As the fifth anniversary of 9/11 draws near, recent polls indicate that a growing number of Americans believe they have not been told the full truth behind the events of that terrible day. In other words, more and more people are coming around to the conclusion Canadian journalist and media critic Barrie Zwicker reached within hours of the collapse of the World Trade Center: that forces within the United States government manufactured the attacks as a means of justifying war plans abroad and instituting draconian domestic policies at home.

Outrageous? Possibly. But Zwicker is not a lone conspiracy theorist shouting rhetoric from a street corner. He is part of a widening group of well-educated individuals, collectively known as the 9/11 Truth Movement, who, through exhaustive independent research, have determined that the official story of what happened on Sept. 11 is more far-fetched than any of the so-called “alternative versions.”

Zwicker is the author of the recently published Towers of Deception: The Media Cover-up of 9/11. He responded to questions from the Reporter via e-mail while on a book signing tour, which comes to the E.P. Foster Library in Ventura on Sept. 6.

Ventura County Reporter: What, in essence, is "the truth" behind the events of Sept. 11, 2001, as you see it?

Barrie Zwicker: Any fair-minded person who puts aside politics, ideology, fear and presuppositions, who simply examines the evidence dispassionately, cannot escape the conclusion that the White House engineered 9/11 by neutralizing the [United States Air Force] and bringing down the WTC towers (and WTC 7) through controlled demolition made to look like collapse from aircraft hits and fire (except that the sudden collapse of WTC 7 at 5:20 pm on 9/11 took place without the building having been hit by an aircraft or even been seriously damaged by the events of earlier that day, and only two small fires were seen in the building).

Were you immediately suspicious of the media’s portrayal of the tragedy or did your doubts develop in the aftermath of that day?

With me, it was immediate. I have had a lifelong interest in aviation. On the morning of 9/11 I was jumping up and down in front of my TV set cheering the USAF into action. "C’mon," I shouted, "let’s get going." Passenger aircraft were loose all over hell’s half acre, heading for Washington, D.C., and goodness knows where. I knew jet interceptors are scrambled in minutes. After about an hour, the penny dropped. "This is impossible," I said. "This is a Reichstag fire 2001."

You call 9/11 a “false flag operation.” What does that mean?

The definition I use in my book is that it is an event, usually shocking and often involving considerable loss of life, staged by a government to make it look as if the nation involved is being attacked by a chosen enemy.

President Bush is known for making a lot of decisions without consideration for any kind of mandate from the public. If he wanted to invade Iraq and Afghanistan, couldn’t and wouldn’t he have done so without manufacturing an event the size of 9/11?

It’s much harder, especially when you suffer low popularity and trust to begin with, to simply talk a nation into war than to have a massive emotion-packed false flag op to drive public opinion. A small event would not have sufficed to accomplish the multiple aims of the neo-cons: massive resource theft, several dirty expensive wars, ballooning billions to the arms and surveillance industries, reduction of civil liberties. The neo-cons had to produce, as the [Project for a New American Century] document, \"Rebuilding America’s Defenses,\" of September 2002 put it, a \"catastrophic and catalyzing event\" on the scale of a new Pearl Harbor. We’re talking changing history here; a few lies by a known liar just aren’t going to cut it.

What is your opinion of some of the more fantastic theories that have been put forth regarding 9/11 (i.e., that a missile hit the Pentagon, that the planes that hit the WTC buildings were unmanned drones, etc.)? Do they help or hurt people like yourself, who take a more journalistic approach?

No theory is fantastic if it squares with the available evidence. Theorizing is a logical and necessary process for discovering truth. Most people who reject conspiracy theories believe the most fantastic one of all: the official 9/11 story of hard-drinking Muslim terrorists, terrorists who could not rent a Cessna but piloted giant airliners with pinpoint accuracy, whose passports were found intact in burning rubble, etc. — in other words, a conspiracy theory with no evidence to support it. Remember the line from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Sign of Four: \"Whenever you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.\"

In your book, you criticize \"leftist gatekeepers\" such as Noam Chomsky as much as the neo-cons. What role are they playing in the alleged 9/11 cover-up?

I agree with progressive filmmaker Roy Harvey of Snowshoe Films that \"The greatest single obstacle to the spread of 9/11 truth is the left media.\" In Chapter 5 of my book I provide 15,000 words of evidence (plus two pages of footnotes) showing left media have proved to be de facto censors of 9/11 truth as much as the mainstream corporate media. They have thereby prevented many thinking, concerned citizens from taking earlier and/or effective action to expose the Achilles heel of 9/11. You’d expect this of the corporate mainstream, not of the alternative left. The implications are very dark. We need to face them.

According to recent polls, more and more people seem to be coming around to the idea that we’re not being told the whole truth about what happened on Sept. 11. To what do you attribute that growing opinion?

To the 9/11 Truth Movement, in the main. But the movement is planting its seeds in an ever more fertile soil: growing public discontent over such facts as the lying about WMDs in Iraq, the obscene tax breaks given to the already over-rich, the trashing of civil liberties won over centuries, the trashing of the natural environment, the hyper-militarism. When 68 cents out of every tax dollar are going to arms and the military, a society is skewed for collapse. People are connecting dots. The dots are more and more inescapably evident. One of them is media complicity with this corrupt and dangerous oligarchy. This is why I wrote my book.

Do you take offense at the term “conspiracy theorist”?

I welcome being called a conspiracy theorist as this exposes the intellectual bankruptcy of the person applying it and provides me with an opportunity to point out that intellectual bankruptcy.

Could you foresee what you see as the truth about 9/11 being revealed at any point in the future?

Yes. When? Either it breaks out in a politically significant way in, say, five years at the absolute limit, or I fear — and I am not alone — that the forces behind 9/11 will have declared martial law or worse. My friend Elias Davidsson of Reykjavik, Iceland, one of those profiled in the book, says it as well as anyone: "Either those who conceived, planned, organized, perpetrated and covered up the crime" will be brought to justice and "a new mass movement for real democracy will emerge," or 9/11 "will remain underexposed, those who conspired in 9/11 and its cover-up will feel confident to set up national security states in which no true opposition will be permitted, and human rights and democracy will wither for a long time."