DID THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION covertly blow-up the World Trade Center, ignite the Pentagon, and shoot down United Flight 93 to pave the way for a new American empire? The answer is "yes," according to a new book printed by the official publishing house of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and written by a theologian at a United Methodist seminary.
Christian Faith and the Truth Behind 9/11, published by Westminster John Knox Press, is fairly succinct in its conspiracy theory. In fact, only the first half of the book is devoted to dissecting the conspiracy, the facts being so obvious that elaboration is hardly required. The second half is focused on the theological implications of America as empire, and why Christians should stand against it.
David Ray Griffin, professor emeritus of philosophy and theology at Claremont School of Theology in California, is the author of what is now his third book on 9/11. "If we believe that our political and military leaders are acting on the basis of policies that are diametrically opposed to divine purposes, it is incumbent upon us to say so," he explains in the preface. A "process" theologian who believes that God is constantly evolving, Griffin is a member of "Scholars for 9/11 Truth," a non-partisan group that is "dedicated to exposing falsehoods and to revealing truths behind 9/11."
The book is blurbed by the late Rev. William Sloane Coffin, United Methodist theologian Catherine Keller of Drew University, Episcopal theologian Carter Heyward of Episcopal Divinity School, and Roman Catholic dissident feminist theologian Rosemary Radford Ruether. Griffin explains that parts of the book are based on lectures he delivered in June 2003 on behalf of the Episcopal Diocese of Kentucky. The project in revisionist history seems to be ecumenical.
Expecting controversy, the Presbyterian publishing house issued a news release, insisting that "Professor Griffin's thorough research and intellectually rigorous arguments have persuaded us that this book should have a place in that conversation, regardless of the conclusions readers come to accept." The Presbyterians are printing more than 7000 copies of Griffin's latest work.
Griffin's thesis is pretty straightforward: The events of 9/11 were a false flag operation undertaken by U.S. intelligence and police agencies at the behest of the Bush administration. Examples of other successful false flag operations cited by the author are the 1931 Mukden Incident, in which the Japanese blew up their own railway in Manchuria and blamed it on Chinese troops to justify further invasion; the 1933 Reichstag Fire that the Nazis ignited and blamed on communists to justify their dictatorship; and Operation Himmler, in which Germans posing as Polish troops "attacked" German border stations in order to justify the subsequent Nazi invasion of Poland.
American examples of false flag operations, as outlined by Griffin, include provocations that led to the Mexican-American War, the Spanish-American War, the Philippines War, and the Vietnam War. More recently, Griffin tells us, the United States staged terrorist operations in Italy, Turkey and Belgium during the 1970s and 1980s to create a backlash against the left. So Griffin does not see the false flag attack of 9/11 as an aberration, a devious plan that only the Bush administration would devise.
Quite simply, "central members of the Bush administration, including Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, came into office intent on attacking Iraq, an Arab Muslim nation." For several months preceding 9/11, the administration was also planning to attack Afghanistan. Accordingly, the administration planted explosives in the basement of the World Trade Center, to ensure their collapse by "controlled demolition."
The laws of physics alone cannot explain why steel-reinforced towers would implode as a result of mere airplanes crashes, Griffin insists. Also, the company in charge of security for the World Trade Center was conveniently headed by a cousin of President Bush. Mayor Giuliani had advance knowledge of the impending collapse, as revealed by his public statements after the first plane hit. The supposed crash of Flight 77 into the Pentagon was a fabrication, and the U.S. Air Force shot down Flight 93 over Pennsylvania, though Griffin does not provide much detail to substantiate either claim. As evidence, he dwells only on perceived inconsistencies in FAA reports.
"The implications are indeed disturbing," Griffin writes of his "assumption that 9/11 was orchestrated by members of the Bush-Cheney administration." "The effect of 9/11 . . . was to allow the agenda developed in the 1990s by the neoconservatives . . . to be implemented," he explains. He is careful to assure that though "some people think that Jewishness is a necessary condition for being a neoconservative, this is not so." Cheney and Rumsfeld are prime examples of non-Jewish neocons, he observes, and he focuses on them as the culprits.
Griffin graciously acknowledges that neocons outside the government were likely not complicit in the 9/11 attacks, even if those attacks furthered their agenda. But those in power, like Bush and Rumsfeld, openly and ominously spoke of 9/11 as an "opportunity."
"The motives behind this false-flag operation were imperial motives, oriented around the dream of extending the American empire so that it is an all-inclusive global empire, resulting in a global Pax Americana," Griffin writes. Obviously this has profound spiritual implications for Christians, Griffin observes, having already concluded that Jesus Christ's primary goal on earth was to overturn the Roman Empire of His day. Unfortunately, Griffin opines, the early church, including some Gospel writers, covered up this truth, claiming that salvation was eternal rather than a political liberation. These revisionists persuaded Christians that the empire would "facilitate, not hinder, the coming of the kingdom of God." Christianity then went from being anti-empire to an imperial religion.
Bush and his neocon supporters have now revived notions that empire can further the kingdom of God through the "universal values" of democracy and freedom, Griffin asserts. The language of empire was present with the Founders, but the power for America to implement it was not present until Second World War. During the Cold War, the United States spread its empire through covert action and military intimidation: Iran in 1953; Guatemala in 1954; Greece in 1967; and Indonesia in 1965. Strangely, Griffin omits Chile in 1973 in his catalog of supposed crimes.
Replacing Great Britain as the world's dominant imperial power, the United States has presided over a "global apartheid" that keeps Western white people wealthy while impoverishing everybody else, Griffin writes. In this role, the United States heads a world capitalist system that "denies the right of life to people on a massive scale, resulting in 180 million people dying each decade from poverty-related causes."
Whereas the Nazis and Soviets only killed 50 million people each, and were labeled "evil," the United States is killing 180 million people every ten years, Griffin writes, not including the millions more the United States killed in its various military interventions over the last 60 years. The United States has overthrown more governments than the Nazis and Soviets ever did. Therefore, Griffin feels justified in labeling the United States as an "evil, even demonic empire."
America's nuclear arsenal and its contribution to global warming only compound the evil. "Demonic power is now firmly lodged in the United States, especially in its government, its corporate heads, the 'defense' industries, its plutocratic class more generally, and its ideologies," Griffin complains. Given the scope of America's satanic accomplishments and ambitions, the crimes of 9/11 appear trivial.
"The U.S. government was planning . . . to use the deaths of some three thousands people (whom itself had killed) to justify wars that would most likely kill and maim many hundreds of thousands of people, perhaps millions," Griffin concludes, rather anti-climatically. His solution: a global government to replace nation states. In the interim, he hopes Protestant denominations and the Catholic bishops will investigate how 9/11 was precipitated by "U.S. imperial interests."
On the left, it is common to explain the Bush administration's "imperial" policies as the work of whacky "Left-Behind" evangelicals who supposedly think that the Second Coming will be precipitated by war in the Middle East. But those people on the right, if they actually exist, are almost dull when compared to the nuttiness of Professor Griffin and his colleagues in the curia of old-line Protestantism who agree with his theories.
Mark D. Tooley directs the United Methodist committee at the Institute on Religion and Democracy.