Debunking 9/11 Debunking: An Answer to Popular Mechanics and Other Defenders of the Official Conspiracy Theory
By David Ray Griffin
(Olive Branch Press, 2007)
According to a categorical assertion by the Association of Muslim Scholars’ most senior member, al-Fayyadh, the Iraqi resistance has killed no less than 35,000 US soldiers and wounded no less than 70 thousand…1
The outrageous neocon-concocted lies of the Iraqi government being in possession of weapons-of-mass destruction, that US forces were liberating the Iraqi people, that only 30,000 Iraqis have been killed, that the invasion-occupation was not about seizing control of Iraqi oil, that the US was not aiding Israeli interests have all been exposed. Given the plethora of undeniable mendacity surrounding the immoral, illegal, and lethal enterprise of aggressing Iraq (not to forget Afghanistan), it is utterly amazing that some people, especially progressives, continue to cling to the version of “reality” spun by the neocons and Zionists.
That media continue to publish the relatively low number of fatalities among US soldiers, and completely ignore other accounts, is mind-boggling. Yet, the corporate media (and most progressive media) remain fixed on a much lower figure approaching 4000.
But, most mind-boggling is the dearth of skepticism to the neocons’ version of what happened on 9-11 — the event that was seized upon as a justification for what is a litany of war crimes and crimes against humanity wreaked by the US state — including the supreme international crime, as determined by the Nuremberg Tribunal, described as encapsulating “the accumulated evil of the whole.”
Progressivism and 9-11 Truth Seeking
Yet some progressives have taken to castigating fellow progressives for coming to conclusions about 9-11 that differ from the US government version (a feat which really calls into question the castigators’ adherence to tenets of progressivism, such as a commitment to diversity, free inquiry, freedom of thought, and free speech). It also leaves such critics open to charges of left gatekeeping. Of course, these voices that adhere to the “official” neocon version of 9-11 have a right to present their opinions, but to determine in what way other people should direct their energies and disparage them for not heeding their advice is regressive with the ultimate result that it argues against encouraging people to think critically for themselves.
I previously wrote an article to this effect.2 Some people quibbled with certain points.
One reader questioned my, supposedly, referring to the “scientific evidence,” as per the noted writer on 9-11, Noam Chomsky, as “essentially worthless.” What I wrote is that I share Chomsky’s skepticism, but importantly, I added a proviso: “not the level of skepticism.” In other words, I do not consider the evidence as “essentially worthless.”
The article was not an examination or analysis of the evidence. Instead, it was about how some progressives engage in disparaging an involved citizenry. I found this unprincipled and supported the right of people to seek “truth.”
Science and 9-11
Certainly, the “official” 9-11 view is not scientific. It is a post hoc explanation designed to fit a preconceived agenda. Although scientists will try to explain phenomena, science is not driven a posteriori but by testable hypotheses where experiments are conducted or natural observations are carried out. This is the scientific method. To date, I know of no controlled experiments carried out to test whether steel-laced high rises will collapse demolition- or pancake-style when struck by airplanes.
Another reader, John Pontrello, presented a very compelling rationale for such experimentation and why the “official” 9-11 theory has huger ramification:
[I]f the official conspiracy theory is true, we had better vacate every building in the United States immediately in case a fire breaks out and the building collapses killing thousands of people. Also, being that a building collapse is far riskier on all fronts than damage and casualty from fire, every building owner in America should be forced to insure specifically against pancake collapse. All high rise buildings should be temporarily evacuated until such a time when they are properly studied to ensure that they will not spontaneously collapse killing thousands of people. 9/11 has really opened up the possibility that buildings spontaneously collapse, so I argue that they should not be used anymore until they are proven safe. If three people were tossed and killed from a roller coaster on one day, would you put your children on it? Furthermore, every building in America should abandon evacuation drills for fire and replace those mandatory drills with Pancake evacuation drills where something like window ejection with parachutes are provided, since stairwell evacuations will not protect one from the upper floors falling on them.
He also challenged me: “get off the fence and pick your side Kim.”
To pronounce on 9-11 requires, preferably, either expertise in the matter at hand or a willingness to delve deeply into a plethora of evidence (at least that which has been made available; the non-release of evidence throws the Bush administration under heavy suspicion) and attempt to sort fact from fiction, possibility from impossibility, probability from improbability. I am naturally skeptical, and I have always been deeply skeptical of the “official” explanations emanating from the corporate media (and progressive media) and government about 9-11.
But there must be a way to lean toward what best approximates the truth. One way, is to determine motives. A well recognized motive has always been personal enrichment. Evidence from 9-11 points to many protagonists in this regard, including people within the military-industrial complex and one World Trade Center owner. The motive attached to the alleged 9-11 attackers of hating American freedoms is risibly pathetic and self-defeating for its promulgators in that since 9-11 American freedoms have been severely curtailed. If this was, indeed, the motivation of alleged 9-11 attackers, then it represents a victory for the alleged haters of American freedoms?
In addition to assessing motive, one should also, of course, examine what evidence is available. Science has been a point of contention among people in the 9-11 debate. In science, if one peg of a theory can be knocked out, then the theory should be abandoned. If one peg of the “official” 9-11 theory can be disproven, then the rest of the explanation is rendered dubious. The “official” 9-11 theory is attackable on nearly all its foundations, indicating just how wobbly it is.
Dr. David Ray Griffin has been a foremost writer on what transpired on 9-11, which he compellingly avers to be an insider job. Griffin is a theologian and some people attack him on this basis. This, however, is a thoroughly arrogant, elitist, and self-defeating argument that must be utterly refuted because of what it represents. First, it assumes that only experts are able to speak on a topic with authority. Second, it assumes that experts are correct, but that this is false is easily revealed by the fact that experts disagree among themselves. Third, it assumes that “average” folks cannot train themselves to become experts. Fourth, it assumes that “average” folks cannot understand the intricacies of specialized subject areas. The logical outcome of such assertions is that non-specialists must rely on experts to inform them how they should think — a complete sop to critical thinking and egalitarianism.
Griffin has done his homework and has written five books on 9-11. His latest is Debunking 9/11 Debunking: An Answer to Popular Mechanics and Other Defenders of the Official Conspiracy Theory. He assaults the “official conspiracy theory” from many quarters: the stupendous unlikelihood of cell phones operating at high altitude in 2001, the glaring discrepancies in “official” time sequences reported, the likelihood of the alleged pilots being able to carry out the maneuvers they are alleged to have done, the pancake theory of WTC buildings collapse, etc.
The weakest link in the “official” theory appears to be its explanation of the demolition-style collapse of WTC building 7: a building which was not struck by planes; had no demonstrably large, nor hot, fires burning; and was foretold as having collapsed ahead of time; and which the 9-11 Commission did not even try to explain.
Griffin asks why, if WTC 7 was awash in flames, no photographers and TV camera crews on the scene recorded this spectacle.
Griffin calls WTC 7 “one of the [9-11] Commission’s most amazing omissions. According to the official theory, building 7 demonstrated, contrary to the universal conviction prior to 9/11, that large steel-frame buildings could collapse from fire alone, even without having been hit by an airplane. This demonstration should have meant that building codes and insurance premiums for all steel-frame buildings in the world needed to be changed. And yet the 9/11 Commission, in preparing its 571-page report, did not devote a single sentence to this historic event.”
Griffin cites the demolition industry website Implosion World‘s statement that an implosion is “by far the trickiest type of explosive project, and there are only a handful of blasting companies in the world that possess enough experience … to perform these true building implosions.” Griffin then asks: “Can anyone really believe that fire would have just happened to produce the kind of collapse that can be reliably produced by only a few demolition companies in the world?”
Griffin points out that there was extensive foreknowledge of WTC 7’s imminent collapse among firefighters and medical workers. Griffin quotes medical worker Decosta Wright: “they measured out how far the building was going to come, so we knew exactly where we could stand,” which was “5 blocks away.”
How was this foreknowledge explained? Damage plus fire — both of which Griffin deconstructs.
The words of WTC owner Larry Silverstein on PBS, give credence to a demolition about to occur: “I remember getting a call from the, er, fire department commander, telling me that they were not sure they were gonna be able to contain the fire, and I said, ‘We’ve had such terrible loss of life, maybe the smartest thing to do is pull it.” And they made that decision to pull and we watched the building collapse.”
Wielding Occam’s Razor
Physicist Manuel Garcia took a stab at explaining the demolition-style collapse of WTC 7. He constructed a Mouse TrapTM-like explanation for how the “dark fire” formed and brought WTC 7 free falling into its footprint.
He writes of falling debris rupturing the oil pipes of a fuel distribution system, the fuel distribution system pumps oil up causing a diesel fuel gusher burning with excess air; the diesel fuel spill spreads out along Floor 5 and spills down elevator; oil pools near a truss and is ignited by local office fires, resulting in further combustion; heat is trapped; the thermally weakened truss fails, the loss of support low in the eastern interior propagates to the roof, the weight (and dynamic force) of material falling onto the diaphragm based on Floor 5 tips this rigid layer of the building, this causes failure of column joints to the diaphragm, lack of vertical support through the diaphragm progresses up the interior of the building west of Truss 2, a progressive collapse propagates up and material falls freely; since the building implodes, the exterior walls fall in.3
Nine-11 whistleblower Kevin Ryan says Garcia’s WTC explanations are “based on false or unsubstantiated claims” and disses the speculative “string of improbable events” in Garcia’s “dark fire” theory. Thereafter Ryan delves into ad hominem and the tactic of involving Garcia in a conspiracy theory.4
Peter Webster refutes Garcia’s WYC 7 shock wave explanation weakening integral parts of WTC 7.5 Webster claims the oscillations of the WTC buildings would have died out without further energy being pumped into the buildings, for example, by further plane crashes in resonance with the buildings’ oscillations or timed explosions.
To decide between the “official” 9-11 theory and the other theories proffered the 9-11 truth movement, Garcia suggests: “within the spirit of Occam’s Razor, of seeking explanations for the WTC building collapses that require the fewest number of ad hoc assumptions (e.g., no conspiracies).”
Occam’s Razor — also referred to as the Principle of Parsimony — holds that the simplest theory is preferable; therefore, any explanation of any phenomenon should make as few assumptions as possible. But Garcia relies heavily on assumptions in his “dark fire” theory.
The demolition theory is simple. It requires only that one assume that some person(s) rigged the WTC 7 with explosives. This is less crazy than assuming Osama bin Laden’s freedom-hating Arabs piloted the planes and set off the first ever fire-induced demolition of a high rise building.
Griffin utterly dismisses the National Institute of Standards and Technology (federal agency NIST) which theorized excessive falling debris and long-burning fires as being capable of bringing down WTC 7.
The most serious problem with this [NIST] theory, however, is that it is completely inadequate to the empirical facts. Damage to one face of the building plus small fires on a few floors – plus perhaps really big fires on the fifth floor — could not explain why the building collapsed on a debris pile only three stories high, as this would have required the 81 columns of this 47-story-high columns to break into several pieces simultaneously. This damage and fire could not explain why the building came down virtually free fall speed. They could not explain the squibs, the molten metal, or the sulfidized steel. The official theory, in other words, cannot explain why, if this was not an example of controlled implosion, it was a perfect imitation thereof.
Who is behind the 9-11 terrorist attack? Elsewhere Griffin answered:
It is, in any case, already possible to know, beyond a reasonable doubt, one very important thing: the destruction of the World Trade Center was an inside job, orchestrated by domestic terrorists. Foreign terrorists could not have gotten access to the buildings to plant the explosives. They probably would not have had the courtesy to make sure that the buildings collapsed straight down, rather than falling over onto surrounding buildings. Federal officials, however, could have gotten access and would have had motivation to bring the buildings straight down. They would also have had the ability to orchestrate a cover-up, from the quick disposal of the steel to the FEMA Report to The 9/11 Commission Report to the NIST Report.
The evidence that the destruction of the WTC was an inside job has thus far been largely ignored by the mainstream press, perhaps under the guise of obeying President Bush’s advice not to tolerate “outrageous conspiracy theories.” We have seen, however, that it is the Bush administration’s conspiracy theory that is the outrageous one, because it is violently contradicted by numerous facts, including some basic laws of physics.6
Griffin has proffered a theory counter to the “official” 9-11 theory. Those people dedicated to free thinking will reject the advice of some progressives to ignore non-“official” theories of 9-11 as “conspiracy”; they will consider competing theories that purport to explain the events of 9-11; they will arrive at their own conclusions.
Three WTC buildings fell straight down, demolition-style, into their footprints. The Bush administration stood by as forensic evidence was removed, and it blocked any meaningful investigation of 9-11. The “official” 9-11 theory asks me to trust those people proven untrustworthy and suspend my skepticism. This I will not do. Who the insiders of 9-11 are, I can only speculate.
Full skepticism, however, must greet the US government accusations that al Qaeda is behind 9-11. The US government, contrary to its own legal tradition, ignored any presumption of innocence. When al Qaeda head Osama bin Laden denied that his organization was not the perpetrator, the US, specifically the White House, demanded that Bin Laden prove that he was not behind 9-11. The same proving-a-negative tactic was used with Iraq: the US demanded that Iraq’s president Saddam Hussein prove that he has no weapons-of-mass-destruction. When no weapons-of-mass-destruction were found, the White House responded that the Iraqis were not telling the truth.
Furthermore, when Taliban leader Mullah Omar agreed to hand over the suspect bin Laden (who, as Griffin notes, is on no FBI wanted lists for 9-11) if the US provided evidence of his involvement in 9-11, the US never replied. The invasions-occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq are the outcomes.
Based on the evidence available (and especially the parties involved), Occam’s Razor leads me to dispense with the “official” 9-11 theory.
A Final Challenge
Pontrello challenges adherents of the “official” 9-11 theory:
Try this: the next time you walk a big city, gaze up at a massive building and picture a relatively small burning hole near the top of it. Then imagine it burning for an hour on only a few floors and then spontaneously pulverizing into fine dust before your eyes as if on cue. It took a few times for me to de-program my mind from the brainwashing, but once I did, it was liberating. I laugh now when I look at those three towers come down like that, and listen to the official story defenders try to explain pancake collapse as the explanation. I try to imagine what could make all the steel columns, joints, concrete and trusses simultaneously give way and allow for absolutely zero resistance from the otherwise intact structure below the point of impact. It is impossible and that is the truth. The only way those buildings fell like that was from controlled demolition and I don’t care what so-called experts say. I know what I saw, and I know what makes sense.
Griffin’s book is a good place to start for open-minded people who are critical thinkers. Who the perpetrators of 9-11 were is important. It would, for one, add impetus to cease the genocidal occupations in Afghanistan and Iraq. It would be a blow to Ziocon plans to aggress Iran. It would also lay the path for punishment of those individuals responsible for 9-11 and the subsequent warmongering based on the lies of the “official” 9-11 story. If the perpetrators were sufficiently punished, this might stand as a deterrence to others drawn by the corrupting influence of power and money. Even if it is no deterrent, it is a partial victory for justice in a world that sorely needs such victories.
- “Sheikh al-Faydi To Al Sharq Al Awsat: ‘Losses by the American occupation forces have exceeded the 35 thousand dead’” Iraq-amsi, 19 July 2007. Thanks to B.J. Sabri for translation from Arabic. [↩]
- Kim Petersen, “9-11: The Truth Matters,” Dissident Voice, 13 March 2007. [↩]
- Manuel Garcia, Jr., “The Fall of WTC 7: Dark Fire,” Counterpunch, 28 November 2006. [↩]
- Kevin Ryan, “Manuel Garcia Sees Physics That Don’t Exist,” 911Review.com, 27 December 2006. [↩]
- Peter Webster, “Cockburn and his physicist friend abuse physics and credulity,” THS, 30 September 2006. [↩]
- David Ray Griffin, “The Destruction of the World Trade Center: Why the Official Account Cannot Be True,” 911 Review.com, based on speech from October 2005. [↩]