Did the government lie about September 11?
July 20, 2006
In a little more than a month, we’ll commemorate the fifth anniversary of the September 11 “terror attacks” on the World Trade Center buildings in New York, the Pentagon and the crash of a commercial jetliner in a field in Pennsylvania.It should be an interesting time in our country and the world, filled with frenzied declarations of patriotic fervor and promises of revenge against the heinous perpetrators of those dastardly acts, which killed nearly 3,000 innocent Americans in a single morning of terror and violence.But I expect it also will be marked by the recognition of a rising tide of skepticism regarding the “official” explanations for what happened on Sept. 11, 2001 (the day after I turned 50, oddly enough, though I have been careful not to read too much into that coincidence). A growing number of people in the U.S. and abroad, who loosely are referred to as “9/11 Truthers,” question whether we have been told all there is to know about the events surrounding that fateful day. And that’s putting it mildly.The looming anniversary of 9/11, and its place in a subsequent series of national and international developments, came abruptly to my attention while I was on vacation recently, visiting family in Madison, Wis. A local controversy there, revolving around a lecturer at the University of Wisconsin who planned to have his classes discuss the reliability of the accepted government line on 9/11, concluded while I was in town. The University of Wisconsin rejected calls for the professor’s dismissal, and a local alternative newspaper published an article entitled “They Believe: Why some people are convinced 9/11 was an inside job.”The controversy and the article reminded me that a friend sometime ago had given me several videotapes on the same subject, and I had never looked at them. We had problems with our VCR, and then I forgot they were there. But I’ve started looking at them, studying them, actually, and I’d like to share my conclusions as they are formed.This is going to be the first of a series, haphazardly scheduled and completely unorganized according to any known method of research or review. But I thought it appropriate to begin this little adventure well in advance of the above-noted anniversary and take it from there, catch as catch can.The article and the first tape both deal with a book by a man named David Ray Griffin, entitled “The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions,” which essentially claims that the report is nothing more than a baldfaced lie. The author details how the commission failed to interview numerous people in positions to know all sorts of things about how much the government knew in advance, about how much the government knew about support for al-Qaida from Saudi Arabia and other foreign governments, about the mysterious way in which all three WTC buildings collapsed as though deliberately brought down using demolition techniques (including Building 7, which was not hit by a plane), the apparent inconsistencies between the impact a 757 airliner should have had on the Pentagon and what actually occurred, more inconsistencies regarding the use of our air defenses that morning … jeez, there’s so much it can’s possibly be contained in a single column.Anyway, this guy Griffin and others have written a small library’s worth of books, some merely critical of the 9/11 Commission, others claiming everything from a belief that the Bush administration planned the 9/11 attacks itself, to a belief that the government knew perfectly well what was about to happen and did nothing because it wanted to use the attacks to justify global military adventurism.I personally lean more toward the latter idea; I cannot believe that even the Bushites would be so cynical and self-aggrandizing as to plan something so evil. Not that letting it happen should be considered any less evil – it’s just somehow easier to contemplate. I can easily believe that ideological zealots such as Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld (we’ll just leave The Brainless One out of this), upon hearing of such a plot, would decide to let it go ahead in the view that a few deaths would be an acceptable price to pay in order to get a blank military check from American voters. Of course there are problems with that view, since it ignores completely certain oddities about the way the buildings fell, but it would take into account such things as indications that certain people seemed to know days in advance that there would be some kind of terrorist attack in lower Manhattan.In the aforementioned article, which is in a publication called The Ithsmus (named after a geological feature of Madison), writer Nathan Comp seems skeptical of some of the skeptics’ claims, but notes that polls have shown that 42 percent of Americans feel there is something wrong with the official version of the 9/11 events. He also wrote that, in interviews with townsfolk as he was preparing the story, a lot of them said they feel the government is at some level responsible for the 9/11 attacks, although almost none would say so for the record.The writer notes that the growth of the Truthers movement has been qualitative as well as quantitative, as the group now includes some fairly impressive names – Ralph Nader, Howard Zinn, Ed Asner, and a list of scholars, former bureaucrats, diplomats and scientists.It strikes me that the blame for all this skepticism can be laid squarely at the door of the White House. According to Griffin, the 9/11 Commission itself was stacked with administration lackeys, and thus was guaranteed to come out with a final report that the White House endorsed. The fact that an increasing number of people are saying the report is so incomplete, and in many ways so misleading as to be essentially incredible, is no one’s fault but the administration’s, which made sure in advance that any and all independent thinkers would not be at the table.With all this written fodder available, I suggest that everyone in the country read at least some of it, but most importantly we should read the 9/11 Commission Report itself, which was said to be one of Amazon.com’s best-sellers when it came out two years ago.Then perhaps we can all have an intelligent dialogue about the report, the events it purports to examine, and get to the truth about what happened, why it happened and who was behind it, and whether our government is at all complicit in the events.Because if it is, there must be an accounting.Happy studying, until the next installment.John Colson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.