Robert Fisk joins 9-11 conspiracy vampires

Everyone is talking about Robert Fisk‘s Sept. 11 column in The Independent, but nobody is noting what a cynical, disingenuous piece of self-serving propaganda it is. The most sickening thing about it is that he feels obliged to start out with a ritual put-down of the conspiracy vampires—and then goes on to legitimize their transparent claptrap. Here it is—with our corrections and deconstructions of Fisk’s bunk interjected:

Robert Fisk: Even I question the ‘truth’ about 9/11
Each time I lecture abroad on the Middle East, there is always someone in the audience – just one – whom I call the “raver”. Apologies here to all the men and women who come to my talks with bright and pertinent questions – often quite humbling ones for me as a journalist – and which show that they understand the Middle East tragedy a lot better than the journalists who report it. But the “raver” is real. He has turned up in corporeal form in Stockholm and in Oxford, in Sao Paulo and in Yerevan, in Cairo, in Los Angeles and, in female form, in Barcelona. No matter the country, there will always be a “raver”.

His – or her – question goes like this. Why, if you believe you’re a free journalist, don’t you report what you really know about 9/11? Why don’t you tell the truth – that the Bush administration (or the CIA or Mossad, you name it) blew up the twin towers? Why don’t you reveal the secrets behind 9/11? The assumption in each case is that Fisk knows – that Fisk has an absolute concrete, copper-bottomed fact-filled desk containing final proof of what “all the world knows” (that usually is the phrase) – who destroyed the twin towers. Sometimes the “raver” is clearly distressed. One man in Cork screamed his question at me, and then – the moment I suggested that his version of the plot was a bit odd – left the hall, shouting abuse and kicking over chairs.

Usually, I have tried to tell the “truth”; that while there are unanswered questions about 9/11, I am the Middle East correspondent of The Independent, not the conspiracy correspondent; that I have quite enough real plots on my hands in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Iran, the Gulf, etc, to worry about imaginary ones in Manhattan. My final argument – a clincher, in my view – is that the Bush administration has screwed up everything – militarily, politically diplomatically – it has tried to do in the Middle East; so how on earth could it successfully bring off the international crimes against humanity in the United States on 11 September 2001?

So much for the ritual distancing. Two paragraphs of facile Bush-bashing foreplay later, he cuts to the money shot:

But – here we go. I am increasingly troubled at the inconsistencies in the official narrative of 9/11. It’s not just the obvious non sequiturs: where are the aircraft parts (engines, etc) from the attack on the Pentagon?

Um, right here, Robert! The conspiracy vampires regurgitate ad nauseum the bogus claim that no airplane parts were found at the Pentagon—despite its easy refutation by photographic evidence—in support of the phantasmagorical corollary that the Pentagon wasn’t really hit by a plane. Why the hell did Fisk waste three paragraphs dissing the vultures only to loan credence to their hallucinations?

Why have the officials involved in the United 93 flight (which crashed in Pennsylvania) been muzzled?

They weren’t “muzzled” sufficiently to keep them from testifying in the Moussaoui case, with every news agency in the world recording their comments for posterity.

Why did flight 93’s debris spread over miles when it was supposed to have crashed in one piece in a field?

Why doesn’t this great icon of investigative journalism try reading Popular Mechanics? The claims concern debris found at Indian Lake, which is only “miles” from the crash site by road. As the crow flies, it is just over a mile. Popular Mechanics found: “Wallace Miller, Somerset County coroner, tells PM no body parts were found in Indian Lake. Human remains were confined to a 70-acre area directly surrounding the crash site. Paper and tiny scraps of sheetmetal, however, did land in the lake. ‘Very light debris will fly into the air, because of the concussion,’ says former National Transportation Safety Board investigator Matthew McCormick. Indian Lake is less than 1.5 miles southeast of the impact crater — not 6 miles — easily within range of debris blasted skyward by the heat of the explosion from the crash. And the wind that day was northwesterly, at 9 to 12 mph, which means it was blowing from the northwest — toward Indian Lake.”

Again, I’m not talking about the crazed “research” of David Icke’s Alice in Wonderland and the World Trade Center Disaster – which should send any sane man back to reading the telephone directory.

Another gratuitous ritual diss of the very wackjobs he is legitimizing.

I am talking about scientific issues. If it is true, for example, that kerosene burns at 820C under optimum conditions, how come the steel beams of the twin towers – whose melting point is supposed to be about 1,480C – would snap through at the same time? (They collapsed in 8.1 and 10 seconds.)

You’d think Fisk would have the brains not to harp on an anomaly which has been so thoroughly discredited as this one. Once again, try reading Popular Mechanics: “Jet fuel burns at 800° to 1500°F, not hot enough to melt steel (2750°F). However, experts agree that for the towers to collapse, their steel frames didn’t need to melt, they just had to lose some of their structural strength—and that required exposure to much less heat.”

What about the third tower – the so-called World Trade Centre Building 7 (or the Salmon Brothers Building) – which collapsed in 6.6 seconds in its own footprint at 5.20pm on 11 September? Why did it so neatly fall to the ground when no aircraft had hit it? The American National Institute of Standards and Technology was instructed to analyse the cause of the destruction of all three buildings. They have not yet reported on WTC 7. Two prominent American professors of mechanical engineering – very definitely not in the “raver” bracket – are now legally challenging the terms of reference of this final report on the grounds that it could be “fraudulent or deceptive”.

Do you care to tell us their names, Robert? Maybe instead you should have spoken to Bobby Halton of Fire Engineering magazine, as we did. He agrees with expert findings that the “fuel load”—that is, the flammable materials in the building—ignited due to “radiant heat” from the Twin Towers. Halton told us: “The fuel load was largely polymer-based, and very susceptible to high heat. Because office furniture is made of polymers rather than wood today, fires are hotter and more intense than ever before. If the building was heavier on top, it was going to pancake in. That’s just the way it goes. The waterlines were disrupted, and the FDNY decided not to fight it.”

But of course nothing so prosaic as common sense will get you a lot of attention—and that is clearly what the conspiracy cranks (and Fisk) live for.

Journalistically, there were many odd things about 9/11. Initial reports of reporters that they heard “explosions” in the towers – which could well have been the beams cracking – are easy to dismiss. Less so the report that the body of a female air crew member was found in a Manhattan street with her hands bound.

Could we have a source for this, Robert? And what exactly is anomalous about the notion that the hijackers would bind the hands of a crew member? It might be anomalous that the body survived intact, but certainly no more so than the gazillions of logical conundrums raised by the theory that the buildings were brought down by something other than exploding airliners.

OK, so let’s claim that was just hearsay reporting at the time, just as the CIA’s list of Arab suicide-hijackers, which included three men who were – and still are – very much alive and living in the Middle East, was an initial intelligence error.

C’mon, Robert. What is so strange about the idea of terrorists engaging in identity theft? Why would the CIA have been so stupid as to use the names of living human beings, rather than inventing the hijackers’ identities of whole cloth?

But what about the weird letter allegedly written by Mohamed Atta, the Egyptian hijacker-murderer with the spooky face, whose “Islamic” advice to his gruesome comrades – released by the CIA – mystified every Muslim friend I know in the Middle East? Atta mentioned his family – which no Muslim, however ill-taught, would be likely to include in such a prayer. He reminds his comrades-in-murder to say the first Muslim prayer of the day and then goes on to quote from it. But no Muslim would need such a reminder – let alone expect the text of the “Fajr” prayer to be included in Atta’s letter.

What of it? The Koran and Hadith also forbid suicide. If you are looking for real orthodoxy, don’t turn to ultra-zealots who fly jets into buildings.

Let me repeat. I am not a conspiracy theorist.

Yet again! What did Hamlet say about protesting too much?

Spare me the ravers. Spare me the plots. But like everyone else, I would like to know the full story of 9/11, not least because it was the trigger for the whole lunatic, meretricious “war on terror” which has led us to disaster in Iraq and Afghanistan and in much of the Middle East. Bush’s happily departed adviser Karl Rove once said that “we’re an empire now – we create our own reality”. True? At least tell us. It would stop people kicking over chairs.

By legitimizing the garbage, Fisk is doing the greatest disservice possible to the cause of a full accounting of 9-11. There will never be any effective pressure if all the “skeptics” can be dismissed as unserious wingnuts or (at best) cynical self-promoters. Unlike the most self-deceived of the self-appointed “Truth” activists, Fisk does not even seem to really think he is serving the interests of truth here. Otherwise someone with his long years of journalistic experience would have done enough homework to know he was spreading bunk. It seems more like the only cause he is serving is that of Robert Fisk.

In any case, he has definitely joined the shameful club of 9-11 vampires—in the illustrious company of Dylan Avery, Michael Ruppert, Kurt Nimmo, Rudolph Giuliani and George Bush.

See our last posts on conspiracy industry and Robert Fisk.

  1. Conspiracy vampires harass photographer
    Gee, this is really the behavior of principled activists with “truth” on their side, isn’t it? From the New York Times, Sept. 11:

    Picture Made on 9/11 Takes a Toll on Photographer

    SHANKSVILLE, Pa., Sept. 7 — Valencia M. McClatchey thought she was doing the right thing when she gave the F.B.I. a copy of her photo of the mushroom cloud that rose over the hill outside her home after United Flight 93 crashed in a field here on Sept. 11, 2001.

    And, after it became apparent that hers was the only known picture of that ominous, gray cloud — and the first shot after Flight 93 crashed — she thought she was still doing the right thing when she gave copies to people who asked for them, and let newspapers and television stations use it.

    But fame for the photo has had an unexpected cost for the photographer.

    “Every time I’ve done any stories it goes online and all these conspiracy theorists start up and they call me and harass me,” said Mrs. McClatchey, 51, who runs her own real estate company.

    In numerous online postings, critics have ripped apart every element of the photo, and Mrs. McClatchey’s life. They accuse her of faking the photo, of profiteering from it and of being part of a conspiracy to cover up the fact that Flight 93 was shot down by the government.

    They claim the mushroom cloud is from an ordnance blast, not a jet crashing; the cloud is the wrong color for burning jet fuel; the cloud is too small and in the wrong position.

    They’ve posted her personal e-mail, phone numbers and street address online. One Canadian “9/11 debunker” surreptitiously taped a phone conversation with her, quizzing her about the photo, and then uploaded it to his Web site.

    “It’s just gotten so bad, I’m just fed up with it,” Mrs. McClatchey said. “This thing has become too much of a distraction in my life. I have a husband and a new business to deal with, too.”

    The F.B.I., the Smithsonian Institution — which used the photo in an exhibition on Sept. 11 — and the National Park Service’s Flight 93 National Memorial — which has used the photo in pamphlets — all consider the photo legitimate.

    “We have no reason to doubt it,” said Bill Crowley, an agent who is a spokesman for the Pittsburgh F.B.I. office, which oversaw evidence collection in Shanksville.

    Along with the rest of the nation, Mrs. McClatchey was watching the coverage of the Sept. 11 attacks in New York and Washington when she was shaken from her couch by a ground-shaking blast just over a mile away. She grabbed her new digital camera and took just one picture from her front porch.

    It is a simple photo, showing a sloping green farm field, with a brilliant red barn in the foreground. Hovering above the barn in a brilliant blue sky is an ominous, dark gray mushroom cloud. Mrs. McClatchey named the photo “The End of Serenity.”

    Barbara Black, acting site manager for the Flight 93 memorial, said, “What makes the image so powerful is that it’s this serene scene in Pennsylvania, this typical red barn, green trees, and then this terrible cloud above it that changed our life here forever.”

    At the temporary memorial site, Flight 93 “ambassadors,” local residents who volunteer to tell visitors what happened here, always start the story by showing people Mrs. McClatchey’s photo.

    From the beginning, Mrs. McClatchey said, she tried to use the photograph to help remember the 40 passengers on Flight 93. She sells copies to people and lets them choose whether $18 of the $20 fee goes to the Flight 93 National Memorial or the Heroic Choices organization (formerly the Todd Beamer Foundation).

    To ensure that she controlled distribution of the photograph, in January 2002 she copyrighted it. To “protect the integrity of the photo,” Mrs. McClatchey said, she filed suit in 2005 against The Associated Press, saying that it violated her copyright by distributing the photo to its clients as part of a story. The lawsuit is pending.

    One of Mrs. McClatchey’s neighbors here defended her against the allegations of the people he called the “Internet crazies.”

    The McClatcheys “are as good neighbors as you could possibly have,” said Robert Musser, who owns the red barn that is so prominent in Mrs. McClatchey’s photo.

    To accommodate visitors who will show up on Sept. 11 to recreate the picture, and who eventually find their way to the Mussers’ 94-year-old barn, they’ve tried to spruce it up this past week, adding a touch of paint. They plan to spend thousands in the near future to shore up the foundation on one side so the barn will endure for years to come.

    “Here this barn could fall down, and it’s in the picture that’s so famous,” said Mr. Musser’s wife, Phyllis. “We have to do something.”

    1. Who’s paying you?
      Who’s paying you? Such an obvious hack job. I’m not sure if you are stupid and really buy the govt’s story, or if you are a hired mouth. I don’t think you are stupid.

      1. Nobody is paying me, unfortunately.
        Would you like to make a donation? The Paypal link is to the upper left. Much easier to accuse me of being a government agent than to address my arguments. So anyone who disagrees with you must be an agent? That’s what the real government agents of the COINTELPRO era invariably said… So who is paying you, I wonder? (Just kidding. It is more likely you’re just stupid.)

        1. Bill, the Popular Mechanics
          Bill, the Popular Mechanics piece (on the WTC buildings) has been rather well debunked…google it. Not to mention the fact that it is very selective in the types of conspiracy theories/angles it tackles, carefully avoiding the logical and seemingly irrefutable ones. Keep in mind that just because there are, admittedly, a lot of wacky conspiracy theories out there doesn’t meant that there aren’t some that are based on science and that deserve a closer look.

          You mention pancaking from the PM piece…the WTC buildings fell at a free-fall rate of speed, which, if we accept the law of conservation of momentum as, well, a law, is impossible in a pancaking scenario. Free-fall rates of collapse alone prove that buckling could not have caused the buildings to fall in on themselves. Again, unless you’re willing to suspend the laws of physics as we know and accept them, the pancaking scenario is a load of pure bullshit.

          Also, pancaking (falling) floors–absent explosives such as thermite/mate–don’t pulverize concrete into dust and melt steel support beams into pools of molten metal. Basic physics and chemistry kill the pancake theory. If the floors simply pancaked, where are the steel vertical support beams–even one or a fragment of one, that should remain after the destruction?

          WTC7 wasn’t hit by a plane; the heat from ancillary combustibles in WTC7 could never reach the temps necessary to significantly weaken steel. That’s a fact that no one disputes.

          In the history of mankind, only 3 buildings have ever collapsed due to heat/fire, all of them on the same day and all into there footprints in nice tidy piles…guess which ones? There have been many building fires that raged at high temperatures for 10+ times longer than any of the WTC buildings, yet none of those buildings EVER collapsed!

          Lastly, the WTC1 & 2 buildings were built to withstand the impact of a 707 and remain standing…a 707 is damn near identical to a 737 in all significant specs (weight, size, speed).

          Sad, it appears you did no homework on this one.

          1. You don’t know what you are talking about
            The WTC was not built to withstand the impact of a 707 crash by any contemporary criteria…much less one with full fuel tanks! It was an empty boast. How come you guys assume the government is lying, except when it meets your interest? On the contrary, the towers were ridden with structural corner-cutting. Why don’t you read the damn NIST report?

            1. If the World Trade Center (WTC) towers were designed to withstand multiple impacts by Boeing 707 aircraft, why did the impact of individual 767s cause so much damage?

            As stated in Section 5.3.2 of NIST NCSTAR 1, a document from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) indicated that the impact of a [single, not multiple] Boeing 707 aircraft was analyzed during the design stage of the WTC towers. However, NIST investigators were unable to locate any documentation of the criteria and method used in the impact analysis and, therefore, were unable to verify the assertion that “…such collision would result in only local damage which could not cause collapse or substantial damage to the building…”

            The capability to conduct rigorous simulations of the aircraft impact, the growth and spread of the ensuing fires, and the effects of fires on the structure is a recent development. Since the approach to structural modeling was developed for the NIST WTC investigation, the technical capability available to the PANYNJ and its consultants and contactors to perform such analyses in the 1960s would have been quite limited in comparison to the capabilities brought to bear in the NIST investigation.

            The damage from the impact of a Boeing 767 aircraft (which is about 20 percent bigger than a Boeing 707) into each tower is well documented in NCSTAR 1-2. The massive damage was caused by the large mass of the aircraft, their high speed and momentum, which severed the relatively light steel of the exterior columns on the impact floors. The results of the NIST impact analyses matched well with observations (from photos and videos and analysis of recovered WTC steel) of exterior damage and of the amount and location of debris exiting from the buildings. This agreement supports the premise that the structural damage to the towers was due to the aircraft impact and not to any alternative forces.

            The Popular Mechanics piece has not been “dscredited” by any credible source. “Google it” is not a credible source.

            And PM had no obligation to cherry-pick for your particular fave theories. They chose the most common ones in the conspiracy milieu.

            Go away.

          2. You can’t do the math
            > Basic physics and chemistry kill the pancake theory.

            Except you can’t make those up as you go along.

            You know nothing about “Basic physics and chemistry” and neither do any of you ‘truthers’. You’re only interesting in the context of Area 51. Go back to high school.