Herald: An Open Forum for People of Faith, Boston Wesleyan
Association, Berwick, ME. July-August 2005, pp. 5-6, 39-40. For
a more recent [March 2006] exposition with replies to superficial
objections to Griffin's thesis, see his
The Myth and The Reality" elsewhere on this site.
A Christian Theologian's
Deceptions of Empire and the Anti-Imperial Gospel of Jesus
David Ray Griffin
the spring of 2003, near the end of my 31-year teaching career at the
Claremont School of Theology, I began writing a book about 9/11, which
would be published as The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions
about the Bush Administration and 9/11. I have often been asked why
I, as a Christian theologian, would write such a book.
[For a related commentary, see Ian Markham, “Did Bush Cooperate with
Terrorists?” in Zion’s Herald, November/December, 2004.]
answer is that one of our main tasks as theologians is to comment on
current events in light of the fact that our first allegiance must be to
God, who created and loves all people, indeed all forms of life. If we
believe that our political and military leaders are acting on the basis
of policies that are diametrically opposed to the divine purposes, it is
incumbent upon us to say this. This is especially the case if we live in
a rich and powerful country, the policies of which affect the welfare of
other peoples, even other species. This is all the more true if these
leaders are claiming divine support for their policies, as did Vice
President Cheney in sending out a Christmas card with the statement:
“And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without His notice, is it
probable that an empire can rise without His aid?” 
Accordingly, when I came to the conclusion that the Bush-Cheney
administration had orchestrated 9/11 in order to promote this empire
under the pretext of the “war on terror,” I decided that I needed to say
so by means of summarizing the evidence for this conclusion.
am also often asked how I first came to this conclusion. I did not do so
immediately. For about a year and a half, I accepted the government’s
conspiracy theory, according to which the attacks were orchestrated
entirely by members of al-Qaeda. But I also accepted the standard
liberal view, according to which the attacks were “blowback” for US
foreign policy.  On that assumption, I began working on a book about
the American empire.
the course of my research, I learned that US political and military
leaders had, many times in the past, lied about or even created
incidents that could be used as pretexts to go to war. We did this to
begin the war with Mexico, to enter the wars in Cuba and the
Philippines, and, more recently, to begin the full-out attack on
also learned about Operation Northwoods, in which the Joint Chiefs of
Staff prepared a document for President Kennedy containing “pretexts
which would provide justification for US military intervention in Cuba,”
some of which involved killing Americans, such as the proposal to “blow
up a U.S. ship in Guantánamo Bay and blame Cuba.”  (Thankfully,
Kennedy rejected these proposals.)
Given this research, I might have immediately regarded the attacks of
9/11 as one more fabricated pretext. But when I first heard this
allegation, I replied that I did not think even the Bush administration
would do such a heinous thing. I checked out some proffered websites
but found the evidence unconvincing.
A few months
later, however, I was given a website containing a 9/11 timeline by Paul
Thompson, which presented an enormous number of reports, all drawn from
mainline sources, that contradicted the official story and thereby
implied governmental complicity of some sort.  After studying the
evidence, I concluded that there was very strong prima facie
evidence of complicity at the highest levels. I summarized much of this
evidence in The New Pearl Harbor  (henceforth NPH). What kind
of evidence did I find?
Evidence from before 9/11
Some of the
evidence consisted of reports from before 9/11 that contradicted the
official story. Part of this story was that by the summer of 2001,
Osama bin Laden was America’s “most wanted” criminal, whom the U.S.
government was trying to kill or capture. And yet in July, according to
highly respected sources, he spent two weeks in the American hospital in
Dubai, where he was treated by an American surgeon and visited by the
local CIA agent (NPH 76-77). Another part of the official story is that
the attacks were a complete surprise. However, according to attorney
David Schippers, who had been the chief prosecutor for the impeachment
of President Clinton, highly specific knowledge of the attacks was
present in the FBI at least six weeks before 9/11 (NPH 84-85).
According to still further reports, FBI headquarters prevented agents in
various cities from pursuing investigations that might have uncovered
the plot (NPH 79-83).
Evidence from after 9/11
Another kind of
evidence consisted of reports from after 9/11 suggesting that the
government was not really trying to solve the case. I learned of
reports that, rather than trying to capture bin Laden in Afghanistan,
the US military repeatedly let him and his men escape (105-08); that the
US government covered up evidence of funding for the alleged hijackers
provided by Pakistan’s intelligence agency, which works closely with the
CIA; and that the FBI blocked investigations into the flight schools
where the alleged terrorist hijackers undertook flight training
(118-19). And I learned to write alleged hijackers” by
discovering strong evidence that at l east six of the named men are
still alive (NPH 85-87, 169-7). 
Evidence from 9/11 itself
important evidence, however, comes from 9/11 itself. Some of this
evidence suggests a military stand-down. Had standard procedures
between the FAA and the military been followed that morning, the
airliners would have been intercepted within 15 minutes after signs they
had been hijacked. Instead, they reportedly flew through US airspace
for 20, 30 or even 40 minutes after such signs were present (NPH 3-11,
41-42, 170-73). Problems also plague the official story about the
attack on the Pentagon, according to which it was hit by Flight 77
under the control of al-Qaeda hijackers.
To mention a few
problems: (1) The alleged pilot, Hani Hanjour, was a terrible pilot, who
could not have executed the trajectory taken by the aircraft that hit
the Pentagon. (2) This aircraft struck the Pentagon’s west wing, which
for many reasons would have been the least likely spot for alien
terrorists to target. (3) Several factors, including photographs of the
west wing taken right after the strike and the failure of the Pentagon’s
anti-aircraft defense system to shoot down the attacking aircraft,
suggest that it was not a Boeing 757. (4) Although videos exist that
could show what really hit the Pentagon, the government refuses to
release them (NPH 25-48, 174-75).
strongest evidence that the attacks were an inside job is provided by
the collapses of the
Twin Towers and
Building 7 of the WTC.
These collapses can be explained only as examples of controlled
demolition, induced by thousands of explosives placed throughout each
building. Why? For one thing, the official story is that the buildings
were brought down by the fires, but fire has never caused steel-frame
buildings to collapse, even when the fires have been much larger, hotter
and longer-lasting. Although the official theory says that the
collapses were partially caused by the airplane strikes, Building 7 was
is the fact that the collapses manifested all the traditional features
of controlled demolition: the buildings collapsed straight down and at
virtually free-fall speed; many explosions were heard and felt;
virtually all the concrete was pulverized into tiny dust particles, a
feat requiring many times the energy available from gravity; pools of
molten steel were found beneath the rubble; the collapses were total,
reducing, in the case of the Twin Towers, 110-story buildings to piles
of rubble no more than three stories high; and most of the steel beams
and columns came down in sections about 30-feet long, conveniently ready
to be loaded on to trucks (NPH 12-23,175-85). Installing the explosives
in these three huge buildings would have taken thousands of man-hours.
No foreign terrorists could have obtained the required access to the
9/11 Commission Report
remained after I completed that book were removed when I read The
9/11 Commission Report.  Instead of explaining how all the
prima facie evidence of official complicity could be explained away,
it simply omitted most of this evidence and distorted the remainder, as
I demonstrated in a second book, The 9/11 Commission Report:
Omissions and Distortions (henceforth O&D).
To illustrate the
omissions: There was no mention of the reports of Osama bin Laden in the
American Hospital before 9/11 or of letting him escape after 9/11, of
David Schippers and the FBI agents, of the Pakistani payments to the
alleged hijackers, of some of these men as still alive, or of any
problems in the official story about the Pentagon strike. There was no
discussion of the evidence pointing to controlled demolition of the
WTC. The collapse of Building 7 was not even acknowledged.
distortion involved an implicit attempt to explain how the Twin Towers
could have suffered total collapse. The core of each tower consisted of
47 massive steel columns, which extended from the basements through the
roofs. Given the official explanation of the collapses, known as the
“pancake” theory, those massive steel columns should have still been
standing. The 9/11 Commission Report overcame this problem by declaring
that “[t]he interior core of the buildings was a hollow steel shaft”
some 115 lies of omission and distortion, I concluded by saying that
the Report, “far from lessening my suspicions about official complicity,
has served to confirm them. Why would the minds in charge of this final
report engage in such deception if they were not trying to cover up very
high crimes?” (O&D 291)
criminal conduct, to be credible, need to show that the accused had the
requisite motive. My study revealed that the Bush administration,
including its Pentagon, indeed had such motives, most of which revolved
around the desire to expand the American empire. After 9/11, in fact,
members of the Bush administration repeatedly described the attacks as
opportunities—“opportunities,” as Rumsfeld put it, “to refashion
the world” (O&D 116-17).
One part of the
administration’s pre-9/11 plan to refashion the world was to replace the
Taliban so that a pipeline to bring oil from the Caspian Sea through
Afghanistan could be built. Another plan was to invade Iraq, establish
military bases there, and take over its oil. A third goal, especially
important to Rumsfeld, was to fund the US Space Command’s project to put
weapons in space (NPH 89-100).
with Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, and many others who became members of
the Bush administration, belonged to an organization called The Project
for the New American Century. In the fall o 2000, it published a
document titled Rebuilding America’s Defenses, which focused on
getting more tax money allocated for the technological transformation of
the US military, especially the Space Command. Because this
transformation would be very expensive, the document said, it would
probably proceed very slowly, “absent some catastrophic and catalyzing
event—like a new Pearl Harbor” (NPH 95-96).
The new Pearl
Harbor was effective. On the evening of 9/11, Rumsfeld, far from being
disoriented by the attacks, used them to obtain more money for the
military, especially the Space Command (O&D 121). Since then,
furthermore, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were authorized by the US
Congress and the president has gotten every additional appropriation he
has sought for the so-called war on terror.
Christians and the American Empire
every reason to oppose the American empire. As Richard Horsley has
recently emphasized, Christianity began as a movement opposed to the
Roman empire. Jesus preached an “anti-imperial gospel.” And it was
that gospel that led to his death. “That Jesus was crucified by
the Roman governor,” says Horsley, “stands as a vivid symbol of his
historical relationship with the Roman imperial order.” What some
early Christians thought of this imperial order is shown, moreover, by
the fact that the final book of the New Testament portrays Rome as a
dragon, which symbolizes Satan.
the fact that America has an empire could not be uttered in public,
except by left-wing critics of American foreign policy. Recently,
however, conservatives speak openly and with pride about our empire,
with Charles Krauthammer bragging that America is “no mere international
citizen” but “the dominant power in the world, more dominant than any
however, is said to stop there, because America, unlike Rome, is a
benign empire. Robert Kagan, a member of the Project for the New
American Century, has written of “The Benevolent Empire.” Dinesh
D’Souza says that America is “the most magnanimous imperial power
ever.” America’s “track record,” Krauthammer says, proves its
have actually examined this track record, however, have a radically
different view. A recent book by Noam Chomsky is subtitled
Quest for Global Dominance.
Richard Falk has written of the Bush administration’s “global domination
project.” Chalmers Johnson, who was once a conservative who
believed that American foreign policy aimed at promoting freedom and
democracy, now describes the United States as “a military juggernaut
intent on world domination.”
is another conservative who has recently changed his mind. He now
ridicules the claim that although the American military has been seeking
“something approaching omnipotence,” power in American hands “is by
definition benign.” He adds that although most Americans comfort
themselves with the belief that the United States is “nothing
like Rome,” the reality is that “American today
If that is the
reality, churches that wish to follow Jesus today may need to ask
whether this does not require total opposition to the global domination
project. Churches who are ready to take that step could have no better
starting point than exposing the truth about 9/11, which became and has
pretext for every new offensive in that project.
and discussed in Ray McGovern, “God
on Their Side,” TomPaine.com, December 30, 2003.
term had become well-known prior to 9/11 thanks to Chalmers Johnson,
The Costs and Consequences of American Empire
(New York: Henry Holt, 2000).
Mexico, see Richard Van Alstyne,
The Rising American
(1960; New York, Norton, 1974), 143. On Cuba and the Philippines, see
Stuart Creighton Miller,
Assimilation The American Conquest of the Philippines, 1899-1903
(New Haven: Yale University Press, 1982), 11, 57-66, 237, 245-47, and
A People’s History
of the United States
(1980; New York: HarperPerennial, 1990), 155, 307. On Vietnam, see
Marilyn B. Young,
The Vietnam Wars
(New York: HarperCollins, 1991), 116-21, and George McT. Kahin,
American Became Involved in Vietnam
(Garden City: Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1987), 220-23.
Body of Secrets:
Anatomy of the Ultra-Secret National Security Agency
(2001; New York: Anchor Books, 2002), 82-91. The entire memorandum is
printed in Thierry Meyssan,
9/11: The Big Lie
(London: Carnot, 2002), 199-205.
WantToKnow; this site then led me to
CooperativeResearch, where Paul Thompson’s timeline was
originally posted. His work has since been published as
The Terror Timeline:
Year by Year, Day by Day, Minute by Minute: A Comprehensive Chronicle of
the Road to 9/11—and American’s Response
HarperCollins [Regan Books], 2004).
New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and
(Northampton, Mass.: Interlink Books [Olive Branch], 2004), 76-77.
Henceforth abbreviated NPH.
The latter pages are found in the 30-page “Afterword” for the
updated edition of NPH (169-99), which came out in March 2004.
9/11 Commission Report: Final Report of the National Commission on
Terrorist Attacks upon the United States,
(New York: W. W. Norton, 2004).
These lies are summarized in “The
9/11 Commission Report: A 571-Page Lie.”
Richard A. Horsley,
Jesus and Empire:
The Kingdom of God and the New World Disorder
(Minneapolis: Fortress, 2003), 129.
Jesus and Empire,
Rev. 12:9, 13:2, 20:2.
Krauthammer, “The Bush Doctrine,”
March 5, 2001.
Kagan, “The Benevolent Empire,”
Summer 1998: 24-35.
D’Souza, “In Praise of an American Empire,”
April 26, 2002.
Krauthammer, “The Unipolar Era,” in Andrew J. Bacevich, ed.
The Imperial Tense:
Prospects and Problems of American Empire
(Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 2003), 47-65, at 59.
Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance
(New York: Henry Holt [Metropolitan Books], 2003).
the Global Domination Project: An Interview with Prof. Richard Falk,”
(April 12-25, 2003).
The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic
(New York: Henry Holt [Metropolitan Books], 2004), 133, 52.