Commentary: 9/11 conspiracy theories and the 'alleged' Boston Massacre

The (Tacoma) News TribuneSeptember 30, 2011 

I was flying to Boston last week and found an article in a news magazine on a recent conference at Toronto’s Ryerson University.

“The International Hearings on the Events of September 11, 2001,” was the pretty impressive title. I guess it’s “international” because some of the participants were from the United States and the conference was in Canada.

Oh, and one of the panel members was an Italian judge, adding vast credibility to the proceedings.

“We know the official story does not fly,” said organizer Graeme MacQueen. “It is full of holes.” The article did not indicate whether MacQueen’s puns were intended or just tasteless.

The core beliefs of conferees is that the United States government crafted an elaborate ruse to stage the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon to provide cover for its invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. The side benefit was to bolster the fortunes of then-Vice President Dick Cheney’s buddies at Halliburton.

The fall of the towers? Controlled explosions. The damage to the Pentagon? A missile hit the building while aircraft parts were brought in later to make it look like an airliner was involved. Al-Qaeda itself? A CIA front.

This version of events is prevalent in the Arab world and is not considered fringey even in Europe.

It’s hard for Americans to believe, though, that a government that can’t manage its finances, can’t foster a functioning political process, can’t deliver disaster services and can’t craft a decent health care system could be capable of such a complex plot.

But maybe that’s what they want us to think. Maybe our political and governmental dysfunction is itself part of the vast bipartisan conspiracy. Maybe the government uses ineptness as cover for what doubters call SCADs – State Crimes Against Democracy.

Whoa. You read enough of that stuff and it begins to affect you. I mean, what can we really believe?

Anyway, once I got to Boston I did all the touristy things, starting at Fenway Park and moving east through Boston Commons to the Freedom Trail. The first stop is the Old State House, followed by the marker on the cobblestones that commemorates the site of the Boston Massacre of March 5, 1770.

Then it hit me, like guano from a Boston Harbor seagull. Do we really know the truth about 3/5? Did the mainstream colonial press tell the true story? Was there an 18th-century version of 9/11 truthers who gathered “evidence” proving the whole thing was trumped up? Shouldn’t we call it the alleged Boston Massacre?

Let’s see: Colonialists looking for public support for revolution against Britain. Agents provocateur in the crowd, urging a group of Bostonians to bait and heckle some frightened Redcoats.

And then, as so often happens in these situations, someone throws an iceball. While no one gets their eye poked out the soldiers open fire, five in the mob are killed, six are wounded.

Once they have their outrage-provoking headlines (“A Horrid and Bloody Massacre”) and a well-circulated etching of the carnage by Paul Revere, the plotters put lawyer and activist John Adams to work defending Capt. Thomas Preston and eight of his soldiers. Adams wins acquittals for all but two who are convicted only of minor charges. I think they’re all in the Royal Witness Protection Program.

A short time later, a mob disguised as Mohawk Indians but led by Samuel Adams tosses tea into the harbor, a purported act of defiance that does nothing to harm rebel leader John Hancock’s tea-smuggling business.

To fan the flames, Samuel Adams holds rallies each year on the anniversary of the “massacre.”

Next thing you know we have the Revolutionary War, John Adams becomes vice president, Hancock has an insurance company named for him, Samuel Adams makes a fortune off craft beer and the Tea Party becomes a major political movement.



Peter Callaghan writes for The (Tacoma) News Tribune. He can be reached at:,, or on Twitter: @CallaghanPeter.

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