The decade since the hijacked 747s rammed into the World Trade Center and Pentagon hasn't changed one thing. Millions of Americans still fervently believe that the 9/11 terror attacks were part of a well conceived, well-planned diabolical staged act. A poll commissioned by the BBC found that one in seven Americans still think that 9/11 was a staged act. And even worrisome, one in four 16 to 24 year old thinks it was a plot. The disbelieve that 9/11 was the ghoulish handiwork of anti-American hate filled foreign terrorists has been fed by a loud and pesky pack of professional conspiracy theorists who perennially see a sinister government hand behind any and every assassination, terror attack, and even natural disaster.
The 9/11 attack, though, is the jewel in the crown for the conspiracy nuts. They've managed to convince the skeptics that the carnage was part of a Machiavellian plot by a parade of the usual suspects, George W. Bush, the GOP, the CIA, FBI and Justice Department to wipe out civil liberties protections, impose a national security state, create a pretext for the quagmires in Afghanistan and Iraq, terrorize the American people, and strengthen the hand of the pro Israeli lobby in U.S. politics. Some of the more wacked out theorists with an anti-Semitic bent even claim that the terror attack was part of a decades old web of intrigue woven by international Jewish groups to dominate global politics.
Conspiracy theorists allege that explosives were planted at the WTC, Jewish and Israeli Tower workers and occupants were warned the day before supposedly by Mossad (Israeli Intelligence) to stay away, a missile slammed into the Pentagon, the government hid the wreckage of the United Airlines plane that terrorists crashed in Pennsylvania. Every one of these theories has been debunked.
Yet as evidence by the BBC poll millions of Americans aren't convinced. And that's easy to understand. The American woods swarm with groups that fervently believe that government, corporate, or international groups busily hatch secret plots, and concoct hidden plans to wreak havoc on their lives. The Manchurian Candidate syndrome popularized in books and countless movies and TV shows has firmly implanted the notion that shadowy, government groups routinely topple foreign governments, assassinate government leaders, and brainwash operatives to do dirty deeds.
9/11 conspiracy theories have so easily infected the popular imagination for two other undeniable reasons. Government agencies, such as the FBI, CIA, Army intelligence, with the connivance of presidents, have often played fast and loose with the law and the rules of democracy. They have spied on, harassed, and jailed thousands of Americans from Communists to anti-war activists. The biggest, juiciest and most relentless target for government spymasters during the past decades has been African-American political groups from the moderate NAACP to the radical Black Panther Party and the Nation of Islam. A few years ago a fresh batch of publicly disclosed FBI documents showed that the agency waged a kinder, gentler, but no less illegal, spy campaign against Coretta Scott King. The sordid, relentless, and lethal campaign the FBI waged against her husband, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is well documented.
The other reason for the paranoia about 9/11 was the fury that many Americans had, and still have, toward Bush. Many Americans are still convinced the GOP hijacked the White House by rigging the votes in Florida in 2000, and repeated the ploy in Ohio in 2004. This makes it easy to believe that the government agencies will say and do anything to cover up, and shield wrongdoing, and misdirect Americans.
Bush, as other presidents that have got in hot water with the American people with their domestic and foreign policy fumbling, were hardly averse to beating the war drums and fanning national security jitters to boost their poll ratings, secure public allegiance, and increase their party's political standing. Bush at times did that with his well-timed, staged, and ultimately groundless incessant color-coded terror alerts. But bottom of the barrel poll ratings at the end of his term, the wholesale back turn millions of voters did on the GOP in the 2008 presidential election, the polls that show that a majority of Americans want out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and are squeamish over further erosion of civil liberties protections, are resounding proof that staging 9/11 to clamp a vise grip on power by Bush didn't work.
But, on the tenth anniversary of 9/11 the conspiracy theorists will again busily spin their well-worn 9/11 conspiracy myths. They will fall on fertile ground again because of the government official's long and at times disgraceful penchant for covering up and flat out lying to the public about their misdeeds, conduct and spying. This is enough to insure that 9/11 conspiracy fantasies remain alive and well today, and likely will remain alive for years to come.
Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is host of the weekly Hutchinson Report Newsmaker Hour on KTYM Radio Los Angeles streamed on ktym.com podcast on blogtalkradio.com and internet TV broadcast on thehutchinsonreportnews.com
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