-- June 22, 2002—Ground
Zero Plus 283
U.S. Attacked U.S. On 9.11.01
Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News
ZERO, New York City, June 22--Conspiracy theories abound in the U.S.
on just about everything from the Kennedy assassination to the faking of
our famous moon landing. But the most bizarre of all
conspiracy theories for the 21st Century has taken root in France.
It claims the events of 9.11.01 were conducted by right wing U.S.
factions, not by Osama bin Laden. And the incredible story is
the author of the book promoting the conspiracy has sold over 200,000
copies to people who are supporting it--at least, that is, by buying his
What makes this conspiracy theory even more
bizarre is my personal experience at Ground Zero on the morning of
September 11, 2001. Before I share what happened to me
regarding the "conspiracy theory," let me share what's happening in
In his book, "L'Effroyable Imposture,"
or "The Horrifying Fraud," Thierry Meyssan challenges the
entire official version of the Sept. 11 attacks.
The author claims the Pentagon
was not hit by a plane, but by a guided missile fired on orders of far
right-wingers inside the United States government. He says, the planes
that struck the World Trade Center were not flown by Osama bin Laden
Terrorists, but were programmed by the same right-wingers to fly into the
Motive for the attacks was
prompted, he claims, by right wingers seeking to launch a coup against
President Bush unless he went to war with Afghanistan and Iraq to promote
the conspirators' oil interests.
The 44-year-old author claims
the Pentagon was blown up from the inside, and bases his theory on the
fact that no parts of the Boeing 757 that crashed into it could be found.
The 232-page book is scheduled
to be published in the U.S., and currently is being sold in sixteen other
Normally, I would not give such
a story a second glance. However, this morning as I scanned the
New York Times on-line edition
(nytimes.com), I stopped dead
in my tracks.
The story brought back a
bizarre "conspiracy memory" that happened to me on the morning of
I was standing near the
burning Twin Towers, trying to get as close as possible to see if I could
help. It was agonizing. I watched bodies leaping from the
building, flailing as they plummeted nearly a quarter mile to their death.
Then, as though the bowels of the city had been ripped apart, the ground
heaved and 1.6 million tons of steel crumbled, exploding with such force I
was sure we were all about to meet our Maker.
I grabbed two armsful of women
standing next to me and shoved them against a wall for protection.
Debris splattered everywhere as a black, suffocating cloud settled over
us. I was sure it was contaminated with bio-chemicals. I
held my breath as long as possible, mentally preparing myself for death.
Coughing, gasping, gagging, we
clutched one another in what we thought were our "final moments."
The eerie sounds of human wailing pierced the darkness. Beating hearts
filled the silence, the ominous thick silence of death.
When the blackness turned a
pasty concrete gray, stunned survivors staggered through the ashen rain,
compassing their way uptown, away from the epicenter. I
chose to move toward it--driven by my desire to see first-hand the
devastation and to record it for history. Paternally, I moved toward
the heap of twisted metal in hopes of hooking up with my daughter, a
federal agent whom I was sure would have been called to duty as the city
mobilized its resources against any further attacks.
I stumbled down a narrow street
toward the rubble of the Twin Towers, barely able to see my hand in front
of me as the ash blanketed down. The street was deserted.
Stores were empty, their doors open. Chunks of concrete littered the
ground forming an obstacle course of jagged pieces of rebar spearing out
like punji stakes the V.C. used in pits, hoping we would fall upon them.
I felt I was in the middle of the nuclear holocaust, alone, the last man
on earth. A deafening silence hung in the thickened air as
over a 100 stories of pulverized concrete snowed down.
cross one's mind in the madness of such situations. As I picked my
way through the debris, I remembered being pinned down in Vietnam.
The V.C. caught us in a three-way crossfire. I dived into a
narrow furrow of earth the farmers had been cultivating, hoping the small
precipices of dirt might protect and disguise me. Bullets
chewed their way toward me, exploding the earth, showering my face with
the clumps. A few inches above me an intertwining web of lead
criss-crossed, making it impossible to stand or crouch without being cut
down. My body shook in fear as I felt the sensation of death's
breath hissing on my neck. Then, as I worked to rid myself of the
fear, hugging the earth as much as possible, a calmness swept through me.
Scenes from old WWII movies
flashed in the cacophony. I saw John Wayne stick his helmet on the
end of his rifle to draw enemy fire. I had this incredible
urge to replicate the scene, to see if it would work. Fear of death
gave way to boyish challenge--I wanted to pit reality against celluloid
Cautiously, I slipped off my helmet and
stuck it on the muzzle of my M-14 and pushed my rifle down the row of dirt
in front of me as far as I could reach.. Slowly, I lifted the
barrel up so my helmet would be exposed to enemy fire.
"Zing...splat..." Enemy bullets blasted my helmet off, sending
it careening into the adjacent rows. That's when I knew if I stayed
there I would die. I leapt up and ran, zigzagging, trying to beat
the bullets. I got lucky.
I thought about that experience
as I worked my way through the haze of death's destruction on Nine Eleven.
Then I realized I had to go to the bathroom. I began to laugh.
I was worrying about finding a restroom in the middle of a war zone.
No one was around. It was just
me and the fallout, the rubble, and flakes of dirty concrete snow
Despite the absence of any other human
being, I still discreetly slipped into a narrow alley and relieved myself.
I chuckled at the insanity of it all--worrying about trying to find a
bathroom in the middle of madness. Then I felt the presence of
I looked to my right, down the foggy alley.
I made out the silhouette of a figure sitting on a window ledge.
My heart raced. I thought there was at least one other person here
in the middle of the end of the earth.
Moving slowly, I approached the figure.
It was a man. He sat with his head hung low. His clothes, as
mine, were covered with ash, the tuxedo of destruction.
"Are you okay?"
He didn't look up. His head
bobbed methodically, as though in deep contemplation, chanting words I
didn't understand at first because they were strung together, without
punctuation, in a monotone that escaped detection. A pile of
clothes bundled in a grocery bag rested between his legs on the ground, a
symbol of a street person who carries his homestead in his hand.
His face was gaunt, unshaven and his recessed eyes were accentuated by the
chalky dust piling on his skin.
"Are you okay?" I repeated the words, holding my
distance. Some people emit barriers--walls if you will--that
warn one not to invade their space. He radiated such a
feeling. Most street people do.
"It was them...the coup...the military...they did
it...they are taking over the country...I knew it...I knew they were going
to...it was our planes...U.S. military planes...fighters...we're under
attack by our own people...."
"Are you okay?" I wondered if
he had been wounded and was delirious. I moved in an arc
around him, looking for any blood on his head, a sign perhaps that his
peculiar mutterings were caused by a concussion.
He finally looked at me.
His eyes were fierce, penetrating mine, warning me about the invasion of
our own people, the coup he believed was underfoot by the U.S. military to
take control of the country.
"They did it...it was their planes...they
did it...the military...we're under martial law..."
I stood silent. I was accustomed to
street peoples' madness, their diatribes. But this was different..
The "next-to-the-last person on earth" that day was in the alley
proclaiming as the dust was falling that the United States was in a
revolt--that Americans were killing Americans. I knew better
than to challenge him. I thought it ironic, that the only
human other than myself left in the shroud of battle's aftermath was a
madman. Here I was in the middle of one of the world's most historic
events with the only other human being I could find, ranting about a
military coup, blaming the U.S. for attacking the U.S. I just stood,
soaking it up.
His lips didn't stop. He kept
muttering about the invasion, the impending assault on New York City by
the military that finally had the guts to take control of the country.
I again asked if I could help him.
He didn't answer. He just kept mumbling his conspiracy theory.
So I moved on, down the alley, stumbling over the debris. A
few yards farther I saw another figure.
A young man with short-cropped hair appeared in
the pale of the ash still falling like wounded snowflakes.
"I'm Mike, with the Secret Service." He
stuck out his hand eagerly and flashed his badge to me. "Get in the
doorway. We don't know what's going to happen next. Did
you see anyone else?"
"Yeah...there's a guy up the alley, sitting on a
ledge. I think he's out of it."
"I know. He won't leave. He's
muttering things about a conspiracy."
Mike opened a big green door. A young
woman, perhaps nineteen or twenty, stood shivering and crying in the
doorway. Her name was Lisa. She had been taking pictures with
her friends when the building collapsed. She had the Kodak
disposable camera clutched in her hands.
"Cliff, stay here with Lisa. I don't know
what's going on. I'll try and find out."
Mike shut the door. I stood with Lisa,
comforting her the best I could. A few minutes later the
Secret Service Agent opened the door. "Okay, you can go.
Head uptown. Be careful."
I offered to guide Lisa but she said she'd be
okay, that she had to find her friends. Mike asked if I had
anything he could use to cover his face so he could breathe better.
He was coughing, rasping. I dug through my backpack and gave him an
extra washcloth I carried to wipe clean my computer screen. He
shoved it over his face and waved.
I exited the alley and turned toward the epicenter,
looking for my daughter, searching the scene with my eyes, taking pictures
in my mind for the stories I would write later of the event.
I paid little heed to the "crazy person's" comments
that day. Nine months ago, when I was reporting on the events, I
mentioned him, and related the bizarre story he told me as the ash was
falling--an incredible and incredulous belief that the United States
government had orchestrated an attack upon itself. Then I forgot
about him and the conspiracy theory until, that is, this morning.
This morning, as I do each morning, I flick on the
computer and scan the New York Times on-line edition. I stopped at
the story about Thierry Meyssan's book--The Horrifying Fraud--being
a best seller in France. My thoughts rocketed back to a street
person sitting on the ledge of a window in an alley 283 days ago, telling
me just moments after the attack, that it was all a conspiracy--all a
right-wing U.S. plot to take over the country.
I am a firm believer that nothing happens by
accident. As a skeptic, I ran many scenarios through my own
mental sifter post Nine Eleven, scouring up various alternatives as to
what happened that day. I interviewed what I thought were
credible sources, a former Israeli intelligence officer was one of my key
"deep throats". We bantered about various viewpoints.
His take was that Osama bin Laden was only a puppet for the Arabs, and
that the real engines behind the plot were the Middle Eastern leaders who
wanted to eradicate Israel and used Osama as their point man.
Today, the conspiracy theorists are having a
field day. Many claim that President Bush knew about the
impending attack and let it happen so he could become a "war President"
and gain control of the Middle East oil and gas reserves, as well as
entrench American military presence in the Middle East.
Some claim that Osama bin Laden has been dead for
a long time, and the President has his body on "ice" and uses his threat
to keep increasing his power and that one day he will thaw the body and
present it to the public--probably just before the eve of his reelection
There is no end to the permutations or
machinations one can create if he or she is looking to find fault with
America. As I've said many times, the more we turn our
attention inwardly and cannibalize our own confidence in government, the
more vulnerable we are to Terrorism. Terrorism is about Fear,
Intimidation and Complacency, and what better venom is there to paralyze a
nation than to turn its citizens against its government.
The entire strategy of the Afghanistan war was to
turn the populace against the Taliban, to rip out its grass roots support.
The more we feed our thirst for conspiracy, the more we ravage our own
But a conspiracy theory is like a toothache--it gnaws
at you. It throbs. When you bite down too hard, it
reminds you of an exposed nerve.
That street bum nine months was my toothache.
I can see his face. Feel his eyes.
Hear his Voice mumbling a warning, telegraphing to anyone who would listen
that the attack of September 11 was from "within" not "without."
That's why I am such an advocate of "Internal
Terrorism." Internal Terrorism is the self-created, or
self-imposed Fear, Intimidation and Complacency we generate from inside.
A Conspiracy Theory is only one form of Internal Terrorism.
It tells us that those who are in "charge of our
security" are really our wardens, our jailors, our despots who, at a whim,
would ravish us all for their greedy goals.
A child who feels his or her
parents don't care about him or her, feels the same way. A father or
mother too busy to listen to a child, too self-indulged to sit down with a
child and share the child's dreams, to play within the boundaries of the
child's imagination, to show the child unconditional love, ends up a
conspirator against the child--at least in the child's mind.
"You don't love me--if you did, you'd know how I
feel. You don't care about me--you care only about yourself!"
How many children have felt that feeling, thought
Conspiracy is about selfishness.
A child who feels disenfranchised from his or her
parents--who is left alone in the alleys of destruction to mumble to
himself or herself--is not unlike that street person I ran into on Nine
Eleven. He or she is alone. The world is conspiring around him
or her, to beat the child into submission either emotionally or
Almost every teenage movie sends the signal of Parental
Conspiracy--that parents are far too busy developing their own agenda to
care about the child. Thus, the child is left alone in the
ashes of a Nine Eleven, muttering to himself or herself about the
emptiness of life.
This Internal Terrorism never seems to leave us
as we mature. As we grow into adults, the Terror of being a victim
of a conspiracy remains glued to our psyche, as though a gene were
imprinted within us that we are a "Loser!"
How many of us look in the mirror and see a
"Loser!" How many of us look out at the world and feel as though we
are getting the "short end of the stick?" How many of us see
others appearing happy, joyous and free and feel sad, lonely and trapped
in a life that has become a rut?
How many of us feel we are underpaid, overworked?
That the bills will never be paid? That we will never overcome the
obstacles that life has exploded in our path, creating rubble and debris
and fallout that seem impassable?
Internal Terrorism is created by the idea of a
"Conspiracy Against The Self!" We believe the world has conspired
against us, and know this to be true when we utter the words: "...if
only....if only...if only I had the same as....if only I was as lucky
as....if only I was a rich as....if only I were as good looking as...if
We become Victims Of The Conspiracy Of Life.
It all starts back when we were a child.
It starts when we build the walls of distrust between ourselves and our
parents, or our guardians.
Authority becomes our enemy and our
oppressor. We become its slaves.
Our retaliation is to blame those above us.
That's why we love conspiracy theories. It is our
way of retaliating against authority by demeaning its intent.
Unfortunately, it only makes us more of a victim.
A friend of mine startled me out victimization.
I was whining to him once about my life not being what it should be, and
he laughed and said to me, "Get off the Cross, Cliff, we need the wood!"
I recoiled and then began to laugh. I was
indeed, crucifying myself by thinking the world had singled me out to
oppress me. I had grown to believe that when people were
talking in a telephone booth, they were talking about me--conspiring to
make my life miserable. I was just Terrorizing myself. I
was my own Osama bin Laden. I had grown to believe the world was
flying airplanes into my Twin Towers, creating rubble in my life.
This French-authored book on the idea of a
conspiracy is a good tool to remind us to put up our Shield of Vigilance
when we start believing the world is conspiring against us to limit our
potential, to inhibit our growth and stunt our evolution.
But none of us needs to read it to know
what it says. It simply says, "point the finger at someone
else--like your father or mother."
It tells us that we need to spend
more time building trust and confidence with our children. It tells
us we need to break the legacy of "conspiracy" that may have rooted itself
in our lives when we begin to feel the world at large is against us, and
that no matter what we do, or how hard we try, we are doomed.
A child's vision to the future is directly
proportional to the doors of trust and confidence its parents open or
close. To build a child's Courage, Conviction and ability to
take the Right Action means that a child must learn to take responsibility
for his or her destiny, and not learn to blame others for its absence.
When parents whine or complain about their
lives being oppressed by the jobs they do, or the dashed dreams that have
never turned into reality, or by the drudgery of daily existence, the
child who hears these thoughts and feelings begins to develop his or her
own "conspiracy theory." Before they start in life, they
"feel" the world is a battleground, and they have lost before they can
I believe that's what happened to the street guy
on Nine Eleven. He had lived a life of self-flagellation for
so long, that before the ash settled from the destruction of that day, he
was convinced the leaders of his country had conspired against him, and
Now, a guy in France who has never been to the
United States, never walked the streets of Lower Manhattan or the
Pentagon, is claiming that Americans, not Osama bin Laden, attacked
It is ultimately the story of the father eating his
And, for us who might be curious about the book, we have to
remember that we don't have to read it to know what it contains.
All we have to do is look in the mirror.
And when we do, we can edit it.
We can change the book. We can become more Vigilant.
We can take the Pledge of Vigilance and rewrite our lives through
our children. We can break the chains of the legacy of
victimization, and stand up to Terrorism within.
When we do, our children will be safer,
and we, a lot more happy, joyous and free.
To June 21--Fat People Terrorized By Rump Size
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