- Group of professors and college students who believe that the 9/11 attacks were “orchestrated” by the Bush administration in order to "advance the American empire"
Established in January 2006, Scholars for 9/11 Truth (S9/11T) describes itself as “a non-partisan association of faculty, students, and scholars, in fields as diverse as history, science, military affairs, psychology, and philosophy, dedicated to exposing falsehoods and to revealing truths behind 9/11.” “Convinced” that the Bush administration was “dishonest about what happened in New York and Washington, DC,” the group contends that "the World Trade Center was almost certainly brought down by controlled demolitions," and, further, that "the available relevant evidence casts grave doubt on the government's official story about the attack on the Pentagon." Charging that “the government not only permitted 9/11 to occur but may even have orchestrated these events to facilitate its political agenda,” S9/11T maintains that the evidence for this has been suppressed by an elaborate cover-up.
S9/11T's founders and principal scholars are Jim Fetzer (a philosophy professor at the University of Minnesota) and Steven E. Jones (a now-retired physics professor from Brigham Young University). Regarding 9/11, Fetzer says: “What we have been told is fine if you are willing to believe impossible things. Serious scholars don't believe in tooth fairies.” Fetzer has dealt in conspiracy theories before. He argued, for instance, that in November 1963 the brain of the slain President Kennedy had been swapped with someone else's for the benefit of the autopsy x-rays, and that the famous film images of Kennedy's assassination were fraudulent. In 2004 Fetzer co-authored (with fellow S9/11T member Don Jacobs) American Assassination: The Strange Death of Senator Paul Wellstone. This book claims that the “troika that controls the White House: Karl Rove, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld,” caused the 2002 plane crash that killed the Democratic Senator, because “[h]e was dangerous to the neoconservative agenda.”
Professor Jones, for his part, was placed on paid leave by Brigham Young in September 2006, as the university cited its concern about the "increasingly speculative and accusatory nature" of his work.
Another prominent member of S9/11T is Dr. David Ray Griffin, an emeritus professor of philosophy and religion at Claremont Graduate University. In an April 2005 speech titled “9/11 and American Empire,” Griffin claimed that U.S. “military leaders were complicit in the [9/11] attacks,” which were “engineered by members of the Bush administration and its Pentagon” in order “to advance the American empire.”
As of late 2006, S9/11T consisted of 76 members, none of whom were experts on either the Middle East or Islamic terrorism. Further, only two of the group's members were engineers; one of these specialized in the mechanics of dentistry, while the other believed that the U.S. was plotting to bomb the planet Jupiter with antimatter weapons.
Professing a commitment to “applying the principles of scientific reasoning to the available evidence,” the S9/11T website features numerous “peer-reviewed papers” promoting the notion that the American government was complicit in 9/11. One is a paper by James Fetzer titled “Thinking about ‘Conspiracy Theories’: 9/11 and JFK,” which contends, among other things, that no plane crashed into the Pentagon on September 11. Fetzer’s evidence: “Photographs of the lawn were taken immediately after the attack that demonstrate it was not damaged at all.” Buttressing Fetzer's position, S9/11T asserts that the damaged portion of the Pentagon "was too small to accommodate a 100-ton airliner with a 125-foot wingspan and a tail that stands 44-feet above the ground"; that "the Pentagon’s own videotapes do not show a Boeing 757 hitting the building"; and that "the aerodynamics of flight would have made the official trajectory [of the plane that allegedly hit the Pentagon]—flying at high speed barely above ground level—physically impossible."
Another S9/11T “peer-reviewed” paper, by Steven E. Jones, claimed that the fires resulting from the impact of the planes that struck the World Trade Center could not have heated the towers’ steel support columns to the temperature required to melt steel. Thus does S9/11T maintain that the towers were brought down by "massive explosions in the sub-basements" that "actually took place as much as 14 and 17 seconds before the presumptive airplane impacts."
In its “Overview of 9/11 Research,” S9/11T claims:
“[T]he alleged hijackers ... were not competent to fly these planes and their names are not on any original, authenticated passenger manifest. Several have turned up alive and well and living in the Middle East. The [U.S.] government has not even produced their tickets as evidence that they were even aboard the aircraft they are alleged to have hijacked.”
An organization that has joined 9/11T in rejecting the widely accepted narrative of 9/11 as an Islamic terror operation is the Muslim-Jewish-Christian Alliance for 9/11 Truth. Edward Luttwak, who has served as an advisor to the State Department, the National Security Council, and several branches of the U.S. military, notes that conspiracy theories like those advanced by S9/11T "are widely believed in the Muslim world."