Conspiracy Theories

This blog post is based on a question asked to Noam by a ZNet Sustainer, in the sustainer forums, where Noam responds to queries…
Sustianer: Dear Noam Chomsky

I have heard and read that you are against the theories that question the relationship between 9’11 and the Bush administration to the degree that it was an "inside job". Do you still think that the case, just like the JFK case, needs further invetigation, since there are so many holes in the case that has not yet been filled. I know that Micheal Parenti has done some good research on this, and there are many others who feel that the link between 9’11 and the government is very strong.

Noam Chomsky: I’ve been (publicly) in favor of an independent investigation for a long time.  There are many holes in the investigation of any historical event that will never be filled, but an independent investigation might help clear the air.  As for the theories now put forth, they have two crucial properties, in my opinion:
(1) they draw enormous amounts of time and energy away from serious activism on urgent matters (and may well be welcome to those in power for that reason, as the JFK assassination investigations have been, so internal government documents indicate).  It’s also a rather striking fact that the Truth Movement differs so radically from activist movements in not taking any of the usual steps that are standard under far more difficult circumstances, ranging from demonstrations, tax resistance or more direct resistance and other forms of CD, law suits, referenda, political action — in fact, just about anything.
(2) what has been presented is not very credible.  Evidence is of two types: (A) physical, (B) circumstantial.  On (A), no one, to my knowledge, has been willing to undertake even the first minimal step considered to be a routine obligation by those who think they’ve made a physical discovery, whether it’s about cold fusion, intelligent design, global warming or HIV-AIDS skepticism, or anything else: submit a paper to a science-engineering journal (and I don’t mean the Journal of Intelligent Design).  Hence those who do not want to devote a huge amount of time and energy to gaining the requisite technical competence and then inquiry into this specific case can draw no conclusions, just as they could not in other cases such as those mentioned.  On (B), what’s been presented seems to me very weak.  Thus it’s claimed that it’s impossible that so many things could have gone wrong — but we know perfectly well that that’s the case constantly, very recently in fact.  Take the flight of bombers carrying nuclear weapons over the US a few weeks ago, violating every imaginable security measure — and extraordinarily dangerous: one engine failure might have made 9/11 look like a tea party.  Or take the astonishing failure of US and foreign intelligence, homeland security, and everyone else to prevent someone with a very dangerous disease — who they had identified and were tracking — from entering the country on an ordinary commercial flight, with potentially extermely serious consequences (or even to apprehend him when he was here).  And on, and on.  And if one wants to concoct theories, why not argue that if it was a controlled demolition, the finger points directly to Osama bin Laden.  How else can we explain the fact that Saudis were implicated (his prime enemy, and very valued allies of the Bush administration, who had to quickly fly Saudi businessmen out of the country in violation of airspace controls, apparently), not Iraqis — thus undermining the goal of attacking Iraq?  Not that I believe this, of course, but it’s at least as credible as the theses put forth.  And on, and on.

Those who feel that it is a high priority for them to explore this topic have every right to do so, though the sanctiminous and self-righteous denunciations of those who do not follow along are another feature of the Truth Movement that differentiates it sharply from activist movements.  Personally, I feel that there are much higher priorities.  But that’s for each person to judge.

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