By Barrie Zwicker
October 4, 2007(Excerpted for Chapter 5 of Barrie Zwicker's Towers of Deception)"Let us never tolerate outrageous conspiracy theories....."
-President George Bush, Nov. 10, 2001, to the United Nations General Assembly"Look, this is just conspiracy theory."
-Noam Chomsky to author [Barrie Zwicker] in conversation, November 14, 2002."There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance - that principle is contempt prior to investigation."
-Herbert SpencerThanks for the identical advice, George Bush and Noam Chomsky. But no thanks.There's something very strange here. You'd expect George Bush, the most visible face of the American Empire, to employ the intellectually bankrupt phrase "conspiracy theory" as an element of his propagandistic rhetoric in defence of the official story of 9/11. On the other hand, about the last person you'd expect use the same phraseology the same way for the same purpose would be Noam Chomsky, known for the masterful deconstruction of propaganda.You'd expect Noam to be unmasking the nature of this phrase and the purposes of George Bush in using it. As we shall see, this phrase (and its muscular friends "conspiracy nut," "conspiracy whacko," etc.) is far more than simply another misleading figure of speech. It's a particularly effective tool for suppressing healthy citizen scepticism about the contradictions about the contradictions and absurdities of 9/11 and further investigation into them.Chomsky himself at one point issued a strong caution against the use of the term. He had just explained (1) , at a public meeting, how mainstream media stories are skewed to favour vested interests by means of reporters quoting establishment representatives at length while neglecting to quote critics of the establishment. "Would you characterise [you] media analysis as a 'conspiracy theory' al all?" a woman asked Chomsky."It's precisely the opposite of conspiracy theory, actually," Chomsky said. "...institutional factors ... set boundaries for reporting and interpretation in ideological institutions."He continued: "Any economist knows this: it's not a conspiracy theory to point [out] that ... it's just taken for granted as an institutional fact. If someone were to say 'Oh no, that's a conspiracy theory,' people would laugh." He concluded: "For people to call [Chomsky's media analysis] 'conspiracy theory' is part of the effort to prevent an understanding of how the world works, in my view ' conspiracy theory' has become the intellectual equivalent of a four-letter word: it's something people say when they don't want you to think about what's really going on."So, when Noam Chomsky repeatedly uses the phrase "conspiracy theory" to describe questioning of the official story of 9/11, he clearly knows its power and the purpose of its use.
Emotional Considerations Arising from a Study of Chomsky's Work.Among readers of this book's draft form, this chapter became the most controversial. These readers include writer friends, other friends, and colleagues. No one was close to neutral. The chapter - and I - encountered strong praise and strong aversion, hearty congratulations and dire warnings, gratitude, anger and suspicion.I came to realise how deep for others - and for me- are the feelings associated wwith this chapter. This caused me to try to separate out the emotional issues. The attempt has helped me think more clearly about Noam Chomsky and the Left Gatekeepers. I hope this sidebar likewise will be useful to you, the reader.The emotional attitude toward Chomsky on the Right for the most part is imply hatred. A hatchet job on Chomsky in the Saturday Observer section of the Ottawa Citizen of November 5th, 2005, provides an example. "The Fanatic Professor: As smart as Noam Chomsky is, he can be infuriatingly stupid" reads the teaser box at the top of the section front page. Inside, the attack is titled "Blind genius." The hatchet is wielded by the paper's editorial page editor, Leonard Stern. Chomsky's political views are "crude". Chomsky is a "weird one" who "buys into ideas that would embarrass the flat earth society."On the left, the feelings are more complicated. The main emotions are gratitude and admiration - sometimes to the extent of near idol worship. As Daniel Abrahamson puts it: "Noam Chomsky is often hailed as America's premier dissident intellectual, a fearless purveyor of truth fighting against media propaganda, murderous US foreign policy, and the crimes of profit hungry translational corporations. He enjoys a slavish cult-like following from millions [of] leftist students, journalists, and activists who fawn over his dense books as if they were scripture. To them, Chomsky is the supreme deity, a priestly master who logic cannot be questioned."2I myself was one of his earliest supports, from the days when most had not heard of him. My admiration knew almost no bounds. I have a stack of his books more than a foot high. I was honoured to interview him for four segments on Vision TV. A friend of mine and I at one time competed to see who could get the larger number of letters to the editor published defending Chomsky against the ill-wishers who twisted his words or called him names such as "anti-American". I assisted in a small way with the film Manufacturing Consent.But I became one of those in the Left puzzled, even mystified, as a result of Chomsky's insistence for more than 40 years that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman who killed JFK. This puzzling anomaly took on new significance after 9/11 with Chomsky's opposition to questioning the official 9/11 story - which questioning he says is a huge mistake for the Left.As I studied his work ever more closely under the intense illumination of 9/11, I became increasingly amazed at patterns, dealt with in this chapter, that emerge from his body of work. Disbelief turned to shock. I feel i have been duped. I feel embarrassment that mainly I duped myself, that I had been in denial. With these realizations came anger from feeling betrayed by someone I welcomed into my innermost sanctum of trust.One of my emotional tasks is not to go overboard, like the kilted lover who seeks revenge. Trying to be responsible, I attempted to reconcile these new strongly negative emotions with the positive emotion of gratitude that I felt for so long, and that it would seem reasonable that I should continue to feel. Gratitude for all that I did learn from Chomsky, for all the support he has given to causes I support. I still wrestle with these conflicting emotions as I chance across the latest brilliant articulation by Chomsky of the havoc wreaked by the American Empire: For instance, his comments in an article by Jim Mcllroy and Carol Wynter:Caracas - By sending gas for heating to poor, homeless people for free and at very low prices for those who can pay "Venezuela is giving a great example of cooperation and solidarity with the people of the United States. And this is being seen by the entire world," Noam Chomsky, well known US intellectual, told a public meeting of teachers, students, researchers and journalists on February 13 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, according to a special report in the February 15 Caracas newspaper Diario Vea.Chomsky also said that the majority of North Americans "receive little or no information of the great achievements of the Bolivarian revolution, that is headed by President Hugo Chavez, because the mass media only emphasise the bad, and are silent about the positive."3But now, even while reading a report such as this, I cannot forget the evidence of his being a major leader of the "controlled opposition" to the American Empire. My feelings of gratitude are hugely diminished and can never rise again. I decided to disclose my anger and mixed feelings here, but I have reined them in as much as possible in this chapter. My hope is to channel most of my anger into increased research and into understanding better the complexities of the subject matter. I have also been helped by a friend who is a leader in the "Forgiveness First" movement.You, too, may encounter strong feelings as you read this chapter. I am grateful for the debate that raged among my friends and colleagues, not least for the emotions directed at me. They have made me reconsider, have rekindled my sensitivity for the feelings of others, and have helped me rewrite usefully, I hope. I also hope you have friends as thoughtful and honest as mine with whom to discuss the intellectual, political and emotional aspects of Chomsky and his work. I must say I now find it creepy.Every person who says of writes "Oh, that's just conspiracy theory" in response to a question or claim about 9/11 should be challenged immediately. The phrase, in that tone, is counterfeit currency. To allow it to stand leaves the person using the phrase the framer of the discourse, and devalues the discourse and the target. Challenging the phrase is not making a mountain out of the molehill. It is to expose it illegitimacy and enable more reasoned discussion to proceed.Used pejoratively, the phrase fails in at least four ways. First, as part of speech it includes two works each of which as legitimate purpose and meaning - as do the two in combination. The entertain a theory about a conspiracy or possible conspiracy can be eminently reasonable - and usually is.Second, the phrase as putdown is usually tossed out in place of a response to the facts, claims or assertions brought forward in connection with the with the theory being advanced. As such the phrase is counterfeit, a non sequitur.Third, it's a psychological below-the-belt blow. The essential power of the phrase - especially when rendered as "conspiracy nut" or "conspiracy wacko" - is that it raises for the person who is the target, the spectre of one of our deepest fears: fear of our sanity. No one wants to be thought of as insane, not even slightly.Fourth, the cumulative use of this putdown forms a psychological and political wall in society, that helps protect actual conspiracies from being discussed and investigated as they deserve to be. It's a compact but powerful ideological tool to deflect attention away from the reality of the conspiracy's existence. Let's look more closely at each dimension, because it's time to permanently decommission this weapon of psychological warfare.
Real Conspiracies AboundFirst, real conspiracies exist, have always existed and always will. In law, a conspiracy is simply two or more people agreeing to an illegal goal, and one of them taking at least one act in furtherance of that agreement. So common is the crime of conspiracy that a keyword search of any newspaper's archives will reveal numerous archives will reveal numerous stories of people charged with conspiracy to commit fraud, conspiracy to commit murder, and so on. For instance, between January 1 to June 30, 2004 a total of 529 articles in New York Times used the word conspiracy.Three more recent high-profile examples of conspiracy charges being laid are those against Bernie Ebbers of WorldCom, against Martha Stewart, and against Enron Defendants.4 In the American political arena, large conspiracies have been proven in the case of Iran-Contra and the "October Surprise" that denied Jimmy Carter the presidency. No one can be labelled "paranoid" for saying Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger conspired to topple the democratically-elected government of Salvadore Allende in Chile in 1973.5 In the military sphere, the secret 1962 plans by the US Joint Chiefs of Staff to kill Americans and blame this on Cuba to justify war on Cuba qualifies as a conspiracy, or nothing does. (See Chapter 7, Operation Northwoods).Webster G. Tarpley, reaching back further into history, points out that the American Revolution "was based on a conspiracy theory which saw the individual actions of George III as being governed by a singly unifying design, which was to impose tyranny on the UK's NOrth American colonies."6 Even though the American Founding Fathers could not produce documents proving their case, were they wrong to believe this? Tarpley notes that the US Declaration of Independence signed in Congress in Philadelphia on July 4, 1776 contains "one of the most celebrated conspiracy theories of all time." Toward the beginning it states that "when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce [the people] under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such a government..."7 There you have the conspiracy theory and the call to action based on it, in one passage.No one should ever accept a whiff of criticism for suggesting that conspiracies have existed and do exist. More than that, the existence of conspiracies, especially at the highest levels, is bedrock. It is those who disparage the existence of conspiracies who should be put instantly on the defensive. As Don Paul, a 9/11 Truth activist and author in San Francisco puts it: "We should remember, I think, the following realities. Conspiracies are history. Conspiracies are how the ruling elites grab or maintain power."PROFILE: Webster G. Tarpley
"International Terrorism is Not Spontaneous; it Requires Expert Terrorist Controllers"As a by-product of his fluency in more than five languages, his fascination with history and his photographic memory, Webster Griffin Tarpley is a tour guide extraordinaire. In Berlin he led me on an hours-long Metro and walking tour, during which he explained the glories of the Pergamon Museum, the lessons of Emperor William II memorial church on the Kurfurstendamm, the history of the Reichstag. We took a pedicab to Checkpoint Charlie and along the way "we" talked with ordinary Berliners. He literally knew the history of almost every street, building and monument. It was the same in Paris, London and Madrid. his own favourite travel is "political tourism." If there's an election, a conference or a demonstration he wants to be there and learn all about it.More than anyone else I know in the 9/11 truth movement, Webster Tarpley provides a tour of the most important checkpoints of our political world the powers of the oligarchies, the importance of economic forces, and the specifics of the fake terrorism mounted by oligarchies' covert agents - all of which he situates in the sweep of history as he sees it. His work in these fields is singular, from his 1978 Moro dossier and his famous book George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography, which he wrote in 1992 with Anton Chaikin;8 to his 1998-9 study of the world financial crisis entitled Surviving the Cataclysm; through his 9/11 Synthetic Terror: Made in USA published in March 2005 and now in its third edition. He frequently uses the term "rogue network" to describe the machinations of "the huge and pervasive intelligence agencies ... whose cumulative effect is to over-determine observed reality."As it happened, he was in Berlin on September 11th 2001. "I concluded more or less instantaneously that the 9/11 events were a provocation by this rogue network ... in order to provide a new enemy image to organise the internal social order of the US and other NATO states, and to provide a pretext for military attacks on Arab and Islamic countries."He's also an activist. "My most important long-term commitment is to work to improve the intelligence and world awareness of the anti-regime political forces in the United States and around the world," he says. He recognizes the importance of media. "On the positive side, I would cite the talk radio people like Jeff Rense and the Lennie Bloom/Sherman Skolnick cloackanddagger.de, as well as Alex Jones, Jack Blood, Meria Heller, the Dave von Kleist Power Hour, Keidi of LIB Network in Los Angeles, and others Free speech lives in these anti-establishment radio and internet radio outlets, be they leftist, conservative, centrist." On the other hand, he cites his disappointment, as an example, of the failure of the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times - or any other mainstream paper - to review 9/11 Synthetic Terror. He observes: "Even a slanderous review would be better than total silence."Tarpley foresees new political upsurges on the agenda for the decade and a half ahead, along the lines of 1968. "Bush, Blair and the neo-cons are in the process of creating bureaucratic authoritarian police states. The emerging opposition to those oppressive regimes will need epistemology, economic program, political strategy, international focus and networking, and much more." Tarpley hopes to be able to help on many of these fronts, "including the serious matter of identifying agents of influence in the US-UK finance oligarchs [are deploying to] try to wreck emerging opposition."9/11 Synthetic Terror Made in USA By Webster Griffin Tarpley is available to buy on Amazon.com.
Theorizing is Inescapable, Useful and Indispensable.As for theories, they're the foundation of science, and unavoidable in everyday life. Unavoidable because we are hard wired to theorize. If you hear a loud bang right now, you cannot stop your brain from launching an instantaneous scan of your memory chips. You cannot prevent possibilities from flashing into your mind: Is it a car backfiring, a gunshot, a car crash, and electrical transformer exploding? You rush to the window with at least four theories in mind. Smoke and sparks flying from a hydro pole validate the exploding transformer theory. In science, the process is more refined. Theorizing is inescapable, useful and, indeed, indispensable as a means of marking sense of the world. It is the heart of the scientific method. The word theory and the idea it encapsulates should be put on a pedestal, not besmirched in an illegitimate slogan.Second, the phrase as non sequitur. The first sentence of a review in The Nation of David Ray Griffin's book The New Pearl Harbor was: "Conspiracy theories are hard to kill." The review was by long-time CIA operative Robert Baer. In his response to review, Griffin wrote: "....by declaring 'Conspiracy theories are hard to kill' [Baer] pretends not to know that in the book's introduction, I pointed out that the question is not whether one accepts or rejects a conspiracy theory about 9/11, but only whether one accepts the government's conspiracy theory or some other one. By pretending not to know this, Baer suggests that to take issue with the book one needs only to put it in the 'conspiracy theory' genre, thereby dismissing it a priori."9A Below-the-Belt BlowThird the phrase as a psychological below-the-belt blow. It is justifiable to describe the term "conspiracy wacko" as a weapon of psychological warfare. Psychologist Floyd Rudmin writes:The power of this pejorative is that it discounts a theory by attacking the motivations and mental competence of those who advocate the theory. By labelling an explanation of events "conspiracy theory," evidence and argument are dismissed because they come from a mentally or morally deficient personality, not because they have been shown to be incorrect. Calling an explanation of events "conspiracy theory" means, in effect, "We don't like you, and no one should listen to your explanation."10Op-ed page pundits sometimes deliver the blow more gently, but to the same pejorative effect. They attempt through amateur 'psychologizing' to explain away the evidence of those they label "conspiracists." Some people, the line goes, have the "need" to believe conspiracies and so they "invent them."Fourth, the cumulative exercise of this phrase in its putdown mode performs an ideological function in society. It endorses the idea that only a nutty minority could actually think out leaders would lie to us, or that there are very real and powerful interests that secretly engage in crimes of various sorts to protect and expand their power, control and wealth. The demeaning notion, that those who are suspicious of power are few and mentally unstable, can only benefit then powerful. You can bet that the last person who thought up the term "You can't fight city hall" was a mayor.The Descriptive, Non-Putdown, Use of the Phrase Conspiracy TheoryIt may be that a larger percentage of the population today is concerned about conspiracies than was the case in, say the 1950s/ Despite the official "lone gunman" explanation for the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, 78% of Americans believe a high-level conspiracy did him in. The eventual unravelling of the lie - put out by the White House and dutifully amplified by the mainstream media - that Iraq possessed WMDs has increased the knowledge that a powerful network can collude in inventing a countrywide, even worldwide, bogus reality. Suspicions linger about the plane crash that killed Senator Paul Wellstone, a much-respected politician poised at the time of his death to play a key role in holding the Bush Administration to account. And of course there are the contradictions of 9/1. As already noted, almost half og New Yorkers believe the White House was complicit in 9/11.If more people than before suspect high-level conspiracies, Rudmin puts forward an intriguing theory as to why. Conspiracy theorizing arises, he says, when:a. Significant political or economic events change power relationships in society;b. Contradictions in the explanation of these events are noticed by ordinary citizens;c. Curiosity and then concern are aroused, andd. Further information is sought under the presumption that power is being abused and deception is being deployed [emphasis added]11This swings a spotlight onto the media. Rudmin continues:Conspiracy theory is "deconstructive history" because it is in rebellion against official explanations and against orthodox journalism [emphasis added] and orthodox history.Conspiracy theory by ordinary people is radically empirical: tangible facts are the focus, especially facts that the standard stories try to overlook. There is a ruthless reduction down to what is without doubt real, namely, persons. Conspiracy theory presumes that human events are caused by people acting as people do, including cooperating, planning, cheating, deceiving, and pursuing power. Thus, conspiracy theories do not focus on impersonal forces like geo-politics, market economics, globalization, social evolution and other such abstract explanations of human events.To call conspiracy theory "naive" does not mean that it is uncritical or stupidly innocent. In fact, that is what conspiracy theorists ... say about orthodox explanations of events promoted by government sources, by mainstream journalism, [emphasis added] or by school-book history.Conspiracy theories arise when dramatic events happen, and the orthodox explanations try to diminish the events gloss over. In other words, conspiracy theories begin when someone notices that the explanations do not fit the facts.12 [emphasis added]Barrie Zwicker---------------NOTES:1. Peter R. Mitchell and John Schoeffel, eds., Understanding Power: The Indispensible Chomsky, The New Press, 2002, p. 26.2. Daniel L. Abrahamson (http:www.falseflagnews.com) commentary, September 27, 2005 on Rense.com3. Jim McIlroy and Coral Wynter, "Venezuelan Humanism vs. US Terrorism," Green Left Weekly, February 19, 2006.4. Dan Ackman, "Vernie Ebbers Guilty," Forbes.com, March 15, 2005Indictment "Count One" (Conspiracy to Obstruct Justice, Make False Statements, and Commit Perjury), United States of America v. Martha Stewart and Peter Bacanovic, Defendents. United States District Southern Disctrict of New York, S1 03 cr.17 (MGC).US Department of Justice, "Former Enron Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Kenneth L. Lay Charged with Conspiracy, Fraud, False Statements," Press Release, July 8, 2004.5. National Security Archive, The George Washington University Gelman Library, "Chile: 16,000 Secret US Documents Declassified," Press Release, November 13, 2000. These relate to "Washington's role in the violent overthrow of the Allende government," nsaarchive.org6. Webster Griffin Tarpley, 9/11 Synthetic Terror Made in USA, Progressive Books, 2005 pp 333-3437. Ibid., p 3358. Webster Griffin Tarpley and Anton Chaikin, George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography, Executive Intelligence Review, 1991.Webster Griffin Tarpley, Surviving the Cataclysm, Washington Grove Books, 1999.Webster Griffin Tarpley, 9/11 Synthetic Terror, op. cit.NOTE: Since 1996, George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography has been available for free download on Webster Tarpley's website www.tarpley.net9. David Ray Griffin's response to Baer review of The New Pearl Harbor.10. Floyd Rumin, Professor, Psychology Department, University of Tromso, Tromso, Norway, writing on www.NewDemocracyWorld.com, April 2003
The Shame of Noam Chomsky and the Gatekeepers of the Left, Part 2
By Barrie Zwicker
October 5, 2007
The Shame of Noam Chomsky and the Gatekeepers of the Left, Part 2 (May 4, 2008)
(Excerpted for Chapter 5 of Barrie Zwicker's Towers of Deception)
Noam Chomsky on Conspiracy Theory
Noam Chomsky is inconsistent in dealing with the term "conspiracy theory" and in using it. As we have seen, in one instance - one in which his own work was under threat of being tarred with the "conspiracy theory" brush - he wanted the the term in its putdown mode is "something people say when the don't want you to think about what's really going on."
But as we shall see, Chomsky has used the term in its putdown mode repeatedly to describe those who question the official stories of JFK's assassination and 9/11. These are the extremes of his relationship with the phrase and concept. Between these extremes, Chomsky engages in some convolutions. In light of the influence of Chomsky and the importance of the topic, they deserve to be examined closely.
The most sustained deconstruction by Chomsky of the term "conspiracy theory" I can find in his book, mentioned earlier, Understanding Power13.
The venue, again, is a public meeting. Chomsky had been asked whether "corporate elites can't turn the environmental crisis to their benefit" so that "the public will now pay them [through subsidies] to salvage the environment they've been primarily responsible for destroying." Chomsky essentially answered "Yes."14
As a follow-up another questioner asked: "How much of this do you attribute to a conspiracy theory, and how much would you say is just a by-product of capital near-sightedness and a shared interest in holding onto power?"
"Well, this term, 'conspiracy theory' is kind of an interesting one," Chomsky begins. He continues:
For example, if I was talking about Soviet planning and I said, "Look, here's what the Politburo decided, and then the Kremlin did this," nobody would call that "conspiracy theory" - everyone would just assume that I was talking about planning. But as soon as you start talking about anything that's done by power in the West it's not allowed to exist. So if you're a political scientist, one of the things you learn you don't even make it into graduate school unless you've already internalized it - is that nobody here ever plans anything: we just act out of a kind of general benevolence, stumbling from here to here, sometimes making mistakes and so on. The guys in power aren't idiots, after all. They do planning. In fact, they do very careful and sophisticated planning. but Anybody who talks about it, and uses the government records or anything else to back it up, is into "conspiracy theory."15
Since the nature of "conspiracy theory" was raised in the context of a question about the true motives of big business, Chomsky's response can't be faulted for remaining in that context. But his response within that context can be can be faulted. He claims that "anybody who talks" about planning being done by corporate interests is accused of being a "conspiracy theorist." In my experience, this is untrue on tow counts. First, stories about the long-term planning by business abound. An Example are those dealing with investment in the development of the Alberta tar sands for the future extraction of petroleum. Second, I can't think of an instance where "anybody who talks about" long-term business planning is labelled a "conspiracy theorist." He continues:
It's the same with business: business is again just operating out of a generalized benevolence, trying to help everybody get the cheapest goods with the best quality, all this kind of stuff. If you say: "Look, Chrysler is trying to maximise profits and market share," that's "conspiracy theory."16
One of Chomsky's Many Straw Men
I strongly doubt most people would agree that critics of excess corporate profits have very often been dubbed "conspiracy theorists" for that criticism. My Experience is that they are labelled "anti-business" or sometimes "allergic to profits (or the profit motive)." If their tormentors are out for blood they're accused of being "socialistic," or of in fact being "socialists" or "communists." They may also be called "tree huggers," "knee jerk liberals" or 2opposed to the American way of life." Although this list does not exhaust the list of epithets, "conspiracy theorist" is noticeable absent from the list. Plainly put, Chomsky has created a straw man. He continues:
In other words, as soon as you describe elementary reality and attribute minimal rationality to people with power - well that's fine as along as it's an enemy, but if it's part of domestic power, it's a "conspiracy theory" and you're not supposed to talk about it.17
Now, we're getting somewhere. Chomsky's generic deconstruction here is relevant and persuasive. It's articulated by Chomsky as a pretty effective defence if himself in a situation where he's facing the sting of the suggestion that he himself is a "conspiracy theorist." He follows with a practical suggest: "So, the first thing I would suggest is, drop the term." He then, however, continues with an unduly limited duality:
There are really only two questions. One is how much of this is conscious planning - as happens everywhere else. And the other is, how much is bad planning [his emphases].18
This is a false choice, the kind Chomsky warns against in different contexts. In the context of the concerns of ordinary people over outrageous events such as JFK's assassination or 9/11, it is easily demonstrated that there are many more than "only two questions." Indeed, the two he raises are not even amongst the most important in several. To agree to pursue only these two is to be directed down and dead-end.
The most important questions include what was planned (on the one hand, assassinations and brazen false-flag ops; on the other, maximising profits?); who did the planning (how high up is the responsibility or culpability?); how criminal or unconstitutional was the planning (determining this could be a foundation for impeachment or other dorms of calling to account); and which agenda benefited from the conspiratorial planning? Overlooking all these, Chomsky goes on to answer his own question:
Well, it's all conscious planning: there is just no doubt that a lot of very conscious planning goes on among intelligent people who are trying to maximise their power. They'd be insane if they didn't do that.
I mean I'm not telling you anything new when I tell you that top editors, top government officials, and major businessmen have meetings together - of course. And not only do they have meetings, they belong to the same golf clubs, they go to the same parties, they went to the same schools, they flow up and back from one position to another in the government and private sector, and so on and so forth. In other words, they represent the same social class: they'd be crazy if they didn't communicated and plan with each other.19
He continues his exposition on conscious planning (as opposed to "bad" planning - also, these are not opposites):
So of course the Board of Directors of General Motors plans, and the National Association of Manufacturers' PR agencies plan. I mean, this was a truism to Adam Smith: if you read Adam Smith [classical economist], he says that every time two businessmen get together in a room, you can be sure there's some plan being cooked up which is going to harm the public. Yeah, how could it be otherwise? And there's nothing particularly new about this - as Smith pointed out over two hundred years ago, the "masters of mankind," as he called them, will do what they have to in order to follow "the vile maxim;" "all for ourselves and nothing for anyone else." Yeah, and when they're in the National Security Council, or the Business Roundtable [a national organisation composed of CEOs of 200 major corporations], or the rest of these elite planning forums, they have extreme power behind them. And yes, they're planning - planning very carefully.20
Who could disagree? And this is vintage Chomsky. But he then turns to what he has laid down as the only other questions that can be asked of this situation "Now, the only significant question to ask is, is it intelligent [his emphasis] planning?" He answers his own second, final, and most important question in the negative:
Okay, that depends on what the goals are. If the goals are to maximize corporate profits for tomorrow, then it's very intelligent planning. If the goals are to have a world where your children can survive, then it's completely idiotic. But that second thing isn't really part of the game. In fact, it's institutionalized: it's not that these people are stupid, it's that to the extent that you have a competitive system based on private control over resources, you are forced to maximize short-term gain. That's just an institutional necessity.21
He continues at length with valuable analyses of, for instance, rifts within the Right between corporate types who are socially progressive, on the one hand (being in favour of abortion rights and opportunities for their daughters), and Christian fundamentalists on the other ("Who think women ought to be driven back to the home and shut up, and who want to have twelve assault rifles in their closets, and so on"). He even points out that "major class war" requires the oligarchy to "appeal to the population" on the basis of "jingoism, racism, fear, fundamentalism: these are the ways of appealing to the people if you're going to organize a mass base of support for policies that are really intended to crush them."22
But he never - it should not be controversial to point this out - connects jingoistic, racist, fear-based so-called "war on terror," heavily reliant on fear of (Muslim), religious fundamentalism, with the events of 9/11, even though the events of 9/11 are the linchpin for the so-called "war on terror." In other words, he provides a masterful analysis of the overall problem generically, while avoiding engagement with the specific toxic core that fuels it. And this avoidance is unbending. The contradiction is total.
The Ostensible Mystery of Chomsky, JFK and 9/11
Like many on the Left, for years I lived in puzzlement as to why Chomsky could not or would not recognize the mountain of evidence that JFK could not have been killed by a lone gunman Lee Harvey Oswald. I had encountered many others on the Left who said they were "mystified" and "bewildered" as to his decades-long obstinacy and adamancy in the JFK assassination, especially because their belief was that Chomsky valued evidence above all.
The a friend gave me a little-known book by E. Martin Schotz, History Will Not Absolve Us, 23 which contains evidence that Chomsky indeed was exposed to a coherent collection of evidence undermining the official Warren Report version of what happened to JFK. In one of the appendices was a first-person account by citizen investigator Ray Marcus, detailing his attempts to have Noam Chomsky seriously study evidence Marcus has assembled. In early 1969, Marcus met Chomsky with "a portfolio of evidence, primarily photographic, that I could present briefly but adequately in 30-60 minutes."
He believed this evidence "carried sufficient conviction to impress most intelligent and open-minded people." The one-hour meeting was extended to between three and four hours when Chomsky had his secretary cancel the rest of his appointments for that day. Chomsky showed "great interest in the material. We mutually agreed to a follow-up session later in the wee." Marcus then met with Gar Alperovitz. At the end of their one-hour meeting Alperovitz said he "would take an active part in the effort if Chomsky would lead it." The "effort" would be an attempt to reopen questioning about the provenance of JFK's death. A long second meeting with Chomsky and a colleague, MIT philosophy professor Selwyn Bromberger, followed. After the meeting Bromberger said: "If they are strong enough to kill the president, and strong enough to cover it up, then they are too strong to confront directly ... if they feel sufficiently threatened, they may move to open totalitarian rule."25
Marcus provided further information to Chomsky, which Chomsky acknowledged. Chomsky then left on an extended trip abroad, saying in a final note, "I'm still open-minded (and I hope will remain so)." Marcus reports: "I never heard from his again. In recent years he has on a number of occasions gone on the record attacking the critics' position and supporting the Warren Report."26
There's a great deal of supporting evidence in History Will Not Absolve Us from author Schotz, from Vincent Salandria, from Ray Marcus and from legendary investigative reporter Fred Cook that, following JFK's assassination, Chomsky and other leading lights of the Left simply would not acknowledge the evidence that interests opposed to Kennedy's stands for peace, rapprochement with the USSR, normalization of relations with Cuba and other progressive policies had the means, motive and opportunity to kill him. If these leaders of the Left were overcome with fear, then I for one cannot continue to honour them for bravery. But I shoved my disappointment and puzzlement off to one side and returned to my state of denial.
Chomsky can be Illogical and Unfair
Then someone recommended Chomsky's book Rethinking Camelot.27 There I found abundant proof that Chomsky could be Illogical, contradictory and unfair in ways I could not previously have imagined. I was attempting to resolve for myself (no one in my circle could explain it) the mystery of why Chomsky would dismiss the now even larger mountain of evidence that JFK was executed by elements of the state. But in Rethinking Camelot Chomsky, 30 years after JFK's assassination, takes great pains to study documents concerning Vietnam policy circa 1963, rather than rethinking the central event. His conclusions smack of mind mad up and a certain meanness. "The belief that JFK might have responded differently ... is an act of faith, based on nothing but the belief that the President had some spiritual quality absent in everyone around him, leaving no detectable trace," he says. "The extensive record of newly-released documents ... undermine much further the already implausible contention that [JFK's assassination] caused dramatic changed in policy (or indeed, had any effects)." 28
He thus dismissed the trajectory of Kennedy's policies condensed well by Michael Parenti in his book Dirty Tricks.29 "JFK's enemies in the CIA, the Pentagon, and elsewhere fixed on his refusal to provide air coverage for the Bay of Pigs, his unwillingness to go into Indochina with massive ground forces, his no-invasion guarantee to Khrushchev on Cuba, and his overtures for a rapprochement with Castro and professed willingness to tolerate countries with different economic systems in the Western hemisphere, his atmospheric-test-ban treaty with Moscow, his American University speech calling for a re-examination of US cold war attitudes toward the Soviet Union, his antitrust suit against General Electric, his curtailing of the oil-depletion allowance, his fight with US steel over price increases, his challenge to the Federal Reserve Board's multibillion-dollar monopoly control of the nation's currency, his warm reception at labour conventions, and his call for racial equality. These things may not have been enough for some on the Left but they were far too much for many on the Right."29
Yet Chomsky claims to this day that US policy on Vietnam would have been no different had Kennedy lived. This claim is flawed for four reasons. First, no one can prove beyond reasonable doubt such a thing one way or another, so at best he is no better than those he criticizes for claiming the opposite. Second, on the balance of probabilities, everything we know about JFK (see above passage) suggests that he was already following and would have continued to follow the more peaceful and sane directions he had established for himself, which could hardly exclude Vietnam. Third, his general trajectory was away from escalation of the war. The Pentagon Papers30 document Kennedy's intent to withdraw. They refer to the Accelerated Model Plan ... for a rapid phase out of the bulk of US military personnel" and note the administration was "serious about limiting the US commitment ..." But "all the planning for phase-out ... was either ignored or caught up in the new thinking of January 19to March 1964." Parenti notes that this "new thinking" was the reversion to a war course that came "after JFK was killed and Lyndon B. Johnson became president."31
On a page after page of Rethinking Camelot, Chomsky inserts assertions where examination of evidence is called for. He states on page 38, that those who reject the lone assassin thesis of JFK's death "have recognised that credible direct evidence is lacking..." This is a priori rejection of large amounts of evidence, including direct, such as the wound in the front of Kennedy's throat, to name just one example. A good deal of this evidence is even found in the appendices to the Warren Commission's Report. Chomsky's usual diligence in finding obscure contradictory information fails him on the Kennedy assassination. But even after making scores of admittedly angry marginal notes in Rethinking Camelot, I reverted to a stance of total respect for Chomsky's work. I see now that I was deep denial, no different from that of someone who adulates George Bush and dismisses successively all reasons to fault him.
It took 9/11 to shake me out of my denial. Even then, I see retrospectively, the process was painfully slow. Finally Chomsky's sustained rejection of evidence, his sustained use of the term "conspiracy theory" to describe the work of those seeking the truth about JFK's assassination (and the other assassinations of the 1960s), and 9/11, and his diminishment of the role of leaders such as JFK and his brother, and of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., became a pattern I could no longer ignore. Writing this book opened my eyes further.
The Role of Structuralism
Chomsky has described himself as a structuralist although curiously there's little about this in the 14 Chomsky books in my library. Michael Parenti, also interested in this concept, writes: "A structural analysis, as I understand it, maintains that events are determined by the larger configurations of power and interest and not by the whims of happenstance or the connivance of a few incidental political actors."33 Parent's description might be considered a bit acerbic, until one realises that Chomsky has come close to arguing that whatever Lyndon B. Johnson did, John F. Kennedy would have done!
Chomsky insists that ideological institutions are the most powerful determinants of what those who operate within them will do. Few on the Left or Right would disagree that there's a great deal of important truth to this contention. But Chomsky is dogmatic in his dismissiveness of the power of influence of individual leaders (or say a group of world leaders cooperating in some field), or the good that great leaders can accomplish. Chomsky's insistence has the effect of diminishing hope as well as demeaning the visions and the efforts of such people has JFK, his brother Robert Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., or Malcolm X - all wiped out in a decapitation of the Left of the US in the 1960s. He does not think these people would have "made a difference". It's surprising that more people have not challenged Chomsky on his theory of structuralism on the basis that it is, in a word, ludicrous. President Harry Truman ("The buck stops here") did not have to make the decision to drop the atomic bomb in Hiroshima. Did Franklin Delano Roosevelt have no impact on the course of US history? Was Winston Churchill just a replaceable cipher? History books are filled with detailed descriptions of major decisions made, one way or the other, with overall existing structures of power, changing the lives of millions and sometimes leading to vast changes in those structures as well. A recent case would be the interaction of Mikhail Gorbachev, perestroika and the transformation of the former Soviet Union. Who could deny that Chomsky himself has "made a large difference?" Claims from him to the contrary must be counted as false humility.
There's a parallel between Chomsky's claim that JFK wouldn't make a difference and his claim that whoever killed JFK didn't make a difference. IF the leaders don't make history, then neither do their assassins. Somehow, no one's in charge. So no one's responsible, accountable. To refuse to examine available evidence that state conspiracies ended the lives of charismatic progressive leaders to protect, almost absolve of historical responsibility, their killers. It is a template Chomsky applies to the events of 9/11. He does admit that 9/11 made a difference. But he has said "it doesn't matter" who carried out 9/11, and that he's not interested.34 If the perpetrators are within the state apparatus, this stance is protective of those perpetrators.
In ay event, the existence of ideological, financial and other structures on the one hand, and the existence of pivotal decisions by individuals on the other, are not mutually exclusive. But even in unduly emphasizing, in my opinion, the structural, Chomsky is evasive. "However unpleasant and difficult it may be, there is no escape from the need to confront the reality of institutions and the policies and actions they largely shape," he wrote in Z magazine in 1992.35 Michael Parenti rightly selects the CIA as an example of an institution marinated in conspiracy by its very nature. "As I pointed out in published exchanges with [Alexander] Cockburn and Chomsky (neither of whom responded to the argument), conspiracy and structure are not mutually exclusive dynamics. A structural analysis that a priori rules out conspiracy runs the risk of not looking at the whole picture, " writes Parenti. "In investigating the JFK conspiracy, researchers are not looking for an 'escape' from something 'unpleasant and difficult,' as Chomsky would have it, rather they are raising grave questions about the nature of state power in what is supposed to be a democracy." Parenti adds: "In sum, national secutiry state conspiracies are components of out political structure, not deviations from it."36
The Events of 9/11 as a Touchstone Issue
A criticism can be levelled against me that the truth about 9/11 is my touchstone, my compass, the litmus test by which I measure all individuals, organisations and institutions. I plead guilty. I cannot imagine a more legitimate test. The events of 9/11 were specific and yet universal. They involve murder, deceit, abuse of power, the role of government, perpetual war, the life of the planet. They are similar to the test at the height of the Vietnam War that faced every individual, organization and institution. Once the brutality of the war became known (which was very early on, as early as 1961, for those who did not avert their eyes), it stood as a test of moral systems and political stances. Daniel Ellsberg met the test by risking a lengthy jail term, public disgrace, personal harassment, and more, in changing his mind about the war, then putting himself on the line in effective opposition to that war. Dick Cheney failed the test by evading the draft.
There are defining issues. As Richard Falk says, to examine the evidence about 9/11 with "even a 30% open mind," is to see it an issue "almost certain to change the way we understand the workings of constitutional democracy in the United States at the highest levels of government."37 And that is an understatement. Add to that the expansion of hyper-militarism and the further destruction of the Earth's environment that are among the outcomes of the acceptance of the official 9/11 story, and it can surely be seen that we face an issue against which everyone's moral and political approach can be measured on a historical yardstick. I am not saying agreement about this must be universal. I am saying this seems inescapably valid to me.
Because he is so adulated on the Left, Chomsky's slim book 9/1138, issued soon after 9/11, sold heavily. Many - if not most- Left and liberal people looked to Chomsky and specifically that book to explain the events to them. But it turned out to be an echo of his 40-year denial of the possibility of conspiracies involving the state and,, indeed, an endorsement of the official 9/11 story, albeit almost invisibly because of his facility with world evasion, which we shall examine more closely.
On the first page of the first chapter he suggest that it is "misleading" to draw an analogy between the events of 9/11 and Pearl Harbor. The reason he says, is that Hawaii in 1941 was "in effect a colony." Pearl Harbor was not "national territory." The continental USA "was never threatened." He is geographically correct. But in the much more important territory of national emotions, it is Chomsky who is being misleading. The attack on Pearl Harbor seared the nation, mobilized it overnight to enter World War II - a complete turnaround at the time. it remains embedded as one of the iconic events of American - not just Hawaiian - history.
By the third page of this first chapter he has accepted (as he has consistently since), the essential line of the official 9/11 story, that the "likely perpetrators" are from the Middle East and "draw support from a reservoir of bitterness and anger over US policies in the region..." Later: "it was assumed, plausibly, that the guilty parties were bin Laden and his al Qaeda network." Plausibly and yet, he admits, contradictorily, "the evidence is surprisingly thin." Surprisingly thin evidence he finds plausible. Further: "it was assumed, plausibly, that the guilty parties were bin Laden and his al Qaeda Network."39 He loves the word 'plausibly', which usually he ascribed to no one.
Chomsky's Evasiveness Dissected
Who assumed this? What is the source of the finding of "plausible?" It's the equivalent of "everyone knows." An odd source of authority for Chomsky. This is typical of Chomsky construction: he reinforces the official story but seems at the same time to be distancing himself from it. He seldom says anything as direct as "Yes, I think bin Laden did it." But repeatedly he accepts the reality of the 19 Muslim hijackers as the genuine criminals by using terms such as "terrorist atrocities" and "radical Islamists." (See discussion of the alleged hijackers in Chapter 2, Exhibits T and U.) Even in the course of explaining that the evidence is weak, Chomsky supports the case by saying, for instance, "for all we know, most of the perpetrators may have killed themselves in their awful missions."
During "An Evening with Noam Chomsky: The War on Terror," held at MIT October 18, 2001, just five weeks after 9/11, when many people would be looking to him for wisdom about 9/11, he devoted perhaps 10 minutes to 9/11 as such, during which he clearly accepted the official story. OF the "likely perpetrators" he says "it is astonishing to me how weak the evidence was. And it ended up about where it started, with prima facie case." He continued: "So let's assume that, it looked obvious the first day, still does, that the actual perpetrators come from the radical Islamic, here called, fundamentalist networks of which the bin Laden network is undoubtedly a significant part." So he is buying into the official story totally, without providing any evidence, in fact while agreeing that if there is any evidence it is weak. He also does not suggest where his "weak" evidence comes from, namely the White House and the media. But in case anyone might decide to pursue his contradictions, Chomsky adds dismissively: "Whether [Islamic terrorists] were involved or not nobody knows. It doesn't really matter much." This quietly arrogant dismissiveness is a recurring theme or ploy with Chomsky. As it flies by, it is a thought stopper. It discourages questioning or further discourse.
Chomsky accepts in 9/11 that the alleged audio and video tapes of bin Laden are authentic, and stance for a sceptic, especially since bin Laden's voice, comport and even looks have varied quite widely from tape to tape. (See 9/11 Media Diary Entry for December 24, 2001, p.15.) And although Chomsky will refer from time to time to "the bin Laden network and other graduates of the terrorist forces set up by the CIA and its associates 20 years ago to fight a Holy War against the Russians," he steers away from any suggestion that links could remain between the CIA and bin Laden or that he could be a CIA asset now. Or that the CIA would fabricate tapes, for which they are unable to provide and legal chain of custody!
Chomsky says, "Scholarship is virtually unanimous in taking the terrorists at their word." Whatever ones' definition of the vague term "scholarship," this generalization is unsupportable. Unanimity at taking "terrorists" at the word? Unanimity about ho the "terrorists" are? Yet Chomsky leaves no room for the evidence that the terrorists are genuine, and no room for even suspicions, according to his word in this context, that many of the terrorists are valuable assets on the payrolls of covert Western agencies, pawns useful to keep the "war on terror" simmering, to the benefit of Western intelligence and military interests, and the interests of the American empire that he otherwise criticizes for its depredations. Chomsky's reading is curiously selective in that it seems to exclude, for instance, books such as The War on Truth: 9/11, Disinformation, and the Anatomy of Terrorism, by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed, which explores in detail the modus operandi of the manipulation and subversion of al Qaeda in the Middle East, Central Asia, Asia-Pacific, Caucasus, and Balkans, and in which, Ahmed writes, "Al Qaeda is found to be the outgrowth of a coordinated network of highly secret sub-units of state intelligence services operating under the overarching strategic direction of the most clandestine parallel structures of western military-intelligence services, especially those of the US and UK." Chomsky would prefer to "take terrorists at their word."
In sum, Chomsky's book 9/11 has had the effect of selling the official story about 9/11 to the Left in general, and even to a wider public which might be suspicious of his politics but respect him as a thinker. When one of the world's leading critics of the US Empire accepts the official story, it's a powerful boost for the official story - and brings to the fore questions about Chomsky's agenda.
The Selective Relationship of Chomsky and Evidence
Chomsky's reputation rests heavily upon the alleged care he takes to always present evidence to support his contentions. He has earned that reputation through the huge body of work he has produced documenting the "state terrorism" of the American Empire. His notations are prodigious. In his 441 page The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism,40 there are 74 pages of notes in small type. Thus, when he makes statements to which no evidence is attached - which he does all the time - people assume he has evidence to back up those statements as well. An analysis of his statements on 9/11, JFK's assassination and on other subjects we shall touch upon, however, shows that on crucial matters at the center of this book, he consistently fails to provide evidence.
But his modus operandi goes far beyond failing to provide evidence for most of his assertions surrounding 9/11. More tellingly, he does not seek out evidence. Furthermore, he consistently refuses to engage with the evidence offered to him. And finally, he caps his rejection of evidence by his use of the epithet "conspiracy theorists" to disparage those who do engage with the evidence.
As author Michael Parenti puts it in relation to Chomsky's track record on the JFK assassination: "[He] is able to maintain his criticism that no credible evidence has come to light [to suggest anyone other than Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK] only by remaining determinedly unacquainted with the mountain of evidence that has been uncovered."41 Parenti's statement applied equally to the mountain of evidence surrounding the events of 9/11; evidence uncovered much more quickly than in the case of JFK.
Herbert Spencer wrote: "There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance - that principle is contempt prior to investigation." When a figure as towering on the Left as is Chomsky rejects the need for further investigation, it's a distinct setback for the cause of further investigation. I have repeatedly encountered this stopper effect. One day I was speaking on the phone with a woman from Tennessee who was ordering one of my DVDs. Typically, she said: "I'm convinced the Bush Administration was behind 9/11, but I can't get my husband to even consider it." "Why is that?" I asked. "He says if it was true, Noam Chomsky would have said so. And he says that until Noam Chomsky comes out and questions the official story, it's good enough for him."
Chomsky Engages in Scare Campaign Against the Left
Chomsky actually warns the Left not to examine the evidence: "If the left spends its time on this, and that's the end of the left, in my opinion: the mainstream would be utterly delighted. It is highly likely that nothing significant will be found. And if - which I very greatly doubt - something is found that would quickly send everyone in Washington to the death chamber, the left is unlikely to emerge triumphant."42 Coming from Chomsky, this amounts to a scare campaign against the Left.
On the subject of 9/11 Chomsky routinely flouts the practices he constantly preaches to others: provide the evidence, examine the evidence, search for more evidence. His techniques for evading the evidence are many. They are, in effect, tools for protecting official stories. We encounter a panoply of propaganda techniques that one would expect Chomsky to be familiar with. But many would be surprised to learn how consistently he practices these arts of obfuscation himself, without disclosure, in support of an agenda clearly at odds with the one most people believe he consistently follows. A partial list of his propaganda techniques:
Absurdities Framing to exclude contrary outlooks
Ad hominem sallies Ignorance flaunted as admirable
Bald assertions that are mis-statements Inappropriate selectivity
Bandwagon psychology Insinuation
Bizarre non-sequiturs Internal contradiction
Bullying Major premises hidden in passing (taken as read)
Diminishment of the importance of the important Misdirection
Dismissiveness Misleading asides (useful for avoiding answering questions directly)
Diversions (e.g. not answering the questions) Mixing apples and oranges
Failure to provide minimal evidence Obfuscation
Fake humility Restriction of options (Limitation of possible questions)
Fake open-mindedness Scare tactics
False parallels Setting up straw men
False paradigm creation & perpetuation Sweeping generalisations
False syllogisms Word inflation
When he deploys any of these throughout a fairly short statement the effect is a kind of word magic or doubletalk. Take this, one of his posts to the Chomsky-Chat Forum (zmag.org/chomsky/other/chomchatarch.htm):
It's true that I know very little about the assassination [of JFK] [ignorance flaunted]. The only thing I've written about it is that the claim that is was a high level conspiracy with policy significance is implausible [false paradigm creation & perpetuation and internal contradiction: he admits knowing "very little" so on what basis does he find any claim "implausible?" yet he can falsely create and perpetuate the paradigm that 'high level conspiracies with policy significance don't exist!] to a quite extraordinary degree [adding to the internal contradiction, word inflation, failure to provide minimal evidence.] History isn't physics [ obfuscation ] and even in physics nothing is really "proven" [ misdirection, vis a vis the laws of physics, and bizarre non-sequitur ] but the evidence against this claim is overwhelming [ internal contradiction, word inflation, bald assertion, failure to provide minimal evidence] from every testable point of view [ sweeping generalisation, bald assertion, failure to provide minimal evidence, internal contradiction ] , remarkably so for a historical event [ word inflation, failure to provide minimal evidence.] Given that conclusion, which I think is very well founded [ bandwagon psychology, failure to provide minimal evidence, ] that I have written about, a lot, [ internal contradiction: earlier he said the only ting he's written about it is to claim implausibility ] I have no further interest in the assassination [ dismissiveness, evasion, miniising importance of the important ] and while I've read a few of the books [ internal contraction: he opens by saying that he knew "very little", reading "some books" surely qualifies as more than "very little" ] out of curiosity [ dismissiveness, suggesting closed-mindedness, not even fake open-mindedness ] I haven't given the matter any attention [ internal contradiction: for someone who "hasn't given the matter any attention" he has arrived at extremely strong and controversial opinions against the body of evidence. ] and have no opinion about how or why JFK was killed." [ internal contradiction: he has an opinion, which he has just energetically expressed, that the way JFK was killed was not by a state conspiracy. ]
He continues: "People shouldn't be killed, whether they are presidents or kids in the urban slums. I know of no reason to suppose than one should have more interest in the JFK assassination than lots of killings not far from the White House." [ Obfuscation: comparing a coup by assassination of a head of state that changes history, on the one hand, to a street murder on the other, is a false parallel and mixing apples and oranges; dismissiveness; diminishment of the importance of the important. ] In the main, this statement is one long bald assertion, resting on a series of word inflations. It's doublespeak.
You may parse Chomsky's verbiage and conclude I am too hard on him, that some of my attributions of propaganda techniques are questionable. Let's say I'm two thirds wrong. If only a third of my analysis holds up, then Chomsky's reputation for being evidence-based, logical and consistent does not hold up, in this instance. This instance in not unfairly chosen; it is typical. Here is another, his correspondence with Dr Robert McFarland of Boulder, Colorado, a retired physician.
McFarland, who served in the US Navy for two years and for 20 years in the Navy Reserve, in 2003 sent Chomsky an article McFarland had written on the relationship between Pearl Harbor and 9/11. In it he quoted the work of Nafeez Ahmed on 9/11. Chomsky in a note thanked McFarland for the article which he said, typically, he "read with interest" but continued, also typically: "I'm frankly unconvinced."
McFarland in a three paragraph note thanks Chomsky, then drew Chomsky's attention to David Ray Griffin's book The New Pearl Harbor, encouraging him to look at the first 33 pages. (These establish the importance of examining evidence on 9/11, provide an intellectual framework for doing so, and begin an examination of Flights 11 and 175, the ensuring collapses of the twin towers, Flight 88 and the damage to the Pentagon.) McFarland concluded: "You have an enormous ability to influence public opinion and I hope you have revised your views since you last wrote me." McFarland didn't receive a response. Then, after the report of the 9/11 Commission came out in July 2004 McFarland suggested to Chomsky in a telephone voice message that Chomsky look at the photograph at the top of page 313 of The 9/11 Commission Report. The photograph shows the damaged facade of the Pentagon over the legend "The Pentagon, after being struck by American Airlines Flight 77." The pattern of destruction is clearly inconsistent with the building being struck by a Boeing 757.
Chomsky replied to McFarland with this note:
The picture Noam Chomsky Said "he would not be able to have any judgement about."
This is either an astounding admission of a studied lack of interest in a matter of national, indeed world importance; or of fundamental incompetence; or is a backhanded self-compliment by an overly-specialized academic, or an evasion. The pattern is evasion - and diversion. The pattern foes back to the earliest days after 9/11. One of Chomsky's most complete statements on the events of 9/11:
There's by now a small industry on the thesis that the administration had something to do with 9/11. I've looked at some of it, and have often been asked. There's a weak thesis that is possible though extremely unlikely in my opinion, and a strong thesis that is close to the inconceivable. The weak thesis is that they knew about it and didn't try to stop it. The strong thesis is that they were actually involved. The evidence for either thesis is, in my opinion, based on a failure to understand what evidence is. Even in controlled scientific experiments one finds all sorts of unexplained phenomena, strange coincidences, loose ends, apparent contradictions, etc. Read the letters in technical science journals you'll find plenty of samples.
In real world situations, chaos is overwhelming, and these will mount to the sky. That aside, they'd have had to be quite mad to try anything like that.; It would have had to involve a large number of people, something would be very likely to leak, pretty quickly, they'd all be lined up before firing squads and the Republican Party would be dead forever.
That would have happened whether the plan succeeded or not, and success was at best a long shot; it would have been extremely hard to predict what would happen.43
In the light of the enormity of 9/11 this is once again remarkable for its brevity and its tone of dismissiveness, a sort of masked haughtiness, its bald unsupported assertions, shabby logic and its absurdities. He begins with a familiar put-down that there is "a small industry" (usually rendered as "a cottage industry") "on the thesis that the administration had something to do with 9/11." There's an implication behind this worn phrase: it is that those engaged in the "small industry" are a tiny minority of energetically mistaken individuals. There could be the implication that some are making money from this, and perhaps that this is their (disreputable) motive.
But this as we saw in Chapter 1, polls show that up to half of New Yorkers, for instance, believe the Bush administration "had something to do" with 9/11. This is not a small minority and its members are not profiting from their suspicions, so both implied slights in the put-down are inapplicable. If anything, the most evident "small industry" - in fact quite large industry - surrounding 9/11 is comprised of apologists of the Administration's official story, such as the "counter-terrorism experts," almost all of whom have been profiting one way or another for promoting the so-called "war on terror" for which the official story of 9/11 is the linchpin.
The Big Standard, Recurring Chomsky Evasion
Then comes the standard Chomsky evasion. "I've looked at some of it ..." What has he looked at? He never says. Check for yourself. I cannot find a single instance in which Noam Chomsky has actually come to grips with how the Twin Towers came down, why WTC7 collapsed, the missing fighter jets, Bush's strange demeanour. Nothing.
Instead, Chomsky sticks to generalizations about abstractions such as theses and theories and experiments (audiences are mesmerized because presumably he has some almost mystical understandings about such things - in fact he's practicing word magic.) His central "argument" here (which does not deserve to be called such) is that in both science and ordinary life predictability is virtually unknown and that weirdness, the unexplained and chaos are the norm and "mount to the sky".
His generalization that in "controlled scientific experiments one finds all sorts of unexplained phenomena, strange coincidences, loose ends, apparent contradictions, etc." is completely unsupported. Two reasoned responses would be: "Would you provide a few examples, enough to support your generalization?" and "The majority of controlled scientific experiments result in findings within reasonable parameters of what is expected. Unexplained phenomena are rare. Strange coincidences do not in fact abound." There's a rude response: "Bullshit!"
He goes further off the charts when generalizing about the "real world." Chaos in the real world is "overwhelming?" In fact, life proceeds on the basis that mostly life is predictable. That's why the exceptions are called "news."
Then he turns to the standard "arguments" against the idea that the administration could have let 9/11 happen or made it happen. As these have not been dealt with yet in this book, let's deal with them here.
Chomsky's Tired and Unoriginal Arguments Against 9/11 Truth
"They'd have to be quote mad to try it." In that case, most of the rulers history must have been quite mad in this respect. In Chapter 7, we list 18 documented cases in which administrations mount death-dealing false flag events to promote their agendas. Suggesting that a reason the administration would be mad to mount such an operation because of a leak about it being "very likely" is to further ignore the history of such operations, in which almost never is there a politically relevant leak, either soon enough to cause anyone to be "lined up before firing squads," or ever. Such "leaking" as there is consists, for the most part, in honest and determined research such as that carried out by Robert B. Stinnett, driven by a desire for truth, starting 44 years after the attack on Pearl Harbor to dig into it. Stinnett devotes the next 17 years of his life to finding out everything he can, and then publishes the definitive account of how FDR did all in his considerable power to provoke the attack and make sure that the base at Pearl Harbor was defenceless that day. It's because of this "leak" that a significant number of people, including myself, have learned what is probably fair to call the truth about Pearl Harbor (another topic in which Chomsky has no expressed interest).
The likes of Richard Cheney and those who surround him do not leak. The operatives they direct are loyal and do not leak. The technicians of death who carry out these operations do not leak. Not normally. That's history, as Chomsky would say.
"Success was at best a long shot." This is perhaps the most disingenuous assertion among the many that Chomsky crammed into his brief disquisition on 9/11. False-flag operations are unopposed military operations, involving all the resources of the state. Additionally, those who plan them known that if anything goes seriously wrong, corrective actions can be taken, again unopposed. And if after the operation is over, all the "loose ends," to use Chomsky's phrase properly, such as the Zapruder film, can be neutralised and explained away during state-run inquiries. Or, in the case of 9/11 tapes made by the FAA employees shortly after events, destroyed.
"History shows ..." is one of Chomsky's favourite phrases. In this case history shows the opposite of what Chomsky claims: that it would be "extremely hard to predict what would happen." History shows that it is easy to predict what will happen (and is in fact happening). What has happened so far in history is that the perpetrators get away with it, because they control the intelligence agencies, the covert agents of all kinds, most of the police, enough of the judiciary, a sufficient number of legislators, and most of the media.
The Overall Role and Impact of Noam Chomsky
A deconstructions of Chomsky's output reveals a complex and brilliant interplay. It could be characterized as "bait-and-switch." In a bait-and-switch operation, the victim is enticed, then victimized in some way. In this construction, the bait Chomsky offers the Left are his critiques of American foreign policy and the propaganda system of the establishment. These are are substantial and continuous offerings that earn him admiration and trust among most on the Left and alternative intelligentsia. His "switch" is to redirect his enticed followers away from questioning particularly toxic and revealing operations of the sinister forces behind the scenes, away from evidence, even, concerning 9/11, and before it the assassinations that decapitated the Left in the 60s.
Obscuring that this is his role are his propaganda techniques, briefly addressed above, and his personal attractiveness. Personality should not be underestimated in any area of life. One US company specialized in assessing the "Q factor" of TV performers and others in the public eye. The measurement is focuses purely on "likeability." Not respect, fear, admiration, authenticity - just likeability. TV personalities will kill for a high Q-rating. Chomsky with his genuine humility and also his fake humility, his fake open-mindedness, his quiet demeanour, rumpled appearance, apparent devotion to people power, his apparent identification with the common man and woman, personal life with blemish, apparent resistance to tyranny, clear personal dedication (to whatever it is he's doing), generosity with his time, his endorsements of the alternative media, expressions of confidence in humanity's struggle for justice, his facility with language, his prolific output - all this together is seen as remarkable and admirable; a high Q-rating - from the Left.
One of Chomsky's trademark comments is about the power of the people. While appearing to empower dissent, in most of his books and lectures he channels Left energy into a stupor of amazement over past mis-deeds of the Empire and brilliant articulations of the general picture of today's world, which any thinking Leftist can see without the help of Chomsky. His recent comments about Venezuela, again welcome, are nevertheless a case in point.
Some friends of mine on the Left find it difficult to understand that i am not rejecting Chomsky's massive work of critiquing the American Empire. It's not an either / or proposition. One can (and should) critique the Empire vis a vis East Timor, for instance, and strive to expose some of its most toxic domestic work, such as 9/11. This toxic work powerfully aids and emboldens the Empire in its drive toward ever more militarism, repression at home, and global domination. The events of 9/11 are also the Empire's Achilles Heel, if exposed. The record shows Chomsky strives to prevent the Left from thinking about' let alone exposing' this toxic work. The reality is that Chomsky's ruling out of any investigation into 9/11, which could finally accomplish a real shake-up, is at complete odds with the implied purpose of his foreign policy critiques - to reveal, oppose and displace the Empire.
Germane here is the truism that "the most powerful disinformation if 90 per cent true."
Attacks from the Right are a Major Benefit for Chomsky
Another source of Chomsky's positive reputation on the Left is simply that he is attacked by the Right. The fact that these attacks are overwhelmingly intellectually bereft only adds to his lustre. Here his documentations of the perfidy of the American Empire play out well, because his tormentors on the Right really are up against evidence. So the Left awards him major points for valour in the reaches of ideological warfare.
But what points are earned? Since neither Chomsky nor of course, his Right-wing attackers, question the official stories of 9/22 or the JFK assassination, their internecine warfare is something of a Punch-and-Judy show, essentially a self-serving smokescreen on both sides. Chomsky is well aware of this setup, as proven by his pointing it out during the Vietnam war, when the false adversaries were the alleged "hawks" and the alleged "doves." The former wanted to bomb Vietnam back to the Stone Age. The latter said "We can't win so we should find a way out." Neither side questioned the fundamental immorality of the whole enterprise win or lose. It was Chomsky who educated some of us about this fake opposition. Now we can apply his lesson to show he is an actor playing out one side in the same kind of debate. The Right says Muslim fanatics carried out 9/11 because they have "our freedoms"; Chomsky says Muslim fanatics did 9/11 because "they draw support from a reservoir of bitterness." Neither confronts the evidence that Muslim fanatics did not do it, that it was an inside job.
Chomsky Fulfils Identical Role to that of Judith Miller or George Bush
In supporting the official story, Chomsky is at one with the Right-wing Gatekeepers such as Judith miller of the New York Times, described in the previous chapter. Chomsky's function is identical to Miller's: support the official story. Which is the same of George Bush's function. All function to protect and maintain the oligarchy / Invisible Government. That Chomsky could be fulfilling the same function as Right Gatekeepers seems unthinkable, since he so devastatingly and persistently reveals the structures, operating and hypocrisy of the Right Gatekeepers in particular, and well describes the nature of the American Empire in general. It is a disturbing seeming contradiction that me be confronted.
How to explain this? It is important to touch on some of the other subjects on which Chomsky is either remarkably silent or plays a very misleading role. He has little to say about the centres of immense financial and other power. In his lecture "The New World Order,"44 he manages to say nothing about the Federal Reserve or even the world banking system. He gets a laugh saying the US "is a country without a banking system." He adds: "The S&Ls [savings and loans institutions which robbed investors of billions] are a small part of the problem. Those are corner banks." He makes little mention of the Council on Foreign Relations, Bilderberg Group, or the Trilateral Commission. He has called them "nothing organizations;" has claimed the CIA was never a rogue organization and is an innocent scapegoat; and has rejected any notion there was vote fraud in the US elections of 2004.
His protectiveness about the CIA is curious. During "An Evening with Noam Chomsky, The War on Terror," held at MIT he admitted the CIA was deeply involved in training the mujahideen in Afghanistan. (In fact it was the CIA's largest-ever operation). He did so, however, without mentioning Osama bin Laden, with whom the CIA worked closely for years. On other occasions he has asserted an associated between bin Laden and the CIA are not "remotely relevant." [Bizarre non-sequitur; Misdirection; Dismissiveness; Bald assertions that are mis-statements; in one statement Chomsky can convey a whole campaign of propaganda that he is supposedly out to expose and confront!] In Understanding Power, Chomsky is quoted:
Or take the CIA, which is considered the source of a lot of these conspiracies; we have a tone of information about it and as I read the information, the CIA is basically just an obedient branch of the White House. I mean sure, the CIA has done things around the world - but as far as we know, it hasn't done anything on it's own.
[ Framing to exclude contrary outlooks; Restriction of options (Limitation of possible questions) ; Sweeping generalisations ; Misdirection ; Failure to provide minimal evidence ]
There's little evidence - in fact, I don't know of any - that the CIA is some kind of rogue elephant, you know, off on its own doing things. What the record shows is that the CIA is just an agency of the White House, which sometimes carries out operations for which the Executive branch wants what's called "plausible deniability;" in other words, if something goes wrong, we don't want it to look like we did it, those guys in the CIA did it, and we can throw some of them to the wolves if we need to. That's basically the role of the CIA, along with mostly just a collection of information.45
[ Failure to provide minimal evidence; Restriction of options (Limitation of possible questions) ; Sweeping generalisations, False paradigm creation & perpetuation ; Dismissiveness ; Diminishment of the importance of the important, in summary obfuscation; inveiglement and a deception! ]
This is a remarkable misrepresentation. John Stockwell, the highest ranking CIA officer to leave the agency and criticize it, said that the CIA has, conservatively, been responsible for six million deaths since it was formed. Chomsky's characterization should stop us in our tracks. These statements are typical of Chomsky vis a vis the CIA, and they can be taken as nothing less than covering for the agency. Chomsky would have us believe that he does not know that the Bay of Pigs operation, which could have triggered World War III and the end of civilization, was a rogue CIA operation. That's why President John F. Kennedy fired CIA director, Allen Dulles and his assistant, Richard Bissel, shortly after. Why would Chomsky cover for the CIA?
Chomsky Dispenses Disinformation about the CIA49. Robert Stinnett, Day of Deceit: The Truth about FDR and Pearl Harbor, Free Press, 2001.
At another point during "An Evening with Noam Chomsky, The War on Terror," Chomsky said "the Muslim terrorists" work through "leaderless resistance." He says:
...the CIA knows about this technique better than anyone else. You have small groups that do things. They don't talk to anybody else. That's how the terrorists go undetected. Actually people in the antiwar movement are very familiar with it. We used to call it affinity groups. If you assume correctly that whatever group you are in is being penetrated by the FBI, when something serious is happening, you don't do it in a meeting. You do it with some people you know and trust, an affinity group and then it doesn't get penetrated. That's one of the reasons why the FBI has never been able to figure out what's going on in any of the popular movements. And other intelligence agencies are the same. They can't.46
I'm sorry, this is pure disinformation on Chomsky's part. The CIA and FBI and spy organisations in general have been and continue to be extremely successful at surveillance and penetrating popular movements. Of course they don't want that to be known. But the FBI's infamous COINTELPRO (COUNTER INTELLIGENCE PROVOCATEUR) program finally did become well known. Do did the FBI's penetration of the Communist Party USA. That was so dense that in some chapters there were more agents than authentic members. An agent from BOSS (the South African intelligence agency) acted undetected as general secretary to the World Council of Churches at its Geneva headquarters for 25 years. Most covert operations remain successful secrets. How could the death squads in Latin America succeed in executing thousands of human rights workers, trade union leaders and peasants who were showing signs of organized dissent? Through spying and penetration. Informers can always be found. The generality is that spying is effective. By claiming otherwise, Chomsky is spreading disinformation that gives his readers and listeners on the Left, in dissident groups a false feeling of assurance, thereby aiding the work of the government spies at the expense those people - always the targets of surveillance and harassment - that he claims to have an affinity with.
His response on one occasion when he was asked about the possibility that the Bush administration could have had prior knowledge of planned "terrorist attack" on 911:
Every intelligence agency is flooded, daily, with information of very low credibility. In retrospect, one can sometimes pick out pieces that mean something. At the time, that's a virtual impossibility. By arguments like this we can prove that someone blew up the White House yesterday.47
[ Bizarre non-sequitur; Obfuscation; Diversions (e.g. not answering the questions) ; Dismissiveness ; Framing to exclude contrary outlooks. ]
He starts with the suggestion that intelligence agencies are virtually useless, because they are all "flooded daily" with low-credibility information. He implies they never receive high-quality, high credibility information or have the capacity to discern that which is credible from that which is not. By saying "at the time," it's virtually impossible to "pick out pieces that mean something."
This is ludicrous and also helps guard an important trade secret of the world of intelligence. One of its most brilliant practitioners British general Frank Kitson, wrote in Low Intensity Operations: "Field officers prefer lots of low grade information to a small amount of higher quality." He learned this in the US at a Rand Corporation symposium in 1962.48 In his book on Pearl Harbor, Day of Deceit, Robert Sinett quotes Captain Duane Whitlock, a radio traffic analyst at station CAST in Corregidor. Whitlock said he "received stacks of Japanese naval broadcasts" [shortly prior to Pearl Harbor]. "It was not necessary to decipher the coded messages. I was fully convinced that Japan was gearing up for war based on the huge increase of orders transmitted to the warships and military commands."49 So a flood can be meaningful. Short of that, all sorts of patterns in a "flood" are meaningful. Are we to believe Chomsky is ignorant of such information?
Notes (Part 2 notes start with note number 13)
13. Peter R. Mitchell and John Schoeffel, eds., Understanding Power, op cit. This book is an important resouirce because it is not produced by an acolyte of Chomsky, and because it is well-organized and edited.
14. Ibid., p389.
15. Ibid., p390.
16. Ibid., p390.
17. Ibid., p390.
18. Ibid., p390.
19. Ibid., p390.
20 Ibid., p391.
21. Ibid., p391.
22. Ibid., pp394-395.
23. E. Martin Schotz, History Will Not Absolve Us, op. cit.
24. Ray Marcus, Addendum B: Addendum to the HSCA, the Zapruder Film, and the Single Bullet Theory, self-published 1995.
26. Martin Schotz here inserts an Editor's Note: "To be more accurate, what Chomsky has done of late is to claim agnosticism on the question of whether there was a conspiracy to kill President Kennedy, but has insisted that if there was a conspiracy it was of no political significance, since there is no evidence of any shift in policy following the assassination. In addition to this, Chomsky has played an important role in the orchestrated debate [emphasis added] which has focused the significance of the murder of Kennedy around the issue of the escalation of US involvement in the war in Vietnam. As discussed elsewhere in this volume, the function of this debate has been to divert public attention [emphasis added] from Kennedy's important movement against the cold war, for peace, for rapprochement with the USSR and toward normalization of relations with Cuba"
27. Noam Chomsky, Rethinking Camelot, Black Rose Books, 1993.
28. Ibid. p 97.
29. Michael Parenti, Dirty Truths: Reflections on politics, Media, Ideology, Conspiracy, Ethnic Life and Class Power, City Light Books, 1996.
30. Ibid., pp 180-181
31. The Pentagon Paper, Gravel Edition, "Phased Withdrawal of U.S. Forces, 1962-1964," vol. 2, pp 160-200
32. Michael Parenti, Dirty Truths, op. cit. p 127
33. Ibid., p 185.
34. "An Evening With Noam Chomsky: The New War on Terrorism," October 18 2001, transcribed from audio recorded at the Technology and Culture Forum, Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
36. Michael Parenti, Dirty Truths, op. cit. p.188
37. Richard Falk, in Foreword to David Ray Griffin, The New Pearl Harbor.
38. Noam Chomsky, 9/11, Seven Stories Press, 2002.
39. Ibid., p 120.
40. Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Hermann, The Washington Connection and Third World Fascism: The Political Economy og Human Rights, Black Rose Books, 1979.
41. Michael Parenti, Dirty Truths, p.183.
42. Daniel Abrahamson, Ibid., p.3
43. Comment posted by Noam Chomsky from an e-mail response to a query, in "On the War in Iraq: Noam Chomsky interviewed by David McNeill," on Znet, January 31, 2005.
44. Noam Chomsky, lecture delivered at Bates College, Lewiston, Maine, January 30, 1991, and published in The New World Order, Open Magazine Pamphlet No.6, Second Printing, April 1991, p.22
45. Peter R. Mitchell and John Schoeffel, Understanding Power, op. cit.
46. Noam Chomsky, "An Evening With Noam Chomsky", op. cit.
47. An e-mail form Noam Chomsky sent to Daniel L. Abrahamson (www.falseflagnews.com) in 2005, a copy of which is retained by Abrahamson. See www.rense.com/general67/noam.htm
48. Frank Kitson, Low Intensity Operations, Subversion, Insurgency, Peacekeeping, Faber & Faber, 1971.
The Left Gatekeepers
56. Ibid., p 74.[Editor's Note: This essay is excerpted from Chapter 5 of Barrie Zwicker's book, Towers of Deception. Barrie squarely addresses the issue of Left Gatekeepers, those wonderful and sensitive souls of the Left who bring us the 'real story' on alternative radio. These include most of the regulars I hear over the only alternative FM radio station available here in southern California, Pacifica's Radio KPFK out of Los Angeles. Amy Goodman, Lila Garrett, Sonali Kolhatkar, David Basarmian, Howard Zinn, and Noam Chomsky are but a handful of the more prominent names. What we hear from Chomsky, Zinn, and even Bill Moyers, are sublime and poignant commentary on the barbarities of our day- from the heartless profiteering by corporate fat cats to the incalculable misery imposed on the people of Afghanistan and Iraq by right wing 'neo cons' bent on ever- greater profits from oil, but we don't hear ONE word about 911 being an Inside Job. We don't hear one word about Chemtrails. We hear nothing of Rex 84, FEMA concentration camps, or any discussion of the more than 133 two-mile deep underground city/bases located all over America which every state governor and every member of congress has a ticket to enter. We hear zero criticism of the majority in congress who have voted for legislation or who sponsored bills which encouraged the hordes of illegal aliens to pour into this country from our southern border and deprive Americans of fair wage jobs, while saddling American taxpayers with the cost of incarceration, medical care, and schooling for roughly 32 million illegals. What we hear from Left Gatekeepers is what the Illuminati WANTS us to hear from a thoroughly controlled "alternative" news source ...Ken Adachi]By Barrie Zwicker
October 5, 2007(Excerpted from Chapter 5 of Barrie Zwicker's Towers of Deception)Original title: The Shame of Noam Chomsky and the Gatekeepers of the LeftA surprisingly large number of Left/ radical / alternative / non-establishment media outlets - most of them, in fact - have adopted the same stance on 9/11 as Chomsky: refuse to investigate 9/11, and discourage and ridicule those who do. Most wind up using the familiar "wacky conspiracy theorists" putdown to describe others on the Left who want to discuss the evidence of an inside job on 9/11. The almost total uniformity within the media (of all political alleged political persuasions) in sync with the White House is more puzzling. In other cases, the Left media pursue questions of malfeasance on the part of the power elites, including some conspiracies such as Iran-Contra.Individuals and media outlets that have exhibited this stay-away-from 9/11 stance, entirely or in large part, for more than four years now include David Corn and The Nation; Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!; Chip Berlet, senior analyst at Political Research Associates in Somerville, Massachusetts; David Barsamian of Alternative Radio; Michael Albert of Z Magazine; Alexander Cockburn , Norman Solomon, The Progressive, Mother Jones, Alternet.org; Global Exchange; PBS; South End Press; Public Research Associates' FAIR / Extra; Counterspin; Columbia Journalism Review; Deep Dish TV working Assets; Molly Ivins; Ms Magazine; Inter Press Service; MoveOn.org; Greg Palast; David Zupan; Northwest Media Project ....Of course, different people can independently or through dialogue arrive at the same or similar conclusions. Bu it it's a startling anomaly for so many organs and leaders of the conscious Left to be seemingly unconscious regarding 9/22. More than a few on the Left share the opinion of progressive film maker Roy Harvey that "the greatest single obstacle to the spread of 9/11 Truth is the Left media." To my mind, the relationship of Chomsky and the Left Gatekeepers on 9/11 is analogous to the relationships of the White House and the 9/11 Commission. Both relationships are so tight as to invite close scrutiny. Elementary pattern recognition reveals a common agenda among these otherwise well-informed, intelligent, investigative critics of corporate greed, the power elite and the US hegemony. The agenda, completely atypical of their approach generally, is to vigorously reject investigation into 9/11. This is prima facie. One example, that of perhaps Chomsky's best known protégé and amplifier, David Barsamian, is typical of 9/11 blindness on the Left.On March 7, 2006, Barsamian spoke at a small event in a church basement in his home city of Boulder, Colorado. He made points about the immorality and wrongness of the war in Iraq, the US imperial project, corporate greed, etc. His audience was appreciative of him, his approach, his knowledge of the territory and his ability to express himself. At the question period, the first hand up was that of a Denver man. It's worth nothing that, while Barsamian knew many in the room by name, he did not know who this questioner was except that he was sitting with a 9/11 Truth activist known to Barsamian. Barsamian recognized other hands one after the other, repeatedly ignoring the first hand up. Finally the Denver man's still raised arm could not be ignored any longer. His question in part: "There's been a lot of research into 9/11 in the four-plus years since it's happened." He then gave examples including the WTC Twin Towers, WTC7, the inadequate military response, the multiple war games. "...my question is this: given this regime is murderous - you have to use that word, you've been talking yourself about what's been going on in Iraq - when are we going to stop calling people 'conspiracy theorists' and dismissing them and be willing to look at 9/11 as an inside job, because it's been the thing that's been galvanizing this fear that's been gripping us?"Barsamian replied: "I've looked into some of these things and I haven't found any convincing evidence that would persuade me..." he agreed the Bush administration has taken advantage of 9/11. "It's 9/11 24/7. That's their theme song. That's their national anthem." Barsamian said Osama bin Laden "took credit for what happened on September 11th 2001. Why don't we take him at his word?" This overlooked the first audio tape ostensibly from Osama, in September 2001, denying involvement. The murky December 2001 videotape allegedly [ostensibly from bin Laden,] "found" by US military in Kandahar, "took credit." There are many reasons to believe the second is fake. Barsamian pointed to statements by Zacarias Moussouai that he had foreknowledge of 9/11 and said famed investigative reporter Seymour Hersh "doesn't find compelling evidence."Barsamian Says Pursuing the Truth About 9/11 is a "Black Hole""If there was a whiff, a whiff... this would be the greatest story in the history of the world... bigger than Watergate," Barsamian said. He then said "there's a little bit here and there (which sounds like a whiff) but it doesn't connect. It reminds me of the grassy knoll." He stated: "We know of criminal activities of this administration that can be proven beyond a scintilla of doubt. I think we should concentrate on those things." He did not specify which these were or who would concentrate on them or in what ways. He concluded by saying that pursuing the truth about 9/11 is a "black hole," worse than a waste of time. The questioner said later he was "shocked into silence by his response."50Barsamian's response was remarkable for its synchronicity with Chomsky's and for the way it echoed that of David Ray Griffin's critics Chip Berlet and Robert Baer, David Corn of The Nation, Michael Albert of Z Magazine, and Matt Rothschild, editor of The Progressive.That the agenda of Chomsky, Barsamian et al would be so widespread and pursued with such intensity begs explanation. One theory would be incompetence - that for some reason all these "thinkers", editors, producers and writers have just lost their curiosity and forgotten how to use the tools of their trade when it comes to 9/11. This theory requires the belief that such widespread persistent incompetence is also coincidental.Another theory would be that some, perhaps a surprisingly large percentage, of these individuals are following instructions that benefit the national security state; that they are, in other words, agents. The nature and consistency of the anomalies they present prohibit a focus for potentially acrimonious debate. That is, indeed, a not unreasonably founded conspiracy theory. The situation beings to mind the line from the famous Sherlock Holmes mystery The Sign of Four by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle: "Whenever you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth."Acrimony can be diminished in a proportion to facts being brought to bear on the discussion. Because of the suffocating secrecy that attends operations by agents of influence, finding direct evidence is next to impossible. That is why those who want to investigate this intensely troubling and important situation are obliged to turn to circumstantial evidence, intuition and principles of inquiry such as the identification of contradictions, pattern recognition, and the Latin cui bono? (To whose benefit?)There are other possible, and possibly overlapping, explanations for near-uniform 9/11 blindness on the part of the Left leaders and alternative media. These lead back, in part, to the CIA. Left media increasingly have been seeking and receiving funding from the likes of the Rockefeller Foundation, Ford Foundation, Carnegie Endowment, and MacArthur Foundation. Bob Feldman of San Francisco has been a tireless researcher of Left-foundation connections. His articles paint a picture rarely mentioned because both Left and Right have an interest in perpetuating the paradigm and keeping quiet about it.The accompanying chart shows recent money flows from establishment foundations to Left / alternative media. In a recent article for critical Sociology entitled "report from the Field, Left Media & Left Think Tanks: Foundation-Managed Protest?" Feldman begins ":Left media and their organizations of grants from liberal foundations has transformed their organizational priorities, subjected them to elite control, or channelled their energies into safe, legalistic, bureaucratic activities and mild reformism."However, 5,000 words and dozens of charts later, he concludes: "... there is much evidence that the funded left has moved towards the mainstream as it has increased its dependence on foundations. This is shown by the "progressive", reformist tone of formerly radical organizations; the gradual disappearance of challenges to the economic and political power corporations or United States militarism and imperialism; and silence on the relationship of liberal foundations to either politics and culture in general, or to their own organizations."51Specifically on the subject of 9/11, some subtle inducements and pressures on Left media by Right-wing and overtly CIA-connected foundations have come to light. For instance Deep Dish TV Inc was given $75,000 is 2002 by the Ford Foundation to enable "the television news series Democracy Now! to continue incorporating the aftermath of September 11th attacks into future broadcasts." 9/11 Truth activist Emanuel Sferios of Seattle, who found the information, commented at the time: "They never told us a reason [that Democracy Now!] refused to consider any programming about 9/11, but it's quite simple. The Ford Foundation, by supplying so much money to Democracy Now! so they can 'continue incorporating' 9/11 into their broadcasts, does not have to explicitly tell Democracy Now! how they want 9/11 to be covered. Democracy Now! will simply self-censor, because they want future money from the Ford Foundation."52A few of the left-wing organisations are primarily concerned about threats to media independence, yet all their attention is focused on for-profit corporate (or government) control; they ignore the possible influence of large subventions from non-profit institutions such as foundations, says Feldman. Journalist Ron Curran maintains that: "The only money nonprofits can get these days is from private foundations - and those foundations want to control the political agenda and debate."53 Another critic of the grant system, Brain Salter, makes a strong case against foundation funding of left media and think tanks. After examining the corporate and political connections of Ford and similar foundations' board members, Salter concludes: "The big establishment foundations are likely to seek out 'alternative' media that is more bark than bite, which they can rely on to ignore and dimiss sensitive topics ... as 'irrational distractions' or 'conspiracy theory.'" [emphasis added]"The Kind of Opposition the US Elite can Live with" and Chomsky as its leaderSalter points out that recipients of funding protest that they are not swayed by any conflicts of interest and don't allow the sources of funding to affect their decisions, "but whether or not these claims are actually true is already somewhat of a red herring. Judging by the journalism being offered (and not offered) by The Nation, FAIR, The Progressive, IPA, Mother Jones, AlterNet.org and other recipients of their funding, the big establishment foundations are successfully sponsoring the kind of 'opposition' that the US ruling elite can tolerate and live with."54During the cold War, the CIA utilized foundations such as Ford "to set up and finance a 'parallel' organization to counter known left-wing bodies.55 In 975, the radical US feminist group Redstockings asserted that: "one major CIA strategy" during the Cold war was "to create or support parallel organizations which provide alternatives to radicalism and yet appear progressive enough to appease dissatisfied elements of society."56 There are no grounds to imagine the CIA or their partners in the foundations have changed their tune or their methods - except to make them more effective. Chomsky's record shows little or no attention to this kind of subversion.To conclude, Chomsky, the most quoted "radical progressive" or "Leftist" in the Left media, systematically engages in deceptive discourse on certain key topics, such as 9/11, the JFK assassination and with regard to the CIA. In warning the Left against examining the evidence on JFK and 9/11, he lines himself up with George Bush and the corporate media, thereby advancing their agenda - which he otherwise opposes. When he is not appearing to undermine the American Empire, which is the main thing he does, he is buttressing it by undermining the most effective and therefore dangerous for the Empire faces - a conscious radical intelligentsia.A study of Chomsky's stands on particularly dreadful actions such as JFK's assassination, 9/11, and with regard to the roles of the CIA and FBI, shows Chomsky to be a de facto defender of the status quo's most egregious outrages and their covert agency engines. He conducts his de facto defence of the Empire he appears to oppose through applying the very propaganda methods against which he has warned, including use of the derogatory phrase "conspiracy theorist," which in one context he has characterized as "something people say when they don't want you to think about what's really going on."His recommendation that people practice "intellectual self-defence" is well taken. But how many could dream the person warning you is one of the most perilous against whom you'll need to defend yourself? That he is the fire marshal who wires your house to burn down, the lifeguard who drowns you, the doctor with the disarming bedside manner who administers a fatal injection? If Noam Chomsky did not exist, the diaboligarchy would have to invent him. To the New World Order he is worth 50 armoured division.Barrie Zwicker[POSTSCRIPT: In preparing this book, I contacted Chomsky well in advance and asked him if he would respond to a few questions. No response was received.]
NOTES: (part 3 notes begin with number 50)50. Timothy C. Boyle, of Denver, CO, in an e-mail to Barrie Zwicker, April 2006.51.Bob Feldman, "Report from the Field: Left Media & Left Think Tanks: Foundation-Managed Protest?" in Critical Sociology, Winter 2006.52. Emanuel Sferios, January 2005, in an e-mail to Charles Shaw, founder and editor of Newtopia Magazine.53. Ron Curran, "Buying into the News", San Francisco Bay Guardian, October 8, 1997.54. Brian Salter, " 'Alternative' media paymasters: Carlyle, ALCOA, Xerox and Coca Cola?" posted on questionsquestions.net, September 29, 2002. Cited at http://www.questionsquestions.net/docs0209/0929_ford_trustees.html55. Joan Coxsedge with Ken Coldicutt and Gerry Harant, Rooted in Secrecy: The Clandestine Element in Australian Politics, self-published by the Committee for the Abolition of Political Police (CAPP), p 70.