The 9/11 'Conspiracy'


Published: Dec 21, 2006

CLEARWATER - It is a Thursday evening, an ordinary night.

From the community room of Panera Bread, the westerly flow of commuters can be seen heading into the sunset on busy Ulmerton Road.

Gathered here are a dozen or so like-minded souls from the Tampa Bay 9/11 Truth Meetup Group.

They share a common belief: The official story of what happened on Sept. 11, 2001, is absolutely false.

"We're the Minutemen!" says retired nurse Jeanne Lucsynski of Wesley Chapel, who is sitting at a corner table with her laptop.

A 9/11 Truth meeting can sound like a cross between "The X Files" and an American history lesson.

Members are convinced that the U.S. government, or global elitists, felled the World Trade Center and used Arab hijackers as decoys. They want to speak out, like patriots of the American Revolution.

Lucsynski calls it the Internet Tea Party. This time, King George is in the White House.

OK, say they're crazy.

But Americans love a good conspiracy theory, a Scripps Howard-Ohio University poll released in August confirms.

The poll showed that an astounding 36 percent - one in three - believe it is "very likely" or "somewhat likely" the U.S. government had something to do with the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and allowed them to happen so the United States could go to war in the Middle East.

And 16 percent of the 1,010 adults surveyed in the national poll said "yes" when asked if they believed secret explosives - not jets - took down the Twin Towers.

The suspicions have gained enough popularity to rival conspiracy theories claiming the government was involved in John F. Kennedy's assassination or that it has hidden the existence of space aliens.

It's nothing new.

Poll May Reflect Disillusionment
"Conspiracies are part of every political culture," says Mark Fenster, a University of Florida law professor and author of the 2001 book "Conspiracy Theories: Secrets and Power in American Culture."

The Scripps Howard poll may reflect disillusionment over Iraq, Katrina and political scandals, he says.

"You ask people if they believe the government could have been behind 9/11, and they say, 'I wouldn't put it past them.'"

Fenster says similarities exist between the effects of the JFK assassination and 9/11 attacks. The whole country watched both events. Images were seared into people's brains through television.

But in the 1960s, those who believed Lee Harvey Oswald wasn't a lone gunman lugged their conspiracy films from college campus to college campus.

In 2006, those who say the World Trade Center was destroyed by the global elite can distribute links to 9/11 conspiracy DVDs, which have become a Web-based genre.

The DVDs, with names such as "Terror Storm" and "Loose Change," are made to raise questions.

Many can be downloaded for free or ordered as discs and easily copied for distribution among friends.

Meetings of the Tampa Bay 9/11 truth group can start like a DVD swap fest.

"Is this '9/11 Mysteries'? Have you seen 'Terror Storm'? Which is better?" says Lucsynski as discs are passed around the table.

"It will rock your world!" Mia Hamel says about "9/11 Mysteries," which debuted in September.

Hamel, 49, started the group last summer; it meets several times a month. She lives in Plant City and sells a building-supply product.

The group's Thursday night discussion includes mention of the New World Order, the term they use for the feared specter of a future one-world government.

Video Clips Were Persuasive
Hamel wasn't always interested in politics. She didn't even vote for 20 years.

In 2004, she felt despair over the Iraq war and the loss of John Kerry's presidential campaign.

Then she did it. She googled "9/11."

Up came links to dozens of Web sites and blogs questioning what really happened.

One of the first to make her believe in a conspiracy showed a video clip of the collapse of Building 1 and Building 2. The site pointed out small puffs of smoke coming from lower floors. It said the smoke was similar to "demolition squibs" in a planned explosion.

Hamel later started an Internet newsletter about 9/11 called the White Rose - the name of a group of German students who opposed Hitler - and plunked down about $50 to start a Meetup group last summer. is a place to connect and arrange meetings based on common interests. Groups in the Tampa region include the Mah Jongg Ladies, the Clearwater Republicans and the Tampa Bay Beagle Meetup.

So far, 81 members have joined the Tampa Bay 9/11 Truth Meetup. A small core attends the regular meetings, which have been held at Panera Bread in Clearwater or Sacred Grounds in Tampa.

The idea wasn't original. Dozens of 9/11 Truth Meetup groups have formed in cities large and small across the United States. One recently popped up in Brooksville.

Their message is grim, but the Tampa Bay group can still laugh.

"What do you say when people say we sound like conspiracy theorists?" asks Hamel.

She answers her own question with a quip. "I say we're conspiracy fact researchers, or conspiracy realists, or 911 CSI hobbyists."

"Oh, I like that one!" roars a man named Ben.

Goal: Plant Seeds Of Doubt
They talk about how to approach an unsuspecting person at a gas station, in the grocery store, at the dollar store.

The aim is to start a conversation, plant a seed of doubt about 9/11 and offer a DVD to the potential convert.

The technique is called narrowcasting. Change beliefs about 9/11 one person at a time. Eventually, the whole world gets your message.

"You can talk till you're blue in the face, but a DVD will really get their attention," says Hamel.

Jack Hersh, a 75-year-old widower living in Dunedin, helps by making hundreds of copies of 9/11 videos on his multidisc burner.

He carries about 400 in his teal van. His barber took a couple. So did the kid behind the Sam's Club photo counter.

"I couldn't go to my grave knowing that 9/11 was an inside job," Hersh says.

In October, the 9/11 conspiracy questions being passed around on the Internet were foils for laughs on an episode of "South Park."

"Of course, we were the ones who looked ridiculous," says Elaine Nichols, a member of the Tampa Bay 9/11 truth group.

Nichols, of Oldsmar, says she doesn't care what people think of her. She is a mom of three who home-schools her kids and has been in Little League fights.

The "South Park" episode also broadcast what 9/11 truth groups believe to be the facts, she says.

The episode went up on the Internet in three seconds.

Reporter Susan Hemmingway can be reached at (813) 259-7951 or

E-mail done

thank you for doing this. Most Journalists report every item that comes from the White House as undisputed news, but on this issue they hide behind their never real given neutrality.

What's your opinion? Did you look at the facts? PS: You left out "911 - Press for truth". If you watch it and don't have serious doubts about the "official conspiracy theory" you failed your job.

And O'Reilly claims that the media would be all over it, if it's for real.

No, they would not.

It's a game everyone agrees to play if you work for money and the media. You don't have to be told what OK to write about. Just look at Gary Webb.
He was on the track of the story of the last 20 centuries, look what they'd done to him. Gonzo reporter Hunter S. Thompson was going to write about the WTC demolition just before he died. How many reporter were suicided, aka by shot themselves twice in the head? Come on!

Fear is the name of the game if they don't get you with the money. And besides that, dozenzs, no hundreds of reporters gone the way to 911 truth, many with slight steps, but every journey begins with the first step.

What about you? Does courage matters?

Kind regards

My response to Mark Fenster

I have published an open letter to Mark Fenster, the "conspiracy theory" expert quoted in this article, here:

Fenster's Fallacy

Good for you. This Fenster is a real douche.

Maybe defense attorneys should hire him for every client accused of criminal conspiracy? Then Fenster could explain to the jury how all conspiracies are just products of fertile minds, or paranoia, or disgruntled citizens. No need to examine evidence.

Fenster's logic resembles the fallacy of the consequent.

Such an argument looks like this:

If P, then Q.
Therefore, P


If 9/11 Truth is a fallacious conspiracy theory, then people who believe 9/11 Truth are misguided conspiracists.
People who believe 9/11 Truth are misguided conspiracists.
Therefore, 9/11 Truth is a fallacious conspiracy theory.

Did they just change the website?

I could have sworn that an hour ago there was a lot of information after the article, "Beliefs" and "Counterarguments" and links to various websites including and the State Department and Popular Mechanics. Now it's gone. As bad as thought the article was, at least it contained some informatiion about what the arguments for an inside job. Now it's just an ignorant smear job.