Theologian calls for response to 9/11
By Samara Kalk Derby
April 19, 2005
David Ray Griffin asks the tough questions about Sept. 11, contending U.S. officials had some knowledge of what was coming and possibly orchestrated the attacks.
Griffin, whose book, "The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions About the Bush Administration and 9/11," came out a year ago, drew an enthusiastic standing ovation from the majority of the 400 or so people who packed his lecture Monday night at Bascom Hall.
A retired Christian theologian, Griffin, 65, taught for more than 30 years at the Claremont School of Theology in California.
His comments Monday night were directed at religious people, who he said need to respond to Sept. 11 - and the American empire that has ensued - based on the moral principles of their religious traditions.
Drawing laughter from the crowd, Griffin said he had in mind principles like: "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbors' oil" and "Thou shalt not murder thy neighbors in order to steal their oil."
While Griffin noted that his books and talks have not received attention from the mainstream media, C-SPAN had a cameraman at the event and plans to air the lecture at a future date. Madison's public access cable television station, WYOU-TV/Channel 4, meanwhile, will air the talk at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Americans interpret the events of Sept. 11 in one of four ways, Griffin said:
• A first group accepts the official interpretation that Sept. 11 was a surprise attack by Islamic terrorists. It is easy for these people "to think of America's so-called War on Terror as a just war," Griffin said.
• A second group accepts the official line but thinks Sept. 11 has been used opportunistically by the Bush administration to extend the American empire. People who hold this view often believe that America's response to Sept. 11, which has led to hundreds of thousands of deaths, is far worse than the attacks themselves, he said.
• A third group believes the Bush administration knew the attacks were coming and let them happen. It shows the government as "deliberate and cold-blooded," advancing its imperial designs while hypocritically portraying itself as promoting a "culture of life," Griffin said.
Although there has been no national survey, a Zogby poll taken last year indicated that almost half of the residents of New York City share this view, he said.
• A fourth group believes that the government orchestrated the attacks. While no poll shows how many Americans believe this, polls in Canada and Germany have found as many as 20 percent of those populations do, Griffin said.
In his follow-up book, "The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions," Griffin examines the questions that he and others in the "9/11 Truth Movement" charge were never examined by the federal government's 9/11 Commission.
Evidence to support the theory that U.S. officials had at least had some foreknowledge of the attacks comes from David Schippers, the chief prosecutor for the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, who reportedly received warnings from FBI agents about the attacks six weeks earlier, Griffin said.
Other government officials, including Attorney General John Ashcroft, would not respond to the warnings, he added.
There was the extraordinarily high volume of "put options" purchased in the three days before the attacks, Griffin said, with investors betting that stock in United and American Airlines - the two airlines used in the attacks - would go down. There were also a suspiciously high number of put options for Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, which occupied 22 stories of the World Trade Center.
"U.S. intelligence agencies monitor the market, partly to look for signs of impending attacks," Griffin said. "One wonders how information could be much more specific than this."
Griffin then made a case that government officials planned and executed the attacks.
For one, the United States military neglected to send fighter jets to intercept the hijacked planes. Such interceptions usually occur within 10 to 20 minutes after the first signs of trouble and are routine, happening about 100 times a year, Griffin said.
It seems implausible, he said, that the Pentagon was struck by Flight 77, since it is "surely the best defended building on the planet." The U.S. military has the best radar systems in the world and "does not miss anything occurring in North American airspace," he added.
Griffin also made a case that the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings was brought on by thousands of explosives placed throughout each of the buildings. They went straight down, at free-fall speed, as in controlled demolitions, and many people in the buildings reported that they heard or felt explosions, he added.
"High-rise steel-frame buildings have never - before or after 9/11- been caused to collapse by fire," he said.
Sue Adams, 50, introduced herself to Griffin after the talk, calling him heroic. "I think some day we may really know the truth," she said, adding that it will likely be after the Bush administration is gone.
Orion Litzau, a UW freshman studying engineering, agrees that the answers the government put out through the 9/11 Commission were more than a simple deception.
"They were not only partly false but a complete, bold face lie," he said. "David Ray Griffin brings out interesting points about what could be the true story behind the 9/11 attack."
Jim Goulding, 67, who teaches religious studies at Edgewood College, admitted at first he wondered whether Griffin was a crackpot, but instead found he had a "tremendous reputation as a theologian."
Goulding has read both of Griffin's Sept. 11 books.
"I think he makes a convincing case - well documented, well footnoted," he said.
Published: 9:36 AM 4/19/05