Saturday, January 25, 2014

New Pearl Harbor

Version 0.5

Politically Correct Zen Repudiation of The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions about the Bush Administration and 9/11 by David Ray Griffin

Funny story about contagion and guilt by association here. The only logical result of assuming that the NSA knows that I've 'touched' this book is to publicly repudiate it in the most forceful terms. Easy enough, but is that even adequate? America has fallen down such an insane rabbit's hole that not only are books like this one being published, but a lot of people are buying into them and we're even electing patently insane reality-challenged politicians like Ted Cruz in Texas. You know what they say: Everything's bigger and more crazy in Texas!

So now the question facing me is how to most clearly demonstrate that I am not an insane conspiracy theorist, if I can. After all, I think that I have been contaminated to some degree. While I can dismiss all of the ideas in this particular book, the problem is that I still believe in some conspiracies. Actually, this book uses the most obvious and relevant example: Everyone believes that there was a secret conspiracy to attack the WTC, but the devil is in the details of who was involved and how they pulled it off. A more troublesome example involves the murder of Michael Hastings. Can you believe that his brand of insanity was so dangerous that it could only be 'cured' by hacking his car to kill him? Having considered the problem, I think the best way to repudiate this book is to approach from two angles: (1) a specific destruction of a major point of the book and (2) an alternative and Occamic explanation. However, to make the repudiation stronger, I'm going to apply these perspectives twice, once at a low level and again at the highest level.

There are so many crazy points in the book that it is impossible to pick the best one for detailed refutation. For example, the lack of interception is mostly predicated on not knowing how planes actually fly and maneuver or how humans make decisions under pressure. However, I've decided to focus on the collapse of three buildings in the WTC complex. This author is arguing for the use of explosives, while simultaneously managing to refute himself. The most obvious refutation was his note that explosive-sniffing dogs were in the twin towers up to 5 days before 9/11. That only leaves two lines of analysis: (1) Large quantities of explosives were already in place and trained experts completely failed to detect them, or (2) Large quantities of explosives were were rapidly brought into the towers without anyone detecting the operation. The conspiracy extremists can try to cover those paths with bribery, but... It's hard to reliably bribe dogs and the it's fundamentally impossible to hush up a large number number of people. Even if none of them knew they were handling explosives at the time, many of them would have figured it out afterwards and some of them would have started talking. However, the main reason I reject this idea is that there would have been extremely large quantities of debris contaminated with explosives residue, and that physical evidence could not be completely eliminated no matter how quickly they cleared it away. You have to add a completely new level of insanity to believe that the Chinese would actually destroy all of the evidence once it was in their possession. I certainly think you can rest assured that the Chinese version of the CIA took plenty of samples hoping for something to use for blackmail against America's politicians.

Time for Occam's razor to cut this idea to size. What the book doesn't talk much about is the computer analyses of the structural failures. Once you know that a thing is possible, it's relatively easy to show how it happened. Before these collapses, the computer models seemed to show they were not possible, but afterwards, we sadly know much better. The author actually touches just barely on how the initially local failures unzipped the links between one floor and the vertical framework in each of the buildings that collapsed. Once the failures spread enough for that floor to settle downward, nothing was going to stop the force of gravity from finishing the job, and how. As soon as the failures were adequately modeled, there was little reason to delay the cleanup. The only physical evidence you could hope for would be recognizable traces of some of the original joints around the points of the initial local failures, or some of the neighboring joints that failed in the second stage of spreading, and the odds of finding those few joints in a recognizable state would be pretty microscopic given the vast amount of rubble. Virtually all of the joints were simply sheared to small bits as gravity did its work.

Now let's go to the highest level of the grand conspiracy. In this form, we wind up with an army of accomplices. Even if they didn't know what they were doing at the time, as in the previously mentioned idea of a large crew of people moving explosives without knowing what they were moving, they have had many years to figure it out. Even if they didn't want to talk at the time, they have had many years to change their minds, or even to die of natural causes and leave the evidence behind them if they didn't want to face retaliation. There are too many old sayings and even jokes about how to keep secrets, but the point is always the need for as few conspirators as possible, and all of the grand conspiracy theories totally fail on this point. It's possible to conceive how one or a few people could have killed Michael Hastings, but orchestrating a vast conspiracy with vast guilt trips for all of the conspirators? No, that is beyond my conception, and I even insist that my imagination is far wilder than average.

So what is Occam's answer? It really is hard to explain the low quality of the investigations of the 9/11 attacks. In addition, any explanation has to hold up on the long term. Therefore, I conclude that there were massive failures and plenty of blame, but the failures were obvious and bipartisan. Not sure if this is the truth, or if the truth even matters, and you also have to make allowances that I am currently under the influence of this crazy book, too, but... My theory today is that certain people within the ISI were intimately involved in the planning for the 9/11 attacks, mostly because they hoped to move America to support Pakistan more closely in an alliance against 'non-state' terrorists. It is even possible that members of the CIA or NSA were aware of this conspiracy but regarded it as fundamentally too crazy to succeed and too flawed to cause significant damage even if it partly happened. The actual amount of damage was much worse than anyone imagined, apparently even including Osama Bin Ladin himself. However, I believe that there were internal and secret investigations that quickly determined these problematic facts. These facts were even more extremely problematic because they also showed the intimate relationship between the ISI and the CIA, and they were bipartisan problems since they started with that good-intentioned Democrat Jimmy Carter, continued through the presidencies of Reagan and Poppy Bush and Clinton, and were still there under Dubya's watch. Maybe there was even an element of truth to the New American Century angle, but in the relatively passive sense that the big dick Cheney downgraded the priority of anti-terrorism efforts. I've often felt that some of his extreme reactions as described in The One Percent Doctrine smack of an extremely guilty conscience... No one can be sure about Cheney, however, since he's always been such a cocksure extremist.

So to summarize it to Occam's satisfaction, from their perspective, there was no reason for a public investigation, since they knew almost exactly what had happened and how, and it was extremely embarrassing to EVERYONE involved, no matter what their political persuasions. The bipartisan mess must have been big enough to persuade even President Obama to let it lie. This is kind of like the gerrymandering thing. Both parties are quite willing to work together against the public's interests to protect their own behinds, but just about the one thing all of the professional politicians can agree on is that they should be allowed to stay in office. As this theory applies to 9/11, it's still a bit surprising that none of the people in the know has clearly revealed the truth, but the total number of people carefully watching each other is within the bounds of reason, or at least my reason.

Now it's time for the zen trick, eh? The real significance of this kind of book is what it reveals about the mental instability of America. Our reality makes so little sense that many people are able to look at the wildest conspiracies and take them seriously. I think the one that is bothering me the most these days actually involves the chronic problems with my Android devices. I don't think it is simply the google's growing EVIL as typified by "All of your attention is belongs to the google" leading to large-scale incompetence. I've reached the point of believing the flakiness is linked to snooping software being deployed on a wholesale level. It might be criminals, except that I think they could be and would already have been nailed by following the money trails. Therefore at this point it seems most plausible, even to such a rational and level-headed individual as yours truly, that the real cause is government-driven snooping. We're back to the old joke about the lost quarter:

"Let me help you for your lost quarter. Exactly where were you standing when you noticed it was missing?"

"I was in Afghanistan."

"But Afghanistan is thousands of kilometers from here. Why are you looking here?"

"The light's much better here."

In other words, I'm not a terrorist and I don't even know any terrorists, no matter how much I stretch my rubbery imagination. However, mostly because of my Android devices, I am standing where the light is good. It's convenient for the NSA to harvest my personal information, and so they do, but with a certain amount of bugginess that shows. Since it's Android and since the google has gone all evil on us, it seems most likely that it's driven from America, but we could speculate about the Chinese intelligence agencies, too. Not really anything personal about me (though the game of six degrees of Keven Bacon might argue otherwise), but just cheap data. If you actually are a person of interest and they want to put some actual resources into investigating what you're up to, you might as well surrender now, Dorothy.

Have a lovely non-paranoid day.

P.S. Let me add a special encouragement to your replies and again clarify why I moderate the comments. I'm really interested in your points of disagreement, even if you are a sincere conspiracy theorist, but I'm absolutely opposed to spammers and I will not support them, even for the period until I can nuke their scammy ads. Once again we return to the deep EVIL of the google?