Feathered Bastard

Arizona Republic publishes puff piece on Chandler 9/11 Conference

The Rep's reportorial kitty cat: I could Google 9/11, but then I'd have to get off my ass.

Following the East Valley Tribune's verbal BJ of the 9/11 Accountability Conference taking place in Chandler this weekend, the Arizona Repugnant ran a totally uncritical puff piece on the confab in today's paper by reporter Luci Scott. Unlike the Trib piece, it was buried on B6 of the Valley and State section; but like the Trib piece, it reported on this crackpot symposium as if it were as benign as a Star Trek convention. Not only did Scott ignore the controversy over Holocaust denier Eric Williams heading the conference up until the beginning of February, she employed full credulity in handling wacko statements by the participants and organizers. Take this bit of fantasy from moon-howler Jim Marrs, one of the speakers who will be present:

"No one has offered up any proof of who these hijackers actually were," [Marrs] said. "According to the European media, half (of the alleged hijackers) are still alive in the Middle East, meaning their identities were stolen."

Marrs' untruth has its origins in a much-cited article in the BBC news online from September 2001, which discussed the then confusion swirling around the hijackers' identities. The BBC later corrected any confusion over the matter, but conspiracy theorists have latched onto such reports -- reports often due to similarities in names. The tale has mutated like an online game of "telephone" to become the Marrs fiction that "half (of the alleged hijackers) are still alive in the Middle East."

Aware that conspiracy theorists were exploiting the BBC's original report, BBC editor Steve Herrmann made a post about it this past October on his "Editors" blog, seeking to straighten out any confusion:

A five-year-old story from our archive has been the subject of some recent editorial discussion here. The story, written in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, was about confusion at the time surrounding the names and identities of some of the hijackers. This confusion was widely reported and was also acknowledged by the FBI. The story has been cited ever since by some as evidence that the 9/11 attacks were part of a US government conspiracy.

We later reported on the list of hijackers, thereby superseding the earlier report. In the intervening years we have also reported in detail on the investigation into the attacks, the 9/11 commission and its report.

We've carried the full report, executive summary and main findings and, as part of the recent fifth anniversary coverage, a detailed guide to what's known about what happened on the day. But conspiracy theories have persisted. The confusion over names and identities we reported back in 2001 may have arisen because these were common Arabic and Islamic names.

In an effort to make this clearer, we have made one small change to the original story. Under the FBI picture of Waleed al Shehri we have added the words "A man called Waleed Al Shehri..." to make it as clear as possible that there was confusion over the identity. The rest of the story remains as it was in the archive as a record of the situation at the time.

We recently asked the FBI for a statement, and this is, as things stand, the closest thing we have to a definitive view: The FBI is confident that it has positively identified the nineteen hijackers responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Also, the 9/11 investigation was thoroughly reviewed by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States and the House and Senate Joint Inquiry. Neither of these reviews ever raised the issue of doubt about the identity of the nineteen hijackers.

If Scott or any of her editors at the Repugnant had bothered to use the Google search engine on their 'puters, they might have discovered information on the conference's anti-Semitic ties, the controversy over Eric Williams being involved, and the origins of some of the fables being peddled by the 9/11 conspiracy crowd. But both Scott and her editors are LAZY JOURNALISTS! I called Scott, and all she could muster in response was "I don't like to comment on my work." Don't like to comment? What sort of pathetic excuse for a reporter are you? How can you be a member of the fourth estate and not be prepared to defend your reporting, or lack thereof? What a joke.

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Stephen is a former staff writer and columnist at Phoenix New Times.
Contact: Stephen Lemons

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