Michael Rivero,
August 29, 2002 12:59 PM   Subscribe

Michael Rivero, formerly an digital effects worker for Final Fantasy and Coneheads has walked onto the scene and stood out when it comes to the conspiracy genre, with his site WhatReallyHappened.com. He has been claiming that 9/11 was the work of the Israelis and the US government to cause a war for Oil in the Middle East, while also making other comments on the War on Terror.

While he seems to boast that his site's Alexa rating is higher than Newsweek's as affirmation that he is popular, no matter how flawed Alexa may be.

Is this what really happened? or merely the posted viewpoints collected by a person who distrusts the Government?
posted by RobbieFal (35 comments total)
Is this what really happened? or merely the posted viewpoints collected by a person who distrusts the Government?

And no again.

It's simply anti-Semitic, tinfoil hat conspiracy bullshit.

My question now: is this a FPP?
posted by matteo at 1:02 PM on August 29, 2002

Plenty of nutballs out there. It doesn't take much effort to find about a million different websites pitching the idea that the Israelis/CIA/NSA/etc. was "really" behind the WTC attacks. It's silly, it's sad, and it's dumb...but it's not surprising.

Drive on...nothing to see here.
posted by mrmanley at 1:11 PM on August 29, 2002

whatreallyhappened.com has come up here multiple times in the past, but while I think the "Anthrax suspect is Jewish" thing is over the top (especially since their name isn't the one we've heard about), it's worth mentioning once again that the Israeli spy ring scandal (at least 120 Israelis have been deported since 9/11) has been generally ignored by the U.S. press. Atlanta's Creative Loafing has the best, most fair intro to the spy story; the series is really a must-read:

March 13 story
March 20 story
March 27 story

The most I've heard anyone seriously suggest is that some Israeli intelligence groups active in the U.S. pre-9/11 (the Israeli government does not dispute their existence) had knowledge that something was going down that morning, but failed to share it for political reasons.
posted by mediareport at 1:22 PM on August 29, 2002

I'm sorry, that should read "detained or deported" up there. But really, is there anyone who's *not* surprised at the lack of coverage given to a major foreign spy ring discovered in the U.S.?
posted by mediareport at 1:26 PM on August 29, 2002

Wow! Something on the internet suggesting that the Jews are CONTROLLING THE WORLD! How unusual.

His ideas are dismissable. His use of frames and his willful abuse of fonts is the real crime.
posted by evanizer at 1:27 PM on August 29, 2002

Is there a single, evil, design firm out there CONTROLLING all of the conspiracy sites on the Web? Do they know all of the SECRETS of mixing together font tags to make their SITES look CRAZY?
posted by lackutrol at 1:39 PM on August 29, 2002

Hey, evanizer: Have you ever posted something here about the Israeli spy ring? I'm really curious as to your take on the Creative Loafing presentation.
posted by mediareport at 1:44 PM on August 29, 2002

Down with frames!

Anyway, I've always had a soft spot for wacko conspiracy theories. I'm often impressed by the amount of work that goes into something so inbent and obscure. It's a aspect of human nature to believe and then create conspiracy theories. Religion is the greatest conspiracy of all, if you think about it. It's just something humans do.
I've heard alot of this before through other wacko conspiracy websites. Some of it sounds plausible, but unprovable. There is fair mileage in the Amdocs story, Israeli intelligence is collecting information in America for it's own intelligence reasons. I'm sure that US agents are doing the same thing in Israel. Spying is another aspect of human nature, isn't it? It's a reach to (and then some) to accuse Israel of engineering 9/11. But if you've got a conspiracy going you have to implicate the masons, the CIA, and (sic) The Jews. It's like the law of conspiracy.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:46 PM on August 29, 2002

lackutrol: Try unansweredquestions.org for a less "CRAZY"-looking site with some of the same information, minus the nuttiness. Btw, RobbieFal, you might want to use that one instead of whatreallyhappened.com in the future if you want to spark serious discussion of doubts about the official 9/11 story.
posted by mediareport at 1:48 PM on August 29, 2002

Elwood, aren't the Trilateral Commission and the Jesuits required as well?
posted by lackutrol at 1:48 PM on August 29, 2002

Good to see that the real truth about the Kennedy assassination has finally come out. Sheesh. I knew a lot of these conspiracy sorts when I lived in Montana. They would be funny, if they didn't have such a fondness for automatic weaponry.
posted by MidasMulligan at 1:49 PM on August 29, 2002

As a Jew, I used to be really disturbed by what I perceived as Rivero's blatant anti-semitism. In Mike's favor, however, I have to say I was wrong. If you take the time to read his paranoid ravings regularly, you discover he's anti-Zionist, not anti-semitic. And yes, I believe there is a major difference between those two terms.

The sad truth is, whatreallyhappened.com is a valuable web service. I'm serious. In any given week, there are stories that get buried by the American press. All you have to do is ignore the bullshit links to stuff like rense.com and bankindex.com.

Mike does provide good information on civil liberties, current events in the war(s), protests, politics, and a cross-section of zinn-style history.
posted by jbrjake at 1:51 PM on August 29, 2002

lackutrol: Oh that's right! And throw in the council on foreign Relations too.
posted by elwoodwiles at 1:53 PM on August 29, 2002

Nancy Reagan says: "Just say no to I/P posts"
posted by Fupped Duck at 1:54 PM on August 29, 2002

OK, I agree that a lot of this is easily dismissible, but until now I was unaware of Bush's bizarre bald-faced lie about seeing the first plane hit the tower on TV before he went into the classroom. As the site points out, if he actually did see such a televised image, if this is NOT a lie, then he's admitting that his cronies set the whole thing up and watched it unfold. Once I got that I got the hell out of this site, figuring the signal-to-noise ratio would make the unearthing of additional gems improbable.
posted by soyjoy at 1:54 PM on August 29, 2002

Read the stories, elwoodwiles. Let's talk about them here.
posted by mediareport at 1:55 PM on August 29, 2002

Mediareport -

I have no real idea about an Israeli spy ring. One such could well exist or could not, but I don't feel anything was proved by the articles you linked to, which relied significantly on circumstantial evidence taken out of context. For instance:

120 Israelis were deported - principally it seems for immigration concerns. If you were sending a spy - who would operate openly as an art student - wouldn't you make sure you arranged a visa for him? Do you happen to have any idea how many illegal Israelis live throughout the world, but with tons in NY and in Florida? Tons is the answer btw. Also, the fact that they lived in Hollywood Fl., near the terrorists: Hollywood has a large Jewish community and it's not really suprising that a bunch of Israelis went there.

Second, regarding their cover as 'art students'. What on earth were they supposed to be able to discover with that cover? Easily the most inane way to penetrate top secret military installations would be to pose as an art student (without a visa, at that).

Third, regarding their past in the military. Once more, I don't know how many Israelis you know, but if you shake a tree of them, a bunch will come down related to, or having served in, senior positions in the military or having served in the special forces or the security services (including the technology services). This is also a class thing: the middle-and-upper class Israelis are drawn to these areas (special forces, technology) and these are also the ones most likely to come to the US.

Fourth - what on earth does any of these art students have to do with Israeli technology companies supplying telecommunications equipment or services in the US? There seems to be no link here - and saying that the Israeli government could potentially (and we have no idea if this is true) monitor who is calling who on the phones and eavesdrop on them is vastly different from proving that it either could or did happen.

Finally, did Israeli art students approach non-government personel? If they didn't - if the only buildings they went to were gov't buildings and the only people the approached were gov't people - then you would have damning circumstantial evidence. But absent that knowledge, I don't see what real conclusions can be drawn from this.

Once more, I'm not saying it's nothing: I would assume Israel spies on the US and vice versa. In this case there may have been a spy ring, but I wouldn't call it 'proved' (not that you did, but I'm just saying). Also, the focus on the DEA and the suggestion that they were there to monitor Arab activity in the US make this out to not be a case of US national security. I don't really see how Israel planned on harming the US by monitoring (presumably) radical anti-Israeli activity and by selling artwork to judges and DEA agents.
posted by fluffy1984 at 1:58 PM on August 29, 2002

mediareport, while I am ready to look into a lot of different and perhaps controversial perspectives, many of these questions are not unanswered and some of them are a bit alarming. I am not terribly confident in a site whose users have chosen this as an important "unanswered question':

"The World Trade Center was the bastion of International Jew business and political enterprise;it was located in the largest Jew populated city in the world; yet only one (1) Jew died in the 9-11 attack. Was this a miracle?"

I'd also like to point out that one of their writers has done work for NewsMax, a favorite of right-wing lunatics everywhere.

It does look much nicer that the other site, but it still features a lot of the same old, Protocols-of-the-Elders-of-Zion-style claptrap.
posted by lackutrol at 2:06 PM on August 29, 2002

I am amazed at how many people go to this sort of nonsense (not that I believe only official DC reports) but assume it is because the aliens hanging around the 51 spot have become tiresome.

Just imagine gathering up some 50 or so spies and sending them around in groups! Good technique. And the French best seller that claims no plane hit the Pentagon...gosh, they did not see the photo I saw, but then something gets lost in translation.
posted by Postroad at 2:17 PM on August 29, 2002

Rivero has crafted one of those theories that only make sense if you already believe the jews are out to get us. He picks his target, Israel, and then collates rumors, myths and government double-speak. He's trying to create a body of evidence that contains no continuity, no smoking gun and questionable motives. Why would Israel do this? To invade Palestine while we're distracted? Seems abit much. If they were trying to get us to take out Iraq, why didn't mossad frame Saddam? It's seems that the Israeli spy ring, though possible, appears on this site because of it's connections to Israel, not to 9/11. Rivero is just hoping people will connect the dots if he puts the dots close enough together.
posted by elwoodwiles at 2:19 PM on August 29, 2002

If Israel was really "behind 9-11" and Palestinians are the world's biggest terrorists... how come there wasn't a single Palestinian on those airplanes??? Very Interesting that Mr Rivero does not address this question.
posted by cell divide at 2:22 PM on August 29, 2002

if this is NOT a lie, then he's admitting that his cronies set the whole thing up and watched it unfold

soyjoy, you're right, that's really bizarre. I don't think many video cameras caught the first plane, since it was mostly unexpected. How could he have seen it before entering the classroom? Why would there even be a tv playing CNN in the hallway of an elementary school, anyway?
posted by puffin at 2:27 PM on August 29, 2002

The only thing I've found on this site that seems to mean much is the evidence that FEMA was deployed to New York before the planes hit. That gives me chills.

Otherwise, while I don't think the idea that the government allowed or caused the attacks can be dismissed out of hand, I don't expect to see definitive proof one way or the other anytime soon.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 2:28 PM on August 29, 2002

I chalk that Bush quote up to him being an idiot, not any sort of serious thing.

from the timeline

'After 8:48 A.M.) Bush is asked by a reporter "Do you know what's going on in New York?" He responds that he does, and he says he will have something about it later, as he leaves his hotel for Booker Elementary School. [ABC News, 9/11/01] Bush's motorcade then leaves for Emma E. Booker Elementary School in Sarasota, Florida. [8:30, Washington Post, 1/27/02] '

'Before 9:00 A.M.) Following Bush on the way to Booker Elementary School, a news photographer overhears a radio transmission saying that Press Secretary Ari Fleischer would be needed on arrival to discuss reports of some sort of crash. [Christian Science Monitor, 9/17/01]

9:00 A.M. According to the official timeline, only now does White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card tell Bush a plane has crashed into the World Trade Center. [September 11 News timeline]'

posted by RobbieFal at 2:33 PM on August 29, 2002

I still quietly do not understand this. Note the site is french.
posted by elwoodwiles at 2:36 PM on August 29, 2002

Elwood, Snopes debunks this foolishness pretty well. Check it out.
posted by John Smallberries at 2:51 PM on August 29, 2002

Shoot, I was hoping that this discussion would go in the direction of what Alexa rankings really mean (Metafilter=10,072)
posted by jonah at 3:01 PM on August 29, 2002

I am not terribly confident in a site whose users have chosen this as an important "unanswered question"

Well, that's sure an intellectually honest approach to the site's content. I'm not sure how you missed this, lackutrol:

Please understand that all the questions are submitted by the public we are not responsible for their content.

I really couldn't give a crap what random users who post to the site think. I'm interested in sorting out idiocy from truth, which means trying to examine the evidence as dispassionately as I can. Can we try judging the site on, you know, its own merits? The 11 Top Talking Points & Questions is a good place to start.
posted by mediareport at 4:04 PM on August 29, 2002

mediareport: Fluffy1984's points are all really good. That story is pretty weird: what sort of cover is 'art student'? And like Fluffy points out, it's not unusual that a number of them would have some connection to the Israeli military, since military service is pretty much mandatory.

But I think the prime question is what "political reason" could have motivated Israeli intelligence to keep quiet if they knew something was up?
posted by slipperywhenwet at 7:09 PM on August 29, 2002

mediareport, I did mention that it was the users who chose that issue. Though I certainly grant that the site's users, as opposed to its staff, are less of a gauge of its intent, it certainly would seem from the user questions that those people frequenting the site believe that the unanswered questions involve the Jews, namely that the Mossad was responsible for 9/11 and that all the Jews who worked in the towers were warned. This is why that page bothers me so much: the people who host the site don't mind those opinions being there.

I don't think anyone in this forum would allow anti-semitic or other such nonsense to be posted to their sites.

The link you point to is certainly more moderate, I'll grant you that, but most points (other than the alleged "insider trading," which has been explored and largely dismissed in other publications) can be explained by incompetence on the part of the Bush administration. Well, I have no love for the administration, nor especially Ashcroft, and I think that there is evidence that they at least neglected anti-terrorism, and have gone on to act ridiculously in many respects. But I still see little evidence that supports the idea that the administration actually had something to do with these attacks.

Though it seems to be comforting to many to imagine that our government did have the power to stop these attacks, but didn't because of a nefarious conspiracy, the evidence cited seems flimsy to me at best.

My favorite (mediareport: I grant you this does not appear on the page you cited) is the idea that the Pentagon attack didn't involve a plane. How many people here other than me have friends who actually saw the plane fly into the building? Were all these people in on the conspiracy too?

John S., you beat me to it.
posted by lackutrol at 7:36 PM on August 29, 2002

John Smallberries: Your link doesn't seem to work. I went over to snopes.com and searched the site and I think I found what you wanted me to see. Thank you. I'd try to fix the link but somethings funky about snopes.com page addresses.
posted by elwoodwiles at 11:59 PM on August 29, 2002

fluffy1984: I promise I'll address your points individually by the end of the weekend; I'm digging in Nexis for more about the spy ring. I will say that I find your rationalizations just a teensy bit funny. Again, imagine how Fox, CNN, NBC et al would have played this story if it had been, say, Lebanese, Turkish or even French "art students" nosing around U.S. government buildings. I'm not sure there'd be much bending over backwards to find non-malicious explanations for their bizarre behavior.

slipperywhenwet: the prime question is what "political reason" could have motivated Israeli intelligence to keep quiet if they knew something was up?

I'm surprised I have to spell it out, but here's the theory: Ariel Sharon prefers a war with the Palestinian people to a peace that would give them their own neighboring country. Palestinian terror is useful to his goal of permanently annexing the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and so his government does what he can to encourage it, like dropping one-ton bombs on residential Palestinian neighborhoods after a 3-week period of relative quiet. [Note to Americans not used to hearing this kind of thing: this theory has appeared in mainstream Israeli newspapers, where the range of debate is much wider than it is here in the U.S.] In order to win that kind of prolonged war, Sharon needs massive amounts of U.S. military aid.

Given that, and what we know of the (perhaps understandable but also at times clearly excessive) ruthlessness of the Israeli intelligence services, the notion that Israeli spies in the U.S. would have learned of the World Trade Center attacks and not told their U.S. allies about it is at the least a plausible, if not likely, scenario. The emails sent to Israel before the first plane hit cannot be dismissed just because anti-Semitic morons happen to be among those pointing them out. The political benefit to Sharon -- sharper divisions between "good guys" and "bad guys," with Israel in the first category and all Palestinians in the second -- is obvious. Does that clear it up?
posted by mediareport at 10:01 AM on August 30, 2002

I'm sorry, it was instant messages, not emails, sent ahead of time. And I have to be fair and note this report of an Israeli warning to the CIA -- "large-scale terrorist attacks on highly visible targets on the American mainland" -- that was ignored.

...two senior experts with Mossad, the Israeli military intelligence service, were sent to Washington in August to alert the CIA and FBI to the existence of a cell of as many of 200 terrorists said to be preparing a big operation.

Incompetence rather than malice, right? That's always been one of my basic conspiracy theory rules. But the "strong grounds for suspecting Iraqi involvement" strikes me as very convenient for Israel, especially given the lack of clear evidence offered since of any connection. And the question of how much Israeli intelligence knew but chose not to share -- those instant messages -- is still open in my book.
posted by mediareport at 10:14 AM on August 30, 2002

Forgot the link to the August warning story.
posted by mediareport at 10:16 AM on August 30, 2002

I haven't forgotten you, fluffy1984; it was sunny for the first time in days today and I couldn't drag myself over to the library to read about dreary Israeli spies when I could drink pilsners, listen to Qbert remix DJ Shadow and stare at clouds all afternoon. I'm sure you understand. :) I know it's beyond the pale to extend a MeFi thread longer than 3 days, but we have 26 to go before this one closes, right? Stay tuned...
posted by mediareport at 10:16 PM on September 2, 2002

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