Keith's NO EMPIRE Blog

A radical dissident perspective on various topics. Comments welcome at

Wednesday, November 15, 2006


A specter haunts the peace and justice movement. It is the growing power, influence and visibility of a faction of the anti-war movement that is aggressively promoting a truly bizarre version of the events surrounding 9/11. Well-funded and well-organized, this group both saps the strength of rational resistance and taints the entire movement by association. Their fundamentalist certitude regarding wildly improbable scenarios suggests a certain cult mentality. Like creationists and global warming skeptics, they have recruited a few PhDs to provide a veneer of pseudo credibility to their delusions.

Let us discuss the two primary 9/11 conspiracy assertions: the twin towers collapsed due to a controlled demolition of explosive charges set off by government agents, and the Pentagon was struck by a missile fired by the military, not by the hijacked airplane.

Let us begin by noting that prior to 9/11 various neocons in various writings had advocated reshaping American policy in a more militaristic direction towards preemptive war and overt empire. They lamented that this would be a slow process unless a new Pearl Harbor provided an impetus for accelerated action. Clearly, the Bush administration provided ample warning that they would exploit such an "opportunity," and provided sufficient hints for astute managers to conclude that such an event would not be unwelcome. There are reports of numerous warnings being ignored. Under these circumstances, I think it is reasonable to conclude that the government was extremely lax (criminally negligent?) in preventing the 9/11 attacks, and should be held accountable. To maintain, however, that the government was directly involved in the terrorist hijackings is to engage in unsubstantiated wild speculation. Yet, as anyone familiar with black propaganda in general and Operation Northwoods in particular knows, it is within the realm of possibility that the government aided the hijackers. I doubt it, but it is a remote possibility.

Having said all of the above, what can we say about the controlled demolition assertion? It is idiotic on multiple levels. Why would the government want to collapse the WTC towers? When the first plane hit the first tower, Bush had his new Pearl Harbor. When those two planes hit those two buildings it was certain that there would be extensive damage and a massive loss of life. It seems reasonably predictable that as a result of the impact damage and subsequent fires both buildings would be so structurally compromised as to be effectively destroyed. Furthermore, it seems quite possible (likely?) that both would have had to have been demolished had they not collapsed outright.

The destruction of the WTC towers by crashing jetliners into them was a relatively simple, straightforward plan. Pre-placing explosives to collapse the buildings following the crashes would be horrendously complex, fraught with uncertainty, and entail a conspiracy of preposterous proportions. How does one surreptitiously pre-position huge quantities of high explosives against support structures in occupied buildings with the ceilings, floors and walls intact? What type of explosives could possibly survive the crash and raging inferno (up to 2000 degrees Fahrenheit) without premature detonation? What kind of detonation system could survive the crash and fire and flawlessly cause explosions sequentially just ahead of the falling debris, rather than all at once? What if only one airplane successfully crashes into one of the buildings? Do you leave the second building filled with high explosives? And the list goes on. All in all, improbable to the point of absurdity. And for what? When the plane crashes themselves constitute a "new Pearl Harbor," why risk it all for a "mission impossible" of dubious benefit?

Absurd as the "controlled demolition" theory is, much worse is the Pentagon missile strike fantasy. Forget the eyewitnesses who saw the plane crash into the building. Since most (all?) of them worked for the government, they obviously are part of the conspiracy. Instead, we are asked to believe that an airplane was hijacked and then disappeared (I assume with the connivance of air traffic control) as a ruse for launching a missile into the Pentagon. Why a missile, why not just crash the airplane? What happened to the airplane? All of this because some folks don’t think that some of the after crash pictures look like they think they should look if an airplane had crashed. And for what? The WTC attack was the new Pearl Harbor, the Pentagon crash added nothing that could conceivably benefit the Bush administration.

Of course, nothing I have said will have the slightest impact on a true 9/11 conspiracy buff (except, perhaps, generating hostility to me personally). He/she knows for certain that the twin towers couldn’t possibly have collapsed because of being hit by airplanes, therefore, there must have been explosive charges. Counterpunch newsletter (vol 13, no 16) has an excellent article by Manuel Garcia, Jr, who explains the physics of the collapse. He also summarizes the final report on the collapse issued by the National Institute of Standards and Technology ( a detailed analysis by 200 engineers and building professionals. Their conclusion is that the high-speed impact of the jetliners combined with the high temperature fires caused the collapse of the twin towers. Or are they part of the conspiracy?

So why am I upset about this? Primarily because I feel that the evangelical irrationality of this cult taints the whole peace and justice movement by association. The peace and justice movement has one real advantage over the forces of empire: our ability to see through the incessant propaganda and to perceive reality more or less accurately. Or do we? The self-deception regarding the events of 9/11 indicate that a large and growing part of the supposedly well-informed dissident left is as out of touch with reality as the crack-pot right. Under these circumstances, I have to ask myself if I am wasting my time working within the movement to resist empire. The peace and justice movement appears to me to be moving towards self-destruction. I can’t help wondering if the seeds of this potential implosion were planted by outside forces.

Seattle Keith 11/15/06