Saturday, October 15, 2011

Anthony Shaffer Is A Con Artist

The guy that built his career telling lies about Able Danger is trying to make a comeback by telling lies about the Administration. He says that the Obama Administration invented the Iranians suspected of plotting to assassinate the ambassadors of Israel and Saudi Arabia.

This same guy, who claims to be up to his eyeballs in "FBI informants," also claimed he was a key founding member on a secret project where his entire real contribution seemed to be carrying documents to meetings.

It goes without saying that he invented his claims whole cloth: The FBI was a key part of the the case. Robert Woloszyn, an FBI agent, filed the actual charges on behalf of the FBI team that lead the investigation. Shaffer's claims about what his "insiders" are saying reads like the unfounded speculation of a tabloid magazine. "Sources close to the victim say..." "The craziest thing happened to a friend of a friend..."

His claims would also imply some very interesting things about the U.S.-Iran relationship. Given that most conspiracy theorists believe the Administration is looking for an excuse to go to war, wouldn't the Presidents of Iran and the U.S. need to be pretty damn buddy-buddy for Ahmadinejad to come along and offer up a few of his elite special forces for a foiled terror plot that would result in retaliation against his own government? Come on, guys. Conspiracies have an end-stage, but they have a beginning, too, and this one doesn't quite pan out.

Shaffer is a career con who hits his conspiracy theorist mark every time. Everyone who has ever worked in the public sector is evil, but every two-bit half-wit with a rumor to peddle gets vaulted to the front stage. Impeccable logic, guys. Impeccable.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Barbara Slavin Takes Iran's Word For It

Barbara Slavin has decided the Iranians arrested under suspicion of plotting to assassinate the Saudi and Israeli ambassadors to the US seem innocent. She's writing for one of my favorite new alternative media outlets, so imagine my disappointment that her bland and factless scribbling made its front page.

To begin with the obvious: Her arguments wrong. She says that Iran, taken as a whole (a rather na├»ve way to view an ethnically diverse theocracy/democracy) would never try to target the U.S. because it is “focused on political dissidents and theatres of war closer to home” – an odd thing to say about a government responsible for terrorist attacks on three continents that has styled itself as a regional power for decades. She wrongly says that “Iran has not been behind a political assassination in the United States since a year after the 1979 revolution,” which is wrong – it subsidized the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. It also raised a $2.1 million bounty for Salman Rushdie, so it’s not like they aren’t trying.

She quotes someone who has decided Iran is innocent because its agents might have contacted people who are Mexican, and Iran never contacts Mexicans:

"Iran does not use non-Muslim groups or people who are not trusted members or associates of the Quds force," Katzman said. "Iran does not blow up buildings in Washington that invites retaliation against the Iranian homeland."

Though it does blow up Americans in New York, Kuwait, Iraq, and over the ocean.

Here’s an odd one made by this same Katzman:

Katzman speculated that Arbabsiar, a former used car salesman who was apparently in financial difficulties, may have come up with the idea on his own... Mr. Arbabsiar was said to have wired nearly 100,000 dollars to the informant's bank account from Iran in September and to have promised 1.5 million dollars to do the deed.

One of the suspects was in such dire financial straits that he, acting alone, gave a stranger $100,000 just to listen to his idea. Kenneth Katzman seems like a smart guy, and given Barbara Slavin’s knowledge of the world around her demonstrated thus far, I’ll assume she’ll simply forgot what he said in the space between him saying it and her putting her pen on the paper.

Her logic is wrong. She argues that Iran must be innocent because “the timing would be extremely awkward for Iran, which is already facing growing isolation because of its nuclear program and domestic abuses of human rights.” How has “growing isolation” (whatever that means) ever stopped a regime from exercising its muscle? Does anyone remember the Cheonan, or Venezuela’s neighbors?

Her final attempt at an argument, dug out of her Katzman interview, seals it:

It is possible that the Iranian cousin "agreed to support him in some way but was doubtful he could pull it off", Katzman said. "This was not a thoroughly vetted and approved terrorist plot."

I don’t understand the conspiracy theorist obsession that just because a government hatches a plot that it’s going to be a good plot. Iran is not well-governed: who would deny that? Who would argue that the Iranian government is particularly competent at anything other than mere survival?

But at least she has the integrity to admit that “the U.S. government” isn’t just making things up:

Several U.S. intelligence experts expressed scepticism about the expertise of the DEA in evaluating such a sensitive case.

It’s not a very good U.S. government conspiracy if there’s external and internal disagreement, after all – this is the fact that refutes 9/11 denial, so she was wise to ignore it here.

However, Slavin does unquestioningly support and believe the government – Iran’s:

Riedel noted that the complaint refers to "elements" of the Iranian government, "which suggests that the administration doesn't think that all elements of the Iranian government were involved".

An Iranian source, speaking with IPS on condition he not be named, said that the Quds force would investigate the Iranian alleged to have participated in the plot "to find out if there is any personal interest" involved, suggesting an element of freelancing.

"It seems the Americans and Saudis need this propaganda to promote their policy against Iran at this time, given that they have occupied three Muslim countries in the world – Iraq, Afghanistan and Bahrain," the source added.

Of course! Equally expected is that, because all bad things are the President’s fault, that it is his fault, too, for daring to be angry that Iran would try to assassinate some fairly important international civilian personnel:

Both Katzman and Riedel said they were troubled by the way in which the Obama administration has jumped on the case, with a news conference by the attorney general and high-profile statements by the president and secretary of state.

The record skips back to the same un-funny joke, again.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Government Continues to Brutally Silence Scientists in Bruce Ivins Case

Just kidding, it's suggesting scientists might have succesfully implicated him in a broader conspiracy.

three scientists argue that distinctive chemicals found in the dried anthrax spores — including the unexpected presence of tin — point to a high degree of manufacturing skill, contrary to federal reassurances that the attack germs were unsophisticated.

Both the chairwoman of a National Academy of Science panel that spent a year and a half reviewing the F.B.I.’s scientific work and the director of a new review by the Government Accountability Office said the paper raised important questions that should be addressed.

Or not.

But other scientists who reviewed the paper said they thought the tin might be a random contaminant, not a clue to complex processing. And the Justice Department has not altered its conclusion that the deadly letters were mailed by Dr. Ivins, an Army anthrax specialist who worked at Fort Detrick, Md., and killed himself in 2008 as prosecutors prepared to charge him.

Dean Boyd, a Justice Department spokesman, said the paper provided “no evidence whatsoever that the spores used in the mailings were produced” at a location other than Fort Detrick. He said investigators believe Dr. Ivins grew and dried the anthrax spores himself.

Or maybe so.

“It indicates a very special processing, and expertise,” said Martin E. Hugh-Jones, lead author of the paper and a world authority on anthrax at Louisiana State University. The deadly germs sent through the mail to news organizations and two United States senators, he added, were “far more sophisticated than needed.”

In addition to Dr. Hugh-Jones, the authors of the new paper are Barbara Hatch Rosenberg, a biologist, and Stuart Jacobsen, a chemist; both have speculated publicly about the case and criticized the F.B.I. for years.

In 2008, days after Dr. Ivins’s suicide, the bureau made public a sweeping but circumstantial case against him. Last year, the bureau formally closed the case, acknowledging that some scientific questions were unanswered but asserting that the evidence against Dr. Ivins was overwhelming.

Or not.

Investigators found that the microbiologist had worked unusual late-night hours in his lab in the days before each of the two known anthrax mailings in September and October 2001; that he often mailed letters and packages under assumed names; that he had a history of homicidal threats and spoke of “Crazy Bruce” as a personality that did things he later could not remember.

Dr. Ivins had hidden from family and friends an obsession with a sorority — Kappa Kappa Gamma — with an office near the Princeton, N.J., mailbox where the letters were mailed. The F.B.I. recorded Dr. Ivins’s speaking ambiguously to a friend that he did “not have any recollection” of mailing the letters, that he was “not a killer at heart” and that “I, in my right mind, wouldn’t do it.”

Yet no evidence directly tied Dr. Ivins to the crime.

Before we dive into the evidence here, let's discuss one incontrovertible fact: This case refutes the 9/11 denier article of faith that "the government" can ever act in perfect concert on anything.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Kurt Haskell Testifying in Underwear Bomber Case

9/11 deniers are rejoicing that a conspiracy theorist might wind up on the jury for Umar Abdulmutallab, the "Underwear Bomber." Unfortunately for them, Haskell has done a poor job sticking to the conspiracy theorists' handbook. On his family blog he paints an unflattering portrait of the accused, as he saw him on the day of his jury selection questioning:

Yesterday, I went to the first day of jury selection in the underwear bomber case. I was the only passenger from the flight present. Lori could not attend as she had a hearing in Mt. Clemens that she could not get out of. The process involved picking 40 potential jurors to bring back on October 6, 2011. The selection of the jury will be made that day from the remaining 40 potential jurors. The process I witnessed involved the judge asking questions of each juror, then the prosecution asking questions and finally the defense asking questions. The prosecution and the defense were given 6 minutes each to question each juror. Only one juror was allowed in the courtroom at a time. I was in the courtroom when Umar arrived. When he entered he said "Great Mujahideen, Anwar is alive" referring to Anwar Al Awlaki and his reported recent death. He then said "We will wipe out the U.S., the cancer that is the U.S." Judge Edmunds had not yet arrived. When Judge Edmunds got there, she told Umar he should dress better to make a better impression on the jurors. He was dressed in a white t-shirt as he always is. Umar said "I wanted to wear a Yemeni belt with a dagger, but nobody would let me". Judge Edmunds then said "I don't think you'll be bringing a dagger into my courtroom". Umar then said that he wanted to change and the court went into recess. Umar returned shortly thereafter and was dressed in a tan collared shirt and a black suit coat. When he entered the court this time he said "Allah Akbar Anwar is alive".

Obviously the pleas for mercy of an innocent patsy.

Quick primer: Eyewitness recollection of an event is useless.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

As Promised: 9/11 Truthers Attempting to Co-Opt Occupy Wall Street

If this happens, I'll be correct and Alex Jones might have to stop writing about Occupy Wall Street (see previous post). As with so many petition-based protest movements, 9/11 deniers are attempting to hijack the Occupy Wall Street protests to forcibly insert their beliefs. Evidently they couldn't be part of the movement organically - I have yet to see any sizeable contingent of deniers actually doing any of the legwork - so conspiracy theorists need to activate their entire activist network just to try to get on the leaderboard. Link to the petition here.

So far it doesn't seem to be going very well. As of 20:00est today it has one of the highest rejection rates, at just over 25%:

which is a pretty high rate for this particularly permissive (and, by no coincidence, as-yet ineffectual) protest. One grammatically nonexistent item simply marked "Office of the Citizen" without further description only has about a 16% rejection rate, and even the particularly insipid, useless non-item "restore true democracy to the government" (which is also a historical fail, as our Founding Fathers imagined less democratic practices when it came to most things, from the election of Senators to who wasn't property) only gets rejected by about 17% of these charmers.

I think the movement is fundamentally a good idea. Its core tenants are too banal to be anything but. And here is how it could easily be destroyed. Let's see if there be skeptics among them.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Alex Jones' acolytes thunder: 'Occupy Wall Street is a Communist plot'

This weekend Prison Planet and Infowars embodied that spirit of attacking and lying about people conspiracy theorists degree with rather than actually challenging their ideas.

Between opposing popular revolutions in Libya and opposing efforts to improve standards of living around the world, Jones places himself squarely on the side of suffering on most issues. This is the statistical cost of being a reactionary: Revolutionaries need powerful friends to overthrow powerful enemies, and so every uprising becomes a "power grab" by foreigners. Technology spreads as it effectively solves daily problems, and so people become "sheeple" as they come to rely on science to make life better rather than suffer quotidian inconveniences of old. Unexpected horrors force people to realign their worldview and understanding of the world around them, and so the die-hards must assume that the enemies they're used to fighting are really at the heart of terrorist attacks, rather than the new breed of global terrorism we're really dealing with. The anti-intellectual identity forces one to constantly recode the good and the new as the cynical and the bad. Alex Jones' livelihood depends on his idiotic ideas from thirty years ago, the ones he has been parroting ever since, on being immutable and correct, and so the banal truth that there are worse entities out there than the U.S. government becomes anathema to the faith of Alex Jones.

So this week, when protestors took to the streets pointing out that democracy has a role to play in preventing future crises, Alex Jones' acolytes went into action: They branded the protestors as "puppets" and "communists." Another popular uprising Jones has to ignore, because it seeks to refute his belief that democracy doesn't work.

The lies to be rattled off feel almost too obvious: The Occupy Wall Street protestors are not employees of George Soros (I'm pretty sure he pays better, and his actual employees dress better); they are not "communists;" and so on down the line. Hell, the story on infowars on the matter links to a sign that it describes as "being held" that is just laying on the ground.

I'm not particularly fond of George Soros, Warren Buffett, or Ron Paul, so I sympathize with anyone who has difficulty picking an ideological figurehead with whom to align everyone in this debate. So here was my solution: Don't. Let their arguments stand on their own. This, of course, has thus far been much too much to ask of the Infowars crowd and its herd of unquestioning readers.

Jones has nothing useful to contribute to the financial reform protests in the US. His bloggers have randomly taken the side of both Bernie Sanders and Ron Paul, in the hopes that he can be remembered for supporting whichever side gets him more Google hits at any given time. His life is a cynical scheme designed to profit off the gullibility of his readers, and hopefully by forcing him to take a side now, he can be called on his bullshit later.

So, let's have it: Alex Jones, does government have a role to play in solving this problem, or not?

Thursday, September 29, 2011



Iran president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has long been renounced for his conspiracy theories about the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, which he has called "mysterious."

His latest fiery rant at the United Nations blamed the U.S. government for the 2001 attacks, and suggested the killing of Osama bin Laden was a coverup .

Now he has new detractor: al-Qaida.

It seems the terror network doesn't like someone else taking credit for its work, which its English-language magazine, Inspire, calls "The Greatest Special Operation of All Time."

An opinion piece in the latest issue takes aim at Ahmadinejad and his 9/11 conspiracy theories.

"So we may ask the question: why would Iran ascribe to such a ridiculous belief that stands in the face of all logic and evidence?" author Abu Suhail asks, going on to accuse the Iranians of collaborating with the U.S. in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"For them, al-Qaida was a competitor for the hearts and minds of the disenfranchised Muslims around the world. Al-Qaida, an organization under fire, with no state, succeeded in what Iran couldn’t," Suhail wrote.

"Therefore it was necessary for the Iranians to discredit 9/11 and what better way to do so? Conspiracy theories.

And 9/11 deniers have no valid reason to be suspicious of al Qaeda's motives, right?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Squibs and thermite, take 2: “Rocket projectiles” at WTC2

I’m eager to see all the video that comes out of the Toronto Hearings, because it sounds like it’s going to be a riot. First up: David Chandler and Niels Harrit discussing rocket-propelled explosives shooting out of the Towers after they’re already collapsing.

Around second thirty-three (coincidence?!) of this video, the narrator talks about seeing an object falling faster than some of the smoke coming from the collapsing WTC2. In his mind it is a piece of super-thermite, and confirmation kicks in when, as it falls past the camera, a puff of air and debris shoots out of one of the floors of the tower – you know, one of those normal things that happens when something collapses and pushes air out of the lower floors.

In order:

The debris falling out of the tower faster than other debris falling out of the tower is probably heavier than the median piece of debris. Most of the cloud is shards and pieces of office, things that are much more subject to air resistance than a much heavier piece of debris (which the author seems to concede is what it probably is around minute two second thirty). The puff of air ejecting out of one of the caving floors is just that. As a building collapses, its caving mass forces out air and debris from wherever it will escape: elevator shafts, broken windows, vents, you name it. If that sounds familiar, that’s because it is: this is a rehashing of the “squibs” claim originating from around 2005. Debunked around 2006.

In the video the narrator claims to have controlled for the motion of the camera, but even in this endeavor he fails. He may try to correct for the x-y jitter of the camera, but not the x-y-z artifact arising from the annoying fact that vision happens in three dimensions. The apparent “change of motion” of the object looks more like the object moving towards the camera as it falls – that is, pushed out of the tower by the ejection of air and debris. You can artificially halt the jitter of a camera, but it’s much more complex to flatten an image beyond how flat video makes an image, and that is not something for which the notoriously sloppy David Chandler corrected. Go figure.

This one’s barely worth the bandwidth. I repeat the same challenge I proffered at my Denkfest talk: 9/11 deniers, come up with a claim that can’t be debunked with evidence proffered over half a decade ago. Yeesh.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

“Psychological Aspects of 9/11 Truth”

It appears to be edited to be as unwatchable as possible, but 9/11 deniers have slapped together another appeal to authority in the form of a video called “Psychologists help 9/11 truth deniers.” Only two of the eight people in the video are actual psychologists, and each have oddly unrelated licenses. At least one is a New Age quack who runs a scam site (read on).

I worked in a behavioral sciences laboratory as an undergrad and have a few certifications of my own under my belt, so with that pointless appeal to authority, let me offer some of these people some actual data that the literature in their (nominal) field suggests about their statements.

Namely, that they’re all full of bullshit.

To the first interviewee, Marti Hopper: The evidence from the psychological literature demonstrates that trauma makes someone more, not less, susceptible to conspiracy theories. Oh, also that those effects sink in right around the time of the trauma, so a Commission Report that comes out years later is immune to the types of cognitive traps that a conspiracy theory peddled within months of the event isn’t.

To the second interviewee, Frances Shure: The evidence from the behavioral literature shows that flashbulb memory is crap, and that eyewitness testimony is wildly unreliable (in case you happen to base your beliefs on, say, “the sounds of explosions” or the words of, say, BBC journalists).

To Robert Hopper: For someone who points out that “fear and anxiety” are the most common reactions to cognitive dissonance (they probably aren’t, by the way), you sure are doing a lot of defending of a violent, aggressive movement of conspiracy theorists.

To Danielle Duperret: Your trauma therapies are crap. Stop telling people who to deal with tragedies; you’re hurting them. Oh also, don’t sell magic and tell people it’s science.

To Dorothy Lorig: David Ray Griffin lies for a living.

To David Ray Griffin: See above.

To John Freedom: Your own theories about how to change someone’s mind are wrong. “Open-ended questioning” doesn’t cut it, either.

To Robert Griffin: For someone who has accused people who know better than you of engaging in “a lack of humility,” you sure are fond of parroting the beliefs of those you agree with without providing a shred of reasoning.

Ugh, how sad. Please do check out Danielle Duperret’s website; nothing screams “fraud” louder (or with as gaudy a color scheme!). “Energy medicine,” homeopathy, and using magic vibrations to cure trauma? This sounds actively dangerous to people with legitimate problems. At the risk of shocking you: the 9/11 denier movement is employing scientific frauds to sell you something. Gasp.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Potentially Fascinating Trial Averted

A New York judge has tossed out a case alleging Larry Silverstein should've foreseen 9/11 and thus should've forbade occupants of WTC7 from installing gas-fueled generators. The burning gas was a likely contributor to the building's collapse.

If only the judge hadn't done that.

One of the most stable findings in psychology is the hindsight bias, which is precisely what it sounds like: Now that 9/11 has happened, people tend to think that 9/11 was eminently foreseeable. They're wrong, and they're especially wrong if their point is that some partial leaser of property near the sight of an unprecedented terrorist attack with no responsibility for national security (or even, technically, the protection of the building's occupants from terrorism).

Seeing a court case paper trail detailing precisely what it means to be unable to foresee something would be fascinating, to me anyway. I love risk. It is my specialty. As concepts, risk and uncertainty are my bread and butter (this is rather ironic, as I'm such a boring guy generally). Having documentation on hand to demonstrate to people the vast chain of improbabilities disconnecting Larry Silverstein's liability from the tragedy would have been very interesting. I love reading the intellectual non-entities in the 9/11 denial movement asserting that person X should've foreseen event Y given some vastly skewed probability distribution. Norman Mineta should've had flashbulb memory. The USAF should've had a fully fueled, fully armed squadron of fighter pilots armed and hot on the tarmac to shoot down a civilian aircraft at a moment's notice. Give me a break.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Not a Conspiracy Theorist

Tony Bennett thinks America deserved 9/11.

The legendary Tony Bennett appeared on Howard Stern’s radio show and talked about his antipathy to war, borne out of having served in WWII.

“But who are the terrorists? Are we the terrorists or are they the terrorists? Two wrongs don’t make a right,” Bennett said...

“They flew the plane in, but we caused it,” Bennett responded. “Because we were bombing them and they told us to stop.”

We must assume, of course, that he meant "planes."

I'm too young to give a shit about this particular musician's opinion, but I do find it curious that his views are being parroted on 911blogger. Let's be clear: He thinks 9/11 deniers are wrong. He thinks that several thousand American civilians deserved to be murdered by religious psychopaths, but that is a moral failing unrelated to the intellectual failings of 9/11 conspiracy theorists.

I suppose this lateral move to near-friends should be expected. 9/11 conspiracy theorists don't require you to be an engineer to say you're an engineer, and they don't require you to have published an academic paper to say you have published an academic paper, so why should being quoted on a blog dedicated to advancing 9/11 conspiracies be anchored to advancing 9/11 conspiracies?

There is no intellectual argument going on among 9/11 deniers, so it's little surprise this is the best they can do. Before long we'll see Tony Bennett on some "Has-Beens For 9/11 Truth" site; his quotes will be passed around alongside screenshots of the Northwoods memos; his name and music unfairly confiscated by 9/11 deniers and associated with their celebrity-baiting ad campaigns. The only way I will be wrong is if this rests on overly generous assumptions about the movement to continue to generate any such campaigns.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Gullibility in Action

Why did conspiracy theorists just side with the Bush Administration, mega-corporations, and tyrants the world over?

9/11 deniers have fallen for exactly the kind of conspiracy they pretend to be speaking out against. The movement has come out against the Libyan revolution, saying that an alliance of global humanitarian forces, a unified NATO pact including regional powers and an indigenous, popular rebel movement opposed to a savage dictator and his army of private mercenaries is just another puppet of "Them." Ironically, "They" were clearly on Qaddafi's side all along. Al-Jazeera reports:

I found what appeared to be the minutes of a meeting between senior Libyan officials – Abubakr Alzleitny and Mohammed Ahmed Ismail – and David Welch, former assistant secretary of state under George W Bush. Welch was the man who brokered the deal to restore diplomatic relations between the US and Libya in 2008.

During that meeting Welch advised Gaddafi's team on how to win the propaganda war, suggesting several "confidence-building measures", according to the documents. The documents appear to indicate that an influential US political personality was advising Gaddafi on how to beat the US and NATO.

The documents read: "Any information related to al-Qaeda or other terrorist extremist organisations should be found and given to the American administration but only via the intelligence agencies of either Israel, Egypt, Morroco, or Jordan… America will listen to them… It's better to receive this information as if it originated from those countries..."

On the floor of the intelligence chief's office lay an envelope addressed to Gaddafi's son Saif Al-Islam. Inside, I found what appears to be a summary of a conversation between US congressman Denis Kucinich, who publicly opposed US policy on Libya, and an intermediary for the Libyan leader's son.

It details a request by the congressman for information he needed to lobby US lawmakers to suspend their support for the Libyan National Transitional Council (NTC) and to put an end to NATO airstrikes.

According to the document, Kucinich wanted evidence of corruption within the NTC and, like Welch, any possible links within rebel ranks to al-Qaeda.

The document also lists specific information needed to defend Saif Al-Islam, who is currently on the International Criminal Court's most-wanted list.

(Emphasis added)

In response, PrisonPlanet has attacked al-Jazeera as a "the prolific propaganda house out of Qatar." In a fact-free screed against one of the best sources of journalistic coverage of the Maghreb, Madison Ruppert pathetically argues:

The alleged minutes claim that Welch advised the Gaddafi regime to use Israel to funnel intelligence that could impede the uprising.

Why on Earth would Israel have any interest in setting back a group of rebels that openly supports them?

When confronted with the fact that al Qaeda operatives are among the rebel forces, the rebel spokesman Ahmad Shabani told Haaretz that “Al-Qaida activists have been working for Gadhafi, among them Libyans and, according to reliable intelligence reports, foreigners who infiltrated the country’s porous borders.”

Shabani pointing out “foreigners who infiltrated the country’s porous borders” is laughable as well, seeing as the rebels have been working side-by-side with foreign intelligence agencies and covert operatives before the United Nations Security Council Resolution was even put on the table.

The first question is resting on a false assumption about Welch's competence as an advisor, and came before there was even any remote suspicion that the NTC would even recognize Israel. To the second point, it seems odd to argue that the NTC is in al Qaeda hands when Qaddafi's loyalists are fleeing to Islamist-friendly hideouts in Niger on a daily basis. And the third point is simply attempting to strike a blow at the legitimacy of popular revolt itself: With the rebels backed by an international force seeking to topple a dictator and aid a popular revolution, Ruppert loathes the mere idea that "foreigners" can work together at all and make the notion of "human rights" meaningful, it seems.

9/11 deniers are joined in their defense of Qaddafi by the dictatorships in Cuba and Venezuela, right-wing nationalists in Serbia fond of the old Milosevic regime, and the vast propaganda network this implies.

Sadly, this network includes peace activists like Alexander Cockburn, whose drastically, laughably wrong prognostications for the shakeout in Libya have all but discredited him.

It requites no great prescience to see that this will all end up badly. Qaddafi’s failure to collapse on schedule is prompting increasing pressure to start a ground war, since the NATO operation is, in terms of prestige, like the banks Obama has bailed out, Too Big to Fail. Libya will probably be balkanized.

Whoops. Though this dim view has already been discredited by current events, it would already be read as total nonsense by anyone familiar with the history of Libya, who knows that without Tripolitania, there is no viable state. This is a geopolitical fail akin to arguing that, say, oil-rich Alaska could secede and easily rise to superpower status without the rest of the United States.

And yet the most disappointing part of the pro-Qaddafi chorus is yet to come. Cockurn has one last, most insidious argument to make, and with it he lays bare his forfeiture to be taken seriously.

In four decades, Libyans have gone from being among the most wretched in Africa, to considerable elevation in terms of social amenities.

This is precisely the argument used by sympathizers of Pinochet and Hussein, Franco and Suharto, Chung-Hee and Basher.

We have no "control 20th century" to compare these dictators who ruled during the modernization period to, but there is extensive economic reasoning arguing against the proposition that dictatorship is in any way useful for an economy. Those who credit iron-fisted autocrats for strong growth are overstepping their bounds. Never mind the costs of enduring such tyranny.

So, why? What has happened? Why has the conspiracy movement aligned itself with the Bush Administration, a psychotic dictator, and huge private paramilitary corporations? Why is it employing its enemies' arguments in favor of tyranny and subjugation? What has happened?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Total Reversal Impending

The planes were prevented from scrambling! The planes were prevented from scrambling! ...Oh, wait. The planes were scrambled too soon! The planes were scrambled too soon!

Kamikaze: F-16 pilots planned to ram Flight 93

When the pilots of the 121st Fighter Squadron of the D.C. Air National Guard got the order to intercept Flight 93, the hijacked jet speeding toward the nation's capital, they figured there was a decent chance they would not come back alive.

That's because the F-16 jets they were rushing to get airborne were largely unarmed, recalls one of the pilots, then-Lt. Heather Penney, leaving them one option to take out the wayward plane: a kamikaze mission.

"We wouldn’t be shooting it down. We would be ramming the aircraft, because we didn’t have weapons on board to be able to shoot the airplane down," Penney told C-SPAN.

If only the mainstream media would pay attention. Story on MSNBC.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The "First Claim" Test

ae911truth has slapped together a pdf of old claims against the exhaustive NIST report. Readers of this blog are familiar with our approach to the glut of old information posing as new information 9/11 deniers pour out: The first claim is a smell test. It's their first stab at trying to convince you of something, so it's got to be good. If it isn't, the rest of the piece isn't going to be any better.

Here's the first claim from "How NIST Avoided a Real Analysis of the Physical Evidence of WTC:"

The 236 pieces of structural WTC steel that the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) “catalogued” 2 for its WTC investigation included 55 columns that NIST discuss in paragraph 4.1 “CORE COLUMNS” in NIST NCSTAR 1-3C.4 NIST analyzed only four of these 55 columns for damage and failure modes. The remaining 51 columns were excluded from being examined for damage and failure modes based on the argument that only columns with a known as-built location in or near the impact and fire areas were of interest for the WTC investigation.

Wouldn't you know it, this claim's completely false. First, from page 118 of the NIST report:

NIST performed confirmatory tests on samples of the 236 pieces of recovered steel to determine if the steel met the structural specifications. Making a definitive assessment was complicated by overlapping specifications from multiple suppliers, differences between the NIST test procedures and the test procedures that originally qualified the steel, the natural variability of steel properties, and damage to the steel from the collapse of the WTC towers. Nonetheless, the NIST investigators were able to determine the following:

There were 14 grades (strengths) of steel that were specified. However, a total of 32 steels in the impact and fire floors were sufficiently different (grade, supplier, and gage) to require distinct models of mechanical properties.

The steels in the perimeter columns met their intended specifications for chemistry, mechanical properties, yield strengths, and tensile properties. The steels in the core columns generally met their intended specifications for both chemical and mechanical properties.


The mechanical properties of steel are reduced at elevated temperatures. Based on measurements and examination of published data, NIST determined that a single representation of the elevated temperature effects on steel mechanical properties could be used for all WTC steels. Separate values were used for the yield and tensile strength reduction factors for bolt steels.

So one, tests were performed on their entire sample. Possibly not for impact effects, but that would have been wildly inappropriate as not all of those columns were from a sample of the area directly impacted.

The only excuse I can think of is that ae911truth did not quote from the latest version of the final report; indeed, their cited text doesn't appear anywhere in the NIST final report. So, they're either lazy and incompetent, or outright dishonest.

What'll it be, ae911?

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Government Brutally Silences Yet Another Dissident

Just kidding. His name is Richard Clarke, and he's taking the CIA to task for what appears to be his own incompetence.

His complaint is old: The CIA and the FBI, because of their parochialism and the great walls of red tape, were unable to effectively coordinate the trailing of al Qaeda members in 2000 and 2001. It goes unnoted that the dismantling of this great wall was a chief aim of the CIA and the Bush Administration immediately after 9/11 – nor that the sudden appearance of what looks an awful lot like an effective if monolithic intelligence community is also a chief complaint of 9/11 deniers, and yet here they are trotting out the existence of such as an indictment of the Bush and Obama Administrations.

We know 9/11 deniers already latched onto this claim and needed only a Federal official with a book coming out to hit the press circuit and defrost it.

Yet this version was particularly baffling to me, as they seem to point to Clarke’s own staggering incompetence on the issue. Around minute three:

Every morning I come in and I turn on my computer, and I get a hundred to a hundred-fifty CIA reports. ..You have to intentionally stop it, you have to intervene and say, ‘No, I don’t want that to go.’ And I never got a report to that effect.

So, as we are all grizzled Microsoft Outlook users, let’s assess this claim: The intel chief didn’t get an automatic update, and wasn’t sure how to go about getting it when it didn’t just land in his inbox.

I’m baffled as to how this claim is spreading back over the 9/11 denier community. Richard Clarke, whose real and valiant work in the name of intelligence reform has certainly saved many lives (and led in no small part to the much-bitched-about “drone war” focus of intelligence strikes), is a godsend to 9/11 deniers. He throws out complaints until they stick and, among them, quotes are mined that point to malfeasance. I’m hearing nothing even bordering on malfeasance. I’m hearing about an intelligence chief who was not proactive in digesting intelligence.

For those keeping score, this further adds to the tally of “people to blame” saddling already-sagging 9/11 denier claims: “Forty-eight CIA officials” who could have forwarded him those reports, but didn’t.

We therefore conclude that there was a high-order decision within the CIA ordering people not to share this information. I think it would have to be made by the director.

Ah, scratch that. Given that reports migrate upward, this may wind up in the hundreds.

Also, come on guys: Godspeed You! Black Emperor is a great band. Let’s not abuse their music in this fashion.

Clarke claims that this is the one species of report that was suddenly redacted from his daily clips. I call shenanigans. What was the through rate on those reports? Given that he could recall “100 to 150” reports landing in his box every day, how did this reporting fluctuate? From where? Just on Al Qaeda, or were there other reports Clarke about which never felt sufficiently motivated to call up his “friends” at the CIA and inquire?

Whose intern didn’t hit which “send” button? How were they ‘kept quiet’ after 9/11? Who was reprimanded on Clarke’s staff for the failure? And why is this being repackaged as a complaint against the CIA? Anyone? Please.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Hatemail Sundays

A couple of e-mails came in last week bleeting the same tired tropes all true believers have to hurl against their detractors. Every skeptical blog you read gets them, so I’ll quote and refute with brevity.

“You, like Screw Loose Change and Mark Roberts, are asserting that all conspiracy theories are bunk.”

No, we aren’t. Or at least, I’m not. Iran-Contra was a conspiracy that was not bunk, for example.

My second complaint stems from the fact that you, like Mark Roberts, state that the assassination of John F. Kennedy was obviously the work of a lone nut

It was.

After reading Vincent Bugliosi’s vast and worthy tome on the subject I made this point in a previous post that this person obviously took exception to. In order to buttress this complaint a link is provided to a particularly pathetic defense of lunatic theories. I’ll be brief.

Part one is dedicated entirely to whining about “name-calling” in the book. Time for an important lesson: Ad hominem is only ad hominem if it is the entirety of the complaint. “You’re stupid,” is an ad hominem. “You’re stupid, and here’s why you’re wrong” is merely rude. Including footnotes, Bugliosi gives you 2,000 pages of reasons why every single conspiracy theory is false. Because this is a 9/11 denier blog and not a JFK denier blog I don’t want to dwell on this too much. As I breezed through this site I scrolled through for the key points, and so here is essentially a random sample of the lies this site tells, which, coincidentally, seemed to be the case with every sentence I read:

In this long Introduction Bugliosi … states that the critics have always written that no rifleman has ever duplicated Oswald's feat at the Texas School Book Depository on 11/22/63. That is firing three shots, and getting two hits in the head and shoulder areas in less than six seconds. He says that this charge is not accurate. He then points to an example in the Warren Commission of a mysterious soldier named Miller (no first name given) who a commanding officer said actually bettered Oswald's feat. Now, Bugliosi's implication here is that this has been out there for years and the critical community has ignored it since it would undermine their arguments…

Because when you examine the testimony completely it does not undermine the critic's case at all. Three "master marksmen" took two tries at duplicating what Oswald was supposed to have done. Now what does this qualification of "master marksman" mean exactly? As Meagher explains it, they were rated at the very top of the scale, not by the Marines, but by the NRA. In other words they were even better than the top shooters in the armed services by a level of two or more classes. In fact, they were so proficient they qualified for open competition and even the Olympic Games! Now compare this to Oswald who was one point above the minimum class possible when he left the Marines in 1959. Fair comparison right?

Bugliosi writes quite explicitly in his book that each of these riflemen were at precisely the same class as Oswald. Indeed it may be true that they are highly rated by the NRA as well, but as we have no idea as to what Oswald’s NRA rating would be, this constitutes systematic bias. Of course, the exact same feat – in which other Marines replicated Oswald’s supposed “perfect shooting” – was shown in a Discovery Channel special a few years ago, but conspiracy theorists aren’t exactly in it for the truth.

And so as not to bore you guys, here’s another shorter one. In a debate between Bugliosi and conspiracy theorist Gerry Spence filmed for London Weekend Television as a “mock trial” between “the Warren Commission” and JFK deniers, the audience and “jurors” sided with Bugliosi. The author of this site drags up a claim so silly I just had to share it here:

Finally, the trial never moved out of London. This was not a good idea. The actual evidence is located at the National Archives in Washington. So the attorneys were never allowed to present this material and the jury was never allowed to see it. This is quite important in a case where there is much indication of evidence tampering. It is a theme I will return to later.

Because, you see, there was no such thing as a fax machine or authorized copies or any such thing in the 1980s.

JFK and 9/11 conspiracy theories bear a lot of similarity in their penchant for dishonest de-contextualization and simple lying. Case in point.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

9/11: Explosive Evidence – Experts Speak Out: Appeal to Authority – The Movie

A new AE911truth video is coming out later this year and its trailer has been released. The trailer begins with the trail of burning paper that 9/11 deniers wrongly assumed was molten metal, and moves right along to footage of WTC 7 collapsing that begins after
the collapse of the rooftop penthouses
- the collapses that refute virtually every conspiracy theory requiring WTC 7 to have been "pulled" from the inside.

The music is overwrought, the "experts" are self-righteous blowhards, and no mention is made of the dozens of "signatories" who have rescinded their signatures or claimed they never signed in the first place. The original studies about "nanothermite" are still bunk. This is simply another attempt to reset the 9/11 denier movement: recut the exact same mediocre documentary with different people, and hope it lends your movement credibility it has never had.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Norway Terrorist's Conspiracy Theorists

Someone 9/11 deniers are unlikely to agree with has posited a textbook conspiracy about the Norway terrorist attack. It is a piece posted on a young website called Right Side News, and the reason mold-cut deniers are unlikely to agree with the author is because her conspirator of choice is the monolithic, homogeneous group known as “Muslims.”

Right from its opening sentence, you know what’s going to be said:

"Speaking the Truth in Times of Universal Deceit is a Revolutionary Act." George Orwell

And from there is heads straight to the classic conspiracy theorist move: the faux-careful scrutiny of the timeline:

—3:26 p.m.: A car bomb explodes outside the prime minister's office in central Oslo.
—By 6 p.m.: The team arrives at the lake, but it struggles to find a boat to cross over.

—6:20 p.m.: The SWAT team arrives on the island.

So, basically it took 3 long hours for the Norwegian SWAT team to take control of the situation, after over 90 dead...?

Because given Norway’s long-running problem with domestic terrorism (/sarcasm), it is clearly “suspicious” that its ersatz SWAT teams had a hard time responding to this terrorist attack in particular.

Initial media reports that are of course 100% accurate:

However, despite the fact that supporters of the “Global Jihad” terror group had claimed responsibility for the act, authorities and media seemed reluctant to accept that and have rather come with unique information about the perpetrator:

This is wrong on two counts. One, the New York Times of all places was the first source I found initially attributing the attack to “Movement of the Global Jihad,” retracting the story only later. Two, so far reporting on the actual terrorist almost unanimously references the one source of insight into his psyche, his enormous anti-liberal screed posted online years ago. So there isn’t much original reporting going on, and media were exactly as quick to rush to blame as they’ve been so criticized for doing.

The author then begins to build the rather pathetic case that Norway is actually secretly target number one for religious extremists worldwide:

Other important issues touching a nerve within the Muslim world are the Oslo accords between Israel and Palestinians, signed in 1993.

But Norway also has troops in Afghanistan -and because of that, Ayman al-Zawahiri made threats against Norway then.

Mullah Krekar, founder of the Al Qaeda-linked-terror-group Ansar al-Islam had issued death threats against Norwegians politicians if they chose to deport him.

To add one more ingredient to this melting pot: A Norwegian newspaper re-printed the infamous Propher Mohammad cartoons -those that were first published in Denmark.

I do not believe for a second, that Muslim extremists and Muslim terrorists who knew and planned the massacres of 9/11 in America, have stopped wanting to inflict serious damage to Western civilization.

While I have no tangible proof right now, there are symbols and signs that appear throughout the Oslo attacks, such as the use of an American “detail”: the Oklahoma City bombing style -used for the first part of the attack against the government building.

Metrics by which Denmark, the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. score much more highly on the “threat to fundamentalist Islam” list.

In the past, in Israel, some Muslim terrorist bomb attacks have been committed on some few occasions by Muslims disguised as Israeli policemen or as Orthodox Jews.

So, I am wondering what would stop the school of evil 9/11 planners to engineer an attack by a local man from Norway, to perform this massacre and give it enough appearance that it’s a Christian fundamentalist -when in reality it may all well have been as perfectly planned as those airplanes that hit the Twin Towers, the World Trade Center, 10 years ago.

This is exactly as duplicitous, dishonest, and context-free as any conspiracy theorist claim about Israel or Donald Rumsfeld when it comes to 9/11. It operates along the exact same logic: weak induction, speculation, and obviously a pre-destined conclusion.

I’m no fan of Islam. This blog is equal-opportunity critical of extremists, however: it seems as reasonable to me that a fundamentalist, overtly-bigoted unstable person who happens to be from country X could be inspired to commit acts of violence as one from country Y. This author has provided no reason to believe her except by pivoting in a direction that will appeal to her audience.

My challenge to 9/11 deniers is thus. I suspect you are motivated not to believe that there is any such thing as Islamic terrorism, and are indeed motivated to find the NATO strings at the top of the Norwegian puppet. But why do you reject this conspiracy theory? What is it doing wrong? What’s the underlying logical fault with its reasoning that is absent from your own theories? I’m genuinely curious to hear what Eliana Benador is doing wrong, in your minds.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Prediction: Truthers Will Ruin October2011

In the run-up to the Iraq war, 9/11 Truthers hurt the peace movement. I know this because I was a student, running around to share my anger at what was going to happen with pretty much anyone I could find. And every time I could get a conversation going, it would inevitably begin with, "So you think Bush was responsible for 9/11?"

Kind of hurts your case when the first words you get have to be, "Well, no... I don't think he's that bad..." This was just the beginning of the impact the tiny, noisy contingent of burgeoning 9/11 deniers had on the American peace movement, both its right and left wings.

Now it looks like they're out to ruin another protest movement.

Every time you see a whiny-pitched, snarky college stoner and a depressed monotonite wearing a "Capitalism Is Organized Crime" pin, pour one out for the American left.

The "October 2011 movement" is a shameful act of bravado parodying the Arab Spring, with a reminiscent Octoberist/Decembrist reference thrown in for good measure. Their decision to protest Afghanistan is particularly odd. Isn't Iraq the lower-hanging fruit? Isn't it the clearer foreign policy bungle?

The 9/11 denial movement has ruined every form of legitmate protest with which it has made contact - by hijacking, infesting, and finally rendering irrelevant its every voice, from Amy Goodman to Ron Paul. And does this movement make good points? Sure. The defense budget is bloated. Massive ground troop presence in Afghanistan can probably be curtailed. The middle class is in a bind. How will they help? They won't.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Is Rand Paul A 9/11 Denier? Probably Not

Rand Paul issued a summons to coincide with FBI Director Robert Mueller's re-confirmation that 911blogger seems to be using to imply that he's a Truther. Part of it is posted almost entirely without comment, though the implication of their choice of which part of the summons to post is clear:

Why did FBI supervisors and lawyers block the search warrant sought by field agents in Minnesota who believed that Zacarias Moussaoui was a terrorist who might use a commercial airplane as a weapon in the weeks before September 11th? Why did the so--called "Phoenix memo," written by FBI agent Kenneth Williams in July of 2001, which warned of an unusual number of young Arab men seeking flight training in the U.S., never reach the highest levels of the FBI? Was anyone ever disciplined, fired, or their career ended for these errors in judgment?"

The rest of the memo is quite telling of Rand Paul's own ideological blinders. He is apparently baffled as to why the FBI has an interest in protecting people who work at abortion centers, and can't understand why one of the criteria used in detecting likely political extremists is outspoken support for 3rd-party, right-wing candidates.

Paul's intent is obvious - the last decade has given many Americans reason to believe the FBI is both run by incompetents and a danger to the freedoms guaranteed by American law, and his goal is to politicize that fact for his supporters. He has chosen an idea that appalls right-wingers and Christians (the idea that the FBI has a vested interest in safeguarding the lives of people who provide and assist in performing abortions) and an idea that appalls those who vote on national security issues (that the FBI was incompetent in detecting foreign radicals who emmigrated to Rand Paul's home state).

These are contradictory in implication. The first implies that the FBI is an overreaching, politicized depriver of legitimate political rights that needs to be scaled back, while the second implies that its ability to track radicalized immigrants desperately needs to be improved and possibly expanded. These are all parts of the contradictions of Paul's personal political philosophy - pro-personal freedom except at the border and the pulpit, anti-government except in its capacity to deprive rights to people unlike him - but overall they make only a weak case that Paul is a Truther. His beliefs happen to quite closely align with the median Truther, but he has bigger fish to fry than that. A group to whom he is sympathetic is clearly just taking one of his statements out of context for political purposes - the bread and butter of the 9/11 denier movement.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Rockefeller Goes After Right-Wing Megacorporation: Truthers Fail to Get Joke is straight-facedly reporting Senator John Jay Rockefeller's impending investigation of Rupert Murdoch's media mega-empire, which for years has been illegally bribing and stealing to get what it wants through one its many corporate entities, News of the World. So far it is rumored to be in for fines of at least $100 million.

This is good news because Rupert Murdoch his American news networks are quite lousy and his organization is probably guilty, and because of the hysterical things's and others' totally unselfconscious reporting of this event say about the movement. Their story is crossposted from and

There are some crimes so universally offensive that even mentioning the suspected crime has devastating effects. Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) raised just such a question yesterday. In a brief press statement, the Senator said:

"The reported hacking by News Corporation newspapers against a range of individuals - including children - is offensive and a serious breach of journalistic ethics. This raises serious questions about whether the company has broken U.S. law, and I encourage the appropriate agencies to investigate to ensure that Americans have not had their privacy violated. I am concerned that the admitted phone hacking in London by the News Corp. may have extended to 9/11 victims or other Americans. If they did, the consequences will be severe." Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, July 12

Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation has used voicemail hacking and other forms of privacy intrusion in the United Kingdom as far back as 2002. The goal is to get the most intimate insider information, stay ahead of the news cycle, and beat the competition. Where better to get information than the voicemails and other electronic data belonging to those in the news. The News of the World, Murdoch's flagship paper, hacked the voicemails of a kidnapped 12 year old, the widows of fallen soldiers, and even the powerful. In 2006, the Murdoch papers invaded the private medical records of former Labour Party leader Gordon Brown.

Fun fact: The second most popular Google search term for Rupert Murdoch is "Rupert Murdoch Jewish." (He's Christian, by the way) I wonder which movement is responsible for that!

Anyway, consider the things has previously written bout Rockefeller. They're not crazy about him or his family, who are apparently indistinguishable from the Bushes or even the bin Ladens:

Come on, a lot of you are hip. A lot of you KNOW whatlies [sic] we are all sold, every day. Are you going to let the Scaifes, Mellons,Rockefellers, Olins etc. keep setting their reactionary little agendasfor the world? Not to mention the Binladins, the Bushes, the Royal Families,the Moons, the Fords, all the other Multi-Jillionaire Nuts?

and apparently is a co-founder and lead funder of one of the "right-wing organizations" that has taken over "the Left:"

Leslie Cagan's Pacifica Foundation is funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (which was recently taken over by what has been described as a "Right Wing coup"), the Rockefeller-funded Working Assets group, and the ubiquitous George Soros. Like PBS, the Pacifica Network recently went through a takeover drama where a cabal of Board members attempted to sell the station off to center-mainstream corporate interests. Cagan is also reportedly connected to the right-wing Ford Foundation, which funnels money to her through a Lesbian advocacy group known as Astraea.

And now, here he is, leading the fightr against right-wing megacorporations - along with the FBI and MI5, two organizations key to complicity in virtually every 9/11 conspiracy theory, along with Fox News.

Time to draw up a new flowchart, guys.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

No 9/11 Conspiracy Theory Can Survive Thirty Seconds of Google Searching: Episode 346

Blogger Paul Schreyer made a positively exhausting attempt to demonstrate that the United States Air Force “stood down” on 9/11. Sound familiar?

Given the vast quantity of 9/11 denier absurdity out there I usually give their videos until the first big bogus claim, and then I tune out (of course, this tends to mean tuning out after the first claim, period – but so far it doesn’t look like I’ve missed any shockers). I had some extra time today, so I gave it its first two.

You know precisely where it’s going from the start. It builds a cast of characters – in this case, a sort of caricature of the U.S. military’s chain of command, with Bush at the top and some of the staff at NEADS at the bottom – and begins with the claim that “the top of this chain of command was empty on 9/11” – this is false. President Bush spent the morning doing what all presidents are always doing – photo ops. What does it even mean to “stay out of the loop of military orders,” as the speaker intones? Let’s think of a counterfactual: how much weirder would it have been if the President was actually giving military orders on 9/11? That’s something that essentially never happens, and when it does, it makes headlines.

The barely grammatically coherent second claim falsely reads:

Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld abandoned his post and was not available for his air defense subordinates during the attack.

This is false as well – Rumsfeld was at the Pentagon during the attacks.

Marr tried to “obstruct” the process. Right. Let’s see what he means.

Two fighter pilots at Otis Air Force Base, 300 km northeast of New York, were alarmed [?] and sat in their jets ready to start their engines at around 8:42, even before any hijacked plane had hit the World Trade Center towers.

But than [sic] they had to wait.

Colonel Marr, who could have ordered them to take off immediately, chose not to do that. He made an unnecessary phone call with his boss, General Arnold, instead. In effect the order to take off was delayed for a crucial 3 to 4 minutes.

Without that delay the pilots could have intercepted the second hijacked plane, which crashed at 9:03.

Could Marr have ordered those planes to intercept a civilian aircraft? No. it would have been literally illegal for him to have done so – additionally, at 8:42 it was still unclear that any planes had been hijacked. Indeed, it wasn’t 8:42 that Flight 93 even took off, and Flight 175 wasn’t even actually hijacked until about 8:46.

And what was that “unnecessary call?”He was telling him about the possibility of a hijacking and the need to scramble planes.

Doesn’t this bullshit sound familiar? Haven’t 9/11 deniers made very similar claims before? Oh yes – just like the ones refuted years ago in Popular Mechanics’ great little books.

Claim: "It has been standard operating procedures for decades to immediately intercept off-course planes that do not respond to communications from air traffic controllers," says the Web site "When the Air Force 'scrambles' a fighter plane to intercept, they usually reach the plane in question in minutes."

9/11 deniers must be absolutely fucking exhausted by now. They’ve been making the same demonstrably false claims since 2003, and still have to pretend to each other that this shit isn’t already out there.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The "#1 Pick" at AboveTopSecret

Call me a masochist, but every so often I like to breeze on over to the AboveTopSecret forums to see what's out there. AboveTopSecret is essentially the hivemind of the conspiracy world - every daffy idea has its own dedicate pages, threads, and fervent readers. Today's front page advertised the thread for those who believe "The Gog/Magog War Prophesied In Ezekiel 38-39 Is Beginning," but of course I was most interested in what was "new" in the 9/11 denier forums. As I've repeatedly written there is little new under the sun in the land of 9/11 denial - the faith has had only minor tweaks since 2003 in most cases, with primary tenets about thermite added later in a desperate bid to revive the movement - and this proved to be no exception.

Here were the two threads that made the front page of AboveTopSecret: The "Most Read" and the "User Favorite" are partially presented below. All you need are the first few sentences of each thread (though I'll link to them as well) to get the gist.

Number one:

most focus about 911 is put on the towers, but the big proof of an inside job comes from the pentagon

the US refused to release anything about the pentagon and it was very hidden from the media
but any picture of the actual hole in the pentagon proves that it was not hit by a plane<
its simply not big enough, and does not resemble a collision at all but actually resembles explosive damage!

what more evidence do you need?

it would be impossible to fly a huge Boeing in at the angle it hit, especially with limited flight training

And number two:

I am calling all 9/11 official story believers:

This thread will either change your mentality and prove to you once and for all that 9/11 was an inside job, or you will remain in the dark believing in a flawed sequence of events. Hopefully an in depth investigation of most of the evidence which goes against the official story is enough to convince you.

The 'Loose Change Final Cut' which is available on YouTube completely debunks the official 9/11 story from top to bottom...

And, in case it wasn't obvious: One is either a deliberately lie or the obvious error of a dundering incompetent, and two is as well. But if you've been following us these past few years, you're so busy groaning and hitting your head against the desk with the obviousness of that fact that you probably already have those data sources memorized.

And just to be clear, my ordering was arbitrary: Either of these could've easily won the "number two" slot for content.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

You Must Read This 9/11 Poll

Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth released a poll claiming "48% of New Yorkers Support Building 7 Investigation." You can smell the desperation in their press release.

Following the launch of the TV ad campaign on Monday June 6, Remember Building 7 released the results from a new poll we commissioned, conducted by the Siena Research Institute, on what New Yorkers believe about 9/11.

The poll produced several findings that will be very useful as we continue to raise awareness about Building 7 and build public support for a new investigation. Among them:

• 1 in 3 New Yorkers were unaware of Building 7’s collapse, only 25 percent have ever seen video footage of the collapse, and 86 percent were unable to name the building;

• Of those aware of Building 7’s collapse, 24 percent believe it was a controlled demolition, 23 percent are unsure, and 49 percent believe it was caused by fires.

• Summarizing what New Yorkers know and believe about Building 7, roughly 1 in 6 are aware of Building 7 and believe it was brought down by controlled demolition, roughly 1 in 6 know about it and are unsure, roughly 1 in 3 know about it and believe the collapse was caused by fires, and 1 in 3 don’t know a third building collapsed;

• 28 percent – more than 1 in 4 – believe the Twin Towers were brought down with explosives or some other demolition devices in addition to being hit by airplanes.

Here's why even those pathetic numbers don't add up.

• Question 3 of their poll asks, "How satisfied are you that the government of the United States has provided a full and honest account of what happened that day? Do you think the government has told the whole story, most of the story, only some of the story or that in reality the government has tried to hide the truth about what happened
that day?" The responses: Whole story (18%), most of the story (35%), only some (25%), "has tried to hide the truth" (15%), and the DK/Ref (8%). One, it should be obvious that "all the facts" are not out there, so the "true," non-"alternative theory" answer is somewhere between "most" and "some" of the story. Far more people believe they have a reasonable idea of what happened than those who think there's a cover-up.

• This response biases the final point 9/11 deniers were going for; that is, the final question designed to tease out the key claim that "48% of New Yorkers support a new investigation." The final question asks,

Many have signed a petition calling for a NEW investigation into Building 7's collapse. Others consider the case closed and do not think a new investigation is warranted. Would you be in favor of or opposed to a local government agency like the New York City Council or Manhattan District Attorney opening a
new investigation into the collapse of World Trade Center Building 7?

This presents the false dichotomy of "case closed" or "new investigation" - as it is obvious that "the whole story" is not yet a matter of public record, and that the only options are either "stop talking about it" or "support a new investigation." Indeed, the fact that only 1/6 of respondents actually said "case closed" in Question 3 yet 44% said "case closed" in this penultimate demonstrates that even with dishonest framing, 9/11 deniers can not drum up support for their position.

The question about WTC7's collapse does not allow participants to provide the right answer. It asks what they thought the most likely cause was, and the first response (the evidence-based or "official story" response) is "Fires, that were a result of the impact of debris from the Twin towers, that burned throughout the day, leading to the failure of the building's steel frame." This is not what happened to WTC 7.

• A minor phraseology point, from my survey methodology days (disclaimer: author previously worked at a political polling firm): Why is the "official story" response phrased in a meandering, "laundry list" style while the conspiracy theory response is a simple, direct statement? So there's this thing in question phraseology called "framing"...

The question about the Twin Towers' collapse does not allow participants to provide the right answer, either. Its response options forced participants to choose between "Two planes only," "two planes and explosives," or "don't know." "Two planes only" is a wildly inaccurate response that essentially forces participants to lie in saying that structural effects played no role.

So even when they try to lie, 9/11 deniers get some pretty pathetic results. But to me, the worst part is that this poll seems to have deliberately targeted an unrepresentative sample of New York...

This survey managed to find almost twice as many college grads, five times as many unemployed people and ten times as many independents as New York City actually has to offer (For New York: Source, Source, Source) - who were able to answer a home telephone landline during the day (oddly, this survey didn't have the problem of upward age skew that most surveys have...). 40% of survey-takers were college grads compared to 27% of New Yorkers; 40% were unemployed vs. 8.6% of New Yorkers, and 23% vs. 2.3% were "registered independent/other."

Though almost certainly just an accident of lazy sampling, this survey looks an awful lot like it did something specifically to target unemployed grads with alternative political views. The prototypical 9/11 denier, anyone?

This survey produced unflattering results when the most dishonest measures were taken to make them flattering. Their third-rate pollster drummed up the biggest joke of a sample and could barely return pathetic support for 9/11 denial. They'll find a way to trump up what paltry results they can scrape out of their crosstabs: send 'em here to remind them what the numbers really say.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Starting to crack

Something happens to successful movements about the time people start calling them “successful.” In poli-sci speak they start to develop institutions and organizations. Institutions are rules, organizations are groups (mnemonic go: “The Constitution is an institution, while the nation is an organization”). 9/11 denial could only be college kids passing around Loose Change for so long. Alex Jones, Disinfo and others who profit from gullibility smelled cash in the water, and 9/11 denial had some organizations behind it. Along came Prisonplanet then the wave of “(appeal to authority X) for 9/11 Truth” sites, and we were off to the races.

This is a familiar story. The cottage publishing industry that rose up around President Kennedy’s assassination and the mini-movement of modern-day UFO hunters tell the same story: Once enough people with enough money are engaged in promoting an idea – any idea, a bad idea, a good idea – that idea is probably going to stick around. Today nobody really seems to give a shit if the Bavarian Illuminati secretly controls the world or if aliens crash-landed at Roswell, but we all immediately know what I’m talking about. Truthers have their own versions of dedicated sources of content and attention that keep their movement going.

But lately, those organizations have started to break down. Infowars and Prisonplanet can barely be troubled to cover 9/11 denial these days. Alex Jones has a lot more to be wrong about concerning fluoride and the President’s birthplace. Skeptics are literally running out of content about 9/11 denial because there is so little by way of new absurdity actually being produced. Indeed, we’re generating more books about them these days than they are. And 9/11 deniers are starting to turn on those who have wandered from the path. For example, 9/11 deniers now generally believe one of their own founding fathers is now clearly a "disinformation agent."

Yet its “institutions” – its norms and rules – remain. 9/11 deniers still must believe everything they’re told by the higher-ups. It is still unpatriotic to the 9/11 denial community to admit that the thermite theory chapter of conspiracy theories has failed and must be closed. The cargo-cult approach to science remains: veteran deniers are trapped at the table bobbing their heads at each other about laughable hypothesizing, embarrassing “data collection” techniques and non-analysis. Newcomers have nowhere to start: by starting to rely on nonsensical jargon, the cult has eliminated most of its ability to initiate new acolytes.

This is just the beginning of a larger theory about conspiracies I’m just starting to think about, but it seems that the institutions can greatly outlive the organizations. Organizations that thrive on conspiracy theory talk can easily hop from subject to subject, and so those theories are unstable: their primary clearing-houses can abandon them at any time. 9/11 denial is starting to look so sloppy and silly because it has no organizations to forward its institutions: it is rules without rulemakers and, like any unenforced legal system, has come to just look sad, silly and empty.

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Different Person Making The Same Claim Is Not A New Claim

Another appeal to authority has made a blog post at AE911.

Try to guess who made headlines in the 9/11 denier community for this quote:

“Looking at the building, it wouldn’t be a problem once you gained access to the elevator shafts… a team of loading experts would have access to all the core columns and beams.”

“The story that just a few column failures can cause a synchronized global collapse – an implosion – well, that’s just nonsense.”

“What I saw was a classic implosion. People on the ground reported exactly what I would have expected: waves of explosions going off, not one massive big boom.”

If you guessed "well shit, I mean, that could be Richard Gage, Frank Legge, Doug Plumb, Charlie Sheen,... the possibilities are endless!" you're absolutely right! Today's mouthpiece was an employee at a demolitions company named Tom Sullivan, who you should believe uncritically because he, uh, knows a lot about breaking into skyscrapers and secretly packing them full of explosives. Or something.

Dear 9/11 denial community: This is not "explosive evidence" [and puns aren't funny]. Just because a different person is making the same, demonstrably false arguments about impossible quantities of explosives, and nonexistent ninja teams in the World Trade Center doesn't mean you have "new facts" to deal with. Indeed, you seem to have someone who blindly accepted a Richard Gage DVD, began parroting it, and became an AE911 front-pager for his capacity to blindly parrot. Brah-fraking-vo.

He's got a pretty considerable mustache, though.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Now That's Just Lazy

When we don't have anything to update about (9/11 deniers don't have much going for them these days), we don't update. When PrisonPlanet doesn't have anything going on, it accuses Facebook of censoring stories. And steals stories from Redditors.

You know the story before they can even finish secreting it: They're saying Facebook "censors" stories from, say, conspiracy-minded blogs. Isn't that just somehow exhausting? I don't know, but my eyelids got dim at the mere suggestion.

Facebook is what they call a "network good:" it becomes higher-quality the more people use it, like telephones. One telephone user is useless. Six billion telephone users make a global network of semi-insant communication. The more content and clickthroughs Facebook can generate, the more useful it is as a site. Besides, aren't these the same people who bleet that Facebook is a "tool of the CIA?" Wouldn't they want users posting "subsersive" content so they know who to, I don't know, sic the dogs on?

By the by, check out the pathetic posting that these guys claim is being "censored:"

Because power shutdowns across North America and Europe are *exactly* what happened on Wednesday... Oy.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Alex Jones’ Incredibly Lame Bilderberg Coverage

Alex Jones is a study in self-parody. His spittle-flecked bluster about the end of the imminence of global catastrophe at the hands of the bogeyman of the day has been soggying microphones for decades. Since 1996 the world has been within mere hours of being conquered by the UN, the Bilderbergs, the Illuminati, China, the Bush Administration, the Obama Administration, the FDA, the NIS, the Fed, the Council on Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission… anyone who can fit in the conspiracy clown car is welcome. The point is, he’s been around long enough to play chicken little for the blooming and falling of many acorn trees, to be a broken clock yet to strike a correct second.

His hordes of dutiful and obedient followers have, with minor exception, never turned on him or questioned how he manages to be completely wrong about most everything. There are no signs of mass fluoride poisoning in the U.S.; our state borders are not controlled by foreign soldiers; the U.S. still has a national border; George Bush did not stay in power beyond two terms; Barack Obama has not deployed behavioral-science experiments at every TSA checkpoint (probably). A gold fetishist who weathered the collapse of gold prices last month without batting an eyelash; a paleoconservative who has witness the U.S. become less, not more, beholden to the U.N., he’s not one to obsess much over details. Right, wrong – they all sell DVDs. His fans have proven this.

Jones’ prognostications about the world and the actual unfolding of world events have absolutely no relationship, a statistically significant and negative relationship between prediction and outcome brought on by Jones’ insistence that everything in the headlines is his personal enemy. That is why WikiLeaks is mere sockpuppetry, Osama bin Laden is alive and well, and the border guard secretly work for the UN: Jones requires his gullible followers to believe the world is constantly getting smaller, that nothing changes except for the worse, and that they must always be afraid of anyone who tells them anything other than what Alex Jones wants them to believe.

Usually this bullshit parade is a blusterous, hysterical show: He oozes comically bad DVDs portraying marching UN troops in gas masks and soundtracks that would make the Ghost Hunters blush. He yells through a microphone to disinterested strangers mere feet away, as interns in black t-shirts write fellatory bravado about every psi of hot air he releases. He calls on luminaries like Charlie Sheen and Dylan Avery to show off his serious-scholar side. Overall, it is a fireworks display of dying brain cells worthy of the DC Fourth.

Thus, imagine my disappointment at his coverage of the Bilderberg Conference. The event is usually surrounded by more desperate idiots with videocameras than attendees, and its every second is covered from every angle like a hidden-cam show for drooling conspiracy theorists. Every possible rumor and innuendo surfaces un-sourced, each taken with more severity and gravitas than the last. Usually, twerps like Jones are in full form.

This time, though, something was missing. A protestor or two tussled with the cops. A Swiss MP said Henry Kissinger should be arrested. Clinton might have mentioned unrest in the Middle East, probably. Yawn.

There were no breakthroughs. No “bombshell” has yet been dropped, perhaps for the first time in years, about any particular insane conspiracy. The idea of arresting Kissinger is the closest they got. How could it possibly have gotten this lame? Is Jones really so bored?

I’m sure on some level Jones knows it is time to be bored. He has been wrong, loudly, often. His crusades on behalf of stupidity have been against windmills and hillsides, and well-funded by thousands of proudly-gullible conspiracy theorists who may finally have to admit after this ho-hum Archmeeting of the Global Elite that they really don’t have as much to bullshit about as they thought. Should Kissinger be arrested? I don’t really care. I don’t like the guy, and I don’t like his ideas. They have nothing about 9/11 yet. Nobody got drunk and blabbed about the condo he bought bin Laden to live out his days in. Nobody from the UN twirled his waxed black mustache and drew a map with a single Israeli flag on it. No word on the infant content of the hors d’ouevres.

Jones is an idiot that survives on the cleverness required to invent a new archenemy every few weeks, as each bleating of doom and gloom fails to come to fruition with ironically predictable regularity. He seems to be out of steam on this one. Could it be that the dunces’ Jefferson Davis has finally realized he has nothing to believe in?