Cloak & Dagger

I became a 9/11 conspiracy nut when I watched the video. [But see the response from Marco, below.] Okay, there are some facts that don’t add up, but in the real world there are always facts that don’t add up. The real world is messy.

What got me thinking there was something in the conspiracy theory was that the tower collapsing didn’t look anything at all, to my admittedly untutored eye, like a building that had been hit near the top by an airliner and was now losing its structural integrity. It looked a whole lot like a building that was being demolished, suddenly and efficiently, by explosives planted throughout the structure.

Understand — I don’t spend a lot of time on 9/11 conspiracy websites salivating over the latest rumors and theories. I never visit those sites at all, and I’m not going to post links here or rehash the details. I watched the video, read a few thoughtful analyses by people who were obviously bright and not visibly foaming at the mouth, “got it” that the whole operation was a CIA black bag job, was horrified but not really surprised, shrugged, and went on with my week.

The only plausible argument I can think of against its being a CIA operation is, they’re not that good.

I was reflecting on the above this morning after reading some conservative commentary on recent revelations that the CIA was quietly developing a program to assassinate bin Laden and other prominent figures, but had failed to notify Congress of the existence of said program. “The program never became fully operational,” the conservatives point out. “So what’s the big deal?”

I’ll leave that debate to those who enjoy mud-wrestling and other grand but meaningless Washington sideshows. I predict: Congress will hold hearings, the facts will remain in dispute, and nobody will ever be held accountable.

Now here’s an interesting story about spying, which I read recently. It has the ring of truth, and I have reason to believe the author did her homework. During World War II, the British had broken an important German code. They could listen in on the Germans’ radio communications and learn about German ship movements in the Mediterranean. The problem was, if they took advantage of the information by moving to attack the ships, the Germans would quickly figure out that the code had been broken. The code would be changed, and the information would no longer be available to the Allies.

So what the British did was, they sent out a spy plane to check on the German ship movements. They already knew where the ships were, but they wanted the Germans to think they were getting their information by using the spy plane (which would fly low enough to be spotted by the Germans). By using the irrelevant, useless spy plane, the British lulled the Germans into believing their code was still unbroken.

That kind of misdirection is routine, I’m sure, in the spy trade. For important operations, several layers of cover stories are sure to be the norm.

So now we have fresh “revelations” that the CIA was ineffective and bumbling and failed to notify Congress about a covert operation, and there’s a big to-do about it in the media. And I’m asking myself, what are they covering up? What are they trying to distract us from?

You can make this theory as Byzantine as you like. It wouldn’t surprise me to learn that there’s a rogue unit within the CIA that cooked up the whole story of the non-operational assassins’ squad in order to distract and mislead Leon Panetta, who would otherwise have stumbled onto … something worse.

Well, no, that’s not quite accurate. It would surprise me to learn that. Because if something like that is going on, you and I will never, ever find out about it.

Ain’t it grand, livin’ in a democracy?

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6 Responses to Cloak & Dagger

  1. Conrad says:

    No, we don’t do business that way. There’s plenty of shady stuff laid on the doorstep of the CIA — MK ULTRA, interfering with the Civil Rights movement (as did the FBI), possibly creating the infrastructure to bring the drug trade into US cities — and the US government generally is not concerned with human costs, as witness the Tuskegee experiments and the bombing of civilians in Panama.

    But if you look at the history, there’s nothing in the direction of the 9-11 attacks. Killing US citizens to sway public opinion? Doesn’t happen.

    Ain’t it grand, livin’ in a democracy?

    Yes it is.


    • prophet-5 says:

      Not sure what you mean by “if you look at the history.” I mean, you’re citing two well-known examples of the U.S. government caring nothing for human costs. Many more could be cited, Hiroshima and Nagasaki being at the top of the list.

      Far more than 3,000 U.S. servicemen and -women have died in Iraq, ordered there by George Bush for no good reason. And they were all U.S. citizens; we shouldn’t take it for granted that Bush would have treated the lives of servicemen and -women as less valuable than the lives of civilians, if he thought God wanted him to bring about a New World Order in the Middle East. Dare we assume that he would have balked at sacrificing a few civilians in the furthering of his twisted agenda?

      We don’t have to assume he reckoned the true cost accurately. If the towers had been evacuated quickly, only a few hundred people would have died.

      This is all wild-eyed speculation, of course. I can’t prove a word of it, and nor can any other conspiracy nut. The point I was making in my post was slightly more subtle: it was that we can’t know, one way or the other. You and I have no access to accurate information about what has or has not happened within the CIA, and never will have.

      Your confidence, therefore, is objectively misplaced. You cannot possibly justify saying, “Doesn’t happen,” other than through some sort of fuzzy reference to basic human goodness. And we can cite instance after instance in which our own government concerns itself not even peripherally with implementing an agenda based on basic human goodness.

      • Conrad says:

        The point I was making in my post was slightly more subtle: it was that we can’t know, one way or the other.

        Oh! And are you accepting all of the fundamentalist Christians’ other arguments, too?


  2. Marco Alpert (papoon) says:

    Jim, Jim, Jim. Read this:

    It’s the second page of a two page article. The first page is good as well, but the 2nd page, rather than try to debunk the whole 911 Truth lunacy (you can find good info on that here: ) asks, “What would it mean if the truthers were really right?” Check it out. Really.

    (And if by “that video” you mean Loose Change, definitely read the first page of the article as well as .)

    On the other hand, there is already a lot of conjecture that the “real” non-disclosed CIA program was in fact a good deal more sinister than a Bin Laden assassination team. Here’s a brief example:

    • prophet-5 says:

      Thanks for the links, Marco. I’ll take my medicine like a big boy.

      I believe I made it clear, however, that I haven’t been following the conspiracy nuts’ ravings on an ongoing basis. Their antics seem to have gotten a lot more wacky in the last five years, which is not surprising. I’m certainly not a devotee of the idea that thousands of people are being paid off to maintain the coverup!

      I also mentioned that I feel it’s unlikely the CIA could actually manage to pull off an operation of such magnitude.

      That said, your final link provides some interesting insights into far more believable covert operations. I’ve always been suspicious about the death of Paul Wellstone, for example. And the CIA, I hasten to add, needn’t have had anything to do with it, though I’m sure they’re pretty good at that sort of thing.

      None of that undercuts my basic point, which is that we can’t know for sure. We’ll never know. If the conspiracy theories concerning the death of Paul Wellstone had hordes of rabid devotees, there would also be websites pointing out exactly how his plane could have gone down due to simple mechanical failure, all perfectly explicable, no need to indulge in crackpot ideas.

      • Marco Alpert (papoon) says:

        Just to be completely clear, I am also a believer that there a plenty of real conspiracies that, as you say, we may never know anything about.

        I don’t really know much about the details of Paul Wellstone’s death, but I imagine it could have been engineered by few enough people that there would be little risk of someone blowing it open. While people could, of course, always make the case that it was simple mechanical failure (which it may well have been), the alternative (that it was planned) doesn’t require the enormous leap of credibility that the Truthers’ crackpot ideas do. One (of many) of my big problems with the Truthers is that all the press they manage to get with their lunacy distracts attention away from possibly less fantastic, but much more likely to be true horrors executed (covertly) in our name.

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