How I Woke Up

We've just passed the 13th anniversary of 9/11 and now, more than ever, individuals on all sides of the 9/11 spectrum are demanding to know more about what really happened on that day.  On one side you have the co-chairs of the 9/11 commission report, Lee Hamilton and Thomas Kean, who have called for the 28 classified pages of the 9/11 commission report to be released in the public eye.  As more and more congressmen and senators read those pages for themselves, a growing coalition on the right and left is forming behind a bill that would declassify them for all to see.  On the other side of the 9/11 spectrum you have Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth (AE911 Truth) making unprecedented ground in their cause.  AE911 Truth is a major force behind the High Rise Safety Initiative, which has collected tens of thousands of signatures from New Yorkers and is currently fighting and appealing various legal battles to ensure a ballot measure will be put to the voters that would require the NYC Department of Buildings to investigate the causes of high-rise building collapses in New York City, starting with World Trade Center 7.  AE911 Truth has also put up a video billboard in Times Square this month showing millions of New Yorkers the 6.7 second collapse of WTC 7 and challenging them to "Rethink 911".

But for the 9/11 truth movement, one of the most exciting events is a new documentary called Anatomy of a Great Deception.  It has been getting great reviews from the 9/11 truth community and Richard Gage, founder of AE911 Truth, is calling it "the best chance in years to push the 9/11 debate into the mainstream".  So what is so revolutionary about this movie? Does it have new information or new evidence? No, the hype around this documentary is not because of the evidence it presents, but the way it presents it.  It's not overloaded with ten thousand questions and puzzle pieces of evidence concerning the various reasons to doubt the official story.  Instead, it's a personal story, a story of how one man stumbled upon an innocent question that lead him to another question, and then to another, until months later he was on the brink of personal disaster.  David Hooper is a successful businessman and entrepreneur; and in this very personal film he relates how his research destroyed his world view and almost ruined his most precious relationships with his wife, family and friends.

As Hooper describes the genesis of this film, "I began assembling footage to visually relay what I had found for my wife, my sister, and a couple of dear friends.  This footage turned into the documentary The Anatomy of a Great Deception."  Hooper's amateur documentary succeeded to convince his family where other documentaries failed.  As word of mouth spread, Hooper decided to raise money to take his film to the next level and professionally release it so that others in the 9/11 truth community could share it with the people in their lives.

Several years ago, for various reasons, I decided that I would not promote 9/11 truth in the same way that I unashamedly promote libertarianism and Austrian economics.  Yet, I can't honestly describe how I've come to be the person I am today and carry the beliefs that I do without going back to 9/11.  More specifically, not 9/11, but WTC 7.  Like Hooper, that building shattered my world view and set me on a course of investigation that would completely transform my belief system.  So in the same spirit that Hooper took when telling his story, I will tell mine.  My purpose is not to try to convince anyone to accept my beliefs, I've given up on that long ago.  I merely hope this will help others understand my journey.

WTC 7 and Me

The most transformative event of my life occurred on Saturday, April 15th, 2006 - Easter weekend.  I was completing my Senior year at the University of Iowa and I had recently taken an internship at the Operator Performance Laboratory instead of pursing a 3rd summer with my door-to-door book selling career.  I had completed the math and physics classes required for all engineers, and now that I was taking my upper level courses in Electrical Engineering things were really starting to get interesting.  The seemingly abstract world of calculus and differential equations was finally made real as I learned how to apply those concepts to understand the physical phenomena of the world around me.

It was under this context that I went home for the holiday weekend and my youngest brother showed me a video that he had accidentally found while searching for Tool music videos.  Someone had intentionally mislabeled a 5 minute video called "Painful Questions" to trick people like my brother into downloading it.  He was shocked and scared by what he saw, and he didn't discuss it with anyone until I came home for a visit.

He told me he had a video that I needed to see, I watched it, and my whole world was turned upside down.

It's hard to remember my exact reaction, but I was in a state of total shock, my mind racing at the consequences of what I saw.  I watched it again and again to make sure I could believe my eyes.  The video was a condensed version of a longer documentary by Eric Hufschmid called Painful Deceptions.  While the full length documentary covers many aspects of 9/11, this 5-minute version only discussed a sky scrapper called World Trade Center Building 7, or WTC 7, which I had never heard of before.  In this crude and unprofessional video I was quickly made aware of a few key facts:

  1. On 9/11 there existed a modern 47-story steel-framed skyscraper called WTC 7.
  2. This building was not hit by a plane on 9/11, but it did catch fire on several floors.
  3. At 5:20 pm on 9/11 this building "collapsed" into its own footprint in 6.7 seconds.

That's all I had, 3 inconvenient facts and the video of it "collapsing" from multiple angles over and over again.  Right away I saw this could not have been a fire-induced "collapse".  What I saw looked identical to a building that was brought down in a controlled demolition.  But that conclusion was too painful, it immediately brought question after question: Who was responsible for bringing this building down?  If WTC 7 was a controlled demolition, does that mean the Twin Towers were too?  If so, then that means people in the government were involved.  How was I not aware of this event?  Does that mean elements of the media are in on this too?  How could people be so evil?  How could a conspiracy this big and this important be hidden from me for so long?

I didn't have answers to any of those questions.  For all I knew, myself, my brother and the maker of this video might be the only 3 people in the world that were aware of this evidence.  I couldn't wrap my head around the giant implications of this revelation, but I had seen all I needed with my own two eyes.  Eric Hufschmid's video might have also brought up the fact that the maximum temperature of an office fire is 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit while the melting point of steel is 2,700.  It might have shown me examples of other sky scrappers that had burned longer and hotter than WTC 7 but weren't even weakened, let alone brought down.  It probably pointed out that no sky scrapper in history had ever collapsed due to fire.  It might have mentioned a character named Larry Silverstein, the man who told fire fighters to "pull" WTC7 and whose recent acquisition of the lease for the Twin Towers 6 weeks before 9/11 would allow him to collect billions in insurance claims.  It might have even shown examples of reporters saying WTC 7 collapsed before it did, most notably the BBC reporting it had collapsed while it was still standing and visible in the background!

But I didn't need any of that.  The three inconvenient facts were all I needed and they could not be refuted.  No one denied that this mysterious building existed and fell on 9/11 and the rest I could see for myself from the video evidence.  The height of this building and the speed in which it "collapsed" were a matter of public record.  And that is the key that woke me up - the fact that this building "fell" so fast and into its own footprint, the path of most resistance.

In physics I had learned how calculus could take me from the velocity of a moving object to the change in velocity (acceleration) to the change in acceleration.  In statics I learned how to calculate the opposing and combining forces of objects at rest - how various forces would act against "static" objects like weights, dump trucks and buildings on ramps, pulleys and wires.  I knew how the law of conservation of momentum applied to inelastic collisions and how kinetic energy and gravitational potential energy would be converted to other forms of energy like heat and sound.  So when I saw the videos of WTC 7 coming straight down in 6.7 seconds I knew that fire and gravity alone could not have caused this.  Why?

David Chandler, the retired physics teacher who forced NIST to admit in its final report that WTC had 2.25 seconds of complete free-fall acceleration, puts it this way:
“Anything at an elevated height has gravitational potential energy.  If it falls, and none of the energy is used for other things along the way, all of that energy is converted into kinetic energy – the energy of motion, and we call it ‘free fall.’  If any of the energy is used for other purposes, there will be less kinetic energy, so the fall will be slower.  In the case of a falling building, the only way it can go into free fall is if an external force removes the supporting structure.  None of the gravitational potential energy of the building is available for this purpose, or it would slow the fall of the building.
[P]articularly striking is the suddenness of onset of free fall.  Acceleration doesn’t build up gradually...  The building went from full support to zero support, instantly...  One moment, the building is holding; the next moment it lets go and is in complete free fall...  The onset of free fall was not only sudden; it extended across the whole width of the building...  The fact that the roof stayed level shows the building was in free fall across the entire width.  The collapse we see cannot be due to a column failure, or a few column failures, or a sequence of column failures.  All 24 interior columns and 58 perimeter columns had to have been removed...  simultaneously, within a small fraction of a second.”
That explanation spoke to my education, but I thought of a much simpler way of finding the absurdity in this situation.  Without even having to perform the calculations myself, I could go to a simple free fall calculator online and execute a thought experiment.  Knowing the height of WTC 7 was 190 meters, I could plug in my own weight and the air resistance coefficient for a person sky diving and calculate the time it would take for me to fall that distance in free fall acceleration.  The answer: 6.75 seconds...  So if I had jumped off the top of WTC 7 the moment it started "collapsing", I would have hit the ground only 1/20th of a second faster than the roof did?  What hits first, my falling body with nothing but thin air underneath, or WTC 7 with 40,000 tons of structural steel to crash through?  The question answers itself.

I could fall the same height of WTC 7 in 6.75 seconds, only 0.05 seconds longer than it took WTC 7 to "collapse".

It didn't add up, and I knew that I couldn't go back to my normal life and forget about this information.  My world view had been shattered.  I didn't understand the big picture, but I knew that I needed to reset my biggest assumptions about how the world worked and do some serious research to understand how this event could be possible.

Down the Rabbit Hole

To my great relief, over the next few days I found that there was a whole movement of people well aware of the evidence calling into question the official story of 9/11.  I watched dozens of documentaries that exposed me to more and more information like Loose Change, 911 Press for Truth, and what became one of my favorites, 9/11 Mysteries: Demolitions.

I read the testimony of Sibel Edmonds, the FBI translator for terror-related communications and the "most gagged person in the history of the United States of America" who said 9/11 was executed by the "highest levels of NATO, the U.S., M16, CIA and the Pentagon."  I listened to the harrowing story of William Rodriguez, the last man out of the Twin Towers who saved countless lives by leading firefighters up the stairwells with his master key. Unsurprisingly, I had never heard his testimony of bombs going off in the basement before the planes hit.

I wanted to know all I could about 9/11 and along my journey I found claims that made sense to me and plenty of claims that didn't hold water.  Some people said that no planes hit the buildings - that they were holograms!  Others said only space beams or secret direct energy weapons could account for the buildings collapse.  Others claimed that it was all a conspiracy orchestrated by "the Jews".  I found documentaries and YouTube comments that were downright hateful, bigoted, ignorant, and devoid of logical thinking.  Before long I realized that I knew enough about 9/11, in fact I had known all I truly needed to know in the first 5 minutes with my 3 painful facts concerning WTC 7.  I didn't need to know exactly what really happened on 9/11 - whether it was space beams or nano-thermite that brought down the towers didn't add much value.  If WTC 7 could not possibly have been a fire-induced collapse, if that part of the official story was a lie, then the rest of the narrative goes with it.

The big question was cui bono, who benefited?  Who had the motive, the means, and the opportunity to pull this off?  I recalled going to the theatre to see Michael Moore's film "Fahrenheit 9/11" and walking away unconvinced.  If this was all about making money off oil sales it seemed like there were easier ways to get it done.  Eventually I stumbled upon Alex Jones and his film Terrorstorm: A History of Government Sponsored Terrorism.  Now the rabbit hole was getting deep and splitting off into a dozen different directions. From the first time I tuned into the Alex Jones Show he begged his listeners not to believe a word he said but to research the facts for themselves, and I took him up on that challenge.  Every guest he had was an expert on a different topic pointing me to research Eugenics, the Franklin Cover-up, government drug trafficking, the fluoridation of the water supply and a dozen other topics that I would have dismissed as "conspiracy theories" in my old mindset but now I was willing to approach with an open mind.  One of his guests was producer and director Aaron Russo and I watched his documentary America: Freedom to Fascism.  His film sent me back 100 years to 1913 where I started researching the creation of the Federal Reserve and the origin of the income tax.  Now that international bankers were in my sights, my research took me to Antony Sutton and the powers that bankrolled both sides of the greatest wars of the last century including WW1, WW2 and the cold war.  Finally, I started reading the words of the conspirators themselves, books like Tragedy and Hope and The Anglo-American Establishment by Carrol Quigley, The Grand Chessboard by Zbigniew Brzezinski, white papers like Rebuilding America's Defenses by the Project for a New American Century, and declassified documents like Operation Northwoods.

As I processed all of this information found in countless books, reports and documentaries a coherent picture started to emerge.  This picture was composed of a hundred puzzle pieces and 9/11 was just one of those pieces to the larger puzzle.  If I took any one of these other pieces and examined it in isolation I could see how one's first reaction would be to discard it.  "What is more likely, that this one particularly conspiracy theory is real or that everything I know is wrong?"  But when you have a hundred of these instances the odds flip in the other direction and now evidence of an "invisible hand" guiding these events seems more and more plausible.  This force is composed of the most inner circles of banking, government and military found in groups like the Council on Foreign Relations, the Bilderberg Group, and the Order of Skull and Bones.  Some call the this group the Illuminati, Gary Allen called them the Insiders, Alex Jones refers to them as globalists, the John Birch Society described them as a "conspiratorial cabal of internationalists, greedy bankers, and corrupt politicians", and the most popular name of all is what many top government and banking elites refer to as the New World Order.

9/11 Truth Evangelicalism

Once I felt that I sufficiently understood enough of the big picture that I could explain the "who, what, and why" of 9/11, I began spreading the word all day, every day.  First I would burn DVDs of my favorite documentaries to hand out to friends, family, classmates, co-workers and strangers - anyone that would listen.  Then I learned about the activists in Alex Jones' home town of Austin, Texas.  They started a student group called Project for a New American Citizen (PNAC), a play-on words of the previously mentioned Project for a New American Century, a think tank composed of top government officials in the bush administration that infamously longed for a "catastrophic and catalyzing event––like a new Pearl Harbor".

Knowing there is strength in numbers, I formed a chapter of that student group at the University of Iowa and started trying to recruit other activists.  When I was invited to speak at PNAC's conference in Austin, "Rebuilding America's Senses", I met the men behind Brave New Bookstore.  Instead of burning 1 DVD at a time myself, I would order 100 or 500 DVDs and ship them straight to the bookstore.  They would use their superior equipment to burn them all in a fraction of the time and send them to me, professionally labeled, ready to distribute.  Now I could take my activism to the next level.

I networked with the campus anti-war group (those things still existed when the red team was in charge) and secured a booth at their rally.  I made a giant banner for our table and relished the opportunity to hand out DVDs and fliers for our scheduled campus meeting.  I used our status as a recognized university student group to get funding and to set up a table at the student union so that everyone could know why "9/11 was an inside job".

Ultimately, I didn't have much success gaining the kind of converts I wanted.  I expected people to have the same reaction I did when shown WTC 7.  If that particular piece of evidence didn't have the effect I expected, then I had an entire arsenal of 9/11 questions to throw at them - surely something would stick.  But instead, only a handful of people had the same "awakening" that I did, where they recognized the importance of this information and went on their own quest to research and find the truth.  In retrospect, I didn’t have much at all to do with those people, they had the type of life experience or personality that would set them onto that path whether or not I had intervened.  Instead, the majority of people reacted in one of a few ways to my 9/11 Truth evangelicalism:

  • Some claimed to understand what I had shown them but then took an ostrich approach to the information.  One person literally said, "You are right about this, but you shouldn't talk about it."  That statement boggled my mind.
  • Others would agree with me when I talked to them, but then if they encountered someone else preaching the opposite view they would change their tune like a leaf in the wind.  They weren't convinced by the evidence, they were just easily persuaded by anyone that spoke with authority.
  • The vast majority weren't convinced by the evidence I presented.  My carefully presented arguments would elicit an emotional response and the next thing we're in an argument.  In the case of a close friend or family member we would end with a stalemate to save the relationship, there are some topics that we just don't talk about.

I didn't come to the conclusion that I should change tactics until the professor that I worked for asked me about my new beliefs.  This was a man I highly respected.  He held multiple advanced degrees in Electrical, Mechanical, and Industrial engineering.  When I worked at his lab I saw him accomplish feats of technical ability that truly humbled me and showed me how much I had to learn.  I did my best to just stick to the scientific facts around WTC 7.  I thought that since that was the evidence that woke me up it had the best chance of getting through to him.  After some back and forth debate I drew a picture on the whiteboard to illustrate my closing argument.  It was a long vertical rectangle on one side (to represent one of the Twin towers) and next to it was a square 1/5th the size of the rectangle suspended in the air.  I asked him, "explain to me the mechanism that would allow the structure to the left to crash through itself and come to the ground at nearly the same speed that it would take the structure to the right to fall through the air".

If there's any reason to question 9/11, the speed and the manner in which the buildings fell is it.

He looked at me and said, "I don’t believe people can be that evil".  And that was it.  We didn’t speak of it again, and frankly, the wind was taken out of my sails.  I realized then that there were some topics that are just too painful to try to push on people and 9/11 was certainly one of them.  Like the Matrix, no one could be told what 9/11 truth is.  You have to see it for yourself.

Changing Tactics: From Negative to Positive

It was around the time that I was becoming disillusioned with 9/11 Truth activism that I stumbled upon a series of YouTube videos of Michael Badnarik's constitution class. This was my 2nd great awakening. After the first 2 segments I was hooked and I proceeded to watch the entire series in one sitting.  He is the one that first taught me the difference between rights and privileges and how they are interconnected with the concept of property.  The consistent logic and common sense of his arguments rang true - even if he held some radical views like "just about everything the government does is unconstitutional".  Learning that he was a presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party, I started reading about libertarianism.  From there I heard about a book called Economics in One Lesson.  Reading that book was my third awakening.  Henry Hazlitt introduced me to the Austrian School of Economics and for the next few years all my free time was spent reading the works of its greatest thinkers, from the founder Carl Menger, to the heroic Ludwig Von Mises, to the man that would become my intellectual mentor through his works on history, economics, ethics, and libertarianism - Murray Rothbard.

Unlike my other awakenings where there was a clear event that separated a former way of thinking from a new world view, my transition from a constitution-supporting minarchist libertarian to a full-blown rothbardian anarcho-capitalist came gradually.  I don’t recall a particular doubt that was shattered as a grand event but I do know that it was through reading Rothbard that the economic, ethical, and even practical case for individualist, property-rights based anarchism made more and more sense.  With all arguments for the "middle of the road" night-watchmen state laid to waste, there was only two logical places to go: full-blown socialist collectivism or to the logical conclusion of libertarianism, anarcho-capitalism.

This second and third awakening was just as important as the first because it showed me what I was for, not only what I was against.  Libertarianism taught me the moral case for freedom: how the consistent application of the non-aggression principle would solve most, if not all of the conflicts we encounter in society.  Austrian Economics teaches the consequences of whether or not we follow the non-aggression principle. It shows how voluntary interactions lead to wealth creation, to capital formation, and to a rising standard of living for everyone.  On the flip side, when we abandon voluntary and peaceful solutions and go to the government with our problems, the laws of human action dictate that scarce resources will be misallocated, wealth will be squandered, and we will be worse off than we would be otherwise.

Without a solid foundation in economics and an ethical / political philosophy, it's easy to be lead astray by anyone that claims to have a common enemy.  For instance, the documentary Zeitgeist became very popular and also spoke to the 9/11 truth community.  However, as the solution for the problems in the world it endorsed getting rid of all money and entering a resource-based economy where all decisions would be dictated by a technological elite with the promise that everything would be free. With an understanding of what money is and how free-market economic decisions ultimately guide scarce resources to be efficiently allocated these pipe dreams are easy to see through.  But without that understanding a 9/11 truther may be jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire.

The other big difference these final awakenings had was to my effectiveness as a communicator and an activist.  From an end-point perspective, I want as many people to join my cause as possible.  So looking at it practically, it is a very difficult and possibly fruitless undertaking to convince someone of a giant conspiracy so that they are against what the New World Order is pushing.  Instead, you can teach logic, economics, and libertarianism so that one naturally ends up at the very same solutions.  This line of attack also allows people to keep the commonly held assumption that the government is filled with well meaning people at all levels.  Once someone finds a hundred examples of government policies that have the opposite effect of the claimed goal, the next logical step is to question if our elites and leaders can really be so intelligent and successful in some areas while completely ignorant and incompetent in others.  At that point one may independently come to the conclusion that it is much more likely that some of our government leaders simply have a different set of secret goals that are not communicated to the public because they are not in our best interest.


In April of 2006 there was no official story on WTC 7.  The 9/11 Commission Report didn't devote a single sentence to the third worst structural failure in history.  That in itself was revealing to me but now that NIST has provided its final report in November of 2008 defenders of the official story are in an even more indefensible position.  At least with no story one could speculate on mysterious causes for WTC 7's collapse such as diesel tanks that may have been stored in the building or entire sections that may have been scooped out by debris without any photographic evidence showing it.  But now NIST's final report has come out and it explicitly states that fire alone caused the collapse and those other factors did not contribute!  Yes, that's right, a heretofore unknown phenomenon called "thermal expansion" explains how normal office fires caused a chain reaction of a "key critical column" to fail and that alone set off a "rapid succession" of structural failures that resulted in a 47 story building laying in a pile of rubble.  I'd call this the "death star" theory of WTC 7.  And while on the one hand I recognize how ridiculous all this is, I always try to keep in mind how difficult this information is to others - even to fellow libertarians or Austrian economists.

Understanding that there is a place and time for everything, I keep my multi-layered beliefs separate based on the type of activity I'm engaged in.  I find that some 9/11 Truth activists continue to talk about 9/11 all day, everyday, whether they are at a libertarian event, a Mises circle, or the local city council meeting.  And on one hand I can't blame them - I used to be that way myself.  But instead of using that approach I like to think of my interactions with others as carefully going through a series of filters.

If I'm interacting with someone that is a die-hard member of the republican or democratic party I'll ask a series of questions related to economics or libertarianism to see how well I can poke holes in their belief that the use of government violence is the best way to solve the issues of society.  If I'm talking to a John Stossel type of libertarian I will try to challenge them to strengthen their foundation by digging deeper into Rothbard and the works of other Austrian economists.  If I'm talking to a fellow anarcho-capitalist, someone that is well aware of the state's crimes and is courageous enough to think we are better off with no state than with one, then that's when I'll start pushing their boundaries when it comes to "conspiracy theories".

There are many entrances to the rabbit hole and while the "collapse" of WTC 7 was the starting point for me that doesn't mean it should be the starting point for everyone.  Looking at the history of false flag attacks on America, 9/11 is just one of many and it's notable only for its boldness.  When the Golf of Tonkin was admittedly faked and resulted in the death of some 3.1 million people in the Vietnam war, or one looks at the false narrative that justified dropping atomic bombs on civilian cities, or the west's involvement in funding Mao Zedong and the mass murder of 60 million people - what are 3,000 deaths compared to that?  Admittedly, the people behind that event were full of hubris and confident in their control over the American booboisie to think they could blow up buildings in broad daylight and get away with it - and that in itself is noteworthy as it shows just how serious a predicament we're in.  But as every 9/11 anniversary comes to pass and every additional false flag event wakes up another wave of people and re-energizes the truth community we'll see if their gamble pays off.
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