- The Washington Times - Monday, August 7, 2006

ASSOCIATED PRESS

Kevin Barrett thinks the U.S. government might have destroyed the World Trade Center. Steven Jones is researching what he calls evidence that the Twin Towers were brought down by explosives detonated inside them, not by hijacked airliners.

These men aren’t uneducated junk scientists: Mr. Barrett will teach a class on Islam at the University of Wisconsin this fall, over the protests of more than 60 state legislators. Mr. Jones is a tenured physicist at Brigham Young University, whose mainstream academic job has made him a hero to conspiracy theorists.

Five years after the terrorist attacks, a community that believes widely discredited ideas about what happened on September 11, 2001, persists and even thrives. Members trade their ideas on the Internet and in self-published papers and in books. About 500 of them attended a recent conference in Chicago.

The movement claims to be drawing fresh energy and credibility from a recently formed group called Scholars for 9/11 Truth.

The organization says publicity over Mr. Barrett’s case has helped boost membership to about 75 academics. They are a tiny minority of the 1 million part- and full-time faculty nationwide, and some have no university affiliation. Most aren’t scholars in relevant fields. But some are well-educated, with degrees from elite universities such as Princeton and Stanford, and jobs at schools including Rice, Indiana and the University of Texas.

“Things are happening,” said co-founder James Fetzer, a retired philosophy professor at the University of Minnesota at Duluth, who maintains, among other claims, that some of the hijackers are still alive. “We’re going to continue to do this. Our role is to establish what really happened on 9/11.”

What really happened was that hijackers crashed planes into the Twin Towers, the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States concluded after 1,200 interviews. The National Institute of Standards and Technology, a government agency, filed 10,000 pages of reports that found fires caused by the crashing planes were more than sufficient to collapse the buildings.

The scholars’ group rejects those conclusions. Its Web site (www.scholarsfor911truth.org) contends the government has been dishonest. It adds: the “World Trade Center was almost certainly brought down by controlled demolitions” and “the government not only permitted 9/11 to occur but may even have orchestrated these events to facilitate its political agenda.”

The standards and technology institute and many mainstream scientists won’t debate conspiracy theorists, saying they don’t want to lend them unwarranted credibility.

Some worry that the academic background of the group could do that anyway.

Members of the conspiracy community “practically worship the ground [Mr. Jones] walks on because he’s seen as a scientist who is preaching to their side,” said F.R. Greening, a Canadian chemist who has written several papers rebutting the science used by September 11 conspiracy theorists. “It’s science, but it’s politically motivated. It’s science with an ax to grind, and therefore it’s not really science.”

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide