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September 11 Conspiracy Theories

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You would think that the American people would have learned a little skepticism by now. They’ve seen 40 years of CIA wrongdoing, including ridiculously implausible plots like assassinating Fidel Castro with a cigar and the Kennedy Assassinations. They’ve seen unlikely government conspiracies proven beyond a shadow of a doubt, plots like Watergate and the MKULTRA mind control experiments. For God’s sake, the U.S. government has even confessed to feeding radioactive mush to retarded children — just to see what would happen. The real question isn’t “Why would you believe the U.S. government was behind September 11?” Rather, the question is “Why wouldn’t you?”

As you may have gathered, not everyone agrees on the credibility of the “official story” of the September 11 attacks on the United States. And why should they? Virtually everything the U.S. government has ever done regarding the al Qaeda terrorism network is shrouded in secrecy and full of what appears to be rampant speculation.

Nevertheless, some skeptical viewpoints are healthier than others. In the wake of the most spectacular terrorist attack in history, an assortment of nuts stepped forward with their alternate histories of the event, including several that popped up within weeks of the actual event itself.

The notion of investigative reporting as instantly gratifying speculation is fostered by the 21st century media revolution, in which bloggers are accorded the same social status as Dan Rather. Most, if not all, of these conspiracy theories are the product of many long laborious minutes of sweat devoted to dreaming them up. There are a few unanswered questions that may give even the sanest individual pause, but these quibbles are nearly irrelevant compared to the magnitude of the allegations made by the loudest and looniest.

The September 11 theories break down into two simple categories: “Whodunnit?” and “How did they do it?” Within this binary question, however, many planets of weirdness can be found orbiting.

Intelligence Run Amuck

If you live in the United States, you might be surprised at just how many people around the world believe that the CIA was behind September 11. Although the usual suspects (David Icke and the like) began concocting the usual fairy tales within hours of the event, the global conspiracy machine has really kicked into overdrive since.

The CIA theory is most popular in France. Within a month of the September 11 attack, French author Thierry Meyssan began promulgating a theory that culminated in the book titled L’Effroyable imposture, or the which roughly translates as “Appalling Fraud.” It was called 9/11: The Big Lie in its American edition.

Meyssan, who is not a journalist no matter how hard he tries, was drawn to the case when he noticed that the images of the jet that crashed into the Pentagon just didn’t look right. It’s unclear how he reached this conclusion, since a jet had never crashed into the Pentagon before, leaving no comparative basis for a proper evaluation. His theory was based primarily on the fact that you couldn’t see the wreckage of the plane anywhere.

Funny thing is, you couldn’t see the wreckage of the planes that hit the World Trade Center towers either. That’s because they were, as the scientists like to say, “blowed up”. Unperturbed by the fact that two planes were obliterated in fiery crashes on live television the very same day, Meyssan parlayed his vision into a book that was a bestseller in France and around the globe, and not a bad seller in the U.S. either.

According to Meyssan, who was a respected French intellectual prior to 9/11, the U.S. government wanted people to think the Pentagon was a plane crash instead of a truck bombing or a missile attack. He also claims the planes that hit the World Trade Center were piloted by remote control and not hijacked. All this, he claims, was done not by al Qaeda but by the U.S. government.

In conspiracy theory parlance, this is known as a “false-flag operation” — a type of intelligence campaign which, according to the tinfoil hat crowd, involves pulling off a covert action and blaming it on someone else.

The only part of Meyssan’s premise that is really compelling is the motive — to provide a rationale for the U.S. to invade Afghanistan and Iraq and steal their oil.

Everything else in Meyssan’s theory contradicts the notion that the conspirators possessed even the a shred of common sense. If the U.S. was really behind the attack, wouldn’t it make sense for them to just hijack the planes themselves?

Come on! Why in God’s name would they undertake a massive plot using sci-fi technology costing probably billions of dollars, when they could just hijack the planes themselves for only the cost of life insurance? For that matter, if they remote-controlled two jets to crash into the WTC, why not just do the same thing at the Pentagon, instead of hitting it with a missile and then pretending it was a plane?

How could the conspirators be such morons and yet execute the most successful cover-up in human history? (OK, maybe the second most successful.) The obvious answer is probably also the correct answer: They can’t, they didn’t, and this whole line of thought is even less worthy of your consideration than the secret of Area 51.

The Usual Suspects

While Meyssan’s rantings are pretty far beyond the pale of reason, the general idea that the attacks were sponsored by the CIA or the Israeli intelligence service, the Mossad, is extraordinarily widespread, particularly in the Arab world. Variations on this idea have been published in Egypt’s government-run newspapers and aired on Arab television all over the region. Even the king of Saudi Arabia has hinted as much, recently blaming a spate of al Qaeda-linked terrorist attacks on “Zionists.”

One variation on Meyssan’s theories also embraces the logic-challenged notion of remote controlled planes, but argues they were controlled by the Mossad instead of the CIA, in order to goad the U.S. into attacking Israel’s enemies. Although this theory still suffers from being terminally elaborate, the Mossad is at least a slightly better suspect than the CIA, which couldn’t even kill Castro, let alone 3,000 people in a synchronized attack on live TV.

The main problem with all this speculation is that it’s based on the idea that al Qaeda was not responsible for the attacks. This flies in the face of a mountain of evidence. Even if we grant that evidence presented after the fact by U.S. government officials is automatically suspect, there is ample documentation to support al Qaeda’s role in the attacks.

The most obvious example: Khalid Shaikh Mohammed admitted to planning the attacks in an interview with Arab media. al Qaeda documents reported by al Jazeera also confessed the attack. Hundreds of al Qaeda-linked propaganda pieces celebrate the attacks. The hijackers left suicide videos which were subsequently circulated by al Qaeda-linked Web sites around the world.

Furthermore, the historical record clearly indicates that al Qaeda had long been planning exactly this kind of attack, including copious material in the public record long before 9/11 ever happened. Ramzi Yousef was planning to crash airliners into U.S. landmarks, including the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, and that plot was reported years before 9/11 ever happened. al Qaeda-linked terrorists were looking at ways to crash airplanes into U.S. buildings as early as 1993, when the FBI and the Egyptian government were clued into a plot to steal an airplane and crash it into the U.S. embassy.

And while you can’t always trust what the government tells you, the sheer volume of U.S. documentation released after the 9/11 attacks is staggering. In addition to the extremely improbable scenarios under which the CIA or the Mossad would actually have executed the attacks, an entire agency of the U.S. government would be needed just to handle the hundreds of thousands of pages of document forgeries now in circulation supporting most elements of the official story.

In addition, the mythical conspirators seem to have carefully planted a series of whistleblowers who would inexplicably pop up to blame the government for its mind-blowing but strictly bureaucratic failures to prevent the attack. Just for verisimilitude? It boggles the mind.

The conspiracy theorists do have one explanation which makes all of the above problems go away: Everyone in the media is working for the Mossad. Including this author. Of course, a 9/11 conspiracy doesn’t have to involve remote control planes, false flags and Jewish spies infiltrating Rotten.com. There are a number of more modest proposals in circulation. A problem with this plan, so far, is its obvious failure. After all, the Constitution hasn’t been revoked (just severely diluted). And the Middle East hasn’t been successfully conquered (though not for lack of trying). Martial law hasn’t been declared (although thousands have been rounded up with no charge and detained without legal counsel). And the elections weren’t canceled (though there’s the usual debate as to the validity of their results). Um, did we say “obvious” failure? Let’s move on.

The idea that the American government would allow a massive attack on its homeland for political purposes isn’t new. For decades, rumors have swirled that government was warned of the attack on Pearl Harbor, but allowed it to take place anyway, in order to catapult the U.S. into WWII. And it’s a lot easier to cover up an ignored warning than to cover up remote controlled planes and false-flag hoodoo.

Even within the official story, there are several examples of actual warnings that were missed, but none of them were completely specific. The infamous Phoenix memo warned that Osama bin Laden was training terrorists to fly airplanes. Zacarias Moussaoui’s laptop computer wasn’t searched in time to uncover contact information for other members of the hijacking plot.

Ramzi Yousef’s earlier plane crash plot had vanished into the dusty pages of history. Several intercepted electronic communications warning of the attack were not translated by the National Security Agency until the day after the attack. The CIA knew the names of two hijackers but failed to put them on a watchlist that would have kept them out of the country.

The list of officially “missed” warnings is rather long, but none of the cited examples said anything like “On September 11, 2001, al Qaeda will hijack four airplanes and crash them into U.S. buildings.”

Or at least, that’s what they want you to believe.

There are a number of stories in circulation about specific warnings prior to 9/11, as well as numerous questions about how and why things blew up or fell down the way they did. Some have been covered in the mainstream press, others are perennial e-mail forwards. The most credible claims include:

Sibel Edmonds, an FBI translator hired after 9/11, was appalled to discover that a giant stack of documents the FBI possessed prior to September 11 indicated very clearly that a major attack was coming, and that it involved airplanes. Edmonds was subsequently told to work slower — because she was making her colleagues in the department look bad. She was then fired for reporting a security breach by one of her colleagues. Sadly, this story is completely true and was confirmed by the Justice Department, which then retroactively classified its confirmations so that Edmonds couldn’t use them in a civil suit over her termination.

In July 2001, a moderate Taliban minister warned the U.S. that al Qaeda was planning a “massive attack.” Shortly thereafter, Egyptian intelligence warned the CIA that al Qaeda had recently sent 20 operatives to the United States, and that some of them had trained as pilots.

San Francisco Mayor Wille Brown received a call from someone identified only as his “airport security” on September 10, 2001, warning him in a nonspecific manner about air travel, as reported by the San Francisco Chronicle. Some follow-up articles, reported by random non-journalists on the Internet, claim that the call came from Condoleezza Rice, but those reports are apparently based on nothing. (Editor’s Note: Please don’t e-mail us to tell us what those reports are based on. Really.)

Many people have questioned the collapse of WTC7, an adjacent building in the World Trade Center complex that housed a CIA station, among other things. Most of these theories are accompanied by the usual kinds of specious analysis that the building “couldn’t possibly” have collapsed due to the apparently insignificant stresses caused by the total collapse of the world’s two tallest buildings just a few hundred yards away. Some have proposed that the building was bombed, others cite police transmissions that seem to indicate the building was demolished by emergency crews. These unresolved questions are more credible than the Pentagon missile theory, but no solid evidence has yet emerged to prove foul play.

The official lore of September 11 has it that United Flight 93 crashed after the passengers stormed the cockpit in an effort to retake control of the plane from its hijackers. (Whether they made it into the cockpit is not clear.) But there have been persistent and credible suggestions that the flight may have been shot down by the U.S. military. In the confusion of 9/11, there were several points at which internal government communications indicated there may have been a shootdown, and Flight 93 was apparently headed for the White House. Vice President Dick Cheney ordered the military to shoot down any hijacked planes approaching the White House, and in a conversation with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld a few minutes later, official transcripts quote Cheney as saying, “It’s my understanding they’ve already taken a couple of aircraft out.” Rumsfeld responded that he could not confirm that statement. The official story is “there was no shootdown,” but a reasonable person can wonder. After these examples, the stories get hairier and the documentation gets dicier. Among the fringe claims of pre-9/11 warnings:

David Schippers (the lawyer who impeached Bill Clinton) claimed to the press that FBI agents told him they knew an attack was coming on lower Manhattan, and that they knew the names of the hijackers in advance. Schippers additionally claimed he tried to call Attorney General John Ashcroft a month before the attack to warn him. The mainstream media has not confirmed any of these claims. It may be unfair to lump Schippers in with the following claims, but after he explains the above story, he tends to launch into an uber-terrorist conspiracy rant that undercuts the credibility of his relatively simple claim of forewarning.

Delmart “Mike” Vreeland was sitting in a Canadian prison in mid-August 2001 when, for reasons unknown, he passed guards a piece of paper. It sat in a locker until after September 11. Vreeland, a con man charged with credit fraud, had written a page full of mostly incoherent notes which fortuitously included the words “Pentagon,” “White House” and “World Trade Center” (as well as “Sears Tower,” “World Bank,” “Royal Bank” and others). After 9/11, Vreeland claimed he was a U.S. intelligence agent who had learned of the attack in Russia. He also claimed to have invented the Star Wars missile defense system… You know, the one that doesn’t technically exist. As it turned out, Vreeland has a mile-long rap sheet for various frauds and scams. While parts of his story still raise significant questions, you wouldn’t want to buy a bridge from the guy.

Needless to say, the Illuminati trackers are all over this story. According to some theories, the September 11 attack was part of an evil mind control plot to implant the number “11″ into the minds of Americans. In addition to the date, one of the flights was numbered 11 and the towers themselves looked like one giant eleven.This number-planting somehow leads invariably to creating an Illuminati army of zombie minions, or something like that. You will be shocked, shocked to hear that the mainstream media has once again been unable to verify the existence of this plot.

Don’t think the UFO lobby is sitting this one out either. The September 11 attack is just the first wave in a conspiracy to destabilize American society in order to prepare people’s minds for the arrival of extraterrestrial visitors. These theories are often accompanied by “mathematical proofs” that a jetliner could not possibly destroy the World Trade Center. The UFO lobby has itself benefitted from the 9/11 attack, because everyone is paying a lot more attention to what’s in the skies these days.

Many conspiracy theorists argue that the U.S. had advanced warning of the attack, but allowed it to proceed anyway. Let’s just get one thing straight right up front: This is a much easier case to make.

That doesn’t mean it’s right, of course. But you don’t have to skip your medication in order to wonder.

A favorite among Americans on the far right and far left, this theory usually proposes that the U.S. allowed the 9/11 attacks to take place so that the Bush administration could revoke the constitution, declare martial law, conquer the Middle East and cancel the elections.

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