(EXAMINER) As a teacher of high school US History courses, I attempted to professionally address this question with an appropriate classroom lesson. BTW, this issue is among the top few historical questions that my high school students want answered. I developed a critical thinking case study on 9/11; one of many lessons for students to vote on among competing supplemental lessons. The lesson has a preamble on critical thinking skills I’ll provide in a subsequent article. Below is the strongest evidence from both the pro-government explanation and counter-government, as compiled by interested colleagues, parents, students, and my examination since 2004. My role in the lesson is to present the evidence (inviting students and parents to contribute) and guide students for their analysis under my motto Res ipsa loquitur, best translated as “the facts speak for themselves.” This worked best when I presented it to the principal and department first, then gave parents the lesson for questions and input, and then directed the lesson for students. Here it is:
9/11: Conspiracy of Terrorists or an Inside Job? In national polls from 2006, about one-third of Americans reported that 9/11 was orchestrated by the US government (here, here, here, here), while up to 84% state that our government is at least covering-up key facts of what happened. A CNN polltopped-out at 90% reporting that our government is covering-up elements of 9/11. In a 2004 Zogby poll, half of the residents of New York City reported that our government at least knew of the attacks and consciously did not prevent them, and two-thirds want a new and independent investigation. Half of victims’ family members conclude the US government was complicit in the attacks and death of their loved ones, according to the largest family group’s public representative. This “9/11 Truth Movement” is growing: over 1,400 people with impressive professional backgrounds in engineering, architecture, intelligence, military, government, and various Ph.D credentials publicly refute the official explanations.Professional scientists have published literally dozens of peer-reviewed papers in argument that the three World Trade Center buildings were destroyed by controlled demolition rather than fire-induced structural failure. Over 800 professional architects and engineers have compiled impressive visual demonstrations. Professional pilots have done the same. Professional firefighters, lawyers, medical professionals, military veterans, scholars, and religious leaders have also created organizations for “9/11 Truth.”
This credible collection of expert witnesses is remarkable, with their conclusions reflected in the polling. An example of this expert testimony is Princeton professor of International Law Richard Falk, who poignantly refutes many aspects of the government’s explanation of 9/11. The rationality of this counter-government position is also reflected in the prestigious literary guide, Publisher’s Weekly, selecting a 9/11 Truth book as its “Pick of the Week” in November, 2008.
That’s who they are and openings into their evidence. What they want is an independent investigation into 9/11 that considers their evidence rather than the government’s self-study that they claim is a whitewash.
For background, I’ll show portions of “CNN Tribute – America Remembers.” I’ll explain the purpose and conclusions of the 9/11 Commission. In support of the government explanation, I’ll remind students that this version is what they’ve learned from mainstream media and their history books, show portions of the DVD from NOVA, “Why the Towers Fell,” consider and discuss MIT Professor Thomas Eagar’s academic paper on the topic, along with an update published in the December, 2007 issue of “Journal of Metals, Minerals and Materials.” We’ll discuss the academic and professional standards of peer review and publication for scientific claims. We’ll also look at film clips of Senator John McCain, andFox News’ Bill O’Reilly interviewing “Popular Mechanics” Editor, James Meigs, for typical government and media responses to counter-government claims, and Presidents Clinton and Bush’s (and counter-govt. Bush clip) responses to allegations of government conspiracy.
For the government “inside job” argument, we’ll see the first 5 chapters of the DVD, “Loose Change 2nd Edition,” review photographic evidence from Shanksville, PA, review the flight recorder data from flight AA77 into the Pentagon, consider and discuss Dr. David Ray Griffin’s academic paper, consider the aforementioned expert testimony from over 1,400 professionals in related fields, and examine thecurrent status of peer-reviewed papers on scientific analysis. We’ll consider a compendium of the evidence from professional journalists. We’ll also watch the last scene from the DVD, “Fahrenheit 9/11” and President Bush’s press conference after his 9/11 Commission testimony (sorry – no link), about 5 minutes of President Eisenhower’s Farewell Address commenting on the “military-industrial complex,” and about 5 minutes of President Kennedy’s speech to the press against secrecy in government. We’ll also view testimony in Japan’s Parliament where the leading opposition party leader questioned their Prime Minister regarding the lack of evidence the US has presented regarding 9/11 relevant to Japan’s funding for refueling US warships. A worthy video that we will not see is a 2008 documentary that was shown on national television in Italy and Russia, “Zero,” available for viewing on the Internet.
After the presentations of both positions’ arguments and class discussions, students will have a choice of assessments. One is a test where I’ll assign five of the following short-answer questions. We will discuss these questions and answers, and students will have opportunity to take notes:
1. Explain the 9/11 Commission’s purpose and conclusion. Explain two criticisms of this report.
2. Explain the 9/11 Commission version of why the three WTC buildings “collapsed.” Explain a criticism against this argument.
3. Explain two details of the photographic and/or film evidence that challenge the 9/11 Commission findings. Explain a criticism against each of the two details.
4. Explain two details of the circumstantial evidence that support US government involvement in the attacks. Explain a criticism against each of the two details.
5. Explain two details of the individual terrorists, Al Qaeda, and/or Osama bin Laden that challenge the 9/11 Commission findings. Explain a criticism against each of the two details.
6. Explain 2 details of the argument that elements within the US government had the means, motive, and opportunity to cause the 9/11 attacks. Explain a criticism against each of the two details.
Students may also choose to respond to the following essay topic or create their own, give a talk to the class, give a PowerPoint presentation, or create some other project (see me for my approval). The essay or alternate assessments are due within one week of the written test. Students may do more than one assessment for extra credit. Essay topic:
Explain how the 9/11 attacks happened with at least three details of independently verifiable evidence. Choose the opponent’s strongest argument and refute it.
That’s the lesson. Below is a 3-minute preview of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth’s DVD with their presentation of the evidence, and Bill O’Reilly’s 4-minute interview with Popular Mechanic’s editor James Meigs to debunk 9/11 Truth claims.