The Instant Conspiracy Theory
Morgan Reynolds — July 28, 2006
The worst terrorist attack in history came nearly five years ago on September 11, 2001 and it traumatized America. Most people were caught off-guard, including the defense establishment (apparently), but counterterrorism experts and government officials quickly appeared on TV to finger the perpetrators. A Fox anchorman even solved it within a minute of the second hit: “We just saw on live television as the second plane flew into the second tower of the World Trade Center. Now given what has been going on around the world, some of the key suspects come to mind: Osama bin Laden.”
Osama bin Laden and his Arab hijackers! Yeah, that’s the ticket. Case closed. Mighty fine work. No one asked embarrassing questions like, how could all the talking heads reach the same conclusion in minutes? They seemed to know so much after the attacks, nothing before. Why were “independent experts” and government officials so uniform in identifying the same guy? Where was their proof, except of course, al-Sugami’s paper passport planted, er, found on the sidewalk a few blocks away before a tower fell. It must have jumped out of his pocket, maneuvered through the crashing Boeing, survived the fireball and floated down to the sidewalk unmarred.
The crimes were barely over and everyone knew it was OBL. It was a breathtaking display of media power. The tale sold like free watermelon in August: a couple of guys in caves pulled off a sophisticated attack halfway around the world using not-very-clever Islamic extremists who encountered little or no resistance along the way. The ease in solving the crime of the 21st century made TV programs like CSI and Law and Order look slow in taking 45 minutes every week. Turning to real life, it took eighteen years in the most expensive manhunt in FBI history to catch the Unabomber, and it was only because Ted Kacszynski’s younger brother David out’ed him! Police success in clearing crimes by strangers with no obvious initial suspect, fingerprints, DNA or eyewitnesses (and no passport!) is notoriously poor.
Within 72 hours in a multi-faith prayer service at the National Cathedral President Bush declared, “The conflict was begun on the timing and terms of others. It will end in a way and at an hour of our choosing.” Or, from today’s vantage point it seems “the conflict” will never end. After all, an enemy is necessary to feed the military-industrial complex and the global domination project. Bush invoked the “warm courage of national unity” and that day the Senate voted 98-0 and the House 420-1 to authorize Bush to use “all necessary and appropriate force” to retaliate against the alleged terrorists. This emotional outpouring of religiosity and national zeal put skeptics on notice: shut up. The OBL tale was the sacred orthodoxy. That it was unproven and has now been proven a Big Lie are details that do not matter.
While the zeal may have cooled, government and its controlled media cling more tightly than ever to an unproven conspiracy theory. Evidence to the contrary can hardly be tolerated but still, like most instant products, the official theory is wearing poorly. No real investigation was ever conducted and the FBI was even forced to admit in June that OBL is not wanted for the 9/11 murders because it has no “hard evidence” that he was involved.
Yet public challenge to the instant conspiracy theory remains heretical. Powerful people like Vice President Dick Cheney and former CIA chief and current Texas A&M University President Robert M. Gates, for example, denounce any suggestion of government complicity in the events of 9/11 as “beyond the pale.” Evidence like the 6.6-second demolition of WTC building 7 and an 18-foot hole in the Pentagon that supposedly swallowed a Boeing 757 is dismissed as “nutball” stuff.
Why would anyone believe the government’s self-serving tale of 9/11? Without evidence? Beats me. It says something about our collective gullibility, stupidity and fear, doesn’t it? The government is a proven liar on controversial issues, especially war and pretexts for war. Let’s hope that reason and facts triumph over the prevailing (i.e., the government’s) nutball conspiracy theory.