The Magazine

The Truthers Are Out There

Leftwing causes converge with the 9/11 denial movement.

Sep 24, 2007, Vol. 13, No. 02 • By SONNY BUNCH
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New York City

Certain events can be expected each time the 9/11 anniversary rolls around. Opinion writers will opine about how the attacks did or didn't change America. Moments of silence will take place in any number of locales. Think tanks will host panels discussing everything from the war on terror to the impact on immigration reform. And the loosely affiliated conspiracy theorists that comprise the 9/11 Truth Movement will hold rallies and conferences around the country to bring themselves attention.

Truthers, as they are called, hold a wide range of (often mutually exclusive) theories about what took place on September 11, 2001. They break down into two broad camps: those who believe that George W. Bush and Dick Cheney made 9/11 happen on purpose and those who believe that they let 9/11 happen on purpose. Truthers bristle at being called conspiracy theorists even as they argue that the president had explosives planted in the World Trade Center to ensure the collapse of the Twin Towers after airplanes struck them, had a missile fired at the Pentagon, and shot down Flight 93 in an effort to start a series of wars that would lead to the seizure of Middle Eastern oil and the securing of a pipeline through Afghanistan.

NY 9/11 Truth held its anniversary celebration, "The 9/11 Truth: Ready for Mainstream," at the Cooper Union in New York City last week. Frequently citing Abraham Lincoln--who forcefully articulated his political philosophy on the same stage 147 years earlier--the Truthers invited to speak seemed less interested in discussing the intricacies of the various plots they claim to have uncovered than in shoehorning 9/11 into causes they supported long before the terrorist atrocities of that day. Tiokasin Ghosthorse, a Lakota radio host, said he wasn't at all surprised by the events of 9/11 because "America [has been] an 'inside job' since 1492." Mya Schone, another staple of liberal talk radio, entitled her speech "9/11 and the Oppressive Apparatus of the Capitalist State."

Attendance was sparse. Despite warnings to get tickets in advance in order to assure a seat, Cooper Union's Great Hall was at perhaps 25 percent of capacity on the first day. Even fewer showed up on the second day. Truthers varied in age, but the uniform of the event seemed to be T-shirts sporting slogans like "9/11 was an inside job!" and "Impeach Bush." Devotees of Lyndon LaRouche were staked outfront of the premises, warning that the ideas contained within the literature were "heavy, important, man." The LaRouchies seemed to realize they weren't welcome at the event, but it's hard to think that the sermon they were preaching was any more outlandish than, say, that of Alfred Webre, who was given 45 minutes to talk on the topics "9/11 as a war crime" and the "development of [an] international tribunal" for the Bush administration. After touching on those subjects (to great applause), he veered off course, arguing that an "artificial intelligence matrix" controlled by the Rothschild family might have caused 9/11, that the cancer rate in Iraq now stands at 30 percent, that AIDS is a biological weapon created to control the population, that global warming is being caused by a black hole 23 light years from Earth, and that the NYPD was employing a supersonic crowd disruption device that was depressing turnout.

It would be unfair to lump everyone at the conference with such nutty ideas; for every Webre there was someone like Sander Hicks. Hicks, a lanky, clean-cut gentleman sporting wire-rimmed glasses and a firm handshake, was there to help moderate the event. The proprietor of a successful independent coffee and bookshop in Brooklyn, Hicks showed up early to pass around copies of his newspaper, the New York Megaphone, which features an exposé of the legal dealings of New York governor Eliot Spitzer and real estate mogul Larry Silverstein (who Truthers cite as a key member of the 9/11 conspiracy, as he collected a massive insurance payout when the World Trade Center was destroyed). We had a chance to chat beforehand, and when he heard the rantings of Webre he hustled over to make sure that I understood not everyone involved in the 9/11 Truth Movement was so crazy.