Initially I preferred to keep silent about the 9/11 Truth Movement, to not be diverted from my issue. I've been associated with the China Support Network, being its founder, and in recent years, I give my speeches in that vein exclusively. That means, I have a cause and I don't need a spare cause, nor a soapbox, nor a reason to be known in the public discourse, where I've contributed since 1980. My 9/11 article is written, not oral; in any public appearance, I remain on the China issue. The article is volunteered and not sponsored; I simply think it fair to have the question, "What happened on 9/11?", and to have the indicated investigation that is genuine and impartial, rather than a whitewash. Read on, to where I suggest a role for Glenn Beck and Bill O'Reilly.
Recently, Rosie O'Donnell raised the issue of 9/11 Truth, questioning how one or more of the buildings fell in New York City on September 11, 2001. Also, actor Charlie Sheen has come out with his own questions and concerns about what happened that day, and we've learned that he will narrate an updated version of Loose Change, a documentary that questions the official story of 9/11. This led to mentions on television by Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck, top conservative commentators who seem to have replaced George Will and Bob Novak. (Note to youngsters: The latter were leading conservative commentators in the post-Watergate period. What's Watergate? Check Wikipedia.)
I cannot be counted a fanatic on the issue of 9/11 truth. I do my share of writing, publishing, and speaking; and, but for one related blog post, this is my first article on the subject. The standard that I would like to uphold is truth, period -- something that all should care about, and that journalists in particular should be finicky to discern and record accurately. The field of journalism at least bills itself to be concerned about non-fiction and a first draft of history. I believe that non-fiction and truth are synonyms, and that to sweat these details ought to be right up the alley of U.S. journalists.
Imagine if you will a bumper sticker that says: "Pearl Harbor: Roosevelt Knew." In the 1940s, there were many very staunch, patriotic citizens, who likely had full faith in their President Roosevelt (FDR) and for whom our hypothetical bumper sticker may hurt, or sting deeply. The sticker could be rejected on the simple basis that it is alien to the world view, held by those observers, of FDR as an upright and above-board U.S. President. More recent research, however, has convinced many historians that the sticker is indeed accurate. I believe that even our mainstream commentators have allowed the same, so that we now have an accepted view of history, to wit that Roosevelt had foreknowledge of the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor. If so, then the truth behind Pearl Harbor becomes LIHOP -- Let It Happen On Purpose.
The above paragraph does NOT prove anything about 9/11. If people make bumper stickers saying, "9/11: Bush Knew," then they still must make their case. For those who assert provocatively, there is an onus or a burden of proof. Words are not "more true" on a bumper sticker, and "less true" elsewhere. The standard of proof is not in the placement of the words. However, I believe and would stand behind a bumper sticker that said: "Tiananmen Square: Bush Knew." (That refers to the elder President Bush, who gave a nod and a wink to Chinese leaders before their troops went to Tiananmen Square. Chinese leaders MIHOP -- Made It Happen On Purpose.)
For those who are toying with the possibilities, alternate explanations for 9/11 include (a.) "we were surprised -- they got one by us (totally innocent);" (b.) "we were warned, but we failed to connect the dots (totally incompetent);" (c.) LIHOP (partial inside job, partially sinister); and (d.) MIHOP (an inside job, totally sinister). The official explanation has already migrated, since the early days, from (a.) to (b.). Perhaps one reason why I've avoided 9/11 Truth as a topic is due to its parallel with rejecting the "Roosevelt knew of Pearl Harbor" thought, as above. Explanations (c.) and (d.) for 9/11 entail the culpability of someone in our own government. It is alien to the world view that the U.S. Government protects Americans. In this case, Americans were harmed by perpetrators who were clearly evil, and it is harsh -- indeed anguishing -- to contemplate the case if it were that the hand of evil was partly domestic. Culpability within our own government would make 9/11 the crime of the century.
I will not take up the job of re-iterating the case that's been made by the 9/11 Truth Movement. But, increasing numbers of questions have been uncovered, and the awareness of prior warnings, given to the U.S. government in advance, has increased. The number of warnings reported has risen since the early days -- the immediate aftermath of 9/11. This means that we know more now, than previously. For brevity, I'd care to focus on three points that I'll call, "Tip-off #1, Tip-off #2, and The Nub Of The Matter."
To me, Tip-off #1 is a point that I earlier blogged: "It seems ridiculously implausible that the FBI tracked down 19 mug shots of 19 hijackers, and got that to the news media the same day as the attacks! Again, without inside knowledge, but with general awareness of the working world, how it goes, and what's plausible -- I look at that, and I say to myself, 'prepared slide.'" Each airplane had more than five passengers. Full investigation took less than a day, and the FBI knew precisely who among the passengers was "in" and "out" of the conspiracy. This was reported with certitude the same day, and the official slide with the 19 men remains an enduring memory, seared in there without additions or deletions. (Where we might have expected a developing story, the slide did not change, although some of the hijackers were reported to be alive and well, still living in the Middle East.) The mere fact that the FBI had those 19 mug shots "tips off" their prior familiarity with these men.
Tip-off #2 is a recent point. In late February, 2007, the 9/11 Truth Movement released BBC video from 9/11, in which the BBC reported that building seven had collapsed IN ADVANCE. That is to say that the building was still standing while the BBC reported the demise of the building. The timing of their story was off. Half an hour later, the building came down and "got on the page." It seems that Aaron Brown over at CNN made a similar report, that the building was toast before it was in fact toast. 9/11 was certainly a day of "on the ground" events happening. But Tip-offs #1 and #2 each strongly suggest that 9/11 was also a day of news being spoonfed by the media. The early report of building seven collapsing (at BBC and CNN) was not from eyewitnesses on the ground. The faulty information had to come from somewhere (A prepared plan? A press release?) other than eyeballs on the scene. Where did the media get this information, and who was spoonfeeding it to them?
Let's move to the nub of the matter. Many in the 9/11 Truth Movement are screaming that controlled demolition brought the buildings down. The original designs and plans for the World Trade Center were meant to withstand a jetliner impact, although we can admit that the designs probably contemplated earlier planes and less jet fuel. Hence, I believe that the towers natively would have withstood impact from a circa 1970 Boeing 737, and that the real difference in the case of 9/11 was "all that jet fuel." The official explanation of 9/11 hinges on the idea that "all that jet fuel" brought the towers down. (And, in my view, the official explanation cannot explain the fall of building seven, which did not even have an airplane impact.)
What's true is this: jet fuel has a particular temperature at which it burns, and steel has a particular temperature at which it melts. These are empirically measurable, so there need not be different melting points for liberals, conservatives, mainstreamers, and "loony wack job internet conspiracy theorists." It is America's chronically-lame news media that is so quick to be so judgmental -- or at least, it was Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck who, on their shows, seemed to circle the wagons for "mainstream thinking" -- at the expense of others, who were the recipients for name-calling and ad hominem attacks. (Note to youngsters: Ad hominem or "to the man" attacks never prove anything. If person A says that "X is true," and then person B says "Yah well, A is a Communist," that does not prove that X is false. X will be true or false, independently of whether A is a Communist. Even Communists can say true things --so really, personal details about A are irrelevant to X.)
In their recent televised statements, O'Reilly and Beck "took sides," fulfilling their (God-given? Bush-given?) roles as defenders of "official truth." And, it seems to me, this taking of sides was in the absence of kicking the tires or full investigation. (An entire separate article could be made with the reservations about the 9/11 Commission.) If we actually cared to get to the bottom of 9/11, I believe that we would measure the temperature of burning jet fuel, and the melting point of structural steel. I've never done it personally, so perhaps I could still join Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck -- I do not know the outcome of the test that I propose. (Are there published specifications that state these two temperatures? Yes, but the 9/11 Truth Movement is where arguments have broken out over empirical data. One side or the other might warn me against trusting a high school chemistry book, so I am now too skeptical for any approach that cannot "show me." It remains true, for me, that seeing is believing.)
I want to see a test in which they try to melt steel with jet fuel. While I personally lack a handy supply of either, there are 50 State Governors who could order their National Guard to undertake this test (and, if Fox and CNN want to save their credibility, they could fund this test). A vat of jet fuel should be prepared, perhaps sunken into the ground as in a foundation or a back yard swimming pool. A steel girder meeting the same specifications as WTC columns should be placed across this vat. I don't require a re-creation of the towers; just one girder. For good measure, one could place a heavy weight like a wrecking ball atop the girder. Then simply ignite the vat and let the jet fuel burn. Show me that jet fuel can melt steel. Here, I have devolved the case to a test of an empirical nature with a boolean outcome: the test either will, or will not, melt the steel. If it will, then I will be more ready to believe the official story. If it will not, then "Houston, we have a problem," and a full explanation of 9/11 must then involve more effort to bring down the towers; more than merely the thought of letting the jet fuel burn to do its thing.
What's notable about America's news media has been its LACK of inquiry, curiosity, and skepticism. As one of the biggest atrocities against Americans on our own soil, 9/11 should logically be the MOST deserving of investigation, skepticism, and critical inquiry. O'Reilly and Beck share that "oh so certain" quality of the suave, sophisticated media announcers who read the news from Easy Street, while truth-seekers are derided for being "out of the mainstream." How sure are they, really? How will they react to my proposal of this test? Are they just smoothies who are putting one past the public? This test could tell us the answer, and for one more requirement: --I want it to be Bill O'Reilly or Glenn Beck who presses the button to ignite the jet fuel. Either the girder, or their credibility, will become toast.