Appendix A: my response to the BBC in the form of an official complaint
Re: 9/11: The conspiracy files (Sunday 18th February 2007)
There are two general points I would like to make, interspersed by more specifically addressed and detailed points. Firstly, and with regards to truth, and I do not have any serious issues regarding the facts as they were stated in the programme (or such as they are understood by the producers), however, there are more ways to be deceptive than simply lying. So let me list a few.
Most importantly there is where you choose to shine the light, since what is covered and what is ignored is often just as important as the facts themselves.
The questions about 9/11 go deep into many areas but naturally enough you skim through a few (this is a question of time, since a thorough analysis and one that considered the events with due gravity could fill number of documentaries). So this alone might be forgiven if the questions you choose to consider were ones that might be key to finding out what really happened. But instead of this you quickly glossed over the most important questions. Here are a few:
Why was the investigation of the potential hijackers blocked and hampered? Why were none of the planes intercepted? How did the pilots fly with such unerring accuracy after so little training and zero experience of flying jet airliners? Why did the buildings collapse so quickly and completely? Why did building 7 fall at all given that it was never hit by a plane? How did one plane ever manage to strike the Pentagon when it’s surely one of the most well defended areas on earth? Why have we still never seen any film of the plane crashing into the pentagon when it is also surely has some of the highest surveillance in the world?
At least your programme did point out that secrecy is a key ingredient to what makes so many of us suspicious, though failing to recognise that it is generally the case that secrecy also suggests there could something to hide – even if it isn’t that a missile hit the Pentagon, which could very well be a piece of deliberate misinformation to distract attention from more significant factors, as some researchers have already acknowledged – see 9/11 Research. There are also many important and hanging questions that were missed altogether. Here again are a few of those:
What is the link between the alleged terrorists and the Pakistani intelligence agency ISI (which has links to the CIA)? Why have 7 of the 19 alleged terrorists been reported alive and well (on BBC website)? Why did we hear nothing of the many eyewitness reports of explosions in the towers and why no mention of former janitor William Rodriguez (the last civilian to be rescued, he was briefly a national hero) who says he felt explosions in the basement before the first plane struck? Why no consideration of the very suspicious stock market speculation with high levels of trading on put options for both United Airlines and American Airlines?
In addition to this glossing over of the most serious questions and allegations, the programme also adopts a cherry-picking style to its selection of evidence. It talks to a woman who took a Delta flight – a flight that has nothing to do with the main events of 9/11 aside from an idea that happens to have been suggested as one explanation for the unproven disappearance of flight 77 (a speculation made by a film-maker). In an overly extended analysis it even asks the passenger in question why people believe in these “stories”. Such a blatantly loaded question of absolutely no relevance whatsoever. The programme then switches to allegations of warnings given to the Jewish community prior to the attacks.
Apparently there is some kind of deplorably anti-Semitic and dopey notion that the NY Jewish community had been tipped off. Again the programme makers decided to trace the origins of such an obvious lie in another extended diversion away from the main issues. Finally they interview one of the Jewish family victims, with emotional footage showing her clutching her hand around a wire fence and weeping, asking what she thinks about the people who believe in “these conspiracy theories.”
In watching this most sickening exploitation of a person’s grief, what are we supposed to think? That all the families of the victims feel the same? But this again is a huge deception of course, since it was largely due to pressure from other families of victims that the 9/11 commission was finally set up. A hundred family members have now signed a petition calling for a re-opening of the investigation and a smaller number also collaborated to launch the film 9/11 Press for Truth.
This was followed by an interview with an X-Files scriptwriter (cue music!) who had accidentally written scenes reminiscent of the 9/11 attacks a few months earlier. Having trawled through the internet for reports and evidence for literally hundreds of hours it seems odd to me that you focus such profligate attention on something I’d never before heard about.
And then, as previously, you feel obliged to ask what the scriptwriter thinks about “this conspiracy theory.” But that’s irrelevant of course, as are his views as to whether or not some senior members of the Bush administration are mass murderers. This is thankfully not how evidence of guilt is ever legally considered.
And so to my second point, a point about impartiality. Just as truth is never as simple as merely not telling lies, so impartiality is never as simple as giving both sides of an argument equal amounts of attention. It also depends on how you frame things. From the outset the programme claims that there are more than 50 “conspiracy theories” (and using the words “conspiracy theories” immediately stigmatises anyone who defends those views). But what is a conspiracy theory?
It might be reasonably argued that in this instance there are only two basic ones. There is the official government theory involving an unanticipated attack by a group of Islamic fundamentals and there is another that claims some form of direct government involvement.
This alternative account might simply mean that some part of the American administration allowed fully formulated attacks to go ahead without intervention or it may make more dramatic claims that either parts of the government assisted a pre-planned attack or that they acted alone. But to say there are many theories obviously creates the impression that the entire 9/11 truth movement is at loggerheads, which is plainly untrue (since all the main websites carry more or less the same concerns) and I believe deliberately intended to mislead the audience.
We were also presented with an understanding that on the one hand there are a few “self-styled” reporters and investigators and on the other “nuts and bolts” honest and independent experts working for the highly respected journal Popular Mechanics, so what are you leading us to conclude? What is a “self-styled” journalist anyway? Is it anyone who is not affiliated to any major news organisation? Because suppose there happened to be no news organisations either willing or interested to investigate a story? Surely we would then have to rely on such “self-styled” investigation.
And then why did you linger over a framed picture of Jesus with the caption “employee of the month” in the office of the Loose Change producers? A deliberate attempt to arouse suspicion or ridicule in a largely agnostic audience? Perhaps in way of balance you might have also been reminding us of George Bush’s much professed belief in the same God.
But we didn’t actually need to see any of this, and as with much else in the film such as the constantly inter-cut caption reading “conspiracy” at the end of every section, the spooky or else stirring music, the constant reminders that “these people” need to “find comfort”, the impression was deliberately slanted in favour of the proponents supporting the official story and against the “self-styled” “conspiracy theorists” so desperate to keep hold of their “comfort blanket.” This is an utterly bogus portrayal and deeply patronising to a very large number of people who have looked into the claims and counter-claims about 9/11 with justified suspicion. And to suppose that it offers anyone comfort that the American government may have committed one of the greatest of all peace-time atrocities, is to presume any skeptic of the official account must be callous or frankly psychopathic. What is this supposed comfort in believing that the world may be controlled by a select group of first degree murderers?
The real issue is not about the “conspiracy theorists” or even about any competing “conspiracy theories.” We may never know what happened and so inevitably there will be guesses, but wrong guesses prove nothing. Instead, this is a matter of searching for answers to a great many very important and as yet unanswered questions (some of which were completely overlooked in your film).
The 9/11 truth movement wants full answers to what is a most horrific and deplorable crime, so it is both dishonest and disgraceful to dismiss such concerns without close scrutiny and proper consideration. To conclude then, I regard this “self-styled” investigative documentary to be at best a wholly trivial and biased mistreatment of what is a matter for the gravest seriousness, and at worst, worry that here was yet another example of the sort of poisonous propaganda which the cowed post-Hutton BBC constantly serves up in the place of serious journalism.