Theologian stirs 9/11 conspiracy pot in Ventura
By Bill Locey
Sunday, April 6, 2008
There is an increasing number of Americans who believe that George Bush, Dick
Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and several of their toadies should be in prison, this
writer included. But to suggest that the Bush administration is somehow involved
in the 9/11 attacks seems to be a jaw-dropping and frightening stretch, but
not to the scores of interested folks who turned out to hear David Ray Griffin’s
talk March 28 at the Poinsettia Pavilion in Ventura. For those who get their
information from Fox News, such a charge is blasphemy, treason and worthy of
a perpetual Blackwater firing squad on YouTube. Griffin settled for frequents
bursts of applause.
The 9/11 tragedy is certainly not the first event in American history surrounded
by controversy and conspiracy theories, just merely the latest.
But as the pages blow off the calendar, witnesses die off, the trail grows
cold and interest wanes, assisted by the fact the American people have the attention
span of a butterfly sneeze.
But 9/11 is still fresh in everyone’s memory, partly because Bush can’t go
three minutes without playing the fear card and invoking the images of airplanes
flying into tall buildings. That memorable Tuesday morning happened less than
seven years ago and not only is it an annual school assignment, but many of
the participants and survivors are still alive with plenty of contradictory
stories to tell.
The new Pearl Harbor
Griffin has heard all of them. A retired theology and philosophy professor
from the Claremont School of Theology, Griffin has devoted his energies to unraveling
the many mysteries of the “new Pearl Harbor” and has written half-a-dozen
books on the subject. His Ventura appearance was sponsored by the local Ventura
9/11 Truth Group.
But Griffin is no solo nut case crying “wolf” to a statue of J. Edgar
Hoover or someone relegated to late-night radio with Art Bell, but rather one
of the many prominent people involved in “The 9/11 Truth Movement.” Never
heard of it? Go online — it’s everywhere and nearly as ubiquitous as porn and cheap Vicodins. It began right after Bush and Cheney tried to squelch the investigation. There have been numerous meetings, marches and rallies since then. So, are all these people just Wackos in Wonderland? Not even. In the summer of ’06, a Scripps-Howard poll reported that 36 percent of Americans thought it was “very likely” the government was involved in the act itself or the coverup, or both.
Griffin listed 25 major instances when the truth and events were, in his view, complete strangers. Given an hour to speak, Griffin tried to dispel about half of them.
First off, why did Bush remain in that Sarasota classroom for seven minutes after he learned of the attacks? Why wasn’t the Secret Service more excited, especially if the nation was under attack?
Further, the young Arab hijackers have been routinely characterized as devout Muslim extremists, but, in fact, several of them drank often, visited strip clubs, and Mohamed Atta even lived with a stripper for a while.
Did Cheney know about the Pentagon plane beforehand? Or was there even a plane? The FBI confiscated all 85 videos shot by witnesses. None has been returned. Several eyewitnesses claimed there was a bomb explosion and no plane at all and several others swear they saw no 757 wreckage and there was not a skid mark on the Pentagon lawn.
Whatever. Osama Bin Laden did it, so there’s that. Or did he? Clearly an evil dude with too much money, his posting on the FBI Web site’s Most Wanted lists has no connection to 9/11 and he has never been indicted for the attacks. Right after 9/11, the Taliban agreed to turn over bin Laden to U.S. authorities if they could show proof of his complicity. Our answer was to invade Afghanistan and kick out the Taliban, a group we had previously supported when it was fighting the Russians.
Military response justified
So, to Griffin, blaming bin Laden and Islamic fundamentalists justified our military response — like invading the wrong country. By now, it’s clear to most Americans that Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11. Suppose, after Pearl Harbor, instead of declaring war on Japan, FDR invaded Mexico. Same thing.
No one disputes the fact that, on 9/11, 19 hijackers — most of them Saudis — crashed three airplanes into the twin towers and the Pentagon, killing almost 3,000 innocent people. But to Griffin and the movement, explosives planted in the buildings beforehand actually brought down the twin towers, as well as Building 7. He pointed out that no steel structure in the history of engineering has ever collapsed without being taken down intentionally; this includes several buildings that have burned for hours. Also, traces of thermite were found at all three sites. And, according to interviews of people who were there, 118 out of 503 reported they heard explosions.
While to the uninitiated or nonbelievers, Griffin’s presentation jumped all over the place and did not provide the definitive smoking gun, he did raise several questions that need answers.
First and most obviously, how could such an ostensibly wild hypothesis even be suggested?
The reason Americans are so poorly informed, according to Griffin, is the media. They under-report or do not report disturbing stories and inconvenient truths because corporate ownership of the media limits what we hear.
So, marginalized or ignored by the mainstream media, Griffin and other 9/11 Truth Movement members are running an outside-the-box, guerrilla campaign, asking us to believe that our own government is guilty of treason and murder against its own citizens in order to justify foreign wars and increase domestic control, which the Patriot Act allows.
It doesn’t get much worse than that.
Media dismiss ‘lunatic fringe’
Griffin insisted that such fantastic charges are instantly labeled as “the lunatic fringe,” then ridiculed and, thus, easily dismissed by mainstream media. Once again, what Griffin wants is simply an impartial investigation of the facts — no revenge, just truth and reconciliation and an immediate end to the so-called war on terror.
If we are the land of the free and the home of the brave, we should welcome such investigation. Such outlandish charges of an inside job should not be allowed to fester. Then again, suppose Griffin and his friends are onto something? Or suppose the conspiracy theorists are all a bunch of nuts, then why not prove it with an impartial investigation?
While individual Americans are caring, kind people, America clearly ain’t what it used to be. Since when do Americans wiretap their own citizens and allow torture? Why do we routinely support dictators and bomb poor people?
Huge, multinational corporations, fueled by pure, unadulterated greed, have taken over our democracy. Where there was once truth, justice and the American way, now there is nothing but a faceless corporation with a dollar sign and a vicious dog snarling where its heart should be.
— Bill Locey of Ventura is a freelance writer.
David Ray Griffin, Ph.D., taught for more than 30 years at the Claremont School of Theology. He has written scores of books, six regarding 9/11. Among them: “The New Pearl Harbor”; “The 9/11 Commission Report: Ommissions and Distortions”; “Christian Faith and the truth Behind 9/11”; “9/11 and the American Empire: Intellectuals Speak Out.”
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