Who’s Still Afraid of 9/11 Conspiracy Theories?
“The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”
—Queen Gertrude, Hamlet.
Whenever someone insists too strongly about something not being true, we tend to suspect that maybe it is. In their denials of involvement in 9/11, do Israel’s apologists “protest too much”?
While it would take a small book to adequately document the Israeli connection to 9/11—as Antiwar.com editor Justin Raimondo attempted to some extent in The Terror Enigma—let us briefly recall some of the more intriguing facts as reported in the mainstream media, involving dancing Israelis, Odigo warnings, and Zim’s timely move.
The story of the five Israelis who were seen celebrating and filming as the Twin Towers burned and collapsed was investigated by Neil Mackay in Scotland’s Sunday Herald. The so-called “dancing Israelis” worked for Urban Moving Systems, later deemed to be a Mossad front by the FBI. Despite failing numerous polygraph tests, the young men were deported to Israel two months later. Back home, several of the men appeared on a TV chat show, in which one of them amazingly said, “Our purpose was to document the event.”
Two employees of Odigo, an Israeli instant messaging service, received messages two hours before the World Trade Center attack on September 11 predicting the attack would happen, Ha’aretz reported.
Zim-American Israeli Shipping Co., part-owned by the Israeli government, moved their North American headquarters from the 16th floor of the WTC to Norfolk, Virginia one week before the 9/11 attacks, incurring a $50,000 fine for breaking its lease, according to the Jerusalem Post.
Despite being in the public domain, none of these relevant facts are mentioned in the 9/11 Commission’s 567-page report.
Moreover, Philip Zelikow, the executive director of the 9/11 Commission, is concerned about the spread of such inconvenient facts to the wider public. “Our worry,” he says, “is when things become infectious…. [then] this stuff can be deeply corrosive to public understanding. You can get where the bacteria can sicken the larger body.”
But was Zelikow speaking here as an American government official or as a pro-Israeli insider?
In the same month that he authored the so-called “Bush Doctrine” of preemptive war, which provided the justification for the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Zelikow made this candid admission: “Why would Iraq attack America or use nuclear weapons against us? I’ll tell you what I think the real threat (is) and actually has been since 1990—it’s the threat against Israel.”
Yet, instead of investigating the Israeli connection, Zelikow used the 9/11 Commission to sell the Israeli-inspired Iraq war to the American people.
Zelikow’s “bacteria” quote is cited in a 2008 paper entitled “Conspiracy Theories.” Co-authored by Cass Sunstein, who went on to head President Obama’s White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, the main focus of the paper “involves conspiracy theories relating to terrorism, especially theories that arise from and post-date the 9/11 attacks.”
Rather than attempting to debunk such theories, Sunstein and Vermeule claim that those who suspect Israeli involvement in 9/11 suffer from a “crippled epistemology.” This, the authors argue, is due to “a sharply limited number of (relevant) informational sources.” In other words, “they know very few things, and what they know is wrong.”
To counter these suspicions, Sunstein recommends “cognitive infiltration of extremist groups, whereby government agents, or their allies (acting either virtually or in real space, and either openly or anonymously) will undermine the crippled epistemology of those who subscribe to such theories. They do so by planting doubts about the theories and stylized facts that circulate within such groups, thereby introducing beneficial cognitive diversity.”
It could, of course, be argued that Sunstein’s work also suffers from a crippled epistemology—his research relies heavily on pro-Israeli sources, most notably the notorious Islamophobe Daniel Pipes.
Pipes is a bit of an expert on conspiracy theories, having written two books on the subject. “Conspiracism provides a key to understanding the political culture of the Middle East,” Pipes opines in The Hidden Hand: Middle East Fears of Conspiracy. “It helps explain much of what would otherwise seem illogical or implausible, including the region’s record of political extremism and volatility, its culture of violence, and its poor record of modernization.”
Like Sunstein, Pipes is concerned that many in the region suspect Israeli involvement in 9/11. “The implications in the Middle East are quite profound,” Pipes told the LA-based Jewish Journal. “It’s one more brick in the edifice of fear and loathing of Israel and the Jews.”
In the absence of a proper 9/11 investigation, there remains a broad range of opinion about the precise nature of Israeli complicity. In The Terror Enigma, Justin Raimondo tentatively concludes that the Israeli connection to 9/11 amounts to “foreknowledge and passive collaboration with Bin Laden’s jihad.”
It’s hardly surprising then that some of the most obsessive critics of 9/11 “conspiracy theories” have ties to Israel. If Americans ever find out that their “staunchest ally” had anything to do with the mass murder of their fellow citizens on September 11, 2001, the would-be conspiracy debunkers have good reason to be afraid.
A version of this article was first published on April 3, 2010.