Jesse Ventura should be ashamed of himself and embarrassed.
The former Minnesota governor recently lent his political credentials to the discredited 9/11 “Truther” movement by alleging that the Sept. 11 attacks were either planned or permitted by the United States government.
This recent admission was only a small part of Ventura’s new book, “American Conspiracies: Lies, Lies and More Lies the Government Tells Us,” which echoes a revisionist account of American history that holds the Bush administration responsible for the Sept. 11 attacks by implying that the Bush administration either knew about the attacks, did nothing to stop them or actually participated in them.
During a March 10 interview with Barbara Walters on “The View,” Ventura implied the Bush/Cheney administration used 9/11 as a pretense to start the Iraq War under false pretenses. Ventura apparently developed this theory after former Kennedy/Johnson adviser Robert McNamara visited him at Harvard and allegedly admitted to him that the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which escalated the Vietnam War, never actually happened.
Perhaps what Ventura is missing is that there is probably more incontrovertible evidence and more witnesses who have already established what happened on Sept. 11, 2001 than most major historical events. To dispute the conventional historical account is intellectually dishonest and nonsensical.
I know this because I was working as a journalist for Gannett News at Ground Zero that day, and I remember very clearly what I saw and heard.
Although I arrived at Ground Zero shortly after the Twin Towers fell, I was in the danger zone created by Building 7 from the moment it collapsed in the afternoon, an event that is one of the key cornerstones of the 9/11 conspiracy theory.
Governor Ventura and many 9/11 “Truthers” allege that government explosives caused the afternoon collapse of Building 7. This is false. I know this because I remember watching all 47 stories of Building 7 suddenly and silently crumble before my eyes.
Shortly before the building collapsed, several NYPD officers and Con-Edison workers told me that Larry Silverstein, the property developer of One World Financial Center was on the phone with his insurance carrier to see if they would authorize the controlled demolition of the building – since its foundation was already unstable and expected to fall.
A controlled demolition would have minimized the damage caused by the building’s imminent collapse and potentially save lives. Many law enforcement personnel, firefighters and other journalists were aware of this possible option. There was no secret. There was no conspiracy.
While I was talking with a fellow reporter and several NYPD officers, Building 7 suddenly collapsed, and before it hit the ground, not a single sound emanated from the tower area. There were no explosives; I would have heard them. In fact, I remember that in those few seconds, as the building sank to the ground that I was stunned by how quiet it was.
The myth that Building 7 was blown up by the U.S. government is false – and so is the broader theory that our government was somehow involved in the 9/11 attacks. I know this because I was one of the few reporters who investigated 9/11 conspiracy theories and urban legends on location in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy.
In October 2001, I reported on a story for Gannett newspaper, The Journal News, that the FBI Joint Terrorist Task Force was investigating a Brooklyn high school student for predicting the collapse of the World Trade Center five days before it happened.
To my surprise, the NYC Board of Education confirmed the story on the record and the FBI confirmed there had been rumors circulating in the New York City Arab-American community about a possible attack on Manhattan. My story was immediately confirmed by Newsweek Senior Editor Jonathan Alter, and after I penned a follow up in The Washington Times magazine, “Insight,” I was interviewed by Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly on “The O’Reilly Factor.”
My investigation into 9/11 conspiracy theories and urban legends led me to interview both American and Israeli intelligence officials as well as representatives of the Afghan Northern Alliance, FBI, NYPD and sources within the Muslim community of New York City.
Although I found trace evidence that vague rumors circulated within the Arab-American community that “something was going to happen” in “lower downtown Manhattan” on Sept. 11, I found no evidence of any conspiracy other than the one hatched by Al Qaeda that was later confirmed by the 9/11 Commission.
Since Al Qaeda once operated out of the Alkifah Refugee Center on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn and had many low level operatives working in the NYC area, it did not surprise me that rumors of their plan had leaked within the Arab-American community of New York. Many similar rumors and reports occur frequently, however, and so I have never faulted the Arab-American community or our government for not acting upon them.
In no instance did I ever once talk to one source who even hinted the American government had any foreknowledge or involvement in the Sept. 11 attacks. As an investigative reporter who survived the collapse of Building 7 and doggedly investigated 9/11 conspiracy theories in the wake of the attack, I am convinced the 9/11 “Truther” movement is nothing more than a paranoid, delusional pack of lies.
I was there.
I know what happened, and there is no single credible piece of evidence that implicates the United States of America in the Sept. 11 attacks. Governor Ventura has discredited himself, and dishonored and defamed his country by promoting these intellectually dishonest views. He should be ashamed of himself.
Jeffrey Scott Shapiro is a former Washington, D.C. prosecutor and investigative reporter who covered the Sept. 11 attacks on location. To read his Washington Times/Insight piece, “Stories Prior Knowledge of 9/11 More Than Urban Legend,” click here.
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Jeffrey Scott Shapiro is an investigative journalist who reported his editors at The Globe tabloid to the FBI in 1999.