Conspiracy Theories

Better the Devil You Know

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The Village Voice's Jarrett Murphy reports from the nether regions of the "9/11 Truth Movement," that collection of activist-sleuths who don't accept the official account of September 11. Some of them are cagy about admitting it, but in general they seek solace in the comforting thought that Bush and his cronies were behind the attacks.

They don't call it a comforting thought, of course:

"I'd love to be proven wrong. I would love for someone to come to me and say I'm full of shit. It hasn't happened," says [Dylan] Avery.

That's a standard cliche of the fringe theorist: that he'd "love to be proven wrong." But is there anyone in the country who wouldn't be delighted to learn that the forces behind 9/11 are based in Washington, D.C.? That the enemy is not some exotic conspiracy of mysteriously motivated foreigners who speak impenetrable languages and fade easily into an alien landscape, but a familiar group of Republicans with Middle American accents who would be ousted the moment their cabal came to light? The Bush-did-it theory lends itself to a tidy movie ending, a conclusion far preferable to the endless bloody soap opera we've landed in instead.

There are many reasons I don't believe the president plotted 9/11. The biggest is that I'm just not optimistic enough to think the problem could be eliminated that easily.

NEXT: First AEI, Now the Journal?

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  1. I know I’ve said this before, but if it turns out our government really is in cahoots with Bin Laden, that’s the most heartening thing I’ve read since 9-11 happened–it means our country is being run by a bunch of brilliant Machiavellian geniuses, rather than the gaggle of incompetent fuckwits I suspect we actually have.

    Please God–if you exist–please tell me that the reason our soldiers can’t find Bin Laden is because they haven’t looked in the Lincoln Bedroom, or under Jenna’s bed. Please.

  2. I also like the idea that right this minute, Bin Laden and George W. are holed up in a Pentagon bunker getting drunk and singing a loud, off-key rendition of “Margaritaville.”

  3. Yeah Jennifer, everyone is incompetent. It is not that it is really hard to catch these guys. Of course it is not like we haven’t killed thousands of Al Quada terrorists in Afghanistan. It is also not like we haven’t captured or killed most of the top al-quada leaders. Nope, the U.S. has been completely incompetent in the last five years. I guess that is also why Al Quada has continued to hit the United States instead of places like Madrid or Bali.

  4. Good call John — it’s also apparently a comforting thought to believe that the administration and military are just incompetent, and our next set of leaders will capture bin Laden and Zarqawi as a routine part of the transition process.

  5. John, if we had socialized medicine, do you think that maybe then you could afford to have the stick surgically removed from your ass?

  6. There were “thousands” of Al-Qaeda terrorists in Afghanistan? WOW they musta been real incompetent – more so than our own gubmint — to only be able to hit us with one terror attack.

    Methinks someone confuseth Al-Qaeda and the Taliban a wee bit. (Not that the Taliban didn’t deserve as ass-whoopin’ mind you)

  7. I would never argue that the military is incompetent, but anyone who thinks the Bush administration’s handling of all things post-9/11 has been “competent” must have very low standards (or standards that change depending on the political party in charge).

  8. Feh. Al-qaeda goes through Number Two Guys the way Spinal Tap goes through drummers.

  9. “… rather than the gaggle of incompetent fuckwits I suspect we actually have.”

    That’s too easy an ad hominem. I can think of 100 reasons not to like the Bush administration, not the least of which is the drunken spend-spree it’s saddling the next two generations of taxpayers with. But to tidily sum up the entire war on terror as the work of a slew of dunderheaded jackasses is itself a bit of fuckwittery. You still rule 83.4 percent of the time, Jennifer.

  10. Jennifer-

    If we were TOTALLY incompetent then those Al Qaeda #2 guys would combust spontaneously, without any help from American bombs.

    Or are you suggesting that maybe these guys aren’t as important as we insist they are? That the guy responsible for sweeping the floor of the cave is declared to be the #2 after we kill him, just so we look good?

  11. OK joe, that was funny.

  12. Napoleon’s Words to Live By:

    “Never attribute to malice what can adequately be explained by incompetence.”

    I do think that there is something strangely comforting in the comic-book view of the world where every bad thing is caused by an evil cabal meeting in a basement under the Federal Reserve Building. At least there’s a chance that Superman can beat Lex Luthor in the next issue. There is nothing more terrifying than the idea that everything we hold dear is vulnerable to some random and otherwise completely contemptible nutcase. At least Dr. Doom and the Bilderbergers are articulate and cultivated and have really great tailors. If our opponents are impressive, then we must, by extension, be important to attract their attention. If they’re nobodies with body odor, what does that make us?

  13. What happened to the days when the bildebergers along with the trilateral commission, in their struggle to fulfill the protocols of the elders of zion were behind everything. Those were the good old days.

  14. Good point, Jamie. Besides, once again the Iraq insurgency is in its last throes, and I think we’ve ‘turned the corner’ again, too. Considering how many times we’ve turned the corner in Iraq, I suspect that the country is shaped like a gigantic four-dimensional dodecahedron.

    Everything in Iraq is going exactly according to plan. We’re fine. Everything is fine.

  15. “Everything in Iraq is going exactly according to plan. We’re fine. Everything is fine.”

    You missed my point entirely. Next time, stick your thumb out and I’ll pull over.

  16. Is Dylan Avery really having a hard time finding someone who will tell him he’s full of shit?

    I’m glad I don’t live in his neck of the woods.

  17. Jamie, how do YOU explain what is going on in Iraq? I don’t think it is deliberate government malice or a huge conspiracy; I don’t think W. went in there with the intention of turning the country into a gigantic clusterfuck. I think that when the administration said things like ‘We’ll be out of there in a few months’ they probably believed it on some level.

    Incompetence is the only other answer I can think of to explain the situation. (An abysmal lack of planning and refusal to listen to reasons why such an invasion might be less than a cakewalk count as ‘incompetence’ in my book.)

    But if you don’t think our problems are based on incompetent leadership, then what HAS caused them, do you suppose? I don’t think anything is inherently wrong with the military; it’s the way they are being used that is the problem.

  18. All I know is that, on a scale of 1 to 10, the number two guy in Al Qaeda is so evil that he rates 11.

  19. We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq. The coalition would instantly have collapsed, the Arabs deserting it in anger and other allies pulling out as well. Under the circumstances, there was no viable “exit strategy” we could see, violating another of our principles. Furthermore, we had been self-consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post-Cold War world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations’ mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression that we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land. It would have been a dramatically different and perhaps barren outcome.

  20. “… rather than the gaggle of incompetent fuckwits I suspect we actually have.”

    That’s too easy an ad hominem.

    Jen dishes ’em out but has a hard time receiving them.

  21. All I know is that, on a scale of 1 to 10, the number two guy in Al Qaeda is so evil that he rates 11.

    Which of the thousand and one Number Two guys are you referring to, Thoreau?

  22. Many people find a conspiracy comforting, because at least then events make some sense, there is some logic. Kennedy assassinated? People somehow find it less troubling that Johnson / CIA / Trilateral Commission / Mafia had meetings, discussions, briefing papers, and conventions before they decided to do it, rather than the idea of some random nutball with a gun changing history. The reality is that conspiracies are extremely difficult to keep quiet, and events are far more out of control than people like to believe.

    Concerning Iraq, it is not clear to me that even if the US government had made every decision 100% correct always at the right time in respect of Iraq, that the situation would be that much better. This is a very difficult undertaking, and there are many nations, groups, and individuals (both inside and outside this country, allies and non-allies) who have a strong interest in the US not succeeding, and who are working very hard to see that the US fails.

  23. My point wasn’t just about what’s happening in Iraq. It was about the broader war on terror. Call me a kneepad-wearing supplicant, but I do believe the Bush administration has actually done some good, and I truly doubt John Kerry or Al Gore would have had a more rational, well-thought-out plan of attack. I’m pissed that Bush will not admit that the problems in Iraq are far worse than the administration line, and I’m pissed that the imprint of his religious mindset is all over the Iraqi constitution. But taking out the Taliban? Good. Stacking up the bodies of Al-Qaeda members? Good. Pointing our guns at countries that harbor these fucks? Good.

  24. Concerning Iraq, it is not clear to me that even if the US government had made every decision 100% correct always at the right time in respect of Iraq, that the situation would be that much better. This is a very difficult undertaking, and there are many nations, groups, and individuals (both inside and outside this country, allies and non-allies) who have a strong interest in the US not succeeding, and who are working very hard to see that the US fails.

    Then maybe the government should have taken that into consideration, before launching an unnecessary invasion on false pretenses. Or if they HAD gone through with the invasion, maybe they could have at least listened to, rather than fired, the military advisers who said we’d need a LOT more troops than what we were willing to send over there.

  25. Jennifer-

    All of them. They’re all equally bad. They’re all 11 on a scale of 1 to 10.

    See, the 1-10 scale was invented in an earlier, pre-9/11 era. It can’t handle the magnitude of the threat facing us today. So what do you do when you need that extra category to describe a new, unspeakable evil? There’s nowhere you can go. But my scale goes up to 11. So it’s 1 better.

  26. why don’t you just make ten the evilest?

  27. Unless I’m mistaken, we’ve gone through a couple dozen Number Three guys, but the Original Number Two guy is still kicking it – Zawa? Zalwa? something . . . the old guy with the beard.

  28. Thoreau’s scale goes to 11.

  29. VM-

    But this scale goes up to 11!

    It just occured to me: The original cover of “Smell the Glove” looks like some of the Abu Ghraib photos.

    (No, I’m not trying to diminish the more serious offenses portrayed in less widely circulated photos, I’m just seeing how many Spinal Tap analogies can be made in the War on Terror. The drummers are like the Al Qaeda #2 guys. 11 is there to capture to the notion of a new, unspeakable threat that is different from ANYTHING the world has EVER faced before, and so we must turn everything upside down. “Smell the Glove” is like Abu Ghraib. Maybe some anti-war protestors will start singing “Listen to what the flower people say”?)

  30. This may help clear things up

    THE BASIC LAWS OF HUMAN STUPIDITY
    by Carlo M. Cipolla
    http://www.mentalsoup.com/mentalsoup/basic.htm

  31. Thoreau:
    actually…
    some mutherfucker on another thread IS trying to minimize the pictures and the torture that’s going on there, so, to throw out a quote from the movie *Clue*: “YOU’RE A LITTLE LATE!!!!!”

    happy friday.

    cheerio.

  32. VM-

    If anybody tries to show photos of anything more serious than leashes, we should just black out those photos. Make them so black that they’re like a black mirror.

  33. but then we would have to ask “how much more black” could we paint the pictures, and the answer would be “none more black”.

    and don’t even get me started on the Mineshaft gap!

    [({X prime} X) inverse)] {X prime} Y

  34. I this the democratic underground? My bookmarks must have gotten screwed up.

  35. Nigel Tufnel, the leader of Spinal Tap, is quite stupid.

    Not saying there’s any connection between that and our Iraqi adventure (which may not be going according to plan but this is NOT due to any failure of leadership, but was just one of those things that couldn’t possibly have been avoided).

  36. You know. Old guy. Beard. Seemed kind of cranky about something.

  37. Nobody knows who they were. Or, what they were doing.

  38. But taking out the Taliban? Good.

    They haven’t really been entirely taken out as they still control parts of Afghanistan. It was a good idea, though.

    Stacking up the bodies of Al-Qaeda members? Good.

    That is good, it’s true.

    Pointing our guns at countries that harbor these fucks? Good.

    Except for places like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

    Jamie, most folks agree with all those strategies, but do you really think that they have been accomplished competently? The devil is in the details mind you.

  39. Those Bush did it morons basically write copy for Islamist’s all over the world. I can’t tell you how many times one of those nitwits have been quoted by Islamist’s du jour. You did deep enough and most are jew-hating bastards as well.

  40. I know I’ve said this before, but if it turns out our government really is in cahoots with Bin Laden, that’s the most heartening thing I’ve read since 9-11 happened–it means our country is being run by a bunch of brilliant Machiavellian geniuses, rather than the gaggle of incompetent fuckwits I suspect we actually have.

    I don’t know if “being in cahoots” would be exactly the right way to put it, but I’ve wondered if the government might have some incentive for not being in a hurry to catch him.

    For a start, exactly what evidence is there that bin Laden was responsible for 9/11? Mostly, it seems to be the word of the same geniuses who told us there were WMD’s in Iraq. There is a video tape that allegedly has his admission on it, but then, ask any cop how many false confessions the police get for major crimes every day. I don’t know exactly what his connection with 9/11 was, but I have a feeling a good defense attorney could make a pretty good case for him if he was ever brought to trial.

    Which may explain why he’s never been brought to trial.

  41. I this the democratic underground? My bookmarks must have gotten screwed up.

    What in the fucking world about this board looks like the democratic underground?

  42. Is it common practice on DU for a thread to degenerate into Spinal Tap references?

  43. Here’s a recent video raising questions about the “official” story behind 9/11.

    It’s about 80 mins long, the quality is good, and for a change, these guys don’t come across like nutjobs.

    Video

    Link: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-5137581991288263801&q=loose+change

    Enjoy

  44. But if you don’t think our problems are based on incompetent leadership, then what HAS caused them, do you suppose?

    And what exactly are ‘your’ problems? I sleep in a cave without electricity and smell like a goat. How, exactly, is your daily life affected by the incompetency you see?

  45. And what exactly are ‘your’ problems? I sleep in a cave without electricity and smell like a goat.

    So you say, Osama. For all I know, you’re currently snorting lines of coke off of Jenna’s bare ass even as I type this.

  46. Thoreau “Listen to what the flower people say”–I have a profound new respect for you now that I know your taste in movies.

    Jennifer: You are definitely “on” today. What little opposition there has been so far looks like a mass of inert, bleeding tissue.

  47. BUSH: Wasssin’ away again in Margaritaville

    OBL: Sershin for my losshaker a salt

    BUSH: Some people claim that therza woman t’blame but I know

    OBL: doo-doo-doo-doo-doo

    BUSH: It’s the Democrasss fault!

    OBL: doo-doo-doo-doo-doo

  48. “Jamie, most folks agree with all those strategies, but do you really think that they have been accomplished competently? The devil is in the details mind you.”

    Not all of them, no. And not completely. And not without attempts to damage civil liberties within our borders. After 9/11 (and still today), I wanted Bush to flatten Afghanistan, round up every one of those fuckers, publicly execute whoever was involved and point a nuclear weapon at Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and whoever else might have an inkling to attack us, telling them they’re fucking next and they better stand the fuck down and deliver us any and all terrorist operatives in their respective sandholes. We would never have any reason to go into Iraq then.

  49. Not meaning to change the subject, but speaking of 9/11, what ever happened to the 4th plane (the one that hit the Pentagon)? Last I heard (though i haven’t kept up) it desolved into thin air to the point that the authorities weren’t even sure what the flight number was, much less who was on board. I’d think that by now SOMEONE would notice a plane was missing, and that Grandma never showed up to the airport.

    Anyone know what became of this?

  50. I specifically remember Bush saying that we would be out of Iraq no later than three months after we went in. That’s a fact and I don’t really need to look it up to verify it.

  51. Of course it is not like we haven’t killed thousands of Al Quada terrorists in Afghanistan. It is also not like we haven’t captured or killed most of the top al-quada leaders.

    Speak for yourself, please. I haven’t killed anyone all day, and nobody at all in Afghanistan.

    And how come Al-Quada never seems to run out of “top leaders”?

  52. Is it common practice on DU for a thread to degenerate into Spinal Tap references?

    As opposed to, say, Star Trek references? Heh.

  53. wsdave, watch the video link Russ posted above, or search for “loose change” on google. You’ll find the answers you seek.

  54. Mr. Dewitt:

    dunno. maybe because they use TQM methods and empower the employees?

    ha ha. (ahem)

    {crickets}

    /kicks stone.

  55. Matt,

    Thanx for the “loose change” link; I really didn’t have the time for the video right now…

  56. Not to be tedious or anything, but does anyone else find the psychology of people who so desparately need to believe that Bad Things are always caused by mysterious Bad People? These guys seems to be from the same gene pool as the guys who obsessively parsed the Zapruder film and who believe there was a spaceship crash at Roswell in 1947. I don’t think they belong to either the Left or the Right so much as the Unoccupied and Disgruntled. I repeat what I said upthread, that there is some comforting in believing in the Injustice League or the Inner Circle or Cigarette Smoking Man causing trajedies instead of a bunch of unremarkable losers. The tendency to blame problems on our decadence and failure to adhere to eternal values is a close relative of the Evil Genius thought pattern, as is the believe in rabbit’s feet or magic crystals or other talismans. If I do X, I’ll never suffer Y.

  57. After 9/11 (and still today), I wanted Bush to flatten Afghanistan,

    And what about the civilians?

    round up every one of those fuckers, publicly execute whoever was involved and point a nuclear weapon at Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and whoever else might have an inkling to attack us, telling them they’re fucking next and they better stand the fuck down and deliver us any and all terrorist operatives in their respective sandholes.

    I understand the emotions behind this, but I don’t think it’s a very realistic or effective way of dealing with the problem. On the moral side of it, if we treat civilians the way they do, how are we different from them?

  58. One of the main reasons I can’t swallow the “Bush was behind 9/11” line, is that I can’t find a sufficient motive.

    Certainly, there’s money to be made, but when you’re the leader of the most powerful government in the world that your own party fully controls, there are more than enough ways to game the system to make all the money you want without creating what must necessarily be a vast conspiracy involving the hijacking of several planes, the killing of thousands of Americans and the set-up of appropriate fall-guys that would allow us to attack not one, but two countries. And to do all that in less than a year. It just doesn’t make enough sense.

    The other reason is simply to create a perpetual war environment in which they could rule with tyrannical impunity, which unfortunately makes more sense to me, although it still falls well short of balancing risk with reward.

    Truthfully, the only valid reason I can come up with for Bush to orchestrate 9/11 is that he’s pure evil, and I don’t suscribe to that magazine.

  59. So, I guess we can assume that Jennifer has always been 100% right in every decision or pronouncement she has ever made. Also, she must clearly have never, under any circumstances, have had any flaws in her performance of anything. Otherwise, its farily safe to assume that she is “incompetent”.

  60. So, I guess we can assume that Jennifer has always been 100% right in every decision or pronouncement she has ever made.

    Nope, I’ve been wrong before, but when I’m wrong nobody dies and no parts of the world become dangerously unstable.

    Also, when I’m wrong I don’t have a bunch of people explaining that really, I’m right, and who are you going to believe anyway, me or your own lying eyes?

  61. Not to be tedious or anything, but does anyone else find the psychology of people who so desparately need to believe that Bad Things are always caused by mysterious Bad People?

    I have occasionally speculated/theorized that maybe it’s because a certain part of these people’s brains are working in an overly high gear? I forget what it’s called, but human brains are pre-wired to see patterns where none exist; that’s why you’ll see the “man in the moon” even though the moon doesn’t really look like any man who has ever existed. That’s also why you’ll see designs in inkblots and such.

    So I’m wondering if maybe this part of the brain is overactive in conspiracy theorists? Think about it–what is a conspiracy theorist if not somebody who sees patterns and connections that aren’t really there?

    Saying that these theorists are simply insane is an oversimplification, I think; I’ve known a couple who were perfectly sane EXCEPT for when they discuss who killed Kennedy, or where AIDS comes from, or some such thing.

  62. When I said “flatten Afghanistan,” I meant pound it unmercifully while doing everything possible to avoid civilian casualties. I was just being colorful.
    And when I wrote “publicly execute,” I was sort of kidding.
    But the spirit of my comments remains intact.

  63. “One of the main reasons I can’t swallow the “Bush was behind 9/11″ line, is that I can’t find a sufficient motive.”

    well, depending on whose view you take of the new world order, it’s either a satanic or post-satanic baby raping conspiracy that’s shared by the elites across the world OR a perpetual police state type joint. neither of which make that much money, comparatively speaking.

    what i can’t get anyone to answer for me is this: why blow billions on destroying the wtc when you could just blow up the planes on the tarmac?

  64. What I don?t understand about the ?Bush/PNACers did it? theories is how can Bush and company appear so fallible on so many issues, yet still pull off those hijackings, use bombs to bring down the twin towers and not leave evidence or have informants popping out of the woodwork selling their stories to Oprah or CNN. I don?t see the motive either.

  65. “I’d love to be proven wrong. I would love for someone to come to me and say I’m full of shit. It hasn’t happened,” says [Dylan] Avery.

    Hey Avery, you’re full of shit.

    (You’re welcome; I’m just glad to be able to help.)

  66. “I don?t see the motive either.”

    because you’re one of the sheeple. so am i. it’s ok. we’re just comfortably sleeping until the new world order asserts power. then when we’re herded into cages, we’ll appreciate what everyone was trying to tell us (at 19.95 per video).

  67. what i can’t get anyone to answer for me is this: why blow billions on destroying the wtc when you could just blow up the planes on the tarmac?

    Panache. Hell, it would be just plain un-American to conceive such a plot without taking down two of the most recognizable buildings in the world.

  68. “watch the video link Russ posted above, or search for “loose change” on google. You’ll find the answers you seek.”

    I wouldn’t say that the video gives any answers, but it does ask a lot of tough questions.

    I think if they started speculating on answers to the questions, they would have begun to sound more like the tinfoil brigade nutbars that we’re accustomed to.

  69. Right at this moment, a little friend and I are dancing around a tiny Stonehenge. Oops! I almost knocked it over…

  70. I’m with jennifer on the conspiracy theorists…human nature drives us to see what we beleive…or as Emerson said “As I am, so I see”.

    Of course, that does not mean what I see is correct in the absolute sense of the word.

  71. “Then maybe the government should have taken that into consideration, before launching an unnecessary invasion on false pretenses. Or if they HAD gone through with the invasion, maybe they could have at least listened to, rather than fired, the military advisers who said we’d need a LOT more troops than what we were willing to send over there.” – Jennifer

    That was the basic internal debate in the US government, so of course they took that into consideration. There is no question the US, and the region, is better off without the Baathists in power (Hussein did not rule alone), the problem always was is it feasible to replace him with someone better, and worth the cost to do so?

    This is the legitimate, and serious question, which should have been the main topic of discussion outside of government as well, but unfortunately the opposition parties & groups in the US could only scream “Halliburton, No Blood for Oil, Bu$h is doing it to enrich his buddies, etc.” in either direct or implied form. Their necessary critical role was abdicated by taking positions which made their supporters happy, but which were ludicrous.

    I am unsure whether a more intrusive US military presence, with many more soldiers walking around and arresting people, would have greatly improved the situation. It could have made it worse, by providing more targets, and relieving the Iraqis from having to develop their own security forces. This is something that is given a lot of consideration in the military and government, and the belief is that a greater military presence would cause more harm than good.

  72. Jennifer,

    This (excellent) book discusses some of the counterproductive tendencies of the human brain to find patterns that you alluded to.

    http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?z=y&isbn=0029117062&itm=1

  73. There is no question the US, and the region, is better off without the Baathists in power (Hussein did not rule alone),

    Actually, there IS a question about that. Certainly there are a lot of individual Iraqis who are better off now that Hussein is gone, but is the US as a whole better off? Hussein was already pretty well-contained with the no-fly zones in effect; we actually had more control over Iraq then than we do now.

    Meanwhile, Iran worries me, and I think part of the reason they’re being such jerks of late is because they know damned well that if we can’t even get a handle on Iraq, we DAMN sure can’t afford to do anything to them.

    The amount of Iraqis with essential services like electricity is actually lower now than it was before we got there. And it looks like one result of our invasion will be to replace a dickhead secular government with a dickhead Islamic government, which isn’t such a good thing from our perspective when Islamic governments have been the cause of so many of our troubles.

  74. Here we go again. No man, let alone GWB, could possibly have his fingers in every pie in a gigantic, chaotic entity such as the US govt. Far more likely than the “Bush did it” explanation is the possibility that a faction within the govt was responsible for 9/11 without the upper echelons’ knowledge.

  75. Far more likely than the “Bush did it” explanation is the possibility that a faction within the govt was responsible for 9/11 without the upper echelons’ knowledge.

    Are you saying this hypothetically, Crimethink, or do you think that’s actually what happened?

  76. But is there anyone in the country who wouldn’t be delighted to learn that the forces behind 9/11 are based in Washington, D.C.? That the enemy is not some exotic conspiracy of mysteriously motivated foreigners who speak impenetrable languages and fade easily into an alien landscape, but a familiar group of Republicans with Middle American accents who would be ousted the moment their cabal came to light?

    Yes, it’s much more comforting to think that 9/11 was perpetrated by people who may be our friends and neighbors, who can fade easily into our own familiar landscape, who don’t look any different than that guy sitting next to me on the airplane.

    Anyone who thinks that placing the blame for a catastrophe on “outsiders” is more upsetting than blaming those of our own social group, is either totally ignorant of human history and psychology, or trying a bit to hard to be clever.

  77. Jennifer,

    I’m open to the possibility. It does deserve more than the nervous dismissal it receives from most people, again confirming that the official explanation is far less disturbing than the alternatives.

  78. Somebody asked about the word used to describe the perception of patterns that aren’t really there. I think “spandrel” is the term.

    As to conspiracies, the world is and always has been a network of competing conspiracies–but not necessarily the conspiracies that we think we see.

    Narr

  79. Even if true, it would only cause Bush’s appeal to be more selective. He is God’s chosen leader after all.

  80. Yes, it’s much more comforting to think that 9/11 was perpetrated by people who may be our friends and neighbors, who can fade easily into our own familiar landscape, who don’t look any different than that guy sitting next to me on the airplane.

    I think the “comfort” comes from the idea that it’s only one or two shadowy people behind the problem, so presumably if you get those one or two people out of power everything will be fine. As opposed to our current situation, where we supposedly keep killing huge numbers of al-Qaeda guys and yet the net amount of people who want to do us in doesn’t seem to be dropping at all.

    For all the insurgents in Iraq we’ve supposedly gotten rid of, and all the times we’ve “turned the corner,” things seem no better than before. There is no one person, or even one hundred persons, whom we could kill or imprison right now and then say “Okay! We’re safe! Threat’s gone!”

    So in that light, a conspiracy theory would in fact be more comforting than what’s going on now. I think that’s also why so many people enjoy Kennedy-assassination theories; in a way, the idea that a Big Shadow Organization is responsible for such evil is actually more comforting than the idea that a lone lunatic, all by himself, can cause such a catastrophe.

  81. To put it another way, imagine that some new evidence came to light which proved that the official explanation was fundamentally wrong. Perhaps newly discovered video footage shows that a missile, not a plane struck the Pentagon; or a circuit board with an antenna is found attached to the navigation systems of the plane that crashed in PA.

    Do you think people will say, “Phew! Thank God it wasn’t a bunch of raghead terrorists who hated us for our freedom!”

  82. If the Bushites were behind the 9/11 attacks they would have missed the World Trade Center and instead they would have plowed into a building that was scheduled for demolition.

  83. To put it another way, imagine that some new evidence came to light which proved that the official explanation was fundamentally wrong. Perhaps newly discovered video footage shows that a missile, not a plane struck the Pentagon; or a circuit board with an antenna is found attached to the navigation systems of the plane that crashed in PA. Do you think people will say, “Phew! Thank God it wasn’t a bunch of raghead terrorists who hated us for our freedom!”

    If that happened, then don’t you think getting rid of the relatively few guys responsible for the missile or circuit-baord would be a hell of a lot easier than figuring out how to handle millions of third-world people who hate us so much that they’re even willing to commit suicide if they can harm us by doing so?

    I think this in a way explains extreme partisanship as well–if you can believe that ALL problems are because of The Left, or ALL problems because of The Right, that makes solving America’s problems look a lot easier than saying “It’s the left AND the right AND some fundamental corruption in the system itself.”

    Much more comforting to just think “As soon as Bush leaves office, or as soon as Hillary loses her Senate seat, everything will be hunky-dory.”

  84. Much more comforting to just think “As soon as Bush leaves office, or as soon as Hillary loses her Senate seat, everything will be hunky-dory.”

    At least it will be a good day!

  85. Anyone who thinks that placing the blame for a catastrophe on “outsiders” is more upsetting than blaming those of our own social group, is either totally ignorant of human history and psychology, or trying a bit to hard to be clever.

    I will grant you that the small sliver of Americans who are part of Bush’s social group (or the social group of a secret government within the government) would find it more upsetting.

    That’s not a lot of people.

  86. I should add, Crimethink, that my rejection of this thesis isn’t a “nervous dismissal.” I would honestly love to be able to believe that this was an inside job. If anything, I’m extra-skeptical because I know the idea is so seductive.

    Most of the people I’ve encountered who do believe such theories about 9/11 show every sign of having been seduced rather than persuaded.

  87. “If that happened, then don’t you think getting rid of the relatively few guys responsible for the missile or circuit-baord would be a hell of a lot easier than figuring out how to handle millions of third-world people who hate us so much that they’re even willing to commit suicide if they can harm us by doing so?”

    what if there aren’t ‘relatively few’ of them? what if are LOTS of guys responsible, and they infest all levels of the government like evil fascist cockroaches, and you can’t crush their worldwide conspiracy just by killing their #1 or #2 or #2,000? didja think of THAT?

  88. Jennifer,

    Islamic terrorists have been willing to blow themselves up to harm us for decades. That problem will not go away even if 9/11 was proven to be an inside job. Rather, we’d then have two problems: terrorists who still want to kill us, and a govt that is also ready to kill us if it suits their purposes.

  89. Jesse Walker,

    You did see the part where I said I didn’t think Bush did it, right?

    And by “social group”, I mean not the people you go to parties with, but people who share your race, language, and religious beliefs.

  90. Islamic terrorists have been willing to blow themselves up to harm us for decades. That problem will not go away even if 9/11 was proven to be an inside job. Rather, we’d then have two problems: terrorists who still want to kill us, and a govt that is also ready to kill us if it suits their purposes.

    Yes, but before 9-11 Islamic suicide terrorism was something that happened in other countries, not here. And since a lot of Americans make the mistake of assuming that America = the whole world, that means that if it doesn’t happen here there’s no need to worry about it. So if 9-11 proves to be an inside job, that means that we DON’T actually have to figure out how to solve the problem in Iraq, and DON’T have to worry so much that our dependence on Middle Eastern oil will someday bite us in the ass; all we have to do is get a few rotten apples out of the government and everything will be fine.

  91. r0ver,

    While I suspect your comment was tongue-in-cheek, it is true that there would have to be at least, say, a hundred people in on the conspiracy to pull off and cover up an attack of 9/11’s magnitude. Which actually makes such a theory less plausible, though still not as impossible as some would like to believe.

  92. For all I know, you’re currently snorting lines of coke off of Jenna’s bare ass even as I type this.

    Is it just me or does that actually sound like a pretty damn good Friday night?

  93. “but is the US as a whole better off?” – Jennifer

    Is the US as a whole better off without the Baathists in power? No, I am certain that there are individuals and groups in the US who were receiving financial & logistical support from the Baathists who are much worse off now. As I stated before, the question is whether the Baathists can be replaced with someone better: I am not sure they can considering how many people outside Iraq are opposed to this endeavour.

    “The amount of Iraqis with essential services like electricity is actually lower now than it was before we got there.” – Jennifer

    Baathist strongholds in Sunni areas have less electricity than before the war, areas less supportive of the Baathists have more now. Overall production has varied between somewhat above & below pre-war averages for the past 2 years, according to the NY Times. Not that I think this is particularly relevant to this discussion. The Tikritis and various foreign jihadis would not be mollified with a few more hours per day of electricity.

    http://www.iraqieconomy.org/home/infra/electricity/key/electricityproduction/view

    “Hussein was already pretty well-contained with the no-fly zones in effect; we actually had more control over Iraq then than we do now.” – Jennifer

    It is unlikely that the no-fly zones could have been sustained for much longer. Russia, France, and China were working very hard to end them, and likely would have succeeded by now.

    It is difficult to respond to the assertion that having planes overhead on occasion (being shot at to boot) gives more control over a country than having planes overhead AND 120,000 troops on the ground. The latter is far more expensive, of course, but gives you more influence over the country.

    Iran is a serious concern, but the problems raised in invading Iran are greater than for Iraq on both an ideological (ie from the “false pretenses / HalliOilBu$hitler” crowd), and practical (Scowcroft) basis. The Iranians have been working very hard on their nuclear weapons program since well before 2001: the Iraq invasion may have slowed it somewhat due to the need to disperse their facilities to protect against potential air strikes.

  94. Yes, but before 9-11 Islamic suicide terrorism was something that happened in other countries, not here. And since a lot of Americans make the mistake of assuming that America = the whole world, that means that if it doesn’t happen here there’s no need to worry about it.

    WTC bombing of 1993?
    Attempted LAX bombing of 2000?

  95. WTC bombing of 1993?
    Attempted LAX bombing of 2000?

    Point taken. But at least it wasn’t suicide terrorism. A guy who wants to stay alive is less threatening than a guy who doesn’t care if he lives or dies.

    Is the US as a whole better off without the Baathists in power? No, I am certain that there are individuals and groups in the US who were receiving financial & logistical support from the Baathists who are much worse off now.

    Oh, for the love of God.

    It is difficult to respond to the assertion that having planes overhead on occasion (being shot at to boot) gives more control over a country than having planes overhead AND 120,000 troops on the ground. The latter is far more expensive, of course, but gives you more influence over the country.

    Except for the part where the troops don’t dare to venture because they keep getting killed. Just how much influence do we have over there, anyway? Shit keeps blowing up. Infrastructure keeps getting attacked. Soldiers keep dying. And we aren’t any closer to a sane and stable Iraq now than we were two years ago.

  96. crimethink,
    no, I was being entirely serious. it obviously wasn’t just a couple of guys with a missile and a circuit board. it was a big deal.

    everybody else,
    why is it so hard to think of dubya/rummy/deadeye as Evil rather than Stupid? W’s not Stupid. and neither is his army of fascist cockroaches. it’s the Electorate that’s Stupid. wtf? TWO TERMS?!!!

  97. That’s a way to win friends and influence people, there r0ver. Just keep callin’ ’em stupid until they agree with you. The beatings will continue until morale improves.

  98. timothy, do you think it was a good idea for our country to elect W twice? i could be more gentle and say the voters are uninformed or apathetic or lacking in imagination.

    or i could stop worrying about W in particular, because obviously kerry’s a roach too. THEY’RE ALL EVIL! RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!

  99. Jen, I used to enjoy your posts however you’re getting a slight more, dare I say it, trollish every day, especially when the subject is Iraq – you’re dominating these comment sections with your dubious statements claimed as fact, but they’re really just opinion. You’re not looking too good when you rant and rave against Bush’s war like a DU poster. Sorry for getting personal, I just calls ’em as I sees ’em.

  100. If anything, I’m extra-skeptical because I know the idea is so seductive.

    and because FOIAs are labor intensive, even for a journalist.

  101. you’re dominating these comment sections with your dubious statements claimed as fact, but they’re really just opinion

    Care to be more specific?

  102. You did see the part where I said I didn’t think Bush did it, right?

    Yep.

    And by “social group”, I mean not the people you go to parties with, but people who share your race, language, and religious beliefs.

    It is astonishingly easy to demonize people who share your race, your language, and some of your beliefs.

  103. I was being entirely serious. it obviously wasn’t just a couple of guys with a missile and a circuit board. it was a big deal.

    What was the conspirators’ motivation, do you think? If they wanted an excuse to invade Iraq, why did they start with Afghanistan first? And if they were able to pull off such a brilliant stunt without getting caught, then why couldn’t they also make it look like Iraq really DID have WMDs, rather than changing stories and saying “Oh, uh, we went there to establish a democracy; that was our intent all along?”

    And why did they claim the majority of non-existent hijackers were from Saudi Arabia if they didn’t want to invade that country? In light of what happened after the attack, wouldn’t it have made more sense to blame Afghans and Iraqis?

  104. and because FOIAs are labor intensive, even for a journalist

    But insinuations are easy!

  105. I think Archer Daniels Midland did it.

  106. Timothy-

    You really don’t want to go up against ADM. Their henchmen have guns that fire when bumped.

  107. What was the conspirators’ motivation, do you think?

    There could be several, but the question that needs to be asked is cui bono? The War on Terror has been a boon for government power, military budgets, and for corporations with government connections.

  108. Thoreau: Doesn’t that make going up against ADM safer? I mean won’t the henchmen off themselves before ever getting around to me?

  109. Jennifer,

    “What was the conspirators’ motivation, do you think?”

    ok, honestly, I don’t know any more about this than the next guy, and I’m still on the fence about whether the government was involved, but I’ll keep going here: I’m in crimethink’s camp on this one. I think the conspirators wanted a guaranteed way to scare the shit out of OUR country so they could control it more, um, fascistly. scared people do what they’re told and don’t ask about ‘rights.’

    “If they wanted an excuse to invade Iraq, why did they start with Afghanistan first?”

    PR. there was no 911-related reason to attack Iraq. hitting Afghanistan made them look like they had a real plan.

    “And if they were able to pull off such a brilliant stunt without getting caught, then why couldn’t they also make it look like Iraq really DID have WMDs, rather than changing stories and saying “Oh, uh, we went there to establish a democracy; that was our intent all along?”

    this is a mystery. they’re not Stupid, but maybe they can’t get it right every time.

    “And why did they claim the majority of non-existent hijackers were from Saudi Arabia if they didn’t want to invade that country? In light of what happened after the attack, wouldn’t it have made more sense to blame Afghans and Iraqis?”

    the roaches have lots of friends in the SA government, maybe. easier to get identities from there.

    all in all, what I think is that probably the government didn’t plan the attacks, but knew about them, didn’t stop them, and put a plan in place to milk the aftershocks for all they were worth.

  110. thoreau,

    Is that a thinly veiled Dick “Facial” Cheney reference?

  111. PR. there was no 911-related reason to attack Iraq. hitting Afghanistan made them look like they had a real plan.

    But if they made up the whole thing, they could have invented an Iraqi-based reason. That’s my point.

  112. crimethink-

    A certain lawyer opined that, had America’s tort lawyers not been involved, gun manufacturers would make guns that routinely fire when bumped.

    Timothy-

    Even if you shoot them before they shoot you, their gun could still go off and hit you. Don’t mess with them!

  113. Jennifer,

    Not that I agree with r0ver’s unfalsifiable theory, but it would be a lot harder to explain how Iraqi and/or Afghani nationals managed to get into the US in the first place.

  114. Jen, please see the comments from mr. x – which you haven’t responded to – thanks

    also, sorry about my troll comment – it was uncalled for…

  115. thoreau,

    Ohhhh…. But doesn’t soaking the ammo in corn syrup solve that problem… 😉

  116. The War on Terror has been a boon for government power, military budgets, and for corporations with government connections.

    Agree, but I think it’s them making the most of a situation, not causing the situation.

    Not that I agree with r0ver’s unfalsifiable theory, but it would be a lot harder to explain how Iraqi and/or Afghani nationals managed to get into the US in the first place.

    Well, if you buy into the conspiracy idea, inventing secret Iraqi or Afghani people-smuggling operations would give you even MORE excuses to take away civil liberties, I’d think.

  117. Thoreau: But I’m saying their guns will probably go off and shoot them before they get out of their silent black helicopters.

  118. Good point, Timothy.

    Of course, who knows what other resources the secret designers of the secret designs have at their disposal?

    It takes a brave man to stand up to this conspiracy. And to not only stand up to this conspiracy, but also generously donate his services in designing science curricula? That’s a true humanitarian!

  119. Jen, please see the comments from mr. x – which you haven’t responded to – thanks

    You mean his comments like, the US is better off without Hussein, except for those US citizens who “received financial and logistical support from the Baathists”?

    Uh-huh. Already responded.

  120. Jennifer,

    Also, please respond to Gary Gunnels’ question from that one thread in 2004. You know, the one about eminent domain.

  121. Except for the part where the troops don’t dare to venture because they keep getting killed. Just how much influence do we have over there, anyway? Shit keeps blowing up. Infrastructure keeps getting attacked. Soldiers keep dying. And we aren’t any closer to a sane and stable Iraq now than we were two years ago.

    I’m sure that’s a response you can back up. Do you really think the situation is the same as it was two years ago?

  122. crime,

    that was funny… but there’s a difference between asking someone to explain their comments from just a few hours ago, or is that out of bounds here? I just disagree with Jen’s comments and think that they are based on emotion rather than fact… why, she’s thinking… um…. er… just like a woman…

  123. But is there anyone in the country who wouldn’t be delighted to learn that the forces behind 9/11 are based in Washington, D.C.? That the enemy is not some exotic conspiracy of mysteriously motivated foreigners who speak impenetrable languages and fade easily into an alien landscape, but a familiar group of Republicans with Middle American accents who would be ousted the moment their cabal came to light?

    I would think that it would really, deeply alarming if we had a political culture where an administration could take office and go about planning and executing 9/11 in its first year without anybody but crackpots being the wiser. On the other hand, I’d been expecting some form of major terrorist attack on American soil for years.

  124. chooselife,

    I don’t know if you were around at the time, but Gunnels was notorious for demanding that people respond to his posts from days prior. I don’t know if there’s any relevant netiquette, but it seems a bit uncooth and attention-whorish to pester someone for not responding to you. It’s better, I think, to let an opponent’s silence speak for itself in the minds of the forum’s readers.

  125. This administration has already proven it is more than willing to throw thousands of souls into the meat grinder to further it’s own economic and political interests; However, I find it hard to beleive all the high-budget, high-profile bumbling done by the Feds is a ruse for the real work of government, destroying it’s own cities.

  126. I’m sure that’s a response you can back up. Do you really think the situation is the same as it was two years ago?

    You actually need me to back up my comment “shit keeps blowing up, infrastructure keeps getting attacked, and soldiers keep dying”? Have you read any news sites–any news at ALL–in the past two years?

    Hell, in the past WEEK?

  127. I see iraq is a quagmire. I recently read michael totten’s blog along w/ michael yon’s. Then I talked to Nigel,now I’m really confused- is it feet or inches? Whose metrics we usin? I’m a little unedumecated, sorry, I’m from Boston.[ not a big college town]

  128. all in all, what I think is that probably the government didn’t plan the attacks, but knew about them, didn’t stop them, and put a plan in place to milk the aftershocks for all they were worth.

    Comment by: r0ver at February 24, 2006 05:24 PM

    This is a comforting thought by itself – instead of reality where it’s possible for a small goup of trained and highly motivation individuals can do this in obscurity – we invent the fantasy where, at the very least, we might not have had a hand in the plot, but we certainly knew about it.

  129. I’m sure that’s a response you can back up. Do you really think the situation is the same as it was two years ago?

    Nope. It’s worse.

    Two years ago they were blowing up shit in the Green Zone (as in, anti-America ops).

    Now they’re blowing up their own mosques and shrines (anti-different-religion-next-door-neighbor ops).

    Hell, they’re not even united against us anymore.

    Ain’t nobody fixing that problem the easy way, jack…

  130. It’s all a lie!

    Jet fuel doesn’t produce enough energy to melt steel!

    Of course, we’ve heard that for a thousand years, blacksmiths have worked steel, and they used charcoal, which produces less energy than jet fuel.

    Obviously that must be a lie, too. The last 1000 years of metallurgical history didn’t really happen, it was all invented by Karl Rove. And since it was steel- supposedly worked in the feeble heat of charcoal, hah, give me a break, that let the Spanish conquer South America, that never really happened either. Orbital Mind Control Lasers make us beleive this stuff. I’d wear a tinfoil hat, but… do you know how much energy you need to work Aluminum?

    Ben

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