Our (least) favorite 9/11 conspiracy theories | Tenth anniversary of 9/11
In the world of 9/11 myths, some would rather believe in holograms, explosives and false flags.
While we are all for questioning the government's version of history as we should in a rational democracy, the conspiracy theories around 9/11 go way overboard. There are a lot of nutty ideas out there about what supposedly really happened on 9/11—virtually all have been easily and resoundingly debunked (as in this fantastic Popular Mechanics story) and none have been submitted to any serious peer-reviewed journals, but that hasn't prevented them from circulating online and gaining ground with the feeble-minded. In part, you can blame these celebs. And as recently as April 2011, a group of 9/11 truthers formed at Central Michigan University to investigate a supposed conspiracy. The theories are far from harmless, as leftist critic Noam Chomsky has pointed out, they've drawn enormous amounts of energy and attention away from reality for Americans. Here are some of the most persistent wackadoodle (and often utterly tasteless) ideas that turn up in 9/11 conspiracy theories.
The attacks were planned by the U.S. government
The film Loose Change, directed by Dylan Avery and released on the Internet and in a limited DVD printing in 2005, claims a segment of the U.S. government planned the attacks. It’s being offered in a tenth anniversary media pack right now. Cracked tells us the film was originally a fictional screenplay that Avery was shopping. A key piece of evidence for this theory is that, pre-9/11, the Pentagon conducted several training exercises simulating a Boeing 757 crashing into a building. The idea of an action carried out in such a way as to deceive the public about who did a particular deed is sometimes called a “false flag” operation.
The government knew about the attacks, but let them happen
The government’s military drills are also used to prop up the theory that the U.S. government let the attacks happen in order to legitimize military action in Iraq and Afghanistan. And evidence that someone knew what was up beforehand is often drawn from patterns of investment activity in the few days before the attacks. A large number of “put options”—stock deals where the buyer benefits if the stock takes a nosedive—were placed on United Airlines and American Airlines stocks, for instance. Snopes has debunked that idea.
Hijackers like Hani Hanjour could not have flown a plane like that
Hanjour got lousy grades and his instructors were worried about letting him fly, therefore (conspiracy theorists say) he (who earned a pilot's license and had hundreds of hours in planes and even Boeing simulators) couldn't have navigated a large commercial plane to the Pentagon and executed "precise" turns that flew it into the (largely unoccupied) west side of the building. Conspiracy theorists are fond of quoting pilots citing the "extraordinary skill" the pilot must have had—despite the fact that Hanjour didn't have to take off or land the plane and dragged wings across the ground while rolling the plane back and forth. Other conspiracy fans cite data that indicates the flight deck door was never opened. Others go so far as to say a 757 couldn't have performed the downward spiral that the plane executed—that it must have been something else like a missile. Others say that large plane parts weren't found in the wreckage. It goes on and on, but it's always far from convincing. Cool-headed analysts concur that the inexperienced pilot realized he was flying way high so had to turn and descend to get near the Pentagon—hardly the work of an ace pilot.
The controlled-demolition theory
This isn’t a separate theory, but rather a common idea used as part of many other theories: That the Twin Towers did not collapse due to airplane/fire damage, but rather were deliberately demolished from within. Reports of booming noises from within the buildings and recordings from the local fire responders saying that the fire was manageable have been treated as evidence that explosions were set inside the buildings and that the fire alone was not enough to bring down the Towers.
The faked-television footage theory
Another theory-within-other-theories is the “no-planer” idea put forth by 9/11 conspiracy early-adopter Nico Haupt, saying that the video of planes hitting the World Trade Center was in fact a holographic image. Which does little to explain the hundreds of eye-witness accounts.
Blame the Jews and/or Israel
The State of Israel, Mossad and Jews in general have been repeatedly blamed for the attack. One of the main pieces of evidence for this is the (false) claim that all the Jews working in the World Trade Center buildings called in sick on 9/11. These theories have been so widespread that the Anti-Defamation League has issued a report to refute them.
Flight 93 was actually shot down by U.S. jets
United Airlines Flight 93 crashed in a field in Pennsylvania after the passengers revolted against their hijackers. But a popular alternative theory holds that Flight 93 was actually shot down by the U.S. military, which then covered it up to protect the government’s reputation. Evidence for this theory includes claims that the plane’s engine damage resembled the damage caused by a heat-seeking missile. There's also the idea that phone calls from Flight 93 contained a "whooshing sound" indicative of a missile attack. Note however that U.S. military had at least one F-16 pilot ready to engage Flight 93, which doesn't discourage the idea that 93 could have been (secretly) intercepted.