In honor of Van Jones' forced resignation, I've decided to reprint my recent contribution to a local alternative bi-monthly I write for, as well as provide a link to the earlier article (from 2007) the piece references.
For those of you joining this program in progress, Van Jones is an Obama advisor who is guilty of (a) referring to Repulicans as 'assholes', (b) signing the 9/11 truth petition and (c) organizing a successful boycott agains Fox News' resident nutjob Glenn Beck . Since I am myself guilty of two of these things, I feel obliged to defend Mr. Jones' opinions--if not his judgment, which pretty demonstrably sucks.
The reason I wrote the article below, and the reason I am defending Jones, is that this country is in the process of accepting by default the popular mythology of 9/11 and becoming all-too accepting of the idea of McCarthey-esque purges of those holding opinions contrary to the mainstream.
The same process occured in the wake of the JFK assassination. The term 'conspiracy nut' was essentially invented to discredit anyone who saw fit to question the whitewashed investigation that followed John Kennedy's death. A generation later, after all potential suspects were dead or otherwise beyond retribution, it became possible to discuss questions about the event without automatic condemnation.
We may or may not be lucky enough to see that happen in the case of 9/11. There may not be a United States as such in twenty years. Or the GOP may regain power and impose a thought-police state that Kim Jong-il would envy. In any case, it sets a dangerous precedent to make 9/11 skepticism a fireable offense... and in support of Mr. Jones' (more or less) inalienable right to speak outr about the doubts he may harbor, I hereby commit the same offense:
Reasonable Doubts Revisited: Reassessing 9/11 in the Obama Era
(originally published in the September 2009 issue of Free Press Houston)
“...Skepticism is a two-edge sword. The same attitude that can lead to a suspicion of fringe theories can lead to a suspicion of orthodoxy as well....”
Ted Schultz, The Fringes of Reason (1989)
Two years ago, I used that quote as the lead paragraph of an article entitled "Reasonable Doubts About The Demon in the Basement: A Skeptic's Assessment of 9/11". Two years further away from the actual event and almost a year into the first post-9/11 U.S. presidency, I felt it appropriate to re-examine my words and thoughts...and see what, if anything, had changed. I continue to approach this subject as both a skeptic and as an agnostic. This is an approach guaranteed to generate scorn from virtually all camps that have a perceived stake in the matter, as well as a certain awkwardness with those, who like our current president, would vastly prefer to simply "move on". Move on... and let all of the incredibly unlikely events of the Bush Era recede into history.
The only problem with that is that in many ways we haven't left the Bush Era. Some of the worst changes wrought upon our society over the last eight years have essentially become permanent and institutionalized. The hope that our current president would bring us back from the brink of absolute corporatist fascism has not yet been proven entirely vain-- but any prospect that candidate Barack Obama's rhetoric on the subject of "change" might be matched by President Obama's policies now seems distant and futile. The disturbingly Teutonic notion of the American "Homeland" is apparently as firmly entrenched in our language as The Department of Homeland Security is within our government. Ideas like warrantless and unsupervised domestic government spying or the indefinite detention of people who are somehow "too dangerous" to receive fair trial have become as familiar as they are contemptible. And at the heart of it all: the atrocity used to justify all the atrocities inflicted upon themselves by a once-free people--unexamined and too sacred to think about-- remains 9/11.
Two years ago, my thesis was fairly simple: that there were too many coincidences, too little untampered evidence, and too much convenience to take the official narrative of the events of September 11 2001 at face value. Further, I felt that any actual criminal investigation acting on the classic formula of "means, motive, and opportunity" would find it very difficult to exclude elements within our then-government from suspicion. Nothing that has occurred in the last two years has particularly invalidated the thesis or the suspicions. To the contrary, there is a slow and steady accumulation of evidence and informed analysis that makes the official narrative ever more difficult to accept. At the same time, there is a troubling lack of evidence regarding key pieces of the official narrative, evidence that should have emerged in the last eight years and has not.
Writing about the inconsistencies in evidence either for or against the official 9/11 narrative is beyond the scope of this article. The information is out there; anyone who wants to can google it in a heartbeat. The problem is that no one wants to. The purpose of this piece is to suggest that maybe you should.
What troubles me the most is how very little has actually changed. We are six months into a transfer of administrations and change of majority parties... and not a single Bush-Era official secrets act of substance has been overturned. To the contrary, there is growing evidence that the current administration is willing to keep the secrets of their predecessors at almost any cost. Among those detainees who President Obama regards as "too dangerous" to ever be tried or released are alleged 9/11 conspirators, many of whom supplied torture-extracted testimony (which, of course, remains secret) to the 9/11 Commission. These people are not comic book super-villains; they are as mortal as you or I and (apparently) permanently sequestered in the most secure prison system in the world. Is the supposed "danger" they pose what they might do... or what they might say in a fair and public trial?
And what of The President's unwillingness to consider the possibility of investigating far less speculative misdeeds on the part of the Bush Administration? More evidence mounts daily that there were indeed war crimes committed. Under both International Law and the U.S. Constitution, the current administration has a legal obligation (never mind the blazingly obvious moral obligation) to investigate what happened, if only to make sure that it cannot happen again. It is not enough for Barack Obama to merely say that "we do not torture" and express a willingness to move on. To do so is to implicitly acknowledge the concept of an Imperial Presidency in which-- like any other monarchy-- laws proceed from the man who holds the office and may change at whim with the man.
A very real argument could at one time been made that Obama had decided to bargain away accountability for the previous administration in return for the minority party's cooperation in an agenda of social reform. If that was ever the case, it was a poor bargain and certainly one that is null and void at this point--now that Obama is all but burned in effigy by ranting mobs encouraged and endorsed by that minority party. If Obama continues to push back on investigation of Bush-Era abuses, it is only because he has decided, for whatever reason, to become an accomplish after the fact to those abuses.
For anyone who remains skeptical on the previous administration's role in 9/11, it is all to easy to imagine that the ultimate reason for Obama's stonewalling is a clear understanding of just how far even a superficial investigation of Bush-Era criminality might go. Obama ran on the promise of being a reformer on the level of an FDR and a transformative figure on the level of Reagan. While he has certainly been a disappointment to progressives so far, it remains obvious that he intends to pursue a fairly sweeping agenda--one that would only be sidetracked by a full accounting of the Bush Era and that would likely be stopped cold by any sort of wide-scale re-assessment of 9/11. The fracture lines in this country have been made very obvious by the heated debate over healthcare. Wide-scale revelations of complicity in the 9/11 attacks by actors in the previous administration could set into motion acrimony that would make the current disputes look like a lover's spat.
Of course, it's not gonna happen. Even as The President is doing everything he can to kick this particular can of worms as far down the road as possible, American mass-media-driven culture is making sure that within another two years, it pretty much won't matter. It won't matter that ongoing analysis of what little evidence remains of the World Trade Center collapse shows signs of thermite combustion, or that there remains no conclusive photographic evidence of the plane that apparently struck the Pentagon, or that the 9/11 commission itself cannot explain the picture-perfect controlled-demolition collapse of WTC Building 7. It won't matter because none of this is ever going to make it onto a major network newscast or website, except possibly to be taken out of context, marginalized, or mocked.
It won't matter because every break room on every floor of the office building where I carry out my day-job activities sports a wide-screen TV, almost all of which are tuned to Fox News or CNN... and such has been the case with every major corporation I've worked for in the last ten years. It won't matter, because we've already been informed that progressives who suspect Bush of war crimes are exactly equal to rednecks who think Obama was born in Kenya--and we don't want to look foolish now, do we? This country is held together by hypnosis and consumerism, and the only reason John Carpenter's They Live qualifies as science fiction is that (as far as I know) the people responsible for the hypnosis aren't skull-headed aliens...but they might as well be. It doesn't matter what really happened on 9/11 or who was responsible...because knowing those things isn't going to pay for a new game console or a new car or the cool new smart phone we've all been told we have to have.
So....why does it even matter to me, at least enough to write this article? Why should it matter to you, the hypothetical reader? I guess in my case it's because I take it personally when people assume I'm a moron. Perhaps also because I'm just barely old enough to remember when this country was a better place... and probably too old to live long enough to see any real change for the better. If you're reading this and you're part of this paper's core demographic, you should care because you're being handed a shit sandwich called your future... and because--just maybe--if enough of you wake up and get pissed off, you might have some slim hope of living long enough to be something other than a very small part in a very large machine of worldwide corporate feudalism.
Also, writing this piece is, for me, something in the way of debt repayment...or maybe paying forward. You see, for years I didn't think about any of this. The Enron collapse, subsequent recession, and correspondent erosion in the IT job sector gave me plenty to think about in the years following 9/11. I fully understood that the Bush Administration was exploiting the living hell out of a national tragedy, but it never occurred to me that they might've engineered the damn thing in the first place--at least, not until I read a 9/11 skeptic piece in this paper...and had something of an epiphany.
That epiphany was that I had been lied, had not realized it, and had not even considered the possibility. And I am very far from being some starry-eyed defender of the status quo. I watched the Watergate hearings on TV after school, watched Ollie North peddle bullshit under oath in his country's uniform, and watched Bill Clinton lie about trivial sexual escapades and get crucified for it. I didn't buy the excuses for Gulf War 1 or 2, much less the lies trotted out as excuses. Yet somehow, this particular lie had managed to stay below my personal radar. I don't even remember the article or who wrote it, but I am very grateful to them--and to Free Press Houston.
I have no pet theory of "what really happened" I'm trying to advance. I just know that what I'm being told by government and mainstream media seems very much like a lie. All I am asking of you, the reader, is to consider the possibility that you are being lied to... and not just about 9/11.
Then ask yourself if you're OK with that.