Some things did change, however. 9/11 dissipated some of the "fog" of government. Things previously done in secret now could be done in the open; the politicians finally had a good excuse. The USA PATRIOT Act parts I and II stripped away many of the freedoms government and society had been paying lip-service to for years. Case in point: the DEA has been recording every phone call made on AT&T since 1987. Stop and take a second and read that sentence again. The fact that the DEA's database was larger than the one the NSA was gathering thanks to the Patriot Act has been called out in most reports, but if you read the entire articles you'll see that the DEA was simply collecting the data for the rest of the agencies. The entire alphabet soup -- FBI, CIA, DEA, NSA, DHS, and the IRS -- was using the data. Furthermore, they were instructed to keep quiet about it. Pre-9/11, this horrific abuse of trust, misuse of authority, and frankly put -- fascism -- would have been a major news story. Post-9/11 it's page 3 news.
The changes to conspiracism that took place after 9/11 cannot be denied though. It is truly a different field today than it was 12 years ago. First and foremost, it's a hell of a lot more crowded. The JFK assassination in 1963 created thousands of conspiracy theorists, but 9/11 created millions of conspiracy believers. There's a vast difference. A theorist does research, studies the facts, analyzes the available data, and comes up with a theory supported by evidence. A believer hears what someone else tells them and simply believes it. Conspiracism is now overrun by believers; people who ascribe to one, two, or a thousand conspiratorial beliefs as truth without ever having investigated the topic on their own. They simply believe. It is not unique to conspriacism. Our society is teeming with eager believers -- people programmed to accept anything as truth as long as it is presented to them in the correct way. This is a symptom of our mass media conditioning and there are hundreds of people working in conspiracism today who readily take advantage of that fact at every opportunity. So the next time you hear a "conspiracy theorist" ranting about "the sheeple;" bear in mind that almost everyone listening to them -- and likely the speaker themselves -- is as much a "sheeple" as those they're insulting.
It's a shame. We need more theorists and less believers. We have work to do. The "watchdog" media has been asleep at the wheel since the early eighties. The new Woodward and Bernsteins are too busy supplementing their articles with cat gifs to optimize their page views to break the next Watergate. If someone's going to uncover the truth, they are going to have to come from outside the mainstream. So I'm deputizing you, dear reader, to become a theorist rather than a believer. To do the hard and boring work of fact checking and cross-referencing so that when people think of "conspiracy theorists" they'll think of someone with evidence and proof backing up their claims and not a lunatic screaming "FALSE FLAG! FALSE FLAG!" every time things don't go their way.
Since 9/11 really did change everything in the world of conspiracism, let's take a look at some of the most enduring theories to emerge from that event. Most conspiracy theorists promote a mishmash of separate individual theories, but for ease of understanding, I've divided these up into two separate posts: the "Whys" and the "Hows."
Part 1: The Whys
- The most persistent theory regarding 9/11 is the idea that the government either allowed or orchestrated the event to facilitate a political goal. This is typically referred to as the false flag theory; the idea that we attacked ourselves and blamed it on Al-Qaeda. The persistence of this theory is due to the fact that it is the most plausible logically and has the most evidence to support it. The 9/11 Commission Report itself cites multiple intelligence failures as a significant contributing factor to 9/11, and one must wonder where to draw the line between intentional and unintentional "failures." Chapter 11 of the report is a masterpiece of double-speak, wherein it is admitted that government knew Al-Qaeda was planning to attack the US with hijacked airplanes but was unable to "understand" the significance of this information. The two possible conclusions to draw from this are 1) that they did fully understand the significance and didn't care or 2) American intelligence agencies and policymakers are so painfully inept that they couldn't see what was staring them in the face. If you're keeping score, the conspiracy theorists pick #1, the government picks #2. Fun fact: if you're bad at your job, you get fired. If the government is bad at theirs, they get a raise. The 9/11 Commission Report is the pinnacle of governmental obfuscation since it gives the reader all of the facts and simply tells them that they mean different things than the obvious. There are, of course, a considerable number of important details left out of the Report. Here is a list of 50 government officials who question the Report's findings. Pay particularly close attention to Rep. Max Cleland of Georgia, who resigned from the Commission claiming the White House "had played cover-up," and the words of Ray McGovern, who is perhaps the most eloquent of the critics.
- While on the subject of the 9/11 Commission: the Committee was loaded to the brim with spooks and other questionable people. After Bush's initial push to get war criminal Henry Kissinger to head the commission, the bland, inoffensive Thomas Kean was chosen. Like Earl Warren before him, Kean was simply the acceptable public face of a group that contained some rough customers. Two former Watergate figures, Fred Fielding and Richard Ben-Veniste, were on the panel and both had played important roles in the Senate Sub-Committe's cover-up of why exactly the Plumbers were in the Watergate Hotel that night. Fielding represented Blackwater, the "military consultants" (mercenaries), that made huge profits post-9/11. He wasn't alone, all of the members were on the take from the airline or defense industries.
- The False Flag theory remains so popular because it is no secret that members of the Bush administration really, really wanted something exactly like 9/11 to happen. They said so themselves. The Project for a New American Century was formed in 1997 by Bill Kristol and Bob Kagan, and it was essentially a think-tank dedicated to bringing about the Fourth Reich. Kristol and Kagan make a living passing themselves off as impartial observers on news programs and they've been praised by both the Right and the Left (Obama loves Kagan) despite the fact that they are dyed-in-the-wool fascists. PNAC was calling for regime change in Iraq back in 1997 and making the now infamous statement: "Further, 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." Read it here (pdf), and, no, it's not taken out of context. Essentially PNAC was saying that in order to usher in what they called "Pax Americana," we needed a big catastrophe to get the ball rolling and grease the wheels of public opinion. And, boy, did they ever get it.
- The signatories and associates of PNAC reads like a roll-call for the Legion of Doom or the Masters of Evil, right down to the fact that they're all cartoonish Nazis and megalomaniacs. Seriously, go to their wikipedia page. They actually wanted to develop a "race based" biological weapon; one that would only kill members of a certain ethnic group. Don't think for a second that it's strictly a Republican thing, either, as the majority of the members aren't politicians per se, but professional policymakers that stay in the government regardless of who is in charge. Admittedly I'm being a bit glib about the PNAC because, frankly, those involved are a terrifying collection of people who had done this country irreprable harm well before the PNAC was established and to see them united on anything is frightening. PNAC essentially hung it up in 2006, presumably because they had achieved all of their goals.
- The destruction of the Twin Towers was intended as a symbolic act. Freemasonic lore places a heavy emphasis on pillars or towers, and some theorists point to WTC 1 and 2 as being symbolic of Jachin and Boaz, the two pillars supporting the temple of Solomon. The two pillars represent the dual nature of life and death, male and female, light and dark, etc. and, as you'd expect, any ritual involving them would be of particular importance. This theory is particularly popular with those who attribute every conspiratorial event to the Freemasons.
- Apart from just the Freemasons, the occult symbology aspect of 9/11 is a popular theory. I won't bother linking you to all of them since they are easily found via Google, but suffice to say that the numerological aspects of 9/11 are particularly rich as are the various aspects of building symbology.
- The importance of the psychological trauma inflicted on the American public is a recurring idea. Such theories place a greater importance on the results of the event rather than the event itself, with some even supporting the "official version" of the event and citing the existence of a conspiracy in how it used by the media.
- There's this. A not-insignificant amount of people believe that 9/11 was used to open a stargate to another dimension.