Discussion and defense of Micheal Ruppert's argument
Micheal Ruppert has made claims about Bush, et al. Norman Soloman and Chip Berlet have complained that he's crazy, wasting our time, or overstating his case. I argue that MR is guilty of none of the above. I do think, however, he's got more work to do to make his case, and I suggest where that work needs to be done.
Michael Ruppert (MR) recently spoke in Portland where his views have been heard and discussed on KBOO-FM. He claims George W. Bush and others in the United States Government (USG), one, knew ahead of time there would be attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC) and other places September 11th, two, were complicit in those attacks, and three, acted out of an ongoing criminal enterprise involving oil and drugs. One response to MRfs claims made by Norman Solomon, Chip Berlet, and others, has been to question the intelligibility of these claims. For example, Mr. Berlet accuses MR of being a conspiracist who thinks that therefs a secret group of elites responsible for all the evil doings in the world. Mr. Berlet argues that to make G.W.Bush involved in a conspiracy of such a wide scope is comparable to engaging in other obviously discredited conspiracy theories involving Jewish bankers and Freemasons. MR has certain problems with his argument and the claims hefs made about Bush, et al, but he does not have the problems that Solomon and Berlet says he does.
I give MR credibility because I accept the idea that the CIA and other USG entities feed off the drug trade, either for their own purposes or for the benefit on major corporations, and I am impressed with MR for opposing that criminal activity. I give him credibility because I accept his account of the USG involvement in stealing oil as one more facet of US imperialism. Neither Solomon nor Berlet challenge these claims and so, I am not very impressed by their complaints that it doesnft make sense to point out individuals who are criminally responsible for actions done to maintain and further these ill-gotten gains. Both Solomon and Berlet suppose they can discredit MR by arguing that whatever evidence he pulls together, and they allow that he has pointed out some interesting pieces of information, hefs wasting our time because his basic claim doesnft make any sense. But, I give MR credibility because I see his claims about Bush, et al, are outgrowths of his basic account of how the world works (unfortunately), and the USG and Bush, et alfs, role in it. By focusing just on MRfs claims about Bush, et al, and ignoring MRfs full argument, Solomon and Berlet risk misunderstanding MR completely. So, MR is not talking about Jewish bankers, Freemasons, black helicopters, and so on and so forth. Nor is he committed to the idea that every wrong in the world can be laid at Bush, et al, and the CIAfs doorstep. In response to Solomon and Berlet on this point, MR tells us that if we met a person on the road who told us our house was on fire, we would be wrong and short sighted to ignore him if we were also told that the guy happened to be crazy. Even crazy people can discover and warn others about burning buildings. That is, even if MR engaged in conspiracy theories, which he is not granting, itfs still possible that there could be evidence that Bush and others are responsible for the events of Sept. 11th.
When the Presidentfs Press Secretary was confronted by some of MRfs ideas he responded by saying they were gabsurd.h I do not think his reaction was based on the same arguments that Solomon and Berlet give about MR. I allow that Solomon and Berlet agree with MR that the USG steals oil and deals drugs, but disagree with him about whether there are people personally responsible for these crimes or whether only institutions should be held accountable. Rather, Ifm sure the Press Secretary doesnft agree with MR that the USG is stealing oil and dealing drugs. The Press Secretary thinks MRfs claims are absurd because he doesnft agree that the USG or Bush is guilty of anything whatsoever. I think the major weakness of MRfs argument is that he has not sufficiently established for the Press Secretaryfs benefit, or for the people who are initially skeptical of any criticisms of the USG or their President, that the USG has in the past and Bush et al in the present steal oil and deal drugs. If he cannot do this it is like in a court of law he has not established that a crime has been committed. He has no body, with which he can charge individuals with the crime of murder. The problem he has here seems to be just the problem the left has had in trying to pin the crime of imperialism on the USG or its corporations. There is an effort to make sure people donft see what the USG and its corporations does as crimes or constituting imperialism. I give MR credit for making efforts toward establishing that the USG, its corporations, and Bush, et alfs, role in stealing oil and dealing drugs. I assume Solomon and Berlet agree with MR on these points because they do not challenge him on them. However, in order for MR to address and establish his claims to a wider audience, and not just those who are now in agreement with him on these issues, he must work to prove these claims to those who may disagree with him.
Norman Solomon complains that MR has not established that Bush, et al, had forknowledge. Because he has not done so, Solomon argues, he is wasting our time. Instead, Solomon argues, the left should be working on the much more productive and practical task of institutional reform. When Chomsky wrote his critique of the leftfs obsession with discovering that really killed Kennedy and why I took him to be saying it was a waste of our time and precious resources to look into these questions. He was saying the reason for this was that after twenty, thirty, or forty years after the fact any documents that might have been incriminating were shredded and any witnesses that could have cast light on the events were gdealt with,h i.e., shot, poisoned, thrown over bridges, dropped into wet cement, etc. However, this could not be Solomonfs argument because we now are not twenty years after the event. If there are documents or witnesses now is the time to look for them and encourage people to let them see the light of day. They may not yet be sgredded or otherwise dealt with. It is not unreasonable to encourage this collection process.
After WW II when the winners thought about prosecuting gthe Nazish for crimes, they did not think they were going after a secret elite that acted behind the scenes. The prosecuters knew that individuals were responsible for particular crimes because the Nazis did not make a secret of what they had been doing. They either didnft think what they were doing was wrong or thought no one would ever be in a position to give them grief over it. However, after they lost that war, cases were made against them by gathering evidence consisting of documents, witnesses, timelines of activities, and so forth. In this country, if MR were correct about the oil and the drugs, the people responsible would want to keep their roles secret. They would naturally be concerned that, if they thought what they were doing was wrong but profitable, or if they could justify what they were doing but became too weak to defend themselves from critics, too public an activity would be dangerous for them. This is why powerful people decide to do what they do in secret around here. And, this is why is may have been easier to prosecute German Nazis than it could be to prosecute American ones. People who steal oil and sell drugs arenft going to tell their stories to journalists.
Solomon tells us it is a waste of our time to go after individuals and instead we should try for institutional change. Maybe he has in mind the problems of documenting criminality in high places as suggested above. However, in telling us to do the one and not the other he assumes we cannot or should not do both. MRfs argument, as a former investigative cop, is that if you want to improve our country and prevent these kinds of tragedies in the future, you have to go after the people who are responsible for them today. If they arenft stopped they will be able to do the same or worse kind of crimes in the future. And, even if others who take advantage of the same unchanging institutions replace them, then the task then will be to get them for their criminality. The premise of the Nuremberg trials of the Nazis responsible for crimes against Jews, Gypsies, Catholics, Communists, Labor leaders, and so on, was to prevent them from repeating their crimes, but mostly to make the case that no one should do those crimes and get away with them. This point cannot be made when you go after just institutions that are corrupt. Yes, the institutions are corrupt, but the criminals are guilty of crimes for taking advantage of them. Best policy would seem to be to both change the institutions and prosecute the individuals.
To sum up, Solomon and Berlet complain that Michael Ruppertfs argument is about conspiracies and such a claim is senseless. They think there are no overarching conspiracies behind all the wrongs of the world. This complaint ignores MRfs argument and merely denies his claims. In doing so, MRfs critics fail to show theyfve understood his view well enough to make any telling criticisms. In fact, they do nothing to challenge his contention that the USG, AS corporations, or Bush, et al, steal oil and deal drugs. This leaves them very little with which to argue that there arenft individuals like Bush who are responsible for the day to day maintenance of this criminal activity.
Furthermore, because they have done nothing effective to challenge MRfs claim that the crimes of stealing oil and dealing drugs have been committed Solomon and Berletfs complaints about going after individuals has the effect of saying we should let the felons get off scott free. Would Solomon and Berlet allow that the holocaust occurred but argue that it would be a waste of our time in the 1945-50fs to pursue the people responsible? I donft think so.
Letfs say the issue isnft the oil and drugs, as Michael Ruppert claims. Put aside our suspicions about an agenda behind Bush, et al, and the USG. We could still raise the issue of pereformance. Where did all the money go when the USG turns out to be so bad at national security? Did Bushfs policy of going it alone on all the treaties and efforts in the world to address the issues in weapons, racism, etc, make the people of the US more vulnerable? Why did it take so long to get planes in the air to go after hijacked airliners? Was there a coverup about that? Why isnft the President in the loop when major terrorist events occur? Why wasnft he told about planes and terrorists? Doesnft this show the impossibility of a missle defense system?
I think MR is going to the question, if it was right to criticize and court marshal the commanders in Pearl Harbor for their mismanagement, wouldnft it be right tocriticize and impeach the Commander in Chief for his teamfs mismanagement during September 11th.
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