The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) has approved a controversial "9/11 truther" group's application to adopt a highway. The St. Louis 9/11 Questions Meetup Group, which suggests the U.S. government may have been involved in the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001, will have a sign erected with its name on it. In exchange, it will arrange to pick up litter on a half-mile stretch of highway four times a year.
This isn't the first time MoDOT has dealt with a controversial group wanting to adopt a highway. After a legal battle with a Ku Klux Klan group, MoDOT had to make a change in its policies, allowing anyone to adopt a stretch of highway. Tom Blair, assistant district engineer for MoDOT in St. Louis, told ABC News that after its battle with the KKK, the state can no longer reject a group based on its beliefs, no matter how controversial or offensive.
"MoDOT has been there," Blair said. "After they won the right to adopt, we modified the process. We had to make sure anyone could be approved."
The department's battle with the Klan began in early 2000, when the KKK applied to adopt a stretch of highway and was denied. After a five-year lawsuit, a federal judge ruled the KKK had the right to adopt a stretch of highway in St. Louis, but its sponsorship signs were routinely stolen. MoDOT appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, but was rejected.
At the time of the KKK controversy, the Missouri State Police were quoted by the AP as saying they did not have the manpower to ensure the KKK Adopt-a-Highway sign was protected from theft at all times.
The sign for the St. Louis 9/11 Questions Group will go up in January, according to Blair.
The website for the 9/11 truther group sells T-shirts that say, "The 9/11 debacle was an inside job" and other shirts that compare George W. Bush to Hitler's deputy, Hermann Goring.
"We are in the U.S. and everyone has the right to their viewpoint," Blair said.
The St. Louis group's organizer, Donald Stahl, could not be reached for comment.
The Lee's Summit Journal reported there are at least two victims from Missouri who died in New York City on 9/11, Randy Drake and Julie Geis from Lee's Summit, Mo.
Her mother, Betty Geis, told ABC News that she doesn't believe her daughter would have blamed any American for the 9/11 attacks. Though Geis does not live in Missouri, she says it would give anyone a shock to see the sign.
"I have one daughter who still lives in Missouri and that would upset her to have to drive by it," Geis said.
MoDOT said it does reject applicants, but only because there is not enough road to cover the number of groups that offer their services. The stretch of road the St. Louis 9/11 Questions Meetup Group requested had not been claimed by any other organization at the time. If any group fails to pick up litter under the program's requirements, its sign is removed.