Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Best 911 Video Ever (EVAR)

What you see above is the Best 911 Video EVER. Or so it says. It's about five minutes long--the first sixteen seconds is taken up with opening music. You could go ahead and watch it! The credits title is 9/11 A Conspiracy theory.

Let's Take A Look
The first minute and a half lays out the 'ridiculous' conspiracy theory. For example:
  • A pilot who cannot handle a Cessna (light aircraft) executes a complex flying maneuver to hit the pentagon.
  • Everyone know who it was who did it--immediately--it was a guy on dialysis (Osama Bin Laden)!
  • The terrorists sure didn't act like Muslims--drinking, snorting cocaine, using hookers ...
  • No one shot down the planes after they were hijacked--it was like ... an HOUR or something.
  • The terrorists TOOK OVER the plane with box-cutters! The pilots were "military trained" (air-force ... right.)
  • The plane hit RIGHT where people were doing the budget analysis for a ton of missing money Rumsfeld had said they were going to talk about JUST THE DAY BEFORE ...
  • Two Planes: THREE BUILDINGS!
  • And so on.
For the next 40 seconds, it concludes that the investigation was a complete joke. 
  • The official investigation is clearly faked because it doesn't mention the constellation of conspiracy theorist's smoking guns (Able Danger, P-Tech, Osama and the CIA, and other such talking-points).
  • It claims that the weakness was a "failure of imagination"--pointing out that lots of people had had the idea of using airplanes as weapons.
  • It hits the government for destroying evidence such as the SEC.
By 3:20 it is showing us pictures of people who "don't exist" (it doesn't say who they are). It says if you ask questions you will be declared a conspiracy theorist. It goes on a bit showing lots of faces--but no background data.

About a minute later we see the saga of Osama moving around evading the CIA--the most advanced intelligence in the world--while releasing video after video. It presents this as ludicrous. It hits the 'daring raid' that 'killed him' as a botched job where the special forces panic and shoot him before he can answer any questions and he is dumped at sea before anyone knows what is going on. Oh--and no one took video of the raid either. 

It shows some pictures of government officials lying in the past (including Colin Powell on Iraqi WMD). It concludes that This Story is brought to you by a bunch of liars and if you question it? It takes about 30 seconds saying you will be called a dog-abusing puppy-hating bat-shit crazy tin-foil hat nut-job.

That last bit? They're right about that.

What's Good About It?
This video is actually savvy on two levels. The first is that it is short and somewhat humorous. Conspiracy theory tends to drone on-and-on, over-earnest because it knows you don't believe it. The second is that it doesn't back anything up: it simply raises questions--but does not provide the answers.

It, in a fairly ballsy move, doesn't even say "you need to do the research yourself." It doesn't have to: ten years later we've all done the research ourselves and Google will provide the trail of breadcrumbs for any newcomers.

It's watchable. The voice-over is good and well done. If it had a beat you could dance to it.


What's Bad About It?
The way Conspiracy Theory (in caps because this is the big picture) works is this: it shows you the "official story" and "punches holes in it." It then gives you a framework for an alternate story--not evidentiary proof--just some factoids that, when you connect the dots, makes a picture of a conspiracy theory. The idea is to create reasonable doubt and then have their half-formed theory come rushing in to fill the gap.
If You Believe It You Are _______.
So let's see? Firstly, the failure of imagination was on two fronts--the first was that terrorists--especially suicide operatives--could operate for a length of time in the American environment. Our theorists thought that they would "turn"--and, in smaller numbers, they were probably right. Secondly, the idea of using box-cutters and hostages (stewardesses) was a first-time event. The response to a hijacking is to allow the hijackers to control the plane, land, negotiate, and then die at the hands of special operatives. It is not to shoot down the plane.

The idea that no one saw this coming is not the point--it's that until they flew the planes into buildings no one realized what the end-game was. Also: no one knew how many operatives were in the air--or what their targets were.

The idea that "a guy on dialysis orchestrated this" is nuts is just insulting to people on dialysis everywhere. Bin Laden may or may not have been in good health but he was mondo-wealthy and had been playing the Jihadi game for several years by that time. He was highly educated, charismatic, and a good operational planner. 

For the video to imply he could not be the mastermind behind it is an attempt at narrative sleight-of-hand: They must assume you do not know what you are talking about. It ignores the fact that the pilots did receive training and that the hardest part of flying--landing the plane--was not a consideration for their plan. 

It is also very troubled by the fact that some material was destroyed or not released. It is simply not normal to video-document special operations procedures. It is not normal to have cameras in the command chambers. Ditching Bin Laden at sea was, in fact, a brilliant move whether or not it was a cover-up.

What Do They Think Happened?
The biggest problem, however, comes when you get to the end and think critically about what they are suggesting--this is kryptonite for all conspiracy theories. What was the end-game? Let's see: there are two basic strains of 9/11 conspiracy theory: MHOP and LHOP. These are Made It Happen On Purpose and Let It Happen On Purpose. In the first the US Government did it. In the second, we knew it was going to happen and allowed it.

The video doesn't say which it is--but it confuses the two. If Rumsfeld was trying to cover up the missing money (using an airplane and a national disaster that could destroy the economy and his friend's presidency for cover) then it's MHOP. If the government's data-mining plans Able Danger and P-Tech discovered the hijackers and didn't tell anyone it's LHOP.

The idea that Rumsfeld would see it coming and then move the budget investigation into harm's way would imply he knew exactly where that plane was going to hit and decided the risk of being wrong (what if it hit the wrong side of the Pentagon, for example) was worth it. Absurd.

So it mixes its motivations. 

It also doesn't know much about suicide bombers--or assumes you won't. They often "break Muslim codes" before going out on a mission. After all, they're about to be martyrs--that's the best you can be. So drinking, doing coke? Hookers? All within bounds. It just assumes you won't understand that. It's like the guys putting pork-fat on bullets to "deny Muslims paradise." It doesn't work that way.

As far as we can tell the theory is:
  1. Rumsfeld and the administration somehow absconds with like a trillion dollars or something.
  2. In order to cover his tracks he deploys 19 people--NOT Muslim hijackers--just ... like ... blackwater operatives? But they're suicide bombers, right? He deploys them to training.
  3. They take over planes and, at exactly the right time lay in a course for the Pentagon (the real target) and the World Trade Centers (the fake target). And ... the White House (Flight 93).
  4. Rumsfeld orders a secret stand-down of air defenses. This has to cover numerous bases. It must be seen ahead of time by dozens of personnel. No one will talk. EVER. Not 10 years later--no one will say "I got a secret memo to stand down on 9/11."
  5. The planes fly unimpeded to their locations. The investigation is shut down.
  6. The CIA pins the attack on Osama, faking a video, and fooling the entire Muslim world by using appropriate back-channels to distribute the information.
  7. At this point either Osama is long-dead (but no one knows), in cahoots (but is loyal and won't talk), or was part of the plan all along (and maybe believes he can keep himself alive by playing ball?)
  8. However, by the end of the video Osama is killed in a raid (or something?)
The above is plainly absurd and is full of holes (did Osama do it at all?). Why wouldn't Obama, coming into office, blow the cover off it? Was he--not even a junior Senator at the time--in on it too? Does his office not know? Was the cover-up so deep that military personnel still on duty from that date won't tell their commander in chief? They don't say.

They can't say--their goal is not to prove their case. It's to make you doubt the official story.

In a court-room trial for a criminal conviction you need to believe the perpetrator did it beyond a reasonable doubt. They can't come close to that. All they can do is present talking-points that try to dismantle the "government's case." They are running what, in a court of law, would be a defense. They are not running a prosecution.

What Do They Really Want?
For a 5-minute video they sure do spend a long time talking about how reviled you'll be for asking questions, don't they? What Conspiracy Theory is about, at it's heart, is power-struggle and uniqueness. The theorist believes they are special because they see things the average person does not see. They have special knowledge. They are also angry at the powers-that-be. They are victimized by them (either directly or indirectly). 

Conspiracy Theory is a way of creating a power-struggle with society at large (it turns out that the powers-that-be usually don't react to it*) so when you spout 9/11 Trutherism or Birtherism or whatever you get a negative-charge of persecution from the general populace (or your school administration, Dr. James Tracey) and you scratch the "I need to be in conflict with society" itch.

It's beautiful.

Just remember: the response Conspiracy Theorists are getting from society at large? That's not the problem--it's the intent.

* And note: real people with real administration-damaging information don't release it from their livingrooms under their real names. The go to Hong Kong after releasing that shit--or give it to Wikileaks. If one of these conspiracy theorists really thought they were blowing the doors off a super-corrupt super-power they'd be hiding under their bed--not making snarkily voiced-over videos. This isn't to say they haven't convinced themselves they believe it--I'm sure if you put them on a polygraph you'd see they do. It's just that their actions are designed to make war with their parents/teachers/administrations and not the "actual culprits."

They have to come up with an excuse for why they aren't hunted down and silenced ("It would prove me right!! So that's why they can't do it!")


  1. Hi, Marco! I think that was a spot-on break down but there is the one point where you say it doesn't mention the constellation of conspiracy theorist's smoking guns (Able Danger, P-Tech, Osama and the CIA, and other such talking-points).
    I remember hearing Able Danger and P-Tech mentioned to some small degree in the video.

    1. Sorry--that was confusing: I meant the *video* says the official investigation is flawed because it does not mention these special points.

      Yes, the video mentions them--and asserts without evidence that they ought to be in the investigation--but it doesn't make any kind of case for that...