by Dr. David Ray Griffin
After the attacks of 9/11, I accepted the blowback thesis, according to
which the attacks were payback for US foreign policy. About a year later, a
colleague suggested that the attacks were orchestrated by our own
government. My response was that I didn't think the Bush
administration---even the Bush administration---would do such a thing. A few
months later, another colleague suggested that I look at a website
containing the massive 9/11 timeline created by Paul Thompson. This
timeline, I found, contained an enormous number of reports, all from
mainstream sources, that contradicted the official account. This started a
process that led me to publish The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions
about the Bush Administration and 9/11, which summarized much of the
evidence that had been discovered by previous researchers---evidence, I
concluded, that provided a "strong prima facie case for official
In a criminal trial, once the prosecution has presented its initial case,
the defense asks the judge for a dismissal on the grounds that a prima facie
case for guilt has not been presented. However, if the judge declares that
such a case has been made, then the defense must rebut the various elements
in the prosecution's case. The defense cannot simply ignore the
prosecution's case by stating that it is "too outrageous to be dignified by
a response." If the defense fails to offer a convincing rebuttal, the prima
facie case is presumed to be conclusive.
The Bush administration responded to the charges against it as a defense
attorney would, declaring them too outrageous to be taken seriously.
President Bush himself advised people, perhaps especially reporters, not to
tolerate "outrageous conspiracy theories." What the president really meant
is that people should not tolerate any outrageous conspiracy theories except
his own, according to which 19 Arab Muslims defeated the most powerful and
sophisticated defense system in history and also defeated the laws of
physics, bringing down three steel-frame building in a way that perfectly
mimicked controlled demolition.
In any case, what was needed at that stage was someone to play the role of
the judge, determining, from an impartial perspective, whether a prima facie
case for the guilt of the Bush administration had been made.
This role should have been played by the press. But the mainstream press
instead offered itself as a mouthpiece for the administration's conspiracy
The role of the impartial judge has, nevertheless, been played by civil
society, in which tens of millions of people in this country and around the
world now accept the 9/11 truth movement's contention that the Bush
administration was complicit in the attacks.
The fact that the president was finally forced to appoint a 9/11 commission
provided an opportunity for the Bush administration to rebut the allegations
made against it. You might assume that the 9/11 Commission would have played
the role of an impartial jury, simply evaluating the evidence for the
competing conspiracy theories and deciding which one was more strongly
The Commission's investigative work, however, was carried out by its staff,
and this staff was directed by the White House's man inside the Commission,
Philip Zelikow, a fact that the mainstream press has not emphasized. Under
Zelikow's leadership, the Commission took the role of the prosecution for
the Bush administration's brief against al-Qaeda. In doing so, it implicitly
took the role of the defense for the Bush administration. Accordingly, an
important question to ask about The 9/11 Commission Report, especially since
we know that the Commission had many copies of The New Pearl Harbor, is how
well the Commission rebutted the prima facie case against the Bush-Cheney
administration, which was summarized in that book.
In a second book, The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions, I
showed that the Commission simply ignored most of that evidence and
distorted the rest. I will summarize a few of the 115 sins of omission and
distortion that I identified.
The New Pearl Harbor reported evidence that at least six of the alleged
hijackers are still alive. David Harrison of the Telegraph interviewed two
of the men who supposedly died on Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania,
one of whom said that he "had never even heard of Pennsylvania," let alone
died there. The Associated Press reported that Waleed al-Shehri, supposedly
on Flight 11, contacted the U.S. embassy in Morocco about two weeks after
9/11. The 9/11 Commission Report, nevertheless, suggested that al-Shehri was
responsible for stabbing one of the flight attendants shortly before Flight
11 crashed into the North Tower.
The New Pearl Harbor cited reports that although Mohamed Atta, the supposed
ringleader, had been portrayed as a devout Muslim ready to meet his maker,
he actually loved alcohol, pork, and lap dances. Zelikow's commission,
however, said that Atta had become "fanatically" religious. They also
claimed that they could find no credible explanation as to why Atta and the
other hijackers went to Las Vegas. The mainstream press has let the
Commission get away with these obvious contradictions.
People who have seen Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11 know that President
Bush was in a classroom in Sarasota when he was told that a second plane had
struck the World Trade Center, a sign that the country was suffering an
unprecedented terrorist attack. And yet the president just sat there. Many
critics have asked why he did not immediately assume the role of
commander-in-chief, but the more important question is why the highly
trained Secret Service agents did not immediately rush him to safety. Bush's
location had been highly publicized. They should have worried that a
hijacked airliner was bearing down on them at that very moment. And yet they
allowed the president to remain at the school another half hour, thereby
implying that they knew the president was not a target.
The 9/11 Commission's only response was to report that "the Secret Service
told us they . . . did not think it imperative for [the President] to run
out the door." The Commissioners evidently accepted the implied suggestion
that maintaining presidential decorum was more important than protecting the
president's life. The mainstream press has had no comment on this remarkable
response to that remarkable incident.
Another big question created by the official story is how the hijackers, by
crashing planes into the Twin Towers, caused them and Building 7 to
collapse. One problem is that Building 7 was not struck by an airplane, and
steel-frame buildings had never before been caused to collapse by fire
alone, even when the fires had been much bigger, hotter, and longer-lasting.
The Commission avoided this problem by simply not mentioning this fact or
even, incredibly, that Building 7 collapsed.
Another problem, which I mentioned earlier, is that the collapses had all
the standard features of controlled demolitions. For example, all three
buildings came down at virtually free-fall speed. The Commission even
alluded to this feature, saying that the "South Tower collapsed in 10
seconds." But it never explained how fire plus the impact of an airplane
could have produced such a collapse.
Controlled demolition was also suggested by the fact that the collapses were
total, with the 110-story Twin Towers collapsing into a pile of rubble only
a few stories high. The core of each tower had consisted of 47 massive steel
columns, which extended from the basements through the roofs. Even if we
ignore all the other problems in the official "pancake" theory of the
collapses, those massive steel columns should have still been sticking up a
thousand feet in the air. Zelikow's commission handled this problem with the
audacious claim that "the interior core of the buildings was a hollow steel
James Glanz, a science writer for the New York Times, co-authored a book in
2003 entitled The Rise and Fall of the World Trade Center. This book
contains an extensive discussion of the construction of the towers around
the 47 interior columns. And yet when the Commission in 2004 published its
incredible denial that these columns existed, the Times did not protest.
Another example: Breaking those massive steel columns would have required
very powerful explosives. Many survivors of the towers have reported hearing
and feeling explosions. But the 9/11 Commission failed to mention any of
these reports. William Rodriguez told the 9/11 Commission behind closed
doors about feeling and hearing a huge explosion in the sub-basement of the
North Tower, then rescuing people from its effects, but neither his name nor
any of his testimony is found in Zelikow's final report.
The mainstream press has also refused to report Rodriguez's story, even
though NBC News spent a day at his home taping it.
The Commission also failed to address the many reasons to conclude that the
Pentagon was not struck by Flight 77. The Commission in particular failed to
subpoena the film from the video cameras, confiscated by the FBI immediately
after the attacks, which could at least clear up one of the
questions---whether the attacking aircraft was a Boeing 757.
The Commission did allude to one problem---the fact that Hani Hanjour, the
alleged pilot, was known to be completely incompetent, incapable of flying a
Boeing 757, let alone performing the remarkable maneuver reportedly executed
by the aircraft that hit the Pentagon. The Commission handled this problem
simply by saying in one place that Hanjour was considered a "terrible pilot"
while saying elsewhere that he was given the assignment to hit the Pentagon
because he was "the operation's most experienced pilot." The mainstream
press has not pointed out this contradiction.
The Commission also failed to discuss the considerable evidence that Flight
93 was shot down by the US military, perhaps when passengers were about to
wrest control of it. The Commission dealt with this problem only indirectly,
by claiming that Vice President Cheney did not give the shoot-down order
until 10:10, which was at least four minutes after Flight 93 crashed. In
support of this claim, the Commission said that Cheney did not enter the
Operations Center under the White House until almost 10:00 that morning. To
make this claim, however, the Commission had to contradict all prior
reports. It also had to delete Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta's
testimony, given during the Commission's public hearings, that when he got
down there at 9:20, Cheney was already in charge. Even such an obvious lie,
supported by such blatant suppression of evidence, has elicited no murmur
from our mainstream press.
There are dozens of other omissions and distortions the press has allowed
the Commission to get away with. For example, the Commission's endorsement
of the claim by General Richard Myers that he was on Capitol Hill that
morning ignores Richard Clarke's report, in "Against All Enemies", that
Myers was in the Pentagon, participating in Clarke's videoconference. Also,
the Commission's account of why the hijacked airliners were not intercepted
contradicts the account that had been told since shortly after 9/11 not only
by the U.S. military but also by the press, in thousands of stories. But the
press now, like Gilda Radnor, says "Never Mind."
In any case, as these illustrations show, the 9/11 Commission, which had the
opportunity to rebut the prima facie case against the Bush administration,
failed to do so. This means that the publication of The 9/11 Commission
Report needs to be recognized as a decisive event, because it was the moment
at which the prima facie case against the Bush administration became a
What we need now is a press that will let the American people in on this
development---which is most important, given the fact that the official
story about 9/11 has provided the pretext for virtually every other horrible
thing this administration has done.
[David Ray Griffin is professor emeritus at the Claremont School of
Theology, where he taught for over 30 years (retiring in 2004). He has
authored or edited over two dozen books, including "God and Religion in the
Postmodern World," "Religion and Scientific Naturalism," and "The New Pearl
Harbor: Disturbing Questions About the Bush Administration and 9/11."]
Enver Masud, "What Really Happened on September
11?," The Wisdom Fund, March 7, 2005
Morgan Reynolds, "Why Did the Trade
Center Skyscrapers Collapse?," LewRockwell.com, June 9, 2005
John Crewdson and Andrew Zajac, "Atta known to Pentagon before 9/11,"
Chicago Tribune, September 28, 2005
[The buildings have been investigated and found to be safe in an assumed
collision with a large jet airliner (Boeing 707 - DC 8) traveling at 600
miles per hour. Analysis indicates that such collision would result only
in local damage which would not cause collapse or substantial damage to the building
and would not endanger the lives and safety of occupants not in the
immediate area of impact.--"Baseline Structural Performance
and Aircraft Impact Damage Analysis of the World Trade Center Towers,"
NISTNCSTAR1-2, Appendix A, September 2005]
Seals Case for 9/11 WTC Demolition, Calls on NY Times to End Coverup,"
Michigan Independent Media Center, October 19, 2005
[Why have we not known about them until recently? Part of the answer is that
the city of New York would not release them until it was forced to do so.
Early in 2002, the New York Times requested copies under the freedom of
information act, but Mayor Michael Bloomberg's administration refused. So
the Times, joined by several families of 9/11 victims, filed suit. After a
long process, the city was finally ordered by the New York Court of Appeals
to release the records (with some exceptions and redactions allowed).
Included were oral histories, in interview form, provided by 503
firefighters and medical workers. (Emergency Medical Services had become a
division within the Fire Department.) The Times then made
these oral histories publicly available.--David Ray Griffin, "
Explosive Testimony: Revelations about the Twin Towers in the 9/11 Oral
Histories," 911truth.org, January 18, 2006]
[It wasn't until a colleague sent Griffin an e-mail with Paul Thompson's
timeline--an exact, minute-by-minute accounting of the events of Sept.
11 based entirely on mainstream media accounts--that he changed his mind.
"The most glaring anomaly," Griffin now says, "was that none of the hijacked
planes were intercepted, even though all of them would have been, had
standard procedure been followed."
According to Gen. Ralph Eberhart, head of North American Aerospace Defense
Command (NORAD), from the time the FAA senses something is wrong, it takes
about a minute to contact NORAD, after which NORAD, Eberhart says, can
scramble fighter jets "within a matter of minutes to anywhere in the United
States." So what happened on that morning?--Steve Bhaerman, "Unquestioned Answers: Nonconspiracy theorist David Ray Griffin takes
aim at the official 9-11 story," The Bohemian, June 14-20, 2006]
Sid Walker, "A
tale of three broadcasters," cairnsblog.net, December 30, 2007
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