David Ray Griffin
April 20, 2010
A right-wing neocon organization called the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD)1 -- which devotes itself to attacking religiously and socially progressive churches while supporting US imperial policies (going back to the Nicaraguan Contras funded illegally by the Reagan administration2 ) -- has recently put out a press release attacking my next book, which is scheduled to be published this coming fall. Saying that I am "back with another outrageous book" in which I allege "new absurdities," the IRD claims that I am "this time alleging that the Obama administration is attempting to undermine 9/11 conspiracy theorists."3
False Assumptions about My Forthcoming Book
However, if members of the IRD staff could have waited until my book had been published, so they could have read it before attacking it, they could have seen that it does no such thing. They could have seen that it simply deals with an article, entitled "Conspiracy Theories," co-authored in 2008 by Cass Sunstein and another professor at Harvard Law School.4 Using the "9/11 conspiracy theory" as their primary example of conspiracy theories, Sunstein and his co-author argued that the government should try to undermine it and that the best way to do this would be through a method they called "cognitive infiltration." In 2009, President Obama appointed Sunstein as the administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.5 My forthcoming book is entitled Cognitive Infiltration: An Obama Appointee's Plan to Undermine the 9/11 Conspiracy Theory. Neither the title nor the book itself suggests that Obama will have Sunstein actually carry out this plan.
The IRD's premature criticism of my book is also wrong on another point. By speaking of what I will be "alleging," the IRD was supporting its press release's title, "9/11 Conspiracy Theorist Dreaming Up New Absurdities." The IRD's suggestion, in other words, is that I simply "dreamed up" the "absurdity" that someone connected to the Obama administration had a proposal for undermining 9/11 conspiracy theorists. However, the proposal made by Sunstein has been extensively discussed on the Internet.6 With a little research, therefore, the IRD could have learned that I had not simply made something up.
Unsupported Charges about Previous Books
To move now to the main problem with the IRD's attack: By speaking of my "new absurdities," the IRD implies that I have previously published books containing absurdities. The IRD, however, does not provide any evidence to support this charge.
Rather, the author of this press release, Jeff Walton, simply quotes from a press release that he wrote in 2006 about one of my previous books, Christian Faith and the Truth behind 9/11, which had been published that year.7 Although this earlier press release by Walton was entitled "IRD: Presbyterian-Published 9/11 Conspiracy Book is Absurd," it presented no evidence to support this charge. Walton simply quoted the IRD's own Mark Tooley -- a former CIA analyst who is now IRD's president8 -- as calling my book "absurd revisionist history."9 But this characterization was not accompanied by any evidence to support it.
That 2006 press release was based, in turn, on a review of my 2006 book (Christian Faith and the Truth behind 9/11) by Tooley, which he had published in William Kristol's neocon magazine, The Weekly Standard.10 Aside from a few factual errors and snide comments, this was a fairly decent review, which for the most part simply explicated the book's central ideas. At the end, however, Tooley referred to "the nuttiness of Professor Griffin and his colleagues in the curia of old-line Protestantism who agree with his theories"11 -- by whom he meant fellow theologians, such as Rosemary Ruether and the late William Sloane Coffin Jr., who had written blurbs for my book. But Tooley provided no evidence for his ascription of "nuttiness" to me and thereby to Ruether and Coffin (two of America's greatest religious leaders).
So, without offering any evidence, the IRD's Walton and Tooley have characterized my 9/11 books as "outrageous," "absurd," and "nutty." Perhaps thinking these adjectives insufficient, they in this new press release added a new one, speaking of Griffin's "silly theories."12 They must, therefore, consider it self-evidently outrageous, absurd, nutty, and silly to suggest that the Bush-Cheney White House was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. What would be the basis for this supposed self-evidence?
Was the Bush administration too moral? Perhaps they mean that the Bush-Cheney White House could not, given their moral principles, have deliberately done something that would lead to thousands of American deaths. We now know, however, that this administration told lots of lies, one of which was the lie that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. Although some people still claim that the Bush-Cheney administration was simply misled by bad intelligence, a briefing to the Blair cabinet by the head of British intelligence in July 2002, which was leaked to the press in 2005, showed that the Bush administration was planning to go to war against Saddam Hussein because of intelligence reports that he had weapons of mass destruction, and that they could guarantee that these reports would be forthcoming because "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy [of going to war]."13 The resulting war in Iraq has by now caused the deaths of more Americans than did the 9/11 attacks.
Another example: A week after 9/11, the EPA issued a statement about the World Trade Center site, saying that the "air is safe to breathe."14 But this was false, and now more than half of the 40,000 rescue and clean-up workers suffer from cancer, lung disease, asthma, or other debilitating illnesses, and some have already died.15 Dr. Cate Jenkins, an EPA scientist, later testified that the EPA's false statement about the air was not a mistake, but a lie. Why did the EPA lie?16 According to EPA Inspector General Nikki Tinsley, pressure came from the White House, which "convinced EPA to add reassuring statements and delete cautionary ones," as a result of which workers did not wear protective gear.17 More people are likely to die from this lie than died on 9/11.
Given these facts, why would the IRD consider it self-evident that the Bush administration could not have orchestrated 9/11?
Appeal to the Official Reports: Even if the IRD would grant this point, it might still assert that al-Qaeda's responsibility for 9/11 has been proved beyond a shadow of a doubt by official reports, such as The 9/11 Commission Report and the reports on the destruction of the World Trade Center by NIST (the National Institute of Standards and Technology).