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.