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Arizona Republic publishes puff piece on Chandler 9/11 Conference

by Stephen Lemons

Fol­low­ing the East Val­ley Tri­bune’s ver­bal BJ of the 9/11 Account­abil­i­ty Con­fer­ence tak­ing place in Chan­dler this week­end, the Ari­zona Repug­nant ran a total­ly uncrit­i­cal puff piece on the con­fab in today’s paper by reporter Luci Scott. Unlike the Trib piece, it was buried on B6 of the Val­ley and State sec­tion; but like the Trib piece, it report­ed on this crack­pot sym­po­sium as if it were as benign as a Star Trek con­ven­tion. Not only did Scott ignore the con­tro­ver­sy over Holo­caust denier Eric Williams head­ing the con­fer­ence up until the begin­ning of Feb­ru­ary, she employed full creduli­ty in han­dling wacko state­ments by the par­tic­i­pants and orga­niz­ers. Take this bit of fan­ta­sy from moon-howler Jim Marrs, one of the speak­ers who will be present:

“No one has offered up any proof of who these hijack­ers actu­al­ly were,” [Marrs] said. “Accord­ing to the Euro­pean media, half (of the alleged hijack­ers) are still alive in the Mid­dle East, mean­ing their iden­ti­ties were stolen.”

Marrs’ untruth has its ori­gins in a much-cit­ed arti­cle in the BBC news online from Sep­tem­ber 2001, which dis­cussed the then con­fu­sion swirling around the hijack­ers’ iden­ti­ties. The BBC lat­er cor­rect­ed any con­fu­sion over the mat­ter, but con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists have latched onto such reports — reports often due to sim­i­lar­i­ties in names. The tale has mutat­ed like an online game of “tele­phone” to become the Marrs fic­tion that “half (of the alleged hijack­ers) are still alive in the Mid­dle East.”

Aware that con­spir­a­cy the­o­rists were exploit­ing the BBC’s orig­i­nal report, BBC edi­tor Steve Her­rmann made a post about it this past Octo­ber on his “Edi­tors” blog, seek­ing to straight­en out any con­fu­sion:

A five-year-old sto­ry from our archive has been the sub­ject of some recent edi­to­r­i­al dis­cus­sion here. The sto­ry, writ­ten in the imme­di­ate after­math of the 9/11 attacks, was about con­fu­sion at the time sur­round­ing the names and iden­ti­ties of some of the hijack­ers. This con­fu­sion was wide­ly report­ed and was also acknowl­edged by the FBI. The sto­ry has been cit­ed ever since by some as evi­dence that the 9/11 attacks were part of a US gov­ern­ment con­spir­a­cy.

We lat­er report­ed on the list of hijack­ers, there­by super­sed­ing the ear­li­er report. In the inter­ven­ing years we have also report­ed in detail on the inves­ti­ga­tion into the attacks, the 9/11 com­mis­sion and its report.

We’ve car­ried the full report, exec­u­tive sum­ma­ry and main find­ings and, as part of the recent fifth anniver­sary cov­er­age, a detailed guide to what’s known about what hap­pened on the day. But con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries have per­sist­ed. The con­fu­sion over names and iden­ti­ties we report­ed back in 2001 may have arisen because these were com­mon Ara­bic and Islam­ic names.

In an effort to make this clear­er, we have made one small change to the orig­i­nal sto­ry. Under the FBI pic­ture of Waleed al Shehri we have added the words “A man called Waleed Al Shehri…” to make it as clear as pos­si­ble that there was con­fu­sion over the iden­ti­ty. The rest of the sto­ry remains as it was in the archive as a record of the sit­u­a­tion at the time.

We recent­ly asked the FBI for a state­ment, and this is, as things stand, the clos­est thing we have to a defin­i­tive view: The FBI is con­fi­dent that it has pos­i­tive­ly iden­ti­fied the nine­teen hijack­ers respon­si­ble for the 9/11 ter­ror­ist attacks. Also, the 9/11 inves­ti­ga­tion was thor­ough­ly reviewed by the Nation­al Com­mis­sion on Ter­ror­ist Attacks Upon the Unit­ed States and the House and Sen­ate Joint Inquiry. Nei­ther of these reviews ever raised the issue of doubt about the iden­ti­ty of the nine­teen hijack­ers.

If Scott or any of her edi­tors at the Repug­nant had both­ered to use the Google search engine on their ‘put­ers, they might have dis­cov­ered infor­ma­tion on the conference’s anti-Semit­ic ties, the con­tro­ver­sy over Eric Williams being involved, and the ori­gins of some of the fables being ped­dled by the 9/11 con­spir­a­cy crowd. But both Scott and her edi­tors are LAZY JOURNALISTS! I called Scott, and all she could muster in response was “I don’t like to com­ment on my work.” Don’t like to com­ment? What sort of pathet­ic excuse for a reporter are you? How can you be a mem­ber of the fourth estate and not be pre­pared to defend your report­ing, or lack there­of? What a joke.


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