Last month, Mike Butler posted the latest installment in his ongoing series defending the 9/11 Truthers. I notice that Turretin Fan took issue with his post. Turretin Fan was then criticized for his failure to furnish suitable evidence to back up his claims.
Speaking for myself, I’m not a 9/11 Truther because I’m just to sceptical be a 9/11 Truther. It demands a high degree of credulity to be a 9/11 Truther, and I can’t muster the requisite level of credulity.
The demand for evidence is a two-way street. Before I could respond to someone like Butler, I’d need to know which 9/11 conspiracy theory he subscribes to. Different versions have different implications.
For example, does he believe that real airplanes flew into real skyscrapers? Or was that staged in a Hollywood movie studio?
If so, then that 9/11 conspiracy theory would require the complicity of the national and international news media, as well as about 8 million New Yorkers.
Assuming he even grants the fact that real airplanes flew into real skyscrapers, were these piloted by Arab terrorists? Or does he have a Universal Soldier scenario in mind, where rogue gov’t officials sent UniSols on a suicide mission? And were their cooling units destroyed to eradicate the evidence?
The difficulty of a large-scale conspiracy is twofold:
i) The more people you tell a secret to, the harder it is to keep your secret a secret. A certain number of coconspirators has to be in the loop to plan and execute the plot.
And, before you approach then, you don’t know in advance which ones will agree to participate. If you approach the wrong person, you’ve tipped your hand too soon. He will report your intentions to the authorities or the news media.
ii) By the same token, many other people must be kept out of the loop.
In addition, what happens when someone like Robert Gates takes over from one of the original conspirators? In his new position, Gates is certainly in a position to find out who did what. Is he part of the gov’t cover up?
What conspiracy theory is Butler advancing? What rogue gov’t officials would have to be involved to pull it off? Are we talking about the president, vice president, secretary of state, secretary of defense, attorney general, NORAD, CENTCOM, NSA, FBI, CIA, Joint Chiefs of Staff, &c?
Does it start at the top? And how many subordinates must be involved? How far down the ladder does the conspiracy reach? Were the boys at the Weekly Standard in on the plot?
Or does he think that 9/11 was the work of wily, neocon subordinates who kept their superiors in the dark? Did Karl Rove, Richard Perle, and Paul Wolfowitz hatch this plot in a sauna somewhere, and manage to hoodwink their superiors? And how did they manage to requisition all the manpower and material needed to pull it off? Are we back to the UniSols?
I would like to see the specific evidence for the specific theory that Butler is advancing. He floats the notion of a “small cadre of rogue government officials” behind the plot.
But would a “small cadre” be sufficient? Where is the concrete evidence? Name names! Who said what to whom?
iii) Another reason I’m not a 9/11 Truther is that Bush has too many enemies, both inside of gov’t and outside of gov’t, to keep the lid on this conspiracy. Many anonymous sources inside gov’t have been leaking information to the NYT and other organs of the news media.
Many of his opponents are spoiling to take him down. If there’s probative evidence that 9/11 was an inside job, then why haven’t Congressional Democrats as well as liberal pundits used that to destroy the Bush administration? They have every incentive to do so.
Or does Butler think Congressional Democrats, along with the news media, are all on the take?
Why about earlier critics of the Bush administration like Michael Scheuer and Richard Clarke? Why didn’t they produce the goods on Bush?
iv) When Rosie O'Donnell said 9/11 was an inside job, Popular Mechanics shot her down. Are the employees at Popular Mechanics on the secret payroll of rogue gov’t officials?
Why does Noam Chomsky repudiate the 9/11 Truthers? Does Butler think that Chomsky is really a right-wing zealot of the Gordon Liddy stripe who was recruited in college by the CIA (back when Chomsky was a covert member of the John Birth Society) to cultivate his street creed as a radical, anti-American academic so that—when the time came—rogue gov’t officials could roll him out to debunk the 9/11 Truthers? Like Sen. Pardek in the Star Trek episode?
I’m afraid and I’m not gullible enough to believe everything that Butler is prepared to believe.
There are some other problems with his argument.
iv) He cites Pearl Harbor as precedent. But there are two difficulties with that appeal:
a) He’s using one conspiracy theory to prop up another conspiracy theory.
b) The gov’t is not an individual. The gov’t does not have a modus operandi in the same sense that an individual may have a modus operandi. Due to rapid turnover, it isn’t the same set of officials from one generation to another. Even if we assume, for the sake of argument, that FDR was a conspirator, this doesn’t create any presumption that Bush is a conspirator too.
v) He also says that men like Stalin have gotten away with similar things in the past. But that’s a very loose analogy.
I don’t deny that gov’t officials lie to the public from time to time. But that’s a calculated risk.
Stalin was a despot. He wasn’t assuming much of a personal risk. In his position, he was pretty immune to reprisal—as his opponents found out.
By contrast, Bush, Cheney, and the other conspirators would be taking a tremendous personal risk if their plot were uncovered. What possible benefit would outweigh the cost of exposure?
vi) Butler also makes allegations about Bush and Cheney that he doesn’t bother to document. What’s his source of information? The Cigarette-Smoking Man?