My latest MJS column has brought be up close and personal with the 9-11 deniers. Lots of e-mails and lots of supposed "facts." The one thing I will say for them is that they are, for the most part, polite.
But they do butress the point of my column which is that all of this is driven by a need to believe. You start with a theory that is implausible on its face. You have to ascribe a venality to the government that is really unparallelled in American history (but not for them because they think FDR was in on Pearl Harbor) and a conspiracy that 1)would be impossible to carry out and 2)impossible to keep under wraps. Imagine hundreds of people in on the most nefarious plot in American history and you trust all of them to keep quiet in an age where you can immediately get the mass attention that would protect you from reprisal. You expect to pull off a scheme of unparalleled and untested technical complexity and think that you can fool all the scientists and engineers involved in what you know is going to be an exhaustive investigation.
You've got to want to believe that.
So what you see with these guys is the kind of stupid claims that makes cross examining lawyers drool. The 9-11 deniers are going to have a little to work with in that the collapse of the twin towers and WTC 7 was an unprecedented event. No one had ever flown jet planes into two 110 story towers with an unusual construction for skyscrapers which then collapsed amid other skyscrapers with unusual construction. There aren't going to be precedents.
But they don't just argue about that. They make the most idiotic claims. Apart from the PNAC "calling for" a new Pearl Harbor, for example, they take a statement from the FBI shortly after the attacks that they do not yet have enough evidence against the 19 hijackers to say that the FBI "admits" that they don't have evidence against the 19. But the same guy later said that they gathered the evidence. They use a statement by the editor of Fire Engineering magazine, in early 2002, that he thought the FEMA report done in the first few months of the attack was inadequate to suggest that he agrees with them. But what the guy thought was that the collapse was got by the fire of fuel and contents and that more attention needed to be paid to high rise construction practices (which, as later editorials make clear, he thinks are unsafe). They say Norman Mineta testified before the 9-11 commission that Cheney ordered that the plane (oh no, it was a drone) approaching the Pentagon not be shot down. But Mineta was actually being asked about a "shoot-down order. They take the testimony of people who came on the United 93 and Pentagon crash scenes who expressed shock that it seemed like there had been "no plane" because they burst into little pieces to argue that no plane crashed. Yet there are photos of plane parts from both locations.
I could go on, but these guys walk by faith and not by light. And not in a good way.