Q and A at University of Sussex part 1 ( June, 2007)
1 On 9.11
Q: First, Mr. Chomsky, with their recent release of film such as “Loose Change” in 9-11 mysteries on the internet, do you think there's much way behind the claims that the US government had either inside knowledge or played a role of the attacks on 9-11, or these sideline theses may be anti republican propaganda?
Chomsky: There are two different versions of that theory. One is that the government had some information about 9-11, that an impending attack, and didn't do much to try to stop it or maybe anything. That's one idea. Another idea is that the government was actually actively involved in carrying out the terrorist attacks of 9-11.
Now, the first proposal is, first of all, in one version universally accepted. So, even if you look at the official 9-11 government report, it points out repeatedly that there were opportunities that were not taken to avert a terrorist attack. And in fact it goes back right into the Clinton years. So from—first, remember, that the first attempt to blow up the Word Trade Center was in 1993. And it came pretty close to succeeding. With the poor planning it didn't succeed. If it had succeeded with a little better planning, according to building engineers, it might have killed many thousands of people, maybe tens of thousands. And it was a much broader plot. It was an attempt to blow up the tunnels that link New York City to New Jersey across the Hudson River, blow up the FBI building and so on. It was aborted but barely. And ever since then, it's been pretty obvious that the country is vulnerable to terrorist attack.
There are technical books published through the 90s, by MIT Press for example, which are almost cookbooks of how to carry out a terrorist attack. And very little was done to avert this danger. The leading official in the CIA, who was responsible for tracking Osama Bin Laden, wrote several books anonymously but finally identified himself as Micheal Scheuer, has been very bitterly, writes bitterly about the failure of the Clinton and particularly the Bush administration to take steps that could avert a terrorist attack.
And incidentally, we know very well that Bush and Blair and their colleagues just don't care very much about terrorist attacks. We know this from what they’ve been doing in the last few years. And they are consciously acting in ways which increased the threat of terror significantly.
So, the invasion of Iraq, for example, was taken with the anticipation that it would probably increase terror and nuclear proliferation. We know that from the reports of--actually it was known at the time, but there's more now--from released reports of intelligence agencies from strategic analysts and others. And the dynamics are pretty clear.
Well, it did so. According to the latest study that just came out from two terrorism specialists, Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank in the United States using mostly government data, the “Iraq effect,” as they called it, the effect of the Iraq war on terror was to increase it by sevenfold. It's quite an increase and focused on countries and places involved in the war. London is familiar with this despite attempts by Blair to deny the obvious. And that continues.
And I mean there are now threats to, serious threats to attack Iran. The “Iran effect” is likely to be far greater than the Iraq effect. We can give many other examples. It's not that governments want terror, they just, it’s not their high priority. Protecting their own citizens from terror is simply not a high priority. So it's not all that surprising that from 1993 up till September 11th 2001, there were very limited precautions taken to avert a threat of terror that was anticipated by intelligence agencies and so on.
So that version of the theory is, in a sense, not controversial and it’s the problem. The issue is much deeper than these theories indicate and goes right on till today.
As for the other aspect that the government actually was involved in planning and implementing the attacks, I think that lacks credibility. For one thing, they would have to have been almost insane to try anything like that. The chances of it—consider the range of conspirators that would have to be involved, the Airline companies and plenty of people in the federal government and so on. The chances of a leak would be substantial and the effect of the leak would be simply to line them up before firing squads and terminate the Republican party forever. Furthermore, it’s a really chancy operation. You wouldn’t know if it’s going to succeed.
If they were planning it, the planning would have had to be kind of half crazy. If the goal was to lay the basis for the invasion of Iraq, why not implicate Iraqis? Why implicate Saudis, therefore endangering the closest US relation with any country in the region, Saudi Arabia, which is where the oil is, the oldest most valued ally? I mean that would have been semi-insane planning. There is evidence proposed but I can’t review it here. But I suggest you take a careful look at it.
The evidence roughly is in two categories. Some of it is physical evidence, you know, arguments that the buildings couldn’t have fallen if they were hit by an airplane and so on. Well, you know, technical arguments have to be evaluated on their merits. It’s-- you can’t get this specialist knowledge required for evaluating them by spending an hour on the Internet. That’s why they have civil mechanical engineering programs at places like MIT and others. It takes some serious knowledge and understanding.
When proposals are made about an alleged discovery of concerning physical evidence, there’s a standard way to proceed: submit an article on it to a recognized scientific journal, scientific engineering journal. Then others can evaluate it. So far as I’m aware, there hasn’t been single submission, accepted to a real journal, that is.
The rest of evidences are kind of circumstantial. You know, odd coincidences, why didn’t this happen and so on and so forth. The problem that is, that’s the kind of evidence that you can accumulate just by any complex event. I mean by that kind of evidence you could probably prove that the White House was bombed yesterday. In fact that’s why scientists do experiments instead of taking video tapes of the world. Video tapes of the world are just too complicated, too many things happening. You can’t figure out, you can’t learn anything much from them. Even in controlled experiments, you do find odd coincidences, unexplained phenomena and so on. If you want to get a sense of that, take a look at the letters journal, the letters articles, the letters in any reputable scientific journal. And you find critical discussion of controlled scientific experiments that were reported in earlier issues which sometimes still turn out be wrong. So I’m not—I don’t think that this---the odd pictures are credible. The first one is not even debatable.