Back Home from Iraq with Army grunt-turned-film producer Korey Rowe
By Michael Slenske
Michael Slenske writes SMITH’s Back Home From Iraq column.
“I see myself as a person who’s a buffer between conspiracy theorist and military informant, so I thought my help on Loose Change would make it a better quality piece, something more mainstream people, who aren’t dove into conspiracies, could really watch and take in.”
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.
So why this film?
Loose Change happened by accident. The whole thing started out as a fictional screenplay about me and Dylan and another friend of ours finding out 9/11 was an inside job. It started out as a comedic action film with us being chased by the FBI and all that. But when Dylan started researching the screenplay he found out the attacks really were an inside job, so we made it into a documentary. I see myself as a person who’s a buffer between conspiracy theorist and military informant, so I thought my help on Loose Change would make it a better quality piece, something more mainstream people who aren’t into conspiracies could really watch and take in. I call it the gateway drug because it can take someone totally green to the information—who believed Muslims carried out 9/11, that the World Trade Center was brought down because of jet fuel, and that the Pentagon was hit by a plane—you put them in front of this movie and 80 minutes later they are going to question it at least. Bottom line: they’re going to question it. It makes people think. It made me think, so I wanted to make other people think.
When you got back from Iraq did you know you wanted to go work on the film?
No, I went back to work. I was training. That’s what you do. When you’re not deployed you’re in the rear either fixing your gear or using your gear. I was stationed in Fort Campbell, Kentucky the whole four years besides the time I was overseas. When you’re back from overseas you get a month off, you clean your gear, and then go fight again.
Didn’t you ever stop and think, “Wait, Dylan is just a kid.”?
Yeah, several times. I thought, I’m in the military, I know stuff. But Dylan was way more informed than me. Like I said, I’m getting the Army Times, I’m getting the AFN, and now it’s out, it’s reported that the government spent millions of dollars spinning false articles to newspapers across the world. So who’s to say the Armed Forces Network and the Army Times aren’t chockfull of bullshit.
How prevalent is that mindset in the Army?
That they know what’s going on?
It’s 98 percent. It’s a fantasy world those people live in. I mean it’s really something. I call them infected. They can’t come back to civilian life. They’re like, “You can’t get out of the Army, you ain’t gonna get no job, you ain’t gonna do nothing. You gonna work at Burger King. What are you gonna do at Burger King? You still wear a uniform; you still get a hair cut at Burger King. So why don’t you just stay in the Army, join up, sign again, get $6,000.” If you don’t re-enlist they just make you sit in a chair. They made me sit in a chair for a week. Sit in that chair until you re-enlist. I just sat there. “You want me to sit in this chair,” I said, “I’ll sit in this chair for a month, because in a month I’m out of here.”
When you came back was there anything that really bothered you about the American public?
Yeah, their ability to believe the B.S. they see on TV. They’re so in tune with their television and CNN and Fox News and the New York Post. They watch the news and the news reporter, whoever it is, forms an opinion for them. Take the release of the Pentagon video. CNN had been bashing conspiracies all day because people kept writing in about conspiracy theories. They build it up for two hours, then they show the video, then Jamie McIntyre, who we actually use in our video says, “All right, there’s the plane, you can see it, there’s the vapor trail, and there’s the explosion. They only shoot in half-second frames; it’s the only shot of the Pentagon. We’ll be right back to cover more of this. This is undisputed proof that a plane hit the Pentagon.” They go to commercial, and instead of coming back and going to Flight 77, they go to American Idol. They just implant the idea, there’s Jamie McIntyre saying he sees a 757 flying into the Pentagon, and then they switch to American Idol. So then when someone says there’s no plane that hit the Pentagon someone else can say, “That’s not true, I watched CNN this afternoon. Jamie McIntyre saw the plane, he showed me.” People believe anything because it’s on CNN.
What do you think about the Popular Mechanics cover story about “Debunking 9/11 Myths”?
That’s a good article. It covers some good information, but it directly takes away from some of the facts. It states that NATO scrambled planes at one time that could’ve intercepted the planes, but couldn’t because they couldn’t reach them in time. That’s bullshit. That article reports they only would’ve had to have flown at 24 percent of their full-blower, and an F15 flies at 1800 mph. You’re telling me when the first plane was hi-jacked at 8:20am, until 9:45, when the plane was flown into the Pentagon, you’re telling me that not one F-15 could be scrambled and taken down one of those planes. Not to mention the [“Debunking 9/11 Myths”] piece stands on the Nova theory (the “Pancake Theory”) that one floor collapsed on another floor creating a succession of collapses where the towers fell. If that’s true, you have a 75-story office building untouched by fuel, fire, any debris whatsoever. You have a 30-story chunk above that, which is also untouched. You have the 78th to 82nd floor, which is on fire. Think about that. You have a 70-something story office building, untouched, unscathed by fuel. You’re going to tell me that the steel supposedly weakened, fell on one floor, on top of another floor, on top of another floor, for 78 floors, reaching the ground floor, and fell in 9.2 seconds. 9.2 seconds is the exact rate of freefall for a building that tall, which is 1,368 feet tall. If you take Galileo’s Law of Falling Bodies and you calculate the distance by the time it takes to fall, it’s 9.2 seconds. That means that all those floors fell without any resistance from any of those untouched floors below it. It’s completely impossible. Not only do you have to do that, you just have to watch the collapse of the towers. You can see the bombs going off. It is so obvious. It’s an umbrella theory. You blow up the top to conceal what’s going on beneath it.
The Blair Witch Project also looked real to people who were in on the documentary preceding it. It totally worked. The first time you watch it, it grabs you. But Loose Change isn’t meant to be fictional. It’s a watchable film, but what do you expect people to do with it?
What I encourage people to do is go out and research it themselves. We don’t ever come out and say that everything we say is 100 per cent. We know there are errors in the documentary, and we’ve actually left them in there so that people discredit us and do the research for themselves—the B52 [remarked to have flown into the Empire State Building], the use of Wikipedia, things like that. We left them in there so people will want to discredit us and go out and research the events yourself and come up with your own conclusions. That’s our whole goal, to make Americans think. To wake up from the 16 amps of your television to watch something and get a passion in something again. And that’s what America has always been about. From the Vietnam protests…it’s always been about a passion. And now we’re trying to build that passion in people, to wake up, to stop watching television, to stop reading the crappy newspapers, and go online and find those de-classified documents, go find the scientists that aren’t young filmmakers, but the ones after Steven E. Jones at BYU, who has steel from the World Trade Center and has conducted tests on the steel and it’s come to the point, over and over again, that what they [the 9-11 Commission] say can’t be true. That it had to be brought down by controlled demolition. Our whole goal is to wake Americans up to do something about it.
What do you say to people who’d say you’re doing this to make a dollar?
You should see my dilapidated house in upstate New York. I drive a Ford F-150 that has a tape player. We sell DVDs, we make money, but we just give the shit away because we don’t want to be war profiteers. We’re not about making money on the whole thing—we’re about getting information out. That’s why we’ve turned down seven figures, more than once, from people looking to buy our film and put it in theaters—because they don’t care about it. They only see the moneymaking aspect of it. We want to make sure it’s handled correctly. That the movie gets out 100 per cent accurate when it comes out in theaters, because it’s obviously not now, and that it’s projected in the right light so people aren’t threatened by it. If we coordinate 500 theaters across the country to start playing it, it’s going to start a wave. We’re going to have a whole weekend of events on 9/11 just to raise awareness among New Yorkers so that we can try to get an independent investigation to look back into the facts that every news agency in the world has ignored. Americans are going to be pissed.