Grown-ups also transgress, some more than others. 17 years and 16 days ago, the World Trade Center (WTC) twin towers in New York were flown into by hijacked commercial aircraft, after which they both later collapsed into their own footprint at freefall speed, each in about 12 seconds. Just under 3,000 innocent people died, and the world changed forever. Hundreds of thousands more deaths from Western invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, huge waves of anti-Muslim sentiment, and major restrictions of personal freedoms across the world.
A business contact was in Nairobi airport, Kenya, as the first TV pictures of the events of September 11, 2001, were beamed across the world. He was horrified to see many locals standing and cheering. My gut reaction was anxiously polarised between deep compassion for the victims and their families, and a feeling that the world’s financial and military bully had taken a long-overdue punch on the nose.
I was later told, to my utter astonishment, that some people questioned the official narrative. About a decade after the event, I decided to take a look. It made little sense that Osama Bin Laden – surely the best source of 9/11 intelligence on the entire planet – had been summarily killed in May 2011, when eventually found in Pakistan. Should he not have been interrogated at length then tried in The Hague? US Navy Seals that swiftly dumped his body at sea then perished themselves in a helicopter crash. The story didn’t ring true.
I love to be fascinated. A treasure trove opened. As a starter, I found observers of 9/11 who questioned the almost immediate conclusion by US authorities that Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda had carried out the attacks, without any concerted investigation. Others queried the lengthy cell phone calls reported from United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. They argued that cell phone technology in 2001 made it impossible for calls lasting much more than a few seconds at over 2,000 feet. My eyes were caught by the passport improbably found intact in the WTC debris, from a hijacker on American Airlines Flight 11, the plane that hit the North tower. This plane was quite literally subsumed within the building as aircraft fuel burned at anywhere between 800° to 1500°F.
The financial journalist in me gravitated naturally to the betting patterns seen in the days before September 11. In particular, an untoward level of speculation that American Airlines and United Airlines share prices would fall in the short-term. There was around 90 times the normal volume of financial market trading on this outcome. Yet the US Security and Exchange Commission stonewalled the investigation into potential financial collusion linked to 9/11 events by destroying the documentation. Another key clue from perhaps the greatest crime on US soil also disappeared. The physical evidence, the steel, was sold cheaply, shipped offshore and melted down, never to be investigated, analysed or used in court.
Steel, and its reaction to heat, was at the heart of massively differing interpretations of the twin tower falls. Both buildings were designed to withstand the impact of not one but two aircraft, and any type of fire. Never before, and never since, in the history of steel-framed buildings, has a conflagration caused the collapse of a steel-framed structure, even when the fires have burned for days. Nonetheless this happened – we saw it with our own eyes, replayed over and over again, until the images were lasered into our psyches. It was explained in the official July 2004 report that the plane fuel burned long enough and at a sufficient temperature to weaken the steel core of the buildings, causing the collapses.
Opposing this stance, a group entitled AE911Truth, comprising over 1,900 professionally qualified architects and engineers, from around the world, was insistent that the freefall collapse of the two buildings meant that they could only have been destroyed by controlled demolitions, literally carried out in plain sight. Their arguments and the counter-claims are too complex to detail, but it was intriguing that a number of firemen testified to tremendous explosions heard in the basements before the North and South Towers collapsed. On the other hand, I have a firefighter friend and a science teacher mate who both believe that buildings lost their structural strength through the heat generated by the plane crashes. Futile for a layman to even have an opinion.
Where it really began to fall apart, for me, was the “coincidence” involved in the strike on the Pentagon by Flight 77, which destroyed the building’s budget office. This just happened, by a matter of the purest chance, to contain the documents related to the previous day’s televised announcement by US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld that the Pentagon had ‘lost’ US$2.3 trillion. Not billion, trillion. The lost funds were written off, amid the 9/11 clamour. Never mind.
So I had to delve further into Flight 77. Three hijackers reportedly took the plane over out at Cleveland, Ohio, leaving NORAD plenty of time to scramble air defence system fighters, after the plane’s course deviation, and the loss of radio contact. But the craft was allowed to come back into Washington, where it made a descending 8,000 feet curve through 270 degrees, the sort that only an experienced military pilot might pull off, then vanished from radar screens. Before hitting its destination, the wings clipped a series of highway lamp-posts at 20 feet and a speed of 499 mph. Experienced pilots stated that a Boeing 757 would break up if flying that low, at that speed, and with those impacts.
The story became farcical, in my genuinely humble opinion. On the Pentagon lawn there were no bodies, seats or engine remains. The fire chief at the scene noted that he could see only small pieces of aircraft and no fuselage sections. The hole in the Pentagon did not show the width of a 757, yet was punched three walls deep by what was essentially a thin aluminium can. The Flight 77 story was supported only by statements from authorities. All amateur videos of the flight and impact were confiscated by the FBI. Media reported the Flight 77 story as if this all added up.
Any fool can speculate. I always need an unassailable fact to build a personal view around. It lay back in New York, where the sudden free fall of WTC Building 7 into its own footprint occurred at 5.20 p.m on September 11, some 370 feet to the north of WTC 1. WTC 7 was 47 stories tall, and collapsed in just over six seconds.
To reiterate, a third building collapsed, but no aircraft hit it. Three destroyed WTC buildings, two planes.
Video clips of Building 7’s demise are readily available on the internet, showing that the roof caved slightly and it fell straight down, as if all of the load bearing columns had given way at exactly the same moment – the classic signs of a controlled demolition. The official explanation was ‘office fires’ and the impact of debris from the twin towers. But lacking the “cover” of having been hit by an airliner, how could a solid steel structure collapse and plunge to the ground without encountering any resistance? The sole logical conclusion is that the public was lied to about WTC 7. The how and the why remain unknowns.
In the heat of the moment, anyone applying such critical thinking was labelled as a conspiracy theorist. No one was allowed to question the official narrative. “You are with us, or you are with the terrorists,” proclaimed US President Bush. And so the entire media establishment came to parrot a story that 19 men armed with box-cutters and directed by an ailing man in a cave thousands of miles away breached one of the most heavily defended airspaces on earth.
I would not dare to state that the moon landings were faked or that Lady Di was killed by British intelligence services, without some form of definitive evidence. Or that the Earth is flat, and surrounded by Antarctica, without laughing. But there are enough hard facts and gaping plot holes to indicate that the official 9-11 story is at best a highly deceptive obfuscation, and an insult to people’s intelligence at its worst.
One of my most logical friends asked a simple question. “Who, and why?” I had the answer to neither. Trying to establish what really happened would only add more conjecture in already muddied waters. But I would suggest a replacement question: “Who benefits?”
For sure, any company heavily involved in the armaments and security industries. More tentatively, any government seeking to expand its scope for spying on and controlling citizens. Without 9/11, neither the Patriot Act of October 24, 2001, nor the Homeland Security Act, in the following November, could have been justified. All of your online activity is now stored, removing any last vestiges of privacy. Meanwhile five countries in the wider Middle East – Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen – have been pounded towards the stone age by Western bombs. Blowing children to pieces, triggering flows of desperate refugees to Europe. Trauma-based conditioning, across entire societies, backed by fifth-rate politicians and journalists, informs us that this is necessary to “defeat terrorism”.
So here is a last fact. Out in the public domain. So ironic, so Orwellian. The US is now on the side of Al Qaeda affiliates in Syria.
Nobody ever wants to admit they have been had. I hated having to change my opinion. But Eric banged “telling the truth” into my head, in his own inimitable way. So it was important to offer these thoughts, as September nears its end, before returning to life in Bowers Gifford.