In Defense of Conspiracy Theories


Skipping through Andrew Sullivan's blog archives (Remember when he would wait until midnight or 1 a.m. and then just post a bunch of stuff?) and I spot this:

THE IRAQI POSSIBILITY: Check out this 1995/1996 Public Interest essay on the first World Trade Center bombing. Some of it sends chills down your spine with its prescience. But its most important suggestion is that Iraq might have been behind the bombing. Ditto today. Saddam is not only capable but willing—especially against a nemesis like the son of the first George Bush. More evidence that Colin Powell's tragic abandonment of the war against Saddam might well be one of the biggest blunders in recent history. If this coordinated massacre needed real state-sponsored support, which nation would you pick as the prime suspect?

Yeah, sure, you can take that graf and make fun of Sullivan's wide-eyed warmongering. But Sullivan's theories from the fog of that first week after 9/11 still sound good to around 40 percent of Americans. And a similarly-sized chunk of Americans think there was some kind of government cover-up around the terrorist attacks. Lev Grossman was probably on to something when he identified 9/11 "truth" theories as coping mechanisms, but we would have been better off if two things happened in 2001: if we captured bin Laden or if the White House clarified exactly who wasn't responsible for the attacks. Not "we don't know the extent of Saddam Hussein's involved." Something like "Saddam Hussein was not involved."

You can blame a lot of the "trutherism" on the shift from attacking al Qaeda to Tom Friedman-ish "bubble bursting" in Iraq.