by Tod Fletcher
Debunking 9/11 Debunking is a monumental accomplishment by David Ray Griffin. He exhaustively and definitively destroys the pretensions of four major “9/11 debunking” publications published in 2006, shortly before the fifth anniversary of the events. Although the book is organized into chapters dealing with each one of the four publications in turn, Griffin has such a broad knowledge of all the evidence pertaining to the events, and such command of logic and argument, that the book is thoroughly cohesive and progressively builds an integrated critique of all dimensions of the official theory. Debunking 9/11 Debunking will effectively serve as a veritable encyclopedia of not just the facts of 9/11, but of the best arguments to debunk the official (and semi-official) lies about the facts. Griffin, as usual, avoids speculation and focuses on showing that the official story of what happened that day cannot be true.
Before the four central chapters, Griffin provides an Introduction (“Conspiracy Theories and Evidence”) in which he distinguishes between rational and irrational conspiracy theories and discusses the “double standard” used by the mainstream and left-leaning press, i.e., the confused (or self-serving) way in which they fail to make this distinction and then assert that critiques of the official account are “conspiracy theories” while completely obfuscating the fact that the official story is itself a conspiracy theory. He deals in detail with tendencies of human thought that make it difficult for people to look at unfamiliar and threatening evidence (“paradigmatic thinking” and “wishful-and-fearful thinking”), as well as the main a priori reasons put forward by such debunkers for why alternative theories needn’t be taken seriously (“incompetence,” “someone would have talked,” “overwhelming evidence for al-Qaeda’s responsibility,” etc.). The Introduction concludes with a discussion of the role of scientists and scientific explanations in 9/11 conspiracy theories, and shows that just as there are rational and irrational conspiracy theories regarding 9/11, both scientific and unscientific theories to explain the events have been put forward. The rest of the book shows that science and reason are all on one side, that of the alternative, not the official, 9/11 conspiracy theory.
Chapter 1 zeroes in on the Vanity Fair article by Michael Bronner, “9/11 Live: the NORAD Tapes”, which was published in the September, 2006 issue of the magazine. Bronner claimed to provide the real story of the military’s response to the hijackings, based on his privileged access to the “NORAD tapes”, i.e., selections from the audio tapes recorded by NORAD (and the FAA) as the events took place. Griffin proves conclusively that the story told by Bronner is an elaborate and clever psyop filled with lies. First, the tapes, which only surfaced in 2004, are contradicted by volumes of independent evidence, which Griffin exhaustively details. Second, Griffin’s extensive new research, especially long interviews by email with a former FAA air traffic controller, Robin Hordon, and with the current military liaison at the FAA’s Boston Center, Colin Scoggins, who was on-duty that day, shows that the story told by Bronner about the FAA’s slow response to the flight emergencies of all four planes is simply incredible. He presents a detailed, nuanced analysis of the important distinction between the “Emergency Protocol” and the “Hijacking Protocol”, and shows that the military (with the help of Bronner and the 9/11 Commission) is attempting to defend itself from charges of a stand-down by claiming that their responses were controlled by the slower “Hijacking Protocol”. Finally, Griffin makes an extremely strong case for the high probability that the “tapes” themselves are fakes, likely the product of voice morphing-technology and cherry-picking of real tapes to make a false audio record.
In Chapter 2 Griffin turns to the book Without Precedent by the co-chairmen of the 9/11 Commission, Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton, published in August, 2006. He proceeds to dissect, with his usual rigor and precision, the lame efforts of Kean and Hamilton to debunk different alternative conspiracy theories. He turns their own arguments against them by showing that every type of flaw they find in alternative theories is actually far more accurately descriptive of their own, official, irrational conspiracy theory. Griffin completely destroys their efforts to debunk the stand-down theory and theories that assert that flight 77 did not hit the Pentagon, and notes that they avoid all mention of the alternative theories about the destruction of the World Trade Center buildings (and again, as in The 9/11 Commission Report, they never mention the collapse of WTC 7). Griffin then exhaustively shows that their criteria for identifying “conspiracy theories” all apply best to their own theory, in that they begin with their conclusion, they exclude vast amounts of relevant evidence completely (most notably the fact that Philip Zelikow, the Executive Director of the Commission, is a close associate of the Bush administration and completely skewed its “investigation”), their continued adherence to theories already disproved by facts, their ignoring of facts contradicting their theory, their uncritical acceptance of dubious evidence, their reliance on third-hand evidence, and their disdain for open and informed debate. Griffin’s destruction of their pretensions to have provided an objective, rational analysis of “conspiracy theories” could not be more total.
In Chapter 3 Griffin takes up the online publication by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) entitled “Answers to FAQs”, from August 30, 2006. The title refers to frequently asked questions about NIST’s earlier Report on the destruction of the Twin Towers, which had failed to provide an explanation that satisfied many readers, and resulted in a flood of questions to the agency. In its “Answers to FAQs” NIST pretends to set all such questions to rest. Griffin shows, again with extraordinary thoroughness and incisiveness, that NIST has failed to debunk the controlled demolition theory of the Towers’ (and WTC 7’s) destruction. He shows that the planes could not have caused the extensive damage to the columns and fireproofing claimed by NIST; that the fires were nowhere near as hot, long-lasting, and extensive as claimed; that NIST’s theory of “collapse” cannot, therefore, be true; that NIST fraudulently “tweaked” its computer model of the situations in the Towers, changing parameters until it generated the result they wanted; that, entirely unscientifically, they never even considered the hypothesis of controlled demolition as a possible explanation; that NIST claimed there were no explosions within the Towers just before they fell (the massive evidence for which Griffin summarizes); that NIST claimed there were no other types of evidence for controlled demolition (the voluminous evidence is then presented in exhaustive detail by Griffin); and finally, Griffin asks, “What about WTC 7”? NIST still has not provided the public with a report on the collapse of Building 7, despite its mandate to do so; as Griffin details, this is probably due to the very substantial difficulty they will have in explaining the collapse in any way other than as the result of a controlled demolition.
In a blockbuster of a last chapter, Griffin in Chapter 4 destroys Popular Mechanics’ Debunking 9/11 Myths, a short book expanding a 2005 article in that magazine. He starts out with a thorough deconstruction of Senator John McCain’s propagandistic Foreword, and then reviews the history of the involvement of Benjamin Chertoff, cousin of Michael Chertoff, Director of Homeland Security, in the book’s production, and the fact that the editors of the book deny this relationship. Griffin then explicates the logic underlying the task facing Popular Mechanics. Specifically, it “must show that every one of the key claims made by the leading critics of the official story is false. Why? Because each of these claims challenges one of the essential claims of the official story. If even one of those essential claims is disproved, then the official story as such is thrown into doubt. Critics do not need to show the falsity of every essential element in the official account; they need to show only the falsity of one such element.” Griffin then proceeds to demonstrate, in great detail, that the book utterly fails to accomplish its purpose with respect to even one essential claim of the leading critics of the official story, let alone all of them. He follows the order of the book and shows that the arguments presented to debunk critics of the official account of the planes and the alleged hijackers’ flying skills, the stand-down, the destruction of the World Trade Center, the events at the Pentagon, and Flight 93 all fail, quite miserably and even comically. Along the way he exposes the many rhetorical tricks and deceptions used by the editors to fool gullible readers.
The book’s Conclusion returns to the role played by the press, showing that its uncritical acceptance of the official conspiracy theory of 9/11, due to its reliance upon the authority of the government and its unfounded assumption that official and semi-official publications have been genuinely scientific, objectively neutral reports, has perpetuated an irrational and unscientific theory and suppressed far more rational and scientific alternatives. Griffin provides examples of this misplaced trust in the government in writings by left-leaning journalists, including Alex Cockburn and Matt Rothschild. He believes the left press may be able to see the errors they have made, and make a turn toward the truth, but holds out little hope for the mainstream press, which largely has vested interests in the government agenda of “the war on terror.” Griffin concludes with suggestions for how US citizens and people in other countries could organize and mobilize to demand a genuine investigation into 9/11, leading to judicial proceedings.
Debunking 9/11 Debunking is a tremendous book, which should be read by everyone. By utterly destroying each of the well-funded, best efforts of the government to defend its case in the court of public opinion, the book effectively finishes off the official conspiracy theory. With this book in its arsenal, the 9/11 truth movement is set to take the offensive. It is time to launch this Debunker Buster at the hardened fortresses of the mass murderers within. Do what the perpetrators fear most. Read this book!