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<nettime> Douglas Ruskoff on 9-11 conspiracy theories
Patrice Riemens on Sat, 6 Oct 2007 19:25:12 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Douglas Ruskoff on 9-11 conspiracy theories

Bwo http://www.anarchogeek.com (Evan H-P)
original to: http://www.arthurmag.com/magpie/?p=2275
(see the site for comments)


by Douglas Rushkoff
(from Arthur No. 26)

I have to admit that I do this with some trepidation. I can already feel
the assault on my inbox. But after a good long think about potential time
and energy being lost by our entire community to senseless and ultimately
inconsequential musings, I have to come out and say it: the alternative
theories about 9-11 are wrong. Worse, the endless theorizing and
speculation about trajectories, explosives, military tests, fake airplane
parts and remote control navigation actually distracts some of our best
potential activists from addressing the more substantive matters at hand.

Yes, I believe that 9-11 theorizing debilitates the counterculture. It
robs us of some potentially creative thinkers. It replaces truly important
questions with trivial ones. It marginalizes more constructive
investigation of American participation in the development of Al Qaeda as
well as its subsequent aggravation. And perhaps worst of all, it is
precisely the sort of activity that government disinformation specialists
would want us to be involved with.

9-11 theorists are unwittingly performing as the unpaid minions of the
administration's propaganda wing. (At least most of them are unpaid; no
doubt, some of the loudest are working as contractors for the same
agencies whose activities they pretend to deconstruct.) That's why,
instead of nodding along with their long-winded, preposterous yarns under
the false belief that any critique is better than no critique, we--the
informed, intelligent, and reasonable members of the war resistance--must
instead disassociate ourselves from this drivel. In other words, we must
draw the line between the kind of analysis done by Greg Palast and that
done by Pilots for Truth. If we don't apply discipline to our thinking, we
risk falling into the trap that even some of our best intellectuals
have--like Harper's editor Lewis Lapham, who on reading a bit too much 9-11
conspiracy, has concluded that it all has some merit.

I'm all for supposing. It's how the best science fiction gets written, the
best science gets speculated, the best innovations get developed, and the
wildest thoughts get hatched. But forensics is a different beast. As any
detective will tell you, the most straightforward solution is usually the
right one. As one NYPD detective explained to me, "Nineteen hijackers took
four planes and crashed them at different places: WTC 1, 2, the Pentagon
and a field in PA. These accounts broadly correspond to all that was
observed and heard that day, who was on the flight manifests, where they
came from and what they claimed to want to do, and yet do not involve vast
US government conspiracies and do not need the coordinated, perfect lying
of tens of thousands of people about the mass murder of their fellow
citizens and those they gave their oath to spend their careers

True enough, these huge incidents have produced many unexpected details.
The plane in Pennsylvania scattered its parts differently than we might
have expected it to. Lamp posts near the Pentagon got knocked over when we
wouldn't have thought were vulnerable given the altitude of the
approaching plane. Building number 7 fell hours later, even though it was
never directly hit by a plane. Video photography of the collapses show the
towers falling quite neatly, as if in a planned detonation.

But strange and unexpected details don't necessarily point to the fallacy
of the central premise--especially when the alternative involves the active
coordination of thousands, if not tens of thousands of citizens in a
conspiracy to attack the United States. We must look at what each
intriguing detail or inconsistency actually says about how the crime took
place. Again, in the words of my favorite member of the NYPD, "These
explanations are principally based on the fatally flawed idea that any
confusion or misinterpretation or differing accounts in times of crisis
must be the product of purposeful lies. They neglect the idea that in
crises, and when there is mass confusion, people do not have specific
recollections, only general ones that are highly subjective, such as what
direction a plane sounded like it was coming from. Their stories seek to
poke holes in prevailing truth, yet offer no alternative that could be
seen as remotely plausible."

For example, the Pilots for 911 Truth website explains: "Why was Capt.
Burlingame, a retired Military Officer with training in anti-terrorism,
reported to have given up his airplane to 5 foot nothing. 100 and nothing
Hani Hanjour holding a "boxcutter". (Exaggeration added for size of Hani,
he was tiny, lets just put it that way). We at pilotsfor911truth.org feel
the same as his family in that Capt. Burlingame would not have given up
his airplane unlike what is reported in this linked article from CNN."

What, exactly, is this supposed to mean? Was Captain Burlingame murdered?
Or was he the willing participant in the government's effort to sell the
invasion of Iraq to America--so much so that he chose to enter into a
suicidal pact? Or was the hijacker bigger than his passport suggests? Or
is it implausible that a small dark man from an undeveloped country was
able to overpower a big, trained, white man from a Superpower?

And that's where I suspect all this theorizing really takes us: to the
heart of a racist jingoism worse even than the triumphalism justifying our
foreign policy to begin with. They can't bring themselves to accept that
our big bad government can really be so swiftly outfoxed by a dozen
relatively untrained Arab guys. And rather than go there, they'd prefer to
maintain the myth of American hegemony. On a certain level, it feels
better to believe that we are only vulnerable by our leaders' sick
choice--not by our adversarsies' increasing strength and prowess.

But maintaining this comforting illusion comes at a price. It paralyzes
our ability to do the real work necessary to parse what is going on. I
mean, on a certain level, what does it matter whether Osama Bin Laden, a
CIA-trained former ally is currently acting on his own or as an operative
of some covert semi-governmental organization or corporation? We can't
even begin to ask these questions when the people who might be most
qualified to look into them are instead crippled by their own

The cultivation of a critically aware public is too important right now
for us to entertain this silliness any longer. When a full 40 percent of
the American public believes that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9-11,
we can't afford the luxury of this delusional behavior. We are the
alternative to the FoxNews version of events, and we must strive to
present a more responsible alternative to Karl Rove's disinformation.

The war profiteers are absolutely delighted that so many of us are still
distracted by this phantom menace. And they delight in our belief that the
central government is really powerful enough to pull something like this
off. I've been interacting with intelligence people for the past three
years, going to conferences and writing articles promoting an open-source
approach to national security. After these encounters, I can assure
you--anyone who knows anything about our government knows that a conspiracy
on this order is well beyond their capabilities. Hell, the administration
couldn't even "find" weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. They can't even
reveal a Valerie Plame or fire the few remaining honest US attorneys
without a complete backfire. Conspiracy is not what these folks are good

Our government excels at doing its really bad stuff out in the open. They
break laws in order to spy on citizens, and refuse to acknowledge
objections from lawmakers or justice. They take taxpayers money and give
it to the companies they run. They acknowledge the many billions of
dollars that go missing, and offer not even a shrug. They put the people
who formerly lobbied on behalf of industries in positions running the
agencies that are supposed to be regulating them.

By looking under the rug for what isn't even there, we neglect the horror
show that is in plain view. In the process, we make it even easier for the
criminals running our government to perpetuate their illegal, unethical
and un-American activities.

In fact, the most logical conclusion I can draw from the existing evidence
is that 9-11 theorists are themselves covert government operatives,
dedicated to confusing the public, distracting activists from their tasks,
equating all dissent with the lunatic fringe, and provoking the
counterculture's misplaced belief in the competency of its foes.
That's the real conspiracy.

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