What’s crazier, believing the U.S. orchestrated 9/11 or that Saddam did?
by Jack Hunter
April 8, 2009
"…there can no longer be any serious argument about whether Saddam
Hussein’s Iraq worked with Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda to plot against Americans."
–Stephen F. Hayes, The Weekly Standard, 2003
When discussing politics, if there’s one thing that sends people running for
the hills, it’s conspiracy theories — or worse, conspiracy theorists.
As with those who are deemed "racist" or "isolationist,"
conspiracy theorists are automatically dismissed by polite society, not necessarily
because they are wrong, but because of the nature of their arguments. And because
their ideas and opinions are outside of consensus politics or the mainstream
media, conspiracy theorists lack credibility simply for being outside the realm
Take, for example, what is commonly known as the 9/11 Truth Movement, a collection
of conspiracy theories that claim the terrorist attacks in 2001 were orchestrated
by the U.S. government. Watching 9/11 Truth videos online like "Loose Change"
or "Zeitgeist" raises many interesting questions, and might cause
even the most reasonable of folks to at least question the conventional wisdom
on the subject. Yet, by and large, the 9/11 Truth conspiracy remains a fringe
movement, taken seriously by few and laughed at by most.
But if 9/11 "Truthers" are wacky for believing the 9/11 attacks were
orchestrated by Uncle Sam, what about the conspiracy theorists who tried to
convince Americans that 9/11 was orchestrated by Saddam Hussein? Consider the
following from The Weekly Standard‘s cover story "Case Closed"
written by Stephen F. Hayes in November of 2003: "Osama Bin Laden and Saddam
Hussein had an operational relationship from the early 1990s to 2003 that involved
training in explosives and weapons of mass destruction, logistical support for
terrorist attacks, al Qaeda training camps and safe haven in Iraq, and Iraqi
financial support for al Qaeda — perhaps even for Mohamed Atta —
according to a top secret U.S. government memorandum obtained by The Weekly
After the memo Hayes cited was immediately and entirely dismissed by the Department
of Defense and virtually every intelligence official, Newsweek decided
to investigate Hayes’ claim further, concluding "the memo doesn’t actually
contain much ‘new’ intelligence at all. Instead, it mostly recycles shards of
old, raw data that were first assembled last year by a tiny team of floating
Pentagon analysts whom [Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas J.] Feith
asked to find evidence of an Iraqi-Al Qaeda ‘connection’ in order to better
justify a U.S. invasion."
Hayes went on to write a book called The Connection based on the same
false memo, and as the Bush administration went on to make the same case that
Iraq had something to do with 9/11, Vice President Dick Cheney told the Rocky
Mountain News that Hayes’ Weekly Standard article was the "best
source of information" on collaboration between Hussein and Al Qaeda.
Of course, this was all fantasy. It was a conspiracy — not between Saddam
and Osama — but amongst the Bush White House and their media allies to
construct a "connection" between Hussein and Al-Qaeda that had never
existed, an irrefutable fact reflected by every piece of U.S. intelligence before
the invasion of Iraq — and proven again after it. Yet today, you will
still find the random conspiracy kook who still believes that Saddam was behind
While I try to keep an open mind, I do not believe the U.S. government orchestrated
9/11 precisely because I don’t believe our government is competent enough to
pull off such an elaborate scheme, and if they did, it would certainly be too
incompetent to cover it up.
But 9/11 Truthers and similar groups don’t concern me half as much as the conspiracy
theorists in our media and government, who have the power to start wars, end
lives, and damage nations, based on their own self-aggrandizing-fantasies.
And if I had to choose, there’s something much more healthy and patriotic about
those who take their distrust of government to what some might consider a ridiculous
degree, than those whose unquestioning trust in government is not only unhealthy
— but completely ridiculous.
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