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911; Is This What Happened?
Author: J Schipper

There have been thousands of articles written on the events surrounding 9/11, and the avalanche does not seem to be slowing down.

There are basically four main streams of thought surrounding 9/11, each with its own group of followers who are convinced they know the truth.

The first group believes the official version of 9/11 : the attack was done under the direction of Saudi mastermind Osama Bin Laden by 19 Arab hijackers who used box cutters to hijack four passenger jets and turn them into flying bombs. United Airlines flights 11 and 175 crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center while a third, American Airlines flight 77, hit the Pentagon. A fourth airplane, United Airlines Flight 93, was heading towards the White House but crashed into a Pennsylvania field after several heroic passengers said "Let's roll" and struggled with the hijackers. The twin towers burned and collapsed due to the stress of the impact and the heat generated by burning jet fuel. Warnings which might have allowed the authorities to prevent the attack were lost in the bureaucratic maze of large, overburdened intelligence agencies such as the CIA.

People in this group feel that the government does its honest best to preserve the security of the nation, but that determined and unconventional terrorists are difficult to stop even with the greatest vigilance. Intelligence agencies can be cumbersome and should be streamlined, but officials have displayed enough care and attention that no-one should be blamed for egregious negligence. This is the version of events presented by the US government and the mainstream news media such as Fox and CNN.

The second group believes most of the official version, with a few minor caveats. The main difference is that the second group supports a round of firings to deal with what they feel are incompetent government officials.

They excoriate the President for continuing to read "My Pet Goat" to school children instead of instantly responding to the tragedy, and blame the Vice President for going into hiding instead of standing in solidarity beside the president and rallying the public at the time of the attacks. They feel that intelligence agencies displayed indifferent attitudes to important information warning of an impending terrorist strike, that airport security was overly lax, and that proper diligence by the authorities would have prevented the entire scenario. They support radical improvements in the way foreign intelligence is collected and handled, and feel that with enough surveillance, America can be made safe from the threat of foreign terrorist attacks.

People in both the first and second groups are likely to see the Patriot Act and wiretapping without warrants are necessary evils in the fight against a foreign enemy. Both groups display a basic faith in the soundness of America's government and institutions. Islamic fundamentalists have a well-documented penchant for violence, and the 9/11 attacks are just another manifestation of what Samuel Huntington has called "The Clash of Civilizations". Many of these people feel that since America is innocent of any role in fomenting the attacks, it is futile to engage in dialogue with Arab malcontents; only military action can stop an enemy which hates America for its democratic values.

The third group is much more critical of the role of American foreign and domestic policy in causing terrorism. Islamic fighters in Afghanistan received American financial backing during the 1979-1988 Soviet-Afghanistan war. These mujahadeen, who fought the Soviets with training and weapons supplied by the CIA, were the forerunners of the Taliban, a group of radical Wahabi clerics who sheltered Al -Queda and Osama Bin Laden.

Followers of this school of thought point out the close links between the Bush government and the Bin Laden family (and of course, the Saudi regime generally). Immediately after 9/11, when all other planes were grounded, members of the Bin Laden family were allowed to leave America without being interrogated for information about their prodigal relative. In addition, American has a history of overthrowing democratic governments in the Middle East which oppose American policies (such as Iranian Premier Mossedeq in 1953), to install pliant dictatorships in their place. These actions create hostility which leads to terrorism, and Americans could and should have seen the attacks coming.

According to this group, the Islamic world dislikes America more for what it does than for what it is; America gives unwavering support to Israel and supports dictatorial Arab regimes as long as they service America's need for oil. American dependence on foreign oil insures further entanglement with dangerous, resentful Islamic fundamentalists. This group feels that America's corrupt foreign policy is largely responsible for the attacks, and support broad changes in American policies and disengagement from the Middle East.

Examples of this school of thought are film maker Michael Moore, whose film "Fahrenheit 9/11" exposed many examples of government malfeasance surrounding the attacks. These people are less likely to support increased security; they feel existing laws and agencies, as long as they function correctly, are more than adequate to deal with foreign threats. They heap scorn on airport security officers who search grandmothers in the name of political correctness, and are unlikely to support widespread, intrusive security. Terrorism is seen as a structural phenomenon, unlikely to disappear regardless of any military or security-related actions until the root causes are eliminated.

The fourth group consists of conspiracy theorists who forthrightly accuse the government of committing the attack, and use slogans such as "9/11 was an inside job". They believe that rogue elements in the CIA and the Pentagon orchestrated the entire event in order to provide an excuse for the pre-planned invasion of Iraq, and that Arabs, if they were involved at all, were not the masterminds.

They point to architectural and scientific evidence that the WTC was built to withstand more stress than would be generated by the impact of two airplanes, and that jet fuel does not burn at sufficiently high temperatures to melt steel. The collapse of the Twin Towers and the identical collapse of a third building nearby (the Seven World Trade Center, which was never hit by a plane) , are said to be due to a controlled demolition set up by explosives experts. They cast doubt on the idea that 19 non-military amateurs armed only with boxcutters could successfully commandeer 4 large commercial aircraft. The 8-mile long debris field left by Flight 93 points to the plane coming apart or exploding in midair (or even, more ominously, being shot done by a missile), not hitting the ground intact. A host of other irregularities in the mountain of available forensic evidence and eyewitness accounts are scrutinized as well.

These people have a decidedly unsavory opinion of America's government. They point out the long history of American military involvement in false-flag attacks planned and performed for the sole purpose of manipulating public opinion in favor of various wars, such as the attack on the battleship Maine, the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, and Operation Northwoods.

This group sees the increasing levels of security and public surveillance as not only unnecessary (given the absence of foreign enemies), but as signs of incipient police state. They hold a general distrust of the American military-industrial complex, and speak fearfully of a "New World Order", an elite cabal of globalists who have no concern for the lives of ordinary members of the public.

People in this group, regardless of the merit of their claims, receive no exposure on mainstream media because their statements are so incendiary that the ramifications would destroy public faith in government. However, this lobby is a growth industry on the Internet; a search for "9/11 Conspiracy" yields 10,200,000 results.

Of course, there is considerable cross-pollination between the four groups. It is entirely possible to believe, for instance, that American security agencies functioned properly on 9/11 (the first group) while also believing that the nation is too dependent on foreign oil (the third group). However, these broad categories generally describe the different opinions about what happened on 9/11, and often people hold collections of views as a "package deal". Someone who supports the government's domestic policy is also likely to agree with foreign policy, while skeptics are often generally distrustful of authority.

So there you have it : one event, and four radically different interpretations and worldviews. When it comes to 9/11, everyone has a pet theory. Like the Kennedy assassination, this will keep both amateur and professional historians occupied for many years to come.

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