The 9/11 Conspiracy: Was the U.S. Government Behind It?
A 9/11 Timeline
At 8:46 a.m., Flight 11 crashed into the north facade of the World Trade Center's Tower One. Many assumed the collision was the result of pilot or mechanical error. It was not until Flight 175 slammed into Tower Two, 17 minutes later, that many Americans’ worst fears were realized—that this was a coordinated attack on America and her people.
But the assault was not yet finished. At 9:37 a.m., Flight 77 ploughed into the western side of the Pentagon and, at 10:03 a.m., Flight 93 came down in a field near Shanksville, PA, after its passengers stormed the cockpit. Its unreached target was thought to be either the Capitol Building or the White House in Washington, D.C.
After burning for 56 minutes, Tower Two collapsed at 9:59 a.m. Tower One fell shortly thereafter at 10:28 a.m. World Trade Center Building Seven (7 WTC), though not struck by the planes, had caught fire and toppled completely by 5:21 p.m. The thick plume of black smoke that billowed to the south and east over Brooklyn and moved out across the Atlantic Ocean was visible from space. The flames at the Pentagon were not contained until 6 p.m. the following day.
Nearly 3,000 people died that day—aboard the planes, in the towers, on the streets below and inside the Pentagon. It was the deadliest terrorist attack in American history.
Reactions to this massacre were swift. All commercial flights in the U.S. were grounded for three days. Fighter jets patrolled Manhattan. Wall Street stock exchanges were closed for six days, an unheard-of suspension for the lifeblood of American finances. All the while, Ground Zero smoldered as rescue workers and volunteers frantically combed through the wreckage in a search for survivors that, tragically, would be almost completely for naught.
But while the United States grieved, the world rallied around it in an unprecedented show of solidarity. French newspaper Le Monde declared, “We Are All Americans Now.” Ireland held a national day of mourning, while Canada's flags flew at half-mast for a month in commiseration. Even foes of the U.S.—including North Korea, Cuba, Libya and Iran—denounced the attacks, and the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution declaring that the United States had a right to defend itself. The world at large seemed to be standing squarely with America.
President George W. Bush's approval ratings soared to 86 percent in the days after September 11, and American flags began appearing on bumpers, porches, windows and lapels. As the US attempted to rally, on October 24, Congress passed the U.S.A. Patriot Act, aimed at rooting out terrorists at home and abroad. It greatly expanded the power and purview of American intelligence and law-enforcement agencies. Due to the actions of 19 terrorists on an early September morning, the world had changed forever.
Questions Still Remain
Nearly a decade has passed. The Pentagon has been repaired. Construction of a new World Trade Center Freedom Tower has begun. But we are still living with the repercussions of September 11. Children who were in elementary school that day are now fighting in one of the two wars spawned by the attacks. The Patriot Act, passed in the fervor of the moment, still gives the government the right to listen to our conversations without a warrant, and to delve into our financial and medical records with little oversight. The power of the federal government has grown exponentially.
Yet while the aftershocks linger, many questions about the events of 9/11 remain, questions that the government either cannot or will not answer. This lack of transparency has led to suspicions, with more than a third of Americans believing the government was either complicit in the attacks or knew about them beforehand and refused to act.