Countering the Suckerpunch: Deconstructing the 9/11 myth
In which our fearless editor attempts to dissect the latest in a series of anti-9/11-truth articles archived at Counterpunch.org
by Jeff Richardson
This analysis is written in response to a piece on Counterpunch.org written by Diana Johnstone, author of Fools' Crusade: Yugoslavia, Nato, and Western Delusions published by Monthly Review Press.
I will quote each section of the piece and attempt to explain, in my simple way, why she has it wrong. If any of my readers takes issue with my analysis of her analysis, they are welcome to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org Big ups to scholar Michael Keefer, for his solid analysis and refutation of this piece as well as earlier pieces by Cockburn and Frank.
"The spreading popularity of the 9/11 conspiracy hypothesis is a political phenomenon of some significance. I wish to examine both the causes and the effects, as well as the substance of the hypothesis itself.
Distrust and hatred of the Bush administration and of the "neo-conservatives" of the Program for a New American Century (PNAC)
Their lies and crimes are so great that in purely moral terms, they seem capable of anything. This is the factor that supplies the emotional and moral readiness to believe the worst.
However, the fact that they may well be morally capable of every conceivable crime does not mean that they are necessarily capable in purely practical terms. The test of the conspiracy hypothesis is not the character of the alleged conspirators, but the plausibility of the conspiracy in both practical and political terms."
In English, she's basically saying that we're stupid to think that Cheney and his goons are competent enough to execute a covert plan with the complexity that such a conspiracy would require. I disagree, but let's see where she goes with this.
"I should note at the outset that I have an open mind about conspiracy theories in general. History is replete with conspiracies. No hypothesis should be rejected automatically because it involves a conspiracy."
She's doing well so far.
"But each hypothesis must be judged on its own merits, in terms of solid evidence and plausibility, as well as in comparison with conflicting hypotheses. A scientific attitude requires special skepticism in regard to theories one would like, for various personal or ideological reasons, to believe. The wish to pin the supreme crime on the criminal Bush administration is an initial reason to be skeptical."
So basically she's saying that we shouldn't prejudge the case simply because we hold the Bush administration responsible for the collapse of our nation and the theft of our civil liberties. Makes sense. Just because someone raped my mother doesn't mean that he also stole my car. It makes sense to follow the evidence and not get carried away just because we're angry.
"Who profits from the crime?
The Bush administration has shamelessly exploited 9/11 to instill paranoid fear in the American public in order to justify a repressive domestic policy and an aggressive war policy abroad. The event seems to have served as the "Pearl Harbor" posited by certain neo-cons as necessary to bring the U.S. public around to their agenda. So the Bush administration can rightly be said to have profited from the crime."
Yes, they did. Consider that shortly after the attacks, the Republican Party rallied to increase their lead in the House and win back the Senate during the run-up to war in Iraq, the Enron scandal, which had threatened to take down the entire Presidency, was pushed to the back pages of the nation's major newspapers, and the President's critics were shocked into silence and their issues pushed to the side in favor of right-wing legislation that stripped civil liberties and made our major multinational corporations much, much more profitable. And then we got the war, which made those same companies ridiculously large paychecks as a result of those famous no-bid contracts and stepped-up "defense" spending.
"But so did Osama bin Laden, who has become a hero to millions. So did numerous other Islamic extremists, who were inspired by the impact of that event. The plain fact is that the September 11 attacks were greeted rapturously in much of the Arab-Muslim world. They have inspired emulation."
This is a popular theory among mainstream commentators, but I'm not really sure it's true. From my research, it seems that most Arabs and most Muslims see bin Laden as just one of many people who've fought Western imperialism. He may be popular for standing up to the West, but his tactic of targeting American civilians on their own territory has proven to be disastrous for Muslims, in the Middle East and throughout the world.
If bin Laden really wanted to drive American troops out of Muslim lands, he failed miserably.
However, if his aim was to incite Americans to commit horrifying acts of violence against Muslim people, he succeeded beyond his wildest dreams. I don't know about you, but I can't imagine many Muslims being very pleased with a supposed holy man whose actions have led to the brutal and deadly occupation of their peoples' ancestral homelands. And as far as "emulation" goes, everywhere this type of bombing has happened, Western intelligence agents have been implicated. In fact, in Iraq, where this type of activity is blamed for much of the sectarian violence, several groups of British and American soldiers have been captured driving around with guns and explosives while disguised as Arabs.
It's more likely that what Johnstone sees as emulation is really all part of the same operation - namely, the creation of an Al Qaeda legend, the false flag creation of a phony terrorist threat, to scare Western voters and justify the increase of military spending and the violent occupation of Muslim nations.
"If both sides profited, one profited opportunistically and the other actually designed the attacks to fit its purpose."
This is a supposition wholly unsupported by the facts. We know Bush and company benefited, but how can we possibly know whether bin Laden and his cronies were happy with the results? We don't have any independently verified evidence that shows that Osama bin Laden approved of the attacks or their results. All we have are fake and/or pre-9/11 audiotapes and one extremely phony videotape (the so-called Fatty bin Laden tape) that don't prove anything. How do we know whether bin Laden profited from the attacks or not?
Maybe he had put options on United and American Airlines. Maybe he's still on the CIA payroll. Maybe W. promised him a cut of the enormous opium profits flowing into Afghanistan following the collapse of the Taliban. Without a trial, how will we ever know what bin Laden wanted to achieve, if he's even still alive?
"So the attacks should be examined to see which set of aims it was designed to serve."
I agree. As long as we don't constrain those aims to two Straw Man generalizations.
"The targets and the message.
The al Qaeda hypothesis: The choice of 9/11 targets contained an eloquent message that was perfectly understood in most of the world. The World Trade Center stood for America's economic power in the world, and the Pentagon its military power. Assuming the targets were chosen by bin Laden and his associates, they were meant to show that this overwhelming power was in reality vulnerable, and could be dealt a deadly blow by only a few determined men ready to sacrifice their lives."
Number One: Why do we assume that the targets were chosen by bin Laden and his associates? We don't have any evidence that says they were. And even if we did, who are his associates? Could it be, oh I don't know...Kissinger and Associates?
And Number Two: Since we're "assuming" that the targets were chosen by bin Laden, doesn't it follow that we're also "assuming" the reliability of the rest of this sentence? Is this entire article one long assumption? And if so, what the hell good is it? As those of us on the loony conspiracy fringe are all-too aware, if you assume, you make an "ass" out of "u" and "me".
"The Bushite conspiracy hypothesis: All along, the Bush explanation for the attacks is that 'the terrorists hate us because we are free, they want to destroy our freedom'."
Just because Bush has claimed that bin Laden wanted to target the WTC and the Pentagon for this reason doesn't mean he actually believes it. For God's sake, Bush proposed legislation called the Clear Skies Act that actually guts the Clean Air Act and has made our skies dirtier than ever! He clearly has no difficulty in saying things publicly that he doesn't care one fig about in private.
"But wait a minute: this ignores entirely the symbolism of the targets.
Now, let us suppose that Bushite plotters designed the attacks so that Bush could use them to claim that 'they want to destroy us because of our freedom'."
"The choice of targets should support that claim. Suppose one of the planes had crashed into the Statue of Liberty; that would really carry the message that 'they want to destroy our freedom'."
Yes it would, if that were the intention.
"For ordinary Americans, it would be just as shocking as the World Trade Center, while costing a lot less to American capitalism (an old gift from France would hardly be missed). For good measure, to show that the terrorists want to kill as many people as possible, they could have crashed into a couple of packed football stadiums. That would have killed more people than in the Twin Towers and the message would have been exactly the one claimed by the Bush administration."
Johnstone is either totally missing the point on purpose, or else she's fallen into her own rambling logic trap. The issue is not about whether the destruction of the towers neatly fits into Bush's propaganda message. The idea that terrorists attacked us because of our freedom has always been a grossly inadequate notion, and we on the Left have pounced on it for years for being as stupid and unsophisticated as Bush himself. The issue is whether 19 religious Muslim hijackers blew up three skyscrapers and the Pentagon with boxcutters and jumbo jets. Who cares what they "could have" done? We are interested in what they ACTUALLY did. Isn't that the whole point of a so-called "conspiracy theory?" To actually theorize about what happened in REALITY, not theorizing about what might have happened in the mind of some fictional terrorist before he ordered some fictional attack?
"It should be clear that the choice of targets was perfectly suited to express violent opposition to United States economic and military power (and perhaps political power if, as claimed without proof, the fourth plane was heading for the White House), not primarily the American people. The approximately three thousand victims were not the target, but were, as the Americans and Israelis say of their bombing runs, 'collateral damage'."
Again, without a confirmed admission of purpose by the conspirators, this is an assumption. We can't know why 9/11 happened until we determine WHO made it happen. And since we haven't done that yet conclusively, we can't question the perpetrators under oath. And until we've done that, we shouldn't make any assumptions about why they would have planned these attacks. We don't know WHY 9/11 happened. All we know is THAT IT DID, and those responsible have yet to be brought to justice.
On a sidenote, notice how Johnstone disses the American and the Israeli populations for conducting bombing runs, as if Hitler's Germany and Saddam's Iraq never conducted bombing runs. Spoken like a true Chomskyite Leftist, disdaining the American and Israeli people for the actions of their corrupt and cruel right-wing governments. At least we're trying to get the truth out. Isn't that better than simply trashing other activists for choosing the wrong movement to be active in?
"W's goat story."
Remember Fahrenheit 9/11? W. sat there for SEVEN MINUTES after the first Secret Service agent told him about the attacks. SEVEN MINUTES. Think about that while you read the rest of this paragraph.
"Was George W. Bush supposed to be part of the plot? Or was he left out of the planning by his handlers? Either way, an entourage clever enough to pull off the 9/11 spectacle should have been clever enough to manipulate the President to get him to play his important role in the scenario. If the whole thing was a set-up, he should have been made to leap into action, rush to the defense of the nation and show himself heroically on the front lines of this new 'war'. Instead, looking totally bewildered, he went on reading a goat story, then vanished from sight allowing Mayor Giuliani to hog the limelight. I fail to understand why anyone can interpret that pathetic performance as indication of an 'inside job'."
This is a great point. Until you realize that this is one more ASSUMPTION, based on zero factual evidence. We don't know who planned 9/11. If it was Cheney, and not bin Laden, perhaps he got some perverse thrill out of seeing W. squirm on national television. Perhaps, like Reagan during the Iran-Contra affair, Bush only knew that SOMETHING would happen without being briefed on the details (a principle known as plausible deniability) And perhaps Bush, like Reagan, really didn't know how to psychologically deal with his knowledge of his own administration's involvement in state-sponsored treason. So he did the best he could, by listening quietly to reading children and waiting for further orders from his Chief of Staff, Andrew Card (a former General Motors executive).
We can speculate all we want, but that would be all we're doing. But hey, as long as we're speculating, check out my theory and tell me what you think: If you consider how unpredictable and incompetent Bush has proven to be through the years, you can imagine that a cabal within the White House wouldn't have wanted to tell him too much, for fear that he'd screw it up. So they'd probably have given him very little to do, in order to ensure the plan's smooth operation. I can even imagine the conversation they'd have, with Dick Vader telling Turd-blossom: "Don't tell him anything. I'll take care of it. Just make sure he doesn't say anything stupid."
And then Rudy Giuliani is allowed to take the limelight, thereby confusing the American people even further, who are waiting for their President to step in and take charge. Since Giuliani was known before 9/11 to be a smooth and slippery operator, he would have been perfect for this stage of the conspiracy. Given Giuliani's reputation as a notorious egotist, it's not hard to see him enjoying his role as fearless leader and acquitting himself quite well in the process.
If you know anything about advertising and propaganda, you get it that what the conspirators were attempting to do was to confuse the American people, to flood their brains with conflicting stories and strange input which would throw them into a curious state of mind psychologist types call "cognitive dissonance". The propagandists have known for years that this state of mind is perfect for preparing people for the implanting of subliminal suggestions. In this case: the ridiculous notion that 19 Arab Muslim hijackers took down the World Trade Center towers and blew up the Pentagon.
See where all this assuming can take you? All of a sudden we're clear down the rabbit hole, and we're not even halfway through the article.
"The Arab pilots.
In any case, whatever the financial or ideological role of Osama bin Laden, focusing on the mysterious cave dweller distracts attention from the actual perpetrators. According to the official version, these were not cave dwellers, but well educated young men, mostly from Saudi Arabia."
Many of whom, according to multiple reports, are still alive.
"To deliver such a strong message to the "evil Empire", they were ready to give up their lives -- and the lives of others. This is standard operating practice for warriors, and makes them heroes in the eyes of those who sympathize with their cause."
Where is she coming up with this? From the phony "terrorist will" supposedly found in Atta's misplaced luggage? This laughable document has never been submitted to independent experts for verification, and it's content is so silly as to not even merit serious discussion. Atta and his flight-school buddies may have been warriors, but we don't even know that they ever set foot on these planes. Their names don't even appear on any of the four flights' passenger logs. And as I said earlier, several of them are still alive, which sort of blows up the "19 hijacker" theory, don't you think?
"Considering the hatred that the United States -- alongside Israel -- has aroused in the Arab world, there is really nothing so amazing about the fact that a certain number of young Arabs would be willing to sacrifice themselves for such a spectacular act."
Nothing amazing? It sure seemed amazing on September 11th. Why would 19 guys think that suicide was the best way to effect foreign policy, unless they had been brainwashed, or lied to in some way? Could it be that these poor saps didn't even know what was going to happen to them? Although it must be repeated: we have no evidence that shows they were actually on the planes.
"Of course, we are no longer living in those archaic times when it was possible to respect the courage of even the worst enemy. Today we are living in Manichean times -- our dualism matches theirs, and enemies can only be "pure evil". Otherwise, we in the West might do well to drop the obsession with bin Laden and consider what moved those men to do what they did."
And there it is. The classic Noam Chomsky trope, that if we simply stop worrying about punishing bin Laden and deal with the sources of Muslim anger against the West, we might be able to solve our problems and reduce the spread of terrorism. It makes a certain amount of sense, until you realize that no evidence has yet been made available that explains why the so-called 19 hijackers did what they did. And any speculation into their motives is just that: speculation.
One of the conspiracy theories suggests that the planes were actually directed into the Twin Towers by U.S. military guidance systems. It is said that the Towers were too difficult a target for amateur pilots. This does not seem plausible to me: the Towers look like sitting ducks, and the vertical aim could be approximate -- unlike an airport runway where both vertical and horizontal precision are necessary.
The reason why researchers have made this claim, that the towers were too difficult a target for amateur pilots, is due to several factors, including the high speed of the aircraft, the proximity of other buildings to the towers, the sheer complexity of making tight turns in a jumbo jet, and so on. But what's really insidious here is that the writer is forcing the 9/11 researchers to defend HER interpretation of their accusations, when many don't say definitively whether human pilots or remote control was the more likely scenario. The only facts we ARE sure of are these: the 19 hijackers were notoriously bad pilots according to all available witnesses, and the US government has had the ability to fly commercial airplanes by remote control for years. We don't know if this technology has ever been implemented, but it does exist.
Consider also that the planes hit the towers in different locations, one hitting square in the middle and the other slicing through the edge. And yet, mysteriously, the tower hit with a glancing blow was the first to collapse. Johnstone doesn't seem to think that's interesting enough to mention.
When the towers went down, it reminded viewers of deliberate building demolitions. That doesn't prove anything. There are experts who explain why it must have been demolition, and experts who explain why the collapse was due to the structure of the buildings (especially their vertical design). The layman has no way to judge between these expert explanations -- but neither do experts, since (as physicist Jean Bricmont points out) scientists cannot be sure of the cause of a single event that cannot be repeated experimentarily. So we are back to the question of plausibility and motivation."
This paragraph drips with logical fallacy. She simply tells us that neither laymen nore experts can determine which theory of the towers' collapse is more credible. Based on what, I wonder? Because Johnstone tells us it's so?
"As to plausibility, supposing the airliner attacks were really engineered by the Bushites, why add demolition? Since somebody would have to place explosives in the two towers, this would enlarge the circle of persons involved in the plot, making exposure more likely. And what is the dividend from demolition to make it worth the additional risk of disclosure?.
And why demolish yet another tower? How does that strengthen what is supposed to be the effect of the attacks: to frighten the American people and justify war?"
Good questions. Let's take them one at a time.
Number One: "Why add demolition?" The easy answer: WE DON'T KNOW. There's been a lot of evidence that shows that Larry Silverstein, the recent purchaser of the World Trade Center complex, stood to gain billions from the overinsured buildings, which were facing major costs for renovations due to all the asbestos used in the original construction. Silverstein even admitted on a PBS documentary that they decided to "pull" World Trade Center 7 due to the fire raging therein. "Pull" is industry jargon for a controlled demolition.
There are other explanations, including the mysterious put options submitted by people who must have known that the airline industry and the insurance industry were going to be hit with major losses. It could have been the CIA, desiring to improve the impact of the hijackings to ensure that more money would flow into their already bloated budgets. It could have been the Royal Family murdering 3000 people as some sort of demonic super-sacrifice to their ancient evil Gods. We honestly don't know who profited from the collapse of the World Trade Center towers, or even whether those collapses were even part of the original conspiracy. All we know is that the towers, including World Trade Center 7, came down under mysterious circumstances, and the steel from those buildings was quickly shipped to China for recycling, despite the fact that it would have been the best evidence to use in disproving the controlled demolitions "theory".
Number Two: "What is the dividend from demolition to make it worth the additional risk of disclosure?" Again: WE DON'T KNOW. We weren't there. We didn't make the decision to blow the towers, so how can we answer this question?
Number Three: How does adding demolition "strengthen what is supposed to be the effect of the attacks: to frighten the American people and justify war?" The answer is of course the same: WE DON'T KNOW. Again, we can speculate as to the conspirators' motivations. Perhaps they thought that a larger shock would drive the Americans past the point of wanting justice, and into a state of mind where they require vengeance to ease their hurt feelings. Maybe the collapse of the towers didn't even factor into this aspect of the conspirators' motivation and was simply done to make Silverstein and his partners some extra money. We don't know because we aren't part of the cabal that did it. And until there is an honest investigation that goes into this, we won't ever know for sure.
"The absence of jet fighter intervention.
Anyone who is familiar with the military knows that smooth operations are for political demonstrations to Congressmen and the media. In reality, foul-ups are the rule. But what could U.S. Air Force jets have done in this case? Shoot down loaded airliners over Manhattan -- at a time when the hypothesis would have been hijacking rather than suicide attacks on the Twin Towers? It just may be that there was no standard operating defense against such an operation.
This seems rational, until you look at the facts. Consider this from the 9/11 Visibility Project: "Between September 2000 and June 2001 the Pentagon launched fighters on 67 occasions to escort wayward aircraft." This information, coming from an 2002 FAA news release clearly shows that Standard Operating Procedure was not just flubbed on 9/11, it was totally violated. What fighter pilot would deliberately ignore Standard Operating Procedure unless he or she was told directly to stand down? Would you risk your career simply because you were unwilling to fire on your own citizens during a hijacking?
That part may make some sense to you, because few of us would have the stones to shoot down our own countrymen, but the part about shooting them down over Manhattan is totally ridiculous. For most of the planes' runtime, they were flying over relatively unpopulated areas. It would have been simple to drop them on a field, or if the fighters got there a little too late they could have maneuvered them into the ocean around Manhattan Island. It may seem to the unitiated that shooting down full passenger airliners would be a criminal act, but if you understand what our military knew pre-9/11 and what their Standard Operating Procedures were at the time, you can see that they would have weighed the risks to the entire country and made the appropriate decision.
Someone clearly made sure that decision could not be made.
The argument, popularized by Thierry Meyssan, that the Pentagon was struck by a missile rather than by American Airlines flight 77, rests wholly on photographic evidence, or to be more precise, the absence of photographic evidence clearly showing the wreckage of the airliner embedded in the Pentagon. Because the Pentagon is flat, and outside the main Washington urban area, it is not the object of tourists taking amateur photos, especially not early in the morning."
Before I get into this part of the article, consider that the Pentagon strike was really not the most important component of the attack. It could have been done with a jumbo jet or a missile, and it wouldn't have changed the overall outcome of the event. That said, she is making more assumptions here about what tourists would do, and even that there wouldn't be photographic evidence not taken by tourists. What about the closed circuit camera at the Citgo station across the street that the FBI seized and have yet to release to the public?
"Once again, experts are called upon to explain why the projectile striking the Pentagon, could, or could not, have been an airliner. The fact that the appearance of a crash site is ambiguous is scarcely conclusive evidence of anything. And once again, the layman cannot easily judge these conflicting physical interpretations, but can quite well use common sense to question motives and plausibility."
I am pretty sure this is the first paragraph she's written that I have no problem with. If only the whole thing was this fair and rational.
"Most superficially, there is the issue of eye witnesses. Thierry Meyssan maintained that the only people who claim to have seen an airliner crash into the Pentagon are not credible because employed by the Government. This is not correct. There were numerous non-governmental eye witnesses, mostly commuters on the highways which surround the otherwise rather bare area where the Pentagon is located. Many have described how they were first surprised to see the airliner flying in too low to reach nearby Reagan National Airport."
Multiple witnesses to brief moments of nightmarish violence rarely agree on the specifics of the event. Their memories are colored by what they hear about the event later on the radio, what they see on TV, the bias of the interviewers, and so on. Add to that a mass media which highlight those eyewitness accounts that corroborate the official story and you have the perfect storm for building what we in the "reality-based community" call CONSENSUS REALITY. Consensus reality is not ACTUAL reality, as measured by photographic evidence, rather it's the reality that the majority of society accepts without disagreement. Consensus reality is dangerous for democracy because it is so easily manipulated by our corrupt corporate media.
But even if these witnesses are right, and it was a jumbo jet that hit the Pentagon, it's impossible to know if it was the actual hijacked plane or a facsimile, because the administration has never revealed the contents of the flight recorder (also known as a black box). This makes figuring out the Pentago strike extremely difficult, and so therefore most 9/11 researchers focus on the World Trade Center attacks, because there the official story is so clearly incorrect.
"But on the other hand, how many eye witnesses say they saw a missile strike the Pentagon? Even more to the point, how many eye witnesses saw or heard a missile being fired at the Pentagon, if at short range, or traveling in that direction, if at long range?"
Questions that can't be answered because the FBI refuses to release that information, citing national security concerns.
"But the real argument against the Pentagon hypothesis is that it makes no sense politically or practically. Why get rid of an entire airliner full of people, in order to make way for a missile to do the job attributed to the airliner? What is the point? I suppose somebody can come up with an answer, but does it make any sense? An airliner couldn't hit the Pentagon, so a missile was required? But the Pentagon is a very large target, visible in an open space. It is sturdier than the Twin Towers, having been built to withstand military attack, so destroying it was harder, but hitting it was not such an extraordinary feat."
Rule One of Debunking Loony Left-Wing Theories: Throw questions at the reader so they can't answer each question fast enough. In this way, you confuse the reader and shame them into believing your viewpoint, for fear of being lumped into the "loony" category. This is a really annoying tactic, and one used by debunkers of covert truth throughout history.
Assuming (there's that word again) that American Airlines Flight 77 didn't hit the Pentagon, there are numerous ways that the conspirators could have disposed of it. They could have filled the flight's manifest with co-conspirators or nonexistent people, and then simply assigned the actual plane to a different flight. They could have used the cover of the NORAD exercises to switch the plane's transponder signal with the facsimile plane (or even a missile),landing the actual flight at a military airport and debriefing the passengers.
And as for destroying the Pentagon, it's obvious that wasn't the intent. The plane (or the missile) hit the one side of the five-sided building that had been recently reinforced against just such an attack. Most of the people who died in the strike (not counting the passengers of Flight 77) were people engaged in the remodeling effort. If the conspirators wanted to cause huge damage to the Pentagon, they wouldn't have had the pilot pull such a tight turn just to hit the one side of the Pentagon that had been hardened.
Just to be clear, the missile theory people didn't come up with the theory to make the attack seem more logical, they came up with it because it was the only way to explain the photographic evidence. You can clearly see in the photos that the front lawn is undamaged and there is no evidence of a jumbo jet. No large engines, no wings, no fuselage, nothing. So unless the DOD was able to secure the area long enough to make off with the evidence before the firefighters got there, you have to ask yourself, where did the plane go? That's why Meyssan's theory gained traction in the first place.
"U.S. military officers may be reactionary, they may even be stupid (no more so than civilian politicians, however), but whatever their faults, they tend to be sincerely patriotic. A lot of them hate Donald Rumsfeld. It is really not credible that U.S. military personnel would follow orders to carry out such a ghastly mission -- murder a civil airliner full of passenger, shoot a missile into the Pentagon -- without somebody among them blowing the whistle. The United States is not a place where people keep secrets. "Let it all hang out" is the national attitude. In addition to patriotism, any one of the alleged conspirators could have been certain of millions of dollars in royalties for telling the story."
At first glance, this sounds like it would be hard to refute. But consider, for a moment, a time in American history in which the entire military establishment kept secret for years a top-secret plan to kill hundreds of thousands of people with a terrifying new super-weapon that no other nation possessed. It was called the Manhattan Project. When those super-weaposn were detonated, they killed hundreds of thousands of Japanese in an instant, while the preliminary testing of that technology gave deadly cancers to hundreds if not thousands of American servicemen.
When you realize that the largest media corporations in America were oblivious to that conspiracy, and that those corporations continue to dominate American media, you understand that no eyewitness to the 9/11 attacks is going to strike it rich by telling the truth about what happened on that day. One eyewitness, who distinctly remembers hearing explosions inside the World Trade Center, janitor William Rodriguez, has made little or no money from his publication of this knowledge, and in fact has been all but erased from our collective history. The firefighters and police officers who also witnessed explosions have been ordered to stay silent about them. And the mainstream media ignores any damaging truth that leaks out.
In that environment, what conspirator would risk his career, his life and the lives of his family without even the assurance that the story would be told? Only someone with nothing to lose would dare, and so far, none have come forward. Does that mean they don't exist, or does it mean, as it meant for witnesses in those deadly days following the JFK assassination, that the time is still not right for them to reveal what they know?
Then there are the anthrax attacks. But that is quite another story, since there is no indication that the clumsy anthrax attacks were anything but the attempt of some local biowar expert to get into the act. The anthrax attacks are even in total opposition to the 9/11 attacks, which were carried out by kamikaze warriors with paper cutters and commercial airliners -- no "weapons of mass destruction" needed. And that in itself was a lesson that the U.S. administration refused to heed. September 11 illustrated the futility of WMD, unnecessary for attack, useless for defense. Instead, the administration, with its habitual illogic, exploited 9/11 to demand more WMD to fight against WMD. The anthrax attacks could very well be an inside job designed to bring public attention back to the "WMD threat" so dear to the administration."
Amazing. In this paragraph, Diana Johnstone ADMITS that the Anthrax atacks "could very well be an inside job", yet killing two postal workers and a reporter is somehow less evil than killing 3000 workers and ordinary citizens on September 11th.
The difference is not in kind, only in degree.
So what she's really arguing here is that the 9/11 conspirators could get 19 unsophisticated Muslim terrorists to hijack four planes simultaneously, break through all our nation's air defenses and fly planes into some of the most protected real estate in the entire world, but they couldn't also send Anthrax to the US Senate AND detonate the World Trade Center Towers from the inside. Am I the only person who thinks this is a completely pointless argument? It almost seems tacked on as an afterthought.
"Political attractiveness of the conspiracy theory.
It seems to me, on balance, that the evidence is so weak for this particular conspiracy theory that its popularity calls for a psychological explanation. After attacking those whom he calls 'coincidence nuts' (who reject the conspiracy hypothesis) for "moral cowardice", Andreas Kargar makes an interesting comment: "But aside from that moral cowardice, the traditional left has always preferred to deal in the abstract generalities of historical processes and concepts, rather than in tangible specifics like hard evidence that can be comprehended by the general public. Perhaps those are the two reasons for the state of disarray in which they find themselves today."
Here we go. Now that she's successfully refuted all our conclusions, she's going after us personally. This ought to be good.
"Now, this is interesting because in this particular case, there is no 'hard evidence', but there is a simple story line that 'can be comprehended by the general public'. The left that deals in 'abstract generalities of historical processes and concepts' has indeed lost the attention of the general public (if they ever had it, which is most doubtful). But what are the preferences of that 'general public'? Polls indicate that a quite considerable proportion of the American public believe in visits to earth by extraterrestrials. The acceptability of a narrative to the general public should not be a criterion of belief by people who are serious, honest and morally courageous."
Okay, so if you've ever seen a UFO, or you think that an unelected, deceitful, murderous Executive Branch might commit treason to achieve political ends, you aren't "serious", "honest", or "morally courageous". Is she trying to make us angry?
"Mr Kargar asked rather suspiciously 'what political objectives' Alexander Cockburn was 'trying to achieve by writing this piece?'
I can't answer for somebody else, but I am quite ready to explain my own motives."
You hear that, conspiracy loonies? Don't challenge Cockburn, or you'll get a piece of Diana Johnstone's mind!
"Defend conspiracy theory.
Personally, as mentioned above, I am quite open to reasonable hypotheses of conspiracy. In the case of the John F. Kennedy assassination, for example, I find the theory that it was organized by a conspiracy of anti-Castro fanatics and gangsters plausible both in terms of feasibility and in terms of motive ."
Even here she ignores the overwhelming evidence that shows the complicity of the Federal government in the JFK coverup. Is it too much to ask her to stick to one disinformation campaign at a time?
"I feel that the extreme version of the 9/11 conspiracy, complete with demolition and Pentagon missile, gives a bad name to conspiracy theory in general."
Why? Did conspiracy theory ever have a "good" name? It seems to me that researchers into Real History have always been challenged by the agents of established power. Just read the People's History of the United States to see what our nation's history should really look like. It's just sad when people like Cockburn take us on, since they are supposedly allied with the American People against the agents of established power. I wonder what Howard Zinn thinks of this little diatribe.
"Even in the case of 9/11, there is what I would call a "soft" version of the conspiracy theory that deserves investigation, and that is the possible role of secret agents who may have infiltrated the al Qaeda plot enough to know what was afoot, but let it happen. Such an hypothesis involves only a few passive "conspirators", who, especially if they were from Israeli Mossad, would have had a patriotic motive: to bring the United States fully to the side of Israel in the "war against terror". But this is only a hypothesis. Of course, if the attacks were not really perpetrated by Arab student pilots, then the Mossad agents reportedly spying on them in Florida could not have known anything."
This completely ignores the overwhelming evidence that FBI and other intelligence agents were trying to learn more about the plot and were thwarted by higher-ups. Google "Sibel Edmonds" and "Colleen Rowley" to learn more.
"A full inquiry into this question is difficult for obvious political reasons. So perhaps it is easier, politically, to advance the far more complex and implausible version of an all-out U.S. administration role in staging the 9/11 attacks than to pinpoint a smaller, more plausible, but politically more sensitive target."
A full inquiry is only politically impossible now, because liberal Democrats and moderate Republicans have not been adequately pressured by their constituents to push forward on this issue. The WHOLE POINT of the 9/1 Truth Movement is to create the kind of pressure that will be required to get a new 9/11 investigation, and to bring charges against those in the Administration who allowed this tragedy to happen, or even worse, assisted the plotters in making it happen.
"Against dualistic simplicity.
The most profound motive for criticizing the 9/11 conspiracy theory is that it partakes of the very sort of moral dualism advocated by the Bushites and neo-cons, but just turns it around. Instead of evil Arabs gratuitously attacking innocent Americans, all evil acts are committed by the villains in Washington."
Isn't there enough evil in the world to go around? Some Arabs, like Bin Laden and the Saudi family, will do anything to consolidate their power. Yet most are simply ordinary working-class stiffs like you and me. Most Americans likewise are decent, hard-working, honest working-class Joes who would never consent to being a part of such a disgusting betrayal of American principles. Sadly, however, the people who conducted this operation are not good, honest people. Unfortunately, they believed, for whatever reason, that the ends justified the means. We don't know precisely what their ends were, but we can clearly see the means, and unlike Cockburn, Frank and Johnstone, we aim to call them out on it. Arab or Jew, Muslim or Christian, Atheist or Satanist, whoever made this operation happen deserves to rot in prison for the rest of their lives. And if I have anything to say about it, I'm gonna make sure they get there, cause that's where they belong.
"The Arabs are innocent of everything. However, I believe it is more intelligent, and more realistic, to acknowledge that Arabs in general are, on the one hand, innocent victims of U.S. and Israeli aggression, and, on the other hand, that some of them (for that very reason) want to strike back at the United States by any means possible. Israelis abuse Palestinians with a clear conscience because they have convinced themselves that all Jews are under perpetual threat of a new Holocaust. This chronic fear leads them to commit crimes."
Why do we care about the state of mind of imperialistic colonists in Palestine? Isn't stealing land from indigenous people always wrong, regardless of the motivation (or the stated religion) of the settlers? I am beginning to seriously doubt the Leftist credentials of Ms. Johnstone. Tyrrany is wrong. Despotism is wrong. Fascism is wrong. Taking from the people their land and their livelihood and circumscribing their rights and their freedom is wrong, regardless of where you live, regardless of your nation's stated religious reasons for being.
And why does Israel/Palestine even enter into this? Our leaders caused 9/11. They burned down World Trade Center 1, 2 and 7. Not the Israelis. Not the Jews. Not the Western imperialistic capitalists. Our leaders. They're the ones who need to be held to account. And God willing, we will one day have the numbers to see it through to its conclusion.
"We are nearing a state of war of all against all, in which it is absolutely necessary for the sake of survival to keep a cool head and try to understand why people do the terrible things they do, in order to find solutions. The interaction of causal factors is complex, and often may not easily be 'comprehended by the general public'. But the proper task of honest journalists is to try to guide the public through those complexities."
And there you have it. An altogether fact-free refutation of a movement of individuals committed to exposing the truth behind the Great Crime of 9/11. She made dozens of rank assumptions and explained nothing about what the 9/11 Truth Movement actually is or actually is doing, but she certainly is gifted at putting words on the page. Perhaps we should take her advice to heart, and keep a "cool head", to try to "find solutions" to the problems that plague our world. But let's make sure that we DON'T EVEN ATTEMPT to explain the events of this terrible day to the People of the United States, because the general public is not very good at comprehending difficult subjects.
Pardon me if I've started to lose faith in the ability of "honest journalists" to "guide the public through" these "complexities". Pardon me if I've begun to see nearly all established journalists as accomplices in the Crime of the Century. Maybe if they would have actually reported the truth about 9/11 instead of trying to hide it, I wouldn't have such a negative opinion of them.
Have I been too hard on Ms. Johnstone? Write me and let me know what you think. Or just post a comment telling us all what you think of this kind of "reasoned analysis". This 9/11 Truth Movement is all of us, and that includes you. For despite what the respected luminaries of Left-wing journalism may tell you, we are in this for the long haul. And if we have the courage to speak out, one of these days, we may just win the whole shebang.
Do us all a favor and write Ms. Johnstone at email@example.com and let her know what you think of her work. If you agree with me, and think she needs to go back to remedial logic classes, let her know. I've done my part. Now you do yours.
And hey, if you disagree with me, I'd love to hear about it. Drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org - keep it real, and always keep on fighting for peace! It may not happen overnight, but sooner or later, the Revolution will be won, with your help. The future of our children and grandchildren depend on those of us with the truth making it known around the world.
Until next time, fellow workers, take heart. Resistance is always the best medicine!
Categories: 9/11 Truth, Alternative Media, Media Criticism