It took two governors, four Congressmen, three former White House officials, and two special counsels two years to compile. They reviewed over two and half million pages of classified and de-classified documents, consulted 1200 sources in 10 countries, and spent over $15 million of the taxpayers’ money in the process. And on July 22, 2004, the 9/11 Commission issued their final report about the terror attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Is it possible that two twentysomethings from “a small hippie town that time forgot” could undermine that entire effort with $8,000 and a laptop?
Yes, if you ask ex-Army specialist Korey Rowe. The 23-year old from Oneonta, New York returned home from two tours—one to Afghanistan; the other to Iraq—to help his best friends, Dylan Avery (director) and Jason Bermas (researcher), produce the sensational 80-minute, Web-based documentary Loose Change, which seeks to establish the government’s complicity in the terror attacks by addressing some very tough questions:
Why wasn’t Ground Zero treated like a crime scene?
How did both towers “freefall” to the ground “in 9.2 seconds” in just under two hours? And where are the black boxes from American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175?
While the film is admittedly flawed and draws on some dubious new media sources, including Wikipedia, it’s inarguably sparked a new interest in the “9/11 Truth” movement. Since its April 2005 debut online, Loose Change (the first and second edition) has received over 10 million viewings, it was just featured in the August issue of Vanity Fair, and the final cut of the film is expected to debut at the Sundance Film Festival in January. “I’ve got four movie studios [including Paramount and Miramax] beating down my door to make the final cut,” says Rowe, who’s now got offices from California to London to handle his growing company. Last week SMITH caught up with Rowe—who’s been labeled everything from a traitor to a CIA operative in the past year—to see how he went from protecting the Iraq-Syrian border against Muslim insurgents to a self-described “conspiracy theorist” poised to take Hollywood (and the country) by storm.
Do you work for the CIA?
No, I do not work for the CIA.
Just wanted to get that out of the way. What made you want to join the military?
The fact that I was doing nothing. I was 18; I wasn’t ready to go to college yet. I knew that if I went to college I wouldn’t have spent too much time in class, I would have spent my time partying. I wouldn’t have gotten done what I needed to do. It would have been a waste of my parents’ money. So I decided it would probably be best if I joined the military—this was pre-September 11—Bush was in office, there wasn’t a whole lot going on, I didn’t foresee a war happening, I just thought it would be a good way to get out of town, man-up a little, and then move on with the rest of my life. Before I knew it, I just joined.
Did you want to go to war?
At first I did. I wanted to retaliate for September 11. The government told me it was Osama bin Laden, the government told me he was hiding in caves in Afghanistan, they told me he had killed a bunch of innocent Americans, so at first I wanted to go over there and defend just like everyone else. It was the hooah thing to do at the time.
What were you doing in Afghanistan?
My primary MOS [military occupational specialty] was 11 Bravo, which is infantry, frontline infantry. I was carrying a gun, humping a lot of weight on my back. That was what I did in Afghanistan full time. I was at the Kandahar airfield, Bagram, and Khost. But in Afghanistan I really didn’t do much. I was there for six months, pulled a lot of guard; I went on, I think, three missions. Never got any enemy contact, never got fired on, I watched it on my perimeter, a couple hundred meters out while someone else was getting shot at, but I never really got any action.
And in Iraq?
In Iraq I went from the southern tip all the way into Baghdad. I road in the back of a truck from the southern tip, through the desert into Al-Hillah, took the battle of Al-Hillah, which was pretty crazy; it looked like a Vietnam movie. Then we moved further north into Baghdad, where we were in Medical City. I was stationed in an emergency room door for about a month and a half just watching these bodies of children and their families come in. Then I moved north into Mosul, swung west into Sinjar, on the Syrian-Turkey border where we had to watch for insurgents coming across the border.
How did that experience change you?
I went from being some kid who had no idea about anything in the military—I didn’t even know what the infantry was when I joined, I just told them I wanted to shoot stuff and blow stuff up—to being a communications specialist for my commander. That was really when I started to see the bigger picture—when I started working for higher commanders—seeing how things ran.
When was the first time you heard from Dylan Avery about what he was doing with Loose Change back in New York?
After I got back from Afghanistan he started to talk about the idea that 9/11 was an inside job, and started letting me know about some of the information he had come across. It was between returning from Afghanistan and redeploying for Iraq that my mind started to click on. I was like, “Wait a minute—I was in Afghanistan three months ago, and now I’m going to be in Iraq in four months, I’ve got to invade another country, where is this going?” Then—and I hate to say this—I saw Fahrenheit 911, which to me is a terrible movie. But a lot of it made sense in the pretext and military build-up to Afghanistan before we were actually attacked. When I walked out of that movie I was like, “Wow, that messed with my head.” Right before I deployed for Iraq I had the inclination that something was seriously wrong. But then it didn’t matter because at that point I had to go. My unit needed me. I was the company RTO [radio telephone operator], I was running communications. It didn’t matter what my personal beliefs were. I just had to go over and shut my mouth for another year.