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Establishment Media Tries To Convince 9/11 Truthers To Give Up

Edmonton Sun | September 12, 2007
THANE BURNETT

There's a radical theory that's being considered in hushed tones.

That the 9/11 conspiracy chorus, which started to rise before the ashes of that day had completely fallen, has reached a natural and final crescendo.

That despite the tremendous popular success of online videos, forums and books -- claiming the U.S. government was behind the deaths of almost 3,000 people, the planes were remote drones and the towers were brought down with military-planted explosives or missiles -- the movement has left its most productive days behind.

That -- even as it, according to a poll last year, convinced a third of the American population that U.S. officials were somehow complicit in the attacks -- it can never really prove its case.

SKEPTIC

Who is this skeptic to suggest such a thing? The man doubting the doubting is Jimmy Walter; once the 9/11 "Truth Movement's" most diehard promoter. Over the years, Walter, an American venture capitalist and heir to a $14.3 million fortune from his dad's home-building business, has spent nearly $8-million to convince his fellow citizens that the attacks of 9/11 were orchestrated by "they" -- an "inside job" of government leaders, media and businessmen. He's run full page ads in papers like The New York Times and, in 2004, funded 30-second messages on major American cable networks, such as CNN and Fox News.

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His efforts found thirsty soil, especially around New York, where three years ago, a Zogby poll found almost half of Gotham residents believed federal officials knew in advance that the attacks were being planned. But more recently, Walter, one of the loudest voices in the ranks of skeptics, has quietly moved out of the U.S. He's stepped back from changing the minds of the other 70% of Americans who believe what their government has determined -- that a group of terrorists successfully attacked the U.S.

Walter says he no longer hands out free copies of his DVD, Confronting the Evidence, which he's given away 300,000 times. He doesn't even bother to return most e-mails.

"There is no hope of this," Walter tells me of proving a mass conspiracy he believes in. One, having covered 9/11 from Ground Zero, I can't accept beyond the already proven government ineptness and blindness.

REWARD

He is on the line from Austria, where he has moved. He still figures explosives, planted in the towers, brought them down, and even put up a $1-million reward for any expert who could prove different. But he's no longer interested in offering the bounty.

He also still believes -- as is the "Truth Movement's" mantra -- that a plane didn't fly into the Pentagon and that the World Trade Center, which fell late in the afternoon after the two main towers came down, was detonated from the inside. He'll never buy that, as he sees it, "19 screw-ups with box cutters" could have made the seemingly impossible happen.

Over the years, the conspiracy theory debate has been a tennis match. Those questioning the official version lob loaded questions and bits of evidence, such as photos or interviews. Then an entire counter culture, outraged that even the grief of victim's families has been questioned, answers back with their own sites, videos and books. But conclusions breed doubt and more questions in a match without end. There is even a book titled Debunking 9/11 Debunking.

"I mean, it's been six years -- for at least five, the information has been out there," Walter says. It's blatantly obvious the truth will never come out and it will all end up like debates over who really shot John F. Kennedy, he's sure.

"The people know. Nothing is happening," he says, noting of his own part in the odd debate: "(I've) completely walked away ... the curtain call is done."

He is not alone. A column in an online forum popular with 9/11 "Truthers," by lesser known skeptic Michael Bonanno, recently said: "I think we should give up."

The truth will likely never be found, and the debate stops people from getting on with life to make things better, he argued.

But there are those who aren't ready to walk away from the rubble -- a good amount of which they've stirred up.

Phil Jayhan, who takes credit for being one of the early players involved in the first version of Loose Change, one of the most popular 9/11 skeptics' movies, is preparing his own conspiracy film.

Loose Change even made it into Vanity Fair, and Jayhan is sure there's still growth in doubt.

"Is it a conspiracy movement when you can prove the conspiracy?" he tries to convince me, on the line from Alaska.

MAINSTREAM

He vows to carry on, saying the movement is no longer fringe, but rather mainstream. Shortly after our conversation, I receive an e-mail about a new poll -- done on behalf of a skeptic organization -- which found even more people around the world suspect a wider 9/11 conspiracy.

Despite deciding to exile himself from the need to disbelieve, there was no doubt it was sent to me from Austria by Jimmy Walter.

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