From the “What the Hell?” File

Apparently 36% of Americans now believe our government was involved in 9/11. However, I think a cogent point about this greater-than-average tinfoil brigade comes out in the article:

University of Florida law professor Mark Fenster, author of the book “Conspiracy Theories: Secrecy and Power in American Culture,” said the poll’s findings reflect public anger at the unpopular Iraq war, realization that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction and growing doubts of the veracity of the Bush administration.

“What has amazed me is not that there are conspiracy theories, but that they didn’t seem to be getting any purchase among the American public until the last year or so,” Fenster said. “Although the Iraq war was not directly related to the 9/11 attacks, people are now looking back at 9/11 with much more skepticism than they used to.”

In other words, people are now distrustful enough about the reasons we went to war in Iraq that their suspicion and paranoia is spilling over backward into 9/11. Swell.

I’m comfortably within the 64% of Americans who do not believe our government thought it would be sneaky and let a bunch of Osama’s boys give us an excuse to pound on Saddam. I strongly suspect our government could have done more to prevent the attacks, but “could have done more to prevent attacks” exists in an far different mindspace than “actively encouraged the attacks.” I also don’t suspect it’s useful to have one person out of three think the government was involved in 9/11; all that conspiracy crap keeps people occupied with trivia as opposed to looking at actual problems.

So if you’re one of the 36%, please pull your head out of your ass and try to focus on some of our nation’s genuine problems. I realize it’s nice to have an X-Files moment with dark plots and shady government conspiracies that go all the way to the top, but back here in the real world, you’ll be more useful if you take a step back from that particular ledge. I’m just saying.

77 thoughts on “From the “What the Hell?” File

  1. Yeah, but the 36% are the people who either responded “very likely” or “somewhat likely” to the statement. To me, “somewhat likely” is more like saying, “I’m not really sure, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s true.” I would think that that the “very likely” crowd is smaller, and that the majority of the 36% fall into the saner of the two categories.

  2. But my ass is so warm and cozy…besides, the view is so much better there. In my ass, I am king of all I can see. Moreover, a kingdom of crap is so much more appealing to me then a democracy of hypocrites.

    So I will keep my head firmly planted as close to my duodenum as possible. I don’t have to share, the rent is free, and the only asshole I have to deal with on a personal basis is thoroughly plugged…by my own neck. You can keep your rational reality and open-eyed take on the world. I prefer to see only what I want to, and right now NASCAR is being shown on the big projector near my swollen prostate.

  3. I will say it again: never chalk up to evil conspiracy what can instead be attributed to stupidity and negligence. The current administration was unable to cover up the ‘outing’ of a CIA operative….do you honestly think that they could hide the details of one of America’s most scrutinized events? I mean, seriously, how many people even know who Scooter Libby outed? Not nearly so many, I think, as know about the scandal itself.

    The Bush Administration has shown repeatedly (particularly in the case of 9/11 and later Katrina) that they make cavalier, from-the-hip decisions, and when they guess wrong, bad things can happen. The same applies with respect to things EVERY administration has done, not just the Bush White House.

    As Scalzi has noted, the Bush Administration wants to protect America…they just aren’t very good at it.

  4. I’m very dubious of the idea that agents acting on behalf of the US Admin actively took part in the 9/11 attacks. But I’m only somewhat dubious of the idea that they intentionally let them happen, and not at all dubious of the idea that the Admin unintentionally let them happen.

    Whatever the reality, they were clearly prepared to take political advantage of the attacks. That implies that they suspected something more-or-less like 9/11 would happen, but it’s not like that was a big surprise to anyone paying attention to world events. In a pure Machiavellan sense, I have to admire their ability to take a massive failure like that and turn it to their own advantage.

    (I was horrified by the attacks, but not surprised. The first coherent thought that I had when I learned what was happening was, “So that’s they decide to strike at us.”)

  5. From what I’ve observed by watching the tinfoil hat people discuss such matters, I think the main reason for the upswell in belief in a conspiracy may be linked to the pretty much doubling of the price of gas since last year. That, coupled with the oil industry’s profits having now exceeded the combined gross domestic product of all the countries in Africa and Latin America. The more money the oil companies (and Haliburton) make, the more believable it is for some people to think that the whole Bush family / Bin Laden family oil profits conspiracy exists.

    As to the Bush Administration’s failure to cover up the leak about Valerie Plame’s CIA career- why would they? They outed her to punish her husband’s failure to lie in order to prop up the Iraq war.

    I guess the upswing in belief in a conspiracy only goes to show how successful President “Uniter not Divider” still hasn’t lived up to his assertion that he could bring together the American people, unless it’s to unite them against his administration.

  6. There is a new vanity fair article that covers the NORAD tapes from 9/11 and the utter confusion that seemed to rule the day. I think it gives the impression that incompetence rather than malice was at work.

    That said, I would tend to suppose that when most people think “the government was involved in 9/11″ what they are really meaning is ” the government was criminally negligent and barely able to respond effectively”.

    I’m not convinced that the government was involved in 9/11, but you have to admit there are more than a few things about that day that are head scratchers.

    Between that, and the lack of any real investigation, Sky high gas prices, and other facts, there is a lot of fertile ground for the “grassy knoll” types.

    D.J.

  7. 36%, that’s it? Everyone knows that the aliens, with the gov’t’s assistance allowed the planes flown by the terrorists to launch missiles into the Pentagon and WTC. Or am i confusing my theories? Maybe it is easier to understand i just combine them all in my head so the voices stop!!!

  8. Here is the question and exact results:

    There are also accusations being made following the 9/11 terrorist attack. One of these is:
    People in the federal government either assisted in the 9/11 attacks or took no action to stop the attacks because they wanted to United States to go to war in the Middle East.*

    Very likely 16%
    Somewhat likely 20%
    Not likely 59%
    Don’t know 5%

    *This question had 992 respondents; it was part of a survey posted on newsPolls.org on July 6, 2006.

  9. At most I wouldn’t be surprised if people at the Pentagon and the Vice President’s office were expecting an Al Qaeda attack, and did nothing to stop it, in order to use it politically and as a casus belli against Iraq (in order to put the PNAC policies in action) but it turned out to be vastly worse than they expected.

    One thing the Cheney/Rumsfeld axis does well is underestimating the enemy.

    I’d be very surprised if Rummy and Cheney hadn’t received the same warning memos and briefings that Condi and Bush received.

  10. I think the Bushocracy got caught with their pants down and then decided to use the situation to their best advantage, i.e. screw the USA further. It was the best thing for this administration. Without it, I doubt it would have lasted more that 2 years.

    And as for a coverup, think Watergate, Plamegate and Iran Contra. If there was something to coverup, some Pulitzer-horny journalist would love that one for themselves and stop at nothing to git it!

  11. As odd and contrary as it sounds, I think GWB most identifies himself with 36% of people who believe in the conspiracy…

  12. Well, I see that number as directly caused by the left wing, both media and politicians, doing their absolute best to work any chinck they can find into a scandal of Clintonian proportions.

    I for one am physically tired just watching the lengths they go to to damage this administration (Over and above any damage it does itself), and I am only amazed that the weak minded in America is not more highly represented in that number.

    One need only turn on any news program, other than fox news, and one can see that Bush kills nuns for fun, eats babies for breakfast and is personally out stealing Social Security checks from millions of seniors.

    What else could one expect, if one powerful group sets out to obliterate, something has to fill that vacuum. Bang the drum long and hard enough, who cares the validity and people will come to beleive it.

    Sad, that.

  13. I don’t understand Byron, you seem to doubt the Jihadists when they state that their caliphate will be restored, and then you ridicule Bush, when he takes those people at their word. What would you have him do?

  14. Well, the Joint Chiefs Of Staff did recommend bombing Atlanta in order to have an excuse to bomb Cuba, back in the day. Kennedy said ‘uh, no’.

  15. WizarDru has it right. He is restating Darwin’s Blade – Dan Simmons corollary to Occam’s Razor. Something like: “The simplest answer is usually the right one, and that answer is usually stupidity.”

    I have worked for enough large organizations (military and civilian) to know that most are barely functional and absolutely cannot keep big secrets. 9/11 conspiracy theories, like most others, don’t pass the believability test.

  16. *This question had 992 respondents; it was part of a survey posted on newsPolls.org on July 6, 2006.

    Not exactly a random sample. I wouldn’t pay the results much heed.

    I realize it’s nice to have an X-Files moment with dark plots and shady government conspiracies that go all the way to the top, but back here in the real world, you’ll be more useful if you take a step back from that particular ledge.

    With the Plame affair, not to mention the campaign of lies leading up to the war in Iraq, it’s reasonable to suspect the administration of dark plots. But elaborate conspiracies don’t seem to be their style; these are not sophisticated people. It’s not as if Cheney’s ties to Halliburton are secret. Yeah, 9/11 being an inside job is just stupid. There may be some pretty evil people in the administration, but it’s not as if “10-11: evil” is on Dick Cheney’s todo list. 9/11 just doesn’t fit with their motivations.

  17. The poll, and this thread, just reaffirms to me the fact that the stupid evolution “debate” is not the only area where people refuse to let facts or critical thinking get in the way of belief.

    I mean Jerome Armstrong’s MyDD started life predicting the stock market, then political elections, by means of Astrology for goodness sake. And he’s one of the heavy hitters of the “net roots” movement.

    I no longer care about Left and Right. Can we just have some rationality? We don’t have to agree on the solutions, but it would be great if we could at least consider solutions based on actual facts.

  18. As I see it, this is a poorly designed survey producing biased results. The question asked, “People in the federal government either assisted in the 9/11 attacks or took no action to stop the attacks because they wanted to United States to go to war in the Middle East.” is really positing two entirely different situations.

    Believing the government assisted in the 9/11 attacks, an insanely criminal act, is entirely different from believing the government may have had some advance warning and, through ignorance (as with Pearl Harbour, by way of a weak analogy) or active malice, did nothing to prevent it.

  19. sxKitten

    Believing the government assisted in the 9/11 attacks, an insanely criminal act, is entirely different from believing the government may have had some advance warning and, through ignorance (as with Pearl Harbour, by way of a weak analogy) or active malice, did nothing to prevent it.

    I agree with you in general, but this particular question doesn’t seem to me to leave room for the “through ignorance” theory and only seems to allow for direct or indirect malice.

    But, like when they ask people what is number 1 on their political agenda and it comes out “Iraq” I have to wonder why they don’t probe more deeply into that.

    Well, I know time and money is the answer, but just telling me that “Iraq” is the number 1 thing on the mind of voters tells me very little. I could imagine that people both concerned that we will pull out prematurely and people concerned that we won’t would both answer the very same way.

    But is one more dominant that the other?

    It’d be interesting to know.

  20. Disclaimer: I do not believe our government was involved in or had prior knowledge of the attacks on September 11th (other than the PDB that stated Osama bin Laden was determined to attack the U.S.)

    That said, it seems the most damning evidence is the fact that Lt. Gen. Mahmud Ahmad of Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) agency had $100,000 wired to Mohammed Atta just before the attack. The ISI, with CIA backing, helped the Taliban come to power in Afghanistan. On the morning of September 11th, Ahmad was having breakfast with Sen. Bob Graham, chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

    All of which means… not a damn thing.

  21. Yes, that’s a very badly worded question. It practically requires a “very likely” or “somewhat likely” answer from anyone familiar with Condoleeza Rice’s “Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States” testimony.

  22. CoolBlue:

    “Can we just have some rationality? We don’t have to agree on the solutions, but it would be great if we could at least consider solutions based on actual facts.”

    Glenn Greenwald had an interesting post on this subject (http://glenngreenwald.blogspot.com/2006/08/competing-realities.html), basically positing that a lot of the inability to have a reasoned debate is because the Left and Right can’t agree on basic facts. If you’re not arguing over a fact, the debate is by definition meaningless. It’s decidedly partisan, but worth reading anyway…

  23. WizarDru: I will say it again: never chalk up to evil conspiracy what can instead be attributed to stupidity and negligence.

    Absolutely right, particularly in light of this administration’s ability to take stupidity and negligence to a whole new level.

  24. WizarDru’s comments are spot on. I would add that, given the civil service mentality of the federal government, i don’t think any of them would risk their pension for something like this. Just not happening.

  25. Er, Bill? Who are you talking to? I was addressing the reasons for “why people think that the U.S. government had an active hand in crashing planes into its own buildings.”

  26. Uh, James, “Loose Change” has been thoroughly debunked.

    I’m not surprised. I watched it all just now and I have to say I was not impressed. To be sure, I was left me with a lot of questions about 9/11, but there were a few spots where I could tell it was crap. Made me suspect the whole thing was crap even if I did not have the expertise/knowledge to say why.
    For instance, the high-speed stall bit (of flight 77) was particularly risable. I looked it up and 530 miles per hour is the _cruising_ speed of a 737. Merely going at that speed is not going to cause it to stall. As for high-G manouvers, the film isn’t actually clear about how fast the plane when through 330 degrees, but assuming it was in the 2 1/2 minutes they were talking about that’s about 1 G, requiring the wings to generate about 1.4 G worth of lift. That’s pretty exciting I admit, but I doubt that it would cause a stall at those speeds. (A stall occurs when the angle of attack of a wing is too great and the airflow over it detaches. The faster a wing is moving through the air the less angle of attack it needs to generate any given amount of lift. But even if there is no stall, a high angle of attack will generate a lot of drag. For this reason the angle of attack of a jetliner wing is probably quite low in cruising (lift=1 G) flight.)
    As for flight 93 being one of two planes to disappear leaving little more than some bits of metal and a scar on the landscape, all one has to be is a frequent watcher of TLC/Discover Channels disaster shows to know that is bollocks.
    Also quite risable was the bit on the seismometer, although one has to know a bit of physics to know why. The gravitation potential energy of the WTC was *immense*. About 10^12 Joules.[1] 80 000 pounds of Amonium Nitrate / Fuel explosive only has an energy content of about 1.4 * 10^8 Joules.[2] It’s … um … not surprising that the WTC collapses would show up on the seismometer.
    [1] http://www.public-action.com/911/jmcm/sciam/ Calculate it yourself. I just did and got the same answer. It’s probably a *little* high, as I assumed the mass was uniformly distributed through the height of the building, but it’s definitely in the ballpark.
    [2] 36,000 kg of ANSO * 3.9 MJ /kg energy content (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Energies_per_unit_mass) = 1.4 * 10^8

    Also crap was the discussion of the melting point of steel. When I saw the collapse for the first time, my first thought was that the fire had warmed and softened the structural steel, making it *buckle* and collapse. (Particularly with the unusual loads caused by a great big hole in the side of the building). And in fact the steel that was in the buildings looses most of its strength well before it melts. The steel melting is a complete stawman; that is not the official story, and no-one with any sense would think that was the cause of the collapse. (In fact, it may be that I was wrong about the mechanism of the collapse. The buckling of the columns may have had more to do with what the floor trusses cross-bracing them were doing. But point is, the film is debunking an argument that no-one with any sense takes seriously in the first place.)

    Anywho, that’s just what I noticed…

    The little puffs of debris out of the WTC during the collapse were interesting, but I expect that was just air being blown through stairwells and plenums and then blowing out windows. The tops of the buildings were displacing a lot of air very fast.

  27. As long as the 36% keep thinking it’s the government’s doing and not the Jews, I’m happy.

  28. LOL. Considering so many still believe Bush lied about WMDs or that Joe Wilson didn’t regarding uranium in Niger it’s no surprise to me so many kooks are out there. Doesn’t it strike yall as funny that the number of tinfoilers out there seem to correspond to the number of Democrats in the country?

  29. Popular Mechanics has done a thorough and comprehensive debunking of nearly all the wacko conspiracy theories about 911 here.

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/defense/1227842.html?page=4&c=y

    I’ve spoken to these pathetic examples of human debris at 14th Street, Union Square in New York City where they sometimes congregate and they also believe in the Kennedy assassination plots and probably Roswell (although I wasn’t able to get them to publicly admit that one).

  30. I’m surprised the figure isn’t higher than 36%. This administration has been lying to us about many things since the day they took office. If our own government is unable or unwilling to give us the complete truth of what happened on that terrible day, then don’t be surprised if people attempt to fill in the blanks. And there are many blanks that need to be filled about that day.

  31. “Doesn’t it strike yall as funny that the number of tinfoilers out there seem to correspond to the number of Democrats in the country?”
    Actually, the number is closer to those who support Bush (on a good day).
    Enough independent verification has shown that the only threat Saddam posed was to the Bush family honor.
    The sad truth is that we as a nation are saddled with an incurious frat-boy princeling who substituted his substance-abuse crutch with a literalist biblical worldview, making him the frighteningly perfect mirror to Iran’s Ahmadinejad. My previous comments were intentionally ad hominem. There was a time when political discourse in America recognized that such differences as “liberal and conservative” or “Democrat and Republican” were points on a continuum, and that compatriots could differ in their expression of patriotism. A knee-jerk belittling and dehumanizing of 1/2 of Americans (from the right or left) is puerile and degrades political dialogue. Perhaps Ann Coulter’s blog is a more suitable place for such comments.

  32. Bill Marcy,

    I for one am physically tired just watching the lengths they go to to damage this administration (Over and above any damage it does itself), and I am only amazed that the weak minded in America is not more highly represented in that number.

    No doubt. Denial is hard work. I imagine it has been getting very hard for you lately, as more and more people recognize the truth.

    Thank goodness you are not weak minded.

  33. Liberal Twit

    Doesn’t it strike yall as funny that the number of tinfoilers out there seem to correspond to the number of Democrats in the country?

    I ‘spose it depends on what question you ask. For instance, if you ask the question “Do you believe there is a conspiracy by homosexuals to destroy the nuclear family” I suspect the number who respond “yes” will not reflect many who call themselves Democrats. And what’s worse is that there are those who would respond “yes”.

    The susecptibility to being a “tinfoiler” knows no allegience to political party.

  34. Bill Marcy writes: ” and then you ridicule Bush, when he takes those people at their word.”

    Really?

    It doesn’t seem that way to me. He’s been more serious about tax cuts than about terrorism. He launched a war against Iraq that has brought a new Caliphate within reach of the terrorists. Iraq is now an unstable failed state in civil war, much like Afghanistan was when Al Qaeda and the Taliban took it over. Guess were the Caliphate was based? Baghdad. George W. Bush removed the single greatest obstacle to the reestablishment of the Caliphate.

    Simply put, Bush isn’t all that committed to defeating terrorism. His actions simply have not been those of someone committed to defeating anything but our own military.

  35. Jon H:

    “Bush isn’t all that committed to defeating terrorism.”

    I disagree. I think he is. He’s just bad at it.

  36. John Scalzi writes: “I disagree. I think he is. He’s just bad at it.”

    Six of one, half dozen the other.

    Bush has shown about as much commitment as he has to most of the things in his life. College. National Guard service. His oil ventures. Adulthood. Christianity.

    Perhaps he just doesn’t understand what actual commitment is. (Granted, he seems committed to his wife, but that could also be due to laziness as much as anything. Having an affair is hard work.)

    But, yes, in practice the result of this lack of commitment has been that he does most everything badly – at least, anything that requires an extended effort and continued focus. (He may well be a good campaigner, but that’s probably because it’s essentially a series of stage-managed brief interactions and events, with someone else guiding things over longer time scales – days, weeks, month.)

  37. Wow. Jon. You know a lot about Bush.

    I’d just like to point out that Bob Woodward, who actually not only met the man but was given access to his administration in the months following 9/11 has a different assessment. And you can read about it in his book Bush At War.

    Just another datapoint.

  38. CoolBlue writes: “I’d just like to point out that Bob Woodward, who actually not only met the man but was given access to his administration in the months following 9/11 has a different assessment. And you can read about it in his book Bush At War.”

    Bob Woodward sucks up for access so he can cash in on his books.

  39. From where I stand it looks to me like Bush had an epiphany on 9/11 and finally understood what his purpose in life was. He’d been more or less doping along before then living a pretty good, rich life.

    Finally he knew why he was put here on this earth.

    Unfortunately he just doesn’t have what it takes to get the job done and he can’t even see that the job is impossible.

    But, hey, what do I know? I’m just another uninformed idiot posting on the internet.

  40. “Actually, the number is closer to those who support Bush”

    Bush’s approval ratings range between 37 to 42 percent for those interested. The best source is Ramussen.com

    “Enough independent verification has shown that the only threat Saddam posed was to the Bush family honor.”

    Right 15 plus resolutions, invading Iran, Kuwait, killing hundreds of thousands of his own people proves he’s only a threat to the Bush co. family. Interesting….a convenient fiction. Inviting Zawahiri to Baghdad in 1998 and giving safe haven to Zarqawi in 2002 makes the case Saddam wasn’t in contact with Al-Qaida. And wait, locating 500 gas shells also proves Saddam was innocent. Oh okay. ;)

    “The sad truth is that we as a nation are saddled with an incurious frat-boy princeling who substituted his substance-abuse crutch with a literalist biblical worldview, making him the frighteningly perfect mirror to Iran’s Ahmadinejad. My previous comments were intentionally ad hominem….”

    I don’t recall Bush calling for the End of Times as Mr. I’m an nut jo….Ahmedinejad but it’s must be another invented story only available to the tinfoil crowd.

    “I ‘spose it depends on what question you ask. For instance, if you ask the question “Do you believe there is a conspiracy by homosexuals to destroy the nuclear family” I suspect the number who respond “yes” will not reflect many who call themselves Democrats. And what’s worse is that there are those who would respond “yes”.”

    Being that no one in serious authority in the Republican party has advocated such liberal projections, I don’t see the equivalence. However Howard Dean did advance the theories of the tinfoil hats (although he tries to deny believing it)

  41. Coolblue,
    Trying the ole you never met him so you don’t know nuttin bout nuttin angle? That’s ignorant even for you. So Woodward’s met the schrub so noone elses opinions about the guy could possibly be remotely correct? Aren’t there others that have met him, but are critical of him? You really lost me there.

  42. darren

    So Woodward’s met the schrub so noone elses opinions about the guy could possibly be remotely correct?

    Never said that.

    I said that Woodward’s observations were another datapoint for people seeking data. Not everyone is interested in data, but for those who are.

    I also implied that Woodward’s observations held more weight than Jon H’s since Woodward had actually met the guy and more, had the opportunity to see him at work with his Administration.

    Aren’t there others that have met him, but are critical of him?

    Yes there are. But none that I know of that believes, as Jon H does that “he just doesn’t understand what actual commitment is.”

    And my only point, which is consistent with my comments in this thread, is that people should make the effort to get actual facts before they form an opinion.

    It’s scientific!

    It also makes you less susceptible to tinfoilhattery.

    And asshattery for that matter.

  43. Coolblue
    “people should make the effort to get actual facts before they form an opinion.”

    I’d say the facts that I’ve seen lead me to just about the same place that they led Jon H. Schrub has trouble with the whole finishing what he starts thing, and Bob Woodward spent lots of time on his knees in order to be one of those “Washington Insiders” that bush feined so much disdain for in both of his campaigns.

  44. CoolBlue writes: “I also implied that Woodward’s observations held more weight than Jon H’s since Woodward had actually met the guy and more, had the opportunity to see him at work with his Administration.”

    Such opportunities don’t come free, you know. The Bush administration isn’t known for transparency and cooperation with the press. This administration is known for wanting everything stage managed and scripted.

    They aren’t about to give Woodward that kind of access unless they are certain he isn’t going to write anything that would hurt them.

    “Yes there are. But none that I know of that believes, as Jon H does that “he just doesn’t understand what actual commitment is.”

    I’m wondering what in his history suggests to you that he has ever been meaningfully committed to any endeavor that required actual effort on his part. His lackluster college performance? (The man has been through Yale and Harvard Business, yet seems intellectually indistinguishable from a high-school drop out.) His lackluster and mysterious National Guard service? His failed oil companies?

    As I mention above, his success in campaigning can probably be attributed to the fact that the long-term commitment and effort are handled by others, and Bush himself just had to exert himself in short, shallow encounters with voters at campaign events, kissing babies and giving speeches, with the most work being a few hours of preparation for debates.

  45. Nevermind that the “official” 9-11 story is, itself, nothing more than a conspiracy theory. In John Scalzi’s world, if you mindlessly accept the conspiracy theory Bush is selling, then you’re a rational human being like him. But if you question this authority (an authority which has consistently proven itself to be fundamentally dishonest), then you’ve got your head up your ass. Got it.

  46. “Nevermind that the “official” 9-11 story is, itself, nothing more than a conspiracy theory. In John Scalzi’s world, if you mindlessly accept the conspiracy theory Bush is selling, then you’re a rational human being like him. But if you question this authority (an authority which has consistently proven itself to be fundamentally dishonest), then you’ve got your head up your ass. Got it.”

    Liberals still have difficulty inventing a provable lie committed by this administration about Iraq and the war on terror. It’s easy to say without offering real proof that Bush Co. lied or is dishonest or is not transparent enough (meaning they don’t like to appease the demands of the liberal press). It’s a canard since Hillary has tighter control over her media relations than anybody else and yet she’s seemingly given passes with her strange and inconsistent behavior. It’s easy to fall prey to the fantasy that Muslims weren’t responsible for the 911 attacks (especially if your a kook leftist or Muslim yourself). And it’s easy to fooled into pessimism and despair when all the mainstream sources are negative about Bush, Iraq and the rest of the War on Terror. When the hordes of sheep are told what to think by their liberal icons in the media and Hollywood, it’s good to ask who’s head is in who’s rectum?

  47. kali yuga:

    Nevermind that the “official” 9-11 story is, itself, nothing more than a conspiracy theory.

    Yes, it is a conspiracy theory. But it is an on-the-face plausible conspiracy theory (not to mention consistent), and most conspiracy theories can’t even clear that hurdle. To be honest, I haven’t really examined the available evidence, but people I respect all agree with the same basic story.
    Now there are some details of the story I don’t buy. For instance I don’t take it as given that OBL was “in” on the conspiracy. The people I respect describe al-Quaeda as having a rather “loose” structure rather than a strict hierarchy, and not every group now falling under the banner of “al-Quaeda” will necessarily even have a formal connection to the parent organization. This makes sense for a terrorist organization, and will make them impossible to defeat. (Impede certainly, but not defeat).
    Talk of Al-Quaeda winning is particularly stupid. They’re not going to win; their goals are simply not realistic. That doesn’t mean that they’re not dangerous, just that the establishment of a primitive theocratic empire is not the danger.

    But if you question this authority (an authority which has consistently proven itself to be fundamentally dishonest), then you’ve got your head up your ass.

    Questioning Bush & Co. is one thing. Asserting that 9/11 was an “inside job” is asinine. There’s an awful lot of middle ground between mindlessly accepting what Bush is selling, and moronically accepting unadulterated kookery. Unfortunately, the survey itself is not very useful for judging the level of kookery of the respondents.
    “Loose Change” is particularly depressing. It doesn’t take a lot of critical thinking to notice an incongruity when the voiceover asks “Why is there absolutely no trace of Flight 77?”, and the video then proceeds to show bits and pieces of an aircraft. In the words of Patrick Nielsen-Hayden, “I now have stupid all over me.”

  48. I’m not asserting anything. What I do know is this: the first suspect in a crime should always be the person who most benefits from the crime. That’s Criminal Investigation 101. No one has benefited more from Sept. 11 than Bush and the cronies who surround him. This is undeniable. Yet rather than having to answer for at best negligence and at worst complicity, Bush has instead been given a free pass at every turn, and granted nearly dictatorial powers.

    All of the conspiracy theories surrounding 9-11– and that’s all any of them are at this point –have enormous questions that need to be seriously investigated and answered. As it is, none of the questions have even been asked, let alone been answered, so characterizing people who are open to asking the hard questions, no matter where they might lead, as kooks with their heads up their asses– that is the truly “assinine” mindset here.

  49. ” No one has benefited more from Sept. 11 than Bush and the cronies who surround him. This is undeniable.”

    Oh no?

    Bush has now achieved a very difficult part of bin Laden’s scheme for him. Bin Laden wants to reestablish the Caliphate. The capitol of the Caliphate was Baghdad. OBL would have had to topple Saddam in order to take over Iraq. Bush did it for him.

    OBL has thus benefited to the tune of 2500 American lives, and hundreds of billions of dollars of US taxpayers’ money, spent so as to further OBL’s most ambitious desire.

    The profits made by the GOP are piddling by comparison.

  50. If Bush and Co. benefited most from 911 than you folks have a funny way of proving it. Bush’s deflated poll numbers and GOP woes in Congress are all evidence that that war helped him and his ‘cronies’. Riiiiiggghht. lol

  51. Tell you what, take a look at where Bush was politically on Sept. 10, 2001 and then where he was politically on Sept. 12, 2001. Then come back and tell me he didn’t benefit from Sept. 11.

    And while you’re at it, you might ask yourself where that “hundreds of billions of dollars of US taxpayers’ money” went. It sure as hell wasn’t Osama Bin Laden’s pocket.

  52. kall yuga has got you there twit. Squandering everything you gained when you benefitted from a particular situation because you’re a freaking moron, is not the same as not having benefitted in the first place. It’s just another point of fact that the schrub had as much comittment to nurturing the world wide goodwill and national unification that 9-11 brought us as he has to everything else he puts his mind to. Which is to say, doughnut.

  53. It it debateable how much Al Quaeda has actually benefited from 9/11. The decidedly secular government of Saddam[1] has been overthrown, yes, but Afghanistan also fell. And while the future of both countries is decidedly uncertain, a taliban-style government (as favoured by Al Quaeda) looks quite unlikely for either. Taliban-style religious nutjobs are just not all that popular in the Muslim world. (Unfortunately, some other styles of religious nutjobs are).
    [1] Yes really. Sure Saddam acquired some religious trappings in the later years of his reign, but in substance his administration was decidedly secular.
    However, when it comes to motivation, looking at the actual results isn’t necessarily the best policy. Scuttlebutt I heard was that Al Quaeda was hoping to provoke ‘merika (and the west in general) into attacking the Muslim world and drive Muslims into the arms of the extreme theocrats. (Their previous practice of terrorizing secular governments in Muslim countries wasn’t going over too well. Turns out killing fellow countrymen is not the way to get people to like you.) Realistic or not, that’s their motivation. More than that, these people had a history of attacking the west before 9/11. So there is good reason to suspect them of being behind 9/11.
    As for Bush and his cronies, they did benefit from 9/11. They won an election despite sagging poll numbers prior to that attack. And the hawks particularly benefited, gaining influence with Bush, and being able to go on their foolish adventure in Iraq. To be sure their basic incompetence is now catching up with them, as the American public finally clues in. But a war in Iraq is what many of the neocons were after all along. So yes, kali yuga is right that they did have motivation for something like 9/11 to happen. Interestingly Bush seems to be an exception; as I recall he was uninterested in foreign adventures prior to 9/11. Unfortunately, He’s now changed his mind, but for him specifically I don’t think the motivation was there prior to 9/11.
    But I think it is a big mistake of thinking of this administration in “bad guy” terms. (Thinking of anyone as a “bad guy” is almost always a mistake; there are a few sadistic psychopaths among us, but most people have quite different motivations). I feel a bit odd saying this, as with my autistic tendencies I would not expect to have insight into people, but I think the political leaders and CEOs of today are the “modern major generals” of our time. What I see in their personalities (other than a sense of entitlement) is a lack of feeling responsible for the consequences of their actions. They can make decisions that result in thousands of deaths without feeling guilty; it’s not “their fault”. To be sure psychopaths are good at not feeling guilty, but for the most part I don’t think these people are psychopaths; although they can do great evil with their indifference and incompetence, I don’t think they’re evil as we usually conceive of evil. Unfortunately, I don’t have any evidence for this theory off-hand.
    This poses a problem for theories of Bush and cronies being behind 9/11. (The bigger problem is all the evidence pointing to someone else, but whatever). Because I don’t think their moral stupidity extends to ordering Americans to kill other Americans. Giving orders that would result in Americans killing Americans yes, but the link between ordering people to fly planes into buildings and innocent (Americans) dying I think is a bit to clear for their stunted moralities to ignore. Now perhaps a couple of the neocons are crazy enough to go along with such a thing, but it would take more than a couple to pull off 9/11.
    Now intentionally letting 9/11 happen is a bit different; there the link between actions and consequences is not quite as blindingly obvious. So I don’t think Bearpaw is out of line. But so far the evidence I’ve seen for such a thing is pretty pathetic; I’m sceptical.
    Ultimately though one should look at the evidence, and exercise some critical thinking. (One would think the latter would be obvious, but perhaps not). And while I have not really looked at the evidence of Al-Quaeda’s guilt (I had no real reason to doubt the official story), I have done a bit of googling since seeing “Loose Change”. Which leads me to one of kali yuga’s comments:

    All of the conspiracy theories surrounding 9-11– and that’s all any of them are at this point –have enormous questions that need to be seriously investigated and answered. As it is, none of the questions have even been asked, let alone been answered …

    A little googling will show that the last statement is flat wrong. A great many questions have been asked. Quite a number of them have been seriously investigated; “Why did the two towers collapse?” being a case in point. One might quibble with the answer, but I defy you to tell me that http://wtc.nist.gov/pubs/Media_Public_Briefing_040505_final.pdf is not the result of a serious investigation.
    However, some of the questions posed by the various conspiracy theories don’t require much investigation. Quite a number require only elementary journalism, or fairly simple physics knowledge to answer them. “Loose Change” in particular does not deserve to be considered seriously. As Dean noted, it has been thoroughly debunked, but if Dylan Avery can’t be bothered to get his facts straight, why should anyone else bother to listen to him? There are still actual journalists, practicing actual journalism around.

  54. There has been no serious attempt to solve the crime of 9-11. The 19 Al Qaeda members with box cutters conspiracy theory has been accepted as fact since day one, even though, as late as June of 2006, the FBI has admitted, “The FBI has no hard evidence connecting Osama Bin Laden to 9/11.” Every investigation has operated off of the premise that the results of the investigation must ultimately support the official theory. The 9-11 Commission exemplifies this perfectly. In order to get funding, the Bush Administration had to be explicitly assured that the commission was not there to “place blame.” Even then, Bush and Cheney agreed to testify only if they could do so together, not under oath, and with the guarantee that their testimony would be kept from the public. Nothing smelly here . . .

    Wade’s incoherent ramblings about Bush not being a “bad guy” really capture the mindset of people who automatically reject the notion of Bush as a suspect in all of this. For all their bluster about “critical thinking,” the meat of their argument ultimately comes down to, “Bush might be a bad guy, but he can’t be THAT bad of a guy, because I don’t want him to be . . .”

  55. kali yuga

    …none of the [9/11 conspiracy theory] questions have even been asked, let alone been answered…

    Then Andrew Wade replied with some very specific cites about how the questions have been addressed, and you replied:

    Wade’s incoherent ramblings about Bush not being a “bad guy” really capture the mindset of people who automatically reject the notion of Bush as a suspect in all of this. For all their bluster about “critical thinking,” the meat of their argument ultimately comes down to, “Bush might be a bad guy, but he can’t be THAT bad of a guy, because I don’t want him to be …”

    A little more evidence or on-point argument, and a lot less ad hominem attacks would go a long ways towards making your point.

    Bush & Co. have been secretive and incompetent. That’d explain most of your claims. (I.e. Why didn’t Bush & Cheney want to testify? Maybe to hide their screwups?) If you’ve got more to offer that hasn’t been addressed, please do. If all you’ve got is calling those who disagree with you “incoherent” and “asinine” without addressing their points, please don’t.

  56. I’ve been very specific, my friend.

    Oh, and you might want to scroll up a bit and tell me whether these are considered ad hominem attacks in your book:

    “So if you’re one of the 36%, please pull your head out of your ass.”

    “Asserting that 9/11 was an ‘inside job’ is asinine.”

    Please read the entire thread (or at least the initial post) before jumping in and announcing that you’re an idiot. And feel free to file that under “ad hominem” if you like.

  57. Wade’s incoherent ramblings about Bush not being a “bad guy” really capture the mindset of people who automatically reject the notion of Bush as a suspect in all of this. For all their bluster about “critical thinking,” the meat of their argument ultimately comes down to, “Bush might be a bad guy, but he can’t be THAT bad of a guy, because I don’t want him to be . . .”

    Be that as it may, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that I don’t think that Bush is “THAT bad of a guy”, (or more precisely that he’s not a psychopath), but I’m not saying that he can’t be. I’m not a Bush expert; hell I can barely stand to hear the man speak. Incidentally I don’t think Al-Quaeda are psychopaths either; warped and perverse though it may be they do seem to be operating under a moral system.
    And my disagreement is not so much with Bush being a suspect as with the idea of an “inside job”. I suppose it’s possible that Bush or someone else in the administration approached Al Quaeda (or whoever did this) with the idea of the attack. (I’m extremely sceptical though.) But the idea that Bush found enough collaborators inside the Administration to pull 9/11 off without anyone squealing is stupid. Conspiracies are very hard to keep secret at the best of times. The idea that the WTC was brought down by controlled demolition is even stupider. What the hell would the point of rigging the building with explosives be? And this is all before even getting to the evidence.
    As I said before, “ultimately though one should look at the evidence, and exercise some critical thinking.” And while I have not looked at the evidence of Al Quaeda’s guilt, I have looked at the so-called evidence of an “inside job”. And it’s _crap_. Not just “Loose change” either: I’ve been looking around and all I can find supporting the theory of an inside job is crap. Normally absence of proof is not the same thing as proof of absence. But in the case of an “inside job” one would expect evidence. As I said, conspiracies are very hard to keep secret. And this was not a small conspiracy. If 9/11 was an “inside job” the lack of evidence for it is quite remarkable. (In fact most of the 9/11 conspiracy theories involve enormous conspiracies. But that’s just because the promulgators are blithering idiots. Even an inside job need not have been an enormous conspiracy).

  58. “And while you’re at it, you might ask yourself where that “hundreds of billions of dollars of US taxpayers’ money” went. It sure as hell wasn’t Osama Bin Laden’s pocket.”

    He doesn’t need money. What he got is worth vastly more than mere petty lucre or a temporary bounce in the polls.

  59. “Tell you what, take a look at where Bush was politically on Sept. 10, 2001 and then where he was politically on Sept. 12, 2001. Then come back and tell me he didn’t benefit from Sept. 11.”

    Ah but that’s not the claim you were hawking. You made the claim that ‘no one benefited more than Bush co’ which is an extreme and impossible claim to verify. And if Bush and cronies were the ones to benefit most than it’s a laughably poor addition because nobody, except possibly Osama and Saddam, have taken a bigger hit from 911 than Bush co.

    “And while you’re at it, you might ask yourself where that “hundreds of billions of dollars of US taxpayers’ money” went. It sure as hell wasn’t Osama Bin Laden’s pocket.”

    Sure, but nobody wet themselves and feigned outrage about the billions devoted to dethroning Hitler or for the Marshall Plan. An investment in a stable arab ally in the Mideast may be worth a trillion or two. Should we continue the policy of appeasement from the 1990s? hmmm?

  60. “kall yuga has got you there twit. Squandering everything you gained when you benefitted from a particular situation because you’re a freaking moron, is not the same as not having benefitted in the first place.”

    Demolishing the liberal fantasy world of appeasement and oil for food would certainly feel like squandering to those enriching themselves off the blood of Iraqi civilians. But that’s hardly proving the idea that Bush co. ever benefitted most from 911. Now if the liberals were consistent here wouldn’t 911 have actually done more harm than good for Bush co since it disrupted the family relations with the House of Saud? Just asking…

  61. Liberal Twit writes: “Now if the liberals were consistent here wouldn’t 911 have actually done more harm than good for Bush co since it disrupted the family relations with the House of Saud? Just asking…”

    Um, since 9/11 Bush has been photographed taking a romantic walk holding hands with a Saud.

    They seem pretty close to me.

  62. “An investment in a stable arab ally in the Mideast may be worth a trillion or two. Should we continue the policy of appeasement from the 1990s? hmmm?”

    Too bad Bush did nothing to actually set up a stable Arab ally. He put in just enough troops to lose.

  63. “Um, since 9/11 Bush has been photographed taking a romantic walk holding hands with a Saud.

    They seem pretty close to me.”

    Yeah um, like that’s my point. This ‘closeness’ is only hurt by all the negative press the Sauds will receive when 15 out of 19 hijackers are revealed to be theirs. Not to mention the simple fact that much of the petrodollars received fund terrorist organizations. According to liberal doctrine, it would make no sense to permit an attack that embarrassed such apparently close buddies now does it? So, yeah it ‘proves’ a Bush benefit. Right.

  64. “Too bad Bush did nothing to actually set up a stable Arab ally. He put in just enough troops to lose.”

    Such naysaying was probably around during WWII when folks wanted to transform the whole of Germany into pastureland. The Germans and Japanese, according to the mob mentality then, were incapable of democracy. After three years, we’re all suddenly experts in war and history are we?

    If it’s only a question of troops than the recent growth of the Iraqi army should settle it in our favor. The death of the left’s darling Zarqawi doesn’t hurt either. lol

  65. And my disagreement is not so much with Bush being a suspect as with the idea of an “inside job”.

    I do have another disagreement as well, and that is I disagree with “thinking of this administration in “bad guy” terms.” Very much so. Unfortunately I never said why I think this is important. It’s important to accurately predict what the next damn-fool thing Bush is going to do is, and the best way to respond. The term “bad guy” has a whole bunch of associations that are extremely dubious outside of Hollywood schlock. What is sensible in an action movie and what is sensible out in the real world are two very different things; it’s important not to confuse the two.[1] That’s why I find it so distubing to find the language of action movies leaking out into political discourse.
    [1] I would recommend renting a movie called “Unbreakable”. The incongruities between the sensibilities of the superhero movie and those of the real world really stand out in it.
    The question of how to apportion blame for 9/11 and various other world events is of little interest to me. And I’ve little interest in either defending or condemning Bush. It is the question of the shape of world events to come that is of interest to me. And tragically the grody corner’s of Bush’s mind are relevant to answering that question.

  66. Historical Note: News of a conspiracy to blow up 9 planes broke on August 10, 2006.

    Assuming that the conspiracy on the news yesterday wasn’t made up whole cloth, it is an example of how large conspiracies are very difficult to keep secret. 9 planes! That’s nuts! Hell of a psychological impact if they could pull it off, but that’s very hard to do. There was a conspiracy to blow up buildings in Toronto about a year back that was also foiled before it came to fruition. “Al Quaeda” may eventually get lucky if they keep trying, but they’re not going to be very successful with the extravagant plots; they’re just too hard.

    A couple of notes, not really related to the discussion above:

    * The danger that “Al-Quaeda” and their copycats pose to any given citizen is very slight; they’re terrorism campaign is very spectacular, but in terms of causes of death it’s not in the same league as the top 10. I am heartened by the “man on the street” interviews in which people are recognizing this. I’m not saying that terror campaigns can’t be a significant danger to random citizens, but not this one folks.

    * Where the danger actually lies is that we will over-react in counter-productive ways. Yes, what Al Quaeda does is outrageous and evil; no question there. But our natural reactions to such outrage will let us down here.

    * That being said, given what is known a bit of panic is appropriate. But intelligent and sensible panic. I am heartened that that appears to be what is happening. I did not expect people to be so *sensible*. OTOH, I have been watching news from Commonwealth nations, I don’t know much about what is going on in the States.

    * In the fullness of time there really has to be a discussion over what security measures are appropriate at airports, and which just aren’t worth the benefits. For the short term, erring on the side of saving lives is a good thing.

    * This incident, if the reports are accurate, really highlights the importance of good intelligence. Maintaining good relations with the subcultures in which terrorists fester will help this. (Actually terrorists will be found in well neigh any subculture, but some are overrepresented. OTOH maintaining good relations between the various subcultures composing our culture is a very good thing quite apart from intelligence consideration.) In the Muslim communities in our countries our natural allies will be the parents. The vast majority of parents want to keep their kids well away from any terrorism crap. If that ever changes we are in deep trouble; but we are a long, long way from that point yet. I am all for keeping thing that way. Incidentally, equal protection of the law for Muslims is a good thing; just because they’re Muslims doesn’t mean that they don’t deserve the same protection as any other citizens from nut-jobs seeking to enforce a deeply sexist and unjust system of laws[1]. This is probably self-evident to those from the American tradition, but unfortunately that’s not as true here in Canada.

    [1] Which may or may not have much relation to Islam. I don’t have a horse in that particular race.

    * Having a large and active intelligence community is decidedly squicky. (I’ve heard stories of the Communist secret police from those who have had dealings.) But it is not without benefits either.

  67. Andrew,

    I couldn’t agree more.

    Remember the early post 9/11 reports that showed the kids in those religious ‘schools’ in the middle east where all they do is rock back and forth studying the Koran and (probably) learning to hate the west?

    That pissed me off. Our supposed allies, the Saudis, neglected their own poor children who got snapped up by these ‘religious’ schools for essentially terrorist training.

    At the time I thought we should put pressure on the Saudis to address their own poverty situation and give basic public education to their own kids. It never happened. Instead we invaded Iraq to bomb them into freedom.

  68. Remember the early post 9/11 reports that showed the kids in those religious ‘schools’ in the middle east where all they do is rock back and forth studying the Koran and (probably) learning to hate the west?

    Ah yes, the Madrassas. Don’t really know anything about them.

    That pissed me off.

    When it comes to the middle east there’s plenty to get angry at. It’s pretty depressing. However I have had some time to stew, and have then seen a gloriously stupid movie (Talladega Nights), so I have chilled out a bit.
    Speaking of things that piss me off, there would appear to be a lot of support for ‘martyrdom’ in Palestinian society. I hold out hope that most parents would not want their children to become martyrs; I would hate to think that they’re that sick. But the Palestinians are poisoning the minds of their children. As a result, no matter what they do, the Israelis are screwed and the Palestinians are screwed for at least another generation. Let’s not get ourselves into that situation.
    Whenever I talk about the middle east I always feel the need to include a few disclaimers. I do not want my words to support cheerleading for either the Palestinians or the Israelis; both have done and are doing some asinine things. Both the Israelis and Palestinians have good reason to be angry at the other. But are many things that both sides do that while understandable are not excusable.
    At the same time I don’t want my words used to condemn either side either. For all the stupidity and evil to be found in the middle east, both the Israelis and the Palestinians are none-the-less still people, and they still have a few level heads to be found among them. I’m more familiar with Israel than Palestine, and for all the stupid and asinine things they do, they also do a lot right as well; the politics is not simple.
    No, I don’t mean to draw any sort of moral equivalence between the two; the situations of Israel and Palestine, and the reactions of the people therein are very far from symmetrical. I don’t have any strong opinions about which side is worse, and I don’t much care either. I’m not sure such a comparison is even meaningful. (There is of course more to the middle east than just Israel and Palestine, but I’m not familiar how far beyond Palestine their particular issues go. Iran has its own issues, and there have been some very worrying developments. Iranian politics are also anything but simple, but they don’t attract Canadian and American idiots in quite the same way that the Israeli/Palestinian conflict does.)
    Unfortunately, I don’t really have any good ideas for what we can do to help matters. I would like for us to back our diplomats up by giving them bargaining chips they can use. But I fear that the gains they can win will none-the-less be small. Small, but perhaps important. If we could convince a few of the countries in the middle east to stop poisoning the minds of their children, that would be a very good thing. But the cheerleaders we can do without. As for the racists, they can FOAD. They make the cheerleaders look reasonable in comparison, and that’s not a good thing. (Not that that’s the only problem with the racists; not at all!)

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