I have no idea what happened, but I doubt I've been told the full story. Remember, the hawks had been publicly calling for a "new Pearl Harbor" to galvanize public support for an invasion in the Middle East since the mid 1990s.
And on conspiracy theories -- the only way to describe the 9/11 attacks is a conspiracy theory. Steven Jones writes about this well in the Bay Guardian cover story. Here is an excerpt:
The Bush administration offered its conspiracy theory while the buildings were still ablaze, has done little since then to deviate from it – and has done almost nothing to prove its veracity beyond a shadow of a doubt.
It goes like this: Nineteen fanatical Muslims conspired with Osama bin Laden and other al-Qaeda leaders to plan and execute the hijacking of four commercial airplanes using box cutters and the element of surprise, and to fly those planes into the World Trade Center, the Pentagon, and probably the White House.
Three of those planes hit their targets with pinpoint accuracy before the U.S. military could react – two of them causing the most catastrophic structural failures of steel skyscrapers in history – while a passenger rebellion in the fourth airplane forced the hijackers to crash it into a Pennsylvania field. All this was unexpected and couldn't have been prevented. The attacks were an act of war launched by a well-organized and well-funded international terrorist operation.
To believe this theory, you must accept that, despite receiving an unprecedented flurry of intelligence warnings about imminent terrorist attacks on the United States, the military was caught so off guard that it couldn't even pull the commander in chief out of his elementary-school photo op or get fighter jets in place during the 34 minutes between when the second tower and the Pentagon were hit – even though everyone knew that the United States was under attack and that Flight 77 was known to have been hijacked and was being tracked on radar the entire time it barreled toward the nation's military headquarters. (Each of these facts is from the official 9/11 Commission Report.)
And you have to believe that the Bush administration cover-ups that came next – from denying information requests from the commission, Congress, and criminal courts to telling lies about its intelligence and actions – were entirely about avoiding political embarrassment or for some undisclosed national security reason, and that nothing more ominous (or related to the geopolitics of oil) was remotely intertwined with any of this.
You have to believe, in other words, that one of the most secretive and manipulative administrations in U.S. history is telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth about an event it has aggressively exploited to implement long-standing and far-reaching political plans, from the USA PATRIOT Act to the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.
---and my favorite part of the piece, that really ought to give everyone pause---
It's absolutely true, for example, that the government's theory has never been subjected to the usual rigors applied to a case of mass murder. The government has never sought to have any of its evidence heard in a court of law. In fact, its refusal to make relevant witnesses and evidence available has caused the only successful 9/11-related prosecution – a German court's conviction of Mounir el-Motassadeq on charges of helping alleged 9/11 ringleader Mohamed Atta's terrorist cell in Hamburg – to be overturned on appeal last year.
Even Zacarias Moussaoui – an alleged coconspirator who acted suspiciously at flight school and was arrested by Minneapolis FBI agents the month before the attacks (agents who at the time told FBI headquarters they were "trying to keep someone from taking a plane and crashing into the World Trade Center," according to testimony to the 9/11 Commission) – has been ordered released by a judge because the federal government refuses to allow for his fair trial.
Congressional inquiries were obstructed and denied documents and testimony by the White House, yet even with a cursory review of the intelligence documents they could get, the hearings revealed the fact that the Bush administration had received dozens of urgent, credible warnings that the attacks were coming.
(DJW again). Before you react, read the article. One would have to be remarkably incurious to simply accept the government's explanation -- and there's a slight hint of authoritarian behavior by those who react with righteous disdain to people raising questions about the most significant political event of the last few decades.