John Kennedy’s mysterious death began decades of mistrust between citizens and government, intensified by evasions and outright lies on the part of many subsequent U.S. administrations—Johnson with the Gulf of Tonkin fabrication, Nixon with Watergate lies, the Pentagon Papers, the lies that led us to invade Iraq in 2003, to the realization that a gigantic secret bureaucracy is trawling who we email and telephone.
Our leaders often urge us to become civically engaged beyond mere voting, as Obama did in his latest State of the Union address. But there has been a divisive tension between a presumed need for secrecy and an informed citizenry—a tension that encourages conspiracy theory at its most paranoid.
A further grave wound to our civil cohesion came on September 11, 2001. The dust had barely settled before the conspiracy theorists were once again hard at work. Such theories, considered far-fetched by most Americans, gained some traction by way of the Bush administration’s perverse response to 9/11. While 15 of the conspirators who brought down the twin towers were Saudi, George W. Bush and colleagues began to beat the drums for an invasion of—Iraq.
Like millions around the world, I could see no connection to 9/11 and no good reasons for war. Aluminum tubes? Uranium in Niger? Weapons of mass destruction? Saddam was bin Laden’s buddy? The evidence seemed flimsy. But the U.S. attacked anyway, cobbling together a “coalition of the willing” to employ “shock and awe.” The result was the greatest foreign policy disaster in our country’s history. The Iraqis didn’t greet us as liberators. There were no weapons of mass destruction. Every rationale the cocksure Bush administration gave for the invasion has been proven bogus. And the blowback, all the way forward to the contemporary rise of ISIS, is still unfolding.
Though it was obvious that what Bush and Cheney told us about Iraq wasn’t true, when the 9/11 Commission Report was published in 2004, I registered the gravitas of the Commission members and accepted their findings. However, at the urging of a friend in the construction business, I recently watched the 15 minute film narrated by Ed Asner, about one huge loose end in the events of 9/11: the collapse of World Trade Center Building No. 7.
Leaving conspiracy aside, the hard facts are very troubling. Everyone remembers the horror of the twin towers collapsing on the morning of 9/11 shortly after being struck by two hijacked planes. But a third skyscraper, Building 7, collapsed at 5:20 that afternoon. The impact of the two jet airplanes and the large quantities of burning fuel were given as the reason for the fall of the twin towers, but there was no airplane or jet fuel involved in Building 7’s collapse. Strangely enough, the 9/11 Commission Report published in 2004 didn’t even mention Building 7. A 47-story building collapsed straight down into its own footprint for no apparent reason, and there wasn’t a word about it in the initial 9/11 official story.
Finally, after loud protests, the government produced a lengthy report in 2008 by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) that claimed office fires were responsible for the collapse of Building 7. The 2,000 architects and engineers of AE9/11Truth, however, don’t buy the NIST explanation. In the Asner film, some of these experts in their respective fields present credible explanations in the areas of structural steel, demolition, fire fighting, fire protection, metallurgy and explosives. Their evidence is overwhelming that the building came down in a controlled demolition.
As someone who would prefer to avoid conspiracy theory, I find it congenial to stay with the established scientific facts. I’d like to see experts on opposing sides of the issue go toe-to-toe and argue openly about who is right. The issues are based in established principles of science and engineering. It shouldn’t be that hard to determine the truth.
Pondering the implications of the collapse of Building 7 ought to remain a separate step altogether, avoiding the temptation to wonder about inside jobs, Al Qaeda, and all the other suspicions native to our experience of deception from whatever quarter. But if a further step leads downward into that darkness, it will be easier to face it armed with the truth about how the collapse actually occurred. Kudos to those persistent architects and engineers calling for a new independent investigation of what happened to World Trade Center Building No. 7.
Winslow Myers, syndicated by PeaceVoice, is the author of Living Beyond War: A Citizen’s Guide. He also serves on the Advisory Board of the War Preventive Initiative.