- The following is an exchange between a ZNet
Sustainer and Noam Chomsky, which took place in the Sustainer Web Board
where Noam hosts a forum...
- ZNet Sustainer: Dear Noam, There is much documentation observed and
uncovered by the 911 families themselves suggesting a criminal conspiracy
within the Bush Administration to cover-up the 9/11 attacks (see DVD, 9/11:
Press for Truth). Additionally, much evidence has been put forward to question
the official version of events. This has come in part from Paul Thompson,
an activist who has creatively established the 9/11 Timeline, a free 9/11
investigative database for activist researchers, which now, according to
The Village Voice's James Ridgeway, rivals the 9/11 Commission's report
in accuracy and lucidity (see,
- or www.cooperativeresearch.org).
- Noam Chomsky: Hard for me to respond to the rest of the
letter, because I am not persuaded by the assumption that much documentation
and other evidence has been uncovered. To determine that, we'd have to
investigate the alleged evidence. Take, say, the physical evidence. There
are ways to assess that: submit it to specialists -- of whom there are
thousands -- who have the requisite background in civil-mechanical engineering,
materials science, building construction, etc., for review and analysis;
and one cannot gain the required knowledge by surfing the internet. In
fact, that's been done, by the professional association of civil engineers.
Or, take the course pursued by anyone who thinks they have made a genuine
discovery: submit it to a serious journal for peer review and publication.
To my knowledge, there isn't a single submission.
- ZNet Sustainer: A question that arises for me is that
regardless of this issue, how do I as an activist prevent myself from getting
distracted by such things as conspiracy theories instead of focusing on
the bigger picture of the institutional analysis of private profit over
- Noam Chomsky: I think this reaches the heart of the matter.
One of the major consequences of the 9/11 movement has been to draw enormous
amounts of energy and effort away from activism directed to real and ongoing
crimes of state, and their institutional background, crimes that are far
more serious than blowing up the WTC would be, if there were any credibility
to that thesis. That is, I suspect, why the 9/11 movement is treated far
more tolerantly by centers of power than is the norm for serious critical
and activist work. How do you personally set priorities? That's of course
up to you. I've explained my priorities often, in print as well as elsewhere,
but we have to make our own judgments.
- ZNet Sustainer: In a sense, profit over people is the
real conspiracy, yes, yet not a conspiracy at all rather institutional
reality? At the same time, if the core of conspiracy theories are accurate,
which is challenging to pin down, though increasingly possible, does it
not fit into the same motivations of furthering institutional aims of public
subsidizes to private tyrannies? I mean, through the 9/11attacks, Bush
Et Al. has been able to justify massive increases in defense spending for
a "war without end," and Israel has been given the green light
to do virtually whatever it wants since now 'the Americans are in the same
fight.' Furthermore, there has been a substantial rollback of civil rights
in our nation, with the most extreme example being strong attempt to terminate
- Noam Chomsky: Can't answer for the same reasons. I don't
see any reason to accept the presuppositions. As for the consequences,
in one of my first interviews after 9/11 I pointed out the obvious: every
power system in the world was going to exploit it for its own interests:
the Russians in Chechnya, China against the Uighurs, Israel in the occupied
territories,... etc., and states would exploit the opportunity to control
their own populations more fully through "prevention of terrorism
acts" and the like. By the "who gains" argument, every power
system in the world could be assigned responsibility for 9/11.
- ZNet Sustianer: This begs the question: if 9/11 was an
inside job, then what's to say that Bush Et Al., if cornered or not, wouldn't
resort to another more heinous attack of grander proportions in the age
of nuclear terrorism which by its very nature would petrify populations
the world over, leading citizens to cower under the Bush umbrella of power.
- Noam Chomsky: Wrong question, in my opinion. They were
carrying out far more serious crimes, against Americans as well, before
9/11 -- crimes that literally threaten human survival. They may well resort
to further crimes if activists here prefer not to deal with them and to
focus their attention on arcane and dubious theories about 9/11.
- ZNet Sustainer: Considering that in the US there are
stage-managed elections, public relations propaganda wars, and a military-industrial-education-prison-etc.
complex, does something like this sound far-fetched?
- Noam Chomsky: I think that's the wrong way to look at
it. Everything you mention goes back far before 9/11, and hasn't changed
that much since. More evidence that the 9/11 movement is diverting energy
and attention away from far more serious crimes -- and in this case crimes
that are quite real and easily demonstrated.
- ZNet Sustainer:Considering the long history of false
flag operations to wrongly justify wars, our most recent precedent being
WMD in Iraq, The Gulf of Tonkin in Vietnam, going back much further to
Pearl Harbor (FDR knowingly allowing the Japanese to bomb Pearl Harbor
which is different from false flag operations), to the 1898 Spanish-American
War, to the 1846 Mexican-American War, to Andrew Jackson's seizing of Seminole
land in 1812 (aka Florida).
- Noam Chomsky: The concept of "false flag operation"
is not a very serious one, in my opinion. None of the examples you describe,
or any other in history, has even a remote resemblance to the alleged 9/11
conspiracy. I'd suggest that you look at each of them carefully.
- ZNet Sustainer: Lastly, as the world's leading terror
state, would it not surprise anyone if the US was capable of such an action?
Would it surprise you? Do you think that so-called conspiracy theorists
have anything worthy to present?
- Noam Chomsky: I think the Bush administration would have
had to be utterly insane to try anything like what is alleged, for their
own narrow interests, and do not think that serious evidence has been provided
to support claims about actions that would not only be outlandish, for
their own interests, but that have no remote historical parallel. The effects,
however, are all too clear, namely, what I just mentioned: diverting activism
and commitment away from the very serious ongoing crimes of state.