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CIA Alum Endorses No-Plane Theories

Critique of Bill Christison's
'Stop Belittling the Theories About September 11'

The author of this essay pulished in DISSIDENT VOICE, Bill Christison, is a former senior official of the CIA (which means that his essay was probably vetted by the CIA). Now Christison wants to give three cheers to "Webster Tarpley and other mistakenly labeled conspiracists." But wait a minute, if 9/11 was a domestic covert operation as most alternative theories imply, why is a former senior official from the agency that specializes in covert operations telling us to take those theories seriously? Has the leadership at the CIA seen the light? Should we expect to see new whistleblowers turning up in the CIA, and maybe even some indictments of insiders, given the newfound acceptance of 9/11 Truth in official circles?

I'll call the idea that Christison genuinely wants to expose the cover-up the Strange Bedfellows Theory, and I'll leave its exploration to those who are uncritically promoting his essay. Here I'll explore a different theory: that Christison's essay is designed to undermine the work of serious independent investigators, primarily by promoting false claims and pairing them with real ones. I'll call it the Trojan Horse Theory.

If the Trojan Horse Theory is correct, then the essay may be a study in the use of disinformation. In the following review, I assume that the hatchet job Christison does on the case for official complicity is the result of applying a series of disinformation rules, perhaps from some rulebook published by Christison's former employer.

RULE 1: Press into service publications with progressive credentials.







Stop Belittling the Theories About September 11
by Bill Christison
August 14, 2006

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However horrendous the crimes of two of the world’s great liars and terrorists in Gaza and Lebanon, it is imperative that we not let the deeds of Ehud Olmert and George W. Bush distract us from another recent event. 

RULE 2: Establish progressive credentials by decrying a contemporary crime.

The U.S. alliance with Israel and the power of the lobby that lets Israel so easily influence U.S. foreign policy have been major factors in allowing the monstrous slaughter of innocent civilians in Gaza and Lebanon. What is happening in these lands may also encourage Olmert and Bush to start new hostilities in Syria and heavy, possibly nuclear, bombings in Iran -- and this entire mess of neocon pottage may lead to a new World War and clashes of civilizations and religious fundamentalisms that these two wretched politicians seem quite literally to want to impose on the rest of us. It’s a tough case to make that anything else going on in the world -- anywhere -- could possibly be of equal importance.

But on July 29 and 30, and then again on August 1, something else happened that increasing numbers of people believe is of equal importance. On these dates C-SPAN rebroadcast a panel discussion, held originally in late June, sponsored by an organization called the American Scholars’ Symposium to discuss what really happened on September 11, 2001. Held in Los Angeles, the meeting lasted two days, and the C-SPAN rebroadcast covered one almost two-hour wrap-up session. The meeting was attended by 1,200 people interested in hearing something other than the official story of 9/11. The TV audience was evidently large enough to spur C-SPAN to broadcast the panel discussion five separate times in four days. 

Even a month late, this is a lot of airtime for stories that many people call conspiracy theories -- and for which many others use nastier descriptions. It is possible that the head of C-SPAN, Brian Lamb, so strongly disbelieves the conspiracy theories that he felt giving them ample publicity would discredit them further. It is equally possible, however, that Lamb, who seems honestly to believe in presenting various sides of most issues as fairly as he can (although not always giving every side equal time), tried to do exactly that on the many legitimate questions raised about what actually happened on September 11. In any event, C-SPAN has made a major effort to bring information on the principal theories about 9/11 to the mainstream U.S. media. Lamb cannot be blamed for the coincidence that recent heavy military activity in Gaza and Lebanon is nearly drowning out his efforts.

Let’s address the real issues here. Why is it important that we not let the so-called conspiracy theories surrounding 9/11 be drowned out? After spending the better part of the last five years treating these theories with utmost skepticism, I have devoted serious time to actually studying them in recent months, and have also carefully watched several videos that are available on the subject. I have come to believe that significant parts of the 9/11 theories are true, and that therefore significant parts of the “official story” put out by the U.S. government and the 9/11 Commission are false. I now think there is persuasive evidence that the events of September did not unfold as the Bush administration and the 9/11 Commission would have us believe. The items below highlight the major questions surrounding 9/11 but do not constitute a detailed recounting of the evidence available. 

RULE 3: Lead with a false claim, and describe the case for it in detail and with a conviction missing from the descriptions of valid claims, which follow it:

ONE: An airliner almost certainly did not hit The Pentagon. Hard physical evidence supports this conclusion; among other things, the hole in the Pentagon was considerably smaller than an airliner would create. The building was thus presumably hit by something smaller, possibly a missile, or a drone or, less possibly, a smaller manned aircraft. Absolutely no information is available on what happened to the original aircraft (American Airlines Flight 77), the crew, the “hijackers,” and the passengers. The “official story,” as it appeared in The 9/11 Commission Report simply says, “At 9:37:46, American Airlines Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon, traveling at approximately 530 miles per hour. All on board, as well as many civilians and military personnel in the building, were killed.” This allows readers to assume that pieces of the aircraft and some bodies of passengers were found in the rubble of the crash, but information so far released by the government does not show that such evidence was in fact found. The story put out by the Pentagon is that the plane and its passengers were incinerated; yet video footage of offices in the Pentagon situated at the edge of the hole clearly shows office furniture undamaged. The size of the hole in the Pentagon wall still remains as valid evidence and so far seems irrefutable.

RULE 4: Describe the core of the crime -- the controlled demolition of three skyscrapers -- with vagueness and qualifications:

TWO: The North and South Towers of the World Trade Center almost certainly did not collapse and fall to earth because hijacked aircraft hit them.  A plane did not hit Building 7 of the Center, which also collapsed.  All three were most probably destroyed by controlled demolition charges placed in the buildings before 9/11. A substantial volume of evidence shows that typical residues and byproducts from such demolition charges were present in the three buildings after they collapsed. The quality of the research done on this subject is quite impressive. 

RULE 5: Pair the Achilles' heel of the official story (the provable case for controlled demolition WTC skyscrapers) with the most prominent hoax (the idea that the Pentagon was hit by something other than a jetliner) in order to discredit the former. Use logical errors to reinforce this pairing, such as the following implication that insider involvement depends on both rather than either of the first two claims being true:

If the judgments made on Points ONE and TWO above are correct, they raise many “Who done it” questions and strongly suggest that some unnamed persons or groups either inside or with ties to the government were actively creating a “Pearl Harbor” event, most likely to gain public support for the aggressive foreign policies that followed -- policies that would, first, “transform” the entire Middle East, and second, expand U.S. global domination.  

RULE 6: Assert that the case for official complicity relies on a false claim (the no-Boeing theory):

These first two points provide the strongest evidence available that the “official story” of 9/11 is not true. If the government could prove this evidence false, and its own story on these points correct, all the other data and speculation supporting the conspiracy theories would be undermined. It has provided no such proof and no answers to growing questions.

Other, less important points supporting the theories include the following.

RULE 7: Dispose of damning evidence of official complicity by trotting out the incompetence theory:

THREE: For at least one hour and 45 minutes after the hijacking of the first aircraft was known, U.S. air defense authorities failed to take meaningful action. This strikes some “conspiracy theorists” as valid evidence that the U.S. Air Force was deliberately restrained from acting. Maybe so, but my own skepticism tells me that the inefficiency of U.S. defense forces is likely to be just as plausible an explanation.

RULE 8: Sprinkle in worthless claims, such as the following two, to discredit the case for official complicity. The manifests were not published until just recently, and do contain names of alleged hijackers:

FOUR: Some of the theorists believe that the 19 named hijackers were not actually the hijackers. One claim is that the names of the hijackers were not on the manifests of any of the four aircraft. 

The following claim is meaningless, since none of the victims on any of the planes were recovered sufficiently intact to be given autopsies. Attempts were made to identify DNA of victims, and according to a spokesperson for the New York Medical Examiner's Office, body parts from two of the alleged hijackers of the planes that crashed into the Twin Towers were identified.

FIVE: None of the 19 hijackers’ bodies were ever autopsied (since they were allegedly totally destroyed in the crashes, including even the people in the Pennsylvania crash).

RULE 9: Surround any meaningful claims, such as the following two, with nonsense claims:

SIX: At least five of the alleged hijackers (or persons with identical names) have since turned up alive in the Middle East. Nonetheless, the FBI has never bothered to re-investigate or revise the list of hijackers. Does this suggest that the FBI knows that no one in the administration is interested in reopening any further investigations?

RULE 10: Omit key clarifying details in substantial claims, such as the facts that none of the alleged hijackers had ever flown a jet, and that jetliners can easily be piloted electronically:

SEVEN: Numerous pilots have allegedly told the theorists that none of the 19 hijackers could have flown the airliners well enough to hit the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon with as much accuracy as was displayed.  The debate on this issue simply raises more doubt about the government’s charge that the people it has named as hijackers are the real hijackers.

RULE 11: Plug the most absurd theories, like the Cleveland landing of Flight 93:

EIGHT: No one, except possibly government investigators who are not talking, has seen the plane that went down in Pennsylvania. Some of the conspiracy theorists suggest that it was deliberately destroyed before it hit the ground; others suggest that the plane actually landed in Cleveland and that passengers then were whisked away to some unknown destination. What happened to them at that point is simply a large question mark that makes it more difficult to believe this particular scenario.

RULE 12: Reduce the breadth of evidence, as in the following implication that the insider trading evidence was limited to the airlines:

NINE: Machinations in the U.S. stock market in the days before 9/11 suggest that some inside players in the market knew or suspected that United and American Airlines stock would soon drop. Two of the four of the aircraft involved in 9/11 were, or course, United planes and the other two were American Airlines planes. 

RULE 13: Link only to websites that promote a mixture of valid and nonsensical claims. The following link to is the only link in the body of the essay:

It should be reemphasized that these items do not make up a complete list of all the charges made by the theorists, but they are a good sample. Anyone interested in perhaps the best summary of these charges should watch the video “Loose Change.”

RULE 14: Reinforce the key idea: the pairing of the demolition and no-plane theories and implication that the fate of the two are inextricably linked:

To repeat, points ONE and TWO above are the most important. If something other than an airliner actually did hit the Pentagon on 9/11, and if the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center actually were dropped to the ground by controlled demolitions rather than by anything connected to the hijackings, the untrue stories peddled by The 9/11 Commission Report are clearly susceptible of being turned into major political issues.

A Scripps Howard News Service/Ohio University poll taken from July 6 to 24, 2006 concluded that “more than a third [36 percent] of the American public suspects that federal officials assisted in the 9/11 terrorist attacks or took no action to stop them, so that the United States could go to war in the Middle East.” The poll also found that “16 percent of Americans speculate that secretly planted explosives, not burning passenger jets, were the real reason the massive twin towers of the World Trade Center collapsed.”

A poll done by the Zogby polling organization two months earlier, between May 12 and 16, 2006, and using questions worded somewhat differently, suggested even more strongly that the issue could become a “big one” if aggressively publicized. This poll concluded that 42 percent of Americans believed there had indeed been a cover-up of the true events of 9/11, and an additional 10 percent of Americans were “unsure.” The co-author of the poll, W. David Kubiak, stated that, “despite years of relentless media promotion, whitewash, and 9/11 Commission propaganda, the official 9/11 story still can’t even muster 50 percent popular support.” 

Whichever of these polls is closer to the truth, it would seem that there is considerable support for making a major political issue of the subject.

This should be worked on at two different levels. At the first level, the objective should be long-term, centered on making a maximum effort to find out who the individuals and groups are that carried out the attacks in New York and Washington. Then, these people should be tried in an international court and, if possible, convicted and punished for causing so many deaths. Such a trial, accompanied by actual change in U.S. policies, would show that some people on this globe are at least trying to move closer to more just and decent behavior in human relationships around the world. 

At the second level, the short term, the task should be to immediately set to work as hard as is humanly possible to defeat in this year’s congressional election any candidate who refuses to support a no-holds-barred investigation of 9/11 by the Congress or a high-level international court. No more evidence than is now available is needed in order to begin this process.

A manageable volume of carefully collected and analyzed evidence is already at hand on both items ONE and TWO above. Such evidence should be used right now to buttress charges that elements within the Bush administration, as well as possibly other groups foreign or domestic, were involved in a massive fraud against the American people, a fraud that has led to many thousands of deaths. 

This charge of fraud, if proven, involves a much greater crime against the American people and people of the world than any other charges of fraud connected to the run-up to the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. It is a charge that we should not sweep under the rug because what is happening in Lebanon, Gaza, Iraq, Syria, and Iran seems more pressing and overwhelming. It is a charge that is more important because it is related to all of the areas just mentioned -- after all, the events of 9/11 have been used by the administration to justify every single aspect of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East since September 11. It is a charge that is more important also because it affects the very core of our entire political system. If proven, it is a conspiracy, so far successful, not only against the people of the United States, but against the entire world. Finally, it is a charge too important to ignore simply because the U.S. government refuses to discuss it. We must force the Bush administration to discuss it.

Discussions aggressively pushed day after day about what really happened on 9/11 will be one of the most important tasks between now and early November. Such discussions can, one hopes, provide progressives with a way to jolt voters out of their apathy and inchoate willingness to support the status quo that they think gives them security -- and encourage more voters to stop supporting Bush, the Republicans, and the wobbly Democratic politicians who might as well be Republicans. A major issue like this, already supported by many voters, may prove particularly important in a congressional election year when new uncertainties in the Middle East, new possibilities of terrorism against the U.S. in retaliation for recent large-scale acts of Israeli/U.S. terrorism in Gaza and Lebanon, and the corrupt almost-single-party U.S. political system combine to make it more likely that supporters of Bush will retain their majority this November.  

In terms of electoral impact, it would not matter whether heavy publicity did in fact force the administration to accept a new high-level investigation of the 9/11 events. Initially, the principal goal would be to contribute heavily to the defeat of both Republicans and Democrats who refuse to support wholeheartedly a major new investigation by Congress or an international court. This might result in the defeat of more Republicans than Democrats in November, but ultimately the hoped-for goal should be the end of a system in which Democrats are barely different from Republicans, along with cutbacks in the political power of wealth and the foreign and domestic lobbies paid for by wealth. These are the dominant features of our system today that have practically eliminated meaningful democracy in the U.S. This failure of democracy has happened before in U.S. history, but this time it is likely to last longer -- at least until U.S. policies begin to pay as much attention to the needs of the world as they do to selfish or thoughtless needs of the U.S. and of its military-industrial complex. Attacks on the criminal events surrounding 9/11 might speed this process.

Virtually no members of Congress, Democratic or Republican, will relish calling for a further investigation of 9/11. For right now, in addition to other motives, the issue should be used to go after those political prostitutes among elected office-holders who should also be defeated because they are so easily seduced by money and power to vote for immoral wars against weak enemies.

At the Los Angeles meeting of the American Scholars’ Symposium, one of the main speakers, Webster Tarpley, summarized his own views on the events of 9/11. He emphasized that “neocon fascist madmen” had perpetrated the 9/11 “myth.” He went on to say, “The most important thing is that the 9/11 myth is the premise and the root of the Afghanistan War and the Iraq War and the coming attack on Iran. ... We must ... deprive [the myth’s perpetrators] of the ability to stampede and manipulate hundreds of millions of people [with their] ... cynically planned terrorist events.” 

Let’s give Webster Tarpley and other mistakenly labeled conspiracists who have labored in the wilderness for so long three cheers.

Bill Christison is a former senior official of the CIA. He was a National Intelligence Officer and the Director of the CIA's Office of Regional and Political Analysis before his retirement in 1979. Since then he has written numerous articles on U.S. foreign policies. He can be reached at: