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Wednesday, May 26, 2004 FULL SHOW | HEADLINES | NEXT: Chalmers Johnson: The Sorrows of Empire Militarism,...
2004-05-26

The New Pearl Harbor: A Debate On A New Book That Alleges The Bush Administration Was Behind The 9/11 Attacks

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In a new book, well known theologian David Ray Griffin, alleges the Pentagon may have been hit by a missile on Sept. 11 and that the Twin Towers collapsed from a controlled explosion. The book has been hailed by many who question the official record of what happened on Sept. 11. But Chip Berlet of the Political Research Associates, who has studied conspiracy theory movements, charges Griffin’s book doesn’t hold up because it is based on faulty premises and unreliable sources. Today we have a debate on the book and what happened on 9/11. [includes rush transcript]

In the nearly 3 years since the September 11th attacks, the US government’s official inquiry has come under increasing scrutiny, particularly from families of the victims. At the public hearings of the 9/11 commission, there have been multiple protests both inside and out. And the Bush administration has refused to cooperate fully in the investigation. For weeks, National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice refused to appear before the commission, eventually saying she would appear but not under oath. But after public outcry, she ultimately testified. President Bush and Vice President Cheney met with the commission members in a non-public, closed-door meeting. They refused to give any sworn testimony, the meeting was not recorded and the handwritten notes of commission members were confiscated before they left the meeting.

In recent days, members of the 9/11 commission have warned that the panel may fail to produce a unanimous final report this summer. Meanwhile, several of the victims’family members have refused to take any money from the US government’s compensation fund — people like Ellen Mariani, who was on this program last week. Her husband Neil died on September 11th and she has rejected up to $1.8 million, calling it hush money.

There are a number of groups that have formed a movement over the past 3 years called the 9-11 Truth Movement. They allege that the official version of events on September 11 is filled with holes and has left many unanswered questions. Their case is summarized in part in a book by David Ray Griffin, a professor of Philosophy of Religion at the Claremont School of Theology in California. The book is called The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions About the Bush Administration and 9/11.

  • David Ray Griffin, author of The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11. He is a professor of Philosophy of Religion and Theology at the Claremont School of Theology in California.
  • Chip Berlet, senior analyst at Political Research Associates in Somerville, Massachusetts. He recently wrote a critique of David Ray Griffin’s book The New Pearl Harbor.

- Read the Political Research Associates critique of The New Pearl Harbor
- Read David Ray Griffin’s response

Transcript

This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.

AMY GOODMAN: Today we’re going to have a debate around the issues raised in this book, but we’ll begin with Professor David Ray Griffin for him to lay out his case. Welcome to Democracy Now!.

DAVID RAY GRIFFIN: Thank you. It’s good to be here.

AMY GOODMAN: It’s good to have you with us. Well, why don’t you lay out the points that you think are most important for people to understand, what you call the "disturbing questions about the Bush administration and 9/11," in your book, "The New Pearl Harbor."

DAVID RAY GRIFFIN: What I have done is summarize and organize the evidence that a vast number of previous researchers have come up with, and this shows that the official story breaks down when confronted with readily available evidence in almost every fact and aspect. I mean here the behavior of the Bush administration before 9/11, after 9/11, and every aspect of that fateful day itself. With regard to the events before 9/11, just to summarize a few, we have had some revelations through the 9/11 commission of the fact that there was more information about the attacks available in advance than the Bush administration has allowed, particularly the August 6 memo. But there is far more specific information that was available through the fact that put options were bought in massive amounts on United Airlines and American Airlines. That means that somebody was betting that they were going to go down in price. FBI members have reported that they knew in advance that there were to be attacks in Lower Manhattan, and on the days concerned. There were obstructions of investigations by the FBI and other intelligence agencies. We claimed that we were searching for Osama Bin Laden, that he was criminal number one, and yet we have learned that he stayed in an American hospital in Dubai, was treated by an American surgeon and visited by a member of the CIA. The Project for the New American Century, which was formed by people such as Cheney and Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz and Perle put together a report called, "Rebuilding America’s Defenses," in which they said that the revolution in military affairs that is necessary would be probably very slow unless there was a new Pearl Harbor. Then there’s clear evidence that the war in Afghanistan was planned before September 11. After 9/11, the same process continued. There were many times when it looked like the military deliberately allowed Osama Bin Laden to escape. Obstructions of investigations continued, and those who did the obstruction were promoted rather than fired. They covered up the evidence that the head of the ISI, that is the Pakistani equivalent of the CIA, was in Washington the week before and during 9/11, and that he was meeting with George Tenet, head of the CIA. — Afterwards it was learned that he had ordered a fellow ISI Agent to wire $100,000 to Mohammad Attas. This is just incredible. What if we had learned that Saddam Hussein had ordered that money to be wired? That would have been the main reason we gave to attack Iraq, and yet the United States Government covered up that fact. But the most important evidence pointing to official complicity involves the events of 9/11 itself. Do you want me to go into some of those?

AMY GOODMAN: Yes. We’re speaking with David Ray Griffin. He is author of the "New Pearl Harbor, Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11. " Before you go into those, a quick question about your last point on ISI, Tenet, and the ISI head, explain that point further about the transfer of $100,000.

DAVID RAY GRIFFIN: Well, the head of the ISI, it was learned later, had ordered one of his agents to have that $100,000 transferred to Mohammad Attas who has always been considered the leader of the hijackers. And yet after that it was learned that the United States, rather than pursuing the head of the ISI, had him quietly dismissed by the Pakistani intelligence agency. So it seemed to be clear example of trying to hush up the fact that the Pakistani intelligence was involved in the events of 9/11.

AMY GOODMAN: Go on with your points, and then we’ll talk about them each.

DAVID RAY GRIFFIN: Okay. With regard to 9/11 itself, you have talked about, I believe, on the show already what appear to be cancellation of standard operating procedures. That is, normally when there’s evidence that a plane has been hijacked, within 10 to 15 minutes that plane is intercepted. Yet on 9/11, Flight 11 went 32 minutes after there was signs that it was hijacked and yet it was not intercepted. Flight 175 went 21 minutes. Flight 77, according to the official story anyway, went 41 minutes, and not a single interception was made. Yet interception is a routine matter carried out over 100 times a year. Another factor about this is that there seemed to be two stories. The first few days, General Myers said that no planes were sent up — no jets were sent up until after the Pentagon strike. But a few days later, the story changed. So they were saying that, yes, they did scramble, that is send up jets, but they were too late. Then when you look at the times that NORAD gives, the times don’t compute, because these planes can fly, F-15’s can fly 1,875 miles an hour, and when you look at the times the planes would have been traveling no more than, say, 700 miles an hour. Then the flight that — the jets that were 70 miles from Washington, — excuse me, from New York, according to the official story were sent back home rather than being sent on to Washington, even though at that time it was already known, again, according to the official story, that this third airliner had been hijacked and was headed towards Washington.

Finally there are a number of questions about the Pentagon story. First of all, it was the West Wing that was hit. Why in the world would terrorists hit the West Wing? First of all, it was extremely hard to hit. A very fancy maneuver had to be performed, and yet the hijacker, Hani Hanjour, was said to be barely able to fly. Furthermore, hitting the West Wing did the least amount of damage. There were very few people there and it was furthest from the East Wing, where Rumsfeld and all of the big brass were. So why would terrorists choose that? Secondly, we’re told that it was hit by — that Flight 77, of course, was a Boeing 757, and the story that was recorded in the "Washington Post" the next day, was that the hole in the Pentagon was five stories high and 200 feet wide. That is about the size of a hole of a 757 would create, and yet a photograph was taken by a marine that shows that the hole was only 18 feet in diameter. Furthermore, that would have meant that only the nose of the 757 could have gone inside, so the rest of the plane would have been sitting outside. And yet photos were taken by Associated Press among others that show that there’s absolutely no sign of the plane in front of the Pentagon. Finally, how could a commercial aircraft attack the Pentagon, which has to be the most defended place on the face of the earth? It is surrounded by batteries of missiles which are geared to attack any aircraft that does not have a friendly transponder. Only a military aircraft would have a friendly transponder. The very fact that whatever hit the Pentagon was not shot down suggests very strongly that whatever it was, it was not a commercial aircraft, and it was some sort of military aircraft. Well, those are some of the things. There are further facts, there are all of the facts about the World Trade Center, why those buildings would have collapsed, and there are very strange features about President Bush’s behavior on that day, but I don’t know if we have time to go into those now.

AMY GOODMAN: We’re going to break for stations to identify themselves, when we come back, we’ll continue this discussion. We’ll be joined by Chip Berlet of Cambridge Research Associates. We’re talking to David Ray Griffin. His book is called, "The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11." stay with us.

AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, Democracynow.org. We’re talking about a book that is at the center of the 9/11 truth movement, a movement of people who have named themselves, raising questions they feel have not been answered in the last three years. The book is called, "The New Pearl Harbor — Disturbing Questions About the Bush Administration and 9/11," by David Ray Griffin. I’m Amy Goodman. Before we move into a debate around the points you have raised, a discussion, your last point about the twin towers themselves, David Ray Griffin.

DAVID RAY GRIFFIN: Yes. This is all very peculiar, not only the twin towers, but building number seven, which is quite often overlooked, and yet in many cases the most important. When Mayor Giuliani was questioned, one of the questions that should have been asked to him is what is peculiar about New York City —

AMY GOODMAN: Okay.

DAVID RAY GRIFFIN: That although in no other case has fire been able to bring down steel frame buildings. On this day, three buildings came down in one day. Furthermore, if there were to be any way that fire would bring down such buildings, it would have to be an enormous fire, and it would have to burn for a very long time, but as I point out in the book, the fires after the initial explosion and after the initial jet fuel had burnt off, were actually very small fires and did not spread throughout the building, and they didn’t last very long. They had died down rather quickly. Furthermore, there are many features about the collapse that would have to be explained, not simply the fact that the buildings came down, but there were many features that suggest that the buildings were brought down deliberately through the method that’s known as controlled demolition. That is, the buildings fell at almost free-fall speed. They totally collapsed to only a few stories, even though the twin towers at the center had these 47 enormous steel columns that would have been left standing in the air even by the most optimistic of the pancake theories. Furthermore, most of the concrete was turned to dust, which is what controlled demolition through explosives would do. There was also seismic evidence that suggested that there were enormous explosions underground. Then there was all of this mysterious heat that lasted for so long which was molten steel, we finally learned. Then there was the apparent cover up by the fact that the steel beams were quickly removed and shipped off to Asia before they could be studied. This was very important because there’s a phenomenon known as twinning in which you can see whether steel has been subjected to very strong explosives.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, David Ray Griffin, I’m going to bring in Chip Berlet here. We’re listening to David Ray Griffin, author of "The New Pearl Harbor — Disturbing Questions about 9/11." Professor of Theology and Religion at the Claremont School of Theology in California. Explosive charges that you are making. Chip Berlet has reviewed your book. He’s the Senior Analyst at Political research associates in Summerville, Massachusetts, and we welcome Chip Berlet to Democracy Now!

CHIP BERLET: Good morning.

AMY GOODMAN: Good morning. Well, if you could respond to some of the charges in David Ray Griffin’s book.

CHIP BERLET: Well, I think a good example would be the Osama Bin Laden treated at the due buy hospital. It’s possible that happened, but there’s no on the record source that has actual evidence of that and the head of the hospital has denied that Osama Bin Laden was ever there. All of the reports track back to anonymous sources. So, is it possible that he was treated there? Yes. In the great cosmos of possibilities, many of the claims made by Professor Griffin are possible, but the way he presents them as facts is I think, the problem. There are a number of suppositions. There are a number of claims which have been made which he presents as facts which are easily refuted. An example would be in the book he talks about how jet aviation fuel doesn’t create the kind of explosion one sees at the pentagon, and yet if you track back the source to that, it goes back to the book by Terry Methan and he’s claiming a number of scientific facts about jet fuel and explosions and how that happens. The claims that are being made are that jet fuel doesn’t explode in the circumstances presented at the Pentagon. But yet there are a whole websites devoted to studying how jet fuel can explode in different circumstances, especially those circumstances that accompanied that of a jet aircraft hitting usually the ground. So, time and time again, you go through this and look at underlying claims that Griffin is relying on. He has looked at these books and claims by a number of people, and he is somewhat skeptically says let’s assume the claims are true. What would be the possible reason for this happening? But if you fact-check and you go back and look at a number of these claims by the preliminary researchers, you find out they’re quite easily refuted.

AMY GOODMAN: Chip Berlet, the charges that David Ray Griffin makes, the questions he says are not answered, the implications of what he is saying, for example, a missile hitting the Pentagon as opposed to the plane, and then what happened to the passengers on board that plane?

CHIP BERLET: Well, that’s an example, and not to mention, there are a number of internet researchers have done internet searches and said they cannot find actually any witnesses who saw the plane hit the Pentagon, who weren’t government employees. But if you go to searches on local newspapers for when people talked to their magazines, there were hundreds of witnesses who saw a jet commercial airliner hit the Pentagon. You cannot find them on the internet because they’re not there. One of the people that Griffin relies on is this — is a researcher named Holmgren, who goes into great lengths say that he can’t find this witness, Dave Winslow. He went on to say that Dave Winslow probably doesn’t exist and if he does, he should come forward. Dave Winslow is an A.P. Radio reporter. If you pick up the "Washingtonian magazine" for September, 2002, there’s a picture of Dave Winslow and an interview of what he saw. That’s the substandard research being relied on here.

AMY GOODMAN: David ray griffin.

DAVID RAY GRIFFIN: Well, the difference between my position and Mr. Berlet’s have — are so extensive that we wouldn’t be able to begin talking about it today, so for the most part, I can simply refer to the response that I wrote to his critique, which is published on his group’s website but let me mention just a couple of things in response to what he has said. The main point, as I made — stressed in the book and stressed earlier today is that what I have presented is a cumulative argument which relies on a massive amount of evidence that I do take to be prima facie reliable in the most part reliable as main line sources. I stress that what I’m making is not a direct charge, but a prima facie charge that says if these facts are borne out by a further investigation, then we do have strong evidence of complicity. With regard to what he said about a couple issues, I pointed out in the book that if you’re presenting a deductive argument, that’s when we say that no chain is stronger than its weakest link. Then it is important to point out if there are a couple premises of the argument that are at fault, then the whole thing falls. But with the cumulative argument that isn’t the case.

AMY GOODMAN: Let me just ask you a few specific questions, because you were very concrete at the beginning. For example, the idea of a missile instead of a plane hitting the pentagon, despite the numerous eyewitness reports of seeing the plane and the passengers on board who were calling their loved ones like Barbara Olson, whose husband, Ted Olson is the Solicitor General. What do you say happened to all of these passengers, if this plane didn’t go into the Pentagon?

DAVID RAY GRIFFIN: Well, as I point out in the book and I point out in my response to Mr. Berlet, I don’t have a theory about that. I am not coming up with an alternative theory to the official theory, which is a complicit conspiracy theory saying that Muslims conspired to do it. I’m, rather, showing that that theory is full of problems. Now, with regard to the Barbara Olson case, first of all, we do not know that she called. All we have is Ted Olson’s statement that she called. We have also no testimony from other people. Why would she be the only one? That’s very puzzling.

AMY GOODMAN: What about what happened to her?

DAVID RAY GRIFFIN: Oh, I say —- I say in there very clearly and so does Thierry Meyssan—- so do the others, we have no idea what happened. There are all sorts of possible theories as to what happened. You don’t have to come up with an alternative theory of what happened to show that the official theory, which says that Flight 77 hit the Pentagon is very problematic.

AMY GOODMAN: Chip Berlet, your response?

CHIP BERLET: Well, I think there are a number of places where Professor Griffin and I agree. We agree the Bush administration is not telling the whole truth. We agree there are a number of unanswered questions. Let’s be clear that both of us want more investigation, more revelations and hold the Bush administration accountable. My argument is that when Professor Griffin says, you know he’s accepting these argument, these factual claims, that there’s a dilemma there. Isn’t there fact-checking? Isn’t there part of doing work to publish a book, you should fact-check the sources that you are looking at? I understand it’s tempting to just accept these claims, but Thierry Meyssan is not a structural engineer. He has no idea how jet aviation fuel explodes. He has no idea about the claims he is making. He’s a person making allegations on the basis of no expertise. Time and time again, these claims that are being made in the book about a controlled demolition — let’s use the words. Apparently the Bush administration bombed the world trade center, and sent a guided missile into the Pentagon and shot down the plane in Pennsylvania? Somewhere in this immense conspiracy involving apparently hundreds of people, commercial enterprises, government agencies and the media, no one is stepping forward and saying, oh, gee, you know, I’m going to tell what happened?

AMY GOODMAN: Thierry Meyssan, you referred to him in a lot of the references in David Ray Griffin’s book, "The New Pearl Harbor," source back to him. Chip Berlet, your evaluation of who he is and his analysis.

CHIP BERLET: Well, you don’t have to rely on me. As soon as his book came out in France, a number of journalists across the spectrum started to pick it apart. That’s been done. Even in his book, Professor Griffin points out there were critics of Meyssan. But let’s take another example. This claim by Jared Israel and his co-writer that there were aircraft stationed at Andrews Air Force ready to take off and stop the planes. There was no evidence that this is true. This was refuted almost immediately after it was posted that these are two individuals who misunderstood language on a website that said that the aircraft at Andrews air force base are combat-ready. Well, they are combat-ready. That means that unit of the military could be sent into combat — somewhere between 24 and 72 hours. There is no evidence, and to this day there is no evidence that there were jet aircraft, fueled up, warmed up, ready to go at Andrews with fighter pilots sitting in a ready room ready to take off. We know that those pilots and jets were at another airport. Can we argue there should have been jets at Andrews, yes? But has it been demonstrated that there were jets ready to take off, to scramble, in other words, at Andrews? No. Even some of their allies have pointed this out, people like Stan Goff that simply says, you got the terminology wrong and the procedures wrong.

AMY GOODMAN: The issue of why planes were not sent up to scramble?

CHIP BERLET: They were sent up to scramble. Now, why —

AMY GOODMAN: Why did it take so long?

CHIP BERLET: Well, in one case where people always talk about the maximum speed, you know, that these jets fly at 1,875 miles an hour, and they do these calculations as if it was Star Trek, and, you know, the commander says make it so, and they hit 1,875 miles an hour instantly to fly these distances if they did that, the pilots would dead. A lot of this is armchair guesswork by people who haven’t done their homework. Somehow this gets incorporated as reasonable to insert into a book that makes these claims. I just don’t understand it. This is Professor Griffin’s previous work has been stellar. He’s one of the singular most important religious philosophers in America. I don’t understand this lapse.

AMY GOODMAN: David Ray Griffin, your response.

DAVID RAY GRIFFIN: Well, there is some — there are so many points that first of all, many people, if one looks at the reviews both the editorial reviews and the customer reviews on Amazon.com think this is in many respects my finest book, and so Mr. Berlet is somewhat in a minority on that issue, it would seem. But more importantly, he makes a point of Meyssan, I don’t endorse all or even most of his theories. But when he seems to have good evidence, then I support it. Most of my, if you — if you look at my sources, most of those, you will see come from Paul Thompson. Paul Thompson realized and relied only on main line sources. I have 40 pages of notes so that people can check all of these facts. The most basic issue between us, I think, is one of methodology. Mr. Berlet’s group is committed to the idea of defeating what they call conspiracies. They believe that all major events are the result of conspiracy. First of all, that doesn’t apply to me and Howard Zinn and any of the other people who have endorsed my book, but he begins from the premise that it’s not a good thing to believe that this was the result of a governmental conspiracy, and then his method is to look at those parts of the overall cumulative argument that seem like they’re most easy to cast doubt on, and ignores the strongest points. So, he picks up this very tiny point that — the tiny point in my book about I —- I cite Meyssan’s statement about the kind of explosions that jet fuel gives and makes an enormous point of that. Secondly, even though I have explained in my response to him that he misinterpreted my statement about it was only government employees who said they saw American Airlines, he misinterpreted that, and yet he repeats it again today. So, his method is to begin with what he hopes people will believe and not believe and then try to poke holes in this other account. Whereas I -—

AMY GOODMAN: Professor griffin, what about an issue like saying the A.P. reporter doesn’t exist, Dave Winslow, an eyewitness who talked about seeing this plane going into the pentagon.

DAVID RAY GRIFFIN: Sure.

AMY GOODMAN: You saying that the way you did your research was to do a Google search and you couldn’t find his name.

DAVID RAY GRIFFIN: No, no, no.

DAVID RAY GRIFFIN: He was talking about this other fellow.

DAVID RAY GRIFFIN: Nothing hinges on that particular point. It’s just a debating point that this Holmgren didn’t do an adequate research. But as I point out in my review, this Winslow is no good — you know, witness for the truth of the official theory. So, again, these are such complex matters that it’s difficult to parse them here in a radio discussion. But I wanted to get to the basic mythological difference. I believe that the best way — that we should —- to the extent possible, we should have our beliefs controlled by evidence. So, I believe it’s important to look at all of the relevant evidence, and then come up with what seems to be the best hypothesis. This is known in the philosophy of science as the inference to the best explanation. That’s what my book does. Mr. Berlet uses quite a different method. Now, sometimes that method gets lucky, and it can come up with the truth. But I don’t think that that method, which is sometimes called wishful and fearful thinking is used in the best -—

CHIP BERLET: —(laughing)

DAVID RAY GRIFFIN: Well, it is. You start with the premise that it is not good for people to believe in this conspiracy, so you construct a refutation of —

CHIP BERLET: That’s not what I say. I say it’s not good to believe in conspiracies that cannot be proven by available evidence. I have worked as a paralegal investigator on lawsuits against government intelligence abuse. I have been involved in suits against the C.I.A., military intelligence, F.B.I., local police. I know that the government engages in conspiracy. I’m arguing for fact-checking.

DAVID RAY GRIFFIN: Well, sure, and that’s exactly what I’m arguing for, as you know. My last chapter is called, "The Need for a Full Investigation." I do not make charges in the book. I do not draw conclusions. What I do is say that we have a prima facie case here and a massive prima facie case that involves every aspect of the official story, and these things need to be checked.

AMY GOODMAN: Are you saying that planes did not — you do not believe the evidence is there that planes brought down the world trade center, the planes that slammed into tower one and tower two?

DAVID RAY GRIFFIN: I’m saying that people who have studied this have come up with very strong reasons to believe that neither the impact of the plane combined with the fires would be sufficient, and many fire men as I record in the book, have — and engineers have come to that conclusion, too. Again, I’m calling for an investigation by people who do have the expertise, but the problem is that the Bush administration created a halo over 9/11, so it became not only unpatriotic, but almost sack religious to raise any questions. Therefore, the main line press has not raised these questions such as was the hole in the Pentagon only 18 feet in diameter as this picture suggests? They have not raised questions about why the photograph doesn’t show any plane on the pentagon lawn. They haven’t raised questions about the official story which says that somehow the plane went inside, and then the fire was so hot that it vaporized, it vaporized aluminum and tempered steel and yet somehow left the bodies in tact enough that they could be identified either through DNA — these are ludicrous.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you name an expert you have relied on, for example on the issue of the world trade center towers going down, expert in structural engineering who has said it is impossible for the explanation to be the planes hit, and the fires caused the towers to go down?

DAVID RAY GRIFFIN: Well, again, I say I have got 40 pages of notes. I’ve got a lot of notes on that chapter, and so readers can go and see the —

AMY GOODMAN: Name just one. Name just one structural engineering expert who said it is not feasible that the planes caused the towers to go down.

DAVID RAY GRIFFIN: I’m sorry, I don’t have that information at my fingertips right at this moment.

AMY GOODMAN: Chip Berlet.

CHIP BERLET: Well, there was an extensive engineering study of the twin towers and what cautioned their collapse which is publicly available and conducted by one of the largest forensic engineering companies in America.

AMY GOODMAN: Final comments for each of you. We’ll end with David Ray Griffin if you could give us one minute synopsis of what you feel is the most important question to leave listeners with today.

DAVID RAY GRIFFIN: Well, I would say that it’s a matter of being willing to look at the evidence, and again, my book is a presentation, a cumulative argument summarizing the work of a lot of other researchers. We got this information to the 9/11 commission. The members have it, but thus far, they have refused to raise any of the questions that would go beyond incompetence. See, the major official story is that 9/11 came about through massive incompetence, miscommunication, and yet not a single person has been reprimanded. Is that credible? In fact, many of the people were promoted.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, let me end with Chip Berlet. I want to — you give your final comment, but start with what did that structural engineering forensic study show?

CHIP BERLET: It showed that two planes hitting those buildings could in fact create a catastrophic collapse situation that would bring down the building and turn the cement and concrete into dust which is what happened when you pancake a building that’s that tall. I would point out to the beginning of Griffin’s book where he tried to use Meyssan that U.S. imperialism seizes on opportunities to do many of the things that Professor Griffin claims were actually the reasons for the government to attack these buildings. Let’s be clear, this is really what Griffin is saying that there were bombs in the twin towers, that a missile hit the Pentagon, and stuff like this. Mahajan has a better idea of how American imperialism operates. It seizes upon events like this to put in place pre-existing plans. Given a choice between Professor Griffin and Mr. Mahajan, I prefer the theories of Mr. Mahajan.

AMY GOODMAN: Your critique and review of David Ray Griffin’s book and Griffin’s response to you is on your website, you can give it.

CHIP BERLET: It’s publiceye.org. I have to say professor Griffin was gracious in allowing this debate to take place and agree to put his response to my review online. No one likes getting a bad review.

AMY GOODMAN: Chip Berlet, Senior Analyst at Senior Research Associates in Summerville, Massachusetts. And David Ray Griffin, the author of "The New Pearl Harbor — Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11." Professor Griffin is professor of Philosophy of Religion and Theology at the Claremont School of Theology in California. This is Democracy Now!

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