Cockburn "rubbishes," in Sharp's words, the conspiracy theories based on circular reasoning, torturing the evidence and ignoring the lessons of history and human nature.
Did the British and French forces in 1940 break and flee a Wehrmacht capable of only one lunge, because of rotten leadership, terrible planning, epic cowardice, or … CONSPIRACY? Did the April 24, 1980 effort to rescue the hostages in the US embassy in Teheran fail because a sandstorm disabled three of the eight helicopters, because the helicopters were poorly made, because of a lousy plan or because of agents of William Casey and the Republican National Committee poured sugar into their gas tanks in yet another CONSPIRACY?While dismissing the exotic conspiracy theories, Cockburn favors a different kind of conspiracy -- the everyday conspiracy of corruption, cronyism and business as usual -- which proved to have such disastrous results on 9/11. These are the "guilty parties" Cockburn thinks the exotic conspiracy theorists let off the hook.
Have the US military’s varying attempts to explain why F-15s didn’t intercept and shoot down the hijacked planes stemmed from absolutely predictable attempts to cover up the usual screw-ups, or because of CONSPIRACY? Is Mr Cohen in his little store at the end of the block hiking his prices because he wants to make a buck, or because his rent just went up or because the Jews want to take over the world? August Bebel said anti-Semitism is the socialism of the fools. These days the 9/11 conspiracy fever threatens to become the “socialism” of the left, and the passe-partout of many libertarians.
Of course the buildings didn’t suddenly fall at a speed inexplicable in terms of physics unless caused by carefully pre-placed explosives, detonated by the ruthless Bush-Cheney operatives. High grade steel can bend disastrously under extreme heat. People inside who survived the collapse didn’t hear a series of explosions. As discussed in Wayne Barrett and Dan Collin’s excellent book Grand Illusion, about Rudy Giuliani and 9/11, helicopter pilots radioed warnings nine minutes before the final collapse that the South Tower might well go down and, repeatedly, as much as 25 minutes before the North Tower’s fall.Are there real conspiracies? Sure. But the ones that actually work are usually not all that complicated and certainly don't involve a cast of thousands. As Cockburn suggests, dwelling on complex conspiracies supposedly orchestrated by all-powerful villains is just a distraction that gets in the way of assigning real-world culpability to actual people.
What Barrett and Collins brilliantly show are the actual corrupt conspiracies on Giuliani’s watch: the favoritism to Motorola which saddled the firemen with radios that didn’t work; the ability of the Port Authority to skimp on fire protection, the mayor’s catastrophic failure in the years before 9/11/2001 to organize an effective unified emergency command that would have meant that cops and firemen could have communicated; that many firemen wouldn’t have unnecessarily entered the Towers; that people in the Towers wouldn’t have been told by 911 emergency operators to stay in place; and that firemen could have heard the helicopter warnings and the final Mayday messages that prompted most of the NYPD men to flee the Towers.
That’s the real political world, in which Giuliani and others have never been held accountable. The nuts disdain the real world because, like much of the left and liberal sectors, they have promoted Bush, Cheney and the Neo-Cons to an elevated status as the Arch Demons of American history, instead of being just one more team running the American empire, a team of more than usual stupidity and incompetence (characteristics I personally favor in imperial leaders.)