Archive for the ‘Terrorism’ Category
“Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player, that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more; it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” —William Shakespeare
It’s been two weeks since the Boston bombing. I’ve never heard so much bullshit in my life. Or more accurately, I’ve never heard so much pontificating crap regarding such a minor event. My God, one would think another Pearl Harbor or 9/11 happened from all the calls from on high for vengeance and change. Perspective people, two disaffected losers set off some bombs. Something that has happened multiple times in US history. Then, sanity prevailed, and life went on while the authorities did their job and hunted down the perpetrators. Except this time, it’s the crime of the century, and both the immediate response and the aftermath have been wildly out of proportion. The Mayor of New York has even suggested changing the Constitution, or at least our interpretation of it, in response to this. Good job freakazoids, now our real enemies know how to spook us; a few backpack bombs and we will run around like chickens with their heads cut off.
In other words, we’ve so obsessed on preventing another 9/11 that our response to this bombing was wildly out of proportion. 9,000 troops deployed to hunt down a teenager? A whole city placed under unconstitutional martial law? American citizens treated like an occupied country? Because of one wounded teenager? This was insane. You’d have thought Chuck Norris was loose with a neutron bomb for God’s sake. And the thing that really shows how absurd this all was, the bomber wasn’t caught until after people were let out of their homes and a citizen spotted him. The whole goddamn shutdown of the city, and the massive cost that entailed, was completely utterly unnecessary. And yet people cheer, so caught up in the Hollywood style dark comedy that the War on Terror has become.
I have bad news people. We can’t prevent all terrorist attacks, assuming this is even terrorism, which is a stretch at this point. Welcome to reality. I mean, after 9/11 we spent trillions of dollars on foreign wars and creating the greatest expansion of federal government ever, so called Homeland Security. And we passed vast and sweeping laws allowing government unprecedented powers to snoop in the name of security. And with all this staggering expense, an expense that rivals our spending in World War Two, we still got “attacked.” And the knee-jerk response from government and pundits is “We need more security!” No, we need more sanity. We should analyze the risks facing America like adults, and not be panicked into doubling down on a strategy that not only has failed, a strategy that is making terrorism more likely, not less.
It’s already clear that it aint going to happen, self-reflection and debate is no longer part of the American character. Americans are living in a Dickian Hollywood movie now, a scary world where imaginary Hitlers infest every corner of the globe and must be fought with ever more blood and sacrifice. The Republic has failed.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit and it is central to illustrating the post. Tomorrow, ten specific ways our response to Boston was exactly what our enemies wanted.)
It’s the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 crime, when a tiny band of extremists flew airplanes into buildings in NY and Washington. Here we are eleven years later, still picking at the national scab. There is zero chance anyone alive that day is going to forget, so I for one am really really tired of the endless memorializing that still surrounds this event more than a decade later. Or look at it this way, if a family you knew was brutally murdered by criminals, would you and your friends relive the event every year on the anniversary of their deaths? Is that what they would have wanted? Of course not, they would have wanted their friends and family to mourn their deaths … and move on with their lives. We live our lives for the living, not for the dead. Making 9/11 a part of our national identity is a victory for Al Qaeda and Bin Laden, they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams with the enthusiastic cooperation of our sensation obsessed media … encouraged by a interventionist war-profiteering cabal in Washington.
That’s the real crime of 9/11, a crime that dwarfs that of Bin Laden. Within hours the militarists and neocon interventionists in Washington were creaming in their pants, because 9/11 was the biggest blank check warmongers had ever been handed in the USA. If we had had real leadership in Washington, our leaders would have urged us to mourn and move on, and our only response to 9/11 would have been to harden cockpit doors and hunt down Bin Laden like the cockroach he was. And, God willing, maybe even look at ourselves and how our policies in the Middle East inspired Bin Laden to take up arms against America in the first place. Nope, just endless flag waving, endless demonizing of Muslims (99.999% of whom aren’t terrorists,) and endless fear-mongering. To this day just as many Americans are afraid of terrorists as they were the day after 9/11, even though the intervening decade has shown that lightning and shark attack are far more likely to kill Americans in the USA than terrorist attacks. In fact most of the terror victims in the USA since 9/11 have been American Muslims and Sikhs killed by their vengeful American neighbours.
Yet eleven years later the spending goes on, the expansion of government and the military goes on, the erosion of our freedoms in the name of security goes on, and the endless wars inspired by 9/11 go on. The only war that didn’t go on was Iraq, because the Iraqis kicked us out. And every year we have annual tear jerking ceremonies to celebrate the day when we turned into a nation of cowards and let a madman from Saudi Arabia dictate our foreign policy and insinuate himself into our national identity. To endlessly eulogize the dead of 9/11 is to make Bin Laden immortal and give comfort to our enemies, is this really what Americans want? How many Americans can remember the name of a single American killed that day? How many Americans will remember Bin Laden’s name until the day they die?
I rest my case.
(The above image is from a friend in Egypt, where, like most people in the Middle East, their view is a bit different than the typical American’s. They don’t hate us for our freedoms, the Arab Springs bears that out; they hate our wars and meddling in the Middle East. Note I didn’t say they hate us for our wars, they mourn our dead too as the above graphic shows. God rest the souls of all who died that day, but it’s time to move on.)
A bomb has gone off in a bus and killed some Israeli tourists in Bulgaria. The government of Israel wasted no time in blaming the attack on Iran. They claim “all signs” point to Iran, though they don’t mention what those signs are. It’s possible Iran is behind it, Israel has been waging a terrorist campaign inside Iran for years, so a revenge attack is not out of the question. It seems unlikely though in that it would give Israel a casus beli to attack Iran, and there’s no indication Iran wants a war with Israel. A more likely group is the Mujahedeen e-Khalq (MEK), a terrorist group fighting the government of Iran. The attack came on the eighteenth anniversary of the attack on the Jewish Community Center in Argentina. Who launched that attack has never been proved either, both Iran and the Mujahedeen e-Khalq (MEK) are suspects there too. There’s really no way for us worms to know for sure, these are intensely politicized bombings with all sides playing for very high stakes, so some or all parties involved have every incentive to lie and mislead. Even if someone claims responsibility, that doesn’t mean they actually did it. Shadow war.
Fortunately, even if I can never know for sure what happened here, I can still speculate on what will happen next. Israel’s instantaneous condemnation of Iran certainly raises the possibility that they will use this as an excuse to attack Iran. Some have even suggested that the reason for Israel’s campaign inside Iran is to goad Iran into doing something that would give Israel cause for war. If so, an attack could come within days. I’m certainly going to be following the news closely for awhile.
There’s certainly been rumours of an impending Israeli attack on Iran, some suggesting it will happen just before the election so Obama will have no choice but to support it. That strikes me as a somewhat facile analysis, I suspect Israel is just using this as another chance to tighten the screws on Iran. The whole Israel obsession with Iran is sometimes hard to parse, Iran is no threat to Israel, far from it. I assume it’s both to distract the world from Israel’s slow ethnic cleansing of the West Bank, and maybe goading Iran into starting a big war which will give Israel to excuse to expel the Palestinians from the occupied territories. In any case they are playing a risky game, as is everyone else in this unstable mess.
Then there’s the whole Syria situation. The west is clearly pushing hard to bring down the Assad regime, though to what end is again hard to fathom. Partly to stick it to the Russians, partly an attempt to replace an independent government with a western lapdog government I’m assuming. And Israel would love to have an excuse to annex the Golan Heights, or more accurately, get some compliant Syrian government to cede them to Israel, all nice and “legal.”
What none of this is about of course is democracy or human rights, despite the endless western condescending propaganda to the contrary. Even our leftists and liberals in the USA have become cheerleaders for blood and empire, all in the name of “saving” the women of the world. Nothing good will come of this bus bombing, but nothing good ever comes of terrorism. No matter who is doing the killing.
(I sat on this post overnight to see if there would be any new developments. Nothing really, they are claiming it was a suicide bomber with fake American travel documents. And Israel has reiterated its claim that Hezbollah/Iran are behind the attack. Hezbollah has even less reason to get into it with Israel, and has been explicit that they won’t carry our attacks on Israel, so it’s a charge I take with a grain of salt. I’m still of the opinion that an Israeli attack on Iran would be so stupid and pointless and counterproductive that Israel really isn’t seriously considering it. I hope I’m right.)
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. I got it from Wikipedia, and frankly I couldn’t figure out how to attribute it from their arcane instructions. It’s a Dolphin Class submarine, built for Israel by Germany. They have four of them, with two more on order. They can launch nuclear cruise missiles. Just one of many reasons while Israel has little to fear from anyone.)
I don’t mean literally a post Memorial Day hangover, it’s more an emotional thing. All the sheep and their masters burbling about “sacrifice” and “honour” and how our boys are defending our freedoms overseas. Patriotic drivel. Our troops overseas are simply the legionaries or conquistadors of our time, pretending they are spreading goodness and light in the name of God is what imperialists have done throughout history. The idea that one can conquer and rule other peoples for their own good is an incredible conceit, and a terrible insult to both the founders of this once great nation (now an empire in its death throes) and the Americans who have served in just wars. It’s also insane, since the overwhelming majority of the time such efforts cause far more damage than they supposedly fix. In fact imperialism is about domestic politics, war profiteering, and making the world safe for corporate exploitation. Such as it ever was, Smedly Butler had it right decades ago, and it’s gotten worse since. It’s actually turned into a dystopian nightmare at this point, with the UN being blatantly an agency of colonialism and NATO effectively its enforcer.
Speaking of domestic politics, I see that Mr Romney is telling Americans that the world is a “scary place,” and so we need to spend ourselves blind to protect ourselves from it. He didn’t mention the spending ourselves blind part, that just an assumption, I mean, he does understand what we are spending on our military? I’m so sick of the fear mongering, it’s racist crap and has seriously damaged the heart and soul of this country. The world is not a scary place, it’s a wonderful place filled with wonderful people. Because our leaders and the media concentrate on the bad things that happen (conveniently ignoring/justifying the ghastly things the west does and ignoring the role the west played in destabilizing whole continents,) many Americans think foreigners are all bad people out to kill us. I remember in a chat room some years back where someone defending our invasion of Afghanistan said that “try parachuting into Taliban territory” and see what happens to you. I can answer that. If you came as their guest … they would treat you with the utmost hospitality and die to protect you. If you came as an invader, why shouldn’t they do whatever they can to kill you? I know people who travelled their before the Russians invaded, it was a wonderful country. Will be again … when the foreign armies leave.
Still, when a country is destabilized, it can take decades or generations to settle down. That’s what is so insane (and sick) about the west’s efforts to use people’s longing to be free to try and get our satraps into power in Africa and the Middle East. A dozen countries or more have been turned into horrible messes by western invasions/interventions the past decade. It’s like the Vietnam War never happened. It’s been going on for awhile though. It was forty years before the Confederacy achieved pre-war levels of industry and agriculture. That generally doesn’t get mentioned in US history classes.
Anyhow, enough ranting for the moment. I thought the above picture was really cool. It’s a comparison of Earth and Europa, a moon of Jupiter. And Europa actually has (probably) more water than Earth! It may in fact have a globe spanning ocean that is a hundred miles deep, capped with a thick layer of ice a mile thick or more. Ice that would be as hard as granite at the temperatures on the surface. Just as slippery though, ice remains slippery no matter how cold it gets. Last I heard it’s still not fully understood why ice is slippery. In fact there’s a number of mysteries about ice that have yet to be solved, like why does it melt from the bottom up on rivers and ponds for example? Heck, there’s all sorts of scientific mysteries still, most of which are unfortunately way too arcane to write an interesting blog post about.
Coming soon, a post about liars. A new epiphany about God and his minions. Purported minions more accurately speaking. I’m still working on a post about one of America’s greatest monsters: Abraham Lincoln. Then there’s his legacy, flying death squads. And there are at least two “What the hell is that?” mystery photo posts in the works. As always I am open to suggestions. Well, if they are anatomically possible. Someone did leave a rude comment here, should I delete it?
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law, it’s not being used for profit etc. I got it from the fine APOD site, credit & copyright: Kevin Hand (JPL/Caltech), Jack Cook (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution), Howard Perlman (USGS.) I used it becasue I think it’s an incredibly cool image.)
I just found out about JIEDDO the other day. What is JIEDDO? It’s a government bureaucracy of course. Granted, that’s not very helpful. JIEDDO stands for Joint Improvised Explosive Device Defeat Organization. It was created in 2006 and has a budget of about 3 billion dollars a year. What is JIEDDO’s mission? In their own words:
“The JIEDDO shall focus (lead, advocate, coordinate) all Department of Defense actions in support of the Combatant Commanders’ and their respective Joint task forces’ efforts to defeat IEDs as weapons of strategic influence.”
OK, they are tasked with doing something about IED deaths, which kill and maim American and coalition troops in Afghanistan in increasing numbers, they are insurgent’s weapon of choice against US forces.
So, why is this a problem? Why does this make me despair? I’ll try to explain. First off, this is what is called a downstream solution. And in this case, it’s about as downstream as it gets. A downstream solution is where one tries to fix a problem far away from the source by attacking the symptoms of the problem. It’s like fighting malaria by shooting mosquitoes instead of draining the swamp. No matter how effective a mosquito gun one develops, it’s unlikely to ever fully cope with the problem, and even if it does, the cost may outweigh the gain.
And IEDs are mosquitoes. IED means Improvised Explosive Device. Or as soldiers of old called them, booby traps. A booby trap runs the gamut from excrement smeared stakes in a pit to sophisticated pop-up aerial mines for downing helicopters … with a nearly infinite range of variation in between. And one gets booby traps wherever a significant local population doesn’t want foreign troops in their land. And we are getting huge numbers of them in Afghanistan, more every year in fact. Compared to the, well, zero, that were set for our troops in occupied Germany and Japan.
In other words, it’s like setting up an expensive government bureaucracy to find a solution for bullets. It’s really that silly. First of all, the military actually has people experienced with IEDs and dealing with them is part of their job. So why, exactly, is a huge bureaucracy in the United States going to enhance their efforts? It’s not of course, it’s just adding another layer of spending on top of the problem. Well, unless one believes in magic, which is basically what they are claiming. The idea is that they will be able to build some sort of high tech device that will eliminate or severely mitigate the threat. And if the people building IEDs were brain-dead sheep who never ever changed their designs no matter what, it might just work. Back in the real world, there are hundreds of different types of explosives, ways to detonate them, and ways to hide them. And when one mixes and matches to suit, one has an infinite variety of IEDs, with entirely new variations invented all the time.
And what has this over 20 billion dollar investment brought us so far? Well, nothing, really, unless one counts the fact that if anything they delayed US troops getting certain types of body armour. Yes, adding another layer of bureaucracy to an organization slows the organization’s response time. What they have accomplished is to carefully lay the groundwork for making sure they get budgeted forever. Not that it required much groundwork, since as I explained, as long as we are sending troops where the locals don’t want them, there will be booby traps.
This sadly is the kind of thinking that has permeated our entire government. “War profiteer” used to be a dirty word, when was the last time one heard it bandied about in the media? The war profiteers are now running our country, and things like the JIEDDO are a wonderful example of how they can spend huge amounts of money on nothing other than providing cover for endless war. Peace used to be a good thing, but war is apparently vastly more profitable. During World War Two when we had an actual enemy and an actual war, things like JIEDDO either got rooted out as wasteful during the war, or at died on the vine after the war. Well, at least some of them.
Or to put it in perspective, the USA has spent more on JIEDDO than it has spent on aid to Afghanistan, the country we ostensibly are trying to win the hearts and minds of. I do think it really does illustrate what the War on Terror’s priorities really are … making money off of war forever. I don’t think it’s going to end well, especially if Iraq is any indication. That blog is coming up.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law, and I think it’s public domain. I got it on a sharing site. It’s pretty self evident why I choose this picture, it made me laugh. Or at least chuckle slightly. JIEDDO also illustrates nicely how byzantine and self fulfilling our government has become, Kafka would have been proud.)
Another week gone. The situation in the Middle East just gets worse. And I mean the greater Middle East when I say Middle East, including Iran and Afghanistan. In Afghanistan the situation is acutely bad. Riots and demonstrations triggered by the burned Koran incident continue. And pathetically, many Americans simply regard this as “loony” rather than try to understand the far more difficult concept that these people are reacting in a way that is entirely consistent with their cultural and historical context. If a hated decade long occupier in the USA trashed some of America’s most sacred relics, Americans might riot too. In just a few weeks with just two brain dead incidents, the pissing on Taliban corpses and now this burned Koran thing, the USA has given the Taliban a huge propaganda boost and undone much of whatever good we did in the country. Smooth move.
Syria is more or less in a civil war. And in the new world order, that means intervention, IE benevolent invasion. Somalia, same deal. More drone strikes, more interventions, more inability to grasp that there are problems you can’t kill your way out of. Well, at least without killing on a scale that hopefully even the most rabid pro-war American would blanch at. One can hope at least. I think wider war in the Middle East is inevitable at this point, has been really since the USA rolled into Baghdad.
And in the USA, the Republican race to see who gets eviscerated by Obama gets weirder all the time. The Republicans are doing what the Democrats did in 2004, they seem intent on running a candidate with zero crossover appeal. The more they pander to their extreme religious base, the more they guarantee Obama’s reelection. At least that’s my take on it at the moment, could be an interesting summer.
In science news, they seem to have discovered that the faster-than-light neutrinos measurement was due to an equipment malfunction. Seem to being the operative words here, testing continues. That they can’t pin it down precisely just yet is a great illustration of just how fine scientists are slicing reality these days, we are talking extremely thin slices. Sadly, a lot of media sites pounced on this to take cheap shots at science and scientists by making this seem like it was a simple as a loose VCR cable, reinforcing the worst negative stereotypes about scientists. And these days, with massive sophisticated organized efforts under way to deny science for both political and religious reasons, I find gratuitous attacks on scientists distressing.
The myth of eight hours sleep. This one is great. There seems to be a case to be made that it’s normal for humans to sleep for two periods at night with an activity period in between. Honestly, that’s pretty much my usual pattern. Many of these blogs are written between four and six in the morning, then I go back to bed for a few more hours. There’s probably a book that could be written about things that are commonly believed to be true, with little or no scientific basis. Dogs are mammals, apples are fruit, that sort of thing.
In a last little science tidbit, research is increasingly showing that humans are naturally cooperative, not competitive. There’s actually been a lot of research like this the past few decades. It gives me hope for the species, though organized government and religion loathe research like this, don’t expect it to be getting it into school curricula any time soon. Both organized government and organized religion are predicated on the meme that without them, people would do bad things. Can’t have people doubting that, they might actually start to wonder why organized government and religion get such a big slice of the pie.
Lastly, in local news, Berkeley had its second murder of the year. Basically a lunatic attacked a man who confronted him trespassing in the man’s yard. Infuriatingly, the Berkeley police didn’t respond to the first call because they were too busy “standing by” because an Occupy Oakland march was scheduled later that night. Yerp, a massive police presence has to “stand by” when a few hundred people engage in a peaceful and legal protest, but actually protecting the public and doing their job, that gets short shrift. The media of course is having a field day blaming the protesters! That’s right folks, don’t dare engage in peaceful and legal protests, you might get someone killed!
The founding fathers are rolling in their graves at that sentiment. Have a great weekend everyone.
(The above image is believed to be Public Domain under US copyright law, but I will gladly amend if informed differently. The wild police over-reaction to OWS is a symptom of how far down the road to a police state this country has gone, if Washington had done their job the past few decades instead of selling the country out to the highest bidder, OWS wouldn’t be happening. Attacking protesters with riot police isn’t going to fix the problem.)
Well, the last post unless further evidence comes to light or there is some other rational reason for me to revisit the issue. Moving right along, I promised I would provide one commenter with responses to her responses to my questions on this post. My original questions are in italics, her responses in bold, and my comments on same are in normal type. Here we go! Whee!
1. Why 9/11, when a vastly simpler and far less risky false flag attack would have the same result?
Proving a negative is impossible – but I would say the “theater” of it all was the goal – a snuff film to be seen far and wide. The destruction of such phallic symbols – the public castration of America in plain view for all to see – not just destruction but public emasculation made it a psychological attack. Basically I’m saying for the very same reasons given to the 19 lone gunmen with box-cutters – humiliation of a people and a country.
Actually, proving negatives is at the core of the scientific method, not to mention accident/criminal investigations and numerous other endeavours in our civilization; it’s most definitely possible over a wide range of circumstances to prove a negative. Four backpack bombs in four major city transit systems would have had he same result, maybe even worse because the images of carnage would be so much more graphic. Israel has routinely used the most trivial terrorist attack to justify war and the suspension of violence, as have numerous other actors throughout history. The Tonkin Gulf Incident was so trivial that it begs belief to think a nation would go to war over it, yet Congress fell all over itself giving Johnson a blank check to do as he pleased. I’m not saying it couldn’t have been a plot, but I find it hard to believe that the putative planners of this event would come up with such a fantastically complicated plot when much lesser plots would achieve the same effect with far less risk of failure or detection. I should add as an aside, the breadth of this putative conspiracy has to be mind blowing, with conspirators exercising control over huge areas of America’s government, military, and media. Um, if your secret cabal already runs everything, why take this kind of chance?
2. Why WTC 7, a building no one had ever heard of.
I believe it had to do with what was inside the building – and is now destroyed and/or stolen. Others would know more.
OK. Didn’t want to spend a lot of time on this one, eh? The gentle reader took the trouble to email her responses, and this was one of them? And, um, saying that “the explosion destroyed the proof” is, well, internally consistent at least. Circular reasoning I believe is another term for it.
3. How, exactly, did they recruit people into this conspiracy?
Between compartmentalization, greed, fear and “following orders” I don’t believe it required the recruiting of too many people. And I imagine with time more whistle-blowers will emerge.
Well, it’s been a decade, and none of the people who were tricked into murdering thousands of their fellow citizens has come forward. If Nixon was around he sure would envy this crew. And, well, I admire your imagination. My question wasn’t really answered though. How, exactly, would one pitch a plot like this to get a response other than “Have you lost your mind?”
Well, the esteemed commenter added a codicil of her own, which for completeness sake I will repeat and comment on:
I didn’t give the truthers much thought until the financial crisis of 2008 – and in the process of researching that crisis and wondering how, as a self-proclaimed informed individual I could have missed such a mess, I came to the conclusion 9/11 was “an inside job” – i.e., I do not believe in the official version.
I am not capable of stating how it was done but Judy Wood’s theory is intriguing.
The hardest hurdle for me was the media complicity necessary but I now realize how vastly compromised the MSM is and how brainwashed and propagandized my fellow Americans are. It isn’t pretty but the dumbing down of America is a very real event.
I don’t believe the official version either. Governments routinely lie, although usually in relatively transparent and predictable ways. I also agree that the MSM is now a government/corporate shill, no argument there. And yes, the American population has been so propagandized and manipulated by media, government, and a failed politicized education system that critical thinking appears to be a lost art. Tens of millions of Americans passionately believe in stuff that is transcendentally absurd in any rational sense.
Me, I believe I’ll have another beer.
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit. Credit and copyright: Maniac World I chose it to illustrate the concept that things aren’t always they seem. Plus, it made my head hurt to look at, sort of how I felt after I looked at the Judy Wood web page. Please tell me it’s satire. Please?)
I see there have been a lot of comments on my previous two 9/11 Truther posts. I haven’t even been reading them to be honest, though I will at some point. Maybe. Primarily because I don’t want to get upset or cause hard feelings, people do seem to get emotional around 9/11 conspiracy theories. And since I am still experiencing blunted affect as a result of my stroke, anything involving emotion is a minefield for me. Also, I seriously doubt anyone is going to say anything I haven’t heard before. Lastly because I like to examine things from original principles, so I have been keeping my mind clear while I give 9/11 more thought. Or thoughts …
I’m still amazed at the conviction of 9/11 Truthers. Suspecting there is a conspiracy is one thing, being absolutely convinced that your explanation is the only possible explanation is something else entirely. This is another reason why I am not terribly inclined to debate with Truthers, debating with people who can’t imagine that they are wrong is generally not very productive, though sometimes it does lead to new lines of inquiry. I’ve made it very clear there is evidence that could convince me it was an inside job. Apparently, correct me if I’m wrong, there is no evidence that could convince a Truther that the buildings collapsed as a result of natural forces.
Speaking of natural forces, one of the arguments Truthers often make is that “it’s basic physics.” Um, no, it’s not. Not at all. These were very large buildings subject to unique events. Tons of structural details. All sorts of unknowns. It’s not like anyone has ever flown jet aircraft into buildings as part of any scientific study. This is not basic physics, it’s expert physics. Which means even the experts are going to have trouble parsing this event, and lay people have no chance. Even a cursory glance at any discussion between experts in the field bears this out. So, um, anyone who says that somehow “basic physics” proves their point in this debate is well, ignorant at best. Dishonest at worst.
Which, to be honest, I’ve been guilty of myself. For years Truthers have been telling me that the fact that these buildings “fell into their own footprints” is proof they were deliberately demolished. And I have rejoindered with some variation of “basic physics says that is the only way these buildings could collapse.” Well, after reviewing the various collapse videos, I was wrong. These buildings, particularly the first tower that collapsed, most definitely did not collapse into their own footprints. The top part of it was almost perpendicular to the street when the rest of it started down. Yes, when the buildings ultimately completely failed, most of the motion was straight down as the huge masses involved would suggest, but all sorts of stuff happened first, and during. From some video angles, yes, the buildings came straight down. From others, all sorts of shit was going on. These collapses were much messier than the “collapsed into their own footprints” meme.
So, um, I’m less impressed by the Truther position than before I opened this can of worms. And eager to move along. Still, a commenter took the trouble to email me their answers to the questions I posed on my last 9/11 Truther post. I was hoping my skeptical commenters would field those, but alas I didn’t express that explicitly. So, gentle reader and commenter, I would be terribly remiss if I didn’t respond to your answers, and I will dedicate a post to that in the near future. Could be fun, and since I haven’t looked at your answers yet, maybe I will be blown away and have to review my thinking. It’s happened before.
(The above image of Tower Two “collapsing into its own footprint” speaks for itself.)
OK, Wikipedia is down, so I can’t write the post I was planning on writing. Well, maybe I could, it’s not like the whole Internet is down yet. The SOPA thing is getting a lot of attention, so maybe it won’t come to pass after all. However, whatever excuse I may use, I decided the comments on my last 9/11 conspiracy post were … fascinating. I was going to write a comment in response, but realized I could squeeze a post out of it. And, well, people took the time to write a lot of long comments, the least I can do is respond.
Thank you for the comments. That being said, I don’t recall saying anything about my beliefs about what happened on 9/11, I was writing about my take on 9/11 demolition theories. And what people did write about my putative beliefs was wrong. However, that’s not the point. I also didn’t appreciate the few remarks casting doubt on my judgment etc, but, I won’t deny that on some levels I have poked fun at 9/11 Truthers, so, fair enough. And I’m sorry the comment thread devolved into endless listing of the various items 9/11 Truthers use to make their case. Seriously, did anyone think they were posting anything I hadn’t seen a before? I mean really.
So I stand by my original statement, all of the evidence submitted by 9/11 Truthers is interpretive, it’s only evidence because the Truthers say it is. None of it is hard evidence, none of it would stand up in court. I’m not saying it’s wrong, I’m saying if Truthers want their theory to be widely accepted, they need evidence that 90% of people are going to look at and say “Oh My God.” Evidence that actually is on point: Who’s idea was this conspiracy? Who were their co-conspirators? Who set the charges?
However, moving past all that, because there’s no profit to be had there, great, the Truthers think the evidence they have is convincing. I have no interesting in debating it, and I’m sorry if I gave that impression. My point, that essentially every commenter seems to have missed: Convince me the 9/11 Truther Theory is a logical theory, defend it logically. Answer my questions:
1. Why 9/11, when a vastly simpler and far less risky false flag attack would have the same result?
2. Why WTC 7, a building no one had ever heard of.
3. How, exactly, did they recruit people into this conspiracy?
This is just a logical exercise, right? My questions aren’t rhetorical questions, I don’t have preset answers. I do admit, my lifelong study of how and why humans commit terrible violence played a part in why I ask these questions. Mostly though, just as I said, logic. If 9/11 Truthers are proposing that the Bush Administration committed what would be one of the most heinous crimes in history, they should be able to defend their theory. All of it.
“On your way, Bud,” said Colonel Harper, “and good luck to you”
(The above image is of the US aircraft carrier Bunker Hill after being hit by two kamikaze aircraft off Okinawa in 1945. It’s a National Archive photo, so pretty much public domain under US copyright law. 400 people are dead or dying in this image. 402 counting the kamikaze pilots I suppose. Hell of a thing, suicide attacks.)
Well, recently I have had negative encounters with both 9/11 conspiracy believers, and 9/11 conspiracy skeptics. It’s kinda what I do I guess. By negative encounters, I mean encounters that frustrated and annoyed me, I’m not casting aspersions. Not yet at least. On the plus side, it cleared up my thinking on a number of issues, and inspired speculation along several lines. Even better, it engendered a lot of passionate discourse, so it’s a perfect blog topic.
OK, I will do this systematically. To start with, my current opinion on 9/11 conspiracy theories involving controlled demolition of the three World Trade Center (WTC) buildings that collapsed on 9/11. Let us call them 9/11 Truthers, they are pretty much the mainstream 9/11 conspiracy movement now. To wit:
I am extremely skeptical for one general reason, and because of a number of “logical bottlenecks” that are difficult or impossible to explain. The general reason is that 9/11 conspiracy theories are based on zero evidence. By that I mean they are based entirely on interpretation of public records. More specifically there are as yet no computer files, memos, recordings, conspirators, etc. that have been found that directly speak of any sort of conspiracy to blow up these buildings. It’s a purely circumstantial case at this point, and hell, until there is real information, who are we going to indict?
Secondly, there are a number of questions raised by the controlled demolition hypothesis that are very hard to answer. Or the answers raise new questions, so they aren’t really answers at all. I won’t bother to list all of them, just some of what I think are the more salient ones:
1. Why? This is the question that would come up the first time the conspirators met. “Why, exactly, are we going to do this Mr Bush?” Bush looks blank. They were already in power, a few backpack bombs in subways would give them all the casus beli they needed for the War on Terror. Why such an elaborate complicated plot involving mass death and damage?
2. Why WTC 7? The plot already involves four hijacked airliners and blowing up two buildings, why complicate an already complicated plot by blowing up a building that no one has ever heard of?
3. Lastly, and thanks to the keen human insight of my august father, how, exactly, would one recruit people into this plot? This isn’t like ordering cops and soldiers to attack rioters or demonstrators or other sub-groups that can be dehumanized. “Psst, want to get in on a plot two blow up some national landmarks and kill thousands of Americans?” I don’t think that would work very well.
So, moving right along, first my annoyance with the skeptics. I have always found skeptics somewhat annoying. They often go beyond skepticism to outright disdain and ridicule. I’m sorry, but if you are claiming to be the voice of reason, then you should make your case with reason. I don’t see how it can be any other way, but I have been ridiculed and called names for even suggesting that.
In this specific recent case, it was very politic, I just got kind of bored with the group. I like to approach things from original principles. I’ve read all the evidence surrounding 9/11 conspiracies, I’m still a skeptic, but I enjoy attacking the problem logically. “If 9-11 Truthers are correct, does this lead us to any testable questions?” is a very interesting question to me. Alas, I’ve done a poor job of expressing it apparently.
On the plus side, I left the group without any snarkiness on my part, since none was warranted. I hope. The old Doug could never have done that. Heck, I really shouldn’t even have left the group, but that part of me is changing too. Still, as my friends know, under my charming exterior, I am more than part misanthrope. Since I see it’s now possible for me to find out how much Neanderthal DNA I have, maybe I’ll get to the bottom of this.
Last but not least, the 9/11 Truthers. Well, they seems to have achieved almost a cult like status. I could be wrong, but it appears to me that many Truthers are absolutely convinced that their explanation of the events of 9/11 is the only possible explanation. And that anyone who disagrees is either deluded, or an agent of the government. They can’t seem to accept even the possibility that they might be wrong.
So debate is kind of pointless, and ends up being endless argument over interpretation of the data. The particular example that got my goat is the videos showing the collapse of WTC 7. In one video there is a piece of building facing apparently falling at free fall speed, as if there was nothing underneath it. Truthers insist that this means it must have been a controlled demolition. Um, yeah. I’m not an expert at building collapse. I do know that if a lay person tells me that this tiny fragment of debris in a videotape is proof positive of their theory, I say bullshit. If they claim an expert said it, I check with the other experts. And in this case I did, a few dizzying pages of math I didn’t understand and comments I could barely parse, and one thing was clear. The experts weren’t exactly sure what accounted for this piece of debris’ apparent motion for that second or so, but there are all sorts of possibilities. Which ends the probative value of this particular snippent of film in any rational sense.
This does highlight a feature that seems common to, well, cult like beliefs. They assiduously look for evidence that supports their theory. The problem with this what some would call a “logical” approach is that with sufficient enthusiasm it can be used to “prove” any theory. In the nineteen fifties Velikovsky “proved” that Mars and Venus were comets that sprung from Jupiter in historic times. Some people still believe him. Some people believe the Moon Landings were a hoax. Some people believe Nostradamus predicted the future. I’m sure others have said it before me, but they are all falling into the same logical trap. Confirmation bias is the bane of mankind. Science is looking at all the pieces and seeing how they best fit together to make a picture. Cultists, r whatever ne wants to call them, start with the picture … and find pieces that fit.
I will conclude with this though. Some of the above beliefs are lot crazier than others. Whatever people believe, they are all normal people. The 9/11 Truther I recently met is also a vegan activist. Vegan activists are trying to make the world a better place for people and animals, what’s not to admire? And I will gladly admit that I think it’s entirely possible, if extremely unlikely, that I will get a call at 5am from the East Coast tomorrow telling me to turn on my TV. And when I do, it will turn out that a 9/11 co-conspirator came forward, and had provided to wikileaks hundreds of audio and video recordings that incontrovertibly showed that the 9/11 attacks and the entire War on Terror had been plotted by a small cabal in the White House and the CIA. And that the other conspirators had already fled or had been captured and were frantically confessing, naming names, and begging for mercy and protection … because millions of Americans were gathering on the Washington Mall demanding their heads.
Wouldn’t that be something?
(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law. It’s not being used for profit, it’s from Wired Magazine. It’s a cave man, a Neanderthal man to be exact. I used it to illustrate my Neanderthal nature. So I don’t need to explain myself, since that explains it. Right?)