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The 9/11 'Truth' Parlor Game

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Headlined to H2 1/15/11

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From Consortium News
It seems that I have upset some folks on the Left again, this time by mentioning -- deep inside a story about Sarah Palin's proclaimed victimhood over the Tucson massacre fallout -- that groups like the 9/11 "truthers" also have contributed to America's crazed political environment.

(Last October, I angered some on the Left by noting that the four previous examples of progressives trying to punish Democrats by sitting out elections or supporting third parties -- 1968, 1980, 1994 and 2000 -- didn't work out very well, either in the short- or long-term. I meant the piece to be a historical review of these tactics but it apparently touched some raw nerves.)

Similarly, my brief criticism of the "truthers" prompted a wave of angry e-mails and blog postings. In part, I was accused of showing inadequate respect for the "truther" research and was scolded for not delving deeply enough into the intricate arguments behind their claim that 9/11 was an "inside job."

But the truth is that I have devoted way more time to these preposterous notions than they deserve. And, since time is a zero-sum game, every hour wasted on this strange parlor game means that real crimes and government wrongdoing get neglected. Still, there may be lessons to be learned here, though not the ones the "truthers" would want.

In following the curious twists and turns of the "truther" movement over the past nine years, I have become concerned that the anti-empiricism which has long infected the American Right has now spread to some quarters of the Left (although I realize that many on the Left reject the "truther" allegations as nonsensical and that some on the Right have embraced them.)

Indeed, if you were to teach a course on sophistry, you might wish to make a case study of the "truther" movement, which has deployed nearly every imaginable example of false logic, from the use of endorsements as a substitute for evidence to insistence that any miniscule doubt on one side of an argument requires its rejection while even the thinnest possibility on the other must be accepted as serious, if not true.

This kind of evidentiary game-playing is what I had grown accustomed to in dealing with the neoconservatives, such as their exaggerations of foreign threats, from the 1980s (when Nicaragua's Sandinistas were a danger to the Panama Canal and Texas) through George W. Bush's presidency (over Iraq's WMD) and even to today (with worries about Iran's nuclear program).

For instance, when Vice President Dick Cheney and the neocons were arguing for war with Iraq, they insisted that even a one-percent possibility that they were right about Iraq sharing WMD with terrorists meant that their fear must be accepted as certainty, while the counterpoint that Iraq had no WMD had to be proven to some impossible 100 percent level. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com's "One Percent Madness."]

Using such imbalanced -- and irrational -- constructs, in effect, predetermine the outcomes, since you can never prove something to 100-percent certainty and there is always a chance for some one-percent feasibility on the other side. These loaded-dice arguments can lead nations into ill-conceived wars or persuade people of arguments that otherwise would be dismissed as crazy.

"Truther' Narrative

Though many "truthers" shy away from an explicit recounting of their presumed narrative -- favoring instead "poking holes" in the official story -- here is some of what they seem to believe:

Operatives working for President Bush wired 100-plus floors of the World Trade Center towers with explosives as well as the support structure of nearby Building Seven. They did all this -- a complicated process that would have taken a large team of experts weeks and would have required extraordinary access to the buildings -- without anyone seeing anyone doing any of this.

Then, when the two planes crashed into the towers on 9/11, Bush allowed them to burn for a while before deciding that the maximum psychological effect required that the buildings be brought down. So, the explosive charges were detonated remotely in sequential order from the top down.

After the fire and devastation spread next door to Building Seven, Bush's team also detonated explosives there to bring down that smaller tower, presumably with the motive of destroying government documents that were located in offices there.

Meanwhile, in Washington, a third plane was approaching the Pentagon. Passengers onboard made frantic phone calls describing the hijacking. Plus, since the Pentagon is not in some secret location -- it sits next to Interstate-395 and can be viewed from high-rises across the highway in Crystal City -- some hundred or so people reported seeing the plane head into the Pentagon.

Some of the plane's wreckage was strewn across the Pentagon grounds, and authorities later reported recovering the plane's black box inside the Pentagon. But "truthers" insist that no plane hit the Pentagon; that Bush's team attacked it with a missile.

However, nobody saw a missile. Nor would there be any way to explain the plane wreckage on the grounds, since nobody saw more Bush operatives driving around the Pentagon grounds planting fake pieces of the plane -- even as emergency personnel and others rushed to the crash site.

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http://www.consortiumnews.com

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Secrecy & Privilege: Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq, can be ordered at secrecyandprivilege.com. It's also available at more...)
 
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Many questions and uncertainties still remain abou... by sdk on Saturday, Jan 15, 2011 at 4:38:31 PM
We already knew from pre-9/11 reportage on Iran-Co... by Ron Brassfield on Sunday, Jan 16, 2011 at 10:57:54 AM
People who doubt the official story which seems to... by sdk on Saturday, Jan 15, 2011 at 4:39:38 PM
It is my understanding that the journalist respons... by cosmic J. on Thursday, Jan 20, 2011 at 8:32:41 AM
The author is obviously way off in his conclusi... by Bob Gormley on Saturday, Jan 15, 2011 at 5:04:07 PM
Nice of Parry to let it all hang out. A few observ... by Peter Duveen on Saturday, Jan 15, 2011 at 5:48:59 PM
Parry's reasoning regarding the collapse of the Wo... by Peter Duveen on Saturday, Jan 15, 2011 at 6:22:41 PM
You betcha! Like the observations of news anchors... by Ron Brassfield on Sunday, Jan 16, 2011 at 11:11:04 AM
Ha ha ha! I got it!... by Ron Brassfield on Sunday, Jan 16, 2011 at 11:41:39 AM
JFK assassinationanthrax-laced lettersKen Lay is d... by larry on Saturday, Jan 15, 2011 at 6:13:41 PM
I'm still waiting for some unhinged person to come... by J. Edward Tremlett on Saturday, Jan 15, 2011 at 7:04:33 PM
I wonder why?... by Bob Gormley on Sunday, Jan 16, 2011 at 3:18:16 PM
Someone has to be the carnivore at the vegan buffe... by J. Edward Tremlett on Monday, Jan 17, 2011 at 1:20:48 PM
Edgar!... by Ned Lud on Tuesday, Jan 18, 2011 at 9:41:55 AM
Some interesting points made by Robert here, howev... by Dwight on Saturday, Jan 15, 2011 at 9:04:41 PM
Except that with 9/11, there can be no "telling de... by Ron Brassfield on Sunday, Jan 16, 2011 at 11:40:29 AM
forget what you've been told and simply believe yo... by 911TRUTH on Saturday, Jan 15, 2011 at 11:25:48 PM
... which is the movement to support the D.L.C.'s ... by Ron Brassfield on Sunday, Jan 16, 2011 at 11:47:56 AM
The empirer has no clothes.Fires that melt steel?I... by zonie on Monday, Jan 17, 2011 at 6:23:59 PM
article that I don't know where to start.I'll just... by Charlene Richards on Saturday, Jan 15, 2011 at 11:59:09 PM
I'm always so pleased when I encounter anyone who ... by Ron Brassfield on Sunday, Jan 16, 2011 at 11:50:04 AM
...Mr. Parry, nothing but a shame.Thousands of exp... by Dave Hunter on Sunday, Jan 16, 2011 at 1:17:47 AM
Unlike the real hard evidence as provided by the P... by Ron Brassfield on Sunday, Jan 16, 2011 at 11:56:32 AM
like Mr. Parry that the then Solicitor General of ... by Charlene Richards on Sunday, Jan 16, 2011 at 12:30:32 PM
What utter bull coming from Parry. Everything he s... by Mac McKinney on Sunday, Jan 16, 2011 at 1:54:12 AM
Everything you said is right on. You are a man. In... by Ron Brassfield on Sunday, Jan 16, 2011 at 12:07:16 PM
Apparently, Mr. Parry was so busy studying sophist... by BaronVonRothschild on Tuesday, Jan 18, 2011 at 9:09:28 AM
Mr Parry, I urge -- nay -- challange you to sensi... by Michael McCoy on Sunday, Jan 16, 2011 at 3:45:11 AM
Let us not overlook compelling examples of determi... by Michael McCoy on Sunday, Jan 16, 2011 at 4:16:51 AM
And also for issuing this challenge, which I expec... by Ron Brassfield on Sunday, Jan 16, 2011 at 12:13:57 PM
I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus. But I won't tel... by Ned Lud on Sunday, Jan 16, 2011 at 5:58:46 AM
from the pentagon (85 cameras) and the surrounding... by sommers on Sunday, Jan 16, 2011 at 11:06:04 AM
Really. He's cool with it. As a coincidence theori... by Ron Brassfield on Sunday, Jan 16, 2011 at 12:16:45 PM
The author needs to actually examine the scientifi... by Karin Wells on Sunday, Jan 16, 2011 at 11:22:08 AM
... on Parry's part if he had continued to simply ... by Ron Brassfield on Sunday, Jan 16, 2011 at 12:40:54 PM
Unfortunately, just like with the JFK Warren Commi... by Bill Cain on Tuesday, Jan 18, 2011 at 11:08:41 AM
you play around them.We no longer need the msm, we... by LeftWright on Wednesday, Jan 19, 2011 at 8:56:41 AM
I'd like to agree with you, but consider this: Out... by Bill Cain on Wednesday, Jan 19, 2011 at 10:34:57 AM
As an intelligent woman who has researched the sub... by lila york on Sunday, Jan 16, 2011 at 12:50:00 PM
The article wasn't meant to shed any new light on ... by Bill Cain on Monday, Jan 17, 2011 at 9:22:29 PM
What I meant to say is that you SHOULD be offended... by Bill Cain on Monday, Jan 17, 2011 at 9:30:02 PM
it appears that Mr. Parry does.Other than that, ve... by LeftWright on Wednesday, Jan 19, 2011 at 9:00:11 AM
Robert Parry, like many others, has dug in his h... by mirek fatyga on Sunday, Jan 16, 2011 at 1:42:27 PM
Buildings Five and Six, directly in the path of mu... by Ron Brassfield on Sunday, Jan 16, 2011 at 3:21:15 PM
"These more extreme "truthers" started out with th... by Nick van Nes on Monday, Jan 17, 2011 at 1:27:01 AM
I've already taken up more bandwidth that I should... by Peter Duveen on Monday, Jan 17, 2011 at 9:38:05 AM
On page 3 we learn that Robert Parry actually has ... by Joe Giambrone on Monday, Jan 17, 2011 at 12:29:28 PM
Robert Parry's article smacks of government inside... by Dory in Havasu on Monday, Jan 17, 2011 at 12:41:08 PM
I didn't realize Sarah Palin claimed that "groups ... by McMicah on Monday, Jan 17, 2011 at 1:04:51 PM
It was Parry himself, in this article in which he ... by Maxwell on Tuesday, Jan 18, 2011 at 3:54:50 PM
When I Googled "Jared Loughner" and "9/11" the fir... by Maxwell on Tuesday, Jan 18, 2011 at 4:26:16 PM
It was Henry Kissinger first picked to head the 91... by John Reed on Wednesday, Jan 19, 2011 at 8:11:50 AM
It was the Jersey Girls (God Bless Them!) who over... by LeftWright on Wednesday, Jan 19, 2011 at 9:12:46 AM
Such as Dick Cheney's continued ownership of optio... by John Reed on Wednesday, Jan 19, 2011 at 2:52:02 PM
Poor Mr. Parry - he doesn't seem to know the diffe... by Paul Carline on Monday, Jan 17, 2011 at 2:08:42 PM
I can speak to the supposed oddity that no one has... by Jim Arnold on Monday, Jan 17, 2011 at 2:18:53 PM
I'm neither a truther nor a debunker. But there ar... by Paul Sedkowski on Monday, Jan 17, 2011 at 3:40:32 PM
Are you actually going to ask him to reconcile New... by LeftWright on Wednesday, Jan 19, 2011 at 9:31:04 AM
The shortest distance between two lies is facts. T... by Greg Campbell on Monday, Jan 17, 2011 at 4:08:49 PM
That's the counter-argument we always hear from th... by Bill Cain on Monday, Jan 17, 2011 at 4:28:10 PM
You don't need to replicate or reproduce anything ... by Bill Cain on Monday, Jan 17, 2011 at 4:40:05 PM
It amazes me how some just don't get it.... by Bob Gormley on Monday, Jan 17, 2011 at 5:06:35 PM
After some circumspection, I've concluded that the... by Bill Cain on Monday, Jan 17, 2011 at 5:25:51 PM
denial. Some folks just cannot process it....A co... by zonie on Monday, Jan 17, 2011 at 6:15:10 PM
Never under estimate the power of denial. Sometime... by Bill Cain on Monday, Jan 17, 2011 at 8:16:25 PM
I think that we can surmise that Mr. Parry has a c... by Ned Lud on Tuesday, Jan 18, 2011 at 9:30:33 AM
'Recommends' to ALL who commented here on behalf o... by Ned Lud on Tuesday, Jan 18, 2011 at 9:36:38 AM
How do you take stars away from those who continue... by Bill Cain on Tuesday, Jan 18, 2011 at 12:38:52 PM
Social and professional stigma resulting in percei... by Bill Cain on Tuesday, Jan 18, 2011 at 10:38:45 AM
I had the above photo as my computer desktop image... by Mike Zimmer on Wednesday, Jan 19, 2011 at 4:36:23 PM
My wife, when I showed it to her, said the same th... by Bill Cain on Wednesday, Jan 19, 2011 at 5:01:00 PM
... are like a stung, groggy fly trapped in a spid... by Ron Brassfield on Wednesday, Jan 19, 2011 at 7:39:12 PM
The evidence is overwhelming. Wake up!... by Bruce Cain on Monday, Jan 17, 2011 at 10:43:15 PM
You have not even acquainted yourself with the bas... by martin weiss on Tuesday, Jan 18, 2011 at 12:49:12 AM
the saying should be, 9/11 was an inside job... ... by sherry clark on Tuesday, Jan 18, 2011 at 6:30:28 AM
The central argument of any thinking "truther" is ... by Maxwell on Tuesday, Jan 18, 2011 at 12:42:20 PM
There have been many "Conspiracy Theories" thrown ... by Dennis Kaiser on Tuesday, Jan 18, 2011 at 1:01:41 PM
if they could do that....they can do it again...ex... by zonie on Tuesday, Jan 18, 2011 at 2:27:09 PM
It's not just "truthers" on the "Left" that are pi... by Techknowledgie on Tuesday, Jan 18, 2011 at 4:02:11 PM
I've just read all of the comments on this article... by Techknowledgie on Tuesday, Jan 18, 2011 at 4:14:06 PM
One of the things I've observed many times about 9... by Maxwell on Tuesday, Jan 18, 2011 at 4:19:27 PM
when you publish your next round of disinformation... by David Hodges on Tuesday, Jan 18, 2011 at 6:52:08 PM
Mr. Parry posted an update on his own site which h... by Ron Brassfield on Wednesday, Jan 19, 2011 at 5:27:42 AM