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Conspiracy crusader doubts official 9/11 version
11 May 2003
Barrie Zwicker gazes calmly into the camera, hands clasped, voice clear and resonant, looking the quintessential Canadian progressive: a colourful knitted vest over an open-collared shirt, a neat little beard, a personality that radiates boyish, almost naive friendliness.
Not a shard of irony, not a sliver of petulant, up-to-date narcissism.
Perfect. You couldn't possibly be more agreeable or less threatening.
Then, of course, he ruins it all by asking questions. They are questions that 99 per cent of Canadian journalists have not dared or deigned to ask, and that most Canadians would prefer not to hear.
In these strange times, asking direct and probing questions about 9/11 will get you instant put-downs.
Zwicker grins as he mimics the upward eye-roll and patronizing hand-flap that go along with the phrase "conspiracy theorist."
As Vision TV's media critic for the past 15 years, and as a journalist with a long list of solid credentials (he's worked at The Globe and Mail and The Toronto Star, taught at Ryerson University, and was awarded a Southam Fellowship at the University of Toronto), Zwicker should be safely out of the line of fire. It's a measure of his determination to challenge conventional wisdom that he has willingly kept his head up, instead of down, and tried to look facts right in the eye.
"You know, the people who just shrug off these questions with the `conspiracy theorist' epithet should be asked what they stand for. Unquestioning acceptance of the official narrative? Sure, there are outlandish theories out there — aliens, Atlantis — but there have also been real and huge conspiracies," Zwicker told me in an interview in his home office.
I knew about some of those conspiracies. Last January, I wrote a column about American declassified documents that verify a long history of top-level conspiracies. The U.S. government, its military and its secret service have plotted to justify wars and impose their control on other countries through intricate secret schemes of drug-running, gun smuggling and assassination. They even considered rigging fake terrorist attacks that would cost American lives in order to stir the public to war-ready outrage.
Immediately, I was deluged with hundreds upon hundreds of approving e-mails from American citizens. Some of them praised the TV work of Barrie Zwicker — a Globe and Mail colleague of my youth.
I sat down, with a fair degree of skepticism, to watch Zwicker's video, The Great Deception, which challenges the U.S. government's account of what really happened on 9/11. Slowly, a frightening chill came over me. These were the very questions I had asked myself on 9/11 and for several weeks after. Failing to find easy answers, I had locked the subject away.
Why did the United States Air Force fail to scramble interceptor jets — in defiance of all long-standing rules and well-established practice — for almost two hours after it was known that an unprecedented four planes had been hijacked?
How could the world's most powerful military fail to react throughout a prolonged, horrifying attack on the financial and political capitals of the nation?
How did the FBI know the exact identities of the hijackers within 24 hours of the attacks? If their files were so readily to hand, why hadn't they been apprehended earlier? After all, several conscientious FBI agents had raised the alarm about a number of known Al Qaeda sympathizers at U.S. flight schools, and had been ignored.
Why did Donald Rumsfeld call for a war on Iraq (not Afghanistan) the morning after the Saudi hijackers had accomplished their attack?
Why did the two squadrons of fighter jets at Andrews Air Force base, 19 kilometres from Washington, not zoom into action to defend the White House, one of their primary tasks?
Why did George Bush sit for half an hour in a Florida classroom, listening to a girl talk about her pet goat, after his chief of staff told him about the second plane? For that matter, why did he pretend that he first learned of the attacks in that classroom, when he had actually been briefed as he left his hotel that morning?
Why has there been no public investigation into the billions of dollars "earned" by insider trading of United and American Airlines stock before 9/11?
I went to interview Zwicker because I was fascinated by his courage in raising these unpopular questions and wanted to know what made him persist. I saw the answer for myself. At nearly 69, Zwicker has boundless energy, intellectual as well as physical. (This is an environmentalist who gave up cars in 1966 and who bicycles thousands of kilometres across country for fun).
He has a restless scientific curiosity, coupled with humanistic principles absorbed from his United Church minister father. At age 12, as a fledgling skeptic growing up in Swan River, Manitoba, Zwicker couldn't merely accept the common schoolboy belief that Coca-Cola contained acid powerful enough to dissolve a penny. Into five bottles of Coke he dropped a penny, a nail, a piece of leather, a strip of cloth and a cube of bread. Next morning, he found all intact.
In his teens, anguished at his loss of faith, he turned to his father. "Out there in his garden, near the sweet peas, he put his arm around my shoulder and said `Barrie, follow the truth, wherever it leads you.'"
Zwicker and his wife Jean (they've been married 40 years and have a grown son and daughter) are avid gardeners and theatre fanatics with subscriptions to nearly every series in town.
His energy seems equalled only by his good humour and relentless pursuit of honest fact.
You can catch Zwicker's Eye Opener media critique on the current affairs show, 360 Vision, Thursdays at 8 p.m. on VisionTV. He has sold more than 1,000 of his Great Deception videos at near-cost. You can order one for $38 (that includes shipping) by calling 416-651-5588.
And if you call him a conspiracy theorist, call me one, too, because I agree with Zwicker when he says, "I don't know exactly what happened, but something smells very fishy." Even more rank-smelling is the refusal of most Canadian journalists to ask embarrassingly uncool questions about one of the worst catastrophes of our time.
Barbs aside, 9/11 questions aren't going away,
Toronot Star, 18 May 2003
I was just listening to the latest CIA transmissions through the fillings in my molars last week when I accidentally intercepted a secret internal memo from the National Post.
It went something like this: "Post readership hits bottom, journalistic integrity under question, editor dumped, columnists fleeing sinking ship — attack Toronto Star writer at once!"
Seriously, if I may be serious for a moment about the National Post, it was not so surprising to find myself the subject of a hostile editorial in that paper after I wrote about my unanswered 9/11 questions. The Post is a staunch voice for Bush America and brooks no dissenting voices. In tabloid fashion, it headed its editorial "Michele Landsberg Loses It."
I fully expected to be labelled a "conspiracy theorist" after interviewing Vision TV's Barrie Zwicker and writing about his challenges to the official version of what happened at the World Trade Center. But I was surprised by the nature of the ensuing attacks. The Post, and the dozen or so readers who were similarly enraged by my column, didn't come up with a single argument or documented fact. It was all quivering jowls, wild insults and expostulations.
The Post's entire argument, once I filtered out the verbiage ("crock", "nonsense," "comical," "embarrassing" and, that good old standby, "blinding hatred of the United States") came down to this: captured Al Qaeda commanders have confessed to the 9/11 crimes. End of story.
Except that what I was asking was a little different. Few of us doubt that murderous Saudi Arabian terrorists executed this massacre. But I wanted to know more. Why did the U.S. military, with the most powerful arsenal in world history, fail to prevent or at least try to stop a series of hijackings and crashes that went on for nearly two hours? Where was the Air Force?
If President Bush and his cabinet were not, at this very moment, still trying to censor, suppress and delay the publication of the Joint Congressional Inquiry into 9/11, if there had been honest disclosure and straight stories from the beginning, perhaps all these "dark questions," as the Post puts it, would never have arisen.
The great majority of people, sickened and overwhelmed by the horror of the attacks, unquestioningly accepts the White House version. Many thousands, however, are patiently stitching together the documented evidence and noting the huge holes in the fabric of that official story.
Just ask yourself how the United States, with its vast intelligence establishment and spy power, could have been caught unawares in such a drastic state of unpreparedness on Sept. 11.
President Bush, or, as he delights to call himself, the commander-in-chief, must certainly have been briefed about the ominous drumbeat of terrorist threats that were accumulating over the spring and summer of 2001. According to the report by Eleanor Hill, staff director for the Joint Inquiry, there had been "an unprecedented rise in threat" during that summer. U.S. government agencies had been warned by the intelligence community that there was a high probability of "spectacular" terrorist attacks by Al Qaeda "designed to inflict mass casualties. ... Attacks will occur with little or no warning."
The warnings included the possibility that airplanes would be used as weapons. There was even an April, 2001, intelligence report that terrorists planned "a spectacular and traumatic attack" like the first World Trade Center bombing, as well as an earlier report a group of Arabs planned to fly a plane into the World Trade Center or CIA headquarters.
According to Hill, these warnings went to "senior government officials" whom she was not allowed to name.
On that fateful morning, the first pictures of the burning tower were broadcast at 8:48 a.m. By then, according to a carefully documented timeline at http://www.cooperativeresearch.net, the Federal Aviation Administration, NORAD (joint U.S.-Canada air defence), the Pentagon, the White House and the Secret Service all knew that three commercial passenger jets had been hijacked.
Here begin the obfuscation and deceit, in small matters and large, that permeate the official narrative.
Disinformation was spewing all over the place that week after Sept.11. Serious newspapers actually reported that one hijacker's passport fluttered down from the roaring inferno to be found in the rubble by sharp-eyed intelligence officers.
The key question to me was one of air defence. There are, after all, standard procedures in the event of airplane emergencies. The FAA and NORAD have clear rules about any plane that suddenly loses radio contact with the tower or veers more than 15 degrees from its course.
Once the air traffic controller detects an emergency, he or she must inform aviation officials who alert NORAD. Fighter jets are then sent up to check out the straying plane, signal to it with dipped wings, escort it back on course or even force it down.
"We scramble aircraft to respond to any potential threat," said Marine Corps Maj. Mike Snyder, a NORAD spokesman, in an interview with the Boston Globe.
But it didn't happen that way on Sept. 11. The first reports from authoritative sources (NORAD's Snyder, Vice-President Dick Cheney and, most significantly, Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers) all stated that no jets took off until it was too late.
Just two days after the catastrophe, on Sept. 13, Gen. Myers was confirmed as the new chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. On that day, he told the Senate Armed Forces Committee that no Air Force jets got into the air until after the attack on the Pentagon.
On Sept. 15, The Boston Globe reported on a strange contradiction. The Globe quoted NORAD spokesman Snyder, who insisted that "the command did not immediately scramble any fighters even though it was alerted to a hijacking 10 minutes before the first plane ... slammed into the World Trade Center." He said the fighters remained on the ground until after the Pentagon was hit at 9:40 a.m. But The Globe also expressed puzzlement over the new official story that had just emerged. Now Americans were being told that fighter jets roared up from Cape Cod and from Virginia, but just didn't make it in time.
Furthermore, no explanation was ever offered for the bizarre fact that Andrews Air Force base, whose job it is to defend the U.S. capital just 19 kilometres away, had no fighter jets ready to go into action — despite the months of serious warnings of impending terrorist attacks.
And these are the people we're to trust with a missile defence system? They can't even get their stories straight, let alone defend their air space.
According to The Post and to some of their hot-eyed followers, to ask these questions is to indulge in "poisonous delusions ... that do not belong in a mainstream newspaper." I'm not sure they're the proper arbiters of mainstream journalism, but I'm willing to be "unintentionally comical" in pursuit of understanding.
And Nostradamus rocks!
The right to question
It's our personal duty to ask troubling questions — especially on subjects as seminal as Sept. 11
Conspiracy theory beyond contemptLetter, May 12, 2003
Barrie Zwicker.Michael Bliss responds to Michele Landsberg's Sunday column, in which I question the U.S. government's version of the events of 9/11, by hyperventilating against even raising questions. What's to fear from questions? Exactly which questions do I raise that Bliss can identify as being "intellectually and morally on exactly the same level as those raised by Holocaust deniers?"
If there's a Holocaust connection it's this: The war-making and other plans of the Nazi party under Hitler that led to the Holocaust were made largely in secret. In other words, Hitler's cabal was a large conspiracy, not theoretical, against the public good.
Yet too many people inside and outside Germany were in denial about the Nazi party. Not enough people asked questions early enough or effectively enough to stall Hitler's war machine. It's our personal and civic privilege and duty to question freely on all issues at all times.
One of the biggest issues ever is the provenance of the iconic events of 9/11, eerily reminiscent of the Reichstag fire of 1933, which helped propel Hitler into power and squash opposition. The events of 9/11 remain the linchpin for the so-called "war on terrorism." This, in turn, is repeatedly raised as a rationale to justify hot wars such as those on Afghanistan and Iraq.
Michele Landsberg writes for the Toronto Star.
[email protected] Copyright The Toronto Star 2003. For fair use only/ pour usage équitable seulement .