Book- 'Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War I to 9/11' by Kathryn S. Olmsted
The 9/11 Commission Report presents a theory, and supports it by omitting and distorting hundreds of relevant facts. Its conclusions and statements are in contradiction with what has been established by government reports (incl. the Joint Inquiry) and mainstream media. Enough with the 'theories'; there needs to be an accounting, full criminal and Congressional investigations, accountable to the public. Those who were responsible for US intelligence and defense need to testify under oath in answer to real questions (not softballs and ass-kisses). The Bush Administration, FBI, NSA, CIA, NORAD and FAA have not presented an honest, coherent accounting for why 9/11 happened that includes what's already in the public record, and that's bad news for the Republic. There are too many facts that are more readily explained by a 'conspiracy' involving people other than/in addition to al Qaeda- such as the destruction of WTC 1, 2 & 7, repeated FAA/NORAD failures, coincident war games, CIA/FBI/NSA tracking suspects but violating standard procedures and not using common sense, world-wide unusual trading leading up to 9/11, etc. And considering the way the 9/11 Commission handled its 'investigation', the Commissioners and staff themselves should be investigated and grilled under oath about what they did; some of them may be guilty of cover up. Until there's a complete accounting, there is no reason to 'trust' those 'public servants' and media talking heads who are pretending 9/11 was ONLY al Qaeda, luck, system failures, lack of imagination/resources.
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'Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War I to 9/11' by Kathryn S. Olmsted
By Art Winslow
February 28, 2009
In August 2006, almost five years after the catastrophic attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, a poll by Scripps Howard and Ohio University found that 36 percent of respondents thought it "very likely" or "somewhat likely" that officials of the federal government "either participated in the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon or took no action to stop them."
The poll also found that those who regularly use the Internet but do not habitually consult mainstream media "are significantly more likely to believe in 9/11 conspiracies." Kathryn S. Olmsted, in her exquisitely researched and annotated new book "Real Enemies: Conspiracy Theories and American Democracy, World War I to 9/11," points out that although such views "may seem to belong to the fringe," they are held by millions of Americans and a majority of those between the ages of 18 and 29.
In fact, Olmsted asserts that the tendency to see conspiracies everywhere "long ago spread from the margins into the main body of American political culture," and that the quelling of political dissent is an exacerbating factor. She has set out to track the history and patterning of conspiratorial beliefs as they relate to politics and public policy.
Her thesis—that conspiracy theories thrive in part because the government has misled the public or acted illegally and covertly, and been caught at it frequently enough to make them credible—is a disconcerting one. But the historical detail she marshals (which demonstrates a tendency for fusion of far-left and far-right political views) is persuasive in its cumulative power.
Even as Olmsted covers well-trod ground—such as postwar McCarthyism, the Kennedy assassinations, Watergate and domestic espionage by the FBI; CIA machinations and its testing of LSD on random citizens; the Iran-contra scandal of the Reagan years and more—her compilation presents a startling read of public history.
Who recalls that the Joint Chiefs of Staff actually spied on Richard Nixon, for example? Olmsted, who writes that "paranoia, conspiracy, and conspiracy theory became fundamental operating principles of the executive branch" under Nixon, points out that because the president kept information from them, the Joint Chiefs had a National Security Council staffer steal documents from Henry Kissinger's briefcase to keep them up to speed.
And who would have guessed that the militia-minded Timothy McVeigh, bomber of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City in 1995 and "a walking compendium of anti-government conspiracy theories," would correspond with writer Gore Vidal and profess agreement with much of Vidal's left-wing analysis of subversions of the Republic? Or that the anarchist Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, would converse with McVeigh in a prison yard, and conclude that he "sounded like a liberal"?
Olmsted locates what she calls the "taproot of modern conspiracism" in the hearings of a Senate select committee of the early 1930s, the Nye Committee. It looked into the possibility that arms manufacturers had been a factor in the American entry to World War I. In the process, Olmsted points out, the group led by Sen. Gerald Nye (R-N.D.) discovered documents indicating President Woodrow Wilson had misled the public and Congress about [his knowledge of] Allied war aims: He knew of secret treaties to divide up territory, postwar, and had "actively fostered ignorance of that."
Presidents leading the country into war without full or honest disclosure has been a strong theme of political contention and the source of conspiracy theory, from suspicions that Franklin Roosevelt knew in advance of the attack on Pearl Harbor up to the George W. Bush Administration's allegations of connections between Saddam Hussein's regime and Al Qaeda. The latter is among multiple examples Olmsted raises of state-propagated, misleading allegations of conspiracy.
When Olmsted's chronology reaches the arms-for-hostages trading with Iran and funneling money to the contras under Reagan, she said it "represented what conspiracy theorists since the First World War had feared the most: the ultimate executive usurpation of power. The Iran-contra conspirators had not subverted the government, they were the government."
Various events and cultural themes that have fed conspiracy theories are treated by Olmsted as well, including the deadly encounters when government agents confronted Randy Weaver and his family in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in 1991, and David Koresh and the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas, in 1993; speculations that the crack epidemic was intentionally foisted on the African-American populace; and mistrust of the mainstream press, the suspicion that "the fourth estate was in league with the government to hide disturbing facts from the public."
The purported federal cover-up of aliens crashing a UFO in Roswell, N.M., makes an appearance, too, as does the hit sci-fi/government conspiracy TV series "The X- Files," but Olmsted's focus is political history. She suggests transparency in government would cure "the disease of conspiracism."