As the fifth anniversary of September 11th approaches, sober Hollywood reenactments such as United 93 and World Trade Center are being countered by a different brand of 9/11 "truth," one where the American government is being blamed as directly complicit in the attacks, if not outright perpetrators.
Over the past year, these conspiracy theories have moved from margins to mainstream, finding their strongest voice in the widely viewed Internet documentary Loose Change. Written and directed by amateur filmmaker Dylan Avery and compiled largely from found media footage from the day of the attacks, the documentary contends that 9/11 was "a psychological attack on the American people ... pulled off with military precision." In the world of Loose Change, the collapse of the World Trade Center was a planned demolition, the Pentagon was likely hit by a cruise missile, and Osama bin Laden had nothing to do with it.
It might sound crazy, but Loose Change is at the forefront of a growing conspiracy movement. The film was the subject of a lengthy profile in Vanity Fair and is ubiquitous on the Internet.
One person who's been swayed by the film is Kim Walker, a 49-year-old Memphis editor and videographer, who has rented out a screen at Malco's Studio on the Square to show the film.
Walker says he's holding a public screening of Loose Change -- which anyone can watch online -- as a means of drumming up publicity for the "9/11 Truth" movement.
"I wanted to bring media attention to it," Walker says. "Slowly but surely, it's getting out there."
Walker says he doesn't necessarily endorse all facets of the 9/11 conspiracy theories.
"In an age of disinformation, I'm scared to believe anything 100 percent," Walker says. "To me, it's like the Kennedy assassination. When Oswald said 'I'm just a patsy' and Ruby stepped out to shoot him, everyone knew something was up. From there, everyone's imagination went crazy. I'm sure some people hit the mark. On 9/11, there needs to be a real investigation."
Loose Change's opening stretch, which begins with rejected Bay of Pigs-era black ops plans and climaxes with a September 2000 report from the neo-con Project for a New American Century (which listed among its members Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld) that specifically mentions a "new Pearl Harbor" as a condition for re-militarizing America, is a masterfully engrossing blast of paranoia on a par with the most powerful passsages in Oliver Stone's JFK. This pre-9/11 overture, in concert with the subsequent behavior of the Bush administration, makes it crystal clear why so many citizens are primed to believe the worst.
The movie's physical evidence is less persuasive, especially in light of a Popular Mechanics cover story -- "Debunking 9/11 Myths" -- that counters many of the most common bits of conspiracy-hound evidence. Regardless, this battle continues to rage online. See 911Truth.org and 911Myths.com for the latest.