Monday, September 11, 2006
9/11 Conspiracy Theorists Gather in N.Y.
by Ellen Barry, Los Angeles Times, Sept 10, 2006
Monday, September 11, 2006 07:58:19 PM
The scattered movement has mainly gained steam on the
Internet, but before the anniversary of the attacks, activists make their
EW YORK — Striding into
Washington Square Park with a fistful of photocopied circulars and
an earnest expression, Eric Williams could have been an
environmental canvasser or a hip missionary. In fact, he is a pastry
chef — or was until last week, when he quit his job to devote
himself full time to proving that the World Trade Center attack was
ordered not by terrorists but by officials in the U.S. government.
Williams approached a pushcart vendor from Bangladesh: "Do you
believe the official story, that Osama bin Laden and 19 hijackers
took down the towers?"
"Yes," said the vendor.
Williams moved on to a Dominican woman. "Do you believe the
government allowed the attacks to happen?"
The woman smiled, baffled, and asked her 10-year-old daughter to
translate. "Do you believe Bin Laden was responsible for the
attacks?" he asked the girl. The child shrugged expressively.
But he hit pay dirt with Nikolaos Vitoroulis, a freshman engineering
student at Stevens Institute of Technology who was in the eighth
grade at the time of the attacks. Vitoroulis, 18, said he had never
believed a fire could cause a building to collapse that way, into
its own footprint. The hijacked-plane scenario, he said, "seems a
As New York readied for another anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks,
conspiracy theorists and researchers who belong to a group known as
the 9/11 Truth Movement gathered in Greenwich Village. Among them
were proponents of the "LIHOP" theory, who believe that members of
the government "let it happen on purpose," and the "MIHOP" theory,
who hold that government officials "made it happen on purpose."
Polls show that many Americans distrust the government on the
subject of Sept. 11. A Zogby International poll taken in May found
that 42% believed the government concealed evidence that contradicts
official accounts. A Scripps Howard-Ohio University poll
taken in August found that 36% believed it "very likely" or
"somewhat likely" that federal officials allowed the attacks to
occur because "they wanted the United States to go to war in the
The theories — especially the notion that the towers fell in a
controlled demolition — have become widespread enough to prompt
Last week, Brigham Young University announced that physics professor
Steven E. Jones, co-chairman of the group Scholars for 9/11 Truth,
would be put on indefinite leave while authorities investigated his
claims that the buildings were intentionally demolished using
"Culturally, as a society, it becomes unhealthy," said Christopher
Farrell of the conservative think tank Judicial Watch, which
successfully filed suit against the government seeking the release
of a video showing American Airlines Flight 77 hitting the Pentagon.
The think tank was hoping to put to rest beliefs that the explosion
was caused by a missile.
"If an individual demonstrated this sort of behavior,
medical health professionals would recommend they treat it," said
Farrell, a former military intelligence officer and the
organization's director of investigations and research. "There's
healthy skepticism, and then there's unhealthy."
This weekend's gathering in New York drew together strands of a
scattered movement that has, until now, gained steam principally
through the Internet.
There was radio host and activist Ralph Schoenman, who, during the
course of a dizzying two-hour speech Friday, said that "not only was
Mohamed Atta monitored by Mossad and the CIA, but he was being run
by German intelligence," and that Hurricane Katrina "had been on the
drawing board for years" as a way to "de-concentrate population" in
There was Harvey Newman, a retired market researcher, who wrote a
Caribbean-influenced "9/11 Truth" anthem ("Was the Pentagon building
hit by an air-o-plane?/ And if it wasn't, please can you explain?")
There was Korey Rowe, 23, an Iraq war veteran from upstate New York
who helped produce the documentary "Loose Change," which has been
viewed online 10 million times. His baseball cap twisted backward,
Rowe warned the audience about "agents provocateurs" who may have
infiltrated the group in advance of anniversary events at ground
zero. "We need to identify them now, and we need to remove them," he
A man in his 30s, conservatively dressed and soft-spoken, said he
told almost no one about his attendance at 9/11 Truth meetings — not
his co-workers at a corporate law firm and not his girlfriend. "It's
considered part of the loony left," he said. "I'm very careful. I
tell people who love me and will accept me for what I am."
For Williams, the former chef who lives in Duxbury, Mass., his
fascination with the events of Sept. 11 grew so intense over the
last two years that making pastries seemed pointless, then
unbearable. He broke up with his girlfriend and now devotes six to
eight hours a day to researching and writing, and hosts an Internet
radio show and website. He has just sold the German and Turkish
rights to two of his books, "The Puzzle of 9/11" and "9/11 101."