November 2nd, 2007 5:33 pm | by Krista Stryker News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Politics

9/11 Survivor Turned Skeptic Comes to Portland


William Rodriguez, a 9/11 survivor turned skeptic, will be in Portland this Tuesday to talk about his experience as a national hero and activist and his doubts about September 11.

Rodriguez was headed in for a regular day of work as a 19-year veteran janitor at the twin towers on Sept. 11, 2001, when the first plane crashed into the building. Using his janitorial keys, he helped rescue hundreds of people from the building and was recognized as a national hero for his bravery. But Rodriguez is increasingly skeptical of the official accounts of 9/11, and is touring the country demanding answers.

Rodriguez is the hero of groups such as the 9/11 Truth Commission and the Oregon Truth Alliance, both of which have been pegged as supporting conspiracy theories regarding 9/11. Rodriguez denies that characterization. “People call us conspiracy theorists, but we're not,” he says. “We're just asking questions.” Rodriguez has even taken steps to distance himself from this increasingly negative accusation. In 2004, Rodriguez filed a civil lawsuit against President Bush and other high-up members of the government, accusing them of knowingly failing to act, prevent or warn the public about 9/11. But the Puerto Rican-born man said his attorney began adding in conspiracy theories to his account, so he distanced himself from the lawsuit.

But Rodriguez still has doubts. “I don't know who is responsible,” he says. He says he's not “blaming the government,” but that the government had previous knowledge of the attacks and refused to do anything about it. When asked why the government would let something like 9/11 happen, he answers, “that's exactly our question.”

Yet some of the claims Rodriguez has made about 9/11 don't add up. He says an explosion occurred seven seconds before the first plane hit the towers, and came from below, not above. But when he first began to report this, he described the explosion as a “rumble,” like furniture moving. Today, he remembers it as a “POW!” Rodriguez claims the difference is due to translation errors, but his accounts of the explosion have gotten more and more dramatic over the years.

Rodriguez also previously claimed a large fireball shot through the elevator shaft, exploding through the doors and burning the skin off one man's body. But three years ago, Rodriguez began to back away from his account, claiming it was impossible for a fireball to have existed. Now, he says he was just going along with the official accounts of the New York fire department. “I was repeating everything as they told me to,” he says. At the time, Rodriguez claims he was being courted by members of the Republican Party, whose names he won't disclose, to run for political office. “I was going with the official story,” he says. But Rodriguez says that once he started investigating, the story didn't make sense.

Now, Rodriguez is touring the country pushing for further investigation of the events. As an advocate for 9/11 families and the Latino community, Rodriguez believes he's been sent “on a mission” to act as a voice for these communities. “I was given the opportunity to survive and now I'm doing that mission.” And he's not exactly happy about it: He says “it's a burden” and he “hates” doing it.

Rodriguez will be in Portland on Tuesday, Nov. 6, where he will talk about his experiences and what he plans to do in the future at Berbati's Pan, 231 SW Ankeny, at 7 pm. Admission $10. Sponored by
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