Anyone who types the words "9/11" and "conspiracy" into an online search engine soon learns that not everybody buys the official narrative of what took place on Sept. 11, 2001. As a professor emeritus at the Claremont School of Theology, 66-year-old David Ray Griffin would seem to have more affinity for leather elbow patches than tin hats, yet after friends and colleagues prodded him into sifting through the evidence, he experienced a conversion. Now he's spreading the bad news. Griffin compiled a summary of material arguing against the accepted story that 19 hijackers sent by Osama bin Laden took the aviation system and the U.S. military by surprise that awful day in his 2004 book "The New Pearl Harbor" (published by Interlink, a Massachusetts-based independent publisher covering areas including travel, cooking, world fiction, current events, politics, children's literature and other subjects). He recently followed up with the book "The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions" (Interlink), a critique of the Kean commission document in which he suggests that a chunk of the blame for the worst terrorist attack on U.S. soil lies closer to home than the caves of Afghanistan. We contacted him at his Santa Barbara-area home for a report on his journey from mild-mannered scholar to doubting Thomas.
How did you join the ranks of those questioning the official account of the 9/11 events?
I was rather slow getting on board. For the first year and a half I just accepted the conventional view, really the blowback thesis, that this was blowback for our foreign policy. When a colleague suggested to me about a year after 9/11 that he was convinced our own government or forces within our own government had arranged it, I didn't accept that. Then several months later another colleague sent me [a link to] a website that had a timeline. Once I started reading that and saw all those stories drawn from mainstream sources that contradicted the official account, I decided I needed to look into it more carefully, and the more I looked, the worse it got. I considered it an obligation to kind of organize, compile the evidence and put it out there for the public.
The Internet is full of 9/11 conspiracy theories. What have you contributed to the discussion?
My main contribution has been the second book, [showing] that the 9/11 commission report is not worthy of belief, and the implication of that is that they were covering up the government's own guilt.
What would constitute a "smoking gun" against the official 9/11 account?
There are many. By just ignoring them, the 9/11 commission implicitly admitted they couldn't answer them. The towers coming down into a pile only a few stories high is a smoking gun. Many laws of physics had to be violated if the official story about the collapses is true. [The collapses] had all the earmarks of a controlled demolition by explosives. One of those is total collapse into a small pile of rubble. The fact that Building 7 [a skyscraper near the towers] collapsed when it had not been hit by an airplane, and collapsed in seven or eight seconds, that's a smoking gun. The fact that standard operating procedures were not followed that morning, and we've gotten three different stories now by the U.S. military as to why they did not intercept the planes, that's a smoking gun. The Secret Service leaving the president and themselves wide open to being attacked by [not responding immediately], that's a smoking gun. I can't say one is bigger than the other. You've got six or seven that are equally big.
Critics of the official 9/11 account seem to draw sinister inferences from instances where people, buildings or physical objects didn't react or behave as one might expect in theory. For example, if the hijackers were devout Muslims, why were some drinking, eating pork chops and cavorting with lap dancers? Doesn't real life unfold inconsistently, even bizarrely?
That's true, but the 9/11 commission simply ignored those questions. They're creating this image of fanatics who were so devout and convinced of the truth of their religion that they were ready to meet their maker, yet here's all this evidence that suggests they were not devout at all. [The commission] simply ignored evidence.
Dissenters also seem to find it suspect that in a dire emergency, individuals and agencies bumbled, fumbled, delayed, dropped the ball or choked. Won't that occur in any emergency?