What makes a conspiracy theory? Read some 9/11-related articles and sites, you might think it's a list of what are claimed to be anomalies in the official account of what happened, but that doesn't seem enough to us.
After all, if you're building conspiracy theories by raising individual questions alone then you can "prove" just about anything you like. All it takes is a little selective research, emphasising the points you make, ignoring anything to the contrary, and you're done. Want to prove that the Irish were involved in 9/11, for instance? Let's see if that's possible. And keep in mind that, although we're using real news reports, this theory is just fiction. We just want to see what you can create from nothing.
We might start with reports from the day, and the numbers of phone calls the Irish Government received from worried relatives.
The Irish Ministry of Foreign Affairs says it has received between 2,500 and 3,000 calls to its dedicated phone lines and has set up a database of those unaccounted for.
And yet, if we look online we find only Irish citizen died ( http://www.september11victims.com/september11victims/COUNTRY_CITIZENSHIP.htm ). Only one? In New York? That's surely suspicious. Why did so many Irishman not turn up for work on 9/11? Who could have told them?
Maybe it was the NYPD, or someone in the Fire Department. After all, there's no shortage of Irish families there. Or as this article put it:
The FDNY, thus, remains a “family business.” It just so happens that many of those families were — and are — Irish.
That’s just circumstantial, but we have much more, including Irishmen reported suspiciously close to the scene:
FOUR Irish construction workers, feared dead by their families in the World Trade Center attack, turned up alive, although seriously injured, under different names in a Manhattan hospital.
The four, all natives of Co Cavan in Ireland, were among the first evacuated from the World Trade Center where they had been working under assumed names...
The Sinn Fein MP who was asked by the families to intervene, confirmed to the Irish Voice on Tuesday that the men had been found.
Earlier this week he had called on the INS to issue a statement that they would not prosecute any undocumented who were caught up in the blast.
The INS subsequently did so, and the story of the men began to emerge. Because the men are undocumented and also worked under false names, they greatly feared INS prosecution.
There have been persistent reports in the Irish community about the men since the World Trade Center blasts, though none substantiated until now.
As the Irish Voice reported last week, another undocumented Irish worker using false identification who narrowly escaped with his life stated that he saw many other Irish undocumented construction workers going up to a higher floor on the morning that the blasts occurred.
While stressing that they may have all come down safely, he says he has no information on their whereabouts.
Meanwhile, fears of INS consequences for illegals have been abated with a statement from INS commissioner James Ziglar.
According to Ziglar, any employer who lost illegally employed workers in the World Trade Center will not suffer government prosecution, nor will the workers themselves.
“Construction workers” in the WTC? That’s a very convenient cover for planting explosives, and the fact that they were working under assumed names is very suspect. We have more “Irish undocumented construction workers going up to a higher floor" on 9/11, and note the Freudian slip, "on the morning that the blasts occurred". Were these Irishmen actually part of the demolition team, making final preparations for the "blasts" that would bring down the towers?
(And let’s be honest here. We’re building an artificial conspiracy theory, but if that article referred to Israelis rather than Irishmen, then it would be commonly used on 9/11 sites. No question.)
Of course these men on their own couldn't have been responsible for the whole thing. But let's look at their connections for a moment. Note that they spoke first of all to a Sinn Fein member of Parliament: do you recall why Sinn Fein were in the news, just weeks before September 11?
...the news that three well-known members of the Provisional IRA were being held in custody after apparently taking part in a five-week summer training camp with a Colombian terrorist group had thrown another spoke in the wheels of the peace process.
Exactly what the IRA men were up to in the malaria-ridden jungles of South America remains a mystery. But one thing is for certain, nobody believes they were merely engaged in "sightseeing", as they have told prosecutors...
Sinn Fein has been trying to distance itself from the three men, but the crampons the party hierarchy attached to the moral high ground after Unionists rejected the IRA's moves on decommissioning have begun to slip.
It seems these IRA men were accused of working with "the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), a well-armed... guerrilla group funded by drug money". So what? Well, FARC have interesting connections of their own.
One point in the original proffer made the case for links between FARC and al Qaida, including the presence of FARC personnel in Afghanistan as part of a close relationship between the two groups. "It is believed that FARC terrorists have received training in Al Qaida terrorist caps in Afghanistan," Beers says in the original document.
So could FARC's admitted "close relationship" with al Qaida have aided the Irish masterminds of this plot in setting up their patsies? Perhaps there was a Columbian motive in gaining a share of the distribution end of the lucrative opium market, which could restart once the Taliban had been overthrown.
Was there American involvement in the plot, though? Maybe so. Consider the article earlier: the “undocumented” workers at the WTC, potentially important witnesses. Were they questioned to find out what they were doing? No, the INS simply agreed to let them go, and they were flown out of the country in a hurry. Don’t you find that strange?
And then there’s Richard Haas, US special envoy from President Bush himself. Where do you think he was on September 11 2001? Why, in Dublin -- what a coincidence... And not one you’ll find mentioned in the 9/11 Commission Report.
Richard Haass, then a United States special envoy, was in Dublin for a meeting with Bertie Ahern, then Taoiseach (Irish Prime Minister), when news of the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington were passed to the two men. Richard Haass decided to continue with his meetings in Dublin and then to travel to Belfast for pre-arranged meetings with political leaders in Northern Ireland.
Haas would surely have met Richard Egan, the US Ambassador to Dublin, while he was there. And look who Egan was photographed meeting, only a month later:
Ambassador Richard Egan was photographed meeting Joe Cahill, the former head of the IRA's financial network...
The same article tells us that "Egan is a former businessman from Massachusetts who was the founder and CEO of EMC, a computer data storage company". EMC? Look into them and you'll find they're a big player in the IT world, who work with Government agencies and have done very well since 9/11, according to this "Homeland Security and National Defense" section in Fortune magazine:
Automated networked storage solutions from EMC are currently being utilized by many federal and regional government agencies, as well as by leading corporations around the world. Higgins noted that, since 9/11, corporations have focused on the need to implement systems...
Are we supposed to believe this is all just a coincidence?
Simple answer: yes. It's nonsense. We've used real stories but quoted selectively (there’s no link between FARC and al Qaeda, for instance), and created fictional connections. It's not bad for 30 minutes work, though, and imagine what you might discover if we set thousands of people looking through books, newspapers and the web. How many Irish connections might we find? How many September 11 stories can be portrayed in a way to suit our needs? How many "unanswered questions about Ireland and 9/11" could we find? And if we managed to discover 50 or 100, do you have any doubt that some people would start to wonder if there "might be something in it", even though we knew we were just building a fiction?
Now obviously none of this means that some individual points of a conspiracy theory aren't worth investigating. 9/11 issues such as whether the towers fell "too fast", or "NORAD war games interfered with the FAA response" are relevant questions that deserve fair consideration. Nor are we saying that people raising these issues are actively making things up.
On the other hand, a conspiracy theory can't rely on the number of "anomalies" alone. Because as we've seen, you can find issues, and questions, and coincidences anywhere, if you look for long enough and aren’t interested in contrary information. A true theory is something more, something that links all these points together in a coherent whole, and, crucially, makes more sense than the alternative explanations.
In 9/11 terms, for instance, that doesn't just mean saying "I don’t think there’s enough wreckage at the Pentagon for a plane, it was probably a missile instead". It also involves finding a plausible reason why you would use anything other than Flight 77, and risk the whole conspiracy if you were discovered.
And it doesn't just mean saying "thermite in the basement would explain the reports of molten steel". It also means explaining why thermite is required at all, calculating how much you'd need to keep burning and produce molten steel for weeks, and why the conspirators would have used so much more than necessary.
A true theory means no longer just picking at one account, then, but having the courage to produce your own complete version, and explaining why it's better. It's hard work, it may mean you have to accept some of your treasured beliefs aren't actually anomalies at all, but ultimately it's the only way non-believers in the rest of the world will ever be persuaded to take you seriously.