Thursday, December 28, 2006
The Conspiracy Industry
On February 7, 2005, I became a member of the Bush/Halliburton/Zionist/CIA/New World Order/ Illuminati conspiracy for global domination. It was on that day the March 2005 issue of Popular Mechanics, with its cover story debunking 9/11 conspiracy theories, hit newsstands. Within hours, the online community of 9/11 conspiracy buffs—which calls itself the “9/11 Truth Movement”—was aflame with wild fantasies about me and my staff, the magazine I edit, and the article we had published.Then Godwin's Law kicked in:
The Web site www.911research.wtc7.net, an organization that claims that questioning the “official” story of 9/11 is “an act of responsible citizenship,” fired one of the first salvos: “Popular Mechanics Attacks Its 9/11 LIES Straw Man,” read the headline of a piece by a leading conspiracy theorist named Jim Hoffman.
We had begun our plunge down the rabbit hole. Within hours, a post on www.portland.indymedia.org, which claims to be dedicated to “radical, accurate, and passionate tellings of truth,” called me “James Meigs the Coward and Traitor.” Not long afterward, another prominent conspiracy theorist produced an analysis that concluded that Popular Mechanics is a CIA front organization. Invective and threats soon clogged the comments section of our Web site and poured in by e-mail:I was amused at your attempts to prove the conspirator theorists wrong by your interviewing people who work for the government. Face it: The U.S. government planned this attack to further its own agenda in the Middle East.
Rest assured, puppet boys . . . when the hammer comes down about the biggest crime ever perpetrated in the history of man—AND IT WILL—it will be VERY easy to identify the co-conspirators by their flimsy, awkwardly ignorant of reality magazine articles. Keep that in mind the next time you align yourself with evil scum.
YOU HAVE DECLARD YOURSELF ENEMY OF AMERICANS AND FRIEND OF THE MOSSAD!
I shouldn’t have been surprised. In researching the article we’d spent enough time studying the conspiracy movement to get a feel for its style: the tone of outraged patriotism, the apocalyptic rhetoric, the casual use of invective. A common refrain in conspiracy circles is the claim that “We’re just asking questions.” One would think that at least some quarters of the conspiracy movement might welcome a mainstream publication’s serious, nonideological attempt to answer those questions. One would be wrong.
It was only a matter of time before the Nazis got dragged in. Christopher Bollyn, a prominent conspiracy theorist affiliated with the far-right American Free Press, weighed in a few weeks later with a piece titled “The Hidden Hand of the CIA, 911 And Popular Mechanics.” The article begins with a brief history of Hitler’s consolidation of power following the Reichstag fire in 1933. “Like Nazi Germany of 1933,” Bollyn wrote, “American newsstands today carry a mainstream magazine dedicated to pushing the government’s truth of 9/11 while viciously smearing independent researchers as extremists who peddle fantasies and make poisonous claims.”The article goes on to describe the cycle of argument employed by the conspiracy buffs in very familiar detail. But I think the article and the point was summed best by an e-mail contributor who said:
In a few short weeks, Popular Mechanics had gone from being a 100-year-old journal about science, engineering, car maintenance, and home improvement to being a pivotal player in a global conspiracy on a par with Nazi Germany.
Some people are open to any possibility, and honestly examine all evidence in a rational manner to come to a conclusion, followed by a moral evaluation. Others start with a desire for a specific moral evaluation, and then work backwards assembling any fact that supports them, and dismissing any fact that does not.
Now, this tendency is not exclusive to conspiracy theorists. We've certainly seen plenty of that around here, in discussions about everything from Paul Gallegos to rating local hamburgers. But it resonates particularly when it comes to conspiracy theorists, and we seem to be more saturated with them locally than in most other places - even considering that the call-ins and bloggers aren't representative of the population as a whole. Conspiracies are easy, especially when you're "just asking questions." And the intellectual intransigence doesn't bother me nearly so much as the virulent anger coming from the mouths of conspiracy theory adherents when you don't come around to "the obvious." Sometimes my radio show sounds like the Scopes Monkey Trial.
By the way, Skeptic Magazine, published by Michael Shermer, a former fundamentalist Christian, makes yet another attempt at rational discussion of the topic. But I think you have to buy the hard copy.
Strange bedfellows, indeed. In truth, the worldviews of far-left- and far-right-wing conspiracists differ little. Both think that vast, malevolent forces have hijacked American democracy. And both believe that the press, our elected officials, and the American people—or “sheeple,” as today’s conspiracists like to call them—are too timid and ignorant to speak up. As Hofstadter shows, such sentiments have been around since the early days of the republic. But 9/11 gave modern conspiracists a huge historical tragedy to examine through their ideological lenses and to recast with their favorite villains.
And they are prominent fixtures right here in good ole Humboldt County.
Once while visiting Ruth Lake, I spotted a poster on the bulletin board of the Journey's End store that said only these words: "Ruth Militia. 5V 67R 34B N52." It gave me the creeps.
The same creepy feeling I get when I pass by the Redwood Peace & Justice Center in Arcata.
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"9/11 Panel Suspected Deception by Pentagon
Allegations Brought to Inspectors General
By Dan Eggen
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, August 2, 2006; Page A03
Some staff members and commissioners of the Sept. 11 panel concluded that the Pentagon's initial story of how it reacted to the 2001 terrorist attacks may have been part of a deliberate effort to mislead the commission and the public rather than a reflection of the fog of events on that day, according to sources involved in the debate.
Suspicion of wrongdoing ran so deep that the 10-member commission, in a secret meeting at the end of its tenure in summer 2004, debated referring the matter to the Justice Department for criminal investigation, according to several commission sources. Staff members and some commissioners thought that e-mails and other evidence provided enough probable cause to believe that military and aviation officials violated the law by making false statements to Congress and to the commission, hoping to hide the bungled response to the hijackings, these sources said.
In the end, the panel agreed to a compromise, turning over the allegations to the inspectors general for the Defense and Transportation departments, who can make criminal referrals if they believe they are warranted, officials said.
"We to this day don't know why NORAD [the North American Aerospace Command] told us what they told us," said Thomas H. Kean, the former New Jersey Republican governor who led the commission. "It was just so far from the truth. . . . It's one of those loose ends that never got tied."
Although the commission's landmark report made it clear that the Defense Department's early versions of events on the day of the attacks were inaccurate, the revelation that it considered criminal referrals reveals how skeptically those reports were viewed by the panel and provides a glimpse of the tension between it and the Bush administration.
A Pentagon spokesman said yesterday that the inspector general's office will soon release a report addressing whether testimony delivered to the commission was "knowingly false." A separate report, delivered secretly to Congress in May 2005, blamed inaccuracies in part on problems with the way the Defense Department kept its records, according to a summary released yesterday.
A spokesman for the Transportation Department's inspector general's office said its investigation is complete and that a final report is being drafted. Laura Brown, a spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said she could not comment on the inspector general's inquiry.
In an article scheduled to be on newsstands today, Vanity Fair magazine reports aspects of the commission debate -- though it does not mention the possible criminal referrals -- and publishes lengthy excerpts from military audiotapes recorded on Sept. 11. ABC News aired excerpts last night.
For more than two years after the attacks, officials with NORAD and the FAA provided inaccurate information about the response to the hijackings in testimony and media appearances. Authorities suggested that U.S. air defenses had reacted quickly, that jets had been scrambled in response to the last two hijackings and that fighters were prepared to shoot down United Airlines Flight 93 if it threatened Washington.
In fact, the commission reported a year later, audiotapes from NORAD's Northeast headquarters and other evidence showed clearly that the military never had any of the hijacked airliners in its sights and at one point chased a phantom aircraft -- American Airlines Flight 11 -- long after it had crashed into the World Trade Center.
Maj. Gen. Larry Arnold and Col. Alan Scott told the commission that NORAD had begun tracking United 93 at 9:16 a.m., but the commission determined that the airliner was not hijacked until 12 minutes later. The military was not aware of the flight until after it had crashed in Pennsylvania.
These and other discrepancies did not become clear until the commission, forced to use subpoenas, obtained audiotapes from the FAA and NORAD, officials said. The agencies' reluctance to release the tapes -- along with e-mails, erroneous public statements and other evidence -- led some of the panel's staff members and commissioners to believe that authorities sought to mislead the commission and the public about what happened on Sept. 11.
"I was shocked at how different the truth was from the way it was described," John Farmer, a former New Jersey attorney general who led the staff inquiry into events on Sept. 11, said in a recent interview. "The tapes told a radically different story from what had been told to us and the public for two years. . . . This is not spin. This is not true."
Arnold, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, told the commission in 2004 that he did not have all the information unearthed by the panel when he testified earlier. Other military officials also denied any intent to mislead the panel.
John F. Lehman, a Republican commission member and former Navy secretary, said in a recent interview that he believed the panel may have been lied to but that he did not believe the evidence was sufficient to support a criminal referral.
"My view of that was that whether it was willful or just the fog of stupid bureaucracy, I don't know," Lehman said. "But in the order of magnitude of things, going after bureaucrats because they misled the commission didn't seem to make sense to me."
Does the RPJC promote conspiracy theories?
They couldn't even keep up with Katrina, even though that was something they were 'prepared' to take care of...
No, just the public information.
derchoadus - I agree. In fact, it would have been much simpler to plant WMDs in Iraq.
It would require thousands - with not one of them having let anything slip in 5 years.
You see, in 1776, NYC was invaded and occupied by the British. After that, Tories from all over the colonies fled there as the only really safe haven left to them and NYC was never a factor again in the struggle for the remainder of the war. The British finally abandoned it in 1783.
Three huraahs for Mayor Bloomberg for pulling off this scam!
As for the Pentagon, please see Spielberg's War of the Worlds to see what a 757 plane crash looks like. Nothing at all like what happened at the Pentagon 9-11 hit.
Let's see, 9-11 conspiracy isn't real and Zionists are always right, Muslims always wrong, according to eric here, local promoter of neo-con Progressive politics.
Read the engineering reports Steve. Read the Popular Mechanics book. It's pretty well detailed, as is the Skeptic article.
As to the Pentagon, well, you saw a crash in a movie, so I guess that's definitive.
I had no idea that Eric was part of a well-dressed band of bearded ladies, sword swallowers, and ring-toss booth operators all of whom listen to Rush Limbaugh and hold strong opinions about Israel. That is truly weird.
And eric? If you complain about how Spielberg realistically detailed how a real 757 jet crash looks like please show us photos of 757 planes that have crashed where the wreckage is as none-existent as in the Pentagon attack?
No, just the public information.
"public information"? What is the source? Just because "information" is made public doesn't make it true.
Maybe the Bush administration isn't running this country. They're morons. Are we supposed to believe political reality is whatever the corporate mass-media tells us it is?
In any case, here's an interesting blog dedicated to Loose Change.
Screw Loose Change
Whether conspiracy theorists are right or gov't, there is obviously huge room for debate. The solution would be simple--an independent investigation of 9-11 by professionals picked equally by both sides of the 9-11 controversy in full public view of the investigative process.
What exactly is the "government's position?" I certainly don't agree that they did everything they could to prevent it. In fact, I tend to believe that they were so obsessed with Hussein that they let everything else slide.
Anon 10:54 - except that this wasn't a Hollywood production. If I accept your views, it's a perfectly executed conspiracy with perfect coordination between tens of thousands of people, and media organizations across the planet who where either part of the plot or blind as bats.
Another way to "boil the frog slowly," getting people used to the steadily increasing, creeping fascism of the American police state.
No, you don't understand my view at all. You don't need "perfect coordination between tens of thousands of people..." What are you talking about?
Loose Change has been slammed for quite a few innacuracies. I've previously provided a link.
So what was the "big lie?"
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