When David Ray Griffin conceived his first book regarding the events of Sept. 11, 2001, his interpretation of what transpired that day revolved around the concept of blowback, that the attacks were a byproduct of America’s decades of aggressive foreign policy toward the Middle East. In short, at the time, he bought the official story of 9/11. He wasn’t letting the United States government off the hook for their role in the attacks, but he wasn’t placing culpability where he would eventually place it: squarely on the shoulders of the Bush administration.
While researching for that first book, Griffin came across a growing community — concentrated mostly online — of people questioning the circumstances of Sept. 11 as reported by the mainstream media. Now, the retired professor, theologian and longtime Santa Barbara resident is one the leading voices of the so-called 9/11 Truth Movement, citizens who believe the horror of that day was not caused by radical Islamic terrorists but was orchestrated within the walls of the White House. Derided in the press as loony conspiracy theorists (if given any attention at all), the group, Griffin says, now includes intellectuals such as himself, as well as architects, engineers, pilots, former military officers and even ex-CIA operatives.
“The change in the movement has been rather drastic, because a few years back, people would dismiss us as a bunch of crazies on the Internet. And then when I joined, it was a bunch of crazies on the Internet and an aging theologian,” Griffin says. “But now they can’t make that charge anymore because there are far more intellectuals and professionals identified with the movement that have gone on record [opposing] the official story.” In addition, he says, polls indicate the general public is beginning to view the conventional portrayal of 9/11 with an increasingly skeptical eye as well. And to what does Griffin, who will speak at the Ventura Women’s Center on March 28, attribute the shifting tide? “Simply the power of truth — the old saying, ‘the truth will out.’ Once you start getting into it and looking at the evidence, it’s overwhelmingly obvious that the official story is false.”
VCR: Do you feel part of a movement?
It’s definitely a movement, and like some movements, it moves slowly. It’s been rather amazing over the last year, year and a half, the growth of the movement on the intellectual and professional side. I forget exactly how long ago it was when the first intellectual group started, which was Scholars for 9/11 Truth. Then there was Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice. There was another group, which I think was earlier, called SPINE, the Scientific Panel for the Investigation of 9/11. More recently, we’ve gotten professional groups. The first of those was Veterans for 9/11 Truth, where you have a growing number of former military officers, and then Pilots for 9/11 Truth, and that organization is growing pretty rapidly. But then the most rapid growth was when Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth was started over half a year ago, and they have over 300 members now. So the change in the movement has been rather drastic, because a few years back, people would dismiss us as a bunch of crazies on the Internet, and then when I joined it was a bunch of crazies on the Internet and an aging theologian. But now they can’t make that charge anymore because there are far more intellectuals and professionals identified with the movement that have gone on record [opposing] the official story.
To what do you attribute that growth?
Simply the power of truth – the old saying, "the truth will out." Once you start getting into it and looking at the evidence, it’s overwhelmingly obvious that the official story is false … There is a distinction between the movement, people who actively identify and read about it and go to 9/11 blogger to see what the latest is and so on, and the larger public that gets tapped into when there’s a Zogby poll or some other poll where we’re talking 30, 40, 50 or even more percent of the population saying, depending on how the question’s worded, they don’t believe the official story. The breakdown in the fear or whatever factors there are that prevent people from looking at the evidence, the breakdown in those factors is the main reason. For many people, the Iraq War, when people realized they didn’t just make a mistake, they lied, when that sunk in, that they would lie about something of that magnitude, which has resulted in more American deaths than 9/11 did, then people say, I’m not so skeptical that they wouldn’t lie about this. And when they covered up the truth about the air at Ground Zero, when the White House told the EPA, tell the people the air is clean, and that’s going to lead to maybe far more deaths than 9/11 itself did, we’re talking 10,000 or 20,000 maybe, that’s murder right there. When they see they can sentence thousands of people to a horrible life and an early death, why not 9/11 too? And then the professionals, when you see former CIA agents and analysts endorsing 9/11 books – I’ve had four endorse my book – then that makes them open their minds enough to open the book, and once they open the book and look at the evidence, I’ve had very few people who’ve actually read my book and say, oh, that’s just nonsense.
Are you convinced the US government orchestrated 9/11, or do you simply believe there is enough inconsistencies in the official story to warrant a new investigation?
If you read the first sentence of my Debunking 9/11 Debunking, you’ll see that I say the evidence that 9/11 was an inside job is obvious. It was only in my first book, The New Pearl Harbor, when I was using the term prima facia, saying we have prima facia evidence that it was an inside job. But at that point, that was before the 9/11 Commission had issued its report, so I remained open to the possibility that they could answer the various questions we had raised. In that book, I was simply a stenographer, really, for the 9/11 Truth Movement. I just organized the various arguments and evidence that had been marshaled. But when the 9/11 Commission report appeared and I saw how they treated the evidence, they ignored 99 percent of it, and that 1 percent of it, where they thought they could distort the facts to make it look like it was OK, they did that. That book was called 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions, and at the end of that book, I said far from allaying my suspicions that it was an inside job, it confirmed them. Ever since then, I’ve clearly been on that side.
Do you have a personal theory of what really happened on Sept. 11?
No, and I made a big point of not developing such a theory, and even encouraging members of the movement not to do this, because insofar as there are antagonisms and disputes within the movement, they’re related primarily to those things, where people say, well, here’s what hit the Pentagon, and others say that’s not true. I put my focus on evidence that the official story is false, and that evidence is so abundant and overwhelming, to make the case you don’t have to prove what really happened and who did it and so on. It’s like if you had a murder trial, and Jones is accused of murder. The defense attorneys can prove that Jones didn’t do it without having a theory about who really did. All you have to do is a good alibi and lack of evidence and so on. Likewise, we can show that there is no evidence that al Quaeda did it, there’s no way they could have done it, when you look at the details-for example, bringing the buildings straight down at virtual freefall speed. There is a sketch of a theory, that it was an inside job, that explosives were used in the buildings. But what kind of explosives exactly? When they were they put in there? How many were there? All those things some people want to get into. Or the critics say, you’ve got to have a theory. No, you don’t have to have a theory. When you develop a theory, that’s what the debunkers love, they want to say, that’s nonsense and take attention away from all the evidence we have marshaled to show the official story is false.
What do you think about the more fantastic theories? Do they help or hurt the movement?
Those are the kind of theories I’m talking about. All we need to do in regards to the Pentagon is show that Hanji Hanjor could not possibly have flown a 757, let alone into the trajectory that Flight 77 allegedly took. The best 757 pilot in the world could not have flown that trajectory. Theories are of different levels. The idea that a missile hit the Pentagon isn’t as far out as the idea that no planes hit the buildings. I even know second hand a guy who was in the Pentagon who said a missile hit the Pentagon. It appeared I had endorsed that theory in my first book, The New Pearl Harbor, but as I said I was more a stenographer in that book, and I was explaining Terry Maholms theory, a Frenchman who developed that theory, and I explained he had some reasons for it. The point of explaining the theory was to point out the negative argument, that it couldn’t have been Flight 77, it couldn’t have even been a 757.
The most common theory as to the motive for the government’s orchestration of 9/11 is that it was a so-called "false flag operation" meant to justify the War in Iraq. But the whole plot seems overly complicated for what the Bush administration would have supposedly wanted to accomplish.
In the beginning of Debunking 9/11 Debunking, the introductory chapter I devote to both the press, both the mainstream and left-wing press, and all the al-priori reasons people give for saying, oh, it couldn’t have been. I keep coming back to, you can’t settle these questions by armchair theorizing, you have to look at the evidence. Once you look at the evidence, it’s overwhelming that it was an inside job. A secondary question is, if you’re going to say it’s an inside job, you have to have a plausible motive. Plausible motives aren’t hard to come by, and one shouldn’t assume it’s a single motive. There were obviously various people and agencies involved, and they would have had their different motivations. If you get into why bring down the World Trade Center, one factor is, of course, these were symbols of American commercial dominance of the world, and therefore plausible targets of al Queada, if you’re going to do a false flag operation so you can blame somebody, you have to make it look like something they would do, and they would want to hit our military and commercial symbols, so you hit the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. But there are other big buildings that could’ve served too. Then you see there were reasons why it would’ve been nice for the city of New York to be done with those buildings. They were filled with asbestos, the estimate some years ago is it would’ve cost a billion dollars or so simply to take out the asbestos. When you started thinking through that line of thought, you see Larry Silverstein buys them, and he ends up making several billion dollars. So you’ve got a win-win situation there. With the Pentagon, if you’re going to look at actual motive, you’ve got to look at what particular part of the Pentagon was it, and it was probably the most difficult part of the Pentagon to hit with an airplane. So you realize there was some particular to go for that part of the building, so start look at what particular people were killed, what were they doing. You have to get to that level of empirical if you’re doing to deal with motive.
With regard to the question of imperialism, it wasn’t just Iraq. We had declared intention to attack Afghanistan by July of 2001 and I reported that in most of my books. It was almost the domestic front. When you’re going full scale into imperialistic enterprise, you want to have the power to stop the natives when they get restless, and here was the PATRIOT Act, already written. 9/11 allowed that to be enacted without any question. Also, part and parcel of the imperial goal was raising defense spending rather enormously. 9/11 was an enormous success from that point of view, when you see that we were already spending as much as the rest of the world put together on military matters. They thought that wasn’t enough, so now we’re spending hundreds of billions of dollars more than we were before. When you realize we’re talking about the two biggest motives that cause people to do really evil things – lust for power and lust for riches – we’re talking about trillions of dollars here, we’re talking about control. It wasn’t going to just be Iraq and Afghanistan, they had about seven countries on their list. Wesley Clarke revealed this in a couple of his books. They were really talking about controlling the world’s oil, and whoever control the world’s oil over the next 20 years will pretty much control the world. We’re talking about enormous treasures here for people who are motivated by the lust for power and the lust for riches. When you put it in that perspective, you’ve got plenty of motive. If you want to compare that to the motive the 9/11 Commission gives us, that Bin Laden and his people hated America’s freedom, they don’t quite compare.
Do you feel the discussion of a possible inside job helps derail conversations regarding U.S. foreign policy in the Mid-east over the last few decades?
When you’ve got different theories, to go back to the murder trial, you quite often have two different as to who the culprit was. You’ve got two conspiracy theories, one of them says Jones conspired with these certain people to have his wife murdered, the other says Smith conspired with some people to murder Jones’ wife for these reasons. You have to look at both theories and both motivations, but you don’t look at motivations in isolation, you look at motivations in conjunction with evidence. You might say, it looks like Smith had the stronger motivation, but all the evidence points to Jones. In this case, you’ve got all the evidence points to an inside job and also the stronger motivation, arguably at least, was with the ones who wanted a false flag operation as a pretext to enact their policies. That term conspiracy theory always gets used in a completely one-sided way. A conspiracy is when two or more people agree in secret to do something illegal. The government’s theory is it was a conspiracy between Bin Laden and a bunch of al Queada members.
We shouldn’t think American imperialism began with the Bush-Cheney administration. The American empire has been growing for over a century. We’ve done unspeakable things over that period. The media may a big deal out of the fact that Jeremiah Wright said goddamn the United States of America. Well, William James said that about 100 years ago in relation to what we had done in the Philippines. If I ever get my book done on American imperialism, the chapter on the Bush-Cheney period will be called the Third Revelation. The first revelation to Americans about our imperialist drives was in that period of taking over Cuba and the Philippines and a few other countries, Puerto Rico and so on. The second revelation occurred with Vietnam. Now we’re in the third revelation, where Americans are realizing we are an empire and have done ugly things. When it comes to then what was the real cause of 9/11, the fact that we say, no it wasn’t blowback, it was a false flag operation, as long as you put it in context and say it was a false flag operation in order to continue the same, and in fact intensify, the same kind of imperialistic practices we have been engaging in for a long time, it doesn’t seem like it would have that harmful consequence.
How does 9/11 factor into this year’s election? Do you think no matter who is elected this pattern will continue?
We can hope some of the things Obama says he says simply because he knows what he has to say to get elected, like attacking inside Pakistan whether they want it or not, and certain things he has said in regards to Israel and Palestine. We don’t know. I’m hoping regardless of what happens, we get 9/11 revealed, because my argument has been that unless we do, it’s likely we’ll continue our imperialistic ways, it will just be a change in degree at most. Generally, the distinction has been between more intelligent and more stupid imperialism; the Bush-Cheney imperialism is about as stupid as it can get, because it’s so obvious and it makes everyone angry, whereas you had a kinder, gentler imperialism during the Clinton years, and you had very few people complaining about America as an empire. But we were, and we did several really bad things during that period. I’ve argued that there needs to be a two-fold revelation. Americans need to realize 9/11 was an inside job and realize it was carried out for imperialist reasons, and it they see that, then there might be a revulsion against imperialism and people saying we really don’t want to be an imperialist nation. And when people see it doesn’t work out so well anyway – a large part of this imperialist drive started out of this previous Depression, and the goal of the United States was to have such a control of the world’s economy that we would never have another Depression. Now it looks like, partially because of years of stupid imperialism, we’re going to have one anyone.
What’s the likelihood of the Bush administration being called to justice in our lifetime?
I think it’s unlikely, but it could happen, and it’s so important that it does happen that it’s very important we keeping working to make it happen. It’s possible Kucinich would have hearings, he said he would. My publisher is sending my most recent book, The 9/11 Contradictions: An Open Letter to Congress and the Press, to a large number of members of Congress. We’re doing what we can.
Has this made you more cynical?
I’ve worked with these issues for a very long time. Some of my books have been on the problem of evil. The capacity of human beings to do what you would normally think of as unthinkable things I have been aware of for a long time. It hasn’t made me any more cynical or pessimistic about humanity. What it has done has made me more aware, much more aware of how complicit the mainstream media is, and a lot of people are encouraging me not to use the term mainstream media and say corporately controlled media. There is a good point to that, because mainstream suggests the media are where most Americans are, and that’s not right. Most Americans are against the war and have been for a long time. The media have only reluctantly come around and said since it’s unwinnable, we’re against it too. The way they have treated the 9/11 truth movement, they like to say we don’t take sides, we don’t do investigative reporting anymore, we just report, he said-she said. They don’t even do that. They take the side, they endorse the official conspiracy theory, they ridicule the alternative theory and they will not even report the evidence we use. They’ll pick up a couple things they think are absurd and mention those, so they take the point of view of cheerleader for the official conspiracy theory and the debunker. So they’re not even doing he said-she said, they’re just saying he said and she’s an idiot.
David Ray Griffin speaks March 28 at the Ventura Women’s Center (3451 Foothill Rd., Ventura) at 7 p.m. For more information, contact Dawn Hodson at 644-3268 or write firstname.lastname@example.org.