9/11 and Academia

This documentary 9/11 in the Academic Community by the producer and filmmaker Adnan Zuberi was bestowed with the “Documentary Achievement Award” at this year’s University of Toronto Film Festival. The documentary focuses on the surprising reluctance of the academic community to examine the events of September 11, 2001. Virtually the entire academic community adopted immediately and uncritically the official narrative about these events. Academics did not ask some of the most elementary questions: What happened on that day? Who planned and executed this complex operation? And who benefited from it?

911The flaws in the official narrative leap out at everybody who merely scratches the surface. What are intellectuals for, when they fail to deal critically with a watershed event that led to the transformation of the US into a police state, the erosion of civil rights, and which provided the US government with a rationale for two wars of aggression and for an indefinite global “war on terror”? The reluctant establishment of the 9/11 Commission, its composition and its modus operandi were designed to produce a whitewash final report. The Final Report of that Commission, indeed, is riddled with so many flaws that it is widely designated as an “omission report.” The issue of 9/11 has become the greatest taboo of the 21st century in Western societies, a subject that may not be subject to scholarly inquiry.

It seems as if all governments, the media, and the academic community conspire against anybody who might dare to call the official narrative into question. 9/11 is surrounded by a cocoon and those who dare to penetrate risk to be socially ostracized or destroyed. Even academic experts that purport to espouse critical social views and left-wing journalists refuse to deal with this topic although there is no evidence that the alleged hijackers committed and could have committed this crime alone. One of the roles of intellectuals in society is to unveil what rulers attempt to conceal from the masses. In the case of 9/11, such an approach would mean to destroy the 9/11 myth and inquiry into the motives of the real perpetrators.

In the documentary, for example, the attitude of left-wing thinkers was quoted from Noam Chomsky’s book 9-11: “… evidence about the perpetrators of 9/11 has been hard to find. And long after the source of the anthrax attack was localized to US government weapons laboratories, it has still not been identified. (…) Nevertheless, despite the thin evidence (…) the initial conclusion about 9/11 is presumably correct.” (p 120-121) Besides the below quoted experts, Adnan Zuberi’s the documentary presents some more scientists.

Professor David McGregor from University of Western Ontario, Canada, pointed out that many academics are interested in how 9/11 affected society and politics but not in the incidents themselves. Even the writings of the renowned professor David Ray Griffin – who wrote more than 10 scholarly books on 9/11 – remain ignored by the academic community. Many academics are caught up in the spiral of silence, i.e. they prefer, for comfort, to defer to majority opinion. The fierce reactions against attempts to critically examine the official narrative of 9/11 suggest that such questioning touches a vulnerable nerve.

Zuberi documents statements by some experts who explain, inter alia, why the Twin Towers could not have been brought down by airplane crashes and the ensuing fires, not to speak of the 47-floor building WTC No 7, which collapsed mysteriously at free-fall speed in the late afternoon of 9/11 without being hit by an aircraft. Surprisingly, The 9/11 Commission Report does not even mention this unprecedented event. The documentary presents, inter alia, statements by professors of engineering and physics who show that the official narrative regarding the Twin Towers’ collapse is incompatible with physical law. Structural engineers have a special role to play in examining the Twin Towers’ collapse because if the government’s narrative is true, building codes would have to be reviewed and many other tall buildings would appear to be at risk. Such a review of building codes did not, however, take place.

According to Michael Truscello from Mount Royal University, Calgary, Canada, 25 per cent of the footnotes of this report were based on torture testimony. Basing a story of this kind of testimony under the rule of law criteria seems absurd. Most of the testimony deals with the alleged al-Qaeda plot, and some were made up, like Sheikh Mohammed admitted in letters to the International Committee of the Red Cross, said Truscello.

As stated by him, Philip Zelikow, executive director of the 9/11 Commission, framed the narrative of the investigation even before it began. He was a colleague of Condoleezza Rice and had co-authored a book together. According to him, Zelikow was a White-House insider. He kept close contact with Karl Rove, a senior adviser to George W. Bush and his master mind, when the commission was in progress.

According to Paul Zarembka, professor at the University of New York at Buffalo: “there was a probability around 99 per cent that there was insider trading on American and United Airlines” days before 9/11. In Zubeiri’s documentary some professors tell how they got bullied by colleagues and university administrators after they questioned the official version of 9/11. Professor John McMurtry from the University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada, for example, received hate mails, death threats, and some colleagues even demanded his expulsion from the university.

Since the Bush government had airbrushed all the evidence in the shortest possible time, how can scientists reconstruct it? Zuberi’s documentary shows that the investigations on 9/11 have to be reopened despite huge opposition from the government, corporate media, and the academic community. This documentary calls for the widest possible distribution in order to raise the awareness that there are larger forces involved to commit such a crime than 19 young men allegedly guided from a cave in Afghanistan. Whether the present spiral of silence is stronger than the overwhelming evidence presented in this documentary remains to be seen.

Dr. Ludwig Watzal works as a journalist and editor in Bonn, Germany. He runs the bilingual blog “Between the lines.” He can be reached at: www.watzal.com. Read other articles by Ludwig.