On Friday, Russian State television aired an Italian documentary that questioned the official version of what happened on September 11th, 2001. Boris Sokolov questions the channel’s motives, asking why it chose to screen a one-sided film to 30 million viewers during prime time. The film, titled, “Zero: an investigation into 9/11” was followed by a panel discussion with journalists, who accepted and built on its fundamental premise, that the terrorist attack was an inside job.
The screening follows a recent tradition of airing one-sided “documentaries” that voice conspiracy theories and put Russia at odds with the West. Films recently broadcast on Russian state television have asserted that the West was responsible for democratic “color revolutions” in former Soviet countries and that the West was behind Russia’s war in Chechnya.
The article below first ran on the Grani.ru independent online newspaper.
An Open Order
“Zero: an investigation into 9/11,” a film by Italian journalist Giulietta Chiesa and his French colleague Thierry Meyssan, went practically unnoticed in the world. Its authors openly complained about this as they spoke on Channel One, hinting at machinations by America’s intelligence agencies. In Russia, on the other hand, the film was shown on TV on Friday evening, during prime-time – on the “Private Screening” program, which gave it an audience of many millions. In and of itself, this proves that the Cold War is in full swing, at least on Russian television. Mr. Chiesa laments that “the level of democracy in the world is very low. And with every year, it becomes lower and lower.” And that’s why the Italian departed for Russia in search of genuine democracy.
Chiesa and Meyssan’s basic thesis is that the September 11th terrorist attacks were organized by the Americans themselves, in order to justify limitations on democratic freedoms in America and the subsequent invasion of Iraq, and in order to stave off a crisis in the American economy. Almost all the participants in the discussion readily agreed with them. The debates only centered on who in particular among the Americans was behind the terrorist acts. Some insisted that it was the multi-national corporations and intelligence agencies, carrying out imperial designs, with the involvement of individuals within the administration, but not the highest ranks –not the President and not the Secretary of State. This resembled Soviet times, when all the problems in the world were blamed on American imperialists, presented as anonymous monopolies and equally anonymous senior officials in the CIA and the Pentagon. Presidents and Secretaries of State shouldn’t be directly offended, since negotiations have to be led with them. The second version consisted of the idea that President Bush was directly involved in the conspiracy behind September 11th. Well, I guess this shows the relative freedom of speech as compared with the communist era, and moreover, everyone knows that Bush is working his last months in the White House.
The film’s authors call on Dario Fo (presented in the credits as a Nobel laureate), as a leading expert of the explosions on September 11th. The overwhelming majority of Russian viewers will remain convinced that there is a distinguished scholar before them, who has knowledge about airplanes, explosions and fires. In actual fact, Dario Fo is an Italian playwright, who received a Nobel prize for literature in 1997 for “emulat[ing] the jesters of the Middle Ages in scourging authority and upholding the dignity of the downtrodden.” He appears before us as a descendant of jesters as well.
From a professional point of view, the film is made extremely primitively. It is based almost exclusively on “talking heads,” and presents only those witnesses and experts who criticize the official version, that the terrorist attacks were organized by Al-Qaeda, led by [Osama] bin Laden (several of them look to be mentally unbalanced). Along those same lines are the endless, mesmerizing repetitions of captions with the author’s theses. Testimony and evidence from adherents of the official version is not mentioned in any way in the film. This is roughly like taking only the testimonies showing the innocence of the defendants during the Nuremberg trial, and ignoring all the materials in the extensive file documenting their guilt.
It is interesting that both the film’s authors and the participants of the discussion [that followed], having spoken out against American globalism and defended the dignity of the downtrodden peoples, demonstrate a barefaced contempt to these same peoples. The theme of the discussion sounded like this: “How could these 19 arabs do something like this? They couldn’t even learn to operate a plane!” True, the main question then remains unanswered – who was at the helm of the planes that crashed into the twin-towers. Could it be true that CIA agents turned from through-and-through WASPs into fanatic-suicide bombers? Here, to Chiesa and Meyssan’s assistance came Geidar Dzhemal, a homegrown Islamist-conspiracy theorist, who proposes that the planes were controlled from the ground by expert hackers, who changed the autopilot program on the killing-planes. No one bothered to refute this delusion.
The films authors, and the organizers of the discussion sought to convince viewers that two realities are competing on equal terms in the world: the official and alternative versions of the events of September 11th. Proponents of both versions, they say, have their own arguments, and even in the hard science field, experts at times have directly opposite opinions. Therefore, they say, the choice between them is a matter of faith. The discussion moderator, Alexander Gordon, tried at the start to play to objectivity and the cooperative search for truth, but by the end, confessed frankly that he had long ago come to a firm conclusion that the American establishment was behind the September 11th tragedy, just like the other terrorist acts on US territory.
Proponents of the official version were chosen essentially from obedient sparring-partners, whose arguments amounted to saying that Chiesa and Meyssan’s version could not be truth simply because this would be intolerable from a ethical point of view: after all, if would imply that the US leadership would kill their own citizens for political gains. But here, director Vladimir Khotinenko, political analyst Vitaly Tretyakov, and other adherents of the American conspiracy theory immediately took the floor, assuring the viewers that for the American authorities to kill even thousands, even millions, was as easy as batting an eye.
Mr. Tretyakov put forth the thesis that the answer to the question of who profited from the September 11th terrorist attacks clearly pointed to the American government. The majority of the audience backed him enthusiastically. But no one did clarify what exactly the American advantage was. Maybe it was the need to hold a significant contingent of American forces in Iraq and Afghanistan for years to come? Or high oil prices, affecting the American economy in far from the best manner? If they really had some desire to figure out the reasons for the tragedy from the “who profited” principle, it would have been more logical to note that for Russia, the growth in energy prices which started after September 11th turned into a golden rain of petrodollars and the opportunity to demonstrate its solidarity with the US in the fight with international terrorism. Which for many years created the illusion of Russian-American partnership in the world. But we didn’t hear this kind of discussion.
Chiesa, Meyssan and their adherents propose the following circumstance as the main argument favoring their version of events. After September 11, 2001, there were no more terrorist attacks in the US. Which means that the American intelligence agencies were accessorial to the terrorist acts, while terrorists, Islamic or otherwise, do not have a real opportunity to perform such massive terrorist acts on American territory. But, following this absurd logic, one must come the following conclusions. Since there haven’t been any explosions of buildings in Moscow since September 1999, it means, that they were organized by the Russian intelligence agencies. Since after the “Nord-Ost” [theater siege] and Beslan [school takeover], there haven’t been any new seizures of hundreds of hostages, it means that those terrorist acts were also an inside job by the FSB.
At the end, the discussion smoothly turned to the present Russian-Georgian conflict. It was not in vain that President Medvedev recently said that for Russia, August 8th (the start of the war with Georgia) –was almost like September 11th for the US. Naturally, the assertions poured out, that the notion of Russian aggression against Georgia, spread through the Western world, was the results of the same kind of propaganda as the official version of the September 11th terrorist attacks. Meanwhile, the US, with Georgia’s help, in truth wants to engineer a new cold war, to solve its domestic and foreign problems. As result, the discussion closed with a hysterical call from one of the film’s authors, for Russia to defend the world from the American predators who are tearing the planet to pieces. A plea most insincere.
translation by theotherrussia.org