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Fast and loose

Movies | Internet film claims to find a U.S. conspiracy behind 9/11

Issue: "Don't fence me out," April 21, 2007

Never dismiss the allure of a good conspiracy theory. According to a recent Scripps Howard survey, 36 percent of Americans think the terrorist attacks of 9/11 were an inside job aided or perpetrated by the federal government. Maybe that's why the so-called documentary Loose Change-an 82-minute internet-based film that lays out an alternative narrative to the well-researched 9/11 Report-has gained a following.

Loose Change asserts that a cruise missile, not American Airlines Flight 77, blew a hole in the Pentagon. The film also charges the government exercised a controlled demolition of the World Trade Center towers. Flight 93? It didn't crash in Pennsylvania. Instead, the filmmakers say it was mysteriously rerouted to Cleveland and its passengers haven't been heard from since.

Current incarnations of the project (including ones with French, German, Korean, and even Finnish subtitles) have been played over 11 million times on Google Video and YouTube. The filmmakers are seeking a distribution deal to get the third edition of the film in theaters nationwide this summer.

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The View host Rosie O'Donnell parroted back the Loose Change theory on controlled demolition almost verbatim. One of the towers, she said, had to be imploded because "it is physically impossible" to melt the steel structure at the temperature at which jet fuel burns. Apparently, the structural engineer in O'Donnell or the filmmakers never considered that steel doesn't have to melt to be weakened.

For those who wish to see the truth prevail, numerous debunkers have subjected the claims of Loose Change to real scrutiny. Popular Mechanics contracted with the best structural engineers and demolitions experts to slice and dice the film's claims. Or there's the less-popular video titled Screw Loose Change that plays on YouTube and Google Video and takes apart the conspiracy video piece by piece.

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