Fisking Fisk’s fiskers

So, the world (well, bits of it) are all in a tizzy because Robert Fisk believes that 9/11 was an inside job.People believe silly things all the time. In this case, however, it seems people are believing silly things about Fisk.Sure, Fisk has said a number of things which we might questionable, objectionable or just ridiculous, but he actually said those things. Fisk has not come out and denied the official story of September 11th, 2001. He has not said ‘Al Qaeda did not do it; the American Government did!’ He has not said that the weight of evidence in favour of the official explanation of 9/11 is bunk. He is simply curious as to some of the more puzzling aspects of the official story. What he is suggesting is that the official story-qua-explanation is incomplete.This is a perfectly acceptable move. Imagine if you were a theoretical physicist investigating the nature of positrons; you might broadly accept the theories in your discipline but also be involved in research that questions the particulars of those theories.You don’t have to agree with everything your side says, you know. Certainly, the pursuit of knowledge, whether it be natural or social, has been largely about accepting the general thrust of a theory whilst debating the intimate details.Fisk is doing something along these lines and it is not just fairly evident but explictly so in the piece he wrote. This is what Fisk actually says:

Usually, I have tried to tell the “truth”; that while there are unanswered questions about 9/11, I am the Middle East correspondent of The Independent, not the conspiracy correspondent; that I have quite enough real plots on my hands in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, Iran, the Gulf, etc, to worry about imaginary ones in Manhattan. My final argument – a clincher, in my view – is that the Bush administration has screwed up everything – militarily, politically diplomatically – it has tried to do in the Middle East; so how on earth could it successfully bring off the international crimes against humanity in the United States on 11 September 2001?

and, most importantly, these, among others of a similar ilk, are the questions he raises:

But – here we go. I am increasingly troubled at the inconsistencies in the official narrative of 9/11. … I am talking about scientific issues. If it is true, for example, that kerosene burns at 820C under optimum conditions, how come the steel beams of the twin towers – whose melting point is supposed to be about 1,480C – would snap through at the same time? (They collapsed in 8.1 and 10 seconds.) What about the third tower – the so-called World Trade Centre Building 7 (or the Salmon Brothers Building) – which collapsed in 6.6 seconds in its own footprint at 5.20pm on 11 September? Why did it so neatly fall to the ground when no aircraft had hit it? The American National Institute of Standards and Technology was instructed to analyse the cause of the destruction of all three buildings. They have not yet reported on WTC 7. Two prominent American professors of mechanical engineering – very definitely not in the “raver” bracket – are now legally challenging the terms of reference of this final report on the grounds that it could be “fraudulent or deceptive”.

Now, it is true that a lot of the things Fisk finds suspect already have quite plausible answers; he is behind the ball, so to speak, on a fair number of 9/11 issues and seems to see open questions where others have provided very good answers, but still, these were legitimate questions that the official story did not, initially, take account of, and, as is obvious, Fisk isn’t doubting the official story wholesale but asking why it doesn’t/didn’t account for a number of anomalies.Some of the criticisms Fisk seems to be getting on this issue simply smell of a beat-up job; “here’s a(nother) left-wing commentator who is obviously a loony.” Some of it stinks of people simply not bothering to read the article. None of it is justified. Attack Fisk for what he says, not for what you think he might have said.Or, in some cases, what you wished he had said.