by Peter Robertson
There is a popular conspiracy theory that claims a group of nineteen radical Muslims, under the direction of a Saudi Arabian man hiding out in Afghanistan, nearly simultaneously hijacked four American airplanes and turned them towards their intended targets, with three of them successfully flying into the Pentagon and World Trade Center Twin Towers and the fourth crashing into the Pennsylvania countryside after passengers struggled to retake control of the plane. Despite serious questions and concerns about many of the details of this theory regarding what transpired on September 11, 2001, a significant number of Americans apparently believe that the theory is an accurate account of the events of that day. In fact, this conspiracy theory has been christened the “official story,” institutionalized by The 9/11 Commission Report and left largely unchallenged by public officials and the mass media. Ironically, those who dare challenge the veracity of this story are typically derided as “conspiracy theorists.”
My purpose below is to explain why the official conspiracy theory of 9/11 should not be taken seriously, and to demonstrate that aggregated evidence points to a very different and more disturbing conclusion regarding who planned and carried out the murderous acts that initiated the “war on terror.” To make this case, I will consider some of the reasons why it really couldn’t have happened the way the official version claims, along with additional evidence that this version does not take into account and can’t explain. Given that the official story doesn’t hold up well when confronted with the facts, I will provide information suggesting an alternative explanation of who was behind the 9/11 attacks and what their objectives were. Taken together, this information provides strong prima facie support for the conclusion that what transpired that day is different than what we’ve been led to believe. This may be why many Americans now doubt the official version and believe that our government is covering up the truth about 9/11.
Challenges to the credibility of the explanation of events as described in The 9/11 Commission Report start with the concerns expressed by those who actually served on the commission. They knew that military and intelligence personnel were misrepresenting facts and obstructing their investigation, that the commission largely operated based on political considerations and was set up to fail. It is telling that some top officials in the Bush administration refused to testify publicly regarding their knowledge about the circumstances surrounding 9/11, and President Bush and Vice-President Cheney agreed to talk to the panel only if they were together, behind closed doors, and not under oath! Former Georgia senator Max Cleland resigned from the commission after criticizing White House stonewalling over the release of relevant documents, pointing out that “(a)s each day goes by, we learn that this government knew a whole lot more about these terrorists before Sept. 11 than it has ever admitted.”
A closer look at some of the details of the official story further undermines its overall credibility. First, interesting information about the alleged hijackers raises questions about their true identity. To begin with, some of them were found to be still alive after 9/11, suggesting a case of stolen identity such that it isn’t possible to determine with any certainty who they really were. Reports of some of their activities suggest that they were not necessarily as devout as one might imagine for those about to sacrifice their lives due to their religious fanaticism. One hijacker in particular, Mohammad Atta, was apparently a much more cosmopolitan figure who lived with his American stripper girlfriend, loved to party, ate pork chops, was multilingual, and had an interesting global network including close European associates connected to the drug trade. Less than a week before 9/11, Atta and several other hijackers had visited one of the casino boats owned by Jack Abramoff, the lobbyist convicted for corruption for bribing members of Congress a number of years ago. This doesn’t sound like the behavior of men ready to die for their faith and/or hatred of American culture.
Another hijacker, Hani Hanjour, pulled off a nearly impossible feat, that is, if the official story is accurate. Three weeks prior to 9/11, it was clear to officials at a Maryland airfield that Hanjour didn’t even know how to fly a small Cessna airplane. However, after the diminutive Hanjour somehow took control of Flight 77 away from the pilot – a 6’4″ former Marine combat fighter pilot – and his co-pilot, and without any familiarity with the Boeing 757 or its instrument panel, he managed to turn the plane around, head straight for Washington, execute a 330-degree downward spiral through 7000 feet in about three minutes, and level out 20 feet above ground before smashing into the Pentagon between the first and second floors at 530 mph. The maneuver was so precise it led air traffic controllers at Dulles airport to conclude that the Pentagon was hit by a military plane rather than a commercial aircraft, and a number of aviation professionals have expressed their skepticism that an inexperienced pilot could have accomplished the feat.
Much of the information concerning what transpired on the four planes that day supposedly came from telephone calls placed by passengers to loved ones or to people from whom they were trying to get help. In fact, the notion that the hijackers were using box-cutters as weapons to control the flight crew and passengers came from a phone call that U.S. Solicitor General Ted Olson claims to have received from his wife, CNN commentator Barbara Olson. A number of other people on board the flights are believed to have placed calls using either their cell phones or the airplane’s seatback phones. However, analyses of these claims, including an examination of phone records, the availability of onboard phones, and the feasibility of using cell phones at high altitudes, suggest that it is unlikely that many of these calls were actually placed or connected. Moreover, while original accounts claimed that many of the calls were placed by cell phones, after growing public awareness that cell phones couldn’t be used successfully at high altitudes, a revised version of the official story indicated that most of the calls were actually placed using the onboard phones. For some people, changes in the official story over time also serve to undermine its credibility.
One of the more surprising parts of the official story is that there was such a complete failure of the air defense system of the greatest military on the planet, that it was unable to take any steps to prevent an attack on its own headquarters. Flight 77 was en route back towards DC for nearly an hour after it had been hijacked, yet the fighter jets scrambled to protect the nation’s capital didn’t arrive until 15 minutes after the Pentagon had been hit. On top of whatever bureaucratic barriers and communication challenges got in the way of an effective response that morning, another important factor was that an unusual number of military exercises – including some simulating airplane hijackings – were underway on the morning of September 11, 2001, leading to some confusion among air traffic controllers and military personnel regarding which incidents were real and which were simulations. The fact that the military was running exercises simulating an event that actually occurred at the exact same time would seem to be a remarkable coincidence.
If Hani Hanjour’s miraculous attack on an undefended Pentagon isn’t enough to question the accepted version of events, this story is considerably undermined by the fact that jet fuel does not burn hot enough to melt steel. Prior to 9/11, not a single steel-framed skyscraper in history had collapsed as a result of a fire, and that day there were presumably three of them. More generally, a large body of evidence aggregated by Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth makes it clear that the buildings at the World Trade Center could not have collapsed simply from the impact of the airplanes and subsequent fires. Instead, the evidence “supports the troubling conclusion that all three skyscrapers were destroyed in a process known as ‘controlled demolition,’ where explosives and/or other devices are used to bring down a building.” Numerous eyewitnesses, including firefighters and other first responders, reported a variety of explosions in the Twin Towers that cannot be explained by an airplane flying into the buildings, including William Rodriguez’ report of an explosion in the sub-basement of the North Tower even before the first plane hit the building. Molten metal burned under the rubble of the World Trade Center for weeks, and evidence suggests that thermite was likely used to melt through the steel beams and thus enable the buildings’ collapse.
Even if we accept the idea that, contrary to the laws of physics, airplanes flying into the buildings and the resulting fires led to the collapse of the Twin Towers, that still leaves Building 7 unaccounted for. It seems that many people are not even aware that a third building came crashing down that day, which is not surprising since its collapse was not addressed at all in The 9/11 Commission Report. Fires were burning in the building throughout the afternoon, presumably a result of damage done when the towers collapsed in the morning. At around 3:00pm, officials decided to establish an evacuation zone around the building in case it collapsed. According to eyewitness testimony, there was considerable certainty that the building was going to come down, as numerous first responders were warned in advance about this eventuality. Sure enough, at 5:20pm, the building collapsed into its own footprint in what looked exactly like a controlled demolition. Foreknowledge of the collapse apparently extended to the media as well, since CNN correspondent Aaron Brown reported on air at 4:15pm that Building 7 “has collapsed or is collapsing” and BBC correspondent Jane Standley likewise prematurely announced at 4:54pm that the building had collapsed; in both cases, the building was still visibly standing even as they declared that it had come down already. The obvious question that the official story ignores is, how did all these people know in advance?
Since a controlled demolition needs to be planned ahead of time, the inevitable conclusion here is that explosives had been planted in the WTC buildings at some point prior to 9/11. While it’s not clear how bin Laden’s boys could have pulled that off, there are reports that the power was shut off in at least part of the South Tower during the weekend prior to the attack, with unfamiliar men in work clothes walking around the building with tool boxes and cable during that time. An interesting point to note in this context is that the company in charge of WTC security at the time was Securicom (subsequently named Stratesec), which was also responsible for security at Dulles Airport, where Flight 77 originated. One of the directors of this firm up until 2000 was George Bush’s younger brother Marvin, and the CEO on 9/11 was Bush’s cousin Wirt Walker III. While this may be nothing more than another odd coincidence, the network of ownership and connections behind this company include links to Middle Eastern royalty, the intelligence community, and “banksters” involved in the financing of terrorism. In any case, the notion that Building 7 was destroyed intentionally by someone other than the hijackers is supported by the admission of Larry Silverstein, who controlled the WTC complex, that they made the decision on 9/11 to “pull” Building 7, vernacular for a controlled demolition.
“Lucky Larry” Silverstein is one place to begin looking for ulterior motives for destroying the WTC buildings, i.e., other than those associated with the terrorist goals of radical Muslims. Silverstein had had control of Building 7 since he developed and constructed it on the WTC site in 1985, and in the spring of 2001 he was negotiating with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to lease the Twin Towers and other buildings in the WTC complex. The lease was signed in July, just six weeks prior to 9/11, with Silverstein making a down payment of $125 million on the $3.2 billion deal. It was well known at the time that the towers were “dinosaurs,” badly in need of upgrades and remodeling which in turn were restricted by the presence of asbestos fireproofing that would require costly removal before any renovations could take place. The complete destruction of the towers quickly removed that problem for Silverstein, although the spread of asbestos through the air of lower Manhattan is undoubtedly contributing to the health problems occurring among those who lived or worked near Ground Zero in the aftermath of the attacks.
When the attacks occurred, Silverstein was still in the process of negotiating with 24 different insurance companies for $3.5 billion worth of coverage in case of any “catastrophic occurrences.” After the buildings were destroyed, he argued that each plane crash and subsequent building collapse constituted a separate catastrophe, and thus tried to get up to $7 billion of insurance payouts. While one jury ruled in his favor with regards to a few of the insurers, another jury concluded this claim was not valid for the rest of them, which had provided the bulk of the coverage. Ultimately, it was decided that Silverstein was entitled to about $4.6 billion as payment for the damage done to the WTC property. Since that wasn’t enough for him, however, he subsequently wanted to sue the two airlines involved in the 9/11 attacks, in an effort to get another $3.5 billion from them. However, a federal judge ruled against this, pointing out that state law prohibits “double recovery on the same loss.” Not surprisingly, Silverstein promised to appeal the ruling.
Silverstein’s efforts to get multiple billion-dollar insurance payouts for the same event may be nothing more than an attempt to work the system to maximize his own benefit, at worst a bit sleazy or greedy but not necessarily illegal. However, there is other evidence suggesting links between the events of 9/11 and some actual financial crimes. First is the mysterious story of the unusually large volume of “put” options for American Airlines and United Airlines stock that were purchased in the days leading up to 9/11, essentially signaling that someone was making a big bet that the stock price for those two companies would be going down in the near future. The prices did in fact drop after their planes were used in the attacks, by about 40 percent, with the result that whoever purchased the options stood to gain millions of dollars in profit.
To date, there has been no public identification of these profiteers, despite an investigation by the Securities and Exchange Commission. The SEC concluded that there was no evidence that anyone with advance knowledge of the attacks had traded on the basis of that information, and claimed that it was able to determine that any unusual trading was actually consistent with a legitimate trading strategy. In contrast, a detailed investigation into the matter makes a solid case in support of the premise that there was indeed some insider trading associated with 9/11. Former LAPD detective Mike Ruppert has examined the links between the banks involved in these suspicious transactions and members of the intelligence community, with the findings from this research described in his book Crossing the Rubicon.
While using insider information to profit from the attacks is certainly despicable, if not criminal, it is unlikely that the relatively small profits from these transactions provided the rationale for flying the planes into the buildings. A more credible explanation, though, is that the particular offices and personnel destroyed by the initial impact of the planes were directly targeted to help cover-up a much bigger financial swindle, if not international crime. A thorough effort by E.P. Heidner to “connect the dots” so as to better understand the events of that day leads to the conclusion that these offices “unknowingly held information which if exposed, subsequently would expose a national security secret of unimaginable magnitude. Protecting that secret was the motivation for the September 11th attacks.” In particular, the attacks were intended to cover-up the clearing of $240 billion dollars in securities that had been created covertly ten years earlier to fund a covert economic war against the Soviet Union. The WTC devastation also derailed multiple Federal investigations into other crimes associated with that covert operation.
While this is a long, complex story, the essence is that members of the Bush Sr. administration created the covert securities in 1991 as part of a plan to end the Cold War, destabilize the ruble, loot the Soviet treasury, and take over its energy and defense industries. In 2001, these securities were being kept in the vaults of brokers in the World Trade Center, and were scheduled to come due for settlement and clearing on September 12. This was problematic for the perpetrators since the securities were “off the books” and unaccounted for, probably illegal, and used as part of a major covert initiative with global implications. Three major securities brokers had offices in the WTC at the time, and the planes hit the buildings on the floors right below the offices of two of these brokers, Cantor Fitzgerald in the north tower and Eurobrokers in the south. With the flames from these explosions engulfing the brokers’ offices above, over 40 percent of the fatalities in the Twin Towers were from these two firms.
Because of the destruction and chaos, the Securities and Exchange Commission, for the first time in its history, invoked its emergency powers and, for the next 15 days, eased restrictions for clearing and settling security trades. This allowed the Government Securities Clearing Corporation to substitute other securities for the physical securities destroyed during the attack, specifying in particular that “collateral substitutions can and should be made with regard to immediately maturing collateral.” Heidner explains the consequences of this action: “At this point in time, the Federal Reserve and its GSCC had created a settlement environment totally void of controls and reporting – where it could substitute valid, new government securities for the mature, illegal securities, and not have to record where the original bad securities had come from, or where the new securities went – all because the paper for the primary brokers for US securities had been eliminated.” The net effect was to allow those who had profited from the secret use of the suspect securities to get away scot-free, with the American taxpayers picking up the bill for refinancing these securities.
Additional evidence bolsters the premise that the 9/11 attacks were carried out so as to preclude further investigation into this and other criminal activity. Heidner identifies nine different investigations into financial improprieties associated with bank accounts related to Bush’s covert Cold War operation that were in process at that time, claiming that records for many of these were being kept in Buildings 6 and 7 and in the FBI offices on the 23rd and 24th floors of the North Tower. Amongst many other reports of explosions in the towers before they collapsed, at least one account points to an explosion that destroyed those floors and whatever records were kept there. Building 6, which was also significantly damaged by an explosion at about the time the south tower was hit, housed offices for the U.S. Customs Agency and the El Dorado Taskforce, an interagency group investigating money-laundering activities. Building 7 housed offices for a number of relevant agencies, including the Securities and Exchange Commission, Internal Revenue Service, CIA, Department of Defense, and the Secret Service, all of which were destroyed when the building was “pulled.”
Another unit investigating these crimes was the Office of Naval Intelligence, which was part of the Naval Command Center housed at the Pentagon. Just a month before 9/11, the Naval Command Center had moved into a newly opened section on the west side of the Pentagon that had been under construction for almost two years. As it approached its target, Flight 77 not only passed by opportunities to crash into the White House or the U.S. Capitol, but also skipped the parts of the Pentagon housing the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the command centers of the U.S. armed forces. Instead, the plane made its remarkable approach to score a direct hit on the Office of Naval Intelligence, killing twenty-nine out of its thirty employees, nearly a quarter of the deaths at the Pentagon. Assuming that those responsible for the attack had been planning it for a couple of years, during which that segment of the Pentagon had been empty, it is reasonable to conclude that the attack on the new ONI office was deliberate.
Further consideration of who else died at the Pentagon adds weight to the argument that this location was specifically targeted in order to kill people and destroy information systems involved in the investigation of large-scale financial misconduct. Another unit hit by the attack was an Army office that lost 34 of its 45 employees, most of whom were civilian accountants, bookkeepers, and budget analysts. This is significant in light of the fact that, on September 10, literally the day before, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld acknowledged that $2.3 trillion of Defense Department transactions could not be tracked, i.e., they were unaccounted for. Rumsfeld’s response was to declare war: “The adversary’s closer to home. It’s the Pentagon bureaucracy.” Sure enough, the next day, some of those bureaucrats were eliminated, including many whose job it was to track Pentagon expenditures and manage the books and the budget. This juxtaposition of events is either a tragic irony, or Rumsfeld tipped his hand without anyone realizing it. Either way, the fact of the matter is that no one paid much attention to the missing trillions after 9/11, so who knows where all that money ended up and what purposes it served.
Taken together, the above evidence supports the notion that a significant purpose of the 9/11 attacks was to enable and cover up a variety of financial misdeeds – the millions made on insider trading, the billions involved in securities fraud, and the trillions siphoned off into the black hole of the military-industrial complex. President Eisenhower warned Americans of the growing power of this complex over 50 years ago, as he was ending his term after the election of John F. Kennedy. By the turn of the century, the defense industry and intelligence community had grown to an unmanageable size, with budgets continuing to increase despite the lack of accountability for these funds. As Naomi Klein describes in The Shock Doctrine, 9/11 provided immediate justification for the growth of the homeland security industry, with more and more taxpayer money being funneled to an increasingly privatized industry that profited immensely from the scale-up of military activities required to fight the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
One company that has made billions of dollars from the wars that resulted from the 9/11 attacks is the Carlyle Group. The Carlyle Group is a private equity firm that enables wealthy individuals to invest in the defense/homeland security industry. Founded by a former aide to President Carter, the firm really started to grow after it hired Frank Carlucci, who had been defense secretary in the Reagan administration and a former deputy director of the CIA. Given his many Washington connections, Carlucci was able to open doors that previously had been closed to the firm, enabling it to participate in more lucrative deals. In turn, Carlyle was able to attract a number of high-profile, high-power people to join the company. For example, former President George H. W. Bush, his Secretary of State James Baker, and former British Prime Minister John Major were employed to promote the company, by encouraging investments from their vast network of wealthy contacts as well as by using their influence to generate business for the defense firms in which they were invested. By the fall of 2001, Carlyle was thought to be the largest private equity firm in the world, and for the prior decade and a half it had generated a 34% rate of return on its investments.
An interesting facet of the Carlyle story is that members of the bin Laden family became investors in 1995, and Osama’s brother Shafiq was actually attending a Carlyle-sponsored investment conference in DC on September 11, 2001 along with Bush Sr. and Baker. The bin Laden family claims to have severed ties with Osama long before then, and they took their money out of Carlyle shortly after the attacks, but there remains something disconcerting about the fact that members of the Bush and bin Laden families were jointly investing in companies making weapons and military equipment, and presumably strategizing about future investments on the very day the war on terror began. The rapid scale-up of the homeland security industry that followed undoubtedly paid off handsomely for Carlyle and its investors. As the Guardian astutely noted less than two months after 9/11, “Carlyle has become the thread which indirectly links American military policy in Afghanistan to the personal financial fortunes of its celebrity employees, not least the current president’s father.”
The Economist was more blunt in its assessment of the situation. “The Carlyle Group is a godsend for conspiracy theorists who are convinced that the world is run by, and on behalf of, a shadowy network of wealthy men… You need not be a conspiracy theorist, though, to be concerned about what lies behind Carlyle’s success. Can a firm that is so deeply embedded in the iron triangle where industry, government and the military converge be good for democracy?” The Economist criticizes this “cronyism” and “access capitalism” and points to the inherent conflict of interest associated with Carlyle investors having access to private intelligence not available to other investors. But the real problem is not that the Carlyle crowd benefits from insider information about government policy; it’s the real possibility that government policy is being shaped to benefit Carlyle’s investors and the firms they own. The Economist even opined that “Carlyle arguably takes to a new level the military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower feared might ‘endanger our liberties or democratic process’.”
Of course, it’s not just the Carlyle Group, as there are other connections between government officials and companies that have profited from the homeland security industry. Vice-President Dick Cheney had strong ties to Halliburton, which has made a lot of money providing construction and support services to the American military as it has conducted the war on terror for the last thirteen years. According to a World Policy Institute report, a total of 32 executives, consultants, and major shareholders of weapons contractors were appointed to top policymaking positions in the Pentagon, National Security Council, Department of State, and Department of Energy after Bush first took office. In turn, contracts for the top ten weapons contractors were up 75 percent in the first three years of his administration. Ultimately, this nexus of politicians, corporate executives, financiers, and national security officials reflects the “money power” in action, and we should not be surprised that it continues to use war as a way to make money. As one observer put it, “There’s no business like war business!”
While the prospect of massive profits constitutes a viable motive for initiating the war on terror, there is reason to believe that the 9/11 attacks were actually part of a deeper, broader agenda being pursued by the neoconservatives holding influential positions in the Bush Administration. This “neocon” faction had been advocating for a stronger U.S. military position ever since Cold War hostilities with the Soviet Union had ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall. In 1997, a number of the neocons formed the Project for the New American Century (PNAC), a Washington-based think tank with ties to the American Enterprise Institute. This group released a brief Statement of Principles in June of that year advocating for American global leadership, starting with a significant increase in defense spending. PNAC then produced a report in 2000 entitled “Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century,” which articulated its basic ideology and outlined a strategy for accomplishing its desired objective: the establishment of a global order, a “Pax Americana,” with a secure foundation on unquestioned U.S. military preeminence. Arguing for a transformation of the American military to enable this domination and the extension of American hegemony into the 21st century, the PNAC report also recognized that such a transformation “is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.”
Once George Bush defeated Al Gore in the contested 2000 election and assumed the Presidency, a number of the members of PNAC took on important roles in his administration. These included Dick Cheney as Vice-President, Donald Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz as Deputy Secretary of Defense, Richard Perle as Assistant Secretary of Defense, Elliot Abrams as National Security Council Senior Director, and John Bolton as Undersecretary of State. In 2002, the White House released “The National Security Strategy of the United States of America” reflecting the same ideology as articulated in PNAC’s “Rebuilding America’s Defenses” and sometimes even using the same language to describe America’s envisioned role in the world. The difference this time was that, in the wake of 9/11, a “new Pearl Harbor” had provided all the necessary motivation and justification for pursuing the neocon’s agenda of global empire. And those wanting to achieve this goal now had the power and authority to implement their policy.
The invasion of Afghanistan constituted the immediate response to the attacks, consistent with the claim that Osama bin Laden was responsible and hiding out in the mountains and caves there. However, planning for the invasion of Iraq got underway immediately as well, and ultimately that war was sold to the public based on claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and was a supporter of terrorism. But as General Wesley Clark indicated, even these two wars were just part of a more ambitious agenda to “take out” seven countries in five years. The conclusion here is that all the military activity in which the U.S. has been engaged over the last 13 years is not actually a “war on terror” that is a reaction to and consequence of the 9/11 attacks. These are instead wars of empire dreamed of and planned by the neocons long before 9/11, and the events of that day simply provided a convenient pretext that readily garnered the necessary support of the American people. This may explain why President Bush repeatedly asserted that he saw 9/11 as an “opportunity” to pursue America’s foreign policy objectives.
A few additional aspects of the 9/11 story raise questions about what really happened that day. First, bearing in mind that bin Laden at one time was funded and supported by the CIA to organize and train the mujahideen to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan, there are intriguing reports that a CIA agent visited him in July of 2001 while he was in the American hospital in Dubai getting medical treatment. Second, the premise that the purpose of the war was to hunt down bin Laden in retaliation for 9/11 is challenged by the fact that he was not even put on the FBI’s “most wanted list” since there was no hard evidence linking him to the attacks; and rather than taking any credit, as one might think he would, bin Laden actually denied any involvement. Finally, there’s the odd admission by President Bush – not just once, but twice! – that he saw the first plane hit the tower on TV before going into a classroom in Florida to read a story to grade school children. Since this was a surprise attack, with no television cameras focused on the WTC at the time the first plane hit, it would have been impossible for Bush to see it live, unless of course he knew it was about to happen and someone somewhere was filming it real-time and sending the signal to the President.
It turns out there were some people filming the planes hitting the towers that morning, although there is no reason to think they had a direct feed to President Bush. Police received several calls that a group of men had been seen videotaping the burning towers and apparently celebrating the destruction. The FBI broadcast an alert asking surrounding police departments to be on the lookout for their vehicle, a white van with an Urban Moving Systems sign on back. The van had been seen in Liberty State Park across from Manhattan at the time the first tower was hit, and the men reportedly looked like they knew what was going to happen. It wasn’t until 4:30pm that the police finally spotted the van, which led to the arrest of its five occupants who identified themselves as Israeli citizens. Since the FBI believed that Urban Moving Systems was a front company for an Israeli intelligence operation, they got a warrant to search its offices, removing boxes of documents and a dozen computer hard drives. They ultimately concluded that at least two of the five men were Israeli intelligence operatives, but that “they probably did not have advance knowledge of 9/11.” On the other hand, after they returned home, a few of them appeared on an Israeli talk show to discuss their experience, with one of them acknowledging, “Our purpose was to document the event.”
These “five dancing Israelis” are not the only reason to suspect Israeli knowledge of, if not involvement in, the 9/11 attacks. To begin with, it is important to recognize that a number of the neoconservatives who filled important roles in the Bush administration are strong supporters of Israel, with many of them even being dual citizens. Prior to the PNAC report advocating for a military build-up to support America’s imperialistic ambitions, some of the same neocons wrote a report called “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm,” offering advice to newly-elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. This document urged the Israelis to aggressively seek the downfall of their neighbors, especially Iraq and Syria, and the neocons began pushing the U.S. government in the direction of war with Iraq soon thereafter. Once they took power in the Bush administration, and given the opportunity provided by their “new Pearl Harbor,” this faction was finally able to implement its plans for regime change in Iraq and broader warfare throughout the Middle East. But it is clear from an historical analysis that, while these wars were led by the United States, they had Israeli origins and their purpose was to advance the strategic interests of Israel. This may explain why, when asked the next day what the attack meant for relations between the U.S. and Israel, Netanyahu immediately replied, “It’s very good,” and years later acknowledged that the attack on the Twin Towers and Pentagon had been beneficial for Israel.
Given long-standing Israeli interest in destabilizing if not toppling the regimes of some neighboring countries, and a group of neoconservative American/Israeli dual citizens in the White House committed to a foreign policy intended to benefit Israel, the question is whether the 9/11 attacks might have been an Israeli operation disguised to look as though others were responsible. This practice is known as a “false flag operation,” dating back to a time when one ship would attack another flying the flag of its enemy so as to hide the true nature of the situation. Governments around the world have planned and/or carried out a large number of false flag attacks over the years, many of which were intended to provide a pretext for subsequent military action. One rather notorious example is the Israeli attack on the American naval vessel USS Liberty in 1967. While the Israelis apologized, saying it was a mistake, and the U.S. government essentially accepted their explanation and let the matter rest, some people still believe it was a false flag attack that Israel intended to blame on Egypt as a way to bring the U.S. into the Six Day War.
A number of researchers have come to the conclusion that Israel – in particular, its intelligence service Mossad– was also involved in the planning and execution of the false flag 9/11 attacks. For example, in his book Solving 9/11: The Deception that Changed the World, Chrisopher Bollyn details Israeli connections to a number of different aspects of the story, many of which are also covered at the crowdsourced website wikispooks.com. Nicholas Kollerstrom summarizes “seven pillars” of the argument that Israeli agents were involved, including the role of PNAC and the neocons, the story of the dancing Israelis, and Larry Silverstein’s links to pro-Israel organizations and to Netanyahu personally. He also points to the part played by a number of Israeli intelligence-espionage companies, as well as the active presence of an Israeli spy ring that was operating in the U.S. in 2001. Soon after the attacks, Justin Raimondo began reporting about these spies, who had been rounded up as persons “of special interest to the government” but then “expelled for routine visa violations,” i.e., quietly allowed to return to Israel, with the story subsequently “classified” by the government and ignored by the media.
Another of the pillars identified by Kollerstrom is “Zakheim and his missing trillions.” Dov Zakheim, the American/Israeli dual citizen who is credited with writing the line about the “new Pearl Harbor” in the PNAC report, was the Comptroller of the Department of Defense from May 2001 until March 2004, and thus the person in charge of the Pentagon’s finances when Rumsfeld announced that $2.3 trillion of defense spending could not be tracked. Even more intriguing is the fact that Zakheim had previously been an executive in a company called Systems Planning Corporation, which is a leading designer of airborne remote control technology. Based on careful analysis of video footage of Flight 175 hitting the south tower, and in light of the very precise maneuvering of both that plane and Flight 77 prior to making contact with targeted spots on the buildings, some people suspect that the planes involved in the attacks were being remotely controlled. Since Zakheim had access to a number of Boeing 767s, remote control technology, and the missing $2.3 trillion, it has been suggested that he is the real mastermind behind 9/11.
Ryan Dawson, in his lengthy video “War by Deception,” has compiled a thorough summary of information pertaining to events before, during, and after 9/11 that points to Israeli involvement. In a more recent analysis, Dawson suggests that further suspicion about Israel’s involvement in 9/11 stems from the reactions by some Congressmen to certain material included in a report jointly prepared by the House and Senate intelligence committees. Twenty-eight pages of this report, “Joint Inquiry into Intelligence Community Activities Before and After the Terrorist Attacks of September 11, 2001,” were sealed by President Bush and withheld from the public for national security purposes. The material can be read by any member of Congress, but they need to apply to do so and the reading takes place under very controlled conditions. After reviewing the material, former Sen. Bob Graham said he was “surprised at the evidence that there were foreign governments involved in facilitating the activities of at least some of the terrorists in the United States.” While it is generally believed that Saudi Arabia is one of those governments, the question remains as to which other(s) were providing some type of support.
Apparently, the identity of those governments is quite surprising. As Rep. Tom Massie reported, “This is sort of shocking when you read it…I had to stop every couple pages and just sort of absorb and try to rearrange my understanding of history for the past 13 years and the years leading up to that. It challenges you to rethink everything.” Rep. Walter Jones acknowledged that the redacted material has nothing to do with national security but instead talks about relationships in the international world, who we can trust and not trust. Like Massey, he said, “I was absolutely shocked by what I read. What was so surprising was that those whom we thought we could trust really disappointed me.” Sworn to secrecy, they cannot say anything more specific about the report, but it is telling that, after the Senate voted 100-0 to provide more money to Israel to fund its Iron Dome defense system, both Massie and Jones voted against the bill in the House even though they had previously supported Israel. Jones is also the author of a bill urging President Obama to declassify the 28 pages. As he put it, “There is no democracy, there is no republic, without the American people knowing the truth about 9/11.”
At a minimum, continued restrictions on the redacted material demonstrate that the U.S. government, as Dawson concludes, is involved in “the whitewash and cover-up of information implicating knowledge of and assistance for the 9/11 hijackers by foreign governments while they were in the United States.” While it is possible that government officials did not know about this support until after the fact, two alternatives suggesting greater complicity are viewed as more likely by investigators of 9/11 truth. One option is that at least some people in the Bush administration knew that the attacks were going to occur and essentially let them happen. The other is that key people such as Cheney, Rumsfeld, Zakheim, and Wolfowitz were more proactively involved in the planning and/or execution of the attacks, helping to create the new Pearl Harbor event needed to mobilize the country for the wars intended to secure Middle East oil and American hegemony.
The question of whether or not the U.S. government was complicit in the 9/11 attacks was addressed by David Ray Griffin in his book, The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11. Griffin is a Professor Emeritus at the Claremont School of Theology, who began investigating this issue in the spring of 2003 after a colleague shared with him some relevant information throwing suspicion on the official story. Prior to that point, as Griffin explains, “It seemed to me simply beyond belief that the Bush administration – even the Bush administration – would do such a heinous thing. I assumed that those who were claiming otherwise must be ‘conspiracy theorists’ in the derogatory sense in which this term is usually employed – which means, roughly, ‘crackpots’.” However, it didn’t take him long to realize that there was a strong prima facie case for the contention that “the attacks must have resulted from complicity in high places, not merely from incompetence in lower places.” His initial intention to write a magazine article summarizing this evidence ultimately resulted in a book-length manuscript so as to provide what he thought would be “an intelligible account that would do justice to the evidence that has been provided by these researchers.”
Griffin, of course, is not the only scholar who has reached the conclusion that the official story is false and/or that government complicity is a much more viable explanation. Likewise, a number of high-ranking government officials and military officers have expressed their belief that the truth about 9/11 is different than what we have been led to believe. Thus, it is clear that being a conspiracy theorist in this case is a rather reasonable response to the accumulation of information pointing to the conclusion that the 9/11 attacks were a covert operation probably orchestrated by CIA/Mossad personnel and likely with the knowledge of at least some high-level U.S. government officials. In short, the data support the theory of a government conspiracy, or probably more likely, a conspiracy orchestrated by what some call the shadow government.
A lengthy report providing an impressive summary of this evidence concludes that “(t)here is a whole matrix of information pointing to U.S. Government involvement in the planning and execution of September 11th.” It goes on to suggest that, because of our emotional investment in the collective myth of the official story, Americans are essentially living in denial, much like families work very hard to deny, ignore, and suppress the truth about an abusive parent. The cognitive dissonance associated with confronting the facts about 9/11 generates fear and anxiety that many people would prefer to avoid; consideration of an alternative explanation of these events can constitute a disconcerting challenge to fundamental beliefs about the world. While many individuals have faced these fears and opened up to an alternative perspective, we remain unable to do so as a country – collectively, publicly – such that those who challenge the official narrative or call for further investigation are still readily derided as kooky conspiracy theorists.
There are signs, however, that this may finally be changing, as a result of concerted efforts by those in the 9/11 truth movement who are taking steps to expose the public to relevant facts and thereby shape public opinion. Richard Gage, one of the founders of Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, has been a leading figure in this movement, and it is noteworthy that C-SPAN broadcast a 40-minute interview with him last fall in which his information was presented as credible rather than crazy. The ReThink911 organization generated considerable media attention in 2013 through its ad campaign drawing attention to the sudden collapse of Building 7. It purchased large blue and orange billboards in major cities in the U.S., Canada, England, and Australia, including a huge sign in Times Square that was seen by millions of people in September and October. In Canada, ReThink911 has worked to get a petition presented in the House of Commons “calling on the government of Canada to conduct a parliamentary review into the events that occurred in the United States on September 11.” The truth movement also includes hundreds of 9/11 survivors and victims’ family members whose collective voice provides a powerful and legitimate critique of the official story and call for further investigation.
The truth about 9/11 seems to be diffusing, slowly but surely, with the result that the walls are crumbling down around the official story. It is anyone’s guess how this continued revelation will play out, but one intriguing possibility is that Russia’s President Putin has concrete evidence, including satellite imagery, confirming that the U.S. government is lying about the attacks and guilty of a cover-up. Taking into account all the information that Edward Snowden presumably has with him in Russia, one report suggests that the “existence of this extraordinary cache of NSA evidence documenting criminal activity conducted at the highest levels of government has empowered Russia to reveal 9/11 Truth with unimpeachable authority.” Given the conflict between the U.S. and Russia associated with the coup and subsequent hostilities in Ukraine, the idea that Putin is threatening to expose information about 9/11 as part of a broader power struggle between the two countries certainly seems credible.
As the true story about 9/11 continues to be revealed, a key question is how the American people – and the people of the world more generally – will react to the knowledge that they have been lied to and that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and throughout the Middle East have been based on false pretenses. It is easy to anticipate that many people will feel betrayed, and justifiably angry, with a deep desire to seek revenge on those who are responsible for the murder of thousands of Americans on 9/11 and untold numbers in the wars that have been waged since. While it will be appropriate to identify the true perpetrators and hold them accountable, a danger is that the desire for retribution will engulf the nation in a McCarthyesque witch hunt that tries to root out every individual who had any suspicious association to the events and circumstances of that day. While that might assuage our collective desire to see justice served, it could distract us into a preoccupation with what is already past that precludes adequate attention to the many problems we face now and in the future.
Thus, a more enlightened perspective suggests that disclosure of 9/11 truth could provide an unprecedented “opportunity for institutional and societal transformation” as people “realize the pervasive and palpable need to start over” that could “spark a renaissance in thinking and in ‘doing right’ everywhere.” Collective recognition and acceptance of the facts behind 9/11 will necessitate a re-evaluation of America’s role in the world and would justify a dramatic shift in foreign policy, away from our imperialistic efforts to establish a hegemonic “new American century” and towards becoming a collaborative partner in a more balanced, multipolar world. By taking responsibility for our actions, apologizing to the rest of the world, and demonstrating a new commitment to global freedom and equality, the American people can transform the terror of 9/11 into a tremendous opportunity to help humanity move into a new era of peace and reconciliation. If that were to happen, those who died as a result of the lies will not have lost their lives in vain.
The opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not reflect in any way those of the USC Bedrosian Center.