Robert F. Kennedy Jr. considers himself a “skeptic” willing to question authority and interrogate official narratives. Others might identify the political scion as an enthusiastic peddler of conspiracy theories about everything from Covid-19 to his uncle’s assassination.
Those keeping score at home can now add 9/11 to the list of official narratives the Democratic candidate for president has raised questions about. In a new interview on the podcast “In The Room with Peter Bergen,” produced by Fresh Produce Media for Audible, Kennedy told Bergen he didn’t know whether or not he believes the official government explanation about 9/11, including whether al-Qaeda was responsible for the attack, asserting “strange things happened.”
Here’s the exchange, which takes place halfway through the pair’s wide-ranging conversation.
Peter Bergen: The official explanation of 9/11 — do you buy?
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.: Which is what?
Bergen: Al-Qaeda attacked us on 9/11.
Kennedy: I don’t know what happened on 9/11. I mean, I understand what the official explanation is. I understand that there is dissent. I have not looked into it. I haven’t examined it. I’m not a good person to talk to about it.
Bergen: Well, I mean, so there’s doubt in your mind that al-Qaeda was responsible?
Kennedy: Well, I know, I don’t know, you know. I know there’s strange things that happened that don’t seem—
Bergen: What are the strange things?
Kennedy: Well, one of the buildings came down that wasn’t hit by a plane. So, you know, was it Building 7 or Building 10?
Bergen: That collapsed because two of the world’s biggest buildings collapsed on top of it.
Kennedy: No, they didn’t collapse on top of it. My offices were down there. My offices were closed—
Bergen: So one of the buildings, next to the Trade Center—
Kennedy: There’s pictures of it collapsing. There’s nothing collapsing on top of it. I mean, listen, I don’t want to argue any theories about this because all I’ve heard is questions. I have no explanation. I have no knowledge of it. But what you’re repeating now, I know not to be true.
The collapse of World Trade Center Building 7 has long been the subject of conspiracy theories, with some suggesting falsely that it was pre-rigged with explosives.
According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology — which led the exhaustive technical investigation into the 9/11 attacks — Building 7 collapsed at 5:20 p.m. on Sept. 11, 2001, after debris from World Trade Center Tower 1 ignited a fire that burned for nearly seven hours. How could those fires cause a building to collapse? Per the agency: “The heat from the uncontrolled fires caused steel floor beams and girders to thermally expand, leading to a chain of events that caused a key structural column to fail. The failure of this structural column then initiated a fire-induced progressive collapse of the entire building.” FEMA reached the same conclusion in its own report.
The official explanation around 9/11 is the latest in a string of narratives RFK has questioned. He’s been pushing misinformation about vaccines for years, advancing a theory in 2005 that that “government health agencies colluded with Big Pharma to hide the risks of thimerosal,” a preservative used in vaccines, which he asserted was linked to autism. (The Lancet study on which Kennedy’s argument relied was later retracted, as was the story Kennedy wrote, which was co-published by Rolling Stone and Salon.com.)
Since announcing his bid to challenge Joe Biden for the 2024 Democratic nomination earlier this year, Kennedy has casually claimed that Covid-19 was “ethnically targeted” to spare Jewish and Chinese individuals. Before that, he declared 5G technology is meant for “harvesting human data,” and suggested that those who refuse vaccines in the future could “starve to death” after authorities “turn off the chip” where all of their money is stored. He’s also said that he personally has enough evidence to “prove” his uncle, John F. Kennedy, was assassinated by the CIA.
Reflecting on Kennedy’s comments about 9/11 on his podcast, Bergen — one of the foremost authorities on al-Qaeda — noted that “I do my own research” is a fine attitude for a private citizen to have, but the approach suddenly becomes a lot less tenable when that person is president of the United States.
“Wanting to go to the source and dig into the details is a great sign of a curious mind,” Bergen said. “But the White House would be paralyzed if the president was always personally digging into all the underlying data to make his or her own assessments. As president you’ll have a thousand choices both large and small where you’re just gonna have to accept some expert opinions … Whether it’s the likely pace of unemployment or the likely course of a pandemic. We elect a president not because we expect one person to know absolutely everything. We expect them to know who to trust and how to make sound judgments.”
Under that criteria, Kennedy isn’t the only 2024 hopeful who would be disqualified. Republican candidate Vivek Ramaswamy expressed doubt about what happened on 9/11 in an interview with The Atlantic earlier this summer. “I think it is legitimate to say, How many police, how many federal agents were on the planes that hit the Twin Towers?” he said. “Like, I think we want — maybe the answer is zero, probably is zero for all I know, right? I have no reason to think it was anything other than zero. But if we’re doing a comprehensive assessment of what happened on 9/11, we have a 9/11 commission, absolutely that should be an answer the public knows the answer to.”
“I want the truth about 9/11,” Ramaswamy added.
Ramaswamy has suggested RFK — who has been raking in financial support from right-wing donors — would make a good running mate. He’s not alone in his praise: Trump has also spoken highly of Kennedy — calling him a “common sense guy” and “very smart person,” while Ron DeSantis has suggested he could appoint Kennedy to lead the Food and Drug Administration or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Plenty of celebrities have lined up behind Kennedy, as well. Eric Clapton hosted a star-studded fundraiser for him last week that brought in $2.2 million.
It’s not clear the support from Republicans in high places is making a difference for Kennedy. Recent primary polling shows President Biden leading him by over 50 points in the Democratic primary.
Source link: https://www.rollingstone.com/politics/politics-features/rfk-jr-questions-911-narrative-1234828619/