Monday, October 30, 2006

Backers Hail 9/11 Theorist's Speech

By Michael Riley Denver Post Staff Writer / Original / 10/29/2006 Mike Berger, left, who made a film called Improbable Collapse, and J.A. Calhoun, Green Party candidate for the 2nd Congressional District, talk outside Math Auditorium at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Sept. 11 conspiracy theorists spoke there Sunday. (Post / Lyn Alweis) The standing ovation has finally died down, and Steven E. Jones, a soft-spoken physics professor, finds himself pinned against the stage by some of the enthusiastic fans who packed a University of Denver auditorium over the weekend to see him. A man with a "Got truth?" T-shirt offers Jones a careful explanation for why the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center were operated by remote control. Another quizzes him about the size of the footprint of the Pentagon crash - too small, he says, for the Boeing 757 that "officially" smashed into it on Sept. 11, 2001. "Can I just shake your hand?" a woman in a baggy red sweater asks Jones. "You're doing such important work." If anything, Jones appears embarrassed by all the attention. Quiet and self-effacing, he's an unlikely hero for 9/11 conspiracy theorists of every stripe, but that's exactly what he's become. A physicist whose background includes work on nuclear fusion, Jones was put on leave by Brigham Young University in September after publishing a paper saying that the twin towers couldn't have collapsed solely as a result of the planes that rammed the upper floors on Sept. 11. The paper theorizes that explosives planted inside the building must have been involved and that the buildings' collapse was essentially a controlled demolition. Though Jones doesn't specify who he believes planted the charges, he concedes it would have had to be "an inside job" and likely would have included either very powerful figures on the American scene or entities inside the government. "It's a thought that I admit has made me lose some sleep," Jones said. Neither the 9/11 commission nor other extensive government reports have found any evidence of a secondary cause of the towers' collapse. But Jones and his work reflect the mainstreaming of a movement that has defied