The Response to Public Skepticism
The efforts to conceal the truth were not entirely effective, however. National polls showed that many people were very skeptical of the official myth. A poll done by Scripps-Howard in 2006, for example, showed that 36% of the American public suspected “that federal officials assisted in the 9/11 terrorist attacks or took no action to stop them so the United States could go to war in the Middle East.”
Among those who still trusted the official account were some who insisted that, if there was much more to the story of what happened on 9/11, the media would have latched on and reported the issues diligently. The History Commons 9/11 Timeline, which can be found online, shows that the mainstream media did, at first, report many interesting facts about 9/11 that did not end up in the official account. Those facts were never followed-up or were quickly forgotten as the official myth was formed and reformed.
Attempts by some media sources to support the official accounts led to an increasing suspicion that something was being covered up. Hearst Publications, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), and Skeptic magazine, are examples of media that went to great lengths to stifle any questioning of the official account and divert attention from the glaring discrepancies.
Such official story champions focused their efforts around the term “conspiracy theory” and its variants, which they liberally applied to any attempts made by independent researchers. Ironically, this was despite the fact that the only 9/11 conspiracy theory of any consequence had always been the official account.
The use of “conspiracy theory” to deter citizens from investigating historic events is paradoxical, to be sure. It suggests that those who commit criminal conspiracies can only be relatively powerless people who happen to live on the most strategically important lands, and conspiracies among rich, powerful people are impossible or absurd.
Basically, our entire legal system is based on the idea of conspiracy. Despite this fact we have been conditioned by the government and the media to blindly accept the official reports and to treat any questioning of those reports as “conspiracy theorizing.” That is, you are a conspiracy theorist if you don’t believe the government’s conspiracy theory.
This cultural phenomenon goes back to 1967. At that time, in response to questions about the Warren Commission Report (which President Ford helped create), the CIA issued a memorandum calling for mainstream media sources to begin countering “conspiracy theorists.” In the 45 years before the CIA memo came out, the phrase “conspiracy theory” appeared in the Washington Post and New York Times only 50 times, or about once per year. In the 45 years after the CIA memo, the phrase appeared 2,630 times, or about once per week.
Before the CIA memo came out, the Washington Post and New York Times had never used the phrase “conspiracy theorist.” After the CIA memo came out, these two newspapers have used that phrase 1,118 times. Of course, in these uses the phrase is always delivered in a context in which “conspiracy theorists” were made to seem less intelligent and less rationale than people who uncritically accept official explanations for major events.
President George W. Bush and his colleagues often used the phrase conspiracy theory in attempts to deter questioning about their activities. When questioned by reporters about an emerging scandal in September 2000, Bush said the idea that his presidential campaign was flashing subliminal messages in advertisements was absurd, and he added that “conspiracy theories abound in America’s politics.” When in 1994, Bush’s former company Harken Energy was linked to the fraudulent Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) through several investors, Bush’s spokeswoman, Karen Hughes, shut down the inquiry by telling the Associated Press, “We have no response to silly conspiracy theories.”
Because Bush’s campaign had, in fact, been flashing subliminal messages in its advertisements, and Harken Energy was actually linked to BCCI, people began to wonder what Bush and his colleagues meant when they made diversionary comments about conspiracy theories. More importantly, that track record raised questions about Bush’s statement after the 9/11 attacks, in which he said in a televised speech, “Let us never tolerate outrageous conspiracy theories concerning the attacks of September the 11th.”
There is no question that criminal government-sponsored conspiracies exist. History is replete with them and they usually involve the government claiming that the country was under attack from “terrorists.” This was true of Hitler’s Reichstag fire and it was true of the attacks that occurred in 20th century Western Europe under the guise of Operation Gladio. An example more relevant to 9/11 was the conspiracy behind Operation Northwoods, a plan drafted and approved in 1962 by the highest levels within the U.S. military.
Author James Bamford wrote of Operation Northwoods that it called “for a wave of violent terrorism to be launched in Washington, D.C., Miami, and elsewhere. People would be framed for bombings they did not commit; planes would be hijacked. [This would provide] the public and international backing they needed to launch their war.” The signed documents are available to everyone today and because of this we know that high level U.S. government representatives do conspire, on occasion, to commit crimes against the American people for the purpose of starting wars.
Another claim made by those who fend off questions about 9/11 is that the official conspiracy theory is more plausible than it seems at first sight because it involves only a small group of conspirators. That is, it includes only 19 alleged hijackers directed by Usama Bin Laden (UBL). Of course, we must include Khalid Sheik Mohammed (KSM) because the9/11 Commission Report called him the architect of the attacks. Over the years we have also been asked to consider the roles of Zacharias Moussaoui, Mohammed al Qahtani and the other four KSM colleagues who will be tried in military courts in the coming year.
Proposing a Better Explanation
Today, we don’t have an alternative to the official conspiracy that spells out how the events of 9/11 are explained as a result of a conspiracy among insiders. Yet, at the same time, we know it is impossible that those within the popular version of al Qaeda could have shut down the U.S. air defenses for two hours on 9/11, or destroyed the WTC buildings.
Is it possible to propose a compelling alternative conspiracy based on the involvement of insiders? Could certain corporations, government representatives, and other covert operatives have been involved? Requirements for such an alternative conspiracy to be compelling would include that it address more of the evidence and answer more of the questions about what happened, while not overly complicating the conspiracy.
If we examine the events of 9/11 in terms of what should have happened that did not, and what did not happen that should have, we can focus a little better on who might have been involved. At a minimum, the following statements of fact must be addressed by any alternative conspiracy.
- The many opportunities for U.S. intelligence agencies to track down and stop the alleged hijackers should have resulted in the attacks being stopped before 9/11.
- The four planes should not have been hijacked because the systems in place to prevent hijackings should have been effective.
- The U.S. chain of command should have responded to the attacks immediately but it did not.
- The U.S. national air defense should have responded effectively and some, if not all, of the hijacked aircraft should have been intercepted by military jets.
- The three WTC buildings should not have fallen through the path of what should have been the path of most resistance.
In addition to addressing these problems, an effective alternative version of 9/11 would better explain facts related to Flight 77 and the Pentagon, Flight 93, and ancillary issues like 9/11 insider trading.
For simplicity, this alternative conspiracy should accept as much of the official account as possible, including that the alleged hijackers were on the planes. However, it should also pay attention to the question of who benefited from the attacks, which the official investigations did not cover well. The benefits realized by al Qaeda should be compared to the benefits realized by those within an alternative conspiracy.
The official account claims that UBL, KSM and the alleged hijackers went to great lengths to plan and implement the 9/11 operation for reasons of revenge and symbolism. This explanation does not make a great deal of sense considering that the Arab Muslim world has suffered greatly as a result of the attacks. The only ones who have benefited in that region are the ruling royal families of countries like Saudi Arabia and Kuwait who have long collaborated with the West. Those minority groups have benefited from the War on Terror because it has temporarily protected them from regional threats like that posed by Saddam Hussein and from other challenges to their positions of power.
The attacks of September 11 were an act of war meant to gain control over others. That’s true no matter what conspiracy you buy into. If you accept the official conspiracy theory, that 19 Arab hijackers committed these crimes under the direction of UBL and KSM but with no help from any government, then the war was a religious jihad and the jihadists wanted to control the behavior of the US government.