A 9/11 conspiracy virus is sweeping the world, but it has no basis in fact

Loose Change is a sharp, slick film with an authoritative voiceover, 
but it drowns the truth in an ocean of nonsense

George Monbiot
Tuesday February 6, 2007
The Guardian

There is a virus sweeping the world. It infects opponents of the Bush 
government, sucks their brains out through their eyes and turns them 
into gibbering idiots. First cultivated in a laboratory in the US, 
the strain reached these shores a few months ago. In the past 
fortnight, it has become an epidemic. Scarcely a day now passes 
without someone possessed by this sickness, eyes rolling, lips 
flecked with foam, trying to infect me.

Article continues
The disease is called Loose Change. It is a film made by three young 
men that airs most of the standard conspiracy theories about the 
attacks of September 11 2001. Unlike the other 9/11 conspiracy films, 
Loose Change is sharp and swift, with a thumping soundtrack, slick 
graphics and a calm and authoritative voiceover. Its makers claim 
that it has now been watched by 100 million people.

The Pentagon, the film maintains, was not hit by a commercial 
airliner. There was "no discernible trace" of a plane found in the 
wreckage, and the entrance and exit holes in the building were far 
too small. It was hit by a cruise missile. The twin towers were 
brought down by means of "a carefully planned controlled demolition". 
You can see the small puffs of smoke caused by explosives just below 
the cascading sections. All other hypotheses are implausible: the 
fire was not hot enough to melt steel and the towers fell too 
quickly. Building 7 was destroyed by the same means a few hours later.

Flight 93 did not crash, but was redirected to Cleveland airport, 
where the passengers were taken into a Nasa building and never seen 
again. Their voices had been cloned by the Los Alamos laboratories 
and used to make fake calls to their relatives. The footage of Osama 
bin Laden, claiming responsibility for the attacks, was faked. The US 
government carried out this great crime for four reasons: to help 
Larry Silverstein, who leased the towers, to collect his insurance 
money; to assist insider traders betting on falling airline stocks; 
to steal the gold in the basement; and to grant George Bush new 
executive powers, so that he could carry out his plans for world 

Even if you have seen or read no other accounts of 9/11, and your 
brain has not yet been liquidised, a few problems must occur to you. 
The first is the complete absence of scientific advice. At one point, 
the presenter asks: "So what brought down the twin towers? Let's ask 
the experts." But they don't ask the experts. The film-makers take 
some old quotes, edit them to remove any contradictions, then 
denounce all subsequent retractions as further evidence of conspiracy.

The only people they interview are a janitor, a group of firemen, and 
a flight instructor. They let the janitor speak at length, but cut 
the firemen off in mid-sentence. The flight instructor speaks in 
short clips, which give the impression that his pupil, the hijacker 
Hani Hanjour, was incapable of hitting the Pentagon. Elsewhere he has 
said the opposite: he had "no doubt" that Hanjour could have done it.

Where are the structural engineers, the materials scientists, the 
specialists in ballistics, explosives or fire? The film-makers now 
say that the third edition of the film will be fact-checked by an 
expert, but he turns out to be "a theology professor". They don't 
name him, but I would bet that it's David Ray Griffin, who also 
happens to be the high priest of the 9/11 conspiracists.

The next evident flaw is that the plot they propose must have 
involved tens of thousands of people. It could not have been executed 
without the help of demolition experts, the security firms guarding 
the World Trade Centre, Mayor Giuliani (who hastily disposed of the 
remains), much of the US air force, the Federal Aviation 
Administration and the North American Aerospace Defence Command, the 
relatives of the people "killed" in the plane crashes, the rest of 
the Pentagon's staff, the Los Alamos laboratories, the FBI, the CIA, 
and the investigators who picked through the rubble.

If there is one universal American characteristic, it is a 
confessional culture that permits no one with a good story to keep 
his mouth shut. People appear on the Jerry Springer Show to admit to 
carnal relations with their tractors. Yet none of the participants in 
this monumental crime has sought to blow the whistle - before, during 
or after the attacks. No one has volunteered to tell the greatest 
story ever told.

Read some conflicting accounts, and Loose Change's case crumbles 
faster than the twin towers. Hundreds of people saw a plane hit the 
Pentagon. Because it collided with one of the world's best-defended 
buildings at full speed, the plane was pulverised - even so, plane 
parts and body parts were in fact recovered. The wings and tail 
disintegrated when they hit the wall, which is why the holes weren't 

The failure of the twin towers has been exhaustively documented by 
the National Institute of Standards and Technology. Far from being 
impossible, the collapse turns out to have been inevitable. The 
planes cut some of the support columns and ignited fires sufficient 
to weaken (but not melt) the remaining steel structures. As the 
perimeter columns buckled, the weight of the collapsing top stories 
generated a momentum the rest of the building could not arrest. Puffs 
of smoke were blown out of the structure by compression as the 
building fell.

Counterpunch, the radical leftwing magazine, commissioned its own 
expert - an aerospace and mechanical engineer - to test the official 
findings. He shows that the institute must have been right. He also 
demonstrates how Building 7 collapsed. Burning debris falling from 
the twin towers ruptured the oil pipes feeding its emergency 
generators. The reduction in pressure triggered the automatic pumping 
system, which poured thousands of gallons of diesel on to the fire. 
The support trusses weakened and buckled, and the building imploded. 
Popular Mechanics magazine polled 300 experts and came to the same 

So the critics - even Counterpunch - are labelled co-conspirators, 
and the plot expands until it comes to involve a substantial part of 
the world's population. There is no reasoning with this madness. 
People believe Loose Change because it proposes a closed world: 
comprehensible, controllable, small. Despite the great evil that runs 
it, it is more companionable than the chaos that really governs our 
lives, a world without destination or purpose. This neat story draws 
campaigners away from real issues - global warming, the Iraq war, 
nuclear weapons, privatisation, inequality - while permanently 
wrecking their credibility. Bush did capitalise on the attacks, and 
he did follow a pre-existing agenda, spelt out, as Loose Change says, 
by the Project for the New American Century. But by drowning this 
truth in an ocean of nonsense, the conspiracists ensure that it can 
never again be taken seriously.

The film's greatest flaw is this: the men who made it are still 
alive. If the US government is running an all-knowing, 
all-encompassing conspiracy, why did it not snuff them out long ago? 
There is only one possible explanation. They are in fact agents of 
the Bush regime, employed to distract people from its real abuses of 
power. This, if you are inclined to believe such stories, is surely a 
more plausible theory than the one proposed in Loose Change.