Monday, June 24, 2002

The classic article supporting a conspiracy theory about the events of September 11 is Michael Ruppert's "Oh Lucy! - You Gotta Lotta 'Splainin To Do", originally published November 2, 2001, and updated since. Everyone should just read it, and see what all the fuss is about. Much of the fuss has been created by David Corn, a writer for The Nation, one of those odd magazines that purports to be 'progressive' but seems to only publish the work of various stripes of reactionaries (e. g., Hitchens), much in the same style as the old The New Republic (or course, The New Republic has expressly and rather defiantly gone completely over to the dark side, which may be the future path of The Nation). The state of The Nation is perhaps best reflected in the fact it now raises funds by hosting an annual cruise, where toffs with more money than sense can lounge on a boat with the magazine's famous journalists. In any event, Corn has developed a distaste for the conspiracy theories surrounding 9-11, and his most recent article on the subject has the great advantage of making his readers aware of Ruppert. In referring to an earlier column that Corn wrote, he writes one of the funniest lines in recent American journalistic history: "I expressed doubt that the Bush Administration would kill or allow the murder of thousands of American citizens to achieve a political or economic aim." Not one to rest on his laurels, he follows it with another: "Having covered the national security community for years, I didn't believe any government agency could execute a plot requiring the coordination of the FBI, the CIA, the INS, the FAA, the NTSB, the Pentagon and others." I can only assume in covering the national security community for years he has somehow missed the JFK assassination, the MLK assassination, the RFK assassination, Watergate, Iran-Contra, and the most recent American election. Corn, in what I assume is supposed to be an insult, states: "Ruppert is not a reporter." Given the state of jounalism these days, that is about the nicest thing one man can say about another. Corn goes on to write about Vreeland and the supposedly off-the-wall theories of those crazy people in France, but really pays scant attention to the details of Ruppert's timeline. For a more detailed attack, you have to visit "WhatDIDN'". The great disadvantage of attempting such a detailed refutation of Ruppert is that it will just encourage people to read Ruppert. Ruppert's strength isn't in any particlar part of the timeline, but in the sheer quantity of suspicious details. Unfortunately, critics of conspiracy theories never recognize that it is in the nature of real conspiracies to involve a giant element of subterfuge, and when the entity doing the obfuscating is the U. S. government, the amount of resources that can be applied to hiding the conspiracy is enormous. It is therefore unlikely that any one piece of evidence will remain to serve as a 'smoking gun', and the nature of conspiracy research is to uncover a sufficient number of quality anomalies in the Official Story that intelligent people can see that the Official Story is a lie (and hopefully lead to an investigation where witnesses can be deposed under oath). Other than the fact that he displays quite a lot of the warblogger aggressive attitude, this attempt at refutation is rather thin. While it's a mug's game to get into this type of argument, I note the 'refutation' of the role of Unocal as depicted in Ruppert's paragraphs 3 and 4. Paragraph 3:
"3. December 4, 1997 – Representatives of the Taliban are invited guests to the Texas headquarters of Unocal to negotiate their support for the pipeline. Subsequent reports will indicate that the negotiations failed, allegedly because the Taliban wanted too much money. [Source: The BBC, Dec. 4, 1997]"

is supposed to be contradicted by paragraph 4:
"4. February 12, 1998 – Unocal Vice President John J. Maresca – later to become a Special Ambassador to Afghanistan – testifies before the House that until a single, unified, friendly government is in place in Afghanistan the trans-Afghani pipeline needed to monetize the oil will not be built. [Source: Testimony before the House International Relations Committee.]",
but presumably that doesn't necessarily follow. The 1997 negotiations could have failed over money, and the Unocal Vice President could also have testified before the House that the pipeline would not be built before there was a stable government in Afghanistan. The 'refutation' continues: "Either Unocal backed out over too much money, or the lack of stability. Put together, these two items seem to confirm that Unocal’s desire for such a pipeline was tepid, at best." Again, I don't see how this follows. It seems odd that the House would have a Vice President of Unocal testify about the issue unless Unocal had a big interest in it. Unocal itself has made it very clear on the opening page of its website since at least very shortly after September 11 (I know because I saw a version of it there very shortly after September 11) that it has absolutely no interest in the Afghan pipeline, a case, I dare say, of protesting too much. I recommend reading the attempts at refutation and Ruppert's timeline and drawing your own conclusions. The most interesting question in all of this is why jounalists have an almost visceral hatred of conspiracy theories. The state of jounalism wouldn't be quite as pathetic if just a few reporters got off the boat and started real investigation.