To Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, if a white person like former governor Jesse Ventura or former senator Mike Gravel questions the government's recounting of the 9/11 attacks, he (or she) is a "pinhead." But if a Muslim person questions the official story, well, that makes them a potentially dangerous "radical".
Meaning: "That guy shouldn't be allowed within 10 miles of Ground Zero," the conservative broadcaster insisted during a recent episode of The O'Reilly Factor.
Perhaps O'Reilly should try explaining that to the 45 percent of Americans, according to a 2006 Zogby International poll sponsored by 9/11 activists, who say a new investigation into the events is called for; or the 42 percent of Americans who said they believe the government is covering something up; or, the 49 percent of New York City residents who agreed in 2004 that U.S. officials "knew in advance that attacks were planned on or around September 11, 2001, and that they consciously failed to act."
By his own words, the Fox News personality appears to be suggesting that Americans, particularly Muslims, who doubt the official 9/11 story be banned from Ground Zero.
O'Reilly's bizarre comment was made in the process of taking another swing at the New York City imam who plans to build an Islamic cultural center two blocks from the former World Trade Center site. The host's latest approach to smearing Feisal Abdul Rauf, who worked with the FBI on counter-terrorism issues after 9/11, is guilt-by-association. In this case, the man O'Reilly has saddled with the flaming tire of "radical Islam" is Faiz Khan, M.D.
Unfortunately for the Fox host, the man he's attacked is a medical doctor and 9/11 first responder, and someone who has never tried to hide his beliefs about that fateful day.
"O’Reilly was grim-faced as he announced that the subject of his Talking Points Memo was, as he put it, 'evidence that the ground zero imam is associated with a radical Muslim,'" Newshounds noted. "O’Reilly said, 'evidence shows' that fears 'may now be valid' the ground zero mosque has 'radical ties.'"
Rauf has repeatedly described the attacks on New York and Washington, D.C. as "suicide bombings" and has not advocated on behalf of a new investigation. He and Dr. Khan worked together at the American Society for Muslim Advancement (ASMA), which Khan has since left to focus on his medical career. ASMA and Rauf's organization, the Cordoba Initiative, are working together on the NYC Islamic community center.
In an essay available online and a video of a speech he gave to a 9/11 truth group, Khan explains that most people around the world assume 9/11 was an "inside job" because of the corrupt nature of many third world governments.
"It's surprising," he said to a 2006 gathering of activists in Chicago. "Talk to a cab driver. I'm serious. They will tell you, yes, it's obvious. Now, this is the reason why it's obvious: Because in the third world, the sleaze of governance is a lot more transparent. So, people sort-of expect their officials to act in certain ways and they just kinda put up with it and that's the way it goes. Here [in the U.S.], the glass is a lot thicker. The conditioning is a lot heavier, so that's something you've got to work through."
In an essay published by the Muslim-Jewish-Christian Alliance for 9/11 Truth, Khan, one of the group's co-founders, explains his views:
The ‘9/11 Truth' thesis categorically rejects the mainstream thesis and asserts that the prime factor for the success of the criminal mission known as 9/11 did not come from the quarter known as ‘militant Islam' although the phenomenon known as ‘militant Islamic networks' may have played a partial role, or even a less than partial role - perhaps the role of patsy and scapegoat.
Moreover, the rise and popularization of so called militant Islamic networks, from these networks' ideology to actual empowerment, and the linking of this to western corporate driven government covert operations - this relationship is one that needs to be explicitly and loudly proclaimed by Islamic voices.
Let us be clear about our opinion here, as it relates to the phenomenon of “militant Islamic networks”, just in case the infantile minds within the Islamic activist scene confuse our application of intelligence in analyzing “why 9/11” with a denial of the very real need to “clean out our own house”, or confuse a legitimate inquiry into 9/11Truth with an unwillingness to face the “ideological ills found in the Islamic world.” This kind of accusatory self-righteous indignation obstructs clear thinking. Such sentimental nonsense has no place in legitimate discourse.
But does this make him a "radical Muslim," as O'Reilly suggests? Hardly.
Still, the association between the two men, the Fox host insisted, should be "enough" to get the whole project "tabled" -- an assertion that ABC News host George Stephanopoulos took issue with during an interview broadcast Tuesday morning.
"There's no evidence that Rauf believes anything like that," he reminded O'Reilly.
Though Khan says he's since left the so-called truth "movement," he insists his views of the event have not changed. His opinions about the attacks have been available in the public domain for years, and he's even publicly signed 9/11 truth petitions.
In the lengthy essay, he clinically dissects the mentality of the general public on 9/11, offering activists advice on how to convey their ideas more effectively. Mid-way through, he addresses his feelings for the nation of which he's a citizen, saying:
Huge segments of American Muslims came to this country looking to better their lives through opportunities afforded by American society. Thankfully, many have found success. For them, the reality is that the US is the best place on earth in terms of opportunity, and returns on hard work, honesty and obeying rules. They see that the blatant nepotism, corruption, bribery, and cut throatedness necessary to socio-economically ascend in their home-countries was relatively absent here. This is true – and as an American, I am proud of this.
Contacted by Steve Emerson, a reporter whose body of work mainly focuses on militant Islamic networks (and who attacks his source in this case as a "9/11 denier"), Khan attempted to distance himself from the various theories about that day:
"I am not sure what happened on 911, and as I have stated in articles, and other sources you may have come across - the 'official explanation' is demonstrably false...since multiple facets of it have been shown to be thus by independent investigators."
Others who've called for a new investigation into the attacks include widows who lost husbands during the attacks, WTC employees, police, firefighters and other first responders who escaped before the collapse, architects, engineers, members of the military both current and former, professional pilots and even former intelligence operatives: the vast majority of them, Americans.
“He (Rauf) had to know that we were going to find about this guy, did he not?” O’Reilly rhetorically asked his guest on Monday, "as if Khan had done something really heinous and as if he, O’Reilly, had uncovered the plot of the century," Newshounds quipped.
Indeed, many who've come to question the official recounting of the events cite recent revelations for their skepticism.
For instance: “More than one-quarter of all footnotes in the 9/11 Report refer to CIA interrogations of al Qaeda operatives subjected to the now-controversial interrogation techniques,” writes former NBC producer Robert Windrem, in The Daily Beast.
“… [Information] derived from the interrogations is central to the Report’s most critical chapters, those on the planning and execution of the attacks,” MSNBC reported in a 2009 post that appears to have been removed from the network's database. “The analysis also shows - and agency and commission staffers concur - there was a separate, second round of interrogations in early 2004, done specifically to answer new questions from the Commission.
“9/11 Commission staffers say they ‘guessed’ but did not know for certain that harsh techniques had been used, and they were concerned that the techniques had affected the operatives’ credibility. At least four of the operatives whose interrogation figured in the 9/11 Commission Report have claimed that they told interrogators critical information as a way to stop being ‘tortured.’ The claims came during their hearings last spring at the U.S. military facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.”
“Commission executive director Philip Zelikow (later counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice) admitted, ‘We were not aware, but we guessed, that things like that were going on. We were wary…we tried to find different sources to enhance our credibility,’” Windrem continued. “(Zelikow testified before the Senate on Wednesday, May 13, that he had argued in a 2005 memo that some of the tactics used on suspected terrorists violated the constitutional ban on cruel and unusual punishment.)”
In his book "The Commission: The Uncensored History of the 9/11 Investigation", New York Times reporter Philip Shenon indicts Zelikow on his ties with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and his frequent contact with senior Bush political adviser Karl Rove, during what was touted as an independent investigation into the events surrounding the attacks. This seeming conflict of interest, the book says, led Commission staffers not to trust Zelikow.
9/11 Commission member John Lehman went on to tell MSNBC that it was impossible not to go through Karl Rove when documents such as presidential daily briefings were needed. Many Commission members, he said, pressed the White House to provide more information and lift restrictions on a regular basis.
Perhaps paramount above all other critics, Thomas Kean, the former Republican governor of New Jersey who led the 9/11 Commission, told the National Press Club in 2006 that he and other members of the investigative body felt their work had been "set up to fail."
It all seems to leave one wondering who else O'Reilly would like to see banned from Ground Zero.
"In the clip below Bill opens with a hysterical introduction of the issue, demanding that Rauf explain himself and why he didn’t make his association to Khan public," writes Andrew Steel, blogging for America 20XY. "Bill interviews Roy Locker, who is the managing editor for The Investigative Project on Terrorism– a data-gathering center on Islamic groups. Locker describes Khan’s past speaking engagements in a cautious and somber tone, as if they equated to participating in brutal massacres instead of exercises of free speech. Towards the end of the interview O’Reilly and Locker imply that Rauf’s association with Khan now opens the door to the possibility that the Ground Zero cultural center will become a haven for terrorist activities, thus associating 9/11 Truth itself with terrorism. "
He concludes: "Though disguised as a new twist to the tired ‘mosque’ controversy, the true aim of O’Reilly’s attack is to isolate those who question the official story of 9/11 by sending out the message that any connection with 9/11 Truthers is not only undesirable, but potentially criminal."
This video is from Fox News' O'Reilly Factor, broadcast Sept. 13, 2010.
This video is from ABC's Good Morning America, broadcast Sept. 14, 2010.