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9-11 20th Anniv. Retrospective, II: 'The Conspiracy Theories that Surround it and What is Patriotism'

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"Either this nation shall kill racism, or racism shall kill this nation." (S. Jonas, August, 2018)

9-11 Memorial.
9-11 Memorial.
(Image by Wikipedia (commons.wikimedia.org), Author: 9/11 Memorial and Museum)
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Introduction: This is the second part of a three-part retrospective series of selections from the set of articles that I have published over the years on this topic. The series is being published now, in 2021, in remembrance of that awful day, 9-11-2001, on the three days leading up to that 20th anniversary, Sept. 8, 9, and 10. The original version of the column below was published on the webmagazine of the time, BuzzFlash at Truthout, on Sept. 24, 2010*. It is slightly edited for reproduction in this space. The question of "what is patriotism" was being raised on various sites at the time, especially in the context of a) the BushWars on both Afghanistan and Iraq (continued, of course, too a greater or lesser extent by Pres. Obama), and b) the variety of conspiracy theories that were being bruited about to explain the events of that day. This is, of course, my response to that question and its follow-ups.


The 9/11 remembrances and memorials seem to have come and gone very quickly this year (2010), except to the extent that the GOP/Tea-Party led campaign for Islamophobia had gained strength and will continue on, to what ends and endings no one at this point can say with certainty. But the 9/11 controversy has not gone away, that is, the controversy over what were the real causes of the disaster. It will not, at least, it would appear, until there is another investigation of the tragedy bringing in many more witnesses and testifiers from many different points of view and perspectives with an opportunity to raise so many questions that have yet to be answered and to offer for consideration scientific evidence about cause and effect that was not considered in the first investigation. (See below for a lengthy list of prominent government officials who would support [or would have supported] such an effort.)

What we know for sure is that the tragedy was caused by a group of conspirators working closely together, operating at a level of secrecy that few, if any, of their kind had ever been able to achieve in mounting an attack of such large proportions. And it was the result of a conspiracy, that is according to the World English Dictionary, "a secret plan or agreement to carry out an illegal or harmful act, esp. with political motivation; plot." For a significant number of observers, the question remains: whose conspiracy was it and who were the conspirators. At the beginning the finger pointed at Osama bin Laden. After all, President Bush had been warned by the CIA on August 5, 2001 that Osama was determined to carry out an attack in the United States. So, that conspiracy theory goes, bin Laden pulled together 20 Muslims, mainly Saudis, who were willing to die for the cause (whatever that cause happened to be, a question which still does not have an agreed-to answer). They then managed to get themselves trained to do some major kinds of complicated flying in large, complicated airliners. And you know the rest.

As it happens, there are a whole bunch of conspiracy theories about how what happened happened to happen, and who on fact pulled together, and then pulled off, the whole thing. Osama bin Laden planned it, financed it, staffed it, and then managed to manage it from half-way around the world in the mountains of Afghanistan. The Israelis did it. Bush and Cheney managed it. Cheney managed it without involving Bush. Some Neocon grouping that no one has ever heard of, before or since, managed somehow to create the "New Pearl Harbor" that the Project for the New American Century was already calling for/hoping for publicly in the 1990s. The Twin Towers were brought down not by the aircraft that hit them but by explosives pre-planted by --- well, by you name them. Building 7, not hit at all, came down in a free-fall caused by, well you name it. Or not. So, it's not really that there's one "set of facts" and then a bunch of conspiracy theories. In fact, every possible cause, including that set forth by the 9-11 Commission Report, would be the result of one conspiracy or another. But somehow, on the GOP/Tea-Party/Right, stated loudly and clearly during the 9/11 remembrances each year, and in particular during the Campaign for Islamophobia, anyone who didn't support the particular Bush/Cheney/9-11 Commission Conspiracy Theory was "not a patriot." We'll come back to this point.

I published my first columns on the subject of 9/11 on the old "The Political Junkies.net" on June 3 and 24, 2004. In them I speculated that the WTC attack would be for the Bush Administration what the "Reichstag Fire" had been for Hitler and the Nazis. (Those articles are no longer available on-line. It happens that on the 15th anniversary of "9-11" I published an article on the relationship between the two events on The Greanville Post, click here)

Returning to the politics of the time, I noted that in 2001: a) the Republicans knew that their man didn't really win (except 5-4 in the Supreme Court), and further, that in terms of the popular vote he was a minority President (a fact the media have completely ignored); b) their guy was considered to be a weakling; c.) there was a recession underway; d) they had lost control of the Congress through the defection to the Democrats by Sen. Jeffords of Vermont. Since that was the political reality of the time, none of their programs, from energy/environmental policy (favoring the petrochemical industry, of course) to more tax-cuts for the wealthy and the large corporations, and not much else, were going through. So, the Republicans had a major to-do list, to meet their political and economic needs. It included:

A) In the mind of the public (or at least the Republican public) replacing a weak chief executive with a strong one, either literally or functionally; B) Finding an excuse for the recession that was then underway, so that it didn't get blamed on this Bush and the Republicans, as was the last one (different Bush, of course); C) Bypassing or having a compliant Congress on measures that were important to them, since they couldn't possibly win votes on stuff like invading Afghanistan to secure a route for the oil pipeline from the Caspian to the Arabian Sea through Pakistan, or securing major, retroactive tax cuts for the large corporations, or trashing the environment on their own; D) Being able to ignore the judiciary which, despite their best efforts since the Reagan years, still had some judges who knew what the Constitution is, e.g., the one who put a stay on then-Attorney General Ashcroft's repeal-by-decree of the Oregon law permitting people control over the end of their lives; E) Giving the President the possibility of presiding over a "permanent war" against terrorism. Hmm. Some motivations to "do something," no.

So tons of questions about the officially accepted conspiracy theory (the one from the 9-11 Commission Report) have been raised. I will not go through all of them here. I will just raise a few of my favorites (none of which have anything to do with pre-set explosives; the physicists and engineers can deal very well with those), in no particular order of importance. Why has there never been an investigation of the Pentagon bombing? What about that 16 ft. in diameter symmetrical hole in an interior Pentagon wall with no surrounding wreckage of which there is (or at least was) photographic evidence? According to the official conspiracy theory it was made by a hollow aluminum tube that managed to penetrate not just one reinforced Pentagon wall but two.

What was Bush thinking for the famous seven minutes that he continued to sit in front of the class to whom he had been reading a story? Let's see: "Ohmigod, they never told me being President meant having to deal with this kind of thing." "Ohmigod, Osama hinted at stuff and we knew it, but he never let on that he had something like this in mind?" "Ohmigod, how did Cheney manage this one?" Whatever he was thinking, why did Bush label it a "terrorist" attack right away, after the first plane hit, before there was a scrap of real evidence that it was? Why were various bin Ladens et famille flown out of the country during the three-day period following the disaster when US airspace was totally shut down, without being questioned by the FBI? Why were Bush and Cheney not interviewed separately by the Commission and why were they not required to testify, singly or as a two-some, not under oath? Why did Bush oppose the establishment of any Commission so vigorously? Why was the WTC wreckage removed by the direct order of New York City Mayor Giuliani before forensic examination of it could occur? N And so on and so forth.

As to folks much more important than I who have raised their own serious questions about the Commission Report and findings, the list includes (thanks to Allen Roland, Ph.D., weblog and website and email of 9/12/10): 9/11 Commission co-chair Lee Hamilton; 9/11 Commissioner Timothy Roemer; 9/11 Commissioner Max Cleland (who resigned under protest from the Commission when its scope of inquiry was being limited; 9/11 Commissioner Bob Kerrey; Senior Counsel to the 9/11 Commission (John Farmer; Daniel Ellsberg; 27-year CIA veteran Raymond McGovern (who handled National Intelligence Estimates); 29-year CIA veteran, former National Intelligence Officer (NIO) and former Director of the CIA's Office of Regional and Political Analysis William Bill Christison; CIA Operations Officer Lynne Larkin; decorated 20-year CIA veteran Robert Baer; Division Chief of the CIA's Office of Soviet Affairs Melvin Goodman;, Co-Chair of the Congressional Inquiry into 9/11 and former Head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Bob Graham; Senator Patrick Leahy; Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich; Republican Congressman Jason Chafetz; former Democratic Senator Mike Gravel; former Republican Senator Lincoln Chaffee; former U.S. Democratic Congressman Dan Hamburg; and former U.S. Republican Congressman and senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, Curt Weldon. All of the above people have all raised serious questions about the official conspiracy theory, as have many other current and former intelligence and law enforcement operatives.

And finally getting to the "patriotism" question. Just what is it, in general. And specifically in relation to "9-11" and "just what happened, really." Well, there's the GOP/Tea-Party/Right-wing telling us that anyone who challenges in any way the official Bush/Cheney 9/11 Commission conspiracy theory is not a patriot. Golly gee. According to them, accepting the official Bush-Cheney-Republican line is "patriotism." Anything else just isn't, donchaknow. Well, in basic terms, patriotism can be defined as love of country and devotion to its best interests. Would not one think that the patriotic thing to do is to answer all of the lengthy list of questions presented above? Hey, maybe the official conspiracy theory is the correct one. But shouldn't that be proven to just about everyone's satisfaction? Isn't it unpatriotic not to and let the suspicions fester, on and on? Well, to this old-fashioned patriot, the answer to that last question is "yes." And maybe someday there will be some true patriots in high enough places to get at those answers.


* This original version of this column was published on BuzzFlash/Truthout on 09/24/2010, http://blog.buzzflash.com/jonas/204

(Article changed on Sep 09, 2021 at 8:59 PM EDT)

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Steven Jonas, MD, MPH, MS is a Professor Emeritus of Preventive Medicine at StonyBrookMedicine (NY). As well as having been a regular political columnist on several national websites for over 20 years, he is the author/co-author/editor/co-editor of 37 books Currently, on the columns side, in addition to his position on OpEdNews as a Trusted Author, he is a regular contributor to From The G-Man.  In the past he has been a contributor to, among other publications, The Greanville PostThe Planetary Movement, and Buzzflash.com.  He was also a triathlete for 37 seasons, doing over 250 multi-sport races.  Among his 37 books (from the late 1970s, mainly in the health, sports, and health care organization fields) are, on politics: The 15% Solution: How the Republican Religious Right Took Control of the U.S., 1981-2022; A Futuristic Novel (originally published 1996; the 3rd version was published by Trepper & Katz Impact Books, Punto Press Publishing, 2013, Brewster, NY, sadly beginning to come true, advertised on OpEdNews and available on  (more...)

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