“We have learned in recent years to translate almost all of political life in terms of conspiracy. And the spy novel, as never before, really, has come into its own.” — John Le Carre
On Friday, November 22, 1963, in Dealey Plaza, Dallas, Texas. Kennedy was fatally shot while traveling with his wife Jacqueline, Texas governor John Connelly, and the latter's wife, Nellie, in a Presidential motorcade.
The ten-month investigation of the Warren Commission of 1963–1964 concluded that the President was assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald acting alone and that Jack Ruby acted alone when he killed Oswald before he could stand trial. These conclusions were initially supported by the American public; however, polls conducted from 1966 to 2004 found that as many as 80 percent of Americans have suspected that there was a plot or cover-up.
Contrary to the Warren Commission, the United States House Select Committee on Assassinations (HSCA) in 1979 concluded that President John F. Kennedy was probably assassinated as a result of a conspiracy. The HSCA found both the original FBI investigation and the Warren Commission Report to be seriously flawed. While agreeing with the Commission that Oswald fired all the shots which caused the wounds to Kennedy and Governor Connelly, it stated that there were at least four shots fired and that there was a "high probability" that two gunmen fired at the President. No gunmen or groups involved in the conspiracy were identified by the committee, but the CIA, Soviet Union, organized crime and several other groups were said to be not involved, based on available evidence. The assassination is still the subject of widespread debate and has spawned numerous conspiracy theories and alternative scenarios.
Another conspiracy theory is promoted by the “Truthers”. 9/11 Truth movement is the collective name of loosely affiliated organizations and individuals who question the accepted account of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Adherents of the movement assert that the explanation of the 9/11 events put forth by government and media contain significant inconsistencies which suggest, at the least, a cover-up, and at worst, complicity by insiders.
Adherents advocate and discuss different theories about how the attacks happened and call for a new investigation into the attacks.
Some of the organizations state that there is evidence that individuals within the United States government may have been either responsible for or knowingly complicit in the September 11 attacks. Motives given include the use of the attacks to initiate the launch of wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and in creating the opportunities to curtail civil liberties. It is estimated that 60 million Americans (about 20% of the country) subscribe to some or all of the theories put forth by the 9/11 truthers.
It has not taken long for the conspiratists to begin postulating conspiracy theories around the events of the killing of Osama bin Laden. Many of these theories are based on the faked photos that have been shown around (even to Congress) of the faked photos of a dead bin Laden.
The UK Guardian reports:
“An image apparently showing a dead Osama bin Laden broadcast on Pakistani television and picked up by British newspaper websites is a fake.”
“The bloodied image of a man with matted hair and a blank, half-opened eye has been circulating on the internet for the past two years. It was used on the front pages of the Mail, Times, Telegraph, Sun and Mirror websites, though swiftly removed after the fake was exposed on Twitter.”
“It appears the fake picture was initially published by the Middle East online newspaper themedialine.org on 29 April 2009, with a warning from the editor that it was "unable to ascertain whether the photo is genuine or not".
“Several senators have seen a photo of what appears to be a dead Osama bin Laden, but it is unclear if the photograph is authentic.”
“I was shown a photo by an individual that was represented to be a photo of bin Laden after he was shot,” Sen. Saxby Chambliss, vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, told reporters Wednesday. “It appeared to be an accurate photo – it was not the official photo. I had not seen an official photograph of him.”
“Asked if it were a pirated photo, Chambliss said: “I don’t know.” He added that the electronic photo was not passed along to him by another senator or a government official. He declined to elaborate.”
“Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), a member of the Armed Services Committee, said she initially thought she saw an authentic photo of a dead bin Laden, which was passed along by another senator. But now she knows that wasn’t an official photograph.”
“I do not know whether or not it’s authentic,” Ayotte said. “The important thing is if it’s going to be an authentic photo that it would be released by the administration and that’s the proper course of action here.”
“The same goes for Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.), a member of the Armed Services Committee, which was briefed Wednesday along with the Intelligence panel by CIA Director Leon Panetta.”
“The photo that I saw and that a lot of other people saw is not authentic,” he told a local TV station in Boston.”
This is the same Scott Brown who trumpeted to the press that he had seen the photo and agreed with the administration that the photos should not be released as it was too graphic and would create a security risk to our troops. He was looking at a faked photo when he made this statement. These are the things that feed conspiracy theories.
Less than 48 hours after the White House announced the killing of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan and his burial at sea, "conspiracy theories" are racing across the planet.
The quick burial of bin Laden and the decision not to release photos of his body were part of a White House strategy to prevent revulsion throughout the Muslim world. But the lack of public proof of his death is sparking wild rumors, not just in Pakistan and the Arab world, but also in Europe and the U.S.
However Reuters obtained photos of taken in bin Laden’s compound of three dead bodies. The photos were taken by a Pakistani and promptly sold to Reuters who flashed them around the world.
Among the radical assertions bouncing around the Internet: bin Laden was dead before the attack; he is still alive; the DNA that was supposed to be bin Laden's was inconclusive; and that the White House concocted a raid just to ensure President Obama's reelection. That's just to name a few.
The glut of conspiracy theories suggests a more general breakdown of traditional media’s authority in an era of text-messaging, Twitter, and instant “clarity” by far-flung experts, analysts say.
“More than simply a plethora of conspiracy theory, there is a crisis of confidence between authorities and citizens," writes Bruno Fay, French author of a book on the spread of conspiracy theories called "Plot-ocracy," in the French magazine Nouvel Observateur. “Behind these plot concepts are all those who do not believe anymore in authorities. The situation today is: how to believe the authorities when bin Laden's death has not been transparent? By saying that, I am not saying that I believe in conspiracies.”
Mr. Fay notes that some 15 percent of people polled in a 2008 World Public Opinion survey managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland (sponsored by George Soros’ Tides Foundation) felt the US was responsible for the 9/11 attack. Some 8 percent of French agreed, and the figure reached 40 percent in some Muslim-majority nations.
Much of what passes for “theories” the day after a dramatic story are often, in fact, personal extrapolations melded to fit strongly held beliefs based on unclear information and a broad new proclivity not to trust traditional media. In other words an extension of one’s cognitive dissonance
Indeed, “conspiracy” fits the times, analysts say. Former fringe story spinners – often racists or presumed odd balls – that believe the US moon landing was faked (see Capricorn One), or the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, or that 9/11 was a US “inside” plot, have given way to more acceptable cultish views in an age of 1,000 TV channels, social media, and WikiLeaks. Mass belief in alternate narratives is part of the 21st century zeitgeist.
As for the conspiracy theories surrounding bin Laden's death, Special US Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan Mark Grossman was at a loss to explain them at a press conference in Islamabad today.
“I can’t answer every conspiracy theory coming from]every place," said Mr. Grossman. "Osama bin Laden is dead but the war on terrorism is not over.”
To add to the conspiracy theories are the charges of murder and homicide being raised around the world, especially in the Arab press. Al Jazeera, the mouth piece of the Arab world claims the U.S. murdered bin Laden. Hillary Clinton, MSNBC hosts and many other liberal elite have been heaping praise on Al Jazeera in recent weeks. Al Jazeera's response to the news of Bin Laden's death, "Fomenting nationalism with murder,” almost makes it seem like they don't like America (shocker!). Clinton has openly pined for our media to resemble Al Jazeera — is this the kind of anti-American drivel we can look forward to in the years to come from our press?
So with Obama’s refusal to release the photos of bin Laden’s death the conspiratists will continue to postulate their theories through their blogs and web sites. No amount of facts will dissuade them.