- Apr 8, 2004Thinking Unthinkable Thoughts
Theologian Charges White House
Complicity in 9/11 Attack
by Nick Welsh
A respected philosopher of religion at the Claremont School of
Theology since the 1970s and longtime Santa Barbara resident,
Griffin is now raising questions that even President Bush's harshest
critics are afraid to think, let alone ask aloud.
In his latest book, The New Pearl Harbor released just two weeks
ago Griffin all but accuses the Bush administration of taking a
dive on September 11 and giving Al Qaeda terrorists an unobstructed
shot at the World Trade Center. According to Griffin, a case can be
made that the Bush administration arranged the attack, or allowed it
to happen. He is aware that he may be dismissed as a conspiracy nut,
but given the "transcendent importance" of the issue, Griffin is
willing to assume that risk and has taken to repeating Michael
Moore's line on the subject: "Personally, I'm not into conspiracy
theories except those that are true." I met with Griffin over coffee
to discuss his book and the September 11 investigation. The
following is an edited account of their conversation.
Is there a smoking gun that shows the Bush administration knew 9/11
was likely to happen and did nothing about it?
DAVID RAY GRIFFIN: I think there are four. One is the fact that
standard operating procedures for dealing with possibly hijacked
airplanes were not followed on 9/11. Those procedures call for
fighter jets to be sent out immediately upon any sign that a plane
may have been hijacked. These jets typically get to the plane within
no later than 15 minutes anywhere in the United States. And on that
day, there were four airplanes that went for a half-hour or more
after they were hijacked without jets intercepting them.
What's the official explanation of that?
I'm afraid the press has not done its job. They have not forced
government officials to explain why standard operating procedures
were not followed that day, nor have they pressed the FAA (Federal
Aviation Administration) to explain why they didn't report these
hijackings as they were supposed to. The official story is that [the
fighter jets] were very late.
And the other smoking guns?
The second strongest piece of evidence I would say is the crash at
the Pentagon. The physical evidence contradicts so violently the
official account, that the Pentagon was hit by a Boeing 757 Flight
77, that is. The physical evidence, photographs, and eyewitness
testimony say that the Pentagon was hit by something that caused a
hole no larger than 18 feet in diameter. The story the Pentagon put
out, and was published by the Washington Post, was that the hole in
the Pentagon was five stories high and 200 feet wide. If you look at
the photographs taken by Tom Horan of the Associated Press that's
just not the size of the hole.
But if the hole was only 18 feet wide, it had to have been created
by something other than a Boeing. Whatever went into the Pentagon
pierced six reinforced walls. This was the west wing, the part of
the Pentagon being refurbished and reinforced. These walls were
extra strong, and yet whatever it was went through six walls
creating a hole about seven feet in diameter in the sixth wall. This
had to have been something with a very powerful head on it. A Boeing
757 has a very fragile nose, and would not have pierced through all
those walls; it would have been crushed by hitting the Pentagon. And
given that it only penetrated these three rings, the rest of the
aircraft would have been sitting outside on the yard. And yet the
photographs taken just as the fire trucks got there very shortly
after the crash show no plane whatsoever.
What do they show?
They show no aircraft whatsoever. And everyone agrees on this. The
official story is that the whole aircraft went inside the Pentagon.
The problem with that the firefighters in there would have seen
the airplane. They would have seen the engines, they would have seen
the aluminum fuselage, but they reported nothing. Ed Plower, the
fire chief, when asked what he saw, said, "I didn't see any big
pieces, no fuselage, no engines, no nothing." But about a month
later, when asked he said, "Oh yes, I saw all that." His memory had
had time to be refreshed.
If what you're saying is accurate that it was a missile then
what happened to the plane and all the people on it?
That's why I stress I'm not trying to give an account of what really
happened. I have no idea what happened to Flight 77.
President Bush has also been criticized for behaving somewhat
bizarrely that day.
As he and the Secret Service got word that a second plane had
crashed into the World Trade Center and that three planes had been
hijacked, there could have been no possible doubt in their mind that
the United States was under terrorist attack . . . The most
horrendous attack the United States had ever suffered. And they
would have had to assume that one or more of them were heading
toward President Bush himself. And so upon learning about this, the
Secret Service surely would have whisked him away immediately. In
fact, one Secret Service agent on the scene said, "We're out of
here." But obviously he got overruled because President Bush stayed
there. After Andrew Card reported the second crash on the World
Trade Center, the president just nodded as if he understood and
said, "We're going to go ahead with the reading lesson." And he sat
there another 15 minutes listening to the children read a story
about a pet goat. This was a photo op and when it was over he
lingered around talking to the children and talking to the teacher.
Bill Sammon, of the Washington Times, wrote a very pro-Bush book,
yet he comments how casual and relaxed the president was given the
fact he'd just learned the country was under attack. He said Bush
took his own sweet time and in fact called him "Our Dawdler in
Chief." And then the president went on national TV, going forward
with an interview that had been planned and announced in
advance . . . then they took their regularly scheduled motorcade
back to the airport. In other words, [Bush and the Secret Service]
showed no fear whatsoever that they would be targeted for attack,
which strongly suggests they knew how many aircraft were being
hijacked and what their targets were.
Couldn't it have been that he was trying to project calm in the eye
of the storm, that this was Bush projecting Churchillian resolve in
the face of calamity?
People who want to believe such things can, of course, imagine such
scenarios. But the president in a situation like that does not make
the decisions; the Secret Service team makes the decisions. And the
guys in the Secret Service are trained to be ready for a catastrophe
like this where they make snap decisions and whisk the president to
safety immediately. They would have had an escape route planned;
they would have had contingencies planned they always do. It is at
least not very plausible to think they would have remained there and
endangered the lives of all the children and teachers at that school
in order to exude that Churchillian confidence.
What about the plane thatcrashed down?
We know that on Flight 93, which crashed over Pennsylvania, the
passengers were trying to get control of the aircraft. They had
decided the hijackers did not have bombs and probably didn't even
have guns. And because their plane didn't take off until a half-hour
after the others, they knew that the others had crashed into the
World Trade Center so they knew they were going to die anyway,
even if they didn't do anything. So as one of the passengers is
saying, "They're doing it, they're forcing their way into the cabin,
they're going to make it." As soon as that happened, with the FBI
listening in, the plane went down. There was a whoosh, then the
sound of wind. And people on the ground reported hearing what
Vietnam veterans said sounded like a missile. Furthermore, there was
debris from the plan eight miles from the crash site, suggesting the
plane had been hit and stuff started falling out. And one of the
engines was found over a mile from the crash site. Of course, if it
had been a missile that downed the plane, it most likely would have
been a heat-seeking missile that would have found the engine and
knocked it off.
Why would the government have an interest in doing this?
So the hijackers couldn't speak to anyone?
That would be a very good reason. If it were a conspiracy and the
hijackers knew about it, it would have been very threatening to
those who made the plan to have anybody left alive. Again, I don't
pretend to know, but that's at least a plausible scenario. There
were many rumors that day that the plane was shot down, but the
government denied it.
You suggest that the World Trade Center buildings must have been
detonated with explosives to account for the heat generated and the
speed the structures collapsed on themselves. That sounds extreme.
What's the evidence?
The evidence is cumulative several things that point to controlled
demolition. First, a steel-framed building, according to all the
reading I've done, has never collapsed solely because of fire. They
will bend and buckle in a very large all-consuming fire that lasts
for a very long time. But they have never collapsed.
But it was not just fire it was fire and impact at the same time.
The twin towers were very large buildings and extremely well built
with a lot of redundancy. Even people who believe the official
theory say that the crash of the plane into the towers should have
been insignificant, that the shock would have been immediate, but it
was over very soon and that the buildings were extremely solid and
stable and not moving. In the south tower, much of the fuel from it
spilled outside as it collided into the corner. So there was a giant
firebomb which looked very impressive, but what that means is that
most of the fuel was burned up within a minute, so there was not
much fuel inside. Therefore, the fire in the south tower had almost
gone out in less than an hour. And that brings us to another strange
fact about the towers. If the official story were correct, that the
combination of the crash and the fire brought the buildings down, we
would expect the north tower to have come down first, because it was
hit first. And yet the south tower collapsed first. It collapsed in
less than an hour. That makes perfect sense if you're willing to
accept that it was caused by controlled demolition, meaning the
building was wired with explosives. And if the official story has it
that the buildings were brought down by fire, you'd want the
buildings to go down before the fire had completely gone out.
What you're suggesting sounds like something from. X-Files. But on X-
Files, you always had agents Scully and Mulder trying to get the
truth out. Here we don't have any Scullys and Mulders. You'd think
this whole new unilateral expression of military supremacy might
have opponents within the administration coming unglued and that
they'd be leaking info damaging to Bush, but we don't hear those
voices. Why not?
Members of the FBI, the CIA, and other intelligence agencies have
taken oaths to not reveal things they've been told not to
reveal . . . and if they violate this oath, repercussions may occur.
You have a wife and children, and somebody says to you, "If you go
public with that I cannot guarantee the safety of your family."
Would you go public with that? You have to choose between your
family's welfare and the welfare of the nation, and your story might
not do that much good. You might just be denounced as a conspiracy
kook. The press would ignore you, belittle you. People might look
into your past and find that you had done some things you're not so
proud of. People would learn very quickly to keep their mouths shut.
Let's say there has been this complicity. To what end?
There were several benefits that could have been anticipated from
9/11. One was the so-called Patriot Act. It did appear that the
Patriot Act, given how fast it was rushed into Congress, voting had
already been prepared. The Patriot Act is so large that it's
inconceivable it could have been written after 9/11. Rushing it
through Congress when most members had not even read a small portion
of it was clearly one benefit, giving the government increased
Also, there was the desire to wage war in Afghanistan to force out
the Taliban and put an American-friendly government in place because
of the desire of Unical and other gas companies to build an oil
pipeline, which they felt was too dangerous with the Taliban in
power. There was a meeting in Berlin in July 2001, a final effort to
get an agreement between the Taliban and the United States that
would allow a sort of joint government, where the Taliban would
share power with more American-friendly leaders. The Taliban
refused, at which point they were told, "If you don't take our
carpet of gold, we'll bury you under a carpet of bombs." The
Pakistani representative at this meeting said the Americans told him
that the war would start before the snows came that October. And
after 9/11 happened, there was exactly the right amount of time for
the U.S. forces to get organized to begin the war, and the war began
on October 7.
Another benefit is that many senior members of the Bush
administration had for a long time wanted to attack Iraq. Getting
control of the oil there was one motive; the more general motive was
to secure a military presence in that part of the world.
Don't you think it's a good thing that Saddam Hussein was taken out,
and don't you think Bush had a moral obligation to do so because it
was his father who was responsible for building up Hussein in the
Certainly you can say there were some benefits to the people of
Iraq. But if we had an obligation to take out Saddam Hussein then we
have obligations to take out many other nefarious leaders around the
world, many of whom are far worse, believe it or not, than Saddam
Hussein. And the sorry history is that we have in fact supported
such leaders and that Saddam Hussein was in power only because of
American support. He remained in power after gassing the Kurds
became common knowledge. Donald Rumsfeld himself visited Saddam at
that period. Actually our aid to Saddam went up after we knew that
he had done this.
So you think this is mostly about oil.
It is to a significant extent about oil, given the projections that
the world is beginning to run out of oil. The United States wants to
get control of it because our way of life, which is so dependent
upon oil, is nonnegotiable. And also because military dominance
itself runs to great extent on oil. But it's not just about oil.
It's about geopolitical dominance. And this brings up the U.S. Space
command. In the document "Rebuilding America's Defenses," published
in 2000 by the Project for the New American Century an
organization founded by people such as [Richard] Perle and [Paul]
Wolfowitz and [Dick] Cheney and Rumsfeld there is a statement in
there that says we need to move forward with this revolution in
The central feature of this is the augmentation of the U.S. Space
Command through which the United States would have what's called now
Full Spectrum Dominance. In addition to having dominance over land,
air, and sea, we would have dominance in space. But building the
space stations and the satellites for the weaponization of space
will be an extremely expensive undertaking. One projection has the
first stage of it being about a trillion dollars. So an enormous
amount of money has to be shifted from the American taxpayers and
other parts of the economy to the military and the space command.
The document states that such a revolution in military affairs will
probably proceed very slowly absent some catastrophic and catalyzing
event such as a new Pearl Harbor.
Hence the title of your book . . . You've complained the American
media has been asleep at the switch on this. How do you account for
It is very difficult for Americans to face the possibility that
their own government may have caused or deliberately allowed such a
heinous event. Secondly, one can understand that insofar as the
media is owned by companies like General Electric, which is one of
the largest makers of weapons, stations like NBC that are owned by
GE would not wish to publicize these connections. And finally, 9/11
was immediately treated not only as a matter of patriotism but
almost as a religious event. Bush declared his war on terrorism from
the national cathedral. And so from then on, any questioning of the
official account could be and was criticized as being undemocratic
and almost sacrilegious.
I at least hope that if we can begin to get a public discussion of
9/11 and of the many, many discrepancies between the official story
and what at least appear to be the facts, that some of those people
might be emboldened to step forward.
How has researching and writing this book affected you personally?I
fear that our democracy is in much worse shape than I had imagined,
and that even the appearance of democracy we now have might be
quickly swept aside.
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