Saturday, December 23, 2006

Into the Ring With Counterpunch

This piece by Michael Keefer is an intelligent retort to A. Cockburn and certain others whose intellectual integrity seems to take a nosedive when it comes to 9/11. I found it at gph

by Michael Keefer
December 4, 2006

The first thing to say by way of preliminaries—and I’d better get it in quickly before someone suggests that I’ve turned up late or over-weight for a pre-match weighing-in—is that I’m not overjoyed with the pugilistic metaphor of my title.

But some sort of response to the volley of attacks on 9/11 researchers and activists with which the Counterpunch website marked the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 seems called for.

Counterpunch co-editor Alexander Cockburn set the tone of these pieces with an article describing theologian and ethicist David Ray Griffin, the author of The New Pearl Harbor (2004) and of The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions (2005), as a “high priest” of the “conspiracy nuts”—whom Cockburn denounces as cultists who “disdain all answers but their own,” who “seize on coincidences and force them into sequences they deem to be logical and significant,” and who “pounce on imagined clues in documents and photos, [….] contemptuously brush[ing] aside” evidence that contradicts their own “whimsical” treatment of “eyewitness testimony and forensic evidence.”

It’s a characteristically forceful performance, if at times slipshod. (One small sign of carelessness may be the manner in which Cockburn slides from calling 9/11 skeptics a “coven” to comparing them, a few sentences later, to “mad Inquisitors […] torturing the data—as the old joke goes about economists—until the data confess.” Readers brought up to think that the victims and perpetrators of witch-crazes have not customarily been the same people may find this unintentionally amusing.)

Despite the sometimes distinctly nasty tone of this polemic, the idea of exchanging even metaphorical blows with Cockburn and his colleagues is unappealing. The overall quality of the essays that he and Jeffrey St. Clair publish in Counterpunch makes it easy on most days of the week to agree with Out of Bounds Magazine’s description of it—trumpeted on Counterpunch’s masthead—as “America’s best political newsletter.” And I’ve admired Cockburn’s own political essays for many years: he’s written movingly, sometimes brilliantly, on a wide range of subjects1 —even if his flashes of brilliance sometimes alternate with breathtaking pratfalls: among them his dismissal, as recently as March 2001, of the evidence for global warming; his scoffing, in November 2004, at the rapidly gathering indications that the US presidential election of 2004 had been stolen; and a year later, his mockery of the well-established theory of peak oil and his adherence to the genuinely daft notion that the earth produces limitless quantities of abiotic oil.2 One can forgive a journalist’s slender grasp of the rudiments of scientific understanding. But given his self-appointed role as defender of the progressive left against a horde of fools, it’s dismaying to find him sliding as frequently as he does into positions that seem not just quirky but—dare I say it—unprogressive.

Figurative punch-ups? Frankly, I’m not over-fond of boxing, either in itself3 or as a source of metaphors. A sport whose fullest measure of success is an opponent stretched out senseless on the canvas doesn’t provide any very adequate model for the processes of rational argument and persuasion I’d like to envisage—which might ideally lead, not to oblivion and brain damage, but rather, given a modicum of interpretive clarity, to at least the possibility of mental expansion, illumination, and a change of mind. And if I’m right in thinking that Alexander Cockburn’s understanding of the events of 9/11 and the current state of research into those events is both one-eyed and befuddled, it would hardly seem sporting to ‘enter the ring’ against so disadvantaged an opponent.

Yet if one wants to take exception to serious deficiencies in Counterpunch’s treatment of 9/11 evidence and interpretations, the website’s own metaphor seems hard to avoid.

What of my subtitle, then—which I’m afraid is wordy as well as impolite? It sets out to parody the scarcely less elephantine subtitles of two of the three recent Counterpunch articles that I’m going to be commenting on here (read ’em yourself, and weep):
Alexander Cockburn, "The 9/11 Conspiracy Nuts: How They Let the Guilty Parties of 9/11 Slip Off the Hook," Counterpunch (9-10 September 2006),

Joshua Frank, "Proving Nothing: How the 9/11 Truth Movement Helps Bush & Cheney," Counterpunch (11 September 2006),
The subtitle of Cockburn’s diatribe is no doubt meant to be inflammatory—though if I’ve understood him rightly, he’s not literally arguing that the perpetrators of 9/11 would all be behind bars if it weren’t for those 9/11 wackos. Frank’s subtitle might also border on the category of fighting words, were it not that his essay, as he himself predicts, proves nothing. (Students of political rhetoric will note, in passing, how precisely Cockburn’s and Frank’s subtitles exemplify the trope of unintended consequences that Albert Hirschman in his classic study of The Rhetoric of Reaction calls “the perversity thesis,” which “reactive” or reactionary thinkers since Joseph de Maistre at the time of the French Revolution have deployed to argue that the actions of their deluded opponents “will produce, via a chain of unintended consequences, the exact contrary of the objective being proclaimed and pursued.”)4

After the appearance of these two pieces on successive days, honoured a familiar boxing rhythm (quick left and right, pause, sucker-punch) by leaving a gap of several days before releasing a third broadside against 9/11 researchers:

Diana Johnstone, “In Defense of Conspiracy: 9/11: In Theory and Fact,” Counterpunch (15 September 2006),

Johnstone’s essay is more substantial than the preceding two. But any reader lured by its title into thinking that Counterpunch was actually permitting real debate on the subject of 9/11 would indeed be suckered. And there is again a problem with subtitles. As I intend to show, this piece offers little in the way of facts, and is defective—though instructively so—in its theorizing.

1. Alexander Cockburn: beyond table-thumping to the evidence Alexander Cockburn’s attack on “The 9/11 Conspiracy Nuts,” though rhetorically skillful, is vacuous in substance. It is in large part devoted to arguing that a “devout, albeit preposterous belief in American efficiency” is the “fundamental idiocy” which leads “conspiracy nuts” to think that there must be something suspicious about the massive failures of the US air defense system on 9/11. Anyone even remotely acquainted with military history, Cockburn asserts, would know “that minutely planned operations—let alone responses to an unprecedented emergency—screw up with monotonous regularity, by reason of stupidity, cowardice, venality, weather and all the other whims of providence.”

I’m not interested in defending the efficiency of the American military—or of anyone else’s military, for that matter. (In fact, I could supplement the little catalogue of military ineptitudes that Cockburn presents with some choice additional ones drawn from the period of my own brief spell decades ago with the Canadian navy—among them an incident in which an American destroyer contrived to get itself cut in half by the Australian aircraft carrier Melbourne.) Yet if we attend for a moment not to Cockburn’s overheated rhetorical questions and table-thumping repetition of the capitalized word “CONSPIRACY,” but rather to the established and uncontroversial evidence, it is at once obvious that what is at issue is not primarily, as Cockburn thinks, the gap between his own expectations of bungling incompetence and David Ray Griffin’s understanding of what a normal air defense response should have been.

As anyone who presumes to hold forth on this aspect of the 9/11 evidence should know, what is really incriminating about the failure to intercept the aircraft which were flown on that day into the Twin Towers and (by the official account) into the Pentagon is not the simple absence of fighter-interceptors over New York and Washington, but rather the fact that that absence was ensured by a series of concurrent military exercises which had transferred most of the available interceptors out of the northeastern region, and which for a crucial period that morning left the military air traffic controllers responsible for vectoring the remaining fighters into position unable to determine which of the many blips appearing on their radar screens represented actual as opposed to simulated threats.5 We can add to this what seems the no less incriminating testimony of Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta to the 9/11 Commission, which suggests very strongly that Vice President Cheney had ordered a stand-down of missile defenses protecting Washington DC.6

Cockburn’s failure to mention this important and well-known evidence tells us one of two things. Either he is unaware of it, in which case one must ask why he thinks it appropriate to hold forth angrily on subjects about which he has not bothered to inform himself; or else he does know about it—in which case he ought to be asking himself what standard of intellectual integrity governed his decision to refrain from mentioning this crucial evidence to his readers.

Midway through his essay, Cockburn offers a curious little detour into the complexities of the JFK assassination, telling us that in his view,

the Warren Commission, as confirmed in almost all essentials by the House Committee on Assassinations in the late 1970s, had it right and Oswald fired the fatal shots from the Schoolbook Depository. The evidentiary chain for his guilt is persuasive, and the cumulative scenarios of the conspiracy nuts entirely unconvincing. But of course—as the years roll by, and even though no death bed confession has ever buttressed those vast, CIA-related scenarios—the nuts keep on toiling away, their obsessions as unflagging as ever.

These sentences are a close rhetorical analogue to that fighter’s tactic—more in use among half-crocked bar-room brawlers than boxers, it must be said—known as leading with one’s chin. The “conspiracy nuts” Cockburn sneers at include D. B. Thomas of the USDA Subtropical Agriculture Research Laboratory in Texas, who after analyzing the acoustical evidence of gunshots preserved on a Dallas police department recording from Dealey Plaza at the time of the assassination, concluded in a peer-reviewed study published in 2001 by the journal Science & Justice that the recording “contains five impulsive sounds that have the acoustic waveform of Dealey Plaza gunfire,” and that “One of the sounds matches the echo pattern of a test shot fired from the Grassy Knoll.”7 So much for the Warren Commission’s three (and no more) shots fired by Oswald from the Texas Book Depository: more than three shoots, and more than one shooter, means a conspiracy. And by the way, it’s not strictly true that the 1979 House Select Committee on Assassinations Report confirmed the Warren Commission Report “in almost all essentials,” since the HSCA Report did in fact conclude that the assassination was probably organized by a conspiracy. 8

Cockburn is welcome to cling, if he wants, to what I’d term the Lone Ranger theory of the Kennedy assassination—but on condition that he devote a short meditation to the name of the Lone Ranger’s native sidekick.9

There is more in Cockburn’s essay on the 9/11 evidence: he has a brief fling at the people who doubt that a Boeing 757 could have hit the Pentagon,10 and exercises his ironic wit for several paragraphs at the expense of the reality-disdaining nuts who think that the towers of the World Trade Center were brought down by planned demolitions. Cockburn scoffs at the paranoid folly of those who believe that the WTC towers didn’t fall down because they were badly built as a consequence of corruption, incompetence, regulatory evasions by the Port Authority, and because they were struck by huge planes loaded with jet fuel. No, they fell because Dick Cheney’s agents methodically planted demolition charges in the preceding days. It was a conspiracy of thousands, all of whom—party to mass murder—have held their tongues ever since.

Perhaps (although he doesn’t share it with us) Cockburn has evidence that the Twin Towers were so incompetently built as to be especially liable to explosive disintegration into showers of cut steel and pyroclastic clouds of fine-particle dust. But like the 9/11 Commission, he manages quietly to forget about the collapse of WTC 7 late in the afternoon of 9/11: this 47-story steel-framed tower, which was damaged by debris from the North Tower but not struck by any aircraft, collapsed at free-fall speed into its own footprint in what half a dozen different videos show to have been a classic implosion demolition. Significantly, FEMA and NIST have failed to offer any plausible alternative explanation of this collapse.

As to the questions of how, when, or by whom demolition charges may have been planted: there is evidence, though Cockburn may not be interested in exploring it, of activity on unoccupied floors of the Twin Towers just prior to 9/11 that is consistent with the placing of such charges.11 Why don’t we try replacing the gag orders that have silenced 9/11 whistleblowers like Sibel Edmonds with an independent criminal investigation, and see what crawls out of the woodwork?

But refuting this rhetoric at length would be tedious. I would prefer instead to quote Paul Craig Roberts’ magisterial rebuke:

The explanation that the three WTC buildings collapsed as a result of damage and fire is a mere assertion. The assertion is not backed up with scientific calculation to demonstrate that the energy from the airliners, fire and gravity was sufficient to collapse the buildings. A number of independent authorities believe that there is a very large energy deficit in the official account of the collapse of the buildings. Until this issue is resolved, the official explanation is merely an assertion no matter who believes it.
The Canadian scientist Frank R. Greening has made the only independent scientific attempt of which I am aware to show that a gravity driven collapse of one of the buildings, WTC 1, was sustainable. His paper is published in The Journal of 9/11 Studies, Vol. 2 (August 2006) and is available online. It is a reply to earlier calculations by Gordon Ross, who concluded otherwise, and is answered in the same issue by Ross, who shows that Greening’s work actually demonstrates the existence of an energy deficit.

It is instructive to read this exchange between competent authorities. Few readers will be able to follow the application of scientific principles and the calculations of the required and available energy. However, it will be clear that the issue is a scientific matter that is over the heads of members of a political commission, pundits, and bloggers, and that it is inappropriate for a pundit, who himself is incapable of following such a discussion, to call those participating in it “conspiracy nuts.”12

Elsewhere in the same essay, Roberts notes that Ross is far from being the only scientist to criticize and reject the official explanation of the WTC towers’ collapses. This is indeed the case. Evidence—to my mind conclusive—that the official accounts are physically impossible, and that the three towers of the World Trade Center (the 47-storey WTC 7 as well as the 110-storey Twin Towers) were destroyed by controlled demolitions, has been assembled by physicists, mechanical engineers and other scientifically qualified researchers in a series of recent studies, some of them published in the peer-reviewed Journal of 9/11 Studies13. These analyses are supported by the testimony of fire department personnel to secondary explosions in the Twin Towers,14 by video and photographic evidence that structural steel in the South Tower was being cut and melted (probably by thermate charges) during the final minutes before its collapse,15 by videos and photographs of the collapses in which “squibs” (explosive horizontal ejections of dust and debris) are visible well below the lines of collapse,16 by numerous reports of molten steel under the ruins of the Twin Towers and WTC 7 weeks after their destruction,17 and by laboratory analyses of structural steel from the towers which reveal chemical transformations that could not have been caused by gravitational collapse or fire, but may well be effects of thermate cutting charges.18

2. Joshua Frank: a litany of complaints and rhetorical questions

Insofar as anything resembling an argument is to be found in Joshua Frank’s short article, it appears in the following litany of complaints and rhetorical questions:

While some BYU physicist rattles his brain over the intricacies of WTC #7’s collapse, our government is dropping toxic gas on poor peasants in Colombia in attempts to eradicate coca production. While David Ray Griffin pens his next best seller, forests in Alaska and Appalachia are being obliterated in the name of corporate profit. While so many truth seekers attempt to convince us […] that the Jews who worked in the WTC were told ahead of time not to come to work on 9/11, Lebanon is being invaded and destroyed by Israel.
What’s the Truth Movement doing about the hundreds of thousands of poor non-violent drug offenders who are rotting in US prisons, or the thousands more who are decaying on death row? What are they doing for the teenage girls who slave away in sweatshops piecing together our clothes and sneakers? What have conspiracy theories ever proven, anyway?

Though a powerful sense of his own political virtue pervades these paragraphs, Frank’s stance seems to me ethically wanting as well as logically weak. In saying this, I’m not referring primarily to his shabbily abusive references to Steven Jones and David Ray Griffin. Frank takes 9/11 activists to task for their putative failure to occupy themselves with US crimes in Colombia, ecological issues, the invasion of Lebanon, third-world sweatshops, and the appalling injustices of America’s courts and its domestic gulag. But the same objections could be raised (for example) against the movement of solidarity with Haitian democracy.19 What have the people who labour in that movement done in support of any of these other issues? Or, as one might with equal force (or feebleness) inquire: How have activists against US crimes in Colombia and Israeli crimes in Lebanon contributed to alleviating the horrors inflicted on Haiti’s poor, most particularly since the 2004 coup and the ensuing UN occupation?

Frank’s complaints are clearly both inane and divisive. For most of us, it is not humanly possible to be doing A, B, and C, if at a given moment we are fully occupied in doing D. Of course, if this is a rule, there have been exceptions to it: St. Thomas Aquinas is reported to have made a practice of composing three distinct texts simultaneously, dictating sections of each in turn to three amanuenses. Perhaps Frank is similarly versatile and efficient, and is able to make significant parallel contributions to all of the important causes he names. But by his own logic, one could still assemble a list of other important causes that he has done nothing to further, and then reproach him for the fact. (It’s an excellent recipe for producing disunity and mutual suspicion on the left, if that’s your goal.)

Are 9/11 researchers and activists in fact the one-string Johnnies that Frank takes them for? My own limited experience would lead me to conclude otherwise. I am personally acquainted with only a handful of people who have been active on 9/11—all of whom however have worked, sometimes for decades and with distinction, on a wide range of social justice, anti-war and ecological issues, both domestic and international.

Yet of course what Frank means is that other kinds of activism are worthy and admirable, while inquiries into the truth of what happened on 9/11 and into the implications of that truth are simply idiotic. People who engage in such inquiries are mere zealots and pretenders: “how they can seek the truth when they already think they have all the answers is beyond me,” Frank says piously.

But not too far beyond him, it would seem. Frank himself concedes “that there are a lot of questions yet to be answered about that dark day five years ago. But of all the inquiries, none, in my opinion, if answered, would ever indicate the US government was behind the bloody affair.” So there it is: the questions may be unanswered, but they don’t need to be, because Frank knows already what the only possible answers add up to.

If the illogic of this short piece seems tawdry, the mental laziness Frank’s position authorizes is no less so. I don’t mean to suggest that any activity labeling itself “9/11 research” is intrinsically virtuous. Anyone who has observed neo-Gnostic prophet David Icke gliding happily between assessments of 9/11 evidence and pronouncements about the “Illuminati conspiracy” and “reptilian entities in the positions of power [that] manipulate the peoples of the world to fight each other in the five-sense prison,”20 or who has taken note of the vicious email blitzing inflicted by Nico Haupt, Gerard Holmgren and Rosalee Grable (alias ‘Webfairy’) on what they call “plane-huggers” (people naive enough to believe that actual aircraft struck the Twin Towers on 9/11),21 will know that some of what passes as “9/11 research” is silly, inept, and malicious. But only by an act of transparent bad faith can this be used to dismiss out of hand research that adheres to the principles of critical scholarship and the methods of scientific inquiry.

3. Diana Johnstone: problems of method

Diana Johnstone deserves credit for her abstention from the overheated rhetoric of Cockburn and Frank, and for her attempt to analyze the subject methodically. But it is precisely in her interpretive methodology that she goes astray.

Johnstone’s basic error is a repeated assumption that suppositious interpretations of intention should be treated as the primary form of evidence. Thus she proposes, near the beginning of her article, that we attend to “the symbolism of the attacks.” She then uses suppositions about intention to undermine what she calls “the Bushite conspiracy hypothesis”:

Now, let us suppose that Bushite plotters designed the attacks so that Bush could use them to claim that “they want to destroy us because of our freedom”. The choice of targets should support that claim. Suppose one of the planes had crashed into the Statue of Liberty; that would really carry the message that “they want to destroy our freedom”. For ordinary Americans, it would be just as shocking as the World Trade Center, while costing a lot less to American capitalism (an old gift from France would hardly be missed). For good measure, to show that the terrorists want to kill as many people as possible, they could have crashed into a couple of packed football stadiums.
This approach is peculiar in two respects. First, although I don’t object on principle to speculations about intention, I think they’re more likely to be plausible when they have a more serious anchorage in considerations of political and economic advantage than Johnstone provides. Without dismissing her suppositions out of hand, I would note that she ignores other more material possibilities: for example, that intentions behind the WTC attacks could have included a desire to dispose of functionally obsolete and uneconomical buildings while making it possible to collect massively on their insurance, to generate large put-option stock market windfalls, and to dispose of evidence held by the SEC in WTC 7 relating to the Enron and WorldCom scandals (all of which the attacks very definitely did).

More significantly, Johnstone’s approach inverts any properly analytical ordering of evidence. Unless there is other material, testimonial, photographic or documentary evidence that makes a “Bushite conspiracy hypothesis” or an “al Qaeda hypothesis” plausible, speculations about intentions that would support one or the other hypothesis are a pure waste of time. As I have already noted, there is strong material, testimonial, and photographic evidence that the World Trade Center towers were destroyed by controlled demolitions—which in turn indicates that people with privileged access to the buildings (whose security was contracted to a company with close Bush family connections) knew in advance that the planes which reached their targets with the help of what appears to have been a planned disabling of the American air defense system would in fact get through. This evidence is supported by analyses of many incriminating details of government foreknowledge, of the attacks themselves, and of the ensuing cover-up that have been published by Michel Chossudovsky and other researchers.22 Their work has been lucidly summarized in a series of books and articles by David Ray Griffin.23 Only on a tertiary and supplemental level do questions of intention—among them the stated geopolitical aims expounded by senior members of the Bush administration in the documents published by the Project for the New American Century, and also, if you like, Diana Johnstone’s more suppositious or novelistic speculations—become relevant.

Johnstone remarks that “the layman cannot easily judge” between “conflicting physical interpretations” of what happened at the Pentagon, “but can quite well use common sense to question motives and plausibility.” She treats the question of what caused the collapses of the WTC towers in the same manner:

The layman has no way to judge between these expert explanations—but neither do experts, since (as physicist Jean Bricmont points out) scientists cannot be sure of the cause of a single event that cannot be repeated experimentally. So we are back to the question of plausibility and motivation.
This is an openly irrationalist rhetorical move. Laymen can’t do science, so we’ll have to get along with common sense—but then scientists can’t do science either, so common sense (untouched, it would seem, by any serious study of the evidence, since that might give it some whiff of the scientific) magically becomes the only set of wheels that anyone has.

One must hope, for Jean Bricmont’s sake, that Johnstone is misquoting or misunderstanding him. In a strict sense, as he perhaps meant to say, every physical event in the universe is a singularity that can never be precisely reiterated. But that does not make iterability absurd, or science impossible—for scientific experiments and modellings do not aspire to precisely repeat (or anticipate) the physical interactions and structural relations they are designed to give us insight into; rather, they provide measurable controlled analogues to those processes. To claim that the collapses of the WTC towers cannot be physically and mechanically modeled, or that the remaining samples of the toxic dust and the structural steel cannot be chemically and structurally analyzed, is irrationalism of a low order.

It might seem surprising that a literary scholar and textual theorist like myself should object to Johnstone’s proceedings—which after all amount to putting novelists and literary critics into the driver’s seat. But I’m afraid bad science also makes bad hermeneutics—and bad hermeneutics results in feeble handling of the textual evidence.

4. Looking away from the 9/11 evidence

Why have otherwise admirable leftist journalists like Cockburn, Frank, and Johnstone been so strangely averse to attending to the evidence about 9/11 alluded to above? One reason may be that even the hypothesis of state complicity in the events of 9/11 entails confronting the possibility that we are living through a moment of major historical transformation and discontinuity.

It is one thing to accept, as an abstract proposition, that the United States may have moved from the end of its republican period into a state of imperial autocracy. Chalmers Johnson’s diagnosis in The Sorrows of Empire is, after all, both scrupulous and unambiguous—as is his conclusion that the American people might conceivably

retake control of Congress, reform it along with the corrupted election laws that have made it a forum for special interests, turn it into a genuine assembly of democratic representatives, and cut off the supply of money to the Pentagon and the secret intelligence agencies [….] At this late date, however, it is difficult to imagine how Congress, much like the Roman senate in the last days of the republic, could be brought back to life and cleansed of its endemic corruption.
24 Johnson’s analysis may well arouse in us a Virgilian sense of lacrimae rerum, of the grief of temporality, and the sadness of “states doomed to ruin,” perituraque regna.25
But it is another thing altogether to confront in detail the manner in which the transition from republic to autocracy is being orchestrated—not just through the out-of-control militarism that Johnson so finely documents, but also through what Peter Dale Scott has called the “deep politics” of a ruling elite which is thoroughly habituated to reliance on covert agencies that are in no way answerable to democratic governance.26 Yet if we’re going to deal in historical parallels, perhaps we ought to strive for consistency. Rome’s imperial-autocrats-in-the-making never hesitated to shed blood, whether of their compatriots or other nations: why should we imagine our own to be more fastidious, or less Machiavellian?

Another motive for aversion may also be involved: the fear of being mocked as a “conspiracy theorist” or “tinfoil hat wearer,” with a consequent loss of public credibility and professional respect. If such a fear were no more than what it seems, one might well ask what value there could be to markers of professional standing which block inquiry into historical truths and material realities—or what claims to courage or integrity could be made by public intellectuals who fold their tents at the mere threat of scurrilous handling by opponents. But something more profound may be at work. Peter Dale Scott, who like Chalmers Johnson indulges in what he calls the “clichéd analogy” of a comparison between the contemporary United States and Rome in the period of its transition from republic to imperial autocracy, remarks on the refusal of the Roman senatorial class to accept that “real power had migrated out of” the civic institutions in which they continued to participate, and had passed into the hands of “an imperial regime, the armies and the courts of the army commanders.” Their motive, though unacknowledged, was quite simple: “The self-respect of the senatorial classes depended on this denial.”27

An analogous motive may be in play among our own class of academics and public intellectuals, for whom a migration of power into military, deep-political, and corporate-media hands may for similar reasons be difficult to acknowledge. István Meszáros has proposed that we are currently facing not merely a “conjunctural crisis” of the kind that occurred at intervals over the past century, but rather an all-embracing “structural crisis”—one which “affects the totality of a social complex” because it throws into question “capital’s mode of social metabolic reproduction” up to the ultimate limits of “the established global structure.”28 It would be no novelty to argue that the Bush regime’s military aggressions, together with its evident contempt for the constraints of republican governance (the Bill of Rights and habeas corpus among them) and its ever-increasing reliance on deep-political manipulations, are part of the corporatist ruling elite’s response to this structural crisis. Understandably enough, public intellectuals who are habituated to conjunctural crises in which their oppositional function was understood by all concerned, and who have in addition made a lifelong habit of ignoring or belittling political analyses which incorporate deep-political factors, have resisted the gathering evidence that these very factors have been decisive in the political transformations pushed through since 9/11.

And yet counter-forces are arguably at work against what Scott calls “the social function of denial in masking political change.”29 One of them, intellectual integrity, though it might seem a quaint abstraction to invoke in this context, has yet impelled conservative academics and public intellectuals like Paul Craig Roberts and Morgan Reynolds (who in addition to their university careers held senior positions in the Reagan and first George W. Bush administrations, respectively) into vehement opposition to the crimes of the present regime. Both have written powerful analyses of the present administration’s folly and criminality, and both recognize the events of 9/11 as a key element of that criminality.

Another counter-force may be a growing recognition of the delegitimizing power of the 9/11 evidence.

5. Delegitimizing the Bush regime

When Joshua Frank says of the Bush regime that “this administration, like so many before it, needs to be stopped at once,” I agree whole-heartedly with the sentiment (although the modifying phrase seems unfortunate: stopping the crimes of previous administrations is now something only time-travellers can hope to do).30 Let’s pause, then, to think about how the current US administration is to be stopped.

I would suggest that the concept of delegitimation should figure importantly in our reflections. People who have acquiesced in the actions of a government may be persuaded to withdraw their support and even to move into active opposition by evidence that those actions have been ill-judged, rash, or unprincipled. But evidence that a government has acted in ways that unambiguously violate the state’s foundational covenant—in this case the US Constitution and Bill of Rights—and that unambiguously sunder the ruling elite’s claims on the consent and loyalty of citizens and the obedience of state employees, whether civilian or military, cuts much deeper. What is at stake in this case is the legitimacy of the governing elite—and also, to the extent that people can recognize that elite’s declinations from the nation’s foundational democratic principles as systemic in nature, the legitimacy of the system of corporatized governance that has made it possible for such people to acquire and exercise power.

Since regular visitors to websites like,, or Counterpunch scarcely need to be told of the many ways, from electoral fraud to the abolition of habeas corpus, from unconstrained mendacity to military aggression, in which the administration of George W. Bush has demonstrated its illegitimacy, I’m not going to rehearse them all here. But the evidence that on every key aspect of the events of 9/11 the Bush administration has lied, and that the official version of what happened on 9/11 cannot stand up to critical inquiry, does not simply necessitate the development of alternative hypotheses: it also provides what must be one of the strongest and most inescapable arguments against this regime’s legitimacy.

For if the emerging evidence of what happened on 9/11 is cogent enough to stand up in the face of the most rigorous critical examination—and a large part of it demonstrably is—the consequences for the legitimacy of the Bush government are quite literally shattering. If the government merely facilitated this terrorist atrocity through neglect or incompetence, then it abdicated its primary responsibility to protect the lives and property of its citizens. But if the evidence drives Americans to suspect that senior government officials may have been active parties in the catastrophic events of 9/11, and quite possibly their primary organizers as well as their most obvious beneficiaries, then the truly appalling possibility is raised of a treasonous perversion of state power resulting in mass murder. One might well argue that only an independent and bona fide criminal investigation could determine whether the evidence supports such a hypothesis. But it should be evident that officials whose actions are believed by large numbers of people to merit criminal investigation are well on their way to losing political legitimacy.

Rather than arguing in the abstract for the delegitimizing power of the 9/11 evidence, let me give a concrete example of it. Robert Bowman, a retired USAF Lt. Colonel who holds a Ph.D. in physics, was director of Advanced Space Program Development for the USAF in the Ford and Carter administrations. Here’s a part of what he had to say as a speaker at the DC Emergency Truth Convergence organized by the 9/11 Truth Movement in Washington, DC in July, 2005:

You know, our freedoms are not under attack from the remnants of Saddam Hussein’s Baathist party. They’re under attack by the likes of John Ashcroft, they’re trampled by Donald Rumsfeld, they’re disdained by Dick Cheney, and they’re not even understood by George W. Bush. The battle to preserve our freedoms is not taking place in Baghdad and Tikrit and Fallujah. It’s taking place in peace marches and demonstrations in Girardelli Park in San Francisco, in Memorial Park in Oklahoma City, and in Lafayette Park in Washington DC. [….] We, my sisters and brothers, are protecting this nation by speaking truth to power. [….]
And when we speak, this is the truth that we proclaim. This war in Iraq has nothing to do with national security, or freedom or democracy or human rights or protecting our allies or weapons of mass destruction or defeating terrorism or disarming Iraq. It has to do with money, it has to do with oil, and it has to do with raw imperial power. And it’s based totally on lies. Those who forced this war on an unwilling world are guilty of violating the US Constitution, the UN Charter, the Nuremberg principles, and international law. What they have done is illegal, immoral, unconstitutional, and treason. [….]

This cabal of neoconservatives from PNAC who planned this war—Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle, Jeb Bush—even before W. became president, they told us why they had to do it. They said we need to occupy Iraq permanently in order to dominate Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and the southern Russian republics around the Caspian Sea. We need to control the entire Middle East and all its oil. […]

[T]hey knew the American people wouldn’t stand for it, and they said so in their documents—and they said, unless there’s that new Pearl Harbor. Well, 9/11 did supply that—and we’ve been lied to not only about the war, but about 9/11 itself. They ignored the warnings: more than that, we have mounting evidence that—at least—they made it impossible for those planes to be intercepted. If our government had merely [done] nothing, and I say that as an old interceptor pilot—I know the drill, I know what it takes, I know how long it takes, I know what the procedures are, I know what they were, and I know what they’ve changed them to—if our government had merely done nothing, and allowed normal procedures to happen on that morning of 9/11, the Twin Towers would still be standing and thousands of dead Americans would still be alive. My sisters and brothers, that is treason!

As a combat veteran, I will not stand idly by and watch our security destroyed by a president who went AWOL rather than serve in Vietnam. As one who’s devoted his life to the security of this country, I will not stand by and watch an appointed president send our sons and daughters around the world to kill Arabs for the oil companies. [….] I joined the air force a long time ago to protect our borders and our people, not the financial interests of Folgers, Chiquita Banana, Exxon, and Halliburton. We’ve had enough corporate wars! No more Iraqs, no more Kosovos, no more El Salvadors, no more Colombias! These are not isolated incidents of stupidity; they’re part of a long, bloody history of foreign policy being conducted for the financial interests of the wealthy few. [….]

As a pilot who flew a hundred and one combat missions in Vietnam, I swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic—and that includes a renegade president! It’s time for George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, and the whole oil mafia to be removed from office and indited for treason. [Ed. Note: Video of this stirring speech, and many others, is available online at]

6. Conclusion

The 9/11 evidence is evidently for Bowman neither isolated, nor inert, nor immobilizing. It forms part of what he has come to understand (as he says in this same speech) as “a new form of colonialism.” Though Bowman has been a forceful critic of Reagan’s “Star Wars” Strategic Defense Initiative and subsequent missile defense systems, and though his religious commitments as a lay minister may also have exposed him to forms of thought beyond the customary discursive range of air force officers, one might guess that 9/11, which he evidently believes to have been a planned catalyst in the Bush regime’s project of oil geopolitics and aggressive warfare, was also a catalyzing factor in the development of his own understanding of “corporate wars” and the “long, bloody history of foreign policy being conducted for the financial interests of the wealthy few.”

As I have already noted, Bowman is not the only conservative one-time senior member of the state apparatus to have been jolted into open opposition by 9/11 and the other crimes of the current administration.

Perhaps it’s time that people on the left allowed themselves to be jolted as well—at the very least, into an honest and painstaking analysis of the evidence.

So, Alexander Cockburn: can we put these stupid boxing gloves away?

(Michael Keefer is professor of English at the University of Guelph and Contributing Editor to the Centre for Research on Globalization. His recent publications include essays on textual critical theory and practice, on electoral fraud in the United States and Haiti, on false-flag terrorism in Iraq, and on U.S. plans for a nuclear attack on Iran.)

Source URL:


1 Most recently on that deliquescent warmonger Christopher Hitchens: see Alexander Cockburn, “Chortles in the New Yorker for Slaughter’s Cheerleader, C. Hitchens,” Counterpunch (11 October 2006), Though this may just be a matter of long familiarity, my favourite among Cockburn’s books remains Corruptions of Empire (London: Verso, 1987).

2 See Alexander Cockburn, “Greenhouse Gas and Global Warming: The Grand Delusion,” The Free Press (21 March 2001),; “The Poisoned Chalice: Sapping the Empire,” Counterpunch (20-21 November 2004),; and “Ayatollahs of the Apocalypse,” Counterpunch (15-16 October 2005), .

3 I’ve only once entered an actual boxing ring with hostile intent—forty years ago, in the annual Recruit Boxing Tournament of the Royal Military College of Canada—and with inglorious results. (Had there been a special category for the very tall, bony and underpowered, I might have done better, but at over 175 pounds I was just another heavyweight. My opponent, an artless but muscular football lineman, led with his right and was wide open to every stringbean punch I could throw, but thanks to my weakness and the balloon-like 12-ounce gloves, took little damage beyond a bloody nose. Once I got too tired to hit him any more, he dusted me up thoroughly.)

4 Albert Hirschman, The Rhetoric of Reaction: Perversity, Futility, Jeopardy (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1991), p. 11.

5 See Michael C. Ruppert, Crossing the Rubicon: The Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil (Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers, 2004), pp. 308-436.

6 See David Ray Griffin, The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11 (2nd ed.; Northampton, MA: Olive Branch Press, 2004), pp. 174-75; and Griffin, The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions (Northampton, MA: Olive Branch Press, 2005), pp. 207-08, 219-23.

7 D. B. Thomas, “Echo correlation analysis and the acoustic evidence in the Kennedy assassination revisited,” Science & Justice 41 (2001): 21-32. Thomas finds that “A conservative estimate of the true value of the probability that the putative Grassy Knoll shot is attributable to random radio noise is no greater than 0.037.”

8 House of Representatives Select Committee on Assassinations, House Report Wo. 95-1828 (Washington, DC, 1979), p. 95; quoted by Thomas, “Echo correlation analysis,” 22.

9 The name “Tonto” is not derived from any native language, but from Spanish: it means “stupid.”

10 Readers may find it instructive to compare Cockburn’s punditry on this subject with a study by mechanical engineer Michael Meyer, “Pentagon C Ring Exit Hole Mystery,” Scholars for 9/11 Truth: Articles (10 June 2006),

11 See What’s the Truth? How Indeed did the Twin Towers Collapse? A Dem Bruce Lee Styles Film, available at (1 July 2006),; and linked at

12 Paul Craig Roberts, “Where Is The Evidence?” (14 September 2006), (Roberts mistakenly states that the articles of Greening and Ross appear in volume 3 of the Journal of 9/11 Studies [September 2006]; I have silently corrected this error.)

13 See for example “MIT Professor [Jeff King] Breaks Down WTC Controlled Demolitions,” Google Video (17 March 2006),; Judy Wood, “A Refutation of the Official Collapse Theory,” (March 2006),; Steven E. Jones, “Why Indeed Did the World Trade Center Buildings Completely Collapse?” Journal of 9/11 Studies 3 (September 2006): 1-48; Frank Legge, “9/11—Evidence for Controlled Demolition: A Short List of Observations,” Journal of 9/11 Studies 1 (June 2006): 9-15, and “NIST Data Disproves Collapse Theories Based on Fire,” Journal of 9/11 Studies 2 (August 2006): 107-11; Gordon Ross, “Momentum Transfer Analysis of the Collapse of the Upper Storeys of WTC 1,” Journal of 9/11 Studies 1 (June 2006): 30-35, and “Reply to Dr. Greening,” Journal of 9/11 Studies 2 (August 2006): 14-19; and Kevin Ryan, “What is 9/11 Truth?—The First Steps,” Journal of 9/11 Studies 2 (August 2006): 1-6. An excellent compendium of key witness testimony and analysis of video evidence is available in the DVD 911 Mysteries—Part 1: Demolitions (2006), available at

14 See David Ray Griffin, “Explosive Testimony: Revelations about the Twin Towers in the 9/11 Oral Histories,” 911 (18 January 2006),; and Graeme MacQueen, “118 Witnesses: The Firefighters’ Testimony to Explosions in the Twin Towers,” Journal of 9/11 Studies 2 (August 2006): 47-106.

15 See “Shot from street level of South Tower collapsing,” Camera Planet, 2 min. 49 sec., posted 24 February 2003,; and also two photographs reproduced by Jones in “Why Indeed Did the World Trade Center Buildings Completely Collapse?”

16 Squibs are visible in photographs of the collapses reproduced by Eric Hufschmidt, Painful Questions: An Analysis of the September 11th Attack (Goleta, California: Endpoint Software, 2002); see also Dylan Avery, Dir., Loose Change, available at; and 911 Mysteries—Part 1: Demolitions. For an explanation of their significance, see Gordon Ross, “How the Towers Were Demolished,”

17 See Jones, “Why Indeed…”

18 See J. R. Barnett, R. R. Biederman, and R. D. Sisson, Jr., “An Initial Microstructural Analysis of A36 Steel from WTC Building 7,” Journal of the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society 53/12:18 (2001); cited by Jones, “Why Indeed ….” Jones’s own analysis of steel samples from the Twin Towers is forthcoming.

19 I mean by this people who oppose the continuing consequences of the 2004 coup d’état, engineered by the US, Canada and France, that overthrew the elected government of President Aristide. For some context, see my article “Fraud and Scandal in Haiti’s Presidential Election: Préval’s Victory and the UN’s Disgrace,” Centre for Research on Globalization (3 March 2006),

20 David Icke, Alice in Wonderland and the World Trade Center Disaster (Wildwood, MO: Bridge of Love Publications, 2002), pp. 463, 478.

21 For a thorough refutation of the “no-plane theory” of Holmgren and others, see Eric Salter, “The WTC Impacts: 767s or ‘Whatzits’?” (5 November 2004, updated September 2005),

22 Michel Chossudovsky, War and Globalization: The Truth Behind September 11 (Shanty Bay, Ontario: Global Outlook, 2002), and America’s “War on Terrorism” (Pincourt, Québec: Global Research, 2005). See also Paul Thompson, The Terror Timeline: Year by Year, Day by Day, Minute by Minute: A Comprehensive Chronicle of the Road to 9/11—and America’s Response (New York: HarperCollins, 2004); Webster G. Tarpley, 9/11 Synthetic Terror: Made in USA (2nd ed.; Joshua Tree, California: Tree of Life Books, 2006); Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, The War on Truth: 9/11, Disinformation, and the Anatomy of Terrorism (Northampton, Mass.: Olive Branch Press, 2005); and Paul Zarembka, ed., The Hidden History of 9-11-2001 (Research in Political Economy, vol. 23; New York: Elsevier, 2006).

23 Two of David Ray Griffin’s books, The New Pearl Harbor and The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions, are cited in note 8 above; see also Christian Faith and the Truth Behind 9/11: A Call to Reflection and Action (Philadelphia: Westminster John Knox Press, 2006). Links to his most recent articles can be found at the website of Scholars for 9/11 Truth, For a recurrently dishonest ‘official’ response to the lines of interpretation developed by works cited in this and the preceding seven notes, see David Dunbar and Brad Reagan, eds., Debunking 9/11 Myths (New York: Hearst Books, 2006).

24 Chalmers Johnson, The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2004), p. 312.

25 Virgil, Aeneid i.462, and Georgics ii.498, in Publii Virgilii Maronis Opera, ed. Fr. Dubner (Paris: Jacques Lecoffre, 1854), pp. 195, 113.

26 Peter Dale Scott writes, in Deep Politics and the Death of JFK (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), p. xii, that “collusive secrecy and law-breaking are part of how the deep political system works.” He adds: “What makes these supplementary processes ‘deep’ is the fact that they are covert or suppressed, outside general awareness as well as outside acknowledge political processes.”

27 Scott, Deep Politics, p. 313.

28 István Meszáros, “The Structural Crisis of Politics,” Monthly Review 58.4 (September 2006): 11-14,

29 Ibid.

30 This slight contortion of Frank’s syntax seems interestingly symptomatic of a desire to avoid any recognition of discontinuity. I applaud his insistence that previous American administrations were also routinely guilty of war crimes. But why should it be beyond our dialectical powers to acknowledge both that continuity and also the qualitative differences between the rampages of the Bush regime and the less unapologetic criminality of its precursors?

31 What’s the Truth? How Indeed did the Twin Towers Collapse? A Dem Bruce Lee Styles Film, available at 911 (1 July 2006),; and linked at

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Why Indeed Did The WTC Buildings Completely Collapse?

This is former BYU Physicist Dr. Steven E Jones first paper on the WTC collapses. So far, no official investigation has seriously challenged his hypothesis that the Twin Towers and WTC 7 were brought down by explosives; specifically pre-positioned cutter charges.

Dr. Jones challenges serious investigators who wish to rebut his controlled demolition hypothesis - they must address thirteen reasons why he rejects the official theory, which asserts that fire and impact damage alone caused the collapses:

1) Molten Metal - Flowing and in Pools.

2) Observed Temperatures around 1000 degrees C and Sulfidation in
WTC 7 Steel.

3) Near-Symmetrical Collapse of WTC 7.

4) No Previous Skyscraper Complete Collapse Due to

5) Plume-time During the Collapse of WTC 7.

6) Early Drop of North Tower Antenna.

7) Eyewitness Account of Flashes and Loud Explosions

8) Ejection of Steel Beams and Debris-plumes from the

9) Rapid Collapses and Conservation of Momentum and

10) Controlled Demolition "Implosions" Require Skill.

11) Steel Column Temperatures of 800 C Needed: A Problem in the Argument of Bazant and Zhou.

12) Problems in the NIST Report: Inadequate Steel
Temperatures and Tweaked Models.

13) NIST's Failure to Show Visualizations.

An Interview With Gore Vidal

"I'm Jealous of Cuba", an interview with Gore Vidal, one of our vital political and historical writers, was posted on Counterpunch on December 21, 2006 by Rosa Mariam Elizalde. I've excerpted a section related to 9/11. It's a great interview; Vidal traces the hidden history of American imperialism. gh

RM: Oliver Stone was recently sanctioned by the US State Department for violating the blockade against Cuba. His crime was traveling to Cuba to make two documentaries about Fidel. Are these measures constitutional?

Gore Vidal: Well of course it's a violation, as the first amendment grants us freedom of speech, the fourth amendment of the constitution is the bill of rights, which guarantees our rights to assembly and so forth. We have had since 9/11 a coup d´etat in the United States, the first we've ever had, in which a group of rather dishonest oil and gas people were able to seize the power of the State and by so doing they ended up with the Congress in their hands, they ended up with the presidency and much of the judiciary and much of the courts. It happened very fast. It's quite unique. It will be a great story one day at the moment it's just something the people don't understand. What they've never seen before doesn't exist really. Well they're seeing it now, in situ, as archaeologists, and it's a very unpleasant sight. Out of that come the sanctions, as you put it, on Oliver Stone, who has every right to make any movie that he wants to make and in whatever circumstance, as long as he breaks no laws, and no laws have been broken here. They [Bush and Cheney] just don't like it, oh! My goodness me!

Faking the "War on Terror"

This is an excellent short explanation of how 9/11 gives the lie to the 'War on Terror' by Michael Keefer, in his essay, "The Harper Government and Canada's 'War on Terror' immigration policy. This article was published in Global Research on December 12, 2006

Keefer is Professor of English and Theatre Studies at the University of Guelph.

"3. Faking the 'War on Terror'

"The 'War on Terror' is spurious because there is strong evidence that the events to which it is purportedly a response-the terrorist atrocities of September 11, 2001-were orchestrated not by Osama bin Laden (whose partisans or minions served, however, as useful patsies), but rather by high-placed elements within the United States government. There are several converging lines of evidence: taken separately, they cry out for investigation; taken together, they appear seriously incriminating.7"

"There have been substantial developments during the past year in the assessment of material, photographic and testimonial evidence relating to the collapses of the three towers of the World Trade Center (the 47-storey WTC 7 as well as the 110-storey Twin Towers). These include scientifically informed analyses which demonstrate the physical impossibility of the official account of the Twin Towers' collapse,8 analyses of statements by fire department personnel and by survivors that there were numerous secondary explosions in the buildings in the interval between the airplane crashes and the collapses,9 video and photographic evidence that structural steel in the South Tower was being cut and melted by thermate charges during the final minutes before the tower's collapse,10 videos and photographs of the collapses of the towers in which "squibs" (explosive horizontal ejections of dust and debris) are visible well below the lines of collapse,11 and laboratory analyses of structural steel from the towers which point to its having been cut by thermate charges.12"

"Controlled demolition of course implies foreknowledge of the attacks as well as a complex pattern of organization-some aspects of which were made visible by Michael Ruppert, whose book Crossing the Rubicon revealed that the U.S. air defence system was effectively disabled on 9/11 by a network of air-defence and anti-terrorism exercises which transferred most of the available interceptor aircraft out of the northeastern U.S. to Alaska and Alberta, and for a crucial period that morning left the military air traffic controllers responsible for deploying the remaining jet fighters unable to determine which of the many apparently hijacked aircraft appearing on their radar screens were real, and which blips were merely part of a response-to-multiple-hijackings exercise.13 The likelihood that al Qaeda operatives could have organized the demolitions in the World Trade Center complex (whose security was contracted to Securacom, a company with close Bush family connections),14 as well as somehow coordinating airliner hijackings with what amounted to a planned disabling of the air defence system, is close to nil.
Add to this the destruction of material evidence at the WTC site, the extreme reluctance of the Bush administration to permit any inquiry into the events of 9/11, and the well-established fact-mendaciously denied by senior members of that administration-that foreign intelligence services, having evidently penetrated different parts of the 9/11 planning, gave them detailed advance warnings, and a pattern emerges that cries out for criminal investigation. Searching analyses of these issues, as well as of many features of the attacks, the ensuing cover-up, and the underlying geopolitics, have been published by Michel Chossudovsky and by other researchers,15 and the theologian and ethicist David Ray Griffin has produced magisterial summations of the evidence pointing to the Bush administration's implication in the events of 9/11.16"

"The 'War on Terror' is fraudulent, then, because its purported and actual goals are systematically at variance. Only in the most nakedly Orwellian sense can one claim that a project which began with apparent false-flag terrorist attacks that killed some three thousand people on American soil, and has since involved wars of aggression that have killed and maimed well over 25,000 American soldiers-not to mention killing scores of thousands of Afghans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and exposing millions of their fellow citizens to the murderous and ineradicable toxicity of depleted uranium-is in any sense concerned with enhancing the security of Americans, or of anyone else. The pretexts used to legitimize the invasion of Iraq have without exception been exposed as lies and disinformation17-an embarrassing fact that has not prevented the Bush administration, with the supine or active collaboration of the corporate media, and, to their shame, the diplomatic support of western countries including Britain, France, Germany and Canada, from constructing a parallel set of lies and deceptions to legitimize an apparently imminent attack upon Iran.18"

"It is less widely appreciated that the invasion of Afghanistan was likewise carried out under false pretexts. Planned and threatened months before 9/11, this act of aggression was carried out for geopolitical reasons enunciated more than a year earlier by the Project for the New American Century, a pressure group whose key members have all held high office in the Bush administration.19 It should be of some interest to Canadians to know that in September 2001 the United States rejected offers of the Afghani Taliban regime to deliver Osama bin Laden to Pakistan for trial there;20 to know that opium production, which the Taliban had nearly eliminated in the provinces it controlled, bounced back to a new high once the U.S.-backed warlords of the Northern Alliance came to power;21 and to learn that the appalling oppression of Afghan women by reactionary theocrats that the Bush regime adopted as an ex post facto reason for its invasion appears not to have significantly diminished under the Karzai regime.22 Canadians might also be intrigued to discover that in June 2006 a journalist who wondered about the absence of any mention of 9/11 on Bin Laden's FBI Most Wanted listing was informed by Rex Tomb, the FBI's Chief of Investigative Publicity, that the reason for this absence "is because the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11."23 This looks rather like an acknowledgment that the so-called "Bin Laden confession video" released by the U.S. in December 2001, and widely represented as justifying the attack on Afghanistan, is in fact not authentic.24"

"The 'War on Terror' is also fraudulent because while purporting, as Bush himself has declared, to confer upon others what Americans "wish for ourselves-safety from violence, the rewards of liberty, and the hope for a better life,"25 his administration has in fact sought through false-flag terrorism and shameless propaganda and disinformation to frighten Americans into supporting a resource-war geopolitics of unconstrained aggression. Concomitants of this endless warfare include the devolution of what is now called the "homeland" in the direction of a one-party state,26 a deliberate voiding of the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights, and a parallel extinction of international human rights law whose visible embodiment is an archipelago of prisons and torture houses extending from Guantanamo Bay to Abu Graib and Bagram.27"


7 The following account of this evidence overlaps at some points with my recent essay "Into the Ring with Counterpunch on 9/11: How Alexander Cockburn, Otherwise So Bright, Blanks Out on 9/11 Evidence," available at Scholars for 9/11 Truth (4 November 2006),, and forthcoming in Cold Type (December 2006),

8 See for example "MIT Professor [Jeff King] Breaks Down WTC Controlled Demolitions," Google Video (17 March 2006), ; Judy Wood, "A Refutation of the Official Collapse Theory," (March 2006), ; as well as articles by Frank Legge, Gordon Ross, and Kevin Ryan in the first two issues of the Journal of 9/11 Studies (June and August 2006), and Steven E. Jones, "Why Indeed Did the World Trade Center Buildings Completely Collapse?" Journal of 9/11 Studies 3 (September 2006): 1-48,

9 See David Ray Griffin, "Explosive Testimony: Revelations about the Twin Towers in the 9/11 Oral Histories," 911 (18 January 2006), ; and Graeme MacQueen, "118 Witnesses: The Firefighters' Testimony to Explosions in the Twin Towers," Journal of 9/11 Studies 2 (August 2006): 47-106.
10 See "Shot from street level of South Tower collapsing," Camera Planet, 2 min. 49 sec., posted 24 February 2003, ; and also photographs reproduced by Jones in "Why Indeed....?"

11 Squibs are visible in photographs of the collapses reproduced by Eric Hufschmidt, Painful Questions: An Analysis of the September 11th Attack (Goleta, California: Endpoint Software, 2002); see also Dylan Avery, Dir., Loose Change (2006), available at ; Dustin Mugford, Dir., September 11 Revisited: Were Explosives Used to Bring Down the Buildings? (2006), available at ; and In the Wake Productions, 911 Mysteries: Part I, Demolitions (2006),

12 See J. R. Barnett, R. R. Biederman, and R. D. Sisson, Jr., "An Initial Microstructural Analysis of A36 Steel from WTC Building 7," Journal of the Minerals, Metals and Materials Society 53/12:18 (2001); cited by Jones, "Why Indeed...." Jones's own laboratory analysis of steel samples from the Twin Towers is forthcoming.

13 Michael C. Ruppert, Crossing the Rubicon (Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers, 2004), pp. 308-436. See also Nafeez Mossadeq Ahmed, The War on Truth (Northampton, Mass.: Olive Branch Press, 2005), pp. 267-91, 304-16.

14 Securacom's CEO from 1999 to January 2002 was Wirt D. Walker III, a cousin of President Bush-whose younger brother Marvin P. Bush was also a principal in the company from 1993 to 2000. See David Ray Griffin, The New Pearl Harbor (2nd ed.; Northampton, Mass.: Olive Branch Press, 2004), p. 180.

15 Michel Chossudovsky, War and Globalization: The Truth Behind September 11 (Shanty Bay, Ontario: Global Outlook, 2002), The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order (2nd ed.; Shanty Bay, Ontario: Global Outlook, 2003), America's "War on Terrorism" (Pincourt, Quebec: Global Research, 2005). See also Paul Thompson, The Terror Timeline (New York: HarperCollins, 2004); Nafeez Mossadeq Ahmed, The War on Truth; Webster G. Tarpley, 9/11 Synthetic Terror: Made in USA (2nd ed.; Joshua Tree, California: Tree of Life Books, 2006); and Paul Zarembka, ed., The Hidden History of 9-11-2001 (New York: Elsevier, 2006).

16 Griffin's The New Pearl Harbor is cited in note 14; see also The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions (Northampton, Mass.: Olive Branch Press, 2005), and Christian Faith and the Truth Behind 9/11 (Philadelphia: Westminster John Knox Press, 2006).

17 See Michel Chossudovsky, America's "War on Terrorism"; Milan Rai, War Plan Iraq (London and New York: Verso, 2002); Nafeez Mossadeq Ahmed, Behind the War on Terror (Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers, 2003); Dilip Hiro, Secrets and Lies (New York: Nation Books, 2004); Naomi Klein and others, No War: America's Real Business in Iraq (London: Gibson Square Books, 2005); William R. Clark, Petrodollar Warfare (Gabriola Island, BC: New Society Publishers, 2005).

18 See Seymour M. Hersh, "The Coming Wars: What the Pentagon can now do in secret," The New Yorker (24-31 January 2005), , and "The Iran Plans: Would President Bush go to war to stop Tehran from getting the bomb?" The New Yorker (17 April 2006), ; Michael Keefer, "Petrodollars and Nuclear Weapons Proliferation: Understanding the Planned Attack on Iran," Centre for Research on Globalization (10 February 2006), ; and Jorge Hirsch, "Nuclear Strike on Iran is Still on the Agenda," (16 October 2006),

19 See Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie, Forbidden Truth, trans. Lisa Rounds et al. (New York: Thunder's Mouth Press/Nation Books, 2002).

20 Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair, "How Bush Was Offered Bin Laden and Blew It: Give Him an 'F' in the War on Terror," Counterpunch (1 November 2004),

21 See Chossudovsky, America's "War on Terror", pp. 224-36.

22 See "On the Situation of Afghan Women," Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan (RAWA), ; and Marc Herold, "Afghanistan as an empty space: The perfect Neo-Colonial state of the 21st century, part one,", .

23 Ed Haas, "FBI says, 'No hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11," Muckraker Report (6 June 2006), . For the spin machine's wholly inadequate response to this embarrassment, see Dan Eggen, "Bin Laden, Most Wanted for Embassy Bombings?" The Washington Post (28 August 2006), .

24 For a judicious analysis of the myth-making surrounding Osama bin Laden, see R. T. Naylor, Satanic Purses: Money, Myth, and Misinformation in the War on Terror (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2006).

25 George W. Bush, Speech at West Point Military Academy (1 June 2002), ; quoted by Pierre Guerlain, "New Warriors Among American Foreign Policy Theorists," in Dana D. Nelson, ed., Ambushed: The Costs of Machtpolitik, special issue of The South Atlantic Quarterly 106.1 (Winter 2006), pp. 113-14. The Bush administration's claims to be promoting democracy in the Middle East and elsewhere are demolished by Noam Chomsky in Failed States(New York: Metropolitan Books, 2006), pp. 102-65.

26 See Michael Keefer, "The Strange Death of American Democracy: Endgame in Ohio," Centre for Research on Globalization (24 January 2006), .

27 See Timothy Brennan and Keya Ganguly, "Crude Wars," Nikhil Singh, "The Afterlife of Fascism," and Thomas L. Dumm, "George W. Bush and the F-Word," in Dana D. Nelson, ed., Ambushed: The Costs of Machtpolitik, pp. 19-35, 71-93, and 153-60. Key collections of documents relating to torture include Mark Danner, ed., Torture and Truth: America, Abu Graib, and the War on Terror (New York: New York Review of Books, 2004); and Karen J. Greenberg and Joshua L. Dratel, eds., The Torture Papers: The Road to Abu Graib, intro. Anthony Lewis (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005). See also Onnesha Roychaudhuri, "Tracking the Torture Taxis," The ColdType Reader 9 (November 2006), .

Thursday, December 21, 2006

A Letter to Joshua Frank re: His article, "How the 9/11 Truth Movement Helps Bush & Cheney"

Originally published at on Monday, September 18, 2006

Dear Mr. Frank, You decided a priori that the current administration was not in cahoots regarding 9/11, without supporting your position with evidence. Yet you are surely cognizant of the current regime’s known criminality, and you concede there are a lot of questions unanswered re: 9/11. But then you go on to attack the “conspiracy theorists”.

Whoa! It seems re: 9/11 that you’ve tossed away your journalistic balance. You must know that the official story of 9/11 is also a conspiracy theory. Please do your due diligence to determine which theory is best supported by the facts. Why don’t you go back to those unanswered questions and try and answer them? You’re not writing to a fringe group out here, you know. We’re a political force that is demanding answers regarding 9/11, the ongoing justification for Bush’s state terror campaign in Afghanistan, Iraq, and who knows who is next.

Why don’t you go back and try and make a case for your position instead of indulging in ad hominem and straw man attack? Explain, for example, how WTC Building 7 collapsed completely and totally in under 7 seconds hours after the Twin Towers collapsed, though it was not hit by planes nor did it suffer huge fires and massive damage?

Crucible Times v.2.0

Hey Folks,

I accidently deleted version 1.0,! I got nervous about several reports of CIA involvement in Google, so I wanted to delete everything google-related except Blogger, but of course if you do that you delete your blogs too. Anyway, I'm swallowing my concern for the time being to re-create the blog here until I find a blogging progam I like. Until then I'll be posting as many old posts from cruciblex as I can find cached on google, and adding new posts of course.

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9/11 Was A Conspiracy - by Butler Shaffer

Originally posted on 9/21/06

9/11 Was A Conspiracy - by Butler Shaffer

I found this article at to be in line with the purpose of this blog: To get to the truth of 9/11 and recover our democracy and our soul as a nation requires that we recover our independent, critical thought. Baby, conspiracies happen; Cui Bono? Take the blinders off, start looking at the evidence, and let's take our country back before its too late. gh

While you here do snoring lie
Open-eyed conspiracyHis time doth take.~
William Shakespeare, The Tempest

I have lost my sense of humor to indulge those who reflexively deny the role of conspiracies in human affairs. In the months following 9/11 – and most strenuously in the days leading up to the fifth anniversary of this event – conventional thinking has dictated that commentaries on that atrocity carry the disclaimer “I am not suggesting a conspiracy.” It seems to be understood that entrance to the temples of respectable journalism, academic scholarship, or polite society would be denied anyone who transgressed this canon.

It is not that a speaker must refrain from expressing any particular conspiracy theory to explain troublesome occurrences: one must avoid the implication that any form of human behavior might be directed or influenced by conspiratorial forces. To even consider the possibility that a given event might have been produced by a conspiracy, is to run the risk of being labeled a “paranoid” or a “wacko.” As we have no desire to appear foolish in the eyes of others, we give in to such intimidation and preface our opinions with the aforesaid mantra.

How easily most of us sell out our intellectual integrity, and at distress-sale prices. Even men and women with excellent minds who should know better have collapsed in the face of such a charge. Do we have such a fear of our own minds that we can no longer stand up to the epistemological inquiry that is at the base of our character and intelligence: how do we know what we know? Upon what basis do we form our opinions about the world: the consensus of our neighbors, or our independent judgments?

Any intellectually respectable opinion must be well-grounded in empirical fact and rational analysis. I have no use for those who spin conspiratorial theories out of little more than fantasy, wishful thinking, or the failure to distinguish a temporal relationship from a causal one. The assumption that because event “X” occurred, and was followed by event “Y,” a causal connection has been established, is among the shabbiest forms of reasoning. One might just as well argue for the proposition that wet sidewalks cause rain. In fact, I have no use for conspiracy theories at all, preferring – as my late friend, Chris Tame, so well stated it – to focus attention on the facts of conspiracies! As annoying as those are who offer lazy, simple-minded explanations for complex events, I am far more aggravated by those otherwise intelligent souls who help to man the barricades of ignorance against honest and empirically-based inquiries into topics they have been told are beyond rightful questioning.

As the events of 9/11 continue – like a monster movie – to provide us with fear-ridden entertainment, let me use them to illustrate my point. There have been numerous DVDs, articles, books, and other works that challenge the government’s “official” explanations for these attacks. While some of these presentations test one’s credulity, others have provided purported evidence which, if true, would lead intelligent minds to demand further investigation. To say this, however, is not to give credence to any particular theory that one might offer as a counter-explanation to the “official” one. It is only to suggest that a further examination might be merited.

To ask empirically based questions is not to make an accusation, but only to pursue the “cui bono?” question as a point of departure for uncovering wrongdoing. When a government official was murdered in ancient Rome, it was customary to begin the investigation with that question: “who benefited?” My wife and I are fans of the Inspector Morse television mysteries produced by the BBC. In a recent rerun, a man was murdered, and the first question out of Morse’s mouth was “who stood to benefit from this man’s death?”

The answer to the “cui bono” question does not necessarily identify the culprit, but it is a very rational place from which to begin asking questions. To be a suspect is not to be accused. If a woman is found murdered, her husband will probably be the first one interviewed by the police in an effort to find her killer. If the victim had a one-million dollar insurance policy on her life, with her husband as the beneficiary, this will add to the intensity of the investigation. This does not, of course, prove that the husband was responsible for his wife’s death, only that it is sensible for the police to intensify their inquiry as to him.

I spoke to a young college student the other day. He informed me that he had asked his political science professor whether he thought it possible that persons within the United States government might have been involved in the 9/11 attacks. His professor adamantly denied even the possibility, saying that American government officials were too decent to ever do such a thing. Is this what passes for “science” in the study of government?

If this academician is prepared to be disabused of his delusions of faith in political systems, he might want to go to “Google,” and enter the phrase “Operation Northwoods.” Numerous entries will appear, with the first one – from Wikipedia – providing, perhaps, the greatest amount of information on this 1962 scheme by leading Defense Department officials. The plan was to have terrorist acts committed in various American cities – including Washington, D.C. – in which people would be shot; bombings would take place and planes hijacked; while “evidence” would be fabricated implicating the Castro regime with such acts. One proposal in the plan called for the destruction of an empty drone plane – which, people would be told, carried American college students on a holiday. All of these contrived “attacks” would then be used as a justification for an attack on Cuba. This plan had the written support of all members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, including its chairman.

That top U.S. government officials could concoct such a deadly plan as a pretext for war in no way proves that 9/11 was a similarly contrived event. What it does do, however, is strip away some of the high-school civics class veneer of the state that leads most Americans, including the aforesaid political science professor, to dismiss in knee-jerk fashion and without any felt need to examine the evidence, the idea that their government could engage in such calculated wrongdoing. In light of the lies, forgeries, cover-ups, and other deceptions leading to a “war” in Iraq, how can any intellectually honest person categorically deny the possibility of the involvement of American political interests in 9/11?

I want to emphasize, again, that I am not even suggesting that persons other than Al Qaeda operatives were responsible for the 9/11 attacks. I know of no evidence sufficient to sustain such an accusation. I am, however, suggesting that a number of critics of the “official” explanation have offered enough thoughtful evidence and factual analysis to warrant a thorough investigation of these events. The inquiry should be conducted by competent men and women with no preconceived agenda – whether as defenders or critics of governmental behavior – and without fear of asking any and all empirically related questions. Were he not a fictional character, I would insist that Inspector Morse – with his “cui bono?” disposition – be made chairman of the investigatory group.

For such an inquiry to have meaning, it must be accompanied by a widespread change in current attitudes that make most Americans unwilling to consider the possibility of “conspiracies” directing events. Such a naïve mindset reflects an ignorance of so much of human history as to be embarrassing. The role of the “agent provocateur” – which found expression in the Operation Northwoods plan – is much better known to Europeans, whose political histories are replete with well-established in-house scheming.

To help my American neighbors get beyond this anti-conspiratorial brain-lock, I proclaim that the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon were, indeed, brought about by a conspiracy. Any who deny this are invited to explain why the World Trade Center buildings no longer appear on the New York City skyline! Unless one is to offer the state’s favorite “one-lone-nut-with-two-commandeered-airplanes” as the causal explanation, it seems quite evident that these attacks were brought about by at least two persons, thus constituting a “conspiracy.” The next question is whether the conspirators were of Al Qaeda or other as-yet undisclosed origins or, perhaps, a combination thereof. One could contend that these occurrences were the products of nothing more than random accidents; a bad day for airline pilots who could not keep from plowing their planes into buildings. But even such a far-fetched explanation implicates a conspiracy, as many persons in both the government and the media went to great lengths to inform us that these were planned attacks.

What forces were responsible for the crimes of 9/11? Admittedly, I do not know, nor am I prepared to transform my skepticisms into accusations. Perhaps it is the lawyer in me that has this strange attraction to evidence as the basis for my empirical judgments. In employing the “cui bono?” test as a point of departure, I find only two groups which, in Inspector Morse’s question, seem to have benefited from these attacks: (1) Al Qaeda, and (2) the United States government. Al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden have become a major political force in the world, in large part due to the Bush administration’s violent reaction to 9/11. But the American government – with its expanded police and military powers, increased military spending and the creation of new weapons, and the popular acceptance of the idea that people can be held, indefinitely, without trial – has benefited from this event by greatly expanding its powers. 9/11 was the product of a conspiracy, the only question being: who were the conspirators?

But as with a murder investigation, that one has benefited from a crime does not prove one’s causal role in it. It is important that this critical distinction continue to be made. Suspicion and guilt are not synonymous words. At the same time, however, intellectually respectable thinking demands a willingness to pursue any inquiry wherever it may lead. There is far too much at stake in our world for any of us to take comfort in our institutionally-certified ignorance by pulling the blankets up over our heads so that we not see the bogeyman.

But there is another factor – what I call “existential courage” – that must remain at the forefront of our efforts to live as human beings, rather than as servo-mechanisms to the institutional order. What kind of people are we that we should lay our liberties, property, and lives – including the lives of our children – at the feet of rulers, to be disposed of in any manner that suits their momentary temperaments? What have we become that we regard any questioning of this arrangement as the products of “irresponsible” or “paranoid” minds? Why should free and energized minds be fearful of asking any questions, particularly those we have been told it is improper to ask?

September 18, 2006 Butler Shaffer teaches at the Southwestern University School of Law. He is the author of Calculated Chaos: Institutional Threats to Peace and Human Survival.I found this article at to be in line with the purpose of this blog: To get to the truth of 9/11 and recover our democracy and our soul as a nation requires that we recover our independent, critical thought. Baby, conspiracies happen;

Are We Going to Free Ourselves From Fear & Reclaim the Constitution?

FDR was right. We need only fear fear itself. The Bush Regime and the Military/Industrial/Intelligence/Congressional complex that supports it depend for their power on secrecy, fear, and deception. The antidote is truth; particularly the truth about 9/11 – the origin of the bogus “War on Terror”. My aim is to help disseminate strong evidence of Bush administration complicity in 9-11, evidence that has been kept from public awareness, so that we may recover our democracy, our sanity, our power, and our soul.

"There's fool's gold because there's real gold." -- 13th-century Persian poet Rumi