Several contentious issues still plague the US government and their version of the events of September 11, 2001. Those in political power along with media elites would like to see the ongoing grassroots debates surrounding unanswered 9/11 questions and discrepancies disappear, despite the mountains of evidence that suggest that American citizens were told little about the truth of the biggest single-day attack on their homeland in history. Nearly ten years after the events, many unanswered questions still exist: How did Building 7 fall? What caused the destruction of the twin towers? Where is Osama bin Laden? Are people that question the official story of 9/11 dangerous conspiracy theorists?
- Mike Smith, Nolan Higdon, and Sy Cowie (Diablo Valley College)
- Mikey Hemkens, Ryan Huffman, and Colin Doran (DePauw University)
- Greg Bernardi (Sonoma State University)
- Mickey Huff (Diablo Valley College)
- Andrea Sununu and Kevin Howley (DePauw University)
- Rick Luttmann and Peter Phillips (Sonoma State University)
The academics and intellectuals who have tried to answer these questions have been ignored or derided by corporate mainstream (and even some progressive leftist) media, political pundits, and government officials who clearly intend to silence the so-called 9/11 Truth Movement, or anyone who questions the officially sanctioned government stance on the matter. However, the questions will not go away and increasingly beg for answers.
As of spring 2010, over 1,200 architects and engineers are calling for a new investigation into the events of 9/11. These building professionals and academics are motivated by the fact that the 9/11 Commission Report has been proven erroneous on multiple counts, scientific explanations have been flawed and contradictory, and the American people deserve a more fact-based explanation.
At the same time, new evidence of explosives that can be used in controlled demolition has been found in the dust traces of the World Trade Center (WTC) towers and Building 7 of the WTC complex. After careful examination of the official story about 9/11 (in which the commission never even mentioned Building 7), along with the forensic data omitted from official reports, these professionals have concluded that a new independent and transparent investigation into these massive and mysterious structural failures is needed.
Richard Gage, a San Francisco–based architect and founder of Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, states, “The official Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and National Institute of Standards and Technologies (NIST) reports provide insufficient and fraudulent accounts of the circumstances of the towers’ destruction.” Gage, along with other architects and engineers, attacked NIST’s first reports such that NIST eventually changed their conclusions, addressed new evidence, and released a new draft report in 2008. In the thirty days after the 2008 draft report was released, NIST took public questions on the report. Gage’s group sent a letter that covered myriad inconsistencies and omissions in the 2008 report. However, the final report released later in 2008 addressed almost none of the concerns raised. The scientific method was not adhered to in this study.
Gage and Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth’s actions pushed NIST to recognize that Building 7, a forty-seven-story skyscraper that was not hit by an aircraft, did come down at free fall acceleration for more than one hundred feet. An explanation as to how or why it fell at free fall speed was not provided by NIST. NIST continues to state that looking at the thermitic materials found at Ground Zero noted in the demolition theory “would not necessarily have been conclusive.” Despite their own claim that evidence of demolition is inconclusive, they decided not to test or address it at all, as if this could not and/or did not happen (see chapter 7 of this book for more details). Again, the scientific method was not fully followed by government agencies.
In other 9/11 related matters, there is the ongoing mystery regarding the whereabouts of the alleged perpetrator, Osama bin Laden. Even though bin Laden did not take credit for the incident (he in fact claimed the contrary, nor is the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) holding him as a suspect in those crimes due to lack of evidence) government officials of both parties regularly refer to bin Laden as the one responsible for the 9/11 attacks (see story #16 in Censored 2008).
Furthermore, Dr. David Ray Griffin, a former professor at California’s Claremont School of Theology and author of numerous books on 9/11 issues, suggests that Osama bin Laden has been dead for nearly nine years. He argues that bin Laden died on December 13, 2001, of kidney failure or a kidney-related illness. There are records of bin Laden being treated in an American hospital in Dubai for a urinary infection, often linked with kidney disease, and a related order for a mobile dialysis machine, essential to his survival, that was shipped to Afghanistan. Griffin, along with doctors that he cites, says it would be impossible for bin Laden to survive in a cave with that machine for any substantial period of time. Griffin goes on to note that the US and British governments are aware of bin Laden’s death, and have been covering it up to continue the war on terror. (See Griffin’s book on the subject, Osama bin Laden: Dead or Alive?).
In other ongoing tension concerning 9/11 on the home front, President Obama’s appointee to head the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA), Harvard law professor Cass Sunstein, claims that the United States government should infiltrate and discredit activist groups.
Sunstein’s call to discredit groups includes those who challenge the official views of the 9/11 attacks, the so-called 9/11 ‘truthers.’ Sunstein acknowledges that the US government has been involved in conspiracies in the past, but he confidently believes that this is no longer a problem. (See the Truth Emergency section of this volume for more on this issue, especially chapter 6.) He claims that groups that question the events of 9/11 are dangerous and could lead some people to violence (while presenting no concrete evidence to prove this).
Sunstein maintains that refuting these groups in public is not productive. He suggests that the most effective method of refute is to infiltrate and cogitatively discredit their internal sources. Sunstein is essentially calling for a return of the Counter Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO) from the cold war days when agents of the US government covertly infiltrated antiwar and civil rights groups with the intent to disrupt and discredit their activities—provoking violence or planning illegal acts themselves in order to bring groups up on criminal charges.
Sunstein’s call for infiltration of private citizen groups plays to the very concerns of many 9/11 activists—concerns that they may be targeted or infiltrated, tried on some trumped up terrorist or criminal charges, and then may not get a fair public hearing. (For more on this, see story #6 in Censored 2009, and story #20 in Censored 2008.)
Such a climate of fear and intimidation does not bode well for First Amendment rights, nor for academic freedom in the US, let alone the possibility of discovering the truth about what really happened on September 11.
Update by Shawn Hamilton
Over one thousand architects and engineers have signed a petition to reinvestigate the 9/11 destruction.
When I went to San Francisco to cover the Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth (AE911Truth) press conference, I didn’t tell the news department with which I am most closely allied; I was afraid I’d be told not to do the story. This may not surprise anyone considering mainstream media’s deafening silence on 9/11 issues, but this wasn’t an organ of mainstream media; it was an alternative radio station founded on principles that encourage coverage of underreported stories. To be fair, no news director said I couldn’t cover the story, and the story ran that weekend. The point is that I had felt constrained by the prevailing atmosphere of suspicion and fear surrounding media reception of 9/11 topics generally—including at this “progressive” station where people are sharply divided on the issue. I’ve never seen such general weirdness surrounding media coverage of an issue except for the Kennedy assassination. In the 1970s people mocked those few who suggested Lee Harvey Oswald didn’t act alone, branding them “conspiracy nuts,” just as 9/11 activists now are labeled “truthers,” which sounds like “flat earthers.” Some of these activists have embraced the “truther” tag, but I suggest they should refrain. The term is not meant to be a compliment.
I asked theologian David Ray Griffin, who spoke at the conference, why he thought the media was acting so bizarrely towards 9/11 issues. Griffin pointed out how the terms “conspiracy theory” and “conspiracy theorist” are manipulated to make reporters fear losing their reputations and jobs. “You know how it works. Everybody in the media knows how it works,” he said. “Nobody has to be explicitly threatened; they just know the rules.”
The press conference was a newsworthy story whether or not anything the group claims is true. It’s a valid story because so many citizens are questioning the official explanations for the tragedy of September 11, 2001. The fact that over a thousand licensed architects and engineers are demanding a new investigation increases that relevance. If what they say is even partly true, the implications are profound, but either way, there’s a legitimate story. I don’t expect news agencies to endorse the views of groups like AE911Truth; that’s not their proper role. I do expect them not to run for cover when they hear those unsettling words: “9/11.” Democracy is not served by reporters fearing to cover sensitive stories.
As of summer 2010, AE911Truth (ae911truth.org) has gotten more than 1,200 building professionals to sign its petition to Congress demanding a truly independent investigation, and a new group has formed called Firefighters for 9-11 Truth (firefightersfor911truth.org) that challenges official reports and public misconceptions of what occurred on September 11. A group called New York City Coalition for Accountability Now (nyccan.org) is attempting to convince the New York City Council to investigate the anomalous circumstances surrounding the collapse of World Trade Center Building 7 (ae911truth.org/index.php/news/41-articles/286-nyccan-ae911truth-ask-ny-city-council.html). All the Web sites I’ve mentioned have links to some of the more credible 9/11 Web sites. The AE911Truth links page is a good place to start. I will be following related issues on this Web site as well: examiner.com/x-36199-Conspiracy-Examiner. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Update by Daniel Tencer
In May 2010, the New York Times Magazine ran a comprehensive profile of Cass Sunstein, the first such profile to be found in the mainstream media since the law professor took over as head of the White House’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA). The article’s title—“Cass Sunstein Wants to Nudge Us”—is an understatement given the views Sunstein has expressed over the years, but it at least heads in the right thematic direction: that much of Sunstein’s academic writing has been focused on social control and government control over information.
Not surprisingly, the article treated Sunstein with kid gloves and largely glossed over the more controversial elements of his ideas. It focused on him as one of the leading proponents of the concept of “libertarian paternalism,” a burgeoning new field of study that blends behavioral psychology with free-market economics and posits that people can be “nudged” into making the right choices (i.e., the government’s desired choices) not by laws and regulations, but by making the “right” choice seem more psychologically appealing.
Writing at the Huffington Post, Russ Baker criticized the New York Times for “burying” Sunstein’s more controversial assertions thirty-five paragraphs into the story, where we are finally told that he advocated for the “cognitive infiltration” of conspiracy theory groups. The Times then quotes Sunstein suggesting that, as a government official, he would not execute the more radical or experimental elements of his academic ideas. But, as Baker points out, that comment was made in the fall of 2009—before Sunstein’s paper on conspiracy theories came to light in the media. What appears in the Times to be Sunstein backing off his more controversial ideas is, in actuality, no such thing.
Understanding Cass Sunstein and his effect on government and society is made difficult by two things. The first is that he is a political chimera who has supporters and detractors on both sides of the political spectrum. Among conservative critics, the populists have come out against him, while the intellectuals appear to have thrown their weight behind him. Even as Glenn Beck declared Sunstein to be “more powerful than the Fed” and desirous of “controlling your every move,” columnist George F. Will declared that his ideas would lead to better, smaller government and would “have the additional virtue of annoying those busybody, nanny-state liberals.” In the UK, Sunstein’s works are “required reading for aspiring Conservative MPs,” reports the Daily Telegraph.
The second element making it difficult to understand Sunstein is that his position inside the government deals primarily with dry, bureaucratic issues that fail to capture the imaginations of either the mainstream press or the alternative media. As head of OIRA, Sunstein is responsible for reviewing all new government regulations. Yet thus far his decisions—those that we know of—have been on a small scale and largely technical, such as his call to streamline the process of naming and writing regulations so that citizens have better access to them.
Sunstein did, however, manage to anger environmentalists recently when he blocked a new Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulation that would list coal ash as a dangerous carcinogen. Environmentalists accused him of caving to the coal industry, which doesn’t want to see its coal ash disposal costs rise under the new rule.
So where is Sunstein headed? Is he likely to attempt the sort of information control programs that he has advocated in the past? Even if he does, it’s likely the mainstream media will support at least some of his efforts to push the political debate towards an “acceptable” center. In a 2009 New Yorker review of his book On Rumors, Sunstein is given credit for predicting the circumstances that would lead to the rise of Internet rumors such as the “birther” claim that President Obama wasn’t born in the US, and the “death panel” allegation about health care reform. He is then cast as the hero fighting against these trends. Given the existing precedent, it’s likely that any attempt Sunstein makes at shaping the content of public information will likely find a positive hearing in the old guard media.
PR News Wire, “1,000 Architects & Engineers Call for New 9/11 Investigation: Cite Evidence of Explosive Demolition at Three World Trade Center Towers,” February 19, 2009, http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/1000-architects—engineers-call-for-new-911-investigation-84768402.html.
Shawn Hamilton, “Over 1,000 Architects and Engineers Have Signed Petition to Reinvestigate 9-11 Destruction,” Examiner.com, February 23, 2010, http://www.examiner.com/x-36199-Conspiracy-Examiner.
Architects & Engineers for 911 Truth, “1,000+ Architects & Engineers Officially Demand New 9/11 Investigation,” Infowars.com, January 18, 2010, http://www.infowars.com/1000-architects-engineers-officially-demand-new-911-investigation.
Global Research, “1,000 Architects & Engineers Call for a Real 9/11 Investigation,” January 25, 2010, http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=17507.
Sue Reid, “Has Osama bin Laden Been Dead for Seven Years—And Are the US and Britain Covering It Up to Continue War on Terror?” Daily Mail (UK), September 1, 2009, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1212851/Has-Osama-Bin-Laden-dead-seven-years—U-S-Britain-covering-continue-war-terror.html.
Daniel Tencer, “Obama Staffer Wants ‘Cognitive Infiltration’ of 9/11 Conspiracy Groups,” RawStory, January 13, 2010, http://rawstory.com/2010/01/obama-staffer-infiltration-911-groups.