Friday, June 3, 2011

Down The Rabbit Hole, Part 1

"Foul deeds will rise, though all the earth o'erwhelm them, to men's eyes"
--William Shakespeare

One of the more entertaining quirks of human nature is that when something happens close to home, involving people we know, we are likely to have a completely different reaction to it than if it is out there in the great world. And this is never more true than when unsavory behaviors are involved.

In your place of work, perhaps in your church, possibly in a sports program you worship, maybe even in your family, you are no doubt aware of all kinds of backroom deals, outright lies, collusion, rule violations, unreported crimes, indiscretions, blackmails, revisionist history, and, most of all, cover-ups. You know that even your loved ones and your best friends, when necessity dictates, will tell a version of the truth that isn't quite accurate but that will buy them time or take the scrutiny off of them. You've seen your minister, your spouse, your students do it. You've seen your bosses do it. You've done it. So, you're really not surprised.

And yet, when we consider events on a national level, many of us throw out every bit of awareness that our years have earned us. Sure, we're not really "shocked" by Governor Arnold's sexual behavior or Weiner's weiner. Hey, that's politics! But when the focus shifts to the running of government, international relations, national security, back go the "naive caps" on our heads. Suddenly, we think once again that America is the home of the brave and the land of the brave and that we set the ethical standard for the world. And when it seems like our president or our other elected officials or appointed leaders has not met this standard, we accept plausible deniability first and get very defensive and then, if the truth does come out, we are amazed to discover that there has been a cover-up.

As many of you know, I am a conspiracy theorist. No, that is not accurate. I am a clearinghouse for conspiracy theories. I enjoy reading about them and following them down the rabbit hole, an Internet activity that can suck away hours of one's life. I tend to think that there is something to most of them, a lot to some of them. But that outlook doesn't keep me from voting for candidates I admire or from feeling a stirring of patriotism after a foe has been vanquished or after I don an Old Navy t-shirt with the flag on it. There's a kind of compartmentalization that happens.

And, just so you know, here's what I use to keep my focus. Most every president since and including Roosevelt (do I need to go back farther?) has been involved in something that should, I believe, remind us that our government regularly and intentionally engages in secret activities and shadow government practices that are illegal or immoral:

--Roosevelt's, or some aspect of his government's, complicity in the "secret" attack on Pearl Harbor
--Truman's lack of awareness, as vice-president, of the existence of the Manhattan Project until he became President
--Eisenhower's warning to America about the "military-industrial complex"
--Kennedy's involvement in the secret Bay of Pigs invasion to overthrow Cuba
--Johnson's use of a fabricated attack on a U.S. ship in the Gulf of Tonkin to legitimize the Vietnam War
--Nixon's Watergate break-in and cover-up, as well as the secret bombing of Cambodia
--Ford's pardon of Nixon
--Reagan's Iran-Contral scandal and how it led to the creation of a government outside the government; his invasion of Grenada to distract from the travesty of U.S. Marines killed in Lebanon
--Bush 1's pardoning of all those who could implicate him to avoid further investigation of his role in Iran-Contra
--Clinton's "wag the dog" attack on Sudan
--Bush 2's lies about weapons of mass destruction and Saddam Hussein's involvement in 9/11 to start the Iraq war

Here is the bad thing about "conspiracy theories": both words are problematic. If you profess some faith in a 'conspiracy," people will accuse you of being paranoid. And if you buy into a conspiracy, you will quickly find yourself subject to all kinds of ad hominem attacks, the absolute lowest form of logical fallacy. In other words, the attacks will be on you, not on your argument. Or, just as likely, the attack will take the form of trying to connect you to some certifiable nut who believes the same thing that you do. You will be linked to idiotic buffoons who bought into Y2K and other such religious-based silliness.

And, even if, God forbid, you ever locate some credible evidence, it will still be "just a theory." And that's where the second word comes into play. Because who is formulating these theories? Amateurs. People who run governments are professionals. People who control information are professionals People who question how those governments are run are amateurs, part-timers, hobbyists, or, in the words of Vincent Bugliosi, "buffs."

Here is the good thing about conspiracy theories: Because they must challenge the "party line," because they are quickly dismissed as crackpot ideas formulated by people who don't have the "authority" to do so, because they linger so far below acceptable reasoning, because they stand no chance against the official version, they need find only the smallest of cracks to establish their credibility. If the party line, the official version, is gospel, then it can't be wrong, right? It can't be half right. It is the accepted version of what happened and it quickly dismisses any counter-theories, and so if some, even minor, portion of the official version is called into question, Houston, you've got a problem. And that's true even it was once nothing but a theory itself.

But don't take my word for it. Listen to your government, the one whose version you trust. Or versions. After the Kennedy assassination (the first one) in 1963, new President Lyndon Johnson appointed the Warren Commission to examine the killing and to determine who was responsible. That they attempted to do by concluding that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. Case closed, right?


In 1975, the House Select Committee on Assassinations investigated JFK's murder once again. So here's your problem: there isn't one party line. There are two. Because now you have two "official" versions that don't line up. Oh, the HSCA confirmed many of the findings of the Warren Commission (many of which I still don't agree with), but they drew a different, albeit timid, conclusion, which was that, yes, Lee Harvey Oswald killed the president, but that he had almost certainly done so as the result of a conspiracy.

And there it is, your chink in the party line armor. If nothing else, it reminds you that the Warren Commission report is just a theory itself, a theory predicated on the idea that one, wacky, well-travelled bullet did an awful lot of damage to two different men (Kennedy and Connally) and very little damage to itself, showing up virtually intact at the hospital.

It's a theory offered to you by a commission that contains at least two very interesting members: 1) Rep. (and future president/pardoner of Richard Nixon) Gerald Ford, who freely admitted later that the final Warren Commission report said: "A bullet had entered the base of the back of his neck [instead of his back] slightly to the right of his spine," a revision made by Ford that was intended to clarify meaning, not alter history. "My changes had nothing to do with a conspiracy theory," he said. "My changes were only an attempt to be more precise." That does not matter. What matters, what should make you wonder is, why change the language when the autopsy photos clearly show that the bullet entered Kennedy's back? That is not precision, that, for whatever purpose, is a lie. That's Mark Furhman planting evidence on OJ. Chink.

2) Mr. Allen Dulles, who was in charge of the CIA, who Kennedy forced to resign after the Bay of Pigs, who heard Kennedy's threat that he wanted to "splinter the CIA into a thousand pieces and scatter it into the winds." Why did LBJ, the man who gained the presidency after Kennedy's death want such a man on the Warren Commission? I don't know. Maybe because Dulles showed up on the second day of commission meetings and handed everyone a book that argued that American political assassinations tend to be the work of lone gunmen. Or maybe because as former President Gerald Ford admitted very late in his life:

[T]he commission's probe [into the Kennedy assassination] put "certain classified and potentially damaging operations in danger of being exposed." The CIA's reaction, he added, "was to hide or destroy some information, which can easily be misinterpreted as collusion in JFK's assassination."

In other words, even the guy who changed the evidence himself was bothered by the CIA's involvement. I'm not arguing for CIA collusion in the assassination. And my goal is not to reopen the Kennedy assassination. Or the 9/11 attacks. Or the build-up to the Iraq War. Or the Iran-Contra deal. It is to make you wonder about the official version of everything. For example, do you really want to accept the truth of a commission that moved the location of a bullet wound 6 inches and that had information kept from it by the CIA? Both of those facts coming from Commission members themselves?

I don't. Especially when there are two official versions and they don't agree on the key point.

NEXT: why does everyone want to "fess up" right before they die?


Billy said...

There are small, personal deceptions (read: my post from Wednesday, or the kinds you mentioned). These are relatively easy to keep secret because they are a chronic part of life.

Then there are large, highly-complicated deceptions that require dozens if not hundreds of human beings and intricate details.

I just don't believe it's remotely easy to keep that latter kind of operation secret for too long. The greater the complexity, the more impossible the cover-up.

And where you see Revelatory Scandals as proof of further conspiracies, I see them as proof that the conspiracies that remain shrouded in mystery after numerous decades are probably still shrouded because there's lots of smoke but little fire.

Most conspiracies are just Rube Goldberg mental mousetraps (or rabbit holes) for people who got tired of Sudoku. And yes, I exaggerate mostly just to annoy you.

Daisy said...

I think there is a conspiracy not too comment on this great post.

Jason said...

I would do just about anything to engage you about this Bob. I wouldn't sit on the sidelines like I did for most of the last discussion we had like this, but I would like to have a couple less beers this time around. I'm sure a certain other former faculty member would love to chime in a couple of times as well:)