9/11 conspiracy theoriesI'm hesitant to wade into this debate because it's not one of my pet issues. And as much as I oppose the president and his militarist agenda, I'm sure someone will still accuse me of drinking the right-wing Kool Aid. That said, here's my official position on the 9/11 conspiracy theories.
Theories that suggest that Bush administration was actually behind the 9/11 terrorist attacks as a justification for their pre-planned imperial aggression against Iraq (a summary can be found here. I don't contest that there may be some holes in the official version of what happened on 9/11. I'm as anti-Bush as they come and I'm as strong an opponent of US military and the military-industrial complex as you'll find. I've been against the Iraq monstrosity since day one.
But I'm not willing to make the enormous leap that a series of coincidences adds up to a broad conspiracy. My intellectual integrity requires me to be skeptical of everything, not just of stuff I don't want to hear. If you want me to believe that the US government organized the worst terrorist attack on US soil in history, then I want irrefutable, concrete evidence. I want documents. I want emails. I want audio tape of the conspirators. I need more than coincidences, anonymous witnesses and stuff that I already know.
I can't say for certain that the conspiracy theories are not true. Who knows. There's enough secret stuff going on that it's possible. In fact, I just listened to a Swiss radio documentary yesterday about secret NATO operations in the 1970s in Europe to exaggerate the threat of left-wing militant groups. But just because something is possible doesn't mean it actually happened. Just because the official version may have holes doesn't mean the alternative version must be 100 percent accurate.
I don't instantly dismiss these theories with the wave of a hand. But my gut feeling and common sense makes me skeptical. Such a conspiracy would require the involvement of at least dozens of people. Dozens (or hundreds) of Americans whose job it was to plan the murder of thousands of their fellow citizens. Some would have to powerful. Some rich. And some ordinary joes to do the physical dirty work. In the absence of hard evidence, I refuse to believe of all these co-conspirators, not a single one had any qualms about murdering thousands of their fellow citizens. Not sending them off to die, like in war. But actually massacring them. Not a single one had any qualms beforehand. Not a single one has any qualms since, with the blood of several thousand Americans on their hands. Not a single one had so much trouble sleeping that they mentioned it to their spouse. Not a single one decided they couldn't live with themselves. Is this possible? Yes. Is it plausible? No. Will I believe this without overwhelming hard evidence? No way.
Eventually these things unravel. Look at the Scooter Libby trial. Look at how the WMDs myth became discredited. Eventually the truth comes out. There's always a paper or electronic trail somewhere, no matter how hard the criminals trial. To paraphrase Jerry Maguire, "Show me the paper trail! Show me the emails!"
Conspiracy theories aren't always wrong. But they should be analyzed with as much vigor as they purport to scrutinize the official versions.
The progressive (and resolutely anti-Bush) website Alternet ran a good piece (which was originally published in the left-wing British paper The Guardian) meticulously addressing various aspects of the theories.
I hope conspiracy theorists will read this article as critically as they expect the rest us to read their theories.