Cockburn confirms his gatekeeper role


Richard Moore


This article makes no attempt to inform anyone about anything. Nor does it offer
any real critique of the views it attacks. It is a well-crafted piece of 
propaganda, pandering emotionally to those who already have similar prejudices. 
It is aimed at reinforcing the typical liberal knee-jerk reaction to what they 
like to call 'conspiracy theories'.  Here we can see today's version of 
Operation Mind Control at work, courtesy of Deep Agent Cockburn. Can I be 
indicted for revealing intelligence assets?


Weekend Edition
September 9/10 , 2006
How They Let the Guilty Parties of 9/11 Slip Off the Hook
The 9/11 Conspiracy Nuts

You trip over one fundamental idiocy of the 9/11 conspiracy nuts -- the ones who
say Bush and Cheney masterminded the attacks on the World Trade Center and the 
Pentagon -- in the first paragraph of the opening page of the book by one of 
their high priests, David Ray Griffin, The New Pearl Harbor. ³In many respects,²
Griffin writes, ³the strongest evidence provided by critics of the official 
account involves the events of 9/11 itselfŠ In light of standard procedures for 
dealing with hijacked airplanesŠ not one of these planes should have reached its
target, let alone all three of them.²

The operative word here is ³should². One characteristic of the nuts is that they
have a devout, albeit preposterous belief in American efficiency, thus many of 
them start with the racist premise that ³Arabs in caves² weren¹t capable of the 
mission. They believe that military systems work the way Pentagon press flacks 
and aerospace salesmen say they should work. They believe that at 8.14 am, when 
AA flight 11 switched off its radio and transponder, an FAA flight controller 
should have called the National Military Command center and NORAD. They believe,
citing reverently (this is from high priest Griffin) ³the US Air Force¹s own 
website², that an F-15 could have intercepted AA flight 11 ³by 8.24, and 
certainly no later than 8.30².

They appear to have read no military history, which is too bad because if they 
did they¹d know that minutely planned operations ­ let alone responses to an 
unprecedented emergency -- screw up with monotonous regularity, by reason of 
stupidity, cowardice, venality, weather and all the other whims of providence.

According to the minutely prepared plans of the Strategic Air Command, an 
impending Soviet attack would have prompted the missile silos in North Dakota to
open, and the ICBMs to arc towards Moscow and kindred targets. The tiny number 
of test launches actually attempted all failed, whereupon SAC gave up testing. 
Was it badly designed equipment, human incompetence, defense contractor venality
orŠ CONSPIRACY? (In that case, presumably, a Communist conspiracy, as outlined 
by ancestors of the present nuts, ever intent on identifying those who would 
stab America in the back.)

Did the British and French forces in 1940 break and flee a Wehrmacht capable of 
only one lunge, because of rotten leadership, terrible planning, epic cowardice,
or Š CONSPIRACY? Did the April 24, 1980 effort to rescue the hostages in the US 
embassy in Teheran fail because a sandstorm disabled three of the eight 
helicopters, because the helicopters were poorly made, because of a lousy plan 
or because of agents of William Casey and the Republican National Committee 
poured sugar into their gas tanks in yet another CONSPIRACY?

Have the US military¹s varying attempts to explain why F-15s didn¹t intercept 
and shoot down the hijacked planes stemmed from absolutely predictable attempts 
to cover up the usual screw-ups, or because of CONSPIRACY? Is Mr Cohen in his 
little store at the end of the block hiking his prices because he wants to make 
a buck, or because his rent just went up or because the Jews want to take over 
the world? August Bebel said anti-Semitism is the socialism of the fools. These 
days the 9/11 conspiracy fever threatens to become the ³socialism² of the left, 
and the passe-partout of many libertarians.

It¹s awful. My in-box overflows each day with fresh ³proofs² of how the WTC 
buildings were actually demolished, often accompanied by harsh insults 
identifying me as a ³gate-keeper² preventing the truth from getting out. I meet 
people who start quietly, asking me ³what I think about 9/11². What they are 
actually trying to find out is whether I¹m part of the coven. I imagine it was 
like being a Stoic in the second century A.D. going for a stroll in the Forum 
and meeting some fellow asking, with seeming casualness, whether it¹s possible 
to feed 5,000 people on five loaves of bread and a couple of fish.

Indeed, at my school in the 1950s the vicar used to urge on us Frank Morison¹s 
book, Who Moved The Stone? It sought to demonstrate, with exhaustive citation 
from the Gospels, that since on these accounts no human had moved the stone from
in front of Joseph of Arimathea¹s tomb, it must beyond the shadow of a doubt 
have been an angel who rolled it aside and let Jesus out, so he could astonish 
the mourners and then Ascend. Of course Morison didn¹t admit into his argument 
the possibility that angels don¹t exist, or that the gospel writers were making 
it up.

It¹s the same pattern with the 9/11 nuts, who proffer what they demurely call 
³disturbing questions², though they disdain all answers but their own. They 
seize on coincidences and force them into sequences they deem to be logical and 
significant. Like mad Inquisitors, they pounce on imagined clues in documents 
and photos, torturing the data ­- as the old joke goes about economists -- till 
the data confess. Their treatment of eyewitness testimony and forensic evidence 
is whimsical. Apparent anomalies that seem to nourish their theories are 
brandished excitedly; testimony that undermines their theories ­ like witnesses 
of a large plane hitting the Pentagon -- is contemptuously brushed aside.

Anyone familiar with criminal, particularly death penalty defense ­ I had such 
an opportunity for a number of years ­ will know that there are always anomalies
the prosecution cannot account for and that the defense teams can exploit, in 
hopes of swaying a jury either in the guilt or penalty phase of a trial. Time 
and again I would see the defense team spend days and weeks, even months, 
back-checking on a possibly vulnerable link in the evidentiary chain that could 
be attacked, at least to the all-important level of creating ³reasonable doubt² 
in the mind of a juror. Expert witnesses would be imported at great expense ­- 
unlike states such as Texas, the justice system of California is generous in the
provision of money for death penalty defense -- to challenge the prosecution¹s 
forensic evidence. Such challenges weren¹t hard to mount. Contrary to 
prosecutorial claims, there is far less instrinsic certainty in forensic 
evaluation than is commonly supposed, as regards fingerprints, landing marks on 
bullets and so forth.

But minute focus of a death penalty defense team on one such weak link often 
leads to a distorted view of the whole case. I remember more than one case 
where, after weeks of interviewing witnesses at one particular crime scene, the 
defense¹s investigator had collected enough witness reports to mount a decent 
attack on this aspect of the prosecution¹s overall case. At least this is what I
thought, hearing the daily bulletins of the investigator. But when, in such 
instances, the camera pulled back, so to speak, and I saw the prosecution¹s 
whole case ­ chain of evidence, cumulative witness statements, accused¹s own 
movements and subsequent statements ­ it became clear enough to me and, in that 
case to the juries , that the accused were incontestably guilty. But even then, 
such cases had a vigorous afterlife, with the defense trying to muster up 
grounds for an appeal, on the basis of testimony and evidence withheld by the 
prosecution, faulty rulings by the judge, a prejudiced jury member and so on. A 
seemingly ³cut and dried case² is very rarely beyond challenge, even though in 
essence it actually may well be just that, ³cut and dried².

Anyone who ever looked at the JFK assassination will know that there are endless
anomalies and loose ends. Eyewitness testimony ­ as so often ­ is conflicting, 
forensic evidence possibly misconstrued, mishandled or just missing. But in my 
view, the Warren Commission, as confirmed in almost all essentials by the House 
Committee on Assassinations in the late 1970s, had it right and Oswald fired the
fatal shots from the Schoolbook Depository. The evidentiary chain for his guilt 
is persuasive, and the cumulative scenarios of the conspiracy nuts entirely 
unconvincing. But of course ­ as the years roll by, and even though no death bed
confession has ever buttressed those vast, CIA-related scenarios -- the nuts 
keep on toiling away, their obsessions as unflagging as ever.

Naturally, there are conspiracies. I think there is strong evidence that FDR did
have knowledge that a Japanese naval force in the north Pacific was going to 
launch an attack on Pearl Harbor. Roosevelt thought it would be a relatively 
mild assault and thought it would be the final green light to get the US into 
the war.

Of course it¹s very probable that the FBI or US military intelligence, even the 
CIA, had penetrated the Al Qaeda team planning the 9/11 attacks; that 
intelligence reports ­ some are already known ­ piled up in various Washington 
bureaucracies pointing to the impending onslaught and even the manner in which 
it might be carried out.

The history of intelligence operations is profuse with example of successful 
intelligence collection, but also fatal slowness to act on the intelligence, 
along with eagnerness not to compromise the security and future usefulness of 
the informant, who has to prove his own credentials by even pressing for prompt 
action by the plotters. Sometime an undercover agent will actually propose an 
action, either to deflect efforts away from some graver threat, or to put the 
plotters in a position where they can be caught red-handed. In their 
penetrations of environmental groups the FBI certainly did this.

Long before the Yom Kippur war, a CIA analyst noted Egyptian orders from a 
German engineering firm, and deduced from the type and size of equipment thus 
ordered that Egypt was planning an attack across the Suez canal. He worked out 
the probable size of the Egyptian force and the likely time window for the 
attack. His superiors at the CIA sat on the report. When the Egyptian army 
finally attacked on October 6, 1973 the CIA high command ordered up the 
long-buried report, dusted it off and sent it over to the White House, marked 
³current intelligence². Was there a ³conspiracy² by the CIA high command to 
allow Israel to be taken by surprise? I doubt it.

Bureaucratic inertia and caution prevailed, until the moment came for decisive 
CYA acitvity. The nuts make dizzying ³deductive² leaps. There is a one 
particularly vigorous coven which has established to its own satisfaction that 
the original NASA moon landing was faked, and never took place. This 
³conspiracy² would have required the complicity of thousands of people , all of 
whom have kept their mouths shut. The proponents of the ³fake moon landing² plot
tend to overlap with the JFK and 9/11 nuts.

One notorious ³deductive² leap involves flight 77, which on 9/11 ended up 
crashing into the Pentagon. There are photos of the impact of the ³object² -- 
i.e., the Boeing 757, flight 77 -- that seem to show the sort of hole a missile 
might make. Ergo, the nuts assert, it WAS a missile and a 757 didn¹t hit the 
Pentagon. As regards the hole, my brother Andrew -- writing a book about 
Rumsfeld and the DoD during his tenure -- has seen photos taken within 30 
minutes of Pentagon impact clearly showing outline of entire plane including 
wings. This was visible momentarily when the smoke blew away

And if it was a missile, what happened to the 757? Did the conspirators shoot it
down somewhere else, or force it down and then kill the passengers? Why plan to 
demolish the towers with pre-placed explosives if your conspiracy includes 
control of the two planes that hit them. Why bother with the planes at all. Why 
blame Osama if your fall guy is Saddam Hussein? Why involve the Israeli ³art 

The nuts simultaneously credit their targets ­ the Bush-Cheney ³conspirators² --
with superhuman ingenuity and grotesque carelessness. In Webster Griffin 
Tarpley¹s book ³9/11 Synthetic Terror Made in USA² he writes that ³in an 
interview with Parade magazine, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld also referred to the 
object which hit the Pentagon as a Œmissile¹. Was this a Freudian slip by the 
loquacious defense chief?² (And, a nut might add, is it mere coincidence that 
Webster Griffin Tarpley shares one of his names with David Ray Griffin?

The demolition scenario is classic who-moved-the-stonery. The WTC towers didn¹t 
fall down because they were badly built as a consequence of corruption, 
incompetence, regulatory evasions by the Port Authority, and because they were 
struck by huge planes loaded with jet fuel. No, they fell because Dick Cheney¹s 
agents methodically planted demolition charges in the preceding days. It was a 
conspiracy of thousands, all of whom ­- party to mass murder ­- have held their 
tongues ever since. The ³conspiracy² is always open-ended as to the number of 
conspirators, widening steadily to include all the people involved in the 
execution and cover-up of the demolition of the Towers and the onsslaujght on 
the Pentagon, from the teams acquiring the explosives and themissile, inserting 
the explosives in the relevant floors of three vast buildings, (moving day after
day among the unsuspecting office workers), then on 9/11 activating the 

Subsequently the conspiracy includes the disposers of the steel and rubble, the 
waste recyclers in Staten Island and perhaps even the Chinese who took the 
salvaged incriminating metal for use in the Three Gorges dam, where it will 
submerged in water and concretye for ever. Tens of thousands of people, all 
silent as the tomb to this day.

Of course the buildings didn¹t suddenly fall at a speed inexplicable in terms of
physics unless caused by carefully pre-placed explosives, detonated by the 
ruthless Bush-Cheney operatives. High grade steel can bend disastrously under 
extreme heat. People inside who survived the collapse didn¹t hear a series of 
explosions. As discussed in Wayne Barrett and Dan Collin¹s excellent book Grand 
Illusion, about Rudy Giuliani and 9/11, helicopter pilots radioed warnings nine 
minutes before the final collapse that the South Tower might well go down and, 
repeatedly, as much as 25 minutes before the North Tower¹s fall.

What Barrett and Collins brilliantly show are the actual corrupt conspiracies on
Giuliani¹s watch: the favoritism to Motorola which saddled the firemen with 
radios that didn¹t work; the ability of the Port Authority to skimp on fire 
protection, the mayor¹s catastrophic failure in the years before 9/11/2001 to 
organize an effective unified emergency command that would have meant that cops 
and firemen could have communicated; that many firemen wouldn¹t have 
unnecessarily entered the Towers; that people in the Towers wouldn¹t have been 
told by 911 emergency operators to stay in place; and that firemen could have 
heard the helicopter warnings and the final Mayday messages that prompted most 
of the NYPD men to flee the Towers.

That¹s the real political world, in which Giuliani and others have never been 
held accountable. The nuts disdain the real world because, like much of the left
and liberal sectors, they have promoted Bush, Cheney and the Neo-Cons to an 
elevated status as the Arch Demons of American history, instead of being just 
one more team running the American empire, a team of more than usual stupidity 
and incompetence (characteristics I personally favor in imperial leaders.) The 
Conspiracy Nuts have combined to produce a huge distraction, just as Danny 
Sheehan did with his Complaint, that mesmerized and distracted much of the 
Nicaraguan Solidarity Movement in the 1980s, and which finally collapsed in a 
Florida courtroom almost as quickly as the Towers.

* Footnote: I should add that one particular conspiracy nut, seeing that 
Roosevelt¹s grandson Ford ­ a schoolteacher in Los Angeles ­ was for a while, 
some years ago, on the board of CounterPunch¹s parent non-profit, the Institute 
for the Advancement of Journalistic Clarity ­ wrote an enormous onslaught on 
CounterPunch a while ago, ³proving² to his own satisfaction that CounterPunch 
was a pawn of the Democratic Party, the CIA and kindred darker forces. I suppose
the fact that CounterPunch attacked the Democratic Party and the CIA on a weekly
basis was just one more example of our cunning in deflecting suspicion away from
our true sponsors. The fact that from time to time that we also quite regularly 
attacked FDR ­ and posited his foreknowledge of Pearl Harbor ­ should again be 
taken as evidence of our cunning in deflecting suspicion away from Ford¹s 
supervisory roile in our affairs. In fact we¹d put Ford on the board in the 
hopes (vain, as they turned out to be) that he would persuade film stars to give
CounterPunch money.

A much shorter, earlier version of the column ran in the print edition of The 
Nation that went to press last Thursday.

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