How has 9/11 affected me? That is a simple question to ask, but it warrants a complex answer. The bottom line is that has made me realise more than ever the frailty of human testimony and the fact that human stupidity and gullibility have no limits. To paraphrase Abraham Lincoln, some people can fool themselves all of the time, comprehensively. I am referring of course to the movement that emerged in the wake of 9/11 and the response to it - the war on terror including the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.
It has been said that the truth is stranger than fiction though not as popular. I've often found myself in that position; many, many things have happened in my life that shouldn't have or one would have thought statistically couldn't have. I'll give you just one example. I started writing back in the 1980s. I wrote poetry, reams of it. I like to think some of it was/is quite good and has stood the test of time
. Then I started writing here and there for magazines; I got lucky, but the luck didn't last. In 1990, I self-published a small pamphlet called United Europe/Divided Britain
. I sold perhaps half a dozen copies; I also delivered the requisite Legal Deposit
copies to the agent A.T. Smail, and the British Library, which was then at Bloomsbury.
I was in the Library on the evening of July 1, 1992, it was about 6.15pm and I was leaving, so handed in my books. At that time, the Library was open until 9pm Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, and at the book reservation desk I met a young French girl, Catherine Delanauld, who was taking out two publications; one of them was United Europe/Divided Britain
There were said to be 18 million books held by the British Library then, I have no idea how many there are now, and this humble, tatty little pamphlet was surely in the bottom .0001%, yet here was someone taking it out. On top of that, she was French, and the previous month I'd been to Paris.
The above example is extraordinary but totally innocuous; many things are both stranger than fiction and far from innocuous. The life of Lee Harvey Oswald was stranger than fiction. He was a youth who joined the US Marines where he declared quite openly his Marxism, even though he didn't really understand it. Then he travelled to the Soviet Union where he told the bemused Russians that he wanted to defect. When told he couldn't, he slashed his wrist and literally blackmailed the Evil Empire into doing his bidding. Then after marrying a shop worker and siring a daughter, he decided the Workers' Paradise was not for him, applied to leave, and the Russians couldn't get rid of him fast enough.
Having denounced his country, Oswald returned and eked out a miserable existence treating his poor wife abominably until after a failed attempt to murder a minor political figure, he assassinated the President of the United States
, was arrested - after murdering a police officer - and was shortly murdered himself by a local wannabe, Jack Ruby.
Soon after Oswald's arrest it became clear to the authorities and to everyone else that his activities warranted intense scrutiny. Might he have been a Soviet agent? Oswald had a thing about Cuba, so might not Castro have been involved? It soon became equally clear though that this dreadful act was the result of one sick mind. The evidence of Oswald's involvement was absolutely overwhelming, and in spite of the nonsense peddled by Jim Garrison and countless others down the years, all the reliable
evidence points to Oswald and Oswald alone.
This has not prevented all manner of conspiracy so-called theorists, cranks, mischief-makers, nutters and simply people who don't understand how to evaluate evidence from peddling all manner of nonsense about Oswald being a patsy, in his own words.
The Kennedy Assassination has two things in common with 9/11. It was, up until a few years ago, the most thoroughly documented crime, the most thoroughly documented incident in the history of the world barring none. At some point in the past few years, 9/11 has overtaken it.
The second thing is that both crimes have very prosaic and simple explanations which are supported by absolutely overwhelming evidence, yet all manner of people refuse to accept the obvious, the logical, the rational, the empirical, rejecting it in favour of some hair-brained claim that the government did it, or some conspiratorial group within the government or of which the government was/is part.
Many of these people, especially the 9/11 Truthers, have impressive arrays of letters after their names, something that is more frightening than funny, or should be. I cannot stress this too much. I could quite believe the 9/11 Truth Movement was invented by a Christian Fundamentalist to make Creationism sound plausible, because it is surely easier to believe the Earth was created at 9am on October 23, 4004 B.C., and that God put fossils in the rocks to test our faith, rather than give any credence whatsoever to the lunatic ravings of the more extreme truthers.
I've said this before, but 9/11 Truth is not simply Alice-in-Wonderland, it's Alice meets Harry Potter in the Land of Narnia and together they fly off to the realm of Tolkien on a unicorn.
I first heard of the attacks on the Twin Towers on the train home from the British Library. A passenger sitting opposite was reading the Evening Standard
, and a report of the attacks was on the front page. By the time I got home, the story was all over TV and was the only news.
I didn't know anyone personally who died that day, but in this small world I knew people who did, mostly through the chess circuit, which I was in the process of abandoning, and have now long since given up altogether, including the Mind Sports Olympiad
Obviously questions had to be asked not only about who carried out these attacks but how they could have been carried out, in particular how the hijackers could have breached airport security, and how we can stop anything like this ever happening again. These questions have been answered, as have the questions about the supposed foreknowledge of the authorities. They'd been warned something big was about to happen. Sure they had, so what? People who make this claim do not understand what Professor Quiqley called the difference between espionage and intelligence. In particular, it is very easy to know
something; it is another thing entirely to evaluate it. The authorities were given Ted Bundy's
name as a suspected serial killer as early as August 1974, it was not though until August the following year that he was arrested in a routine stop and suspicious objects were found in his car that he was linked first to the November 1974 attempted kidnapping of Carol DaRonch, and then to a number of murders.
Apply that to America's Most Wanted
or similar TV programmes throughout the world, and you'll see what I mean. There is an appeal for information about a murder or some other crime, someone phones in to the newsroom and says "It was my neighbour; I recognised him from the CCTV". Great, so why don't they go out and arrest this guy right away? Because 20 or 30 or maybe 4 or 500 other people have made similar calls. In other words, it is one thing to obtain information by espionage, intercepting letters, e-mails, telephone calls or even by direct tip offs, and it is quite another to process it, to analyse this intelligence meaningfully and accurately. To that, one has to add the rider that most terrorist groups including cells know or assume they are being monitored, so give out false signals. This could explain why Mohamed Atta was reported to have been drinking alcohol and doing all sorts of other things no devout Moslem would ever dream of doing. Like hijacking a plane and flying it into a building.
The lunacy of 9/11 Truth goes far beyond this sort of mere ignorance though, and includes many claims that border on or plunge right into the absurd. We have all seen the planes hit the Twin Towers, right? Granted that we can be deceived, for example on the YouTube website you will find many videos of both professional and amateur magicians performing amazing tricks. Ever seen Criss Angel walk on a swimming pool or levitate, or a junior school kid apport and then vanish a handkerchief into thin air? Even if you don't see the nearly invisible glass he is walking on, or the fake leg, or the false thumb, you know this is sleight of hand rather than actual magic. The planes really did hit the Twin Towers though, right? I mean, this can't have been staged, can it?
Would you believe there are some Truthers who think that is indeed the case? Then there is Judy Wood. Dr Wood earned a BSc in Civil Engineering, then an MSc in Engineering Mechanics, followed in 1992 by a PhD in Materials Engineering Science. That is impressive. How would you like to argue with a woman of that supreme erudition in her own field? You might feel slightly more confident if I told you that she believes the Twin Towers were brought down not by the planes but by some sort of secret death ray that "dustified" the buildings. The truly frightening thing about her is that she sounds so plausible and argues so forcefully, far more so than the extremely erudite Vladimir Terziski whom I saw in January 1993 explaining, inter alia
, how the Nazis reached the Moon in 1938 and how in 1945, a team of Nazis and Japanese had crash-landed a flying saucer on the planet Mars. No, I'm not making this up, and it gets even sillier
Most Truthers don't go this far, and are content simply to chant their mantra "9/11 was an inside job" over and over again, blissfully unaware that the same lunatic claim was made about the April 1995 Oklahoma City bombing
The overwhelming majority of the Truthers' claims have been demonstrated clearly to be false, but that doesn't stop them parroting these claims over and over again, like the one that there was no plane wreckage at the Pentagon, and the one that a plane didn't crash at Shanksville, and so on.
There is a plethora of organisations supposedly dedicated to investigating 9/11 from many different perspectives; the organisation Pilots For 9/11 Truth
sounds impressive, but check out their documentary 9/11 Intercepted
; the introduction in particular is full of stupid innuendo about planes being allegedly hijacked, and a message being allegedly received from Mohamed Atta to the effect that "We have some planes".
Later it gets even sillier with an allusion to Operation Northwoods and the usual conspiratorial garbage about false flags
. Best not to mention what this film claims about the attack on the Pentagon. Pilots for 9/11 Truth? Pilots of what, flying saucers? These people are not so much conspiracy theorists
as space cadets.
The mainstay appears now to be the non-controversy over the fall of Building 7 and the presence of thermate/thermite in the wreckage. These arguments are superficially persuasive, especially to the non-chemist, which is most of us, but one might just as well argue that the flooding that occurred when the mains was ruptured is evidence of explosives, after all, water contains a volatile and highly explosive gas: hydrogen. Here is an intelligent explanation of the thermate/thermite claims
. Of late, these have been replaced by the claim that nanothermite was responsible, but the evidence for this too appears to have been overstated
, to put it mildly.
Even if such material were found among the debris, to bring down buildings of this size, there would remain the little matter of how it could have been detonated without the ear-shattering noises that are characteristic of controlled explosions. While it is true explosions were heard coming from both the Twin Towers and Building 7, these were nothing out of the usual. Indeed, small explosions can often be heard on a fair sized bonfire that does not contain light bulbs, strip lighting, refrigerators, computers, and doubtless many other artefacts found in buildings of that size and nature which could and undoubtedly did explode prior to collapse. Without explosions of a recognisable controlled detonation magnitude and other evidence of same - such as recognisable fragments of timers, etc - none of the claimed thermitic residuum amounts to the requisite black swan
In his rebuttal of Richard Gage, Chris Mohr covers Building 7
probably better than NIST, a body that has come in for a great deal of unwarranted criticism from the 9/11 loonies. In an earlier segment of this video, Mohr also goes into some depth about who would have had to be in on the conspiracy if these were controlled demolitions. This is something I have long wondered.
Just imagine the complexity of the operation - recruiting 19 hijackers prepared to die for the New World Order, the timing of the attacks, how would they know Building 7 would be damaged? And so on. That is without the teams needed to plant the detonators, and all the other nonsense. The logistics of such an operation beggars belief, but still we hear the mantra and the same endlessly repeated facile arguments implying that if you can't account for every single anomaly of that terrible day, the Truthers must be right, and the government did it. I have addressed some of these anomalies elsewhere
; most of them turn out not to be anomalies but either ignorance or outright lies. The claims about the BBC having foreknowledge of the collapse of Building 7 and Larry Silverstein confessing on TV are ludicrous. The misrepresentations of the collapse of this same building are a marvel to behold. There is plenty of archive footage on YouTube and elsewhere that shows the authorities, in particular the heroic firefighters, were fully aware of the damage done to it, and the near certainty of its collapsing.
The very latest nonsense is a film that has been broadcast on public television in the run up to the 11th anniversary of the atrocities, the grandly titled 9/11: Explosive Evidence - Experts Speak Out
. The kindest thing that can be said about this film is that it confuses cause and effect, which is hardly surprising when one considers that the man behind it is none other than Richard Gage.
I won't review it here because it contains nothing new, though it has been reviewed elsewhere on this site by someone who is both a little more intelligent than me, and a great deal more gullible. One of the things die hard truthers advise us to do is follow the money. Okay, let's start by asking how much Mr Gage makes from his "not-for-profit
Some information about this can be found here
. Try not to laugh.
Unless I'm missing something, according to this film, the Twin Towers collapsed from the top down by controlled explosion, both of them, while Building 7 (which no one has heard about), collapsed from the bottom.
What was that I said about logistics? This means that Mohamed Atta and his fellow mass murderer Marwan al-Shehhi had to crash these planes precisely where they did, between floors 93 and 99, and between floors 77 and 85 respectively, because by an amazing coincidence, the controlled explosions began at those floors. Don't let's even think about Building 7.
At the moment, I am being chased across the web by Dan Noel, a highly qualified well-meaning fruitcake, an engineer with a fixation about Building 7, and who has apparently developed "a new, exciting system
that allows virtually every human being, starting at a very young age, to learn to use telepathy to automatically realign any target with the Divine purpose".
Somebody should introduce him to Judy Wood; they'd make a lovely couple.
One other point that needs to be mentioned is that not all the people peddling alternative versions of what happened on 9/11 are either well-meaning or cranks; there is a considerable amount of blatantly spurious analysis out there including doctored videos. One of the most sophisticated such hoaxes is what has been called "The Ball Theory". Don't be deceived by such nonsense, and always bear in mind that the governments of the world are not the only liars out there, and much of the time they are not even the biggest liars. I will go further than that and say that as far as the logistics of 9/11 go, we can believe probably 99.9% of the official version up to the events of that day. The American Government and the British Government lied about the so-called weapons of mass destruction - the very same weapons they have - and they lied about, or rather attempted to cover up, the professed motives for the attacks - but the investigations carried out by the FBI and other agencies were thorough, reliable, honest and probably as accurate as we can expect.
The 9/11 attacks have affected all of us profoundly, unless you are living on a desert island, a monastery, or somewhere like that. For me, the gullibility is far more worrying than the plain evil, because the sort of ignorance engendered by the 9/11 Truth Movement is inherently dangerous. The recent case of Brandon Raub
is testimony to that.
Ignorance has an unpleasant way of turning into hysteria. We are fortunate that those in power - on both sides of the House - don't give any credence at all to these ravings. Under other circumstances, we could have seen things turn very nasty as happens when the extraordinary popular delusion becomes entwined with the madness of the crowd
Probably the main reason it hasn't is because 9/11 Truth is not made up of the usual suspects, but is a curious mixture of extremely erudite men and women with no brains, leftists, America Firsters, people from all walks of life, anti-Zionists, anti-war activists, mystics, a few die-hard anti-Semites, and virtually no Moslems at all. Then there is that great intellectual and champion of Mumia Abu-Jamal
, Ed Asner, as well as all manner of kooks, people who have no idea how to think critically.
Overall, the movement appears to have no uniform agenda, although there are unquestionably some people making a lot of money out of it, and other things like unwarranted prestige.
In closing, I should say a few words about NIST. This body has been the target of much unwarranted criticism for failing to mount a proper investigation. Some people seem to think it mounted or should have mounted a criminal investigation. They should at least take the time to read the terms of reference
of its actual investigation. NIST was asked to investigate the collapse of the buildings and to make recommendations for improved safety, including construction. This was a scientific and technical investigation, not a criminal one. That side was done by the FBI and other legal authorities. If a small building or a plane had been bombed, it would have been feasible for NIST to replicate the outrage and repeat the damage. Clearly this was not feasible with two 110 storey buildings, so for the Twin Towers and Building 7 a computer simulation was the best option. This appears to have been only partially successful, but as I have said before [quoting Lord Justice Beldam in Regina v Ram
, (1995)]: "In our opinion the effect of this evidence was to demonstrate what every experienced counsel knows, that in reconstructing events from postmortem appearances there are considerable limitations to the opinion of an expert, however distinguished."
NIST appears to have fudged its data in places, but it remains to be seen if this was anything more sinister than drawing the best line through the dots, as scientists tend to do. NIST didn't do all this work in-house but contracted out to many individuals and companies
. Literally hundreds of people worked on it, and clearly they were not all part of the same delusional Grand Conspiracy, the one that can orchestrate the mass murder of thousands of individuals in coordinated attacks yet can't rid the world of one pesky cleric
My kitchen window faces east; when I looked out of it this morning at close to 8.40, the light cumulus clouds were breaking up in the sun, and the day looked very much like it must have looked precisely 11 years earlier in New York - bar the time difference - a few minutes before Mohamed Atta crashed American Airlines Flight 11 into the North Tower. Yet the world is a very different place from the one New Yorkers woke up to. It is a colder, harder place, and there is no going back. It seems as though not only can we not halt the spread of hate, or state repression, but we can't halt the spread of ignorance either, else the 9/11 Truth Movement would long since have died the death along with alchemy.
The above is my last humble contribution to attempting to halt it, it is also my final word on both 9/11 and 9/11 "Truth", and I will publish no more articles about either, at least not on this site.