ESSAY- Unthinkable? Who really destroyed the towers?

Maybe we all need counseling.

 When my family sits around the dinner table, as we did a few weeks ago at my birthday party, we talk about nearly anything: current events, scientific breakthroughs, and even about, um, you know, s-e-x.

  We were having a swell time that day, and then I had to go and introduce a brand-new topic.

"I want to know what really happened on September 11. I've found some Internet sites about it that are just riveting."

  Everyone stopped what they were doing– forks full of birthday cake poised in mid-air as they cast sideways glances at one another, wondering when I would stop.

  I stammered a little and said, "You know, how the World Trade Center buildings collapsed the way buildings do when it's a planned demolition, into their own footprint." 

  Nobody said anything.

  I continued, "Even building seven, which wasn't hit by a plane, collapsed like old buildings you see on the news, in Las Vegas or wherever, ones they're bringing down on purpose."

  That's when the sighing and eye-rolling began. You would think I was talking about something intimate and embarrassing, something too tender for examination. Genital warts, perhaps.

  "Mum," my son said, "they have names for people who talk like that: tin hat people, moonbats, wingnuts. You get lumped in with people who think the federal government is hiding information about space aliens."

  "What are you saying, then? That nobody can talk about it?"

  He said, "The conspiracy theories were all debunked in Popular Mechanics a few months ago. They went into a lot of detail."

  "Then what caused the buildings to collapse like that? It looked just like a planned demolition, with planted explosives."

  "It was the fires, the burning jet fuel that melted the steel, so the buildings collapsed."

  Not having looked too deeply into the subject at the time, I had no response. What bugged me then, and bugs me still, is the prohibition against talking about it. Judging by what I've since found online, a lot of people are furiously typing about it, posting messages on discussion boards and putting up websites questioning the official government explanation. 

  But I never hear conversations about it, and very seldom do I see the topic discussed on TV. And, come to think of it, I listen to progressive radio shows on WVAX, and they never broach this subject.

  A huge cultural phenomenon is seething just below the surface: lots of Americans are growing ever more suspicious that what we were told, in whole or in part, may be a lie. I'm not the only one who wonders how building seven– which was neither hit by a plane nor doused with jet fuel– was subject to the uniform, swift, and total collapse of a planned demolition.

  What we have on our hands may literally be an unspeakable crime, the worst in the history of our country: evidence that may be construed as pointing toward the attacks of September 11, 2001 being an "inside job," i.e., one perpetrated by individuals in our own government.

  I know, I know– you're cringing for me, aren't you? Thinking that ol' Janis has stepped right over the edge. 

  But consider this: I have lots of company in my quest for answers. According to a May 2006, Zogby poll, 42 percent of American adults polled think that our government and the 9/11 Commission "concealed or refused to investigate critical evidence that contradicts the official explanation of the attacks." And 45 percent think a new investigation is called for.

  So, people, why can't we talk about this?

  If it's true, if it was an "inside job," then I can tell you that I have no idea how to wrap my mind around that particular conclusion. I would have to re-think everything I know about this country and my place in it. 

  Such a scenario seems about as plausible as the events in a movie I saw when I was a kid, Invaders from Mars. Aliens take over the bodies of a boy's parents, and he can't understand why the people who are supposed to protect him no longer care whether he lives or dies. This movie scared the hell out of me.

  Our confidence in this administration is collapsing– in free-fall, like those buildings in the World Trade Center– and re-thinking everything that has happened seems like the responsible thing to do if we hope to pass a democracy along to our children and grandchildren.

A large chunk of the American public has unanswered questions about the attacks of September 11, 2001. The sooner we can talk openly about those concerns– around the dinner table and around the country– and have our questions answered regarding exactly what happened that day, the sooner we can return to some degree of trust in the people who have sworn to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.

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11 comments

Wow. I guess I can cross Janis off of the list of people to give credence to...

I find Stunned's reaction to this piece to be frightenly ironic. It seems to me that the major point of Janis's essay is that "nobody can talk about it". Even her own family is rendered speechless when she questions what really happened on September 11th.

I applaud Janis' bravery in asking the questions that nobody else dares ask publicly. She doesn't pretend to know the answers. It's a shame to have her credibility doubted because she dares to wonder.

I agree with Harry that the point of the essay seems to be "nobody can talk about it". I think you proved that anyone can talk about it.

You will have to present some real evidence and arguments for your side if you want the conversation to be substantial. Otherwise you are only one person whining about nobody being able to talk about it when you actually have a forum and could publish something substantial on this topic.

I welcome the discussion and look forward to seeing your next essay actually have some meaty arguments and evidence regarding your theory of the Twin Towers & Building 7 collapse.

At last, MSM is allowing in some fresh air! Kudos to the hook for printing this and kudos to Miss J. for her bravery. Our Founding Fathers would be proud. Questioning authority (which includes questioning the Official Version of History)is bedrock Patriotism.

Excellent! Why such a resistance to look at facts and have a thorough investigation. Exactly why are people afread of this?

Nobody was afraid to talk about Clinton's sexual practices.

It irks me that so much energy and money was spent investigating Clinton for lying about something that's not even illegal, and then for something of this magnitude (fires bring down steel skyscrapers for God's sake!!!) to get so little attention.

9/11 was an inside job, plain & simple! Watch Loose Change free on Google video & start to wake up!

In my opinion, many of the theories put forth in "Loose Change" (and elsewhere on numerous websites) serve only to muddy the waters. (e.g., the absurd declaration that there were no airplanes involved in the September 11th attacks.)

What I've discovered in my own reading is that there are many unanswered questions. I don't claim to have answers to any of these questions. I merely ask that we open the subject for discussion and examination.

Should you have an interest in pursuing this matter, I would suggest starting with a brief article that appeared on Bohemian.com (a website featuring content from three San Francisco-area newsweeklies).

It's an interview with theologian David Ray Griffin, the author of "The New Pearl Harbor." Do a Google search for "bohemian" and "David Ray Griffin" to find the article.

(Apparently, these comments can't be posted to The Hook using direct links. I tried, and the post was rejected. So, I'm improvising.)

For a more in-depth look at these unanswered questions, I would direct your attention to a long article by David Ray Griffin: "The Destruction of the World Trade Center: Why the Official Account Cannot Be True."

The URL is: 911 review dot com slash articles slash griffin slash nyc1 dot html.

(According to Wikipedia: Dr. David Ray Griffin is a longtime resident of Santa Barbara, California, a full-time academic from 1973 until April 2004, and is currently a co-director of the Center for Process Studies, and one of the foremost contemporary exponents of process theology, founded on the process philosophies of Alfred North Whitehead and Charles Hartshorne.)

If you're looking for a website devoted to this subject, have a look at 911 research dot wtc7 dot net.

(Again, sorry for these ugly quasi-URLs. I'd link if I could.)

Bravo for Janis asking questions. No harm in an open discussion. Theories, however, about 9/11 are simply that. No one has come up with concrete proof that it was a conspiracy perpetrated by Washington, or Jews, or whatever. Some people believe conspiracies behind every major event. Remember the JFK assination? The conspiracy theories made a lot of money for people on the rubber chicken circuit, publishing books, talking heads on TV ..........some even with newspaper columns!

It is strange how these two huge towers collapsed straight down "the way buildings do when it's a planned demolition, into their own footprint." If one were to suggest that the government had a part in the 9/11 disaster, one must assume (due to the pattern of the demolished buildings) that the government had these buildings wired for demolition charges before the fact. They must assume that the government encouraged someone to fly airplanes into the buildings to start the chain reaction. Well, a conspiracy theorist might be able to make these arguments, but.... they also must prove a couple of points that can't be believed- and are impossible.
1. The buildings must have been partially detroyed beforehand; charges placed for demolition require a great deal of work before the demolition takes place. There is a great deal of metal work done to partially weaken key structural supports the keep the building from falling one way or another. Is the author suggesting that this work was completed while approximately 10-15000 people followed their normal work routines? Is it not ludicrous to think that people who work day in and day out in this building would not notice walls that were altered throughout the entirety of their floors, where the charges were placed? Remember, the World Trade Center Bldgs. were known for having an "exoskeleton" versus a typically constructed steel structure; the strength of the buildings came from the outer steel walls versus interior steel structural beams. Work on such a structure would be pretty obvious!
2. No one disputes the fact that each building's demise began at the point of the impact of the planes. If the government planned this, they would have had to know exactly where the planes would hit. They would also have to find a way to keep the demo charges from exploding while the building and contents burned. Last thing I heard was that explosives react to heat- and rather quickly. Also, as hard as it is to be able to fly a plane such as the 767 into a building, it would be close to impossible to fly an airplane traveling ~ 500-600 mph into a specific, predetermined floor. Think about it! If the conspiracy theories were to hold water, they would have to deal with real facts- not just some dreamy thoughts about why a building fell into its own footprint. Maybe the government had planned on attacking Building 7, and it just so happened to coincide with the plans of a group of terrorists.
I guess it's fine to ask questions, but when will Americans decide to stop such foolish attacks on the political entities that they despise. 9/11 has nothing in common with Clinton and his sexual proclivities. Do I read much about then Pres. Clinton allowing the Sudanese government to release Bin Laden? Do I read much about past administration's failures in Bosnia, the wasted lives in Somalia? Based on his article, I would call David Ray Griffin an anti-government apologist versus an academic. What bothers me the most is that most of these theories simply attack the current administration and the Republican led Congress; what did/n't they do to allow this disaster, or as the some radicals suggest, how they planned the disaster. When the current administrations is gone, and the Democrats assume the position of power again, who will the radicals that entertain such theories seek to destroy next- the evil Protestants, Catholics, etc.?

Tom - If you wonder why some people think there could have been explosives planted in the towers, you could read Griffin's "The Destruction of the World Trade Center: Why the Official Account Cannot Be True." The URL is: 911 review dot com slash articles slash griffin slash nyc1 dot html.

Thank you, Janis Jaquith, for having the courage to publicly broach this topic!

Americans deserve precise, detailed answers to questions they might have about the events of 9/11 that have not been explained to their satisfaction. Questions from lay persons without specific technical expertise are not necessarily foolish and should not be automatically dismissed or relegated to the realm of UFO’s and ESP. Given the (thankfully) infrequent occurrence of jets being crashed into skyscrapers, relatively little contextually specific (real-world) data exist to serve as a reference points for analysis. Even the most qualified experts, officially designated or not, might disagree over the relative merits of available sources of reference data, as well as the best way to design and execute laboratory experiments and computer simulations. The possibility that the NIST expert investigators had incomplete access to the evidence further complicates matters.

Scientific analysis has been developed to be an emotionally neutral tool for describing natural and man-made materials and predicting their behavior under a variety of conditions. No single scientist or group of scientists has "the answer" to any question – the definitive answer of the moment is still provisional in the sense of being “open to question”. Continued scrutiny of a problem, including point-by-point specific refutation (or acceptance) of any and all issues raised, is necessary to obtain better and better solutions. Perhaps most important of all is knowing when to admit that not enough reference data exist to give a definitive answer, in which case the most likely scenarios are presented along with their relative probabilities.

Of course, scientists and engineers are fallible humans, and faithful adherence to scientific objectivity can be difficult even in relatively esoteric situations. Remaining objective in emotionally and politically charged situations can be nearly impossible. The key to maintaining maximum objectivity is brutal honesty and relentless re-examination and re-evaluation of the evidence at hand. Legal decisions are of course subject to deadlines – they can’t be eternally open-ended like purely scientific questions. A panel of expert peers who are best-qualified to evaluate the available evidence need to reach some sort of consensus within a fixed period of time. But this doesn’t mean that valid questions can’t (or shouldn’t) continue to be raised, by technical experts who are not members of the panel, as well as by the general public.

How can the “general public” differentiate between a 9/11 “wacko conspiracy theory” and a “valid concern”? The first step, as noted by Ms. Jaquith, is to stop suppressing open discussions of non-official possibilities for the events of 9/11. The next step might be an admission that each non-official explanation is not equally plausible, and that some could merit further investigation. Once open discussion commences and a critical, yet open-minded attitude toward alternatives is established, one can begin a comparative evaluation. A good starting point for evaluating these possibilities is the NIST web site, which includes a “FAQ” list. Popular Mechanics published a feature article (available online) which is informative but is deliberately biased in favor of official explanations. One summary of non-official alternatives can be found on the “9-ll research” website, which includes an editorial critique of the NIST report. With some effort, a lay person can at least find basic information on disputed issues and begin to compare the competing opinions. But most non-engineers will not have the education and expertise to make an individually informed judgment. One satisfying method for addressing possible deficiencies and/or ambiguities in the official NIST report might be one-on-one debates, either live or web-based, between an NIST committee member and a dissenting expert (Shyam Sunder vs. Steven Jones, for example). This would require a neutral referee or referees who would moderate the debate and provide an accessible summary for the interested public. Even if definitive answers didn’t materialize, the direct, public arguing of specific points by acknowledged (or at least highly qualified) authorities would certainly help clarify the overall picture. Unfortunately, the likelihood of such a debate being held is low.

As Ms. Jaquith expressed eloquently in her essay, the attacks were emotionally devastating to those directly involved and to our nation as a whole - a unique and unprecedented horror. The very thought that anyone in our government might have allowed or even staged any part of this tragedy is supremely threatening. Denial and dismissal of this frightening possibility, along with stigmatization of those who raise it, do offer short-term comfort and perhaps the illusion of greater safety. But do we not owe the 9/11 victims, their families and friends, and ourselves – the U.S.A. – the unvarnished truth? If the leaders of our country are not guilty, then they should not fear continued investigation of the events of 9/11, including expert examination (or any necessary re-examination) and open re-evaluation of all available evidence.