Conspiracy buffs - don't miss this!
November 29, 2001 7:10 AM   Subscribe

Conspiracy buffs - don't miss this! The latest Make Them Accountable report pulls together over 250 links around the question "What did they know (about 9/11), and when did they know it?" An amazing compendium. I don't see how ALL THIS could be crackpot ravings.
posted by ferris (20 comments total)
Because, you know, out of 275 million inhabitants, we couldnt possibly come up with 250 links to numbskull theories. That's just not possible.

Certainly there's no way that .0000009 of the population are crackpots. NO WAY that could be possible.
posted by Irontom at 7:29 AM on November 29, 2001

"Mr. Vice President, we have credible information that a terrorist attack will take place next Tuesday morning that may kill as many as 100,000 persons in the heart of New York City. What should we do?"

"Oh, right, the pipeline thing. Well, better keep quiet, then, chief!"
posted by dhartung at 7:37 AM on November 29, 2001

Conspiracy theorists amass vast quantities of seemingly related but ultimately irrelevant data and pretend that it means something. Non sequitur does not appear to have any meaning for them.

Nor are accidents or cockups possible, apparently. Or coincidence. I'm much more inclined to believe in government incompetence than in government conspiracies.

Remember, conspiracy theorists believe the same thing about Pearl Harbor that they do about 9/11: that the government knew it was coming but chose to let it happen (or even arranged for it!) for its own nefarious purposes.
posted by mcwetboy at 7:38 AM on November 29, 2001

Crackpot ravings? Numbskull theories? You guys make it sound like this is a compendium of links to personal homepages with Unibomber-eque manifestos. The majority of links that I saw were to articles by mainstream media: The New York Times, Washington Post, Newsweek, etc. Not that that necessarily means there's any "truth" in what they're reporting.
posted by megnut at 7:42 AM on November 29, 2001

The majority of links that I saw were to articles by mainstream media.

Well, duh! Everyone knows that the Conspiracy Theorists are the ones that really run the media. It's all part of a secretive plot to undermine our confidence in the government.
posted by dlewis at 7:57 AM on November 29, 2001

The argument seems to be that if there are so many suggestions of some conspiracy then there must be one or two links that are TRUE. Similarly, if there are so many stars and planets etc out in the cosmos, there must be life there too. That is possible. But no one has found any as yet.
What we do get from these many links is clear: incompetnece and poor performance of our intelligence agencies; and neither our president nor our Congress willing to dump those in charge that missed what they had some overall notion of (I do not mean the 911 attack but rather the many possible terror peoples, cells, training, etc that were here).
The excuse now is that we can not dump those resoonsible (the buck stops hee) because of the "war" we are in. On the other hand, Bush has said the war will go on for many years.
I do recall that when our Northern efforts were not doing well in the Civil War, Lincoln replaced the lead commander and put in place U.S. Grant. He didn't wait.
posted by Postroad at 7:58 AM on November 29, 2001

Well, I for one like seeing these types of fairly well-documented "conspiracy theory" links. And bravo, ferris, for braving the storm to post this. The question must be asked. If our tax dollars are going towards intelligence, we deserve to know if/when that intelligence failed.
posted by kat at 7:59 AM on November 29, 2001

At least some of the cited articles speak as much to the horrible-mistake scenario as to anything more sinister. In this piece from the Jerusalem Post, for example, the suggestion is that the CIA simply failed to take the Mossad's alleged warning seriously enough, as the result of a long-standing skepticism about these kind of warnings from the Israelis.
posted by BT at 8:04 AM on November 29, 2001

A lot of those links talked about all the shorting of AMR and UAL stock prior to 9/11. I don't think there was a U.S. Conspiracy of Silence (although of course like all of us, I look forward to the inevitable movie of that title), but I would like to know who all those people were, betting against those companies in wildly disproportionate numbers. Surely the investors' names are not hard to get.
posted by luser at 8:17 AM on November 29, 2001

Shorting airline stock during a recession is a no-brainer.
posted by mcwetboy at 8:28 AM on November 29, 2001

Postroad: "The argument seems to be that if there are so many suggestions of some conspiracy then there must be one or two links that are TRUE. Similarly, if there are so many stars and planets etc out in the cosmos, there must be life there too. That is possible. But no one has found any as yet."

That's known as The Drake Equation by the way, and it simultaneously explains both

1) how there can be life in outer space, and
2) why we haven't seen any.

Earth is the only planet in the entire universe with sentient life? The odds are pretty remote, even by the most conservative estimates. There are at the very least 30 other sentient races out there, looking at simple probability and physics. Well, that's according to Isaac Asimov, who was better known for his fiction than his astronomy or math. And he's dead. So you have to consider the source.

Even if Asimov was right, since the universe is so damn big, the odds of any of those thirty sentient races ever finding one another, even if all thirty were looking for each other, makes looking for a needle in a haystack look real easy. So life on planets outside our solar system is almost certain, but the odds of them ever visiting this Pale Blue Dot to make Contact are nil.

Yeah I know. Sagan. Not Asimov. I still like the allusion. So sue me.

But I disagree that exploring conspiracy theories is anything like The Drake Equation. It's more like spinning in place as you shoot water pistols in a room: you're bound to hit something eventually, but it never makes you right.
posted by ZachsMind at 8:52 AM on November 29, 2001

Shorting airline stock during a recession is a no-brainer.

McWetboy -- Did you even read the article?
posted by luser at 9:13 AM on November 29, 2001

But I disagree that exploring conspiracy theories is anything like The Drake Equation. It's more like spinning in place as you shoot water pistols in a room: you're bound to hit something eventually, but it never makes you right.

I would find it more remarkable and relevant to this discussion if you were to tackle the specific articles that ferris's article raises in question then to link to an article about John Lear and his wacky conspiracy theories. Its easy for me to understand why he is looney when he claims that "In its effort to protect democracy, our government sold us to the aliens," but explain to me why we shouldn't question raise the question "What specific warnings were given to the CIA and the FBI regarding imminent terrorist activity?" and take into the regards of an LATimes article about how the CIA, FBI Disagree on Urgency of Warning? I see little comparison between John Lear's theories and this article's questions. And I say questions, because that's all it is doing. It is raising questions that many people care less to consider. The rest of the words on the page are snippets from headlines and quotes from the articles, which I do not believe are taken out of context. If you think that any of this is taken out of context of the article, then that would be reasonable and credible grounds for presuading me to believe why I shouldn't consider any of this.
posted by crog at 9:13 AM on November 29, 2001

Bravo, Ferris!

If nothing else, the Stifling of Dissent section and much of the section on Who Benefits From This War? should serve as sobering reminders to even the most mainstream, middle-of-the-road Americans that wartime often serves as an excuse for wretched displays of excess by our government - who suddenly find themselves with a rare opportunity to do pretty much whatever they want under the veil of "Wartime Measures".

Hopefully, someone will form the next Truman Committee soon.

PS: Does anyone know where I can find a clip or transcript of the entire Dan Rather interview with Tom Kennedy from FEMA? Did this interview take place on Wednesday the 12th, as the context implies (in which case its the most alarming thing on the whole site) or on Wednesday the 19th (in which case is quoting waaaay out of context)? And I'm dying to know if ol' Disinformation Dan asked a follow-up question to this amazing statement.....
posted by anastasiav at 9:36 AM on November 29, 2001

anastasiav - tried your link a couple of times - got this message (browser indicated location:

Problem Report
The system detected an Unresolved Host Name while attempting to retrieve the URL:
Message ID

Problem Description
DNS resolution failure encountered for the host ''.

Possible Problem Cause
The host entered has a mistake, or the requested Web site is temporarily unavailable in DNS.

Possible Solution
Examine or correct any mistakes, or try again at a later time.
posted by yesster at 9:58 AM on November 29, 2001

luser: McWetboy -- Did you even read the article?

Point conceded*: disproportionately high short-selling of the stocks of the two airlines involved.

But, so what? All we have is data and suspicion. And it's worth pointing out that the SF Chronicle's point was terrorist profit-taking, not a conspiracy among those in the know.

My original point was that airlines were generally in the tank even before the attacks and that short selling -- the sort that is happening with Sun and Amazon right now -- is not necessarily surprising in that context.

There may be something sinister to this, but it ain't no conspiracy. It might also turn out to be innocuous coincidence -- as I said, there were already ample reasons to sell airline stock beforehand.

* Missed that, sorry, but surely you don't expect people to follow all 250 links before commenting here?
posted by mcwetboy at 10:05 AM on November 29, 2001

All we have is data and suspicion

Sounds like a new MeFi tagline to me.
posted by BT at 10:14 AM on November 29, 2001

I find this stuff fascinating. Each time I came across one of the listed links I would note it with interest, then move on. But to see them amassed in one place - well, I think it's worth diseminating. If you feel similarly drawn, see A Primer on Understanding Conspiracies , by James Higdon. He says, "I think that these conspiracy theories are a good thing, whether or not they are true. One or two of them may make so much sense, in the face of available information, that they may take hold of popular thought and require the government to disprove them." He examines what a conspiracy is, using Hillary Clinton's "vast right wing conspiracy" and David Podvin and Carolyn Kay's (Make Them Accountable) work on "Jack Welch's transformation of NBC News into the pursuer of GE corporate interests" to illustrate his points. Then he comes down hard on the U.S.A. Patriot Act, noting:

Make no mistake, this act is so loosely worded that, as I write this, Ashcroft could decide, in a heartbeat, that this writing supports a terrorist cause. He could then have me arrested without a warrant, hold me incommunicado, confiscate my property, search all of my personal effects and, now that he has decided that this unconstitutional act gives him the right to monitor conversations between client and legal counsel, deny my Sixth Amendment right to an attorney. All of this can be done—right now—without the slightest measure of judicial oversight.

Oh - and here's an interesting and relevant item I didn't see in the Make Them Accountable compendium: When Bin Laden Was Tim Osman
posted by ferris at 10:34 AM on November 29, 2001

ferris, that Tim Osman stuff is very interesting -- especially the part about Osama having possibly visited the White House on official business! Should be easy to check out via WH visitor logs.

(I'll get right on it.)
posted by luser at 10:49 AM on November 29, 2001

anastasiav, regarding your comment on the Dan Rather interview of Tom Kennedy, here's a letter I found reprinted on the Unknown News site today (right column, scroll down a bit), also questioning the timing of that interview.

...[The letter to Make Them Accountable:]
----Regarding the Dan Rather/Tom Kennedy audio clip which is purported to "prove" that FEMA knew about the WTC attacks before September 11th, I decided to do a bit of research into it myself. I originally went out to try and prove that the audio clip was doctored or otherwise a hoax, but instead came up with a completely reasonable explanation for everything.
----The Urban Search and Rescue program is not a single unit, but is made up of twenty-eight teams across the country ( According to the web site, the US&R "is a framework for structuring local emergency services personnel into integrated disaster response task forces." In other words, they are fire fighters and local emergency teams from various metropolitan areas that are specially trained to deal with large-scale disasters. In the case of a disaster, they are equipped to deploy, at very short notice, to any part of the country.
----On September 11th, FEMA mobilized twelve US&R teams, eight to New York and four to the Pentagon ( All twenty-eight teams were put on alert.
----By Sunday, Sept 16th, plans were set up for a nine-team rotation in New York City (
----By MONDAY, September 17th, [please note the day], nine teams were working at the site. That same day, US&R Texas Task Force 1 left Austin, TX for rotation in New York City (
----By Tuesday, Sept. 18th, two more teams were scheduled to deploy (I assume the Texas unit was one of them - the other is not mentioned), with four more teams to arrive on Wednesday ( to relieve the teams that had been there since the 11th (see also
----From that point on, teams were rotated on a regular basis. For a blow by blow, here is the main page for September operations:
----I think we have our explanation, and there is nothing sinister about it.
----The interview had to have been conducted some time during the week of Sept 16th - 22nd. Although I've been unable to confirm this, it seems reasonable to assume that this Tom Kennedy dude could have been in the Texas task force that arrived on Monday (making them the last team to arrive before rotation started). Considering that actual rotation didn't start until Wednesday the 19th, it is NOT unreasonable to consider either of the two teams that deployed on Tuesday "one of the first teams that was deployed".
----Without hearing a full-length version of the Rather/Kennedy interview, it is ridiculous to assume that the interview was made during the first week after the disaster. It is even more ridiculous to think that Mr. Rather, nor any of the several million viewers could have let that one slip by unnoticed.
----Whomever submitted this audio clip must have been fully aware of when the interview was conducted, but for whatever reason thought it would be a fun to fuck with us. Ha ha, I guess the jokes on us. Whatever.
----I want you to know that I fully support your efforts. This is not meant in any way to discredit your work. In fact, my purpose is just the opposite. If you/we are going to maintain any sort of credibility in these times, we must strive to present our views based on good evidence, and not rumor and/or fabrication.
----Of course, I know you can't verify everything, and I'm not accusing you of making this shit up. For what it's worth, I think you're doing a wonderful job.
----It is my sincere hope that you will point out to your readers that this story is a hoax, and put it behind us. There is still plenty of stink coming out of Washington to keep us busy. Please don't resort to the same fear-mongering that those in power are using against us.
Mark, 11/30/2001

posted by ferris at 7:24 AM on December 2, 2001

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