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9-11 Inside-Job Theory Creeps into Mainstream

by messenger Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2006 at 3:06 AM

by Andrew Broman

Email: andrew1bro (at)

Since 9-11, the idea that the U.S. government orchestrated the attacks has clung stubbornly to the outer limits of the public's perception about what happened that day.

And it likely would have remained in this distant orbit if UW-Madison lecturer Kevin Barrett hadn't been criticized recently for teaching what many believe to be wacko conspiracy talk.

For the most part, news organizations have avoided examining the merits of Barrett's inside-job theory. They have kept the spotlight on Barrett himself, focusing on whether he should be allowed to teach it in an Islamic studies class.

Despite receiving little credence, the inside-job theory has crept into journalism's mainstream, and it is a grand coup for Barrett and other inside-job believers if only because major news organizations have steered well clear of the subject until now.

Only time will tell whether Barrett's arguments emerge from the recesses of Internet chat rooms and gain traction in a more publicized venue. Americans might simply lack the stomach for such disputation no matter how weak or solid the evidence.

Indeed, the notion that the very government entrusted to protect the public has turned against it in some kind of demented geopolitical power grab is revolting. The implication that we know precious little about the government's operation and motives is too scary to ponder. Better not go there.

And yet for many people, something remains unsettling about the government's account of that day. Barrett is the annoying little voice that won't go away. It whispers into the ear of America's collective consciousness: The government is lying to you.

Several state legislators have condemned Barrett, labeling his inside-job theory as treasonous. They have demanded his firing, but the public has proven more willing to listen. An informal Madison TV website poll shows that 60 percent of respondents believe Barrett "raises some good questions."

Even more interesting, a May 2006 Zogby International poll finds only 47 percent of Americans agree that "the 9/11 attacks were thoroughly investigated and that any speculation about US government involvement is nonsense."

Furthermore, the same poll finds 45 percent of respondents indicated they were more likely to agree "that so many unanswered questions about 9/11 remain that Congress or an International Tribunal should re-investigate the attacks, including whether any US government officials consciously allowed or helped facilitate their success."

Perhaps the most controversial aspect of Barrett's theory is demolition, not the impact of hijacked airplanes, caused the trade center buildings' collapse. In particular, he raises questions about WTC 7, the third building to collapse that day, though no plane flew into it. Barrett backs up these claims with research papers written by a small group of academics, called Scholars for 9-11 Truth.

Of course, it is one thing to suggest government leaders or operatives knew about the pending attacks and chose not to act either out of negligence or ulterior motives. It's a big leap to suggest somebody planted explosive devices within the trade center buildings and coordinated their explosions with the attacks.

Some scientists have attempted to recreate the buildings' collapse through computer models, using the planes' impact and fuel as the only inputs. But some models failed to explain how the buildings' steel beams could have reached a hot enough temperature to trigger their almost-free-fall collapse. Hence, Barrett and others believe the evidence indicates explosive devices must have been involved.

The collapse of WTC 7 is especially perplexing given no planes flew into it, Scholars for 9-11 Truth say.

Plenty of science disputes the inside-job theory, noting that WTC 7 endured significant damage from falling debris from the other two towers. The damage along with an intense fire caused the collapse, according to the government's account.

The truth might be somewhere in between, more subtle and complicated than either side has conceived. But the fact that a group of academics are seriously investigating the government's account of 9-11, and that their concerns have crept into the mainstream media is telling. It demonstrates just how little trust exists in the government and just how many unanswered questions still exist about that day.

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