2006-10-21 Debate On The 9/11 "Truth" Movement

Brian Holtz vs. Carol Brouillet, Dennis "galen" Mitrzyk, and Robert Forte

The Next Step is hosted on Palo Alto community TV by Daniel Kottke (first Apple employee)

00:00 Kottke: [introductions]
02:45 Brouillet: [review of her 9/11 activism history, and upcoming conspiracist events]
05:35 Mitrzyk: 9/11 was a PsyOp by [the Bush Administration...] 9/11 is the greatest issue confronting humanity [...] the 2000, 2002, and 2004 elections have all been rigged [...]
Of course the elections were "rigged". When a major historical event does not help the cause of Mitrzyk's radical leftism, that's a sure sign that the event's outcome was planned by the secret leadership of the military-industrial complex. This convenient rule of thumb excuses one from having to think about all the messy facts discussed in places like this and this.
08:35  Holtz: I met Carol a week ago. She's been involved in the 9/11 movement for 5 years; I've had an interest in the so-called Truth Movement for about 72 hours now. So I'm definitely the newbie here, and I'm feeling quite naked without an Internet connection to do the kind of fact-checking that I like to do. My perspective here is going to be a basic Libertarian one, which is that my default assumption is that the government couldn't conspire its way out of a wet paper bag, and that unless the facts show otherwise, I'm going to assume they couldn't engineer a cover-up of something like 9/11. Without the kind of study that my colleagues here have put into this, my role here tonight will probably be to ask questions, and try to get as specific as possible claims from them so that I can go fact-check them later. As a skeptic, I don't take anything at face value, whether it's said by the people in the White House or the people in the next chair over. So I'm just going to be from Missouri tonight.
My comment about "the next chair over" was a jab at Forte, who in an email discussion the weekend before the taping I had caught making multiple blatantly false or misleading statements to me about 9/11. His battering in that discussion apparently contributed to his mostly-sheepish demeanor the evening of the show. A week after the taping he still hadn't sent the reply he said he was working on, and instead responded to my questions for Brouillet by repeating nine points that I demonstrated I had already answered.
10:15 Forte: [discusses social science research and experiments showing "85% of the subjects defy their own senses and defer to the socially-constructed reality even though it is blatantly and obviously false"]
14:25  Holtz: Are you guys running that on me tonight? [biggest laugh of the night]
14:30 Forte: [child abuse victims suppress memories of it] People are unable to perceive the government as responsible for such a heinous act [...]
15:55 Brouillet: [...] The challenge is always overcoming psychological barriers [...]
17:00 Forte: [...] We are victims in the United States of a coup d'etat [...]  [18:15] These are buildings that were deliberately blown up, a false flag terrorist operation, with a number of precedents in recent American history.
This is false, as there is no precedent in recent American history of even one American civilian being killed in a false flag terrorist operation by the U.S. government. Forte is probably making a misleading reference to Operations Northwoods, which I had already told Forte was a 1961 never-approved planning document that talked of faked funerals for victims and unmanned ships, and never explicitly called for lethal attacks. Forte's false-flag howler whizzed right past me, since I had already been searching for an opportunity to jump in with a point about reluctance to criticize the government. I said one sentence later:
18:30 Holtz: But there are plenty of non-conformists who don't agree with this theory of socially-constructed reality. Within the Libertarian Party, we have nothing good to say about the government, either in the abstract or this particular Administration. There are critics, for example Noam Chomsky and Greg Palast, who are willing to say all kinds of bad things about the power structures that are in control of this country, and yet they're not signed onto this view that demolition charges brought down the buildings.
Incredibly, Mitrzyk jumps in to amplify my point, without offering a shred of explanation as to why Chomsky and Palast deny the conspiracy:
19:15 Mitrzyk: You bring up Noam Chomsky, I think that's a good person to bring up, because he's a gatekeeper of the Left. People like Jon Stewart, George Lakoff up in Berkeley, the professor about metaphors and framing, Amy Goodman, Michael Moore [I smirk here at Moore being listed with professors Chomsky and Lakoff] -- there are people who ostensibly speak for the Left, but they are in fact gatekeepers. So they will only embrace so much of the truth, but then they won't talk about things like 9/11, and then that allows people like you to say "Well look, Noam Chomsky doesn't even believe in 9/11".
Here I quickly nod my head, agreeing with Mitrzyk's repetition of my point, and stunned that he didn't even attempt to explain Chomsky's rejection of the "Truth". Brouillet immediately jumps in to repeat Mitrzyk's performance of embracing my point instead of answering it:
19:50 Brouillet: But also, Barry Zwicker just came out with a new book called Towers of Deception, and he does have a whole chapter on Noam Chomsky, and he wonders about Noam Chomsky's role in supporting the official myth, the official lie, by not wanting to look at the evidence, or just discounting all the evidence. And Chomsky played the same role with the assassination of JFK and the silver [sic] bullet.
20:15 Mitrzyk: Right, Chomsky believes in the magic bullet.
20:20 Brouillet: At the same time, I think there's also a lot of fear amongst prominent people that if they come out saying something that is very controversial or radical that they'll look bad.
20:30 Holtz: Are you saying that Chomsky's afraid of saying controversial things?
20:35 Brouillet: No, no, I'm saying -- when we were interviewed by Steven Jones, for example, who's the editor of the SF Bay Guardian [...] I think he was very frightened of the reaction amongst his peers and the country at large [...] Then he took the strongest evidence and points that we made and fleshed them out a bit in the course of his article. But then there are people like Steven Jones, Brigham Young physics professor, David Ray Griffin, an eminent theologian, who are very highly respected people, who have come out in favor of 9/11 truth [...] The more people, the more prominent they are, the easier it is for other people to come forward. It's just being the first one is very very frightening [...]
So Brouillet contradicts herself, and ends up apparently saying that Noam Chomsky is indeed afraid to speak out against the government's conspiracy to commit 9/11. Either that, or Brouillet believes what Zwicker is said to believe -- that Chomsky is an agent of the conspirators. Both positions are laughable.
22:20 Brouillet: [9/11 is a global conspiracy that has] bulldozed the Patriot Act, all this repressive legislation through here in the United States, and mirrored throughout the world. We have the Patriot Act's mirror in Canada, England, Australia, and they're relabeling all dissent against government or corporate power as "terrorists" [...]
It's simply ludicrous for Brouillet to claim that "all dissent against government or corporate power" has been labeled as "terrorism" by any government spokesman -- let alone by any government legislation in any English-speaking nation.  This hyperbolic statement shows just how tone-deaf she has become by living in the conspiracist echo chamber.
22:55 Brouillet: If you read anything about John Rendon, from the Rendon Group, who's been paid hundreds of millions of dollars to sell American interventions throughout the world to the American people for over twenty years. On 9/11 -- he was paid between 50 and 100 million dollars to sell the war on terrorism to the American people. And they went into overload, they were working around the clock
23:25 Holtz: That sounds like a fact I can probably check. So that's the Rendon Group, paid 50 to 100 million since 9/11 to...
23:30 Brouillet: ... to sell the war on terrorism to the American people. You can check that out. The Rolling Stone magazine wrote a great article on The Man Who Sold The War [...]
The Rolling Stone article says: "Between 2000 and 2004, Pentagon documents show, the Rendon Group received at least thirty-five contracts with the Defense Department, worth a total of $50 million to $100 million." The article alleges that the Rendon Group sold the idea of a war on Iraq, and says nothing about the Rendon Group arguing against conspiracy theories about 9/11. The leading 25% of the article is devoted to the Iraqi National Congress pushing the bogus WMD claims of Adnan al-Haideri, but it admits that Rendon denies involvement with al-Haideri and merely hand-waves about the Rendon being the INC's "media guru". Rolling Stone's Bamford says the al-Haideri story was "trumpeted by the White House", but al-Haideri was not mentioned in Colin Powell's exhaustive presentation to the UN Security Council two months later. Bamford quotes Rendon saying he deals only in "truthful and accurate information", and the article doesn't cite a single example to the contrary. After a rebuttal by the Rendon Group pointing out the propaganda techniques used in the article, Bamford admitted that "I never claimed the Rendon Group deliberately disseminated false information".
Thus nothing about Carol's Rendon Group reference provides a shred of evidence that the Bush Administration planned 9/11. It's just a boilerplate attempt to spread FUD (fear uncertainty and doubt) about people who on Sep 10 she had already spent 9 years opposing.
24:20 Brouillet: [Rendon] said "well, 90% of the soldiers thought that there was something worth dying for." Which, you know, 90% of the soldiers are convinced that Saddam Hussein had something to do with 9/11.
Holtz: It's a little less.
A Feb 2006 Zogby poll reports that 85% of American troops in Iraq believe the U.S. mission is mainly “to retaliate for Saddam’s role in the 9-11 attacks". A potential major problem with this poll's methodology is that it apparently used a definite description in the question that yielded this 85% figure. A definite description is a phrase like "the present King of France" which assumes the existence of the thing it talks about. If the polled troops were given the impression that the questioner believed that Saddam had a role in the 9/11 attacks, then the poll is hopelessly flawed. (And of course, even if accurate the poll doesn't constitute a shred of evidence that the government caused 9/11.)
24:50 Mitrzyk: I want to come back to this conspiracy theory, because Brian made a statement in his opening comments that I think is telling. He acts as if only one side is a conspiracy, and the other side doesn't involve a conspiracy at all. As David Ray Griffin points out ...
Brouillet: There's two theories.
Mitrzyk: Yeah, all theories involve a conspiracy. The question is, do you take the conspiracy that was hatched by "Osama bin Laden" [finger quoted] from a cave in Afghanistan, and the conspiracy that violates the laws of physics, the laws of chemistry, the laws of thermodynamics, and the laws of statistics and probability? Do you accept that "conspiracy theory", or do you accept the conspiracy theory that requires you to believe that shadowy elements of this government -- CIA, also MI6 was involved in this, and Mossad was involved in this. Do you accept the conspiracy theory that names this group of people -- who had access, who were able to create wargames, who were able to effectively confuse the responders, the interceptors, who had access to those buildings through Marvin Bush, who happened to be on the board of Securacom. Type in Google, you want your facts, go Marvin Bush, type Securacom, you'll see that he was President and CEO of a Kuwaiti -US joint venture that had responsibility for security at the World Trade Center, Dulles International Airport, and United Airlines. There's a conspiracy theory that I can believe in, because it doesn't violate ...
26:15 Brouillet: Motive, means, and who benefits?
Uh, Carol, "motive" and "who benefits?" are the same point. Dennis, Osama didn't plot 9/11 "from a cave in Afghanistan", because we didn't chase him into caves until 10/7.
Marvin Bush was never President or CEO of KuwAm, and left the board of Securacom in June 2000. Wikipedia says KuwAm's investment in Securacom ended in 1999. 911myths.com's debunking of the Marvin Bush angle points out that Securacom lost the primary WTC security contract by 1998, and that Truthers are merely citing Securacom's alleged "completion contract" at the WTC. Those of us in high-tech know that it's common practice for a technology installation contract to include site support for some number of years. Primary responsibility for WTC security systems in fact began transitioning in 1996 to E-J Electric, which completely replaced the building's previous security system.  E-J had nine technicians escape from the buildings on 9/11. There are zero allegations on the Web that the Bush family had any connection to E-J.
Thus Dennis' challenge that I fact-check his claims about WTC security has blown up in his face.
(The elaborate E-J WTC video surveillance described before 9/11 shows how silly the demolition theory is. 25% of the 9/11 jets missed their targets. If either of the towers had been missed, then the demolition charges would have been discovered and the installation teams would have been noticed on archived security footage. Indeed, I don't even know that the archives weren't offsite, and haven't already been checked for such teams. But of course any such archives have been doctored.  The conspirators think of everything, y'know.)
Dennis completely misses the point that one side offers a theory of a vast cover-up conspiracy involving hundreds of people in dozens of organizations in multiple countries, while the other side needs no cover-up conspiracy whatsoever -- just standard boring run-of-the-mill bureaucratic CYA and political spin. So I replied:
26:20 Holtz: If you type in "conspiracy" into Google what you'll find is that the definition of it includes an effort to keep the thing secret. I agree with neither the "Truth" Movement's conspiracy version of the story, nor do I agree with the Bush Administration's version of the story. The version I believe in is one that's not a conspiracy -- it's one that al Qaeda is freely admitting to in all their press releases, which I've been reading on al Jazeera this weekend. It's actually kind of ...
26:50 Mitrzyk: That's not true though. Osama bin Laden ...
Holtz: Are you going to let me talk?
Brouillet: You believe al Qaeda's press releases?
Holtz: Can I finish?
Brouillet: No, but -- you believe al Qaeda's press releases?
Holtz: Can I make my point?
Brouillet: OK. Please.
27:00 Holtz: I've been reading some of what Al Jazeera -- I guess maybe Al Jazeera's in on it, but -- I've been reading what Al Jazeera transcribes as the communiqués of al Qaeda. It's actually kind of funny, and sad in a way. These guys are plaintive, they're complaining that they're not being heard in the American media and in the American debate over all this because Bush and his phony "war on terror" -- his phony war on an "ism" -- has become the narrative about what's going on here.  They're just trying to make the point that they didn't attack Sweden, they don't "hate freedom", what they hate is America's foreign policy in the Middle East. But the media doesn't cover that angle. So my loyalties, as far as explaining what happened here, are not with the secret version that you guys are selling, or with the version that the Bush Administration is selling -- my default assumption is that al Qaeda is telling us why they did it, but no one's listening to them.
My opponents never address this point that only one side alleges a conspiracy to cover up who planned 9/11.
28:20 Mitrzyk: Osama bin Laden says they did not do it.
Holtz: That's not true.
Mitrzyk: Osama bin Laden issued a letter saying that he was not involved with 9/11.
Holtz: He only said that while he was still under the Taliban's protection in Afghanistan. Ever since the Taliban was taken down, al Qaeda's changed its tune. Zawahiri now in multiple communiques admits that they did it.
It's not clear what "letter" Dennis is referring to. On 2001-09-16, bin Laden issued a written statement to Al Jazeera saying "I stress that I have not carried out this act, which appears to have been carried out by individuals with their own motivation". On 2001-09-28, bin Laden said in an interview with the Pakistani newspaper Unmat: "I have already said that I am not involved in the 11 September attacks in the United States."  But the communique most commonly called the "letter" from bin Laden was originally posted in Arabic in Nov 2002 on a Saudi Arabian website previously used by al Qaeda to disseminate messages. Dennis can't mean that letter, because it said:
OBL> Whoever has stolen our wealth, then we have the right to destroy their economy. And whoever has killed our civilians, then we have the right to kill theirs. The American Government and press still refuses to answer the question: Why did they attack us in New York and Washington? <OBL
An interview is not a "letter", so Dennis must mean the 9/16 statement to Al Jazeera. If Dennis trusts Al Jazeera when it authenticates a written statement from bin Laden, then should trust Al Jazeera's authentication of bin Laden's 2004 videotape claiming 9/11 responsibility. Indeed, bin Laden and al Qaeda have admitted or implied responsibility for 9/11 at least ten times: http://911myths.com/html/responsibility.html. Dennis never made any response to my point that bin Laden had a motive to initially deny responsibility in 2001 while he was under Taliban protection. Thus Dennis was being blatantly selective with his facts. Next it was Robert's turn to focus on his own favorite cherry-picked evidence about bin Laden:
28:45 Forte: That point that Osama bin Laden had admitted, this is one of the obvious things that people are just simply not getting. Supposedly the United States government produced a videotape in December of 2001 with ostensibly Osama bin Laden taking responsibility, going back on what he said in October, saying "we did this", and it was passed as truth and revved up the troops. But a close examination of this videotape leaves many doubts that this is Osama bin Laden.
Holtz: Yes, I agree that that videotape is --
Forte: Highly suspect.
Holtz: -- very interesting.
As of the taping, I had seen http://www.whatreallyhappened.com/osamatape.html, and (presumably like Forte) had never checked for attempts to debunk the fake-video claim. However, I now have seen that claim dismantled at http://911myths.com/html/fake_video.html. A web search can find no site attempting to rebut 911myths.com on this topic. Forte seems to have bet all his chips on a losing hand.
Holtz:  But the thing is --
Forte: Excuse me, say no more.
Holtz: OK.
Forte: Because that in itself -- there is a reasonable doubt, that the chief suspects, just to go back to the event of 9/11,
I had never left "the event of 9/11" -- I was discussing the only credible confession we have in the case. This confession must surely count as "one of the obvious things" that Forte is "just simply not getting". He blatantly dismisses al Qaeda's four-year record of repeated confessions in the case, and instead selectively focuses on a nearly-five-year-old videotape that he thinks is fake. Below, when I call his attention to more-recent and more trustworthy videotapes, he brazenly says he doesn't care whether there are "500" of them. Forte has put his blinders on so tight that he doesn't even realize how ridiculous they look on him.
Forte seeks to excuse his selectivity with a bogus standard of proof:
29:40 Forte: we have a principle of jurisprudence in this country that works fairly well, you know -- that you have to be convicted beyond a reasonable doubt, and there are certain principles that go into solving a crime: who benefited, who had the means to do it, and who had the motive. Very basic principles.
Holtz: Osama had no motive?
Mitrzyk: CIA asset.
I didn't notice it at the time, but this was the first of several clues that these conspiracists are much farther around the bend than I had imagined. Although Carol half-denies it below, it's clear that she and Dennis believe that the Bush administration has arranged that al Qaeda has taken responsibility for 9/11. This thesis is preposterous.
Forte never revealed his beliefs about bin Laden and al Qaeda, just as he ignored my question above about Osama having no motive. Forte's psychological denial is so systematic that he admits he carefully avoids attempting a unified and consistent explanation of the available 9/11 evidence. Interestingly, he repeats Carol's mistake of changing "means, motive, and opportunity" into "means, motive, and who benefits?".  He blatantly ignores the fact that the only confession in the case has come from someone who plainly had the means, motive, and opportunity to commit the crime.
I had already addressed Forte's point about "reasonable doubt" in an email to him the day before the taping:
BH> You've got your standards of proof mixed up.  "Proof beyond a reasonable doubt" is the highest standard of empirical truth, reserved for adversarial court proceedings under the rules of evidence, in which a defendant is on trial for his freedom or his life. The question of whether al Qaeda caused 9/11 is a historical question, not a judicial one. If you really want to get into epistemology with me, then start at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inference_to_the_Best_Explanation. <BH
Later in the show (below) I repeated my email's point about historical vs. judicial, but Forte never answered it either on the show or via email.
30:05 Forte: [analogy about a "palace and a roomful of jewels" and how one would immediately suspect the guards if the jewels went missing] "We're going to go get the guy that we think did it, in fact, we declare that he did it." Your chief suspect, who had the alarm, who didn't do his job, suddenly not only he's guarding the hen house, but he's running the investigation -- and he's the chief suspect.
This story isn't analogous to 9/11. For it to be analogous, Forte would need to include a known jewel thief who had the means motive and opportunity for the crime and who has been repeatedly confessing to the crime for four years. His story is so obviously worthless that I don't bother pointing it out, and instead try to get back to the 2004 bin Laden confession video:
30:55 Holtz: Four minutes ago you mentioned a fact about a December 2001 video by bin Laden and since then I haven't heard too many facts, but let's get back to videos
Mitrzyk: Marvin Bush and Securacom, that's a fact.
No, Dennis.  1) As I show above, your Securacom "facts" are wrong.  2) Your "facts" were mentioned before Robert talked about the 2001 video, not since.
31:05 Forte: But you agree with that fact, that there's something very suspect about that video.
Holtz: But I also know that there's been a video by bin Laden in 2004, which is much much harder to point fingers at in terms of its clarity and stuff. There's also been about -- well, I'll ask you if you can ballpark it for me: in the last 12 months, how many communiques from al-Zawahiri, the number 2 guy from al Qaeda, how many has he released?
Forte: I don't know, but the point is --
Holtz: Well, I'll tell you, it's ten.
Forte: Excuse me, before you go -- it could be 500 -- because the point that I think is absolutely fundamental, that we agree on, is that that bin Laden video is suspect.
My effort to get Forte to address the 2004 video utterly failed.  Forte's position is apparently that no matter how many times a criminal confesses, we must grant reasonable doubt as long as a single one of those confessions might have been faked. I'm at a loss to describe just how silly Forte's position is.  To try to get him past the 2001 video and onto the 2004 video, I tried to make a stipulation about not trusting Bush, but the resulting rejoicing by the panel allowed Carol to interrupt me:
31:45 Holtz: Oh yeah. Bush lies. Case closed. Bush is a liar. Bush --
Forte: Thank you, because that is the big key --
Kottke: All right, we can agree!
Mitrzyk: Yay, we found agreement!
Holtz: Bush is a liar --
Brouillet: There is another point that you've missed, Brian --
No, Carol, I never "missed" Robert's silly point that a possibly faked bin Laden confession means we can ignore all of bin Laden's and al Qaeda's authenticated confessions. I just wanted to get him on the record about the latter, because he has to say everything from bin Laden and al Qaeda is faked/controlled if he wants to say that any is.  But Carol interrupted me, and raced ahead of Forte to assert -- and then deny, and then re-assert -- that bin Laden and al Qaeda are indeed under the influence of the conspiracy:
32:00 Brouillet: and that is: what is al Qaeda? How was al Qaeda created? How was it funded? And who financed the 9/11 attacks?
Mitrzyk: CIA. CIA.
Wrong again, Dennis. For the facts, see:
Holtz: So let me understand your theory. So you're saying that every move that al Qaeda makes is controlled by the --
Mitrzyk: No.
Brouillet: No, I'm saying al Qaeda --
32:15 Holtz: Then why doesn't al Qaeda deny that they did this?
Brouillet: Al Qaeda is a creation of the CIA and Saudi Arabia through Pakistan's ISI. What they're told about where they're getting their money, what they're supposed to do, I mean, who knows what goes on in the heads of al Qaeda? But al Qaeda is definitely a creation of our CIA and Saudi Arabia. One of the reasons I marched on my Senators was because of the work of Michel Chossudovsky who wrote an article Who Is Osama bin Laden?  He was a CIA asset.  They didn't just [say] "OK, you can quit, you can do something else."
So according to Carol, bin Laden and al Qaeda are pretending that they alone planned and committed 9/11, and are allowing Bush to systematically hunt down and kill the al Qaeda leadership, simply out of gratitude for the CIA's alleged help 20 years ago during the war against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.  Her theory is just too inane for polite words to adequately describe.
It's also based on false premises, as Chossudovsky's article is blatantly untrustworthy. He writes:
MC> In the words of CIA's Milton Beardman "We didn't train Arabs". Yet according to Abdel Monam Saidali, of the Al-aram Center for Strategic Studies in Cairo, bin Laden and the "Afghan Arabs" had been imparted "with very sophisticated types of training that was allowed to them by the CIA". CIA's Beardman confirmed, in this regard, that Osama bin Laden was not aware of the role he was playing on behalf of Washington. In the words of bin Laden (quoted by Beardman): "neither I, nor my brothers saw evidence of American help". <MC
The CIA agent in question here is Milton Bearden. Chossudovsky gets Bearden's name wrong, and blatantly takes the bin Laden quote out of context to imply that Bearden "confirmed" that bin Laden was receiving American help without being aware of it. A much more accurate account is by Peter Bergen (of CNN and Johns Hopkins U.) is in Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden:
PB> Former CIA official Milt Bearden, who ran the Agency's Afghan operation in the late 1980s, says, "The CIA did not recruit Arabs," as there was no need to do so. There were hundreds of thousands of Afghans all too willing to fight, and the Arabs who did come for jihad were "very disruptive . . . the Afghans thought they were a pain in the ass." ... There was simply no point in the CIA and the Afghan Arabs being in contact with each other. ... the Afghan Arabs functioned independently and had their own sources of funding. The CIA did not need the Afghan Arabs, and the Afghan Arabs did not need the CIA. So the notion that the Agency funded and trained the Afghan Arabs is, at best, misleading. <PB
Chossudovsky's article is in fact almost entirely innuendo, and his quote of "Abdel Monam Saidali" is the only real evidence of even indirect CIA support for bin Laden. But that name appears nowhere on the Web except in connection with this one quote trumpeted by Chossudovsky. The same is true of the "Al-aram Center for Strategic Studies". Chossudovsky footnotes the quote thus: "Weekend Sunday (NPR); Eric Weiner, Ted Clark; 16 August 1998". Ted Clark is the former Washington bureau chief for Pacifica Radio, the radical left-wing radio network. If I have to choose between a book by a Johns Hopkins professor and a third-hand Pacifica Radio quote from a possibly-fictitious "Center" in Cairo, that's easy -- especially since the name "bin Laden" is not actually part of the quote.
When Carol tosses up her hands and asks "who knows what goes on in the heads of al Qaeda?", she is abdicating any possible claim to being interested in the "Truth" about 9/11.  The claims and non-denials by al Qaeda single them out as the only living people who all sides must agree are indisputably part of the 9/11 conspiracy, and yet Carol and Dennis and Robert proudly and angrily deny having any interest or obligation in fully explaining the actions and motivations of these self-certified conspirators. When the Truthers carefully avoid trying to explain the actions of the only living people who are universally agreed to be 9/11 conspirators, it clearly indicates that the Truthers are more interested in advancing the political agenda they had on 9/10 than in understanding the truth of 9/11.
It's ironic that the Truth Movement is just as guilty as the Bushies in seizing on the 9/11 tragedy to promote their prior political agenda. What's comical is that the Truth Movementarians would be far more effective in promoting their political agenda if they merely claimed that Bush allowed 9/11 instead of planned it. That would be a far harder theory to refute, but would serve their cause equally well.  However, their pathology is so systematic that they find it hard to resist claiming Bush planned every bad thing that any human does anywhere. (Some conspiracists even claim that Bush caused the 2004 tsunami.) They don't seem to mind that their nuttiness only helps Bush by discrediting his critics, because they apparently would rather maximize their feelings of moral superiority than actually change the world for the better. This makes them analogous to anarchist wingnuts in my own Libertarian Party, who I criticize for preferring moral posturing over effectively increasing liberty.
32:55 Mitrzyk: He's the brother of one of Bush's best family friends. He's the youngest brother of the guy who gave him $2 million for his first oil well. They're buddies.
Brouillet: There's links between the Bushes and the bin Ladens.
It's comical how Colin Powell is vilified for citing a "nexus" between al Qaeda and Saddam, but the Truth Movementarians are allowed to spread innuendo about nefarious-sounding "links" that are inevitable among significant groups of prominent people working in the same or related sectors. (If the omni-competent conspirators had such influence over al Qaeda, why did they fail so spectacularly to have al Qaeda be linked to Saddam?)
A typical example is the frequent Movementarian claim that bin Laden's brother met with George H.W. Bush on the morning of 9/11. The actual fact is that bin Laden has 17 brothers, and the estranged brother in question was among 500 investors in a Carlyle Group conference who saw the elder Bush make a brief appearance at the event.
Mitrzyk has his facts wrong yet again. The famous $2 million bin Laden investment was a much more recent one, made by bin Laden family members in the Carlyle Group. Fahrenheit 9/11 famously says that Carlyle "gained" from 9/11 by its stake in United Defense, which makes the Bradley armored fighting vehicle. What Michael Moore's film fails to mention is that 1) billionaire and bitter lefty Bush critic George Soros was also a Carlyle investor, and 2) the $11 billion Crusader artillery rocket system to be built by United Defense is one of the only weapons systems ever canceled by the Bush administration.
Mitrzyk is apparently thinking of the $50,000 that Bush air national guard buddy James Bath invested in Arbusto in 1979. Bath at the time was a trustee for the Houston interests of Salem bin Laden and Saudi Sheikh Khalid bin Mahfouz, Osama's brother-in-law. Movementarians claim that Bath was merely a front man who was too poor to scrape together a $50K investment in his friend's company, but there is no documentation for their speculation.
33:05 Brouillet: However, prior to Sept 11, there was $100,000 wired from the head of -- well, to Mohammed Atta, and it was on the orders of the head of Pakistani ISI, Brouillet: and that man was in Washington D.C. from Sept 3 to the 14th. He was meeting with top U.S. government officials. On the morning of Sept 11, he was having breakfast with Porter Goss and Bob Graham.
Mitrzyk: Bob Graham, the author of the Patriot Act.
Brouillet: When we demanded investigation, we wanted to know what top U.S. government officials were doing with the head of Pakistani intelligence.
The $100,000 was allegedly wired to Atta by al Qaeda paymaster Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh. (Brouillet and Mitrzyk apparently can't make up their mind whether Atta piloted American Flight 11, since he's merely an "alleged" hijacker when they're not discussing ISI connections to his funding.)  There are many claims on the web that Pakistani intelligence chief Gen. Mahmud Ahmed ordered the al Qaeda paymaster to send the money to Atta. As far as I can tell, all these reports trace back to two unsourced reports (here and here) in the Indian press, citing claims by an unnamed Indian intelligence source that cell phone records show Gen. Ahmed to have been in contact with paymaster Omar Saeed. What the Movementarians never bother to explain are:
The actual story seems to be that Gen. Ahmed was too close to the Taliban, and that after 9/11 the Pakistani President made a smarter decision than did Saddam or the Taliban in choosing between America and al Qaeda. It's unremarkable that the chief of Pakistani intelligence would meet with U.S. intelligence leaders, and it's inane to imply that the conspirators would arrange one final meeting while the hijackings were already underway on the morning of 9/11.
33:45 Brouillet: [Bush wouldn't testify; Graham and Goss headed the investigation; its parameters were intelligence failure] All the people most responsible for the failure of this intelligence, all of them got bumped up and got more money!
34:30 Holtz: Oh yeah, just like Katrina and his little buddy from [FEMA, "Brownie"], but -- but --
Brouillet: But when it was pointed out publicly that the head of Pakistani intelligence, Lt. Gen. Mahmud Ahmed, had sent this $100,000 to
Mitrzyk: Mohammed Atta
Brouillet: Mohammed Atta, he quietly retired, he was never questioned, put into custody, he was just basically ignored by our government.
No, Carol, Ahmed didn't send the $100,000. See above.
34:55 Holtz: So can I ask you --
Brouillet: And the official commission says in their document: who financed the attacks of Sept 11 is of little or no importance.
Mitrzyk: "Little or no importance".
This is a blatant distortion, and a misquote as well. In a section called "General Financing" on pp. 169-172, the 9/11 Report discusses the sources of al Qaeda's $30M/year budget after noting that the 9/11 operation cost only about $500K. The report makes it clear that most of al Qaeda's budget was for supporting jihadists, and not for international terrorism per se. Almost all of al Qaeda's funding came from donations, and neither al Qaeda nor especially its donors would have any reason to decide that any given operation (such as 9/11) was financed by any given donor(s). That is why this section about al Qaeda's funding concludes:
> the U.S. government has not been able to determine the origin of the money used for the 9/11 attacks. Ultimately the question is of little practical significance.Al Qaeda had many avenues of funding. If a particular funding source had dried up, al Qaeda could have easily tapped a different source or diverted funds from another project to fund an operation that cost $400,000–$500,000 over nearly two years.<
The next section is titled "The Funding of the 9/11 Plot", and of course the Report exhibits a keen interest in tracking down the funding of the 9/11 plotters. So when the Report says the precise mix of sources of al Qaeda's $30M/yr of donations is "ultimately of little practical significance", it's a blatant distortion to claim the Report is instead saying this about the 9/11 plot's $250K/yr financing.  For Brouillet and Mitrzyk to trumpet this distortion can only indicate either a willingness to deceive or unconscionable negligence in their alleged pursuit of 9/11 "truth".
Exactly three minutes earlier I had asked Carol why al Qaeda didn't deny responsibility, and she gave no clear answer. So I repeated:
35:10 Holtz: I was trying to repeat my question, which was: was any of what you said over the last three minutes supposed to make me think that Porter Goss has ordered al Qaeda not to deny responsibility for 9/11?
Carol doesn't get a chance to answer, as Dennis cuts her off with evident frustration that I'm asking him about evidence that he doesn't want to think about:
35:25 Mitrzyk: Lookit, this whole thing about what al Qaeda says, you're putting way too much stock in it.
Holtz: Ha ha.
I laugh because it's hilarious that Mitrzyk doesn't put "much stock" in understanding the actions and motives of the only living people who are universally agreed to be 9/11 conspirators.
35:30 Mitrzyk: Go right simply to this fact: two airplanes, three skyscrapers. There were two airplanes, and three skyscrapers. Forget about what al Qaeda said or what they didn't say.
Thus Dennis blatantly admits he's ignoring the only living people who by their own admission (or non-denial, if the ten-times-repeated admissions are all faked) must have been part of the conspiracy. Meanwhile, I make a domino gesture with my hands to show that it's not physically impossible for two explosions to result in the eventual destruction of three buildings.
35:40 Mitrzyk: I have degrees in physics and math from the University of Michigan, and I knew watching the towers fall that the planes did not knock those towers down.
So in 15 seconds flat, Mitrzyk changes his tune about what fact is most important.  First it was the alleged fact that WTC 7 couldn't collapse without an airliner hitting it.  Two sentences later, the most important fact is that the airliners couldn't have knocked down any of the WTC towers.
35:50 Mitrzyk: It's very simple. It's Newtonian physics. A clever high school student could sit down and prove, absolutely prove -- and Professor Steven Jones, who's a fully tenured professor of physics at Brigham Young University, has written a peer-review [sic] paper that has not been challenged, that effectively (in the words of Dr. David Ray Griffin) that the fact that all three towers were brought down through controlled demolition is no longer a theory, it has been proven.
The relevant discipline for the WTC collapse is structural engineering, not physics. Jones' paper was not published in any existing peer-reviewed journal, but instead was "reviewed" by two physicists (and zero structural engineers) for publication in the book 9/11 and American Empire: Intellectuals Speak Out, from "Olive Branch Press".  The College of Engineering at Jones' own BYU says:
BYU> Professor Jones’s department and college administrators are not convinced that his analyses and hypotheses have been submitted to relevant scientific venues that would ensure rigorous technical peer review. The structural engineering faculty in the Fulton College of Engineering and Technology do not support the hypotheses of Professor Jones. <BYU
It's flatly false to say the paper "has not been challenged". Wikipedia has four paragraphs describing various challenges to Jones' paper. Jones apparently even slightly revised his paper after this challenge from 911myths.com. The most fascinating and detailed challenge is by a fellow "Scholar For 9/11 Truth", who attempts to debunk Jones' thermite-demolition thesis in order to support his own mini-nuke theory. He also says Jones "has never presented his 9/11 paper at a scientific conference despite at least one invitation".  Jones has done research on cold fusion, and has also written a paper trying to use archaeological evidence to support the Mormon theory that the resurrected Jesus visited North American Indians.  And "Dr. David Ray Griffin", who vouches that controlled demolition has been "proven"?  He's a theologian.
36:17 Mitrzyk: If we could just go to one slide. Let's go to the slide that has the infrastructure of the towers. There's the towers. Now they have gone so far as to lie, they being the people that covered this up, about the construction as they said there was no core to the building. Well, what you're looking at is the core of the building, 47 steel columns [...]
Dennis is repeating a claim that is exemplified here, saying of the WTC steel core:
> the most widely read document on the World Trade Center attack -- the 9/11 Commission Report -- denies their very existence, claiming the towers' cores were "hollow steel shaft[s]:" <
The complaint here is comical. The 9/11 Commission Report does not cover the WTC collapse at all, and the quote here is from a footnote explaining the layout of the available exits at the very beginning of the chapter about the performance of first responders in evacuating and rescuing people in the stricken buildings. The footnote says: "The interior core of the buildings was a hollow steel shaft, in which elevators and stairwells were grouped."  This is an absolutely accurate way to characterize the layout of the available exits.
It's sheer lunacy to complain that an evacuation-routes footnote to a chapter on first responders constitutes an attempt to make any claim whatsoever about the collapse of the towers. The collapses of WTC 1 and 2 are instead the sole topic of this 40-page FEMA engineering study, and are the heart of the massive June 2004 NIST interim report on the WTC disaster. Indeed, the NIST web site calls attention to the steel core as evidence against controlled demolition: "From video evidence, significant portions of the cores of both buildings (roughly 60 stories of WTC 1 and 40 stories of WTC 2) are known to have stood 15 to 25 seconds after collapse initiation before they, too, began to collapse."

37:10 Mitrzyk: This is simple laws of physics, folks. This is nothing fancy. What is that big cloud of dust? It's concrete, OK. I broke up my patio with a sledgehammer. When you hit -- when you apply a lot of force to concrete, it doesn't just turn to dust, it needs energy. This is simple Newtonian physics, people. To turn that concrete into dust needs energy. There was not enough gravitational energy. [...]

It's flatly false to claim that one can balance the energy budget of the WTC 1 & 2 collapses using just Newtonian kinematics and dynamics -- i.e., Newton's three laws of motion and his gravitational law.  It's true that Newtonian mechanics lets you account for much of the supply side of the energy equation once the collapse was under way, but it's utterly silent about whether the impacts and resulting fires could have caused the collapses.  For that you need to model jet fuel burn rates, aerosolization, fireball size, overpressure, jet fuel containment on the impact floors, combustion of WTC and airplane contents, smoke plume buoyancy, air temperature, wind speed, external air supply to the fire, internal air supply to the fire ("stack effect"), compromise to fireproofing of structural steel, load imbalances due to impact structural damage, thermal expansion of floor framing and slabs, catenary action due to rigidity loss, degradation of steel elasticity modulus due to heating -- all of which are discussed on pages 21-26 of chapter 2 of the FEMA report.  Even more details are in FEMA's 28-page Appendix A, and the June 2004 NIST interim report has over a hundred more pages of analysis of the twin towers' collapse.

Even if you ignore the cause of the collapse and just look at its effects, Newtonian mechanics is utterly inadequate for estimating the demand side of the collapse's energy budget. For that you need sophisticated models to estimate the use of energy to pulverize concrete and other materials, eject debris, heat debris, deform steel and other materials, damage the WTC substructure and neighboring structures, etc.  As a University of Michigan engineering alumnus, it's embarrassing for me to hear my fellow UM alumnus claim that Newton's laws and a sledgehammer are all you need to understand the collapse of the most massive structures mankind has ever engineered.

38:30 Mitrzyk: And then there was melted steel. Jet fuel cannot physically burn hot enough in air to melt steel. I read it in the San Jose Mercury News twice, that there was molten steel at the 7th subfloor, they discovered a week after the event. There is no other explanation for that other than controlled demolition.

The urban legends about "molten steel" are debunked at http://www.911myths.com/html/wtc_molten_steel.html. There is not a single 9/11 "Truth" site that answers this web page.

38: 45 Mitrzyk: It doesn't matter what friggin' al Qaeda says that they did or didn't do it. There is no other explanation other than there were controlled demolitions. It's been proven.

Holtz: So which of Newton's laws of physics is stopping al Qaeda from denying that they did this?

Mitrzyk: That's bullshit. I'm not going to take that argument.

Brouillet: I want to say something. Al Qaeda, if it's a CIA asset, it is serving a function that allows U.S. foreign to go the direction that the Bush Administration wants it to go --

Mitrzyk: They're patsies. They're patsies.

A patsy is defined as "a person who is easily manipulated". It's ludicrous to claim that al Qaeda could be manipulated into falsely believing that they alone were responsible for 9/11.  It's equally ludicrous to claim that the Bush Administration has sufficiently complete influence over al Qaeda as to prevent them from denying the responsibility that they believe they do not have.

39:15 Brouillet: -- that they've already laid out. They say, in the Project For A New American Century, they needed a catastrophic and catalyzing event, like a new Pearl Harbor to have the military transformation that they wanted. They needed an enemy. How else would you justify it?

The PNAC white paper on defense strategy and technology does not say a new Pearl Harbor is "needed" or in any way desired. This "new Pearl Harbor" canard is refuted in detail on this 911myths.com page. In a section on technological transformation, the paper says "the process of transformation, even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor".  The section calls for 1) global missile defenses, 2) control of space and cyberspace, 3) transforming convention forces with information technology, stealth, miniaturization, and precision. The white paper mentions ballistic missiles 30 times, but mentions terrorism only two times.  One mention is about how space-based surveillance capabilities will be acquired by smaller-scale adversaries, down to the level of terrorists. The other mention is just an abstract contrast between the stability of nation-states compared to "terrorists, organized crime, and other non-state actors."  PNAC was warning about a "new Pearl Harbor" wrought by rogue states via WMDs or ballistic missiles, not by suicidal terrorists via box cutters.  PNAC said "the prime directive for transformation will be to design and deploy a global missile defense system", and it mentions China more often than it mentions Iraq.  It's simply illiterate to say that PNAC white paper had "already laid out" the idea that knife-wielding suicidal pilots were America's paradigmatic new enemy.

39:25 Mitrzyk: You know Brian, your argument -- we're arguing physics, and to go back to al Qaeda, when you can't argue the laws of physics and you talk about al Qaeda?

Dennis, now that since our show I've investigated 9/11 science for a tiny fraction of the time that you had invested in it before the show, I've above reduced your arguments about "physics" to a smoking cinder. I said at the outset that my goal was to get your specific claims on the record so I can fact-check them, and your claims just don't hold up.  What actually happened on the show is obvious: you had no credible answer to my questions about al Qaeda, and so you blatantly changed the subject using a smokescreen about "Newtonian physics". I've now demonstrated that your smokescreen was just hot air, and exposed your position on al Qaeda as ridiculous.

39:30 Kottke: [Explains what PNAC is]

39:55 Forte: [...] You can clearly look at these images and see that a tremendous amount of energy was required. Just a few minutes before that happened, that building was sitting there like a smoldering smokestack, and all of a sudden there's been a tremendous release of energy. There's no way to explain that -- the official theory, which also defies the laws of gravity, and so on. [...]

False. See FEMA chapter 2, appendix A, and appendix B; and NIST interim report chapter 2, and appendices C, H, J, K, and M. For 12 detailed articles debunking criticism of the official collapse theory, see this page on 911myths.com. For over a dozen more articles by experts, see here. For a recent NIST response to 14 questions about controlled WTC demolition, see here.  It says:

> the WTC towers collapsed because: (1) the impact of the planes severed and damaged support columns, dislodged fireproofing insulation coating the steel floor trusses and steel columns, and widely dispersed jet fuel over multiple floors; and (2) the subsequent unusually large jet-fuel-ignited multi-floor fires (which reached temperatures as high as 1,000 degrees Celsius) significantly weakened the floors and columns with dislodged fireproofing to the point where floors sagged and pulled inward on the perimeter columns. This led to the inward bowing of the perimeter columns and failure of the south face of WTC 1 and the east face of WTC 2, initiating the collapse of each of the towers. Both photographic and video evidence—as well as accounts from the New York Police Department aviation unit during a half-hour period prior to collapse—support this sequence for each tower. <

It's just laughable to baldly say "there is no way to explain" the WTC collapse as a result of the airplane crashes.

40:40 Forte: However, when the Truth Movement, when you [Mitrzyk] just a moment ago, go into this stuff with the kind of certainty that you can't possibly have, you can't possibly have the same sort of certainty about this [WTC collapse] as you do about Mossad or British Intelligence

Mitrzyk: Oh, I'm not claiming the same certainty.

Forte: When the Truth Movement makes these kind of grand claims that are not provable, it creates a kind of polarized climate and it makes it very difficult for people to agree with. [Turning to Holtz] And I notice you do this in your arguments too, like a defense attorney.

Forte can't make up his mind about standards of proof.  He earlier said he wants to apply a judicial reasonable-doubt standard -- can OBL be proven guilty? -- to a historical question -- who is responsible for 9/11?  Now he wants me to not argue "like a defense attorney". So which is it, Robert?

Forte: Instead of saying very simple, unimpeachable things we can all wrap our minds around, like you're asking me in the email the other day,  "I think the Truth Movement should come up with their grand theory".

What I said was this: "Conspiracy buffs almost never attempt to set forth a coherent and consistent theory with anything like the explanatory power and conceptual economy of the theory they criticize. [..] I have a coherent story about what happened on 9/11, and you don't."

Forte: That's the last thing that the Truth Movement should do now. The Truth Movement should stay with the very simple things that we can all agree on.

Right -- like the fact that somebody is making it look like al Qaeda admits -- and does not deny -- that it planned and committed 9/11. My theory is that al Qaeda is being truthful.  Forte's theory is that he dare not have a theory.  That's not being part of any 9/11 "Truth" Movement.  That's being part of a 9/11 Ignorance Movement.

Forte: That videotape of Osama bin Laden was funny. He had a fat nose and a ring and writing with the wrong hand.

911myths.com found other videos that are consistent with the nose and the ring and the hand in that video. But as a member of the 9/11 Ignorance Movement, Forte wouldn't know anything about this -- or feel any obligation to investigate.

Forte: The government pushed that in front of the world's face, and convicted a man and has been murdering hundreds of thousands of innocent women and children in countries that happen to be very rich in oil. That is very stinky. You don't have to go any further than that.

Thus, Forte effectively admits that his Sep 10 political beliefs about American foreign policy constituted both the starting point and the ending point for his investigation of 9/11. Again, the 9/11 Truth Movement is shown to be more about a Movement than it is about the Truth.

I refute the tired canard about "blood for oil" here.  "Hundreds of thousands of innocent women and children" is a Forte fantasy. For reality, see this Wikipedia article and my comparison to deaths caused by Saddam -- including actual murders as well as his oil-for-food defiance of the UN. It's silly to
call all fatalities "murder" when the most collateral-damage-averse military in human history liberates a nation from a tyrant who literally (not metaphorically) murdered hundreds of thousands of his fellow citizens. You can chant "murder" all you want, but in doing so you're preaching a conclusion to your choir, rather than arguing for that conclusion.

42:00 Forte: [discussed 9/11 cover-up via email with Noam Chomsky, who said] "I think it is just implausible" as you [Brian] have said, it's implausible to think that the government would do this

42:45 Holtz: I said I think it's implausible to think that the government could do this.

Forte: -- could cover it up. That's what you said.

Holtz: The government pushed a button, they incinerated 100,000 innocents in Nagasaki, and then did it again three days later -- I mean, in Hiroshima and then Nagasaki. They will kill innocents if they think it will serve a higher purpose, and if Bush thought that killing 3000 innocents could save tens of millions from nuclear holocaust, he might very well make that calculation. But I'm very confident that he doesn't have near enough neural capacity to pull off -- to cover his tracks ... [laughter]

Making fun of Bush's intelligence is of course a cheap laugh with this crowd. My off-the-cuff assertion of 100,000 innocents was too high.  Immediate fatalities at each of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were about 70,000, and many tens of thousands of them worked either for the military or in wartime industries.

44:00 Forte: When I asked professor Chomsky if he would look at this, everything he said -- every reason he gave -- is an irrational reason. Such as: it's implausible. Well, y'know, there are so many things that are implausible in this whole scenario that if plausibility was the criteria it would have never happened and we wouldn't be able to propose any theories at all.

Holtz: I have to say you got me Robert, because I'm not going to defend Chomsky's rationality.

But Chomsky's rationality here is easy to defend against Forte's facile critique. It's just silly to claim that when an unlikely thing happens, all possible explanations are by some magic rendered equally likely.

44:30 Forte: That's twice I've got you. I got Brian twice.

Holtz: What was the first?

At the time I had no idea what Robert was talking about with this claim that he'd already "gotten" me once on the show. When I watched the recording the first time I still didn't get his reference. Only further review made me realize that he was talking about the fact that I'd rather defend the authenticity of the 2004 bin Laden confession video than the 2001 confession video. It's simply bizarre for Robert to claim that the way we decide whether bin Laden was responsible is to deliberately ignore -- as Robert admits he wants us to -- the strongest evidence for bin Laden's responsibility. Again: how can Forte's position possibly exhibit any desire for 9/11 "truth"?  It's laughable to claim that any weak evidence for guilt must count as strong evidence for innocence. Prosecutorial misbehavior might constitute technical grounds for acquittal in a court of law, but it is essentially irrelevant in the court of history.

44:35 Brouillet: [Movementarian Barry Zwicker polls his self-selected audiences, and astoundingly finds that their faith in a cover-up conspiracy increases after hearing Zwicker's one-sided presentation.]

It's fascinating that Brouillet, the self-described "hyper-activist", is so focused on her outreach and propaganda techniques of the 9/11 Movement, and so uninterested in comparing the two side's best arguments in order to determine the truth. To his credit, Forte immediately calls her on this irrelevant data about audience reactions to Zwicker:

45:50 Forte: That's close to what I'm talking about when I mentioned earlier about the principles of jurisprudence -- we have juries. Now that is an example, possibly, but that's a self-selected audience. There's a process where people select a jury.  But that's exactly the kind of thing I'm talking about, this greatest crime in our history has not been subjected to our very well-proven standards of jurisprudence.

Holtz: Can I address that point?

Forte: Yes, please.

After Forte exhibited this brief episode of lucidity in diagnosing Brouillet's flawed invocation of audience response, it was uncharitable of me to so quickly correct his point about standards of proof.  But I couldn't help myself, as I had already given him this correction via email, and nothing he said during the taping responded to it:

46:15 Holtz: As I said in an email to you yesterday, there's a different standard of proof that we're talking about here. A jury is asked to decide a very narrow question, which is: do we have enough evidence under the rules of evidence to deprive a person of their life or their freedom in a judicial setting under adversarial court proceedings, and it's simply -- do we have enough evidence, or not? But when we're writing history books, we don't have the luxury of saying either A or not-A. We have to make an inference to best explanation as to, OK, here's a morass of evidence, what is the most plausible explanation for it? It's very likely that we won't be able to explain every scrap of it, so we just have to find the best explanation that doesn't have any blatant contradictions. So the question is -- are there blatant contradictions in this?  That's something that I'm going to have to fact-check, because I don't know enough about the case to say, but so far in only 72 hours I haven't seen any.

I phrased my point very poorly here. What I should have said is:  What we face here is not the judicial question of whether or not we have both proof beyond a reasonable doubt and clean prosecutorial hands to justify convicting Osama bin Laden of 9/11.  Rather, we face the historical question of deciding, given all the available evidence, who is responsible for 9/11. The techniques and standards for answering these two questions are quite distinct. For example, if Bush indeed faked the Dec 2001 video confession and then tried to use it in a prosecution, that would probably be enough to save bin Laden from a guilty verdict in a court of law.  But it's ludicrous to claim such prosecutorial misconduct would be remotely close to sufficient reason to acquit bin Laden in the history books.  Again, Forte seems less interested in historical "truth", and more interested in cherry-picking his standards of proof so as to demonize the people who on Sep 10 he already considered his politcal enemies.

47:25 Mitrzyk:  You go to scholarsfor911truth.org, there are no blatant inconsistencies. This is I think one of the best web sites out there, it's the people who have degrees in physics and mechanical engineering and they have written peer-review [sic] papers and so these people, they're doing the science on this.

All of the "peer-reviewed" papers on scholarsfor911truth.org were published in forums created explicitly for "9/11 studies".  Among these dozen papers there appear to be only three PhD authors with a record of publications in engineering or mathematics or physical science: Steven Jones, Ken Kuttler, and Frank Greening.  Greening actually supports the NIST collapse analsysis, and Kuttler's only paper consists of three pages about the speed of the WTC 7 collapse. The rest of these "peer-reviewed" scholars all appear to be either in "soft" disciplines like theology or philosophy, or are not published academics at all.

I took a look at a scholarsfor911truth article (not claimed to be peer-reviewed) by a "mechanical engineer" named Michael Meyer: A Boeing 757 did not hit the Pentagon. In his March 2006 article he claims without citation that "American Airlines Flight 77, a Boeing 757, is alleged to have punched through 6 blast-resistant concrete walls -- a total of nine feet of reinforced concrete". I went to fact-check his article, and found out in about twenty minutes (on p. 53 of the Pentagon Building Perfomance Report) that there were in fact no reinforced-concrete walls between the first and last walls penetrated.  However, it apparently took Meyer 3 months to get out a revision to his article that omits his mistake. He makes no mention of his mistake, and his revised article still talks of warheads designed to "
penetrate multiple reinforced walls". The scholarsfor911truth site does not label his old article as obsolete, and Google finds 1210 references to it, compared to 8 to his corrected article.

47:40 Forte: [repeats that 9/11 claims need to be tested in "a court of law"]

49:00 Holtz: In terms of standards of evidence, I've gotta agree with my fellow University of Michigan alumnus here [Mitrzyk] that peer review is the key on all these technical questions. I've got a software engineering degree from Michigan, and I don't pretend to claim that my credential gets me anywhere close to being able to rule on the 32-page FEMA report on the collapse of building 7 or the 56-page NIST preliminary report on the collapse of building 7. And earlier we mentioned the "groundswell", that maybe the "Truth" Movement is starting to get some traction, and I'm curious to poll the panel here for predictions about -- purely on the narrow technical issues, do you think that in the peer-reviewed technical community that the [Dr. Steven] Jones thesis is going to turn the tide? I kind of think of the narrow technical areas -- to me it's almost analogous to creationism. I'm confident that creationism and Intelligent Design theory is never going to win in the marketplace of ideas just because the procedures in place are totally stacked against theories that don't have legs. So whereas the people who are pushing these collapse [I meant demolition] theories make it sound like they have confidence in the technical story, and so do you think it's going to win?

50:35 Mitrzyk: It's no longer a collapse [he meant demolition] theory, as I pointed out, it has been proven.

In the context of the current state of the peer-reviewed literature on this topic, this statement by Dennis disqualifies him as a serious commentator on the science of 9/11. Brouillet goes on to say that the main problem is "psychological barriers of fear". Dennis agrees:

51:50 Mitrzyk: The number one reason I hear from people that they cannot believe that it was a controlled demolition and an inside job is they say these words: "even though I cannot stand Bush, I do not believe that he could kill 3000" -- and this is the key words -- "of his own people". And what they're missing is, they're not "his own people", per se.

Kottke: It could have easily been 10,000 people.

Mitrzyk: No, it was designed to have low casualties.

I started talking over Dennis' last line here, and so I didn't notice it either at the time or the first time I watched the tape. It's a fascinating answer to the point I've raised elsewhere that the conspirators failed to kill nearly as many WTC occupants as they could have. I'd love to hear Dennis explain how a plan "designed to have low casualties" would hit two towers instead of one.  Meanwhile, it's just lame to complain about the phrase "his own people", as if the speaker is claiming Bush owns American citizens. or as if Bush has no reason to consider American lives as more imporant than the lives of foreigners.

52:15 Holtz: But Chomsky believes he could, and I think that under the right circumstances that he could, so...

[pregnant pause]

Mitrzyk: But the truth is going to win out, the truth is going to win out.
Again, none of the panelists make any attempt whatsoever to explain the disbelief of Chomsky -- except perhaps to ridiculously imply that he's an agent of the military-industrial complex.

52:25 Forte: When we deal with the psychological aspects of this, the language that we use is very important. We all know what we're talking about when we say "Bush". You know, George Bush has very little to do with this.

Mitrzyk: He's a figurehead. He's not the President. [Here I just smirk in bemusement.]

Forte: We don't know that. I think we need to use our language in the most conservative way, to make the point that we're all going to agree on. We all want to bring criminals to justice.

Oh really?  Did Forte cheer when the mass murderer Saddam Hussein was pulled from his spider hole?  I did.

52:50 Forte: And even though you've been positioned here as kind of "the skeptic", I'd like to say that you don't strike me as a skeptic at all. You strike me as an apologist for the government.

Holtz: An apologist for the Bush Administration?  Oh my god.

Forte: Maybe because of the group dynamic that's here, but you have not voiced any skepticism about the official story. Maybe you want a chance to do that ---

Brouillet then interrupts, and I don't get the chance to point out that Robert's statement is blatantly false. At 27 minutes into the show, I said that the so-called "war on terror" is "phony", and disagreed with Bush's story that al Qaeda "hates freedom", and said that I agree with al Qaeda instead of Bush in their competing theories of why 9/11 happened. I also had already told Forte in email that I believe the 9/11 Report turns a blind eye to Bush and Cheney apparently lying about whether the shootdown rules of engagement first originated with Bush.  As a Libertarian activist, I would love it if Republican advocates of smaller government came to believe that as Forte does that the GOP is infiltrated by Nazis and its leaders planned 9/11.

So let's see what was so important that Carol needed to pre-empt me from answering Robert's charge of being a Bush apologist:
53:18 Brouillet: Robert, I just want to make one point, though, and that is, that the 9/11 Commission Report was directed by Phillip Zelikow, who was part of the Bush national security transition team, and Zelikow should also be recognized for coming up with the pre-emptive war doctrine, which I think is one of the most horrendous foreign policy decisions this country has every taken.

Zelikow had been a professor at Harvard and co-director of Harvard’s Intelligence and Policy Program. He had published a paper in 1998 entitled entitled Catastrophic Terrorism presciently warning that

PZ> the event would divide our past and future into a before and after. The United States might respond with draconian measures scaling back civil liberties, allowing wider surveillance of citizens, detention of suspects and use of deadly force. More violence could follow, either future terrorist attacks or U.S. counterattacks. Belatedly, Americans would judge their leaders negligent for not addressing terrorism more urgently. <PZ

He was an excellent choice by the Commission, and it shows in the Report. The doctrine of preemption in the Sep 2002 National Security Strategy is eminently sensisble: "We must adapt the concept of imminent threat to the capabilities and objectives of today’s adversaries. Rogue states and terrorists do not seek to attack us using conventional means. They know such attacks would fail. Instead, they rely on acts of terror and, potentially, the use of weapons of mass destruction — weapons that can be easily concealed, delivered covertly, and used without warning."

54:00 Mitrzyk: Can we go to the one picture, the child, this is what 9/11 has brought. This is an Iraqi boy, I think this picture is one of the most disturbing pictures I've ever seen, and this is what our tax dollars are doing right now as we speak. And they're using 9/11 as the excuse to do this to innocent children on the other side of the world. This boy had nothing to do with 9/11. This boy was not a terrorist.

54:55 Holtz: Was he targeted? Was he targeted?

Mitrzyk: Well, it's hard to say.

No it's not, Dennis, because you just said it.  You just said "they're using 9/11 as the excuse to do this to innocent children".  This is blatant propaganda of the most clumsy and maudlin variety.  Dennis has a picture of one boy allegedly maimed by American military action (to liberate a nation from a mass-murdering tyrant). Well, here is a picture of two Iranian children killed by chemical warfare initiated by that mass murderer. Dennis, if you want to fight this out by trading pictures of victims, then you're going to lose.  Badly.

It turns out, of course, that the boy was not targeted. He is Ali Abbas, and the book about him says "in the early hours of March 31 last year, 11 days into the Iraq war, a stray missile hit the hamlet where Ali lived". So with all the "hundreds of thousands" that Forte says America has "murdered", the best poster child they can come up with is one they admit was orphaned by a "stray missile".  Since he chose the photo, Dennis should have known the story of Ali.  This shows just how interested Dennis is in "Truth".

Even our host instantly recognized what Dennis was attempting:

Kottke: There's pictures like this in every war.

Holtz: Exactly.

Forte: Yes, he was targeted. He was targeted. They targeted the country that he was growing up in.

Holtz: Is that "being careful with language", to say that he was targeted because his country was targeted?

Forte: Yes, because that's where he was. When you target a country, you target the people in it.

Iraq is 438,000 square kilometers.  It's inane to say that the American military targeted the entire country of Iraq, and thus everyone in it. 68% of air-delivered munitions in the 2003 invasion were precision-guided, compared to 9% in the liberation of Kuwait. There were zero instances of the common World War II practice of deliberately carpet-bombing areas known to contain civilians.

Kottke: [puts up list of web sites]

55:25 Mitrzyk: Brian, you said that there's no way the government could pull off a conspiracy like this. Conspire just means to breathe together. Let's look at the etymology of the word. We're conspiring right now, we're breathing together. Con-spire. Mitrzyk: The Manhattan project was thousands of people, and nobody knew about it until they said "hey, guess what, we had a whole city, we had thousands of people." And they all kept it quiet.

The fact that a huge secret project was under way at Oak Ridge was itself no secret. A less bad analogy would be the World War II Ultra/Enigma cryptology secret, which was kept for 29 years until 1974. However, almost nobody disputes that keeping cryptology secrets from the Soviet Union was a good idea, whereas Dennis is talking about killing thousands of innocent Americans.  The least bad analogy available would be COINTELPRO, the FBI effort to investigate and disrupt dissident organizations from 1956 to 1971. But again, there are no allegations that COINTELPRO deliberately murdered even one innocent bystander -- let alone thousands.

Forte: Professor Griffin was on the radio and I was mentioning him. "Oh, he's a conspiracy theorist." And I said, of course he's a conspiracy theorist, that's how you solve crimes, everybody that solves crimes is a conspiracy theorist.

Only one side offers in this case a theory of a vast cover-up conspiracy involving hundreds of people in dozens of organizations in multiple countries. The other side posits no cover-up conspiracy whatsoever.

56:10 Holtz: This point was already answered by me yesterday in the email to you guys. There will be a link to it on my website, marketliberal.org. "Conspire" also means there's an effort to keep something covert. We're doing this in front of cameras, and we're going to try to get as much ratings for it as possible, so this really doesn't meet the technical definition of a conspiracy.

56:40 Mitrzyk: No, our panel's not a conspiracy.

Fifty seconds earlier, Dennis, you said "we're conspiring right now".  Thank you for admitting you were wrong.