Monday, 26 March 2007

Warping facts and rewriting history: 9/11 conspiracy theories

Even as the American public seem to be getting smarter about politics — albeit slowly — public belief in 9/11 conspiracy theories seems to be on the rise. A partial explanation may be the public’s annoyance with their government, which they could help solve if people took more action in national politics and voted.

These conspiracy theorists think everyone is against them and employ pseudo-fact to support their flawed claims. These people cannot be swayed by verifiable video footage or eyewitness accounts — nothing can stop their irrational conspiracy speculation about what happened on 11 September 2001.

The only 9/11 theory that has any merit is, unsurprisingly, the official version of what happened. Pearl Harbor, no doubt, was also not a conspiracy, but the John F. Kennedy assassination is up for grabs, but no one on either side (official or conspiracy) can garner enough evidence to support their claims.

Yes, there are plenty of accounts to confirm US intelligence services knew of the impending 9/11 attack, but did not take action because of bureaucratic incompetence. Intelligence services did not get the correct data or relay it, and gave the tips of an attack the benefit of the doubt, like what happened with Pearl Harbor (the radar station knew Japanese planes were coming but did not know whether they were Japanese and were not notified to be on the lookout). It was a failure of imagination, as the 9/11 Commission put it, in the US intelligence services. However, they did not ignore data on purpose because they wanted 3,000 people to loose their lives in a massive terrorist strike.

The BBC investigated many conspiracy theories and, eventually, debunked them, including the 9/11 one.

These theories have gotten more media coverage and analysis, some of which has been good, as of late.

A Scripps Howard poll gave some disturbing data:

Thirty-six percent of respondents overall said it is "very likely" or "somewhat likely" that federal officials either participated in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon or took no action to stop them "because they wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East."

The poll also found that 16 percent of Americans speculate that secretly planted explosives, not burning passenger jets, were the real reason the massive twin towers of the World Trade Center collapsed.

Conspiracy groups for at least two years have also questioned why the World Trade Center collapsed when fires that heavily damaged similar skyscrapers around the world did not cause such destruction. Sixteen percent said it's "very likely" or "somewhat likely" that "the collapse of the twin towers in New York was aided by explosives secretly planted in the two buildings."

Twelve percent suspect the Pentagon was struck by a military cruise missile in 2001 rather than by an airliner captured by terrorists.

The level of suspicion of U.S. official involvement in a 9/11 conspiracy was only slightly behind the 40 percent who suspect "officials in the federal government were directly responsible for the assassination of President Kennedy" and the 38 percent who believe "the federal government is withholding proof of the existence of intelligent life from other planets."

A Zogby poll found:
People are completely divided on whether they believe President Bush exploited the 9/11 attacks (44%) or justified an attack on Iraq (44%). Approximately one in ten (11%) is not sure.

Close to half (48%) agrees the U.S. government and 9/11 Commission are not covering up anything, yet nearly as many (42%) believe the government and 9/11 Commission are covering up. One in ten (10%) is unsure.

Curiously enough, conservatives, according to this poll, gave the media a negative score in its 9/11 coverage. Why is this so interesting? The media was acting patriotic and very loyal in every way to the Bush administration for the weeks following. The media did not sufficiently do its job in the aftermath of 9/11: they did not question what the government was saying, analyze why the attacks happened, report a lot of important news, or challenge Bush in his exploitation of the attacks. This led to an overall media support of the Iraq war as war critics were drowned out and not put on air nearly as much as talking-point ridden war hawks.

I remember nearly every television channel had a flag design at the bottom of the screen, and there was nonstop talk of the war on terror. Most everyone was following along with the government’s policy, a dangerous thing to do when the people are confused and scared and need facts and rationality now more than ever.

Ignorance is ignoring all true evidence and thinking the evil government was the sole perpetrators of 9/11. You know what, deniers of the terrorist attack on US soil on 11 September 2001, it's all going too far. Some people, myself included, lost friends and relatives in 9/11 and don't need people like the 'Truthers' spreading warped and pseudo-factual conspiracy theory views of historical events when there is plenty of evidence to support the mainstream view! They use architectural evidence like they know anything about the topic; how could explosives blow up the towers then? How could they fall the way they did when it was clearly a structural breach when two of the largest commercial aircrafts in existence (at the time) crashed head on into buildings not designed for high-speed air crashes?!

Enough is enough. I see the loss of rationality is as evident in the 9/11-deniers as it is in the followers of the Bush administration's 'war on terrorism'. Both sides are messing with history and fact in order to advance political, ideological motives. Shame on both the 9/11 exploiters (e.g. Bush) and the 9/11 fact deniers (e.g. Truthers). There is a time for reaping political capital, and there is a time to question and attack the mainstream view of things, but with things like 9/11, either action is a dangerous one leading to a slippery slope of exploiting every terror case and holding a revisionist, paranoid attitude of every event.

Some conspiracy theorists think of their spreading of their false notions as their duty to society; their spreading of ignorance and fallacies only hurts society. On the other hand, the spreading of ignorance and possible fallacies by people who believes everything an authority (e.g. the government) says is also produces a negative impact on society.

We must question things presented to us, but not become paranoid and use the same pseudo-facts politicians may be using. 9/11 conspiracies are just as invalid as Iraq prewar evidence: one came from the conspiracy theorists, the other from the government. Those of us stuck in the middle should never cease from questioning what we see and what we are told, but there is a point where people question too much and form a false reality.

I think at least one thing myself and the radical right-wing can agree on is that these 9/11 conspiracy theorists hold false notions and use unbelievably invalid facts to support their almost non-existant argument that the government of the United States of America was the sole perpetrator of the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers in New York City, the Pentagon in northern Virginia, and the third, failed, attack (Flight 93) on 11 September 2001.

Just as the conspiracy theorists blame the government, the Bush administration holds the ambiguous general terrorist movement  — as if it were one concrete force — as its scapegoat and poster-child for evil.

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Anonymous said...

maybe you should spend half the time looking at the evidence, that you spend assuming intelligent people must be wrong. There is no doubt whatsoever that the government is hiding something - get out there and get some more information in your brain before you go spouting off about 9/11 again.

clearthought said...

The question is: have you read the facts? Not only does the vast, vast majority of reasonable fact contradict the conspiracy theories, there are plenty of left-leaning pundits who are annoyed at the lack of fact in the virus of 9/11 conspiracy theories being spread, see George Monbiot’s article in The Guardian:,,2006830,00.html

I do not believe the Bush administration’s version of 9/11. However, the 9/11 Commission, for all its faults, offered a thorough, self-observing, and factual account, even with all the political posturing and stonewalling the Bush administration gave them.

We know who committed the 9/11 attacks; we even have a general idea of why, although nobody in the government seems to be following through.

Anonymous said...

the 911 commission report never mentions building 7. and there are plenty of eyewitness' and video footage that points to nothing but a controlled demolition. the burden of proof does not fall on anyone except those pushing the official conspiracy theory: that being 19 muslim hijackers beat the most expensive and complicated air defense system in the world three out of four times in the same day and the buildings fell because fire weakened the steel. Prove to me that jet grade kerosene can weaken skyscraper grade steel and you still can't explain building 7, especially given the eyewitness and video proof.