On 11 September 2001, I sat with a Palestinian family in the living room of their home in Aqaba, Jordan and watched subdued as planes struck US landmarks. It wasn’t long before the Saudi rebel Osama bin Laden was fingered as the culprit. That the corporate media had so quickly named a responsible party was suspicious. My suspicion was further aroused when, days later, I spoke with a friend who trained pilots for Royal Jordanian Airlines. The captain claimed that flight 93 had not crashed; it had been shot down. To adduce his point he pointed out how there were no large chunks of fuselage among the wreckage and that the wreckage was scattered over too wide an area. Assuming his facts were true, then the media portrayal of the 9-11 Gestalt was immediately questionable.
Reports quickly surfaced about Israelis celebrating during the attack, that no Arabs were on the planes, that onboard cell phones could not function under those circumstances, that US air force interceptor planes had taken inordinately long to scramble, that the WTC buildings’ owner had massively insured the buildings for a terrorist attack, that only a demolition could collapse the buildings in such a manner, that jet fuel did not burn hot enough to melt steel, that the president sat with school children apparently unfazed by the news of the attack, and so on. True or not, it was no wonder that people became engaged in a movement to determine what happened on 9-11.
How does one arrive at the “truth”?
Certainly not through close-mindedness. Would one be likely to arrive at the “truth” if he is unwilling to consider all the evidence? Open-minded skepticism -- the willingness to consider many views skeptically -- seems a logical formula by which to arrive at the truth. Open-minded skepticism includes critical appraisal of facts, pertinent literature, and hypotheses in reaching one’s own conclusions. Of course, hashing one’s conclusions over with others helps to winnow out wrong conclusions and refine incongruencies. Consequently, I have maintained an open-mindedness to information emerging from 9-11 but with requisite skepticism. There was no way that I could, with limited resources and at great distance, check on the mass of information and evidence that had to be sifted through to conclude anything definite. I could only conjecture about isolated pieces of information.
That many people would devote themselves to the endeavor of trying to get at the “truth” of 9-11 seems like something laudable and not to be disparaged, despite whatever wild theories some people might reach and proffer. Many contrarians, however, deemed it sufficient to disqualify the self-described “truth seekers” as “conspiracy theorists.” Even some people normally considered progressives have ridiculed the truth seekers. What should one think when a progressivist voice, derided as a conspiracy theorist by his detractors , uses the same epithet to describe others?
Linguistics professor Noam Chomsky downplays non-official views on 9-11, especially of Bush government involvement with 9-11.
How often are commissions and their reports about getting at the truth? How often are they about delay, cover-up, spin, and obfuscation?  Why should the plodding 9-11 Commission Report, despite the commissioners’ claim to be “independent, impartial, through and nonpartisan,” be any different? In Britain, the Hutton Inquiry is widely regarded as a whitewash of the purported assassination of bio-terrorism expert Dr. David Kelly.  Why should the 9-11 Commission be expected to issue a report that implicates the Bush administration? In fact, the Commission’s “sweeping” mandate is not about assigning individual blame.
Was 9-11 a false flag operation?
“Did [the Bush administration] plan it in any way or know about it?” asks Chomsky. “This seems to me extremely unlikely. For one, they would have had to be insane to try anything like that.” 
Adolf Hitler’s Big Lie is premised on a lie so colossal that the truthfulness of it would be unchallenged. If, indeed, the official version of 9-11 is a lie, then what could be a bigger lie? Would this be insane?
Chomsky knows that regime insanity does happen. He called Hitler’s WWII Holocaust “the most fantastic outburst of collective insanity in human history.” 
Does not insanity prevail in the world? How else should one describe a world in which the masses of people slave away so that the idle few can siphon up the newly created wealth, a world where the plutocrats in the superpower can overthrow elections and governments in foreign states that do not meet their approval, where ethnic cleansing and genocide are permitted or encouraged elsewhere when it is in the “national interest” of the superpower, and where the corporate media colludes with the crimes against humanity? Does not realpolitik obfuscate insanity? Given all this, why should the idle ruling class not be emboldened to commit further acts of insanity?
Lies are nothing new to governments. The invasion-occupation of Iraq was a government lie. What was the pretext for this? 9-11. 9-11 allowed the Bush administration to push its disinformation about Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction. Was the slaughter of some 655,000 (and counting) Iraqi civilians and the sacrifice of nearly 60,000 (and counting) US casualties not insane?
The Haitian president Jean Bertrand Aristide, kidnapped and forced into exile by a US-engineered coup, said of the US:
You’re dealing with a country that was willing and able, in front of the UN and in front of the world at large, to fabricate claims about the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. They were willing to lie about issues of global importance. It’s hardly surprising that they were able to find a few people to say the things that needed to be said in Haiti, in a small country of no great strategic significance. 
Maybe few Americans are aware of the Haitian coup, but many Americans now know about the lie of Iraq weapons of mass destruction. Sadly, not enough Americans care to halt the war crimes of their government, and not enough citizens of other countries care enough to pressure their government sufficiently to stop support of, let alone take a stand against, US aggression.
Chomsky also knows of evidence that points at Pearl Harbor not being a surprise attack -- that Franklin D. Roosevelt knew it was coming and allowed it to happen.  The American populace was consequently persuaded to reverse its aversion to military participation in World War II. Was FDR insane to let the attack on Pearl Harbor happen?
In 1962, the Joint Chiefs of Staff conceived Operation Northwoods, a plan for a secret terrorist attack against the homeland to trick the American public into supporting a war against Cuba. Were the Joint Chiefs of staff insane to contemplate a self-inflicted attack?
Journalist John Pilger does not consider the committing of insane acts by extreme regimes, such as in the US and Israel, as implausible:
When you have extreme regimes, as modern history has taught us, then some very awful things are likely to happen. They’re prepared to take risks. They don’t care about human life . . . or destroying human life on a scale that, that other regimes . . . might draw back from. 
Ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern has no doubts about the insanity of members of the US regime, describing vice-president Dick Cheney and the neoconservatives as “crazy like a fox.” 
Recently, Chomsky seems to have reconsidered US regime insanity: “Then again, a predator becomes even more dangerous, and less predictable, when wounded. In desperation to salvage something, the administration might risk even greater disasters. The Bush administration has created an unimaginable catastrophe in Iraq.” 
Insanity aside, Chomsky argues that a planned attack against the homeland “would have leaked. You know, it is a very poor system. Secrets are hard to keep.”
In 1954, in an operation code-named “Susanah,” Israeli agents targeted British and US buildings in Egypt. The operation, known as the Lavon Affair, was uncovered. For the public at large, however, there were no substantial leaks for many years, and most people still probably know little or nothing of the Lavon Affair.
On 8 June 1967, a US surveillance ship in the Mediterranean Sea, the USS Liberty, was deliberately attacked by Israeli planes, killing 34 crew members. The US regime imposed strict censorship over the attack, and it remains largely confined to the Memory Hole.
Secrets might not be perfectly kept, but they can be kept sufficiently secret for a long enough period of time -- long enough to manage public perception and allow those people culpable to escape serious rebuke or punishment.
Yet Chomsky insists, “So something would have leaked out, very likely. And if it had they would have all been before a firing squad. It would have been the end of the Republican Party forever.”
How many Americans know about the events of the Lavon Affair, the attack on the USS Liberty, or Operation Northwoods? Even if all Americans knew, one might ask how many would care unless provoked to care?
As for the melodramatic reference to firing squads, Chomsky knows better. “Elite” government characters and their high-ranking minions are seldom harshly punished and certainly not by firing squad. In the US, capital punishment is mainly for the poor, predominantly non-White class.
Chomsky states, “You couldn’t predict that the plane would actually hit the Trade Center. It could easily have missed.”
Three out of three planes hit their targets! 
Chomsky repeats, “But what you can be almost certain of is that any hint of a plan would have leaked and would’ve just destroyed [the Bush administration officials]. And to take a chance on that would have been just meaningless.”
Chomsky’s assertion is at variance with the commonly held dictum that the lust for power corrupts the human. The examples of humans taking seemingly insane risks for greater power and prestige are myriad. But how much of a chance would such conniving characters be taking? In the documentary Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media (1992), Chomsky expounds on the complicity of the corporate media (which would be the ultimate leaker):
And what the media are doing is ensuring that we do not act on our responsibilities, and that the interests of power are served, not the interests of suffering people and not the needs of the American people who would be horrified if they realized the blood that’s dripping from their hands because of the way they’re allowing themselves to be deluded and manipulated by the system.
Furthermore, Ed Herman and Chomsky meticulously supported their Propaganda Model which illustrates how information is controlled by the corporate media. The system, the authors explained, allows dissident views to occasionally leak, but confines such views at the margins. 
There already have been leaks. Film-maker Aaron Russo claims his friend, Nicholas Rockefeller, of the “elite” Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), let him in on an upcoming “event”: “Eleven months before 9-11 happened there was going to be an event and out of that event we were going to invade Afghanistan to run pipelines through the Caspian Sea; we were going to invade Iraq to take over the oil fields and establish a base in the Middle East, and we’d go after Chavez in Venezuela.” 
If true, this is outrageously prescient stuff. Russo states 9-11 is a “phony,” “fake,” “fraud,” and the “war on terror” is a “fraud,” “farce,” “hoax,” and “joke.”
Russo has no doubts who was behind 9-11: “People know that 9-11 was an inside job. Look what they did here in America, look at 9-11, look what they did. They killed thousands of Americans -- people jumping out of windows from a hundred floors up. They don’t care.”
Russo asks, “Why do you think 9-11 happened and nothing since then? Do you think our security is so great here . . . ? Nine-11 was done by people in our own government, in our own banking system to perpetuate the fear of the American people into subordinating themselves to anything the government wants them to do . . . that’s what it’s all about.”
Leaking requires extreme courage -- or maybe insanity. Woe to those people who would try and expose the insanity of government and its agencies. Journalist Gary Webb exposed the scorching hot potato of CIA involvement in drug smuggling. For this he was pilloried and run out of the corporate media. His life ended in a tragic suicide.  Diplomat Joseph Wilson went public with disinformation emanating from the Bush White House prior to the invasion of Iraq. The corporate media hurled invective at him  and his wife was outed as a CIA operative. The leaks of Webb and Wilson caused hardly a ripple to the power centers. The lesson: the leakers will suffer and leaks can be plugged.
Despite this, there have been plenty of leaks about 9-11 and the “war on terrorism”: US officials such as former UNSCOM inspector Scott Ritter, former counter-terrorism chief Richard Clark, and former treasury secretary Paul O’Neill were all scathingly attacked after coming forward. In Britain, intelligence employee Katherine Gun, BBC reporter Andrew Gilligan, and BBC executives Greg Dyke and Gavyn Davies lost their jobs. Ministry of Defense employee Dr. David Kelly wound up dead. Obviously, leaking carries a high price. Even the exposure of plagiarized and “sexed-up” dossiers and the condemnatory Downing Street Memos fizzled. None of these leaks had major impact. Conclusively, it is not enough merely for information to leak. The leaked information has to reach enough people, and more importantly, that information needs to be credible and meaningful to people. Leaked information that reaches too few people or is viewed with utmost disbelief has little or no effect.
Most importantly, people need to care. The “official” 9-11 story has a large share of doubters, and yet it has still hardly made a dent in the political landscape or caused harm to the Republican Party.
How is one to assess Russo’s revelations? The usual method is to question what a person stands to gain for speaking out. In Russo’s case, certainly not money and fame. He was already well-to-do and well known. The filmmaker says he even turned down membership in the CFR, having no interest in “enslaving the people.” In fact, Russo has already paid a price in being ostracized from Hollywood. He says he is motivated by a “sense of conscience” and a “sense of justice.” This selflessness gives Russo credibility.
Aaron Dykes, a videographer present at the taping of the interview, vouched for Russo: “I can say that Aaron Russo is a very open person; his body language and tone convey that of a person being completely honest, as one watching the interview can also witness. At the same time, it is one man’s word against another, so I can’t say that it is hard evidence in a court of law, without other supporting evidence. However, the Russo family has pictures with Nick Rockefeller and their relationship is otherwise established.”
But Russo’s source, Nicholas Rockefeller, appears to be a most dubious character.  Despite this Rockefeller’s dubiousness, according to Russo, he still predicted a 9-11-type “event.”
Chomsky attacks the evidence produced as “essentially worthless.” This is his opinion. I find myself in agreement with Chomsky on his skepticism, if not the level of skepticism, to the scientific evidence. But even challenging the scientific evidence may exact a price for dissenting academics, as Brigham Young University physicist Dr. Steven Jones has found out. He was put on paid leave, a “rare” course of action for a professor with “continuing status.” 
Chomsky dismisses the truth seekers as “elaborate conspiracy theorists” who are “completely wrong” and “diverting people away from serious issues.” Who is to determine what are serious issues? In a culture where whether Britney Spears wears underwear dominates public discourse (according to Russo and interviewer Alex Jones), determining what happened on 9-11 is hardly inconsequential.
But Chomsky makes a most extraordinary statement: “Even if it were true, which is extremely unlikely, who cares? I mean, it doesn’t have any significance. . . . It’s just taking energy away from serious issues for ones that don’t matter.”
This is Chomsky’s opinion. The families of the 2,973 people killed and the 24 people missing on 9-11 probably care. The warmongers in the government apparently thought that enough people cared enough so that they could exploit 9-11. Obviously, the “truth seekers” care.
Russo maintains: “Until you get to the root cause of 9-11, which is supposedly the ‘war on terror,’ we’ll never solve our problems. . . . Where did 9-11 come from? That’s the root cause of everything.”
If, indeed, it is the root cause of everything, then that seems like a pretty good reason for everyone to care.
In the meantime, the warmongering US and Zionist regimes are targeting the US public with a massive disinformation barrage demonizing Iran. Former national security advisor to US president Jimmy Carter, Zbigniew Brzezinski, is not convinced of the sanity of the US regime. On 1 February, he warned the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:
“A plausible scenario for a [US] military collision with Iran involves Iraqi failure to meet the benchmarks, followed by accusations of Iranian responsibility for the failure ... then, by some provocation in Iraq or a terrorist act in the United States blamed on Iran culminating in a quote-unquote defensive US military action against Iran…” 
False flag operation? Insanity? Further insouciance or unwitting credulity by the public might result in a cataclysmic loss of life.
This is why it is wrong to assert that the “truth seekers” are diverting energy away from serious issues. It is not merely about the issue of 9-11 but also about the credibility of the regime. The presence of 9-11 “truth seekers” shows the Bush administration that there are a persistent number of people dedicated to exposing the crimes of government, arguably acting as a potential brake on the regime. Therefore, attaching pejorative labels to “truth seekers” hardly serves the aims of progressives or humanity.
Kim Petersen is Co-Editor of Dissident Voice. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other Recent Articles by Kim Petersen
Against Hope? The Struggle Against Colonialism in Canada
 Daniel Pipes identifies Chomsky as a
conspiracy theorist in Conspiracy: How the Paranoid Style
Flourishes and Where It Comes From (The Free Press, 1997),
157-160. Alexander Cockburn calls the “truth seekers” “conspiracists”
Age of Irrationality: The 9/11 Conspiracists and the Decline of the
American Left,” Dissident Voice, 15 December 2006.
George Monbiot scorns the “truth seekers” as “conspiracy idiots” and
“morons” in “9/11
fantasists pose a mortal danger to popular oppositional campaigns,”
Guardian, 20 February 2007. Monbiot complains without
evidence that the “truth seekers” are “destroying the [progressivist]
movements some of us have spent a long time trying to build.”