A "Truther" is a person who believes that the 9/11 attacks were planned and/or carried out by the U.S. government. And the 9/11 Truth movement is diverse. Some adherents think the Twin Towers and especially the Pentagon were struck by remote-controlled missiles or drone planes, not hijacked jets.
Others accept the involvement of commercial airliners in the official account but think the Twin Towers, and especially 7 World Trade Center, an office building across the street from the Twin Towers, were brought down in a controlled demolition. Then there's the "stand down" theory, which posits that the Bushies knew what was coming and ordered the military not to respond.
Truthers are passionate and energetic. They send me links to websites, books and DVDs questioning the series of events laid out in the 9/11 Commission Report and media accounts. They remind me that the Bush and Obama administrations have gotten caught lying about the post-9/11 war on terror. Why, then, am I not open to the possibility that 9/11 was an inside job?
I am open-minded. And I don't trust our political leaders. So I read everything that people send me. I watched films like Loose Change and In Plane Sight, a professionally edited documentary that relies on insinuation to argue that nefarious government somebodies fired something other than hijacked jets into the World Trade Center and Pentagon.
Everything I've read and watched on Truther sites is like that: easily dismissed. Therefore, with one exception, I believe the official story.
The exception is United Flight 93, which crashed into a field near Shanksville, Penn. I think there's a possibility it was shot down by a U.S. Air Force jet. Of course, I don't know what happened. I do know that most Truther narratives don't make sense. What I really don't understand is their motivations.
For the sake of argument, let's assume that the four 9/11 planes were found at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, confirming that they never hit their targets. Are Truthers naive enough to think there would be a revolution?
"Our government has lied to us about the events of 9/11," Truther Frank Agamemnon said last year on Russia Today TV. "And if the truth came out about it, maybe the wars would stop."
I don't think so. Americans didn't rise up when Bush stole the 2000 election. They didn't care when WMDs failed to turn up in Iraq. Even if 9/11 proved to be an inside job, I predict the national reaction would be: "Huh."
Truthers aren't crazy. Not most of them, anyway. They've glommed on to the simple (crazy) fact that there has never been a real investigation of the Sept. 11 attacks.
On a number of pressing issues in recent years, the government has refused transparency, much less a real investigation that would have enabled people to move past 9/11. The evolving accounts of Osama bin Laden's death seemed tailored to create the suspicion that big secrets were being covered up.
Why does the federal government feed the conspiracy theorists? Maybe it's unintentional but probably not. I think the U.S. has become like a Third World dictatorship: The more they keep us guessing, the smarter they seem, and the more we'll fear them.