Brainwashing and 9/11, a Personal View
By Terry Morrone, Professor Emeritus of Physics, Adelphi University
Propaganda has been with us since ancient times. All empire-builders have to justify what they do – to themselves, to their own people, and to those they dominate.
The Romans developed a sophisticated world-view which they projected successfully through literature, inscriptions, architecture, art, and elaborate public ceremonial. Their message was that Rome represented peace, good government, and the rule of law. The societies with which Rome was in conflict were caricatured as barbaric, lawless and dangerous.
The Catholic Church claimed that it was the agent of God on earth, charged with crushing paganism and heresy. Through the church eternal salvation in heaven was possible, and the veneration of saints could cure all physical ailments.
Goebbels and Hitler learned much from Madison Avenue and the Catholic Church. Modern propaganda much like modern science and technology has improved over the centuries. Today propagandists make use of applied psychology, focus groups and public opinion polls.
In the US, propaganda for capitalism, not just individual companies, got its start in the great depression. Business interests felt that the New Deal was a dire threat to their existence and responded with a massive propaganda campaign for capitalism under the leadership of the National Association of Manufacturers, the US Chamber of Commerce, PR firms and PR gurus such as Edward Bernays. It was called a campaign for the “American Way.” Later on the military joined in. Their message was clear. Government regulation and programs were a menace to freedom. The government’s job was to subsidize industry and maintain a massive military to make the world open to free trade and safe for democracy. Sixty years ago this military industrial complex, (or the “establishment”) felt that they had to provide the public with a decent standard of living in order to prevent a socialist takeover. Now they feel that it’s no longer necessary.
A massive propaganda apparatus, including domination of the major TV networks, pervades this country. It was in place long before the terrorist attacks on 9/11/01. Was the official version of the events of September 11, 2001 sold to us by means of a propaganda campaign? I will explore this question in this essay.
On 9/11 we were subjected to hours of propaganda. The TV shows all said over and over again:
This was an “Attack on America.”
To emphasize what a huge event it was, the government had 2 aircraft carriers off the New York coast. The hijackers were Moslem terrorists and their leader was Osama Bin Ladin. Every few minutes videos of the planes hitting the buildings were repeated. Also witnesses, fire fighters, relatives of those killed were continuously interviewed. Intertwined were statements from government sources that they were almost certain that Moslem terrorists were responsible. The US must take action. We never shirked a fight before. It was an act of war, we must retaliate. It was evil. It was an attack on civilization. We were good and courageous and the attackers were evil, over and over again.
There was never any mention of historical context. I had been predicting a terrorist attack on the US for years. When we invaded Panama we killed about 5,000 people. The World Court found us guilty of terrorism in Nicaragua and in our campaign against Nicaraguan democracy in the 1980’s we killed about 30,000 people. In Iraq out sanctions and bombings killed an estimated 1 million people. We killed about 3 million in Vietnam, and we supported the Israeli’s brutal occupation of Palestine. Of course if a newsman mentioned American terrorism, he would have been instantly fired. One was fired, I recall, just for saying that the terrorists were not cowards.
This article is about brain washing. I was brainwashed several times during my lifetime and I don’t rule out the possibility that I am brainwashed today. It started when I was a child in World War 2. I was taught that America was the land of the free and the home of the brave, that we were exceptional, we were humane, we respected life, liberty and democracy. The rest of the world was either evil or not as good as us. Britain and France had large empires. We had practically none. I also firmly believed in the teachings of the Catholic Church. If I committed a mortal sin like missing mass and died before going to confession, I would go to hell for eternity.
Later I drifted away from the Church and the Cold War began. I began to doubt that I could go to hell so easily and that the USSR was poised to invade the world. I also learned that the United States was not so exceptional and that countries had been fighting each other since the beginning of recorded history, each country believing that it was right and its adversary wrong.
Some parts of my Catholic upbringing persisted, such as “Thou shalt not kill” and “thou shalt not steal.” By that time I had become a father and I became aware of the huge amount of work and time it took to bring up children. It seemed wrong to sniff out life so easily, e.g. from a B52 with a big bomb, even if the victims were communists. When the war in Vietnam broke out I opposed it and became a peace activist. I became a Professor of Physics and retired early to work in industry.
On 9/11/01 I was taken in along with most others. In retrospect I should have known better. Here’s why:
Shortly after the 1995 bombing of a government building in Oklahoma City, I heard retired Air Force General Benton Parten talking on the Gary Null Show on WBAI. He said that he had looked at the still partially standing building and saw lots of dust. He explained that the dust could not have been produced by an explosion unless the explosives were placed in contact with the concrete columns in the building. I also heard statements by people interviewed by local TV station reporters that they had been warned not to come to work that day. Others said that they had heard two explosions. The official version of events was that the damage to the building had been caused by a truck bomb exploding about 30 feet from the building. The TV interviews never made it to national TV because, according to local station officials, the interviewees would not give their names. Later on I learned local TV stations had reported that 2 or 3 unexploded bombs were removed from the building. General Parten appealed to many members of Congress and state officials, demanding that the building not be demolished until independent experts could examine it. But the building was torn down anyway. By 9/11 my memories of the Oklahoma City bombing inconsistencies had faded, and I began to doubt that I had really heard about them, probably because they were never repeated by anyone in the media.
On 9/11/01 lots of dust was produced, but I accepted the TV version of events without question. I heard several times that the temperature reached 1500 degrees and this melted the steel. Then the top floors crashed down on the ones below causing them to fail and so on all the way down. I looked at the pictures and actually believed that I was seeing this “pancake effect.” When I thought of the collapses months later I saw in my mind’s eye the pancake effect. Months later I started reading articles by the so called “conspiracy theorists.” I watched videos. To my surprise the vision in my memory of the towers collapsing was far from what was in the videos. Now I saw jets of dust shooting out sideways. I had not noticed them on 9/11.Now I saw the buildings exploding. I can only conclude that I saw on 9/11 and recalled what I expected to see. My mind was not working right. More about this later.
The more I read, the more untenable the official explanations seemed. I found a reference to the amount of energy needed to grind up concrete into very small particles. I sent away for a copy of the FEMA report and found out the weight and composition of the towers. I also found a paper on the dust composition and size. Putting it all together, I calculated the amount of energy it would take to produce the 100,000 or so tons of dust observed per tower. The gravitational energy available wasn’t enough. I also read reports about combustion and found that the maximum temperature attained could not have produced the molten metal observed. Now to me, as a physicist, I had proof that the official theory was wrong. I was not the first one to prove it. I will not go into a more detailed explanation here. There are plenty of available references.
I want to discuss instead the reasons I and many others were brainwashed on 9/11. First a little bit about how the brain operates. When a piece of information is noted, the brain (specifically the amygdala) puts a tag on it corresponding to its emotional significance. For example, a child touches a hot frying pan and feels a lot of pain. This gets a very high significance value. It is placed in a special place in memory and never forgotten. When something is life threatening it gets an exceptional high value. For example, a soldier in a war learns to fear explosions. If the significance value is very high it overloads the brain and the reasoning part of the brain gets turned off. A similar stimulus will often invoke a response that may be appropriate in a combat zone, but which is inappropriate anywhere else. An example of this is when a soldier, long after a war, falls to the ground when he hears a car backfire. When a dangerous situation occurs the brain’s first priority is survival, not reasoning.
Even though the events of 9/11 were not life threatening to the TV audience, they did produce fear, anxiety, anger and disorientation. To a certain extent our reasoning powers were diminished, and in this state it’s very easy to get fooled. If there’s a manual on how to create a crisis to fool the public, I’m sure it would say that it’s very important to plant false ideas when the public is in a vulnerable state. If time passed and we returned to a normal routine, the opportunity for brainwashing would have vanished. Once false ideas are implanted it’s very hard to get rid of them since we tend to reject evidence that contradict our firm beliefs.
There’s more to it, of course. The mind does not like uncertainty. When an authority comes forward and takes charge and explains what happened, we are too happy to accept his message. The authority in this instance was the TV. The TV became a parent figure and the public children. When the false message is repeated over and over again on all the TV channels, it becomes very hard to resist. “When a subject appears to be all around him, a person tends to accept it and take it for granted,” wrote Philip Lesly, a public relations specialist, in 1974.
Now I’d like to look at the media coverage from the point of view of a PR expert. Did the media and the government do a good job in fooling the public on 9/11? First of all, did the government have control of the media? The answer is that they did, but they let some things slip by. Agent Prouty of the FBI stated on TV, “At this point the White House is coordinating all public information on a national level.” So I expect that the information about the terrorists was controlled by the government. The experts and authorities who spoke were all of one voice. I expect that they were all controlled by the government is some way. For example, I heard Larry Goodson, a professor from Bentley College and an expert on Afghanistan, on NBC (in New York). He said that probably Osama Bin Laden was the guilty party. Shortly after 9/11 he became a professor at the National War College.
Was the media and the government successful in instilling fear on 9/11 and afterwards? I think so. We were told that cars were being stopped and searched for explosives, that jets were flying over New York and Washington to protect us from another attack, etc, etc. We were told that terrorists were coming into the country through Canada. There was no evidence of this whatsoever. Then came the Anthrax attacks, adding to the fear. Is it any wonder that a Los Angeles Times poll indicated that 31 percent of respondents felt their person sense of security was still a “great deal” shaken.
However, there were slip ups. There were reports of explosions in the buildings before they collapsed. One reporter even stated that the top of one of the towers had exploded. Mayor Guiliani told he had been warned that the towers were going to collapse before it happened. He later denied this but he is refuted by video tapes. With so many reporters doing live interviews it was impossible to totally control the flow of the information. Truths, detrimental to the official story come out just after an event. After the official line is clear to the media, these truths are never mentioned again. Here are a few examples. After the JFK assassination, major media outlets, including CBS, ABC, and AP, reported that a Secret Service agent had been killed, a threat to the single assassin theory. This was never mentioned after the day of the assassination. After the July 7, 2005 bombings in London, television stations reported that 4 terrorists had been shot by police. (Later the official story was that the terrorists were suicide bombers.) Just after the Oklahoma City bombing, as mentioned above, it was reported that unexploded bombs were removed from the building. If there’s another terrorist event, I suggest recording the TV coverage, or at least writing down relevant facts, before the official story settles in. At any rate I’d give the media and the government a high grade for their 9/11 propaganda.
No discussion of 9/11 would complete without a discussion of why many progressives accept the official conspiracy theory. They’re usually skeptical of the government line on global warming, weapons of mass destruction, the number of civilian dead in Iraq, etc., etc. When it comes to 9/11, however, they accept much of the official version.
One reason is that they trust progressive opinion leaders such as Noam Chomsky, Amy Goodman, Matthew Rothschild (editor, the Progressive), David Corn (editor, the Nation magazine) and many others. Many of them ignore the 9/11truth movement, and if pressed to give an opinion, they will say that they haven’t seen any evidence that’s convincing. The Nation and the Progressive and other liberal magazines (and also Amy Goodman’s Democracy Now) receive grant money from foundations. The foundations in turn get money from the government. If a publication goes over the “line,” I expect that they will be cut off from grant money. Is it any wonder that the most vicious attacks on 9/11 truth seekers comes from liberal magazines. Much has been written about this and I refer the reader to “Towers of Deception” by Barrie Zwicker.
The liberal media can’t talk about 9/11 or assassinations or government involvement in drug smuggling or anything that could put officials in jail. They’re allowed to say that the Bush administration took advantage of 9/11 to further their fascist and imperialistic agendas.
After many arguments with friends and relatives I’ve concluded that many progressives can’t believe that 9/11 is an inside job because they like to believe that the truth lies between 2 extremes, regardless of the evidence. The idea goes back to Aristotle. You can even feel superior to the extremists who hold such outlandish opinions, not backed by anyone of importance. Hitler knew about this tendency and stated that you can make outrageous claims and the populace will always believe that there’s some truth to them.
Others say that while there may be some truth in what the conspiracy theorists say, it’s a waste of time to even think about it and that people will be arguing about 9/11 for centuries. Yet in spite of all the brainwashing, a sizeable fraction of the population believe that some faction in the government staged the 9/11 attack. The reason: the evidence is overwhelming.
False flag operations have been so successful that more will come unless we do something. We should begin by educating ourselves and our families. Start by reading up on 9/11. Reason can overcome brainwashing and the emotions, but it’s not easy. You might not be able to do it alone, so go to a meeting of a 9/11 truth organization, if there’s one in your area, or watch videos available on the internet. Once you’re convinced, start in on your family and then your friends. I’ve tried it. I often get a dirty look when I begin. But I explain that I’ve spent a lot of time researching 9/11 and feel very strongly about it, and unless people stop burying their heads in the sand we’re heading for dictatorship and permanent war. The 9/11 cover up teaches that we can’t trust the media or congress or anyone else in positions of authority in this country.
We have the appearance of democracy on a national level and some local democracy. The current system, which has worked for most people for half a century, is going to lead us to the end of life as we know it. Congress is bought and paid for by big business. The national security state and big business are allies. The corporations are getting greedier and more corrupt by the day. There has to be a change. Here are few suggestions for bringing it about.
Stop voting for democrats or republicans if a third party candidate is on the ballot. (There are a few exceptions such as Dennis Kucinich.) In the 2008 presidential election I voted for Cynthia McKinney. She stands for everything I do, including single payer health care, withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, and an independent investigation of 9/11. If millions had voted for her, the major parties would have to shift to the left. I know there’s little evidence that Sarah Palin has any integrity at all, but Obama may be just as dangerous in that he can use his popularity to push for more war and fascism. Join and support third parties whenever you can.
Next, put pressure on left wing media to stop their dishonest coverage of 9/11. Write letters and emails.
Next, stop supporting the major media. I stopped getting home delivery of the New York Times after 35 years. I wrote the paper a letter critical of their dishonesty and shoddy news coverage. I’ll still look at the Times in a library, but I’ll never pay for a paper. Stop watching the major TV news programs. Much finer minds can be found on the internet or in books. If you want to learn about a topic, such as the financial crisis, use an internet search engine such as Google. You can get the opinions of Nobel Prize winners and prominent intellectuals instead of establishment lackeys on the TV. If you like to watch videos, just specify video after the topic in your internet search. Unfortunately, you’ll probably need a broadband connection.
Finally get involved. Make some time to join a peace group or a 9/11 group or whatever is available. For those who feel that 9/11 is a dead issue and it’s time to move on, I close with a statement by President Obama, addressing the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Phoenix on August 18, 2009.
“Those who attacked America on 9/11 are plotting to do it again. If left unchecked, the Taliban insurgency will mean an even larger safe haven from which Al Qaeda would plot to kill more Americans. So this is not only a war worth fighting. This is fundamental to the defense to our people.”
1. PR! A Social History of Spin, by Stuart Ewen.
2. The PARANOIA SWITCH, How Terror Rewires our Brains and Reshapes our Behavior – and How we can Reclaim our Courage, by Martha Stout.
3. Towers of Deception, The Media Cover-Up of 9/11, by Barrie Zwicker.
4. The Propaganda of Saints in the Middle Ages, by Esther Cohen, Journal of Communication, Autumn 1981.
5. World Trade Center Building Performance Study, Federal Emergency Management Agency 403, September 2002.
6. The Dead Secret Service Saga and the Agent(s) on the Knoll, Vince Palamara, Deep Politics Quarterly, 10/97.
7. 7/7 Ripple Effect, a video by Muad Dib