‘Oil, Smoke & Mirrors’ offers alternate views on 9/11 attacks, oil, foreign policy   
By Sasha Roe. Tue, Sep 11, 2007
A Lawrence nonprofit group is showing the film at 7 tonight in Liberty Hall. The group, Films for Action, wants to provide people with angles on world issues that it says are not covered by mainstream media.

On the sixth anniversary of Sept. 11, 2001, a film that questions the attacks and the United States’ international response will be shown at Liberty Hall.

The documentary, “Oil,Smoke and Mirrors,” takes a look at Sept. 11 conspiracy theories and the connection to the current U.S. government’s domestic and international policies. The film contends that the public has been misinformed about the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, war in Iraq and the government’s motives.

The ideas presented could be extreme for some people. Some of the opinions expressed in the film suggest that the Sept. 11 attacks were the product of the U.S. government and that the attacks were used to pursue military and economic goals of the U.S. administration. The tagline for the movie reads, “There is no war on terror.”

The film’s press release said that the information presented was a discouraging yet factual description of the nation’s current situation. It is important for the public to be exposed to the information in an effort to change the direction the U.S. is taking with foreign policy, the release said.

Lawrence nonprofit group Films for Action is sponsoring the screening. Tim Hjersted, Lawrence sophomore and one of the founders of Films for Action, said the purpose of the film was to provide information that people might not get from mainstream media and to allow them to decide for themselves. Hjersted said the information might be hard for people to believe at first, but he said he thought there was solid evidence from scientists and scholars in the film.

Thomas Heilke, professor of political science, said conspiracy theories arose from people’s need to understand and explain overwhelming events. Regarding Sept. 11 conspiracy theories, Heilke said people most likely were trying to make sense of such a devastating attack.

“The attacks defied the imagination,” Heilke said. “The thought that terrorists did this without many resources and weren’t very wealthy, it’s frightening. That’s when people tend to think there has to be a bigger explanation.”

The film also touches on the issue of peak oil, the point at which the world’s oil supply will run out. Hjersted said the film did a great job of explaining the situation.

“It shows that oil equals power,” Hjersted said. “And our administration chose to deal with it by going to war with Iraq.”

Heilke said the issue tied into more conspiracy theories and “the fog of war.”

“The direct connection of what caused what gets lost,” Heilke said.

Heilke said some connections that people make from the war on terror to the global oil situation could be purely speculative. He said it was difficult to say the war on terror wasn’t about defending our country from further attacks and was completely about oil.

Hjersted said he hoped the film would give people accurate information to make informed decisions and views that aren’t usually presented.

“Oil, Smoke & Mirrors” plays at 7 tonight at Liberty Hall. The $2 admission benefits Films for Action.

— Edited by Tara Smith