Dec 012013
 

BSA formal complaint: The Science of Conspiracy Theories on Radio NZ Nov. 20 2013

(The following is the full text of a formal complaint I filed with Radio New Zealand today, Dec. 02 2013. I encourage others to file similar complaints on this or other broadcasts as there is ample ground to do so. For example, someone could easily file a complaint based on Dr Pollard’s comments about 9/11. Sorry, the text isn’t formatted because the complaint has to be pasted into a form that takes only text. I will make links to the numbered footnotes at the bottom. I will also post comments to this post when I hear from Radio New Zealand. This is my first ever complaint, so no matter what happens, it will be a learning experience.)

This complaint consists of an Executive Summary, a Complaint outline, detailed documentation that supports the complaint and a conclusion. A direct transcript of the relevant sections of the interview is at the end of the document.

Executive Summary:
Standard 4 – Controversial Issues – Viewpoints

While this complaint cites a specific interview, I find the Nine to Noon show to be consistently the most one-sided on controversial topics of all Radio New Zealand programmes with a serious journalistic intent. A “reasonable range of views” certainly did not feature in this interview.

Standard 5 – Accuracy

The interviewee made many misleading statements presented as facts, not as opinions, in his role as a scientist and science expert. While he was asked pro forma challenging questions by Ms Ryan, none of his actual statements were challenged.

STANDARD 6 – Fairness
“Broadcasters should deal fairly with any person or organisation taking part or referred to.”

People referred to (so-called conspiracy theorists) were not dealt with fairly, being dismissed as immune to factual evidence, of forming beliefs through fear, instinct and pattern recognition. By inference, conspiracy theorists do not employ cognitive skills in forming their beliefs.

STANDARD 7 – Discrimination and Denigration

“Broadcasters should not encourage discrimination against, or denigration of, any section of the community on account of sex, sexual orientation, race, age, disability, occupational status, or as a consequence of legitimate expression of religion, culture or political belief.”

People with political views not endorsed by governments and mainstream media were discriminated against (not represented) and denigrated.

END Executive Summary

BEGIN Complaint – brief statement

Standard 4 – Controversial Issues – Viewpoints

The controversial issues of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy (in this interview presented two days prior to the 50th anniversary of the event – surely no coincidence) and the 9/11 terrorist attacks were prominently mentioned. My complaint focuses on the JFK assassination content.

A “reasonable range of views” was not presented. Two sources of information were cited, a former Secret Service agent and a witness to the House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA), though Dr Pollard named neither the Secret Service agent (apparently Clint Hill), nor the specific body (HSCA). The sources were mentioned as though they were credible witnesses to the assassination, which they most surely were not. The possibility of untruthfulness on the part of these witnesses was not mentioned, despite the fact that evidence for their untruthfulness is in the public record. Dr Pollard made other misleading statements, but these could be considered more as matters of uninformed and biased opinion rather than fact.

Standard 5 – Accuracy

Dr Pollard is presented on RNZ as a “science commentator”, but his false and misleading statements were presented as facts, not as political opinions or as speculative commentary on the part of an informed person. This complaint is related to Standard 4, but there is a connection here between controversial subjects (political assassinations, terrorist attacks and the subject of “conspiracy theories”) and scientific and otherwise verifiable facts, therefore I make my complaint on both grounds.

STANDARD 6 – Fairness
“Broadcasters should deal fairly with any person or organisation taking part or referred to.”

While Dr Pollard did not refer to any particular person or organisation, he did refer to “conspiracy theorists” as a group. I will happily put myself forward as a person whom Dr Pollard would call a “conspiracy theorist”, and am a member of an organisation that Dr Pollard would certainly label as a group of “conspiracy theorists”, New Zealanders for 9/11 Truth.

The unfairness lies in the manner in which he describes the automatic, instinctive non-cognitive mental process that “conspiracy theorists” employ when they form their political opinions and beliefs. By dismissing conspiracy theorists as holding non-factual, non-logical beliefs, he unfairly dismisses both the beliefs and the people who hold such beliefs.

STANDARD 7 – Discrimination and Denigration

Dr Pollard denigrated people who hold non-mainstream political opinions. Nine to noon routinely discriminates against them by never talking to any of them, only about them in a deprecatory manner.

END Complaint brief statement

BEGIN Detailed complaint

Standard 4 – Controversial Issues – Viewpoints

First, we need to define our terms.

Conspiracy: A plot or plan of action formed by two or more people at least partly in secret.
Theory: In this case, an explanation for a conspiracy.
Conspiracy Theory: A theory about a conspiracy.
Conspiracy Theorist: A person who entertains or puts forth a conspiracy theory.

Obviously, these definitions do not suffice in the modern context of “conspiracy theory” as epithet, not as a neutral definition . Every policeman and prosecutor is required to put forth a conspiracy theory in order to justify the arrest or prosecution of alleged criminals. These people are not generally called “crazy conspiracy theorists” except possibly by defence attorneys.

The terms “conspiracy theory” and “conspiracy theorist” were first put into wide use by the CIA in letters to its media assets in the mid-1960s. The CIA used friendly mainstream media to help combat widespread doubts about the 1964 Warren Commission (1)(1a). This pejorative epithet lost its lexical relevance once the era of political assassinations blamed on “lone nuts” was superseded by political scandals and terrorist plots, all of which by definition involved conspiracies. The official government and mainstream media view of Watergate, Iran Contra, the Oklahoma City bombings and the 1993 and 2001 World Trade Center bombings was that all were conspiracy theories, since they involved secret plots involving two or more people.

What then is meant by the still-current epithets “conspiracy theory” and “conspiracy theorists”? Furthermore, why are these non-descriptive terms used by educated people to refer to mistaken beliefs that do not involve conspiracies, such as flat earthers and “incorrect” religious beliefs? The answer is obvious: a conspiracy theory is simply an opinion or belief not held by government and mainstream media, and a conspiracy theorist is someone who entertains a non-standard belief or opinion.

Therefore, hereinafter I will refer to people such as myself as conspiracy theorists, but also as Authority Questioners, or AQs.

The next section outlines the complaint in terms of:

STANDARD 6 – Fairness

“Broadcasters should deal fairly with any person or organisation taking part or referred to.”

Dr Pollard would have you believe that I as an Authority Questioner (AQ) do not arrive at my opinions by rational means. I quote from the interview in part. An extended transcript is at the end of this document.

“You know we’ve talked before on the show about the way our brains work and that we just have the propensity to believe silly things. And we make up stories and that’s not our fault, it’s just part of how our brain is wired and so we see all these examples. And you know you look at strange religious beliefs, people denying the age of the earth. All these things sort of fit into a continuum and conspiracy theories really are a way of us making sense of random events, especially those that would scare us. And I think that that we are not good at accepting simple explanations and on top of that we are very very good at looking for patterns in things. And given the way we record the world now you know any event, any extraordinary event will be followed by conspiracy theories.”

“I think that yeah no I think that we the thing with conspiracy theory is it’s immune to evidence. That’s the most important thing. And a very recent example you know was the horrific umm bombing in the Boston Marathon. Instantly there were conspiracy theories, one saying it was faked, and then there was someone saying it was connected with 9/11 because don’t you remember that two planes from Boston that were involved in 9/11. It came from Boston; therefore the Boston bombing must be connected. So it’s those looking for those patterns, but as I say the most important thing is it’s immune to evidence.”

Here Dr Pollard uses the logical fallacy known as the Straw Man in reference to the Boston bombings (2). I followed non-mainstream media very closely for several days after the Boston bombings. I never read anything like the stories he describes. I would be interested to know where he got these stories, or if he perhaps invented them out of whole cloth. Certainly none of my conspiracy theorist (AQ) friends would entertain such foolish notions.

Dr Pollard also accuses the AQ community of forming their beliefs out of instinct and fear. On the contrary, it is the gullible believers of mainstream conspiracy theories who react in fear. They are the ones who fear Muslim terrorist bogeymen, not us.

There are other false accusations about the AQ community in Dr Pollard’s comments, but underlying his accusations is the canard of non-rationality. How do we arrive at our beliefs, if not out of instinct and irrational fear?

We employ traditional or Aristotelian logic, which can be described in at least three different ways, each a three-step process:

1. The journalist’s famous friends of
(a) Who, What, Where and When (the facts)
(b) Why (assembling the facts in a logical manner)
(c) How (the written or oral explanation of the logic used)

2. Computer speak:
(a) Input
(b) Processing
(c) Output

3. The Trivium (more correctly the Trivium method)
(a) Grammar (general grammar, or basic facts)
(b) Formal Logic
(c) Classical Rhetoric (3)

Contrary to Dr Pollard’s false assertion, evidence is the foundation of our opinions, not a fear-based instinctive reaction.

Another method for denigrating those who hold non-received opinions was introduced by Ms Ryan:
“Then you get bits of evidence and this is where pattern selection is so interesting. It’s psychology essentially that we’re talking about.”

That’s correct, we AQs question authority because of our defective psychology. Dr Pollard agrees, “Well it is, yes.” This oft-used canard is used in almost every anti-AQ interview or article I have read.

The next section focuses on
Standard 5 – Accuracy

Before I mention specific inaccuracies it is important to note the misuse of logic so common in propagandistic articles and interviews.

The most common misuse of the three-step process is putting the first two steps in the wrong order, using one’s logic or reasoning before considering relevant facts. When the logic of a matter is pre-determined before all available facts are considered, the logic will inevitably be faulty. This basic error can be intentional or unintentional; intentional when used by skilled propagandists and unintentional when used by people who have not been trained properly and merely repeat what they have been told. The rigorous training that journalists and scientists undergo should prevent them from making such mistakes by accident.

Here is an example of Dr Pollard using logic (a “why”) before he considers any facts (omitting his numerous misstatements and use of other logical fallacies) in reference to the 9/11 attacks:
“Now, what I always say on those things is it’s difficult enough for two people to keep a secret let alone have all these people being involved with going into a building that had 40 to 50 thousand people working in it filling it with explosives with the intention of killing everybody, now admittedly on the day only thr… you know three and a half thousand people died, not 50 thousand, but still you’d think somebody on their deathbeds I really have to tell you this, this is what happened, umm and and John Kennedy’s assassination is exactly the same.”

Never mind that certain people did actually talk, and never mind the reasons why someone in that situation would never talk, and never mind the other howlers in that paragraph; Dr Pollard’s logic tells him that “someone would have talked”, therefore the lucky Muslim terrorists pulled it off!

The interview prominently featured two misstatements involving the JFK assassination that were deliberate errors of omission. Here is Dr Pollard on the subject of the Umbrella Man:

“…and my favourite account umm of the Kennedy assassination of where there is where a conspiracy is made where there is none was, it was a sunny day and yet very close to where Kennedy’s car would drive past there was a man holding a black umbrella, and he event… and people said, “Oh he was signalling shooters and another one said well he had a very elaborate setup in his umbrella, so he fired a poisonous dart at the President. The thing what, all he was doing was he was protesting about Kennedy’s father’s appeasement to Nazis with Neville Chamberlain prior to World War 2. And so his protest was how the Kennedys were involved in this appeasement to Hitler. And Neville Chamberlain always had was epitomised by having a black umbrella in fact in political cartoons in the 30s he had on a black umbrella and Kennedy had also done a thesis on this time in England and so this guy said you know this is my silent protest cos he figured that John Kennedy would know what he meant by a black umbrella. But the funny thing is when he had to go eventually umm to a select committee in fact in 1978 and expl… and he still had the umbrella and he gave his explanation, but he said to them, he said that if the Guinness Book of Records had a category for people who were in, who were at the wrong place at the wrong time doing the wrong thing that he would be number one.”

If one is unfamiliar with this story, it will seem simply incredible. That’s because it is. Dr Pollard omits the following from his account:
1. The Umbrella Man, who may or may not have actually been the HSCA witness, Louis Witt, was photographed in close proximity to a dark-complexioned man of a Latin American appearance who raised his fist around the same time as Umbrella Man raised his umbrella.
2. After the shooting, the two men calmly sat down next to each other on a kerb, whilst other spectators are in a panic, many lying on the ground, and many running towards the picket fence on the grassy knoll, whence they heard shots being fired. After talking briefly, they walk off in opposite directions.
3. The Latin looking man has what appears to be a walkie-talkie in his pocket and appears to talk on it.
4. Witt claimed not to see the murder because he was trying to open his umbrella, but photographs show that he must have seen the shooting. He also related a story about a motorcycle policeman and a car running up onto the President’s car. No one saw or photographed such an accident. He claimed not to know the Latin-looking man and failed to notice that he had and used a radio device while he was sitting with him on the kerb. There were other problems with his testimony, such as accounting for his presence, which he said was accidental.
5. There is no actual proof that the Umbrella Man is in fact Mr Witt, nor that the umbrella he had at the HSCA hearings was the same umbrella. It appeared to have a different number of staves from the original umbrella. (4)(5)(6)

Even if the man who testified was the real Mr Witt, his testimony contains too many details that cannot possibly be true. His untruthfulness, along with the slipshod interrogation he faced from the Dallas police and the HSCA, rules him out as a credible witness. If I found information contradictory to Dr Pollard’s exposition inside of a minute, then Dr Pollard could have done so as well.

Dr Pollard’s other conspiracy theory debunker was an unnamed Secret Service agent. He was apparently referring to Clint Hill, author of “Mrs. Kennedy and Me: An Intimate Memoir” (7). Dr Pollard said:
“And and you know it’s very interesting I happened to online read an article this morning umm actually the Guardian has been doing lots of articles on the Kennedy assassination and it was the secret service agent that was assigned to Jackie Kennedy has written a book and I mean he you know he said he suffered enormously from this. Could he have saved the President, etc. And you know he says he’s a trained secret service man he said there were three distinct shots that came from the book depository building and all the evidence is there were three shots and this one person did it.”

If you read the excerpt from Mr Hill’s Warren Commission testimony in the Wikipedia article I cite, you will see that he contradicts the Warren Commission’s finding that the President was killed by a shot from the rear. The blown out back of the head could only have come from a frontal shot; the blown out portion could not possibly be the result of an entrance wound. He also did not say that he heard “three distinct shots”.

Gerald Ford, a leading member of the Warren Commission, admitted to changing the location of the President’s back entrance wound, moving it up six inches in order to accommodate Arlen Specter’s Magic Bullet theory.(8) Clint Hill, in his original Warren Commission testimony (questioned by Rep. Hale Boggs) testifies to seeing the actual back wound:
Representative BOGGS: “Did you see any other wound other than the head wound?”
Mr. HILL: “Yes, sir; I saw an opening in the back, about 6 inches below the neckline to the right-hand side of the spinal column.” (9)

Mr Hill has helpfully changed his story in his book to raise the wound six inches, making his revised story align with the Warren Commission’s false placement of the back wound. For this and many other reasons not cited here, I find Clint Hill to be an unreliable witness. By citing Mr Hill’s story, Dr Pollard committed the logical fallacies of Appeal to Emotion (10) and Appeal to Authority (11). In the latter case, Mr Hill could possibly have been an authority owing to his occupation and assignment, but his contradictory testimony eliminates him as a trusted authority or even a reliable witness.

CONCLUSION

I request that Radio New Zealand:
1. admit to one-sided treatment of the controversial issue of the JFK assassination (Standard 4). A reasonable range of views was not allowed at this time or any other time on this or any other Nine to Noon programme. This is particularly egregious given the coincidence of the programme’s broadcast almost 50 years to the day after the assassination. Additionally, a majority of Americans do not support the establishment view of regular guest, Simon Pollard on this topic.

2. admit that they treated people who hold non-mainstream political opinions as mentally and psychologically deficient (Standard 6) and that under Standard 7 the expression of their political beliefs should never be taken seriously, as those views are always arrived at by fear and instinct, not by intellectual means. Radio New Zealand thereby discriminated against and denigrated those of us who do not hold the establishment political views of Kathryn Ryan and Simon Pollard.

3. admit to biased, inaccurate and misleading reporting by Dr Pollard in his role as science commentator, reporting that went unchallenged by the host, Kathryn Ryan (Standard 5). Dr Pollard presented what may be kindly regarded as half-truths in that he presented certain facts about Clint Hill and the Umbrella Man, omitting facts that would lead the average listener to the opposite conclusion he wanted them to make.

(1) http://memoryholeblog.com/2013/01/20/cia-document-1035-960-foundation-of-a-weaponized-term/
(1a) http://www.jfklancer.com/CIA.html
(2) http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/straw-man.html
(3) http://www.triviumeducation.com/
(4) http://www.ctka.net/2013/rosenbaum_shutup.html
(5) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NB-TLTWAh6s&hl=en-GB&gl=AU&feature=related
(6) http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2013/1122/JFK-assassination-Why-suspicions-still-linger-about-Umbrella-Man
(7) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clint_Hill_%28Secret_Service%29
(8) http://whatreallyhappened.com/RANCHO/POLITICS/JFK/ford.html
(9) http://www.history-matters.com/archive/jfk/wc/wcvols/wh2/pdf/WH2_Hill.pdf
(10) http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/appeal-to-emotion.html
(11) http://www.nizkor.org/features/fallacies/appeal-to-authority.html

Partial transcript:
ntn-20131120-1150-science_with_simon_pollard-048.mp3

KR: It seems slightly contradictory to have the science of conspiracy theories – slightly oxymoronic.

SP: (laughs) It is rather. But not really. I think that ummm… You know we’ve talked before on the show about the way our brains work and that we just have the propensity to believe silly things. And we make up stories and that’s not our fault, it’s just part of how our brain is wired and so we see all these examples. And you know you look at strange religious beliefs, people denying the age of the earth. All these things sort of fit into a continuum and and conspiracy theories really are a way of us making sense of random events, especially those that would scare us. And I think that that we are not good at accepting simple explanations and on top of that we are very very good at looking for patterns in things. And given the way we record the world now you know any event, any extraordinary event will be followed by conspiracy theories.

KR: (laughs)

SP: and I think that and I

KR: (laughs)

SP: I think a nice example and look I give you an example, a very recent example.

KR: (laughs) But what makes it a conspiracy theory? I mean people did think the world was flat. So when the dude suggested it was round..

SP: Shocking!

KR: (laughs)

SP: I mean, you look out your window. I think that yeah no I think that we the thing with conspiracy theory is it’s immune to evidence. That’s the most important thing. And a very recent example you know was the horrific um bombing in the Boston Marathon. Instantly there were conspiracy theories, one saying it was faked, and then there was someone saying it was connected with 9/11 because don’t you remember that two planes from Boston that were involved in 9/11. It came from Boston, therefore the Boston bombing must be connected. So it’s those looking for those patterns, but as I say the most important thing is it’s immune to evidence. And people that push conspiracy theories will never listen to the most compelling evidence from an expert and I think umm you know we look at 9/11 and OK people used planes as bombs and they took down two hundred storey buildings. I think that another part of conspiracy umm another part of events at least (? or “of these”?) conspiracy theories is often what happens does have a component of good luck. And if you think of 9/11, you know, everything went that way on the day. They managed to take over the planes and they managed to fly them into buildings and I’m sure it was totally beyond their expectation that the buildings would fall over. But people just couldn’t except (accept?) that and even you know a very very good account from an engineer that’s an expert on what happens to big buildings that have had planes fly into them that’s not enough so you know the current theory with 9/11 is that the government whoever planted explosives on every floor of those buildings prior to some other thing that it wasn’t a plane or a missile or whatever. Now, what I always say on those things is it’s difficult enough for two people to keep a secret let alone have all these people being involved with going into a building that had 40 to 50 thousand people working in it filling it with explosives with the intention of killing everybody, now admittedly on the day only thr… you know three and a half thousand people died, not 50 thousand, but still you’d think somebody on their deathbeds I really have to tell you this, this is what happened, umm and and John Kennedy’s assassination is exactly the same. If you step back from it and say, “could a marine-trained sniper hit a human moving in a slow-moving vehicle from 80 meters away”, of course you’re going to say, “yes”, but no that’s not enough. It has to be a conspiracy.

KR: I’m sure that’s back at the moment, obviously with the anniversary right now.

SP: Yes.

KR: Then you get bits of evidence and this is where pattern selection is so interesting. It’s psychology essentially that we’re talking about.

SP: Well it is, yes.

KR: Because we pick the things that support our theory and we exclude the things that don’t. And there was the extra sh… sound of the sound of the so-called extra shots, wasn’t there?

SP: Yes.

KR: Which I think has been debunked in recent days.

SP: Absolutely!

KR: … as being another sound or something to do with the quality of the recording.

SP: And, look, I know..

KR: And the conspiracy theorist then says, “Ah, and that’s what they’re telling you.”
5.53
SP: And (nonsense omitted)

KR: But scepticism about the excuse that’s given is a natural part of the process.

SP: And and you know it’s very interesting I happened to online read an article this morning umm actually the Guardian has been doing lots of articles on the Kennedy assassination and it was the secret service agent it was assigned to Jackie Kennedy has written a book (2) and I mean he you know he said he suffered enormously from this. Could he have saved the President, etc. And you know he says he’s a trained secret service man he said there were three distinct shots that came from the book depository building and all the evidence is there were three shots and this one person did it. And yet, as I say, you know because things were filmed and there were still photographs of the event then people look for patterns and the Oliver Stone film did an enormous amount of damage in terms of the credibility of what was really a good explanation of what happened but you know you have a still photograph of three people looking shady in the distance therefore they did this and my favourite account umm of the Kennedy assassination of where there is where a conspiracy is made where there is none was, it was a sunny day and yet very close to where Kennedy’s car would drive past there was a man holding a black umbrella, and he event… and people said, “Oh he was signalling shooters and another one said well he had a very elaborate setup in his umbrella, so he fired a poisonous dart at the President. The thing what, all he was doing was he was protesting about Kennedy’s father’s appeasement to Nazis with Neville Chamberlain prior to World War 2. And so his protest was how the Kennedys were involved in this appeasement to Hitler. And Neville Chamberlain always had was epitomised by having a black umbrella in fact in political cartoons in the 30s he had on a black umbrella and Kennedy had also done a thesis on this time in England and so this guy said you know this is my silent protest cos he figured that John Kennedy would know what he meant by a black umbrella. But the funny thing is when he had to go eventually umm to a select committee in fact in 1978 and expl.. and he still had the umbrella and he gave his explanation, but he said to them, he said that if the Guinness Book of Records had a category for people who were in, who were at the wrong place at the wrong time doing the wrong thing that he would be number one.

KR: If we didn’t have sceptics, though, who had that mindset or that psychology and looked for inconsistencies and looked for patterns there is an awful lot of truth that we would not find out…

SP: Well, that’s true…

KR: you know you can’t just sit there, if we just sit there and swallow everything that you are presented by authorities…

SP: No…

KR: much of it will be lies and untruth and propaganda.

SP: Absolutely and conspiracy theories often do have components of truth because governments do cover up things and so it’s not like you are starting with a clean slate, you know if you look at Watergate, if you look at the I-ran contra thing, these were things that governments covered up, things so it’s very easy for people to then extrapolate that, that a distrust of authority will mean that any event must have been the government. Another favourite of mine of course is the moon landings
(10.29 – 13.15 discussion of moon landings (sic) omitted.)

KR: Is there, does psychology suggest there is a certain personality type that is always going to see this and do this, and someone else is going to be gullible and always believe what they are fed?

SP: The best predictor of somebody who believes in conspiracy theories is that they will believe in other conspiracy theories. This isn’t saying that these people aren’t intelligent people, they’re not the sort of fringe of society at all but they often have a distrust of authority, they might feel powerless in situations, and so, and also people that, you know, they love finding evidence and putting a picture together no matter how silly that picture is. I think there is just this tendency in us and and some people have argued that it’s mixed up with parts of our brain, you know when a random thing happened in our evolutionary history, part of our brain would send messages to the amigdyla would send messages to other parts of the brain to start analysing flat out what’s going on. You know, is the mammoth going to keep running, do I hide behind the rock, etc., and I think that that the tendency to over-analyse random events that scare us is still with us today and it is a part of our society.

KR: That would not be any fun without it.

SP: Absolutely not (both laugh).

KR: Thank you, Simon Pollard, science…

 Posted by at 8:31 pm
Nov 222013
 

The Deep State and 9/11

The unthinkable – that elements inside the state would conspire with criminals to kill innocent civilians – has become not only thinkable but commonplace in the last century. A seminal example was in French Algeria, where dissident elements of the French armed forces, resisting General de Gaulle’s plans for Algerian independence, organized as the Secret Army Organization and bombed civilians indiscriminately, with targets including hospitals and schools.1 Critics like Alexander Litvinenko, who was subsequently murdered in London in November 2006, have charged that the 1999 bombings of apartment buildings around Moscow, attributed to Chechen separatists, were in fact the work of the Russian secret service (FSB).2

Similar attacks in Turkey have given rise to the notion there of an extra-legal “deep state” – a combination of forces, ranging from former members of the CIA-organized Gladio organization, to “a vast matrix of security and intelligence officials, ultranationalist members of the Turkish underworld and renegade former members of the [Kurdish separatist] PKK.”3 The deep state, financed in part by Turkey’s substantial heroin traffic, has been accused of killing thousands of civilians, in incidents such as the lethal bomb attack in November 2005 on a bookshop in Semdinli. This attack, initially attributed to the Kurdish separatist PKK, turned out to have been committed by members of Turkey’s paramilitary police intelligence service, together with a former PKK member turned informer.4 On April 23, 2008, the former Interior Minister Mehmet Agar was ordered to stand trial for his role in this dirty war during the 1990s.5

In my book The Road to 9/11, I have argued that there has existed, at least since World War Two if not earlier, an analogous American deep state, also combining intelligence officials with elements from the drug-trafficking underworld.6 I also pointed to recent decades of collaboration between the U.S. deep state and al-Qaeda, a terrorist underworld whose drug-trafficking activities have been played down in the 9/11 Commission Report and the mainstream U.S. media.7

Read article here

Oct 302013
 

Conspiracy Theorists Are the Greatest Challenge to Democracy … According to … Here’s who …Tuesday, 29. October 2013

Have you ever come across an imperialist who was keen on activists challenging the establishment?

British establishment mouthpiece BBC leads the way again. This time it is about the biggest threat to democracy today. No, it is not terrorists. No, it is not Islamism. And, no, it is not the Western-Installed Dictator Regimes around the world. No, no, no, no, no. The new enemy is the conspiracy theorists. It is those who question their governments. It is those who find facts and confront the mainstream lies and liars such as BBC. Basically, it is you … and me.

Allow me to wade through all the fillers and present you with a few telling excerpts from this BBC report:

Are conspiracy theories destroying democracy?

Read article here

Aug 142013
 

The following article is taken from a letter to a prominent New Zealander from Martin Hanson, a retired science teacher. We have omitted the introductory paragraph where Martin introduces his topic, the looming GCSB bill.


The real issue is surely this: what lies behind the fact that the Prime Minister is forcing his MPs to vote for a bill that has virtually zero support among New Zealanders? It’s difficult to believe that the driving force originates in New Zealand. One is bound to wonder if the visit to New Zealand by United States Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and her meeting with John Key and other ministers in Wellington on May 2nd of this year had something to do with it.

If so, the issue can be reduced to this: Is New Zealand independent of the United States, or is it, like so many other countries, a vassal that does what it’s told? Until 2004, when I read The New Pearl Harbor by David Ray Griffin, I had naively believed that the United States, though it had frequently done bad things in the past, was fundamentally wedded to its constitution, and that such departures as did occur were for reasons that were for the greater good. Since reading Professor Griffin’s nine other books on the 911 attacks, together with other polemics on the abuse of American power, such as William Blum’s Killing Hope, John Perkins’ Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, the scales have fallen from my eyes.

Looking under this particular stone has been a painful upheaval in my geopolitical view of reality. Protected by cognitive dissonance, the thought that nearly 3000 innocent people were murdered by people within and behind the U.S. Government is simply too painful for most of us to contemplate.

Nevertheless, hundreds of thousands of citizens, including many in the United States, have openly challenged the official account of 911, pointing out a great number of serious anomalies and contradictions that the authorities have never attempted to answer, let alone debate. Most prominent of all are Architects and Engineers for 911 Truth, nearly 2000 of whom, at latest count, have put their names to a call for a new and genuinely independent inquiry into the events of that terrible day. (The official 911 Commission was driven by Philip Zelikow, a close colleague of Condoleezza Rice, and thus for all practical purposes a White House Insider).

If the events of 911 are deeply disturbing, the wider implications are frankly terrifying. Quite apart from the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghanis who have been killed, or the hundreds who have been tortured following the invasions, a number of New Zealand, Australian and British military have also been sacrificed as cannon fodder in the extension of United States power.

And then there is the infamous Patriot Act, baptized without a hint of irony by a Congress who were not given time to read it. This Act effectively shredded the rights of U.S citizens under Constitution. With the abandonment of habeas corpus, a citizen can now be detained indefinitely without charge, simply because government employees believe him or her to be a ‘terrorist’. Of perhaps even greater concern is the fact that a United States citizen, if suspected of terrorist activity, can be executed by drone attack in foreign lands, without any legal process whatever.

Even if a non-terrorist were not gravely disturbed by this abuse of executive power, recent developments in the United States should give all but those of a totalitarian disposition pause for reflection. There is an increasing tendency in the United States to define ‘terrorism’ ever-more elastically. The New York Times has reported that a dozen or so state legislatures have proposed or enacted bills that would criminalize the covert filming of acts of animal cruelty in factory farms.

One such bill is called the “Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act”. So, it seems that ‘terrorists’ are now considered to include environmental and animal cruelty campaigners or, as a cynic might say, anyone who attempts to put a brake on corporate power.

Over two centuries ago Americans were warned by Thomas Jefferson of the dangers of excessive government power, when he said:

“When the government fears the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny”.

More recently, in July of this year, at a meeting in Atlanta, President Carter said: “America has no functioning democracy”.

One could be forgiven for fearing that John Key may be determined to drag us down the same road to perdition.


About the author, Martin Hanson, in his own words.

I am a retired Biology teacher and have taught Human Evolution to High School students for 20 years. Since researching a small book (Apes and Ancestors: an introduction to Human Evolution), I try to think about the human environmental predicament in a ‘big picture’ context. Much of behavior of our closest relatives, chimpanzees, can be seen in the context of an ever-shifting interplay between cooperation in obtaining food, and competition among males for status and consequent reproductive success. In captivity, food is provided and, as Frans der Waal showed in his book Chimpanzee Politics, male chimpanzees at Arnhem zoo devoted much of their time to forming complex webs of alliances in the struggle for power.

Since then, I see much of human behavior in that context. More recently, my perspective has come to include the role of psychopathy in contemporary politics. Psychologists tell us that significant proportion of the general population — and a much higher proportion of politicians, CEOs and bankers — have psychopathic personalities. The vast majority of psychopaths, it seems, are not violent killers like Norman Bates in Hitchcock’s Psycho. On the surface they appear as normal, and often charming, individuals who, however, differ from normal people in having a complete absence of conscience, arising from an inability to empathise with their fellow human beings.

This realization has made a big impact on me. How else can we explain the wrecking of our environment by the policies of our leaders, in the teeth of all the scientific evidence that we are rushing headlong towards planetary destruction?

 Posted by at 12:32 am
Aug 072013
 

Coming this fall, “9/11 in the Academic Community,” a Winner of the University of Toronto Film Festival, is a unique film that documents academia’s treatment of critical perspectives on 9/11 by exploring the taboo that shields the American government’s narrative from scholarly examination. Through a powerful reflection on intellectual courage and the purpose of academia, the film aims at changing intellectual discourse on 9/11 and the War on Terror.

All efforts are being made to make this film available by this October. Please widely distribute the following video preview: Youtube Video Preview: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OFzVKDdCa6s

Through the experiences of prominent academics, the film probes the nature and dimensions of the repercussions various academics endured in investigating 9/11. Academic Reviewer Morton Brussel, Professor Emeritus of Physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, stated: “The main thesis of the film concerns the silence of the academic community on this vital issue. I think it is extremely important and very well produced.”

The documentary provides an eye-opening analysis on the various ways in which blind spots and impairments in professional inquiry are embedded in the academy, ranging from the failure to critically reflect on the notion of terms functioning as thought stoppers, such as “conspiracy theory” to the structural approach academics use that restricts inquiry to the broader implications of 9/11 rather than examining the day itself.

By bringing to light various methods used to suppress academic expression, the film investigates the academy’s mistreatment of professors such as John McMurtry and William Woodward by examining the subtle alliances between the university and the state, and why some academics aggressively identify with the Bush administration’s official narrative of 9/11 while being harsh critics of the administration.

Despite articles that have entered the peer-reviewed literature questioning the official narrative, as well as university classes in which students found the official narrative to be implausible, the film provides an insightful analysis on the systematic exclusion of critical perspectives by examining the workings of the taboo in limiting any further discussion of literature critical of the official narrative on campus. In view of the academy’s failure to address the limitations in the narrative, Alvin A. Lee, President Emeritus of McMaster University, stated in his endorsement for the film, that a large number of academics should “stand sufficiently outside society intellectually to see, understand, and interpret what is going on.”

As 9/11 served as the rationale for the Global War on Terror, the expansion of the military and intelligence complex, the invasion of other countries in violation of international law, and the curtailing of civil liberties, the film provides an inspiring demonstration of intellectual courage that will cause many scholars to deeply reflect on the academy’s role and strength to dismantle the war system.

Adnan Zuberi
Director and Producer
Website: 911inAcademia.com

Jul 132013
 

Recent studies by psychologists and social scientists in the US and UK suggest that contrary to mainstream media stereotypes, those labeled “conspiracy theorists” appear to be saner than those who accept the official versions of contested events.

The most recent study was published on July 8th by psychologists Michael J. Wood and Karen M. Douglas of the University of Kent (UK). Entitled “What about Building 7? A social psychological study of online discussion of 9/11 conspiracy theories,” the study compared “conspiracist” (pro-conspiracy theory) and “conventionalist” (anti-conspiracy) comments at news websites.

The authors were surprised to discover that it is now more conventional to leave so-called conspiracist comments than conventionalist ones: “Of the 2174 comments collected, 1459 were coded as conspiracist and 715 as conventionalist.” In other words, among people who comment on news articles, those who disbelieve government accounts of such events as 9/11 and the JFK assassination outnumber believers by more than two to one. That means it is the pro-conspiracy commenters who are expressing what is now the conventional wisdom, while the anti-conspiracy commenters are becoming a small, beleaguered minority.

Perhaps because their supposedly mainstream views no longer represent the majority, the anti-conspiracy commenters often displayed anger and hostility: “The research… showed that people who favoured the official account of 9/11 were generally more hostile when trying to persuade their rivals.”

Read full article here

Apr 292013
 

http://911blogger.com/news/2013-04-28/conspiracy-theory-america-lance-dehaven-smith-university-texas-press

Professor Lance deHaven-Smith’s solid scholarship continues to make breakthroughs in examining high crimes. He coined the term “state crimes against democracy” (SCAD) in the notable peer-reviewed journal, American Behavioral Scientist, and now he is taking on the “conspiracy theory” label in his new book, Conspiracy Theory in America, published by the University of Texas Press.

In a letter to the Journal of 9/11 Studies (http://www.journalof911studies.com/resources/2013LettersAprilde-HavenSmi…), Prof. deHaven-Smith provides an excellent introduction to his book.

The book will be published on April 15 of this year by the University of Texas Press in a book series edited by Mark Crispin Miller. Conspiracy Theory in America explains that the conspiracy-theory label was popularized as a pejorative putdown by the CIA in a global propaganda program to attack critics of the Warren Commission ’s conclusion that President Kennedy was assassinated by a lone gunman with no government foreknowledge or assistance. The CIA campaign called on foreign media corporations and journalists to criticize “conspiracy theorists” and raise questions about their motives and judgments. Any and all criticisms of the lone – gunman account of the assassination were lumped together as “conspiracy theories,” declared groundless and pernicious, and attributed to ulterior motives and the influence of communist propagandists.

Conspiracy Theory in America can be purchased at the U of Texas Press’s website: http://utpress.utexas.edu/index.php/books/dehcon

Prof. deHaven-Smith’s book adds to the list of books published by notable university presses that provide an important discussion on 9/11 from a critical perspective. Prior to deHaven-Smith’s book, The Road to 9/11 by Prof. Peter Dale Scott, published by the University of California Press, states on page 194, “… Vice President Cheney is himself a suspect in the events of 9/11 who needs to be investigated further.”

Such works should provide encouragement to the community seeking truth and accountability to continue their scholarly efforts to engage the world community on these issues.