Although I was as happy as most Americans that Barack Obama took the oath of office last week, rather than his Republican alternative, there is a major reason that he did not get my vote in November, which went instead to Cynthia McKinney: Obama is unlikely to re-open an investigation into what really happened on September 11, 2001—an investigation that needs to happen.
According to polls, about four in ten Americans are suspicious that the Bush administration was complicit in the 9/11 attacks—either by deliberately ignoring intelligence that warned an attack was coming and allowing the terrorists to strike, to gain public support for the neoconservative foreign policy agenda of increasing American military power in the Middle East; or by actively coordinating the attacks themselves, for the same reason. As Time magazine, in a rare acknowledgement of the 9/11 truth movement, said: “This is not a fringe phenomenon. It is a mainstream political reality.”
It’s easy to understand, however, why a majority of Americans have such a hard time getting their minds around the idea that their government may have some involvement in such a horrendous crime. Americans are conditioned from an early age to think of themselves as “the good guys,” living in a “democracy”—which, however imperfect, has always been primarily motivated by the desire to advance the core national principle of “freedom,” both at home and abroad. And the actions of the government are closely monitored by a diligent “free press.”
It’s a civics class myth. Yet this myth has the emotional resonance that comes with also being at the heart of what sociologists call America’s “civil religion.” And the myth was especially encouraged among us presently living generations of Americans, the citizens of the post-World War II national security state—although there has obviously been a greater public distrust of government since the Vietnam War and Watergate. The Bush administration brought this distrust to new heights, lying about everything to genocidal effect. But still, many people want to believe that the Bush mob was just too incompetent to have pulled off a sophisticated attack like 9/11 (although non-state actors living in caves in Afghanistan, half a world away, were perfectly capable).
There are many reasons why a political sophisticate like Barack Obama would not want to give too much attention to the unanswered questions of 9/11 (Of the hundreds of questions submitted by the 9/11 Family Steering Committee, whose passionate persistence was ultimately responsible for the creation of the 9/11 Commission, only a small percentage were addressed by the Commission’s report). And there are two basic possible foundations for Obama’s thought on this subject, though his thoughts could range across the spectrum of possibilities between the two poles: that either he accepts the official story of 9/11, or he doesn’t.
Let’s speculate, just for argument’s sake, that Obama’s views are like those of mainstream liberal/progressives on the subject of 9/11 truth. In this view, “conspiracy theories” only serve to distract the public from the systemic rot at the heart of the global capitalist system and of its chief enforcer, the US military-industrial complex. These liberals would like to think that the Bush administration was just too incompetent to pull a complex operation like 9/11 off. And besides, too many people would have to be involved, and somebody would have spilled the beans by now, and the media would be all over it.
Obama could even go as far in his thinking as Howard Zinn and Noam Chomsky, who have basically said that, even if Bush and Cheney and their henchmen were responsible for 9/11, it would be just another crime to add to a long list of crimes that have, in certain cases, also killed thousands—like the lies that, like a spider’s web, entrapped the American military in Iraq. 9/11 could just be standard operating procedure for the Empire, another “false flag” attack, like the Tonkin Gulf situation in Vietnam, staged to enlist public support for expanded military operations abroad; and a search for 9/11 truth will in the end be as fruitless as the search for the truth of JFK’s assassination. And even if, as with JFK, a majority of Americans come to believe that the US government is the prime suspect, nothing will ever come of this belief.
I’ve had a number of conversations with liberal 9/11 truth skeptics, and my general impression has been that the primary reason they are skeptical of “conspiracy theory” (aside from their fear of ridicule) is that they don’t know very much about the subject.
In the first place, their defense of the official story is built upon the utterly illogical premise that, even though Bush and company have lied about virtually every matter of executive branch responsibility, from science to intelligence to defense contracting to politicization of the Justice Department, on this one issue—9/11—they are telling the truth. How much sense does that make?
And every other point in the “liberal” defense of the official theory (i.e. Arabs in caves outwit stupid Bushies) is subject to serious question. Bush’s incompetence? On the contrary, it could be argued that Bush and Cheney accomplished everything they wanted to while in office. The biggest asset that went into Bush’s so-called “blind trust” when he entered office in 2001 was Exxon stock—a company that has seen world record profits ever since the Iraq invasion. And Halliburton stock has also soared.
The traditional Bush family interests, especially the defense and energy industries, have prospered mightily. A compliant media let Bush and Cheney do whatever they wanted for eight years, whatever the law might say, and are still on full guard, trying to protect them from investigation and prosecution. And Bush, in an Oedipal frenzy, vastly outdid his father’s measly half a trillion dollar savings and loan taxpayer ripoff, with trillions of dollars stolen from generations of taxpayers, and redistributed with unprecedented arrogance directly into the pockets of the wealthiest cronies of the power elite—no questions asked. Bush played his dumb smirking redneck schtick to perfection.
On the other hand, as David Ray Griffin notes in his latest book, The New Pearl Harbor Revisited, Bush’s incompetence, as such, is on ready display in the fact that there are so many glaring holes in the official story—from the lies told by the military and CIA to the 9/11 Commission, so egregious that the co-chairs considered asking for federal indictments; to the violations of fundamental laws of physics in the official explanations for the unprecedented “collapse” of three steel-framed skyscrapers in one day—the only steel-framed buildings in history to “collapse” due to fire.
Also, the “need to know” compartmentalization of American intelligence guarantees that only a few key people, and possibly some outsourced mercenaries, would need to know the full story of the 9/11 operation; and either patriotism, bureaucratic groupthink, fear or money would keep everybody else in line. The few whistleblowers, like the FBI’s Sibel Edmonds, who had the courage to destroy their careers for the sake of truth, have been easily turned into “non-persons” by a corporate-controlled media coordinating their broadcasts with a Defense Department psychological operations agenda, a dynamic revealed by the New York Times in its analysis of conflicts of interest among “independent” TV network military “analysts” (more accurately, Pentagon propagandists).
But it’s their lack of knowledge of significant 9/11 details that, in my experience, usually leaves liberal 9/11 truth skeptics in dumbstruck confusion, when confronted with facts.
In the first place, they’re generally unaware that 9/11 questions go way beyond “theory.” There is hard, cold physical evidence, from the microspheres of melted steel found in every single sample of dust from the World Trade Center (and which the US Geological Survey said needed to be further investigated, and never were); to the melting and “sulphurization” of the steel beams of WTC Building 7, as reported by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and which the New York Times called “the biggest mystery” of 9/11—and which was also never investigated further.
A few weeks ago, after the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) corrected its years-delayed draft report on the destruction of WTC7 (which was never hit by an airplane), to finally concede that critics of the original draft were correct that the 47-story building collapsed at free-fall speed (a concession ignored by corporate media), there was a discussion of the report at the website Democratic Underground.
The first reply to the original post was a snarky comment about “Bigfoot” causing the collapse, which initiated a sometimes ugly debate between defenders of the official story and 9/11 truth advocates. The “Bigfoot” commenter kept repeating, “Go read the report,” and giving the NIST URL. I was surprised that no one thought to tell him, on a site as tuned-in as DU, that he may as well have been saying, “Well, go ask George W. Bush,” since NIST is just a branch of Bush’s Commerce Department. Like I said, we now know about outright lies, especially lies about science, coming from every Bush-era executive branch agency, from EPA to CIA. Why would NIST be exempt from this pattern?
Not only that, but anyone can watch a Youtube video of one of NIST’s lead investigators, engineer John Gross, lying through his teeth in a public forum, trying, in answer to a question, to deny the existence of molten steel in the WTC rubble (since the NIST report, like every other government report, had to acknowledge that the fires barely got hot enough to weaken steel, much less melt it, and then only for brief periods). In the clip, he archly maintains, “I didn’t see any molten metal,” and claims ignorance of contrary accounts from numerous other eyewitnesses (including the WTC’s lead engineer), video of heavy equipment pulling molten metal out of the rubble, fires that smoldered at the site for months, and satellite thermal imagery.
NIST admits in all its WTC reports that it never investigated for the possibility of explosives in the buildings, even though that is standard procedure in fire investigations, and in spite of the questions raised in the USGS and FEMA reports about unexplained phenomena in the WTC steel, and in spite of the testimony of hundreds of eyewitnesses (including over a hundred firefighters) who said that they heard explosions in the buildings. An ABC report on the day of the attacks said that the FBI was initially working on the hypothesis that bombs had been planted in the World Trade Center.
Where liberal skeptics really freak out, however, is when they hear about the eerie “coincidences” related to WTC security in the weeks before the 9/11 attacks, “coincidences” greatly underplayed in the corporate media—about the mysterious workmen upgrading the WTC electrical system, laying cable for a company owned by a Skull and Bones fraternity brother of the Bush family; about the unprecedented complete “power down” of the WTC complex the weekend before the attack; about the removal of bomb-sniffing security dogs from the WTC the Thursday before the attacks—dogs who never returned to duty; about the CEO of the company in charge of WTC security being George W’s cousin, Wirt Walker, who was also joined on the company’s board of directors by Bush’s brother, Marvin; about the millions (perhaps billions) of dollars made on unprecedented stock trades in the days right before the attacks, made on companies directly affected by the attacks, by traders whose actions were declared “innocent” and whose identities were kept secret by a 9/11 Commission staff who otherwise judged the source of funding for the 9/11 attacks to be “unimportant,” and who worked under the direction of a White House mole secretly communicating with Karl Rove, despite his assurances to the contrary to the Commission’s co-chairs.
Considered together, these “coincidences” are enough to generate a case of cognitive dissonance—and often do—among those who want to believe that “the system” still works.
It is the cumulative weight and seriousness of the questions that remain about 9/11, however, that lead me to think that Barack Obama is not in fact a skeptic of 9/11 truth. He’s much too smart to ignore the obvious contradictions in the official story. But that scenario opens up a pretty complicated can of worms, which I will explore in the next installment of this commentary.