Ruppert's side isn't crazy because Albert's tells us so.
Ruppert's argument doesn't depend on a conspiracy theory. It rather tells us that
what goes around, often comes around.
Ruppert's argument doesn't depend on a conspiracy theory. It rather tells us that what
goes around, often comes around. That is, we have to be aware that if we're willing to
tolerate corruption in high places, we should not be surprised when the population suffers.
In order to defend Ruppert from Michael Albert's charge that his view is a crazy conspiracy
theory, all I have to do is show that his ideas are conceivable. I don't have to show that
Ruppert is right.
To accomplish this, I will first ask about their basic conflict: How can leftists like Albert,
committed to protecting suffering people, in general, ( for support of this claim, see Z-Net's
growing documentation of oppression and atrocities throughout the world,) trash others who
wonder whether Bush and his team were involved? Michael Ruppert, among many others,
thinks Bush's involvement in 911 crimes is likely. Based on the evidence at hand, he claims
Bush had foreknowledge of the 911 plot, was complicit in its mass murders, and has a motive
for his involvement. He needs oil and drug profits. Stephen Shalom and Michael Albert respond to such
claims, and others, in "Conspiracies or Institutions: 9/11 and Beyond." After describing a few theories
about Bush, they admit they're not impressed,
"None of the above strike us as remotely interesting much less plausible. Neither
of us would ordinarily have ever spent even five minutes exploring the above claims,
because they all fly in the face of our broad understanding of how the world works."
I want to offer an explanation for how Ruppert, Albert, and Shalom can all intend to defend suffering
people and yet be divided on the question of Bush's involvement in that suffering.
In a previous essay, I spoke about how Bush and his apologists claim Ruppert and others like
him who allege his complicity in 911 attacks are traitors. If allowed any notice, their attacks on
American companies, like in oil, or its leadership in Bush, place the American people in great
danger from their enemies. To them, even the accusations are traitorous, even without an
investigation into the facts. In that essay, I claimed Bush's arguments attempt to undermine
Ruppert quite apart from whatever facts or support he might turn up. That is, Ruppert and
others of like mind, might be able to prove Bush knew, meaning he either refused to do anything
to prevent the attacks, or were in on the plot from the inside, all for his own reasons. The point
that Bush has been making, however, is not that he is innocent of Ruppert's charges, but that Bush
is identical with the Presidency, and you can't bring down Bush without bringing down the U.S.
government. Without this government, according to Bush, the American people would be so
powerless they'd be in danger from their enemies. As they constantly warn us, there would be more
In this essay, I will speak about Albert, et al's, claim that Ruppert and his allies are crazy to try to connect
Bush to the mass murders of 911. Albert's concern, I believe, is not so much to defend Bush personally.
Albert, Shalom, and others, might think Bush isn't himself worth saving from his enemies. Rather, Albert, et
al, are concerned to defend the U.S. government, and unavoidably therefore to defend Bush, from
unreasonable or unprincipled attacks. We can see this concern in Albert's charging Ruppert as a
"conspiracist" with faulty thinking. So, he says of conspiracy theorists, in general,
"...a conspiracy theorist is not someone who simply accepts the truth of some specific
conspiracies. Rather, a conspiracy theorist is someone with a certain methodological
approach and set of priorities. ...Conspiracy theorists begin their quest for understanding
events by looking for groups acting secretly, either outside usual institutional norms in
a rogue fashion, or, at the very least to manipulate public impressions, to cast guilt on
other parties, and so on. Conspiracy theorists focus on conspirators' methods, motives,
and effects. Personalities, personal timetables, secret meetings, and conspirator's joint
actions claim prior attention. Institutional relations largely drop from view."
(Conspiracies or Institutions: 9/11 and Beyond)
The problem for Albert, as well as for apologists for Bush, is that Bush is virtually identical
with the Presidency. So, if Ruppert's claims were given any weight against Bush, he would
fall, and bring down the government with him. Albert's concern, I believe, is with preserving
this government as protector of what he takes to be a basically powerless population. We can
see this concern demonstrated in Chomsky's argument, which Albert likely endorses, that
dissidents should not be intent on removing government because it happens now to be controlled
by corporations. He thinks that when in the few times government is influenced or controlled
by the population, it stands as one of the few protections people have against the power of
corporations. Albert's defense of this government is not that the population should keep Bush
around, despite his murdering some of us, because bringing down Bush will bring down the
government. That's Bush's defense. Rather, he's arguing that Ruppert can not connect Bush to
the 911 murders as a matter of principle. That is, Albert thinks we must reject Ruppert's
claims because reason compels us.
Actually, reason compels no such thing. What's more, what separates Albert and Ruppert is
not whether it makes sense to talk about a conspiracy in this case, but whether the population
everyone professes to want to protect is really so powerless.
Albert and Shalom claim it is neither interesting nor plausible for there to be a connection
between Bush and the murders of 911. It is not interesting to them because it seems so much
like other conspiracy theories that issue from right-wing ideology or are based on anti-Semitism.
As he supposes those kind of views should be rejected without consideration, he infers Ruppert's
conspiracy theory should be so rejected. It is not plausible because it flies in the face of his
understanding of how the world works.
Are Ruppert's ideas implausible for Albert's reasons? His argument that we should reject
Ruppert's, and the views of people with like minds, because they contradict Albert's, Bush's,
or the New York Time's, understanding of how the world works begs the question. After all,
the way the world works is just what we are arguing about. Albert claims Bush couldn't possibly
have anything to do with murdering Americans, whereas this is just the claim Ruppert has been
making. Albert has to give us an argument that his view is correct. We cannot concede Albert
knows better here without a fight.
Albert does give an argument, but not explicitly. Maybe he won't because he has no evidence to
support it in what Ruppert says. Doesn't make any difference. Basically, Albert thinks Ruppert's
accusations depend on a whacky account of human motivation. He supposes Ruppert begins by
agreeing with simply everyone that people act in accordance with their self-interest, but goes
on to suppose there are "secret conspirators" who have the power to compel others to believe
or do things that are not in their interest. The point of doing "institutional analysis," for Albert,
is that the only sensible explanation for why people suffer is to examine how it was in the
self-interest of those who made them suffer to do such things. So, for example, the only
reasonable explanation for the mass murders of 911 is to look at why it was in the interest
of those guys in the planes, and others like them, to commit those crimes. The point of "institutional
analysis," in other words, is to never allow Ruppert's question to arise, i.e., what connection might
there be between those in charge of protecting the people and those who make them suffer? Albert
gives support to this interpretation when he explains how absurd it is to think some Americans
would murder others,
"Bush, of course, knows no history. But if any of the bright people around him were in on
the plot, surely they would have told him how hard it is to keep a secret. Kissinger ordered
the secret falsification of records of where U.S. planes in Indochina were bombing to hide
the fact that Cambodia was being targeted. A radar operator spilled the beans. And what
was at stake there was something that many U.S. soldiers might not have cared very much
about. But to have several hundred people involved in a plot to commit mass murder, not
of people who can be considered sub-human, or "others," etc., but thousands of Americans
-- that's a secret that would be extraordinary to expect to be kept secret. To take that risk
at all, much less when they already had immense power, is simply not believable."
(Conspiracies or Institutions: 9/11 and Beyond)
It is unbelievable for Albert because it would take an unknown power to get some Americans to
forget what they cared about in order to kill other Americans and then keep their involvement a secret.
In a June 11, 2002 essay on the Portland Indymedia site, StevetheGreen asks,
"...of course there is a huge difference between being objectively skeptical and searching
for organized government conspiracies behind every suspicious circumstance. ...So why
then do those of us who have many unanswered questions about the Bush administration's
prior knowledge and possible role in 9/11 have to endure such name calling and dismissals
of valid points as the rantings of conspiracy theory wackos or politically motivated witch
hunts? ...For me, the bottom line is this. Regardless of why you either embrace or laugh
off the possibility of a U.S. government conspiracy and 9/11, you need to understand the
important links between certain events, people, places, and known facts before you can
make an accurate assessment of the possibility of a 9/11 conspiracy. There is a literal
mountain of evidence (circumstantial as it may be) that the Bush administration has at the
very least not been truthful about what it knew in regard to 9/11. The logical path should
then cause each and everyone of us to ask why?" (Conspiracy Theories or Valid Questions?)
StevetheGreen here believes it is reasonable to suppose a connection exists between Bush and
911 crimes. How can we understand the difference between Albert, as I've interpreted him above,
and StevetheGreen? In a crude way, the difference has to do with Albert's claim that people like
Ruppert and StevetheGreen commit certain mistakes in their reasoning. For Albert, StevetheGreen's
claim that his facts lead him to believe there's a connection between Bush and 911 is the same
kind of argument that people make when they insist evidence of flying saucers shows we've been
visited by aliens. Since the conclusions of both arguments are absurd, according to Albert, the
evidence provided, no matter how extensive, could not possibly lead where StevetheGreen
wants it to.
This is how I think the difference between the two goes: 1) Albert claims Bush and his team are
different from the perpetrators of the mass murders of 911. 2) He claims people act only in
accordance with self-interest. 3) He claims Bush and his team have different interests than the
perpetrators of 911. 4) He claims the perpetrators of 911 could not be compelled to do anything
by others who did not share their interests. Therefore, 5) Bush and his team could not be complicit
in the plot of 911. Albert would also insist Bush and his team could not be complicit in 911 by foreknowing
the plot but then choosing to do nothing about it. He would insist it would not be
possible for people in the U.S. government to know about such a plot and not expose it. Allowing
such a thing would have been against their self-interest.
In response, Ruppert, StevetheGreen, and others can argue 1) Bush and his team may be different
from the perpetrators of 911. 2) People may do what's in their interest. However, 3) it does not
follow from the fact that when people are different and have some different interests, that they
cannot share other interests. So, we can imagine Bush being about power, whereas the perpetrators
were about revenge and making Americans suffer. Albert supposes that people with different interests
could not influence or control one another. However, Ruppert could point out that there have been
close relationships between Bush and the oil people. Bush could not have been President without
their support. The oil industry could not steal the oil without the cover of the U.S. government. He
could point out that there are others who would want to get revenge for what those oil people have
done to them. Furthermore, there are connections between Bush and the identified perpetrators,
like Osama Bin Laden. Ruppert could make a case that Bush is connected through this background.
He also suggests that Bush could be taking the advice of writers like Brezinski, in his book "The
Grand Chessboard," to create such an event to scare people into supporting a war for control of
more oil in Central Asia. Ruppert could point out there are precedents for this in the claim that
Roosevelt allowed the attack on Pearl Harbor for his own purposes.
Albert may think that there's nothing that would get both Bush and the perpetrators to act together.
However, one could think of many scenarios where this could happen. Suppose the perpetrators
of 911 were in it to support the control of Central Asian oil by U.S. oil corporations. It would
seem that if Ruppert and other critics actually put pressure on them to support an investigation,
and revealing facts were coming out, both Bush and the perpetrators would have an interest in
Albert's view of how you get people to commit mass murder tries to discourage us from thinking
those who are responsible for protecting us could have anything to do with those who are making
us suffer. He does this by insisting that people with different interests can't compel each other to do
what's not in their interest. This is what "institutional analysis" is all about. However, we can
imagine relationships between people with different interests all the time. Bush who is interested
in ruling needs money. He gets it from the support of Big oil. The corporations need the cover of
the U.S. government that has credibility as the protector of the American People. Albert's
institutional view denies these quid pro quo relationships exist. As a result of this denial, he
can insist that all the facts that Ruppert or StevetheGreen come up with do not support their
claims about Bush because such claims represent a view that flies in the face of Albert's
understanding of the way the world works.
Ruppert would argue that it's the quid pro quo relationships that can be documented that challenges
Albert's understanding of the way the world works. Albert cannot discount Ruppert's evidence
just because it conflicts with his assumptions about the world. When Ruppert and others bring
forward the evidence of Bush's connections to oil or the effect of U.S. corporate dominance in
the oil regions, they are supporting their own account of how the world works. Albert has yet to
challenge the claim that Bush has oil interests, or that corporations steal oil.
One of Albert's allies, Norman Solomon, warned left listeners of Ruppert on KPFA,
"...such programming, when it is "successful," encourages people to fixate on the specter of a
diabolical few plotters, rather than on the profoundly harmful realities of ongoing structural,
institutional, systemic factors. When logic becomes secondary to flashy claims, and when assertions
unsupported by evidence become touted as hard-edged fact, any temporary "sizzle" hardly compensates
for the longer-term damage done to the station's standards. A key question remains: Aren't the
well-documented crimes of the U.S. government and huge corporations enough to merit our ongoing
outrage, focused attention and activism?"
The evidence that Ruppert and others have been digging up has apparently made no impression on
Solomon. For Solomon, what he takes to be Ruppert's assertions were not when these lines were
written supported, nor are they now. The reason, I'm saying, is that there has been no evidence
provided by Ruppert that would support, what Solomon and Albert take to be his claim, that there
are a few people in government who can compel others to commit mass murder against their will.
Ironically, Albert and Solomon's refusal to allow the conceivability of a connection between Bush
and the activities of 911 will have dire consequences. The most significant consequence will be
that they will prevent the left, or anyone else for that matter, from successfully protecting people or
ending their suffering. After all, these corporations and the institutions that support them are such
obvious "leg breakers" that people would otherwise shut them down in a minute if they weren't
sanctioned as necessary for the protection and prosperity of the American people. This idea should
not be a surprise to those of us who see that ever greater subsidies to defense contractors have been
promoted as being for our national defense, despite there being no justifiable threat. The reason these
corporations support people like Bush is to benefit from the air of credibility they get from being
sanctioned by the President. They figure, unfortunately with much justification, that people will not
pay attention to Albert and all the writers of Z-Net who complain about the abuses of corporations
and institutions because Albert, et al, have no credibility for protecting people when compared to
the President who applauds the same corporations and institutions that harm us. The Presidency
has credibility. By asking us to ignore the racket going on here, Albert et al, are asking us to go along
to get along. He's asking us to pull our punches and continue the misery.
I am sympathetic with StevetheGreen's frustration that the mountain of evidence connecting Bush to
911 does not impress Albert at all. I have argued that Albert's disdain results from his account of
human motivation and his refusal to recognize certain quid pro quo relationships between Bush,
oil, and possible perpetrators of 911 crimes. That is, I've said Albert protects Bush as a matter of
principle, not from a desire to save him personally from retribution. However, there's another
source for Albert's position that explains his refusal to recognize what is obvious to Ruppert, et al.
Imagine Daddy sexually assaulting Little Sis every friday night. This has gone on for years. Little
Sis has grown enough, though, to start complaining to her mother. She tells her mother that Daddy
has been touching her in places and in ways that scares her, has injured her, and causes her great
pain. She shows her mom the vaginal bruises and signs of penetration. The mother has worried for
a long time that things would come to this. She tells Little Sis her Daddy couldn't possibly be doing
what she has accused him of. There's no way that the person who's the family's protector and
breadwinner could possibly be raping his daughter. Mother tells Little Sis that she must be making
her story up. Her mother insists Little Sis must be crazy. She must not understand how Daddy's think
and how concerned they are for the safety of their children that they couldn't possibly rape them
every week of their lives. It is plausible to suppose, I'm saying, the mother here says she doesn't
believe her daughter, not because she doesn't think the evidence could support Little Sis's claims,
but because she thinks the reputation of Daddy's precludes such a possibility. It is also plausible that
she has always denied her own suspicions or refused to believe her daughter because she refuses
to accept where those suspicions and allegations would lead. She has in mind,
1) If Daddy has raped Little Sis, he would be a worthless sicko.
2) If Daddy is a worthless sicko, he should not be protector of this family.
3) If Daddy is not the family's protector, the family would be powerless
before its enemies and the dangers of the world.
Little Sis's mother, if not Little Sis, believes that without Daddy, Mom and the kids wouldn't last
a minute. So, rather than face this certain doom, she calculates that it's better to maintain appearances
with the worthless sicko and hope he doesn't harm his daughter worse, or start in on Mom.
The parallel here between Bush and Daddy the worthless sicko parent is instructive. Ruppert is
claiming that just as we can imagine Daddy to have been raping Little Sis, we can imagine Bush
complicit with 911. The point I want to make is that his argument is conceivable. It may be, however,
that Bush is innocent of Ruppert's specific charges. Albert, on the other hand, has been playing the
Mother who refuses to listen to the cries of her child and insists that it is absurd to connect Daddy to
Little Sis's vaginal and emotional injuries. On the one hand her argument is a matter of principle.
Daddy's don't do things like that. But, on the other hand, her argument is purposefully denies what's
obvious. Albert thinks we Americans would be powerless before our enemies and the dangers of the
world. If Ruppert brings down Daddy Bush, we would have no protector.
I began this discussion by claiming the deeper conflict between Albert, with his allies, and Ruppert,
with his, was a disagreement about whether the population both profess to protect is powerless.
In a previous essay I argued that Bush's defense against Ruppert's charges wasn't that he was innocent
of them, but that Ruppert was a traitor. If he brought down Bush he would bring down the government,
and that would render the people defenseless. Bush believes the people are powerless and need his
strong, though likely conflicted, protection. In this essay, I've argued Albert defends the U.S. government
by claiming Bush could not possibly be the kind of guy that would murder thousands of Americans.
It's a matter of principle with him. To think so demands we imagine Bush has super powers. However,
I've pointed out that whether or not Bush is a "worthless sicko" depends on the evidence that people like
Ruppert, as Little Sis, can demonstrate. One cannot reasonably refute Ruppert's argument and his evidence
by denying his conclusion.
It is my idea, of course, that the people are not powerless. The argument that the protectors of this world
can be in league with the people who make us suffer puts a lot of pressure on the likes of Bush and Big
oil. So, Bush, et al, need the support of corporations and a lot of money to hide the fact that he's a
"worthless sicko." The corporations need to throw money at politicians in order to benefit from the
credibility they get by being an American company supported by the government. And Albert, et al, have
to go on and on about "conspiracism" because they think that if people in the wider world would recognize
the possibility of Ruppert, et al's, charges, then not only Bush but the government would fall and we'd all
Well, the government need not fall when you expose and root out the corrupt people who happen to run
it. The danger to the government's credibility and our safety and health is greater if you leave worthless
sickos in charge.
Albert may complain that I've misunderstood him. He could insist he isn't recommending we sit still
for our suffering. Instead, he'd say, we should reform those institutions which cause suffering. On his
view, I am wrong to accuse him of pulling his punches. To this, I will repeat that by ignoring my point
that unless Albert allows for the reasonableness, if not the truth, of Ruppert's, et al's claims, and
consider the possibility of a connection between Bush and as the protector of the realm and our
suffering, he will be unable to make any changes whatsoever. He will remain a codependent.
He may complain that I have not recognized that he too advocates the reform of the Presidency and
other institutions to stop suffering. For example, he may support strong campaign finance reform.
However, I'm saying, so long as Albert refuses to connect political elites like Bush who act as
protectors to suffering people, as in 911, he takes away any good reasons for the population to
make changes. As it wouldn't seem broke to them, they wouldn't have any reason to fix it. If Albert
would allow that the protectors could harm us, he would thereby concede Ruppert's point.
Albert may complain that Ruppert and his kind are no better than Bush, so we'd be foolish to get
rid of people like Bush. Well, Bush is not identical with the Presidency, as Albert would be
arguing. We can expose him if he's guilty, and get someone else, without ridding ourselves of
this government. Furthermore, we don't have to expect dissidents to do everything. It is not a
fault of their argument that they can't protect people as well as point out the corruption in the
After all I've said, Albert might consider conceding to Ruppert's argument. He may allow that,
in principle, Bush and his team were either responsible. They were responsible to protect people,
but because they were criminally negligent, they failed in what they were supposed to do. Or, they
were complicit, in that they knew about the plot, but gave aid and encouragement to the plotters.
Albert may concede it's plausible for Bush to cause our suffering. But, he may not see the point.
As a practical matter, even if you confronted Bush and the population with a well supported argument
that Bush is guilty, there's no reason to think he would give up power. His idea, basically, is that
there isn't any point to making this situation too obvious when there's nothing we can do about it.
This is what I take Albert to see as obvious. We have to think about this.
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