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This essay is Chapter 1 of Kevin Barrett, John Cobb Jr., and Sandra Lubarsky, eds., 9/11 and American Empire: Christians, Jews, and Muslims Speak Out (Olive Branch Press,  2007).



John B. Cobb, Jr.


MOST AMERICANS FIND IT DIFFICULT, IF NOT IMPOSSIBLE, TO BELIEVE that responsible members of the administration could have been involved in 9/11. The attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon have been portrayed as so heinous that people suppose that only extraordinarily vicious people could have perpetrated them. Americans can imagine that there are Arabs who are sufficiently vicious to do so, but they do not want to believe that any Americans are that evil. Above all, they do not want to believe that anyone who participates in the US government could be involved.

These beliefs provide a shield against inquiring into what really did take place on that day and how the attacks could have been so successful. Most Americans are prepared to accept the official explanation, whatever it may be, as long as all the blame is placed on foreigners, especially Muslims. They like to be assured that Americans played only virtuous roles. This requires believing that many Americans behaved extremely incompetently, even absurdly, and that none of those who did so have lost their jobs or even been demoted as a result. But this can be overlooked, since one trusts the authorities to take care of such matters.

Perhaps my being a Christian theologian has something to do with adopting a quite different perspective on these matters. From my perspective, there is no reason to suppose that those who planned and executed this attack were vicious. From their own point of view and that of their supporters, they were heroes. It is all too easy to forget that those who are called terrorists generally understand themselves as freedom fighters. A recent case is that of those who won Israel’s freedom from Great Britain. These freedom fighters believe the cause for which they are fighting is worth both dying and killing for. Many agree with them. 

That there are diverse views of which cause is worth killing and dying for is easy to see if we adopt the perspective of Osama bin Laden. In a video attributed to him, he has told us why he attacked us. Firstly, we support Zionism, which, while viewed by many Jews as salvific and part of God’s providential plan, is experienced by many Arabs as an unmitigated evil. Without any consultation with the Arabs, the West gave Jews the right to seize Arab land, drive out most of the population, and then make second-class citizens of the remainder. Jews have taken over more and more land and reduced the political situation of Arabs on the West Bank and in Gaza to that of the colonized and their economic condition to near destitution. Those Arabs who resist are called terrorists and are imprisoned and sometimes tortured. Arab homes are demolished and Arab orchards are uprooted. None of this could have taken place without the support of the United States. 

Secondly, the United States has troops on the sacred soil of Saudi Arabia. This is a sign of its imperial nature and a deep humiliation of the Saudi Arabs. It is also a sacrilege against the holy places of Islam. American economic and military power is such that there can be no direct resistance by patriotic Saudis or devoted Muslims. Further, the United States has corrupted the government of Saudi Arabia so that its national policies support American colonialism and imperialism. But there are ways of making American crimes against the Arab people costly. The World Trade Center represents American economic power and its oppressive role in the world. The Pentagon represents American military power. To attack these centers is to engage in the only kind of resistance that is open to Saudi Arabians.

I am not arguing that this is an accurate analysis of all that has happened. I could just as easily present the story from the point of view of Zionist Jews who see the establishment of a Jewish homeland as crucial to the very survival of the Jewish people in a Jew-hating world, and also view Israel as having acted with remarkable restraint, given the refusal of many Arabs to recognize the legitimacy of the state of Israel and the terrorist attacks upon its people by Palestinians. I am asserting that it is not difficult to understand that some Saudi Arabians would see the United States in this way. No more viciousness is required to think this way or to act on these views than for the American government to justify maintaining military bases in Saudi Arabia and supporting Israel’s basic policies in relation to the Palestinian people. 

Similarly, it is not vicious to adopt, and to act on, the views that have been articulated and published by the neoconservatives in the United States. In their vision, the United States is the global bastion of democracy and justice. Those parts of the world that share basic American practices and virtues are orderly and peaceful and make a good life possible for their people. But much of the world is still living under the rule of corrupt authoritarian governments. The mission of the United States is to extend democracy and personal freedom throughout the world. Now that the greatest threat to democracy, the Soviet Union, has collapsed, the time has come to realize the possibilities of the American century.

From this perspective, it is clear that to achieve an orderly and peaceful world of democratic nations, it is necessary that there be no center of power elsewhere capable of challenging the United States. Nuclear arms must be limited to the United States and its close allies. Also, the United States must have massive military superiority on land, in the sea, in the air, and in space. This requires increased military expenditures. It also requires that the American people support the use of American power to enforce a Pax Americana. The United States must not be inhibited by world opinion, the United Nations, or international treaties. It must be free to use its power to implement its policies. 

Clearly, in order both to maintain its standard of living and to attain full global hegemony, the United States must control the world’s oil. As oil becomes scarce in relation to global demand, the importance of this policy increases. The major resources the United States must secure, in addition to Saudi Arabia, are in Iraq, the Caspian basin, and Iran.

Much of US policy since the fall of the Soviet Empire can be explained by this vision of the American role. However, administrations prior to the present one were more concerned to work with allies and make use of international institutions. They were willing to tolerate authoritarian governments hostile to the United States as long as they posed no threat to its security. Hence, although much of the action of the present administration has been continuous with that of its predecessors, the influence of the full neoconservative ideology is far more marked.

Now, let us take the next step. If one is deeply committed to the neoconservative vision, one will view the chief obstacle to its implementation to be public opinion in the United States. Most Americans support foreign wars only if they are persuaded that other nations threaten the United States. They like America to be powerful, but they do not favor trying to control the whole world.  They do not want to make the sacrifices needed to implement the neoconservative vision. In particular, most young Americans do not want to serve in the armed forces. Only under extreme circumstances will the American people support a draft. 

What is required to gain the support of the American people for a far more costly and aggressive foreign policy? The answer is simple: We must be attacked. It must be a dramatic and serious attack. Americans must also be persuaded that this attack is not a single event to be punished and forgotten, but a part of a longterm threat to which they must be prepared to respond indefinitely. If those policies that are needed for the good of the world and of the United States cannot be sold to the American people on their merits, then there must be an attack upon us. An attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon would galvanize American public opinion and make it possible for the government to take those steps that are required for it to fulfill its mission. This will be costly in civilian lives and property, but, from the neoconservative perspective, these costs are trivial when measured against the benefits.

The point here, of course, is that virtuous people in positions of power in the United States government, employing their best judgments, could well come to this conclusion. That they would collude in enabling the attack to take place and preventing any serious investigation is, therefore, fully understandable. Whether this happened is, of course, a different question. Until and unless these suspicions are genuinely investigated, we can only speculate. 

On the factual question of who did what when, a theologian as theologian has no better answer than anyone else. The question is one of evidence. However, it requires less evidence to establish the occurrence of a plausible event than of a radically implausible one.  For example, in proving the case against one suspected of murder, establishing a motive plays a large role. Once we are clear that leading figures in the administration wanted something like the events of 9/11 to occur, indeed, that they considered it crucial that something of this sort happen, the theory that they permitted or even orchestrated it deserves serious consideration.

Serious consideration quickly reveals that there is in fact a great deal of evidence of complicity on the part of leading figures in the administration. At the present state of the investigation, none of this evidence is decisive. It is always possible to imagine other scenarios. However, the absence of decisive evidence results from the fact that the administration has blocked any serious investigation. This does not reduce the plausibility of the theory that there is much the administration wishes to conceal.  

We should be clear that there is nothing vicious about this coverup either. Once people decide that a particular action is needed for the sake of the nation and the world, the fact that it is illegal and politically unacceptable is no reason to avoid it. But its illegality is a reason to be very secretive and to use the power of the government to deceive the public and prevent the truth from being known. 

What then is the virtuous response to a situation in which there seems to be a justifiable suspicion that governmental leaders may have engaged in massive illegal acts and concealed them from the public? The answer depends on the basic convictions of the one who responds. I will schematically suggest several possibilities. 

Some people share the beliefs described above, which may have led to this collusion with, or even orchestration of, an attack upon the United States. They believe that the invasion and conquest of Afghanistan, together with the establishment of long-term American presence in the Caspian region, was needed. They also believe that the conquest of Iraq was essential to American well-being and to the realization of a Pax Americana or an American global empire. And to them it seems that the sacrifice of personal liberties involved in the Patriot Act improves the situation, making it easier to maintain governmental control over the American people. From this point of view, the administration should be strongly supported in covering up the successful operation called 9/11.

For others, American patriotism is primary. They tend to the view “America right or wrong!” The United States needs, accordingly, to maintain its national power and reputation.  Especially with respect to any feature of our national life that has international ramifications, we should rally around the president as our commander in chief. We need to present a unified face to the world. People in this group may not approve of the acts of which some figures in the administration are suspected, but they do not want any investigation. Those acts are water over the dam. For those who hold these views, our task now is to move ahead in safeguarding American interests.

A third group is equally patriotic, but it understands patriotism in a different way: Our nation was founded on certain principles, and only when it is held to these principles can it flourish. Ours is a government of laws rather than of people. There are ways to put forward different proposals for foreign policy and to win support for them. But there is no justification for manipulating public opinion through deception as a basis for implementing policies that the people do not support on their merits. Leaders in the government should be held to especially high standards of moral and legal conduct. If, in fact, there is evidence of collusion with the attackers on 9/11, this should be thoroughly investigated and any found guilty should be prosecuted. However, most of those in this group refuse to believe that any responsible US government official would have engaged in a crime of this magnitude. Since, for them, obedience to the moral and positive law is so central to virtue, they find it difficult to imagine that others would engage in such an extreme violation of that law. They would support an investigation only if the evidence of guilt were overwhelming. For the most part, they are more critical of the accusers than of those suspected of involvement. The result is that they support the acceptance of the official theory and oppose the investigations apart from which the overwhelming evidence they demand cannot be obtained.

A fourth group consists of those who view world affairs in Machiavellian light. They find it quite likely that members of the present administration have committed a variety of crimes in order to gain and maintain power and to implement their policies. They do not exclude the events of 9/11 from this list. They recognize that Roosevelt may have tricked us into World War II and that Johnson lied us into the expansion of the Vietnam conflict. They see no reason to doubt that the current administration has been still more manipulative and deceptive. But they view those who expose such crimes as equally politically motivated and, should they gain power, equally likely to commit crimes. They are not against exposing the crimes of those now in power, but they do not expect any great gain from doing so. They see the law as functioning more as an instrument of power than of justice.

A fifth group is deeply opposed to the neoconservative ideology. Part of the opposition is the extent to which that ideology explicitly justifies deception and trickery in the interest of what is viewed as necessary governmental actions. But the opposition is also both to the goal of American empire and to the means of attaining it: unilateral action and indifference to international law and institutions. It is also to the militarization of society and the reduction of personal liberties. This group would like to punish the administration for leading us into unnecessary and destructive wars, especially for doing so through deceit. For the members of this group the goal is to amass a coalition of those opposed to current policy sufficient to defeat the Republican Party in the next elections. For this they believe that they need to maintain a moderate image. Even if they have little doubt that some members of the administration are capable of the sort of acts of which they are suspected, they do not regard it as politically prudent to raise such issues.

There are, also, however, those who believe that it is of great importance to learn the truth. The Christian faith as I understand it calls me to stand in this position. We believe that since the official account does not hold water and there are many unanswered questions, a genuine inquiry is urgently called for. In addition to the conviction that truth is inherently superior to falsehood, there are several practical reasons for this position. 

First, currently much of our policy and practice is based on theories about the cause of 9/11 that are highly doubtful. For example, the administration has persuaded most of the population that al-Qaeda is entirely responsible for what happened. This was used as a justification for regime change in Afghanistan and influenced the acceptance by the American people of the invasion of Iraq. It currently provides a context for consideration of an attack on Iran as well. It leads to support of Israeli violence against Palestinians and attacks on Lebanon.

Despite some cautious statements on the part of the administration, the official theory has stimulated broad suspicion of Muslims as individuals and of Muslim nations. It has justified changes in the law that allow for government interference in religious affairs, an interference thus far exercised chiefly in relation to Islam. More broadly, it has allowed for the loss of civil liberties by Muslims and even the torture of Muslim prisoners. It has reduced the protection of all Americans from arbitrary governmental actions. It has concentrated power in the presidency, weakening the system of checks and balances.

If in fact 9/11 was a false-flag operation, it is obvious that few of these actions are justified. In this case, billions of dollars have been misspent, and tens of thousands of lives have been lost without justification. The fabric of our democracy has been seriously injured without reason. In planning for the future we will judge that the likelihood of future acts of terrorism of this sort does not loom so large. We will select different principles as the basis for our foreign policy. We can adopt a more balanced view of those who in various parts of the world consider themselves as freedom fighters but who are defined by governments as terrorists.  Justification for the reduction of civil liberties and torture of prisoners will largely disappear. The general level of suspicion of our Muslim neighbors should be greatly reduced. 

Our primary response should be to find ways to implement our system of checks and balances more effectively, to prevent the concentration of power in a few hands that makes it possible for such events to occur. It would also be appropriate to rethink the role of false-flag operations in other countries and, indeed, our whole quest for global hegemony. If the system of governmental secrecy functions primarily to prevent us from knowing the truth about our rulers, we should work to open up government to greater transparency.

Second, the public knowledge that the administration lies to us as a matter of course creates a profoundly unhealthy climate. The culture of corruption in Congress is matched by a culture of deceit in the administration. There have been half-hearted efforts to expose and condemn a few of these deceptions. But they have not gone far. The focus on whether some law has been broken usually becomes narrow and technical, whereas the issue is not as much the law as the basic relation of the government to the people. 

Deception about 9/11, assuming there has been such, is by far the most important. A serious effort to learn the truth would clear the air in a very basic way. Today we live in a Kafkaesque society. Confidence in its structures and democratic functioning is badly eroded. Much else is needed, but an honest investigation into who was responsible for what on 9/11 would probably do more to restore confidence in the integrity of our political system than any other one action. 

Thus far the only Americans who have been punished for what happened on 9/11 have been whistleblowers and those who tried to prevent the attacks. The only lesson that has been taught is to go along with authority. If we learn the truth about 9/11, we will expose wrongdoing and apply the law. We may even honor some who have tried to tell the truth at great personal cost. The lessons we teach future generations will be quite different. 

I wish that the Christian churches adopted this commitment to truth. Regretfully, their members subscribe to all of the six positions just identified. The majority do not seek the truth. Those leaders who would like to lead the church in the pursuit of truth are warned by past occasions when the Protestant leadership moved forward without the support of most of the members.  Meanwhile, few pastors encourage serious grappling with such questions in their congregations. In the more liberal churches where some pastors would like to do this, the fear of accelerating membership loss is too strong. Accordingly, I know that the Christian contribution to seeking the truth will come only from individuals and perhaps eventually from a few rare congregations. 

I write, nevertheless, as a Christian theologian. This leads me to view other people in terms of their theologies or ideologies. I believe that most of the evils in the world result from erroneous or inadequate belief systems rather than from personal viciousness. There are sociopaths and sadists, and their actions are often appalling. But the evil caused by them is minor when set against the background of the massive horrors of history. 

There are many people who are neither sociopaths nor sadists, whose concerns extend little beyond their personal interests.  Some of them have adopted an ideology that holds that there are no valid moral principles transcending the quest for achieving personal goals. Some are persuaded that society as a whole functions best when each member seeks individual gain. The selfishness that results certainly does harm, since selfish people often ignore the consequences of their actions for others. Because the beliefs and ideologies that support this self-centeredness are growing in acceptance in our society, those who disagree must certainly find ways of confronting them effectively. But calling self-centered people vicious does not help. In any case, they are not those who have done most harm in history. 

The massive evils of history have resulted from acting on belief systems. Most of the most damaging systems have been ethno-centric or nationalist. Members of one tribe or city-state believe that the interests of their tribe deserve attention even at the expense of the interests of other tribes. Nations gain part of their sense of well-being by triumphing over other nations. In recent times the causes of enormous conflict and suffering have also included political and economic ideologies.

For the most part religion has intensified these conflicts. Nations call on their people to sacrifice for national glory partly on the grounds of their supposed religious superiority or the threats to their religious convictions that come from other ethnic groups.  In these cases national and religious feelings merge. Much of this still occurs today.

Religious loyalties can also be an independent cause of conflict and mutual destruction. This is especially true of the Abrahamic traditions, and among them Christianity has played the largest role in causing historical evils. Once it gained power, it persecuted those who did not accept it. It organized a series of so-called crusades against the Muslim rulers of the Holy Land, resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths. These crusades also initiated the worst stage of the religious persecution of Jews, culminating in the twentieth century in the Holocaust. In addition, Christians fought Christians over doctrinal differences. Christian teaching played a role in the genocide of Native Americans in North America and in the effort to eradicate the cultures of those who survived. It also supported the slaughter of alleged witches in Europe and the American colonies and the enslavement and pitiless exploitation of Africans.

No absolutes can be drawn about the relation of means and ends. Terrible things are sometimes necessary in order to prevent still more terrible things. But we need to recognize that the terrible things we do will have their own terrible consequences.We should engage in them only as what is truly a last resort and then with every possible safeguard to minimize the evil that they cause. 

These cautions about means and ends, which we Christians have learned from our own mistakes, are highly relevant to other groups today. Both terrorists and governments widely seem to neglect this hard-learned wisdom. Such wisdom would almost certainly have prevented 9/11, wherever responsibility for this event may lie. This would certainly be the case if 9/11 is, as the official account would have it, the work of Muslim extremists. If, as I suspect, neoconservative ideology contributed to what happened on 9/11, it applies to those who have adopted this mode of thought as well.

A third reason that we need to know the truth about 9/11 is that in the absence of such knowledge it is hard to bring Christian wisdom, or any wisdom, to bear upon it. Nevertheless, I will proceed on the hypothesis of neoconservative involvement, recognizing that, without a thorough and open-minded investigation, it remains only a hypothesis. Even if it turns out that their thinking did not contribute in any direct way to 9/11, it is clear that their policies often need correction by this wisdom. 

The point is that even those who genuinely believe that American hegemony would be good for both the nation and the world should beware of employing terrible means in pursuit of that goal. If pursuit of that goal requires much horror, that is sufficient reason for abandoning it. The means we use for purposes that we sincerely believe to be good have their own independent consequences that are likely to overwhelm the desired goals. The destruction wreaked on 9/11 has had many unanticipated consequences. However idealistic the goals may be, Christians should challenge the acceptability of using means of this sort to attain them. We should do so not condescendingly from a position of virtue, but out of our painful acknowledgment of the many crimes we have ourselves committed and condoned because we supposed that our noble ends justified them and even the horrible consequences that have in fact resulted.

We believe that the lessons Christians have learned painfully over the centuries are important for today. We are impressed by those who have learned them and developed means that are consonant with the ends sought. Gandhi, King, and Mandela stand out. All of history is full of ambiguities, but the results of the revolutions effected by these men are far less ambiguous than those of other historical changes that depended on the violence of war and terrorism.

As my third reason for seeking the truth about 9/11 I have argued that even if the attacks were carried out for what was, in the minds of the perpetrators, a good cause, they were profoundly wrong. We need to know whom to indict for that wrong. I am speaking here of a theological or at least a theoretical indictment.  I suspect that this indictment is properly directed to the neoconservatives, but without a responsible investigation of the truth, the public argument cannot proceed.

Nevertheless, on the basis of the hypothesis that neoconservative beliefs and ideals have some responsibility for 9/11 and the cover-up that has followed, I will indicate my substantive disagreements with them. I disagree with the neoconservatives’ assessment of American virtue. We have yet to attain a genuine democracy ourselves. Indeed, we are moving away from authentic rule by the people. Today we are more a plutocracy than a democracy. Around the world the United States exploits the forms of democracy to gain control of the economies of other peoples. When this does not work, we overthrow even democratically elected governments. American global hegemony gained in these ways can never result in a genuinely democratic world.

Not only the pursuit of power but also its achievement has a strong tendency to corrupt those who wield it. The events of 9/11 express such corruption. The subsequent use of those events have also been corrupt. The “war on terror” generates terrorists so as to justify still more expenditure, militarization, and reduction of civil liberties at home as well as aggressive actions abroad. Even the realization of an ideal Pax Americana could not justify all this. 

But from a Christian perspective a Pax Americana is, in any case, an inherently false ideal, what we theologians call an idol. An idol is a limited good treated as an ultimate one. There are certainly good features of American society for which I am personally very grateful.  Causing other nations to be more like us in some respects would, in many cases, benefit them. But taking these limited goods and viewing them as an ultimate good is idolatrous. It leads to a great exaggeration of their goodness and to obliviousness to the many evils that are associated with them. It justifies actions that are horrendous and whose grave evil profoundly taints any positive achievements. 

If our goal should not be a Pax Americana, what should it be?  Christians certainly do not all agree on the answer. My judgment is that we should work toward a world in which there is increasing global governance in which all the peoples of the world participate.  We should expand international law and increase the ability of global institutions to enforce it. But I am equally interested in the traditional Catholic principle of subsidiarity. That means that self government should be exercised as locally as possible. We should not take actions at the global level with respect to problems that could be dealt with regionally or locally. Further, power should move upward from the people to governmental institutions and from local governments to national and global ones. We should take seriously the sovereignty of the people. Higher levels of government should interfere with lower ones only to ensure that all people are included in the local communities, that is, recognized as full participants, and that none act to the serious detriment of their neighbors.

A major obstacle to localism today is the globalization of the economy. Local communities, even nations, in many instances, have little control over their economies and thus lack any significant control over their own lives. When local government is dependent on distant corporations for the well-being of its people, the result cannot be considered self-government. 

There are, however, good reasons to think that economic globalization is fragile. It now encounters enormous popular opposition, an opposition that is beginning to shape the policies of more governments as well. It depends on large US consumption, which is sustained only by enormous and growing debt. It is based on a petroleum economy that makes the cost of shipping goods great distances small. And it produces goods in ways that generate global warming and other ecological catastrophes. This is not sustainable.  At some point creditors will cease to lend more money to the United States at low interest rates. We are already at or near peak oil, while demand globally continues to rise. The consequences of global warming will become unacceptable even to the economic elite. 

Catastrophes can be slowed, mitigated, and survived, if not prevented, by moving toward local production of essential goods.  There are already moves in that direction. If we view the world in the widest perspective, as those who believe in God are called to do, encouraging moves toward localism economically and politically seems far more valuable and positive than attempting to impose American domination on resistant peoples. 

Better than authoritarian control of the world by one nation is global government that gives voice to many peoples. Better than concentrating power in such a government is distributing power, with respect to matters that do not require control at the global level, to more local regions. The model that commends itself to me, for both economic and political organization, is that of communities of communities of communities.

This is not a fanciful idea. Europe has given us a model of a community of national communities. There is always a tension between those who wish to keep their national identity and self determination important and those who move toward erasing national boundaries in favor of sovereignty at the continental level. I am personally glad that the most recent moves in the latter direction failed. My vision requires that the nations also be communities of communities with as much power exercised locally as possible. European countries represent this kind of federalism to varying degrees. And, of course, my vision requires that Europe be a good citizen of the world community, developing  and obeying international law and supporting and strengthening global institutions. To some extent this is already true. 

Europe has by far gone the farthest along the path to that kind of order to which I believe we should be committed as Christians.  But it is not impossible that other regions of the world move in somewhat similar directions. The support of the United States for this kind of development, instead of for economic globalization and US hegemony, could lead to a far better world than that envisioned by the neoconservatives.

This debate about the form of global order we should be seeking may seem quite different from the issue of seeking the truth about 9/11. However, they are related. Earlier I described a way of viewing the world that could have functioned to justify neoconservative idealists’ facilitation of the events of 9/11. Many found the neoconservative vision convincing because of the lack of alternative visions of a desirable world order available in the public sphere. Most groups other than the neoconservatives, including, in general, the Christian churches, took the existing situation largely for granted and limited themselves to modest proposals for improvement here and there. Only the neoconservatives propounded a powerful vision of the great accomplishments possible for our nation if only we were willing to pay the price. 

In Proverbs we are told that where there is no vision, the people perish. At a minimum we can say that where there is no vision, people lose interest in the wider scene and attend to their local interests only. We who disagree with the neoconservatives bear a heavy responsibility for having provided no vision. The neoconservatives did provide one. They won hearts and minds.  Sadly, we must say that when the vision is idolatrous, the people perish even faster than when there is no vision. The neoconservative vision is profoundly idolatrous. It may have provided the justification for the killing that occurred on 9/11. It certainly contributed to the far greater slaughter that has occurred in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The best way to undermine this idolatrous vision and the terrible means employed to realize it will be to expose both its erroneous assumptions and its horrible consequences to the light of day. The most effective focus of such exposure will be on the role of members of the administration in the attack upon us. A genuine investigation is of utmost importance.

Should a genuine investigation exonerate all governmental figures, that, too, would be a great gain. We might still attend to other lies and deceptions in which some of them have participated and which are already part of the public record. But we would limit our criticisms to their known acts rather than to hypothesized ones. For having suspected them of involvement in 9/11 we would then owe them an apology. However, as long as the government blocks every move toward a genuine investigation, our suspicions will continue, and we will not cease to imagine scenarios that implicate leaders in our government in heinous crimes. We need to know the truth.

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John B. Cobb, Jr., is professor of theology, emeritus, of Claremont School of Theology and Claremont Graduate University, the founding director of the Center for Process Studies, and a founding editor of the journal Process Studies. An ordained minister of the United Methodist Church, he is the co-founder of Progressive Christians Uniting, for which he edited Progressive Christians Speak (2003). His numerous books include God and the World (1969), Process Theology (1976, coauthored with David Ray Griffin), Christ in a Pluralistic Age (1975), Beyond Dialogue: Toward a Mutual Transformation of Christianity and Buddhism (1982), The Liberation of Life (1984, coauthored with Charles Birch), For the Common Good  (1989, coauthored with Herman Daly), and Postmodernism and Public Policy (2001)