The Media Response to the Growing
Influence of the 9 /11 Truth Movement
Reflections on a Recent Evaluation
of Dr. David Ray Griffin
by Elizabeth Woodworth
The cover story of the September 24, 2009,
issue of The New Statesman, the venerable left-leaning British
magazine, was entitled "The 50 People who Matter Today."(1)
Any such list, necessarily reflecting the bias and limited awareness
of the editors, would surely contain choices that readers would
That is true of this list - which includes families as well as
individuals. A good number of names are, to be sure, ones that
would be contained in most such lists created by British, Canadian,
or American political commentators, such as the Obamas, the Murdochs,
Vladimir Putin, Osama bin Laden, Angela Merkel, Bill and Melinda
Gates, Warren Buffett, Pope Benedict XVI, and Gordon Brown. But
about half of the names reflected choices that I, and probably
most other readers, found surprising. One of these choices, however,
is beyond surprising - it is astounding.
I refer to the person in the 41st position: David Ray Griffin,
a retired professor of philosophy of religion and theology who,
in 2003, started writing and lecturing about 9/11, pointing out
problems in the official account of the events of that day. By
the time the New Statesman article appeared, he had published
8 books, 50 articles, and several DVDs. Because of both the quantity
and quality of his work, he became widely regarded as the chief
spokesperson of what came to be called "the 9/11 Truth Movement."
It was because of this role that the New Statesman included him
in its list, calling him the "top truther" (the "conspiracy
theorist" title went to Dan Brown, who was placed in the
In saying Griffin "matters", however, the New Statesman
was not praising him. Here is how the magazine explained its choice:
"Conspiracy theories are everywhere, and they always have
been. In recent years, one of the most pernicious global myths
has been that the US government carried out, or at least colluded
in, the 11 September 2001 attacks as a pretext for going to war.
David Ray Griffin, a retired professor of religion, is the high
priest of the 'truther' movement. His books on the subject have
lent a sheen of respectability that appeals to people at the highest
levels of government - from Michael Meacher MP to Anthony 'Van'
Jones, who was recently forced to resign as Barack Obama's 'green
jobs' adviser after it emerged that he had signed a 9/11 truth
petition in 2004."
I wish to raise two questions about the New Statesman's treatment
of Griffin. First, is its evaluation of him as one of the most
important people in the world today simply absurd, as it certainly
seems at first glance, or is there a perspective from which it
makes sense? Second on what basis could the editors justify their
claim that the 9/11 truth movement is promoting a "myth"
- and a "pernicious" one at that?
The Inclusion of Griffin in the List: Does It Make Sense?
Why would Griffin's role as "top truther" - as the intellectual
leader of the 9/11 truth movement - lead the magazine's editors
to consider him one of the "50 people who matter today"?
Unlike a president, a prime minister, or a pope, he has no political
clout; unlike a billionaire, he has no financial clout; and his
book sales do not begin to rival those of Dan Brown. Indeed, his
books do not even get reviewed in the press. The idea that he
is one of the 50 people who matter most in the world today is,
as he himself has said, absurd - at least from most angles.
There is, however, one angle from which it does make sense: Given
the enormity of the 9/11 attacks and of the policies, both foreign
and domestic, that have been justified as responses to those attacks,
a movement challenging the official story of the attacks certainly
could, in principle, become so influential that its intellectual
leader would be a person of consequence.
And the movement has, in fact, grown enormously in both size and
credibility since 2004 and 2005, when Griffin published his first
two books on the subject - "The New Pearl Harbor" and
"The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions"
- and began working, with colleague Peter Dale Scott, on an edited
volume that was published in 2006 as "9/11 and the American
Empire: Intellectuals Speak Out."
Due in large part to these volumes - plus the national exposure
Griffin received when his 2005 lecture at the University of Wisconsin
in Madison was carried by C-SPAN - a small group of academics
formed Scholars for 9/11 Truth, which led in turn to the formation
of Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice, the leaders of which launched
the Journal of 9/11 Studies in 2006.
The existence of these scholarly organizations stimulated the
creation of three professional organizations: Veterans for 9/11
Truth, Pilots for 9/11 Truth, and the destined giant of the movement,
Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, which was formed after
architect Richard Gage, a conservative Republican, heard an interview
with Professor Griffin on his car radio that would change his
life. In it, Griffin was describing the newly released oral testimonies
from the dozens of New York firefighters a who had heard booming
explosions in the Twin Towers.(2) After looking into the evidence
for himself and concluding that the destruction of the World Trade
Center buildings could not have resulted from anything other than
explosives, Gage formed his organization of architects and engineers,
which now has almost 1000 licensed members.
While these developments were occurring, translations were made
of some of Griffin's books, beginning with "The New Pearl
Harbor," which was published in Italian, Chinese, Danish,
Czech, French, Dutch, Japanese, and Arabic. Thanks in part to
these translations, a worldwide movement is now calling for 9/11
Also, this movement, which at one time was discounted as crazy
conspiracy theorists playing around on the Internet, has now become
widely professionalized, with Griffin again a critical influence
in his consultant role to the emerging organizations of journalists,
lawyers, medical professionals, religious leaders, and political
One of those organizations, Political Leaders for 9/11 Truth,
includes in its membership British MP Michael Meacher, who has,
according to the New Statesman, succumbed to the "sheen of
respectability" given to "the 'truther' movement"
by Griffin's books. The New Statesman would presumably look equally
askance at other members of this organization, including Senator
Yukihisa Fujita, one of the leading members of the new ruling
party of Japan, who made a nationally televised presentation questioning
the official account or 9/11, and Ferdinando Imposimato, a former
Italian senator and judge who presided over the trial of the assassination
of President Aldo Moro and the attempted assassination of Pope
John Paul II.
If political leaders are so easily taken in by a "pernicious
global myth" about 9/11 because of the "sheen of respectability"
lent to it by Griffin's books, one could hopefully look to firefighters,
who are generally practical, sensible people, for reassurance
about the truth of the official account of 9/11. This hope is
dashed, however, by the testimonies about explosions in the Twin
Towers by dozens of firefighters, some of whom Richard Gage heard
Griffin discussing on that interview in 2006. New York firefighters
lost 343 of their own on September 11. The members of Firefighters
for 9/11 Truth are demanding the investigation and prosecution
of those involved in arranging explosions, destroying evidence,
and orchestrating a cover-up.
One thing bringing Griffin to the attention of the editors of
the New Statesman may have been the selection of his seventh book
about 9/11, "The New Pearl Harbor Revisited," by America's
foremost book trade reviewer, Publishers Weekly, as its "Pick
of the Week" on November 24, 2008. This honor, which is bestowed
on only 51 books a year, perhaps increased the sheen of respectability
these editors attribute to Griffin's books.
And, if the New Statesman did its homework in researching its
#41 position, it would have found that Griffin was nominated in
both 2008 and 2009 for the Nobel Peace Prize.
Whatever the case, there can be no doubt that the 9/11 truth movement,
which Griffin has done more than any other single person to bring
to its present level of professionalism and credibility, now poses
a significant threat to the public narrative about 9/11, which
has been accepted as a basis for policy by virtually all governments
and news organizations around the world.
The decision of the New Statesman to include Griffin on the list
of people who matter today does make sense, therefore, insofar
as it was saying that the movement he represents is important.
This way of understanding it was, in fact, Griffin's own, as soon
as he learned about the article. In a letter to fellow members
of the 9/11 truth community, he said: "We should take this
[New Statesman] article as a reluctant tribute to the effectiveness
of our movement."(3)
Does the 9/11 Truth Movement Promote a
My second questions is: On what basis could the New Statesman
editors justify their claim that this 9/11 truth movement promotes
a "myth" - a "pernicious" one at that?
To call it a "myth" implies that it is not true. But
why is it "pernicious"?
If the New Statesman were a right-wing magazine, we could assume
that it would regard the 9/11 truth movement's central claim -
"that the US government carried out, or at least colluded
in, the 11 September 2001 attacks as a pretext for going to war"
- as pernicious because it seeks to undermine the imperialist
wars justified by 9/11. But surely the left-leaning New Statesman
does not share that view.
The word "pernicious" might simply mean that the myth
"that the US government carried out, or at least colluded
in, the 11 September 2001 attacks as a pretext for going to war,"
is too morally repugnant to accept. But that gut reaction does
not bear on the truth or falsity of the possibility, especially
in light of all the morally repugnant things carried out by the
Bush-Cheney administration that have already been publicly documented.
More likely, the New Statesman shares the view of left-leaning
intellectuals, such as Alexander Cockburn and George Monbiot,
that the 9/11 movement is distracting many left-leaning people
from dealing with truly important issues.
However, would many people who regard 9/11 as a false-flag operation
- in which forces within the US government orchestrated the attacks
to have a pretext for, among other things, going to war against
oil-rich Muslim countries - consider the attempt to reveal this
truth a distraction from important issues? Surely not.
For the Statesman to call the central claim of the 9/11 truth
movement "pernicious," therefore, seems to be simply
another way of calling it a "myth" - of saying that
it is false.
If so, the question becomes: On what basis would the editors of
the New Statesman argue that the position of the 9/11 truth movement,
as articulated in Griffin's writings, is false?
I will suggest a possible way they could do this: They could use
the pages of their magazine to explain why the cumulative case
Griffin has constructed against the official story is unconvincing.
To assist them in this task, I have provided below a summary of
some of the main points in Griffin's case, with page references
to his most comprehensive work, "The New Pearl Harbor Revisited"
(2008), and his most recent book, "The Mysterious Collapse
of World Trade Center 7."
Elements in Griffin's Cumulative Case
Against the Official Account of 9/11
Evidence that the attacks were carried
out by Arab Muslims belonging to al-Qaeda
The FBI, which does not list 9/11 as one of the terrorist acts
for which Osama bin Laden is wanted, has explicitly admitted that
it "has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11"
Mohamed Atta and the other alleged hijackers, far from being devout
Muslims ready to die as martyrs, regularly drank heavily, went
to strip clubs, and paid for sex (NPHR 153-55).
The main evidence for hijackers on the planes was provided by
phone calls, purportedly from passengers or crew members on the
airlines, reporting that the planes had been taken over by Middle-Eastern
men. About 15 of these calls were specifically identified as cell
phone calls, with Deena Burnett, for example, reporting that she
had recognized her husband's cell phone number on her Caller ID.
But after the 9/11 truth movement pointed out that cell phone
calls from high-altitude airliners would have been impossible,
given the cell phone technology available in 2001, the FBI changed
its story, saying that all the calls, except two made from a very
low altitude, had been made using onboard phones.
Although US Solicitor General Ted Olson claimed that his wife,
Barbara Olson, phoned him twice from AA 77, describing hijackers
with knives and box-cutters, his widely reported story was contradicted
by FBI evidence presented to the Moussaoui Trial in 2006, which
said that the only call attempted by her was "unconnected"
and (therefore) lasted "0 seconds" (NPRH 60-62).
Although the decisive evidence proving that Al-Qaeda was responsible
for the attacks was originally said to have been found in a rented
Mitsubishi that Mohamed Atta had left in the airport parking lot
in Boston, the present story says that it was found in luggage
that did not get loaded onto American Flight 11 from the commuter
flight that Atta took that morning from Portland, Maine. This
story changed after it emerged that Adnan and Ameer Bukhari, originally
said to have been the hijackers who boarded American 11 after
taking that commuter flight from Portland, had not died on 9/11.
The other types of reputed evidence for Muslim hijackers, such
as security videos at airports, passports discovered at the crash
sites, and a headband discovered at the crash site of United 93,
show clear signs of having been fabricated (NPHR 170-73).
In addition to the absence of evidence for hijackers on the planes,
there is also evidence of their absence: Although the pilots could
have easily "squawked" the universal hijack code in
two or three few seconds, not one of the eight pilots on the four
airliners did this (NPHR 175-79).
The Secret Service, after being informed that a second World Trade
Center building had been attacked---which would have meant that
unknown terrorists were going after high-value targets---and that
still other planes had apparently been hijacked, allowed President
Bush to remain at the unprotected school in Sarasota, Florida,
for another 30 minutes. The Secret Service thereby betrayed its
knowledge that the airliners were not under the control of hostile
Evidence of a "stand-down" order preventing interception
of the four planes
Given standard operating procedures between the FAA and the military,
according to which planes showing signs of an in-flight emergency
are normally intercepted within about 10 minutes, the military's
failure to intercept any of the flights implies that something,
such as a stand-down order, prevented standard procedures from
being carried out (NPHR 1-10, 81-84).
Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta reported an episode
in which Vice President Cheney, while in the bunker under the
White House, apparently confirmed a stand-down order at about
9:25 AM, which was prior to the strike on the Pentagon. (NPHR
The 9/11 Commission did not include this testimony from Mineta
in its report and claimed that Cheney did not enter the bunker
until almost 10:00, which was at least 40 minutes later than Mineta
and several other witnesses reported his being there (NPHR 91-94).
The 9/11 Commission's timeline for Cheney that morning even contradicted
what Cheney himself had told Tim Russert on "Meet the Press"
five days after 9/11 (NPHR 93).
Evidence that the official story about the Pentagon cannot be
Hani Hanjour, who according to his flight instructors could not
safely fly a single-engine airplane, could not have possibly executed
the extraordinary trajectory reportedly taken by American Flight
77 in order to hit Wedge 1 of the Pentagon (NPHR 78-80).
Wedge 1 would have been the least likely part of the Pentagon
to be targeted by foreign terrorists: It was remote from the offices
of the top brass; it was the only part of the Pentagon that had
been reinforced; and it was still being renovated and hence was
only sparsely occupied (NPHR 76-78).
Evidence that the official story about the destruction of the
World Trade Center cannot be true
Because the Twin Towers were supported by 287 steel columns, including
47 massive core columns, they could not have come straight down,
largely into their own footprints, unless these columns had been
severed by explosives. Therefore, the official theory - according
to which the buildings were brought down solely by fire plus,
in the case of the Twin Towers, the impact of the planes - is
scientifically impossible (NPHR 12-25).
Many other things that occurred during the destruction of the
Twin Towers, such as the horizontal ejections of steel beams from
the top floors and the liquefying of steel and other metals with
melting points far above any temperature that could have produced
by fire, can only be explained by powerful explosives (NPHR 30-36).
The almost perfectly symmetrical collapse of WTC 7, which was
supported by 82 steel columns, could only have occurred if all
82 of those columns had been sliced simultaneously (MC Ch. 10).
In its final report on WTC 7, issued in November 2008, NIST admitted
that this building had come down in absolute free fall for over
two seconds. NIST, however, was still affirming a theory of progressive
collapse caused by fire, which, as NIST had explained the previous
August, could not possibly result in absolute free fall, because
the lower floors would offer resistance. NIST was able to avoid
admitting that explosives had brought the building down, in other
words, only by continuing to affirm its fire theory after admitting
that it could not explain one of the empirical facts it had come
to acknowledge (MC Ch. 10).
Journalists, city officials, WTC employees, and over 100 members
of the Fire Department of New York testified to having witnessed
massive explosions in the World Trade Center buildings (NPHR 27-30,
A scientist who had formerly worked for the National Institute
of Standards and Technology (NIST), which produced the official
reports on the world Trade Center, reported in 2007 that it had
been "fully hijacked from the scientific to the political
realm," so that its scientists had become little more than
"hired guns" (NPHR 11, 238-51).
The fact that NIST in writing its reports functioned as a political
rather than a scientific agency is illustrated with special clarity
by its report on WTC 7, in which it not only omitted all the evidence
pointing to the occurrence of explosives (MC Chs. 3-5), but also
falsified and even fabricated evidence to support its claim that
the building was brought down by fire (Chs. 7-10).
Until the editors of the New Statesman are able to refute Griffin's
cumulative argument, we can agree with their view that Griffin,
by virtue of his role in the 9/11 truth movement, has become a
person of global importance, while rejecting as groundless their
charge that the growing importance of this movement is pernicious.
1.New Statesman. "The 50 People Who Matter Today," September
24, 2009 (http://www.newstatesman.com/global-issues/2009/09/world-fashion-gay-india-church
2. New York Times. "The Sept. 11 Records. A rich vein of
city records from Sept. 11, including more than 12,000 pages of
oral histories rendered in the voices of 503 firefighters, paramedics,
and emergency medical technicians, were made public on Aug. 12.
The New York Times has published all of them." http://graphics8.nytimes.com/packages/html/nyregion/20050812_WTC_GRAPHIC/met_WTC_histories_full_01.html
3. New Statesman Cover Story: David Ray Griffin 41st Most Influential
Person in the World!" 911 Blogger, September 26, 2009, posted
by Adam Syed (http://www.911blogger.com/node/21468).
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