UFPPC (www.ufppc.org) Digging Deeper LII: July 28, 2008, 7:00 p.m.

David Ray Griffin, Debunking 9/11 Debunking: An Answer to Popular Mechanics and Other Defenders of the Official Conspiracy Theory, revised and updated edition (Northampton, MA: Olive Branch Press/Interlink, 2007).
Acknowledgments. Twenty-five “member[s] of the 9/11 truth movement,” two professional air controllers, editors, wife (viii).

Introduction: Conspiracy Theories and Evidence. “The evidence that 9/11 was an inside job is overwhelming,” but certain beliefs keep people from examining the evidence with an open mind (1, cf. 114). My Own Story. Griffin dismissed as implausible revisionist accounts of 9/11 until spring 2003, when he encountered Paul Thompson’s “massive 9/11 timeline” (2). Reporting and Evaluating the Evidence. Griffin then wrote The New Pearl Harbor, arguing for a prima facie case for official complicity” (2). Failure of the 9/11 Commission to try to rebut the prima facie case against the Bush administration made it “conclusive”; Griffin wrote two more books (2-3). A Former CIA Analyst Examines the Evidence. In 2006, former CIA analyst Bill Christison confessed he had been wrong not to consider conspiracy theories (3). Polling the American Public. In May 2006 a Zogby poll showed that 42% of the American people believed “the US government and its 9/11 Commission concealed . . . critical evidence” (3). A Flurry of Debunking Publications. Four quasi-official publications have appeared attempting to debunk conspiracy theories; Popular Mechanic’s Debunking 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can’t Stand Up to the Facts, an expansion of a March 2005 article, is the most “ambitious” (4-6). The Present Book. Each chapter is “a response to one of these publications” (6-7). Debunking Stories in the Press. Many more debunking stories appeared in the summer of 2006, including in left publications (7). Conspiracy Theories: Generic, Rational, and Irrational. The rejection of conspiracy theories per se is untenable (8-9). Mainstream and many left publications refuse to acknowledge that the official theory is a conspiracy theory, are rhetorically slanted, rely on ad hominem arguments, fail to examine the evidence (912). Specific responses to Robert Baer’s and Alexander Cockburn’s criticisms (12-15).

Paradigmatic Thinking, Wishful-andFearful Thinking, and the Betrayal of Empiricism. Many hold a priori that the U.S. government could not be guilty of seeking or allowing the death of thousands of Americans, a belief influenced by American exceptionalism; but the evidence does not support this paradigm (15-17). That many prefer to believe in incompetence or that someone would have talked by now or that the evidence inculpating al-Qaeda is overwhelming shows wishful thinking (1720). In addition, many are fearful of unattractive labels (21-22). Scientists and Scientific Explanation. Many (including Matthew Rothschild of the Progressive) wrongly assume that the FEMA and NIST reports are scientific in character because they were produced by scientists (23-26). Ch. 1: 9/11 Live or Distorted: Do the NORAD Tapes Verify The 9/11 Commission Report? Michael Bronmer’s Vanity Fair article made a “stir” in August 2006 by calling attention to a fact apparent in The 9/11 Commission Report, but largely unnoticed till then: that from 2001 to 2004, the military’s account of its response to the 9/11 hijackings was false, according to the NORAD tapes (27). Conflicts between the NORAD Tapes and the Military’s Previous Testimony. The effect of the NORAD tapes is to relieve the military of failure to intercept the hijacked flights because they were allegedly unaware of them, though it raises the question of why the military propounded a false version and why no one corrected it (27-30). Would the 9/11 Commission Engage in Deceit? The 9/11 Commission staff was directed and research and writing were controlled by Philip Zelikow, a Bush administration official (31). An example of “an outright lie” The 9/11 Commission Report told is the alteration of the time when Vice President Cheney arrived in the Presidential Emergency Operations Center (PEOC) and omission of conflicting evidence (31-33). Another example: suppression of impious behavior from the account of Mohamed Atta’s actions

(33-34). Is the 9/11 Commission’s TapesBased Portrayal of the FAA Believable? FAA procedure requires controllers contact the military whenever something suggests an aircraft is in trouble (34). AA Flight 11. “[E]ven if we ignore the evidence that the military was contacted at around 8:20 and the evidence that it was contacted around 8:28, we have strong evidence that it was contacted at 8:34—four minutes earlier than Bronner and the 9/11 Commission claim” (45; 35-45). The 9/11 Commission’s “portrayal of FAA incompetence is so extreme as to be incredible” (52; 45-52). The tapes also conflict with previously reported fact (52-54). UA Flight 175. Many sources contradict the claim the military did not know of the flight until 9:03, after it had crashed (55-58). The official account of where the fighters from Otis were is lame, problematic; there were at least 16 fighters at the military’s disposal (58-63). AA Flight 77. Accounts of FAA failure to report Flight 77’s problems are not credible (63-66). UA Flight 93. “[T]he claim that no one except the FAA knew about the errant airliners is absurd” (69; 66-74). Phantom Flight 11. This explanation for the scrambling of jets is implausible and was mentioned in no earlier official account (74-79). FAA Competence and Incompetence. Despite incredible levels of claimed incompetence, we are asked to believe the FAA executed perfectly the unprecedented grounding of all planes (79-80). Is the Alleged Motive to Lie Credible? Suggested motives for the military’s giving false accounts earlier are not credible (80-82). How Could False Tapes Have Been Produced? Adequate motivation existed (82-83). Cherry Picking and Time Alteration. Not all tapes were made available (83-84). Inserting Scripted Statements. A possible technique (84). Voice Morphing. Technology developed at Los Alamos makes it possible to fabricate convincing voice recordings (84-86). United 93 Telephone Calls: A Prior Example? Many problems exist with respect to the alleged calls from Flight 93, suggesting they were fabricated (86-81). But Would All Those People Participate in a Lie? This question seems to make the voice morphing hypothesis preferable, but an investigation can settle this (91-92). Conclusion. On Aug. 13, 2006, the New York Times published an editorial accepting uncritically the official

version, and fails to see that the military is now discredited as a source of information (92-94). Ch. 2: The Real 9/11 Conspiracy Theory: A Critique of Kean and Hamilton’s Without Precedent. The 9/11 commissioners’ book appeared “almost simultaneously” with Bronner’s essay (95). Trying to Debunk the Stand-Down Theory. Kean and Hamilton argue “that we must declare, on the basis of the tapes, that all these things that all these people reportedly thought they remembered did not really happen [and] that we must believe that something that evidently no one in the military remembered [phantom Flight 11] actually did happen” (97; 95-98). What about Other Conspiracy Theories? Kean and Hamilton do not resolve any problematic points in the official theory’s favor (99-101). The Real “Conspiracy Theory.” They rhetorically misuse the term “conspiracy theory” for “irrational conspiracy theory” and while correctly identifying five characteristics of an irrational conspiracy theory, fail to acknowledge that it is the official theory that has all five of these characteristics (101-02). They are: (1) Beginning with the Conclusion. Al-Qaeda was assumed by the 9/11 Commission to be responsible for the attacks (102-04). Excluded Evidence. They excluded evidence that the BushCheney administration had more means and a powerful motive for carrying out the attacks (104-06). Zelikow as Executive Director. Philip Zelikow, a Bush partisan and Rice intimate, was a most inappropriate choice (106-12). (2) Adherence to Theories Disproved by Facts. In relation to Bush’s behavior on the morning of 9/11, the strike on the Pentagon, and the collapse of the towers and of WTC 7, the official theory is disproved by facts (112-15). (3) Ignoring Evidence Contradicting One’s Theory. Griffin lists 19 major omissions; other evidence was excluded on a basis that was illogical (115-20). (4) Uncritical Acceptance of Dubious Evidence. In addition to the dubious evidence of the tapes, the evidence of al-Qaeda’s responsibility, Mohamed Atta’s fanaticism, Flight 93 phone calls, the identity of the hijackers, and Osama bin Laden’s responsibility was accepted uncritically. In fact, the available evidence is more

compatible with the theory that 9/11 was a false-flag operation (121-30). “This false-flag hypothesis, by being able to explain all this evidence in a way that is consistent with all the other evidence about 9/11 that can survive scrutiny, is clearly far more adequate than the official hypothesis” (130, my emphasis). Reliance on Third-Hand Evidence. The commission’s reliance on third-hand accounts exemplifies its acceptance of dubious evidence (130-32). (5) Disdain for Open and Informed Debate. “[M]embers of the Bush administration, the 9/11 Commission, and other official agencies have shown disdain for such debate. They will never meet us in a public forum, such as an auditorium or a radio or TV talk show, where we could have back-and-forth debate. For a long time, they simply ignored our evidence and arguments. More recently, they have taken to issuing ex cathedra statements in books and magazines and on websites” (132-33; 132-34). Conclusion. “I personally know of no one whose mind was changed by The 9/11 Commission Report” (135). “The fact that all of the conversions about 9/11 go in only one direction, away from the official story, is an important test of truth” (136). Appendix: My Ersatz Interview of Lee Hamilton. In 2006, a CBC interviewer, Evan Solomon, asked Lee Hamilton many of the questions raised by Griffin’s research; Hamilton’s responses were evasive and patently mendacious; they also revealed that staff “filtered” evidence, so that there was evidence no commissioner saw (136-42). Ch. 3: The Disintegration of the World Trade Center: Has NIST Debunked the Theory of Controlled Demolition? The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), all of whose directors are Bush appointees, issued a draft of its final report on the Twin Towers in June 2005, its Final Report on the Collapse of the World Trade Center Towers in September 2005, and “Answers to Frequently Asked Questions” on Aug. 30, 2006 (143-44). Why Did the Airplanes Cause So Much Damage? NIST’s discussion of damage from aircraft collisions is deceptive and ignores authoritative evidence (145-47). How Did Impact Damage Help Induce Collapse? NIST’s methods of calculating damage are unconvincing (147-52). How Did the Fires

Help Induce Collapse? “Steel is an excellent conductor of heat” (152). Were the Fires Hot Enough? NIST’s claims about the fires’ temperature are unconvincing and deceptive (152-58). Were the Fires Sufficiently Big and LongLasting? The fires were neither big enough nor long enough to produced the absurd and preposterous effects claimed (especially with respect to the South Tower, which collapsed 56 minutes after impact) (158-63). Who Actually Caused the Towers to Collapse? NIST’s account of the progressive collapse is deceptive and absurd: “a candidate for the most absurd idea ever articulated in modern times in a supposedly scientific document” (167; 163-70). Tweaked Computer Models. NIST’s computer simulations are even less convincing (170-72). A Thoroughly Unscientific Hypothesis. NIST’s theory does not qualify as scientific (172-73). What About Controlled Demolition? NIST’s produced a threefold justification for not investigating this possibility (173). (1) Other Hypotheses Obviated by NIST’s Account? Not so (173-74). (2) Must Controlled Demolitions Be Bottom-Up Affairs? NIST implies this, but it is not true (174-75). (3) No Evidence of Explosions? NIST said there is “no evidence,” but in fact there is “a huge body of evidence” (175, 179; 175-79). No Other Evidence of Controlled Demolitions? These include puffs of smoke, molten metal in the WTC basement, the utterly implausible collapse of the several dozen core columns, each about 1,400 feet long, into transportable segments, the symmetrical nature of the collapse, pulverization and dust clouds to produce which gravitational energy is insufficient and unsuitable, the horizontal ejection of pieces of steel, the sulfidation of steel according to a report published by the Worcester Polytechnic Institute, the fact that the North Tower antenna began to descend before the exterior walls began to collapse, the tipping and then righting of the South Tower as it collapsed, the rapid and highly supervised disposition of the WTC steel, and the control of WTC security by Bush family members (179-94). What about WTC 7? Reasons given for the delay of the report on WTC 7 are implausible (194-95). Prior Recognition of WTC 7’s Special Difficulty. There are many indications of

awareness of a special problem here (19597). Challenges WTC 7 Presents to NIST. No aircraft collision, collapse started at the bottom in classic controlled-demolition style, total and symmetrical collapse at virtually free-fall speed (6.6 seconds), molten metal in basement, and reports of the sounds of explosions (197-200). The Very Appearance of This Collapse. WTC 7 looks to observers like a standard controlled demolition (200-01). Two More Unique Features of This Collapse. Widespread foreknowledge and rapid removal of steel despite the absence of victims (201-02). What Will NIST Say about WTC 7? Speculation on possible findings and their improbable nature; Griffin anticpates that the media will “probably let them get away with it,” an attitude he finds “truly remarkable” given the “wild, empirically baseless” nature of the hypothesis “that WTC 7 was brought down by something other than explosives” (205; 202-06). Conclusion. NIST failed to consider the most likely hypothesis: controlled demolition (206). Ch. 4: Debunking 9/11 Myths: A Failed Attempt by Popular Mechanics. Hearstowned Popular Mechanics (PM) published a “spectacularly bad article” entitled “9/11: Debunking the Myths” in March 2005, then expanded it into a book entitled Debunking 9/11 Myths: Why Conspiracy Theories Can’t Stand Up to the Facts in 2006, which is “no better,” but which is important because its ideas have been propagated by the BBC documentary “The Conspiracy Files: 9/11” (207). Senator John McCain’s Foreword. A sustained rebuttal to McCain’s rhetorical, uninformed attack on the 9/11 truth movement (207-11). The Story Behind PM’s Treatment of 9/11. A few months before the article was published, the president of Hearst Magazines, Cathleen P. Black, who is married to a former employee of the CIA, orchestrated a change in management at Popular Mechanics, and the senior researcher was a cousin of Michael Chertoff, secretary of the Dept. of Homeland Security (211-13).The Book’s Claims About Itself. The book’s authors claim to deal with the “most common” or “key” claims of alternative conspiracy theorists, but in fact examines “only those claims they thought they could appear to debunk in the eyes of the general public” (214; 214-15).

The Planes. Rhetorically, PM often highlights unrepresentative positions and implies guilt by association (215-16). The [Alleged] Hijackers’ Flying Skills. Fails to explain how Hani Hanjour could have flown Flight 77 into the Pentagon; indeed, it ignores the problem (216-20). Peripheral Issues. By focusing on peripheral issues, PM creates the false impression that there are good answers to all the questions that have been raised about the official account (22022). No Stand-Down Order. PM does not acknowledge Griffin’s critique of The 9/11 Commission Report (Omissions and Distortions, 2005) (222-23). PM says fighter jets were scrambled, showing it hasn’t understood the 9/11 Commission’s new story; in any case, its account of fighter readiness is implausible and neglects wellknown facts (224-26). PM’s account of alleged communications breakdowns merely repeats the commission report’s claims (22629). Norman Mineta’s testimony is ignored (229-31). PM’s account of how planes are tracked on radar is wrong (231-33). PM ignores the FAA’s standard operating procedure (233). NORAD radar does not look only “outward” (233-35). NORAD was not “unprepared” for this scenario; in fact, it was anticipated and trained for (235-37). Military Intercepts. PM fails to debunk the idea that military intercepts are routine over the continental U.S. (237-40). PM fails to rebut the notion that routine procedures bring about intercepts within minutes (24041). PM falsely implies that U.S. does not maintain armed fighters on alert (241-42). The World Trade Center. PM misleadingly implies that no experts support alternative theories (242-43). The Empire State Building Accident. This 1945 incident is used to rebut a straw-man argument (24446). Widespread Damage. PM fails to counter evidence of explosions in the towers (246-48). Melted Steel. PM’s arguments are circular and misleading (248-53). Puffs of Dust. PM cites the “pancaking” theory, but NIST has abandoned this (253-54). PM’s Treatment of Baxant, Loizeaux, and Romero. The views of experts on demolition are misrepresented (254-55). Seismic Spikes and Other Phenomena. Nine other features that PM failed to mention (256-57). WTC 7. PM’s approach to this problem shows “the extreme difference between its method and the scientific

method” (259; 259-60). Popular Mechanics on The O’Reilly Factor. Editorin-chief James Meigs made an appearance on “The O’Reilly Factor” on Aug. 7, 2006, claiming the scientific nature of PM’s study (261). The Pentagon. PM ignores the strongest arguments against the official theory (262-62). Support for the Boeing 757 Claim. Claims of witnesses are suspect (262-64). Support for the Flight 77 Claim. PM also ignores reasons for doubting that Flight 77, specifically, hit the Pentagon (265-69). Lack of Expected Debris. PM fails to explain the absence of debris that could be expected from such a crash (26972). Big Plane, Small Hole. The account of why the Pentagon façade was not more widely damaged is unsatisfactory (272-75). The Hole in the C-Ring. PM ignores evidence that only an explosive charge could make the C-Ring hole (275-78). The FBI’s Refusal to Release Video. PM is misleading about videos seized by the FBI and withheld (279-80). The FBI’s Removal of Evidence. PM disguises unusual FBI behavior as normal (280). Where’s the Fire? PM fails to acknowledge that the fire at the Pentagon was smaller than what would have been expected, but implies an unsatisfactory conclusion (280-81). The Lack of a Seismic Signal. PM does not mention the problem (281-82). The Claim about Hani Hanjour. This claim being incredible, “[i]t is astounding . . . that the perpetrators would have made the aerial acrobatics of a completely incompetent pilot an essential part of the official story,” a problem PM does not mention (283). Why Strike Wedge 1? Six reasons why striking Wedge 1 was a “completely irrational,” improbable target choice (284-86). Anticipation and Aftermath: Two Additional Problems. PM does not mention that the military did anticipate and train for such an incident; and the failure of the FBI to report on the evidence raises suspicions (286-88). Conclusion. PM utterly fails to debunk the view “that the Pentagon was an inside job” (288). Flight 93. PM’s account has similar flaws (288). The F-16 Diversion. PM devotes three pages to debunking a claim of a shoot-down by an F-16 that almost no one has endorsed (288-89). Appealing to the 9/11 Commission’s Claim about NORAD’s Ignorance. PM simply endorses the official

account and ignores conflicting evidence (289-91). The White Jet. PM fails to debunk that there was a white military plane near Flight 93 when it went down (291-92). Cell Phone Calls. PM fails to debunk the possibility that these calls were fabricated (292-97). The Wreckage. PM does not account for the fact that the place of impact did not look like a crash site (297-99). When Did Flight 93 Crash—10:03 or 10:06? The preponderance of the evidence supports 10:06 (299-301). Why Would NORAD and the 9/11 Commission Prefer 10:03? To account for the end of the recording in the black box (301-03). The Engine. The testimony that an engine was found a mile away, something that is compatible with a shoot-down, is more convincing than PM’s claims this is false (303-04). Debris at Indian Lake and Elsewhere. PM does not convincingly explain debris six miles from the crash site (304-06). Sounds Suggestive of a Shootdown. PM ignores witnesses who heard missile-like sounds or explosions (306). Reports that the Plane Was Shot Down. There were at least two second-hand accounts of shoot-down reports by informed people (306-07). Conclusion. Uncritical acceptance by the press is chiefly responsible for the persistence of the official theory (309). Even journalists in the left press have been too credulous, e.g. Terry Allen (In These Times), Alexander Cockburn (CounterPunch), Christopher Hayes (Nation), Jim Dwyer (New York Times), Matthew Rothschild (Progressive) (309-18). The principal reasons they have for ignoring the 9/11 truth movement are that (1) claims are baseless and (2) they risk distracting citizens from the administration’s real crimes, though both assumptions are false (318-19). The official account of 9/11 serves “as a national religious Myth” that is being used to legitimate war, violate civil rights, increase military spending, and ignore the ecological crisis and climate change (319-20). Mark Danner says it is being used “to justify a ‘state of exception’” from the rule of law (320). The profit motive of the corporate press poses an obstacle (320). While exposure of the truth about 9/11 might “by producing a crisis of confidence in the institutions of the world’s most powerful nation, lead to a global economic meltdown,”

but this would not be as serious as the “global ecological collapse” that is possible if we continue our present course (320-31). “Apart from a revelation of the truth about 9/11, there is little chance that the present trajectory of US policy, with its threat to the survival of civilization itself, will change” (321). A “large-scale effort, involving letterwriting campaigns, rallies, and a huge march on Washington” is needed to persuade the Democratic Party leadership to take up this issue (321-22). A “jury composed of distinguished European citizens,” and juries in Canada or other parts of the world, would also be useful (322). There is reason to hope: “This is the time for the 9/11 movement to make its biggest effort. We have, after all, a world to save. I hope this book will contribute toward that effort” (322). Postscript to Revised Version. Griffin was script consultant to the film “Loose Change: Final Cut” (322).

Notes. 63 pp. Index. 7 pp. [About the Author. David Ray Griffin was born in 1939 and lives in Santa Barbara, CA. He grew up in the Disciples of Christ church, but abandoned ambitions for the ministry in college. He graduated from Northwest Christian College in Eugene, OR, and has a master’s degree in counseling from the University of Oregon and a Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University, where he embraced a Whiteheadian version of process theology. In 1973, he returned to Claremont and established the Center for Process Studies with John B. Cobb. In 1983 he started the Center for a Postmodern World in Santa Barbara, and edited the SUNY Series in Constructive Postmodern Philosophy from 1987 to 2004. In the spring of 2003 he examined Paul Thompson’s timeline and read Gore Vidal’s Dreaming War, which pointed him to Nafeez Ahmed’s The War on Freedom: How and Why America Was Attacked September 11, 2001. Believing they provided a prima facie case for some level of governmental complicity, he became involved in the 9/11 Truth Movement by writing a magazine article that grew into The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11 (Olive Branch Press, 2004). He has also written The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions (2005), Christian Faith and the Truth Behind 9/11: A Call to Reflection and Action (2006), and 9/11 Contradictions: An Open Letter to Congress and the Press (2008), and, with Peter Dale Scott, has edited 9/11 and the American Empire: Intellectuals Speak Out (2006).]