I've pointed out before that there is a certain bleak irony to the fact that Oliver Kamm manufactures evidence of Noam Chomsky misrepresenting people by, you guessed it, misrepresenting Chomsky himself.
Kamm's at it again; this time his target is Robert Fisk.
Here's Robert Fisk in Saturday's Independent : "I am increasingly troubled at the inconsistencies in the official narrative of 9/11." You know what's coming, right down to the defensive protest "I am not a conspiracy theorist". Fisk is indeed a conspiracy theorist. He outed himself 18 months ago in a speech in Australia.
Yet all Fisk says when you read the actual column, is that there are questions he can't answer about 9-11.
Each time I lecture abroad on the Middle East, there is always someone in the audience – just one – whom I call the "raver"... His – or her – question goes like this. Why, if you believe you're a free journalist, don't you report what you really know about 9/11?...Usually, I have tried to tell the "truth"; that while there are unanswered questions about 9/11, I am the Middle East correspondent of The Independent, not the conspiracy correspondent; that I have quite enough real plots on my hands in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Iran, the Gulf, etc, to worry about imaginary ones in Manhattan. My final argument – a clincher, in my view – is that the Bush administration has screwed up everything – militarily, politically diplomatically – it has tried to do in the Middle East; so how on earth could it successfully bring off the international crimes against humanity in the United States on 11 September 2001?
Well, I still hold to that view...But – here we go. I am increasingly troubled at the inconsistencies in the official narrative of 9/11. It's not just the obvious non sequiturs: where are the aircraft parts (engines, etc) from the attack on the Pentagon? Why have the officials involved in the United 93 flight (which crashed in Pennsylvania) been muzzled? Why did flight 93's debris spread over miles when it was supposed to have crashed in one piece in a field? Again, I'm not talking about the crazed "research" of David Icke's Alice in Wonderland and the World Trade Center Disaster – which should send any sane man back to reading the telephone directory.
I am talking about scientific issues. If it is true, for example, that kerosene burns at 820C under optimum conditions, how come the steel beams of the twin towers – whose melting point is supposed to be about 1,480C – would snap through at the same time? (They collapsed in 8.1 and 10 seconds.) What about the third tower – the so-called World Trade Centre Building 7 (or the Salmon Brothers Building) – which collapsed in 6.6 seconds in its own footprint at 5.20pm on 11 September? Why did it so neatly fall to the ground when no aircraft had hit it? The American National Institute of Standards and Technology was instructed to analyse the cause of the destruction of all three buildings. They have not yet reported on WTC 7. Two prominent American professors of mechanical engineering – very definitely not in the "raver" bracket – are now legally challenging the terms of reference of this final report on the grounds that it could be "fraudulent or deceptive".
Journalistically, there were many odd things about 9/11. Initial reports of reporters that they heard "explosions" in the towers – which could well have been the beams cracking – are easy to dismiss. Less so the report that the body of a female air crew member was found in a Manhattan street with her hands bound. OK, so let's claim that was just hearsay reporting at the time, just as the CIA's list of Arab suicide-hijackers, which included three men who were – and still are – very much alive and living in the Middle East, was an initial intelligence error.
But what about the weird letter allegedly written by Mohamed Atta, the Egyptian hijacker-murderer with the spooky face, whose "Islamic" advice to his gruesome comrades – released by the CIA – mystified every Muslim friend I know in the Middle East? Atta mentioned his family – which no Muslim, however ill-taught, would be likely to include in such a prayer. He reminds his comrades-in-murder to say the first Muslim prayer of the day and then goes on to quote from it. But no Muslim would need such a reminder – let alone expect the text of the "Fajr" prayer to be included in Atta's letter.
Let me repeat. I am not a conspiracy theorist. Spare me the ravers. Spare me the plots. But like everyone else, I would like to know the full story of 9/11, not least because it was the trigger for the whole lunatic, meretricious "war on terror" which has led us to disaster in Iraq and Afghanistan and in much of the Middle East. Bush's happily departed adviser Karl Rove once said that "we're an empire now – we create our own reality". True? At least tell us. It would stop people kicking over chairs.Does this really sound like someone who is propounding a conspiracy theory? All Fisk is saying is that there are questions he can not answer and that he would like to see an open inquiry into.
It is true, as Kamm points out that, if Fisk did some looking he could find plenty of good answers to the questions above. The steel in the towers didn't, for example, need to be hot enough to melt to cause them to collapse, just hot enough to loose its structural integrity.
But by completely omitting the section where Fisk claims that he disagrees with the conspiracy Kamm turns Fisk from someone who is troubled by doubts into someone who "is indeed a conspiracy theorist".
Nice job Ollie.
As for me personally, while I think that most of the questions troubling Robert Fisk can be easily answered, I am also in favour of a full honest and open investigation. Not because I think it will reveal a conspiracy but simply because that is the sort of inquiry that ought to take place in a democracy.