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The New Pearl Harbor
I've never put much stock in conspiracy theories. I have no theories about the Kennedy assassination, I don't think the moon landing was faked, and I stopped believing in UFOs when I was ten. And when I saw a reference on the Internet to the possible participation in the 9/11 attacks by the US government, I didn't bother reading it. I even rejected far milder claims that the terrorist attacks were the result of governmental incompetence. I argued, "Hindsight is 20/20. We can't expect our leaders to know everything, and analyzing how the attacks could have been prevented is just a waste of time." I firmly believed that no American would allow the 9/11 attacks to happen if there were anything he could do to stop it.
Last night my world got turned upside-down.
My friend Mikey has been a right-wing Republican for as long as I've known him. He's been known to favor the more populist candidates in Presidential primaries, but recently he's also been a staunch Bush supporter. I even heard him say recently that he would be willing to go to Iraq himself to fight for America. I was very surprised, then, when I saw him Friday night, and he handed me a book, and said, "You've got to read this. There's no way I can vote for Bush now." Knowing that Mikey is an intelligent, well-read individual, and open-minded, yet simultaneously committed to conservative ideals, I knew that this was a very heavy statement. Mikey indicated to me that the book details evidence that the official explanation for the 9/11 attacks is flawed on multiple levels, and that material and testimonial evidence points toward some level of complicity on the part of the American government in the attacks. I was skeptical, to say the least, and if the recommendation had come from anybody but Mikey, a former Bush-supporter, I would probably not have wasted any time on the book. However, considering the source, I agreed to read it. I've hardly put it down all day.
The book is The New Pearl Harbor, by David Ray Griffin, and it's available online for free in full text here. I won't go into any detail about Griffin's specific claims here. I'm afraid that, taken out of their context, they are too unbelievable for anyone to seriously consider. Yet Griffin's writing is so extensively researched and his evidence so convincing, that however inconceivable his claims are, they are also impossible to ignore.
For me, it helped that he started with a perspective very similar to my own. From the book's introduction:
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 Ã¢â‚¬â€ even the Bush administration Ã¢â‚¬â€ 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 Ã¢â‚¬â€ 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 Ã¢â‚¬â€ that their writings would consist merely of loony theories based on wild inferences from dubious evidence Ã¢â‚¬â€ 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.
Griffin goes on to explain that, like me, he looked at the evidence only at the recommendation of a friend whom he considered to be a critical, intelligent person. His initial exposure to evidence that conflicts with the government's official account of 9/11 sparked the research that has become this book, a compact and accessible collection of all the information compiled by 9/11 revisionists. He uses the evidence to prove any particular alternate explanation of the terrorist attacks, but merely to prove that the story told by the government cannot be true.
Still skeptical? That's okay. All Griffin asks from anyone is a 30% open mind. In fact, all he asks is that you don't completely dismiss the idea of a conspiracy before examining the evidence. From the end of his introduction:
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.
If you still don't want to read the book, at least check out this website, cited in Griffin's footnotes. It contains startling photos of the Pentagon, immediately after an airliner was supposed to have crashed into it. The pictures and questions illustrate just one of the many bits of evidence illuminated by Griffin in his book.
I'm sure you all think I'm crazy now (I know Erika does), so let me end by saying that I'm still very skeptical about the claims contained in this book. I doubt I'll ever believe it fully, but I believe enough to be convinced that we do not know the truth about the 9/11 attacks, and we will not learn the truth from officials in government. I swear I'm not crazy.
interesting. now you’ve got me heckuv curious… i think i’m gonna have to purchase this one. thanks for talking about this… i’m always up for new and interesting reads, you should be a salesman kyle.
i think “conspiracy theory” has a very negative tone to it because there is a lot of crap out there. maybe there’s another word to use in stead of that particular phrase. i do think americans hear what they want to hear and government does a fine job of covering things up rather well. some things to consider are their monetary contributors and how far that goes into decision making. “follow the money"….
good post mr. Kyle.
I looked at the pictures of the Pentagon. Interesting, but not too convincing. I may dowload the book and give it a read. Were you talking about Mikey Bishop?
sounds like milo minderbinder bombing his own troops for the good of the syndicate… everyone gets a share!
If I can get my hands on a paper copy I will read it.
Well Kyle, you definitely got my attention. I skimmed some of the online book; I was particularly interested in the chapter on Bush’s response, since I had heard some things about the videotape of Bush’s school appearance, but I had never paid much attention. I’m not ready to leap to the conclusion that he knew the attacks were coming, but there do seem to be clear signs of incompetence and later dishonesty.
If you haven’t already, check out this critique of the book, which also links to a response from Griffin.
Like I said, I haven’t read his book in any detail, but this critique makes me inclined to really question the book’s credibility.
Thanks for the link, Ellen. Due to my own questions over the book’s validity, I actually tried to find some opposing critiques on the Internet, but I didn’t find any. Granted, it was very late and I didn’t look for very long. I’m glad you found one. The author makes some interested points, but I’m glad they offered Griffin the chance to counter back.
As Griffin points out in his response, the article by Berlet misrepresents Griffin’s position and statements. Berlet exposes several logical problems in the book, and he would be correct IF Griffin used these arguments in an attempts to prove a particular conclusion. From Berlet’s article:
Affirming the Consequent: any argument of the form: If A then B, B, therefore A
Example in Griffin: If a heat-seeking missile hit United Flight 93 over Pennsylvania, it would have knocked off the jet engine. A jet engine from the aircraft was found miles from the main crash wreckage, therefore this is evidence that a heat-seeking missile hit United Flight 93 over Pennsylvania.
Example in Griffin: If Bush knew about the 09/11/01 attacks in advance, he would remain in a classroom talking with children, (and the Secret Service would not whisk him away to safety). Bush stayed talking with children, therefore this is evidence that Bush knew about the 09/11/01 attacks in advance.
Griffin does not claim that these facts PROVE that Flight 93 was definitely shot down or that Bush had advance knowledge of the attacks. Rather, he uses the evidence to call into question the official report. His entire goal in the book is not to put forth an alternate theory, but to make a case for further investigation, and for this purpose, the available evidence seems to support his case.