The Nation Magazine weekly trashes 9/11 skeptics

News and Commentary by David Caputo of Positronic Design

Cross posted on

The Nation Magazine, one of my all time favorites and the very model for my own news magazine from "back in the day", is all-kinda squishy-washy about 9/11, and what really happened that day. They constantly rip the Bush administration a new one for all manner of the dreadful things they do, but they seem largely incapable of even QUESTIONING the official government line on 9/11 facts and figures, even when they blatantly contradict themselves.

Their most recent piece on this subject, Christopher Hayes' "9/11: The Roots of Paranoia" was typical of the genre, although politer than most. I offer my thoughts and commentary because I thought such a weak overall analysis should not stand unchallenged, especially by a long-time fan of The Nation.


Dear Nation Editors,

While I am somewhat impressed (compared to recent efforts from Alexander Cockburn) at the reasonable tone and interesting theoretical arguments of Christopher Hayes' article "9/11: The Roots of Paranoia", his analysis, sadly, still comes up wanting in many ways.

The article opens by citing a July 2006 Scripps poll which shows that 33% of Americans believe either LIHOP (let it happen on purpose) or MIHOP (make it happen on purpose) theories of US governement complicity on 9/11.

He's disturbed by these findings (although unsurprised by them, which I'll discuss later) because he detects no ferment among the masses that would correspond to knowing that the country is being led by mass murderers. This ignores, of course, the fact that it is undeniable that our government IS being led by mass murderers, as 100k - 600k victims of unprovoked international violence would attest. The question, it seems, is whether or not our country is led by mass murderers of Americans. (Not counting, of course, the 3000+ fellow citizens who have lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, or the tens of thousands of permanently maimed, on both sides)

A later poll is more instructive, I think, and speaks to why he thinks the first phenomenon is unsurprising.

Question: When it comes to what they knew prior to September 11th, 2001, about possible terrorist attacks against the United States, do you think members of the Bush Administration are telling the truth, are mostly telling the truth but hiding something, or are they mostly lying?

..........................Oct. 2006 ...May 2002

Telling the truth..........16%.......21%

Hiding something........53%.......65%

Mostly lying................28%........8%

Not sure.....................3%........6%

Source: The New York Times / CBS News
Methodology: Telephone interviews with 983 American adults,
conducted from Oct. 5 to Oct. 8, 2006. Margin of error is 4 per cent.

Now this new poll reveals that 81% (!!) of Americans believe that Bush administration is covering up either something or everything about 9/11. Notably, the portion that thinks the administration is "mostly lying" is up 20% since 2002. That's almost double the amount that think the administration is actually telling the full truth.

Americans' complete lack of confidence in the "Truthiness" of this administration is reflected in these overwhelming numbers. It's almost like: Q: "How can you tell when Bush or Cheney are lying?" A: "Their lips are moving."

C'mon, more than 80% think they're not being straight with us about the single biggest crime ever to happen on American soil. A crime that's led us into not just one but two wars of mayhem and cruelty almost beyond description. A shocking event that's led to the ritualized disembowelment of democratic institutions and civil liberties as the public has largely watched mesmerized, like a frog enjoying the hot tub.

One reason for the expansion of interest in 9/11 Truth and related research is not just Loose Change, which he cites with look-down-his-nose contempt for its low-budget, 20-something approach to purported debunking, but C-Span, which has broadcast several 9/11 Truth events, much to the pleasure of their ratings manager. Videos of these events have collectively gotten as much play as Loose Change, which has never been broadcast on national TV, let alone repeatedly.

One paragraph gets to the core of his argument:

This pattern of deception has not only fed diffuse public cynicism but has provided an opening for alternate theories of 9/11 to flourish. As these theories--propounded by the so-called 9/11 Truth Movement--seep toward the edges of the mainstream, they have raised the specter of the return (if it ever left) of what Richard Hofstadter famously described as "the paranoid style in American politics." But the real danger posed by the Truth Movement isn't paranoia. Rather, the danger is that it will discredit and deform the salutary skepticism Americans increasingly show toward their leaders.

OK, point by point.

  1. Wouldn't it make sense for a "pattern of deception" to logically lead people to think that if they'd lie in order to send thousands of Americans to their deaths, and kill hundreds of thousands of others, that they just might lie about the event that led them to do this?
  1. If you ever watched the excellent dissection of media fear projection featured in "Bowling for Columbine", you'd realize that "paranoia" has long been a central fixture of the American psyche. Paranoia about the Russians, the Communists, Anthrax (the mail), Snipers, Killer Bees and poisoned Halloween candy... you name it, we've been coached and coaxed to be paranoid about it. It's hardly the result of the burgeoning 9/11 Truth movement.
  1. The main point. After dismissing the spectre of paranoia he has just summoned (for effect maybe?), he says that 9/11 skepticism will "discredit and deform" the otherwise laudable skepticism that Americans are only just now starting to show any real signs of. Discredit to whom? Deform how? He doesn't say. You'd think if this was the "real danger" (a highly alarmist phrase), he's at least cite ONE example of how this might be true. Nope. We are left to our own devices to imagine how.

Moving on to the "raising questions" paragraph. Mr. Hayes cites a small number of apparent (he says perceived) physical anomalies that have attracted 9/11 researchers' interest, but offers no direct refutation of any of them. He ignores certain key facts, like the tower's free-fall-speed collapse, the pools of molten steel in the basements that persisted for months, and the even-officially-unexplained collapse of WTC-7, to make it seem like carefully analyzed events were merely a collection of vaguely-informed hunches. He mixes scientific analysis with whacko/provocateur assertions to smear one with the other, without differientating between them at all.

When he brings up the Reichstag fire, he purports that the majority of historians now share his view (no doubt appreciated by Nazi sympathizers) the a lone anarchist was really the architect of the crime. This is despite the fact that the Nazi's DID stage an attack on a frontier radio station in order to falsely claim that Poland had done it and officially launch WWII. A review of available scholarship would easily conclude that historians have actually developed NO consensus on the subject, other than the fact that the Nazis were most likely involved in some way.

He also makes no mention of the legal mechanisms the Nazis used in conjunction with the Reichstag fire that have eerie and haunting resonance today. The Patriot Act, obviously prepared long before 9/11 and designed to rip the heart out of what we had always considered "normal" civil rights protections, is our modern day "Enabling Act", a fact to which he makes no reference.

His "strongest" argument for his confidence in the Bush administration's theories about the events of 9/11 is presented next, in a one-paragraph, three-sentence oblique sideswipe of the quite outdated and already thoroughly discredited March 2005 Popular Mechanics cover article. Read Jim Hoffman's systematic dismantling of this report on if you think this report has any scientific merit. Using this report as the central foundation for his rejection of 9/11 scholarship demonstrates the lack of depth with which he has actually pursued his investigation. "Superficial" would be charitable, I think.

Of course, he then goes on to describe the 9/11 Commission Report as "something of a whitewash", but blythely moves on as if an obvious coverup involving a major mass murder was nothing to be concerned about. He mentions that Bush was only interviewed by the Commission in the presence of Cheney, but he fails to mention that they were not under oath, or recorded, or videotaped. Or that no commissioners were allowed to take notes and that the entire panel and staff had only three hours to meet with them, both. Is this what you at the Nation call "investigative journalism"? Sounds like conspicuous ignorance of inconvenient facts to me. Or was it just edited out to copy-fit the print edition? Just how much of a "whitewash" was it? He doesn't go into much detail, and ignores David Ray Griffin's authoritative book and lectures on the subject, lest it detract from his overall argument.

The rest of Mr. Hayes' article is pretty much a plaintive beseeching of the establishment media to take a more active role in resisting the tendency to print whatever the administration tells them, even when they know it to be a lie, cause "the people" are on to something and if they (the media) don't wise up they'll get the rabble all fired up and suspicious of everyone.

He posits two world-views, one credulous, one paranoid. I posit a third: thoughtful. Thoughtful as in imaginative, creative, intelligent, discerning, investigative, and wise. The 9/11 Truth Movement is not a "rabbit hole of delusion" as he would suggest. Indeed, those of us who insist that physics and chemistry follow strict laws, and that standard law enforcement investigative techniques and rules of evidence preservation should be used in all murder cases, and democratic openness and conflict-of-interest transparency should be the rule of the day in all major government operations would say that far from a "rabbit hole", the 9/11 Truth Movement is the most genuine example of citizen challenge to the forces of destruction around us.

Why is it that so many liberal/progressive publications and columnists have such a hard time seeing that?

Phillip Agee wrote in "Inside the Company" that the CIA had paid or blackmailed assets in almost every major news organization in almost every country in the world. For 25 years Lane Kirkland, head of the AFL/CIO, was actually a paid CIA asset. Is this what's going on here? Is someone on the company payroll? Does someone have some juicy dirt on y'all and is holding it over your heads?

That would at least make sense. This systematic failure to even look closely at the carefully reviewed and vetted research and the casting of insults and negative aspersions is more commonly the province of drug-addled right wingers like Rush Limbaugh. I bet it's the one thing that Rush and the Nation agree on, that 9/11 Truth folks are whacky kooks.

It's hard to understand all of this, but I'm standing my ground.

Come up with some better arguments or seriously investigate the reputable facts and research on 9/11 and see if you've actually been wrong on this one. The weak arguments presented just make the Nation look silly, and stupid. Far from 9/11 research "discrediting the left", it's just this kind of weak, unsupported blather that makes us all look like confused morons. Aren't you guys better than that?

I look forward to your reply,

David Caputo
Positronic Design

Wow. Very well written. Post

Wow. Very well written. Post the reply if you ever get one!

WOW Indeed!!!

I had the exact same response as Rollo! This is a most excellent response!!! Really top notch work! I would not hold my breath waiting on a response from the Nation. There is nothing they can say.

Great article...

To the point I would argue, that it resets the mark and center of the bell curve. Thanks for pointing out that far from being irrational anti-science and anti-social... 9/11 truth is based upon a refreshing reengagement of logic, classical investigation techniques and a desire [demand] for criminal apprehension and equitable justice.


"The truth shall make you free." Why not make the truth free? We live on a priceless blue pearl, awash in a universe of fire and ice. Cut the crap.

Excellent blog, deserving of a careful read.

This is a well-written, well-reasoned response to the idiots at the Nation.

Thank you all...

For your very kind comments. I'm very encouraged and will actively continue my writing on these topics.

Thanks again.

Commentary by David Caputo