Hijacked truth?


By: KEITH PHUCAS, Times Herald Staff


While the 9/11 Commission Report inquiry has its share of critics, Jonathan
Gold’s misgivings about the official findings go far beyond skepticism. In fact,
the 33-year-old Plymouth Meeting resident is convinced the report is covering
up Bush administration complicity in the deadly terrorist attacks.

Gold’s unorthodox view has caused many jaws to drop and heads to shake. When
asked for proof, he calmly rattles off a long list of like-minded people, and
what he called a growing body of “evidence” that the government orchestrated
the attacks as a pretext for the global war on terror.

“There’s so much evidence out there,” he said.

For those who scoff at him, he recommends comparing the official Sept. 11 account
to the Cooperative Research Center’s Sept. 11 times lines, reading David Griffin’s
“The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions” and entries
on 911Truth.org just for starters.

A quick glance at the Internet’s voluminous material critical of the 9/11 Commission
Report published in 2004 could be this generation’s Warren Report.

Gold was not always a skeptic, admitting his conversion to Sept. 11 truth seeker
was a gradual process. But by 2002, he was convinced the official story was
a monumental cover-up.

His suspicion grew with the Bush administration’s initial reluctance to cooperate
with a probe into the Sept. 11 attacks, and when former Sen. Tom Daschle was
asked to limit the scope of the investigation.

Considering nearly 3,000 people had been killed, Gold was irked it took the
Sept. 11 survivors – dubbed “The Jersey Girls” – 441 days to persuade
the administration to hold public hearings on the disaster.

“If you had a loved one murdered, would you want the police to wait to
investigate the crime,” he asked.

There are still too many unanswered questions and inconsistencies, according
to 911Truth.org, an advocacy group that wants to expose what its media coordinator
Mike Berger called “the government’s official conspiracy theory” that
took the nation to war.

“The reason we are doing this is, we believe the attacks were used to justify
our unpopular foreign policy decisions,” Berger said.

As a member of 9/11 Truth’s steering committee, Gold spent many hours on the
Internet reading about the disaster and writing for his online bulletin board,
yourbbsuck.com, but eventually gave up the committee duties because it was too
time consuming.

The truth adherent’s views vary, Gold said, but many believe that the World
Trade Center towers were rigged with explosives to ensure their collapse, that
the Pentagon may have been hit by a missile instead of an airliner and that
Flight 93 crashed in Shanksville after it was shot down.

“I believe it was shot down,” Gold said.

The 9/11 Truth site questions why the U.S. air defense system failed to intercept
the airliner that struck the Pentagon, and why Bush lingered at the Florida
school after hearing of the Trade Center was hit. Some say the president’s dawdling
is just more proof that he had prior knowledge of the attacks.

Griffin, a retired professor Claremont School of Theology in California, studied
the day’s timelines and the official report, and concluded jet fighters that
should have scrambled within minutes to intercept the hijacked planes were ordered
not to take off.

By the time F-16 jets from Langley Air Force Base, in Hampton, Va., were in
the air at 9:30 a.m., it was too late to pursue Flight 77 that crashed into
the Pentagon eight minutes later. The base is more than 100 miles from Pentagon.

Though the 9/11 Report details delays and confused communications between the
North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and the Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) during the hijackings, Griffin sees something sinister.

“I was struck by the contradictions of why there were no (fighter jet)
interceptions,” Griffin said. “I think it was just an old-fashioned
stand down order.”

Justification for allowing the terrorist attacks was foreshadowed, Griffin
said, in “Rebuilding America’s Defense,” written in 2000 by the neo-conservative
group, Project for The New American Century.

The project’s members included Vice President Dick Cheney, Defense Secretary
Donald Rumsfeld, former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and current
United Nations ambassador John Bolton.

“It’s kind of scary when you think about it, because these are the people
now in power,” Gold said.

Griffin said the “neo-cons” anticipated going to war in Afghanistan
and Iraq long before the Sept. 11 attacks to ensure a steady supply of oil.

“This was a perfect fit for a neo-conservative plot … to get absolute
military authority,” he said.

Temple University psychology professor Frank Farley called the Sept. 11 skeptics’
notions ridiculous.

“It just doesn’t pass the test of reasonableness,” he said.

Government conspiracy myths have a long history in popular culture, Farley
said, but now kooky ideas spread like wildfire with the millions of Internet
users online and few qualified authorities to vet outrageous claims.

“The Internet just feeds (conspiracy claims),” he said. “In
a world of information overload, it’s getting harder and harder to separate
the wheat from the chaff.”

Farley predicted the explosion of misinformation would only get worse over time.
Spencer Meredith, a political science professor at New York’s Rochester Institute
of Technology, was more optimistic.

“The impact of this is negligible, and long-term it’s marginal,”
Meredith said.

People who believe the government is malicious and highly capable of wrongdoing
are more inclined to buy into Sept. 11 conspiracy theories, Meredith said.

“It starts with a mistrust of government,” he said. “They don’t
like Bush.”

For anyone doubting Flight 77 didn’t crash into the Pentagon, Arlington County
Fire Department Chief Scott McKay begs to differ. He and Arlington firefighters
were the first on the disaster scene on Sept. 11 and worked on shoring up the
collapsed structure.

“Inside the building, there was a (airline) nose gear with wheels and passenger
seats,” he said, as well as human remains.

As for the World Trade Center towers, the National Institute for Standards
and Technology (NIST) spent more than three years analyzing the collapses, according
to Michael Newman, a NIST spokesman, and published its “Final Report on
the Collapse of the World Trade Towers” in 2005.

To perform the evaluation, the federal agency used 236 pieces of steel from
the ground zero site, studied thousands of video and still pictures of the catastrophe
and simulated the impacts and fires in several laboratories.

The study concluded that the airliners’ extreme impacts severed the buildings’
perimeter support columns, and the subsequent fires weakened other exposed steel.

“(The crashes) dislodged so much of the fire-proofing material (on the
supports), that it left a lot of steel vulnerable to the fire,” Newman

If the fire-proofing had not been torn away, the towers would have remained
standing, he said.

The NIST report did not find any evidence that the towers had been sabotaged
with explosives, as 911 Truth advocates have suggested.

“These folks have a right to their opinion,” Newman said. “But
we spent three-and-a-half years on the investigation and wrote recommendations,
and we stand behind them.”

Keith Phucas can be reached at kphucas@timesherald.com or 610-272-2500, ext. 211.

(c)The Times Herald 2006

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