The "Critics" of 9/11 Truth. Do They Have a Case?
irish 2011/09/15 13:59:39
Dr. Paul Craig Roberts
The short answer to the question in the title is no.
The 9/11 truth critics have nothing but ad hominem arguments.
Let’s examine the case against "the truthers" presented by Ted Rall, Ann Barnhardt, and Alexander Cockburn.
But first let’s define who "the truthers" are.
The Internet has made it possible for anyone to have a web site and to
rant and speculate to their heart’s content. There are a large number of
"9/11 conspiracy theorists".
Many on both sides of the issue are equally ignorant. Neither side has any shame about demonstrating ignorance.
Both sides of the issue have conspiracy theories.
9/11 was a conspiracy whether a person believes that it was an inside
job or that a handful of Arabs outwitted the entire intelligence
apparatus of the Western world and the operational response of NORAD and
the US Air Force.
For one side to call the other conspiracy theorists is the pot calling the kettle black.
The question turns not on name-calling but on evidence.
The 9/11 Truth movement was not created by bloggers ranting on their web
sites. It was created by professional architects and engineers some of
whom are known for having designed steel high rise buildings.
It was created by distinguished scientists, such as University of
Copenhagen nano-Chemist Niels Harrit who has 60 scientific papers to his
credit and physicist Steven Jones.
It was created by US Air Force pilots and commercial airline pilots who are expert at flying airplanes.
It was created by firefighters who were in the twin towers and who
personally heard and experienced numerous explosions including
explosions in the sub-basements. It was created by members of 9/11
families who desire to know how such an improbable event as 9/11 could
The professionals and the scientists are speaking from the basis of
years of experience and expert knowledge. Moreover, the scientists are
speaking from the basis of careful research into the evidence that
When an international research team of scientists spends 18 months
studying the components in the dust from the towers and the fused pieces
of concrete and steel, they know what they are doing. When they
announce that they have definite evidence of incendiaries and
explosives, you can bet your life that that have the evidence.
When a physicist proves that Building 7 (the stories not obscured by
other buildings) fell at free fall speed and NIST has to acknowledge
that he is correct, you can bet your life that the physicist is correct.
When fire department captains and clean-up teams report molten
steel--and their testimony is backed up with photographs--in the debris
of the ruins weeks and months after the buildings’ destruction, you can
bet your life the molten steel was there.
When the same authorities report pumping fire suppressants and huge
quantities of water with no effect on the molten steel, you can bet your
life that the temperature long after the buildings’ destruction
remained extremely high, far higher than any building fire can reach.
When the architects, engineers, and scientists speak, they offer no
theory of who is responsible for 9/11. They state that the known
evidence supports neither the NIST reports nor the 9/11 Commission
Report. They say that the explanation that the government has provided
is demonstrably wrong and that an investigation is required if we are to
discover the truth about the event.
It is not a conspiracy theory to examine the evidence and to state that
the evidence does not support the explanation that has been given.
That is the position of the 9/11 Truth movement.
What is the position of the movement’s critics? Ted Rall says:
“Everything I’ve read and watched on Truther sites is easily dismissed
by anyone with a basic knowledge of physics and architecture. (I spent
three years in engineering school.)
Wow! What powerful credentials. Has Rall ever designed a high rise steel
building? Could Rall engage in a debate with a professor of
nano-chemistry? Could he refute Newton’s laws in a debate with
university physicists? Does Rall know anything about maneuvering
airplanes? Does he have an explanation why 100 firefighters, janitors,
and police report hearing and experiencing explosions that they did not
hear or experience?
Clearly, Ted Rall has no qualifications whatsoever to make any judgment
about the judgments of experts whose knowledge exceeds his meager
understanding by a large amount.
Ann Barnhardt writes: “I gotta tell you, I’ve just about had it with
these 9/11 truthers. If there is one phenomenon in our sick, sick
culture that sums up how far gone and utterly damaged we are as a
people, it is 9/11 trutherism. It pretty much covers everything:
self-loathing, antisemitism, zero knowledge of rudimentary physics and a
general inability to think logically.” She goes down hill from here.
Amazing, isn’t she? Physics professors have “zero knowledge of rudimentary physics.”
Internationally recognized logicians have “a general inability to think
logically.” People trained in the scientific method who use it to seek
truth are “self-loathing.” If you doubt the government’s account you are
antisemitic. Barnhardt then provides her readers with a lesson in
physics, structural architecture and engineering, and the behavior of
steel under heat and stress that is the most absolute nonsense
Obviously, Barnhardt knows nothing whatsoever about what she is talking
about, but overflowing with hubris she dismisses real scientists and
professionals with ad hominem arguments. She adds to her luster with a
video of herself tearing out pages of the Koran, which she has marked
with slices of bacon, and burning the pages.
Now we come to Alexander Cockburn. He is certainly not stupid. I know
him. He is pleasant company. He provides interesting intellectual
conversation. I like him. Yet, he also arrogantly dismisses highly
qualified experts who provide evidence contrary to the official
government story of 9/11.
Cockburn avoids evidence presented by credentialed experts and relies on
parody. He writes that the conspiracists claim that the twin towers
“pancaked because Dick Cheney’s agents--scores of them--methodically
planted demolition charges.”
Little doubt but there are bloggers somewhere in the vast Internet world
who say this. But this is not what the professionals are saying who
have provided evidence that the official account is not correct. The
experts are simply saying that the evidence does not support the
official explanation. More recently, an international team of scientists
has reported finding unequivocal evidence of incendiaries and
explosives. They have not said anything about who planted them. Indeed,
they have said that other scientists should test their conclusions by
repeating the research. After calling experts “conspiracy kooks,” Alex
then damns them for not putting forward “a scenario of the alleged
Moreover, not a single one of the experts believes the towers
“pancaked.” This was an early explanation that, I believe, was
tentatively put forward by NIST, but it had to be abandoned because of
the speed with which the buildings came down and due to other problems.
Unlike Rall and Barnhardt, Cockburn does refer to evidence, but it is
second or third-hand hearsay evidence that is nonsensical on its face.
For example, Cockburn writes that Chuck Spinney “tells me that ‘there
ARE pictures taken of the 757 plane hitting Pentagon--they were taken by
the surveillance cameras at Pentagon’s heliport, which was right next
to impact point. I have seen them both--stills and moving pictures. I
just missed seeing it personally, but the driver of the van I just got
out of in South Parking saw it so closely that he could see the
terrified faces of passengers in windows.’”
If there were pictures or videos of an airliner hitting the Pentagon,
they would have been released years ago. They would have been supplied
to the 9/11 Commission. Why would the government refuse for 10 years to
release pictures that prove its case? The FBI confiscated all film from
all surveillance cameras. No one has seen them, much less a Pentagon
critic such as Spinney.
I have to say that the van driver must have better eyes than an eagle if
he could see expressions on passenger faces through those small
airliner portholes in a plane traveling around 500 mph. Try it
sometimes. Sit on your front steps and try to discern the expressions of
automobile passengers through much larger and clearer windows traveling
down your street in a vehicle moving 30 mph. Then kick the speed up
16.7 times to 500 mph and report if you see anything but a blur.
Cockburn’s other evidence that 9/11 truthers are kooks is a letter that
Herman Soifer, who claims to be a retired structural engineer, wrote to
him summarizing “the collapse of Buildings 1 and 2 succinctly.” This is
what Soifer, who “had followed the plans and engineering of the Towers
during construction” wrote to Alex: “The towers were basically tubes,
essentially hollow.” This canard was disposed of years ago. If Alex had
merely googled the plans of the buildings, he would have discovered that
there were no thin-walled hollow tubes, but a very large number of
massively thick steel beams.
Cockburn's willingness to dismiss as kooks numerous acknowledged experts
on the basis of a claim that a van driver saw terrified faces of
passengers moving at 500 mph and a totally erroneous description in a
letter from a person who knew nothing whatsoever about the structural
integrity of the buildings means that he is a much braver person than I.
Before I call architects kooks whose careers were spent building steel
high rises, I would want to know a lot more about the subject than I do.
Before I poke fun at nano-chemists and physicists, I would want to at
least be able to read their papers and find the scientific flaws in
Yet, none of the people who ridicule 9/11 skeptics are capable of this.
How, for example, can Rall, Barnhardt, or Cockburn pass judgment on a
nano-chemist with 40 years of experience and 60 scientific publications
to his credit?
They cannot, but nevertheless do. They don’t hesitate to pass judgment
on issues about which they have no knowledge or understanding. This is
an interesting psychological phenomenon worthy of study and analysis.
Another interesting phenomenon is the strong emotional reactions that
many have to 9/11, an event about which they have little information.
Even the lead members of the 9/11 Commission itself have said that
information was withheld from them and the commission was set up to
fail. People who rush to the defense of NIST do not even know what they
are defending as NIST refuses to release the details of the simulation
upon which NIST bases its conclusion.
There is no 9/11 debate.
On the one hand there are credentialed experts who demonstrate problems
in the official account, and on the other hand there are non-experts who
denounce the experts as conspiracy kooks.
The experts are cautious and careful about what they say, and their
detractors have thrown caution and care to the wind. That is the state
of the debate.
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