It never ceases to amaze me how often I keep seeing the same anti-conspiracy canards over and over again, be they about 9/11 or JFK or any other topic. The wording and the logic is so repetitive it makes me wonder whether the people penning those articles really are part of a conspiracy as they claim to be believed by the people they call 'conspiracy theorists'.
The fact of the matter is that notwithstanding the sighs heaved by the people who believe that espousing a different theory than that promoted by the government is a symptom of mass delusion, the logic that they believe ought to quiet the dissenting voices does not stand up to close examination.
So thus I must address this logic which falls amazingly short of the usual level of intelligence of a professional journalist:
There is a virus sweeping the world. It infects opponents of the Bush government, sucks their brains out through their eyes and turns them into gibbering idiots. First cultivated in a laboratory in the US, the strain reached these shores a few months ago. In the past fortnight, it has become an epidemic. Scarcely a day now passes without someone possessed by this sickness, eyes rolling, lips flecked with foam, trying to infect me.
Monbiot starts right off with propaganda tactics and ad hominem attacks. The 'virus' analogy is supposed to spin the snowball effect of the 9/11 truth movement as a mass delusion, a black hole to which people are being helplessly and irresistibly attracted. According to Monbiot, opponents to the Bush regime are irrational thinkers who would accept anything to fuel their hatred, a talking point familiar for being overused by Bush worshippers, especially to deny now proven facts such as US torture and CIA prison camps in Europe. Of course, such a point of view leaves totally out of the question that people may be able to think for themselves; apparently they need to be saved from 'bad' ideas by expert thinkers like George Monbiot.
The disease is called Loose Change. It is a film made by three young men that airs most of the standard conspiracy theories about the attacks of September 11 2001. Unlike the other 9/11 conspiracy films, Loose Change is sharp and swift, with a thumping soundtrack, slick graphics and a calm and authoritative voiceover. Its makers claim that it has now been watched by 100 million people.
It would interesting to know what Monbiot defines as 'standard' conspiracy theories about 9/11. Theories can hardly be anything other than 'standard' because they are conclusions based on available evidence, not some sort of science fiction movies. Unless by 'standard' he means the ones promoting discredited theories such as the 'no-plane' and the 'missile pod' theories.
Even if you have seen or read no other accounts of 9/11, and your brain has not yet been liquidised, a few problems must occur to you. The first is the complete absence of scientific advice. At one point, the presenter asks: "So what brought down the twin towers? Let's ask the experts." But they don't ask the experts. The film-makers take some old quotes, edit them to remove any contradictions, then denounce all subsequent retractions as further evidence of conspiracy.
Note the hypocrisy of that last statement. In the same sentence, Monbiot claims that it's normal for officials to retract statements, but that the absence of contradictions means they were 'edited out'. In other words, 9/11 truthers conspire to falsify evidence, but saying that officials were pressured to retract their statements is conspiracy thinking.
Despite the known flaws of Loose Change
, which are addressed in the linked article, there is no shortage of experts
who believe that 9/11 was a criminal conspiracy (and contrarily to Monbiot's claims, they do not only include philosophy and theology professors).
The only people they interview are a janitor, a group of firemen, and a flight instructor. They let the janitor speak at length, but cut the firemen off in mid-sentence. The flight instructor speaks in short clips, which give the impression that his pupil, the hijacker Hani Hanjour, was incapable of hitting the Pentagon. Elsewhere he has said the opposite: he had "no doubt" that Hanjour could have done it.
Actually, Loose Change did not 'interview' those people, but used clips that were already available. On the other hand, it is not only Loose Change which is accused of manipulation. Firefighter Lou Cacchioli reportedly said in an interview that the 9/11 Commission twisted his words
. That, coupled with the firefighters dying of asbestos poisoning after being lied about the safety of the air, might be the reason why despite the apparent mistake in Loose Change, there is vast support from the firefighters
for the 9/11 truth movement.
To address Monbiot's comments about the comments of the flight instructor Marcel Bernard, here is the full quote:
There’s no doubt in my mind that once [Flight 77] got going, he could have pointed that plane at a building and hit it.
This alone, however, is not sufficient to invalidate the argument based on Hanjour's inability to fly an aircraft. There is more involved than getting Flight 77 going
However, on 9/11, in piloting Flight 77 into the Pentagon, Hanjour would have needed to do much more than simply point the plane at a target. Because Flight 77 at first seemed to overshoot its target, the Washington Post will note that “the unidentified pilot executed a pivot so tight that it reminded observers of a fighter jet maneuver. The plane circled 270 degrees to the right to approach the Pentagon from the west, whereupon Flight 77 fell below radar level... Aviation sources said the plane was flown with extraordinary skill, making it highly likely that a trained pilot was at the helm...” [Washington Post, 9/12/2001]
It seems that for someone who fancies himself as the anti-conspiracy thought police, he has not done much research.
The next evident flaw is that the plot they propose must have involved tens of thousands of people. It could not have been executed without the help of demolition experts, the security firms guarding the World Trade Centre, Mayor Giuliani (who hastily disposed of the remains), much of the US air force, the Federal Aviation Administration and the North American Aerospace Defence Command, the relatives of the people "killed" in the plane crashes, the rest of the Pentagon's staff, the Los Alamos laboratories, the FBI, the CIA, and the investigators who picked through the rubble.
Yet another use of the 'tens of thousands of people involved' canard. Apparently it takes tens of thousands of people for a government with virtually unlimited resources to carry an attack on its own soil, but only 19 Arabs to bypass layers and layers of security.
Actually, there is no need for the entire personel of organisations to be directly involved. Scenario 404
is an example of a possible operation that would only have required a handful of people to carry out. For a short summary, only the top operatives giving orders or infiltrators are aware of the actual operation, where the people taking orders are compartmentalised. An example of this that Monbiot fails to mention is the military exercises that were conducted during the 9/11 attacks, which would provide sufficient cover to confuse the pilots and prevent them from stopping the attacks.
If there is one universal American characteristic, it is a confessional culture that permits no one with a good story to keep his mouth shut. People appear on the Jerry Springer Show to admit to carnal relations with their tractors. Yet none of the participants in this monumental crime has sought to blow the whistle - before, during or after the attacks. No one has volunteered to tell the greatest story ever told.
More propaganda, this time equating theories about 9/11 with rubbishy entertainment. Again, the underlying premise is based on the assumption that tens of thousands of people were involved, which is addressed above. Another problem, however, is that there are people who have been trying to blow the whistle
, and hundreds of them. Unfortunately, the media is just as complacent when it comes to 9/11 as they were when the neocons were telling lies to sell the war in Iraq.
Read some conflicting accounts, and Loose Change's case crumbles faster than the twin towers. Hundreds of people saw a plane hit the Pentagon. Because it collided with one of the world's best-defended buildings at full speed, the plane was pulverised - even so, plane parts and body parts were in fact recovered. The wings and tail disintegrated when they hit the wall, which is why the holes weren't bigger.
The 'conflicting accounts' prove that a plane did crash into the Pentagon. They do not prove, however, that the people responsible were the alleged 19 hijackers.
The failure of the twin towers has been exhaustively documented by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Far from being impossible, the collapse turns out to have been inevitable. The planes cut some of the support columns and ignited fires sufficient to weaken (but not melt) the remaining steel structures. As the perimeter columns buckled, the weight of the collapsing top stories generated a momentum the rest of the building could not arrest. Puffs of smoke were blown out of the structure by compression as the building fell.
The NIST report has been found to be deeply flawed.
Counterpunch, the radical leftwing magazine, commissioned its own expert - an aerospace and mechanical engineer - to test the official findings. He shows that the institute must have been right. He also demonstrates how Building 7 collapsed. Burning debris falling from the twin towers ruptured the oil pipes feeding its emergency generators. The reduction in pressure triggered the automatic pumping system, which poured thousands of gallons of diesel on to the fire. The support trusses weakened and buckled, and the building imploded. Popular Mechanics magazine polled 300 experts and came to the same conclusions.
The Counterpunch article was debunked by Kevin Ryan
. If Monbiot had done research, he would have found that the Popular Mechanics article is well-known in the 9/11 truth movement to be a strawman and has been debunked by many independent researchers.
So the critics - even Counterpunch - are labelled co-conspirators, and the plot expands until it comes to involve a substantial part of the world's population. There is no reasoning with this madness. People believe Loose Change because it proposes a closed world: comprehensible, controllable, small. Despite the great evil that runs it, it is more companionable than the chaos that really governs our lives, a world without destination or purpose. This neat story draws campaigners away from real issues - global warming, the Iraq war, nuclear weapons, privatisation, inequality - while permanently wrecking their credibility. Bush did capitalise on the attacks, and he did follow a pre-existing agenda, spelt out, as Loose Change says, by the Project for the New American Century. But by drowning this truth in an ocean of nonsense, the conspiracists ensure that it can never again be taken seriously.
As I said at the beginning of the article, the people the mainstream media likes to call 'conspiracy theorists' are accused of lumping anyone who disagree with them with the conspirators, which would supposedly increase the number of people involved with the conspiracy. Never mind the fact that most critics believe that the media is being an accessory after the fact; this assumes a free media, when in fact they are owned by a very small number of corporations with military interests. It would hardly be far-fetched to think that editorialists might be just a little encouraged to publish attacks on the 9/11 truth movement, since it is already admitted that the media was paid by the White House
to publish pre-packaged government propaganda.
But wait! It looks like reporters DO collaborate with the CIA!
Monbiot makes the bizarre assertion that Loose Change proposes a 'closed world'. It puzzles me how a conspiracy that supposedly involved 'thousands' of people and would imply questioning the nature of the government and the introduction of theories of manipulation and power structures would be more 'comprehensible' than the one implying 19 hijackers who crash airplanes into buildings because they hate our freedoms. Supposedly, only operations involving Arabs would involve chaos, whereas a conspiracy that was so sloppily conducted that it is being exposed left and right would imply that the government controls everything. A claim that even Sovietologists would not have made.
Monbiot apparently does not believe that doing a real investigation of the 9/11 events and giving real answers to people, or that nearly 3,000 people being murdered by the government for an imperial agenda is a 'real' issue. Furthermore, his statement on the PNAC following a 'pre-existing' agenda fails to mention that their document had spelt out their intent to exploit a 'New Pearl Harbor' event a year before 9/11.
The film's greatest flaw is this: the men who made it are still alive. If the US government is running an all-knowing, all-encompassing conspiracy, why did it not snuff them out long ago? There is only one possible explanation. They are in fact agents of the Bush regime, employed to distract people from its real abuses of power. This, if you are inclined to believe such stories, is surely a more plausible theory than the one proposed in Loose Change.
The bromide that 'conspiracy theorists would be dead' is so unoriginal that even Maddox came up with it before Monbiot. I even wrote an article about this
. Either as I said it means that the ACTP has a talking points list, or Monbiot is plagiarising Maddox.