colonel John O’Dowd of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said: “At the World Trade Center sites, it seemed like everything was pulverized“ (“The World Trade Center: Rise and Fall of an American Icon,” The History Channel, September 8, 2002).
79. Jones, “Why Indeed Did the WTC Buildings Collapse?” See also David Ray Griffin, “The Destruction of the World Trade Center: Why the Official Account Cannot Be True,” in Paul Zarembka, ed., The Hidden History of 9-11-2001 (Amsterdam: Elsevier, March, 2006), and in Griffin, Christian Faith and the Truth behind 9/11. This essay is also available at 911Review.com, December 9, 2005 [http://911review.com/articles/griffin/nyc1.html]). For Hoffman’s analyses, see http://911research.wtc7.net/essays/nist/index.html. For videos of the WTC collapses, see in particular “9/11/01 WTC Videos” (http://911research.wtc7.net/wtc/evidence/videos/index.html).
80. See Griffin, The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions, 31-32.
81. The official investigators found that they had less authority than the clean-up crews, a fact that led the Science Committee of the House of Representatives to report that “the lack of authority of investigators to impound pieces of steel for examination before they were recycled led to the loss of important pieces of evidence” (see the report at http://www.house.gov/science/hot/wtc/charter.htm).
82. “Baosteel Will Recycle World Trade Center Debris,” Eastday.com, January 24, 2002 (http://www.china.org.cn/english/2002/Jan/25776.htm).
83. This removal was, moreover, carried out with the utmost care. Each truck was equipped with a Vehicle Location Device, connected to GPS. “The software recorded every trip and location, sending out alerts if the vehicle traveled off course, arrived late at its destination, or deviated from expectations in any other way” (Jacqueline Emigh, “GPS on the Job in Massive World Trade Center Clean-Up,” July 1, 2002 [http://securitysolutions.com/ar/security_gps_job_massive]).
84. Another problem with this story is that there were at least two versions of it. One said that the passport was found in the rubble the day after 9/11, the other that it was found minutes after the attack (see Morgan and Henshall, 9/11 Revealed, 68).
85. Anne Karpf, “Uncle Sam’s Lucky Finds,” Guardian, March 19, 2002 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/september11/story/0,11209,669961,00.html).
86. Haas, “Government spokesman says, ‘I Don’t Understand the Public’s Fascination with World Trade Center Building Seven.’”
87. New York Times, May 4, 2002, and CBS News, May 10, 2002, quoted under “Was Hani Hanjour Even on Flight 77 and Could He Have Really Flown It to Its Doom?” in Killtown’s “Did Flight 77 Really Crash into the Pentagon?” (thewebfairy.com/killtown/flight77), Oct. 19, 2003. Even The 9/11 Report acknowledge that Hanjour was “a terrible pilot” in some passages (225-26, 242, 520n56).
88. Greg Szymanski, “Former Vietnam Combat and Commercial Pilot Firm Believer 9/11 Was Inside Government Job,” Lewis News, Sunday, January 8, 2006 [http://www.lewisnews.com/article.asp?ID=106623]).
89. “PAVE PAWS, Watching North America’s Skies, 24 Hours a Day” (www.pavepaws.org).
90. Besides the fact that this is what we would expect, this is evidently what Pentagon officials tell their employees. April Gallop, who was working in the Pentagon on 9/11, has reportedly said that during her classified tour when she was first assigned to the Pentagon, she was told that it was the best-defended building in the world (John Judge, “Pentagon and P-56 Preparations and Defenses and the Stand-Down on 9/11,” Ratville Times, Jan. 11, 2006 [www.ratical.org/ratville/JFK/JohnJudge/P56A.html]).
91. See the evidence in Griffin, The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions, 159-64.
92. Thierry Meyssan, who has referred to these anti-missile batteries (Pentagate [London: Carnot, 2002], 112, 116), has said with regard to his source of information: “The presence of these anti-missile batteries was testified to me by French officers to whom they were shown during an official visit to the Pentagon. This was later confirmed to me by a Saudi officer.”
John Judge, co-founder of 9-11 Citizens Watch, has reported that he learned about the missiles from his father, John Joseph Judge, a WWII Army Air Corps veteran who worked at the Pentagon after the war until his death in 1965. Young John Judge, whose mother also worked at the Pentagon, spent much time there. In the late 1950s, he says, his father pointed out the location of an air-to-surface missile.
Judge also reports that in 1998, he was given a tour of the Pentagon by Colonel Robinson, the long-time director of security. While they were outside talking about threats from terrorists, Robinson pointed to the roof and said, “we have cameras and radar up there to make sure they don’t try to run a plane into the building.” Since cameras and radars by themselves would not stop anything, Judge concluded, Robinson’s statement implicitly referred to anti-aircraft missiles (John Judge, “Pentagon and P-56 Preparations and Defenses and the Stand-Down on 9/11,“ Ratville Times, Jan. 11, 2006 [www.ratical.org/ratville/JFK/JohnJudge/P56A.html].
The Pentagon, to be sure, has denied that it had any anti-aircraft batteries at that time, saying that they had thought them “too costly and too dangerous to surrounding residential areas” (Paul Sperry, “Why the Pentagon Was So Vulnerable,” WorldNetDaily, Sept. 11, 2001 [http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=24426]). But can anyone believe that Pentagon officials would have let such considerations prevent them from protecting themselves?
93. Won-Young Kim and Gerald R. Baum, “Seismic Observations during September 11, 2001, Terrorist Attack” (http://www.mgs.md.gov/esic/publications/download/911pentagon.pdf).
94. Karen Kwiatkowski, who was working at the Pentagon that morning, reports that “any physical remains of the aircraft that hit the Pentagon were quickly carted away to some unknown location, so we have no physical evidence that the aircraft really was Flight 77 or even a Boeing 757” (“Assessing the Official 9/11 Conspiracy Theory,” in David Ray Griffin and Peter Dale Scott, eds., 9/11 and the American Empire: Intellectuals Speak Out (Northampton: Interlink, 2006). Photographic evidence of this removal can be seen on Eric Hufschmid’s video, “Painful Deceptions” (available at www.EricHufschmid.Net).
95. A photograph showing this literal cover-up can be seen in Ralph Omholt, “9-11 and the Impossible: Part One of an Online Journal of 9-11” (http://www.physics911.net/omholt.htm).
96. On the confiscation of the film from the Citgo gas station and the Sheraton Hotel, respectively, see Bill McKelway “Three Months On, Tension Lingers Near the Pentagon,” Richmond Times-Dispatch, Dec. 11, 2001 (http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2001/12/1211_wirepentagon.html), and Bill Gertz and Rowan Scarborough, “Inside the Ring,” Washington Times, Sept. 21, 2001. Scott Bingham, who has tried to get videos of the Pentagon strike released under the Freedom of Information Act, has his lawsuit and the official response posted on his website (http://www.flight77.info). See also “Government Responds to Flight 77 FOAI Request,” 911Truth.org, Aug. 2005 (http://www.911truth.org/article.php?story=20050824131004151).
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David Ray Griffin is professor emeritus at Claremont School of Theology and one of the directors of the Center for Process Studies. He has published 34 books in philosophy of religion, theology, philosophy, science, and politics. His seven books about 9/11 include Debunking 9/11 Debunking: An Answer to Popular Mechanics and Other Defenders of the Official Conspiracy Theory (2007), which was awarded a Bronze Medal by the Independent Book Publishers, and The New Pearl Harbor Revisited: 9/11, the Cover-Up, and the Exposé (2008), which was a Publishers Weekly “Pick of the Week.”