The Truly Distracting 9/11 Conspiracy Theory; A Reply to Alexander Cockburn


DEBATE: The Truly Distracting 9/11 Conspiracy Theory; A Reply to Alexander Cockburn (Translated from French)

[12.03.07] Alexander Cockburn’s “US: The Conspiracy That Wasn’t,” which is an attack on the 9/11 truth movement, is faulty in virtually every respect. He calls me one of the movement’s “high priests,” as if it were a religious movement, rather than a fact-based movement that involves scientists, engineers, pilots, war veterans, politicians, philosophers, former air traffic controllers, former defense ministers, and former CIA analysts. 1 by Dr. David Ray Griffin March 12, 2007

The government theory ignored the sequential collapse of WTC building 7 at free-fall accelerationHe calls us “conspiracists,” ignoring the fact that in defending the government’s account, he is defending the original 9/11 conspiracy theory. In claiming that the Bush administration and the military are too incompetent to have organized the 9/11 attacks, he gives an argument that could equally well be used to prove that they could not have organized the military assaults on Afghanistan and Iraq.

In claiming that bin Laden took credit for the attacks, Cockburn appears not to be aware that in the video on which this claim is primarily based, the man playing Osama bin Laden is heavier and darker than the bin Laden of all undoubtedly authentic videos, 2 or that the FBI’s “Most Wanted Terrorist” page on bin Laden does not mention 9/11—because, an FBI spokesman explained, “the FBI has no hard evidence connecting Bin Laden to 9/11.” 3

Although Cockburn says that members of our movement are “immune to reality check,” he endorses the official theory of the collapses of the Twin Towers, which can be held only by ignoring an enormous number of facts. He says the towers were poorly built, whereas in reality they were built to withstand virtually any eventuality, including being hit by large airliners. He says the towers collapsed because of being struck by planes loaded with jet fuel, but WTC 7, which was not struck by a plane, also collapsed. In rejecting the claim that explosives had been planted, Cockburn ignores the fact that 118 members of the Fire Department gave testimony indicating that explosives had gone off. 4 (I quoted 31 of these, along with journalists and WTC employees, in an essay entitled “Explosive Testimony. 5 )

The official theory about these buildings, which Cockburn defends, is contradicted by all prior history, in which total collapses of steel-frame high-rise buildings have never been caused by externally caused damage plus fire, even when the fires were much bigger and lasted much longer. The idea that explosives were used is further strengthened by the many features of the collapses:

1. They were symmetrical, straight-down collapses, meaning that all 287 columns in each of the towers (47 massive core columns and 240 perimeter columns) and all 81 columns in WTC 7 had to collapse simultaneously. To believe that this could have been caused by fire, which was not spread evenly throughout any of the buildings, is to believe in a miracle.

2. The collapses were total, with each skyscraper collapsing into a pile of rubble only a few stories high. Accordingly, each of the steel columns had to be sliced into many pieces—which is what explosives do in controlled implosions.

3. Virtually all of the concrete and furniture was pulverized into extremely fine dust particles (which created huge dust clouds). Fire plus gravity would not have provided nearly enough energy to do this.

4. At the beginning of the collapse of each of the Twin Towers, which started near the top, steel beams were ejected out horizontally as far as 600 feet. Gravitational energy, which is vertical, cannot begin to explain these massive horizontal ejections. (In his companion essay, “Conspiracy Disproved,” Cockburn suggests, incredibly, that nothing was ejected other than “puffs of smoke.” He also seems unaware that signs of explosions occurred near the impact point, not simply 20 to 60 floors lower, and falsely assumes that the timing of the explosions would have to be determined beforehand.)

5. All three buildings came down at virtually free-fall speed, meaning that the lower floors, with all their steel and concrete, were providing no resistance to the upper floors. Cockburn says: “There is not the slightest need to postulate pre-placed explosive charges to explain why the towers collapsed at near free-fall speeds.” But that claim violates basic laws of physics.

5. For many weeks afterwards, pools of molten metal were found under each building. Steel does not begin to melt until it reaches about 1,540°C, whereas the fires could not have been over 1000°C.

6 In “ Conspiracy Disproved ,” Cockburn endorses the report put out by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST). But this report by this Bush administration agency is completely unscientific, announcing conclusions that radically contradict the data provided in its supporting volumes.

7 Although I have focused here on the World Trade Center, there is strong evidence against every other dimension of the official conspiracy theory, which I have presented in The New Pearl Harbor and The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions . In the latter book, I showed that the Commission’s report contains at least 115 lies of omission and distortion. Cockburn appears to be unwilling to look at such evidence because he is convinced that the effort to show 9/11 to have been an inside job is a distraction from really important matters. However, if 9/11 was indeed an inside job, then what could be more important than exposing this fact?

The idea that America was attacked by foreign terrorists on 9/11 has been used to justify the war in Iraq and virtually every other way in which the United States has made the world an uglier, more dangerous place since 9/11. It has also been used to distract attention from the problem of global warming, which is the really serious threat to human civilization. The official conspiracy theory about 9/11, in other words, is the true distraction.

Professor David Ray Griffin has published 30 books. The newest is 9/11 and American Empire: Intellectuals Speak Out, where Peter Dale Scott was co-editor (Olive Branch, Northhampton, Mass., 2007).

Footnotes: 1 See Scholars for 9/11 Truth, Veterans for 9/11Truth, Pilots for 9/11 Truth, Patriots Question 9/11 (all available on the internet)

2 See Fake bin Laden Video ( available on the internet)

3 Ed Haas, FBI Says No Solid Evidence Connects bin Laden to 9/11, Muckracker Report ( på internett), June 6, 2006.

4 Graeme MacQueen, “118 Witnesses: The Firefighters’ Testimony to Explosions in the Twin Towers,” Journal of 9/11 Studies (online), Aug. 2006.

5 “Explosive Testimony: Revelations about the Twin Towers in 9/11 Oral Histories”,

6 Griffin, “The Destruction of the World Trade Center: Why the Official Account Cannot Be True,” in Paul Zarembka, ed., The Hidden History of 9-11-2001 (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 2006), 79-122; også på

7 See my chapter on NIST in Griffin, Debunking 9/11 Debunking: An Answer to Popular Mechanics and Other Defenders of the Official Conspiracy Theory (Olive Branch, Northhampton, Mass., 2007).

SOURCELeMonde Diplomatique, March 2007
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Dr. David Ray Griffin

David Ray Griffin is Professor of Philosophy of Religion and Theology, Emeritus, at the Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University (1973-2004) and codirector of the Center for Process Studies.

He edited the SUNY Series in Constructive Postmodern Thought (1987-2004), which published 31 volumes. He has written extensively on the topic of the 9/11 attacks. He has written more than 30 books, edited 13 books, and authored 250 articles and chapters.

His latest book released July 25, 2019, The Christian Gospel for Americans: A Systematic Theology is available at Amazon.