The Politician Turned Conspiracy Theorist

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Andreas von Bülow says he’s never feared for his life. This is despite the fact that he harbors suspicions that the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were not the work of 19 "suicide Muslims," as he calls them, but rather an ingenious, cold-blooded operation in psychological warfare organized by the United States itself; and despite the fact that he has published this view in book form.

Bülow doesn’t commit himself definitively to the position, but he feels fairly certain that either the Bush administration or other, far more powerful groups operating behind the scenes allowed more than 3,000 people to die in order to construct an unassailable argument supporting geopolitically desirable military operations such as those in Iraq and Afghanistan.

These are astonishing theories on the part of a former German government minister, one who spent 25 years representing the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) in Germany’s federal parliament, the Bundestag. He’s not saying his theories necessarily represent what really happened, Bülow explains, he’s simply posing questions. "This is just another way of thinking," he says. But, the former minister adds, it’s a way of thinking that appears quite plausible to its creator.

Others find the theory plausible as well. According to its publisher, Bülow’s book Die CIA und der 11. September (The CIA and September 11) has sold 200,000 copies since it was first released in 2003. A new edition of the book, published in time for the 10-year anniversary of the attacks, includes an extensive afterword which casts doubt on the claim that Osama bin Laden was in fact shot in Pakistan by US Special Forces. The new edition fails, however, to mention that a number of the book’s original claims have long since been refuted. One rather significant detail was the claim that seven of the 19 attackers were still "very much alive," a theory SPIEGEL disproved in 2003.

A Mainstream Conspiracy Theorist

Ten years after the attacks in New York and Washington, Bülow is now 74, but he looks closer to 60. He and his wife have a charming home south of Bonn, with climbing roses outside and hardwood floors, Oriental rugs and antiques inside. Bülow’s haircut is neat and he wears a button-down shirt with cotton pants. The couple serve their coffee in blue and white porcelain cups.

A grand piano, meant for his wife and the grandchildren, stands in the living room in front of the bookshelf. There are oil paintings and a Picasso engraving on the walls. Bülow himself plays cello in an orchestra and in a string quartet. He provides a mainstream counterpoint to Germany’s other major 9/11 conspiracy theorist, Mathias Bröckers, a former editor at the left-wing daily Die Tageszeitung.

Bröckers, author of 11.9. – zehn Jahre danach: Der Einsturz eines Lügengebäudes (9/11 – Ten Years Later: The Collapse of a Tower of Lies), previously wrote about the beneficial effects of cannabis. Bülow, on the other hand, was a member of parliament, state secretary in the Defense Ministry and even German research minister under Chancellor Helmut Schmidt. Bröckers and Bülow have met and get along well, but Bülow says he doesn’t know much about what else Bröckers does.

Bülow still occasionally sees old fellow party members from the SPD, but says they avoid mentioning "the subject" – his subject – when they meet. Bülow wrote to Peer Steinbrück, who had once worked in Bülow’s department, when Steinbrück became Germany’s finance minister, "but he never answered." Bülow no longer knows any of the current SPD leadership, but then, he says, they have to take care not to be associated with him. "I understand that they have to work together with the US," the former politician says.

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