U.S rebuts 9/11 homegrown conspiracy theories

By Jim Wolf
Saturday, September 2, 2006; 3:14 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States government is attacking conspiracy theories about the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York as the fifth anniversary of September 11 approaches.

According to a Scripps Howard/Ohio University poll carried out in July, more than one-third of Americans suspect U.S. officials helped in the September 11 attacks or took no action to stop them so the United States could later go to war.

The State Department responded this week with a rebuttal of World Trade Center demolition theories and doubts about other events of the day that abound on the Internet.

It listed some of the most prevalent September 11 myths, led by claims the twin towers were destroyed by secretly planted explosives, not burning passenger jets.

"This is how the collapses may have appeared to non-experts, but demolition experts point out many differences," said a department "special feature" available at http://usinfo.state.gov/media/misinformation.html.

Demolition professionals always blow the bottom floors of a structure first, while the collapses began at upper levels -- where the hijacked Boeing 767s hit, it said.

Nearly 3,000 people were killed on September 11. The Bush administration responded by leading an invasion of Afghanistan and, in 2003, of Iraq.


The State Department was providing "corrective information" in response to misinformation in the media and on the Internet, said Joanne Moore, a department spokeswoman.

The information in the rebuttal was not new, she added, but drawn from public sources.

In a similar vein, the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology posted a "fact sheet" on its Web site on Wednesday in question-and-answer format responding to alternative theories about the fire and the collapse.

NIST, which carried out a three-year investigation, concluded the towers collapsed after being hit by separate, fuel-laden aircraft flown by hijackers.

The resulting fire, which reached temperatures as high as 1,000 degrees C (1,800 degrees F), led to an inward bowing of perimeter columns and subsequent collapses, NIST found in 43 volumes that comprise a final report issued last October.

In putting out its answers to 14 questions about the World Trade Center, NIST, an arm of the Commerce Department, said its findings did not support the "pancake theory" of collapse premised on a progressive failure of floor systems consistent with a controlled demolition.

"NIST is a group of government scientists whose leaders are Bush appointees, and therefore their report is not likely to veer from the political story," said Kevin Ryan, an editor of the online Journal of 9/11 studies.

Ryan says he was a former site manager of a division of Underwriters Laboratories, an independent, not-for-profit product-safety testing and certification organization.

"The more information we learn about this investigation, the more concerned we become," he said.

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