This article was published in the August 2018 issue of Works in Progress (a monthly progressive newspaper in Olympia, Washington). It is available at http://www.olywip.org/book-review-9-11-and-nationalism. It also was published in A Reformulation of Dialectical Materialism.
This is a review of 9/11 Ten Years Later: When State Crimes Against Democracy Succeed by David Ray Griffin (Olive Branch Press, 2011). The book demonstrates that the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center and on the Pentagon were an inside job, a false flag operation. The attacks did not, as claimed by the Bush administration and the mass media, result from a conspiracy carried out by operatives of al-Qaeda under the direction of Osama bin Laden.
An inside job
The idea that these horrendous attacks were carried out by elements of our own government is surely frightening. What is even more frightening is the total, mindless rejection by the great majority of Americans of this as an inside job that our enlightened country could never do. This appeal to nationalism as the basic faith of Americans is what I consider to be the most important understanding provided by the book, but let me first outline the author’s proofs that there was a government conspiracy.
A coherent case relying on evidence
The bulk of this book is devoted to demonstrating, in great detail, the impossibility of the government’s al-Qaeda conspiracy theory. Ten years after 9/11, Griffin has sorted through the relevant facts and opinions to produce a coherent case against the official explanation of what happened. The reader herself/himself will need to read the book to evaluate the veracity of the points he makes (pp. 27-50 for the WTC buildings) as well as the whole of his analysis. We can here mention only some of his salient points:
1. The twin towers were not brought down by the airliners which penetrated them. The official story is that the fires fueled by the jet fuel aboard the aircraft melted the steel supporting the top floors of each tower (and throughout the structure), causing the top floors to fall and take the rest of the building with them. But the melting point of steel is 2800°F, whereas these fires could not have been hotter than 1800°F — the maximum possible temperature for hydrocarbon-based building fires. Previously, there have been no incidents of such fires bringing down steel-framed high rises, even in the case of examples cited by Griffin of much larger, destructive fires.
2. There were also huge horizontal ejections of steel from the twin towers, which could only have been caused by explosives, not by the fires.
3. A third World Trade Center building (WTC7) collapsed that day. It was very large (47 stories), and it came down some six hours after the twin towers (WTC1 and WTC2). It came down in the short time required for absolute free fall, which — according to the laws of physics (conservation of momentum and conservation of energy) — could not have resulted from the top floors collapsing and bringing down the remaining floors. (I happen to be a physicist, with a Ph.D. in theoretical physics, and I was able to calculate and confirm that the collapse time was too short for the building to have collapsed solely under the weight of the top floors.) Moreover, the building collapsed directly into its footprint, symmetrically (straight down, with an almost perfectly horizontal roofline), which indicates that its base supporting steel columns were all destroyed at once.
4. Civil engineering experts thus concluded that all three WTC buildings were brought down by controlled demolitions. There was clear evidence of the presence of nanothermite (which can be tailored to behave as an incendiary or an explosive) in the WTC dust. In fact the WTC debris continued burning for six months — impossible for ordinary building materials, but explained by the presence of nanothermite.
5. A number of calls reported from passengers on the doomed aircrafts were demonstrated to have been fake. Some calls couldn’t have been made using cell phones at such a high altitude, and the seatback telephones had been made inoperative for a number of months by the airline.
6. The official story claims that a Boeing 757 flown by al-Qaeda’s Hani Hanjour crashed into the Pentagon. However, his flight school judged Hanjour to be incompetent to fly even a single-engine aircraft. Whatever hit the Pentagon took an extremely difficult trajectory which would have tested even a highly experienced pilot. (But not to worry, for evidently the target was achieved: where the Pentagon was struck there were no high-ranking Pentagon officials. Instead, the personnel carrying out an investigation into several billion dollars of unaccounted funds, as well as the relevant records, were wiped out.)
7. Although Osama bin Laden immediately denied involvement in the 9/11 attacks and continued to do so, the US military “found” a video of him admitting responsibility. How they found it was never made clear, and it appears to have been bogus. Rather than capturing bin Laden and bringing him to trial, the U.S. military murdered him nine years later. By disposing of his body by burial at sea, they avoided any Muslim friends or acquaintances being able to identify him. (It’s even probable that they killed someone else, for bin Laden had been in poor health and quite likely had already died.)
Griffin reports that while there is no consensus among the critics of the government’s 9/11 conspiracy theory as to what actually hit the Pentagon, there is agreement that the WTC buildings were brought down by controlled demolition.
Obstructing an investigation, blaming al-Quaeda
The Bush administration did everything it could to prevent an investigation into 9/11. They appointed political operatives to executive positions in the 9/11 Commission (first attempting, unsuccessfully, to install Henry Kissinger as its Chairman!) and drastically underfunded the Commission’s work. Vice-President Dick Cheney (not a Commission member) was, in fact, directly implicated in the attacks through his failure to order the military to shoot down the aircraft approaching the Pentagon. The 9/11 Commission produced the required report blaming al-Qaeda for the attacks.
The 9-11 Truth Movement
But as it became increasingly clear that the 9/11 attacks had been an inside job employing controlled demolition, the 9/11 Truth Movement was formed. It included many distinguished professionals from various fields (pp. 57-59 and pp. 222-226): former State Department officials, intelligence agency officials (including the CIA), and high-ranking military leaders as well as over 1500 architects and engineers in Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth. Their conclusion was that the attacks had been an inside job employing controlled demolition.
Failure of the mass media
However, the mass media in our country (but not elsewhere in the world) almost completely ignored the objections to the government’s conspiracy theory. This is hardly surprising since our mass media as well as our federal government is controlled by the 1%, in whose interest was the subsequent invasion of and attacks upon oil-rich Muslim countries. (Some months before 9/11, our government had decided to create “regime change” in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen, and 9/11 gave it a widely accepted excuse to do so in its subsequent “War on Terrorism”.) So mainstream opinion-makers commonly described members of the 9/11 Truth Movement as nuts, cranks, and idiots, as mindless advocates of conspiracy theories. (Of course, there are two conspiracy theories involved here, the government’s blaming al-Qaeda and the 9/11 Truth Movement’s blaming the government. But the mass media recognizes and dismisses derisively only the latter “conspiracy theory”.)
The U.S. as the indispensable nation for good in the world
Also dismissing critics of the government’s conspiracy theory out-of-hand were leftist intellectuals like Noam Chomsky, Alexander Cockburn, and Bill Moyers, as well as the great majority of Americans. Why would so many people refuse to examine seriously the evidence and arguments of the 9/11 Truth Movement? Chapter 8 of the book explains that what is operative here is nationalist faith. This (rather than Christianity, for example) is the basic faith of Americans: that the United States is the exception country, the indispensable country, for advancing civilization throughout the world. This faith rests on the belief that we are fundamentally a virtuous nation and, while we occasionally may make major mistakes (such as in Vietnam and Iraq), we are essentially good, never deliberately doing anything terribly evil. Surely our government could never kill some 2800 Americans for political purposes!
I admit that I succumbed to this outlook, at least partially. Right after 9/11, I was aware of criticisms of the official story, but I thought “who other than al-Qaeda might have carried out the attacks?”.
Identifying a possible perpetrator
To answer this question, I listed five requirements for a possible alternate perpetrator: requisite technical expertise, political motivation (in terms of goals for the future), opportunity (ability to do what was practically necessary), expectation of being shielded from any exposure or retribution, and the will (ethics) to sacrifice so many people. With these criteria I deduced that the only possible alternate perpetrator would have to be … Israel. I eliminated the United States since I didn’t think that our government could possibly carry out such a heinous act against its own people.
But since then, I’ve read JFK and the Unspeakable: Why He Died and Why It Matters by James W. Douglass (2010). Douglas demonstrates definitively how President Kennedy was assassinated by what we term the Deep State (here, mainly the CIA but also including elements of the military and the Secret Service). Through Griffin’s book I have now studied and understood the 9/11 attacks. I have concluded that it was not Israel (because of the complexity of the operation) but the “Deep State” that carried out the 9/11 attacks.
The Deep State and our nationalist faith
So where does this understanding leave us? We do have to be cognizant of the existence of the Deep State, rather than allowing it to be dismissed as just another “conspiracy theory” (derisively, in scare quotation marks). The Deep State intervenes on matters of critical importance to “national security,” viz. the maintenance and expansion of the Empire.
More importantly, we have to understand the immense hold that nationalist faith has on Americans, in facilitating their support of our enormous military spending and of our imperialist wars throughout the world. We are well aware of the role of white nationalism (in the form of white supremacy) in our country, but the problem goes much deeper. An overwhelming nationalism pervades our society, evinced by the strong support for Donald Trump’s call to “make America first” even among those who are not rabid white supremacists.
Some progressives will say that we shouldn’t get bogged down in questioning the government’s 9/11 story, that we should instead concentrate on more immediate matters facing us. But it is our duty to make people aware of what exactly is going on so that they can themselves decide what course of action to take, rather than deciding for them what information would be useful to them. If and when fascism comes to the United States, it will be on the basis of nationalism rather than simply white supremacy and conservative Christianity, and progressives should know what to expect and guard against.