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The Truth about 9/11 Isn't Black or White - It's Time our Media Reflected This


Note to readers: This article does not advocate 9/11 conspiracy theories. No where in the article does the author state "9/11 was an inside job," or even imply as much.

All that said, to properly understand the context of this article, readers should know that dozens of high-ranking government officials have called for a new investigation, and over 220+ senior Military, Intelligence Service, Law Enforcement, and Government Officials have also criticized the official story. This includes 41 U.S. Counter-Terrorism and Intelligence Agency Veterans*. Hopefully this makes clear that criticizing the 9/11 commission does not imply inside job or conspiracy. Rather, there is a wide degree of middle ground which is the focus of this article.

With the 11th anniversary of September 11th, 2001 just around the corner, we can expect America and our media to look back once again on this turning point in our nation's history. 

But like every year before it, we will look back with our eyes half open, not wanting to look at the full complexity of this enormously influential event, preferring to remember and reflect on a simplified caricature of our history instead. It's the story that our government and nation's media settled on quickly in the days and months following the attack, and despite all the new information that has come to light, it is the story that sticks with us today.

It's a story of a great nation taken by surprise, of a country built by a love of freedom attacked by those who hate it. It's a simple story. You know who the good guys are and who the bad guys are immediately. Our government may have been neglectful or incompetent, but it was essentially innocent - a victim of a tragic act as much as the people who died that day. The 9/11 Commission confirmed this, placing the blame nowhere in particular but on Osama Bin Laden and the hijackers that aided him. And a comic book for kids further iconified our story for a whole new generation to help come to grips with this event.

What's most sad, to me, is that this story is a fiction. Not because it doesn't contain some truth, but because it doesn't contain all of it. To do this story justice, you have to tell the whole story, so far as we know it, and it's fair to say that story has never been told.

But to tell the whole story of 9/11 is impossible in our current cultural climate. To criticize this story at all will have you quickly branded a "conspiracy theorist." Because when it comes to 9/11, there is no room for gray area, no room for nuance or complexity (or a deep memory of history for that matter). Those reading this may even be holding their breath for that regrettable moment when I declare that "9/11 was an inside job" simply because this article didn't begin with the implicit acknowledgment of the official story.

And that's the terrible position that most journalists and citizens find themselves boxed into: Either you implicitly acknowledge the official story or you get lumped into the other extreme as a "9/11 truther" - a label which could be associated with the most respectable beliefs among the movement or the most ludicrous and absurd, depending on what media exposure has shaped your opinion of what the label implies. Either Osama did it and our government is blameless or Osama had nothing to do with it and our government staged the whole thing. Really? Is the truth really found in one of these extremes?

I think it's time this black and white thinking is challenged. America deserves a grown-up telling of this story and journalists have a professional responsibility to provide it.

It's true, there is a lot of misinformation on the subject, from official sources and from activist voices. That is why it is the journalist's job to impartially look at all the available evidence, sift out the unsubstantiated claims (no matter the source) and report on the facts as best as they can be discerned. Will this evidence disprove some official claims? Yes it will. Will it disprove some 9/11 truth movement claims? Yes it will. The responsibility of journalists is to weave complex narratives that deal in nuance and gray area.

To say this story can be summed up in a black and white fashion, making our government out to be blameless or the only blame, is a disservice to reality. So that is the tough job Films For Action has embarked on. It is the job all journalists should aspire to, despite that being largely an exception to the rule.

The sad, hard truth of the matter is that, to tell the whole truth, you're going to have to piss off a lot of people.

The government would prefer a black and white conclusion because the "you're either with us or against us" rhetoric makes it easier to promote aggressive foreign and domestic policy without dissent.

The media prefers it because it makes writing stories easier and they don't have to stick their necks out or risk getting fired, as Dan Rather did for a story critical of then-president Bush.

The 9/11 truth movement, while dealing in grey area more than most, can jump to conclusions too quickly, suffers from one-sidedness, and can overestimate their case in an effort to counteract the imbalance of the current debate.

People in general would prefer to think in terms of black and white, because no one would rationally want to consider that their government is anything but universally a force of good.

No matter which way you cut it, it's hard to deal with complexities. And you can't sum that up in a slogan or a soundbite.

Of course, all these words are meaningless unless it can be proved that a critical view of the official story is a credible and principled position to take. And to demonstrate this, this author would point you to one compilation of news stories.

Although widely under-reported by even 9/11 justice advocates, the mainstream media itself has verified and reported on enough contradictory news stories to justify the movement's basic call for a new investigation.*1

Taken together, this 25 page timeline of 9/11 may be one of the best, highly nuanced, full accounts of this story that has been compiled so far. And all of it has been sourced by mainstream news outlets.

The fact that this information has actually been reported on by established, credible news organizations with rigorous fact-checking departments may come as a shock to many. After all, we're led to believe that all the good, honest reporting on the subject unanimously supports the clear-cut 9/11 commission's findings, and that anything critical of this story was put together by amateur alternative media which can easily be debunked. But of course, such stereotypes are false as well.

This is one of the more incredible stories behind the story of how the media has reported on 9/11. The mainstream media has, in the course of hundreds of news stories, written a powerful "unofficial" history of 9/11. It is exactly the story that must be told, and it is anything but black or white.

In fact, it severely undercuts the official story. Some might say it completely "destroys it." But you cannot sum it up with any slogan or simple conclusion. To say "9/11 was an inside job" is as much a disservice to the truth as saying "they hate us for our freedoms." To get the full truth, so much as we know it today, you simply have to read it yourself.

*1 -- It's also worth noting that "the movement" is not the only direction this demand is coming from. Dozens of high-ranking government officials, many even personally involved in the 9/11 Commission, are calling for a new investigation - making this legitimate, high-profile story one of the most under-reported and ignored news stories in recent memory.

For more on Films For Action official position on 9/11, see our F.A.Q.

Original Source


tribalzendancer 5 years, 7 months ago

Readers of this website may also be interested in this article: Eight Senior Republican Appointees Challenge Official Account of 9/11 - "Not Possible", "a Whitewash", "False"


Fossick 5 years, 7 months ago

The part about "rigorous fact-checking departments" cracked me up, and not only because it's the media's own lack of fact checking (aka contradictory accounts) that proves impetus for the above call. Dan Rather was not fired for a story critical of Bush, but for getting caught passing off fraudulent evidence in a way that embarrassed his employer. And their fact-checking department.

tribalzendancer 5 years, 7 months ago

I don't think you can have it both ways. Stories that support the position that a new investigation is needed is routinely dismissed out of hand because the information is sourced from alternative or amateur media, basically that the source isn't credible. Well, HistoryCommons.org has compiled an extremely long list of news stories that were all written by mainstream outlets across the board. Sourcing one example to discredit the media does not undo hundreds of articles, nor hundreds of credible government experts. Such a dismissal is based on belief, not facts.

The truth is (and the whole point of this article) is that these issues are not black and white, so much as people would love to fit everything into neat little generalizations. Sometimes the mass media gets it wrong (or it just ignores certain topics) often times they get things right. And this is the same for alternative media. Sometimes it's spot on, sometimes it stinks like hell.

I even linked to 9/11myths.com in this article, which debunks a whole series of 9/11 conspiracy contentions. I don't think I can make a more commonsense, conservative point about this issue. So it's just funny people jump on it with the same old tired sets of conclusions and beliefs.

Fossick 5 years, 7 months ago

"these issues are not black and white..."

No issues are black and white. Hell, I just published a book on a Kansas Civil War general that took a tack no one had taken before. There are literally thousands, tens of thousands of books on the Civil War, and every author will tell you that the issues are not black and white. So what?

If you have a story to tell, tell it rather than calling for others to tell it. Don't tell us what's wrong with others' stories, tell us what happened.

tribalzendancer 5 years, 7 months ago

Thanks for a refreshingly thoughtful response. To answer this question, a thorough understanding of the media would be helpful, and unfortunately knowledge of the media's relationship to power isn't common knowledge that I can reference easily and get immediate nods from.

The first distinction I would raise is: who is the subject of criticism? Dateline was able to freely report on the Porter scandal because it was against an individual, a member of the church, which threatens some backlash, but the accused is relatively powerless. To put your job and the whole network's credibility on the line to criticize people in office, who have the power of retribution, is a whole other challenge.

Culturally, criticism of 9/11 has become taboo, in the same way that criticism of the Iraq war was nearly non-existent for years when it actually mattered. The lies about WMD's were self-evident even in 2003 and the media shut up about it or risked getting a "flaming tire hung around their necks" as Dan Rather put it. The career costs, the personal costs, the cost to the network which involves editors and management, are all immense. Saying anything remotely critical will get all the hounds jumping on you, "how could you say that? What are you implying!" But people have talked, and they've paid for it in various ways. Sibel Edmonds, a former FBI translator, would like to talk, and she's been gagged. She's the most gagged whistle-blower in US history. In any case, to fully explain how this can be, how our media can do its job from time to time and then fail spectacularly when it really counts, would take much more space than I have here to discuss. It's helpful to know just how bad the media fails though, and how often. But people don't know what they don't know, and that's the problem: http://www.projectcensored.org/the-top-25-index/

Flap Doodle 5 years, 7 months ago

Bring out your dead (horses)! Bring out your dead (horses)!

tribalzendancer 5 years, 7 months ago

The issue isn't dead for all the millions of people who are still affected by it, which includes every American and millions of people in the Middle East.

The only dead horses here are the people who have closed off their minds, hardened their opinions, shut their eyes, plugged their ears and try to make a lot of noise to shut out reasonable discussion on the issue, and all of it's implications for foreign and domestic policy. You may be fine with Obama's kill list, domestic surveillance, NDAA, new wars and new drone campaigns in the Middle East, but I'm not.

I took issues with both sides of this debate, calling out the movement and official sources for false claims. I have not taken any partisan stance on the subject. I encourage you to do the same.

tribalzendancer 5 years, 7 months ago

What has 9/11 brought us?


John Pilger speaks frankly about the "War on Terror," saying that no such thing exists. "There is a war OF terror," he says, and it is primarily state-sponsored terror, and most of the victims of terrorism in the world are Muslims. Please watch this and share. So profound. People need to understand this. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, "the greatest purveyor of violence today is by my own government."

tribalzendancer 5 years, 7 months ago

I dono. Earlier you said, "Even the cloud spit this out." Okay. That's cool. Certainly I'd love for anyone on these forums to offer a comment longer than 6 words. There's been a couple honest comments. The problem is, no one can defend.. whatever stance it is that they're trying to defend. So all we get is one-liners. Well it's entertaining enough, so yea I have no idea where you'd get the idea that I want you to stop saying, whatever you feel like saying.

And I don't know about this crowd here, but I consider you all friends. I am the only verified person speaking under his own name here. I don't live in the Rush Limbaugh world were we all gotta hate each other for the sake of hating on each other. I wonder if others can see that the dualistic dichotomies we create with this low-level dialog is meaningless and comical. We are not the roles we play. So I don't pretend the antagonism on these forums is real. It's merely for show. I think I could have a beer with any of you guys and get along and be friendly in real life, despite political disagreements or apparent disrespect. That's my philosophy anyway.

tribalzendancer 5 years, 7 months ago

Because the LJWorld values the principles of free speech on a community forum Andini. But hey, way to cherish those American values. Censorship. That's what all our founding fathers talked about right?

What's honestly funny about your response, it that it is utterly baseless, and in fact proves the whole point of my article. In fact I think I referenced your knee-jerk response (as well as all of the funny comments from the peanut gallery above) at least twice. But our anonymous hecklers failed to grasp the irony I suppose. Some people just like their realities clear cut and easy to digest.

I was thinking there might still be some intellectually honest and open conservatives on this forum, but it's pretty clear that personal attacks, fingers-in-the-ear one-liners and other nonsensical responses would be the best I could expect from most of this crowd. I leave open the possibility that a few people will surprise me though, and demonstrate the capability of an honest dialog.

I realize some people's cognitive dissonance must be going through the roof even reading the headlines to some of these links that I provided, including the disclaimer and the first comment. The truth is, as Alan Miller writes, "these dedicated individuals from across the political spectrum are not irresponsible believers in some 9/11 conspiracy theory. Their sincere concern, backed by decades of service to their country, demonstrate that criticism of the 9/11 Commission Report is not only reasonable and responsible, it is in fact a patriotic duty."

tribalzendancer 5 years, 7 months ago

As for the Dan Rather story, that story isn't a black and white, closed case either. A deeper investigation (beyond what's been claimed as a politically-motivated smear campaign), has shown that Dan got it right and top executives forced Dan and 3 others out for fear of facing political retribution from the Bush admin. See this: http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/276-74/10976-focus-dan-rather-was-right-about-george-w-bush

Fossick 5 years, 7 months ago

The question is not whether Dan "got it right." The question is whether CBS knowingly used fake documents as evidence in a news program. They did. Whether it was a smear campaign is for others to argue. That it was fraud, however, is not in question.

classclown 5 years, 7 months ago

John F Kennedy was responsible for it.

tribalzendancer 5 years, 7 months ago

Face palm...lol

Alright, well I suppose such idiotic comments do fit the name you hide behind. ;)

So.. carry on.

classclown 5 years, 7 months ago

Reading this blog I am reminded of the classic line I learned as a result of the last idiot blog about this subject. I'll paraphrase to make it a better fit.

" Reading this blog is like being bukakked with stupid."

Oh and tribalwhatever, about this comment you made, "Because the LJWorld values the principles of free speech on a community forum Andini"

That is not true. LJW censors us all the time. Free speech does not apply here. Ironic being that this is the press, but that's how it is.

tribalzendancer 5 years, 7 months ago

What kinds of comments and/or blogs have been censored? I wouldn't be surprised if insults and personal attacks were being moderated, since that's sort of the worst thing about these forums, and it seems 80-90% of comments are filled up with it.

Honestly it is a little surreal - all the 3-5 word comments that are mostly nonsensical. Well I can understand, there's not much to find fault with, so people are left to resort to personal attacks and demeaning sarcasm. Didn't any of these guys attend the school where it was made pretty clear that if your only response in a debate is a personal attack you've lost the debate or otherwise have no legitimate intellectual or factual base to stand on?

tribalzendancer 5 years, 7 months ago

Part of the reason why I posted this article on this website was because I wanted to see if any of the peanut gallery posters had any non-dualistic, free-thinking sense to them. Aside from rigorously defending the government and supporting our wars abroad (sorry I just can't go that far), this article establishes an opinion that couldn't possibly be more conservative or reserved, and well supported by evidence. My only point is in the headline. And yet all of these comments confirm my point. People can't talk about this issue and have anything intelligent to say because they like their truths black and white. All these Republicans and conservative military officials that have criticized the 9/11 commission, how does that stack up with everyone's beliefs? It must cause some mighty cognitive dissonance for your only response to be "bukakked with stupid." Stupid for advocating journalists and the public talk about this in a non-dualistic way? There couldn't be more double-think in your statement.

The only thing stupid on this page are the 1-liners that would prefer not to think intelligently about this issue, but prefer the fairy tale version of reality where America is number 1 and always stands up for freedom and democracy. These are the same people, I can only imagine, that believe dropping bombs on civilians and/or insurgents means "liberating" them.

Flap Doodle 5 years, 7 months ago

Every little mud show needs a geek to draw in the rubes and get more page views. HWMNBN used to fill that role. Since he got disappeareded, others have stepped up to fill that vital place.

RoeDapple 5 years, 7 months ago

Yup . . . Bigfoot. Big dude, kinda smelled bad. Throwin' rocks in the lake. Never figured out what that was all about . . . .

tribalzendancer 5 years, 7 months ago

You realize such buffoonery is admitting you have nothing intelligent to dispute the extremely conservative point I've made, right? Okay, just checking.

tribalzendancer 5 years, 7 months ago

You're arguing against a straw man. I take it you didn't read the article then. Also, I would agree there is no "they" no "NWO" coming to get you. These are projections and presumptions you've made. In other words, they are all beliefs.

Google the Manhatten Project, a project that employed over 130,000 people and was successfully kept secret until the bombs were dropped.

I could address every single one of your points. All of them are beliefs and assumptions, and show a lack of knowledge of history. "A 1945 Life article estimated that "[p]robably no more than a few dozen men in the entire country knew the full meaning of the Manhattan Project, and perhaps only a thousand others even were aware that work on atoms was involved." The magazine wrote that the more than 100,000 others employed with the project "worked like moles in the dark". Warned that disclosing the project's secrets was punishable by 10 years in prison or a $10,000 ($129,000 today[1]) fine, they saw enormous quantities of raw materials enter factories with nothing coming out, and monitored "dials and switches while behind thick concrete walls mysterious reactions took place" without knowing the purpose of their jobs."

Belief 1, disproven by history. You also assume that an alternative explanation for 9/11 requires a "massive government conspiracy." This is also a belief and not supported by any evidence. So I have to ask, if basic criticism is "hateful" then how do you explain all the patriotic veterans who have voiced such criticism? Could it be that the actual truth is not so black and white, which was my only point of this article? http://youtu.be/MxiQmtVGgcQ

tribalzendancer 5 years, 7 months ago

You're exhibiting cognitive dissonance, and outright denial. Saying "people aren't that competent" is another belief, which is one of the strongest I've seen for staying in denial about this issue. US exceptionalism is another blind spot as well. Read what government veterans have to say and you decide (if you can be honest with yourself, you should be able to see that these people are not conspiracy fantasy mongers): http://www.patriotsquestion911.com/

notaubermime 5 years, 7 months ago

Do you know what I think is the greatest silver lining of to the horrible cloud of 9/11? I think it is that it strips away all of the labels we throw on each other. On that day, it did not matter what political party you voted for, or if you voted at all. All that mattered was the simple truth of the tragedy.

Your post is dead-on because the simple truth is that while the people who run our country frequently flawed and give in to mountains of temptation... they are still people. They are still Americans. Especially on that day.

It may be tempting to think that a homicidal man cooped up in some dusty village in some godforsaken country half-way around the world is not capable of fomenting such misfortune, but the truth is that this is the reality of the world we live in. This is the reality of hatred. It is only when we get beyond those simple truths that the politics and labels divide us again.

tribalzendancer 5 years, 7 months ago

You guys would appreciate Ari Fleischer's attack on yesterdays NYT's article. This was his response to an extremely conservative critique of the Bush admin: "Disgusting op-ed in NYT by a truther implying Bush knew of 9-11/let it happen. NYT decries lack of civility, then adds to it. — @AriFleischer via Twitter for iPad

"Nothing in Eichenwald's op-ed indicates that he is a "Truther." And no reviewer of Eichenwald's book, 500 Days: Secrets and Lies in the Terror Wars, makes such an argument. The claim is just another Fleischer smear, just one more attempt to discredit the administration's critics." http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/09/11/1130378/-Bush-Cheney-administration-didn-t-care-enough-to-stop-Bin-Laden-s-attack

You guys should be proud! Ari Fleischer uses the same illegitimate confabulations as you all are so fond of. :)

Flap Doodle 5 years, 7 months ago

Anybody who cites DailyKos has already lost. Thanks for playing. Better luck next time.

tribalzendancer 5 years, 7 months ago

So you'd trust information more if it came from FOX news or Newsbusters? The article of relevance is from the NYT. Daily Kos commented on the story and referenced the Ari Fleischer tweet. There is no spin on the statements I referenced. If these facts become void because of the webpage it is on, despite those facts being true regardless of what site it appears on, then you must admit your whole train of critical thinking is utterly bankrupt and partisan. Seriously you are giving conservatives a bad name. Either that or you are confirming they are partisan "sports team" junkies who root for their team regardless of facts or integrity. Just keep rooting for your team. ;)

Flap Doodle 5 years, 7 months ago

LJW has, in effect, invited us to a conversation in their living room. If you don't follow their rules, they can ask you to leave. No First Amendment issues at all. BTW, it looks as if the hardliners in Egypt have discovered that our current President is Jimmy Carter Lite.

tribalzendancer 5 years, 7 months ago

Read what government veterans have to say and you decide: http://www.patriotsquestion911.com/

Read about John Farmer, senior council to the 9/11 Commission, and what he said. Evidence of a cover-up is indisputable. http://www.filmsforaction.org/News/Like_Iraq_the_Facts_Regarding_911_Were_Fixed_Around_the_Policy/

Again, your comment shows an inclination to see only two possible sides to the story, hate or inside job. Managed blow-back is another possibility. People say "no one in our government would ever kill 3000 of its own citizens." But this is another blind spot, shrouded by the flag of patriotic propaganda. American military officials have been more than willing to send tens of thousands of Americans to their death for illegal wars of aggression, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan. Unfortunately people that read this are blinded by patriotism, so this fact alludes them. To understand 9/11, you have to have a clear understanding of US history. It's a sad truth, and yes, realizing that our own government is not a protective and loving mother, but is much more malicious at times, is much more difficult than accepting some "boogeyman" from another foreign country hates us. With the latter, it's good guys (us) vs the bad guys. With the former, the reality, our government is both good and bad and our enemies are only perpetuating a cycle of violence that we initiated. People can't accept that though. Cue more denial.

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