Ten Years Later: The September 11 Attacks
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Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice

The Scholars for 9/11 Truth and the splinter group Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice are organizations of academics and professionals who question the U.S. government's account of the events surrounding September 11, 2001. James H. Fetzer, a retired professor of philosophy from the University of Minnesota at Duluth, and Steven E. Jones, a retired professor of physics from Brigham Young University, founded the Scholars for 9/11 Truth on December 15, 2005. Jones left the group in December 2006 over ideological differences with Fetzer, founding Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice in January 2007. The original size of the Scholars for 9/11 Truth was around 300 members, of which 76 were academics, 69 of them in the humanities and social sciences, and 4 were physicists and 3 engineers. Critics have questioned the academic credentials of some of the members. Today, the Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice number some 700, while the membership of the original Scholars for 9/11 Truth has dwindled somewhat because of the group's more radical views.

Although members of both groups hold various viewpoints, most members subscribe to the thesis that a coterie within the U.S. government planned and executed the attacks on September 11, 2001. They point out inconsistencies in the government's treatment of the event. The most common belief is that the collapse of the World Trade Center complex is inconsistent with scientific facts unless controlled explosives were used. Many theorists propose thermal bombs were planted in the buildings. Witness accounts and the conclusion of such experts as firefighter Ray Downey are discounted. Downey was an expert on building collapses, and he predicted the collapse of the Twin Towers at the site shortly before losing his life there.

Jones was perhaps the most vocal of the group's members. His argument was that the World Trade Center complex was destroyed by controlled demolitions on September 11. He stated that the physics did not work out and that the buildings could not collapse the way they did unless bombs were used. His controversial remarks and his activities as one of the founders and the cochair of the Scholars for 9/11 Truth led Brigham Young University to place him on paid leave. He retired from the university on October 20, 2006.

Divergent views soon created discord among the original members of the Scholars for 9/11 Truth. Several more radical members left the group because of the leadership's refusal to accept their arguments that no aircraft hit the World Trade Center complex. Even pictures showing the two aircraft hitting first the North Tower and then the South Tower combined with numerous eyewitness testimonies were not enough for them. Jones began having doubts about Fetzer's claim about the U.S. government's possible use of mini–nuclear weapons, or high-energy weapons, against the World Trade Center. He argued that Fetzer's ideas were merely wild speculation and that the organization should rely on scientific research in evaluating alternative theories of 9/11. Fetzer, on the other hand, was more willing to explore all possibilities. This ideological schism led Jones to resign from the Scholars for 9/11 Truth on December 5, 2006. Shortly afterward, he started the Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice.

These two organizations now compete for the same audience. Despite their differences, both organizations remain high-profile adherents to the idea of U.S. government misconduct on September 11. Members of the Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice have published articles on their theories in a number of scientific and engineering journals, including The Open Civil Engineering Journal in April 2008, The Environmentalist in July 2008, The Journal of Engineering Mechanics in October 2008, and The Open Chemical Physics Journal in April 2009. Despite such articles, the problem for both groups is that recognized professionals in the scientific world have largely rejected their claims.

Stephen E. Atkins


Further Reading
Cline, Andrew. "A Conspiracy against Us All." National Review, September 11, 2006, 1; Curiel, Jonathan. "The Conspiracy to Rewrite 9/11; Conspiracy Theorists Insist the U.S. Government, Not Terrorists, Staged the Devastating Attacks." San Francisto Chronicle, September 3, 2006, E1; Gravois, John. "A Theory That Just Won't Die: Across America, a Small but Fanatical Cadre of Conspiracy-Minded Academics Believe the U.S. Government Engineered 9/11." National Post [Canada], July 28, 2006, A14; Von Steinberg, Bob. "Some Look Back to 9/11 and See a U.S. Conspiracy." Star Tribune [Minneapolis], September 6, 2006, 1A.
 

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