Monday, June 05, 2006

9/11 Conspiracy Convention in Chicago

From the New York Times:
CHICAGO, June 4 — In the ballroom foyer of the Embassy Suites Hotel, the two-day International Education and Strategy Conference for 9/11 Truth was off to a rollicking start.

In Salon Four, there was a presentation under way on the attack in Oklahoma City, while in the room next door, the splintered factions of the movement were asked — for sake of unity — to seek a common goal.

In the foyer, there were stick-pins for sale (“More gin, less Rummy”), and in the lecture halls discussions of the melting point of steel. “It’s all documented,” people said. Or: “The mass media is mass deception.” Or, as strangers from the Internet shook hands: “Great to meet you. Love the work.”

Such was the coming-out for the movement known as “9/11 Truth,” a society of skeptics and scientists who believe the government was complicit in the terrorist attacks. In colleges and chat rooms on the Internet, this band of disbelievers has been trying for years to prove that 9/11 was an inside job.

Whatever one thinks of the claim that the state would plan, then execute, a scheme to murder thousands of its own, there was something to the fact that more than 500 people — from Italy to Northern California — gathered for the weekend at a major chain hotel near the runways of O’Hare International. It was, in tone, half trade show, half political convention.

“We feel at this point we’ve done a lot of solid research, but the American public still is not informed,” said Michael Berger, press director for 911Truth.org, which sponsored the event. “We had to come up with a disciplined approach to get it out.”

Mr. Berger, 40, is typical of 9/11 Truthers — a group that, in its rank and file, includes professors, chain-saw operators, mothers, engineers, activists, used-book sellers, pizza deliverymen, college students, a former fringe candidate for United States Senate and a long-haired fellow named hummux (pronounced who-mook) who, on and off, lived in a cave for 15 years.

The former owner of a recycling plant outside St. Louis, Mr. Berger joined the movement when he grew skeptical of why the 9/11 Commission had failed, to his sense of sufficiency, to answer how the building at 7 World Trade Center collapsed like a ton of bricks. It was his “9/11 trigger,” the incident that drew him in, he said. For others, it might be the fact that the air-defense network did not prevent the attacks that day, or the appearance of thousands of “puts” — or short-sell bids — on the nation’s airline stocks. (The 9/11 Commission found the sales innocuous.)

At the lectern Friday night, beside a digital projection reading “History of Government Sponsored Terrorism,” Mr. [Alex] Jones set forth the central tenets of 9/11 Truth: that the military command that monitors aircraft “stood down” on the day of the attacks; that President Bush addressed children in a Florida classroom instead of being whisked off to the White House; that the hijackers, despite what the authorities say, were trained at American military bases; and that the towers did not collapse because of burning fuel and weakened steel but because of a “controlled demolition” caused by pre-set bombs.
Having been to three different JFK assassination conspiracy conventions ourselves, we know about the distinctive ambience of such affairs.

Indeed, the Times notes:
As for the 9/11 Truthers, they were confident enough that their theories made sense that on Friday, as a kickoff to the conference, they met in Daley Plaza for a rally (though some called it Dealey Plaza).
A Freudian slip, if there ever was one.

Welcome to the Grassy Knoll.

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