"The absolute standard that I have used for post-911 reporting is that I take official documented sources, whether it be the Congressional Record, [and] mainstream reports that people tend to accept: ABC, BBC, Wall Street Journal, New York Times... Documented evidence only that mainstream people don't challenge, and I assemble that and analyze it in a way that makes it very clear that the government is lying." (Mike Ruppert, from an interview with portland indymedia reporters)
The day after September 11, I was in downtown Portland for an emergency activist meeting about "what are we going to do?" and "how should we react?". I was standing out on Stark Street, in front of the office where the meeting was, and this guy came up to me saying that the government knew about the attacks, and helped plan them, and that we had to expose it. I didn't even let him start. I just held up my hand and said something like, "I can't listen to this right now. What you're saying might be true, but I can't even think about it. We've just gotta find a way to keep the bombs from falling on other countries." A typical peacenik response. He pressed on, saying that unless we stopped the people who had planned the attacks, they would keep doing it over and over again. "Maybe you're right," I said. "But no one would ever believe it. We've just gotta try to stop a war."
I'm afraid I was a bit rude to him, and if I ran into him again now I would apologize. I still don't know if I would believe his story -- I can't remember any of the details -- but I've had a change of heart about 9.11. Now I believe that our government did have prior knowledge of 9.11 and that we do need to talk about it, even though many people might not want to listen.
What happened to bring me around? Over time, people whose opinions and judgement I trust shared more and more information with me. I started looking some of it up myself. After awhile, enough anomalies emerged in the official narrative that it became unbelievable. And I wasn't hearing any solid proof for the official narrative either; just propaganda from government via the media. The alleged video tape of Osama bin Laden, for example, was never convincing to me, especially when I listened to the foreign press. On April 14, I saw Mike Ruppert deliver a lecture in Eugene. If there had been any doubts in my brain that the government had prior knowledge of 9.11, they were gone after that.
The three-plus hour lecture brimmed with facts, and showed an interlocking set of relationships between corporate power and the CIA that go back decades. Much of it I had heard before (such as how CIA directors have traditionally been drawn from Wall Street), but I hadn't considered it in this context. It's clear that there's a reason W. won't let his father's and Reagan's papers out into the light of day; it's the same crowd in power now, and they don't want us to know everything they were doing. What we do know (Iran-Contra, the S&L scam, the 1980 October Surprise) is damaging enough. What they're doing now, though, is worse yet. It remains to be seen if we'll survive this wave with anything like life, liberty or the possibility of happiness intact.
Ruppert's basic thesis is that, generally speaking, the government lies to us (which is not hard to believe), and that, specifically, it had foreknowledge of the 9.11 attacks and did not act to prevent them. He does not claim that the U.S. planned the attacks, or executed them with its own resources. (That's a hazy distinction when it comes down to it, though; sometimes the best way of giving something a push is by keeping your hands off.)
Conspiracy vs. Coincidence
nessie, an independent journalist who sometimes writes for the San Francisco Bay Guardian, has this to say about being a "conspiracy theorist":
"Some people call me paranoid because I am a conspiracy theorist. In this world today anybody who's not paranoid isn't paying enough attention. Theory develops best from practice, and from observation. I have studied conspiracy in the library, in the lab, and in the field. As the French say, you never look under the bed unless you've hidden there yourself. I'm certainly no coincidence theorist. Those guys couldn't outwit a box of rocks. Listen up guys. This ain't rocket science. Once is happenstance. Twice is coincidence. Three times is enemy action." [emphasis added]
What is a conspiracy anyway? By definition, "to conspire" is: "1. to agree together, esp. secretly, to do something wrong, evil or illegal. 2. to act together toward the same goal" [Random House Dictionary]. Looking at conspiracies this way, the world is full of them, indeed, is run by nothing else. The WTO certainly operates by conspiring. So does the World Bank, IMF, and G8. The recent coup in Venezuela -- so wonderfully overturned -- was the result of a conspiracy among the IMF, the U.S. government, and the corporate ruling class there. This has been handily exposed by Narco News and other publications. The recent pillaging of Enron's riches by its executives was definitely a conspiracy. Those folks "agree[d] together, secretly, to do something wrong", to go back to the dictionary definition. Thousands of people lost their jobs and pensions. Denotatively, then, a "conspiracy" is simply surreptitious teamwork toward evil ends. It is only for its connotations, then, that the label becomes disparaging. In whose interest is it that the very word "conspiracy" can no longer be used in serious company?
It is certainly useful to the Powers That Be that a word that describes secret plotting gets no respect. If you are willing to believe that the government and corporate executives never hatch illegal plans behind closed doors, then I suppose you can comfortably trot out the word "conspiracy" as a four-syllable argument against the existence of such dealings whenever you want. If, however, you don't believe that the government and corporate America are so forthcoming, then you, too, believe in conspiracy. The distinction you make is only about which conspiracies you buy and which you dismiss.
In the case of 9.11, there is no explanation which is not a conspiracy theory. (Unless there's a theory stating that one person alone was responsible for everything that happened that day and that s/he told everyone about it ahead of time. But I haven't heard that one yet.) Did Osama bin Laden and El Qaida plan the September 11 attacks and keep it secret from everyone, as our government claims? That's a theory based on a conspiracy: a conspiracy theory. The only differences between any of the 9.11 conspiracy theories (in which I include the official government version) are about Who Was Involved. In my mind, it's perfectly reasonable -- actually, obligatory -- to ask the question: "What did the U.S. know, and when did it know it?" To ignore this question is to swallow whole what the government is telling us. That's penultimately na?ve.
Mike Ruppert's case
I am not going to list any of Mike Ruppert's evidence here. For that, you should check out his website, copvcia.com, or watch his video, or attend one of his lectures. If you do, you'll find that he does indeed source every claim with mainstream press reports, government documents, or court testimony. "But c'mon," you say. "How about just one piece of evidence to convince me?" In a portland indymedia interview, Ruppert was asked that and he said, "I hate that question. You know why I hate that question? People who have tried to attack me, they say, 'What's the best piece of evidence?' I give them the best piece of evidence and they say, 'Well, that doesn't prove anything,' and they walk away. And I say, 'Wait a minute! A lawyer in a trial presents 150 exhibits. You just asked me to produce one piece of evidence and rest my whole case on the one.' You can't try a murder trial on one piece of evidence."
True enough. Think about this way: If a skeptical capitalist asked you why corporate globalization is bad, or a local mushroom boycott is good, or how Nike sweatshops are exploitive, would you be able to give them one simple answer? Perhaps. If so, you're more on the ball than me. Most of these political issues require a lot of background, especially for those who have never thought about them before. You often need to create what Ruppert called, "a map", before you can begin pointing out the details. The topic of 9.11 is like that. The geography of this map is defined by the CIA's complicity in the drug trade and its connections to global financial institutions, the relationships between oil companies and politicians, the shadowy actions of covert intelligence organizations. The features of this map are in plain sight; they have been revealed in numerous books, articles, and government documents. Ruppert is simply collecting them and showing the connections.
Why would a paper trail to such heinous crimes exist? Shouldn't these conspirators be smarter than that? Better able to cover their tracks? There's a simple answer to that. First, Bureaucracies, whether private or public, produce mountains of documentation. Each piece of paperwork -- often highly specialized -- might track just one thing. By itself, it is insignificant. Nonetheless, it could be a clue, and when viewed with other clues, might paint a bigger picture. Many agencies and companies are required to track and report certain information, and they do. Automatically. There's usually not anyone with the big picture perspective looking at each piece of paper to see if it'll give them away. For the researcher, the task of going through all this paper is daunting. Bless those patient people who do.
Secondly, the media operates in a similar way, giving us everything piecemeal. Can you find one newspaper article, or think of one TV news story you've seen from mainstream media that tells the whole truth about, for example, the prison-industrial complex? Not easily. What you will find, if you start investigating, are individual items on a variety of topics: incarceration rates, private prison consolidation, drug laws, statistics on violent vs. non-violent offenders, the identities of the Wackenhutt board of directors, campaign contributions, the voting records of public officials, etc. Each item by itself only reveals one or a few small things; taken together, they expose a picture of racism and graft.
We could refer to the prison-industrial complex as a "conspiracy" to lock up people of color, provide cheap labor, and produce private profit, but we usually don't. Why? Because the word, "conspiracy" is such a bad word. Well, folks, I hate to tell you this, but the prison-industrial complex does operate as a conspiracy. The people behind it take pains to conceal their immoral plans; they "conspire". Fortunately, such secrets are hard to keep, and we know who we need to fight if want justice.
Thirdly, conspiracies are comprised of human beings. Human beings make mistakes. They're sloppy. Occasionally they develop a conscience and divulge the evil things they know. But most of the time, human beings in conspiracies -- or private corporations or government agencies (even the CIA, I'd wager) -- have no idea what's going on, and how their contribution is part of something else. The mail clerks, administrative assistants, and even most of the managers of companies involved in the prison-industrial complex, for example, probably have no idea how laws are slickly changed and votes secretly purchased in the interest of their organization's profits. They just do their jobs, push their papers, and try to get through the day. Maybe, out of ignorance, someone lets something drop. They're careless or don't know they shouldn't've said it. Or, more likely, it's their job to record that particular piece of information, or answer that question, and they don't think of how it could be used by someone else. But then the clue is out there. Once it's out there, it can't be put back in. That's when it can be found.
Just the facts, please
And that's what Mike Ruppert has been finding, in the case of 9.11. Dozens and dozens of clues, many dropped without any thought for what they might reveal in conjunction with other clues. He looks them over, sees how they fit, discards the unverifiable, and keeps the relevant. He does not speculate. If it can't be backed up, he doesn't include it. If your basis for rejecting a conspiracy theory is that it lacks credible, documented evidence, then you'll need to come up with another reason to reject Mike's body of work, unless you're willing to throw out the mainstream media and government documents as legitimate sources. If you are, then you'll have to jettison the official narrative too, even though it is based mostly on "just trust us" propaganda and not evidence.
(By the way, what evidence has the government offered to support its allegations? Just to name one example, didn't a bunch of the "highjackers" turn out to be still alive?)
But don't let me make too much of Mike. It is not him, but his work that's important. Indeed, he himself said: "One of my aims, and part of my insurance policy, is not to be a personality here. My aim is to teach the method of research and argument that takes the personality out of it. I hope that's working."
I think it is working, little by little. And if his "method of research and argument" is about rigor, facts, and documentation, then let's all learn it. It'll do us some good, if we can squeak through this one alive. Actually, it might be the only way to squeak through this one alive. I don't think the mainstream press is gonna start putting together the puzzle yet, either. It's up to us. Let's go!
My message to the skeptics
So, if you have a counter-argument to any of Mike's clues that you can footnote, then I'd like to see it. But if you're just gonna yip, "conspiracy theorist conspiracy theorist!!", without looking at any of his evidence, then take it somewhere else, please. This man is doing some high quality work, and more and more people are starting to take notice and do good work of their own.
Are you interested in truth? Then it's time for you to stop believing the government and start looking someplace else for answers. Mike Ruppert's research is one good place to begin.