10 years on: An interview with Mike Williams, founder of 911myths.com which rebuts the claims of 9/11 conspiracy theorists

Mike Williams: 'The truth about 9/11 isn’t trivial; it’s not a game. And no useful purpose can be served by pushing false information, or presenting poorly supported theories as though they were proven fact. So, eventually, after many similar events, I decided to put my notes online, let any passing readers decide if I had anything of value to say.'

Mike Williams is a 9/11 conspiracy theory – someone who rebuts, or ‘debunks’ the claims of 9/11 conspiracy theorists. He started the website 911myths.com in 2005, which allows the visitor to “…look into the claims yourself, discover both sides of the argument, and make your own mind up. I have no grand aims. I was simply amazed at how many apparently definitive 9/11-related claims crumbled when you looked at them, and wanted to share that”.

Mike first got involved in rebutting the claims of 9/11 conspiracy theorists when he “…first came across them in a web forum, long since closed” He continued; “I was interested because those making the arguments seemed so sure, yet also it seemed to me that there were very obvious problems in what they were saying, and so I tried to point those out, see if I could figure out what the real truth might be.”, going on to say “…I didn’t initially set out to rebut them, I simply found that when I looked into them, there was almost always relevant information which wasn’t being disclosed.”

“An example from the early days, which I’ve mentioned before: someone posted an account of a woman in one of the towers who reported an explosion as she heading down the stairs, and mentioned this as evidence for controlled demolition.”

“I headed off to the web, searched for more on this woman, and quickly found the report of a colleague of the woman who also mentioned an explosion, but seemed to think this was simply the moment that Flight 175 hit the second tower.

“Obviously this doesn’t prove it wasn’t a bomb, however it’s plainly a possibility worth considering. Yet when I checked other sites using the first account, I didn’t find any that mentioned the second, not a single one, even though it was easy to find.”

“…and when I posted my discovery on the forum, I found it was ignored. Those pushing controlled demolition simply didn’t want to hear any alternative.”

“I figured this mattered. The truth about 9/11 isn’t trivial; it’s not a game.  And no useful purpose can be served by pushing false information, or presenting poorly supported theories as though they were proven fact. So, eventually, after many similar events, I decided to put my notes online, let any passing readers decide if I had anything of value to say.”

World Trade Center Conspiracy

Mike tells us that 10 years later he still receiving a little over 30,000 visits to his website a month, with occasional spikes (this month will probably be 3 or 4 times that).

He continues – “I see pages of mine quoted in many 9/11-related discussions, so I suppose there’s some success in that a few people think they’re worth mentioning. As I mentioned, though, what I’m really hoping is that people will be more sceptical in general, and there’s no way to know if I’ve had any success there at all. Especially as I’ve also seen people claiming my site debunks all 9/11 truth claims, which isn’t true, and reflects the very reliance on a single source that I’m saying is a bad idea”

We asked Mike what his arguments are which he raises at 911myths.com. He told us “…there are a collection of pages addressing 9/11-related claims which are commonly put forward with great confidence, as though they cannot be disputed. Yet, when you look at them, they either turn out to be entirely false, or to omit so much context and background as to be highly misleading.

“As an example of the first type, I’ve often read that Rumsfeld first disclosed to the press on September 10th that the Pentagon had lost $2.3 trillion dollars, and the timing is then played up as somehow suspicious (the attacks being a great way to “bury bad news”). This is simply untrue, though: the issue was first made public back in February 2000, and even Rumsfeld himself had mentioned it before.”

“And as a similar example of the second type, I also frequently read that the purchase of American Airlines put options on September 10th was also suspicious, again because of the timing. But when I looked into this I found that American had issued profit warnings the trading day previously (Friday September 7th), which could surely be relevant, yet is mysteriously almost never mentioned by those pushing this particular argument.”

We then asked Mike what his most powerful piece of counter-evidence is, to which he explained “I feel that the strength of the site lies in the number of points to be made, not any one individual item. So neither of my preceding examples prove anything in themselves, for instance; it’s only when you see the same type of deception appearing again, and again, and again, that you begin to feel that there’s something wrong here.”

Mike told us of particular examples, of cases which still surprise him; “Like discovering how Mike Ruppert, Nafeez Ahmed and David Ray Griffin used the same source document to show how flights might be intercepted “within 10 or so minutes”. None of them clearly explain that this document was referring to flights heading from international waters to the US (not internal flights), though. And not one of them points out to their readers that the text actually comes from the documentation of a computer game, an Air Traffic Control simulation (in fact Griffin once misrepresented it as “an Air Traffic Control document” when it has no official status at all). Unless readers follow any source links they’ll never know the truth.”

We asked whether Mike had been interested in conspiracy theories before 9/11; to which he said “Not really.” Adding “I guess I’d probably done the same sort of thing as many other people – watched JFK, the odd TV documentary about cover-ups on this or that – but I’ve never taken such an active stand on any conspiracy-related issue before now.”

9/11 Commission

When we asked about what motivates him, Mike told us that he hasn’t been “particularly interested” in the topic since late 2009, explaining that “I only made it that long because the release of the 9/11 Commission records included some valuable documents. In all of this year, for instance, I’ve only noted two major updates on the “What’s New” page: in my busiest years I might have made 150 updates by September, perhaps more.”

“Why keep the site going, though? Well, people still use it: 30,000 or more per month is well below the number of visitors I used to get, but it’s still a fair amount of traffic for a site created by one person. And amidst the threats and the abuse from those who don’t like what I’m saying, I also get occasional thanks, which sometimes have unexpected power (including a moving message from someone with a relative who died in the towers). So while I can’t definitively say that the site is “successful”, it does seem to still serve a purpose, and so I figure I’ll leave it running for the moment.”