The New Pearl Harbor -- forward, introduction, and Chapter 1
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Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11

by David Ray Griffin
foreword by Richard Falk

Acknowledgements vi
Forword by Richard Falk vii
Introduction xi
1. Flights 11 and 175: How Could the Hijackers' Missions Have Succeeded? 3
2. Flight 77: Was It Really the Aircraft that Struck the Pentagon? 25
3. Flight 93: Was It the One Flight that was Shot Down? 49
4. The Presidents Behavior. Why Did He Act as He Did? 57
5. Did US Officials Have Advance Information about 9/11? 67
6. Did US Officials Obstruct Investigations Prior to 9/11? 75
7. Did US Officials Have Reasons for Allowing 9/11? 89
8. Did US Officials Block Captures and Investigations after 9/11? 105
9. Is Complicity by US Officials the Best Explanation? 127
10. The Need for a Full Investigation 147
Notes 169
Index of Names 210
Back Cover Text

An imprint of Interlink Publishing Group, Inc.
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First published in 2004 by
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Griffin, David Ray
The new Pearl Harbor : disturbing questions about the Bush administration and 9/11 / by David Ray Griffin.
p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 1-56656-552-9 (pbk.)
1. United States --Politics and government -- 2001. 2. September 11 Terrorist Attacks, 2001. 3. Responsibility -- Political aspects -- United States.
4. Governmental investigations -- United States. 5. Terrorism -- Government policy -- United States. 6. Intelligence service -- United States.
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Advance Praise for David Ray Griffin's

The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11

This is an important, extraordinarily well-reasoned and provocative book that should be widely read. Griffin raises disturbing questions that deserve thoughtful and truthful answers from our government." -- Marcus Raskin, co-founder of the Institute for Policy Studies

"David Ray Griffin has done admirable and painstaking research in reviewing the mysteries surrounding the 9-11 attacks. It is the most persuasive argument I have seen for further investigation of the Bush administration's relationship to that historic and troubling event." -- Howard Zinn, author of A Peoples History of the United States

"David Ray Griffin has written what America may most of all need -- a dispassionate, balanced, and exhaustively researched and documented account of the implausible gaps and misrepresentations of the Bush administration's official story of 9/11. Sensitive to the 'conspiracy theory' mind-stop that has disconnected his fellow Americans from the facts of this history-steering event, Griffin painstakingly marshals the evidence pro and con, and follows it where it leads. A courageously impeccable work." -- John McMurtry, author of Value Wars: The Global Market versus the Life Economy, Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and Professor of Philosophy, University of Guelph

"It will be painful, and disturbing, to turn the pages of this thoughtful and meticulously researched book. But turn we must. For we owe the truth to those who died, and nothing less." -- Colleen Kelly, sister of Bill Kelly, jr., who was killed in the North Tower of the World Trade Center on 9/11, and co-founder of September 11th Families for Peaceful Tomorrows

"This is a very important book, David Ray Griffin's carefully researched and documented study demonstrates a high level of probability that the Bush administration was complicit in allowing 9/11 to happen in order to further war plans that had already been made. A must-read for anyone concerned about American foreign policy under the present administration. -- Rosemary Radford Ruether, Carpenter Professor of Feminist Theology, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California

"This is a must-read for all who want to get past the conspiracy of silence and mystification that surrounds these events." -- John B. Cobb, Jr., Professor of Theology, Emeritus, Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University

"That 9/11 has become a defining moment in our history cannot be gainsaid. But its exact significance is an exceedingly contentious question notwithstanding the seeming clarity of prevailing accounts. David Ray Griffin deconstructs those accounts with a host of unresolved puzzles strongly suggestive of some sort of culpable complicity by US officials in the event. His book presents an incontrovertible argument of the need for a genuinely full and independent investigation of that infamous day." -- Douglas Sturm, Presidential Professor of Religion and Political Science, Emeritus, Bucknell University

"David Griffin's book is an excellent expo of so many of the deeply troubling questions that must still be answered fully and transparently if democratic control over political and military leaders is to mean anything at all." -- Michael Meacher, British member of Parliament, and former Minister of the Environment

"This book is as full of research and authoritative notes as a field full of springtime daisies. The author raises frightening questions, and the questions beg for answers. One thing we can conclude for certain. The events surrounding 9/11, both before and after, cannot be simply swept under the rug of conventional wisdom.... This book gives us a foundation to discover the truth, one that we may not wish to hear." -- Gerry Spence, trial lawyer and author of How to Argue and Win Every Time

"David Griffins The New Pearl Harbour belongs on the book shelves of all those who, in any way, doubt the veracity of the accounts presented to the public by the Bush administration concerning the worst terrorist attack in America's history. The facts presented in this book are disturbing -- and they should be. Griffin's book goes a long way in answering the age-old question inherent in American political scandals: What did the President know, and when did he know it?" -- WayneMadsen, author, journalist, syndicated columnist

"Griffin's The New Pearl Harbor ought to be read by any American who values our democracy and understands the importance of retaining the basic trust of the people for any such democracy to survive over time." -- Joseph C. Hough, President, Union Theological Seminary in New York


In writing this book, I received an enormous amount of help and support. The greatest help came, of course, from the authors upon whose work I drew. Without the work of Nafeez Ahmed and Paul Thompson, this book would not have even been begun, and without the books by Thierry Meyssan and Michel Chossudovsky, it would have been far less complete. And then there are all those reporters and researchers who have published relevant material in newspapers and magazines, on television shows, or on the Web, some of whom were labouring away long before Ahmed and Thompson began their work. To some of these reporters and researchers I am indebted only indirectly, through their influence on my primary sources; to others, I am directly indebted. I have acknowledged the work of at least many of them in the notes. The attempt to discover the truth about 9/11 and bring it to light has been a very cooperative enterprise, one involving hundreds of intensely dedicated, mostly unpaid, investigators.
I have received help from many other people, including Tal Avitzur, John Cobb, Michael Dietrick, Hilal Elver, Richard Falk, Allison Jaqua, Gianluigi Gugliermetto, Colleen Kelly, John McMurtry, Pat Patterson, Rosemary Ruether, Pamela Thompson, and Sarah Wright. I wish also to thank all those who took time to express in writing their support for this book.
I am indebted to Richard Falk for reasons that go far beyond his gracious willingness to write the Foreword. It was through his influence that I first began working on global political matters. He has been my main discussion partner about these matters. And it was through him that I became connected with Olive Branch Press of Interlink Publishing.
I am especially grateful for this connection. The two people with whom I have worked at Olive Branch -- Pamela Thompson and Michel Moushabeck -- have not only been delightful collaborators. They have also manifested the kind of commitment to this book that authors usually only dream about.
I am appreciative of my institution, the Claremont School of Theology, and especially its president, Philip Amerson, and its dean, Jack Fitzmier, for their unstinting support of academic freedom and their recognition of the need for the schools faculty to write about vital public issues of the day.
Finally, I am, as usual, most indebted to the ongoing support from my wife, Ann Jaqua.


David Ray Griffin has written an extraordinary book. If carefully read with even just a 30-percent open mind, it is almost certain to change the way we understand the workings of constitutional democracy in the United States at the highest levels of government. As such, this is a disturbing book, depicting a profound crisis of political legitimacy for the most powerful sovereign state in the history of the world -- a country, furthermore, embarked on the first borderless war, with no markers of victory and defeat. If The New Pearl Harbor receives the sort of public and media attention that it abundantly deserves, it should alter the general public debate and exert a positive influence on how the future unfolds. It is rare, indeed, that a book has this potential to become a force of history.

What makes The New Pearl Harbor so special is that it explores the most sensitive and controversial terrain -- the broad landscape of official behavior in relation to the tragedy of 9/11 -- in the best spirit of academic detachment, coupled with an exemplary display of the strongest scholarly virtue: a willingness to allow inquiry to follow the path of evidence and reason wherever it leads. And it leads here to explosive destinations, where severe doubts are raised about the integrity and worldview of our leadership in those parts of the government that exercise the greatest control over the behavior and destiny of the country, particularly in the area of national security, which includes a war overseas and the stifling of liberties at home. Griffin brilliantly makes an overwhelming argument for a comprehensive, unhampered, fully funded, and suitably prominent investigation of the entire story of how and why 9/11 happened, as well as why such an unprecedented breakdown of national security was not fully and immediately investigated as a matter of the most urgent national priority. There are so many gaping holes in the official accounts of 9/11 that no plausible coherent narrative remains, and until now we have been staggering forward as if the truth about these traumatic events no longer mattered.

Griffin shows, with insight and a firm grasp of the many dimensions of the global security policy of the Bush Administration, that getting 9/11 right, even belatedly, matters desperately. The layer upon layer of unexplained facts, the multiple efforts by those in power to foreclose independent inquiry, and the evidence of a pre-9/11 blueprint by Bush insiders to do exactly what they are now doing on the basis of a 9/11 mandate is why the Griffin assessment does not even require a reader with a normally open mind. As suggested, 30-percent receptivity will do, which means that all but the most dogrnatically blinded adherents of the Bush presidency should be convinced by the basic argument of this book.

It must be underscored that this book does not belong in the genre of "conspiracy theories," at least, as Griffin himself points out, in the pejorative sense in which that term is usually understood. It is a painstakingly scrupulous look at the evidence, with an accounting of the numerous discrepancies between the official account provided by the US government and the best information available.

Of course, it is fair to wonder, if the conclusion toward which Griffins evidence points is correct, why this story-of-the-century has not been clearly told before in this country. Why have the media been asleep? Why has Congress been so passive about fulfilling its role as a watchdog branch of government, above all protective of the American people? Why have there been no resignations from on high by principled public servants followed by electrifying revelations? There have been questions raised here and there and allegations of official complicity made almost from the day of the attacks, especially in Europe, but as far as I know, no American until Griffin has had the patience, the fortitude, the courage, and the intelligence to put so many pieces together in a single coherent account.

Part of the difficulty in achieving credibility in relation to issues this profoundly disturbing to public confidence in the basic legitimacy of state power is that the accusatory voices most often heard are strident and irresponsible, making them easily dismissed as "paranoid or "outrageous" without further consideration of whether the concerns raised warrant investigation. In contrast, Griffins approach is calm and his argument consistently well-reasoned, making his analysis undeniably compelling.

But there are troubling forces at work that block our access to the truth about 9/11. Ever since 9/11 the mainstream media have worked hand-in-glove with the government in orchestrating a mood of patriotic fervour making any expressions of doubts about the official leadership of the country tantamount to disloyalty. Media personalities, such as Bill Maher, who questioned, even casually, the official narrative were given pink slips, sidelined, and silenced, sending a chilling message of intimidation to anyone tempted to voice dissident opinions. Waving the American flag became a substitute for critical and independent thought, and slogans such as "United We Stand" were used as blankets to smother whatever critical impulses existed. This thought-stopping equation of patriotism with unquestioning acceptance of the present administrations policies has played into the hands of those presidential advisors who have seen 9/11 not as a national tragedy but in the phrase used by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld during a TV interview with Jim Lehrer on the second anniversary of the attacks -- "a blessing in disguise."

As the spell cast by patrioteering has begun to wear off, there is another related dynamic at work to keep us from the truth -- what psychiatrists describe as "denial." The unpleasant realities of the Iraq occupation make it difficult for most Americans to acknowledge that the whole undertaking, including the death and maiming of young Americans, was based on a willful distortion of reality by the elected leadership of the country -- namely, the suggestion that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11. This unpleasantness is magnified many times over if what is at stake is the possibility that the terrible events of 9/11 were from the outset, or before, obscured by deliberately woven networks of falsehoods. Part of the impulse to deny is a desperate wish to avoid coming face-to-face with the gruesome realities that are embedded in the power structure of government that controls our lives. Griffin's book is a much-needed antidote for the collective denial that has paralyzed the conscience and consciousness of the nation during these past few years. At the very least, it should give rise to a debate that is late, but far better late than never. Long ago Thomas Jefferson warned that the "price of liberty is eternal vigilance."

There is no excuse at this stage of American development for a posture of political innocence, including an unquestioning acceptance of the good faith of our government. After all, there has been a long history of manipulated public beliefs, especially in matters of war and peace. Historians are in increasing agreement that the facts were manipulated (1) in the explosion of the USS Maine to justify the start of the Spanish-American War (1898), (2) with respect to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor to justify the previously unpopular entry into World War II. (3) in the Gulf of Tonkin incident of 1964, used by the White House to justify the dramatic extension of the Vietnam War to North Vietnam, and, most recently, (4) to portray Iraq as harboring a menacing arsenal of weaponry of mass destruction, in order to justify recourse to war in defiance of international law and the United Nations. The official explanations of such historic events as the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the assassination of President Kennedy have also not stood up to scrutiny by objective scholars. In these respects, the breaking of trust between government and citizenry in the United States has deep historical roots, and is not at all merely a partisan indictment of the current leadership associated with the right wing of the Republican Party. But it does pose for all of us a fundamental, haunting question. Why should the official account of 9/11 be treated as sacrosanct and accepted at face value, especially as it is the rationale for some of the most dangerous undertakings in the whole history of the world?

As Griffin shows, it is not necessary to go along with every suspicious inference in order to conclude that the official account of 9/11 is thoroughly unconvincing. His approach is based on the cumulative impact of the many soft spots in what is officially claimed to have happened, soft spots that relate to advance notice and several indications of actions facilitating the prospects of attack, to the peculiar gaps between the portrayal of the attack by the media and government and independent evidence of what actually occurred, and to the unwillingness of the government to cooperate with what meager efforts at inquiry have been mounted. Any part of this story is enough to vindicate Griffin's basic contention that this country and the world deserve a comprehensive, credible, and immediate accounting of the how and why of that fateful day. Such a step would exhibit today the enduring wisdom of Ben Franklins celebrated response when asked what the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia had accomplished:
"A republic, if you keep it." -- Richard Falk


The attacks of 9/11 have often been compared with the attacks on Pearl Harbor. Investigative reporter James Bamford, for example, has written about President Bush's behavior "in the middle of a modern-day Pearl Harbor.">1 CBS News reported that the president himself, before going to bed on 9/11, wrote in his diary: "The Pearl Harbor of the 21st century took place today.">2

This comparison has often been made for the sake of arguing that the American response to 9/11 should be similar to the American response to Pearl Harbor. Just after the presidents address to the nation on September 11, 2001, Henry Kissinger posted an online article in which he said: "The government should be charged with a systematic response that, one hopes, will end the way that the attack on Pearl Harbor ended -- with the destruction of the system that is responsible for it.">3 An editorial in Time magazine that appeared right after the attacks urged: "For once, let's have no fatuous rhetoric about 'healing.'. . . A day cannot live in infamy without the nourishment of rage. Let's have rage. What's needed is a unified, unifying Pearl Habor son of purple American fury.">4

Some of the comparisons have pointed out that the attacks of 9/11 did indeed evoke a response, calling for the use of US military power, similar to that produced by Pearl Harbor. Quoting a prediction made in 2000 by soon-to-be top officials in the Bush administration that the changes they desired would be difficult unless "a new Pearl Harbor" occurred,>5 Australian journalist John Pilger wrote: "The attacks of 11 September 2001 provided the new Pearl Harbor.'">6 A member of the US Army's Institute for Strategic Studies reported that after 9/11, "Public support for military action is at levels that parallel the public reaction after the attack at Pearl Harbor.">7

These comparisons of 9/11 with Pearl Harbor do not seem unjustified. The events of 9/11, virtually everyone agrees, were the most important events of recent times -- for both America and the rest of the world. The attacks of that day have provided the basis for a significant restriction on civil liberties in the United States (just as Pearl Harbor led to restrictions on the civil liberties of Japanese Americans).>8 Those attacks have also been the basis of a worldwide "war on terror" led by the United States, with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq being the two major episodes thus far.

The Bush administrations "war on terror" is, moreover, widely perceived as a pretext for a more aggressive imperialism. Phyllis Bennis, for example, says that 9/11 has resulted in "foreign policy imposed on the rest of the world through an unchallenged law of empire.">9 Of course, a few historians have been pointing out for some time that American leaders have long desired an empire covering the whole world.>10 But most critics of US foreign policy believe that the imperialism of the Bush II administration, especially since 9/11, has been much more explicit, far-reaching, and arrogant.>11 Richard Falk has, in fact, referred to it as "the global domination project.">12 Although there was an outpouring of good will toward America after 9/11 and a widespread willingness to accede to its claim that the attacks gave it a mandate to wage a worldwide war on terrorism, this good will was quickly exhausted. American foreign policy is now criticized around the world more widely and severely than ever before, even more so than during the war in Vietnam. The American answer to all criticism, however, is 9/11. When Europeans criticized the Bush administrations intention to go to war against Iraq, for example, several US opinion-makers supportive of the war explained the difference in perception by saying that the Europeans had not suffered the attacks of 9/11.

The Failure of the Press

Given the role of 9/11 in leading to this much more explicit and aggressive imperialism, some observers have suggested that historians will come to look back on it as the real beginning of the 21st century.>13 Nevertheless, in spite of the virtually universal agreement that 9/11 has been of such transcendent importance, there has been little public scrutiny of this event itself. On the first anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, the New York Times wrote: "One year later, the public knows less about the circumstances of 2,801 deaths at the foot of Manhattan in broad daylight than people in 1912 knew within weeks about the Titanic.">14 That was the case in part because the Bush administration, arguing that an investigation would be a distraction from the needed "war on terrorism," resisted the call for a special commission. But the publics lack of information about 9/11 was also due in large part to the fact that the Times and the rest of the mainline press had not authorized investigative reports, through which the publics lack of knowledge

might have been overcome. Another year later, furthermore, the situation remained virtually the same. On September 11, 2003, a writer for the Philadelphia Daily News asked: "why after 730 days do we know so little about what really happened that day?">15

The American press has, in particular, provided no in-depth investigation of whether the official account of what happened fits with the available evidence and is otherwise plausible.>16 Many newspaper and television stories have, to be sure, raised several disturbing questions about the official account, showing that there are elements of it that do not seem to make sense or that seem to contradict certain facts. But the press has not confronted government officials with these apparent implausibilities and contradictions. The mass media have not, moreover, provided the public with any comprehensive overviews that lay out all the disturbing questions of which they are aware. There have been many very important stories by a number of journalists, including the internationally known, award-winning journalist Gregory Palast and Canada's award-winning Barrie Zwicker (see notes >16 and >18). But such stories, if even seen, have been largely forgotten by the collective consciousness, as they have remained individual products of brilliant and courageous reporting, having thus far not been allowed to add up to anything significant. Finally, although strong criticisms of the official account have been presented by many otherwise credible individuals, the mass media have not exposed the public to their views.

Criticisms of the official account are, to be sure, inflammatory, for to reject the official account is to imply that US leaders, including the president, have constructed a massive lie. And if they did construct a false account, they would have done so, most people would assume, in order to cover up their own complicity. And that is indeed the conclusion of most critics of the official account. That would certainly be an inflammatory charge. But how can we claim to have a free press -- a Fourth Estate -- if it fails to investigate serious charges made against a sitting president on the grounds that they are too inflammatory? The charges against President Nixon in the Watergate scandal were inflammatory. The charges against President Reagan in the Iran-Contra affair were inflammatory. The various charges brought against President Clinton were inflammatory. In all these cases, however, the press reported the issues (albeit in the first two cases rather belatedly). It is precisely in such situations that we most need an independent press.

But the press has failed to do its job with regard to 9/11 even though if the official account of 9/11 were found to be false, the consequences would be enormous -- much more so than with any of those prior scandals. The official account of 9/11 has been used as the justification for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which have resulted in the deaths not only of thousands of combatants but also of far more innocent civilians than were killed on 9/11. This account has been used as the justification for dozens of other operations around the world, most of which are largely unknown to the American people. It has been used to justify the USA PATRIOT Act, through which the civil liberties of Americans have been curtailed. And it has been used to justify the indefinite incarceration of countless people in Guantanamo and elsewhere. And yet the press has been less aggressive in questioning President Bush about 9/11 than it was in questioning President Clinton about his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, a very trivial matter by comparison.

The failure of the American media in this regard has been admitted by some insiders. For example, Rena Golden, executive vice-president and general manager of CNN International, was quoted as saying in August of 2002 that the American press had censored itself on both 9/11 and the war in Afghanistan. "Anyone who claims the US media didn't censor itself," Golden added, "is kidding you. And this isn't just a CNN issue -- every journalist who was in any way involved in 9/11 is partly responsible.">17 As to why this has been the case, CBS anchorman Dan Rather has said:

There was a time in South Africa that people would put flaming tires around people's necks if they dissented. And in some ways the fear is that you will be necklaced here, you will have a flaming tire of lack of patriotism put around your neck. Now it is that fear that keeps journalists from asking the toughest of the tough questions.>18
Rather's confession surely explains at least part of the press's reticence to question the official account, especially since journalists perceived as unpatriotic are in danger of being fired.

One of the chief critics of the official account, Thierry Meyssan, suggests that Americans have viewed any criticism of the official account to be not only unpatriotic but even sacrilegious. On September 12, Meyssan reminds us, President Bush announced his intention to lead "a monumental struggle of Good versus Evil.">19 On September 13, he declared that the next day would be a National Day of Prayer and Remembrance for the Victims of the Terrorist Attacks. And on September 14, the president himself, surrounded by Billy Graham, a cardinal, a rabbi, and an imam as well as four previous presidents and many members of Congress, delivered the sermon. In this sermon, he said:

Our responsibility to history is already clear: to answer these attacks and rid the world of evil. War has been waged against us by stealth and deceit and murder. This nation is peaceful, but fierce when stirred to anger....In every generation, the world has produced enemies of human freedom. They have attacked America, because we are freedom's home and defender. And the commitment of our fathers is now the calling of our time....[W]e ask almighty God to watch over our nation, and grant us patience and resolve in all that is to come.... And may He always guide our country. God bless America.>20

Through this unprecedented event, in which the president of the United States issued a declaration of war from a cathedral, Meyssan observes, "the American government consecrated...its version of events. From then on, any questioning of the official truth would be seen as sacrilege.">21

9/II and the Left

If raising disturbing questions about the official account would be seen as both unpatriotic and sacrilegious, it is not surprising that, as both Rena Golden and Dan Rather admit, the mainline press in America has not raised these questions. It is also not surprising that right-wing and even middle-of-the-road commentators on political affairs have not raised serious questions about the official account. It is not even surprising that some of them -- including Jean Bethke Elshtain, a professor of social and political ethics -- have declared that the accusation of official complicity is beyond the pale of reasonable debate, so that any arguments on its behalf can simply be ignored. Elshtain, calling the suggestion that American officials, including the president, were complicit in the attacks "preposterous," adds: "This sort of inflammatory madness exists outside the boundary of political debate" and therefore does not even "deserve a hearing.">22 From this perspective, it is not necessary to examine the evidence put forward by critics of the official account, even though some of these critics are fellow intellectuals teaching in neighboring universities -- such as two well-respected Canadian academics, economist

Michel Chossudovsky and social philosopher John McMurtry. >23 Although Elshtain points out that "[i]f we get our descriptions of events wrong, our analyses and our ethics will be wrong too,">24 she evidently thinks it unnecessary to consider the possibility that the officialdescription about the events of 9/11 might be wrong. Although this attitude is unfortunate, especially when it is expressed within the intellectual community, it is not surprising.

What is surprising, however, is that America's leftist critics of US policy, who are seldom worried about being called either unpatriotic or sacrilegious, have for the most part not explored, at least in public discourse, the possibility of official complicity.>25

These critics have, to be sure, been extremely critical of the way in which the Bush administration has responded to 9/11. They have, in particular, pointed out that this administration has used 9/11 as an excuse to enact policies and carry out operations that have little if any relation to either punishing the perpetrators of the attacks or preventing further such attacks in the future. They have even pointed out that most of these policies and operations were already on the agenda of the Bush administration before the attacks, so that 9/11 was not the cause but merely the pretext for enacting them. These critics also know that the United States has many times in the past fabricated an "incident" as a pretext for going to war -- most notoriously for the wars against Mexico, Cuba, and Vietnam.>26 But few of these critics have seriously discussed, at least in public, whether this might also be the case with 9/11, even though a demonstration of this fact, if it were true, would surely be the most effective way to undermine policies of the Bush administration to which they are so strongly opposed. Abjuring a "conspiracy theory, they accept, at least implicidy, a "coincidence theory," according to which the attacks of 9/11 were, from the administrations point of view, simply a godsend, which just happened to allow it to carry out its agenda.

An example is provided by Rahul Mahajan, a brilliant and outspoken critic of US imperialism. He analyzes the themes of US imperialism since 9/11 in the light of the document alluded to earlier that mentioned the need for a "new Pearl Harbor," this being Rebuilding America's Defenses, which was prepared by the Project for the New American Century. Three of the major themes of this document, Mahajan emphasizes, are the need to place more military bases around the world from which power can be projected, the need to bring about "regime change" in countries unfriendly to American interests, and the need for greatly increased military spending, especially for "missile defense" -- explicidy understood not as deterrence but as "a prerequisite for maintaining American preeminence" by preventing other countries from deterring us. Mahajan then points out that "[t]he 9/11 attacks were a natural opportunity to jack up the military budget" and that the other ideas in this document, in conjunction with the well-known preoccupation of Bush and Cheney with oil, provided the major themes of their post-9/11 imperial strategy. Mahajan also notes that this document said that the desired transformation of the military would probably be politically impossible "absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event -- like a new Pearl Harbor." And Mahajan even adds that "within a year they [the authors of this document] had their Pearl Harbor and the chance to turn their imperial fantasies into reality." After pointing out all of this, however, Mahajan opts for coincidence over conspiracy, saying: "Conspiracy theorists will no doubt rejoice, but this, like so many events in the history of US foreign policy, is simply another example of Pasteur's famous axiom that 'Fortune favors the prepared mind.">27

Mahajan may, of course, be right. But he gives us no reason to think so. He, in particular, reveals no sign of having studied the evidence provided by those who have argued that the attacks could have been successful only through the complicity of the US government.

How This Book Came About

Whether or not it is true that Mahajan dismissed the evidence without examination, it was certainly true of me. Until the spring of 2003, I had not looked at any of the evidence. I was vaguely aware that mere were people, at least on the Internet, who were offering evidence against the official account of 9/11 and were suggesting a revisionist account, according to which US officials were complicit. But I did not take the time to try to find their websites. I had been studying the history of American expansionism and imperialism quite intensely since 9/11, so I knew that the US government had fabricated "incidents" as an excuse to go to war several times before. Nevertheless, although the thought did cross my mind that 9/11 might likewise have been arranged, I did not take this possibility seriously. It seemed to me simply beyond belief that the Bush administration -- even the Bush administration -- would do such a heinous thing. I assumed that those who were claiming otherwise must be "conspiracy theorists" in the derogatory sense in which this term is usually employed -- which means, roughly, "crackpots." I knew that if they were right, this would be very important. But I was so confident that they must be wrong -- that their writings would consist merely of loony theories based on wild inferences from dubious evidence -- that I had no motivation to invest time and energy in tracking these writings down. I fully sympathize, therefore, with the fact that most people have not examined the evidence. Life is short and the list of conspiracy theories is long, and we all must exercise judgment about which things are worth our investment of time. I had assumed that conspiracy theories about 9/11 were below the threshold of possible credibility.

But then a fellow professor sent me an e-mail message that provided some of the relevant websites. Knowing her to be a sensible person, I looked up some of the material on the Internet, especially a massive timeline entitled "Was 9/11 Allowed to Happen?" by an independent researcher named Paul Thompson.>28 I was surprised, even amazed, to see -- even though Thompson limits himself strictly to mainline sources >29 -- how much evidence he had found that points to the conclusion that the Bush administration did indeed intentionally allow the attacks of 9/11 to happen. At about the same time, I happened to read Gore Vidal's Dreaming War: Blood for Oil and the Cheney-Bush Junta, which pointed me to the most extensive book on 9/11, The War on Freedom: How and Why America Was Attacked September 11, 2001, by Nafeez Ahmed, an independent researcher in England. >30 Ahmed's book provides an organized, extensively documented argument that directly challenges the accepted wisdom about 9/11, which is that it resulted from a "breakdown" within and among our intelligence agencies. >31 Ahmed, like Thompson, suggests that the attacks must have resulted from complicity in high places, not merely from incompetence in lower places. Ahmed's and Thompsons material taken together, I saw, provided a strong prima facie case for this contention, certainly strong enough to merit an extensive investigation by the American press, the US Congress, >32 and the 9/11 Independent Commission, >33 all of which had thus far operated on the assumption that 9/11 resultedfrom intelligence and communication failures.

I also saw, however, that the work of Thompson and Ahmed was not likely to reach very many of the American people. Thompson's timelines, while extremely helpful for researchers with the time and patience to work through them, were not easily readable by ordinary citizens, partly because they were available only online and partly because, as the name "timeline" indicates, the evidence was arranged chronologically rather than topically. >34 And, although Ahmed's evidence was in a book and was arranged topically, the book was quite long and contained far more material than needed to support the basic argument. Much of this additional material was, furthermore, in the book's early chapters, so that one had to work through several chapters before getting to the evidence that directly contradicted the official account. If the important information provided by Ahmed and Thompson were to reach many people, including busy members of Congress and the press, something else would be needed.

I decided, accordingly, to write a magazine article that would summarize the main evidence and also point interested readers to the studies of Thompson, Ahmed, and others presenting a revisionist account of 9/11. But that article grew into a book-length manuscript, because I soon found that, even though I tried to limit myself to the most important evidence, it was impossible within the confines of an article to present an intelligible account that would do justice to the evidence that has been provided by these researchers.

After I began writing, furthermore, I learned of the work of the previously mentioned French researcher, Thierry Meyssan, in particular his hypothesis that the aircraft that hit the Pentagon could not have been a Boeing 757, which is what Flight 77 was, but must have been a guided missile. When I first learned of this revisionist hypothesis, I -- probably like most people now reading my report of it -- assumed it was completely absurd. Surely the difference between a gigantic 757 and a relatively small missile is so great that if the Pentagon had been hit merely by a missile, Pentagon officials could not have convinced anyone that it was a 757! Did we not learn from press reports that the hole created in the side of the Pentagon was 200 feet wide and five stories high? Had we not learned from one of the passengers on Flight 77 -- TV commentator Barbara Olson -- that it was headed toward Washington? And had not eyewitnesses identified it? Virtually everyone, including most critics of the official account of 9/11, accepted the idea that the Pentagon was hit by Flight 77. How could they all be wrong? Nevertheless, after I got Meyssan's books and read them for myself, I saw that his case as absurd as it had seemed at first glance, is quite strong. I eventually became convinced, in fact, that it is with regard to the strike on the Pentagon that -- assuming Meyssan's descriptions of the evidence to be accurate the official account seems most obviously false. Or at least that it is tied for first place for this honor. The fact that the official account of the strike on the Pentagon is still widely accepted provides an especially good example, therefore, of the fact that most of the public has simply not been exposed to the relevant evidence. The present book seeks to bring together all the major strands of this evidence.

No previous book has done this. Ahmed's book, while easily the most comprehensive, does not have much of the evidence contained in Thompson's timelines and in Meyssan's books. And Meyssan's books while containing important evidence not available elsewhere, do not have most of the information provided by Ahmed and Thompson. The same is true of the other most important book in English on the subject, Michel Chossudovsky's War and Globalisation: The Truth Behind September 11. As its subtitle indicates, it focuses on the background to 9/11, dealing with 9/11 itself only briefly. In the present book, I have brought together what seems to me the most important evidence found in these >35 and some other sources. >36

The Book's Contents

As I see it, five major types of evidence have been raised against the official account. The first type, which involves inconsistencies and implausibilities in the official account of what happened on 9/11 itself, is discussed in the four chapters of Part I. The four other types of evidence are discussed in Part II. All this evidence is organized in terms of a number of "disturbing questions," >37 which are disturbing precisely because they suggest that official account is, as the tide of the English translation of Meyssan's first book on the subject calls it, a "big lie." >38 They are also disturbing beause they suggest the revisionist thesis that the attacks of 9/11, which President Bush has rightly called evil, were carried out with the complicity or so officials of the Bush administration itself. In the Conclusion, I ask whether the best explanation of the evidence presented in the prior chapters is indeed, as the revisionists suggest, official complicity in the attacks of 9/11. I then discuss the implications for the kind of investigation now needed.

Possible Meanings of "Official Complicity"

Although the revisionist writings on which this book draws charge official complicity in the attacks of 911, one thing missing in them is any careful discussion of just what they mean by "official complicity." There are at least eight possible views of what official complicity in the attacks of 9/11 might mean. In order that readers can decide, as they examine the evidence, which kind of official complicity, if any, the evidence supports, I list these eight possible views here in ascending order of seriousness -- meaning the seriousness of the charge against the Bush administration that the view would imply.

1. Construction of a False Acount: One possible view, is that although US officials played no role in facilitating the attacks and did not even expect them, they constructed a false account of what really happened -- whether to protect National Security, to cover up potentially embarrassing facts, to exploit the attacks to enact their agenda, or for some other reason. Athough this would be the least serious charge, it would be sufficiently serious for impeachment -- especiallv if the president had lied about 9/11 for personal gain or to advance some pre-established agenda, such as attacking Afghanistan and Iraq.

2. Something Expected by Intelligence Agencies: A second possible view is that although they had no specific information about the attacks in advance, some US intelligence agencies -- such as the FBI, the CIA, and some intelligence agencies of the US military -- expected some sort of attacks to occur. Although they played no role in planning the attacks, they perhaps played a role in facilitating them in the sense of deliberately not taking steps to prevent them. Then, having done this without White House knowledge, they persuaded the White House after 9/11 not only to cover up their guilt, by constructing a false account, but also to carry out the agenda for which the attacks were intended to gain support.

3. Specific Events Expected by Intelligence Agencies: A third possible view is that intelligence agencies (but not the White House) had specific information about the timing and the targets of the attacks.

4. Intelligence Agencies Involved in Planning: A fourth possible view is that intelligence agencies (but not the White House) actively participated planning the attacks.

5. Pentagon Involved in Planning: A fifth possible view is that the Pentagon (but not the White House) actively participated in planning the attacks

6. Something Expected by White House: A sixth possible view is that although the White House had no specific knowledge of the attacks in advance, it expected some sort of attacks to occur and was a party to facilitating them, at least in the sense of not ordering that they be prevented. >39 This view allows for the possibility that the White House might have been shocked by the amount of death and destruction caused by the attacks that were actually carried out.

7. Specific Advance Knowledge by White House: A seventh possible view is that the White House had specific foreknowledge of the targets and the timing of the attacks.

8. White House Involved in Planning: An eighth possible view is that the White House was a party to planning the attacks.

As these possibilities show, a charge that 9/11 involved "complicity" or "conspiracy" on the part of US officials can be understood in many ways, several of which do not involve active involvement in the planning, and most of which do not involve presidential involvement in this planning. One reason these distinctions are important is that they show that discussion of the idea of official complicity -- whether such complicity is being charged or rejected -- needs to be more nuanced than is often the case. For example, the charge that Jean Bethke Elshtain rejects as "preposterous" is the "charge that American officials, up to and including the president of the United States, engineered the attacks to bolster their popularity." >40 In so wording it, she not only equates the charge of official complicity with the eighth of the possible views listed above, which is the strongest charge, but also ties this charge to the imputation of a specific motive to the American officials allegedly involved -- that of bolstering their own popularity. Having dismissed that highly specific charge as preposterous, she evidently assumes that the whole idea of official complicity has been laid to rest. But there are many other possibilities.

For example, Michael Parenti, one of the few well-known leftist thinkers to have suggested some form of official complicity, points out, like Mahajan, that the attacks were so convenient that they have provoked suspicion: "The September terrorist attacks created such a serviceable pretext for reactionism at home and imperialist expansion abroad as to leave many people suspecting that the US government itself had a hand in the event." Parenti at first seems to dismiss this suspicion as completely as Mahajan, saying: "I find it hard to believe that the White House or the CIA actively participated in a conspiracy to destroy the World Trade Center and part of the Pentagon, killing such large numbers of Americans in order to create a casus belli against Afghanistan." >41

Parenti, however, does not stop there. Citing an article by Patrick Martin, who refers to some facts suggesting official complicity, Parenti endorses Martins conclusion that although the US government did not plan the details of the attacks or anticipate that thousands of people would be killed, it "expected something to happen and looked the other way." >42 Parenti thereby illustrates the second or, more likely, the sixth of the possible views.

In any case, I have found, as I have said, that the revisionists have made a strong prima facie case for at least some version of the charge of official complicity. To say that they have made a convincing case would require a judgment that the evidence that they cite is reliable. And, although I have repeated only evidence that seemed credible to me, I have not independendy verified the accuracy of this evidence. As the reader will see, this evidence is so extensive and of such a nature that no individual -- especially no individual with very limited time and resources -- could check out its accuracy. It is for this reason that I claim only that these revisionists have presented a strong prima facie case for official complicity, strong enough to merit investigations by those who do have the necessary resources to carry them out -- the press and the US Congress. If a significant portion of the evidence summarized here holds up, the conclusion that the attacks of 9/11 succeeded because of official complicity would become virtually inescapable.

I should perhaps emphasize that it is not necessary for all of the evidence to stand up, given the nature of the argument. Some arguments are, as we say, "only as strong as the weakest link." These are deductive arguments, in which each step in the argument depends on the truth of the previous step. If a single premise is found to be false, the argument fails. However, the argument for official complicity in 9/11 is a cumulative argument. This kind of argument is a general argument consisting of several particular arguments that are independent from each other. As such, each particular argument provides support for all the others. Rather than being like a chain, a cumulative argument is more like a cable composed of many strands. Each strand strengthens the cable. But if there are many strands, the cable can still hold a lot of weight even if some of them unravel. As the reader will see, there are many strands in the argument for official complicity in 9/11 summarized in this book. If the purported evidence on which some of these are based turns out to be unreliable, that would not necessarily undermine the overall argument. This cumulative argument would then simply be supported by fewer strands. And some of the strands are such that, if the evidence on which they are based is confirmed, the case could be supported by one or two of them. >43

"Conspiracy Theories"

Before turning to the evidence, however, we should pause to consider the fact, to which allusion has been made, that it seems widely assumed that any such case can be rejected a priori by pointing out that it is a "conspiracy theory." Indeed, it almost seems to be a requirement or admission into public discourse to announce that one rejects conspiracy theories. What is the logic behind this thinking? It cannot be that we literally reject the very idea that conspiracies occur. We all accept conspiracy theories of all sorts. We accept a conspiracy theory whenever we believe that two or more people have conspired in secret to achieve some goal, such as to rob a bank, defraud customers, or fix prices, we would be more honest, therefore, if we followed the precedent of Michael Moore, who has said: "Now, I'm not into conspiracy theories, except the ones that are true." >44

To refine this point slightly, we can say that we accept all those conspiracy theories that we believe to be true, while we reject all those that we believe to be false. We cannot, therefore, divide people into those who accept conspiracy theories and those who reject them. The division between people on this issue involves simply the question of wich conspiracy theories they accept and which ones they reject. >45

To apply this analysis to the attacks of 9/11: It is false to suggest that those who allege that the attacks occurred because of official complicity are "conspiracy theorists" while those who accept the official account are not. People differ on this issue merely in terms of which conspiracy theory they hold to be true, or at least most probable. According to the official account, the attacks of 9/11 occurred because of a conspiracy among Muslims, with Osama bin Laden being the chief conspirator. Revisionists reject that theory, at least as a sufficient account of what happened, maintaining that the attacks cannot be satisfactorily explained without postulating conspiracy by officials of the US government, at least in allowing the attacks to succeed. The choice, accordingly, is simply between (some version of) the received conspiracy theory and (some version of) the revisionist conspiracy theory.

Which of these competing theories we accept depends, or at least should depend, on which one we believe to be better supported by the relevant facts. Those who hold the revisionist theory have become convinced that there is considerable evidence that not only suggests the falsity of the received conspiracy theory, which we are calling "the official account," but also points to the truth of the revisionist theory. I turn now to that evidence.


FOOTNOTES for the Introduction

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Frequently Cited Works

Ahmed, Nafeez Mosaddeq. The War on Freedom: How and Why America Was Attacked September 11, 2001. Joshua Tree, Calif.: Tree of Life Publications, 2002.
Chossudovsky, Michel. War and Globalisation: The Truth Behind September 11. Canada: Global Outlook, 2002.
Meyssan, Thierry. 9/11: The Big Lie. London: Carnot, 2002 (translation of L'Effioyable imposture [Paris: Les Editions Carnot, 2002]). 
Pentagate. London: Carnot Publishing, 2002 (translation of Le Pentagate [Paris- Les Editions Carnot, 2002]).
Thompson, Paul. "September 11: Minute-by-Minute," Center for Cooperative Research. After the first citation in a chapter, this timeline will be cited simply as Thompson, followed by the time. For example: Thompson (8:55 AM) or Thompson, 8:55 AM, depending how he marks it on his website. 
"Was 9/11 Allowed to Happen? The Complete Timeline," Center for Cooperative Research. After the first citation in a chapter, this timeline will be cited simply as "Timeline," followed by the date under which the information is found. Both timelines are available on the website for the Center for Cooperative Research (

1James Bamford, Body of Secrets: Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency (New York: Anchor Books, 2002), 633.
2Washington Post, January 27, 2002.
3Henry Kissinger, "Destroy the Network," Washington Post, September 11, 2001 (, quoted in Thierry Meyssan,9/11: The Big Lie (London: Carnot, 2002), 65.
4Lance Morrow, "The Case for Rage and Retribution," Time, September 11, 2001.
5The Project for the New American Century, Rebuilding America's Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century (, 51. This document will be discussed further.
6John Pilger, New Statesman, December 12, 2002.
7Leonard Wong, Institute of Strategic Studies, Defeating Terrorism: Strategic Issues Analysis, "Maintaining Public Support for Military Operations" (, quoted in 9/11: The Big Lie, 127.
8On these restrictions and their consequences, see Nancy Chang, Silencing Political Dissent: How Post-September 11 Anti- Terrorism Measures Threaten Our Civil Liberties, Foreword by Howard Zinn (New York: Seven Stories, 2002).
9Phyllis Bennis, Before and After: US Foreign Policy and the September 11th Crisis, Foreword by Noam Chomsky (Northampton, Mass.: Olive Branch Press, 2003).
10See Richard W. Van Alstyne, The Rising America. Empire (1960; New York: Norton, 1974); Walter LaFeber, The New Empire: An Interpretation of American Expansion 1860-1898 (1963; Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1998); Thomas J. McCormick, China Market: America's Quest for Informal Empire, 1893-1901 (Chicago: Quadrangle Books, 1967)- Lloyd C. Gardner, Walter F. LaFeber, and Thomas J. McCormick, Creation of the American Empire (Chicago: Rand McNally, 1973); Laurence Shoup and William Minter, Imperial Brain Trust: The Council on Foreign Relations and United States Foreign Policy( New York: Monthly Review Press, 1977); Anders Stephanson, Manifest Destiny: American Expansion and the Empire of Right (New York:. Hill and Wang, 1995).
11"More than any single policy," says Bennis, "the biggest cause of international anger against the United States is the arrogance with which US power is exercised" (Before and After, xv).
12"Resisting the Global Domination Project: An Interview with Prof. Richard Falk," Frontline, 20/8 (April 12-25, 2003).
13For example, Rahul Mahajan, The New Crusade: American's War on Terrorism (New York: Monthly Review, 2002), 7.
14New York Times, September 11, 2002.
15William Bunch, "Why Don't We Have Answers to These 9/11 Questions?" Philadelphia Daily News online posting, September 11, 2003.
16The media in several other countries have, by contrast, presented investigative reports. In Canada, for example, journalist Barrie Zwicker presented a two-part examination, entitled "The Great Deception: What Really Happened on September 11th," on January 21 and 28, 2002 (MediaFile, Vision TV Insight []). In Germany, the public discussion has been such that a poll in July of 2003 revealed that 20 percent of the German population believed that "the US government ordered the attacks itself" (Ian Johnson, "Conspiracy Theories about September 11 Get Hearing in Germany," Wall Street Journal, September 29, 2003, A1).
17Press Gazette, August 15, 2002.
18Rather's remarks, made in a interview on Greg Palasts BBC television show Newsnight, were quoted in a story in the Guardian, May 17, 2002. This statement is quoted in Greg Palast, "See No Evil: What Bush Didn't (Want to) Know about 9/11," which is contained in Palast's The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: The Truth about Corporate Cons, Globalization, and High-Finance Fraudsters (Plume, 2003), which is the Revised American Edition of his 2002 book (with a different subtitle). This essay was also posted March 1, 2003, on
19"Remarks by the President in Photo Opportunity with the National Security Team" ( /09/20010912-4.html).
20"Presidents Remarks at National Day of Prayer and Remembrance" ( /09/20010914-2.html).
21The material in notes 19-21 is quoted in 9111: The Big Lie, 77, 76-77, 79.
22Jean Bethke Elshtain, Just War Against Terror: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World (New York: Basic Books, 2003), 2-3.
23See Michel Chossudovsky, War and Globalisation: The Truth Behind September 11 (Canada: Global Outlook, 2002), and John McMurtry, Value Wars: The Global Market Versus the Life Economy (London: Pluto Press, 2002), Preface.
24Elshtain, 9.
25To some extent, this fact reflects a matter of principle -- a concern that devoting attention to possible conspiracies is diversionary. Some of the reasons for this wariness are valid. One concern is that a focus on exposing conspiratorial crimes of present office-holders may reflect the naive asssumption that if only we can replace those individuals with better ones, things will be fine. Underlying that worry is the concern that a focus on conspirators can divert attention from the more important issue of the structural problems in the national and global order that need to be overcome. But although those dangers must be guarded against, we should also avoid a too strong dichotomy between structural and conspiratorial analysis. For one thing, although structural analysis is essential for any deep understanding of social processes, structures as such, being abstractions, do not enact themselves. They are influential only insofar as they are embodied in agents -- both individual and institutional -- who act in terms of them. These agents, furthermore, are not fully determined by the dominant values of their societies. They have degrees of freedom, which they can use to act in ways that are more or less wise, more or less just, and more or less legal. When political leaders enact policies that are egregiously unjust, dangerous, and even illegal, it is important to replace them with leaders who are at least somewhat better. Finally, and most important, the exposure of a conspiracy may, rather than diverting attention from a society's problematic structures, turn attention to them. For example, if it became evident that our national political leaders caused or at least allowed the attacks of 9/11 and that they did so partly because they had deeply embodied certain values pervasive of our society, we might finally decide that a society-wide reorientation is in order.
26This practice is, of course, not unique to America. It is generally agreed, for example, mat the "Mukden incident," in which an explosion destroyed part of the Japanese railway in Manchuria, was engineered by Japanese army officers "as an excuse to conquer Manchuria" (Walter LaFeber, The Clash: US-Japanese Relations Throughout History [New York: Norton, 1997], 166).
27Rahul Mahajan, Full Spectrum Dominance: US Power in Iraq and Beyond (New York: Seven Stories, 2003), 59, 50, 48.
28Paul Thompson's main timeline, entitled "Was 9/11 Allowed to Happen? The Complete Timeline," lists possibly relevant events extending over many years and fills some 200 single-spaced pages.
29This is one respect in which Thompson sees himself as differing from some other researchers, such as Michael Ruppert, mentioned in note 36, below.
30Gore Vidal, Dreaming War. Blood for Oil and the Cheney-Bush Junta (New York: Thunder's Mouth/Nation Books, 2002); Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, The War on Freedom: How and Why America Was Attacked September 11, 2001 (Joshua Tree Calif, Tree of Life Publications, 2002). Vidal, one prominent member of the American left who has rejected the official account of 9-11, endorses Ahmed's book -- calling it "the best, most balanced report, thus far" (l4) -- and summarizes some of its argument.
31See Breakdown: How America's Intelligence Failures Led to September 11 (Washington: Regnery 2002), by Bill Gertz, a journalist for the Washington Times. A more recent version of this thesis is provided in Gerald Posner, WhyAmerica Slept: The Failure to Prevent 9/11 (New York: Random House, 2003) Posner attributes the failure to breakdowns (xi), blunders (xii, 169), missed opportunities (xii, 146), investigative mix-ups (34), mistakes (150, 155, 169), incompetence and bad judgment (142, 167), stifling bureaucracy (173), and especially the failure of agencies to share information with each other (35, 44-47, 59, 178). "The failure to have prevented 9/11," asserts Posner, "was a systemic one" (xii). The task before us, therefore, is simply to fix the system. As Walter Russell Mead says (without criticism) in a book review, "the message of Why America, Slept is on balance a hopeful one.
Incompetence in our security establishment is something we can address" ("The Tragedy of National Complacency," New York Times, October 29, 2003).
32A Joint Inquiry into the attacks was carried out in 2002 by the intelligence committees of the US Senate and House of Representatives. Although this Joint Inquiry had completed its final report by December of 2002, the Bush administration long refused to allow it to be released. Only a very brief summary of this final report was made public (it can be read at under December 11, 2002). Finally, late in July 2003, the final report itself was released. Although discussions in the press described the report as surprisingly critical, the criticism was limited to charges of incompetence. Significant portions of the final report were, to be sure, deleted in the name of national security, but I see no reason to believe that these deletions -- which reportedly involved foreign countries, especially Saudi Arabia -- contained any accusations of complicity in 9/11 by US officials. Possible reasons for the inadequacy of the Joint Inquiry's report are discussed in Chapter 10.
33Although its official name is the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks upon the United States, it is informally known as the 9/11 Independent Commission. President Bush had long opposed the creation of any such commission, claiming that it would take resources away from the war on terrorism. But embarrassing revelations from the Joint Inquiry (see previous note) reportedly left him little choice (Newsweek, September 22, 2002). In November of 2002, Bush signed a bill establishing the commission (the website of which is Problems in relation to this commission are discussed in Chapter 10.
34In the meantime, Thompson has been developing articles in which the material is organized in terms of a large number of topics, which continues to grow. He also has a growing number of articles in which he discusses various dimensions of the controversies about 9/11. His website is therefore becoming increasingly easy to use.
35Implicit in this statement is the fact that I do not endorse all arguments in the main sources I employ. Meyssan, for example, has some theories that I find implausible and others that seem at least insufficiently supported by evidence.
36One failing of this book is that I have usually made no effort to discern, with regard to various stories and facts reported, which investigator or researcher was first responsible for reporting them. This means that I have surely in many cases failed to give proper credit. One example involves the fact that I cite Paul Thompson's timelines abundantly while citing Michael Ruppert's website, From the Wilderness ( or, relatively rarely. And yet Ruppert was one of the earliest major critics of the official account of 9/11. In fact, in Thompson's statement of "credits and sources," he says: "This timeline started when I saw the excellent timeline at the From the Wilderness website and began adding to it. I found that timeline to be a great resource, but it wasn't as comprehensive as I wanted. My version has since grown into something of a monster, but the inspiration still lies with From the Wilderness" ( Ruppert, furthermore, is simply one example of several researchers, such as Jared Israel, who were publishing information challenging the official account almost immediately after 9/11. To try to sort all of this out in order to assign proper credit, however, would detract from the task of getting the challenge to the official account into the public discussion. Most researchers, as far as I can tell, seem more interested in this than in receiving credit. The question of proper credit, in any case, is one that would appropriately be answered by some historian of this movement if it is successful.
37In suggesting that there are many disturbing questions that have thus far not been answered,I am to some extent reflecting the attitude of the organizations formed by families of the victims of the attacks, one of which is, in fact, called "Unanswered Questions" (see Other organizations with websites include Familiy Steering Committee for the 9/11 Independent Commission (, Voices of September 11th (, 9-11 Citizens Watch (, and the 9/11 Visibility Project (
38This book, cited in previous notes, is a translation of Meyssan's L'Effroyable imposture (Paris Les Editions Carnot, 2002).
39This view of the White House could be combined with any of the previous five views insofar as those views deal only with the involvement of other US agencies. This sixth view, therefore, has five possible versions. The same is true of the seventh and eighth views.
40Elshtain, 2-3.
41Michael Parenti, The Terrorism Trap: September 11 and Beyond (San Francisco: City Lights, 2002), 69, 70.
42Parenti, 70-71, citing Patrick Martin, "US Planned War in Afghanistan Long Before September 11," World Socialist Conference, November 20, 2001 (; the quoted words, which summarize Martins position, are Parenti's.
43I emphasize this point because some polemicists, when confronted by a book whose conclusion they do not like, seek to undermine this conclusion by focusing on the few points that they believe can be most easily discredited. That tactic, assuming that good evidence is really presented against those points, is valid with regard to a deductive argument. In relation to a cumulative argument, however, it is tactic useful only to those concerned with something other than truth.
44Michael Moore, Dude, Where's My Country? (New York: Warner Books, 2003), 2.
45To refine the point a little more: There are some conspiracy theories that, although we may not be convinced of their truth, we find at least plausible, so we are willing to entertain the possibility that they might be true. We are open, accordingly, to reading and hearing evidence intended to support them. There are other conspiracy theories, by contrast, that we find completely implausible, so we tend to suspect the intelligence or sanity of people who believe them or who even entertain the possibility of their truth. Whatever facts they offer as evidence we reject out of hand, holding that, even if we cannot explain these facts, the true explanation cannot be the one they are offering. But the question of what we find completely implausible  'beyond the pale' -- is seldom determined simply by a dispassionate consideration of empirical evidence. Plausibility is largely a matter of one's general worldview. We are also influenced to some degree by wishful-and-fearful thinking, in which we accept some ideas partly because we hope thay are true and reject other ideas because we would find the thought that they are true too frightening. At least sometimes, however, we are able, in spite of our prejudgments, to revise our prior ideas in light of new evidence. Most revisionists about 9/11, in presenting their evidence, seem to be counting on this possibility.

Part One

The Events of 9/11


Flights 11 and 175: How could the Hijacker's Missions have succeded?

In many respects, the strongest evidence provided by critics of the official account involves simply the events of 9/11 itself. At 8:46 AM, one hijacked airplane crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center (WTC). At 9:03, another crashed into the South Tower. And at 9:38, the Pentagon was hit. In light of standard procedures for dealing with hijacked airplanes, however, not one of these planes should have reached its target, let alone all three of them. It is also far from clear how the New York attacks could have succeeded in the sense of causing the buildings of the WTC to collapse. There are, furthermore, disturbing questions about the third airliner whether it was really the aircraft that hit the Pentagon -- and about the fourth one -- whether it was the one plane that was shot down. Finally, after examining questions that have been raised about all these matters, I will look at questions raised by President Bush's behavior that day. The present chapter, however, deals only with Flights 11 and 175 and the collapse of the WTC buildings.

American Airlines Flight II

The first plane to be hijacked was American Airlines (AA) Flight 11, which left Boston at 7:59 AM. At 8:14, besides failing to respond to an order from FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) ground control to climb, its radio and transponder went off, >1 suggesting that it had possibly been hijacked. At 8:20, with FAA ground control watching its flight path on radar, the plane went radically off course, leading ground control to conclude that it had probably been hijacked. At 8:21, flight attendants reported by telephone that the plane had definitely been taken over by hijackers, who had already killed some people. At 8:28, the plane turned toward New York. At 8:44, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld was in the Pentagon talking about terrorism with Representative Christopher Cox.

"Let me tell ya," the Associated Press quoted Rumsfeld as saving, "I've been around the block a few times. There will be another event. Therewill be another event." >2 And, if he in fact said this, he was right. Two minutes later, at 8:46, Flight 11 crashed into the WTC's North Tower. This was 32 minutes after evidence that the plane had possibly been hijacked and 25 minutes after knowledge that it definitely had been.

Skeptics about the official account believe that the attempt to crash an airliner into the WTC could not have been successful under normal circumstances. The basic problem, they argue, is that there are standard procedures for situations such as this and that, if they had been followed, Flight 11 would have been intercepted by fighter jets within 10 minutes of any sign that it may have been hijacked. Had the plane then failed to obey the standard signal to follow the fighter jets to an airport to land, it would have been shot down. This would have occurred by 8:24, or 8:30 at the latest, so that the question of whether to shoot down a commercial airliner over the heart of New York City would not have arisen.

As evidence, the skeptics cite FAA regulations, which instruct air traffic controllers:

Consider that an aircraft emergency exists...when:...There is unexpected loss of radar contact and radio communications with any... aircraft.... are in doubt that a situation constitutes an emergency or potential emergency, handle it as though it were an emergency. >3
Accordingly, at 8:14, the loss of radio contact alone would have led the flight controller to begin emergency procedures. The loss of the transponder signal would have made the situation doubly suspect. The controller, after finding that it was impossible to re-establish radio contact, would have immediately contacted the National Military Command Center (NMCC) in the Pentagon and its North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD), which would have immediately had jets sent up -- "scrambled" -- from the nearest military airport. According to spokespersons for NORAD, from the time the FAA senses that something is wrong, "it takes about one minute" for it to contact NORAD, and then NORAD can cramble fighters "within a matter of minutes to anywhere in the United States." >4 "According to the US Air Forces own website," reports Nafeez Ahmed, an F-15 routinely "goes from 'scramble order' to 29,000 feet in only 2.5 minutes" and then can fly at 1,850 nmph (nautical miles per hour). >5 If normal procedures had been followed, accordingly, Flight 11 would have been intercepted by 8:24, and certainly no later than 8:30, 16 minutes before it, in the actual course of events, crashed into the WTC. Furthermore, even if radio contact and the transponders signal had not been lost, the fact that the plane went radically off course at 8:20 would have led the FAA to notify the military. Every plane has a flight plan, which consists of a sequence of geographic points, or "fixes," and, according to a report by MSNBC:
Pilots are supposed to hit each fix with pinpoint accuracy. If a plane deviates by 15 degrees, or two miles from that course, the flight controllers will hit the panic button. They'll call the plane, saying "American 11, you're deviating from course." It's considered a real emergency. >6
So, even if the FAA had waited until the plane went off course at 8:20, the plane should have been intercepted by 8:30, or 8:35 at the latest, again in plenty of time to prevent it from going into New York City.
As to what would occur upon interception, Ahmed explains by quoting the FAA manual:
[The interceptor military craft communicates by] Rocking wings from a position slightly above and ahead of, and normally to the left of, the intercepted aircraft.... This action conveys the message: "You have been intercepted." The commercial jet is then supposed to respond by rocking its wings to indicate compliance, upon which the interceptor performs a "slow level turn, normally to the left, on to the desired heading [direction]." The commercial plane then responds by following the escort. >7
If Flight 11 had been thus intercepted but did not respond, it would, according to standard procedures, have been shot down. Marine Corps Major Mike Snyder, a NORAD spokesman, after telling the Boston Globe that NORAD's "fighters routinely intercept aircraft," continued:
When planes are intercepted, they typically are handled with graduated response. The approaching fighter may rock its wingtips to attract the pilots attention, or make a pass in front of the aircraft. Eventually, it can fire tracer rounds in the airplanes path, or, under certain circumstances, down it with a missile. >8
The question raised by critics, of course, is why this did not happen in the case of Flight 11. Why was the plane not even intercepted?
Some confusion about this matter, they point out, was created by VicePresident Cheney during an interview on "Meet the Press" on September16, in which he suggested that the "question of whether or not we would intercept commercial aircraft," as well as the question of whether it would be shot down, was "a presidential-level decision." This statement, point out the critics, confuses two matters: intercepting and shooting down, and interception is a routine matter, which occurs well over a hundred times a year. >9 The confusion of these two matters was also aided by General Richard Myers, then Acting Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, >10 in testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee on September 13, in which he stated:"[A}fter the second tower was hit, I spoke to the commander of NORAD, General Eberhart. And at that point, I think the decision was at that point to start launching aircraft." >11 He, like Cheney, implied that fighters would be sent up to intercept flights only if ordered to by commanders at the highest level. But interception occurs routinely, as a matter of standard operating procedure, even if shooting down a plane would be, as Cheney implied, "a presidential-level decision."
Moreover, although some researchers have accepted the view that a hijacked plane could be shot down only with presidential authorization, >12Thierry Meyssan points out that the military regulations seem to say otherwise. According to these regulations,
In the event of a hijacking, the NMCC [National Military Command Center] will be notified by the most expeditious means by the FAA. The NMCC will, with the exception of requests needing an immediate response -- forward requests for DoD [Department of Defense] assistance to the Secretary of Defense for approval. >13
Accordingly, concludes Meyssan, the regulations give the responsibility for shooting down hijacked airplanes "to the Secretary of Defense." Furthermore, as the phrase beginning "with the exception" shows, if the Secretary of Defense cannot be contacted in time, other people in the line of command would have the authority. According to a Department of Defense document cited by Meyssan:
It is possible to formulate to any element in the chain of command "Requests needing Immediate Response." These arise from imminently serious conditions where only an immediate action taken by an official of the Department of Defense or a military commander can prevent loss of lives, or mitigate human suffering and great property damage. >14
According to this reading, many people in the line of command would have had the authority to prevent the "loss of lives" and "great property damage" that occurred when AA Flight 11 slammed into the North Tower of the WTC.
One might argue, to be sure, that at that time no one would have known that the plane was going to do that. But, critics of the official account would reply, that argument -- besides not explaining why Flight 11 was not at least intercepted -- would not apply to the second plane to crash into the WTC.

United Airlines Flight 175

UA Flight 175 left Boston at 8:14 AM, which was just when the FAA was learning that Flight 11 may have been hijacked. At 8:42, its radio and transponder went off and it veered off course. Knowing by then that the earlier flight had definitely been hijacked and was flying across New York City, FAA officials would surely have been ready to contact the military immediately. They, in fact, reportedly notified NORAD at 8:43. >15 NORAD should have had fighter jets intercepting this plane by 8:53. And by this time, being 7 minutes after the first hijacked plane had hit the WTC, the fighters certainly should have been ready to shoot down this second hijacked plane if it did not immediately follow orders. Instead, however, no planes intercepted Flight 175, and it crashed into the WTC's South Tower at 9:03.

Another disturbing feature about this crash, especially to the families of the victims, is that at 8:55, a public announcement was reportedly broadcast inside the South Tower, saying that the building was secure, so that people could return to their offices. Such announcements reportedly continued until a few minutes before the building was hit, and may have contributed "to the deaths of hundreds of people." >16 Paul Thompson asks: "Given that at 8:43 NORAD was notified Flight 175 was hijacked and headed toward New York City, why weren't people in the building warned?" A disturbing question, since Thompson's implication seems to be that perhaps someone other than the hijackers was seeking to ensure that a significant number of lives were lost.

In any case, given the fact that this plane hit the WTC 17 minutes after the first crash, none of the reasons that could be imagined to explain why standard procedures broke down with regard to the first plane -- such as inattentive air traffic controllers, pilots at military bases not on full alert, or the assumption that the plane's aberrant behavior did not mean that it had been hijacked -- could be used to explain why Flight 175 was not shot down or even intercepted. For one thing, by then all the technicians at NORAD's Northeast Air Defense Sector "had their headsets linked to the FAA in Boston to hear about Flight 11," so NORAD would have been fully aware of the seriousness of the situation. >17 Even more puzzling is why in another 35 minutes, at 9:38, the Pentagon would be hit, but we will wait until the next chapter to examine this third flight. The present task is to consider the official account of the first two flights and the response of the critics.

Why Were Flights 11 and 175 Not Intercepted?

One of the strange things about the official account, say its critics, is that there has been more than one version of it. General Myers, in his aforementioned testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee on September 13, said: "When it became clear what the threat was, we did scramble fighter aircraft." When asked whether that order was given "before or after the Pentagon was struck," Myers -- who was acting chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- replied: "That order, to the best of my knowledge, was after the Pentagon was struck." >18 One problem with this statement, point out critics, is that officials at NMCC would have become clear about "what the threat was" long before the Pentagon itself was hit at 9:38. It would have been clear at least by 8:46, when the WTC was hit and another hijacked plane was heading in its direction. Another problem, of course, is that it was not necessary for officials at NMCC and NORAD to understand fully "what the threat was" in order for there to be jets in the air to intercept Flights 11, 175, and any unauthorized aircraft headed toward Washington. Standard operating procedures should have taken care of all those things.

This version of the official account was also told by at least two other officials. According to a story in the Boston Globe on September 15, Major Mike Snyder, speaking for NORAD, said that no fighters were scrambled until after the Pentagon was hit. And on September 16, when Tim Russert, during his aforementioned interview with Vice President Cheney on "Meet the Press," expressed surprise that although we knew about the first hijacking by 8:20, "it seems we were not able to scramble fighter jets in time to protect the Pentagon," Cheney did not dispute this statement. >19

The major problem with this first version of the official account, of course, is that it says that military behavior completely contradicted standard procedures, which call for jets to be scrambled as soon as a suspected hijacking is reported. Despite the fact that statements by Myers and Cheney seemed to suggest otherwise, it requires no command from on high for fighter jets to be scrambled. Rather, the critics point out, an order for them not to be scrambled is what would require a command from on high. For example, Illarion Bykov and Jared Israel, commenting on the fact that the standard emergency systems failed on 9/11, say: "This could only happen if individuals in high positions worked in a coordinated way to make them fail." >20

Within a few days, in any case, NORAD began saying that it did have planes scrambled but they arrived too late. >21 To the critics, however, this second version seems almost as strange as the first.

According to this version, NORAD was not notified by the FAA of the hijacking of Flight 11 until 8:40. This would have been 26 minutes after the plane's radio and transponder went off and 20 minutes after it went off course. Allan Wood and Paul Thompson write:

Is NORAD's claim credible? If so, the air traffic controllers...should have been fired and subject to possible criminal charges for their inaction. To date, however, there has been no word of any person being disciplined.... If NORAD's claim is false, and it was indeed informed within the time frame outlined in FAA regulations..., that would mean NORAD did absolutely nothing for almost thirty minutes while a hijacked commercial airliner flew off course through some of the most congested airspace in the world. Presumably, that would warrant some very serious charges. Again, no one associated with NORAD or the FAA has been punished. >22
The lack of disciplinary action suggests either that this story is false or that the relevant parties at FAA and/or NORAD did what they had been instructed to do.

This account has more anomalous features. After NORAD received word of the hijacking, according to this account, it did not give the scramble order until 8:46, six minutes after it had been notified. Furthermore, NORAD inexplicably gave this order not to McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey, which is only 70 miles from NYC, but to Otis Air National Guard Base in Cape Cod, which is over 180 miles away.

That would have made no difference with regard to Flight 11, of coursebecause 8:46 was when it was striking the WTC.

In the meantime, however, NORAD says that it had received notification at 8:43 from the FAA of Flight 175's hijacking, so the two F-15s that were given the scramble order at 8:46 were sent after this flight instead. But, inexplicably, the F-15s are said not to have taken off until 6 minutes later, at 8:52.

However, perhaps the strangest feature of this story, from the viewpoint of the critics, involves its failure to explain, even with all those delays, why the planes did not arrive in time to stop the second attack on the WTC. At 8:52, there were still 11 minutes until 9:03, when Flight 175 would hit the second tower. Lieutenant Colonel Timothy Duffy, a pilot said to have flown one of the F-15s, has been quoted as stating that he "was in full-blower all the way," which would mean he was going over 1,875 nmph. >23 At this speed, the F-15s would have been covering over 30 miles a minute. Hence, allowing the standard 2.5 minutes for them to get airborne and up to speed, they should have reached Manhattan in about 8 minutes, having a full 3 minutes left to shoot down the errant airliner. And yet, according to this second version of the official account, the F-15s were still 70 miles away when Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower. >24 Indeed, according to NORAD's timeline, it took them 19 minutes to reach the city. So, if the story about jets from Otis is even true, they must have been traveling at far less than "full blower" -- in fact, if we accept NORAD s timeline, more like 700 mph. >25

Furthermore, even if the times in this story are adjusted enough to account for the fact that the planes were late, there is still the question of why the order was not given to McGuire Air Force Base. As Ahmed says, an F-15 flying at 1,850 nmph "would cover the ground from New Jersey's Air Force Base to New York in under 3 minutes, and thus could have easily intercepted Flight 175." >26 So, the critics conclude, even if this second story is accepted, the WTC's second tower should not have been hit. Finally, the claim that jets were scrambled to try to stop this second hijacked plane still leaves us with no explanation as to why standard procedures were not followed with regard to the first one. Accepting this second version of the official account would, furthermore, leave us puzzled as to how General Myers, Vice President Cheney, and the NORAD spokesman could have at first believed that no planes whatsoever had been scrambled until after the Pentagon had been hit.

Accordingly, some critics, including some with military experience, think that the second version was fabricated. For example, Stan Goff, a retired Master Sergeant who taught Military Science at West Point, concludes that no Air Force jets were scrambled until after the Pentagon was hit. >27 Andreas von Bulow, former State Secretary in the German Defense Ministry, said: "For 60 decisive minutes, the military and intelligence agencies let the fighter planes stay on the ground." >28

Under either version of the official account, in any case, the successful attacks on the WTC should not have been possible. This view is supported by Anatoli Kornukov, the commander in chief of the Russian Air Force, who was quoted the day after 9/11 as saying: "Generally it is impossible to carry out an act of terror on the scenario which was used in the USA yesterday.... As soon as something like that happens here, I am reported about that right away and in a minute we are all up." >29 After quoting Kornukovs statement, Ahmed comments: "It is, of course, well known that the US Air Force is far superior to Russia's," adding that some reasonable inferences can be drawn from these facts -- in particular, that the attacks on the WTC could have happened only if standard operating procedures were suspended.

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) were completely and inexplicably dropped on 11th September -- something that had never occurred before. The question then remains as to who was responsible for ensuring that routine emergency response rules were not adhered to. >30
Bykov and Israel have little doubt about who that was, saying:
The sabotage of routine protective systems, controlled by strict hierarchies, would never have been contemplated let alone attempted absent the involvement of the supreme US military command. This includes at least US President George Bush, US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and the then-Acting Head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Air Force General Richard B. Myers. >31
This is indeed the question that must be faced: Could a plan to hijack airplanes and crash them into the WTC have been successful without "stand down" orders approved by Bush, Rumsfeld, and Myers?

As the conclusions drawn by critics of the official account of Flights 11 and 175 show, this account has evoked disturbing questions. >32 Further disturbing questions have been raised by the collapse of the buildings of the World Trade Center. >33

The Collapse of the WTC Buildings

According to the official account, the North and South Towers (the Twin Towers) collapsed due to the impact of the airliners plus the intense heatproduced by the resulting fires. Calling this the "official account," I should add, does not mean that it has been endorsed by any official body. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was given the task of investigating the collapse, but when it issued its report in May of 2002, it declared that "the sequence of events leading to the collapse of each tower could not be definitively determined." >34 Nevertheless, FEMA's report was filled with speculation that served to support the official theory.

This theory is widely rejected by those familiar with the facts. It was rejected already in January of 2002 in an article by Bill Manning entitled "Selling Out the Investigation," which was published in Fire Engineering, a trade magazine with ties to the New York Fire Department. Manning reported that a growing number of fire protection engineers had suggested that "the structural damage from the planes and the explosive ignition of jet fuel in themselves were not enough to bring down the towers." >35 In the meantime, many more objections to the official theory have been raised. Some of these objections involve special problems associated with the collapse of a third building in the complex known as Building 7 (WTC-7).

To evaluate these objections, it is necessary to review some of the facts. The North Tower (WTC-1) was struck at 8:46 AM. It collapsed one hour and 42 minutes later, at 10:28. The South Tower (WTC-2) was struck at 9:03 AM. It collapsed 56 minutes later, at 9:59. Building Number 7 (WTC-7), which was two blocks away and was not struck, collapsed at 5:20 PM. These facts immediately suggest two questions: Why did the South Tower, which was struck 17 minutes later than the North Tower, nevertheless collapse 29 minutes earlier? And why did WTC-7 collapse at all, given the fact that it was not struck? Additional details about the collapse of these three buildings raise even more questions. I will first deal with questions that have been raised about the North and South Towers, then turn to WTC-7.

The Twin Towers: According one account that became widely circulated shortly after 9/11 by being articulated on a NOVA program, the North and South Towers were caused to collapse when the heat of the fires, fed by the jet fuel, melted the buildings' steel columns. >36 It is now universally agreed, however, that the fires would not have been nearly hot enough. To melt steel, one needs a temperature in the range of 2,770 degrees Fahrenheit (1,500 degrees Celcius), which can be produced only by some special device, such as an oxyacetyline torch. A hydrocarbon fire, such as one based on refined kerosene -- which is what jet fuel is -- does not get nearly that hot. As explained by Thomas Eagar, professor of materials engineering and engineering systems at MIT, the maximum possible temperature for an open fire fueled by hydrocarbons would be 1,600 to 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit. Moroever, since the WTC fires were fuel-rich fires, as evidenced by the fact that they gave off much black smoke, they were not even very hot for hydrocarbon fires, "probably only 1,200 or 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit." >37

As the melting theory illustrates, some of the widely accepted explanations of the collapse of the towers are unsound scientifically. Many other theories are inadequate because they do not take account of specific facts about the buildings and the nature of the collapses. Before examining any more theories, therefore, we should look at some of these facts.

Each of the towers was about 1,300 feet tall. To support these extremely tall buildings, there were 47 steel columns in the central core of each building and 240 steel columns around the perimeter, with each column being far thicker at the bottom than at the top. The perimeter columns were connected to the core by means of steel bar-joist trusses in the concrete floors. Although there has been considerable talk of "flimsy trusses," >38 Scientific American quoted engineer Robert McNamara as saying "nowadays, they just don't build them as tough as the World Trade Center." With regard to the bar-joist trusses in particular, the FEMA report said: "The floor framing system for the two towers was complex and substantially more redundant than typical bar joist floor systems." >39Investigations of some recovered steel have found, furthermore, that far from being defective, it met or even exceeded the standard requirements. >40Given these facts about the towers, we can dismiss a second idea that has been widely promulgated, namely, that the impact of the airplanes would have substantially weakened the towers. Thomas Eagar says that the impact of the airplanes would have been insignificant, because "the number of columns lost on the initial impact was not large and the loads were shifted to remaining columns in this highly redundant structure." >41 [W]ithin a few dozen seconds after the plane crash," Eric Hufschmid points out, "[t]he North tower was quiet, stable, and motionless." >42

Those who support the official account, such as Eagar himself, generally argue that the collapses must be explained in terms of the heat from the fires. In Eagar's words: "The real damage in the World Trade Center resulted from the size of the fire." Because the steel used in buildings must be able to hold five times its normal load, Eagar points out, the steel in the towers could have collapsed only if it was heated to the point at which it "lost 80 percent of its strength," which would be about 1,300F. Eagar believes that this is what happened. >43 The credibility of the official theory, accordingly, depends at least in part on whether there is evidence that the towers had the requisite fires.

To evaluate this issue we must acknowledge the distinction, emphasized by Eagar himself, between temperature and heat (or energy). >44 Something, such as a burning match or light bulb, can have a very high temperature but not generate much heat (energy), because it is so small. A burning match would never bring a steel beam up to its temperature. A 1,300F fire would bring a huge steel beam up to this temperature only if it were a very big fire, so that it had lots of energy.

There is one more condition: The big fire would have to be applied to the steel beam for a considerable period of time.

For the official theory to be credible, therefore, the fires in the towers must have been moderately hot; they must have been large fires, spreading throughout the buildings; and they must have burned for a considerable length of time. All the available evidence, however, suggests that the opposite was the case. A most valuable book for examining this evidence is Eric Hufschmid's Painful Questions, >45which contains the best set of photographs available.

The Twin Towers have commonly been described as "towering infernos." From the point of view of human bodies, this was a true description of the North Tower, from which many people leaped to their death to avoid the smoke and flames in the floors above the 96th floor, where the airplane hit. There is a huge difference, however, between the tolerance of human bodies and that of steel. Photographs of the North Tower provide no evidence of any fire that could have weakened its steel significantly. A photograph taken within 16 minutes of when the North Tower was hit (because the South Tower had not yet been hit) shows only a dark hole with black smoke pouring out of it. No flames arc visible. As Hufschmidt points out: "The lack of flames is an indication that the fires were small, and the dark smoke is an indication that the fires were suffocating." >46 Another photo, taken from another angle just after the South Tower was hit, shows some flames on floors just above the point of impact but no others. However great the flames may have been in the first several minutes, while they were being fed by the jet fuel, this skyscraper was not a towering inferno by the time 16 minutes had passed. >47

We have all, of course, seen pictures of a huge fireball outside the South Tower. >48 There was also a fireball outside the North Tower after it was hit.>49 These fireballs were created by the burning of the jet fuel that was spilled. The South Tower had a far bigger fireball because it was hit near a corner, so more fuel was spilled outside. These fireballs generated a great amount of heat. But it was momentary, because the fuel was quickly burned up. >50The fact that the South Towers fireball was bigger, furthermore, does not mean that the South Towers fires were bigger. To the contrary. Because so much jet fuel was burned up within the first few minutes, there was less to feed the fire inside the building. As Hufschmid reports, "photos show the spectacular flames vanished quickly, and then the fire remained restricted to one area of the tower...[and] slowly diminished" >51

The facts about the fire, therefore, seem to rule out any version of the official account according to which each tower had hot, widespread, long-lasting fires. Insofar as there were hot fires, they were localized and of short duration. Such fires, even if they were 1,300 degrees Fahrenheit, could not have brought much if any steel up to that temperature. >52

Another count against the fire theory is the likelihood that, even if the Twin Towers had been engulfed in raging fires, they would not have collapsed. Prior to the alleged exceptions of 9/11, a steel-framed building had never before collapsed solely because of fire. As a report by FEMA in 1991 stated about a fire in a Philadelphia building that year, the fire was so energetic that "[b]eams and girders sagged and twisted," but "[d]espite this extraordinary exposure, the columns continued to support their loads without obvious damage." >53

Defenders of the fire theory, however, appeal to the special characteristics of the Twin Towers. Given these special characteristics, they contend, the fire did not have to heat all me steel by spreading throughout all the floors. According to Thomas Eagar, it was sufficient to have a hot fire that covered one floor. The culprits, he says, were the angle dips," which "held the floor joists between the columns on the perimeter wall and the core structure," and which, he says, were not designed to hold five times their normal load.>54 Articulating what critics call the "zipper" version of the truss theory, Eagar says: "Once you started to get angle clips to fail in one area, it put extra load on other angle clips, and then it unzipped around the building on that floor in a matter of seconds." >55 And then:

As the joists on one or two of the most heavily burned floors gave way and the outer box columns began to bow outward, the floors above them also fell. The floor below (with its 1300-ton design capacity) could not support the roughly 45,000 tons of ten floors (or more) above crashing down on these angle clips. This started the domino effect that caused the buildings to collapse within ten seconds. >56
Something like this theory was endorsed in the FEMA report, which spoke of "a pancake-type of collapse of successive floors." >57

There are, however, many problems with this account. First, even this more modest view of the amount of steel that had to become very hot would seem to require more heat than was present, especially in the South Tower.

Second, as Hufschmid points out: "In order for a floor to fall, hundreds of joints had to break almost simultaneously on 236 exterior columns and 47 core columns." >58

Third, Eagar means his theory to do justice to the fact that the towers collapsed "within ten seconds." For a 1,300-foot building, however, ten seconds is almost free-fall speed. But if each floor produced just a little resistance, so that breaking through each one took a half second, the collapse of all those floors -- 80 or 95 of them -- would have taken 40 to 47 seconds. Can we really believe that the upper part of the buildings encountered virtually no resistance from the lower parts? >59 The problem would be even worse in relation to the North Tower, at least if Hufschmid is right to say that it fell in eight seconds, which would be exactly free-fall speed "How," he asks, "could the debris crush 100 steel and concrete floors while falling as fast as objects fall through air?" >60

Fourth, Eagar's theory, like all other versions of the official account cannot do justice to the fact that the collapse of the towers was total, resulting in a pile of rubble that, in Eagars own words, "was only a few stories high." >61 Even if one granted that his theory might explain why the floors and outer columns collapsed, it docs not explain, argues Peter Meyer, the collapse of the massive steel columns in the core of the buildings:

Why were the lower parts of the massive supporting steel columns not left standing after the collapse? If the official story is true, that the damage was caused by the impacts and fires, which occurred only in the upper floors, and that the floors then pancaked, one would expect the massive steel columns in the central core, for, say, the lowest 20 or 30 floors, to have remained standing. >62
Still another fact about the collapse of the towers that counts against the fire theory is the fact, mentioned at the outset, that the South Tower collapsed first. As we saw, it would take considerable time for fire to heat steel up to its own temperature. All other things being equal, then, the tower that was struck first should have collapsed first. And yet, although the South Tower was struck 17 minutes later than the North Tower, it collapsed 29 minutes earlier. This surprising fact would perhaps not create a problem if the fire in the South Tower had been much bigger. As we have seen, however, the fire in the South Tower was actually much smaller. Upon hearing that one tower took almost twice as long as the other one, therefore, one would assume that that was the South Tower. And yet the opposite was the case. This complete reversal of expectations suggests that the collapse of these buildings was caused by something other than the fires. >63

And that is, of course, what the critics maintain. Their alternative explanation is that the collapse was an example of a controlled demolition, based on explosives that had been placed throughout the building. This theory, point out its advocates, can explain all the facts discussed thus far. With regard to why the collapse was total and so rapid, Meyer says that

this is understandable if the bases of the steel columns were destroyed by explosions at the level of the bedrock. With those bases obliterated, and the supporting steel columns shattered by explosions at various levels in the Twin Towers, the upper floors lost all support and collapsed to ground level in about ten seconds. >64
Also, the controlled demolition theory, in conjunction with the fact that the South Tower was struck near the corner, can account for the otherwise surprising order in which the two towers collapsed.
In both cases the fires within the buildings died down after awhile, giving off only black, sooty smoke. If the Twin Towers were deliberately demolished, and the intention was to blame the collapse on the fires... then the latest time at which the towers could be collapsed would be just as the fires were dying down. Since the fire in the South Tower resulted from the combustion of less fuel than the fire in the North Tower, the fire in the South Tower began to go out earlier than the fire in the North Tower. Those controlling the demolition thus had to collapse the South Tower before they collapsed the North Tower. >65
There are, furthermore, some additional facts about the collapse of the Twin Towers that seem explainable only by the demolition theory. One of these is the fact that each collapse produced a lot of fine dust or powder, which upon analysis proved to consist primarily of gypsum and concrete. >66 Jeff King, examining the official account in light of what the videos show, says:
[T]he biggest and most obvious problem that I see is the source of the enormous amount of very fine dust that we see generated during the collapse.... Where does the energy come from to turn all this reinforced concrete into dust? >67
And as Hufshmid adds, photos of the rubble show only "a few small pieces of concrete," which means that "[v]irtually every piece of concrete shattered into dust." As a result, "Perhaps 100,000 tons of concrete in each tower was pulverized to a powder. This required a lot of energy." >68 What is especially problematic, King suggests, is
how much very fine concrete dust is ejected from the top or the building very early in the collapse. Since it should at most be accelerating under gravity at 32 feet per second, things would actually be moving quite slowly at first.... It is very hard to imagine a physical mechanism to generate that much dust with concrete slabs bumping into each other at 20 or 30 mph. >69
Hufschmid points out, moreover, that even concrete slabs hitting the ground at free-fall speed would not be pulverized. "In order to pulverise concrete into powder, explosives must be used.">70 The use of explosives is perhaps even more strongly suggested by another feature of the collapses, alluded to in King's second statement, namely, that when the towers started to collapse, they did not fall straight down, as the pancake theory holds. They exploded. The powder was ejected horizontally from the buildings with such force that the buildings were surrounded by enormous dust clouds that were perhaps three times the width of the buildings themselves. The photographs in Hufschmid's book are especially valuable for helping one grasp this overwhelmingly impressive and important fact. >71 What other than explosives could turn concrete into powder and then eject it horizontally 150 feet or more? And if it be suspected that the dust simply floated out, some of the photographs show that rather large pieces of the tower were also thrown out 150 feet or more. >72

Another startling feature of the collapse would have required still more energy. Besides powdery dust, the other major component of the rubble was, as would be expected, steel. But the steel was in short sections. "Almost every piece of steel in both towers broke at the joints." >73

The controlled demolition theory is given additional support by the fact that some people, including some firemen, reported hearing explosions, feeling explosions, or witnessing effects that appeared to be results of explosions, both in the intermediate floors and in the subbasements of the Towers. >74

Still more support is provided by seismic evidence that a moderately powerful earthquake was recorded as each tower was collapsing. The seismographs at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York, 21 miles north of the WTC, recorded a 2.1 magnitude earthquake beginning at 9:59:04, then a 2.3 quake beginning at 10:28:31. >75 In each case, "the shocks increased during the first 5 seconds then dropped abruptly to a lower level for about 3 seconds, and then slowly tapered off." This pattern, Hufschmid suggests, reflects the fact that the first explosives detonated were those near the tops of the towers, where the steel columns were the thinnest. The shocks get stronger as the detonation pattern, controlled by a computer program, worked its way down.

The final explosions at the base of the tower and in the basement had to break joints on columns made from 100mm thick steel, so they were powerful explosives. The seismic data peaked when the explosives in the basement were detonated. Then the explosions stopped and the rubble continued to fall for another couple of seconds, resulting in small seismic tremors. >76

The demolition theory is further supported by reports that molten steel was found at the level of the subbasements. The president of Controlled Demolition, Inc. (in Phoenix, Maryland), Mark Loizeaux, who wrote the clean-up plan for the entire operation, has been quoted as saying that in the third, fourth, and fifth weeks, the clean-up crew found "hot spots of molten the bottoms of the elevator shafts of the main towers, down seven [basement] levels." >77

Besides explaining the existence of the widely reported hot spots, which kept smoldering for weeks, >78 the theory that explosives had been set could explain an otherwise inexplicable fact -- that after the collapse of the towers, the debris, induding the steel, was quickly removed before there could be any significant investigation. The New York Times complained, saying: "The decision to rapidly recycle the steel columns, beams and trusses from the WTC in the days immediately after 9/11 means definitive answers may never be known." The next week, the aforementioned essay in Fire Engineering said: "The destruction and removal of evidence must stop immediatdy." >79 But it went ahead at full speed. >80 Explaining the possible significance of this feet, Meyer points out that

[a] way to prove that the supporting steel columns of the Twin Towers had been blasted by explosives would be to examine fragments from them among the debris for evidence of what metallurgists call "twinning." But the WTC debris was removed as fast as possible and no forensic examination of the debris was permitted.... Almost all the 300,000 tons of steel from the Twin Towers was sold to New York scrap dealers and exported to places like China and Korea as quickly as it could be loaded onto the ships, thereby removing the evidence. >81
Why this haste, critics wonder, unless the government had something to hide? >82

WTC-7: Although the collapse of this 47-story building is generally ignored or discussed simply as an afterthought, it is in many respects the most puzzling. Because it was not struck by an airplane, the main ingredients in the typical explanations of the collapse of the Twin Towers cannot be employed. There is, in fact, no official explanation. The FEMA report provided a lot of speculation about what might have happened, but provided no consensus statement about what actually did happen. >83 The report by the House Science Committee also provided no explanation. >84 But insofar as there is an account that is widely accepted in official and media circles, it goes something like this. Although Building 7 -- which was 355 feet away from the North Tower and still farther from the South Tower -- was not hit by any significant amount of falling debris, enough debris did cross over to start a fire. Then besides the fact that the fire chief decided, for some unknown reason, not to have his crew enter this building, the sprinkler system (inexplicably) failed to put out this little fire, and it grew until it was raging. It then came into contact with the thousands of gallons of diesel fuel stored on the ground floor. The resulting fire then became so hot that it caused the building's steel reinforcement to collapse at 5:20 PM.

This theory faces many problems. First, there is no evidence of any raging fire. "Every photo taken of building 7," Hufschmid reports, "shows only a few tiny fires in only a few windows," primarily on the 7th and 12th floors. >85

Second, there is again the problem of how a hydrocarbon fire, even had it been raging, could have caused the collapse, especially since Buildings 4, 5, and 6 did have raging fires but did not collapse.>86 In this case, moreover, the collapse could not be partly explained by the impact and fuel of an airplane, so WTC-7 would be the first steel-framedbuilding in history to collapse solely from fire damage. >87 If such a thing really happened on 9/11, critics point out, this would be an event of overwhelming importance. Everything that architects and building engineers have long assumed about steel-framed buildings would need to be rethought. Insurance companies around the world would need to recalculate all their rates on the basis of the realization that ordinary fires could cause steel-framed buildings to collapse. And so on. And yet the idea that WTC-7 collapsed because of fire has been accepted as if it were nothing unusual. In an essay entided "WTC-7: The Improbable Collapse," Scott Loughrey says:

FEMAs nonchalance about WTC-7s collapse is stunning. Structural failures of this magnitude do not normally take place.... [Do] we now live in an era when tall steel buildings can collapse in large cities without any significant discussion of why? >88
Third, there are several features that would be difficult for the official theory because they suggest controlled demolition. Indeed, Hufschmit emphasizes, the collapse of WTC-7, unlike that of the Twin Towers, suggests a typical demolition, because "Building 7 collapsed at its bottom."
When Building 7 collapsed, the interior fell first, and that caused the outside of the building to move inward.... The result was a very tiny pile of rubble, with the outside of the building collapsing on top of the pile. This is how conventional demolitions operate. >89
A significant amount of powdery dust was also produced, although in this case there was not as much dust and most of it was produced at the ground, where this collapse began, instead of in the air. >90 Seismic vibrations were registered at the time of the collapse, although they were only one tenth the magnitude of those associated with the other towers, and there were two hot spots in the rubble from this collapse, one of which was extremely hot. >91 Molten steel was also reportedly found at this site. >92Finally, the steel was quickly removed from this site as well, and with even less justification, for the building had long since been evacuated, so there was no need to search for survivors, as there had been at the Twin Towers. So what possible justification was there for the destruction of forensic evidence -- which is generally considered a serious crime?

In conclusion, I return to the point that the FEMA report actually gave no explanation. It instead said:

The specifics of the fires in WTC 7 and how they caused the building to collapse remain unknown at this time. Although the total diesel fuel on the premises contained massive potential energy, the best hypothesis has only a low probability of occurrence. >93
It must be recognized, however, that FEMA had been given an impossible assignment -- to explain the collapse of this building while remaining within the framework of the official theory. Not being able to suggest that the collapse resulted from a controlled demolition, the best FEMA could come up with was a theory having "only a low probability."

The same understanding must be applied to Thomas Eagar and all the other experts who have presented highly improbable explanations of the collapse of the Twin Towers. If political correctness were not a factor so that they could simply state the most probable hypothesis, given the evidence, most of them would surely choose controlled demolition. For example, Matthys Levy, who suggested that the towers fell because their steel melted, also said: "It was very much like a controlled demolition when you look at it." >94 If it was indeed a controlled demolition, of course, that would mean that the terrorists were able to succeed in their mission to bring down the World Trade Center only because it was an inside job.


The questions raised about the official accounts of Flight 77, Flight 175, and the collapse of Buildings 1,2, and 7 of the World Trade Center do not necessarily point to presidential complicity. But they do seem to point to official complicity at some level. Although the evidence that the collapse of the WTC was an inside job might mean that it was planned by private parties, the fact that the federal government allowed forensic evidence to be removed suggests at least the first possible view mentioned in the Introduction: official complicity in a cover-up. But then this first view -- according to which no US officials played a role in facilitating the attacks -- seems to be ruled out by the evidence related to Flights 11 and 175, which seems to require involvement by at least the Pentagon's NMCC and NORAD. The evidence about the flights also seems to rule out the second possible view, according to which no US agencies had any specific knowledge of the attacks in advance. The attacks on the WTC, it would seem, could not have succeeded unless some US officials had given "stand down" orders for standard operating procedures to be canceled on that particular day. And, although this might be taken to mean the fifth possible view, according to which the Pentagon gave those orders, it would be difficult to believe that such orders could have been given without White House approval. Examinations of the official account of the attacks on the WTC in relation to various relevant facts have, in any case, raised disturbing questions. Further disturbing questions have been evoked, moreover, by tensions between the facts and the official accounts of the other flights.

FOOTNOTES for Chapter 1:

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1Paul Thompson explains: "The transponder is the electronic device that identifies the jet on the controllers screen, gives its exact location and altitude, and also allows a four-digit emergency hijack code to be sent." See Thompson, "September 11: Minute-by-Minute" (After 8:13 AM)
2That Rumsfeld made this statement was reported by republican Representative Christopher Cox on September 12, according to an Associated Press story of September 16, 2001, quoted in Thompson, 8:44 AM. Incidentally, as one becomes fiimiliar with the vast amount of material about 9/11 available on the Internet, one learns that there is little about the official account that is uncontested. Even the idea that what hit the North Tower of the WTC was AA Flight 11 has been challenged. In note 32, below, I mention this and some other theories not discussed in the text.
3The FAA's Aeronautical Information Manual: Official Guide to Basic Flight Information and Air Traffic Control (ATC) Procedures (, quoted in Thompson, "September 11," introductory material.
4Congressional testimony by NORAD'S commander, General Ralph E. Eberhart, made in October 2002, and Slate magazine, January 16, 2002, both quoted in Thompson, "September 11," introductory material. Although both statements were preceded by "now," suggesting a speed-up in procedure since 9/11, there seems to be no evidence that response times were different prior to that date. That should, in any case, be easy enough for investigators to determine.
5Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, The War on Freedom: How and Why America Was Attacked September 11, 2001 (Joshua Tree, Calif.: Tree of Life Publications, 2002), 151. (A nautical mile is a little longer than a statute mile.) Since this book by Ahmed is the only writing by him that I use, it will henceforth be cited simply as "Ahmed."
6MSNBC, September 12, 2001, quoted in Thompson, "September 11," introductory material.
7Ahmed 146, citing the FAA's Aeronautical Information Manual, "Interception Signals" (
8Glen Johnson, "Facing Terror Attacks Aftermath," Boston Globe, September 15, 2001, quoted in Ahmed, 148.
9Ahmed, 157-58, and Illarion Bykov and Jared Israel, "Guilty for 9-11: Bush, Rumsfeld, Myers, Section 1: Why Were None of the Hijacked Planes Intercepted?", both referring to the interview with Vice President Chcncy on NEC's "Meet the Press," September 16, 2001. The article by Bykov and Israel, along with several other articles on 9/11 by Israel, can be found at indict/911page.htm. This particular article is listed in the Table of Contents under "Evidence of high-level government conspiracy in the events of 9-11."
10General Henry Shelton was still the chairman, but on 9/11 he was reportedly out of the country. Myers, who was vice chairman, had just been named as Shelton's replacement and was functioning as the acting chairman.
11Myers Confirmation Testimony, Senate Armed Services Committee, Washington, DC, September 13, 2001, cited in Thompson (After 8:48 AM).
12Ahmed, 167.
13Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Instruction 3610.01A, June 1, 2001, "Aircraft Piracy (Hijacking) and Destruction of Derelict Airborne Objects" (, referred to in Thierry Meyssan, Pentagate (London: Carnot Publishing, 2002), 147.
14Pentagate. 110-11, quoting Department of Defense Directive 3025.15, February 18, 1997, "Military Assistance to Civil Authorities" ( Meyssan hence disagrees with researchers who have accepted the view that, in Ahmed's words, "only the President had the authority to order the shooting down of a civilian airliner" (167).
15Thompson, 8:43 AM.
16New York Times, September 11, and USA Today, September 3, 2002, quoted in Thompson (8:55 AM).
17Newhouse News, January 25, 2002, quoted in Thompson, 8:43 AM.
18"US Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) Holds Hearing on Nomination of General Richard Myers to be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff," Senate Armed Services Committee, Washington DC, September 13, 2001, quoted in Ahmed, 150.
19Glen Johnson, "Otis Fighter Jets Scrambled Too Late to Halt the Attacks," Boston Globe, September 15, and NBC's "Meet the Press," September 16, 2001, quoted in Ahmed, 150. Cheney made no reference to jets being only a few minutes late.
20Israel and Bykov, "Guilty for 9-11," quoted in Ahmed, 168.
21Although this new version was in the air a few days earlier, NORAD made it official on September 18 in a press release, in which it gave the times at which, it said, it was notified by the FAA and at which it gave scramble orders (available at
22Allan Wood and Paul Thompson, "An Interesting Day: President Bush's Movements and Actions on 9/11," Center for Cooperative Research (, under "Bush is Briefed as the Hijackings Begin."
23Aviation Week and Space Technology, June 3, 2002, cited in Thompson, 8:52 AM.
24George Szamuely, "Scrambled Messages," New York Press, 14/50 (, cited in Ahmed, 151-52.
25Thompson, 8:52 AM, citing NORAD, September 18, 2001.
26Ahmed, 151.
27Stan Goff, "The So-Called Evidence is a Farce," Narco News #14: October 10, 2001 (, quoted in Ahmed, 173 n. 313.
28Andreas von Bulow, Tagespiegel, January 13, 2002, quoted in Ahmed, 144. Von Buelow later came out with a book, Die CIA und der 11. September: Internationaler Terror und die Rolle der Geheimdienste (Munich: Piper Verlag, 2003), which is briefly discussed in the final chapter.
29Anatoli Kornukov, Pravda Online, September 13, 2001 (, quoted in Ahmed, 163-64.
30Ahmed, 164, 167.
31Israel and Bykov, "Guilty for 9-11," quoted in Ahmed, 169.
32There are, furthermore, many questions that I have not broached in the text. One or these is whether the airplanes that crashed into the towers were really being flown by hijackers, or were instead being guided by remote control, perhaps using the Global Hawk technology developed by the Defense Department, which has been functioning at least since 1997 and enables an airplane to fly itself, from takeoff through landing (Thompson, "Timeline," 1998 [A] and April 23, 2001). Meyssan believes that this is likely, partly because he considers it improbable that amateur pilots could have hit those relatively narrow targets so accurately with Boeing airliners, which have low maneuverability. He finds this especially improbable with regard to Flight 175, which "was forced to execute a complex rotation maneuver, particularly difficult facing the wind." Professional pilots he consulted, he reports, "confirmed that few amongst themselves could envisage performing such an operation and completely ruled it out in the case of amateur pilots" (9/11: The Big Lie, 33-34).
In relation to this theory, Thompson reports that Flights 11, 175, and 77, all of which had surprisingly few passengers for transcontinental flights (81, 56, and 58, respectively), each had at least one passenger who was a senior official in Raytheon's division of Electronics Warfare, which developed the Global Hawk technology ("Timeline," September 25, 2001). Since such officials would presumably not have sacrificed themselves willingly, this curious fact would seem to make sense only in conjunction with the view, held by some revisionists mainly on the basis of video evidence, that the Twin Towers were not hit by Flights 11 and 175 but instead by military planes. Some who hold this theory believe that the purpose of turning off the transponders was to allow the switch to be made. In any case, this theory would raise the question of what really happened to these two flights and their passengers (just as the theory that the Pentagon was not really hit by Flight 77, to be discussed in Chapter 2, raises the question of what happened to this flight and its passengers). This theory would also seem to imply that the flight training undergone by the alleged hijackers, to be discussed in Chapters 6 and 8, was for the sake of creating a plausible cover story. (On the reason for referring to the alleged hijackers, see the section on "The Question of the True Identity of the Hijackers" in Ch. 6.) In any case, the fact that I have not discussed these more radical challenges to the official account in the text does not necessarily reflect my judgment that they are not true. It simply reflects my judgment that, whatever their merits, they are not necessary for the purpose of this book, which is not to explain "what really happened" but merely to summarize what seem to be the strongest reasons that have been given for considering the official account to be false (so as to show the need for a full investigation to find out what really happened). And the evidence against the official account of the failure to prevent the attacks on the WTC is very strong independently of any of these more radical challenges. (In the latter part of this chapter and in the following chapter, by contrast, I do deal with the question of what really happened insofar as it is integral to the critics' challenges to the official account.)
33Throughout most of the period during which I was working on this book, I had ignored this issue, having decided on the basis of an early, cursory reading of some of the arguments that the evidence against the official view was not strong enough to include. As with other matters, however, I eventually found that my initial impression was faulty. When I finally took a serious look at the case that has been marshalled against the official account of the collapse of the WTC buildings, I found this case, especially with regard to WTC-7, to constitute one of the strongest arguments on behalf of the need for a new investigation.
34See FEMA's Report #403, World Trade Center Building Performance Study (May, 2002; available at
35Bill Manning, "Selling Out the Investigation," Fire Engineering, January, 2002, quoted in The New York Daily News, Jan. 4, 2002, and in Thompson, "Timeline," January 4, 2002.
36The NOVA show "Why the Towers Fell" appeared on PBS April 30, 2002 ( Matthys Levy, author of Why Buildings Fall Down (New York: Norton, 1994), said on this show: "As the steel began to soften and melt, the interior core columns began to give " The idea that steel melted has also been stated elsewhere, such as "The Physics of the 2001 World Trade Center Terrorism" (
37"The Collapse: An Engineers Perspective," NOVA interview with Thomas Eagar (
38Perhaps as an overreaction, some critics of the official account, in rejecting what they call the "truss theory," seem to affirm that the core and perimeter columns were connected by full-fledged beams instead of thinner trusses. The history of the construction of the Twin Towers, however, reveals that they were unique (at the time) in this respect. For this history see James Glanz and Eric Lipton, The Rise and Fall of the World Trade Center (New York: Times Books/Henry Holt & Company, 2003). Glanz is a science writer for the New York Times.
39Scientific American, October, 2001. The statements by both McNamara and FEMA are quoted in Eric Hufschmid, Painful Questions: An Analysis of the September 11th Attack (Goleta, Calif.: Endpoint Software, 2002), 17. This beautifully self-published book can be purchased at
40In an article headed "Preliminary Tests Show Steel Quality Did Not Contribute to Towers' Collapse" (Associated Press, August 27, 2003), Devlin Barren quoted Frank Gayle, who is leading the review of the WTC collapses by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), as saying that all the steel tested at least met the requirement to bear 36,000 pounds per square inch and that it was often capable of bearing as much as 42,000 pounds.
Incidentally, as Glanz and Lipton explain (The Rise and Fall of the World Trade Center, 333), Sherwood Boehlert, the (Republican) Chair of the House Science Committee, got the US Congress in October of 2002 to pass the National Construction Safety Team Act, which authorized an investigation of the collapse of the WTC by NIST, which is a nonpolicy-making part of the US Commerce Department's Technology Administration (its Fact Sheet on the WTC investigation can be seen at
41Thomas Eagar and Christopher Musso, "Why Did the World Trade Center Collapse? Science, Engineering, and Speculation," JOM 53/12 (2001), 8-11. Musso was at the time a Ph.D. student. JOM is the journal of the Minerals, Metals, and Materials Society.
42Hufschmid (see note 39), 27-30. 43"The Collapse: An Engineer's Perspective."
44Ibid. This point is likewise emphasized in Hufschmid, 32-33, who also makes the next point, about the length of time.
45See note 39, above.
46Hufschmid, 35.
47See Hufschmid, 39. Indeed, a third photograph, looking directly into the hole created by the airplane, reveals two people standing in a room, far removed from any of the flames (27).
48Technically, as Hufschmid points out (30), the South Tower had two or even three fireballs.
49For a picture of the North Tower fireball, see Hufschmid, 30.
50In Hufschmid's words, "that jet fuel burned so rapidly that it was just a momentary blast of hot air. The blast would have set fire to flammable objects, killed people, and broken windows, but it could not have raised the temperature of a massive steel structure by a significant amount. A fire will not affect steel unless the steel is exposed to it for a long...period of time" (33).
51Hufschmid, 38.
52With regard to the fire in the South Tower in particular, Hufschmid asks, rhetorically: "How could a fire produce such incredible quantities of heat that it could destroy a steel building, while at the same time it is incapable of spreading beyond its initial starting location? The photos show that not even one floor in the South Tower was above the ignition temperature of plastic and paper! ...The photos show the fire was not even powerful enough to crack glass [windows]!...Why is there no evidence of an intense fire in any photograph? How can anybody claim the fires were the reason the South Tower collapsed when the fires appear so small?" (38)
53Quoted in Hufschmid, 38. Evidence against the fire theory is even presented in Appendix A of FEMA's report on the WTC, which says: "In the mid-1990s British Steel and the Building Research Establishment performed a series of six experiments at Cardington to investigate the behavior of steel frame buildings.... Despite the temperature of the steel beams reaching 800-900 degrees Celcius (1,500-1,700 degrees Fahrenheit) in three of the tests..., no collapse was observed in any of the six experiments."
54Eagar and Musso; Eagar, "The Collapse."
55"The Collapse."
56Eagar and Musso.
57Quoted in Hufschmid, 42-43.
58Hufschmid, 42.
59This objection is raised, in slighdy different form, in Peter Meyer, "The World Trade Center Demolition and the So-Called War on Terrorism" (, section entitled "Evidence for Explosives in the Twin Towers."
60Hufschmid, 73.
61Eagar and Musso.
62Meyer, "The World Trade Center Demolition," section entitled "Evidence for Explosives in the Twin Towers."
63This point is emphasized in Fintan Dunne, "The Split-Second Error: Exposing the WTC Bomb Plot" ( or, section entitled "The Wrong Tower Fell First." Some defenders of the official account have suggested that the fact that the South Tower collapsed more quickly could be explained by the fact that it was struck at the 81st floor and hence about 15 floors lower than the North Tower, which was struck at the 96th floor. Because there were more floors above the weakened portion of the South Tower, accordingly, the additional weight would have led to its faster collapse. The problem with this theory, Hufschmid says, is that "the steel columns in the crash zone of the South Tower were thicker in order to handle the heavier load above them" (41).
64Meyer, "The World Trade Center Demolition and the So-Called War on Terrorism," section entided "Evidence for Explosives in the Twin Towers."
65Ibid., section entided "Did the Twin Towers Collapse on Demand?"
66Hufschmid, 45.
67Jeff King, "The WTC Collapse: What the Videos Show," Indymedia Webcast News, Nov. 12, 2003 (
68Hufschmid, 50, 80. On the amount of the dust, see l/jmcm/usyd/index.htm#why. Mike Pecoraro, quoted in note 74, below, wrote about his experience of walking down the street: "When 1 tell you the stuff (dust) on the street was a foot deep, that's conservative. I'd say over a foot deep. It was like walking through a blizzard of snow" (quoted in "We will Not Forget: A Day of Terror,"The Chief Engineer
69King, "The WTC Collapse."
70Hufschmid, 78.
71See especially the photographs on 52-55, 57, 60, and 74.
72See especially the photographs on 60 and 61.
73Hufschmid, 50.
74One of the firelighters in the South Tower, Louie Cacchioli, told People Weekly on Sept. 24: "I was taking firefighters up in the elevator to the 24th floor to get in position to evacuate workers. On the last trip up a bomb went off. We think there were bombs set in the building." Kim White, an employee on the 80th floor, said: "All of a sudden the building shook, then it started to sway. We didn't know what was going on.... We got down as far as the 74th floor.... [T]hen there was another explosion" (,11859,174592-3.00.html; quoted in Meyer's section "Evidence for Explosives in the Twin Towers"). Construction worker Phillip Morelli reported that while he was in the fourth subbasement of the North Tower, he was thrown to the floor twice. Whereas the first of these experiences apparently occurred at the time of the plane crash, the second one involved a more powerful blast, which blew out walls ( Stationary engineer Mike Pecoraro, who was working in the sixth subbasement of the North Tower, reported that after feeling and hearing an explosion, he and his co-worker found the parking garage and the machine shop, including a 50-ton hydraulic press, reduced to rubble. They also found a 300-pound steel and concrete fire door wrinkled up "like a piece of aluminum foil." These effects were, he said, like the effects of the terrorist bombing of 1993 ("We will Not Forget: A Day of Terror," The Chief Engineer ( These latter two stories are contained in "First-hand Accounts of Underground Explosions in the North Tower" (
75Hufschmid, 73; Christopher Bollyn, "New Seismic Data Refutes Official WTC Explanation," American Free Press, September 3, 2002 Columbia University's data can be seen at l_wtc.html; it is partially reproduced in Hufschmid, 73 and 78.
76Hufschmid, 73, 77.
77Likewise Peter Tully, president of Tully Construction of Flushing, reportedly said that he saw pools of "literally molten steel." Both statements are quoted in Bollyn, "New Seismic Data Refutes Official WTC Explanation."
78See Hufschmid, 70, 78, 80.
79The New York Times, Dec. 25, 2001, and Fire Engineering, January 2002, quoted in Thompson, December 25, 2001, and January 4, 2002, respectively.
80The official investigators found that they had less authority than the clean-up crew, a fact that led the Science Committee of the House of Representatives to report that "the lack of authority of investigators to impound pieces of steel for examination before they were recycled led to the loss of important pieces of evidence" (sec the report at
81Meyer, "The World Trade Center Demolition and the So-CalJed War on Terrorism," section en tided "Evidence for Explosives in the Twin Towers." However, as James Glanz has reported ("Reliving 9/11, With Fire as Teacher," New York Times, Science Section, January 6, 2004), it turns out that 236 major pieces of steel were recovered by NIST (see note 40, above). Whether any of these pieces show signs of explosives is presumably something that we will learn near the end of 2004, when NIST's report is due.
82Those who accept this theory of controlled demolition are made additionally suspicious by the report that Marvin P. Bush, the president's younger brother, was a principal in a company called Securacom, which provided security for the World Trade Center (as well as United Airlines), especially when this news is combined with testimony from WTC personnel that after the security detail had worked 12-hour shifts for the previous two weeks because of threats, five days before 9/11 the security alert, which had mandated the use of bomb-sniffing dogs, was lifted (The World Trade Center Demolition: An Analysis" []).
83FEMA's report on WTC-7 is found in Chapter 5 of FEMA's World Trade Center Building Performance Study. For a copy of this report with critical commentary interspersed, see "The FEMA Report on the Collapse of WTC Seven is a Cruel Joke" ( The same article is published elsewhere as "Chapter 5-WTC Seven-the WTC Report" (
84See the report at
85Hufschmid, 62, 63.
86See Hufschmid, 68-69.
87Some people, to be sure, have spread the idea that tremors created by the collapse of the Twin Towers caused Building 7 to collapse. But even the most powerful earthquakes have not caused the complete collapse of steel-framed buildings. And how would one explain the fact that the Verizon, Federal, and Fiterman Hall Buildings, all right next to WTC-7, did not collapse?
88Scott Loughrey, "WTC-7: The Improbable Collapse" (
89Hufschmid, 64.
90Hufschmid, 64, 65.
91Hufschmid, 70, 78.
92Bollyn, "New Seismic Data Refutes Official WTC Explanation."
93FEMA, World Trade Center Building Performance Study,Ch. 5, Sect. 6.2, "Probable Collapse Sequence."
94NOVA, "Why the Towers Fell."