On September 11, 2001, nineteen hijackers, wielding nothing more lethal than box-cutters, commandeered four airliners, and turned them into lethal missiles, three of which managed to hit their targets — the World Trade Center and the Pentagon — while a fourth crashed in a field before it could strike its intended target — the White House. One of the hijackers had been in the United States since the mid-1990s, and the others, according to subsequent investigations, entered, exited, and re-entered the United States regularly starting in 2000.
In the years and months prior to 9/11, the terrorists remained undetected: there was not a hint, and certainly no warning, that we were about to experience the worst terrorist attack in our history. In spite of all the billions spent on "anti-terrorism" programs during the Clinton years, and the combined efforts of our intelligence community and those of our allies’, Mohammed Atta and his cohorts managed to evade detection until the day they emblazoned their vengeance across the sky and pulled off the biggest terrorist attack in US history.
That, at least, is the official story. As to what the real story is — well, we’re not allowed to ask.
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President Obama’s "green czar," one Van Jones, was recently pressured into resigning. His crime? He had once signed a letter originating with one of the "9/11 Truth" organizations calling for a new investigation of the terrorist attacks. No, he hadn’t declared that 9/11 was an "inside job," as some of the more flamboyant "truthers" assert: indeed, he hadn’t challenged any one specific aspect of the official story. All he had asked for was a new investigation — and once this got out (thanks to Fox News nut-job Glenn Beck), he was shown the door.
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This is the way our society deals with uncomfortable questions about "official" explanations for the inexplicable — by purging all dissenters, and even anybody who asks a question without necessarily having a ready-made answer. To the stake with them! Burn the heretics! Move along, nothing to see here — and don’t ask questions unless you want to completely marginalize yourself, lose your job, and be subjected to an intensive hate campaign.
We are asked to believe that 19 men, armed with the most basic weapons, somehow managed to elude the biggest, most expensively-accoutered intelligence apparatus in the world — and the intelligence agencies of our allies, to boot. Utilizing nothing but box-cutters and the knowledge gleaned from a few weeks at flight school, these supermen somehow managed to steer those planes into two of the most visible potential terrorist targets in the US, one of which had been successfully targeted by terrorists before. They did this with no help from any foreign intelligence agency, no nation-state in on the plot, and they did it for less than $100,000.
The more distance in time from the actual event, the odder such an assertion seems. Eight years to the day, the official account of 9/11 seems more anemic —and inadequate — than ever. Yet anyone who questions the official story — the narrative of 19 Arab dudes going on what would seem to be a rather quixotic jihad, haphazardly making their way through a strange foreign country on their own, all the while readying themselves for The Day That Changed History — is denounced as a "conspiracy theorist," a crackpot, and worse.