THE HUTCHINSON REPORT: Many still believe 9/11 attacks weren’t real

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By Earl Ofari Hutchinson

Contributing Columnist

When a Republican presidential candidate recently called the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack “a false flag” operation, it ignited a storm of protest. There were loud calls for Fox News and Republican presidential candidates to denounce his charge. 

The candidate predictably denied he made the remark that the 9/11 attack was a conspiracy. An audio tape of his interview, though, confirmed that he did indeed make the claim.

The irony is that despite the blowback he got from the charge, he is hardly another crackpot case claiming the 9/11 attack was part of some insidious conspiracy and that the truth about that alleged conspiracy has never been told. Polls on the 20th anniversary of the attack found that millions of Americans still fervently believed that the 9/11 terror attacks were part of a well-conceived, well-planned, diabolical staged act. Various polls since the 20th anniversary polls have consistently shown that anywhere from one-third to one-half of Americans think the attacks were staged, that the government knew about it beforehand or that it was part of a plot to impose martial law on the country. Those are just the more commonplace conspiracy theories. Some are far more bizarre.

The disbelief that 9/11 was the ghoulish handiwork of anti-American, hate-filled, foreign terrorists has been fed by a loud and pesky pack of professional conspiracy theorists who perennially see a sinister government hand behind any and every assassination, terror attack and even a natural disaster.

The 9/11 attack is the jewel in the crown for the conspiracy nuts. They’ve managed to convince themselves that the carnage was part of a Machiavellian plot by a parade of the usual suspects — George W. Bush, the GOP, the CIA, the FBI, and the Department of Justice — to wipe out civil liberties, impose a national security state, create a pretext for the quagmires in Afghanistan and Iraq, terrorize the American people and strengthen the hand of the pro-Israel lobby in U.S. politics.

Some of the more whacked-out theorists with an anti-Semitic bent even claim that the terror attack was part of a decades-old web of intrigue woven by international Jewish groups to dominate global politics.

That is easy to understand. The American woods swarm with groups that fervently believe that government, corporate or international Zionist groups busily hatch secret plots and concoct hidden plans to wreak havoc on their lives. 

The Manchurian Candidate idea, popularized in books and countless movies and TV shows, has firmly implanted the notion that shadowy government groups routinely topple foreign governments, assassinate government leaders and brainwash operatives to do dirty deeds.

There are two other undeniable reasons that 9/11 conspiracy theories have so easily infected the popular imagination. Government agencies, such as the FBI, the CIA, and Army intelligence, with the connivance of presidents, have often played fast and loose with the law and the rules of democracy. They have spied on, harassed and jailed thousands of Americans, from Communists to anti-war activists.

Conspiracy paranoia got another monster boost with President Donald Trump’s election in 2016 and subsequent defeat in 2020. He has fanned the conspiracy flames on everything from Barack Obama’s alleged foreign birth to the Russians allegedly helping Hillary Clinton in 2016, to the notion that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him by a vast conspiracy stage managed by the Democrats and the media to oust him.

Trump has doubled down on that by screaming loudly that the multiple state and federal indictments of him are part of a diabolical conspiracy by vicious, vindictive Democrats to get rid of him from the presidential race since as he claims he is the only Republican candidate who can take back the White House in 2024. Millions of his backers, and a majority of Republican voters buy into his fraudulent, self-serving claim.

The mountainous ironclad proof that there was no conspiracy to defeat Trump has not meant a thing to the millions who still say the election was riddled with fraud and Trump really won. Much of this conspiracy paranoia was on horrific display in the Jan. 6, 2021 assault on the Capitol. Polls show that most Republicans and many others buy the Trump conspiracy ballyhoo.

So, as the 22nd anniversary of 9/11 nears, the conspiracy theorists still busily spin their well-worn 9/11 conspiracy myths. They continue to fall on fertile ground again because of government officials’ long and at times disgraceful penchant for covering up and flat-out lying to the public about their misdeeds, conduct and spying. And with Trump further fanning the conspiracy flames, this is more than enough to ensure that 9/11 conspiracy fantasies remain alive and well 22 years later.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is the author of the forthcoming “Why the GOP Became a White Supremacist Party” (Middle Passage Press). He also is the host of the weekly Hutchinson Report on KPFK 90.7 FM Los Angeles and the Pacifica Network. 

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