9/11 conspiracy theories thrive 10 years on

Published: September 1, 2011
Many Americans still believe elements within George W Bush's administration, or Israeli agents, were behind attacks. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

Many Americans still believe elements within George W Bush's administration, or Israeli agents, were behind attacks. PHOTO: AFP/FILE

NEW YORK: For some Americans, the deaths of nearly 3,000 people was not the scariest thing about 9/11. It was realizing who carried out the attacks: yes, the American government.

Defying countless official and non-governmental enquiries, media reporting, and often common sense, a significant number of people fervently disbelieve that Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda sent 19 hijackers to execute the September 11, 2001 massacre.

Instead, elements within George W. Bush’s administration – or perhaps Israeli agents – used pre-placed explosives and missiles to blow up the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

A relatively milder version is that the US government didn’t actually blow up its citizens, but knew full well the attacks were coming, then did nothing to stop them.

In both cases, the reasoning is that Bush’s team sought to justify the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as a domestic clampdown on civil liberties.

Wild as they might sound, the conspiracy theorists are not just some tiny fringe.

A 2006 Scripps Howard poll found 36 percent of Americans believed in some form of government 9/11 conspiracy. Other polls have found widespread support not only in the Arab world, but also in France, where a book called “Horrifying Fraud” sold 200,000 copies shortly after 9/11.

Even a decade later, the conspiracy movement is alive and kicking in the United States.

Groups such as Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice, or Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, see themselves as serious researchers exposing perhaps the biggest cover-up in US history.

In fact the real loonies, says David Ray Griffin, author of “The New Pearl Harbor” and “Cognitive Infiltration,” are those who believe the government version about the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

“If we define miracles as a violation of scientific principles, in particular the principles of physics and chemistry, there are about a dozen miracles in the official story,” he told KPFA, a liberal radio station in California.

A summary of the leading theories is contained in “Loose Change,” a homemade documentary viewed nearly 125 million times on Google and some 30 million worldwide on YouTube, according to director Dylan Avery.

Splicing news footage and interviews, all set to a catchy music beat, “Loose Change” collates and expands on all the urban legends about 9/11.

For example:

– The Twin Towers could not have collapsed from airplane impact alone.

– The astonishingly rapid collapse of World Trade Center tower 7, despite not being hit by a plane, bore the hallmarks of professional demolition.

– Wall Street trading on stocks directly affected by the disaster showed some people knew in advance about what was coming.

– A US missile, not American Airlines Flight 77, smashed into the Pentagon.

– United Airlines Flight 93 did not crash in a Pennsylvania field, but vanished, perhaps after being shot down by a fighter jet.

The United States has long been fertile ground for conspiracy theories.

In this parallel world, John F. Kennedy was assassinated by anyone ranging from the CIA to Cuban exiles. The Moon landing pictures were taken in a studio, while the US government is covering up evidence of UFOs. And American GIs are still held in bamboo cages in Vietnam.

The most recent addition is the “birther” movement, which claims Barack Obama was not born on US soil – and therefore is an illegitimate president.

The conspiracy theorists remain a minority and face the scorn of the counter-conspiracy movement on websites like www.debunking911.com and www.screwloosechange.blogspot.com, which claims to prove wrong almost every statement made during the film.

But Kathy Olmsted, who teaches history at University of California Davis, said extreme mistrust of government is understandable.

After all, the Bush administration spent huge energy promoting its own false conspiracy theories about Saddam Hussein, claiming that the Iraqi leader possessed weapons of mass destruction and insinuating that he was linked to 9/11.

“The Bush administration did certainly twist the truth, if not outright lie during the Iraq war,” Olmsted said. “So people say, ‘how do we know the truth about 9/11’?”

Conspiracy theories may also aid people still struggling to comprehend the shock of what happened ten years ago.

“It was difficult for people to believe that 19 men armed with box cutters could cause such damage and kill so many people,” said Professor Rich Hanley, who lectures on the media and popular culture at Quinnipiac University.

“It plays to how shocking this was to the American psyche.”

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Reader Comments (18)

  • Sep 1, 2011 - 11:28AM

    “The most brilliant propagandist
    technique will yield no success unless
    one fundamental principle is borne in
    mind constantly – it must confine
    itself to a few points and repeat them
    over and over”

    If the government refuse to investigate independently and do witch hunt to those who do.

    Better read from history of these incidents:

    Mexican wars 1819, 1846-48
    Spanish-American war, 1898
    World War I, 1914-1918
    World War 2, 1939-1945
    Korean War, 1950-1953
    Vietnam War
    Grenada invasion
    War on Drugs
    Panama invasion
    US-Israeli sponsored war between Iraq and Iran, 1980-1988
    Desert Storm (First Gulf war), 1991)
    War on Terror
    Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan invasion), 7.10.2001
    Enduring Justice (Second Gulf war), 20.3.2003: Operation Iraqi Freedom

  • Sep 1, 2011 - 11:29AM

    As for Barry Sotero there is http://obamacrimes.com/. There is always name calling but no dialog or discussion.


  • Fahad Raza
    Sep 1, 2011 - 12:13PM

    The problem with journalistic media is until they have got an official version of any catastrophe or an event resulting in collateral damage or terrorist event. Any other “possibility” proposed by anyone other than a journalist/reporter, which is contrary to the “official” statement is a “conspiracy theory”.


  • Fahad Raza
    Sep 1, 2011 - 12:16PM

    In agreement with Moise as well..


  • CB Guy
    Sep 1, 2011 - 12:47PM

    I don’t think that 9/11 commission report ever was released as an unclassified document open for all. Bush Administration’s statements were not put on the report and they were not under oath. So how can we conclude that what exactly was concluded by the people who conducted the actual investigation.


  • Sep 1, 2011 - 2:01PM

    Also check this: http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2011/aug/31/9-11-children-colouring-book-muslims

    An eye-opener for our ‘American-apologists’ lot!


  • Meekal Ahmed
    Sep 1, 2011 - 2:59PM

    a plane “vanished”?


  • Neutralist
    Sep 1, 2011 - 3:14PM

    Evidence on the patterns of the demolition of the twin towers and the building 7 has been several times scientifically observed and analyzed–and even published in several scientific journals–by those who think of 9/11 as an inside job. Those very people who never stop expounding science to keep others from believing any conspiracy seem to negate it in the matter of 9/11. No officially clear story has ever become public. No official oaths on part of Bush administration have been the part of the report on 9/11. Even less was known when Afghanistan was invaded and carpet bombed and thousands killed.

    what else common sense needs to believe that the US government was involved in the incident. From scientific and engineering point of view of the collapse to the secretive and hasty behavior of the government, everything points at something different from what the CNN or the world media told.


  • Sad Panda
    Sep 1, 2011 - 3:20PM

    We, Pakistani’s. will just never believe in facts and insist on creating our own fiction. On Iran-Iraq war, two independent nations with a history of animosity were fighting against each other. Were the leaders of both the countries were this dumb that they decided to follow US dictates? We muslims have been fighting each other for the last 1400 years and have committed horrible genocide against our brethern (case in point bangladesh in 1971) but we conveniently lay everything on US so that we do not have to deal with our own inner demons. Yes there are acts on omission here and there but that doesnt mean that american government will conspire to massacre there own countrymen and bring down the towers costing almost a trillion in financial loses.


  • Cautious
    Sep 1, 2011 - 3:26PM

    There’s a saying “you can’t fix stupid” – seems to apply to the conspiracy theory advocates.


  • Cynical
    Sep 1, 2011 - 3:58PM

    Fact is that ‘Conspiracy theory‘ sales, while common sense doesn’t.Period.


  • Sep 1, 2011 - 4:04PM

    911 is proven to be controlled demolition, therefore inside false flag operation.

    Per irrefutable scientific evidence, per common sense.

    It was not that “milder version” let it happen, since somebody must have set explosives throught the towers. It was make it happen.



  • Sep 1, 2011 - 4:55PM

    There’s a saying “you can’t fix stupid” – seems to apply to the conspiracy theory advocates.

    This further proves name calling is the modus operandi.

    This is the same generation which can’t explain simple concept of inflation, thinks paper currency is store of value, have historical grasps spanning what news channels can pull from archive and believe sound bites as facts while ignoring books, history, scientific observations and hold opposing ideas in mind.


  • Sep 2, 2011 - 7:43AM

    Has anyone ever had any success at getting anyone with a conspiracy theory to say “I’m wrong?” I sincerely doubt it.

    They’re ridiculous. It was done by Al Qaida. They are and were quite willing to go to great lengths to claim they did it and it’s one of the few things they’ll be more than happy to inform you about the details on. They’re still latching onto it to this day as their claim to fame without any outside pressure. OBL spent his days obsessed with figuring out a way to do it again between his porn breaks right up until the day he died hiding behind a woman.

    Funny thing, you conspiracy theorists can claim what you like. Even if I were to take your side, you’ve already lost the argument as far as the people who matter are concerned. The majority of the ones who lost someone or something in relation to it are never going to look your way and if action taken towards Al Qaida is derailed into truly irrelevant directions as you seem to desire it will be stopped and redirected back to Al Qaida before it even gets started due to the reactions of those people. No elected official would be moronic enough to even go anywhere near such action if they actually desire a career of some kind in the field for any length of time. They’d inherit all the traits of a person nobody wants anywhere near a position of authority.

    If the government conspired somehow, they have done it well enough to win hands down as far as the history books will be concerned and you will always be the nut jobs.

    Say your last “my theory is right no matter what” and then throw in the towel. You’ll never reach any further heights than that. Quit while you’re as ahead as you can be. It’s best for the sane world. There will be less concussions from people banging their heads off their desk when they catch wind of your absurdities and it will free up time for discussions and resources for investigations on topics that result in some form of enlightenment rather than your prized straight-jacket drama.


  • Peace On Earth
    Sep 2, 2011 - 8:47AM

    It is sad that many people around the world (including Pakistanis) still believe in far-fetched conspiracy theories about 9/11.

    Just remember, every time you do this, you are insulting each and every victim of the terrible attacks that occurred!

    What we need to do is to stop the radicalization of Muslims and the perversion of the Islamic faith. Extremists have done nothing but to put Muslims to shame through their heinous deeds.

    He who kills others, even during the month of Ramadan, is not nor cannot ever be or should be called a Muslim.

    R.I.P. To ALL terror victims, may GOD be with you in this life and the next…


  • SK
    Sep 2, 2011 - 2:45PM

    “Theory” is something which is conclusion of some analysis but without any practical evidence or proof. Conspiracy is when intention is to malign someone. In this case there are gazillion of cases where there are video, audio, engineering etc proofs which clearly tell that that it was all US behind-the-scene strategists who got this game going to promote US’ and Israel’s long terms goals. If nothing else, go to US’ architects and engineers web site and you will find scientific evidences.

    You have to be the one to believe any other version but the one which is promoted by US and its cronies around the world


  • nasir kham
    Sep 2, 2011 - 4:37PM

    @Peace On Earth:
    muslim baitors will never accept the theory for very obvious reasons.bush was telling balatant lies to hos people all along but who cares.vhaddafi will be punished but what about bush blair & co.? they are americans stupid and abie all they are not muslims.


  • Majid Mirza
    Sep 4, 2011 - 4:22PM

    There is a thin line between “Conspiracy Theory” and “REALITY”; people died, its a fact regardless of their numbers projected in thousands, but the real concern is that how REALITY is being twisted to extend US imperial “PREEMPTIVE” motives & “FULL SPECTRUM DOMINATION” so widely accepted by the media as “WAR ON TERROR”. Killing more innocent lives in IRAQ and AFGHANISTAN – they say it “CIVILIAN CAUSALITIES”, Israelites aggression on Palestinians, we will VETO in United Nations. IRAN an “Axis of Evil” enriching uranium for “NUCLEAR WEAPONS”, we will sign “U.S.-India Civil Nuclear Agreement”.

    Is it a sher disguise of US Foreign Policy thriving in the name of “WAR ON TERROR” or a media-wave of “Conspiracy Theories” paving the way for an unsafe, unsecured world?


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