The attacks of September 11, 2001 have resulted in significant changes in both the geopolitical order of nations and in the lives of billions of citizens across the planet. From two wars and growing instability across the Middle East, to the powers that states are exercising upon each other and their citizens, to your removal of tennis shoes at the airport security gate, the forces unleashed on that dark day are still reverberating throughout the world.
In the immediate weeks and months following 9/11, we felt a near-universal sense of horror and intense desire for effective response against the perpetrators of the attacks. We also felt urgency to do so, as another wave of terror seemed possible at any time. The anthrax scare reinforced the imperative that all other restraining considerations should be swept aside in the interests of protecting lives, and regular terror alerts kept apprehension palpable among policy-makers and the public. The psychology of most citizens across the world’s most powerful nation became focused: Islamic terrorism was the new evil, and it demanded an unprecedented response. Aggressive wars were launched, billions in new defense contracts signed, sweeping legislation empowering the executive approved, global and domestic surveillance operations unleashed, and a War President was born.
In this climate there was neither political space nor institutional leadership for a proper forensic examination of what actually happened on September 11. It would take extended lobbying by increasingly exasperated family members of victims before any official investigation would be undertaken. Nonetheless, prior to, during and after the tenure of the 9/11 Commission a growing network of researchers developed an increasingly comprehensive map of the situation preceding, upon and following 9/11. While the researchers involved in this truly independent investigation are of varying discipline and credentials, there is little question that the best of them have done a highly competent job of: (1) employing only credible sources to assemble as complete a picture of 9/11-related facts as is possible without access to classified material, and (2) conservatively synthesizing the implications of these facts in comparison to the conclusions of the 9/11 Commission investigation. The best of these researchers have reached a disturbing conclusion: the events of 9/11 were the result of either passive complicity among certain elements within the Bush administration and terrorists, or, more likely, a self-inflicted wound on the nation orchestrated by such elements to create a new reality in geopolitical affairs.
One of the challenges in comprehending the circumstances of 9/11 is the sheer volume of material spanning two decades that must be studied for one to become comfortable reaching any conclusions. Intelligent people new to this controversy feel a sense of drowning when they begin to study what happened on 9/11. Having explored this subject deeply, I thought it might be useful to create a summary accessible to larger numbers of people. That is the purpose of what follows. . . .