SUSPICIOUS MINDS

How a ragtag group of conspiracy nuts is changing public perception of 9/11

n a sleepy Wednesday last April—the day he would unexpectedly make his debut as the scourge of the New World Order—Luke Rudkowski pulled on an old pair of sweatpants and shuffled up the basement stairs of his family’s row house in the blue-collar Brooklyn neighborhood of Bensonhurst. As he plopped down in a chair and yelled for his mom—maybe she’d cook up a batch of her special chicken parm for dinner?—the 20-year-old conspiracy buff noticed a Polish-language newspaper his dad had left lying around. His eye was drawn to an item announcing that Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser and rival to Henry Kissinger as America’s foremost voice on geopolitical strategy, would be giving a speech in Manhattan. “I was like, ‘Holy crap!'” he says.

While few people his age can name the current national security adviser, much less the man who held the post during the Carter Administration, Rudkowski is able to run through Brzezinski’s entire résumé. “This guy is CFR, Bilderberg, and Trilateral Commission,” he recites breathlessly, using shorthand for the Council on Foreign Relations and the Bilderberg Group, elite policy organizations to which Brzezinski belongs. To Rudkowski, these affiliations prove that Brzezinski is one of the secret rulers of the world. And since those secret rulers were behind 9/11, it would have been unconscionable to let the man spew his lies unchallenged.

Rudkowski, who has a thick Brooklyn accent and an implacable, heavy-lidded stare reminiscent of Marlon Brando in On the Waterfront, was not directly affected by the attacks. On the morning of September 11, 2001, he was sitting in a ninth-grade Spanish class at a public high school eight miles south of the towers. None of his friends or family members died that day. But exposing the perpetrators of the plot—not the 19 patsies with box cutters, but the real criminals—had in recent years become the focus of his life. He spent Saturdays at Ground Zero with banners and pamphlets, proselytizing to passersby. He knew the material in Loose Change by heart. When he was free on weekday afternoons, which was often, he’d listen to streaming audio of the Alex Jones Show, an immensely popular conspiracy radio program out of Austin, Texas. Jones was his guru. “Seeing Alex Jones’s documentaries made me realize that there are a lot of things people don’t know,” Rudkowski says, “that they should know.”

To catch Brzezinski’s speech, though, he’d have to hurry: It was scheduled to start in just over an hour, in the rarified atmosphere of the 92nd Street Y on New York’s Upper East Side. Rudkowski scratched together $25 for a ticket (no small sum for a young man who’d recently been working construction for near minimum wage). “I threw on my suit that I got for $2 at the Salvation Army, and just started running,” he recalls. Sitting alone in the affluent crowd, Rudkowski tried to psyche himself up during Brzezinski’s formal remarks. “I was really, really scared,” he says. When the floor was opened to questions, he flicked on the borrowed video camera he’d sneaked in, holding it next to his thigh, and rose to address the eminent statesman. His voice rang out hard and clear: “You gave a speech to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee where you alluded to the fact that the Bush Administration may stage a terrorist attack to justify a military action against Iran. … How are we to know how many other terrorist incidents have been state-sponsored ‘false-flag’ incidents, including the largest one—the attacks of 9/11?” Then, with rising emotion: “How do we know that you … didn’t plan the attacks of 9/11?”

An appalled hush gripped the auditorium. When Brzezinski didn’t immediately respond, the young man became aggressive. “Answer my question!” he yelled, then unleashed a torrent of insults. “You are a criminal! You are scum! You are New World Order scum!” The 79-year-old seemed confused, blinking and looking around the darkened room. The crowd booed.

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TRUTHER CONSEQUENCES (From left) Luke Rudowski, Sabrina Rivera, and Manny Badillo are founding members of We Are Change
(Photo: Henrik Olund)

After Brzezinski did finally address the question—”I believe 9/11 was an Al Qaeda initiative, and has been correctly diagnosed”—a couple of “big security dudes,” as Rudkowski puts it, closed in. “They were literally grabbing the camera,” he says. “The guy had his two hands on me and I ducked and hit the door.” “Take the tape!” someone yells in the video. Rudkowski ran outside with the security agents on his tail. After dashing several blocks, he held the camera in front of his face, still loping along, and laughed. “Yeah, Brzezinski, you got yours!” he boasted into the lens, sounding a bit like a rapper taunting a rival.

 

The next day—after staying up until 5 a.m. to edit the tape at a friend’s house—he posted the footage on YouTube. Kudos began to pour in immediately. Among the impressed was Alex Jones, who saw the clip and invited Rudkowski on his show to recount the confrontation for his two million listeners. A reporter on Jones’s heavily trafficked website dubbed Rudkowski a true American hero and opined that “if there is to be any hope of stopping [them], we must all confront the globalists like Brzezinski everywhere they go.”

With that single incident, We Are Change, the 9/11 Truth activist group that Rudkowski had been struggling to build, took off. The day of the Brzezinski confrontation, it had one chapter, a handful of members, and no money. Within a few months, it had grown to 27 chapters, including ones in the UK, Canada, and Ireland, and was successfully orchestrating a media campaign that grabbed headlines week in and week out.

Rudkowski and his cohorts are not the only ones suspicious of the official story of 9/11. According to polls by Scripps Howard, Radar, and others, nearly 40 percent of Americans believe that the government conspired in, or had precise foreknowledge of, the 9/11 attacks. Despite the fact that they outnumber both registered Democrats and Republicans, they tend to be invisible in the mainstream media. But the activist fringe of this demographic, the so-called 9/11 Truth movement, has recently become restless in its status. Rudkowski and his group, with Alex Jones’s guidance and encouragement, have spearheaded a high-profile publicity campaign that calls to mind tactics used by the savvy AIDS awareness organization Act Up in the 1980s. Following the Brzezinski confrontation, the group has scored a huge amount of major media exposure by cornering presidential candidates to demand answers about 9/11, playing elaborate pranks on Bill Clinton and others, and interrupting a live taping of the HBO series Real Time With Bill Maher. (They were kicked off the set by Maher himself.) Since Rudkowski and his cohorts consider the corporate media to be players in a vast whitewash, they are offering themselves as a ragtag and rowdy—but far more Truthful—competitor.

“The Brzezinski thing basically started We Are Change,” Rudkowski says now, with several months’ perspective and many other confrontations under his belt. “It started this whole mentality of taking a camera and demanding answers.”