Barbara Honegger9/11 & ‘Possible war criminal’Tue Sep 4, 2007 13:029/11 & ‘Possible war criminal’
Former Reagan aide Barbara Honegger is a senior military affairs journalist at the Naval Postgraduate School in California. She's convinced, based on her freelance research, that a bomb went off about six minutes before an airplane hit the Pentagon -- or didn't hit it, as some believe the case may be. Catherine Austin Fitts served as assistant secretary of housing in the first President Bush's administration and gained a fine reputation as a fraud buster; David Bowman was chief of advanced space programs under presidents Ford and Carter. Fitts and Bowman agree that the "most unbelievable conspiracy" theory is the one retailed by the government.
Then there's Morgan O. Reynolds, appointed by George W. Bush as chief economist at the Labor Department. He left in 2002 and doesn't think much of his former boss; he describes President Bush as a "dysfunctional creep," not to mention a "possible war criminal."
"It's like the Nazi-facilitated Reichstag fire," Honegger says from her home in California. "They guided and secretly protected it to justify their global agenda."
Let's put aside the could-anyone-do-something-that-spectacularly-twisted? question and touch on practicalities. Isn't the problem with big ugly conspiracies -- from the Gulf of Tonkin to My Lai to the 1961 Pentagon plan to provoke a war by attacking Americans and blaming it on Castro -- that they are too big and ugly to keep secret?
Griffin shrugs. History is littered with government black-bag jobs. "How do you know they can't keep big secrets? Can you be sure you know what you don't know?"
There is a "morning after" quality to the conspiratorial romance. One moment you groove on the epiphanies and the next moment you're lost in a dull haze of "this cannot be a coincidence," "perhaps significantly" and "if so . . ."
What of incompetence? Or the raw absurdity of life? The truth movement makes much of a 2001 BBC report that a half-dozen of the hijackers were still alive. They mention Waleed al Shehri, a pilot who still flies commercial runs in Morocco. But the BBC retracted that.
It turns out the live guy and the dead hijacker spelled their names differently.
Then there's the theory that Flight 77 did not hit the Pentagon and United 93 did not crash in Shanksville, Pa. But, like, what happened to the passengers? (Among the passengers on Flight 77 was Barbara Olson, wife of former U.S. solicitor general Ted Olson).
‘They don’t do their homework’
"Why should any of us know where it went?" Griffin says. "It could have been it crashed in Kentucky. We don't need a theory where it went."
Chip Berlet, senior analyst at Political Research Associates, a Boston-based left-leaning think tank, is no fan of the 9/11 Commission. He believes a serious investigation should have led to indictments and the firing of incompetent generals and civilian officials.
But he has no patience with the conspiracy theorists.
"They don't do their homework; it's a kind of charlatanism," Berlet says over the phone. "They say there's no debris on the lawn in front of the Pentagon, but they base their analysis on a photo on the Internet . That's like analyzing an impressionist painting by looking at a postcard."
Now comes a loud sigh.
"I love 'The X-Files' but I don't base my research on it," he says. "My vision of hell is having to review these [conspiracy] books over and over again."
Let's move on to Eager of MIT. "Demolition experts say, 'Ohhh, it's all science and timing.' Bull!" Eager says. "What's the technique? If 200,000 tons gives way, where do you think it's going? Straight down."
In the days after Sept. 11, experts claimed temperatures reached 2,000 degrees on the upper floors. Others claimed steel melted. Nope. What happened, Eager says, is that jet fuel sloshed around and beams got rubbery.
"It's not too much to think that you could have some regions at 900 degrees and others at 1,200 degrees, and that will distort the beams."
The truth movement doesn't really care for Eager. A Web site casts a fisheye of suspicion at the professor and his colleagues. "Did the MIT have prior knowledge?" notes one chat room. "This is for sure another speculative topic . . . "
"It is no measure of health to be sane in an insane society."
Nico Haupt, a gaunt fellow in black sneakers, black socks, black jeans and black T-shirt, stands up in St. Mark's Church in the Bowery. He holds aloft two blue Oreos boxes taped to resemble the twin towers. A pen juts out, kind of like a Boeing airplane.
For an hour he's shown videos of planes hitting the towers. If you note the glinting sunlight and angle of wings and you're honest about vectors and maybe the hashish is kicking in, you'll realize there were no planes .
Truth movement veterans distance themselves from Haupt, who has a bit of a temper. But Reynolds, the former Labor Department economist, also is a "no-planer."
"There were no planes, there were no hijackers," Reynolds insists. "I know, I know, I'm out of the mainstream, but that's the way it is."
But what about all those New Yorkers who saw airplanes hitting the twin towers? A chuckle rumbles down the phone line. "I don't believe anyone in Lower Manhattan," he says. "You hire three dozen Actors' Equity dudes and they'll say anything."
Some days the 9/11 truth movement resembles an Italian coalition government -- dissolution is a certainty. Honegger and Griffin believe bombs brought down the twin towers but have little truck with make-believe planes. There's a faction that says the Mossad did it and another that says that's insane, and maybe anti-Semitic.
Where are we going here? There's a Journal of 9/11 Studies, documentaries, CDs and DVDs. Is conspiracy thought getting codified?
"That's our worry, of course," Griffin says. "I want my life back. But how can I ignore that we have become entranced by demonic power, so focused on lust for wealth and control that almost anything becomes possible?"
You reach Honegger a few nights later. She'd like to give it up, too. "I am sitting here in my little office trying to figure out what happened to my country on this day. I wouldn't be a patriot if I didn't try to prove the government's story is preposterous."
© 2007 The Washington Post Company
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