This is something I've needed to get off my chest for a while.
As some of you know, I've been a debunker for a long time. It started during the Bush years, specifically with regards to 9/11 conspiracy theories. I used to believe in them myself until I wised up, similar to my experiences with organized religion and Trump Derangement Syndrome. There are several problems I have with conspiracy theories. They tend to be based on tribalism and rank partisanship instead of evidence, they undermine legitimate policy-based criticisms of the establishment, and they waste valuable resources and put people in real danger of harm. It's always wise to question the wealthy elites who run the country, but that's no reason to make shit up. When it comes to people like George W. Bush or Donald Trump, there is more than enough ammunition to use against them based on the decisions and actions they made out in the open.
I've noticed that 9/11 Truthers in particular are still around and are infesting the progressive movement in large numbers. To make matters worse, they are acting as gatekeepers, condemning and harassing anyone on the populist left who disagrees with their conclusions. They go as far as to attack anyone who even mentions the fact that Al-Qaeda and Saudi Arabia carried out 9/11, typically in discussions of US foreign policy and relations with Saudi Arabia. Go to any leftist video or live chat on the issue, and more than half of the loudest people in the discussion are Truthers, even though the majority of left wing commentators and talk hosts themselves are not.
As Noam Chomsky said in response to a Truther about how actual scientists and engineers seek the truth, "Have they eliminated entirely their cognitive dissonance, monological belief systems, and confirmation biases? No human could ever do that perfectly — indeed, to be human is to be subject to all these distorting conditions and more — but the larger enterprise of science, at its best, frees us little by little from those very shackles. What a shame to voluntarily clap oneself back into them."
I can't count the number of times I've had to fend off Truthers who trot out the same arguments that had been debunked a long time ago. They sound like broken records because their brains are stuck on stupid, yet they purport to speak for everyone on the left, and disavow anyone who disagrees with them as a government shill or apologist. I've had to go back to my old sources that I thought I was done with ten years ago:
Rather than get into their entire litany of stupidity here, I would point out the elephant in the room that Truthers willfully ignore. By spouting their bullshit, they are acting as shills and apologists for the Saudi regime, one of the world's most brutal dictatorships with a long history of human rights abuses. They imprison women and political activists, publicly execute apostates and dissidents, are carrying out a genocide in Yemen with US support, and are spearheading the war in Syria, to name but a handful of their crimes. For all the virtue signaling coming from Truthers, they seem to have no problem with continued US relations and multi-billion dollar arms deals with Saudi Arabia, our dependence on their oil and the petrodollar, and our de facto alliance with Al-Qaeda and ISIS due to the US role in the aforementioned wars.
It's no secret that the CIA armed and trained the Mujahideen during the Cold War to fight against the Soviets. At the time, western news outlets were praising Bin Laden as a hero and freedom fighter. As you know, the Mujahideen would go on to become Al-Qaeda and its splinter factions like ISIS and Al-Nusra. The US indirectly created ISIS thanks to the power vacuum caused by the second invasion of Iraq under Bush. The foreign aid and weapons the US gives to Saudi Arabia gets funneled directly to these groups, and the weapons used by ISIS have been traced back to the US. In Syria, as well as in Yemen, the majority of the "rebel" forces that the US is assisting are Islamic extremists affiliated with these terrorist organizations.
It's well known that 15 of the 19 hijackers on 9/11 came from Saudi Arabia. Yet every recent US president has had a close relationship with the Saudis, and the US media almost never criticizes Saudi Arabia for anything. The murder of Jamal Kashoggi is a rare exception, and mainstream journalists only took notice because he was one of them; they were perfectly willing to excuse everything else the Saudis have done. In the aftermath of 9/11, although Bush blamed Al-Qaeda, he did not blame Saudi Arabia, instead shifting the focus to Afghanistan and soon after Iraq. Bush went on to strengthen ties with the Saudis. The US and Saudi Arabia have trillions of dollars invested in each other's economies over the years, and that's not something any US president has wanted to jeopardize.
In the years that followed 9/11, the US has taken out the enemies of Al-Qaeda, like the government of Iraq. It diverted attention away from the hunt for Osama bin Laden for 10 years. It has killed the very same people AQ and ISIS kill 90% of the time. It has given extremist groups trillions of dollars in free propaganda for recruitment. What more could the terrorists have asked for?
I'm willing to grant credence to a certain aspect of the speculation surrounding 9/11 with regards to US government culpability. Some have argued that the Bush admin had intelligence or foreknowledge of an imminent attack and intentionally failed to act. Intent is difficult to prove. There was certainly intelligence coming in prior to 9/11 that warned Al-Qaeda was planning a major operation, and Bush certainly acted like an incompetent or apathetic jackass in the months and days leading up to the attacks. If you recall, his top priority for national security was his stupid-ass missile defense system, which wasted tons of money and never worked properly. If you look at the way Bush handled the problems facing the nation, both before and after 9/11, he pretty much looked the other way while people were suffering and dying. Therefore I would argue, it's perfectly consistent with his behavior to have done the bare minimum possible to address the threat of terrorism prior to 9/11.
It's also possible to make a plausible argument that, technically, the US government paid off the culprits of 9/11. We had known for a long time about the Saudis giving our money and weapons to terrorists. The Bin Laden family, which is insanely wealthy in their own right, was given special treatment by government officials after the attacks. We continue to do business with the Saudis, and continue to invade countries that go off the petrodollar.
These are the things I typically point out whenever confronted with a Truther. They'll bring up their own experts, like Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth, a group so stupid that they've had to retroactively and proactively apply their controlled demolition argument to all building collapses to save face; including the 2017 collapse of the Plasco building in Tehran, Iran. It's futile to get into a debate with their regurgitated talking points about how jet fuel can't melt steel beams, how no building has ever collapsed due to fire, how it looked like a controlled demolition therefore that proves it was, or how all scientists and engineers who disagree with them are paid government shills. The last one is a circular argument, using the conspiracy theory as proof that there's a conspiracy. They don't care for basic logic and have no awareness of fallacies in reasoning. Yet they claim to speak for all progressives.
I think we can do better.