Friday, February 03, 2006

Questions remain from 9/11 report, professor says

A BYU physics professor speaking on Wednesday night implied a government cover-up of what really happened on Sept. 11, 2001, and cast doubt on the blame placed on Osama bin Laden.

Professor Steven E. Jones suggested before the attacks the Bush administration was seeking a way to increase military spending and invade Iraq. The ensuing attacks on Iraq and Afghanistan have created most of Muslims' disdain for America, he said.

He spoke at Utah Valley State College to a packed lecture room, and by video to adjacent overflow rooms, sponsored by the Center for the Study of Ethics.

Center director David Keller said, "The collapse of the World Trade Center buildings illustrates a strange convergence of physics, engineering, ethics and politics."

Jones is a member of Scholars for 9/11 Truth, a group of academics who dispute the government's account of 9/11, and has contributed to a yet-unpublished book about the issue.

Although official government explanations of why Building Seven fell seven hours after the second tower fell cite fire that melted the steel, Jones said the fire was not hot enough. The way the building fell also was not compatible with the theory, he said, and is more telling of an explosion.

"It's looking impossible to me as I look at these calculations that the official explanation could be correct. It violates the laws of physics," he said.

Instead, he said he suspects a thermite detonation from inside the building, possibly in the elevator shafts. But Jones said the steel is being disassembled and sent to Asia for recycling. While "pathological science," or destroying evidence that does not support a theory, is an offense on its own, "In this case we can call it unethical because it was a crime scene," he said.

A video tape purported to show bin Laden confessing to masterminding the attacks was a fake, Jones said, and other tapes in which bin Laden denied involvement were more likely authentic.

"They have this 'smoking gun confession tape,' but it's not him," he said.

Jones asked why fighter jets did not intercept the planes that hit the World Trade Center and Pentagon.

"Where were our defenses that day? This concerns me deeply," he said.

He was suspicious about why there was no paper trail showing how the attacks were planned, and asked why the government had not acknowledged finding three of four black boxes from the hijacked airplanes.

There is evidence the government had previous knowledge of the attacks, he said, citing changes in government employee travel plans because of security concerns.

After the second tower was hit, President George Bush sat for about 20 minutes in the classroom where he was reading to children after hearing about the attacks.

Jones asked where Bush's security officers were. "This is puzzling and disturbing in the sense it's not explained. I don't see how it can be explained unless they knew beforehand."

He also complained of more recent infractions of the Bush administration.

"We need to get back to the Constitution in law. No one should break the law with impunity," Jones said.

He cited Bush's authorization of warrantless wiretapping by the National Security Agency.

"I'm wondering, 'Why not do it legally?' The law allows this. Who's being spied on?" Jones asked. He also was troubled by the U.S. torture policy and widening executive powers, and set his sites on the dangers of pre-emptive wars.

"I think we need to question wars of aggression. I have noticed there's a sword rattling relative to Iran lately," Jones said.

After a standing ovation, Jones took questions from the audience. Jerry Owens of Midway, who heads a group called 9/11 Truth Seekers, called Jones a true American hero.

"He's putting his life on the line," Owens said. "It's time for all of us to be patriots. We have to put our lives on the line, and now is the time."

The group is circulating a petition for a 9/11 investigation headed by a citizens committee, Owens said. "This is the smoking gun where we can prove what our government's doing."

Chris Newman, a sophomore multimedia communications major at UVSC who signed the petition, is making a documentary about a possible 9/11 conspiracy.

"I used to be a hard-core Republican, pro-Bush and everything," he said. "I'm independent now. I have some major doubts about the Bush administration. Hopefully the truth will come out."

Anna Chang-Yen can be reached at 344-2549 or annac@heraldextra.com.

This story appeared in The Daily Herald on page A1.

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