Why 9/11 conspiracy theories should be challenged

On Friday night, Fox News’s Bill O’Reilly briefly debated David Corn of the Nation magazine and Newsday‘s Ellis Henican about the dangers of home-grown anti-Americanism and its export overseas; O’Reilly focused on Dallas Maverick owner Mark Cuban’s plans to fund the overseas distribution of Loose Change, a film which suggests that the attacks on 9/11 were an inside job by the U.S. government.

O’Reilly’s liberal guests discounted any significant impact of anti-American screeds from the far Left, arguing that they represented only voices from the fringe. Henican brushed aside any concerns when O’Reilly questioned him about the potential danger of showing Loose Change in the Middle East.

What I found fascinating about the conversation was how Corn and Henican assumed that viewers would see through the patent absurdities of Loose Change. (To his credit Corn has debunked 9/11 conspiracy claims). The reality is that a shockingly high percentage of Americans are suspicious about U.S. government complicity in 9/11 (36 percent suspect the U.S. government promoted the attacks or intentionally sat on its hands, according to a Scripps Howards/Ohio University survey) ; a BBC poll in September 2006 found 16% of Britons believed there was a wider 9/11 conspiracy involving the American government while 20% said they did not know.

Why wouldn’t wide-spread distribution of Loose Change, financed by a billionaire (Cuban) with an added narration by an American movie star (Charlie Sheen), and the attendant publicity, further influence public opinion here and overseas? And doesn’t that matter?

The U.S. 9/11 “Truth Movement” is mirrored in Europe by similar groups. Don’t forget there were 9/11 conspiracy best-sellers in France and Germany in the first several years after the attacks. Former German government minister Andreas von Bülow argued that 9/11 was part of a neoconservative conspiracy (including Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency) to give the Bush Administration justification to attack Iraq in his book “The CIA and September 11.” French author Thierry Meyssan in his “The Big Lie” (versions in 28 languages) claimed that it was a U.S. missile that hit the Pentagon on that September day, not a hijacked American Airlines 757, again as part of an dark, elaborate plot to create “an hegemonic military regime.”

Why does challenging the conspiracists matter? Why should Cuban and Sheen be publicly confronted over their complicity in advancing these noxious theories?

It should be deeply disturbing that a third of the U.S. populace would question whether its own government could be involved in mass murder—because that is the ugly charge actually being made. If you believe that 9/11 was part of a Bush Administration conspiracy, you believe American government officials killed nearly 3,000 of their fellow citizens in cold blood. (I’ve also written before how the false “Bush lied on WMD” meme unfortunately fuels this paranoia.)

Who would argue that is healthy for the democratic political process? The acceptance of conspiracy theories makes political debate difficult, if not impossible. It creates an atmosphere of enmity and suspicion. It encourages the growth of extremism, since a government that would murder its own people can hardly be trusted on anything, could it? The 9/11 “Truth Movement” and “docugandas” like Loose Change represent the equivalent of a political virus—challenging their fabrications publicly is a way to help inoculate Americans against infection.

Many of the 9/11 conspiracy groups embrace theories tinged by anti-Semitism. The European branches of the 9/11 “Truth Movement” are more open in arguing Israeli involvement in the attacks, including as the BBC puts it, that “the Jews were forewarned about the attack,” a libel the U.S. State Department, among others, has addressed and debunked on its website.

This is particularly of concern if Mark Cuban plans to underwrite the distribution of Loose Change in the Middle East, where 9/11 Denial has always had a receptive audience. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11 many Arabs denied that Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda were behind the attacks, but over time, as bin Laden publicly accepted responsibility, the idea that the Mossad and CIA plotted 9/11 has faded. It would be a tragic irony if an American-produced and financed film resuscitates this discredited propaganda.

So O’Reilly has it right. Sunlight is the best disinfectant—and the 9/11 “Truth Movement” needs to be challenged with the facts. While the truth may seem self-evident or obvious to the mainstream media, the opinion poll numbers suggest that isn’t the case for a dismayingly large number of people in America and the wider world. More exposure of the shabby 9/11 fabrications is needed. As George Orwell once wrote, sometimes the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent people.

9/11 Conspiracies and the Facts

A full debunking of “Loose Change” can be found here.

The Popular Mechanics debunking of common 9/11 conspiracy theories can be found here.

An extended commentary on the 9/11 “Truth Movement” can be found at “Exposing the 9/11 conspiracy fantasies.”

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Copyright © 2007 Jefferson Flanders
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9 thoughts on “Why 9/11 conspiracy theories should be challenged

  1. The same sort of thing happened during the ’60’s. Harvard Professor, Timothy Leary, said, tune in, turn on, and drop out. Joe the mechanic heard him interviewed on TV, dropped some LSD, and promptly lost his mind.
    By the ’80’s thousands of drug addled working class souls were wandering the streets, homeless.

    The leftist intellectual to this day assumes everyone on earth has the same mental acuity and intellectual skills.
    To state the obvious is vehemently decried as politically incorrect.

    Of course, this has resulted in disaster time and again.

    Pitching Anti-American propaganda that favors the preconceived notions of losers, liars, and suicide bombers isn’t free speech, it’s treason. For it will surely inspire the mentally and emotionally challenged enemies of the West to pounce on the inspiration it provides.

  2. The 9/11 Commission was a joke and everyone knows it. Maybe that’s why this “phenomenon” is occurring. It’s called democracy. People want answers. Well not people like you.

  3. Global conflict was always the goal. 9/11 was the catalyst. Fear, confusion and anger go a long way when you are trying to manipulate people. Show some courage man. Challenge your beliefs jeffersonflanders. If, at the end of some extensive research you maintain those beliefs, by all means run with it. However, do not fool yourself into believing that statements like “It should be deeply disturbing that a third of the U.S. populace would question whether its own government could be involved in mass murder” and “The acceptance of conspiracy theories makes political debate difficult, if not impossible” constitute a rational argument. Do not let your patriotism blend with your fear of the unknown jeffersonflanders. Think critically and look at the evidence before you decide to open your mouth.

  4. Dear Sam,

    I have looked at the 9/11 conspiracy theories. You can find several posts on Neither Red nor Blue on the topic.

    My conclusion is that there is nothing there but paranoia. I see no evidence, only small items twisted or distorted and presented as if they somehow proved that it was an “inside job.”

    If the film Loose Change is what has attracted you to the movement, I strongly recommend that you take 15 minutes and visit http://www.loosechangeguide.com.

    Jefferson Flanders

  5. WTC 1 and 2 fell at free-fall speed, as if there was no resistance from the lower floors that had supported the structure for over 20 years.

    Flanders do you believe science or your “patriotism”?

    All the best,

  6. Dear Michael,

    WTC 1 and 2 did NOT fall at free-fall speed. This old chestnut has been refuted again and again, but for the record….

    Here is the explanation of Thomas W. Eagar and Christopher Musso in the JOM, the journal of The Minerals, Metals and Materials Society (TMS):

    The perimeter tube design of the WTC was highly redundant. It survived the loss of several exterior columns due to aircraft impact, but the ensuing fire led to other steel failures. Many structural engineers believe that the weak points—the limiting factors on design allowables—were the angle clips that held the floor joists between the columns on the perimeter wall and the core structure (see Figure 5). With a 700 Pa floor design allowable, each floor should have been able to support approximately 1,300 t beyond its own weight. The total weight of each tower was about 500,000 t.

    As the joists on one or two of the most heavily burned floors gave way and the outer box columns began to bow outward, the floors above them also fell. The floor below (with its 1,300 t design capacity) could not support the roughly 45,000 t of ten floors (or more) above crashing down on these angle clips. This started the domino effect that caused the buildings to collapse within ten seconds, hitting bottom with an estimated speed of 200 km per hour. If it had been freefall, with no restraint, the collapse would have only taken eight seconds and would have impacted at 300 km/h. It has been suggested that it was fortunate that the WTC did not tip over onto other buildings surrounding the area. There are several points that should be made. First, the building is not solid; it is 95 percent air and, hence, can implode onto itself. Second, there is no lateral load, even the impact of a speeding aircraft, which is sufficient to move the center of gravity one hundred feet to the side such that it is not within the base footprint of the structure. Third, given the near free-fall collapse, there was insufficient time for portions to attain significant lateral velocity. To summarize all of these points, a 500,000 t structure has too much inertia to fall in any direction other than nearly straight down.

    You can find the entire article here: http://www.tms.org/pubs/journals/JOM/0112/Eagar/Eagar-0112.html

    From the “Debunking 9/11 Conspiracy Theories” site, there is clear photograph evidence that there was no “free-fall”:

    In every photo and every video, you can see columns far outpacing the collapse of the building. Not only are the columns falling faster than the building but they are also falling faster than the debris cloud which is ALSO falling faster than the building. This proves the buildings fell well below free fall speed. That is, unless the beams had a rocket pointed to the ground.

    You can find more here: http://www.debunking911.com/freefall.htm

    And for the physics of why the buildings fell as quickly as they did, you can turn to the NIST reports, or to this summary by Manuel Garcia on Counterpunch: http://www.counterpunch.org/physic11282006.html

    So it is not misguided patriotism, but physics that guides me.

    Jefferson Flanders

  7. Of course you can challenge the “9/11 truthers” with facts but honestly what facts? First off, the reason that the American public opposes the 9/11 narrative set forth by the Commission is mainly because it lacks information crucial in giving a accurate account of 9/11. Why doesn’t it mention Building 7, or that ISI Chief Mahmoud Ahmad wired a reported $100,000 to Mohamed Atta, the ringleader of the 9/11 hijackers? Why is that odd? Well because Ahmad was in Washington days before and after 9/11 meeting with CIA head George Tenet. Now I wonder why the Commission didn’t write that in the 9/11 Report.hmmm.
    Oh and to refute your claim that the US government would not harm 3,000 of it’s own citizens; take a look back at The Northwood’s Plan developed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1962. The Plan entailed blowing up a commercial airliner over Florida and blaming Cuban missiles in order to gain American’s backing to go to war with Cuba. So it’s no wonder why Americans are uneasy about the events of 9/11. The facts are all there.

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