The real truth behind the 9/11 attacks

Every month I get a few e-mails from people who want to reveal to me the real truth about the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The truth, according to my correspondents, always involves some incredibly elaborate conspiracy theory in which the U.S. government staged the attacks to justify the so-called war on terror and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

These theories are invariably absurd on their face (for one thing, they assume a genuinely superhuman level of malevolent competence on the part of the Bush administration). Yet despite all their superficial absurdity, the claims of the 9/11 Truth movement touch on a deeper truth, which is as ironic as it is disturbing.

That deeper truth is contained in their claims that the real meaning of 9/11 has very little to do with the standard account given by our government and media. While the 9/11 Truth movement is easy to dismiss as a product of various paranoid delusions, the irony is that the respectable version of what happened on 9/11 is itself a reflection of strikingly similar patterns of thought.

The respectable version — the version that was more or less accepted by all Very Serious People at the time of the invasion of Iraq — goes like this: The 9/11 attacks were merely an early strike in a war against the United States. This war is being carried out by something called Radical Islam, of which the al Qaeda terrorist network is only one small branch.

Radical Islam is a global conspiracy, made up of a significant minority of the world’s more than 1 billion Muslims. It includes the governments of nations like Iran and Syria, and one of its key supporters was Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi regime.

The goal of Radical Islam is world domination through the creation of a global Caliphate, which requires, among other things, the complete destruction of the United States, and the conversion of our surviving population to the most extreme form of Islamic fundamentalism, as practiced in nations such as Saudi Arabia.

Iraq had to be invaded because Hussein was trying to build atomic weapons — weapons that he might well give to terrorist groups that were his allies in Radical Islam’s quest to destroy America.

This, I repeat, was (and to a significant extent still is), the respectable interpretation of the meaning of 9/11. When anyone questioned the evidence for this view, Very Serious Politicians like Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice would say things like "we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."

Meanwhile Very Serious Opinion Makers like Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post argued (and continue to argue) that America must also go to war against Iran, because we could wake up one day to the news that nuclear weapons have been detonated in several American cities, by order of suicidal mullahs who turned over their soon-to-be-acquired nuclear arsenal to the vast shadowy global Jihadist network.

That the respectable interpretation of 9/11 remains respectable in so many important places should not obscure the fact that it is a paranoid fantasy of the first order — one as utterly unhinged from reality as the most extravagant imaginings of the 9/11 Truth movement.

It’s easy to lose sight of this, because while the 9/11 Truth movement remains quarantined on obscure Web sites, the paranoid conspiracy theorists currently in charge of American foreign policy continue to appear regularly on network television and on the opinion pages of our leading newspapers.

There, they make crazy arguments, such as that denying the president the right to throw people in prison for the rest of their lives without ever having to explain why exposes our nation to the risk of annihilation by terrorists. Meanwhile, almost nobody ever points out that these arguments are actually insane.

And that’s the real truth about 9/11.


(Paul Campos is a law professor at the University of Colorado and can be reached at Paul.Campos(at)


  1. Direct Democracy

    Campos’ argument is equivalent to saying the US invasion of Panama was part of a Global English-Speaking Conspiracy.

    A level of dumbing-down and oversimplification that borders on obscene.



  2. bryan mcclellan

    Easy on the pastries comments please.

    We have found the way out of conjecture land without you.

  3. barak

    The great thing about America is that it allows fruitcakes like DejaVu to freely express their misguided opinions.

    The worst thing about America is that it allows maniacs like the evil incarnate Dick Cheney to remain in office and continue his plotting for the enrichment of the upper tiny percent of his and Bush’s pals.

    Cross your fingers and hope that in January 2009 these two evil men, Bush and Cheney, will step down and allow some sanity to reappear in our executive branch of government.

  4. DejaVuAllOver

    It’s happened many times. I find it almost as offensive as being called an anti-Nazi in 1934. The truth is that the zionist occupation of Palestine could never have been accomplished without the tar-and-feathering of any dissenter to the cause, namely the “anti-Semitic” label, or more accurately, “libel”.

  5. DejaVuAllOver

    The 9/11 truth movement really begs an incredibly simple question: Why is it that “radical Islam” gets blamed for everything when radical Judaism doesn’t even get on the suspect list? There’s more than enough evidence to implicate Israel for slot number one or two on 9/11s Most Likely Perp-Traitors. The fact that no-one in our government can stand up to the zionists says far more than any one theory, including the standard-issue government bull, ever can.

  6. Karl

    I see where he’s coming from, but I think he’s underestimating this admin. gw is an idiot and former coke monkey, but many of those around him are not – evil yes, but very bright.

    I wouldn’t write off the ‘conspiracy theories’ regarding 9-11 so easily.

    For decades, the academic, operational rationale for terrorism was for a disenfranchised group to commit a violent act to simply draw a lot of attention to their cause, and thus not be disregarded nor forgotten. Anything on a large scale would alienate the world to their cause – supposedly, the last thing they’d want.

    9-11 completely violated that rationale, and I was quite surprised when it happened, but then I thought of Noam Chomsky’s first question he said anyone should ask after an earth shaking, human caused event – “Whom does this benefit?” As the Public rallied around Bush – even to the point of having Greenwich Village gay sex shops have signs in the window reading “God Bless George W. Bush,” and then constitutional rights began to disappear, it became clear just who benefited most. Not only that Daddy’s Carlyle Group, a holding company for defense contractors, also greatly benefited (I’ve heard that company had two of Osama’s brothers on its board at the time of the infamous incident).

  7. pollchecker

    Point made. But I don’t see too many people responding to their comments….most people responding to the author’s comments.

    You know there have been rumors of people lurking around here just to stir up trouble (very big grin).

  8. Dr.D

    “LouR”,”black as coal”,and “the Don’s” statements would suffice Pollchecker. And if I remember correctly I WAS pretty much guffawed off of this very site about 1-1/2 yrs ago for expressing doubts as to the official story of 9-11. Needless to say;Iwas heartbroken and despondent for about a minute or 2.