Thursday, September 30, 2010

No accounting for taste: Glenn Greenwald supports conspiracy monger Alan Hart (...or does he? See comments.)




What does it mean to "like" someone on Facebook?  Salon Columnist Glenn Greenwald says that he is a fan of anti-Israel conspiracy theorist Alan Hart.  I wonder why.  (See screenshot from Hart's website above.  Hart's Facebook widget featuring Greenwald's image is located on the right side.)

Does Greenwald share Alan Hart's belief that, on 9/11, Israeli agents controlled the planes that crashed into the World Trade Center via remote control devices hidden in cell phones?  Does he agree with Hart that Israel has stolen nuclear weapons from a U.S. military base and intends to use them to destroy an American city? (Read my column documenting Hart's conspiracy theories here.)  In May, Hart not only made those bizarre assertions, he also claimed in radio/podcast interviews with conspiracy mongers Kevin Barrett and Alex Jones that he had proof that the World Trade towers were destroyed by controlled demolition, i.e. that explosives had been planted within the buildings and were detonated after the plane crashes to bring down the towers. (This implausible belief is an essential part of truther conspiracy theories.) Hart said in those interviews that his proof for this controlled demolition conspiracy, which he claimed came from a source within "one of the world's leading engineering firms", resided on a laptop to which he didn't then have access because he was away from home on a U.S. speaking tour. That was more than four months ago, and Hart has still not come forward with the computer file that, if it actually existed, would undoubtedly provide him with the biggest scoop of his career as a journalist.  Maybe Hart just hasn't gotten around to looking for it.

I don't believe that Greenwald shares Alan Hart's belief in these bizarre theories, but his "liking" Hart does raise the question: how crazy does an anti-Zionist have to be to be too crazy for Glenn to like?

(The Facebook widget featuring Greenwald's image was found here: Obama speaks at the UN… Goodbye to peace - Alan Hart)

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Senate Candidate Sharron Angle Speaks at John Birch Society Event

Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs writes:

There was a time when openly associating with the cranks, racists, and conspiracy freakazoids of the John Birch Society would have spelled instant disaster for a politician’s career.
But in today’s climate of right wing extremism, the John Birch Society has not only been re-legitimized, it’s been welcomed back into the Republican fold.
This weekend the JBS held an event in Utah, and the featured speaker was none other than Nevada’s GOP nominee for the US Senate, Sharron Angle. (The link is to Google’s cache of a JBS website.)


More here: Little Green Footballs - GOP Candidate Sharron Angle Speaks at John Birch Society Event

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Iranian regime marks 9/11 by promoting "9/11 truth" conspiracy theories

In honor of the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, PressTV, Iran's primary English language propaganda outlet, has published articles stating that "9/11 truth" conspiracy theories have exonerated Islamist terrorists for the attacks. These conspiracy theories, which allege that the World Trade Center was destroyed not by plane crashes but by explosives planted in the buildings by conspirators, were presented in a New York City press conference timed to coincide with 9/11 commemorations being held there. (Read here: PressTV - 'Evidence proves 9/11 story is a lie', and here, in an article concerning President Obama's 9/11 commemorative speech. 1/3 of that article is devoted to spurious claims by a group called Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth.) Here's a portion of the former article, which PressTV claims to prove the official story of 9/11 to be a lie:

A day before the ninth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth say evidence regarding the destruction of the World Trade Center towers has emerged that show pre-set explosives were used in the demolition of the buildings.

Gregg Roberts, who is a member of the non-profit organization disputing the results of official investigations into the September 11 attacks, says the “official story is a lie, it is a fraud.”

According to experts, the Twin Towers suffered total destruction within 10-14 seconds in near free fall accelerations which can only occur as a result of pre-set demolition explosives.

“There had to be explosives, there is no other way for the building to come symmetrically straight down... like a tree if you cut into the tree it falls to the side, that you cut,” said Steven Dusterwald, another member of the truth seeking organization.
The group also asserts that molten metal was found after the 9/11 inquiry.

“Jet fuel and office fires cannot melt iron or steel. They don't even get half as hot as that and so something else was there, very energetic material that had to be placed throughout the buildings,” Roberts said.

“Once we take the blinders off, we can see. There are very few people in America who have taken the blinders off. So we are assisting people by showing them the evidence,” said founder of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth Richard Gage.

“The 600 architects I represent are most concerned about the freefall collapse of [World Trade Center] Building 7, the third skyscraper [that was] not hit by an airplane to fall on the afternoon of 9/11...the whole building is destroyed in 6.5 seconds,” the American Free Press quoted Gage as saying.

World Trade Center 7 reportedly collapsed about eight hours after the main World Trade Center towers fell.

The new evidence makes void the official story line that 19 al-Qaeda terrorists hijacked four commercial airliners and crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City.


The PressTV article fails to specify the "new evidence (that) makes void the official story" of 9/11, only citing the assertions made at this press conference concerning the impossibility for the towers to have collapsed in a downward direction unless they were helped along by planted explosives. I know from their organization's title that these people are architects and engineers, so I can't explain their confusion on this subject. In my experience, objects tend to fall in a downward direction, so the trajectory of the falling towers presents no mystery. Of course, in my experience, I have never seen a massive high-rise building "fall like a tree" as they have. While the truther architects and engineers have yet to cite examples of such tree-like high-rise building collapses, they continue to assert them to be typical. It seems that they know something that everyone else doesn't.

To be clear: as a rule, 9/11 truth conspiracy theories raise easily answered questions concerning how the towers were destroyed, claim that they are unanswered by "the official story", then offer easily refuted counter-theories as to what really happened. The assertions of this truther group and the credulous report by PressTV follow precisely this pattern.

Having thus exonerated al-Qaeda for 9/11, PressTV found an authority to quote on who actually was to blame. Mike Gravel, a quirky dark-horse presidential candidate in the 2008 Democratic primaries proclaims the truth of "9/11 truth", although he is neither an architect nor an engineer. Here's how PressTV quotes him:

“If there is a responsible party,” former US Senator Mike Gravel told Press TV, “it ends with [former US President George W.] Bush and it comes down to [Former Vice President Dick] Cheney and then it comes down to the military and the various bureaucracies. No question that this kind of activity goes to the very top.”

In reaching the conclusion that 9/11 was an inside job, PressTV, Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth and Mike Gravel follow the pattern they see in the collapsing buildings. They have reached that conclusion more quickly and in a straighter line than mere reliance on the evidence can explain. This logical collapse must have been helped along by bias and bad faith.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Truther Conference Backs John Birch Society Anti-U.N. Conspiracy Theories

I wrote recently about a conference of 9/11 truthers scheduled to take place in New York over the next several days. (Read here.) This conference will feature several days of rallies, meetings, speeches and TV broadcasts timed to coincide with the ninth anniversary of the attacks.  It will also feature a demonstration at the World Trade Center site which, according to the conference webpage, may be planned to disrupt the reading of names of the victims by reading additional names they claim should, but are not, being honored.  Conspiracy fabulists such as Wayne Madsen, Cynthia McKinney, Paul Craig Roberts and Jason Bermas are scheduled to speak at conference events, as are former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, George Galloway, Mark Crispin Miller, Cindy Sheehan and Ray McGovern.

I've looked at the webpage set up by the conference sponsors, a group called "We Are Change", and was shocked to see the degree to which they promote anti-U.N. conspiracy theories which originated with the John Birch Society and other far-right groups of the cold war era.  The birchers and others on the far-right promoted a belief that the Rockefeller family, in concert with a global communist conspiracy, pushed the creation of the U.N. as part of a plan to create a "one world government" which they would lead.  Based on the list of participants in the conference, I assumed that "We Are Change" is essentially of the left, but I guess that I was wrong.   Here's an example of what can be found on the conference webpage, from a video promoting the group's 2009 9/11 conference in New York:





The speaker in that video, standing in front of the U.N., starts oddly by saying "as you see behind me, that building is sitting on land donated by the international globalist David Rockefeller."  I'm not sure how I'm supposed to see that, but, moving on, he gets into the really bad craziness.  The video claims that, after the failure of the League of Nations, "the elite" deliberately started World War II as part of a conspiracy to create an organization which, he says, was intended "to centralize power into a few hands".  Pointing ominously at the U.N. building, he goes on to claim that the United Nations is a sort of den of Satanists:

"They are highly into the New Age Movement.  There's a room in the back called the Meditation Room which has a black stone altar in it.  Very occultish (sic).  The people in here highly revere people such as Benjamin Creme, Helena Blavatsky and Alice Bailey, who formerly founded (the) Lucifer Trust, which is now known as the Lucis Trust. We are here today to let the world know that we are not down with the New World Order.  We are not happy with One World Government, and we are here to say we don't want that at all." 

This strange speech is followed on the video by scenes of a crowd of angry demonstrators chanting outside the office of Larry Silverstein, the developer of the World Trade Center site, whom they implicate in the conspiracy.  There are shots of angry faces chanting "pull it, Larry, pull it," a reference to a truther belief that Silverstein not only ordered the destruction of his building via controlled demolition, but that he also revealed this inadvertently in a contemporaneous television interview.  This is followed by the chant "we are change, we are change..."

These demonstrators, whether they know it or not, are very much the children of the birchers, as are the tea partiers and Glenn Beck supporters.  These are all divergent streams of the paranoid style of American politics.


Looking down the conference webpage we have the following addition to the truther group's mission statement:

This event will also focus on many issues including corporate-controlled Media, the private banking cartel, the military industrial complex, Climate Change/Gate, Big Pharma and the unwelcomed (sic) influx of GMO foods.

Which of these things is not like the other?  Am I wrong to read in that otherwise standard-issue conspiracy theory litany that We Are Change are climate change deniers?  (They may be change, but they are apparently not climate change.)

There's a lot more at the webpage.  Check it out here: 2010 - Our Lives After 9/11.  I wonder whether all the participants in this conference understand what it is and who their associates in this movement really are.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Truthers to mark 9/11 with NYC rallies, conspiracy theory conferences

New York 9/11 Memorial "9/11 Truth" Conference to Highlight Conspiracy Theories

Both anti-mosque fanatics and 9/11 conspiracy theory fanatics are targeting NYC for major rallies around 9/11. Nine years after the attacks there's been a shift in thinking about them. The city that was the main target of the attacks is now fair game for those who stand to gain politically from exploiting them.

It's bad enough that Pamela Geller is planning an anti-Muslim rally to commemorate and/or desecrate 9/11 in New York City this year. (Geller is campaigning to make Lower Manhattan a First Amendment-free zone.)  Now New York will also be subjected to a series of 9/11 truth conspiracy theory meetings and rallies to mark and/or mar the tragic anniversary, featuring a number of speakers associated with extreme anti-American and anti-Israel views verging on the paranoid. (Read here.) Under the aegis of a 9/11 truth group called WE ARE CHANGE, the scheduled speakers include a number of potentially offensive participants. Here's a partial list, highlighting some problematic participants:


  • Jonathan Elinoff
  • Cynthia McKinney 
  • Wayne Madsen 
  • Mike Gravel 
  • George Galloway 
  • Paul Craig Roberts 

Jonathan Elinoff is a conspiracy theorist who blogs with the makers of the most most popular truther video, Loose Change.  In 2009, Elinoff made his own video called In the Shadows, the first of an intended series called Core of Corruption.  He has devoted his career to promoting the idea that a small army of Israeli intelligence officers pretending to be art students infiltrated the United States and carried out the 9/11 attacks.  An example of his writing on this can be read here:  Israeli Art Students Had WTC Construction Passes.  Here's the trailer for his video:




Cynthia McKinney has in recent years gone from being a U.S. Congresswoman and Green Party presidential candidate, to devoting herself to campaigning against Israel and promoting absurd conspiracy theories, sometimes making common cause with the racist far-right to do so.  (Read here and here and here.)  She has, in recent years, argued that the United States government is completely under the control of "Zionist agents", and that it deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen.  She has also endorsed the conspiracy theories of Matthias Chang who claims that a conspiracy of Zionist "shadow money-lenders" is destabilizing the world both via false flags attacks and economic crashes in order to take it over.

Wayne Madsen is an internet journalist and conspiracy fabulist who runs a website called the Wayne Madsen Report, where he promotes conspiracy theories blaming Israel, "neo-cons" and "Zionists" for 9/11.  Read here for examples.  He somehow connects his Mossad 9/11 conspiracy to everything from Israelis working at shopping mall kiosks (read here) to alleged Pakistani intelligence involvement in the assassination of Benazir Bhutto (read here) to the influence of "Jewish mobsters"  (read here).  Madsen routinely writes columns without any indication of sources, making outlandish and unsupportable claims without any provenance, such as that he made in a 2009 column alleging that Israel is secretly colonizing Iraq (read here and here).  The Atlantic's Andrew Sullivan reported that Madsen's anti-Israel columns were translated into Arabic and published in Iraq and other Arab countries, where they actually had their desired effect (read here.)  Those who fail to take the lunatic fringe seriously should take note of this dangerous real world impact of throwing rumors into an already smoldering conflict.  On a more comical note, one of Madsen's most recent conspiracy theories claims that Obama is literally a "CIA creation".  Madsen writes that, not only was Obama groomed for the presidency by the CIA, but that this grooming started with his actual conception, which Madsen comically claims was a CIA covert op.  (Read here and view video below.)  (Warning: if you're not used to reading this sort of stuff, prepare yourself to laugh hysterically.)




Madsen, like Lyndon LaRouche, also implicates financier George Soros in a sort of unified field theory of conspiracies, writing that (read here):

Soros’ agents of disinformation and influence have moved in to “manage” the stories about jailed Alabama Democratic Governor Don Siegelman, the 2004 vote fraud in Ohio, the Turkish and Israeli intelligence penetration of the highest echelons of the U.S. government, the presence of Israeli spies among the accused 9/11 hijackers in the months prior to the terrorist attacks in 2001, and Russian-Israeli “Kosher Nostra” criminal activity from London to Kyiv and New York to Moscow.




Mike Gravel, a former U.S. Senator from Alaska and a quirky pro-peace candidate in the 2008 Democratic primaries, only made my list for one reason.  In 2003, he participated in a Holocaust denial conference featuring neo-Nazi participants.  (Read here.)  He subsequently claimed that he didn't notice the goose-stepping going on all around him.  He said that he thought that it was just a quirky pro-peace group.  That seems consistent with his attendance at the truthers' conference.

George Galloway, as readers here undoubtedly already know, is a former Member of Parliament who had extensive ties to Sadaam Hussein's Ba'athist regime, with whom he is said to have had a profitable business relationship, and to Hamas, to whom he has provided material support via his Viva Palestina group.  He currently works for PressTV, an English-language propaganda television station owned by the Islamic Republic of Iran, and under the control of the mullahs.  In a relatively brief period of time, Galloway seems to have gone from a 9/11 conspiracy theory doubter who warned the left not to discredit itself by associating with nuts (watch here) to a truther who is willing to throw at Israel and the U.S. any accusation his constituency will buy (listen here).

Paul Craig Roberts has had the most dramatic transformation of anyone on this list, having gone from being an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration and an editor at the Wall Street Journal to a being a far-right, conspiracy-bedeviled internet columnist with a penchant for prophecies which fail to come true.  His columns are widely posted on the websites of that fringe beyond the mainstream left and right, including the white supremacist website VDARE, Willis Carto's American Free Press, Pat Buchanan's American Conservative, Antiwar.com, Lew Rockwell, Information Clearing House and Counterpunch, -- places where resume gravitas is sometimes in short supply.  Roberts not only believes that 9/11 was an inside job, carried out with planted explosives, not planes (read here and here), in 2006, he also stated that George W. Bush was planning another such attack, a warning which was obviously not worth the bandwidth it was written on.  (Read here.)  That the extremely paleo-conservative Roberts' anti-Israel extremism is central to his world view can be gauged by his habit of referring to the U.S. government as a puppet of Israel (read here), and decrying Jewish influence on the news media (read here).  Roberts blames precisely that influence for concealing what he sees as the true story of 9/11.


Conclusion

In choosing New York City on 9/11 for their anti-freedom rallies, Pamela Geller and other anti-mosque activists desecrate the sacred ground they purport to defend.  Similarly, the 9/11 truthers, in choosing New York City on 9/11 to promote their paranoid world view, desecrate not only the site of that terrible crime against humanity, they desecrate the truth.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

JVP's specious McCarthyism charge

The blog MuzzleWatch, which is associated with the organization Jewish Voice for Peace, has published what must be the least substantial charge of McCarthyism in history. JVP' is a small group whose stock in trade is promotion of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. A handful of JVP members are frequently trotted out to testify against Israel at hearings concerning divestment measures proposed by universities and religious groups. The organization essentially serves as a fig leaf for anti-Israel activists working within academia and the mainstream Protestant denominations. BDS activists within these institutions can push to single out Israel among all nations for punishment, then point to JVP support as evidence that this is not based on personal bias.

MuzzleWatch has found that Josef Olmert, the brother of Israel's former Prime Minister, has written a column in which he advocates a campaign to promote arguments to counter the BDS movement within universities. In his column, Olmert referred specifically to academics who have signed pro-BDS petitions, proposing that abti-BDS arguments should be addressed to them directly.  Two sentences in the column put Olmert on JVP's fighting side. He wrote:

I possess a list of thousands of American academics calling for a boycott of Israel. The number of Jews among them is overwhelming.

The mere fact that Olmert, an adjunct professor at American University, said that he "possess(es) a list" was enough to send the extremely hypersensitive MuzzleWatch over the brink. In response, they write

What’s next, Un-Jewish-American Activities hearings at every Hillel? In a threefer, Olmert manages to reproduce the paranoia of the Old “I have here in my hand [a list of communists]” McCarthyism as well as its obsession with the number of Jews and State Department employees amongst its enemies.
I have here in my hand a list of 205 . . . a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the BDS Movement and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department. . . .
Just kidding, that was actually Joe McCarthy, and I switched out the words “Communist Party.”

Great comparison. On the one hand, an adjunct professor whose brother is a virtually disgraced former PM has a real list of people whose views he believes should be addressed with respectful counter-arguments. On the other hand, a powerful U.S. Senator lies to the entire nation that he has a list of traitors, destroying countless lives and careers and distorting the nation's political discourse for the better part of a decade. Pretty much the same thing, right?

Apparently JVP wants us to believe that Josef Olmert is not advocating arguing against BDS, but is secretly preparing to institute a Zionist loyalty oath and blacklist anti-Israel professors. Why do I think that JVP may have the story wrong?


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