For about thirty minutes after his chief of staff told him that America was under attack, George W. Bush continued to sit in an elementary school classroom listening to a second-grader tell a story about a pet goat. He did a marvelous job of looking completely unsurprised. Meanwhile, four hijacked jumbo jets were able to fly off-course across several states without encountering any opposition from the most powerful and responsive air force in the world.
Less than a month later, on the pretext of pursuing terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden, the Bush administration began what it called a "war" on the impoverished and already war-torn country of Afghanistan. It turns out this assault had been in the works well before September 11 took place.
Soon after replacing the Taliban government with one more to its liking (and, in what is surely a coincidence, resuscitating the world's most bountiful opium fields), the administration began agitating for a similar, but even more destructive, bombardment of the oil-rich nation of Iraq. This, although Osama bin Laden was still at large and no link between him and Saddam Hussein could be established.
For these reasons and hundreds of others, the year following September 11 has seen probably the most staggering proliferation of "conspiracy theories" in American history. Angry speculation -- focused mainly on government dirty dealings, ulterior motives, and potential complicity in the attacks -- has risen to a clamor that easily rivals what followed the Kennedy assassination. Some of these suppositions are patent balderdash. But many others are coherent and well argued, and cite disconcerting reports from the U.S. corporate media and respected overseas news desks to support their claims. Providing grist for the mill are such odd episodes as last year's partisan anthrax poisonings (using U.S. army microbes) and the sniper attacks that recently plagued Washington, DC.
Following are the ten most alarming theories about September 11, the "war on terror," and the future of the world. Feel free to accept them as gospel, study them as symptoms of a traumatized culture, or scoff at them as anti-American propaganda: I'm only the messenger. Personally, though, at this point the only person I hold above suspicion in the matter of September 11 is that poor kid with the goat.