Why I Defend those who Question the Official 9-11 Story

Skepticism about the official 9-11 account continues.  Individuals questioning the government’s story do so at great risk to their careers and reputations. I have told you about Kevin Barrett and William Woodward. Now another member of the Scholars for 9-11 Truth group has come under fire. Steve Jones, a physicist at Brigham Young University, has been suspended for his argument that the World Trade Center towers were brought down by controlled demolition.  

What’s my position on the matter of the official story?  For the record, I have no certain position on the matter. I presume that the attack was carried out by al-Qaeda, but I remain open to compelling arguments and new evidence.  I wouldn’t feel like I was being consistent if I behaved any differently. I sometimes wish I could have the certainity of those who are absolutely convinced of the correctness of the government’s account or even its opposite.  

I do feel certain about this, though: It isn’t fair to brush off the arguments of those who don’t believe the official 9-11 story as “insanity” or “idiocy.” A friend of mine said today, “If we can get past the idiocy of the ’controlled demolitions’ crowd and agree that our differences are over that [some issue that he deemed worthy of discussion], we would be making progress, as the psychiatrists say.” My response was to draw a real world example. What do you say to a person who makes a version of the argument I articulate below? 

9-11 Skeptic: I saw a special on PBS and there the owner of the World Trade Center complex—his name is Larry something or other—and he says on there that he told authorities to pull Tower 7. And in video of the collapse of Tower 7, you can hear the blasts on the videotape, see people’s reaction to the blasts, and see them fleeing the area as the building comes down.  How did authorities get set up so quickly for a controlled demolition? Why would the police let them collapse Tower 7 given that the whole area was a crime scene? And if the building came down by controlled collapse, as claimed by the owner of the WTC complex—and he ought to know and with my own ears I heard him say that he told them to do it—why does FEMA say it collapsed because of fire? And, finally, why did the government let Popular Mechanics see photographs of Tower 7 collapse but no one else?

If you tell this person that he’s an “idiot,” he is going to stop listening to you. Because he knows things like this: On August 23, 2006, the audience of  KFNX-AM, Phoenix, heard radio talkshow host Charles Goyette interviewing Davin Coburn, senior research editor from Popular Mechanics. They hear Charles Goyette pressing Coburn on the matter of the collapse of Tower 7, and specifically questions concerning the existence of photographic evidence that, according to Coburn, shows the condition of Tower 7 before its collapse on 9-11. Coburn makes several references to photographs that have never been publicly shown. Here is a transcript of the interview:

Popular Mechanics (PM): “Well ya know, here again, there’s an interesting issue that you [Goyette] brought up before, we have seen (WTC-7) pictures, actually, they are pictures that are the property of the New York police department and other various governmental agencies, that we were not given permission to disseminate. And that gets back to your original question, I cannot speak for . . .

Goyette KFNX-AM: But you got to see them, Popular Mechanics got to see them. But the average American citizen can’t see them?

PM: Correct.

Goyette: Well that’s a fine kettle of fish isn’t it?

PM: Yeah it certainly is, and that I guess gets back to, ya know, us trying to do our homework and having the authority to see the pictures though what we are allowed to show everyone else, what is chosen to become public domain isn’t necessarily our—

Goyette: Did you see them?

PM: Yes.

Goyette: Do we have to kill you now?

PM: Let’s hope not.

Goyette: Well, I mean, explain it to me. What did you see there that I can’t see?

PM: Actually it was pretty much just what was described.

Goyette: Well there must be something that would be dangerous for me as an American citizen or a voter to see.

PM: I cannot, ya know, tell you again, why that—

Goyette: You’re publishers. I mean if anybody’s concerned about evidence in a criminal case or something they’ve done the worst possible thing, they showed it to a damn magazine publisher!

PM: Right. And that was done for the purposes of our background research, that we could—

Goyette: What about my background research? What about my background research? Do you see the source of my frustration here? I didn’t know they had different classes of citizens! You can’t tell me it’s because there’s a criminal case because they’ve shown it to a damn magazine publisher!

PM: I’m actually not telling you anything. I can’t answer that question.

Goyette: I know you can’t, alright, let me go to the phones.

When I read this, I can see why people ask questions. One of those questions is, if the authorities don’t want to fuel all these “conspiracy theories,” then why do they withhold evidence that they say would put the matter to rest? “If you knew what we know, then you’d believe it.” Why leave the whole explanation for the collapse of the towers to a Hearst Corporation publication? Why does Popular Mechanics—a lay magazine—and now there’s a book by the same authors of the Popular Mechanics article out called Debunking 9-11 Myths—get a monopoly on the official explanation of the collapse but everybody else are “idiots”?  

I feel the need to defend the integrity and intelligence of people who need to be convinced. I appreciate their curiosity. Don’t you? They aren’t blindly following the leader.  Convincing lies at the heart of rational skepticism. Both you and I know that the government lies constantly. All the lies about Iraq, Iran, Indochina, etc. So does corporate power. Do you really trust the writers at Popular Mechanics or any other mainstream media outlet to report the facts? At this point, isn’t faith in government tattooing the word “sucker” on your forehead? If the people who run this country expect the “idiots” to believe them, then why don’t they release every scrap of evidence they have? A culture of secrecy breeds distrust. 

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Andrew Austin

Andrew Austin is on the faculty of Democracy and Justice Studies and Sociology at the University of Wisconsin—Green Bay. He has published numerous articles, essays, and reviews in books, encyclopedia, journals, and newspapers.

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