9/11 Truthers: Another Stupid Conspiracy Theory

Last weekend, in Toronto, tucked away somewhere between the Hollywood highjinks of TIFF and the chest clinching antics of the TSX, a dedicated group of malcontents held The International Hearings on the Events of September 11, 2001.  Despite its grand title and conference space at Ryerson University, the international hearing was anything but.  Basically, it was a crew of 9/11 conspiracy theorists demonstrating their bad manners — just because they could.  After all, of the 365 days available this year for their Truther Convention, I don’t think they chose the 10th anniversary of the attack because the caterer was available.  When asked by the Globe and Mail: “Don’t you get accused of being insensitive to the victims?” the organizer, Graeme MacQueen responded with “Yes we get criticized.  But we reject that completely.  It was a horrific crime.  That’s why we want to solve it.  We also have the support of some 9/11 families.”  This is conspiracy-theory speak for “Everything we say or do is perfectly acceptable because we say it is.”  This is the essence of any discussion with conspiracy theorists.  It’s like arguing with your toaster.  No matter what you say, the toast comes out the same.  Since we all know that arguing with small appliances is futile, I’m not going to waste bandwidth disputing the Grand Canyon gaps in logic propelled by the 9/11 Sceptics.  However, there are a few items that the Truthers need to explain before I quit thinking they’re merely the visible part of the Stupid Iceberg.  So to all those 9/11 Conspiracy Theorists out there, I have this to say:

First of all, rhetorical questions are not a logical argument.  9/11 Sceptics spend more than half their time spouting questions like:  “So why didn’t President Bush run screaming from the classroom when he heard the news?”  Or “Why was Dick Cheney conveniently not on the 27th floor of Twin Tower #2 that morning?”  Logical arguments follow a distinct A-B-C-D pattern; they don’t jump all over the map.  I have yet to hear any Truther lay out a logical explanation that follows the documented chain of events.  Even the weirdo version they claim is the truth.

Next, overwhelming scientific evidence does not come from two construction engineers, a guy from Memphis with a PhD and your FaceBook friend who saw the Dunes Hotel implode on YouTube.  There are literally hundreds of thousands of experts all over this planet who accept the events of 9/11 as they happened.  It is impossible that they’re all dumber than you are or that they’ve been bought off by George and Laura Bush – even if they got a loan from Cheney.  In any reasonable discussion, the expertise of the majority of the world’s scientific community takes precedence over some guy and his girlfriend who disagree.  Oh yeah, and just because you say it’s a scientific fact, that doesn’t mean it is.  Without serious documentation it isn’t even a fact.

Also, I find it difficult to believe that a secret organization, with huge resources, capable of perpetrating a vast worldwide conspiracy involving thousands of people over several months (if not years) would then leave incredibly simple clues to their nefarious purpose – clues so glaring that a 12-year-old with a Pause button can figure them out in an hour.  I doubt very much if all the 9/11 conspirators passed Evil Masterminding, Chicanery and Skullduggery in Conspiracy School and then flunked Trickery 101.  Or were they all sitting around the secret headquarters on September 10th, trying to figure it out and sometime around midnight just decided “Aw, the hell with it!  Nobody’s going to notice.”

Likewise, of the army of people needed to pull off the crime of the 21st century — from the original planners to the guy who made the sandwiches — not one person has ever had a crisis of conscience and confessed.  The laws of anti-chance alone dictate somebody got drunk one night and told his lover – or his mom.  And if not that, bragging rights alone would be reason enough for some of those achtung military types to spill the beans.  Remember, these are the same geniuses who took pictures of themselves beating up the prisoners at Abu Ghraib.  Yet, in ten years, not one person has come forward, not even a deathbed confession or one of those weird, blacked-out muggy-voiced silhouette things from A & E.  This seems highly unlikely.

There are tons more questions I could ask but the one major piece of the conspiracy puzzle that’s never answered by even the most rabid 9/11 Sceptic is why.  What was everybody’s motivation?  All the Truther evidence suggests that the US government is the most likely suspect in the great conspiracy, which points directly at George Bush and Dick Cheney.  Yet, to hear them tell it, these are the guys who rigged the 2000 presidential election, convinced half the world that Saddam Hussein had Weapons of Mass Destruction, went to war to find them, didn’t and weren’t even embarrassed about it.  They’re the same guys who sold the US military to Haliburton, left hundreds of thousands of people to rot in New Orleans and nearly bankrupted the USA so their friends could make a fortune out of oil.  Plus, they’re the same people whose incompetence led to the subprime monetary crisis of 2008 that nearly ruined the world economy (and whose war-torn policies set up the current debt crisis that might yet do it.)  Still, for all this, we are expected to believe that they (or someone close to them) felt it necessary to engineer a gigantic and incredibly complicated plot to fool the American people because they were afraid of public opinion.  Give me a break!

Honestly, if the Bush Administration cared about public opinion (which all the evidence says it didn’t) all they would have had to do was send three guys with a heavy suitcase to Minot, North Dakota and nuke it.  Problem solved.  At that point, the American people would have been so enraged Bin Laden wouldn’t have made it to the Men’s Room — I don’t care how deep his cave was.  The marines would have been picking their teeth with Saddam Hussein’s bones within the week, civil liberties would be a distant memory and oil would be 25 bucks a barrel or 15 dollars a gallon — depending on which side of the conspiracy fence you’re sitting on.  There is absolutely no motive for a world-class JFK assassination style conspiracy when Ukrainian nuclear weapons are on sale for less than the cost of a slightly used Boeing 767.

Explain the motivation, Truthers, and then you might have a case.  But until you do that, you all just look like a casting call for Dumb and Dumber 3.

 

9/11: A Glimpse into the Future

Ten years is a long time.  Many contemporary relationships don’t last that long.  In fact, we’ve been living with terror longer than it took a friend of mine to adios two of her ex-husbands.  People need anniversaries, though, even if they are of terrible events like 9/11.  They’re important.  They’re like perpetual mid-term exams; they let us know whether we’ve been paying attention to the important bits or just spacing out.  However, on anniversaries, the natural tendency is to look back into the known world rather than forward into the unknown.  Despite assurances to the contrary, very few of us like to “Boldly go where no one has gone before.”

As a result, the talk across the media on 9/11 plus 10 is mostly about how much things have changed since Al Qaeda decided to play darts with some Boeing merchandise and how much safer we aren’t now that we’ve been forced to spent billions on safety.  It’s good to reevaluate, but without looking ahead, we’re always going to be playing catch up.  Given the deadly nature of defeat in this game, that’s not a good idea.  But before cable news resets the panic button to scary and you cruise back to Frontierville to avoid all the 24/7, 9/11 going on this week, here are a few realities that may be uncomfortable but which will probably make you feel better.

The fact is the world has changed since Osama Bin Laden unleashed his minions on New York City.  Like any surprise attack, 9/11 was reasonable successful for the bad guys, simply because it was a surprise.  Terrorists have a distinct advantage over unarmed and unprepared men, women and children.  That’s why they target them.  However, they don’t fare quite so well against the heavily armed boys and girls we’ve sent out to hunt them.  Most of the original Al Qaeda crew have met the harsh realities of Western military technology, powered by some pretty dedicated and determined young people – and whether you like this scenario or not, it’s a plus.

It’s also a plus that, even though we’re only marginally safer today than we were on Monday, September 10th, 2001, we are safer.  Fanatical killers have not turned our friendly skies into an obstacle course of flying firebombs.  There’ve been other serious attacks with major loss of life, but at this point, the murderers haven’t turned our cities into charnel houses, and we aren’t yet under siege.  I still don’t completely trust our strategy, but the bottom line is success.  So far, we’ve been reasonably successful.

Of course, the major difference between then and now has nothing to do with the West’s response to 9/11.  The simple truth is the much-heralded “Arab Street” is outrunning the vision Bin Laden and his boys had for the Arab world.  Their fascist dreams of a resurgent Caliphate are, for the most part, yesterday’s news compared to the revolutions that are rocking North Africa and beyond.  For the first time in a century, there are free exchanges of ideas going on in Tunis, Cairo and now Tripoli.  The ten-year-old salvation Bin Laden had to offer doesn’t mean the same thing to people today who have popular power within their grasp.  The major sponsors of terror — Iran and Syria — are becoming more and more isolated, not only from their own people but from the rest of the Arab world.  Dreams are shifting across the sands of North Africa and throughout the Moslem world.  They’re new dreams, shaped in the last couple of years – if not months.

We in the West need to understand that Moslems are not a monolith, like the Sphinx, stuck forever in one particular pose.  Our world has changed dramatically in the last decade and most of it has nothing to do with 9/11.  So too, the Arab world has changed, and so too, 9/11 didn’t change it.  History does not halt on horrible events or follow a singular course.  No one incident dictates the rest of time.  History has a way of continuing and changing things – here and around the world.  I’m not saying Osama Bin Laden isn’t still a hero to many Moslems, nor am I saying the terrorist threat to us is over.  I’m saying things are different now, and we need to realign our priorities.

Ten years ago, the military response to terrorism was the best one.  It’s still a pretty good option today.  After all, unless your name is Gandhi, you realize that it’s impossible to negotiate with someone who’s willing to pump 50 calibre bullets into the back of a fleeing 10 year old.  We still have nothing to discuss with fanatics who see murder as a legitimate political choice, so we might as well shoot first.  However, here in 2011, we also have a far greater range of ways to deal with terrorism than we did ten years ago.  For the first time since 9/11, we have the chance to stop the bomber rather than just hope to hell we can defuse the bomb.

In the next few years, much more of Bin Laden’s old world is going to be swept away.  We in the West need to be part of that process.  Our assistance is vital to the new world that’s forming across North Africa.  We have a great opportunity to further isolate these fascists (we call them terrorists) who want to hijack not only the Moslem people, but their religion, as well.  If we do it right, 9/11 will change.  To future generations, it will become this generation’s Pearl Harbor; not a horrible beginning to a never ending war but a sad and solemn memorial to a terrible day in history.

The Beginning of the Arab Fall?

With less than a month left in the Arab Spring turned Chaos Summer, it looks like Libya is the next North African domino.  Gaddafi and his sons are almost certainly on the run, if not overrun already.  The latest images from Tripoli show some local guy playing with Muammar’s hat.  With that in hand, can the owner’s head be far behind?  Meanwhile, this season’s journalists are looking quite jaunty in flak jackets and steel helmets.  I’m waiting for one of the girls to undo her chin strap and go trend setter tres cas, a la John Wayne in The Sands of Iwo Jima.  The sound bytes coming out of the Rixos have a ninth inning World Series feel about them.  They’ve pre-concluded the final score, but are still reporting the game anyway.  Unfortunately, nobody on the business end of a microphone can name any of the players except Muammar and his boys.  This is going to leave a lot of room for error once it’s time to start handing out the trophies.  If I sound a little cynical, it’s merely because I am.

I’ll admit I was wr-wr-wr, not right when I said that the stalemate in Libya would outlast NATO’s patience for battle.  (Frankly, I still think Western Political Will has a 90 day warranty, and after that, you’re on your own.)  However, in my defence Western airpower has more shock and awe than the UN bargained for.  Either that or NATO took my advice from an earlier blog, forgot about Resolution 1973, and started blasting away at hot targets.  Personally, I’m leaning towards door #2 because the t-shirt and running shoe rebels I see on television don’t look like they could put much of a lickin’ on seasoned soldiers.  The fact remains, however, the rebels, whoever they are, are winning, and they’re doing it without overt NATO boots on the ground.

So, why so cynical when the major components of the people’s victory are already whooping it up in Green, Martyrs’ Square?

First of all, I have this sneaking suspicion that it’s not over yet.  Muammar is a tricky old bugger.  He didn’t last 40 years plus by folding his tent and fading away every time Western jets came screaming out of the Gulf of Sidra.  And just because some teenagers are playing with his golf cart doesn’t mean he’s going to retire from the game.  Until somebody puts his head on a spike – oops – detains him to face justice under international law – and quickly – there are going to be a lot more dead bodies bleaching out in the desert.

Next, I’m having a lot of trouble figuring out who’s who in the rebel army.  Somehow, I don’t believe the bakers and barbers of Benghazi have the kind of tactical military skill to liberate Libya in less time than it took Erwin Rommel and the Afrika Korps to conquer it.  Nor do I think that your average shopkeeper, under the Gaddafi regime, kept an AK over the mantel, much less enough ammunition for a sustained campaign.  FYI, North Americans, believe it or not, just because you’re an Arab doesn’t mean you instinctively know how to use automatic weapons.  (It’s not in the DNA.)  So just who are these guys and where do they come from?  As a veteran taxpayer, I’d like to know who my million dollar-a-whack bombs are going to support.  What’s their agenda?  And are we just trading an old 20th century dictator for the new and improved 21st century model?

My biggest concern, however, is for when “the tumult and the shouting dies;/The Captains and the Kings depart:” — six months from now.  Unlike Hugo Chavez, I don’t think this is yet another Western plot to seize Third World oil resources and sell them back to ourselves at exorbitant prices.  No.  Basically, the Europeans saw an opportunity to smack a $39.95 dictator who’s been making a fool of them for years, and they took it.  The oil is an extra added attraction.  NATO’s interest in Libya is limited, and I don’t think it includes rebuilding the place, now that we’ve blown it up.

The problem is that, even if the Libyan rebels are the soul of democracy, as we’re being led to believe by the flak jackets at Rixos, they’re going to have a hard time implementing it.  Without a lot more help from the folks who brought them unlimited military aid, the Libyans are in for another bad fight for freedom — that could take years.  Either that, or the West is going to have to pitch in with some ever-unpopular “nation building,” and I don’t think we have the stick-to itness for that.

There is some hope for the future, though.  It’s good to see another one of the nasties, bite the dust and the aspirations of a people overcome the bayonets of a tyrant.  There is hope for democracy in the sands of North Africa — even if it is a long and difficult road.  Besides, if we’re smart, when this is all over (in a month or two?) NATO can stand down, relax and rearm.  Then, we can take a good, long look at Damascus and say, “Okay, Bashar!  Shape up and fly right, or you’re next.  Remember what happened to the last guy who pissed us off!”