With the decade anniversary of 9/11 almost here, there's been a run of stories in every media outlet, major and minor, about both the September 11 attacks and the decade that followed. A few of those pieces, including a recent Associated Press report making the rounds, have focused on September 11th conspiracy theories. You know the ones: 9/11 was an inside job, the towers were brought down with controlled demolitions, the government knew about the attacks ahead of time -- there are different permutations, but all the theories basically center around the belief that the "official" version of what happened, as told in the 9/11 Commission Report and mostly echoed by the reporting of the country's journalists, is a lie.
As far away as Dallas is from the epicenter of that day's events, North Texans have always played an outsized role in the "9/11 truth movement." North Texans for 9/11 Truth was founded in 2005 by a Dallas schoolteacher named Joe Stokes, and the group says it has 200 people on its mailing list and about 50 active members. A few of them meet every month at Barbec's near White Rock Lake, and they march every year in the annual Martin Luther King Day Parade, handing out the same DVDs and fliers they occasionally send to our office. They've also taken out ads in the back of our paper, among other places.
On Sunday, to mark the anniversary, they're screening a documentary called 9/11 Explosive Evidence: Experts Speak Out, produced by a national group who call themselves Architects and Engineers For 9/11 Truth.
"The movement is growing immensely," Bryan Black told Unfair Park. He's a carpenter from Commerce who's been a part of the group for about a year and a half.
"There's people all over the place," adds Tom Timer, one of the North Texas chapter's original members. "With the 9/11 truth movement, there's not one leader. A bunch of it is different individuals, they find out about this stuff. Then they may form a group like what occurred here, or they may do things on their own."
Timer says he was once a "hardcore Republican," before he heard a friend of his wife's say that 9/11 was "an inside job."
"That really pissed me off," he says. "I went to the Internet to prove her wrong, and I started finding out --- my jaw dropped. I couldn't believe it. I did more and more research, and the more I researched the more I recognized how duped I had been."
Asked what he considers "research," Timer says, "Only through verifiable facts. That's the key," because, as he put it, "you hear all kinds of wild things."
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For his part, Black blames "the media" for failing to spread more accurate information about what happened on September 11th (he personally believes the towers were brought down in a controlled demolition). "They've played along," he says. "They've been doing a lot of work to keep people in the dark and scared out of their wits."
He can't say exactly who's responsible for the attacks: "I'm not going to sit there and try to name all the names. ... But they had foreknowledge of it and they profited off of it and then there were those who were involved. These people are still out there. It's not like Charles Manson who was a poor little hippie who killed a dozen or so people. These are people who can kill thousands, millions, and live a life of luxury. We got jails for people who are dangerous. These people are really dangerous. ...These people are very powerful. They can get away with things."
For Timer, the 9/11 truth movement has been only the beginning of his trip down what he freely admits is a "rabbit hole. "Once you discover the government's version of 9/11 is a lie, you start finding out about other things," he says darkly. He encourages everyone to "thoroughly educate themselves" by spending "at least eight hours researching this."
"I respect anybody's evaluation and conclusion if they thoroughly investigate it," he says. "Draw your own conclusions. Don't let anybody tell you what to think: not the government, and not a conspiracy theorist. Just draw your own conclusions. And if a person does a thorough investigation, they'd have to have a pretty small I.Q. not to ..." He trails off. "Sometimes," he says, finally, "the truth is so painful for people."