From JFK to Sept. 11, Conspiracy Theories Thrive

The article is not groundbreaking, however it is nice to see the Associated Press writer expand into the territory. Maybe she will go further next time. – Brian @ Nor Cal Truth


This is one of my favorite stories since starting the Sept. 11 anniversary assignment. It’s about people who don’t believe the government’s story of how 9/11 happened. The guys in the North Texans for 9/11 Truth group were especially helpful to me.

One of the things that has surprised me while doing this assigment over the past three months is that so many people feel the government isn’t telling the whole truth about 9/11. Most of the people who feel this way are just regular folks, people I meet while traveling. They’re not members of any group or activists of any sort. – Tamara Lush @ her personal blog reflecting on the story below.

by Tamara Lush   source: Associated Press   Aug 13, 2011

DALLAS (AP) — In Dealey Plaza, with the white “X” painted on the spot where President Kennedy was assassinated, ask anyone about the grassy knoll and the second gunman.

Conspiracy theories come with the territory here. And at Barbec’s Restaurant on the other side of this sprawling city, six men sit on a covered porch and convene a meeting of the North Texans for 9/11 Truth group and talk about the government’s lies about 9/11.

The group has 50 active members; 200 on the mailing list. And they number among many thousands who, after years of investigations, don’t believe the official version of how the World Trade Center collapsed, who was responsible or what the government knew and when.

Politics doesn’t have anything to do with it; two were once staunch, Bush-voting conservatives; two are progressives and two weren’t even interested in current events until after the 2001 attacks.

“Before 9/11, I was a working class person, going through life, pretty much accepting everything given and told to me,” said Bryan Black, a 50-year-old carpenter from Commerce, Texas, “I’m starting to see things. I’m more open to skeptical conversation.”

The skeptics — they prefer the term “9/11 truth activists” instead of “truthers” — have persisted, even thrived in the decade since 2001, with proponents from former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel to comedian Rosie O’Donnell. And unlike the years that Kennedy assassination conspiracies took to develop, they have mobilized with lightning-like speed on the Internet, with YouTube videos of the trade center collapsing again and again.

“There’s really a foundation of reality here,” said Ted Walter, who has worked unsuccessfully to prod New York City officials into reopening an investigation of how 7 World Trade Center collapsed on the afternoon of Sept 11. “We believe that if all of the American public saw footage of building 7 on the nightly news, it would lead to widespread skepticism of 9/11.”

For many, conspiracy theories aren’t terrifying; they’re more comforting than the idea that an event as terrifying as Sept. 11 could be so — random.

Conspiracies can be a “security blanket” for explaining away the horrific, asserts Patrick Leman, a University of London professor who researches 9/11 theories.  “It stops us from having to confront the unpredictability of life.”

Jonathan Kay, a columnist with the Canadian newspaper The National Post and the author of a book about conspiracy theories, said it’s normal for people to seek out complicated and detailed explanations of big events.

“There is something in the human mind that rebels against the idea of random forces or individuals being able to bring down powerful people or powerful icons,” said Kay.

There’s no real estimate of the numbers of people in the 9/11 “truth” movements — there’s no one leader of the skeptics. A group called Remember Building 7 presented New York’s City Council with a petition in 2009 signed by 80,000 people calling for an independent probe into the attacks. Other groups include Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth, Scholars for 9/11 Truth and the 9/11 Commission Campaign, founded by Gravel.

The “truthers” generally have about a dozen beliefs surrounding what happened on that day, although there are some variations on who was responsible for the attacks and why:

— Explosives brought down the World Trade Center, not hijacked jetliners.

— There were warnings of the impending attacks from 11 different countries, and fighter jets could have intercepted at least one of the four planes that day.

— Criminal conspiracies within the government caused the attacks.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology conducted a probe that took six years to complete of the tower collapses; the last report found that fire caused the collapse of 7 World Trade Center, a skyscraper north of the twin towers. In the collapses of the twin towers, the agency found that extreme heat from the jetliner crashes caused some steel beams to lose strength, causing further failures in the building until the entire structure succumbed.

The investigation “was the most comprehensive examination of a structural failure ever conducted,” said Shyam Sunder, lead investigator of the collapse investigation and led to 40 building code changes to make safer, terror-proof skyscrapers. NIST maintains a website with its reports and computer-based animations that reconstruct its findings to reach out to the public.

Sunder acknowledges it hasn’t reached everyone.

“We really can’t explain why some people question our findings about the WTC collapses when we have done our best to present those findings and how they were derived as clearly as possible,” Sunder wrote in an e-mail.

It begs the question: why is there such a distrust of government when it comes to 9/11? Is it due to feeling alienated from our fractured political system, a bad economy, or something else?

For Bob McIlvaine’s son, it was the injuries found on his son Bobby’s head, arm and skin that made him think the hijacked jetliner and building collapse couldn’t have done it. He believes that explosives were detonated in the towers’ basement before the planes hit the towers.

McIlvaine has not been able to determine where his son was when he died, but from the injuries — which include skin that was burned post-mortem — he assumes that his son was in or near the tower’s lobby. McIlvaine questions the government’s explanation that a fireball came down through the elevator shafts and burned those in the lobby.

“I spend three hours a day, every day, doing research on 9/11,” said McIlvaine. “To me, this was a murder investigation. My son was murdered.”

Tom Theimer watched the World Trade Center crumble while drinking coffee and watching television in his suburban Dallas home. Shaken, he bought flags for his porch and bumper stickers for his car reading “We will never forget.”

A few years later, a friend of Theimer’s wife casually mentioned that 9/11 “was an inside job.” Theimer was livid and turned to the Internet, to prove the friend wrong.

The websites, the books and the documentaries he saw online persuaded him. He was wrong, and so was the system.

“I was duped,” Theimer said. “It really hurt. I cried. I couldn’t sleep for months.”

Theimer said that he and others in Dallas are planning to show a new 9/11 documentary on the 10th anniversary. Remember Building 7 is trying to raise $1 million by Sept. 11 to support a new investigation into the collapses.

A conference on alternate 9/11 theories is being held in Toronto on Sept. 11.

The conference is headed by the International Center for 9/11 Studies, which was founded by James Gourley, a 31-year-old Dallas-area attorney who began to question the events of Sept. 11 during law school, while watching an activist make his argument on C-Span.

Gourley is aware of the theories about how skeptics are simply trying to justify and explain a random, horrific event.

“It’s basically a backwards way of saying we’re psychologically deranged,” he said. “It’s questioning the psychology of the people instead of questioning the facts.”

Even in the heart of the conspiracy theory world, some find the alternate theories hard to believe.

At Dealey Plaza in downtown Dallas, Scott Dew hawked commemorative Kennedy assassination newspapers to tourists, standing under an oak tree, just steps from a white “X” painted on the asphalt that marks where President Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.

Dew’s newspapers — which cost $5 each and come encased in a plastic sleeve — devote several pages and diagrams to the varying theories of bullet projectiles and second shooters on the grassy knoll.

Kennedy’s assassination was “a conspiracy by the government,” Dew says.  “Back then, in ’63, this was a money and power deal.”

But Sept. 11? A conspiracy? He shakes his head.

“I believe bin Laden was the attacker. I don’t believe the other theories that President Bush or the government had anything to do with it. That would just be a little too sinful,” he said.



911 —

National Institute of Standards and Technology —


EDITOR’S NOTE — Tamara Lush is traveling the country writing about the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Follow her on Twitter at

One Response to From JFK to Sept. 11, Conspiracy Theories Thrive

  1. Craig Welbourn says:

    WTC7 was a 47 story steel framed building as wide as a football field and taller than Niagara Falls. It was supported by 24 core columns and 58 perimeter columns, 82 columns in all.

    The official story is that WTC7 collapsed into its own footprint “because of fires fuelled by office furnishings.” It did not collapse, as FEMA had initially speculated, due to debris from the Twin Towers or a diesel tank in the building. NIST (the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the agency charged with writing the official story) claims that WTC7 was “the first known instance of the total collapse of a tall building primarily due to fires”.

    According to NIST, fires created “differential thermal expansion” between the steel beams and the concrete floor on the 13th floor. The expanding steel beams sheared off the studs that attach the concrete floors to the steel beams. This caused column 79 to buckle and fall onto its adjacent column, which fell onto the next column and so in what NIST calls a “progressive collapse” until the entire building fell into its own footprint. To prove it, they took seven years to create a computer model to simulate the collapse, and stated that they had shown for the first time that “fire can induce a progressive collapse.”

    The problem is it’s fiction. In the real world, the coefficients of expansion of steel and concrete are almost the same (13.0 10-6 mm/K for steel; 14.5 for concrete). This means that steel and concrete expand at essentially the same rate, so that studs won’t shear during a fire. NIST recognises this: “…steel and concrete have similar coefficients of thermal expansion.” To get around this problem, NIST deliberately used a coefficient of zero for concrete in its model so that the steel would expand but the concrete wouldn’t, thus shearing the studs causing the collapse. To quote NIST: ““No thermal expansion … was considered for the concrete slab, as the slab was not heated in this analysis.” So NIST, by its own admission, falsified its data to conform with their official story.

    But that’s just the beginning. NIST also states in its official report of “…a free fall descent over approximately eight stories at gravitational acceleration for approximately 2.25 s[econds]…” In other words, all of the 82 supporting columns, across the entire width of a football field, simultaneously offered no resistance. NIST’s spokesman Shyam Sunder stated that “[A] free fall time would be an object that has no structural components below it.” Thus, for the first time in history, all of the supporting columns of a steel framed building failed simultaneously “primarily due to fires”. In fact, WTC1, 2 and 7 were the first and only steel framed buildings in history to suffer total collapse from any cause other than controlled demolition.

    To reiterate: The official story is that WTC7 collapsed due to a “progressive collapse” “primarily due to fires”. Also, the collapse was “free fall … for approximately 2.25 s[econds]” meaning that it had, according to NIST,” … no structural components below it.” And, to get their simulator to corroborate their official story, NIST admitted to deliberately falsifying crucial data: ““No thermal expansion … was considered for the concrete slab, as the slab was not heated in this analysis.”. Thus the official story is scientifically fraudulent.

    So what really happened? Maybe the discovery in the dust of active nano-thermite, an explosive a thousand times more explosive than thermite, might be a clue.

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