Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A Look At 9/11 Trutherism (James Tracey Part 3)

A few days ago The Omnivore interviewed Professor James Tracey who writes the Memory Hole blog that details the government conspiracies behind 9/11, Sandy Hook, and the Boston Bombings (among other things). We then took on his 12 questions he meant to pose to news outlets skeptical of his positions. I want to end this with a look at the way that discussions are constructed around 9/11 Trutherism (the same construction and pattern applies to Sandy Hook and Boston Trutherism as well).

What Do I Mean By "Patterns"?
What you see below is the hour-and-19 minutes video Loose Change. It's a lengthy, reasonably well made documentary which posits that the 9/11 official story simply cannot be true. The truth, it suggests, is that something else must have happened: that something is supposedly the US Government using missiles, controlled demolitions, and remote-controlled planes to orchestrate 9/11 in order to bring about fundamental change in America.

The argument is structured as follows:

Connect The Dots
We get a view of documents which are designed to point the viewer in a basic direction. These are things like:
  • Operation Northwoods documents: plans by the CIA to use false-flag terrorism to justify intervention in Cuba. This was never realized.
  • FEMA and CIA documents showing the towers in cross-hairs ... a prelude to an operational plan?
  • Technology allowing remote-controlled jumbo jets.
  • Put options on various airline stocks.
  • San Francisco mayor Willie Brown getting a warning not to fly from Condoleeszza Rice.
We then move to video "questions" and contradictory eye-witness testimony:
  • People don't agree on what exactly hit the pentagon.
  • There isn't enough plane-damage (look at the hole! Look at the pieces in the yard!)
  • The pieces of the plane we do see don't match the proposed kind.
When we get to the WTC we see stuff like:
  • There's no way the fuel could burn hot enough.
  • A lot of eye-witnesses described "an explosion" (or more) rather than just "fire."
  • The buildings fell too fast--could it be controlled demolition?
And so on ...

If you are interested, here is a point-by-point "debunking" of Loose Change. If you take the time to watch the video, take the time to read the link.

The Structure Of The Argument: Sleight of Hand
The structure of Trutherism arguments goes as follows:
  1. Make or insinuate an allegation of blame (of the US Government or portions of it did it).
  2. Create doubt about the official story by showing inconsistencies in various pieces of evidence (especially video evidence or through discussion of science the viewer is inexpert in). 
The doubt creates a "blank space" which the speaker's proposition is then allowed to fill. The reason this pattern recurs is this: the approach that the Truther is forced to take is that of a defense*: the creation of reasonable doubt rather than that of a prosecutor where the speaker can actually use evidence to indict a perpetrator.

Why is this?

The most obvious reason is this is that the evidence necessary to meet the standard to indict the government simply does not exist. No one has ever found it. There are no whistle-blowers inside the conspiracy coming forward (despite the fact that the conspiracy must involve hundreds of civilians and military personnel at all levels of government**).

The secondary reason is that despite what the documentary sort of implies this is not investigative journalism. It's Internet journalism where various pictures, interviews, and other materials are taken from afar and then put together on the user's home computer. The filmmakers don't go and interview people--they don't go to the company that did "security drills" at the Twin Towers and grill workers or ex-employees.

They don't talk to relatives of people on flight 93 about 'fake phone calls' (the Loose Change theory is that maybe those calls were all made up using electronic voice synthesis and maybe those people disappeared some other way) from the airplane. They don't interview the structural engineers who weighed in on the tower-collapse--they just print other people's rebuttals.

It is pretty well done so it looks like investigative journalism--but it isn't. Truther discussion can get asymptotically close to evidence of wrong-doing but it can never actually reach it because it isn't designed to.

Here is a quote from an Ex-Truther blog that, I think, lays this out pretty well:
There are no facts in the 9/11 Truth Movement. Just a lot of theories, which eventually break down to "hey, we're just asking questions" if someone questions the validity of such. No structural, civil, or any engineers agree with the truthers. Yet, most of my friends will try to explain the hard physics involved in structural collapses. None of these people are engineers, physicists, or even in a scientific field, for that matter. Someone's supposed to take their word over an expert's?
Of course there are experts or at least 'experts' on the side of Trutherism--but the vast weight of the expertise is on the other. The key is not "the experts" (which you and I are unqualified to judge anyway) but the dynamic. If the conspiracy was this big, this complex (planes, missiles, disappearing passengers, the CIA, Homeland Security, the FBI, FEMA, the White House, The Pentagon, Naval ships at sea, the press, etc.) it would leak like a sieve.

How To Approach Outrageous Claims
What you see below is Luke's Change: a dead-on parody of Loose Change which claims that the destruction of the Star Wars Death Star was an inside job perpetrated by Darth Vader. If you have time to watch one of the two videos, watch this one. It's only 7 minutes long.

There are two things you should consider when viewing this:

  1. How convincing is it? The answer is: pretty. It makes charges for which there are no really good answers (why did Darth Vader get into his Tie Fighter and join the battle? Why did he order his wing-men to stand-down firing on Luke)?
  2. In a case were we know the conspiracy to be false (we saw the movies) how would we argue this were that not the case?
The answer is by stepping back a little and asking "What must be true for this conspiracy theory to be correct." Rather than getting bogged down in the science or the photographic evidence--or listening to sincere-seeming eye-witness accounts--ask the big question: if [ X ] was perpetrated by the government, what kinds of planning and risk-assessment would have been necessary for it to go forwards? How sure would the perpetrators have to be that they would not be caught? What kinds of security would have to be in place to make sure no one talks down the line (for example: if everyone in Bush-Brother's company showed up dead in 2008 (a) that would raise questions and (b) the last guy to die would almost certainly talk--how would you even plan on containing that?)

These questions have even worse answers than the ones posed by Loose Change: at some point almost everyone but you has to be in on the conspiracy. By the time you are done thinking it through a disastrous war in Afghanistan and tons of stolen gold seem like a pretty poor reason for someone like Bush to play bumper-cars with the nation's economy and his own life (if he were caught he would certainly be put to death).

You have to assume that everyone in the top chain of command is utterly corrupt and that their self interest is never served by coming clean--for decades. How would you even assess that? How far would you trust Bin Laden with your deadly secrets? Considering that he didn't deny the video (nor did Al Queada)--but the video is presumed fake--what would you do if he or someone in AQ had come out against it? How would you hope to manage that? Is Bin Laden really that big a fan of the US? That easily bought?

Do you know?

Ultimately this massive constellation of things that would have to be true is much harder to believe than the idea that the official story is correct. On the other hand ...
Hey? Why Not?

* Who is Loose Change defending? Osama Bin Laden, of course.

** Think about that. Condoleezza Rice apparently warned the Mayor of San Francisco not to fly. So she must be in on the conspiracy and this guy (Willie Brown) rated a warning? Does that make sense? Rice knows the biggest false flag attack and most devastating attack on American soil is about to go down and she decides to warn that guy not to fly?

That's terrible operational security--and, in fact, it would be absurd--but then why is it included at all in the movie? This is because they don't have to build a reasonable case that the warning was related--they just have to give the viewer a moment of pause and hope you don't Fridge Logic it later.

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