In his new book, “American Conspiracies: Lies, Lies, and More Dirty Lies That the Government Tells Us,” former Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura begins an investigative journey to prove that there is more to our national history than the government wants us to know. In this excerpt, he writes about an alleged 9/11 cover-up.
Chapter 12: What really happened on September 11?
The incident: On September 11, 2001, four airplanes were hijacked on American soil and crashed into the Twin Towers, the Pentagon, and a field in Pennsylvania.
The official word: The 19 hijackers were all fanatic Muslim terrorists linked to al-Qaeda and its ringleader, Osama bin Laden.
My take: Our government engaged in a massive cover-up of what really happened, including its own ties to the hijackers. Unanswered questions remain about how the towers were brought down, and whether a plane really struck the Pentagon. The Bush Administration either knew about the plan and allowed it to proceed, or they had a hand in it themselves.
I was in my third year as Minnesota’s governor on September 11, 2001. After the devastation of the Pentagon being hit and the Twin Towers falling, I put the National Guard on alert and secured some of our public buildings. The following Sunday morning, we were the first state to hold a memorial for the nearly 3,000 victims. More than 40,000 people showed up on the front lawn of the State Capitol, while a steady rain fell. I’ll never forget Native American shamans beating drums alongside honor guards who represented the police and firefighters and military.
It still chokes me up to think about it. Looking out on hundreds of flags fluttering in the breeze, I remember saying at the end of two hours: “We will promote good against evil. And finally, we will together restore our sense of freedom by conquering this enemy!”
I never wanted to believe anything different than what our government told us about that tragic day. But here is what John Farmer, a Senior Counsel for the 9/11 Commission who drafted the original report, has to say in a new book: “At some level of the government, at some point in time ... there was an agreement not to tell the truth about what happened.”
What more do we need? Are we willing to live with another lie to go with the Warren Report, the Iran-Contra cover-up, and many other “official” stories?
I certainly never expected to think that elements of the Bush Administration were complicit with the enemy. Today, though, I am convinced that some people inside our government knew the attack was going to happen and allowed it to come to pass — because it furthered their political agenda.
I don’t necessarily believe that they orchestrated it themselves, although the door is definitely open to that. I say this after expending many hours researching things about the official story that don’t add up, and interviewing a number of witnesses with firsthand knowledge that contradicts what we were told. As a patriotic American, I say this with a heavy heart — and with an outrage that really knows no words. But it’s something we, as a nation, must come to terms with. Otherwise, it could happen again.
From day one, there was something that puzzled me. You had four airplanes being hijacked on the same morning. Maybe the first one snuck by the radar — but the next three? I’d been inside air traffic control, where you’ve got a dozen people watching every plane in their sector. They know what direction all the aircraft are supposed to be going, and here were four planes going directly opposite of their normal flight path. But we’re supposed to believe that no alarm bells went off anywhere, so no fighter jets got scrambled to intercept the planes. Was everybody asleep at the switch? How could the FAA and our air defenses experience such a miserable failure?
I want to tell you a short story about a guy named Charles Lewis, who my writing colleague Dick Russell interviewed recently in Southern California.
Until two months before September 11, Lewis had worked at LAX as the Quality Control Manager for Kiewit Pacific Construction on its Taxiway “C” project. A large part of his duties involved security in the Airport Operations Area, or AOA. There he got to know employees of various agencies — the LA World Airport Police, the LAPD, California Highway Patrol, the FBI, U.S. Customs, and others.
When the 9/11 attacks occurred, Lewis was a deputy inspector for the city of LA during a seismic retrofit of the LA Hilton Towers Hotel, only a few minutes from the airport by car. After making sure the hotel construction crew went home, Lewis rushed over to LAX’s Guard Post 2, because he was one of very few people who knew how to fix certain parts of the new security systems in case any problems developed.
Lewis estimates he arrived at about 6:35 AM (PT — 9:35 AM Eastern), not long after the second plane struck the World Trade Center. As on other days, there was “chatter” on LAX Security walkie-talkies and he could easily hear what they were saying, sometimes both sides of the conversation.
Lewis remembers: “The first thing I noticed was that the guards — and that day they were the LA World Airport Police and the FBI — were very upset and agitated because apparently no one [from FAA] had notified NORAD [North American Aerospace Defense Command]. They were making calls and demanding to know why not. Eventually word came back that NORAD had indeed been notified, but they had been ordered to stand down. Then LAX Security wanted to know who could have made that order. And word came back that it was from the highest level of the White House. Later on, watching television, I knew the order didn’t come from Bush because he was reading ‘My Pet Goat’ to the school kids in Florida, so the only other person it could be was Dick Cheney.”
It turns out there were some “war games” taking place that morning. September 11 was the second day of Vigilant Guardian, an exercise of the Joint Chiefs and NORAD that simulated planes being hijacked in the Northeastern United States. Another drill, called Northern Vigilance, had shifted some fighter jets to Canada and Alaska to monitor Russian MIGs flying training missions. This one put “phantoms” on military radar screens that would look real to the participants in the exercise. “We fought many phantoms that day,” Richard Myers of the Joint Chiefs later testified to Congress.
But could the attack have been scheduled intentionally to coincide with those war games? If so, this raises a couple of questions. Either there was a major intelligence leak, whereby the terrorists realized the war games would be a good cover for their operation. Or else some people in the administration knew of the attack ahead of time and let it proceed simultaneously, knowing the confusion this would cause.
Between September 2000 and June 2001, on 67 different occasions fighter jets were sent to intercept aircraft that had lost radio contact or their transponder signal or were flying off course, usually within ten minutes of any sign of a problem. (Contrary to what some people think, presidential approval wasn’t needed to intercept or even shoot down an aircraft.) Then, on June 1, 2001, the existing hijacking response procedures were changed to require approval by the secretary of defense before responding to a situation with lethal force. And when the call came into the Pentagon on 9/11, nobody answered the phone!
The stand-down order that Charles Lewis heard about was confirmed by none other than Norman Mineta, transportation secretary at the time. According to the 9/11 Commission, Cheney didn’t arrive underground at the PEOC (Presidential Emergency Operations Center) until almost 10 AM. Mineta, however, said the Vice President was already down there when he arrived at about 9:20 AM. Richard Clarke and Cheney’s photographer indicated the same thing. That was before the Pentagon had been hit, and Mineta recalled a young man coming into the PEOC three times to tell Cheney how far out the plane was from Washington. After the third report, according to Mineta, the young fellow asked, “Do the orders still stand?” and Cheney responded, “Of course the orders still stand. Have you heard anything to the contrary?” The 9/11 Commission chose to ignore Mineta’s testimony and went so far as to remove it from the video archive.
Instead, they had Cheney ordering, almost 45 minutes later than Mineta said, the inbound aircraft be shot down. Except, by then, all four planes had already gone down. That was cover-up number one by the 9/11 Commission. Now let’s look at whether it was actually those two planes that were responsible for the falling towers. I was amazed, watching the 2007 version of the documentary Loose Change (which I urge everyone to see), at the many firefighters and other eyewitnesses who talked about a whole series of explosions before and during the collapse of the buildings. All of this was reported on the news at the time. Before the South Tower collapsed, video footage clearly shows sizable amounts of white smoke starting to pour out of the base. There was described a “giant rolling ball of flame” that came up from street level; an elevator that exploded on the 65th floor as someone stood beside it; a woman on the 49th floor seeing people with burns and broken arms in the stairwells. “For every window in the lobby to be exploding ... it wasn’t from the jet fuel, no way,” according to one of the witnesses. And a whole lot more that did not jive with any plane striking the building. Barry Jennings, the city’s emergency coordinator, was at the scene before and after the building collapses. Jennings puts it out there plainly: “I know what I heard. I heard explosions.”
For my TV show, I interviewed a witness named William Rodriguez, a janitor who happened to have a master key and rescued many people and got honored at the White House as a national hero. He says that shortly before American Airlines Flight 11 struck the North Tower at 8:46 AM, an explosion simultaneously rocked the building so hard “it pushed us up.” Rodriguez later testified behind closed doors to the 9/11 Commission, but his name was never mentioned in the report. Rodriguez also gave the commission and the FBI a list of fourteen people who’d been with him, but not a single one was ever contacted. He produced his boss for us, who looked me right in the eye and in essence told me the same story. What’s happened to Rodriguez today? He’s on the no-fly list. A guy who went back in to save people, with no regard for his own life! When he goes somewhere, he’s pulled out of the line, interrogated, harassed. All because, I guess, he didn’t give the “proper testimony” they wanted.
Some people have argued that the twin towers went down, within a half hour of one another, because of the way they were constructed. Well, those 425,000 cubic yards of concrete and 200,000 tons of steel were designed to hold up against a Boeing 707, the largest plane built at the time the towers were completed in 1973. Analysis had shown that a 707 traveling at 600 miles an hour (and those had four engines) would not cause major damage. The twin-engine Boeing 757s that hit on 9/11 were going 440 and 550 miles an hour.
Still, we are told that a molten, highly intense fuel mixture from the planes brought down these two steel-framed skyscrapers. Keep in mind that no other such skyscraper in history had ever been known to collapse completely due to fire damage. So could it actually have been the result of a controlled demolition from inside the buildings? I don’t claim expertise about this, but I did work four years as part of the navy’s underwater demolition teams, where we were trained to blow things to hell and high water. And my staff talked at some length with a prominent physicist, Steven E. Jones, who says that a “gravity driven collapse” without demolition charges defies the laws of physics. These buildings fell, at nearly the rate of free-fall, straight down into their own footprint, in approximately ten seconds. An object dropped from the roof of the 110-story-tall towers would reach the ground in about 9.2 seconds. Then there’s the fact that steel beams that weighed as much as 200,000 pounds got tossed laterally as far as 500 feet.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) started its investigation on August 21, 2002. When their 10,000-page-long report came out three years later, the spokesman said there was no evidence to suggest a controlled demolition. But Steven E. Jones also says that molten metal found underground weeks later is proof that jet fuel couldn’t have been all that was responsible. I visited the site about three weeks after 9/11, with Governor Pataki and my wife, Terry. It didn’t mean anything to me at the time, but they had to suspend digging that day because they were running into heat pockets of huge temperatures. These fires kept burning for more than three months, the longest-burning structure blaze ever. And this was all due to jet fuel? We’re talking molten metal more than 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit.
Probably the most conclusive evidence about a controlled demolition is a research paper (two years, nine authors) published in the peer-reviewed Open Chemical Physics Journal, in April 2009. In studying dust samples from the site, these scientists found chips of nano-thermite, which is a high-tech incendiary/explosive. Here’s what the paper’s lead author, Dr. Niels Harrit of the University of Copenhagen’s chemistry department, had to say about the explosive that he’s convinced brought down the Twin Towers and the nearby Building 7:
“Thermite itself dates back to 1893. It is a mixture of aluminum and rust-powder, which react to create intense heat. The reaction produces iron, heated to 2500 degrees Centigrade. This can be used to do welding.
It can also be used to melt other iron. So in nano-thermite, this powder from 1893 is reduced to tiny particles, perfectly mixed. When these react, the intense heat develops much more quickly. Nano-thermite can be mixed with additives to give off intense heat, or serve as a very effective explosive. It contains more energy than dynamite, and can be used as rocket fuel.”
Richard Gage is one of hundreds of credentialed architects and structural engineers who have put their careers on the line to point out the detailed anomalies and many implications of controlled demolition in the building collapses. As he puts it bluntly: “Once you get to the science, it’s indisputable.”
So what happened to the steel debris from the World Trade Center that might have backed this up? Well, for the most part it was shipped overseas. The removal by four companies contracted by the city was carefully controlled and monitored. The building assessment performance team wasn’t allowed to take samples. One firefighter I spoke with, who got dug out of the rubble on 9/11, said: “The one thing that always troubled me is, why were they in such a hurry to remove all the evidence? Why did they take away everything from the site as fast and expediently as possible?”
I tried to talk to someone from the 9/11 Commission, but got turned down multiple times. They simply said, we stand by our report. I also tried to speak with Mayor Giuliani, but he refused also. We recently learned, through the D.A. of Manhattan’s testimony in a court case, that the city of New York did nothing to investigate 9/11. That tells me Giuliani was nothing but a straw man. Why is he paraded around as this big hero when he really had nothing to do with it, other than be a figurehead?
Excerpted from “American Conspiracies” by Jesse Ventura. Copyright (c) 2010, reprinted with permission from Skyhorse Publishing.