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World Trade Center Building 7 and Conspiracy Theories

Gary North
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Aug. 31, 2011

This was posted on August 30 on one of my site's forums regarding the pancake-like collapse of all three World Trade Center buildings on 9-11:

"All three are clearly controlled demos. Everyone that views it knows it."

I cannot imagine a more inaccurate statement. Hardly anyone who views them knows "it." Almost every adult American has seen the videos of the collapse of the North & South towers. On September 11, 2001, the videos were shown over and over on the networks, all day long.

Only a handful of experts have ever publicly argued that the cause of the buildings' collapse was a system of controlled demolition. Anyone who dares to mention the pancake collapse of the third tower is rejected derisively as a conspiracy theorist.

If the critic then goes on to point out that there were no plane debris at the alleged crash site in Shanksville, Pennsylvania -- the parts were scattered for miles, indicating that the plane exploded in mid-air -- he is dismissed as a nut case. Why? Because such a scenario raises an obvious question: Did the military shoot it down? This in turn questions the "Let's roll" scenario of heroes on board Flight 93 who stormed the cabin.

Millions of believers in the government's "Let's roll" version of the crash look at the small empty hole and do not see what is missing: debris. They see an empty hole and conclude that a plane crashed there. In their case, not seeing is believing.

This leads me to a conclusion: Seeing is not always believing. Not seeing is very often believing.

This is why conspiracies have gotten away with a great deal in history.

I have faced this all of my adult life. I started out in 1958 with a high school term paper on whether Roosevelt knew an attack on Pearl Harbor was coming. I concluded that he knew an attack somewhere in the Pacific was coming. I have not changed my mind. In 1972, when I was awarded my Ph.D. in American history, as far as I knew, I was the only historian age 30 or younger with a Ph.D. in history who believed this. Even today, I am one of maybe a dozen men with a Ph.D in American history who believe this and say so in public. I am guessing about the number. The ones I can name -- fewer than half a dozen -- are so old as to be retirement age. No one without tenure would dare to teach Pearl Harbor revisionism as factually accurate in a college classroom. He would not have his contract renewed. The account has never gotten into a textbook. Yet as early as 1947, George Morgenstern's book, Pearl Harbor: The Story of the Secret War, revealed a great deal of the truth. It was published by an obscure right-wing publishing house, Devin-Adair. He wrote it first as a series of articles in 1946 because he was employed by the Chicago Tribune, owned by Col. McCormick, who hated Roosevelt. The book is still unknown.

The most widely known books on Pearl Harbor that forcefully argue the case for FDR's prior knowledge of the attack are John Toland's Infamy, which is 25 years old, and Robert Stinnett's Day of Deceit, which is over a decade old. Neither of the authors was a Ph.D.-holding scholar.


The phrase, "conspiracy theorist," is literally a career-killer in academia.

Murray Rothbard identified the issue of conspiracy theories in 1977.

Anytime that a hard-nosed analysis is put forth of who our rulers are, of how their political and economic interests interlock, it is invariably denounced by Establishment liberals and conservatives (and even by many libertarians) as a "conspiracy theory of history," "paranoid," "economic determinist," and even "Marxist." These smear labels are applied across the board, even though such realistic analyses can be, and have been, made from any and all parts of the economic spectrum, from the John Birch Society to the Communist Party. The most common label is "conspiracy theorist," almost always leveled as a hostile epithet rather than adopted by the "conspiracy theorist" himself.

It is no wonder that usually these realistic analyses are spelled out by various "extremists" who are outside the Establishment consensus. For it is vital to the continued rule of the State apparatus that it have legitimacy and even sanctity in the eyes of the public, and it is vital to that sanctity that our politicians and bureaucrats be deemed to be disembodied spirits solely devoted to the "public good." Once let the cat out of the bag that these spirits are all too often grounded in the solid earth of advancing a set of economic interests through use of the State, and the basic mystique of government begins to collapse.

In a recent interview on the offbeat RT channel, a reporter questions the theories of a man who thinks the #1 of motive for NATO's toppling of Qadaffi was Qadaffi's policy of not borrowing from Western banks or the IMF. She pressures him: "Are you a conspiracy theorist?" He denies it, calling himself a "deep geopolitics" thinker. Nice try; no cigar. He is a conspiracy theorist.

Alex Jones was one of the first to broadcast videos with comments on the collapsing Building 7. He is openly a conspiracy theorist. The fact that he promoted the event as a conspiracy pretty well dooms others who also promote the official account's implausibility. This is why the producer of the forthcoming DVD on the controlled implosions hastened to assure viewers that he is not interested in conspiracy theories.

Yet he is inescapably a conspiracy theorist. When your video presents experts who argue that the buildings were blown up from inside by means of explosives planted weeks or months before, rather than caused by fires started by the planes, your explanation inherently must rely on the existence of a conspiracy and a subsequent government cover-up. The elephant in his living room is his denial of offering a conspiracy theory.


My point is simple: every Establishment rules in terms of lies, spin, and cover-ups. Most of the citizenry is vaguely aware of the lies and the spin on this or that minor matter, but voters side with the regime on the big lies. To do otherwise is to call into question their own wisdom. I is to admit that you were successfully taken in on some major matter -- you and millions of others. This undermines the religion of democracy. It means that republican patriotism is based on widespread gullibility. "Fool me once, shame on the government. Fool me 20 times, shame on me." So, once the masses have adopted the Official Party Line, to abandon it means abandoning your old self and your old world of political legitimacy. It means that you are now on your own -- an outlaw, a pariah.

The defectors from Communism who went into print about their defections all described this gut-wrenching, soul-searching loss of faith in Stalin's Party Line. The most famous account was (and remains) Whittaker Chambers' book, Witness (1952). Different events triggered these defections: the Nazi-Soviet pact of 1939, Khrushchev's 1956 "secret" speech on Stalin, or the Soviet Union's invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968.

To make the switch on any major historical issue -- to explain it in terms of hidden connections -- is to open yourself to making the switch on a dozen others. You must re-think a great deal of the past. No one has the time to do this. This is Alex Jones' problem. He never can be sure, based on his own detailed reading, which takes lots of time, that the guy he just interviewed is not a nut case, or naive, or ill-informed, or whatever.

Only God can connect all the dots. That's why dot-connecting is a hazardous pastime.

I have met some disturbed people who are full-time nut cases, so overwhelmed are they with conspiracy theories. They are close to the Mel Gibson character in Conspiracy Theory. I have traveled in circles that attract such people for 50 years. If you travel in similar circles, you meet them. They are emotionally paralyzed. Sometimes, they have cut themselves off from their families. They have no theory of history, other than "they did it." It is not clear who "they" are. These people live in the Matrix world in search of the right-colored pill. They never find it. They live to discover new links to the One Big Conspiracy. My father-in-law, R. J. Rushdoony, who accepted many conspiracy theories and who was a skilled revisionist historian, referred to these people as gravediggers. They dig their own graves, psychologically speaking.

Most people interested in public affairs sense the cost of abandoning the publicly held view of Big Events. The cost is very high. There is almost no positive payoff. In academia, there is none. The payoffs are negative.


So, for most Americans, seeing is not believing. Most Americans do not remember this event. The media do not mention it. They never did. The 9-11 Commission report did not mention Building 7. For those few people who have seen the videos of its collapse, this can be somehow explained, they insist. They cannot say how the collapse made sense physically, any more than NIST could, even after 6 years of investigating, beginning in 2002. NIST blamed Building 7's fires on debris from the other two buildings, yet those buildings both collapsed without warning -- no signs of burning debris. The debris is assumed to have caused the fires. There is no cause-and-effect evidence. It is assumed to have been the cause.

According to NIST's site, the specific objectives of the investigation were these:

* Determine why and how WTC 1 and WTC 2 collapsed following the initial impacts of the aircraft and why and how WTC 7 collapsed;

* Determine why the injuries and fatalities were so high or low depending on location, including all technical aspects of fire protection, occupant behavior, evacuation, and emergency response;

* Determine what procedures and practices were used in the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of WTC 1, 2, and 7; and

* Identify, as specifically as possible, areas in current building and fire codes, standards, and practices that warrant revision.

Yet Building 7 is not mentioned in the next page of findings. Notice objective 3: "Determine what procedures and practices were used in the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of WTC 1, 2, and 7. . . ." On the next page, we read: "Objective 3: Determine what procedures and practices were used in the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of WTC 1 and WTC 2." Building 7 was dropped down the memory hole one page later. This is how blatant the procedure was.

[Note: Orwell's term, "memory hole," was apt. He created a powerful metaphor by writing into 1984 a device that served the government as a kind of shredder of documents and therefore a shredder of history. The phrase has stuck -- one of the best rhetorical tools available to a conspiracy theorist.]

NIST wanted to avoid the elephant in the living room: Building 7. NIST got away with it. Only the DVD of the 1,500 architects and engineers, not yet released -- due on September 11 -- has offered a frontal assault by experts. This will have no effect on the general public. Not a decade late, it won't.

And so it goes, case by case.

This is why the Official Party Line works, decade after decade. The cost of pursuing the truth is too high. The payoff is too low.

Conclusion: the following is not true. "All three are clearly controlled demos. Everyone that views it knows it." Almost no one who views it knows it, and anyone who points out the obvious -- the pancake collapse of all three -- risks either ostracism or patronizing smirks.

If you want an example of the effect of a personal cost-benefit analysis, consider the case of an academic expert in demolitions who, on 9-11, identified the collapse of the three towers as the work of a system of controlled demolition. He was vice president for research at the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology. I remember his statement at the time. I was amazed that an academician would say this. I was therefore not amazed a week later when he retracted his statement. This is how the world of academia works. It is paid by civil governments to work this way. It is accredited by civil governments to work this way. It is self-policed to work this way.


The Web is undermining the Establishment's control over information. The number of conspiracy theories is constantly increasing. This is undermining confidence in the state and its official explanations. But with respect to any one conspiracy theory, none gains the widespread acceptance of the official explanation. Conspiracy theories are more like termites than controlled demolitions. There will come a day when the building will collapse.

I can tell you what will trigger this. Washington's checks will bounce, or just as bad from the recipients' point of view, not buy anything. That will be the day when the central bank-sustained house of economic cards, sustained by lies, comes crashing down. That will be the day of collapsing faith in the government's biggest lie of all: its promise of endless checks, free of charge to the recipients. "They lied! They lied!" Indeed, they did.

"I wonder what else they lied about."

The footnotes are out there. The textbooks are not.

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