When I first read the March 31 Capitol Hill Blue headline,
"9/11 conspiracy theories don't pass the smell test," I thought
editor Doug Thompson was pulling an April Fool's joke on us a day early. Buoyed
by Thompson's well-deserved reputation for being out there first with
"damn the torpedoes -- full speed ahead" -- truth no matter where it
takes him, I read avidly to the end of the rant, poised to burst into laughter
at his "Gotcha!" punch line. It wasn't there.
"I know my government," Thompson ended lamely, "They're
just not good enough to pull off something like this."
That's it, then? Thompson's reason for ridiculing those who question
9/11 is "it's improbable such a ragtag group" is capable of attacking
a vulnerable nation and killing thousands of its people? Man -- in the wake of
all that has happened since 9/11, that dog won't hunt. If Thompson is serious
when he says "the many theories surrounding 9/11 come mostly from
conspiracy buffs" -- or when he says those whose judgment he trusts
"support the facts that Al Qaeda planned and executed the attacks,"
then his credibility is destroyed on this subject and on all other subjects as
well. If he's serious, there's no reason to revisit Capitol Hill Blue or
Thompson ever again.
But I'm not convinced Thompson is serious. He's too good at what he
does. Like he says -- often -- he's been in journalism "for more than 40
years." He's a hard-hitting reporter whose cognitive and investigative
skills are legend; whose "unnamed sources" walk shoulder-to-shoulder
throughout the administration; frolic through the halls of Congress. Thompson
doesn't just report the news, he breaks it, busts it wide open and takes no
prisoners. It is inconceivable that Thompson would back off a story of this
magnitude, given his penchant for holding the administration's cloven hooves to
the fire, especially those of George Bush and Dick Cheney.
Thompson is the man who wrote on March 20 that "the most dangerous man in
the world is not sitting in a jail cell somewhere in Iraq . . . He is not
hiding out in a cave somewhere in Afghanistan . . . The most dangerous man in
the world may well be working out of an oval-shaped office at 1600 Pennsylvania
Avenue in Washington, DC."
He is the one who unearthed a GOP memo less than a year
ago suggesting that a "new attack by terrorists on US soil" could
reverse the sagging fortunes of Bush as well as the GOP and would "restore
his image as a leader of the American people." This strategy, the memo says,
would "'validate" the president's war on terror and allow Bush to
"unite the country in a time of national shock and sorrow," and would
reverse the president's fortunes and "keep the party from losing control
of Congress in the 2006 midterm elections."
And, as recently as April 4, Thompson wrote, "America is a bully, an international
thug that uses fear, lies and deceit to advance the personal agendas of its
leaders. Bullies do not deserve respect. Bullies do not deserve the benefit of
the doubt. Bullies are beneath contempt." Thompson continued,
"Unfortunately, as long as Americans tolerate the despotic rule of George
W. Bush, we share responsibility for the shame our leadership has brought upon
a once-great nation called the United States of America."
Why, then, would Thompson say that he "cannot -- and will not"
believe any explanation of what happened on 9/11 other than what the most
dangerous man in the world tells him -- a despotic leader who's entertaining
the "strategery" of murdering even more Americans for no other reason
than to advance his political agenda, and who is a vicious liar who doesn't
want the US Constitution thrown in his face because "it's just a goddamned
piece of paper?"
Does Thompson's dog look to you like it's hunting?
It's futile to try to reach a mind so firmly closed. However, Thompson's
reasons are more than passing strange. For example, the only investigation that
apparently passed his "smell test" was conducted by the National
Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) because he says "an engineer
he'd known for 25 years" ran a computer simulation of the building
collapses for him.
According to Kevin Ryan, formerly of
Underwriters Laboratories (UL) which certified the steel used in the WTC
buildings, "NIST put together a black box computer model that would spit
out the right answers." Ryan said when the parameters did not generate the
results they were seeking, they changed the parameters. The final model,
according to Ryan, "produced video graphics that would enable anyone to
see the buildings collapse without having to follow a train of logic to get
there." NIST offered no proof for the dynamics of the amazing free-fall
collapse of the only three buildings to do so in history as a result of fire,
other than " . . . once the upper building section began to move downwards
. . . global collapse ensued."
Thompson says he was at the Pentagon on 9/11 where he interviewed
"dozens" of witnesses who saw the plane hit. He smelled the burning
jet fuel. He says he's flown Boeing 757, 767, and 777 flight simulators, and he
can safely assure us "the maneuvers made by the hijackers on September 11
were relatively simple course corrections that are not that difficult in planes
equipped with modern navigational computers." Well, I've never flown a
simulator, but I once knew a guy who practiced his riding skills on a
mechanical bull, but when he hit the rodeo circuit, he got his ass stomped in
two seconds flat.
According to a site dedicated solely to Pentagon research, Hani Hanjour, the
pilot of Flight 77, was refused the rental of a Cessna 172 just weeks prior to
9/11 because of his sadly lacking maneuvering skills. But after reading a 757
manual on the way to the airport, Hanjour was able to cruise over the unsecured
White House, enter Reagan International airspace while performing a 270-degree
turn with a 7,000-foot drop in altitude in 2.5 minutes with military precision
-- then hit five 25-foot, 293-pound steel lamp poles, a fence, a 39,500-pound
generator trailer, two cable spools, two single-wide mobile home construction
trailers and a tree -- before slamming into the only wedge in the Pentagon
under construction, leaving only a couple pieces of debris small enough to hold
in your hands. He left "no tail, no wings, no engines, no horizontal
stabilizer, no passenger seats, no luggage and no aircraft cargo," and
left the lawn in front of the Pentagon untouched.
But it's Thompson's vicious "kill the messenger" ad hominem attack on actor Charlie
Sheen for questioning the official scenario that is the most bewildering.
Thompson wants to know: Is Sheen the best we wild-eyed conspiracy nut jobs can
do? Is Sheen our new poster child? Thompson sneered at conspiracy freaks for
"pinning their credibility on a known drug user, admitted purchaser of the
services of prostitutes and an intellectually-challenged misfit who couldn't
even graduate from high school . . ."
Somebody should remind Thompson that Sheen, however randy and hot-headed
he may be, is also a concerned American citizen, and he has a dog in this hunt.
Sheen has an inherent right -- a duty -- to question his government. He wants
to know, as we all do, how 19 amateurs armed with box cutters could take over
four commercial airliners and fly around over New York City and Washington, DC,
until they finally hit three of their targets.
Sheen wants to know how the official story of fuel running down elevator
shafts could cause the inferno it would take to bring down the world's two
tallest and most solidly built buildings. He wants to know about the early
eyewitness accounts from the media and bystanders about "huge
explosions" in the bowels of the WTC -- and why WTC landlord Larry
Silverstein openly admitted the decision to "pull" building 7 before
it toppled in 6.6 seconds into its own footprints.
But Thompson will not be moved. He said, "I have yet to get a
report from a structural engineer or demolitions expert that support the
theories of internal explosions and too many witnesses saw the planes. If an
engineer or expert with credentials that could be verified came forward I might
be willing to take another look at this but in the absence of such, I'll go
with the conclusions of experts I trust."
If Thompson has viewed "Loose Change, 2nd Edition or perused
Brigham Young University Physics Professor Stephen E. Jones' critical paper, "Why Indeed Did the WTC Buildings
Collapse?"; if he has visited the many 9/11 research sites,
and is still determined to cling to administration experts he trusts, so be it.
The hunt for the 9/11 truth will go on -- whether Thompson's dog is in
it or not.
Samples is an Oklahoma writer and a former civilian US Army Public Information
Officer. She is a regular contributor for a variety of Internet sites. Contact
her at firstname.lastname@example.org.