How 'Rescue Me' turned 9/11 conspiracy theories into compelling drama
But when critics asked the minds behind FX's blockbuster firefighter drama Rescue Me about the inspiration for a storyline where one of the guys insists the 9/11 terrorist attacks was an inside job, they simply pointed to cast member Daniel Sunjata, who plays Franco.
That's because Sunjata, a buff, accomplished actor who has played everyone from Reggie Jackson to Langston Hughes, believes a faction in the American government pulled off the attack.
"There’s alternative theories about what really happened on 9/11," he told TV critics in January. "They’re not discussed a lot in the press.
And I think that the way the show addresses the issue is going to be socio-politically provocative in a way that — you know, not that the show has lacked that – not been provocative in the past, but in – specifically in dealing with 9/11, I think it’s going to be more so than it ever has been before, and I’m really gratified that they allowed that to be focused through my character, because I happen to subscribe to a lot of those theories and beliefs that 9/11 was an inside job."
Turns out, Sunjata has spoken out publicly for a while on this subject. So, as Rescue Me returns for its fifth season Tuesday, I present a Q&A with Sunjata on his 9/11 beliefs -- which start with Sunjata seeing another celebrity advocate, Charlie Sheen, speaking out on the issue:
Sunjata: (Charlie Sheen) had basically the same conclusion on the Jimmy Kimmel Show, and subsequently on the Alex Jones radio program that broadcasts out of Austin, Texas. And he said two things that stuck with me. He said, Look at Building 7 and look at the five frames from the Pentagon and then start doing your own research, you know. Because, again, he was on the Jimmy Kimmel Show … he was on a talk show and there is the structural constraint of concision, speaking in a sound-bite format, I think he knew that the best thing to do was just to put a couple tidbits out there and then trust that people might start Googling and clicking and doing their own research, and that’s what I did.
Question: Why do people ignore it, though?
S: It’s really … that’s really difficult for me to understand because I can understand shell-shocked Vietnam war veterans standing on street corners saying, “9/11 was an inside job,” being ignored. But when you have got physicists, when you have got members of the intelligence community, Sibel Edmonds, you know, counterintelligence expert from the FBI, you know, who’s, by the way, the most gag-ordered person in the history of the United States … of the American justice system because of what she wanted to come out and say. When you’ve got members of the FDNY … you know, credible experts from relevant fields of expertise, whose track records speak for themselves, being absolutely … shouting from the rooftops that this needs to be looked at with much greater scrutiny and being absolutely and totally ignored – that, to me, is something I really … I don’t understand, I can’t understand.
Question: Do you think it will be investigated more fully?
S: I don’t know, I don’t know. I would like to believe that it will be examined with greater scrutiny. I mean, it’s a piece of the puzzle. I don’t know if you’re familiar with Naomi Wolf’s work, but she’s written a book about the end of America. And I think it’s a kind of … it’s a contextual piece of that overall puzzle that seems to make everything make sense – the curtailing of our civil liberties here at home, the gutting of our Constitution, the warrantless wiretapping, you know, the loss of habeas corpus, the legalization of torture – all of these fit well within the pattern of a fascist state, or a state that is slipping toward fascism, and so does false-flag terror. 9/11 is not the first example in history. You have the Reichstag fire in World War II. You’ve got the Gulf of Tonkin incident, which has now been declassified as an event that never happened, which was responsible for the deaths of millions of Vietnamese and tens of thousands of American troops. So false-flag terror is used often, and why should we put this past an administration that has shown many other, you know, tendencies toward similar types of behavior? So …
Question: I know it’s hard to sum it up, but can you give us a sense of what you think happened?
S: I think that we have a … I think that there’s a criminal faction, a small criminal faction, within probably some mixture of the intelligence, government community that carried out the attack – that planned it, that allowed it to happen. I’m not saying that there weren’t people from the Middle East involved but, you know, there were certainly … I mean, according to my research – and I’ve been looking at this for about three years – there’s clear evidence for the presence of explosives in those three buildings. I mean, they found partially evaporated steel columns in the wreckage of Building 7, and no plane even hit that building. And it collapsed at 5:30 – yeah, it collapsed at the end of the day … It was not hit by … it wasn’t hit by a plane. It’d be the first time in the history of modern architecture that fire caused the collapse of a … you know, steel-frame construction. It’s never happened before except three times on 9/11.
Question: Why would they do it?
S: Why would they do it? Well, if you look at what has unfolded, you know, our foreign … especially our foreign policy agenda and our agenda in the Middle East. If you look at what subsequently unfolded, you know, who benefited . . . It certainly wasn’t the 19 guys with the box-cutters taking orders from a guy hiding in an Afghan cave. They didn’t benefit; they died that day. But, you know, you have weapons manufacturers, you’ve got oil companies, you’ve got politicians, you’ve got Larry Silverstein, who was the owner of the World Trade Center properties, who was, you know, on PBS in 2002 – said that he spoke to the fire commissioner that day, and they decided to pull Building 7, and they pulled it and they watched the building come down. I mean, I don’t know much about controlled demolition but I have heard the term “pull” in reference to setting off a preplanned implosion.
And if you look at the collapse of Building 7, it looks exactly like a controlled demolition. It falls just like those old casinos that they bring down in Nevada, Las Vegas. It fell in 6.8 seconds, it fell evenly, you see the penthouse fall first, which is indicative of the core column of the building having been taken out and fell in on itself in a concise, small, neat pile of rubble. And that happened by chance? I mean, fire causes slow, creeping deformations in architecture. It doesn’t cause global, top-down collapse like that, and even if they say, well, you know, Tower 7 sustained some light damage … some damage from the, you know, collapse of the North Tower. Um, okay, but if that’s true … you know, if you broke your left leg, you would probably fall to the left. You would favor the injury. You would not fall, you know … you wouldn’t just crumble straight down.
So, I mean, there’s just … and then you have reports of firefighters hearing many, many, many, many explosions going off as the building was coming down. If you look at it, you can see squibs ripping up the side of the building or things that appear to be squibs. Again, I feel like all of the circumstantial pieces of the puzzle are there, but a real investigation has not been conducted. What they did was, they started out with a conclusion and then they only entertained evidence that led them to the conclusion that they started with, and that is not an investigation. That is a whitewash.
Question: When you talk about this to friends, do they just say, ahh, Daniel?
S: They think I’m a little bit crazy, they think, oh, you know … but, again, I refer to people who are clearly not crazy, who are coolly rational individuals not easily given to believing in outlandish conspiracy theories who are saying the same things – scientists, people who made … who are the most rational individuals, who work, again, as I said, in relevant fields of expertise, people from inside the intelligence community, top-gun pilots, Lynn Margolis won the National Medal of Science. That’s the highest scientific accolade that we have to bestow. She says, unequivocally, 9/11 was clearly an inside job.
Now, to say that, I’m going that far because I feel that I have proven it to myself, but I think the only thing that we can say with any certainty is that a real investigation has never been conducted and that until we have one – one with power of subpoena – the truth would never be known. But at this point, the course that was taken post-9/11 is leading this country and the entire world down a very, very dark path and it’s something that we should all take a very close look at. It’s terrifying.
Question: Do you have to be careful who you say this to ?
S: I have had some … you know, I wouldn’t say bad experiences, but I’ve had people like just … not receive the … I don’t know … not want to have this conversation, not receive it very well. But, you know, I find that people who give me that kind of a knee-jerk response haven’t taken the time to really look at the evidence. They haven’t pored over Web sites and documents. They haven’t talked to people who were, you know, people, the firefighters who were there, or first-responders who have similar questions. And I find that those people who actually do take the time, at the very … they might not end up on the same page that I’m at, but they end up certainly further to the left of center than they were, and they end up with very troubling questions that they … you know, they’re like, well, that’s right, that doesn’t make sense, and how did that happen, and why was there molten metal found and, you know … ad infinitum.