I’m a C-Realm listener who admires the work you do, and I
was somewhat taken aback by the recent (9/11/13) interview with Tom Barbalet.
On the assumption that you have the time and energy to read listener comments
about your broadcast, I’d like to share my thoughts. I hasten to mention that I
have no doubts about your intellectual honesty and remain grateful for your
Episode 275 of the C-Realm Podcast featured my friend Mark
Robinowitz, whose unique contribution has been to differentiate among the
various kinds of dissenting
hypotheses regarding 9/11. A page on his website www.oilempire.us condenses that work into a
single chart that can be viewed at a glance (click to enlarge):
Having interviewed Mark, you’re probably well aware of this chart and the point it makes—yet
Episode 379 shows little evidence of that awareness. Instead, it pillories the
explanations listed here as “probably not true” and “disinformation that
discredits,” as though they were the best the 9/11 Truth movement had to offer.
I was pleased to hear you acknowledge that the intelligence
community does indeed deliberately mislead the public about its violent and
unconstitutional activities, so I need not refer you to the abundant documentation
(e.g., CIA document #1035-960 RE: “Countering Criticism of the Warren Report,”
easily available online in both transcript and facsimile). Such documents launched
the phrase “conspiracy theory” as a tool of disinformation, one that has proven
remarkably effective. Only people of courage, like yourself, can persist in
espousing dissident hypotheses in the face of officially encouraged mockery,
contempt, and stigma.
I was also pleased to hear your guest say he no longer uses
the phrase “conspiracy theory,” but disappointed at its very frequent
occurrence in the interview.
The word “narrative” has its uses and its limits. You made
fine use of it in criticizing lazy writers who have embraced a story without
thinking it through. But your use of the word is so broad that it tars everyone
with the same brush. Surely we live in a world that includes evidence, criteria,
hypothesis, inference, and critique—not merely a postmodern welter of competing
You asked your guest about the collapse of WTC-7, but he
never addressed the question. You asked him about Architects and Engineers for
9/11 Truth, and he discussed the hazardous ignorance of physics and engineering
that makes for a bad architect. He
ignored the engineers in the
organization, which seemed egregious.
Apparently the focus of episode 379 was the vocal population
within 9/11 Truth—a largely failed
movement which I believe has run its course—who militate for a given narrative
without adequate reasoning and research. Yes, their behavior is sociologically
interesting in its own right. But to speak as if they represent the entire
movement is, it seems to me, ethically perilous and misleading in ways you must
not have intended. I hope I haven’t misunderstood you or mischaracterized
I edited Michael C. Ruppert’s book Crossing the Rubicon:
the Decline of the American Empire at the End of the Age of Oil. It makes a case for Dick Cheney’s central role in the attacks, based on means, motive and
opportunity. If this bestseller were vulnerable to discredit, it would likely
have drawn a libel lawsuit from Cheney’s associates—but there has been no such
suit, nor any rebuttal that I know of. Crossing the Rubicon is widely
praised for its sustained attention to context and motives (which Mr. Barbalet
imagines have been ignored), including Peak Oil, geopolitics, narcotraffic, money-laundering,
war profits, and political power.
I mention the book because it deliberately eschews issues of physical evidence (as
does Mark Robinowitz), precisely the issues studied by the above-mentioned
organization of architects and engineers. It does this because physical
evidence is notoriously plastic; one expert witness contradicts another, and
the custody chain of the evidence is usually in doubt, making it vulnerable to
tampering. From my perspective, then, Architects & Engineers is a straw
man, whether its work is excellent or poor. There is a mountain of evidence
that is not of this sort, and to many reasonable people it establishes beyond
reasonable doubt the guilt of persons within the government and its corporate
sponsors. Episode 379 mentions none of it.
I appreciated your audio excerpt from Hill and Knowlton’s long-discredited disinformation regarding Iraq and Kuwait, since it showed your
audience that authorities do lie; that these lies are often exposed; and that
this exposure rarely changes the policy outcome or prevents the violence which
those lies were intended to facilitate.
Mr. Barbalet rightly drew attention to the appalling human
toll of American foreign policy and its horrific legacy of death, bereavement,
mutilation, cultural destruction, and deception. Unfortunately, he also
suggested that whoever is persuaded of U.S. involvement in 9/11 also neglects
this history of American violence at home and abroad; that to hold a dissident
hypothesis regarding this particular episode of violence somehow entails the
lazy, passive racism that remains indifferent to the horrors of U.S.
intervention in scores of countries the world over. This absurd claim is
dispelled by a look at the work of Peter Dale Scott, or Michel Chossudovsky, or
Michael Ruppert, or Nafeez Mossadeq Ahmed, or Gore Vidal, et cetera.
James Howard Kunstler, in whose books and podcasts I have
usually found both wit and wisdom, routinely deploys a strategy similar to that
of Mr. Barbalet: he disavows “conspiracy theory” because it has been
stigmatized as the domain of fools, wing-nuts, and profiteers, but he endorses
some of the very claims which that phrase is usually intended to rule out.
Because the CIA has been so successful in shaping public perceptions,
intelligent people of goodwill like JHK often share the engineered but bogus
assumptions launched in the CIA’s own documents, such as #1035-960, cited
“Our ploy should point out, as
applicable, that the critics are: (I) wedded to theories adopted before the
evidence was in, (II) politically interested, (III) financially interested,
(IV) hasty and inaccurate in their research, or (V) infatuated with their own
Stigma can be a heavy price to pay for political insight,
not least in its effect on the size of one’s audience. I sympathize with the
impulse to avoid incurring it. But it is disingenuous to do as Kunstler so
often does, dispelling stigma with a breezy contempt for his fellow dissidents
while in the same breath employing the insights of the same people he has just
dismissed: “I’m allergic to conspiracy theories, but…” Marginalized as
“wackos,” other people are left to pay the price—the risks and the contempt and
the derision—for insights and observations that Kunstler repeats because they
happen to be correct. See, for example, KunstlerCast episode 152, “Is Peak OilA Conspiracy Theory?” Note that in The
Geography of Nowhere (1994), and elsewhere, Kunstler illuminates the documented conspiracy
of General Motors, Ford, and Firestone to buy up and destroy the electrical
public transportation systems of 45 American cities.
Of course some hypotheses are indeed implausible—e.g., no
planes hit the towers, or driver William Greer shot JFK, or we never landed the
Apollo 11 on the moon—and not everyone who holds them is a sophisticated liar.
Some people are actually persuaded of this sort of proposition that I dismiss as
either disinformation or fantasy. I don’t begrudge anyone the opportunity to
dissociate himself or herself from such hypotheses and their advocates. But it
plays into the CIA’s hands to wear one’s own sophistication with arrogance.
That said, I reiterate my admiration for Mr. Kunstler.
Finally, your guest often referred to “the 9/11 Truther
Movement.” To me, that little suffix (“-er”) is offensive. Republicans do
something similar when they contemn “Democrat policies” instead of “Democratic
policies.” The distinction looks small enough that no one mentions it for fear
of pettiness, but it is actually a clever subterfuge that focuses attention on
the people—ad hominem—rather than the policies or the hypotheses that are at
In closing, I very much appreciate your work, the generally
excellent C-Realm Podcast. I would welcome an opportunity to discuss these
issues with you further.