This book is a MUST READ. Of course it is old now and the 911 inside job has uncovered a much deeper level of a criminal empire. BUT IT IS CRITICALLY IMPORTANT for us to have an understanding of the ways that our democracy is undermined by the ILLEGITEMATE OWNERS of this world. The book is freely availabe from zmag.org website. Blogspot adaptation by u2rh2.
Friday, July 30, 2010
Howard Zinn FBI FILES
On July 30, 2010, the FBI released one file with three sections totaling 423 pages on Howard Zinn, a best selling radical historian, teacher, playwright, and political activist.
Zinn was born in Brooklyn, New York and died at the age of 87 on January 27, 2010. As a young man he worked as a shipyard hand and served in the U. S. military as a bombardier during World War II. Returning from the war, he became involved in a number of left-wing political causes, some of them associated with the activities of the Communist Party of the United States (CPUSA).
In 1949, the FBI opened a domestic security investigation on Zinn (FBI File # 100-360217). The Bureau noted Zinn's activities in what were called Communist Front Groups and received informant reports that Zinn was an active member of the CPUSA; Zinn denied ever being a member when he was questioned by agents in the 1950s. In the 1960s, the Bureau took another look at Zinn on account of his criticism of the FBI's civil rights investigations. Further investigation was made when Zinn traveled to North Vietnam with Daniel Berrigan as an anti-war activist. The investigation ended in 1974, and no further investigation into Zinn or his activities was made by the FBI.
Seventeen pages withheld as duplicative, for referral to another government agency, or because they are classified in their entirety. Redactions were made to protect personal privacy and the identity of sources of information and because material is still classified.
One redaction was made to protect personal privacy.
The FBI did not place him on its "COMSAB" and "DETCOM" list. "COMSAB" for "Communist Sabotage," was a list of every American considered a treat to national security in the event of a war. "DETCOM" for "Detention of Communists," a list of every American whose arrest was to be given high priority in the event of a war or national emergency.
An internal memo dated March 9, 1949, recommended that Zinn's first FBI Security Index Card be swiped with two X marks—one indicating he was born in the United States, and the other identifying him as a communist. A confidential informant within the ALP had previously told FBI officials that at a picket in Washington, D.C., in 1948, Zinn divulged that he was a member of the Communist Party and regularly attended party meetings.
Sometime during the summer of 1950 the FBI caught on that Zinn was attending NYU, after its first investigation into Zinn's activities was complete. No further investigation at NYU was needed, according to the files.
Friends of Zinn's say that the FBI's watchful eye was never a major concern—but was always an underlying, if mostly listless presence.
"I don't remember him saying anything," says Staughton Lynd, a former colleague who is mentioned in the files as a member of various progressive groups at Harvard University. "I of course knew him best when we taught together at Spelman from 1961 to 1963."
FBI files from this period tend to be "mostly a mixture of things that they've picked up here and there which is mostly false, things they've gotten from informants that are mostly false. We took for granted that obviously we were being monitored by the FBI," says Noam Chomsky, a historian and close friend of Zinn's.
Indeed, the first 21 pages on Zinn serve more as a background to Zinn's early academic life than a narrative of someone the FBI considered a threat. Zinn's employment as a shipping clerk with Associated Transport, the Stutz Textile Company, and Lerner Shops are mentioned, as is his work with the New York City Housing Authority and his involvement with numerous groups considered to be on the political left. Fifteen confidential informants are mentioned in these pages—nearly half of whom provided no useful information, according to the files.
But by 1953, with McCarthyism and the second Red Scare in full swing, the FBI moved from surreptitious research to direct contact. In November 1953 Zinn was surveilled by two agents and was approached outside his apartment in the Alphabet City section of New York City in order to "avoid any possible embarrassment to him at his home or employment," according to the files.
The agents wanted to know if Zinn had ever been a member of the Communist Party—he had, after all, allegedly told an informant he was a card-carrying member. He told them he was not now, nor had he ever been, a member of the party.
"Zinn said that he had participated in the activities of various organizations which might be considered Communist fronts but that his participation was motivated by his belief that in this country people had the right to believe, think and act according to their own ideals," the files say. Zinn, later noted for his firm anti-war stance, agreed to inform the FBI if he observed acts of sabotage or espionage—and that he would "defend" the U.S. in wars against any enemy. Zinn reiterated the same points in a second interview with the agents.
The bulk of the investigation up to 1957 is a stockpiling of Zinn's alleged involvement in communist front groups, with a consistent viewpoint that, despite the pages upon pages of information from informants, no further interviews were necessary.
In November 1962, Zinn was working as a history professor at Spelman College and re-caught the FBI's eye with an academic paper and a newspaper article critical of a previous government investigation into the civil rights movement in Albany, Georgia. The theories espoused in these writings were, at worst, viewed with contempt by the FBI. "Zinn does not add anything to the clarification of the racial problem in the South," the files say. "Zinn should not be dignified by contact by this Bureau."
"It would have been an automatic assumption for someone of Howard Zinn's character that he would have been followed and his phone would have been tapped, but he and I got into this really because of the Daniel Ellsberg business," says Paul Buhle, a professor emeritus at Brown University who corresponded on and off with Zinn since 1971 and who edited a recent comic book adaptation of A People's History of American Empire. "That would have been the moment at which the FBI scrutiny would have been most intense."
Buhle is referring to Daniel Ellsberg, a former researcher at the RAND Corporation, who gave a copy of The Pentagon Papers—a classified policy analysis of the Vietnam War—to Zinn and Chomsky in the early 1970s. Zinn and Chomsky edited the documents into the four volumes released by Senator Mike Gravel and Beacon Press starting in 1971.
click to enlarge!
The FBI files posted online Friday make scant mention of The Pentagon Papers. "During the Pentagon Papers jury trial, Zinn stated that the 'war in Vietnam was a war which involved special interests, and not the defense of the United States,'" according to the files.
By 1974, with the slow but ongoing integration of the Jim Crow South and the zeitgeist shifted away from perceived communist threats, the FBI closed its two decades-and-a-half investigation on Zinn. The results of that investigation amount to a massive, largely furtive backgrounding, from articles and other writings, to alleged memberships in communist front groups, to traffic violations—of ultimately unclear value to the FBI
Nose out. The still image that exposes the whole 911 illusion. noplanes!
Wanted by the CIA: Wikileaks founder Julian Assange
By Matthew Bell Monday, 19 July 2010
There are not many journalists who, when you ask them if they are being followed by the CIA, say "We have surveillance events from time to time." Actually it's not a question I've ever asked before, and Julian Assange does not call himself a journalist.
But the answer is typical of this 41-year-old former computer-hacker: cryptic, dispassionate, and faintly self-important.
As the founder of Wikileaks – a website that publishes millions of documents, from military intelligence to internal company memos and has, in four years, exposed more secrets than many newspapers have in a century – Assange has become the pin-up of web-age investigative journalists. The US has wanted him for questioning since March, after he posed a video showing an American helicopter attack that left several Iraqi civilians and two Reuters journalists dead.
Understandably, he now avoids the US, and keeps his movements secret, though it's thought he operates out of Sweden and is spending time in Iceland, where a change in the law is creating a libel-free haven for journalists. But if the CIA spooks wanted him that badly, couldn't they have turned up, as a hundred adoring student journalists did, to hear him talk at the Centre for Investigative Journalism 10 days ago?
Perhaps it's just as well they didn't, as Assange is not a natural public speaker. He is more at home trawling data or decrypting the codes that mask it. His philosophy is that the more a government wants to keep something secret, the more reason to expose it. No journalist could argue with his essential belief in shining a light on malpractice, but shouldn't governments be entitled to keep some secrets? "Sure," he says when we speak after his talk, "That doesn't mean we and other press organisations should suffer under coercion."
What if publishing a document would threaten national security? "This phrase is so abused. Dick Cheney justified torture with it. Give me an example." What about the movement of US troops? Would he publish a document that jeopardised their safety? "We'd have to think about it." So that's a yes? "It's not a yes. If that fit into our editorial criteria – which it might, if it was an extremely good movement – then we'd have to look at whether that needed a harm minimisation procedure. We'd be totally happy to consider jeopardising the initiation of a war, or the action of war. Absolutely."
He may speak like a robot, and have a politician's knack at ducking straight answers, but in the flesh he could be a forgotten member of Crowded House, all ripped jeans and crumpled jacket, his distinguished white hair framing a youthful face. His grungy look ties in with his outsider status: he has a deep-rooted mistrust of authority. It has been speculated this comes from a youthful brush with the family courts after he divorced the mother of his son, though little is really known about his early life.
His obsession with secrecy, both in others and maintaining his own, lends him the air of a conspiracy theorist. Is he one? "I believe in facts about conspiracies," he says, choosing his words slowly. "Any time people with power plan in secret, they are conducting a conspiracy. So there are conspiracies everywhere. There are also crazed conspiracy theories. It's important not to confuse these two. Generally, when there's enough facts about a conspiracy we simply call this news." What about 9/11? "I'm constantly annoyed that people are distracted by false conspiracies such as 9/11, when all around we provide evidence of real conspiracies, for war or mass financial fraud.
Does he mean that the various mutually exclusive hypotheses on how the inside job of 911 was done by the US military black ops? Or maybe he knows that that is the line he must not cross (death threats)
" What about the Bilderberg conference? "That is vaguely conspiratorial, in a networking sense. We have published their meeting notes."
Assange likes to see Wikileaks as a neutral platform for distributing information, and fends off criticism by saying it always follows its openly stated policies. But no news organisation is free from personal input, as he reveals when talking of Bilderberg, a shadowy annual conference of the influential. "I understand the philosophical rationale for having Chatham House rules among people in power, but the corrupting nature, in the case of Bilderberg, probably outweighs the benefits. When powerful people meet together in secret, it tends to corrupt."
Spending time with Assange, it's hard not to start believing that dark forces are at work. According to him, everyone's emails are being read. For that reason, he encourages anyone planning to leak a document to post it the old fashioned way, to his PO Box. It's ironic that an organisation bent on blowing secrets is itself so secretive, but Wikileaks couldn't operate without reliable sources. Except that, amazingly, Wikileaks does not verify them. "We don't verify our sources, we verify the documents. As long as they are bona fide it doesn't matter where they come from. We would rather not know."
After we talk, he is off to a safe house for the night and after that, who knows? He never stays in one place more than two nights. Is that because the CIA wants to kill him? "Is it in the CIA's interest to assassinate me? Maybe. But who would do it?" Isn't he brave to appear in public? "Courage is an intellectual mastery of fear," he says. "It's not that you don't have fear, you just manage your risks intelligently."
Wikileaks: How website shines light on world's darkest secrets
Archie Bland investigates Thursday, 8 April 2010
http://www.WIKILEAKS.org the online clearing house for documents whose authors would prefer them to stay private, has posted video on its website which it claims shows the killing of civilians by the US military in Baghdad in 2007.
How does a website run by just five full-time staff generate so many scoops? When the Ministry of Defence first discovered the whistleblower website staffers were stunned.
"There are thousands of things on here, I literally mean thousands," one of them wrote in an internal email in November 2008. "Everything I clicked on to do with MoD was restricted... it is huge."
The website has since been banned from the MoD's internal computers, but it did no good: eventually, that email ended up on Wikileaks. And when a US Army counter-intelligence officer recommended that whistleblowers who leaked to the site be fired, that report ended up on Wikileaks too.
The authorities were right to be worried. If any further proof were needed of the website's extraordinary record in holding the authorities to account, it came this week, in the release of shocking video footage of a gung-ho US helicopter attack in Iraq that killed 12 people, including two unarmed employees of the Reuters news agency.
The US government had resisted Freedom of Information requests from Reuters for years. But when an anonymous whistleblower passed the video on to Wikileaks, all that quickly became futile. An edited version of the tape had received almost 4 million hits on YouTube by last night, and it led news bulletins around the world.
"This might be the story that makes Wikileaks blow up," said Sree Sreenivasan, a digital media professor at New York's Columbia Journalism School. "It's not some huge document with lots of fine print – you can just watch it and you get what it's about immediately. It's a whole new world of how stories get out."
And yet despite Wikileaks' commitment to the freedom of information, there is something curiously shadowy about the organisation itself. Founded, as the group's spokesman Daniel Schmitt (whose surname is a pseudonym) put it, with the intention of becoming "the intelligence agency of the people", the site's operators and volunteers – five full-timers, and another 1,000 on call – are almost all anonymous. Ironically, the only way the group's donors are publicly known is through a leak on Wikileaks itself. The organisation's most prominent figure is Julian Assange, an Australian hacker and journalist who co-founded the site back in 2006. While Assange and his cohorts' intentions are plainly laudable – to "allow whistleblowers and journalists who have been censored to get material out to the public", as he told the BBC earlier this year – some ask who watches the watchmen. "People have to be very careful dealing with this information," says Professor Sreenivasan. "It's part of the culture now, it's out there, but you still need context, you still need analysis, you still need background."
Against all of that criticism, Wikileaks can set a record that carries, as Abu Dhabi's The National put it, "more scoops in its short life than The Washington Post has in the past 30 years". By earning its place as the natural destination for anyone with sensitive information to leak who does not know and trust a particular journalist – so far, despite numerous court actions, not a single source has been outed – Wikileaks has built up a remarkable record.
Yes, it has published an early draft of the script for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, and Wesley Snipes' tax returns; but it has also published the "Climategate" emails, an internal Trafigura report on toxic dumping in Ivory Coast, and the standard operating procedures for Guantanamo Bay.
Whatever the gaps in its procedures, there is little doubt that the website is at the forefront of a new information era in which the powerful, corrupt and murderous will have to feel a little more nervous about their behaviour. "There are reasons I do it that have to do with wanting to reform civilisation," Assange said in an interview with salon.com last month. "Of course, there's a personal psychology to it, that I enjoy crushing bastards. I like a good challenge."
US air crew shooting Iraqi civilians
** Warning, the video below is graphic in nature **
When commodities giant Trafigura used a super-injunction to suppress the release of an internal report on toxic dumping in the Ivory Coast in newspapers, it quickly appeared on Wikileaks instead. Accepting that the release made suppression futile, Trafigura lifted the injunction.
The BNP membership list
After the site published the BNP's secret membership list in November 2008, newspapers found teachers, priests and police officers among them. Another list was leaked last year. The police has since barred officers from membership.
Sarah Palin's emails
Mrs Palin's Yahoo email account, which was used to bypass US public information laws, was hacked and leaked during the presidential campaign. The hacker left traces of his actions, and could face five years in prison.
This newspaper and other media outlets don't give alternate views a fair shake.
The job of a good newspaper, of good journalism, is to oversee authority and protect the public from the distortions and lies fed them by the government and the business community.
Homo economicus. The Market is right, even if distorted against the third world.
It is not to act as a mouthpiece for corporate capitalism. We are so sick of "the business model."
Isn't this the model that, with its Wall Street cronies and corrupt public servants, has devastated our economy, putting 8 million out of work? Started two unwinnable wars that have dragged us in to the worst national deficit ever? Ruined our landscapes with ugly big-box stores, and created gross obesity with zillions of fast-food places? Brought tobacco death and has the gall to ration health care to those able to pay? Is fast debasing this divinely given planet, our only home?
And finally, been the model that may well end civilization as we know it through rapid climate change?
How can the paper's managers sleep at night? What's wrong with you?
Weapons of Mass Deception
Contrary to supposition, not all Mainers are free-market capitalists, rabid Republicans or hard rightwingers. Most of us, I trust, are middle-of-the-roaders who want, above all, prosperity and peace. Conservative ideals provide for neither.
Come election time, the lower 30 percent of voters -- under-educated, prostrate, pro-military, homophobic flag-wavers all -- are summoned to the Republican side of the aisle through a series of distortions and plays upon their innate bigotry.
Media whores. The brothel for corporate opinion makers. Perception Management for Money.
Hot-button issues, completely superfluous, such as gay rights, abortion, flag-burning, prayer in schools and other such nonsense "issues" are thrown into the public fray, in hopes of gaining the votes of those about to be fleeced by predatory capitalism.
If you are truly open minded, how about a piece by Amy Goodman, Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn (RIP), Nomi Prins or Naomi Klein?
Why do we have to go to obscure TV stations to hear the truth? People aren't as stupid as you think.
One expects this sort of bias from the national media (Fox and CNN make most of us puke) but when Main Street turns against its own, we're really in deep doo-doo.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dennis Lopez is a resident of Rockport.
Ethics ethical moral morally investment investing shareholder value media corpoations michael parenti tuc radio john ralston saul mandela ghandi helen thomas Thomas apologized for saying Jews should "get the hell out of Palestine" and go back to Germany, Poland or the U.S., but that wasn't enough for her Hearst Corp. bosses, her press room colleagues - or the White House. Another View: Free-market capitalist model not worth promotion in press
Clear words -- Western trained to dismiss, dismiss
Noam Chomsky in one of his writing states that the monopoly capitalist system of U.S is keen to use terrorism as weapon to extend its intervention in the areas where it cannot otherwise directly deploy its armed forces or force its policies of coercion and fraud.
He, during his visit to India had said, "The literal notion of terrorism, and one which is contained in official U.S. documents, instructed that "terrorism (is) the calculated use of violence or threat of violence to attain goals that are political, religious or ideological in nature (carried out) through intimidation, coercion, or instilling fear."
Chomsky argued that American imperialist policy has jettisoned this literal definition in favour of the propagandist one, which is nothing but a truism. This preferred version categorises anyone who is against the U.S., its friends and allies, as a terrorist. Thus U.S and its allies at the one hand find excuses to wage war against terror and on the other hand use terror as an instrument of intervention and arm twisting with the nations not falling in line with the U S policies of Global Monopoly Capitalist strong hold.
In India we have sufficient proof of having active US lobbies and interest sharing partners, who get active after the opening up of the Indian economy and its aftermath. As it has been often noted that economic and strategic U S partners, while preaching Global equitable Market reach at international forums turn the conditions of their own country in such manner that the majority of the people remain excluded from the gains and fruits of economic development that takes place in these countries. To keep general masses away from these fruits of their perpetual labour and toil, illiteracy, religious bias and other social conflicts are used to engage people in artificial and deliberately created conflicts. Instead of strengthening the democratic institutions these institutions are used by coercion to get hold of them and then use these for narrow interests of individuals and certain groups.
The Most Wanted List, International Terrorism Noam Chomsky Tom Dispatch, February 26, 2008 On February 13, Imad Moughniyeh, a senior commander of Hizbollah, was assassinated in Damascus. "The world is a better place without this man in it," State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack said: "one way or the other he was brought to justice." Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell added that Moughniyeh has been "responsible for more deaths of Americans and Israelis than any other terrorist with the exception of Osama bin Laden."
Joy was unconstrained in Israel too, as "one of the U.S. and Israel's most wanted men" was brought to justice, the London Financial Times reported. Under the heading, "A militant wanted the world over," an accompanying story reported that he was "superseded on the most-wanted list by Osama bin Laden" after 9/11 and so ranked only second among "the most wanted militants in the world."
The terminology is accurate enough, according to the rules of Anglo-American discourse, which defines "the world" as the political class in Washington and London (and whoever happens to agree with them on specific matters). It is common, for example, to read that "the world" fully supported George Bush when he ordered the bombing of Afghanistan. That may be true of "the world," but hardly of the world, as revealed in an international Gallup Poll after the bombing was announced. Global support was slight. In Latin America, which has some experience with U.S. behavior, support ranged from 2% in Mexico to 16% in Panama, and that support was conditional upon the culprits being identified (they still weren't eight months later, the FBI reported), and civilian targets being spared (they were attacked at once). There was an overwhelming preference in the world for diplomatic/judicial measures, rejected out of hand by "the world."
Following the Terror Trail
In the present case, if "the world" were extended to the world, we might find some other candidates for the honor of most hated arch-criminal. It is instructive to ask why this might be true.
The Financial Times reports that most of the charges against Moughniyeh are unsubstantiated, but "one of the very few times when his involvement can be ascertained with certainty [is in] the hijacking of a TWA plane in 1985 in which a U.S. Navy diver was killed." This was one of two terrorist atrocities that led a poll of newspaper editors to select terrorism in the Middle East as the top story of 1985; the other was the hijacking of the passenger liner Achille Lauro, in which a crippled American, Leon Klinghoffer, was brutally murdered. That reflects the judgment of "the world." It may be that the world saw matters somewhat differently.
The Achille Lauro hijacking was a retaliation for the bombing of Tunis ordered a week earlier by Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres. His air force killed 75 Tunisians and Palestinians with smart bombs that tore them to shreds, among other atrocities, as vividly reported from the scene by the prominent Israeli journalist Amnon Kapeliouk. Washington cooperated by failing to warn its ally Tunisia that the bombers were on the way, though the Sixth Fleet and U.S. intelligence could not have been unaware of the impending attack. Secretary of State George Shultz informed Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir that Washington "had considerable sympathy for the Israeli action," which he termed "a legitimate response" to "terrorist attacks," to general approbation. A few days later, the UN Security Council unanimously denounced the bombing as an "act of armed aggression" (with the U.S. abstaining). "Aggression" is, of course, a far more serious crime than international terrorism. But giving the United States and Israel the benefit of the doubt, let us keep to the lesser charge against their leadership.
A few days after, Peres went to Washington to consult with the leading international terrorist of the day, Ronald Reagan, who denounced "the evil scourge of terrorism," again with general acclaim by "the world."
The "terrorist attacks" that Shultz and Peres offered as the pretext for the bombing of Tunis were the killings of three Israelis in Larnaca, Cyprus. The killers, as Israel conceded, had nothing to do with Tunis, though they might have had Syrian connections. Tunis was a preferable target, however. It was defenseless, unlike Damascus. And there was an extra pleasure: more exiled Palestinians could be killed there.
The Larnaca killings, in turn, were regarded as retaliation by the perpetrators: They were a response to regular Israeli hijackings in international waters in which many victims were killed -- and many more kidnapped and sent to prisons in Israel, commonly to be held without charge for long periods. The most notorious of these has been the secret prison/torture chamber Facility 1391. A good deal can be learned about it from the Israeli and foreign press. Such regular Israeli crimes are, of course, known to editors of the national press in the U.S., and occasionally receive some casual mention.
Klinghoffer's murder was properly viewed with horror, and is very famous. It was the topic of an acclaimed opera and a made-for-TV movie, as well as much shocked commentary deploring the savagery of Palestinians -- "two-headed beasts" (Prime Minister Menachem Begin), "drugged roaches scurrying around in a bottle" (Chief of Staff Raful Eitan), "like grasshoppers compared to us," whose heads should be "smashed against the boulders and walls" (Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir). Or more commonly just "Araboushim," the slang counterpart of "kike" or "nigger."
Thus, after a particularly depraved display of settler-military terror and purposeful humiliation in the West Bank town of Halhul in December 1982, which disgusted even Israeli hawks, the well-known military/political analyst Yoram Peri wrote in dismay that one "task of the army today [is] to demolish the rights of innocent people just because they are Araboushim living in territories that God promised to us," a task that became far more urgent, and was carried out with far more brutality, when the Araboushim began to "raise their heads" a few years later.
We can easily assess the sincerity of the sentiments expressed about the Klinghoffer murder. It is only necessary to investigate the reaction to comparable U.S.-backed Israeli crimes. Take, for example, the murder in April 2002 of two crippled Palestinians, Kemal Zughayer and Jamal Rashid, by Israeli forces rampaging through the refugee camp of Jenin in the West Bank. Zughayer's crushed body and the remains of his wheelchair were found by British reporters, along with the remains of the white flag he was holding when he was shot dead while seeking to flee the Israeli tanks which then drove over him, ripping his face in two and severing his arms and legs. Jamal Rashid was crushed in his wheelchair when one of Israel's huge U.S.-supplied Caterpillar bulldozers demolished his home in Jenin with his family inside. The differential reaction, or rather non-reaction, has become so routine and so easy to explain that no further commentary is necessary.
Plainly, the 1985 Tunis bombing was a vastly more severe terrorist crime than the Achille Lauro hijacking, or the crime for which Moughniyeh's "involvement can be ascertained with certainty" in the same year. But even the Tunis bombing had competitors for the prize for worst terrorist atrocity in the Mideast in the peak year of 1985.
One challenger was a car-bombing in Beirut right outside a mosque, timed to go off as worshippers were leaving Friday prayers. It killed 80 people and wounded 256. Most of the dead were girls and women, who had been leaving the mosque, though the ferocity of the blast "burned babies in their beds," "killed a bride buying her trousseau," and "blew away three children as they walked home from the mosque." It also "devastated the main street of the densely populated" West Beirut suburb, reported Nora Boustany three years later in the Washington Post.
The intended target had been the Shi'ite cleric Sheikh Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, who escaped. The bombing was carried out by Reagan's CIA and his Saudi allies, with Britain's help, and was specifically authorized by CIA Director William Casey, according to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward's account in his book Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA, 1981-1987. Little is known beyond the bare facts, thanks to rigorous adherence to the doctrine that we do not investigate our own crimes (unless they become too prominent to suppress, and the inquiry can be limited to some low-level "bad apples" who were naturally "out of control").
A third competitor for the 1985 Mideast terrorism prize was Prime Minister Peres' "Iron Fist" operations in southern Lebanese territories then occupied by Israel in violation of Security Council orders. The targets were what the Israeli high command called "terrorist villagers." Peres's crimes in this case sank to new depths of "calculated brutality and arbitrary murder" in the words of a Western diplomat familiar with the area, an assessment amply supported by direct coverage. They are, however, of no interest to "the world" and therefore remain uninvestigated, in accordance with the usual conventions. We might well ask whether these crimes fall under international terrorism or the far more severe crime of aggression, but let us again give the benefit of the doubt to Israel and its backers in Washington and keep to the lesser charge.
These are a few of the thoughts that might cross the minds of people elsewhere in the world, even if not those of "the world," when considering "one of the very few times" Imad Moughniyeh was clearly implicated in a terrorist crime.
The U.S. also accuses him of responsibility for devastating double suicide truck-bomb attacks on U.S. Marine and French paratrooper barracks in Lebanon in 1983, killing 241 Marines and 58 paratroopers, as well as a prior attack on the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, killing 63, a particularly serious blow because of a meeting there of CIA officials at the time.
The Financial Times has, however, attributed the attack on the Marine barracks to Islamic Jihad, not Hizbollah. Fawaz Gerges, one of the leading scholars on the jihadi movements and on Lebanon, has written that responsibility was taken by an "unknown group called Islamic Jihad." A voice speaking in classical Arabic called for all Americans to leave Lebanon or face death. It has been claimed that Moughniyeh was the head of Islamic Jihad at the time, but to my knowledge, evidence is sparse.
The opinion of the world has not been sampled on the subject, but it is possible that there might be some hesitancy about calling an attack on a military base in a foreign country a "terrorist attack," particularly when U.S. and French forces were carrying out heavy naval bombardments and air strikes in Lebanon, and shortly after the U.S. provided decisive support for the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, which killed some 20,000 people and devastated the south, while leaving much of Beirut in ruins. It was finally called off by President Reagan when international protest became too intense to ignore after the Sabra-Shatila massacres.
In the United States, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon is regularly described as a reaction to Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) terrorist attacks on northern Israel from their Lebanese bases, making our crucial contribution to these major war crimes understandable. In the real world, the Lebanese border area had been quiet for a year, apart from repeated Israeli attacks, many of them murderous, in an effort to elicit some PLO response that could be used as a pretext for the already planned invasion. Its actual purpose was not concealed at the time by Israeli commentators and leaders: to safeguard the Israeli takeover of the occupied West Bank. It is of some interest that the sole serious error in Jimmy Carter's book Palestine: Peace not Apartheid is the repetition of this propaganda concoction about PLO attacks from Lebanon being the motive for the Israeli invasion. The book was bitterly attacked, and desperate efforts were made to find some phrase that could be misinterpreted, but this glaring error -- the only one -- was ignored. Reasonably, since it satisfies the criterion of adhering to useful doctrinal fabrications.
Killing without Intent
Another allegation is that Moughniyeh "masterminded" the bombing of Israel's embassy in Buenos Aires on March 17, 1992, killing 29 people, in response, as the Financial Times put it, to Israel's "assassination of former Hizbollah leader Abbas Al-Mussawi in an air attack in southern Lebanon." About the assassination, there is no need for evidence: Israel proudly took credit for it. The world might have some interest in the rest of the story. Al-Mussawi was murdered with a U.S.-supplied helicopter, well north of Israel's illegal "security zone" in southern Lebanon. He was on his way to Sidon from the village of Jibshit, where he had spoken at the memorial for another Imam murdered by Israeli forces. The helicopter attack also killed his wife and five-year old child. Israel then employed U.S.-supplied helicopters to attack a car bringing survivors of the first attack to a hospital.
After the murder of the family, Hezbollah "changed the rules of the game," Prime Minister Rabin informed the Israeli Knesset. Previously, no rockets had been launched at Israel. Until then, the rules of the game had been that Israel could launch murderous attacks anywhere in Lebanon at will, and Hizbollah would respond only within Israeli-occupied Lebanese territory.
After the murder of its leader (and his family), Hizbollah began to respond to Israeli crimes in Lebanon by rocketing northern Israel. The latter is, of course, intolerable terror, so Rabin launched an invasion that drove some 500,000 people out of their homes and killed well over 100. The merciless Israeli attacks reached as far as northern Lebanon.
In the south, 80% of the city of Tyre fled and Nabatiye was left a "ghost town," Jibshit was about 70% destroyed according to an Israeli army spokesperson, who explained that the intent was "to destroy the village completely because of its importance to the Shi'ite population of southern Lebanon." The goal was "to wipe the villages from the face of the earth and sow destruction around them," as a senior officer of the Israeli northern command described the operation.
Jibshit may have been a particular target because it was the home of Sheikh Abdul Karim Obeid, kidnapped and brought to Israel several years earlier. Obeid's home "received a direct hit from a missile," British journalist Robert Fisk reported, "although the Israelis were presumably gunning for his wife and three children." Those who had not escaped hid in terror, wrote Mark Nicholson in the Financial Times, "because any visible movement inside or outside their houses is likely to attract the attention of Israeli artillery spotters, whoÉ were pounding their shells repeatedly and devastatingly into selected targets." Artillery shells were hitting some villages at a rate of more than 10 rounds a minute at times.
All of this received the firm support of President Bill Clinton, who understood the need to instruct the Araboushim sternly on the "rules of the game." And Rabin emerged as another grand hero and man of peace, so different from the two-legged beasts, grasshoppers, and drugged roaches.
This is only a small sample of facts that the world might find of interest in connection with the alleged responsibility of Moughniyeh for the retaliatory terrorist act in Buenos Aires.
Other charges are that Moughniyeh helped prepare Hizbollah defenses against the 2006 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, evidently an intolerable terrorist crime by the standards of "the world," which understands that the United States and its clients must face no impediments in their just terror and aggression.
The more vulgar apologists for U.S. and Israeli crimes solemnly explain that, while Arabs purposely kill people, the U.S. and Israel, being democratic societies, do not intend to do so. Their killings are just accidental ones, hence not at the level of moral depravity of their adversaries. That was, for example, the stand of Israel's High Court when it recently authorized severe collective punishment of the people of Gaza by depriving them of electricity (hence water, sewage disposal, and other such basics of civilized life).
The same line of defense is common with regard to some of Washington's past peccadilloes, like the destruction in 1998 of the al-Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Sudan. The attack apparently led to the deaths of tens of thousands of people, but without intent to kill them, hence not a crime on the order of intentional killing -- so we are instructed by moralists who consistently suppress the response that had already been given to these vulgar efforts at self-justification.
To repeat once again, we can distinguish three categories of crimes: murder with intent, accidental killing, and murder with foreknowledge but without specific intent. Israeli and U.S. atrocities typically fall into the third category. Thus, when Israel destroys Gaza's power supply or sets up barriers to travel in the West Bank, it does not specifically intend to murder the particular people who will die from polluted water or in ambulances that cannot reach hospitals. And when Bill Clinton ordered the bombing of the al-Shifa plant, it was obvious that it would lead to a humanitarian catastrophe. Human Rights Watch immediately informed him of this, providing details; nevertheless, he and his advisers did not intend to kill specific people among those who would inevitably die when half the pharmaceutical supplies were destroyed in a poor African country that could not replenish them.
Rather, they and their apologists regarded Africans much as we do the ants we crush while walking down a street. We are aware that it is likely to happen (if we bother to think about it), but we do not intend to kill them because they are not worthy of such consideration. Needless to say, comparable attacks by Araboushim in areas inhabited by human beings would be regarded rather differently.
If, for a moment, we can adopt the perspective of the world, we might ask which criminals are "wanted the world over."
Each year, the world's 3,000 largest companies are causing 2.2 trillion dollars (1.75 trillion euros) worth of environmental damage, said Sukhdev, citing a soon-to-published companion report
Later this year, another U.N. study is expected to recommend ways to stop this damage, such as by taxing or otherwise penalizing polluters and eliminating massive public subsidies to destructive industries.
"What we're talking about is a completely new paradigm," lead researcher Richard Mattison said. "Externalities of this scale and nature pose a major risk to the global economy and markets are not fully aware of these risks, nor do they know how to deal with them."
"Externalities" refer to costs of production borne by someone other than the producer or consumer. Under the current economic system, nearly all environmental destruction is an externality.
Well over half the $2.2 trillion figure in the Trucost report comes from current and anticipated effects of global warming. The remainder comes from effects such as air and water pollution.
The true cost of these companies' operations is actually much higher, however. In calculating cost, the researchers did not take into account destructive effects from the consumption of the companies' goods and services, long-term damage other than global warming, or effects not easily put into economic terms, such as social disruption or loss of biodiversity.
The study warns companies that if they do not take action to reduce their environmental footprints, governments may force them to do so with new taxes or regulations.
"It's going to be a significant proportion of a lot of companies' profit margins," Mattison said. "Whether they actually have to pay for these costs will be determined by the appetite for policy makers to enforce the 'polluter pays' principle. We should be seeking ways to fix the system, rather than waiting for the economy to adapt."
A CORPORATE WATCH INTERVIEW WITH NOAM CHOMSKY by Anna Couey and Joshua Karliner
CW: How significant do you see the recent skirmishes between the Department of Justice and Microsoft? Do you see it as an important turn of events?
NC: There's some significance. We shouldn't exaggerate it. If there are three major corporations controlling what is essentially public property and a public creation, namely the Internet, telecommunications, and so on, that's not a whole lot better than one corporation controlling, but it's maybe a minor difference. The question is to what extent parasites like Microsoft should be parasites off the public system, or should be granted any rights at all.
CW: Give us a little bit of historical context. How does what's happening with Microsoft's growing power, and its role in society fit into the history of U.S. Corporate power, the evolution of corporations?
NC: There were corporations as far back as the 18th century, and beyond. In the United States, corporations were public bodies. Basically, they were associations. A bunch of people could get together and say we want to build a bridge over this river, and could get a state charter which allowed them to do that, precisely that and nothing more. The corporation had no rights of individual persons. The model for the corporation back at the time of the framing of the Constitution was a municipality. Through the 19th century, that began to change.
It's important to remember that the constitutional system was not designed in the first place to defend the rights of people. Rather, the rights of people had to be balanced, as Madison put it, against what he called "the rights of property." Well of course, property has no rights: my pen has no rights. Maybe I have a right to it, but the pen has no rights. So, this is just a code phrase for the rights of people with property. The constitutional system was founded on the principle that the rights of people with property have to be privileged; they have rights because they're people, but they also have special rights because they have property. As Madison put it in the constitutional debates, the goal of government must be "to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority." That's the way the system was set up.
In the United States, around the turn of the century, through radical judicial activism, the courts changed crucially the concept of the corporation. They simply redefined them so as to grant not only privileges to property owners, but also to what legal historians call "collectivist legal entities." Corporations, in other words, were granted early in this century the rights of persons, in fact, immortal persons, and persons of immense power. And they were freed from the need to restrict themselves to the grants of state charters.
That's a very big change. It's essentially establishing major private tyrannies, which are unaccountable, because they're protected by First Amendment rights, freedom from search and seizure, and so on, so you can't figure out what they're doing.
After the Second World War, it was well understood in the business world that they were going to have to have state coordination, subsidy, and a kind of socialization of costs and risks. The only question was how to do that. The method that was hit upon was the "Pentagon system" (including the DOE, AEC, NASA). These publicly-subsidized systems have been the core of the dynamic sectors of the American economy ever since (much the same is true of biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, etc., relying on different public sources). And that certainly leads right to Microsoft.
So how does Microsoft achieve its enormous profits? Well, Bill Gates is pretty frank about it. He says they do it by "embracing and extending" the ideas of others. They're based on computers, for example. Computers were created at public expense and public initiative. In the 1950s when they were being developed, it was about 100% public expense. The same is true of the Internet at its outset. The ideas, the initiatives, the software, the hardware -- these were created at public initiative and expense, and it's being handed over to guys like Bill Gates.
CW: What are the social and cultural impacts of allowing, not only a monopoly, but even if it's just a few large corporations, dominating something as basic as human speech, communication with each other?
NC: It's a form of tyranny. But, that's the whole point of corporatization -- to try to remove the public from making decisions over their own fate, to limit the public arena, to control opinion, to make sure that the fundamental decisions that determine how the world is going to be run -- which includes production, commerce, distribution, thought, social policy, foreign policy, everything -- are not in the hands of the public, but rather in the hands of highly concentrated private power. And there are various modalities for doing this. One is to have the communication system, the so-called information system, in the hands of a network of, fewer or more doesn't matter that much, private tyrannies.
Let's take the media in the United States. These are corporate media, overwhelmingly. Even the so-called public media are not very different. They are just huge corporations that sell audiences to advertisers in other businesses. And they're supposed to constitute the communications system. It's not complicated to figure out what's going to come out of this.
And there are new things happening all the time. Like right at this minute, there's a dramatic example, that's the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), which is supposed to be signed this month, but they're not going to make it. The negotiations have been going on in secret for about three years. It's essentially a huge corporate power play, trying to give "investors" -- that doesn't mean the guy working on the shop floor, it means the board of directors of GE, of Merrill Lynch, and so on -- extraordinary rights. It's being done in secret because the people involved, which is the whole business community incidentally, know that the public is going to hate it. So therefore the media are keeping it secret. And it's an astonishing feat for three years to keep quiet about what everyone knows to be a major set of decisions, which are going to lock countries into certain arrangements. It'll prevent public policy. Now you can argue that it's a good thing, a bad thing, you can argue what you like, but there's no doubt about how the public is going to react, and there's no doubt about the fact that the media, which have been well aware of this from the beginning have succeeded in virtually not mentioning it.
CW: How would a company like Microsoft benefit from the MAI?
NC: They could move capital freely. They could invest it where they like. There would be no restrictions on anything they do. A country, or a town, like say, Cambridge, Massachusetts, where I live, where I work, could not impose conditions on consumer protection, environmental control, investment and set-asides for minorities or women. You name it, it would be ruled out.
Now exactly how far this would go depends on the disposition to enforce it. These things are not determined by words. There's nothing in the Constitution, or the amendments to the Constitution, which allows private tyrannies to have the right to personhood. What the MAI would mean in practice depends not only or firstly on the words, but on what the power relations are, like whether people object to it so strenuously they won't allow it to happen, maybe by riots, or whatever.
A crucial element of this is what they call the ratchet effect; that is existing legislation is to be allowed, but it has to be removed over time. It has to be rolled back, and no new legislation can be introduced conflicting with the rights of Microsoft or any corporation to do anything they like in the international arena, or domestically. Over time that's supposed to have a ratchet effect, to turn the world over more and more to the major private tyrannies, like Microsoft, with their alliances and interactions.
CW: Economist Brian Arthur argues that with the rapidly changing nature of technology, no one will remain in a monopoly position for long, so that monopoly power in the technology industries is different than what we've historically seen, and is nothing to worry about.
NC: But there never was monopoly power; or there very rarely was monopoly power. Take highly concentrated power systems, like the energy industries. They're not strictly speaking monopolies. Shell and Exxon are competitors. This is a highly managed system of market administration, with enormous state power entering in the interests of a small collection of private tyrannies.
It's very rare to find a real monopoly. AT&T was a monopoly for a time, that's why it could create things like the transistor, for example. It was a monopoly, so therefore they could charge high rates. But that's certainly unusual.
CW: Do you think the whole monopoly issue is something to be concerned about?
NC: These are oligopolies; they are small groups of highly concentrated power systems which are integrated with one another. If one of them were to get total control of some system, other powers probably wouldn't allow it. In fact, that's what you're seeing.
CW: So, you don't think Bill Gates is a latter-day John D. Rockefeller?
NC: John D. Rockefeller wasn't a monopolist. Standard Oil didn't run the whole industry; they tried. But other power centers simply don't want to allow that amount of power to one of them.
CW: Then in fact, maybe there is a parallel there between Gates and Rockefeller, or not?
NC: Think of the feudal system. You had kings and princes and bishops and lords and so on. They for the most part did not want power to be totally concentrated, they didn't want total tyrants. They each had their fiefdoms they wanted to maintain in a system of highly concentrated power. They just wanted to make sure the population, the rabble so-called, wouldn't be part of it. It's for this reason the question of monopoly -- I don't want to say it's not important -- but it's by no means the core of the issue.
CW: How has that transfer from the public to the private sphere changed the Internet?
NC: As long as the Internet was under control of the Pentagon, it was free. People could use it freely for information sharing. That remained true when it stayed within the state sector of the National Science Foundation.
As late as about 1994, people like say, Bill Gates, had little interest in the Internet. He wouldn't even go to conferences about it, because he didn't see a way to make a profit from it. Now it's being handed over to private corporations, and they tell you pretty much what they want to do. They want to take large parts of the Internet and cut it out of the public domain altogether, turn it into intranets, which are fenced off with firewalls, and used simply for internal corporate operations.
They want to control access, and that's a large part of Microsoft's efforts: control access in such a way that people who access the Internet will be guided to things that *they* want, like home marketing service, or other diversion. If you really know exactly what you want to find, and have enough information and energy, you may be able to find it. But they want to make that as difficult as possible. And that's perfectly natural. If you were on the board of directors of Microsoft, sure, that's what you'd try to do.
Well, you know, these things don't *have* to happen. The internet can be kept under public control. Access could be promoted for all. More, providers could be subsidized so that what is available online won't be mostly the ideas and the entertainments and the commercial marketplaces put there by private institutions with great wealth. But that's going to mean a lot of hard work at every level, from Congress down to local organizations, unions, other citizens' groups which will struggle against privatization and commercialization all the usual ways.
CW: What would it look like if it were under public control?
NC: It would look like it did before, except much more accessible because more people would have access to it. And with no constraints. People could just use it freely. That has been done, as long as it was in the public domain. It wasn't perfect, but it had more or less the right kind of structure. That's what Microsoft and others want to destroy.
CW: And when you say that, you're referring to the Internet as it was 15 years ago.
NC: We're specifically talking about the Internet, at the moment. But more generally media has for most of this century, and increasingly in recent years, been under corporate power. But that's not always been the case. It doesn't have to be the case. We don't have to go back very far to find differences. As recently as the 1950s, there were about 800 labor newspapers reaching 20-30 million people a week, with a very different point of view. You go back further, and community-based and labor-based and other media were basically on par with the corporate media early in this century. The elimination of all this results from high concentration of power granted by the state through judicial activism and other private pressure, which can be reversed and overcome.
CW: So take the increasing concentration in the technology that we're looking at with Microsoft and some of these other companies, and compare it with recent mergers in the defense, media, insurance, and banking industries, and especially the context of globalization. Are we looking at a new stage in global capitalism, or is this just a continuation of business as usual?
NC: By gross measures, contemporary globalization is bringing the world back to what it was about a century ago. In the early part of the century, under basically British domination and the gold standard, if you look at the amount of trade, and then the financial flow, and so on, relative to the size of the economy, we're pretty much returning to that now, after a decline between the two World Wars.
Now there are some differences. For example, the speed of financial transactions has been much enhanced in the last 25 years through the so-called telecommunications revolution, which was a revolution largely within the state sector. Most of the system was designed, developed, and maintained at public expense, then handed over to private profit.
State actions also broke down the post-war international economic system, the Bretton Woods system in the early 1970s. It was dismantled by Richard Nixon, with US and British initiative primarily. The system of regulation of capital flows was dismantled, and that, along with the state-initiated telecommunications revolution led to an enormous explosion of speculative capital flow, which is now well over a trillion dollars a day, and is mostly non-productive. If you go back to around 1970, international capital flows were about 90% related to the real economy, like trade and investment. By now, at most a few percent are related to the real economy. Most have to do with financial manipulations, speculations against currencies, things which are really destructive to the economy. And that is a change that wasn't true, not only wasn't true 100 years ago, it wasn't true 40 years ago. So there are changes. And you can see their effects.
That's surely part of the reason for the fact that the recent period, the last 25 years, has been a period of unusually slow economic growth, of low productivity growth, of stagnation or decline of wages and incomes for probably two thirds of the population, even in a rich country like this. And enormously high profits for a very small part of the population. And it's worse in the Third World.
You can read in the New York Times, the lead article in the "Week in Review" yesterday, Sunday, April 12, that America is prospering and happy. And you look at the Americans they're talking about, it turns out it's not the roughly two thirds of the population whose incomes are stagnating or declining, it's the people who own stock. So, ok, they're undoubtedly doing great, except that about 1% of households have about 50% of the stock, and it's roughly the same with other assets. Most of the rest is owned by the top 10% of the population. So sure, America is happy, and America is prosperous, if America means what the New York Times means by it. They're the narrow set of elites that they speak for and to.
CW: What kinds of things can people do to try to expand and reclaim democracy and the public space from corporations?
NC: Well, the first thing they have to do is find out what's happening to them. So if you have none of that information, you can't do much. For example, it's impossible to oppose, say, the Multilateral Agreement on Investment, if you don't know it exists. That's the point of the secrecy. You can't oppose the specific form of globalization that's taking place, unless you understand it. You'd have to not only read the headlines which say market economy's triumphed, but you also have to read Alan Greenspan, the head of the Federal Reserve, when he's talking internally; when he says, look the health of the economy depends on a wonderful achievement that we've brought about, namely "worker insecurity." That's his term. Worker insecurity--that is not knowing if you're going to have a job tomorrow. It is a great boon for the health of the economy because it keeps wages down. It's great: it keeps profits up and wages down.
Well, unless people know those things, they can't do much about them. So the first thing that has to be done is to create for ourselves, for the population, systems of interchange, interaction, and so on. Like Corporate Watch, Public Citizen, other popular groupings, which provide to the public the kinds of information and understanding, that they won't otherwise have. After that they have to struggle against it, in lots of ways which are open to them. It can be done right through pressure on Congress, or demonstrations, or creation of alternative institutions. And it should aim, in my opinion, not just at narrow questions, like preventing monopoly, but also at deeper questions, like why do private tyrannies have rights altogether?
CW: What do you think about the potential of all the alternative media that's burgeoning on the Internet, given the current trends?
NC: That's a matter for action, not for speculation. It's like asking 40 years ago what's the likelihood that we'd have a minimal health care system like Medicare? These things happen if people struggle for them. The business world, Microsoft, they're highly class conscious. They're basically vulgar marxists, who see themselves engaged in a bitter class struggle. Of course they're always going to be at it. The question is whether they have that field to themselves. And the deeper question is whether they should be allowed to participate; I don't think they should.
An Open Letter to Terry Allen, Noam Chomsky, Alexander Cockburn, David Corn, Chris Hayes, George Monbiot, Matthew Rothschild, and Matt Taibbi.1
According to several left-leaning critics of the 9/11 Truth Movement, some of its central claims, especially about the destruction of the World Trade Center, show its members to be scientifically challenged. In the opinion of some of these critics, moreover, claims made by members of this movement are sometimes unscientific in the strongest possible sense, implying an acceptance of magic and miracles.
After documenting this charge in Part I of this essay, I show in Part II that the exact opposite is the case: that the official account of the destruction of the World Trade Center implies miracles (I give nine examples), and that the 9/11 Truth Movement, in developing an alternative hypothesis, has done so in line with the assumption that the laws of nature did not take a holiday on 9/11. In Part III, I ask these left-leaning critics some questions evoked by the fact that it is they, not members of the 9/11 Truth Movement, who have endorsed a conspiracy theory replete with miracle stories as well as other absurdities.
I The Charge that 9/11 Truth Theories Rest on Unscientific, Even Magical, Beliefs
Several left-leaning critics of the 9/11 Truth Movement, besides showing contempt for its members, charge them with relying on claims that are contradicted by good science and, in some cases, reflect a belief in magic. By .magic,. they mean miracles, understood as violations of basic principles of the physical sciences.
For example, Alexander Cockburn, who has referred to members of the 9/11 Truth Movement as .9/11 conspiracy nuts,.3 quoted with approval a philosopher who, speaking of .the 9-11 conspiracy cult,. said that its .main engine . . . is . . . the death of any conception of evidence,. resulting in .the ascendancy of magic over common sense, let alone reason..4 Also, Cockburn assured his readers: .The conspiracy theory that the World Trade Centre towers were demolished by explosive charges previously placed within them is probably impossible..5 With regard to Building 7 of the World Trade Center, Cockburn claimed (in 2006) that the (2002) report by FEMA was .more than adequate..6
Likewise, George Monbiot, referring to members of the 9/11 Truth Movement as .fantasists,. .conspiracy idiots,. and .morons,. charged that they .believe that [the Bush regime] is capable of magic..7
Matt Taibbi, saying that the .9/11 conspiracy theory is so shamefully stupid. and referring to its members as .idiots,. wrote with contempt about the .alleged scientific impossibilities. in the official account of 9/11; about the claim that .the towers couldn't have fallen the way they did [without the aid of explosives].; of the view (held by .9/11 Truthers.) that .it isn't the plane crashes that topple the buildings, but bombs planted in the Towers that do the trick.; and of .the supposed anomalies of physics involved with the collapse of WTC-7.. He had been assured by .scientist friends,. he added, that .[a]ll of the 9/11 science claims. are .rank steaming bullshit..8
Chris Hayes, writing in The Nation in 2006, did not stoop to the kind of name-calling employed by Cockburn, Monbiot, and Taibbi. Also, he knew, he admitted, of .eyewitness accounts of [people] who heard explosions in the World Trade Center.. And he was aware that .jet fuel burns at 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit [whereas] steel melts at 2,500.. He asserted, nevertheless, that .the evidence shows [a 9/11 conspiracy] to be virtually impossible,. so that the 9/11 Truth Movement.s conspiracy theory is .wrongheaded and a terrible waste of time..9
Noam Chomsky has also declared that the available facts, when approached scientifically, refute the 9/11 Truth Movement. Speaking of evidence provided by this movement to show that 9/11 .was planned by the Bush Administration,. Chomsky declared: .If you look at the evidence, anybody who knows anything about the sciences would instantly discount that evidence..10 In spite of his dismissive attitude, however, Chomsky in 2006 gave some helpful advice to people who believe they have physical evidence refuting the official account:
.There are ways to assess that: submit it to specialists . . . who have the requisite background in civil-mechanical engineering, materials science, building construction, etc., for review and analysis. . . . Or, . . . submit it to a serious journal for peer review and publication. To my knowledge, there isn't a single submission..11
In These Times writer Terry Allen, in a 2006 essay entitled .The 9/11 Faith Movement,. assured her readers that .the facts [do not] support the conspiracists. key charge that World Trade Center buildings were destroyed by pre-positioned explosives..12
In an essay posted at AlterNet a few months after 9/11, David Corn used a purely a priori argument to demonstrate . at least to his own satisfaction . that 9/11 could not have been an inside job: .U.S. officials would [not have been] . . . good [capable] enough, evil enough, or gutsy enough..13 In 2009, after having been silent about 9/11 for the intervening years, he addressed the issue again. Referring to .9/11 conspiracy silliness,. .9/11 conspiracy poison,. and .9/11 fabulists,. Corn declared:
.The 9/11 conspiracy . . . was always a load of bunk. You don't have to be an expert on skyscraper engineering . . . to know that [this theory] make[s] no sense..14
Corn thereby implied that, whereas anyone can know that the 9/11 Truth Movement.s conspiracy theory is false, those people who are .expert[s] on skyscraper engineering. would have even more certain knowledge of this fact.
As to how people (such as himself) who are not experts on such matters could know this movement.s conspiracy theory to be .a load of bunk,. Corn again employed his three-point a priori argument, as re-worded in a later essay, according to which the Bush administration was .not that evil,. .not that ballsy,. and .not that competent..15 Corn even referred to his three-point argument as .a tutorial that should persuade anyone that the 9/11 theory makes no sense.. Although this .tutorial. does not, of course, convince members of the 9/11 Truth Movement, Corn explained this fact by saying: .I have learned from experience that people who believe this stuff are not open to persuasion..16
In any case, although his argument against the inside-job theory was almost entirely a priori, he did make the above-mentioned suggestion that one.s a priori certitude would be reinforced by people, such as .expert[s] on skyscraper engineering,. who have relevant types of expertise to evaluate the empirical evidence.
A fuller statement of the general claim made by these authors - that the 9/11 Truth Movement is based on unscientific claims . was formulated by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive. In an essay entitled .Enough of the 9/11 Conspiracy Theories Already,. Rothschild wrote:
.Here.s what the conspiracists believe: 9/11 was an inside job. . . . [T]he Twin Towers fell not because of the impact of the airplanes and the ensuing fires but because [of] explosives. Building 7, another high-rise at the World Trade Center that fell on 9/11, also came down by planted explosives. . . . I'm amazed at how many people give credence to these theories. . . . [S]ome of the best engineers in the country have studied these questions and come up with perfectly logical, scientific explanations for what happened. . . . At bottom, the 9/11 conspiracy theories are profoundly irrational and unscientific. It is more than passing strange that progressives, who so revere science on such issues as tobacco, stem cells, evolution, and global warming, are so willing to abandon science and give in to fantasy on the subject of 9/11..17
However, in spite of the confidence with which these critics have made their charges, the truth is the complete opposite: It is the official account of the destruction of the World Trade Center, which has been endorsed by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), that is profoundly unscientific (partly because it ignores a massive amount of evidence pointing to use of explosives18), and it is precisely for this reason that the 9/11 Truth Movement has come up with an alternative explanation . namely, that the WTC buildings were brought down in the procedure known as .controlled demolition..
II Miracles Implied by NIST.s Explanation of the WTC.s Destruction
The main reason why NIST.s theory of the destruction of the World Trade Center is profoundly unscientific is that it cannot be accepted without endorsing miracles, in the sense of violations of fundamental principles of physics and chemistry. I will demonstrate this point in terms of nine miracles implied by NIST.s accounts of the destruction of Building 7 of the World Trade Center (WTC 7) and the Twin Towers (WTC 1 and 2).
1. The Fire-Induced Collapse of WTC 7: An Apparent Miracle
WTC 7 was a 47-story building that, although it was not hit by a plane, came down at 5:21 PM that day. Unlike the collapse of the Twin Towers, the collapse of this building was not publicized. The 9/11 Commission Report, for example, did not even mention it.19 Many people have, accordingly, never heard of this building.s collapse. A Zogby poll in 2006, for example, found that 43 percent of the American people were still unaware that a third WTC building had collapsed, and even though NIST.s report on its collapse appeared in 2008, many people today still do not know that this building also came down.20 For the purposes of the present essay, in any case, the main point is that, insofar as people profess belief in the official account of this building.s collapse as articulated by NIST, they imply an acceptance of several miracles.
I begin with a fact about WTC 7.s collapse that at least appears to entail a miracle: that it was (according to the official account) the first steel-frame high-rise building in the known universe to be brought down solely by fire. The Twin Towers were hit by airliners, so the official account could attribute their collapses to the airplane impacts as well as to the ensuing fires. But WTC 7 was not hit by a plane, so its collapse apparently had to be attributed to fire alone.
The unprecedented nature of a fire-induced collapse of a steel-frame high-rise building was expressed a couple of months after 9/11 by New York Times reporter James Glanz. Calling the collapse of WTC 7 .a mystery,. Glanz reported that .experts said no building like it, a modern, steel-reinforced high-rise, had ever collapsed because of an uncontrolled fire.. Glanz also quoted a structural engineer as saying: .[W]ithin the structural engineering community, [WTC 7] is considered to be much more important to understand [than the Twin Towers],. because engineers had no answer to the question, .why did 7 come down?.21
The mystery was not lessened in 2002 when FEMA issued the first official report on this building.s collapse. Saying that its .best hypothesis. was that flaming debris from the collapse of the North Tower had ignited diesel fuel stored in the building, resulting in large, steel-weakening fires that made the building collapse, FEMA admitted that this hypothesis had .only a low probability of occurrence.22 (although Alexander Cockburn years later, as we saw above, would declare this report to be .more than adequate.).
This cautionary statement by FEMA did not, however, prevent defenders of the official account from claiming that WTC 7.s collapse was not really very mysterious after all. In a 2006 book, Popular Mechanics told its readers what they could probably expect to find in the report on this building to be put out by NIST . which had taken over from FEMA the responsibility for issuing the official reports on the Twin Towers and WTC 7. Citing NIST.s .current working hypothesis,. Popular Mechanics said that WTC 7.s diesel fuel had probably fed the fires .for up to seven hours..23
Also, using NIST.s then-current thinking in order to claim that .WTC 7 was far more compromised by falling debris than the FEMA report indicated,. Popular Mechanics argued that critics could not reject the official account on the grounds that it would make WTC 7 the first steel-frame high-rise to have failed .because of fire alone,. because, Popular Mechanics claimed, the causes of WTC 7.s collapse were analogous to the causes of the collapses of WTC 1 and WTC 2: .A combination of physical damage from falling debris [analogous to the damage caused in the Twin Towers by the airplane impacts] and prolonged exposure to the resulting [diesel-fuel-fed] fires [analogous to the jet-fuel-fed fires in the Twin Towers]..24
Popular Mechanics called this twofold explanation a .conclusion. that had been reached by .hundreds of experts from academia and private industry, as well as the government.. This claim evidently impressed many people, including Chris Hayes and Matthew Rothschild, both of whom said that Popular Mechanics had disproved the claims of the 9/11 Truth Movement. Rothschild, repeating Popular Mechanics. twofold explanation, wrote:
.Building 7 . . . is a favorite of the conspiracy theorists, since the planes did not strike this structure. But the building did sustain damage from the debris of the Twin Towers. .On about a third of the face to the center and to the bottom - approximately ten stories . about 25 percent of the depth of the building was scooped out,. Shyam Sunder, the lead investigator for the National Institute of Standards and Technology, told Popular Mechanics. What's more, the fire in the building lasted for about eight hours, in part because there were fuel tanks in the basement and on some of the floors..25
Hayes, saying that .Popular Mechanics assembled a team of engineers, physicists, flight experts and the like to critically examine some of the Truth Movement's most common claims,. reported that these experts .found them almost entirely without merit.. This counter-claim by Popular Mechanics evidently settled the matter for Hayes.26
Also, although Terry Allen did not mention Popular Mechanics, her article was apparently dependent on it. Assuring her readers that she had found it .relatively easy. to undermine the .facts. employed by the 9/11 Truth Movement, she wrote:
.Many conspiracists offer the collapse of WTC Building 7 as the strongest evidence for the kind of controlled demolition that would prove a plot. Although not hit by planes, it was damaged by debris, and suffered fires eventually fueled by up to 42,000 gallons of diesel fuel stored near ground level..27
Like Rothschild, therefore, she gave the same twofold explanation for WTC 7.s collapse that had been provided by Popular Mechanics.28
However, when NIST finally issued its WTC 7 report in 2008, it did not affirm either element in the twofold explanation that had been proffered by Popular Mechanics. With regard to the first element, NIST said: .[F]uel oil fires did not play a role in the collapse of WTC 7..29 With regard to the second element, NIST said: .Other than initiating the fires in WTC 7, the damage from the debris from WTC 1 [the North Tower] had little effect on initiating the collapse of WTC 7..30
This second point means that, contrary to what Popular Mechanics had claimed it would say, NIST actually asserted that WTC 7 was brought down by fire, at least primarily. In NIST.s words, the collapse of WTC 7 was .the first known instance of the total collapse of a [steel-frame] tall building primarily due to fires..31
One ambiguity needs clearing up: Although in these just-quoted statements, NIST seemed to indicate that the debris damage had a .little effect. on initiating the collapse, so that this collapse was only primarily (rather than entirely) due to fire, NIST generally treated fire as the sole cause: Besides repeatedly speaking of a .fire-induced. collapse,32 Also, in a press release announcing its Draft for Public Comment in August 2008, NIST called the collapse of WTC 7 .the first known instance of fire causing the total collapse of a tall building.. This press release, moreover, quoted lead investigator Shyam Sunder as saying: .Our study found that the fires in WTC 7 . . . caused an extraordinary event..33 The brief version of NIST.s final report said: .Even without the structural damage, WTC 7 would have collapsed from fires having the same characteristics as those experienced on September 11, 2001..34 The long version said: .WTC 7 sustained damage to its exterior as a result of falling debris from the collapse of WTC 1, but this damage was found to have no effect on the collapse initiating event..35
It is not wrong, therefore, to say that NIST portrayed WTC 7 as the first (and thus far only) steel-frame high-rise building to have come down because of fire alone. NIST said, in other words, precisely what Popular Mechanics, knowing that claims about unprecedented physical events are deeply suspect, had assured people it would not say.
In doing so, moreover, NIST contradicted both parts of Popular Mechanics. explanation for WTC 7.s collapse, which, according to Rothschild and Allen, had provided the basis for discounting the 9/11 Truth Movement.s claims about this collapse. To review: Rothschild said that the official account was credible, contrary to the Truth Movement.s claims, because .the building did sustain damage from the debris of the Twin Towers. and the .fire in the building lasted for about eight hours,. due to the .fuel tanks in the basement and on some of the floors.. Allen likewise said the official account was believable because, although WTC 7 was not hit by a plane, .it was damaged by debris, and suffered fires eventually fueled by up to 42,000 gallons of diesel fuel stored near ground level..36
But then, when NIST later denied that either the debris-damage or the diesel fuel played a role in the collapse of WTC 7, Rothschild and Allen did not retract their prior assurances. It seems that they, in effect, simply said . like Gilda Radner on Saturday Night Live in the 1970s . .Never mind.. Their attitude seemed to be, in other words, that whatever the government says, that is what they will believe. Whatever kind of journalism this is, it is certainly not truth-seeking journalism.
In any case, NIST.s claim that WTC 7 suffered an unprecedented, fire-induced collapse is made even more problematic by the fact that the fires in this building were relatively unimpressive, compared with fires in some other steel-frame high-rises. In 1991, a huge fire in Philadelphia.s One Meridian Plaza lasted for 18 hours and gutted eight of the building.s 38 floors. In Caracas in 2004, a fire in a 50-story building raged for 17 hours, completely gutting the building.s top 20 floors. In neither case, however, did the building, or even a single floor, collapse.37
In WTC 7, by contrast, there were long-lasting fires on only six of the building.s 47 floors, according to NIST, and by .long-lasting,. NIST meant only that they lasted up to seven hours.38 It would be exceedingly strange, therefore, if fire had produced a total collapse of this building. The claim becomes even stranger when one discovers that NIST had no evidence that the fires on any of the floors lasted for much over three hours.39
Accordingly, besides undermining the confident explanations of WTC 7.s collapse offered by Popular Mechanics, NIST.s conclusion about this building - that it was the first steel-frame high-rise building ever to be brought down by fire . appears to constitute a rather remarkable miracle-claim.
2. WTC 7.s Collapse: A Perfect Imitation of an Implosion
More clearly miraculous, given the official account, was the precise way in which WTC 7 collapsed: symmetrically (straight down, with an almost perfectly horizontal roofline), into its own footprint. In order for this symmetrical collapse to occur, all the (vertical) steel columns supporting the building had to fail simultaneously. There were 82 of these columns, so the fire theory of WTC 7.s collapse entails that the fires in this building caused all 82 of these columns to fail at the same instant.
Even if otherwise possible, such a symmetrical failure would have been essentially impossible even if the building had been entirely engulfed by fire, so that all the floors would have been evenly covered with fire. As it was, however, there were fires on only a few floors, and these fires never covered an entire floor at the same time. The official account implies, therefore, that a very asymmetrical pattern of fires produced an entirely symmetrical collapse. If that is not a genuine miracle, it will do until one comes along.
Another problem is the fact that, even if a symmetrical, total collapse could be caused by an asymmetrical pattern of fires, a fire theory could not explain the sudden onset of WTC 7.s collapse. Popular Mechanics, which is unreliable on every aspect of 9/11 (as I showed in my 2007 book, Debunking 9/11 Debunking40), apparently misled Chris Hayes on this point by suggesting otherwise. Attempting to illustrate his claim that Popular Mechanics had shown the core ideas of the 9/11 Truth Movement to be .almost entirely without merit,. Hayes wrote:
.To pick just one example, steel might not melt at 1,500 degrees [Fahrenheit], the temperature at which jet fuel burns, but it does begin to lose a lot of its strength, enough to cause the support beams to fail..41
However, even if the fire could have heated the steel up to this temperature in the time available (which would have been impossible42), the fire would have weakened the steel gradually, causing it to start sagging. Videos would, therefore, show deformations in the building before it came down. But they do not. One moment the building was perfectly immobile, and the next moment, as videos show,43 it was accelerating downward in free fall (the significance of free fall will be discussed below). As Australian chemist Frank Legge has observed: .There is no sign of the slow start that would be expected if collapse was caused by the gradual softening of the steel..44
Because of these two features of the collapse, anyone knowing anything about such things can tell, simply by seeing a video of WTC 7.s collapse, that it was brought down in the procedure known as .controlled demolition.. For example, Daniel Hofnung, an engineer in Paris, has written:
.In the years after [the] 9/11 events, I thought that all I read in professional reviews and French newspapers was true. The first time I understood that it was impossible was when I saw a film about the collapse of WTC 7..45
Kansas City civil engineer Chester Gearhart wrote:
.I have watched the construction of many large buildings and also have personally witnessed 5 controlled demolitions in Kansas City. When I saw the towers fall on 9/11, I knew something was wrong and my first instinct was that it was impossible. When I saw building 7 fall, I knew it was a controlled demolition..46
Jack Keller, emeritus professor of engineering at Utah State University (who had been named by Scientific American as one of the world.s leaders in using science and technology to benefit society), wrote simply of WTC 7.s collapse: .Obviously it was the result of controlled demolition..47
In revealing the collapse of WTC 7 to be an example of controlled demolition, moreover, the videos show it to be the type of controlled demolition known as .implosion,. in which explosives and/or incendiaries are used to slice the building.s steel support columns so as to cause the building to collapse into its own footprint.
In 2006, for example, a Dutch filmmaker asked Danny Jowenko, the owner of a controlled demolition company in the Netherlands, to comment on a video of the collapse of WTC 7, without telling him what it was. (Jowenko had been unaware that a third building had collapsed in New York on 9/11.) After viewing the video, Jowenko said: .They simply blew up columns, and the rest caved in afterwards. . . . This is controlled demolition.. When asked if he was certain, he replied: .Absolutely, it.s been imploded. This was a hired job. A team of experts did this..48
Moreover, the reason to implode a building, rather than simply causing it to fall over sideways, is to avoid damaging nearby buildings, and engineering an implosion is no mean feat. An implosion, in the words of a controlled demolition website, is .by far the trickiest type of explosive project,. which .only a handful of blasting companies in the world . . . possess enough experience . . . to perform..49 Mark Loizeaux, the president of the afore-mentioned demolition firm, Controlled Demolition, Inc., has explained why: .[T]o bring [a building] down . . . so . . . no other structure is harmed,. the demolition must be .completely planned,. using .the right explosive [and] the right pattern of laying the charges..50
Would it not be a miracle if a fire-induced collapse, based on scattered fires on a few of WTC 7.s floors, had produced a collapse that perfectly imitated the kind of planned, controlled demolition that can be carried out by only a few companies in the world?
Chris Hayes suggested that the 9/11 Truth Movement, by doubting the government.s account of 9/11, exemplifies a resurgence of the .paranoid style. in American politics. But in accepting the government.s account, as defended by the pseudo-scientific Popular Mechanics, he illustrated the other target of his article, the .credulous style,. which, he pointed out, is generally exemplified by the American media.51 Surely, however, his credulity does not extend to the acceptance of miracles.
3. WTC 7.s Descent in Absolute Free Fall
Even if some readers question whether the two previously discussed features of the collapse of WTC 7, when understood within the framework of NIST.s fire theory, imply miracles, there can be no doubt about a third feature: the now-accepted (albeit generally unpublicized) fact that WTC 7 came down in absolute free fall for over two seconds.
Although members of the 9/11 Truth Movement had long been pointing out that this building descended at the same rate as a free-falling object, or at least virtually so, NIST had long denied this. As late as August 2008, when NIST issued its report on WTC 7 in the form of a Draft for Public Comment, it claimed that the time it took for the upper floors . the only floors that are visible on the videos - to come down .was approximately 40 percent longer than the computed free fall time and was consistent with physical principles..52
As this statement implied, any assertion that the building did come down in free fall, assuming a non-engineered collapse, would not be consistent with physical principles . meaning basic laws of Newtonian physics. Explaining why not during a .WTC 7 Technical Briefing. on August 26, 2008, NIST.s Shyam Sunder said:
.[A] free fall time would be [the fall time of] an object that has no structural components below it. . . . [T]he . . . time that it took . . . for those 17 floors to disappear [was roughly 40 percent longer than free fall]. And that is not at all unusual, because there was structural resistance that was provided in this particular case. And you had a sequence of structural failures that had to take place. Everything was not instantaneous..53
In saying this, Sunder was presupposing NIST.s theory that the building was brought down by fire, which, if it could have produced a collapse of any type, could have produced only a progressive collapse.
In response, high-school physics teacher David Chandler, who was allowed to submit a question at this briefing, challenged Sunder.s denial of free fall, stating that Sunder.s .40 percent longer. claim contradicted .a publicly visible, easily measurable quantity..54 Chandler then placed a video on the Internet showing that, by measuring this publicly visible quantity, anyone understanding elementary physics could see that .for about two and a half seconds. . . , the acceleration of the building is indistinguishable from freefall..55 (This is, of course, free fall through the air, not through a vacuum.)
In its final report on WTC 7, which came out in November 2008, NIST . rather amazingly - admitted free fall. Dividing the building.s descent into three stages, NIST described the second phase as .a freefall descent over approximately eight stories at gravitational acceleration for approximately 2.25 s[econds]..56 NIST thereby accepted Chandler.s case . except for maintaining that the building was in absolute free fall for only 2.25, not 2.5, seconds (a trivial difference). NIST thereby affirmed a miracle, meaning a violation of one or more laws of physics.
Why this would be a miracle was explained by Chandler, who said: .Free fall can only be achieved if there is zero resistance to the motion..57 In other words, the upper portion of Building 7 could have come down in free fall only if something had suddenly removed all the steel and concrete in the lower part of the building, which would have otherwise provided resistance (to make a considerable understatement). If everything had not been removed and the upper floors had come down in free fall anyway, even if for only a fraction of a second, this would have been a miracle . meaning a violation of physical principles. Explaining one of the physical principles involved, Chandler said:
.Anything at an elevated height has gravitational potential energy. If it falls, and none of the energy is used for other things along the way, all of that energy is converted into kinetic energy . the energy of motion, and we call it .free fall.. If any of the energy is used for other purposes, there will be less kinetic energy, so the fall will be slower. In the case of a falling building, the only way it can go into free fall is if an external force removes the supporting structure. None of the gravitational potential energy of the building is available for this purpose, or it would slow the fall of the building..58
That was what Sunder himself had explained, on NIST.s behalf, the previous August, saying that a free-falling object would be one .that has no structural components below it. to offer resistance. But NIST then in November, while still under Sunder.s leadership and still defending its fire theory of WTC 7.s collapse, agreed that, as an empirical fact, free fall happened. For a period of 2.25 seconds, NIST admitted, the descent of WTC 7 was characterized by .gravitational acceleration (free fall)..59
Besides pointing out that the free fall descent of WTC 7 implied that the building had been professionally demolished, Chandler observed that this conclusion is reinforced by two features of the collapse mentioned above:
.[P]articularly striking is the suddenness of onset of free fall. Acceleration doesn.t build up gradually. . . . The building went from full support to zero support, instantly. . . . One moment, the building is holding; the next moment it lets go and is in complete free fall. . . . The onset of free fall was not only sudden; it extended across the whole width of the building. . . . The fact that the roof stayed level shows the building was in free fall across the entire width. The collapse we see cannot be due to a column failure, or a few column failures, or a sequence of column failures. All 24 interior columns and 58 perimeter columns had to have been removed . . . simultaneously, within a small fraction of a second..60
For its part, NIST, knowing that it had affirmed a miracle by agreeing that WTC 7 had entered into free fall, no longer claimed that its analysis was consistent with the laws of physics. Back in its August draft, in which it was still claiming that the collapse occurred 40 percent slower than free fall, NIST had said . in a claim made three times . that its analysis was .consistent with physical principles..61 In the final report, however, every instance of this phrase was removed. NIST thereby almost explicitly admitted that its report on WTC 7, by affirming absolute free fall while continuing to deny that either incendiaries or explosives had been employed, is not consistent with basic principles of physics.
Accordingly, now that it is established that WTC 7 came down in absolute free fall for over two seconds, one cannot accept the official theory, according to which this building was not professionally demolished, without implying that at least one miracle happened on 9/11.
George Monbiot, as we saw, described members of this movement as .morons. who .believe that [the Bush regime] is capable of magic.. Unless Monbiot, upon becoming aware of NIST.s admission of free fall, changes his stance, he will imply that al-Qaeda is capable of magic.
Matthew Rothschild said he was .amazed. at how many people hold the .profoundly irrational and unscientific. belief that .Building 7 . . . came down by planted explosives.. Given the fact that progressive members of the 9/11 Truth Movement .so revere science on such issues as tobacco, stem cells, evolution, and global warming,. Rothschild continued, it is .more than passing strange that [they] are so willing to abandon science and give in to fantasy on the subject of 9/11..
NIST.s report on WTC 7, however, provided the final proof that the 9/11 Truth Movement had been right all along . that those progressives who credulously accept the Bush-Cheney administration.s explanation for WTC 7.s collapse are the ones who .abandon science and give in to fantasy on the subject of 9/11..
4. The Twin Towers: Descending in Virtual Free Fall
Miracles are implied not only by the official account of WTC 7.s collapse but also by the official account of the destruction of the Twin Towers. According to this account, the North Tower (WTC 1) and the South Tower (WTC 2) came down because of three and only three causes: (i) the airplane impacts, which caused structural damage; (ii) the ensuing fires, which were initially fed and spread by jet fuel from the planes; and (iii) gravity. NIST.s negative claim here is that neither explosives nor incendiaries helped bring the buildings down.
One of the miracles implicit in this account is that, although each building had 287 steel support columns - 240 perimeter columns and 47 massive core columns . and although neither explosives nor incendiaries were used to destroy these columns, each building came down, as NIST itself put it, .essentially in free fall..62 How would that have been possible?
According to NIST, each airliner took out several perimeter and core columns at its area of impact and also created huge fires, which began weakening the steel. After a period of time (56 minutes for the South Tower, 102 minutes for the North Tower), .the massive top section of [each] building at and above the fire and impact floors. fell down on the lower section, which .could not resist the tremendous energy released by [the top section.s] downward movement..63 Accordingly, NIST.s report said:
.Since the stories below the level of collapse initiation provided little resistance to the tremendous energy released by the falling building mass, the building section above came down essentially in free fall, as seen in videos..64
Trying to describe more fully its theory of how this happened, NIST wrote:
.The potential energy released by the downward movement of the large building mass far exceeded the capacity of the intact structure below to absorb that energy through energy of deformation. . . . As the stories below sequentially failed, the falling mass increased, further increasing the demand on the floors below, which were unable to arrest the moving mass. In other words, the momentum [of the top stories] falling on the supporting structure below . . . so greatly exceeded the strength capacity of the structure below that [the latter] was unable to stop or even to slow the falling mass..65
Even before we think about any specific law of physics violated by this account (assuming that no explosives or incendiaries were used to remove the steel columns), we can see intuitively that this explanation implies a miracle: As NIST critic Jim Hoffman has pointed out, it .requires us to believe that the massive steel frames of the [lower structure of the] towers provided no more resistance to falling rubble than [would] air..66
As to why physics rules out NIST.s account, William Rice, who has both practiced and taught structural engineering, pointed out that NIST.s account .violates Newton.s Law of Conservation of Momentum,. which requires that, .as the stationary inertia of each floor is overcome by being hit,. the speed of descent must decrease.67 A paper by physicists and engineers published in an engineering journal agreed, stating:
.NIST evidently neglects a fundamental law of physics in glibly treating the remarkable .free fall. collapse of each Tower, namely, the Law of Conservation of Momentum. This law of physics means that the hundreds of thousands of tons of material in the way must slow the upper part of the building because of its mass..68
A letter to NIST signed by physicist Steven Jones, chemist Kevin Ryan, and architect Richard Gage, among others, made a similar point, saying:
.Basic principles of engineering (for example, the conservation of momentum principle) would dictate that the undamaged steel structure below the collapse initiation zone would, at the very least, resist and slow the downward movement of the stories above. There is, indeed, a good chance that the structural strength of the steelwork below would arrest the downward movement of the stories above..69
NIST, as we saw above, claimed that the lower portion would not retard . let alone arrest - the downward movement of the upper part, because the .tremendous energy. of the upper part.s downward momentum would be irresistible. Let us examine this claim with regard to the North Tower. It was struck at the 95th floor, so the upper portion consisted of only 16 floors. Also, the structure at this height had relatively little weight to bear, compared with the structure lower down, so the steel columns in the upper part, above the area of impact, were much thinner than those in the lower part. This means that the upper 16 floors probably constituted less than 15 percent of the building.s total weight. Also, the top portion would have fallen only a story or two before hitting the lower portion, so it would not have acquired much velocity before striking the lower portion. For these reasons, the top portion would have not had much momentum, so its energy would not have been so .tremendous,. it would seem, as to be irresistible by the lower part, with its millions of pounds of interconnected steel.
This conclusion, based on a purely commonsense analysis, was confirmed by a technical analysis of the North Tower collapse by mechanical engineer Gordon Ross. Far from failing to retard the downward movement of the building.s upper portion, his analysis showed, the lower portion would have quickly and completely stopped the top portion.s descent. Having made the necessary calculations (which NIST failed to do), Ross concluded that the .vertical movement of the falling section would [have been] arrested . . . within 0.02 seconds after impact. A collapse driven only by gravity would not continue to progress beyond that point..70
If Ross.s calculations are even close to accurate, then NIST.s account . according to which the Twin Towers came down .essentially in free fall,. even though they were not professionally demolished - implied two enormous miracles (one for each building).
Another element in NIST.s account, to be sure, is the claim that the fires in the buildings weakened the steel, so that it provided less resistance than normal. .[W]hen bare steel reaches temperatures of 1,000 degrees Celsius,. NIST wrote, .it softens and its strength reduces to roughly 10 percent of its room temperature value..71 NIST thereby, without actually saying it, implied that the steel columns had been heated up to the point where they lost 90 percent of their strength.
NIST was in this way able to mislead some nonscientific journalists into thinking that fire could have caused the Twin Towers to collapse. Alexander Cockburn, stating that the collapses did not require preplaced explosives, said: .High grade steel can bend disastrously under extreme heat..72 Chris Hayes, stating that the 9/11 Truth Movement.s claims about the Twin Towers are without merit, wrote (in a passage quoted earlier): .[S]teel might not melt at 1,500 degrees (Fahrenheit], the temperature at which jet fuel burns, but it does begin to lose a lot of its strength, enough to cause the support beams to fail..73
However, the idea that steel heated up by fire could account for the collapses of the Twin Towers is wrong for at least two reasons. In the first place, even if the steel had indeed lost 90 percent of its strength, it would still have offered some resistance, because the law of conservation of momentum would not have taken a holiday. So a collapse .essentially in free fall. would have been impossible.
In the second place, there is no empirical basis for claiming that either tower.s steel had lost any strength, let alone 90 percent of it. On the one hand, as MIT engineering professor Thomas Eagar has pointed out, structural steel only .begins to soften around 425°C [797°F]..74 On the other hand, scientific studies on 16 perimeter columns carried out by NIST scientists found that .only three [of these perimeter] columns had evidence that the steel reached temperatures above 250.C [482.F].. These NIST scientists also found no evidence that even this temperature (250.C [482.F]) had been reached by any of the core columns.75
Accordingly, far from having evidence that any of the steel in the columns reached the temperature (1,000°C [1,832°F]) at which it would have lost 90 percent of its strength, NIST had no evidence that any of the columns would have lost even one percent of their strength. If neither explosives nor incendiaries were used to remove the 287 steel support columns, therefore, the top portion of the building came down through the lower portion as if it were not there, even though the steel in that portion was at full strength.
In claiming, therefore, that both of the Twin Towers came down essentially in free fall without the aid of either incendiaries or explosives, NIST implied enormous violations of the physical principle known as the conservation of momentum. Although Rothschild accused the 9/11 Truth Movement of being .irrational and unscientific,. this characterization applies instead to NIST.s report on the Twin Towers and anyone who accepts it.
5. The South Tower.s Mid-Air Miracles
Having illustrated the previous miracle primarily in terms of the North Tower, I turn now to a miracle unique to the South Tower. It was struck at the 80th floor, so that its upper portion consisted of a 30-floor block. As videos of the beginning of this building.s collapse show, this block began tipping toward the corner that had been most damaged by the airplane.s impact. According to the law of the conservation of angular momentum, this section should have fallen to the ground far outside the building.s footprint. .However,. Jim Hoffman and fellow 9/11 researcher Don Hoffman have observed,
.as the top then began to fall, the rotation decelerated. Then it reversed direction [even though the] law of conservation of angular momentum states that a solid object in rotation will continue to rotate at the same speed unless acted on by a torque..76
And then, as if this were not miraculous enough:
.We observe [wrote physicist Steven Jones] that approximately 30 upper floors begin to rotate as a block, to the south and east. They begin to topple over, not fall straight down. The torque due to gravity on this block is enormous, as is its angular momentum. But then . and this I.m still puzzling over . this block turned mostly to powder in mid-air! How can we understand this strange behavior, without explosives?.77
If someone were to ask how even explosives could explain this behavior, we could turn to a statement by Mark Loizeaux, the president of Controlled Demolition, Inc. In response to an interviewer.s question as to how he made .doomed structures dance or walk,. Loizeaux said:
.[B]y differentially controlling the velocity of failure in different parts of the structure, you can make it walk, you can make it spin, you can make it dance. We've taken it and moved it, then dropped it or moved it, twisted it and moved it down further - and then stopped it and moved it again. We've dropped structures 15 storeys, stopped them and then laid them sideways. We'll have structures start facing north and end up going to the north-west..78
If we suppose that explosives were used, therefore, we can understand the mid-air dance performed by the upper portion of the South Tower.
If we refuse to posit explosives, however, we are stuck with a major miracle: Although the upper block was rotating and tipping in such a way that its angular momentum should have caused it to fall down to the side, it somehow righted itself by disintegrating.
This disintegration, incidentally, further undermines the official theory, according to which the .tremendous energy. of this block.s downward momentum caused the lower part of the South Tower to collapse. This theory requires that the upper part smashed down, as a solid block, on the lower part. Videos show, however, that it did not. As Gage, Jones, Ryan, and other colleagues pointed out to NIST:
.[T]he upper portion of WTC 2 did not fall as a block upon the lower undamaged portion, but instead disintegrated as it fell. Thus, there would be no single large impact from a falling block . . . [but only] a series of small impacts as the fragments of the disintegrating upper portion arrived..79
6. Horizontal Ejections from the Twin Towers
Dwain Deets, former director of the research engineering division at NASA.s Dryden Flight Research Center, has written that the .massive structural members being hurled horizontally. from the Twin Towers .leave no doubt. in his mind that .explosives were involved..80
Deets was referring to the fact that the collapse of each of the Twin Towers began with a massive explosion near the top, during which huge sections of perimeter columns were ejected out horizontally so powerfully that some of them traveled 500 to 600 feet. Although this feature of the collapses was not mentioned in NIST.s (2005) report on the Twin Towers, there could be no doubt about it, because some of these sections of steel implanted themselves in neighboring buildings, as can be seen in videos and photographs.81
These ejections are now, in any case, part of the official account, because NIST, apparently finding them necessary to explain how fires got started in WTC 7, mentioned them in its report on this building. In Shyam Sunder.s opening statement at the August 2008 press briefing to announce the release of NIST.s final report on WTC 7, he said: .The debris from Tower 1 . . . started fires on at least 10 floors of the building..82 NIST.s WTC 7 report said: .The fires in WTC 7 were ignited as a result of the impact of debris from the collapse of WTC 1, which was approximately 110 m[eters] (350 ft) to the south..83
NIST thereby admitted that debris had been thrown out horizontally from the North Tower at least 350 feet.84 NIST.s report also stated:
.When WTC 1 collapsed at 10:28:22 AM, . . . some fragments [of debris] were forcibly ejected and traveled distances up to hundreds of meters. Pieces of WTC 1 hit WTC 7, severing six columns on Floors 7 through 17 on the south face and one column on the west face near the southwest corner. The debris also caused structural damage between Floor 44 and the roof..85
Debris that caused such extensive damage, including the severing of seven steel columns, had to be quite heavy. NIST seemed to be granting, therefore, that sections of steel columns had been hurled at least 650 feet (because .hundreds of meters. would mean at least 200 meters, which would be about 650 feet). Enormous force would be needed to eject large sections of steel that far out.
What could have produced this force? According to NIST, as we saw earlier, there were only three causal factors in the collapse of the Twin Towers: the airplane impacts, the fires, and gravitational attraction. The airplane impacts had occurred 56 minutes (South Tower) and 102 minutes (North Tower) earlier, and gravitational attraction pulls things straight downward. Fire could, to be sure, produce horizontal ejections by causing jet fuel to explode, but the jet fuel had, NIST pointed out, burned up within .a few minutes..86 Therefore, although NIST admitted that these horizontal ejections occurred, it suggested no energy source to explain them.
High explosives, such as RDX or nanothermite, could explain these horizontal ejections. According to NIST, however, explosives did not contribute to the destruction of the Twin Towers. Those who accept NIST.s account must, therefore, regard these horizontal ejections as constituting yet another miracle.
7. Metal-Melting Fires
In light of the above-discussed unprecedented effects produced by the fires in the WTC buildings (according to the official account), it would seem that these fires must have had miraculous powers. This conclusion is reinforced by an examination of still more extraordinary effects.
Swiss-Cheese Steel: Within a few months of 9/11, three professors from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) had issued a brief report about a piece of steel recovered from the WTC 7 debris, stating that it had undergone .microstructural changes,. including .intergranular melting..87 A greatly expanded version of this report, which contained a description of a similarly eroded piece of steel from one of the Twin Towers, was included as an appendix to the first official report on the destruction of the World Trade Center, which was issued by FEMA in 2002.88
A New York Times story, noting that parts of these pieces of steel had .melted away,. even though .no fire in any of the buildings was believed to be hot enough to melt steel outright,. said that these discoveries constituted .[p]erhaps the deepest mystery uncovered in the investigation..89 Describing these mysterious pieces of steel more fully, an article in WPI.s magazine, entitled .The .Deep Mystery. of Melted Steel,. said:
.[S]teel . which has a melting point of 2,800 degrees Fahrenheit . may weaken and bend, but does not melt during an ordinary office fire. Yet . . . [a] one-inch column has been reduced to half-inch thickness. Its edges . which are curled like a paper scroll . have been thinned to almost razor sharpness. Gaping holes . some larger than a silver dollar . let light shine through a formerly solid steel flange. This Swiss cheese appearance shocked all of the fire-wise professors, who expected to see distortion and bending . but not holes..90
One of the three WPI professors, Jonathan Barnett, was quoted by the Times as saying that the steel .appear[ed] to have been partly evaporated in extraordinarily high temperatures..91
That the steel had actually evaporated . not merely melted . was also reported in another New York Times story. Professor Abolhassan Astaneh-Asl of the University of California at Berkeley, speaking of a horizontal I-beam from WTC 7, reportedly said: .Parts of the flat top of the I, once five-eighths of an inch thick, had vaporized..92
Why do these phenomena involve miracles? Because the fires could not possibly, even under the most ideal conditions (which did not obtain), have been hotter than 1,800 degrees Fahrenheit (the maximum possible temperature for hydrocarbon-based building fires, which these fires were said to be), whereas the melting and boiling points of steel are only slightly lower than those of iron, which are 2,800°F and 5,182°F, respectively.93 So if one accepts the official account, according to which all the heat was produced by the building fires, then one must believe that these fires had miraculous powers.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), which took over from FEMA the task of writing the official reports on the WTC, avoided this issue by simply not mentioning any of these pieces of steel, even though two of them had been discussed in a FEMA report appendix. NIST even claimed that no recovered steel from WTC 7 could be identified, because the steel used in this building, unlike that used in the Twin Towers, .did not contain . . . identifying characteristics..94
In making this claim, however, NIST was clearly not being truthful. For one thing, it had previously published a document in which it had referred to steel recovered from WTC 7 . including the piece discussed by the WPI professors.95 Also, NIST.s claim about not identifying any WTC 7 steel was made in August 2008, shortly after the airing in July 2008 of a BBC program on WTC 7, in which one of those WPI professors, Jonathan Barnett, had discussed an .eroded and deformed. piece of steel from WTC 7, which he and his colleagues had studied in 2001. These professors knew .its pedigree,. Barnett explained, because .this particular kind of steel. had been used only in WTC 7, not in the Twin Towers.96
So, although it called the collapse of WTC 7 .the first known instance of fire causing the total collapse of a tall building,.97 NIST had demonstrated its awareness of a recovered piece of steel from this building that only a very miraculous fire could have produced. NIST was surely also aware of the similarly eroded piece of steel from one of the Twin Towers, which had likewise been reported by the WPI professors in their paper included as an appendix to the 2002 FEMA report.
If the fires in WTC 7 and the Twin Towers had miraculous powers, we would expect still more miraculous effects to have been discovered, and this was indeed the case.
Melted Iron: The RJ Lee Group, a scientific research organization, was hired by Deutsche Bank, which had a building close to the World Trade Center, to prove that the dust contaminating its building after 9/11 was not ordinary building dust, as its insurance company claimed, but had resulted from the destruction of the World Trade Center. The RJ Lee Group.s reports showed that the dust in the bank.s building shared the unique chemical signature of the WTC dust, part of which was .[s]pherical iron . . . particles..98 There were, moreover, an enormous number of these particles: Whereas iron particles constitute only 0.04 percent of normal building dust, they constituted (a whopping) 5.87 percent of the WTC dust.99 The existence of these particles, the RJ Lee Group said, proved that iron had .melted during the WTC Event..100 The scientists conducting the EPA.s WTC dust signature study, incidentally, had at one time considered including .iron spheres. among the components to be mentioned; it would be interesting to learn why this idea was dropped.101
In any case, the identification of iron spheres by both the EPA and the RJ Lee Group was another miraculous discovery, for the reason given above: The melting point of iron is 2,800°F, whereas the WTC fires could not possibly have gotten above 1,800°F.102
Melted Molybdenum: Scientists at the US Geological Survey, in a study intended to aid the .identification of WTC dust components,. discovered an even more miraculous effect of the fires. Besides finding the spherical iron-rich particles, these scientists found that molybdenum, the melting point of which is 4,753°F (2,623°C), had also melted. Although these USGS scientists failed to mention this discovery in their published report,103 another group of scientists, having obtained the USGS team.s data through a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request, reported evidence showing that the USGS scientists had devoted serious study to .a molybdenum-rich spherule..103
8. Inextinguishable Fires
Besides having the power to produce the miraculous effects already reported, the World Trade Center fires were also miraculously inextinguishable. The fact that fires continued burning in the Ground Zero rubble for many months, in spite of every attempt to put them out, was widely reported. The title of a New York Times story in the middle of November, two months after the attacks, referred to the .Most Stubborn Fire.. A New Scientist article in December was entitled .Ground Zero.s Fires Still Burning.. Very hot fires continued to burn in the Ground Zero debris piles, these stories reported, even though heavy rains came down, millions of additional gallons of water were sprayed onto the piles, and a chemical suppressant was pumped into them.105
According to Greg Fuchek, vice president of a company that supplied computer equipment to identify human remains at the site, the working conditions at Ground Zero remained "hellish" for six months, because the ground temperature ranged from 600 to 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit.106
These inextinguishable fires were a mystery. Assuming the truth of the official account of the destruction of the World Trade Center, there would have been nothing in the debris pile other than ordinary building materials, and these can burn only in the presence of oxygen. There would have been little oxygen available in the densely packed debris piles, and wherever it was available, the fires should have been easily suppressed by the enormous amounts of water and chemical suppressants pumped into the piles. The fires. seemingly miraculous power to keep burning could not be explained by the airplanes. jet fuel (which some people seem to think of as having miraculous powers, even though it is essentially kerosene), because it would have all burned out, as mentioned above, within a few minutes.
A non-miraculous explanation is suggested by the discovery of a large amount of nanothermite residue in the WTC dust, which was reported in a peer-reviewed scientific journal in 2009.107 Being both an incendiary and a high explosive, nanothermite is one among several types of .energetic nanocomposites. . described by an article in The Environmentalist as .chemical energetic materials, which provide their own fuel and oxidant and are not deterred by water, dust or chemical suppressants..108 The discovery of nanothermite residue in the dust provided, therefore, an empirical basis for a non-miraculous explanation of the long-lasting fires at Ground Zero.
According to the official account, however, the buildings were all brought down without the aid of any incendiaries or explosives. WTC 7 was said by NIST, as we saw above, to have been brought down by fire alone, and this fire, NIST added, was .an ordinary building contents fire..109 As for the Twin Towers, they were brought down through the combined effects of the airplane impacts and the ensuing fires: NIST explicitly rejected .alternative hypotheses suggesting that the WTC towers were brought down by controlled demolition using explosives..110
For anyone who accepts the official account, therefore, the inextinguishable underground fires at Ground Zero provide still another demonstration of miraculous powers that must have been possessed by the World Trade Center fires.
9. Supernatural Sulfur
In the seventh section, I discussed the two Swiss-cheese-appearing pieces of steel that had been recovered from the World Trade Center rubble . one from WTC 7, the other from one of the Twin Towers. In that discussion, however, I ignored one of the central features of these pieces of steel, which was central to the reason they were said by the New York Times to constitute .the deepest mystery..
This was the fact that the thinning of the steel had resulted, according to the three WPI professors. report, from sulfidation, but there was no explanation for the source of the sulfur or the mechanism through which it entered into the steel. According to a preliminary analysis reported by the professors, said the NYT article, .sulfur released during the fires . no one knows from where . may have combined with atoms in the steel to form compounds that melt at lower temperatures..111
This phenomenon was discussed more fully in the article, .The .Deep Mystery. of Melted Steel,. in WPI.s magazine, which attributed the holes and the thinning to .a eutectic reaction. that .occurred at the surface, causing intergranular melting capable of turning a solid steel girder into Swiss cheese..112
In summarizing their findings in the paper included in the FEMA report, the three professors wrote:
.1. The thinning of the steel occurred by a high-temperature corrosion due to a combination of oxidation and sulfidation.
.2. Heating of the steel into a hot corrosive environment approaching 1,000°C (1,832°F) results in the formation of a eutectic mixture of iron, oxygen, and sulfur that liquefied the steel.
.3. The sulfidation attack of steel grain boundaries accelerated the corrosion and erosion of the steel..113
Then, having mentioned sulfidation in each of these three points, the professors added: .The severe corrosion and subsequent erosion of Samples 1 and 2 are a very unusual event. No clear explanation for the source of the sulfur has been identified. . . . A detailed study into the mechanisms of this phenomenon is needed..114
However, although Arden Bement, who was the director of NIST when it took over the WTC project from FEMA, said that NIST.s report would address .all major recommendations contained in the [FEMA] report,.115 NIST ignored this recommendation. Indeed, as we saw earlier, it did not even mention these Swiss-cheese pieces of steel.
Also, when NIST was later asked about the sulfidation, it tried to maintain that the source of the sulfur was not actually a mystery, saying that .sulfur is present in the gypsum wallboard that was prevalent in the interior partitions..116
But there are three problems with this explanation. First, gypsum is calcium sulfate, so if all the sulfur discovered had been from gypsum wallboard, it would have been matched by about the same percentage of calcium. That, however, was not the case.117
Second, the WPI professors reported not merely that there was sulfur in the debris, but that the steel had been sulfidized. This means that sulfur had entered into the intergranular structure of the steel (which the New York Times article had indicated by saying that sulfur had .combined with atoms in the steel.). As chemist Kevin Ryan has said, the question NIST would need to answer is: .[H]ow did sulfates, from wallboard, tunnel into the intergranular microstructure of the steel and then form sulfides within?.118 Physicist Steven Jones added:
.[I]f NIST claims that sulfur is present in the steel from gypsum, they should do an (easy) experiment to heat steel to about 1000°C in the presence of gypsum and then test whether sulfur has entered the steel. . . . [T]hey will find that sulfur does not enter steel under such circumstances..119
Chemistry professor Niels Harrit has explained why it would not: Although gypsum contains sulfur, this is not elemental sulfur, which can react with iron, but sulfur in the form of calcium sulfate, which cannot.120
The official account of the destruction of the World Trade Center, therefore, implies that the sulfidized steel had been produced by a twofold miracle: Besides the fact that the fires, as we saw earlier, could have melted steel only if they had possessed miraculous powers, the sulfur in the wallboard could have entered into this melted steel only by virtue of supernatural powers.
Once again, a non-miraculous explanation is available: We need only suppose that thermate, a well-known incendiary, had been employed. As Steven Jones has written:
.The thermate reaction proceeds rapidly and is in general faster than basic thermite in cutting through steel due to the presence of sulfur. (Elemental sulfur forms a low-melting-temperature eutectic with iron.).121
Besides providing an explanation for the eutectic reaction, thermate could also, Jones pointed out, explain the melting, oxidation, and sulfidation of the steel:
.When you put sulfur into thermite it makes the steel melt at a much lower temperature, so instead of melting at about 1,538°C [2,800°F] it melts at approximately 988°C [1,820°F], and you get sulfidation and oxidation in the attacked steel..122
NIST, however, insists that no incendiaries were employed: WTC 7 was brought down by fire alone; the Twin Towers by the fires combined with damage from the airplane impacts. Those who endorse the official account, therefore, are stuck with yet another miracle.
III Which 9/11 Conspiracy Theory Is Truly Discrediting and Distracting?
In light of the above facts, I ask Terry Allen, David Corn, Noam Chomsky, Alexander Cockburn, Chris Hayes, George Monbiot, Matthew Rothschild, and Matt Taibbi: Are you still comfortable with endorsing the official account of the destruction of the World Trade Center?
A symposium on .State Crimes Against Democracy. in one of our major social science journals, American Behavioral Scientist,123 has recently addressed this issue. Likening Orwell.s .secret doctrine. that 2 + 2 = 4, which intellectuals must safeguard in dark times, to unquestioned laws of physics, one of the symposium.s authors criticized .the awesome intellectual silence making permissible the blithe dismissal of more than one law of thermodynamics in the World Trade Center Towers. collapse..124 Part of this silence has involved the failure of the academy to protest when .Professor Steven Jones found himself forced out of [a] tenured position for merely reminding the world that physical laws, about which there is no dissent whatsoever, contradict the official theory of the World Trade Center Towers. collapse..125
I wonder if you are still comfortable with giving your own consent to NIST.s .blithe dismissal. of otherwise unquestioned physical principles . as did Cockburn, when he ridiculed the 9/11 Truth Movement for its .delirious litanies about . . . the collapse of the WTC buildings,. and Taibbi, when he wrote contemptuously of people who have tried to educate him .on the supposed anomalies of physics involved with the collapse of WTC-7..126 I would think that, if there are good reasons to suspect that these physical principles have been dismissed in the interests of covering up a major state crime against democracy, you would be especially uncomfortable with giving your consent to it.
Some of you have expressed fear, to be sure, that the left will be discredited insofar as it is seen as endorsing a 9/11 conspiracy theory. Having asked in 2007, .Why do I bother with these morons?. George Monbiot replied: .Because they are destroying the movements some of us have spent a long time trying to build..127 In 2009, David Corn wrote: .[W]hen the 9/11 conspiracy theories were first emerging on the left, I wrote several pieces decrying them [for] fear . . . that this unsound idea would infect the left and other quarters . discrediting anyone who got close to it..128
Some of you, moreover, have objected to the 9/11 Truth Movement on the grounds that it has served as a distraction from truly important issues. The 9/11 conspiracy theories, Corn wrote in 2002, serve to .distract people from the real wrongdoing..129 Cockburn, writing in 2006, agreed, saying: .The Conspiracy Nuts have combined to produce a huge distraction..130 That same year, Chomsky said: .One of the major consequences of the 9/11 movement has been to draw enormous amounts of energy and effort away from activism directed to real and ongoing crimes of state..131 And Monbiot, naming in 2007 some truly important issues from which, in his view, the 9/11 conspiracy theory has distracted us, mentioned .climate change, the Iraq war, nuclear proliferation, inequality, . . . [the fact] that corporate power stands too heavily on democracy, [and] that war criminals, cheats and liars are not being held to account..132
I will address these two fears . of being discredited and of being distracted . in order.
1. The Fear of Being Discredited
You are certainly right to fear that the left would be discredited by being aligned with a conspiracy theory that is scientifically unsupportable and even absurd. It is hard to imagine, however, what could discredit the left more than having many of its recognized leaders endorsing the Bush-Cheney administration.s 9/11 conspiracy theory, especially at a time when more and more scientists and people in relevant professions are pointing out its absurdities.
Conspiracy Theories and the Official Account of 9/11: I realize, of course, that most of you do not like to acknowledge that the official account of 9/11 is itself a conspiracy theory, given the one-sided, propagandistic meaning with which this term is now commonly employed. As New Zealand philosopher Charles Pigden has pointed out in a superb essay entitled .Conspiracy Theories and the Conventional Wisdom.:
.[T]o call someone .a conspiracy theorist. is to suggest that he is irrational, paranoid or perverse. Often the suggestion seems to be that conspiracy theories are not just suspect, but utterly unbelievable, too silly to deserve the effort of a serious refutation..133
However, Pigden continues, using the term in this way is intellectually dishonest, because .a conspiracy theory is simply a theory that posits a conspiracy - a secret plan on the part of some group to influence events by partly secret means..134 And, given this neutral, dictionary meaning of the term:
.[E]very politically and historically literate person is a big-time conspiracy theorist, since every such person subscribes to a vast range of conspiracy theories. . . . [T]here are many facts that admit of no non-conspiratorial explanation and many conspiracy theories that are sufficiently well-established to qualify as knowledge. It is difficult . . . to mount a coup [or an assassination] without conspiring. . . . Thus anyone who knows anything about the Ides of March or the assassinations of Archduke Franz Ferdinand or the Tsar Alexander II is bound to subscribe to a conspiracy theory, and hence to be a conspiracy theorist..135
In light of the neutral meaning of the term provided by Pigden, everyone is a conspiracy theorist about 9/11, not only people who believe that the US government was complicit. According to the government.s theory, the 9/11 attacks resulted from a conspiracy between Osama bin Laden, other al-Qaeda leaders (such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed), and 19 young members of al-Qaeda who agreed to hijack airliners.136
Failure to recognize this point can lead to absurd consequences. For example, after an article about 9/11 by former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura, which had been posted at the Huffington Post, was quickly taken down, the HP editor gave this explanation: .The Huffington Post.s editorial policy . . . prohibits the promotion and promulgation of conspiracy theories . including those about 9/11. As such, we have removed this post..137 In response, I pointed out that this policy entails that the HP .cannot accept any posts that state, or imply, that al-Qaeda was responsible for the 9/11 attacks, for that is a conspiracy theory.. This fact has been acknowledged, I added, by former Harvard law professor and current Obama administration member Cass Sunstein . who referred to the above-quoted article by Charles Pigden. One implication of this fact combined with HP.s policy, I concluded, is that HP .cannot allow President Obama to say that we are in Afghanistan to .get the people who attacked us on 9/11,. because he.s thereby endorsing the Bush-Cheney conspiracy theory about 9/11..138 But HP, evidently not bothered by logical inconsistency, has not changed its policy.
In any case, once it is acknowledged that both of the major theories about 9/11 are conspiracy theories, the 9/11 Truth.s Movement.s theory cannot rationally be rejected on the grounds that it is a conspiracy theory. Making a rational judgment requires comparing the two conspiracy theories to see which one is more plausible. And when the issue is posed in this way, the official theory does not fare well, whether viewed from a scientific or a merely prima facie perspective.
The Prima Facie Absurdity of the Official Conspiracy Theory: Even when viewed only superficially (prima facie), the central elements in the official story, if evaluated in abstraction from the fact that it is the official story, is certainly implausible . it probably would have been even too implausible to pass muster as the plot for a bad Hollywood movie. Matt Taibbi has made such a statement about the story implicit in the various claims made by the 9/11 Truth Movement, saying that if you combine those claims into a coherent script, .you get the dumbest story since Roman Polanski's Pirates..139 However, aside from the fact that Taibbi failed to support this claim, he simply ignored the absurdity of the official story, which, boiled down to a one-sentence summary, says:
Inexperienced Muslim hijackers, armed only with knives and box-cutters, took control of four airliners, then outfoxed the world.s most sophisticated air defense system, then used two of these airliners to bring three skyscrapers down (indeed, straight down, in virtual free fall),140 and then, almost an hour later - when the US air defense system would have been on highest alert - flew a third one, undetected, from the mid-west back to Washington DC, where . thanks to heroic piloting by a man who had never before flown an airliner and who was, according to the New York Times, known as a .terrible pilot,. incapable of safely flying even a tiny plane . this third airliner went through an extremely difficult trajectory (even too difficult for them, said some experienced airline pilots) in order to strike the first floor of the Pentagon . surely the most well-protected building on the planet . without scraping the Pentagon lawn.
What could discredit .the left. more than the fact that you, some of its leading spokespersons, have endorsed such nonsense?
The Scientific Status of the Two Conspiracy Theories. Actually, there is one thing that would be even more discrediting: If, after having it pointed out to you that at least nine miracles are implied by this story, you fail to renounce your former acceptance of it.
Also, it is not only the miracles implicit in the official account that undermine your apparent assumption that good science supports the official account rather than that of the 9/11 Truth Movement. Although that assumption was less obviously unreasonable a few years ago, at least by people who either could not or would not look at the evidence for themselves, that assumption is now completely and obviously unreasonable, due to developments that have occurred in the past few years.
In 2006, as we saw above, Chomsky suggested that there would be two decisive tests for the physical evidence touted by the 9/11 Truth Movement: (i) .submit it to specialists [with] the requisite background in civil-mechanical engineering, materials science, [and] building construction.. (ii) .submit it to a serious journal for peer review and publication..
To begin with the second test: A few months before December 2006, when Chomsky made this suggestion, physicist Steven Jones, at that time a professor at Brigham Young University, and some other scientists started a new online outlet, the Journal of 9/11 Studies. By now, it has published dozens of peer-reviewed papers, five of which were cited earlier: .Why Indeed Did the WTC Buildings Completely Collapse?. (by Jones himself); .9/11: Acceleration Study Proves Explosive Demolition. (by Frank Legge); .Revisiting 9/11/2001: Applying the Scientific Method. (by Jones); .Momentum Transfer Analysis of the Collapse of the Upper Storeys of WTC 1. (by Gordon Ross); and "Extremely High Temperatures during the World Trade Center Destruction" (by Jones and seven other scientists).
Of course, people who are skeptical of the 9/11 Truth Movement.s claims may assume . albeit wrongly, from what I have learned - that this journal, being favorable to such claims, may have a less than rigorous peer-review process. And what Chomsky had suggested, in any case, was that 9/11 Truth Movement scientists should submit articles to mainstream science journals, to see if they could pass their peer-review processes.
Jones and other scientists, deciding to take up Chomsky.s challenge, started working on papers to submit, and since 2008, at least six papers disputing the official account of the WTC have been published in mainstream journals:
· .Fourteen Points of Agreement with Official Government Reports on the World Trade Center Destruction,. by Steven E. Jones, Frank M. Legge, Kevin R. Ryan, Anthony F. Szamboti, and James R. Gourley, published in 2008 in the Open Civil Engineering Journal.141
· .Environmental Anomalies at the World Trade Center: Evidence for Energetic Materials,. by Kevin R. Ryan, James R. Gourley, and Steven E. Jones, published in 2009 in The Environmentalist.142
· .Active Thermitic Material Observed in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe,. by University of Copenhagen chemistry professor Niels Harrit and eight colleagues (including Jones, Ryan, Legge, and Gourley), published in 2009 in The Open Chemical Physics Journal.143
· .Discussion of .Progressive Collapse of the World Trade Center: A Simple Analysis. by K.A. Seffen,. by physicist Crockett Grabbe, published in 2010 in the Journal of Engineering Mechanics, which is published by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).144
· .Discussion of .Mechanics of Progressive Collapse: Learning from World Trade Center and Building Demolitions. by Zdenek P. Bazant and Mathieu Verdure,. by chemical engineer James R. Gourley, published in 2010 in the ASCE.s Journal of Engineering Mechanics.145
· "Discussion of .What Did and Did Not Cause Collapse of World Trade Center Twin Towers in New York?. by Zdenek P. Bazant, Jia-Liang Le, Frank R. Greening, and David B. Benson," by Anders Björkman, published in 2010 in the ASCE.s Journal of Engineering Mechanics.146
Given the time it takes to write scientific papers and get them through the peer-review process, combined with the relatively small number of scientists writing about these issues, this is an impressive achievement. It would seem that this part of Chomsky.s test has been met.
These publications demonstrate, moreover, that many of the same scientists who had been publishing in the Journal of 9/11 Studies have now written papers that have gotten through the peer-review process of mainstream science journals. There is no empirical basis, accordingly, for the assumption that the Journal of 9/11 Studies. peer-review process is any less critical. We can, therefore, add the 25 scientific papers about the WTC collapses in the Journal of 9/11 Studies to the six recent papers in mainstream journals, giving us a total of over 30 peer-reviewed scientific articles challenging the official theory about the destruction of the WTC that have appeared since 2006.
I turn now to Chomsky.s other suggested way for members of the Truth Movement to test physical evidence that they see as disproving the official story: .submit it to specialists [with] the requisite background in civil-mechanical engineering, materials science, [and] building construction.. This has now been done and, as a result, the movement has large and continually growing numbers of physical scientists, engineers, and architects.
The physical scientists (beyond those already mentioned) include:
· Dr. A. K. Dewdney, professor emeritus of mathematics and physics, University of Western Ontario.
· Dr. Timothy E. Eastman, Consultant, Plasmas International, Silver Spring, Maryland.
· Dr. Mark F. Fitzsimmons, senior lecturer in organic chemistry, University of Plymouth.
· Dr. David L. Griscom, former research physicist at the Naval Research Laboratory; principal author of 100 papers in scientific journals; fellow of the American Physical Society and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
· Dr. Jan Kjellman, research scientist in nuclear physics and nanotechnology, École Polytechnique Federale, Lausanne.
· Dr. Herbert G. Lebherz, professor emeritus, Department of Chemistry, San Diego State University.
· Dr. Eric Leichtnam, professor of mathematics and physics, University of Paris.
· Dr. Terry Morrone, professor emeritus, Department of Physics, Adelphi University.
· Dr. John D. Wyndham, former research fellow, California Institute of Technology.147
With regard to architects and engineers: In December 2006, when Chomsky issued his suggestion, there were few if any architects and engineers who had publicly questioned the official account of the destruction of the World Trade Center. But in January, 2007, architect Richard Gage, a member of the American Institute of Architects (AIA), began Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, and by now its membership includes over 1,200 professional architects and engineers.
Here are a few of the architects:
· Daniel B. Barnum, AIA fellow; founder of the Houston AIA Residential Architecture Committee.
· Bertie McKinney Bonner, M. Arch; AIA member; licensed architect in Pennsylvania.
· David Paul Helpern, AIA fellow; founder of Helpern Architects.
· Cynthia Howard, M. Arch; licensed architect in Maine and Massachusetts; past president, AIA.s New England Chapter.
· David A. Johnson, PhD, internationally known architect and city planner; chaired the planning departments at Syracuse and Ball State universities; former president of the Fulbright Association of the United States.
· Kevin A. Kelly, AIA fellow; author of Problem Seeking: An Architectural Programming Primer, which has become a standard textbook.
· Anne Lee, M. Arch, AIA member; licensed architect in Massachusetts.
· Dr. David Leifer, coordinator of the Graduate Program in Facilities Management, University of Sydney; former professor at Mackintosh School of Architecture.
· Paul Stevenson Oles, fellow of the AIA, which in 1989 called him .the dean of architectural illustrators in America.; co-founder of the American Society of Architectural Perspectivists.
· David A. Techau, B. Arch., MS; AIA member; licensed architect in Hawaii.148
Here are a few of the engineers:
· John Edward Anderson, PhD; professor emeritus, Mechanical Engineering, University of Minnesota; licensed Professional Engineer (PE).
· Robert Bowman, PhD; former head, Department of Aeronautical Engineering, US Air Force Institute of Technology; director of Advanced Space Programs Development (.Star Wars.) under Presidents Ford and Carter.
· Ronald H. Brookman, MS Eng; licensed Professional Civil and Structural Engineer in California
· Dwain Deets, former Director for Research Engineering and Aerospace Projects, NASA Dryden Flight Research Center, which awarded him the NASA Exceptional Service Award.
· Joel Hirschhorn, PhD; former professor, Metallurgical Engineering, University of Wisconsin, Madison; former staff member, Congressional Office of Technology Assessment.
· Richard F. Humenn, licensed PE (retired); senior Project Design Engineer, World Trade Center electrical systems.
· Fadhil Al-Kazily, PhD; licensed Professional Civil Engineer.
· Jack Keller, PhD; professor emeritus, Civil Engineering, Utah State University; member, National Academy of Engineering; named one of the world.s 50 leading contributors to science and technology benefiting society by Scientific American.
· Heikki Kurttila, PhD; Safety Engineer and Accident Analyst for Finland.s National Safety Technology Authority.
· Ali Mojahid, PhD, Civil and Architectural Engineering; licensed PE.
· Edward Munyak, Mechanical and Fire Protection Engineer; former Fire Protection Engineer for California and the US Departments of Energy and Defense.
· Kamal S. Obeid, MS, licensed Professional Structural and Civil Engineer.149
In addition to Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, many other 9/11 organizations of professionals with relevant types of expertise have been formed, including Firefighters for 9/11 Truth,150 Intelligence Officers for 9/11 Truth,151 Medical Professionals for 9/11 Truth,152 Pilots for 9/11 Truth,153 S.P.I.N.E.: The Scientific Panel Investigating Nine-Eleven,154 and Veterans for 9/11 Truth.155
Less obviously relevant, but surely not entirely irrelevant, are some other professional organizations, including Journalists and Other Media Professionals for 9/11 Truth,156 Lawyers for 9/11 Truth,157 Political Leaders for 9/11 Truth,158 Religious Leaders for 9/11 Truth,159 and Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice.160 If we combine the membership of these organizations with those in the previous paragraph, we can see that several thousand professional people have publicly announced their alignment with the 9/11 Truth Movement.
In light of the above-mentioned developments, could any fair-minded person deny that the 9/11 Truth Movement.s evidence has passed Chomsky.s twofold test with flying colors?
Given the make-up of the 9/11 Truth Movement, could any such person agree with the claims about this movement quoted in Part I of this essay, according to which its members are .conspiracy nuts,. .idiots,. and .morons,. who, being devoid of .any conception of evidence,. are .willing to abandon science. in favor of .magic.? In one of his 2009 essays, David Corn expressed concern about .9/11 conspiracy silliness..161 But it is hard to imagine anything sillier, and hence more self-discrediting, than making such claims about the scientists, architects, engineers, intelligence officers, lawyers, medical professionals, political leaders, and other professionals who have publicly aligned themselves with the 9/11 Truth Movement.
As I stated on a lecture tour in early 2009:
.Among scientists and professionals in the relevant fields who have studied the evidence, the weight of scientific and professional opinion is now overwhelmingly on the side of the 9/11 Truth Movement. Whereas well over 1,000 such people have publicly supported the stance of this movement, there are virtually no scientists or professionals in the relevant fields who have gone on record in defense of the official story---except for people whose livelihood would be threatened if they refused to support it. This caveat is important, because, as Upton Sinclair famously observed: .It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it..162 Except for such people, virtually everyone who has expertise in a relevant field, and who has seriously studied the evidence, rejects the official conspiracy theory. It is time, therefore, for journalists and everyone else to take a second look..163
A More General Problem with the Official Conspiracy Theory: In addition the twofold fact that the official conspiracy theory.s account of the WTC destruction implies miracles and has been increasingly rejected by informed and independent people in relevant professions, this theory is rendered unworthy of belief by a more general problem: when its various details are subjected to critical scrutiny, the entire story falls apart . as I showed in my 2008 book, The New Pearl Harbor Revisited164 (which, incidentally, was a Publishers Weekly .Pick of the Week. in November 2008,165 an honor not normally bestowed on books written by morons and idiots).
One of the things that falls apart is the idea that there were al-Qaeda hijackers on the airliners. Having in my book examined the various types of evidence for this idea, I will here focus on the type of evidence usually considered the strongest: the alleged phone calls from the planes, during which the presence of hijackers was reported. All of you have evidently accepted these calls as genuine.
For example, Matthew Rothschild, defending the government.s account of what happened on United Flight 93, wrote: .we know from cell phone conversations that passengers on board that plane planned on confronting the hijackers..166 However, about ten of the reported calls from this flight were said to have been made on cell phones, most of them when the plane was at 35,000 feet or higher, and the technology at that time did not allow cell phone calls to be made from airliners at such altitudes, as pointed out by members of the 9/11 Truth Movement . most definitively by A. K. Dewdney and Michel Chossudovsky in 2003 and 2004.167
Chris Hayes faulted the Truth Movement for focusing on what he called .physical minutiae,. such as .the altitude in Pennsylvania at which cellphones on Flight 93 should have stopped working..168 It would appear, however, that the FBI took such .minutiae. seriously: When it issued a report in 2006 on the (alleged) phone calls from the 9/11 airliners, the FBI designated only two of them as having been made on cell phones, and both of those, the FBI said, had been made from Flight 93 when it, about to crash, was at a low altitude. All the other reported calls from this flight (as well as all the reported calls from the other flights) were said to have been made from onboard phones, including three to five calls that Deena Burnett reported having received from her husband, Tom Burnett.169
This change of story got rid of the problem of technologically impossible (miraculous) phone calls, but it created another problem: How to explain the reports of approximately ten calls from this flight that, according to the recipients, had been made on cell phones? In some cases, we might assume, the recipients had misunderstood, or misremembered, what they had been told. But Deena Burnett said . and she reported this to the FBI on 9/11 itself . that she knew her husband had used his cell phone, because she recognized his cell phone number on her own phone.s Caller ID. If Tom Burnett had really called his wife using an onboard phone, as the FBI now claims, the fact that his cell phone number repeatedly showed up on her Caller ID would have to count as a miracle.
I would think people generally skeptical of the claims made by the government, especially claims from which the military-industrial complex is benefiting, would consider this problem . which is documented at length in The New Pearl Harbor Revisited170 - worthy of investigation.
I have also raised questions about the alleged phone calls from CNN correspondent Barbara Olson, which had been reported that day by her husband, US Solicitor General Ted Olson. She had phoned him twice, he claimed, from American Flight 77 (which allegedly crashed into the Pentagon shortly thereafter).
In a list of my views treated derisively by Rothschild, he said: .Griffin casts doubt on whether the phone calls actually happened..171 Perhaps Rothschild will be more impressed by the fact that, in its 2006 report on phone calls from the 9/11 airliners, the FBI did not support the claim that the calls from Barbara Olson .actually happened.. Although Ted Olson said he had received two calls from his wife, with the first call lasting .about one (1) minute.172 and the second one lasting .two or three or four minutes,.173 the FBI report on calls from American Flight 77 says that Barbara Olson attempted one call, which was .unconnected,. so that it (of course) lasted .0 seconds..174
The reported calls from Barbara Olson were very important: They provided the first evidence given to the public that the planes had been hijacked; they were instrumental in getting the American public ready to strike back at Muslims in a .war on terror.; and they were also the only source for a piece of information that everyone .knows. . that the hijackers had box-cutters. One would think, therefore, that it would be of more than passing interest to people concerned about the direction of US foreign policy since 9/11 that an FBI report in 2006 indicates that these calls never happened.
This is the same FBI that . in spite of Rothschild.s confident claim that there is no doubt of Osama bin Laden.s responsibility for the attacks, because he (allegedly) claimed responsibility for them in a video (allegedly) found in Afghanistan by the US military . does not list him as wanted for 9/11. Why? Because, an FBI spokesman explained, .the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11..175 The FBI must be less certain than Rothschild about the evidentiary value of that so-called confessional video . and for good reason, as I have shown elsewhere.176
Accordingly, insofar as you left-leaning despisers of the 9/11 Truth Movement have been concerned not to discredit yourselves by endorsing an unsupported, implausible, irrational, and even scientifically impossible conspiracy theory, that is precisely what you are doing so long as you stand by your endorsements of the Bush administration.s . and now the Obama administration.s . 9/11 conspiracy theory.
2. The Fear of Being Distracted
The second fear . that the focus on a false conspiracy theory has been distracting many people from more important matters . is equally valid. But this fear has been directed toward the wrong conspiracy theory. Nothing has distracted the United States and its allies from issues such as global apartheid, the ecological crisis, nuclear proliferation, and corporate power more than the .war on terror. - with its huge operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, its incessant terror alerts and stories of attacks prevented, and its depletion of our national treasuries. Lying at the root of this so-called war on terror, both historically and as present justification, is the official account of 9/11. So it is, as I wrote in response to Cockburn in Le Monde Diplomatique three years go, .The Truly Distracting 9/11 Conspiracy Theory..177
Had the falsity of this account been exposed within weeks . as it certainly could and should have been . the war in Afghanistan, which has now been using up our time, talent, and treasury for almost a decade, could have been avoided altogether. If the falsity of the Bush-Cheney 9/11 conspiracy theory had at least been exposed within a year, the fiasco in Iraq could have been avoided. If the truth had been exposed within three years, those wars could have been closed down long ago and the Bush-Cheney administration dismissed before it had a second term. If so, the next administration, not distracted by two major wars and exaggerated fears about terrorist attacks on the .homeland,. might have focused on the fact that many environmental regulations needed to be tightened up. One consequence might have been that the Gulf oil blowout (not .spill.), which could turn out to be extremely destructive to our planet.s ecosystem, might never have occurred. The fact that the official conspiracy theory about 9/11 has distracted the United States and its allies from the ecological crisis is, therefore, no trivial matter . and this is merely one of many illustrations that could be given.
That the 9/11 Truth Movement, by contrast, cannot be rationally considered a distraction from more important matters was persuasively expressed in August 2006 by former CIA official Bill Christison, who by the end of his 28-year career had risen to the position of Director of the CIA.s Office of Regional and Political Analysis (and who, sadly, died while this essay was being written178). In an article entitled .Stop Belittling the Theories About September 11,. Christison wrote:
.After spending the better part of the last five years treating these theories with utmost skepticism, I have devoted serious time to actually studying them [and] have come to believe that significant parts of the 9/11 theories are true, and that therefore significant parts of the .official story. put out by the U.S. government and the 9/11 Commission are false..179
Then, after listing nine judgments that had led him to this conclusion . one of which was that the .North and South Towers of the World Trade Center almost certainly did not collapse and fall to earth because hijacked aircraft hit them. - he added:
.If [these] judgments . . . are correct, they . . . strongly suggest that some unnamed persons or groups either inside or with ties to the government were actively creating a .Pearl Harbor. event, most likely to gain public support for the aggressive foreign policies that followed . policies that would, first, .transform. the entire Middle East, and second, expand U.S. global domination..
Then, explaining why the evidence for this conclusion cannot reasonably be dismissed as a distraction from more important matters, he wrote:
.A manageable volume of carefully collected and analyzed evidence is already at hand . . . that elements within the Bush administration, as well as possibly other groups foreign or domestic, were involved in a massive fraud against the American people, a fraud that has led to many thousands of deaths. This charge of fraud, if proven, involves a much greater crime against the American people and people of the world than any other charges of fraud connected to the run-up to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. It is a charge that we should not sweep under the rug because what is happening in Lebanon, Gaza, Iraq, Syria, and Iran seems more pressing and overwhelming. It is a charge that is more important because it is related to all of the areas just mentioned . after all, the events of 9/11 have been used by the administration to justify every single aspect of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East since September 11. It is a charge that is more important also because it affects the very core of our entire political system. If proven, it is a conspiracy, so far successful, not only against the people of the United States, but against the entire world..
In this passage, Christison expressed this charge of fraud conditionally, saying .if proven.. He later made clear, however, that he had personally found the evidence convincing, referring to the 9/11 attacks as .an inside job..180
In any case, besides saying that 9/11 is more important than America.s crimes in the Middle East because .the events of 9/11 have been used by the administration to justify every single aspect of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East since September 11,. he also, in saying that the 9/11 fraud .affects the very core of our entire political system,. anticipated the above-cited symposium in the American Behavioral Scientist, which treated 9/11 as a probable instance of its topic: State Crimes against Democracy. Christison.s implicit message to Chomsky, therefore, was: Given your concern with .real and ongoing crimes of state,. I would respectfully suggest that you do what I finally did: Actually examine the evidence that 9/11 was one of these crimes.
As for the concern to prosecute war criminals, what bigger war criminals could there be than people within our own government who engineered these attacks, then used them as a pretext for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which have killed millions?181
As for the hope of stopping these horribly deadly and terribly expensive wars, what better means could be had than proof . which scientists, architects, engineers, firefighters, and pilots in the 9/11 Truth Movement have provided . that the official account of 9/11 is a lie and that the attacks had to be, at least in part, an inside job?
I recently completed a 15-city tour, presenting a lecture entitled .Is the War in Afghanistan Justified by 9/11?. My hope was that, by providing clear evidence that it is not . because the official account of 9/11 is false from beginning to end . .the 9/11 Truth Movement and more traditional Peace and Anti-War groups [would] be able to combine forces to oppose this illegal and immoral war..182 I have written the present essay with the same hope. But if this hope is to be fulfilled, erstwhile left-leaning despisers of the 9/11 Truth Movement will need to prove that Cockburn.s charge about this movement.s members . .They.re immune to any reality check. . and Corn.s charge . they .are not open to persuasion.183 . are not instead true of themselves.
David Ray Griffin is the author of 36 books dealing with various subjects: philosophy, theology, philosophy of religion, philosophy of science, and 9/11 and US imperialism. In September 2009, The New Statesman ranked him #41 among .The 50 People Who Matter Today.. His most recent book is The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the Final Official Report about 9/11 is Unscientific and False (2009). His next book will be Cognitive Infiltration: An Obama Appointee.s Plan to Undermine the 9/11 Conspiracy Theory (September 2010). He wishes to thank four scientists . Jim Hoffman, Frank Legge, Kevin Ryan, and John Wyndham . and three other superb critics - Matthew Everett, Tod Fletcher, and Elizabeth Woodworth . for help with this essay.
1 As those who know the history of modern theology are aware, one of its seminal writings was Friedrich Schleiermacher.s Speeches on Religion to Its Cultured Despisers (1799). These .cultured despisers. of religion were people whom Schleiermacher admired and with whom he agreed on most issues. He believed, however, that they had a blind spot with regard to religion, mainly because they did not understand its true nature and the experience on which it is based. I address those I call .left-leaning despisers of the 9/11 Truth Movement. in the same spirit.
2 David Ray Griffin is the author of 36 books dealing with various subjects: philosophy, theology, philosophy of religion, philosophy of science, and 9/11 and US imperialism. In September 2009, The New Statesman ranked him #41 among .The 50 People Who Matter Today.. His most recent book is The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the Final Official Report about 9/11 is Unscientific and False (2009). His next book will be Cognitive Infiltration: An Obama Appointee.s Plan to Undermine the 9/11 Conspiracy Theory (September 2010). He wishes to thank four scientists . Jim Hoffman, Frank Legge, Kevin Ryan, and John Wyndham . and three other superb critics - Matthew Everett, Tod Fletcher, and Elizabeth Woodworth . for help with this essay.
8 Matt Taibbi, .The Idiocy Behind the '9/11 Truth' Movement,. AlterNet, September 26, 2006 (http://www.alternet.org/story/42181). This date, incidentally, refers to the original posting of the article at Rollingstone.com. It was not posted on AlterNet until May 7, 2008. In another article, posted on Rollingstone.com a couple of weeks earlier (September 14, 2006), Taibbi had offered a different diagnosis, saying that people who thought that the towers had been wired with explosives were .clinically insane. (Matt Taibbi, .Americans in Denial about 9/11,. AlterNet June 6, 2008 http://www.alternet.org/story/41635).
18 David Ray Griffin, The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: Why the Final Official Report about 9/11 Is Unscientific and False (Northampton: Olive Branch [Interlink Books], 2009), Chs. 4 and 5.
19 See David Ray Griffin, The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions (Northampton, Mass.: Olive Branch Press [Interlink Books], 2005), 29.
22 See FEMA, World Trade Center Building Performance Study, ed. Therese McAllister, ed. (Washington D.C., and New York: Federal Emergency Management Agency, 2002), Chapter 5, by Ramon Gilsanz, Edward M. Depaola, Christopher Marrion, and Harold .Bud. Nelson (http://www.fema.gov/pdf/library/fema403_ch5.pdf), 31. As the title of Glanz.s article in the previous note indicates, he had already suggested that the diesel fuel might provide an explanation.
23 Debunking 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can.t Stand Up to the Facts: An In-Depth Investigation by Popular Mechanics, ed. David Dunbar and Brad Reagan (New York: Hearst Books, 2006), 53, 56.
24 Ibid., 53-54, 29.
25 Rothschild, .Enough of the 9/11 Conspiracy Theories, Already..
26 Hayes, .9/11: The Roots of Paranoia..
27 Allen, .The 9/11 Faith Movement..
28 As this example shows, Allen.s rejection of the 9/11 Truth Movement.s empirical claims seems to be based entirely on her taking on faith the claims of the Bush-Cheney administration as mediated through Popular Mechanics. It is quite ironic, therefore, that she caricatures the 9/11 Truth Movement as the .9/11 Faith Movement.. But she seems to have a special knack for getting things backwards: With regard to an In These Times editor.s question about me, .What could have transformed this sober, reflective scholar into a conspiracy theorist?. (which was his way of asking why I had rejected the government.s conspiracy theory in favor an alternative conspiracy theory), she replied: .I think part of it is that he's a theologian who operates on faith. (quoted in Salim Muwakkil, .What.s the 411 on 9/11?. In These Times, December 21, 2005 http://www.inthesetimes.com/article/2444). Given the fact that the primary issue at hand was my belief .that the towers were toppled by a controlled demolition,. for which there is (as we have seen) an overwhelming amount of empirical evidence, it is especially strange that she would say that the reason I believe this must be that I am .a theologian who operates on faith.. Besides the fact that she was obviously the one who was operating on faith with regard to 9/11, she was also assuming that, because I am .a theologian,. I must operate in the way she assumes all theologians operate. Since the 18th-century Enlightenment, however, there has been a great methodological divide within theology. Many theologians still do operate on the traditional basis, in which questions of truth are settled by appeals to authority, the pronouncements of which are taken on faith. But I have always practiced the Enlightenment-based type of theology, which, as I explained in a book subtitled A New Synthesis of Scientific Naturalism and Christian Faith, rejects the .method of authority. in favor of the method of .settling questions of truth and falsity on the basis of common experience and reason . that is, by reasoning on the basis of experience that is at least potentially common to all people. (David Ray Griffin, Two Great Truths: A New Synthesis of Scientific Naturalism and Christian Faith [Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004], 62). Also central to this type of theology is the rejection of .miracles,. in the sense of .supernatural interruptions of the world.s most fundamental causal processes. (ibid., 98). The centrality of this element in my theology is illustrated by the titles of two of my other books, Religion and Scientific Naturalism: Overcoming the Conflicts (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2000), and Reenchantment without Supernaturalism: A Process Philosophy of Religion (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 2001). My explicit rejection of miraculous interruptions of the world.s normal causal processes may make me more sensitive to this issue than are some left-wing critics of the 9/11 Truth Movement, who to me seem puzzlingly unconcerned about the official account.s cavalier violations of principles that have long been considered inviolable laws of nature.
29 NIST NCSTAR 1A, Final Report on the Collapse of World Trade Center Building 7 (brief version), National Institute of Standards and Technology, November 2008, xxxvi (http://wtc.nist.gov/NCSTAR1/PDF/NCSTAR%201A.pdf). This document is henceforth cited simply as NIST NCSTAR 1A, which will always refer to the final (November 2008) version (as distinct from the Draft for Public Comment, which was issued in August 2008).
39 Griffin, The Mysterious Collapse of World Trade Center 7: 170-77.
40 David Ray Griffin, Debunking 9/11 Debunking: An Answer to Popular Mechanics and Other Defenders of the Official Conspiracy Theory (Northampton, Mass.: Olive Branch [Interlink Books], 2007), Chap. 4.
53 .WTC 7 Technical Briefing,. NIST, August 26, 2008. Although NIST originally had a video and a transcript of this briefing at its Internet website, it recently removed both of them. However, Nate Flach has made the video available at Vimeo (http://vimeo.com/11941571), and the transcript, under the title .NIST Technical Briefing on Its Final Draft Report on WTC 7 for Public Comment,. is available at David Chandler.s website (http://911speakout.org/NIST_Tech_Briefing_Transcript.pdf).
64 NIST NCSTAR 1, Final Report on the Collapse of the World Trade Center Towers, 146.
65 NIST, .Answers to Frequently Asked Questions,. Question 6. In the italicized portion of this statement, NIST was quoting NIST NCSTAR 1, Final Report on the Collapse of the World Trade Center Towers, Section 6.14.4 (page 146).
95 See NIST NCSTAR 1-3C, Damage and Failure Modes of Structural Steel Components, September 2005 (http://wtc.nist.gov/NCSTAR1/PDF/NCSTAR%201-3C%20Damage%20and%20Failure%20Modes.pdf), in which the authors, Stephen W. Banovic and Timothy Foecke, referred to .the analysis of the steel from WTC 7 (Sample #1 from Appendix C, BPAT/FEMA study) where corrosion phases and morphologies were able to determine a possible temperature region. (233).
96 The Conspiracy Files: 9/11 . The Third Tower, BBC, July 6, 2008 (available at http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=9072062020229593250# and http://www.911blogger.com/node/16541); the statement by Barnett is at 48:00. I am indebted to Chris Sarns for this discovery as well as the one in the previous note. Barnett during this interview, incidentally, speculated that the steel had .cooked. in the underground fire. This explanation was, however, deceptive at best, for three reasons: First, the effects being discussed by Barnett could have been caused only by something producing much higher temperatures than ordinary hydrocarbon fires could have produced . fires fueled, for example, by nanothermite or some other energetic nanocomposites, as explained below in Section 8. The second and third reasons also involve facts discussed in that section: Ordinary hydrocarbon fires would not have been able to keep burning underground without oxygen; and they would, in any case, have been extinguished by the water and chemical suppressant that were pumped into the rubble.
97 .NIST WTC 7 Investigation Finds Building Fires Caused Collapse..
107 Niels H. Harrit, Jeffrey Farrer, Steven E. Jones, et al., .Active Thermitic Material Observed in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe,. The Open Chemical Physics Journal, 2009, 2: 7-31 (http://www.bentham.org/open/tocpj/openaccess2.htm).
108 Kevin R. Ryan, James R. Gourley, and Steven E. Jones, .Environmental Anomalies at the World Trade Center: Evidence for Energetic Materials,. The Environmentalist, 29 (2009): 56-63, at 58, 56.
109 NCSTAR 1-9, Vol. 1: 330.
110 NIST, .Answers to Frequently Asked Questions,. Question 2.
111 Glanz and Lipton, .A Search for Clues in Towers. Collapse..
112 Killough-Miller, .The .Deep Mystery. of Melted Steel..
113 Barnett, Biederman, and Sisson, .Limited Metallurgical Examination..
114 Ibid., C-13.
115 Dr. Arden L. Bement, Jr., Testimony before the House Science Committee Hearing on .The Investigation of the World Trade Center Collapse,. May 1, 2002 (http://911research.wtc7.net/cache/wtc/official/nist/bement.htm). In the quoted statement, the name .FEMA. replaces .BPAT,. which is the abbreviation for .Building Performance Assessment Team,. the name of the ASCE team that prepared this report for FEMA.
116 .Answers to Frequently Asked Questions,. NIST, Question 12.
117 Jones et al., "Extremely High Temperatures during the World Trade Center Destruction,. 3.
118 Email letter from Kevin Ryan, October 16, 2008.
119 Email letter from Steven Jones, October 17, 2008.
120 Personal communications from Niels Harrit, May 8, 2009, and June 25, 2010.
124 Matthew T. Witt, .Pretending Not to See or Hear, Refusing to Signify: The Farce and Tragedy of Geocentric Public Affairs Scholarship,. American Behavioral Scientist 53 (February 2010): 921-39 (http://abs.sagepub.com/content/vol53/issue6), at 934.
127 .9/11 Fantasists Pose a Mortal Danger to Popular Oppositional Campaigns..
128 Corn, .How 9/11 Conspiracy Poison Did in Van Jones..
129 Corn, .When 9/11 Conspiracy Theories Go Bad..
130 Cockburn, .The 9/11 Conspiracy Nuts: How They Let the Guilty Parties of 9/11 Slip Off the Hook..
131 .Chomsky Dismisses 9/11 Conspiracy Theories As 'Dubious.'.
132 Monbiot, .9/11 Fantasists Pose a Mortal Danger to Popular Oppositional Campaigns..
133 Charles Pigden, .Conspiracy Theories and the Conventional Wisdom,. Episteme, 4 (2007), 219.32, at 219.
134 Ibid., 222.
135 Ibid., 223.
136 Although political leaders, the mainstream press, and even much of the left-leaning press have been reluctant to admit that the official account of 9/11 is a conspiracy theory (often because they like to use this label to discredit people without examining their evidence), former Harvard law professor Cass Sunstein, who was appointed to a senior post in the Obama administration, acknowledged this fact in a co-authored essay: Cass R. Sunstein and Adrian Vermeule, .Conspiracy Theories: Causes and Cures,. Journal of Political Philosophy, 17/2 (June 2009), 202-27, at 208. Sunstein also helpfully referred to Charles Pigden.s above-quoted article, which criticizes the widespread use of the .conspiracy theory. label to avoid substantive issues. I deal with the Sunstein-Vermeule essay in Cognitive Infiltration: An Obama Appointee.s Plan to Undermine the 9/11 Conspiracy Theory (Northampton: Olive Branch [Interlink Books], September 2010).
143 Niels H. Harrit, Jeffrey Farrer, Steven E. Jones, Kevin R. Ryan, Frank M. Legge, Daniel Farnsworth, Gregg Roberts, James R. Gourley, and Bradley R. Larsen, .Active Thermitic Material Observed in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe,. The Open Chemical Physics Journal, 2009, 2: 7-31 (http://www.bentham.org/open/tocpj/openaccess2.htm).
145 James R. Gourley, .Discussion of .Mechanics of Progressive Collapse: Learning from World Trade Center and Building Demolitions. by Zdenek P. Bazant and Mathieu Verdure,. Journal of Engineering Mechanics 134/10 (October 2008): 915-16 (http://dx.doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)0733-9399(2008)134:10(915)).
146 Anders Björkman, "Discussion of .What Did and Did Not Cause Collapse of World Trade Center Twin Towers in New York?. by Zdenek P. Bazant, Jia-Liang Le, Frank R. Greening, and David B. Benson," ASCE, Journal of Engineering Mechanics, 136/7 (July 2010): 933-34 (http://dx.doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)EM.1943-7889.0000090).
147 Some of these scientists belong to Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice (http://stj911.com); others belong to S.P.I.N.E.: The Scientific Panel Investigating Nine-Eleven (http://physics911.net); and still others have been quoted on Patriots Question 9/11 (http://patriotsquestion911.com). The remainder will be announcing their affiliation with the 9/11 Truth Movement in the near future.
181 Mainstream sources estimate the total number of deaths due to the invasions and occupations at about one million for each country. But Dr. Gideon Polya, author of Body Count: Global Avoidable Mortality Since 1950, has put the numbers much higher. See his .Iraqi Holocaust: 2.3 Million Iraqi Excess Deaths,. March 21, 2009 (http://www.countercurrents.org/polya210309.htm); and .January 2010 . 4.5 Million Dead in Afghan Holocaust, Afghan Genocide,. Afghan Holocaust, Afghan Genocide, January 2, 2010 (http://afghangenocide.blogspot.com).