Special 9/11 edition
Our exchange on the August 2009 letters page about September 11 conspiracy theories provoked a great deal of response. The following are a sampling of these letters.
I take issue with your response to Reese Sullivan’s letter (8/09), and your explanation for why FAIR doesn’t deal with questions about mainstream media coverage of the events of 9/11/2001. It produces more questions than it answers.
You describe why you don’t “take corporate media to task” for failing to include “an alternative to the standard account” of those events. This suggests that FAIR’s policy is to accept mainstream media’s analysis of events, unless a plausible alternative explanation of those events is available, rather than to criticize clearly false interpretations of events on their own merits, or lack of them. The “standard account” of the reasons for the invasion of Iraq also didn’t have any plausible alternatives, since there was no evidence for other speculations as to what the real motives might be, and the non-existence of weapons of mass destruction could not be proved before the invasion took place. However, evidence supporting the necessity of invasion was clearly lacking, and FAIR didn’t hesitate to criticize mainstream media’s enabling of propaganda supporting the invasion. This situation is analogous to the standard explanation of the events of 911/2001, which also don’t stand up to close scrutiny, as has been shown over and over again by many reputable experts. As one of many examples, you might look at material from Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, to get an idea of how badly the “standard explanation” holds up.
To be consistent, you would have been better off continuing with your previous policy of completely ignoring questions about 9/11, rather than providing the implausible and evasive answer you gave to Mr. Sullivan.
Extremely compelling, peer-reviewed scientific evidence that explosives were used to bring down the World Trade Center towers was published in April of 2009 in “The Open Chemical Physics Journal”, volume 2, pp 7 – 31, under the title “Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe”. The paper’s first author, Niels H. Harrit, an associate professor of chemistry at the University of Copenhagen, was interviewed on Danish television. This story received coverage in the European press, and online, but was completely ignored by the mainstream U.S. media.
This paper is the capstone to a large body of peer-reviewed scientific investigations available at the online “Journal of 9/11 Studies”. Also ignored by the U.S. mainstream media are the 760 architectural and engineering professionals who have signed the Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth petition for a new investigation into the 3 high rise building “collapses” of 9-11-2001.
I would also point out that various aspects of the 9/11 story have been included in the Sonoma State University’s “Project Censored” Top 25 Censored Stories for the past 3 years.
My observation is prompted by the choice of terms used in the exchange between the editor and Mr. (or Ms.) Sullivan.
In the discussion on FAIR’s coverage of the 9/11 attack, two terms were used, “conspiracy theory” and “standard account.” I assume we can all agree that 9/11 was not an accident and that someone conspired to launch the attack.
The federal government’s conspiracy theory is typically challenged, not on “who did it” but on how the attack happened–analysis of the physical evidence. As a media watch group, Extra! should be pointing out how mainline media is (or is not) reporting the dialogue associated with credible critics of the government’s conspiracy theories.
The group Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth (www.ae911truth.org) is one such critic. Check them out. I continue to see various plausible challenges to the government version of 9/11, but almost no coverage of the associated dialogue in the news. Is this really happening?
I believe the letter from Reece Sullivan in your August issue deserves more consideration than you’ve given it. The “standard account that the World Trade Center was brought down by passenger planes” is precisely the problem (Editor’s response to Sullivan’s letter).
You see nothing “compelling enough” to take corporate media to task on this? Your response to the letter was nothing more than a re-articulation of their position, which is exactly what the letter is questioning.
Why don’t you run some database searches on the 9/11 topic and include the word “explosives” in the search as a keyword? Maybe you should browse 911truth.org to see what’s going on there. There have been plenty of “alternatives” to the standard account.
What’s the deal? Do you really think planes knocked those buildings all the way down to the ground and left nothing but ash? My two-floor inner city row house would have left more standing if you crashed one of those planes into it. Come on!
FAIR’s response to Reece Sullivan’s letter in the August 2009 issue of Extra! is inadequate.
The threshold of proof that FAIR requires critics of the received account of the 911 attacks to meet, in order to justify criticism of the lack of media coverage of the “911-Truth” controversy, is too high. It is not incumbent upon critics of the official account of the attacks to posit a full-fledged, alternative version of what happened before an investigation is warranted into how the media has failed to cover questions not covered by the 911 Commission (whose report is, in essence, the official story).
Indeed, it is elementary that the burden of proof of any crime is on the accuser, and that an overconfident, alternative theorizing would be irresponsible in the absence of a complete accounting of the facts. Nevertheless, having said this, there is a prima facie case that the official story is false and that damning, unanswered questions exist, not covered by the major media, in relation to the 911 Commission’s account of the attacks. This should be enough to goad FAIR into action.
Some of the outstanding questions surrounding 911, notwithstanding the Commission’s report, are discussed at length by David Ray Griffin, to name just one example, in several books which it is difficult to believe are unbeknown to FAIR despite FAIR’s claim not to have seen information “compelling enough” to throw the official story into doubt (this claim, incidentally, is only a confession of ignorance). Peter Lance, Sibel Edmonds, and even the New York Times’ Philip Shenon also come to mind. Collectively, they, not to mention the 911 family members responsible for the Commission’s creation, have also raised deeper, unanswered questions concerning the possibility of government foreknowledge of, and/or complicity in, the attacks, and have pointed to the Commission’s dubious sources of information, as well as to conflicts of interest among Commission personnel, which should discredit the Commission’s reliability.
Given these issues, FAIR’s claim that it is a media watch group and is therefore exempt from investigative reporting on the 911-Truth controversy is especially disingenuous in view of virtually every article FAIR runs which highlights what the media omits or distorts and plainly relies on facts, or factual claims, and perspectives that the media does not report. I suspect that an explanation for this double-standard of media criticism, and of scepticism generally, can be found in the kind of fear of losing one’s putative credibility to which Sullivan refers. As a cognoscenti across the political spectrum, from Noam Chomsky to Sean Hannity, has deemed 911-Truth to be an example of Richard Hofstadter’s “paranoid style in American politics,” a per se “conspiracy theory” (itself a loaded term), further inquiry cannot reasonably be entertained. Sorry, this posture will not do.
New York, N.Y.
I write as an admirer of FAIR and one of its volunteer DC representatives for several years in the 90’s, when I was there on a NIH fellowship at UMD College Park.
I read – with incredulity – the following statement by the Editor in response to a reader’s letter published in the August 2009 issue: “…we’ve yet to see an alternative to the standard account that the World Trade Center was brought down by passenger planes that is compelling enough…”
FAIR’s mission demands that it provide an explanation to its membership, and readers of Extra, for why the “standard account” provided to the public by the Bush administration within 24 hours of the 9-11 attacks is more “compelling” than the alternative account that is now publically supported by hundreds of building professionals. Steadily increasing numbers of the latter have been demanding an independent investigation into the events of 9-11 (which I hope FAIR will agree has never been undertaken). Theses individuals have provided their names, license numbers, statements and, in many cases, faces for public access at ae911tuth.org – the site of architects, engineers and physicists who support an alternative account and an independent investigation. These individuals and the information they provide are available to the staff of Extra.
The founder of architects and engineers for 9-11 truth is Richard Gage, a professional architect of steel-frame structures and neither a “conspiracy theorist” nor a political ideologue. The alternative
account that he and other professionals support has been thoroughly presented by some in the foreign press, but not by US mainstream media – nor by Extra.
The fact that the data and analysis of Gage and colleagues are dismissed by Extra’s editors as insufficiently “compelling” is galling to me as a scientist and proponent of the free flow of information.
But it’s not necessary to complete a course in college physics to recognize that “collapses from fire due to passenger plane impacts” is a hypothesis that can’t account for the facts of destruction of the three WTC buildings: There were no piles of collapsed floors, the two buildings hit by planes didn’t tumble down towards their respective regions of weakened structural support but instead disintegrated symmetrically into their own footprints (as did WTC 7 without a plane impact), no steel core supports of the two towers were left standing as floors “collapsed” around them, the top floors of each one of the three buildings fell at free-fall speed (physically impossible if intact lower floors were present to fall against), the supposedly “collapsed” floors actually disintegrated into dust – dust particles so fine that they formed a pyroclastic flow comparable to volcanic ash. Molten metal at the base of each building fueled a burn and attendant cloud that persisted for weeks. Not one of these easily verifiable facts can be explained by the “standard account.” The alternative account predicts all of them. It’s no wonder that the Bush Administration removed evidence as quickly as possible, forestalled congressional attempts at an investigation and then under-funded the inevitable – while obliging the “Commission” to operate under the assumption that the standard account was correct.
The position you take on the issue of 9-11 has long troubled me as a betrayal of your stated mission – a deep and surprising betrayal. The words of UN rights envoy and Princeton Professor of international law, Richard Falk, are better to close this letter of concern than my own. I quote here from his November 2008 article in The Journal, Issue 13 (http://www.journal-online.co.uk/about):
“… given the dark cloud of doubt that lingers over the official 9/11 narrative, why was the issue not even discussed during the many months of presidential campaigning? As far as I know it was never mentioned.
And the explanation is not the urgency associated with the widening economic crisis or the tactical interest of the Democrats to avoid offending Republicans in their search for support across party lines. The truth is deeper, and far more disturbing.
As far as I can tell, the real explanation is a widely shared fear of what sinister forces might lay beneath the unturned stones of a full and honest investigation of 9/11. Ever since the assassinations in the 1960s of John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Malcolm Xthere has been waged a powerful campaign against “conspiracy theory” that has made anyone who dares question the official story to be branded as a kook or some kind of unhinged troublemaker. ..The persisting inability to resolve this fundamental controversy about 9/11 subtly taints the legitimacy of the American government. It can only be removed by a willingness, however belated, to reconstruct the truth of that day, and to reveal the story behind its prolonged suppression. …that honest effort is just what should be demanded and expected by persons of good will everywhere”
Dr. Sarah Durand
New York, N.Y.
Your response to Reece Sullivan [Letters, August 2009] regarding the cover-up of the 9/11 attacks was completely off the mark — you clearly didn’t understand his point.
You said “As a media watch group, FAIR and its outlets are not the place for original investigative reporting …” All right, “fair” enough.
But then you said “we’ve yet to see an alternative to the standard account that the WTC was brought down by passenger planes that is compelling enough …” Feeble excuse! Why do you have to wait for a “compelling” alternative account before declaring that the Official Government Conspiracy Theory couldn’t possibly be correct? Frankly, it is difficult to come up with a compelling alternative when the evidence isn’t all available (has been suppressed?). But that shouldn’t stop you, or the mainstream press, or the alternative press for that matter, from raising the red flag. God knows, there have been plenty of people who have made compelling cases that there is something fishy about the official story. Lots of unanswered questions. And we know the government lies to us — for example, they said the air was fit to breathe in New York City that day, but it clearly wasn’t and lots of people got sick.
Personally I’d like to know, and I’d like the press to investigate, the explanations of the following mysteries:
How did two airplanes bring down three buildings?
The 47-story WTC 7 wasn’t hit by a plane, wasn’t significantly damaged by the collapsing North Tower, and stood all day
… Till it suddenly came down like a controlled demolition, as fast as “free fall” — even Dan Rather said so (once)
Two news organizations broadcast PREMATURELY the collapse of this building, one (CNN, I think) in the morning and one (BBC?) about fifteen minutes before it happened, with the still-intact building embarrassingly visible over the reporter’s shoulder!
Firemen and police seemed to know that there was an imminent collapse
People heard explosions, and saw puffs of smoke.
Even the NIST report confesses they couldn’t figure out why this building collapsed
The two tall towers also came down like controlled demolitions, not toppling but settling straight down on their footprints. Not a chance in a billion that all those hundreds of steel supports could have
failed simultaneously across a one-acre cross-section.
Many high-rise buildings have been totally destroyed by serious fires, but in all cases the steel framework was left standing; fire, even from burning jet fuel, simply isn’t hot enough to melt steel
People heard explosions, saw puffs of smoke, saw strangely colored liquids pouring out of windows. They also saw people standing in windows (later killed unfortunately) but clearly not burning up because
the fire was too hot
Where was North American Air Defense for two hours?
Why were there sudden rushes on “put” options on American and United stock a day or two before?
The President was told six weeks before 9/11 by the CIA that they had info Al Qaeda was planning to hijack planes and use them as bombs — why didn’t he act? and why did that most incompetent National
Security Adviser of all time, Condoleeza Rice, lie on TV by suggesting “no one could have suspected they would hijack airplanes …”
Those are just some of the questions. There are lots more, including many about the attack on the Pentagon and the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania.
Sonoma State University
Rohnert Park, Calif.
Courageous commitment to seeking truth and some knowledge of high school science are all that is needed to dispatch the Official 911 Conspiracy Theories. Regrettably, these seem to be absent on the Letters page of EXTRA (August, 2009, Vol. 22, No.8, pg. 4). I am proud to be a founding member of FAIR and grateful for all I have learned about media from you; hope to learn more in the future. But the handling of 911 by almost all Left, independent media has been poor at best.
Even the 911 Commission’s leadership developed second thoughts about the heart of the Official Conspiracy Theory when they learned it was based upon the CIA’s coerced testimony (NYT Op-Ed January 2, 2008, Stonewalled by the C.I.A,” by THOMAS H. KEAN and LEE H. HAMILTON) There is now so much evidence to the contrary, that it would seem no rational person could give the Official 911 Conspiracy Theory any credence whatever, unless they were trying very hard to do so. Either of two points are doubly sufficient to make the case.
It would have taken about 10 seconds for an object to fall freely from the top of either Tower 1 or 2 of the WTC on 9/10/2001. Even if the “pancake” theory of early NIST Reports were taken as being valid and the upper floors were sufficiently weakened by fire to cause them to fall onto the lower floors, the momentum of each successive collision between floors would have increased the fall time to about 15 seconds.. As videos of the WTC buildings indicate, the fall times were 10 seconds. Another explanation is needed.
Lower Manhattan was filled with pulverized concrete that the NIST Report and the 911 Commission attribute to gravitational energy (the impact of the falling concrete with the ground and other falling concrete). But that energy is insufficient to pulverize such a mass of concrete and, as the videos indicate, the heavy dust is already apparent at the top, as the collapse began. Another explanation is needed.
It is not necessary to accept any alternative Conspiracy Theory in place of the Official 911 Conspiracy Theory in order to recognize that the Bush Administration and the US mass media simply shoveled one more onto the mountain of lies. Two wars of aggression, torture, murder, distraction from the financial thievery, and much more inhumane behavior were all justified by the Official 911 Conspiracy Theory.
Perhaps, the greatest damage to the public psyche is the Orwellian corruption of language that makes it difficult, if not impossible, to use certain, proper words as explanations of reality. This precludes an understanding of things as they really are. We are in dire political straits, but the denial of reality does not alleviate or make it go away
If FAIR is having difficulty findings sources that identify the many blatant contradictions in the US government’s claims regarding the attacks of 9/11, let me know and I can direct you to consultants you
may find useful.
I can find you 700 architects and engineers, 41 national security veterans, and hundreds of scholars that reject the convenient media story lines that may be guiding FAIR’s assumptions.
Andrew Kenny, Ph.D.