Archive for the ‘Conspiracy Loons’ Category


Anti-halal campaigner sued over claims Islamic certification supports terrorism

New South Wales supreme court to hear case brought by head of Halal Certification Authority against Q Society and activist
Kirralie Smith, who runs the website HalalChoices, has been named in the defamation suit lodged by Mohammed El-Mouelhy.

Kirralie Smith

Photograph: YouTube

Michael Safi
@safimichael

A prominent anti-halal campaigner and the “Islam-critical” Q Society are being sued for defamation over their claims the Islamic certification industry is corrupt and funds “the push for sharia law in Australia”.

Mohammed El-Mouelhy, the head of one of Australia’s largest certifiers, Halal Certification Authority, began proceedings in the New South Wales supreme court last month against senior members of the Melbourne-based Q Society and Kirralie Smith, who runs the website HalalChoices.

The statement of claim alleges that two videos featuring Smith, one recorded at a Q Society event, portray El-Mouelhy as “part of a conspiracy to destroy Western civilisation from within” and “reasonably suspected of providing financial support to terrorist organisations”.

He also claims that Smith alleges in one of the videos that El Mouelhy once accepted the fee to certify a company without carrying out an inspection and that he conducts his business in a “dishonest manner”.

El Mouelhy is named in both videos and Smith makes specific allegations about his conduct. His company’s logo flashes on screen in the first clip, a slick 32-minute explainer of Smith’s concerns with halal certification that has been viewed more than 60,000 times.

The landmark case could have implications for the anti-halal movement in Australia, which briefly became prominent last November when a South Australian dairy company came under pressure from anti-halal activists and ditched its Islamic certification – at the cost of a $50,000 contract.

Smith’s website, which outlines her concerns with halal certification and provides lists of certified products, is a lightning rod for the movement, which despite an active online presence has done little to persuade major food manufacturers to forgo halal fees.

The halal food industry is worth about $2.3tn worldwide and halal exports account for about two-thirds of Australia’s $10bn food export market.

The Australian Crime Commission, which last year completed an investigation into money laundering in Australia, has said it is “not aware of any direct links” between the industry and violent extremist groups.

The Q Society organised for Dutch firebrand MP Geert Wilders to tour Australia in 2013 and regularly holds events warning of the “Islamisation” of Australian society. It has links to the Reverend Fred Nile’s Christian Democratic party.

Q Society board members Debbie Robinson, Peter Callaghan and Ralf Schumann are also named in the suit, as is YouTube, which hosts the two videos.

El Mouelhy, who has run his Halal Certification Authority for more than two decades, said he brought the action because his integrity had been attacked.

“I don’t like anybody to malign me, I’m an honest person and I don’t see why anybody should say these things,” he said.

Robinson declined to comment, citing legal advice. Smith also did not comment on the case, but told Guardian Australia her website “is about providing information to consumers so they can make a choice”.

A directions hearing in the defamation case is scheduled for 20 February.


Conspiracy theories explain the right                                                    

The conservative mindset is in decline.

Stories of cabals and secret plots provide comfort as its power wanes  

By Arthur Goldwag

Conspiracy theories explain the right

What just happened in Washington?

Ask a true conservative believer, and they’ll tell you that it was the birth of a terrible beauty. They’ll say the GOP’s true leaders, our nation’s future leadership, revealed itself in all its splendid, futile glory—only to be stabbed in the back by a “thundering herd of chicken-hearted Republicans in Name Only (RINOs)  galloping to the Left.”

If you asked me, I would say that we witnessed a recrudescence of a nihilistic tendency that has never been far from the surface in American politics—a conservatism that is as far from the dictionary definition of conservatism as Obama is from being a socialist. Last fall, on the eve of the election, I wrote in Salon that “America is becoming more multicultural, more gay-friendly and more feminist every day. But as every hunter knows, a wounded or cornered quarry is the most dangerous. Even as the white, patriarchal, Christian hegemony declines, its backlash politics become more vicious.” Was it vicious enough to strap a figurative suicide vest to its chest and threaten the U.S. with default? If you had asked me at the time, I would have said no. Little did I know.

Some of the Republican jihadists who pressed for default feel so personally violated by the presence of a black family in the White House that they would just as soon burn it down as reclaim it. And some live in such a bubble of denial—an alternate cognitive universe in which the poor lord it over the rich and white Christians are a persecuted minority, in which a president who was twice elected by an overwhelming popular majority is a pretender, and a law that Congress attempted to overturn more than 40 times was “never debated”—that they have convinced themselves that a default would have actually been a good thing, that it would have restored the U.S. economy to a sound foundation.

It is a triumph not so much of a conspiracy as of conspiracist thinking. As John Judis wrote in The New Republic last week, even “lobbyists I talked to cited….Richard Hofstadter’s essay on ‘The Paranoid Style in American Politics’ to explain the rise of the populist right. It’s the kind of reference you’d expect to read in a New Republic article, but not necessarily in a conversation with a business lobbyist.”

Lest I be accused of falling for a left wing conspiracy theory myself, I want to say a few words about “conspiracy theory” before I continue. “Conspiracy theory” is a loaded and frankly a bad term, one that unfairly besmirches any and all theorizing about conspiracies.

Bracketing all thinking about conspiracies with tall tales and outright delusions about secret societies whose leaders toast each other with blood drunk out of human skulls is unfair and misleading. Some anti-government conspiracy theories—that the Tonkin Gulf Incident didn’t happen as reported, for example, or that the CIA was involved with international dope dealers, are so far from being ridiculous that they turn out to be true. The NSA does have access to your emails. For that matter, a certain amount of toasting with skulls (if not actual blood) has been reliably reported to go on in some quarters.

Still, there are theories and then there are theories. Scientists know the difference between unfalsifiable ones like intelligent design and genuinely scientific ones like evolution. Theories about political conspiracies are harder to put to the test; absence of evidence, as Donald Rumsfeld once said, is not evidence of absence. In fact it’s the whole point.

I do think most people know the difference between a “conspiracy theory” in its pejorative sense—say, that the Fed takes its orders from a secret society of Jewish elders, who cause depressions and wars to further their plan of ruling the world—and its literal sense, such as a serious inquiry into Oswald’s relationship to the CIA.

Still, truth can be stranger than fiction and we need to respect that.

If I were to tell you that a cabal of Congressional Republicans had been quietly working with a roster of little-known political organizations since the last election, many of them funded by a pair of shadowy billionaire brothers, to bring the country to the brink of financial ruin, I’d understand it if you thought I was talking about a conspiracy theory. But really I’d be describing the sausage making that goes on in politics today and the blurry lines between lobbying and influence peddling—and even more than that, about the behavior of people who are so blinded by rage, so driven by their own fever dreams about Obama’s plot to turn the U.S. into a Third-World, multi-racial, socialist, Muslim, atheist paradise, that they would pay any cost to ruin his presidency.

But if there is still any question about what a bad conspiracy theory is, I’d like to submit as Exhibit A one proposed by an anonymous author at the Canadian website Press Core, which was promoted a couple of weeks ago by World Net Daily columnist and Fox News contributor Erik Rush (sometimes known as “the other Rush”) on his radio show. Part of what makes it a classically “bad” conspiracy theory, besides its tendentiousness, is its meanness. It’s like a push poll; its sole purpose is to propagate a meme that demonizes and delegitimizes the president. I think it also provides insight into the mindset that characterizes far-right thinking these days.

The Navy Yard shootings in D.C., this theory goes, was a false flag incident perpetrated by the Obama administration to stop the Navy from arresting the president for treason. The victims of the shooting, who were all NCIS commanders, the story continues, had discovered that Obama was planning an even more horrific false flag—he was going to explode a nuclear device in Washington, D.C., to justify going to war with Syria. Some of this “sounds like a conspiracy theory,” the other Rush admitted, but “a lot of stuff that seemed to some of us like conspiracy theories years ago turned out to be true over the last few months.”

One way to judge a theory is to look at its source. Is it a generally respected news gatherer or a propaganda mill?  Scanning the headlines at Press Core, I couldn’t help noticing another article, this one with the byline Paul W. Kincaid, the site’s editor. The piece reveals that the Vatican, the U.N., and the Third Reich have been working together on a covert and sinister plan to exterminate, and I am quoting now, “as many as 3 billion people through Vatican unholy wars of terror against Muslim and Jewish states, designer diseases, and famine.”

This story really astounded me, because it sees both Jews and Muslims as victims rather than perpetrators. That’s not what you usually read on websites of this kind, trust me. Some of the most virulently anti-Islamic websites today, many of them run by Jews, feature stories that could have been written by 1930s anti-Semites like Elizabeth Dilling or Gerald Burton Winrod, except the word Shariah replaces the word Kehilla, and instead of out-of-context quotes from the Talmud about the necessity of lying to the gentiles they are pulled from the Koran and refer to the supposed doctrine of Tawriya. Of course a major theme at those sites is Obama’s suspicious sympathies toward the Muslim world.

The theories that we file under the unfortunate rubric of conspiracy theories are theories of everything. They have a kind of metaphysical authority, and, in their confidence that everything is ultimately connected, a scope and a moral framework that is almost theological.

Most of all, they are reactive. Conspiracists are people who feel threatened—in their pocketbooks, their status, or both. Conspiracy theories explain what is happening to them and why, assigning blame to an adversary who is consciously and deliberately carrying out an evil intention.

Conspiracists use the word “evil” as a noun as well as an adjective; they believe that their adversaries are literally demonic. Much as a Kabbalist believes that God fashioned the world out of Hebrew letters, many conspiracists believe that their enemies sign the catastrophes that they cause in visual, numeric or symbolic codes.

They look backward nostalgically to what they’ve lost, they look forward with anxious expectation to a bloody reckoning. As a political candidate once said in an unguarded moment, they cling to their guns and their religion.

Conspiracism turns chaotic events into coherent narratives—surprisingly often, one that hews to the storyline of the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” an early 20th-century anti-Semitic pastiche that was cut and pasted together by Eastern Orthodox defenders of the absolute monarchy of the Tsar.

Conspiracy theories’ narratives unfold much as the storylines of massive multi-player online games do. They take place in a universe that’s bounded by hard-and-fast rules and peopled by broadly drawn, cartoon-like characters. Whatever happens is either part of the algorithm or something that one of the player gods has intentionally caused to happen.

You see this kind of thinking when you read claims that the Sandy Hook school shooting was staged by “actors,” or that purport to identify the fake blood and prosthetic limbs in the carnage after the Boston Marathon “false flag” bombing. Like the ancient Gnostics, or the characters in “The Matrix” or “The Truman Show,” they believe that God is a Satanic impostor—that the world is a deliberately constructed illusion, the opposite of the place that its designated authority figures purport it to be.

The Left, I freely admit, is not immune to conspiracy theories. If many of the “false flag” claims originate with quasi-Bircher populists like Alex Jones, they resonate in some leftist quarters as well. Communist dialectics and the theory of history that undergirds Premillennial Dispensationalism share some attributes; party propaganda was as filled with paranoid conspiracy theories (some of them true) as anything that the organized right has ever produced. But I do tend to think that the very reactiveness of reactionary thinking predisposes it to conspiracism a bit more. This is why as many extreme ideas resonate within the Republican mainstream as they do.

Conservatives, especially conservative white men of a certain age, many of them living in the states of the Old Dominion and the mountainous West, are feeling beleaguered in this fifth year of the Great Recession. As conservative as his governance has turned out to be in practice, the election of an African American president has tended to exacerbate their feelings of victimization.

Public Policy Polling has issued a couple of surveys on conspiracy theories this year. And belief pretty clearly breaks down along partisan lines:

  • 34 percent of Republicans and 35 percent of Independents believe a global power elite is conspiring to create a New World Order—compared to just 15 percent of Democrats.
  • Fifty-eight percent of Republicans believe global warming is a hoax; 77 percent of Democrats do not.
  • Sixty-two percent of Republicans and 38 percent of Independents believe the Obama administration is “secretly trying to take everyone’s guns away.” Only 14 percent of Democrats agree.
  • Forty-two percent of Republicans believe Shariah law is making its way into U.S. courts, compared to just 12 percent of Democrats.
  • More than twice as many Republican voters (21 percent) as Democrats (9 percent) believe the government is using “false flag incidents” to consolidate its power.
  • Forty-four percent of Republicans and 21 percent of Independents believe that Obama is making plans to stay in office after his second term expires. Only 11 percent of Democrats agree.

Most elected officials who traffic in conspiracy theories are too rich and successful themselves to believe in them; they deploy them opportunistically, to push voters’ emotional buttons. As Michael Tomasky wrote in The Daily Beast last week, “The rage kept the base galvanized….The rich didn’t really share the rage, or most of them. Even the Koch Brothers probably don’t….But all of them have used it. And they have tolerated it, the casual racism, the hatred of gay people, and the rest….because they, the elites, remained in charge. Well, they’re not in charge now. The snarling dog they kept in a pen for decades has just escaped and bitten their hand off.”

Back in the winter of 2012, a couple of weeks before my book “The New Hate: A History of Fear and Loathing on the Populist Right” was published, I was at a party at my sister’s house, and she introduced me to the husband of a friend of hers, a lawyer active in the Democratic party. I told him how conspiratorial memes about the Illuminati have echoed down to us from the 1790s, and how the influence of fringe groups like the John Birch Society extends beyond marginal figures like Alex Jones and Ron Paul and can even be discerned in the GOP’s campaign rhetoric.

He just laughed derisively. “What possible relevance do those nuts have today?” he said. “Nobody cares about them.” Judging from the recent events in Washington, I think it’s safe to say that his complacency was a bit premature.

Arthur Goldwag is the author, most recently, of “The New Hate: A History of Fear and Loathing on the Populist Right”

Charlie Veitch, the 9/11 Conspiracy Theorist Who Realized He Was Duped

Charlie Veitch the 9/11 Conspiracy Theorist Who Realized He Was Duped

Former “truther”, Charlie Veitch

Once one of Britain’s principal conspiracy theorists as well as friend to David Icke and Alex Jones, Charlie Veitch, was known as a 9/11 “truther.”  As soon as he realized that he had been duped, he stopped.  But that was when his problems really began.

According to an interview Veitch gave to the Telegraph, Veitch, who had been Right-wing, joined the Territorial Army (TA).  After a drunken night out with his best friend, his friend had turned to Veitch and told him that they had been lying to him.  He told Veitch that 9/11 was not what he thought it was and that he was being given “special knowledge.”  Veitch’s friend went on to show him a video entitled Terrorism: A History of Government Sponsored Terror, a video that was produced by US radio talk presenter, Alex Jones.

Veitch was shortly after made redundant, so with some of his payout, he purchased a camcorder and megaphone, in the style of Alex Jones. He used eccentric methods to publicly express his beliefs, such as swooping on public spaces and embarking public transport to make announcements to whoever was available to listen.  In one piece of footage, Veitch was heard to say to a group of passengers: “I am a proponent of the idea that the Twin Towers were brought down in a controlled demolition manner.  Those buildings would not have collapsed in the slightest from a Boeing 767 hit.”

Charlie Veitch the 9/11 Conspiracy Theorist Who Realized He Was Duped

But one June afternoon, in New York City’s Times Square, Veitch began to film himself on his cell phone, as he made statements to camera about the devastation of the World Trade Center.  Only this time, his message was different from all the others he had posted on Youtube.  In the video, he said that he no longer believed that 9/11 was an inside job.

Because of his conspiracy theory films and the fact that he was at the forefront of what is known as “The Truth Movement” arm in the UK, Veitch had been approached by the BBC to go on an all-expenses paid 9-day trip to the United States, to examine these “conspiracies” from a scientific standpoint, with a view to furnish him with real information.

In the BBC program, entitled 9/11: Conspiracy Road Trip, 4 additional individuals, with divergent opinions from the official account of events of 9/11, had been selected to go on the road trip with Veitch.

The conspiracy theorists were given the opportunity to talk to building engineers, scientists, FBI and CIA agents, demolition experts and designers of the World Trade Center.  They were also allowed to talk to relatives of those who had tragically lost their lives, as well as pay a visit to the Pentagon, the World Trade Center in Manhattan and the Pennsylvania United Flight 93 site.

After all of the scientific evidence was put to Veitch, he did something completely out of the ordinary for a hardcore “truther.”  He did a U-turn and changed his mind.  Standing in front of the White House, on that sunny day in June, Veitch spoke to the BBC presenter and road trip leader, Andrew Maxwell. In front of the BBC camera, Veitch told him:

“I found my personal truth and you don’t have to agree with me, but I can’t push propaganda for ideas that I no longer believe in and that’s what I do, so I just need to basically… take it on the chin, admit I was wrong, be humble about it and just carry on.”

Before the end of his road trip, Charlie Veitch held up his cell phone in the middle of Times Square, pointed the phone’s camera on himself and told the world that he had changed his mind, that he had been wrong.  He said:

“This universe is truly one of smoke screens, illusions and wrong paths, but also the right path, which is [to] always be committed to the truth.  Do not hold on to religious dogma.  If you are presented with new evidence, take it on, even if it contradicts what you or your group might be believing or wanting to believe… you have to give the truth the greatest respect… and I do.”

Charlie Veitch the 9/11 Conspiracy Theorist Who Realized He Was Duped

Veitch’s turning point piece-to-camera at Times Square

After Veitch posted his video, the 9/11 Truth Movement’s reaction to one of its most prominent “truthers” changing his mind was one to be expected.  Veitch was labeled a flip-flop, a shill sellout who was taking cash for working for the BBC.  The Truth Movement did what any organization of its kind would do to someone who, for want of a better term, came to their senses.  They tried to discredit him.

Veitch told Myles Power in his BBC-funded interview, how he once had too much time on his hands, “Idle hands are the conspiracy theory world’s ideal way to get into your head,” he said, as he described how he started to watch Alex Jones and David Icke documentaries, as well as other scientific theory videos which he said spun a pretty convincing yarn on its conspiracies.  He became convinced that the Illuminati were behind it all, with its so-called New World Order.  After becoming absorbed by his interest in conspiracy theories, he took up his megaphone and camera and began to make films about them, which he said, elevated him to a “high priest” status of the Truth Movement.

But so with age, comes wisdom and reason.  Veitch began to look critically at the proponents of the conspiracy theories, beginning to not only question what could have been in it for the establishment to have blown up the World Trade Center, but in a sudden turnaround, he questioned the agenda of those who now came across to him as crazier and angrier than the actual perpetrators of terror; the Truth Movement.  He also said that the risk factor would be far too great for such so-called powers of the establishment, who had too much to lose, to instigate such an atrocity and then attempt to shroud it in secrecy.

He went on that the paper trail would be too vast and that there would be more likelihood of other world powers, with advanced technological methods of getting a hold of such information, should it even exist, than an organization like the Truth Movement.  He concluded by saying that if things were truly as the Truth Movement had claimed, then there would be a civil collapse, should the evidence be presented, but that there is no evidence, because it was not an inside job.

Veitch said that before he accepted the BBC’s offer of the road trip, that the activist, conspiracy, new age and spiritual worlds seemed to love him, but he now admits how he became arrogant and fell for the hype.  He had believed that the Truth Movement was about being purveyors of truth in the world, but realized that it was closer to a religious cult, with its indoctrination methods.

Charlie Veitch’s Times Square video provoked such aggressively negative responses from Truth Movement followers, who sent him messages telling him to rot in hell, that he was simply a pawn and that he was paid to do it.  Within days, he was renounced by his friends and sent death threats.  An email had been sent to his followers, claiming to be from Veitch and falsely admitting that he was a pedophile: a message that ultimately reached his mother, causing her utter distress.

Another follower had created a channel on Youtube, entitled Kill Charlie Veitch.  On the channel, he had said that he was coming to kill Veitch and that he should enjoy his last few days.  His face had also been superimposed on to a pig as it was being slaughtered.  Even David Icke had posted a message to say that Veitch would deeply regret his actions, while Alex Jones told him not to even bother communicating with him, as he no longer knew him.

In an interview on AdamVsTheMan on RT, Veitch opened up about how he had spent 4-5 years looking at the conspiratorial view on 9/11 until the BBC helped present him with hard facts.  He talked about how he already began to have his doubts before the US road trip, but really felt his change of heart when he was standing on top of Building 7 at the World Trade Center site, having just grilled building experts on the nature of the collapse of the Twin Towers.

Veitch has concluded that conspiracy theorists are professional victims who have a hatred of high achievers and who were likely to have been bullied at school.  He put his misdirection down to his vulnerable ego and has, unsurprisingly, become very cynical and misanthropic.  He may have come to his senses now, but he will always be remembered as The 9/11 Conspiracy Theorist Who Realized He Was Duped.

Veitch currently lives with his young child and fiancée in Manchester, England and is planning to become a documentary maker.

Written by: Brucella Newman

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iLLuMiNuTTi.com

by The Locke via The Soap Box

911-world-trade-center-conspiracy_350A few months ago I did one of these “5 Things I’ve noticed about…” articles on the people in the 9/11 Truth Movement, and it had me thinking to myself “what about the conspiracy theories that the people in the 9/11 Truth Movements promote?”

So what about those conspiracy theories, and what are some of the biggest things about them that just stand out? Well, I’ve noticed a lot of things about them, and I’ve narrowed them down to five different things.

So here are five things I’ve noticed about 9/11 conspiracy theories:

5. There are a lot of them.

Probably one of the biggest problems with the 9/11 conspiracy theories is that there are more than one of them, instead of just one that the people who believe in and focus on.

For some people these can be confusing not only…

View original post 438 more words


Six really stupid 9/11 conspiracies debunked in about six  seconds

by: ANTHONY SHARWOOD

Nah, that's just a missile. And Santa Claus is the pilot. (AP Photo/Carmen Taylor, File)

Nah, that’s just a missile. And  Santa Claus is the pilot. (AP Photo/Carmen Taylor, File)   Source: AP

PSYCHOLOGISTS will tell you that even perfectly sane people have the ability  to accept wild conspiracy theories. The more powerless or alone we feel, the  more likely we are to develop such theories.  

It’s all linked to self-esteem. If you’re the sort of person who feels  isolated or disenfranchised, you’re much more likely to develop wild theories as  a way of making you seem more knowledgeable, more powerful, more special.

That might help explain why many Americans are into conspiracies. The irony  of our technologically over-connected age is that there are scores of socially  disconnected people sitting in dark rooms extrapolating all sorts of crap from  factoids they find online. Here are six of the worst:

STUPID THEORY 1: The US government did it

SIMPLE REBUTTAL: People who say it was an inside job are split into  two camps. There are those who say the US government cooked up and enacted the  whole crazy plot, and those who say they let it happen without intervention. In  both cases, conspiracists generally claim that the aim was to give the Bush  government an excuse to wage war on the Islamic world.

So here’s your simple rebuttal. US governments have shown for decades that  they will intervene when and where it suits them. The last thing they need to do  to justify any foreign policy is kill 3000 of their own citizens.

STUPID THEORY 2: The twin towers did not collapse. They were  demolished.

SIMPLE REBUTTAL: 9/11 “truthers”, who would perhaps be more accurately  described as 9/11 “liars”, like to rope in an expert to tell you that no office  fire ever made a building topple. Well, that’d be because no office fire was  ever as big as these two, with as much jet fuel to help it along.

But the real reason the twin towers collapsed was structural. Most buildings  have their core structural supports at the centre. The towers had some major  central steel columns, but that elegant exterior steel shell was also crucial in  providing perimeter support. Also, the perimeter columns supported massive steel  trusses which supported each floor.

So basically, when the exterior of the building was penetrated so  devastatingly by the planes, the structure’s ability to hold itself up was  threatened. So when one floor went, the combined weight meant they all went.

highjacked airliners

Pretend the towers were a  conspiracy theory. Then pretend they were subjected to the force of logic.  Here’s your result. 11/09/2001. Source: AFP

STUPID THEORY 3: World Trade Center 7 did not collapse. It was  demolished.

SIMPLE REBUTTAL: Riiiight, so the world’s tallest tower collapses on  its neighbour less than 200m across the road. You’ve got 110 storeys of rubble  pummelling a 47-storey building, setting it on fire, covering it in untold extra  weight and inflicted untold stresses. And later that day, when the smaller  building collapses, it’s obvious the CIA did it with explosives. And Elvis left  the building right before it happened.

Oh, and if you want a secondary explanation of why the building really wasn’t  toppled by mysterious people with explosives, try googling any of the so-called  architects or engineers in the wacky YouTube vids. Almost none of them appear to  be either a) currently employed or b) affiliated with any group other than 9/11  conspiracy groups.

STUPID THEORY 4: FLIGHT 93 was shot down in Pennsylvania and the  people who were supposedly on it were murdered or relocated.

SIMPLE REBUTTAL: The small jet flying low in the area, which some  believe shot down Flight 93, was in fact a business jet which had been  instructed to fly low to inspect the wreckage. Also, the log of calls made from  Flight 93 is pretty compelling evidence that those were real people aboard a  hijacked jet. If these people are actors who are actually still alive somewhere,  the real mystery is why they haven’t made squillions in Hollywood. Because they  were seriously convincing.

Shanksville

And they’re fake trees and that’s  a fake wall and Gilligan is still stuck on Gilligan’s Island. Picture: Jeff  Swensen/Getty Images/AFP Source: AFP

STUPID THEORY 5: There was no “stand down” order, which proves the US  government dunnit.

SIMPLE REBUTTAL: A stand down order is an order from the North  American Aerospace Defence Command (NORAD) to scramble fighter jets. This didn’t  happen until too late on September 11, prompting conspiracists to say the  government deliberately held off to let the carnage unfold.

But NORAD didn’t actually track flights within America prior to 9/11. Also,  the hijackers turned off the transponders on their planes, which meant Air  Traffic Control couldn’t track them. And NORAD needed an alert from Air Traffic  Control to act. So basically, you had a system which ensured bureaucratic  bungles, but that’s a far cry from complicit officials.

STUPID THEORY 6: They weren’t planes, they were missiles.

SIMPLE REBUTTAL: Some of the worst nutters claim that the original  planes which struck the twin towers weren’t planes but missiles. This was  fuelled by an early eyewitness account broadcast on live TV from a journalist  who said he thought the first plane had no windows. But the journalist saw the  plane in a blink of his eye – a fact ignored by conspiracists who have seized on  this statement.

The obvious plane-sized holes in the buildings are a bit of a giveaway too.  But you know, maybe they were just caused by Batman or something.


Glenn Beck Now Says He’s ‘Embarrassed’ That He Voted For Mitt Romney                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

by Kyle Mantyla

 

As we noted earlier this month, Glenn Beck has completely turned against Mitt Romney, claiming that he was nothing more than a progressive as he now asserts that he only voted for him because he had no other option.

On his radio program today, Beck and his co-hosts were declaring that never again will they support a Republican presidential nominee that they don’t agree with simply because they dislike that candidate less than the Democratic candidate, saying they’ve had to do so with every GOP nominee since Ronald Reagan, including Mitt Romney.

Beck said that while he is not embarrassed to have voted for Romney “because of the decorum that he would have brought back” to the Oval Office, he is “embarrassed that that’s what I cast my vote for because I’m convinced he would have been going into Syria at this point.”

He went on to declare, 2:00 minutes in, that Romney would have “really let us down” because he would have refused to repeal President Obama’s health care reform “even though he ran on it.”

Let us point out that during the campaign, Beck spent every day telling his audience that Romney was a modern-day George Washington and Abraham Lincoln: If Glenn Beck had any credibility left, this absurdly self-serving rewriting of his passionate support for Mitt Romney would have probably destroyed it for good.

 

 

More here:-

http://www.rightwingwatch.org/content/glenn-beck-now-says-hes-embarrassed-he-voted-mitt-romney


Government use of conspiracy theory: Operation INFEKTION
Art: Burning heart by Leslie Ann O’Dell. Listening: Black Star by Lustmord.

A future common theme on this blog will be that governments don’t just partake in conspiracies, but they also create and amplify conspiracy theories. Note the difference here. The former is legal term about individuals colluding in secret; while the latter pertains to a narrative about these collusions. One is ontological to do with the world; while the other is epistemic to do with beliefs about the world.
There are various reasons why governments would need to create a belief in conspiracy. Sometimes it is to cover up black projects or intelligence failures, i.e. covering up real conspiracies. Other times the conspiracies are created as offensive weapons against some international actor, i.e. creating fake conspiracies. For the moment, I’d like to discuss the aforementioned reason from a case that is in actual scholarly literature: Operation INFEKTION, which was the Soviet disinformation campaign to pin the origin of AIDS on the USA.

A good source on this disinformation operation is an essay entitled “AIDS Made in the USA”: Moscow’s Contagious Campaign, which is from the book The New Image Makers: Soviet Propaganda & Disinformation Today. The author is the noted historian of counterintelligence Roy Godson. You won’t find this essay published on the Internet, which is unfortunate given it is a well-reasoned argument giving us a clear example of governments creating conspiracy theories (I may get around to scanning it, and putting it up on this blog). The reason why this clear example is so important is because it allows us to draw some broader themes of how governments go about spreading disinformation. True believers in high weirdness and conspiracy circles often accuse each other of spreading disinformation, and it sometimes becomes hard to sort the wheat from the chaff. A clear non-bullshit example can be quite illuminating.
Godson argues in the essay that the “AIDS was made in the USA” disinformation campaign was created by the KGB in 1985. They continued this disinformation campaign for around two years. Godson identifies five reasons why they did this:

  1. To discredit the United states by falsely claiming that AIDS originated in CIA-Pentagon experiments.
  2. To discourage undesirable political contact with Westerners by portraying them as potential carriers of the disease.
  3. To create pressure for removal of US military bases overseas on the grounds the US service personnel spread AIDS.
  4. To undermine US credibility in the Third World by maintaining that hypotheses about the African origin of AIDS are an example of Western, and especially American, racism, and;
  5. To divert attention from Soviet research on biological warfare and genetic engineering and to neutralize accusations that the Soviet Union has used biochemical agents in Asia.

Notice the two wider themes here of using conspiracy theory. (1) to (4) are all examples of undermining the ethos or moral stature of some actor or groups. (5) is an example of diverting attention away from an actual conspiracy. These twin themes of undermining ethos and diverting attention from actual conspiracies will arise again in future posts about government use of disinformation. Also, when I say ethos, I mean in the rhetorical sense. To undermine someone’s ethos in rhetoric is to undermine their character. This is important in rhetoric, as building rapport with the audience by appealing to one’s character and moral stature is one of the foundations for a rhetorical speech.

I won’t recount the timeline of how this disinformation campaign came about. You can read the Wikipedia article above on the operation to recount this. But some other tidbits worth noting here are the following:
The disinformation campaign started in newspapers in Russia and India. They then spread to radio, and then other sources from around the world picked up on the disinformation. This disinformation campaign was also backed by pamphlets, which were spread in Africa. One of these pamphlets was written by biologist named Jacob Segal, and was backed by (what appeared to be) scientific reasoning. Segal was then cited in a news article in England, which then spread the disinformation about the planet like wildfire. Once major papers from around the planet picked up on it, the KGB no longer used their primary sources. Instead they started spreading the disinformation by stating other major papers from around the planet had confirmed the theory about AIDS. What we can learn from these is that:

  • disinformation can be sophisticated. It can use individuals that people trust (like scientists), and can dress itself up with reasonable arguments.
  • disinformation campaigns can use multiple sources (radio, newspapers, pamphlets).
  • disinformation campaigns will try to hide the original sources. Once the campaign is in the open, they may switch to sources that their targets may trust (in this case, domestic newspapers). In rhetoric this is a combination of using kairos (the opportune moment to switch sources), combined with exploiting ethos (sources people trust).

Godson also has a lengthy paragraph on how the AIDS campaign was, “a diversionary tactic against claims that the Soviet Union has used biochemical weapons in Cambodia, Laos, and Afghanistan and is engaged in genetic-weapon research.” The first claim about chemical weapons pertains to Yellow Rain. Those interested in disinformation should also read that Wikipedia article on Yellow Rain for a possible similar campaign conducted by the USA. The second claim about genetic-weapons pertains to US attempts to undermine Soviet bioweapons research via UN arms control treaties (Godson quotes a State Department report here). Godson states that one of the aims was to “muddle the debate” between bio-chemical weapons and AIDS.
So finishing up, we have the two aims of government use of conspiracy theory:

  1. To undermine ethos, and;
  2. To divert attention away from actual conspiracies.

We also have some general properties of these disinformation campaigns:

  • They can be epistemologically sophisticated.
  • The sources will change themselves according to the opportune moment for spreading the disinformation.
  • They will take into consideration the targets of the campaign, and will use sources that the target trusts.

Now, true-believing conspiracy theorists might state something along the lines of, “Yeah, but how do we know this Operation happened? It could be a conspiracy theory about a conspiracy theory.” The answer to this, is that it actually happened. You can look up old news archives and find the disinformation spread in actual newspapers. There are also multiple corroborating sources that this event occurred, including sources from the Russian parliament and members of the East German Stasi admitting to the campaign. Godson has 26 footnotes to his essay, most of which are primary sources. I will endeavour to upload a scan of this essay in the future.