Conspiracy Theories

Who Cut the Cables? An ABC Investigation

|

Via Drudge, a story from Australian public broadcaster ABC on those mass Internet outages in the Middle East and India. According to the crack reporting of ABC correspondent Simon Lauder, some online sleuths see a conspiracy so immense, so sophisticated, that it could only have emanated from Langley:

Is information warfare to blame for the damage to underwater internet cables that has interrupted internet service to millions of people in India and Egypt, or is it just a series of accidents? When two cables in the Mediterranean were severed last week, it was put down to a mishap with a stray anchor. Now a third cable has been cut, this time near Dubai. That, along with new evidence that ships' anchors are not to blame, has sparked theories about more sinister forces that could be at work.

Online columnist Ian Brockwell says the cables may have been cut deliberately in an attempt by the US and Israel to deprive Iran of internet access. Others back up that theory, saying the Pentagon has a secret strategy called 'information warfare'.

Who these "others" are is left unsaid, though one could argue that "information warfare" hardly counts as a "secret strategy." And while it is at least conceivable that the CIA would be stupid enough to cut off Iran's lifeline to an independent media (it is the CIA, after all), ABC's source for this claim, an "Internet columnist" called Ian Brockwell, is of dubious reliability. According to his online bio, Mr. Brockwell's interests include UFOs and climate change, the latter of which he attributes to the perfidy of the former. But here's some free advice for the kids at ABC: Be slightly more skeptical of claims by online columnists whose work can be found on Holocaust denier Ernst Zundel's website, such as Brockwell's crie du coeur against "people fear those who debate the 'Holocaust'?" (Scare quotes around Holocaust in original, naturally).

So why bother criticizing the journalistic standards of Australian public media? To make the point that state-funded media is insulated from market forces and, therefore, produces ridiculous news stories like the one quoted above? Well, no. It's simply an excuse to post the exquisite cover of Brockwell's self-published book, Global Warming: The Final Solution. Eat your heart out, Chip Kidd:

Advertisement

NEXT: Those Who Can't, Endorse

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Caption Contest (if that title wasn’t there)!

    “The World is Hillary’s Lunch”

  2. This is your world.

    This is your world in a microwave oven.

  3. Mr. Brockwell interests include UFOs and climate change, the latter of which he attributes to the perfidy of the former.

    Interesting. Very interesting.

  4. I’m overcome with the urge to read Whitley Streiber now. Thanks a lot.

  5. Caption contest entry:

    “Against Aluminum Foil: The case for microwave cookery and alien mind control”

  6. ” According to his online bio, Mr. Brockwell interests include UFOs and climate change, the latter of which he attributes to the perfidy of the former. ”

    Heh, he’s got exactly the same amount of proof for his theory as do those who claim global warming is man-made – absolutely none whatsoever.

  7. Caption contest:
    Aliens Microwaved My Science Fair Project: A guide to excuses for when “My dog ate it” just won’t cut it!

  8. Wow. I think the most impressively stupid part is the scale. Not only is the Earth the size of the solar system (which is in a giant microwave) but that the alien is big enough to hold them both.

    Wouldn’t an alien big enough to palm the earth like a basketball be able to kill us faster than by a gradually increase in global temperature over a century of time frame? Especially an increase that only the most fatuous of greenies claim will result in a “final solution” for the human race?

    Luckily I have gotten over my mild addiction to whacked out conspiracy “non-fiction” or I’d be all over this like a fat girl on ham.

  9. I’m actually pretty curious to know what he thinks is the reason the aliens want to warm the world. Did he watch The Arrival and get inspired, or is he even wackier?

  10. Here’s the real conspiracy. For years, AT&T has offered to pay for new nets and tackle for fishermen who whack their undersea cables. They urge fishermen to jettison their gear when they snag a cable rather than cut the cable to free their gear. It’s much cheaper to buy new fishing boats and nets than to lay new cable at millions of dollars per mile.

    Clearly, this is a cable cabal by Meditterean fishermen, who have just figured out the system. Cut a cable, get a new boat!

  11. “How To: Cooking Up Your Own Solar System, One Planet at a Time”

  12. Luckily I have gotten over my mild addiction to whacked out conspiracy “non-fiction” or I’d be all over this like a fat girl on ham.

    Did you ever read any of Zecharia Sitchin’s incredibly fun books? He wrote extensively about how mandkind was created by aliens, and it’s ALL RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU IF YOU JUST READ THE SUMERIAN CUNEIFORM CORRECTLY!!!!!1!!11!

    On the cover of the books, there’s a heading that says something along the lines of, “The theory of our origins that has never been disproven!”

  13. “To Serve Man”

  14. Along those lines: Our goal is to serve Mother Earth. We’ve chosen a robust Klargh-blood and wine sauce that will heighten the spicy flavors of the biosphere of this rocky planet.

  15. Caption Contest –

    ?Keep gettin’ richer but I can’t get my picture on the cover of the Juggler’s World.?

  16. “Join us next week, as we take the American Idol auditions to Roswell!”

  17. Caption Contest:

    “What Would Nicole Richie Do?”

  18. “So why bother criticizing the journalistic standards of Australian public media? To make the point that state-funded media is insulated from market forces and, therefore, produces ridiculous news stories like the one quoted above?”

    Let me get this straight, MM got this story from Drudge. And he takes this shot at the “ridiculous news stories” that come from the maket insulated public media.

    Drudge.

    Do I have to spell out any more?
    Wow, MM gets better with every post…

  19. Just to add more to the conspiracy… a fourth cable was taken offline…

    Nephilium

  20. When will the cables be fixed?

    Via internet chat rooms and such, ordinary Iranians learn the value of our relative liberty when they communicate with us. The internet, at the same time, affords us a way to explain to them that our government’s decades long on and off (currently on) aggression against Iran is not the wish of ordinary Americans but rather it is the work of our idiot government.

    It is a possibility that should be considered that the cutting of the cables was a prelude to a planned attack by our government and/or the Israeli government on Iran.

  21. Ian Brockwell?

    Sounds a lot like . . . Lew Rockwell. And not just the name.

    Perhaps it’s a nom de guerre?

  22. Again, MM cites Druge for a story that public media often cites unreliable stories…

    DRUDGE.

    To point out how stupid it is to rely on off the wall journalists for a source…

    DRUDGE…The guy with the hat and the…well, yeah, THAT guy…

    Wow, that’s ballsy….Big fuzzy warbles…Unbelievable…

  23. What are you babbling about MNG?

    Drudge didn’t write the story, he just linked to the Australian Public Broadcasting piece.

    Are you one of those nutjob lefties who wouldn’t take cover from a tornado if it was reported on FAUX News?

  24. Seen from a bird’s eye, Moynihan, your premise and reflexive posturing are ridiculous. You created a piece of posting piffle out of at least two sources known for wallowing in piffle. Is this a humor piece?

  25. Ignoring the UFO guy, it does seem, well, rather coincidential that three (or maybe four, if Nephilium is correct) cables were all cut within a short period of time. It does seem that it is likely to be deliberate as opposed to accidential. Now, who did it is completely speculative. I doubt it would be complicated to do (maybe a diver with an undersea welding torch?), so the answer could be basically anybody.

  26. I don’t think that the cables were cut as part of an information warfare campaign against the whole Middle East. (Who’s got it in for Saudi Arabia, Israel, India, and Iran?) But with the Egyptian Ministry of Communication claiming that ships weren’t responsible for the cut cables in the Mediterranean, you have to wonder what exactly is going on over there. It seems ready-made for conspiracy theorists (the NSA is installing monitoring equipment!), but it looks like whoever’s doing it wants to be seen. The recent news that the blackout in the northeast a few years ago was probably done by gangsters taking advantage of security weaknesses in the computer systems has me thinking that organized criminals tried to extort the phone companies, they didn’t get paid off, so they cut the cables.

  27. Caption Contest:

    “And if you call now, we’ll throw in the Ronco? Galaxy Roaster absolutely FREE! With the Ronco? Galaxy Roaster you put the galaxies in, set it AAAND…”

    AUDIENCE: “FORGET IT!”

    RON POPEIL: “Don’t forget about our Earth Flavor Injector!”

  28. The fourth cable wasn’t cut, it was brought down by a power failure.

  29. Geotpf:

    The fourth cable wasn’t cut, just taken down due to power issues.

    Here’s some more info about the cables…

    As to the NSA doing it, there’s already rumors of subs that can tap fiber optic lines without interrupting service. That would be far more beneficial then cutting them.

    Nephilium

  30. Luckily I have gotten over my mild addiction to whacked out conspiracy “non-fiction”

    A guilty pleasure that I, too, will confess to.

    But with the Egyptian Ministry of Communication claiming that ships weren’t responsible for the cut cables in the Mediterranean,

    And they know this, how, exactly?

  31. I heard that rumor about the NSA subs, too, but I forget what the source and context was. In any case, it seems like it would be a lot easier for the NSA to tap the ISPs (which they can and have) rather than tap the cables themselves, and this whole thing seems way too blatant to be an intelligence operation. This looks like criminal sabotage, not a political or intelligence thing.

  32. And they know this, how, exactly?

    No idea. That’s why I said they’re “claiming” that’s the case. It could just be that they’re trying to cover their ass, since a ship cutting through the undersea cable is presumably the sort of thing their agency supposed to prevent.

    http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/02/04/technology/cables.php

  33. Warty,

    Oh, I have all the greatest hit, Sitchin, von Daniken, The Sirius Mystery… I started with Robert Anton Wilson and spiraled outwards about as far as I could stand. Loompanics loved me. The last straw was The Last Days of Jesus Christ, Vampire I believe…

    Though, really, it was just an extension of my childhood love of Bigfoot, Nessie, and In Search Of…

    I still have a huge amount of those books. I wish I knew a bright, maladjusted 13-year-old to pass them off to.

  34. SIV,

    Perish the thought that Mr. Nice Guy is a partisan who enjoys making apples to oranges comparisons between straight news stories and online gossip aggregators! He’s just concerned about all of us catching Drudge-cooties. As they say, link a story and you’re linking everyone whose linked it before.

  35. I don’t believe in UFOs, but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if this wasn’t the US or someones way of showing that they do have teeth even absent overt military force. Imagine if US cruisers were over those cables gently sending any repair crews away. For years. Just cause we imagine Iran as some yak herding shithole doesn’t mean they wouldn’t feel a sizable punch in the nuts if all their telecom capacity was clipped.

    Maybe I’m just paranoid because I recently read the Cryptonomicon, which has a small bit about how cutting underseas cables plays into geopolitics and how only countries with real navies have the resources to cut those cables (in the deep sea anyways).

  36. But with the Egyptian Ministry of Communication claiming that ships weren’t responsible for the cut cables in the Mediterranean,

    And they know this, how, exactly?

    I think my vast experience with all things nautical will help here. It’s really a complicated issue, but I’ll try to explain it in layman terms.

    They don’t.

    Any questions?

  37. Maybe I’m just paranoid because I recently read the Cryptonomicon, which has a small bit about how cutting underseas cables plays into geopolitics and how only countries with real navies have the resources to cut those cables (in the deep sea anyways).

    Weird, I’m in the middle of re-reading Cryptonomicon right now.

  38. I see how this works now. If anything happens that obviously points to the Usual Suspects, the MSM finds some kook to promote the connection, thereby ‘discrediting’ the very notion.

    The odds of four cables accidently being cut within the same week is about one in a billion. And ‘Cui bono?’ is always a valid question, no matter who asks it.

  39. The odds of four cables accidently being cut within the same week is about one in a billion.

    You did not show your work as instructed. “F

  40. Hey, ABC:

    HA HA!

  41. This is OBVIOUSLY due to the sharks with the frickin’ laser beams on their heads.

    One of the Navy’s pet projects got loose. Run for your lives!

    (P.S. We had a communications cable go down once because a shark ate one of the transponders. Yum yum.)

  42. have been cut deliberately in an attempt by the US and Israel to deprive Iran of internet access.

    Aren’t the Iranians doing everything they can to deprive Iran of internet access?

  43. interests include UFOs and climate change

    Same thing…

    But seriously, I was wondering when the theories would start flowing, but honestly, I expected it to be Islamic government who wanted the flow of information cut. Since when did the government of Iran miss freeporn.net?

  44. SIV and MattIVX

    I’ll simplify it for you.

    Drudge=nutty unreliable source=x
    Brockwell=nutty unreliable source=x

    MM: Public media is stupid for relying on x. I heard they did this from x.

    I hope that helps!

  45. MM was visiting a notedly unreliable purveyor of news, a quintessentially unreliable source, and therein he found a story mocking public media for referencing an unreliable source.

    It’s rich I gotta say…

    As to tornados: if it were during a GOP administration Fox would call it a “temporary wind disruption” if referenced at all. During a Dem one it would be a “cataclysmic Tornado, possibly emboldened by the election of a Democratic President.”

  46. Yeah, the real conspiracy is the media omitting Ron Paul’s name from most news stories about the election, claiming he does not have a chance. Give peace a chance and vote for Ron Paul.
    How silly people wondering about
    broken internet cables around the world. I mean, reallllllllllllly. ; )

  47. It is a possibility that should be considered that the cutting of the cables was a prelude to a planned attack by our government and/or the Israeli government on Iran.

    rick, you seem a bit… obsessed.

  48. I, for one, welcome our little, green, earth-warming, cable-cutting overlords.

  49. taktix, aren’t they greys?

    brrrr, i still get nightmares about that anal probing.

  50. Those aren’t nightmares.

  51. Rod | February 4, 2008, 5:11pm | #
    “To Serve Man”

    Damn, that’s gonna be tough to beat.

  52. Those aren’t nightmares.

    usually, they buy me dinner first.

  53. I’ve been in the middle of reading it for a year or so. I can’t make it thru. Many are in the “middle” due to the sheer size of the thing.

    ====
    Tom | February 4, 2008, 6:41pm | #
    Maybe I’m just paranoid because I recently read the Cryptonomicon, which has a small bit about how cutting underseas cables plays into geopolitics and how only countries with real navies have the resources to cut those cables (in the deep sea anyways).

    Weird, I’m in the middle of re-reading Cryptonomicon right now.

  54. Who Cut the Cables?

    Hey, I say He who smelt it, dealt it!

  55. My theory is that somebody is trying to get Middle Eastern office employees to stop slacking off at work….

    🙂

  56. Mr. Nice Guy | February 4, 2008, 8:32pm | #
    SIV and MattIVX

    I’ll simplify it for you.

    Drudge=nutty unreliable source=x
    Brockwell=nutty unreliable source=x

    MM: Public media is stupid for relying on x. I heard they did this from x.

    I hope that helps!

    Not sure if you are being deliberately obtuse or not, but you’re missing one major piece in your analysis.

    MM: Public media is stupid for relying on x. I heard they did this from x. Then I verified it.

    If MM were using drudge as the final word on what ABC said, you would be correct, but he just used it as a search tool.

  57. Shawn,

    Don’t bother, buddy. He’s just a troll.

  58. I’m confused. Is a cabal of dubious origins cutting cables or is a cabal of dubious journalists reporting on cables?

    Really, I just wanted to make the cabal/cable joke.

  59. edna:

    rick, you seem a bit… obsessed.

    It’s our government’s history of aggression against Iran that keeps my mind open on this matter.

  60. Hey so the internet is back up in Egypt now (hence my comments)

    If any of y’all care.

    (the previous comment was a function of server squirrel misshap)

  61. Hey kwais,

    Of course we care! Be safe and …have fun?

  62. It’s our government’s history of aggression against Iran that keeps my mind open on this matter.

    What aggression? Have we been bombing Iran? Have our troops even crossed the border, in spite of ample provocation and justification in the form of Iranian support for insurgents in Iraq?

  63. RC,

    Well, there was that time when our government’s thugs forced out an elected government and imposed the Shaw. And also, our government gave assistance to Iraq to make war on Iran.

    And now our government and the Israeli government is funding and otherwise assisting Kurdish unit’s attacks on the Iranian military.

    http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/para/pjak.htm

    It’s not hard to imagine why the Iranians would want our government out of their neighborhood.

  64. How come you don’t mention the fact that in mid-Jan Iran’s finance minister announced that the long waited Iranian Oil Bourse was set to open 11/2.
    The IOB was planned to offer oil and other carbon hydrates in non-US dollars, which is considered bad for USD strength.
    Given that the Fed Reserve hasn’t done anything to protect the dollar strength except applying smoke and mirrors, this is exactly the kind of action one would expect from the neo-cons.

    Perhaps coinsidental, but Iraq got invaded 6 months after it decided to sell its oil in Euros.

    And don’t give me the nonsense that a weak USD is good for US. As commodities and energies are priced in USD, this is hugely inflationary and will further drive away foreign investors.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.