Science & Skepticism

Debunking 9/11 Conspiracy Theories

False rumors still persist in “9/11 truth”

Conspiracy theories surrounding the events of 9/11 continue today, more than a decade after the event. Now comes Russia Today with a segment claiming that it is now “officially documented” that the CIA and the White House have conducted terror attacks against the American people.

Citing Operation Northwoods, the RT host claims that this must prove that the US government planned and enacted the terror attacks of 9/11. The anchor is incredulous that the American public doesn’t remember that a third building fell on 9/11. A billboard in Times Square invites people to “Rethink 9/11” and aims to inform citizens that a third tower fell that day. So let’s do it.

Let’s take a look at the events of 9/11.

Russia Today says 9/11 inside job

The video is full of misdirection and disinformation, relying on decades old debunked conspiracy theories and flawed, anecdotal testimony from their guests on the program. One of the major bits of evidence they submit to back up the claim that the US government is committing domestic acts of terror is Operation Northwoods.

Operation Northwoods – Evil Government Plan That Never Materialized

Screen Shot 2013-09-11 at 2.42.50 PMcuban-missile-crisis_lNorthwoods was a series of proposals whereby the US government would commit perceived acts of domestic terrorism in order to stoke a war with Fidel Castro of Cuba. It reads:

“The desired resultant from the execution of this plan would be to place the United States in the apparent position of suffering defensible grievances from a rash and irresponsible government of Cuba and to develop an international image of a Cuban threat to peace in the Western Hemisphere.”

The proposals created by US Army General Lyman Lemnitzer called for the CIA to organize the “false flag” attacks so as to provide an excuse to invade Cuba and stop the Communist island nation from pointing nuclear weapons at the United States. Conspiracy theorists point at this memorandum (pictured) as evidence.

However the plan was never carried out. John F. Kennedy removed the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for his suggestion. It may have been the most corrupt plan by a government agent ever created, but the President of the United States was a good man who saw evil for what it was, and took appropriate steps to rein it in.

Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara was interviewed on the topic and drew a blank “I have absolutely zero recollection of it. But I sure as hell would have rejected it,” McNamara said, adding, “I really can’t believe that anyone was proposing such provocative acts in Miami. How stupid!”

If anything Northwoods should serve as a reminder to the American people to watch their government officials closely and to hold them accountable. No doubt what the JCOS proposed was abominable, but conspiracy theorists forget that governments are made up of men as flawed as the rest of us. Despite having many of those same human flaws, JFK made the right judgement call on behalf of the American people.

Did you know a third tower fell that day? “Google Building 7”

9/11 conspiracy theorists love to point to World Trade 7 as evidence that the attacks were a controlled demolition. The evidence suggests otherwise. An initial viewing of WTC7 would make one suspicious if you go into the video with any preconceptions. World Trade 7 appears to collapse in on itself, as if it were a controlled demolition.

From Popular Mechanics:

“It is impossible for a building to fall the way it fell without explosives being involved,” stated actress and TV personality Rosie O’Donnell of ABC’s The View in March 2007. “For the first time in history, steel was melted by fire. It is physically impossible,” she said.

In fact it is not impossible because the collapse of World Trade 7 proved that it is possible. Uncontrolled fires caused by the collapse of the sprinkler system and upward thermal expansion buckled the floor tiles of the building. It would fall straight down because (since heat rises) the flames provided an enormous upward thrust on the tiles, cracking them and bringing the structure down. A key factor in the collapse, NIST concluded, was the failure of structural “connections that were designed to resist gravity loads, but not thermally induced lateral loads.”

New evidence has emerged showing an enormous hole in the South side of WTC7. The video below shows a large tip in the building before it collapse. The building was far more damaged than conspiracy theorists suggest. At 1:33 Min into the video someone says, “Look at the hole in that building… 7 world… that might come down”. Anyone suggesting that no one knew the building was going to come down is lying.

See: Detailed breakdown of how WTC7 collapsed.

Videos of firefighters reacting to explosions is given as evidence that bombs were placed in the building. But they fail to realize that WTC 7 had enormous diesel-powered generators with large tanks of fuel to be used in an emergency if the building lost power. That would be the best possible explanation for where the sounds of explosions could be coming from.

“Pull it”

Even more people point to the words of building owner Larry Silverstein, who advised his rescue teams to pull out of the building to avoid more loss of life. When discussing the rescue operation, he claims he told his men to “pull it”, meaning pull the rescue operation. Silverstein was concerned about the firefighters. But conspiracy theorists see this as evidence that he admits to demolition of the tower.

What about Loose Change?

imagesIn the popular “documentary film” Loose Change, Dylan Avery attempts to convince his audience that the World Trade Center was brought down in a controlled explosion and that a cruise missile hit the Pentagon, not a Boeing 757. The major problem with the film, despite many fatal flaws, is that it was intended to a be film… not a documentary. Dylan Avery has admitted publicly that he was intending to make a fictional film about a conspiracy surrounding the events of 9/11 when he miraculously came to the conclusion that the conspiracy was real. This is of course after he realized it might be more profitable as a documentary than a film.

From Amazon, And the Wayback Machine

“In May 2002, after spending three months doing construction work on Vines, I had a half hour conversation with James Gandolfini at the opening party. To make a long, drawn out conversation short, James told me, If you want to be a successful director, you have to have something to say to the world. It was that month that I began writing (sic) ;Loose Change; a fictional story about my friends and I discovering that September 11th was not a terrorist attack, but rather, an attack by their own government. Upon researching for the movie, it became apparent that the subject matter may not have been entirely fiction. Over two years time, adding more and more information, the fictional movie evolved into what it is today; a documentary.”

Conspiracies for evil? Then why not conspiracies for good?

The Village Voice very perceptively analyzed the mindset of 9/11 truthers. They echoed the Hayekian notion of conspiracy theories invoked by Austrian Economist Steve Horwitz who wrote:

“If we resort to conspiracy theorizing, we also leave ourselves open to an obvious response from our critics: If a small group really can manipulate the economy for evil ends, why can’t a small, or even a large, group manipulate the economy for more noble goals, say, some form of social justice?  When we fall into conspiracy thinking we are actually accepting the fundamental premise at the heart of every form of socialism: that it is possible for human beings to consciously control the economy or society more generally.”

911_Truth_Dog_Nathan_Janes_smThe Voice reiterated:

The key to understanding the Truth movement is to realize that its members do not lack faith in all institutions of the U.S. government. On the contrary, their theories rely on a healthy respect for the power and competence of air defense units, FBI agents, high-rise building designers, and others.

Why would Bush mistakenly say he’d seen the first plane strike on TV? How could the FBI miss so many leads? Is it plausible that the CIA ignored all those warnings? And after the purported multiple failures of the FAA and NORAD on 9-11, how come no one was fired?

It’s odd. For a group of people who harbor so many doubts about the intentions of their own and other governments, the media, and fellow citizens, much of the Truth movement does not suspect for a moment that our defense spending has been a rip-off, that the FBI is a clumsy bureaucracy, that our spy agencies are deaf and dumb, and that our skyscrapers are not 100 percent safe. They do not seem worried that they could be unwitting partners in a more mundane conspiracy to obscure the limits of security and science. To the lies of the Bush administration, many in the Truth movement reply with stunning and familiar certainty. “I can’t jump back to the other side,” says Dylan Avery. “I know that what I’m doing is right.”

If it was an “inside job” then it wasn’t “blowback”

Former Presidential Candidate Ron Paul gets a bad reputation from some mainstream media outlets for appearing on arch-conspiracy theorist and 9/11 truther Alex Jones‘ radio show. Some worry that granting legitimacy to a kookish cult leader from Austin, Texas harms his reputation. Conspiracy theorists point to his appearances as evidence that he must support Alex Jones’ views. To his credit, Ron Paul has rejected 9/11 truth and stated unequivocally that he does not believe that 9/11 was an inside job, however that doesn’t stop truthers from identifying him as one.

Paul’s beliefs in a non-interventionist foreign policy would be undermined by a belief in 9/11 truth. This is due to the fact that if 9/11 was an act of the US government, then it was not what he describes as “blowback”. Blowback is a term Paul uses to describe the deleterious backlash resultant from too much government intervention in foreign affairs. Foreign governments or terrorists agents seek revenge and plot against the United States when the US government meddles in their politics or overthrows their government.  If 9/11 was an inside job, then it wasn’t the work of foreign terrorists and libertarian’s foreign policy arguments are invalid.

Why all the disinformation?

mitrokhin archiveForeign intelligence agencies have their own, very real conspiracies. Many of them involve spreading disinformation against the United States. Russia Today is only acting out the job of the former KGB, who promoted “Active Measures” amongst the population of the United States. The secret plan, developed during the Cold War era, was meant to spread disinformation and conspiracy theories amongst the American people. KGB Major Vasili Mitrokhin defected from the USSR and revealed that many of the high-profile conspiracies circulating within the United States were actual Russian propaganda, meant to destabilize and create disharmony amongst the people.

The Soviets were well aware that Americans were highly gullible and prone to believing in conspiracy theories. They conducted major intelligence warfare campaigns against the US including the theory that AIDS was created in a government lab, that Martin Luther King Jr. was a pedophile and that Lee Harvey Oswald was tied to a known CIA agent in Dallas.

Screen Shot 2013-09-11 at 5.15.01 PM
The KGB forged a document connecting Lee Harvey Oswald to a known CIA agent in Dallas

All lies. All propaganda. All from a foreign government. There’s a good reason why Iran’s President Ahmadinejad believes in a 9/11 conspiracy… because it undermines the United States.

“The September 11 [attacks] were actually a planned game to provoke the human community’s sentiments and find an excuse for launching attack on Muslim regions and occupying Iraq and Afghanistan, which led to the massacre of one million innocent people,” Ahmadinejad said

Foreign governments hostile to the United States clearly have an interest in spreading lies and conspiracy theories and in making sure those ideas are taken up by US citizens. That is another good reason not to believe them. Many of the conspiracy theories you know today are the result of a conspiracy to spread conspiracies within the US.

Operation Able Danger – The Real 9/11 Conspiracy

Just because 9/11 was not an inside job does not mean that conspiracies do not exist. The “official story” of 9/11 that terrorist hijackers colluded to crash planes into buildings is officially a conspiracy in the technical sense. However, the real conspiracy surrounding the events of 9/11 is one that many theorists do not discuss… namely Able Danger.

Shortly after taking office in 2008 the Obama administration ordered the destruction of all unredacted copies of a book called Operation Dark Heart by Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer. Shaffer claims he had information relating to the location of one of the principal hijackers in the attack, Mohammed Atta. Shaffer claims that his top secret project Able Danger had identified Atta and had the opportunity to strike before the tragedy of September 11th. This is why people like former CIA Bin Laden Unit Chief Michael Scheuer claims that the 9/11 Commission Report was a “whitewash from top to bottom”. The report did not include the testimony of Lt. Col. Shaffer.

Over the years many 9/11 truthers have recanted their beliefs, some have even become activists for combating the disinformation. Still, rumors persist.

Watch 9/11 Truther recant, then create hoax 911 video to educate the public.

Many of these conspiracies are likely fueled by standard government incompetence and skullduggery such as the Able Danger project which drive more people to believe in conspiracy theories than necessary. However, we do face the real danger of conspiracies by foreign intelligence agencies, such as those revealed in the Mitrokhin archive which should make you wary of where you derive you information from. Some foreign governments may indeed by spreading disinformation amongst the US and American citizens may be complicit in helping propagate it, whether wittingly or unwittingly. It is up to each individual citizens to go out and seek the truth for themselves. I hope this article serves as a starting point to help many of you reach the same conclusion that I have come to.

9/11 was not an inside job.

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