(Photo from Wikipedia)
EDITOR'S NOTE: I wrote this editorial in the earlier days of my blog, and given the sixth anniversary of 9/11 is on Tuesday, and having just watched Conspiracy Theories: Fact or Fiction? on the History Channel, I've decided to revisit and revise my earlier piece. If you'd like to see it in its original form, click here.
The whole idea of 9/11 conspiracies gives me a headache. When the official story is dissected, there are many serious glaring problems with it. You can take apart details, like the demolition of WTC building 7, the size of the hole at the Pentagon, the cell phone calls from United 93 (largely debunked, but not entirely), the uncanny precision of the inexperienced high-jackers’ piloting skills. The fact that these four planes were all wildly off-course, headed to our most strategically important cities, and nothing was done to stop them.
There is plenty to disbelieve.
It is certainly not difficult to imagine that this particular administration participated in heinous activities to further their own ends. No, the hard part is in believing that they’re competent enough to pull it off. And, if they did, the implications are staggering. We’d have to believe that 9/11 was staged by our own government and/or allowed to happen. That’s a hard thing to wrap your brain around. But after you get your tinfoil hat securely wrapped around your head, the even more "out there" theories can start to seem plausible.
My biggest stumbling block comes when you take the different parts of these disparate conspiracy theories to their logical conclusions. Assume that it wasn’t American Airlines Flight 77 that hit the Pentagon. There’s plenty of evidence that could point to that conclusion. But if it didn’t happen that way, what the hell DID happen? Where did the plane really go? Where did the people go? Why—if they were going to "dispose of" the plane and its passengers anyway—why didn’t they do so in a furtherance of the impression of terrorism? Why dispose of them in secret?
It’s the same thing with United 93. If it didn’t really crash, where did it and its people go? For what purpose would you a) keep them alive, b) kill them secretly somewhere else? To what end? That is the problem, to my way of thinking, with many of these different pieces of the 9/11 story. I can go along with theories about government complicity, up until you get to the "it wasn’t a plane" part.
The thing is, if 9/11 happened exactly as official accounts say it did, why on EARTH doesn’t the government give us more evidence? Why haven’t all of the videos from the surely dozens of cameras around the Pentagon been released to show us the plane crash? Why just one fuzzy, inconclusive shot? Why don’t they explain in detail WHY our two biggest targets, New York and Washington D.C. were completely unguarded? Just how the hell is that possible? Where the hell was NORAD?
Most people, when confronted with 9/11 conspiracy theories, just assume all of them are nuts. I’m not ready to go that far. I’m not ready to dismiss them all, just because I can’t answer exactly what DID happen. But I’m convinced it didn’t happen EXACTLY as we’ve been led to believe. And I hope, one day, we learn at least most of the whole story, even if that leads us to uncomfortable conclusions.
Several things about the History Channel documentary bothered me. The movie was presented as a he said/he said exercise. First the conspiracy theory, then the debunk. It was not mentioned that there is such a thing as a rebuttal. The debunking was treated as the final word, which is not always so.
Also, 9/11 survivors, rescue workers and family members react to conspiracy theories as if they are a direct attack (against themselves, their lost family members, etc.). I'll admit, some of the "true believers" are too strident in their beliefs, and do not approach these people rationally or politely. But to be presented with the binary "believe the official theory" or "you're an America-hating loon, who cares nothing about the 3,000 people who died" is just flat ridiculous.
We are unfortunately in an era of "black or white"--in our media, politicians, even much of the public. Because some of the conspiracy theories are indeed nutty, they are all deemed to be so. The metaphor about the baby and the bathwater is ignored in this, and most other discussions we have as a nation. Life is more intricate and shaded than that.
I originally linked to this video (part seven of a series), showing some of the problems with the official 9/11 story. Since that time, Loose Change 3 has been released, a final cut, with rebuttals to the debunking. I have not yet viewed the video, though I intend to, and will follow up with a review.
I want to make it clear I do not subscribe to all or even most 9/11 conspiracy theories. But I do think many of them deserve more attention. And most of all, they deserve answers and not automatic dismissal. The History Channel program did not allow for this. People were presented as believers in the official conspiracy theory (and that's what it is), or as hard-core believers in alternate theories--certain in their beliefs. I'm not. Are you?