Thanks to a heads up from Jessica McBride’s blog
, we decided to go out this morning to see a talk by Kevin Barrett – the UW Madison instructor who thinks that the 9/11 terrorist attacks were a U.S. government conspiracy. On the program with him was a certain Prof. James Fetzer, until recently a faculty member at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, and likewise a hard core conspiracy buff.
The talk was at something called the Midwest Social Forum
, which was previously called RadFest – a name that better conveys the ambiance of a meeting of left-wing radicals from all over the region
The whole shebang is run by something called the Havens Center
, which is part of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Sociology Department. The “contact” phone numbers listed on the Social Forum web site ring through at the Havens center, and the directory at the UW-Milwaukee Union (where all the events were held) lists each event as being sponsored by the UW-Madison Sociology Department.
That’s right, the nonsense you are about to hear described was sponsored by the taxpayers of Wisconsin.James Fetzer
We arrived shortly after Fetzer began the talk, and he was denying that any of the Moslem terrorists could have piloted any of the planes supposedly involved in the attack. He mentioned that one of them “couldn’t get a Cessna off the ground” – ignoring the fact that taking off and landing are far and away the most difficult part of a pilot’s job, and just flying a plane into a building is child’s play in comparison.
He spent a lot of time explaining why he thought the destruction of the Twin Towers was a “controlled demolition.” He claimed, for example, that the fire caused by the jet fuel was not hot enough to melt the steel beams, that there was “not enough kinetic energy” in the top floors to crush the lower floors when they fell on them, and that a video showed one of the towers “disappearing before your eyes faster than a grand piano can free fall.”
What the point of this latter argument was, we haven’t figured out, but Fetzer seemed to think it was important.
Fetzer did not think that the “controlled demolition” was the normal kind, where charges in the basement of a building blow out supports and cause the entire building to collapse. Rather, he believes that thermite charges were set on each floor, and each floor was “blown out in sequence” by a detonation that “had to be computerized.”
In support of the “thermite” claim, he quoted a worker as saying that pools of molten steel were found in the basement level of the ruins four or five weeks after 9/11!
He asked, if the floors of the building “pancaked,” “where are the pancakes?” as he showed a photo of a large pile of rubble. He apparently believes that if a building “pancakes” it will leave a stack of what look like pancakes on the ground.
Just who was responsible? Clearly a lot of people in the Bush Administration, right up to the President. He reported, for example, what Bush said “. . . when I saw the first plane hit the tower. . . .” But, Fetzer asserted, Bush could not have seen the “first plane hit the tower” since footage of that was not available at the time Bush said it.
Why Bush would lie about this is not something for which he had any explanation. Indeed, he didn’t appear to have thought about the issue.
New York Mayor Rudi Giuliani was clearly one of the conspirators, since he had the scrap steel from the towers shipped off to China, according to Fetzer.
And also fingered was the president’s brother, Marvin Bush, who was on the Board of Directors of a company called Securecom, which provided, between 1995 and 2001, security at the World Trade Center, Dulles International Airport in Washington and United Airlines. Supposedly Bush engineered a breach of security that allowed planting of Thermite charges on each floor of the Towers.The Plane That Hit the Pentagon
Of course, Fetzer thinks that the attack on the Pentagon on 9/11 was equally a government conspiracy.
He claimed, for example, that the military should have video footage of the plane hitting, and then showed a video with the Pentagon wall intact and no plane visible in one frame, and an explosion in the next. He overlooked something clearly visible in his video: the low frame rate that would miss anything happening within a second or two.
Of course, government officials point to sheered-off lampposts near the building as evidence that a plane hit, but Fetzer dismissed these as “props.”
Likewise, several photos show pieces of the wreckage of a 757. But Fetzer claimed that a fellow named Jack White has shown that all of these photos are of the same piece of wreckage.
Jack White has a long history of claiming faked photographic evidence in the JFK assassination. He has claimed that the Backyard Photos of Lee Oswald were faked, and more recently that the Zapruder film was faked. When he went before the House Select Committee on Assassinations
to face people with genuine expertise in photo analysis, he was humiliated.
Fetzer did suggest that a plane hit the Pentagon, and he identifies it as a “JT8D Skywarrior” on the basis of the kind of “photo analysis” that is always turning up assassins in the shadows in Dealey Plaza.
In fact, the theory is that a piece of debris in photos of the scene is from a Pratt & Whitney JT8D jet engine
in an A-3 Skywarrior attack plane. Unfortunately for this theory, it appears the JT8D was never used in the A-3 Skywarrior
Another problem with Fetzer’s “JT8D Skywarrior” theory is that he has a web page asserting that no airplane at all, but rather a cruise missile
, hit the Pentagon.
In today’s presentation, he suggested that maybe the “JT8D Skywarrior” fired a missile before it hit the building. (In reality, the A-3 Skywarrior, which is obsolete, has never been able to fire cruise missiles.)
But then he added yet another element to his scenario. He quoted an eyewitness who claimed to have seen a 757 fly toward the Pentagon and veer off seconds before hitting the building.
So now Fetzer has two planes and a cruise missile all involved in the plot.
But then, within a few minutes, Fetzer told his audience that American Airlines Flight 77, the 757 that supposedly hit the Pentagon, was lost from radar near the Kentucky/Ohio border. Fetzer assured listeners that merely turning off the transponder would not cause the plane to go off the radar screens.
So either Flight 77 made it back to Washington, D.C. in spite of Fetzer’s claim that it “disappeared from radar,” or there was yet another 757 involved in buzzing the Pentagon.
Or else Fetzer is making wild assertions and using unreliable witness testimony.
Fetzer ended his talk by claiming that “the American government has been practicing terrorism on the American people.”
For this particular crowd, it was music to their ears.Kevin Barrett
Barrett’s talk was much shorter than Fetzer’s, and more political.
He claimed that 9/11 conspiracy theories can be the “magic bullet” for the political left. They can be the “silver bullet that can kill the monster.” What is the monster? The post-9/11 world.
Barrett talked a bit about a relatively arcane psychological phenomenon called the “Gruen Transfer” which is supposedly used by retail marketers to sell their wares
, and the CIA to brainwash people.
Barrett views it as a “coercive” technique – how you an coerce people by merely talking to them is an issue that doesn’t disturb Barrett, although it disturbs people who value liberty
Barrett clearly has a demeaning view of the American people, whom he said have been “infantilized” by the manipulators who pulled off 9/11. He further claimed “We in America have been brainwashed.” Indeed, he said that “a lot of people on the left . . . are in denial,” an explicit admission that even the hard-core aren’t necessarily lapping up his spiel.
He also seems to buy about any conspiracy theory you can imagine. He mentioned the JFK assassination, and discussed Pearl Harbor, making it clear he thinks that Roosevelt let the attack happen to get the U.S. into war.
(Ironically, historically it has been FDR’s right wing enemies who have pushed this notion.)
He said that “they” sent Anthrax to the offices of the two senators who opposed the war on terror, and also that “they” killed Paul Wellstone (the very liberal senator from Minnesota who was replaced by a Republican). On this issue, Barrett is buying one of the nuttier theories of Fetzer, who believes that Karl Rove had Wellstone killed by an Electromagnetic Pulse that took out the electrical system of his small plane, making it crash.
Why, according to Barrett, did evil governmental forces mount the 9/11 attacks? “To keep America top dog.” Also, to encourage enmity against Muslims, since “Muslims live where most of the world’s remaining oil reserves are.”
And also to rein in civil liberties. According to Barrett, where civil liberties are concerned “we are just another banana republic.”
A political agenda was explicit in Barrett’s talk. He views the spread of 9/11 conspiracy theories as “the ultimate teachable moment. It doesn’t get any better than this if you want to wake people up.” Wake them up to do what? Just the opposite of what the evil neoconservatives want. If the “neocons” want to increase the military budget, an “awakened” public will want to cut it. If they want to stay in Iraq, and “awakened” public will want to pull out.Conclusion
We would not for a minute minimize the likelihood that what Barrett wants will happen. Conspiracy theories are an easy sell. All one has to do is ask “how could Lee Harvey Oswald have shot the president with that lousy rifle?” and Joe Six Pack is hooked. Only a minuscule number of people know anything about a Mannlicher-Carcano rifle, which was quite a serviceable weapon.
Thus when 9/11 conspiracy buffs ask “why was a piece of a JT8D jet engine found in the rubble at the Pentagon,” very few will know to respond “that’s simply untrue.”
Look for this issue to be exploited by the hard left for decades to come.
Happily, the liberal mainstream media probably won’t buy it, just as they have not bought JFK assassination conspiracy theories. That will limit the damage. But mainstream media opposition to JFK conspiracy notions has not prevented about three quarters of Americans from believing he was killed by multiple plotters. 9/11 may be the new JFK assassination.