It's the year 2021 and the streets of every single major city of the United States are filled with millions of angry protesters. The protests are so massive, and involve so many people that it's impeding the functioning of transportation, businesses and infrastructure in general. The U.S. economy is losing billions of dollars every day, and the entire U.S. political system is in danger. The protests are mostly (physically) non-violent. Yet they cause a massive disruption in the functioning of society. Roads are closed. Many businesses are unable to function. Much of the civil activity in the US is now based around providing for and assisting the protestors materially and logistically.

The reason for the protests is that the protesters have some very specific beliefs, which I'll soon list. Though very similar to ours, this is an alternate universe, so whether the beliefs are actually true or not in this alternate universe is not given. Your goal, however, is the same regardless. We'll get to what your goal is.

Here's what the protestors believe:

  1. Elements of the U.S. government (and possibly other governments) were involved in the September 11, 2001 attacks.
  2. The destruction of the Twin Towers and Building 7 was assisted by some prearranged technology.
  3. The Pentagon was not impacted by a commercial airliner on September 11. Rather, the damage seen there was caused by something else.
  4. No commercial airliner crashed in Shanksville, Pennsylvania on September 11.

Credible polls show that more than 80% of the U.S. population at large believes these things. 15% say they have doubts. Only 5% say they believe the narrative that was initially presented. Naturally, these beliefs lead to many other associated beliefs as well.

Now, this is an alternate universe, but unless otherwise stated (like I did above), it is the same as our own.

In this alternate universe, you can decide what the President, Congress, Senate, Supreme Court and other US government bodies shall do. Congressmen, Senators, etc, will follow your course of action perfectly. This also applies to the management and key individuals of government agencies such as NIST, FEMA, etc. It also applies to the top brass of the armed forces, and top police, FBI, CIA, etc. However, the minds of the regular employees in these agencies are like normal citizens, totally beyond your control. You can only control them the way the top officials could in our real world, through orders etc.

Your aim is to restore the normal functioning of infrastructure, the economy, the government, etc. Basically, you want people to go back to their homes and continue their normal lives.

No new evidence or data (photos, videos, classified documents, including the 28 pages) have been released regarding 9/11 since now (April 2016). Moreover, the evidence (videos, photos, recorded eyewitness statements, physical evidence, etc) pertaining to the events is exactly the same as in our universe. You can not produce new evidence, or magically remove things, but you can declassify things if you think there is reason to believe that the US Government has it.

Now. Whether, in your universe, the protesters' beliefs are accurate or not: How do you deal with them, and restore the normal functioning of society, the economy and the government?

Some knowledge about details from the real world relevant to the beliefs of protesters may be useful for answerers to know.


It doesn't matter how many drastic things have to happen for you to achieve your goal. As long as you end up with a functioning society with working infrastructure, government, industries, etc, you have answered the question. There can be as many drastic changes and events in the process that you want.

Edit 2: Goals of protestors:

Since 80% of the US population is aligned with the protestors, they are an extremely diverse group. The only thing they have in common are the core beliefs described above. There are thousands of factions who believe different things about the other details, and what should be done. In spite of these differences, the protestors are largely united. However here are some things most of them believe should be done:

  1. A new investigation into the September 11 attacks with subpoena power and full access to absolutely all classified documents and data. They also want the public itself to have direct access to all that information

  2. They have a long list (there are actually many, differing, such lists) of people they believe were involved in 9/11 (including covering up the crimes in the aftermath). They believe those people should be prosecuted for treason.

Other than that, the beliefs and demands of the protestors are so diverse that it's impossible to make any adequate summary.

  • $\begingroup$ Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. $\endgroup$ – HDE 226868 Apr 20 '16 at 21:42

Somebody is gonna get thrown under the bus

Assuming the government in power in 2001 is completely responsible for 9/11, the government of 2020 will do absolutely everything they can to obstruct investigations into the events of 9/11 because it challenges their ability to stay in power. If they have to, they will find scapegoats, fabricate documents, prosecute the people's elected investigators, absolutely anything and everything it takes to avoid complete discreditation of the 2020 US Federal Government and future governments. Every attempt will be made to limit the scope of the actors to "a few bad apples" while maintaining the actual and apparent integrity of the overall governmental system.

The people have no guarantee that they will get the truth...either from the government or from their special investigators. They lack expertise to judge the evidence and are susceptible to good story-telling. If the narrative is right, they'll believe it, regardless of what actually happened. How are the people going to know that their investigators aren't actually government stooges?

In the cost-benefit analysis between keeping The Truth of 9/11 hidden vs complete collapse of society, some new disclosures would have to be made but they will be made in the manner and timing of the 2020 government's choosing. The protests can only go on for so long at these activity levels before people start to feel the effects of their collective economic inactivity and force them to go back to work. If the government can hold off with any really damaging disclosures, if at all, till after the protests subside then the government has won.

If the protesters collectively realize the above situation, then no concessions will be satisfactory and they will require the complete removal of the current government and the installation of the new. This may be done forcibly or it could happen the next election cycle when a bunch of candidates run on the "Truth in 9/11" platform. But even then, they can't be sure they've ever gotten the real truth about 9/11.

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Immediately and fully give in to the protesters. Make an immediate statement that once the immediate economic crisis is over, preparations will be made to put in place a expense oversight committee to regulate the expenses of a panel of experts to investigate the best voting system to choose for the election of the public representative chosen to directly lead the investigation.

Establish miles of red tape, stonewall, delay, lie and do the usual political thing, all the while promising actions - adequately scheduled to take place during the opposition's election term - and quietly targeting the ring leaders for traffic violations and tax evasion.

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  • $\begingroup$ Good answer. But don't you think these people will be angry if you arrest their leaders? The protesters are likely to call BS, and you may end up giving hero status to the leaders. $\endgroup$ – Revetahw says Reinstate Monica Apr 20 '16 at 14:16
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    $\begingroup$ @Fiksdal I'm suggesting that the leaders are arrested years after the protests end and for any real but nitpicky little violations, while serious elections are underway to address the demands put forth by the protesters. I doubt there will be widespread hero worship for a ex-ringleader who was caught speeding. $\endgroup$ – Scott Downey Apr 20 '16 at 14:22
  • $\begingroup$ @ScottDowney, or catch them in a really compromising situation that hurts their credibility to investigate the case. And the allegation doesn't have to be true to do the required damage. $\endgroup$ – Green Apr 20 '16 at 14:31

There are two options to handle the scenario:

The Violent Option

  • Get some of your (government's) agents in the protests.

  • Once all the agents are in place at critical locations, signal them all to start rioting and initiate violence.

  • Other agents in the same group apparently start to counter the first group of agents while actually adding fuel to the fire and initiating mob violence.

  • Deploy police first, make the situation worse by shooting some protestors (not your agents) and then call in the army.

  • Disperse the protestors using water cannons, sound cannons, tear gas and other painful, non-lethal things like that.

The Political Gimmick

  • Merge thousands of your agents in the protestors.

  • Get some of your agents to take the role of unofficial leaders and spokespersons of the protestors. The other agents would start following them and they would gradually become the official representatives of the protestors.

  • Now offer talks to your planted representatives.

  • Buy time. Promise action. Make a committee including members named by the representatives.

  • The committee takes 2-3 months to probe into the matter.

  • The committee's report suggests that the allegations were partially correct.

  • Send a few low level scapegoats to life imprisonment.

  • Everybody is happy.

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  • $\begingroup$ I upvoted this because of the political gimmick part. I believe the violent one would have made the situation worse. You don't have enough control over the individual police and army personnel to know what they will do. IMO the violent one is likely to start a civil war, where parts of police and the armed forces are loyal to you and other parts side with the protesters. $\endgroup$ – Revetahw says Reinstate Monica Apr 20 '16 at 14:21
  • $\begingroup$ Thinking about it now, yes it might be possible. But things are not so simple, considering that USA cannot afford to fall in a civil war in modern times. It would annihilate the country out of the map completely. Also, the violent option is used effectively in third world countries in south asia and africa every next day. $\endgroup$ – Youstay Igo Apr 20 '16 at 14:24
  • $\begingroup$ You mean nukes? Those are in your control, but you'd be mad to involve them. Yes, I guess the violent divide and conquer could work. But IMO your non-violent divide and conquer strategy is better. $\endgroup$ – Revetahw says Reinstate Monica Apr 20 '16 at 14:28
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    $\begingroup$ No no. No nukes at all. That would be utter madness indeed. I was stating that a lot of maniacs and street cats want a piece of USA. Not the taliban and al qaeda and isis maniacs but also superpowers such as china and russia. Once the country falls in a civil war, it is game over. An open war would probably not be initiated by any external country but they would pick and choose factions and parties of their liking and provide them with weapons and intel. Those parties would then use nukes and biochemicals to wipe out the other factions. @Fiksdal $\endgroup$ – Youstay Igo Apr 20 '16 at 14:31
  • $\begingroup$ Right, yeah. Many external groups could take advantage of this situation. $\endgroup$ – Revetahw says Reinstate Monica Apr 20 '16 at 14:33

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