Donnerstag, 1. Januar 2009

Conspiracy and the State of the Union

by Jamey Hecht, PhD

Assistant Managing Editor, From The Wilderness

Based on a presentation at the Internation Citizen’s Inquiry Into 9-11, Phase Two: Toronto, May 2004

John Judge: Call me a conspiracy theorist if you like, so long as you call yourself a coincidence theorist. - Coalition On Political Assassinations (COPA) presentation, 2002

Philip Berg: Conspiracy is among the most common legal categories of crime – conspiracy to commit murder; conspiracy to commit fraud, conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist act, and on and on. -International Citizen’s Inquiry Into 9-11, Phase One: San Francisco presentation, 2004

Greg Palast: People tell me they don’t believe in conspiracy; I tell them, look – I have the minutes of the meetings! What more do you want? -Interview

John Newman: Let me introduce myself. I’m a conspiracy theorist.-JFK Lancer’s ‘November In Dallas’ conference presentation, 1999

Peter Dale Scott: “If a nation decides to live by lies, it has chosen a course of intellectual stagnation, and ultimately of political decay.” -The Assassinations, 1975 (ix).

Kevin Costner in Bull Durham: “I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone; I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter…”

E. Martin Schotz: “One of the primary means of immobilizing the American people politically today is to hold them in a state of confusion in which anything can be believed and nothing can be known…nothing of significance, that is.” -History Will Not Absolve Us: Orwellian Control, Public Denial, and the Murder of President Kennedy


Let me begin by saying that the United States is extraordinary in that the idealism of our founding documents proceeded straight from the 18th Century’s Enlightenment principles of the universal rights of human beings. Though the Indian genocide, the genocidal African slave trade, and the lack of women’s suffrage tore gaping holes in the American application of these principles, our Constitution remained among the world’s best hopes for the achievement of equality, opportunity, and civic peace. The French Revolution emulated our own; the 1994 post-apartheid Constitution of South Africa — one of the most beautiful documents of hope ever conceived — was modeled on these same American documents, and as the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. pointed out, national liberation movements the world over (including post-French Vietnam in 1945) have taken our Declaration of Independence as the template of their own Declarations. Rather than list each of the remarkable advances our democracy has made — from the Bill of Rights to the Progressive legislation of the Roosevelt, Taft, and Wilson administrations, to Robert Kennedy’s Civil Rights Act of 1964 — let me point out that each significant improvement was driven by popular participation in civic life: in a word, democracy.

Dissidents are patriotic critics — in the best cases, anti-nationalist cosmopolitans — whose arguments have not yet won the day. If ever the merits of their cases are established and their ideals legitimated, others come to recognize the urgent benevolence that motivated their dissent, and their faces appear on postage stamps with those of Thom Paine, Crazy Horse, and Paul Robeson. A critic is an interpreter who uses his or her mind and heart to clarify a text or a situation for the effective benefit of the larger public. Political criticism is a vexed but noble attempt to think past the limits of official opinion and earnestly diagnose the legitimacy of our political institutions and their occupants. Critics of the national security state are marginalized as dreamers, sometimes brilliant in their efforts at information gathering and critique, but finally unable to dramatically change the brutal order of realpolitik they denounce. The public they address is mostly indifferent, powerless, and thoroughly distracted from issues of the greatest possible relevance to their own well-being.

The forces of violence, reaction, and American exceptionalism can claim a long series of epochal triumphs, of which I will name only the most egregious: Operation Paperclip, which brought the Nazi Intelligence “community” into the nascent CIA (thereby rescuing the most depraved murderers in history from certain death at the hands of British military tribunals); the National Security Act of 1947, which established the CIA as a secret society of military adventurism and political sabotage under the guise of an intelligence-gathering body; the murders of President Kennedy, Senator Robert Kennedy, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, which issued in a disastrous Vietnam War that killed up to three million people and pitched the U.S. economy into a permanent free-fall of debt; the Savings and Loan Robbery, which did so much to bankrupt the vanishing middle class; the 1990’s three trillion dollar theft under the auspices of the departments of Defense and Housing and Urban Development (HUD), which motivated America’s international creditors to begin withdrawing their confidence from the dollar; and the “velvet coup” of the fraudulent presidential election of 2000, which openly discredited the residual myth of popular sovereignty. But perhaps 11-22-63 and 9-11-01 are the deepest wounds they have inflicted upon the body politic so far. These represent two seizures of state power by the most violent elements of the longstanding elites who make policy in the absence of popular sovereignty and genuine legislative oversight. In the long meantime, they have consolidated their power and expanded their domain of operations and propaganda with an inexorable momentum.

Policy is no longer driven by leadership figures, but by consortia of mutually interested elites. The forty years since 11-22 have seen exponential growth in defense spending as a portion of the USG’s annual budget. Forty-six cents of every tax dollar we pay goes to military debt payments, salaries, deployments, and weapons stockpiling. This flood of capital into the arms industry drives a domestic policy of despair and a “foreign” policy of violence. Weapons are expended so that they can be replaced; their manufacture enriches Lockheed-Martin, the largest purveyor of lethal weapons in the world, and its competitive partners. In pursuit of new raw materials to seize and new markets to monopolize, corporations and their clients drive policy toward aggressive expansionism. CIA is the spearhead of the war process, so its activity has been cloaked from all genuine Congressional oversight. The beauty of the CIA’s position is that it apparently always takes its orders from the President, but for the most part it also insures that the President orders roughly what CIA wants. When he doesn’t do so, and insists on forming his own intelligence apparatus inside the White House or the Pentagon — as in the Nixon and G. W. Bush administrations, respectively — the CIA is likely to destroy the administration. Whenever that happens, the administration is unseated on the strength of some nonviolent crime like a “third rate burglary” or the disclosure of a CIA operative’s identity. Bombing Cambodia or Afghanistan at the cost of thousands of lives never ranks as an impeachable offense.

Only a handful of Senators have endured the overwhelming personal and political risk of applying even a kernel of real power to the disciplining of the Intelligence “community”: Senators Frank Church, Gary Hart, Richard Schweiker, John Kerry, James Trafficant; Richard Shelby, and Charles Grassley are among this small number.

Since the Vietnam War, the diplomatic arm of the U.S. government has withered into a propagandistic rubber-stamp instrument. Whereas the Department of State was once so powerful that its Secretary shaped foreign policy by reporting viable options to the Chief Executive, today the Department has been reduced to visa functions, information gathering, and statute enforcement. But as we’ve seen, CIA regularly overrides the visa authority of State (often with murderous results), and intelligence agents of all sorts violate the Arms Export Control Act at with an institutionalized impunity. To view the heartbreaking laxity of this law, see the page on the website of the State Department which explains its mandate.[1]

One more bitter irony is the CIA’s use of the State Department as a hidden channel for its covert programs; more broadly, State is a tool for the implementation of policies driven by the lobbies from oil, arms, drugs, and construction. If it were really a public (and not a private) institution, the diplomatic arm of a democratic government, it would advance diplomacy-based solutions to international crises[2]. Instead, private firms (e.g., Kellog, Brown and Root; DynCorp; Halliburton; Bell; Bechtel; Boeing; etc.) and their proxies in the NSA and NSC (e.g. Oliver North, Elliot Abrams, John Poindexter, etc) and CIA (e.g. Ray Cline, Laili Helms, etc.) wield it as one special sword-and-shield in their vast tactical arsenal.[3] Colin Powel, the current Secretary, is a military man whose rise to power began with his cover-up of the Mi Lai massacre.[4] Where the public perception of Powell’s role in the months leading up to Gulf War II was that of a moderate who pushed for diplomacy, at the crucial moment Powell neither strategized for such a policy, nor resigned in protest: he became the very spokesperson of the martial policy he had formerly seemed to oppose. In doing so by means of false documents, it’s been suggested that Powell made the State Department look both servile and conniving. And he certainly committed a repetition of the “moral suicide” that started his political career.

So much for diplomacy. As for an informed electorate, all major American newspapers and television networks are owned by defense corporations like G.E. The Permanent Warfare State has absorbed the media into its own project, neutralizing mainstream American journalism. Even the largest and oldest Leftist journal, The Nation, utterly fails the 9-11 test that any reliable news outlet must pass. In this case, as in that of 11-22, journalistic integrity can be measured by the frequency with which the phrase “intelligence failures” appears in its pages. As I’ve written elsewhere, crime and failure are not the same thing.[5]

Elsewhere on the Left, Noam Chomsky and Alexander Cockburn seem to me quite wrong about 9-11 and its significance, but they are vocal and passionate critics of the long history of global CIA / NSC / JCS violence and political sabotage. Yet both writers argue that leadership figures count so much less than the elites they represent, that it doesn’t much matter who is in office. This kind of thinking prizes independence more than insight; since everyone else quarrels over who killed JFK and what it means, one can easily find a fresh position by simply declaring that the assassination itself is a red herring, the wrong place to look for an understanding of politico-economic reality. A single hearing of the American University Speech, a single reading of NSAM-263, ought to persuade anyone so circumspect as Noam Chomsky that unique officeholders do emerge, at least once or twice per century.

By the same token, Chomsky and Cockburn are important critics of the crypto-fascism of the G.W. Bush administration. But their insight is sometimes limited by their commitment to a structural view of society. Admittedly, had it not been for Adolph Hitler, Hermann Goering, and Heinrich Himmler, some other successful fascists might well have shattered the Weimar Republic and begun a domestic and international reign of terror. But I believe that the Nazi regime was staffed by especially damaged and talented individuals whose capacity for sadistic destruction exceeded that nearly-universal disposition demonstrated in Stanley Millman’s obedience experiments and the Stanford Prison simulation study. So it is with the neocons and most of the executive branch in the G.W. Bush administration. The now-famous Operation Northwoods provided for American deaths, but on 9-11 those deaths ran into the thousands, and most of the people murdered that day were well within the ethnic and socio-economic identity with which their actual killers identify to the most vulgar extremity of white supremacy and social Darwinism. That’s not quite typical, even among imperial dynasties.

Disputes among critics are harmless compared to the government’s assault on the public mind. Given what we now know about the national and global consequences of this assassination, our trouble in 2002 has grown more or less directly out of 11-22-63. And in response to the pressures of recession, the Patriot Act, endless war, and the events of 9-11-01 — in other words, in response to the dawning reality of Peak Oil — the Political Justice movement is indeed growing, and many of those drawn to it find themselves led on as if by a specter to the 9-11 and / or the Kennedy Assassinations. Whether their initial interest is in heroin traffic, CIA black ops, police malfeasance, Constitutional history, the Federal Reserve, US-Latin American economic partnership, or any other aspect of the modern world, sooner or later the myriad implications of these events become relevant, and on looking at the evidence, another critic is born.


This phrase is among the tireless workhorses of establishment discourse. Without it, disinformation would be much harder than it is. “Conspiracy theory” is a trigger phrase, saturated with intellectual contempt and deeply anti-intellectual resentment. It makes little sense on its own, and while it’s a priceless tool of propaganda, it is worse than useless as an explanatory category.

“Theory” is a term from Plato, derived from the Ancient Greek theorein, “to see.” From it we get the word “theater.” Theory is a conceptual overview of the way something works. In science, the word refers to a guiding set of concepts derived from testable hypotheses about a domain of facts in nature or procedures in an art.[6]

When the evidence is gathered together, some observer sees it in such a way that it configures an hypothesis.

When that hypothesis is verified by induction and experiment, it can be gathered together with similar hypotheses from analogous cases.

If we say, 9-11 was orchestrated by the bin Laden organization, the Pakistani intelligence agency, and elements of the neoconservative group that seized power in 2000, that’s an hypothesis, derived logically from a set of documented facts that constitute evidence. It isn’t a theory. It can become part of a theory if it’s joined with other hypotheses into a coherent descriptive pattern that can help to predict future events in general terms.

For instance, the amply demonstrated hypothesis that the 35th President of the United States was murdered by a consortium of interests including the CIA, Cuban exiles, organized crime, and the military. 11-22 and 9-11 are examples of premeditated murder by more than one person – in law, they are cases of conspiracy to commit murder (and fraud, and perjury, and treason). Taken together, they imply a theory whose greatest expression is the work of Peter Dale Scott, who coined the term deep politics: “the constant, everyday interaction between the constitutionally elected government and forces of violence, forces of crime, which appear to be the enemies of that government.”[7] Deep politics is a robust theory, a powerful explanatory account of demonstrable phenomena; it applies to myriad cases and offers a unified understanding of their causes and meanings. Like Goethe’s conceptual account of color, and like Newton’s rival account which refuted it, Scott’s deep-political theory applies uniformly to the domain it describes.

Conspiracy, on the other hand, is a hypothesis about a particular case at hand. The only rigorous meaning that the phrase “conspiracy theory” can have would be that political crimes involving more than one actor are usually exceptional episodes unrelated to one another – rather than the ongoing, systemic and unacknowledged relationships between authorities and the criminals they are paid to hinder and to punish.

The appeal of the phrase “conspiracy theory” lies in the slang meaning of “theory”: unproven and even unprovable claims about the way things get done in government and business. But there are two problems here.

First, a theory is still rightly called a theory long after it has been proven, even to the limits of human understanding. Einstein’s theory of Relativity and Darwin’s theory of evolution are incomplete, like every product of human thought. But they are as certain as any grounds we can give for them, as certain as the palpable facts on which they rest. The public imagines that this word “theory” implies confusion and controversy. It doesn’t.

The second problem is this: in order for a theory to be worthy of that name, it must be falsifiable. This is a term invented by Karl Popper; it means that your description of events has to be demonstrably true based on valid experiments – or genuine evidence – that might otherwise have proven it demonstrably false. Like the hypotheses that form its bones and flesh, a theory must turn out to be either true or false, or it’s not a theory. For instance, consider the beautiful claim that the world is governed by a God who rules by reward and punishment. Nothing observable counts as evidence for or against the claim. If I say “show me a sign,” an immediate lightning bolt on my head is not evidence of a God any more than the absence of a sign is evidence against it. Nothing can count as a test, so theism is not a theory; it may be something wonderful, but it’s something else. Relativity, however, is a theory of the natural world, verified by experiments like Michaelson-Morley which demonstrated its conformity to observable facts – and had the experiments turned out differently, the theory would have been falsified. The public thinks falsifiability means that the theory can already be disproved and is therefore wrong. It actually means that the theory is either right or wrong, but not meaningless.

• In a criminal conspiracy, Arthur Anderson and Enron defrauded investors and employees of billions of dollars. But they also compromised the S.E.C., the Congress, the executive branch, and the duck-hunting judicial branch in order to make part of this activity technically legal. That’s deep politics.

• In a criminal conspiracy, a core group of Secret Service personnel (Roberts, Greer, Boring, etc.) conspired with elements of the CIA (Phillips, Angleton, Dulles, etc.) to murder the 35th President of the United States. But they also collaborated with organized crime figures (Trafficante, Giancana, Marcello, etc.), paramilitary groups, and international heroin traffickers. That’s deep politics.

"We must speak the truth about terror. Let us never tolerate outrageous conspiracy theories concerning the attacks of September the 11th, malicious lies that attempt to shift the blame away from the terrorists themselves, away from the guilty."

-George W Bush speaking before the UN General Assembly 11/10/2001

When somebody does something really terrible, he tries to attribute it to somebody else. Sometimes this gets out of hand, and he unconsciously betrays himself. This applies to intolerable feelings just as it applies to the criminal guilt that generates them. Here are some definitions and examples of what psychologists mean by “defense mechanisms”:

Projective Identification

The individual deals with emotional conflict or internal or external stressors by falsely attributing to another his or her own unacceptable feelings, impulses, or thoughts. Unlike simple projection, the individual does not fully disavow what is projected. Instead, the individual remains aware of his or her own affects or impulses but mis-attributes them as justifiable reactions to the other person. Not infrequently, the individual induces the very feelings in others that were first mistakenly believed to be there, making it difficult to clarify who did what to whom first.

If this were a dictatorship, it’d be a heck of a lot easier... just as long as I’m the dictator... –G.W.B. in Washington, Dec.18, 2000, during first trip to DC as President-Elect

The nature of the terrorists is evidenced once again - we see their utter contempt for innocent life. They hate freedom, they hate free nations. –G.W.B., at joint news conference with Tony Blair, Thursday, 20 November, 2003


The individual deals with emotional conflict or internal or external stressors by feeling or acting as if he or she possesses special powers or abilities and is superior to others.

‘Of course not,’ he said. “I’m the commander. See, I don’t have to explain why I say things. That’s the interesting thing about being the president. Maybe somebody needs to explain to me why they say something, but I don’t feel like I owe anybody an explanation. –G.W.B., when asked Bob Woodward whether he talked with staff and advisers about what he was doing.


The individual deals with emotional conflict or stressors by compartmentalizing opposite emotional states, and by failing to integrate the positive and negative qualities of the self or others into cohesive images. Images of the self – and of other persons and institutions – tend to alternate between polar opposites: exclusively loving, powerful, worthy, nurturing, and kind, or exclusively bad, hateful, angry, destructive, rejecting, or worthless. Splitting may compromise an adult’s ability to function well in many ways. In order to maintain a view of oneself or one’s world that is either completely ‘all good’ or ‘all bad’, aspects of reality must be denied. Splitting acts as a set of blinders that keep all contradicting evidence out of sight.

Our responsibility to history is already clear: to answer these attacks and rid the world of evil. –G.W.B at the pulpit of Washington National Cathedral, Sept. 15, 2001


Projection is attributing your own unacceptable impulses to someone else. The impulses are still judged unacceptable but they belong to someone else, not you. This defense mechanism is commonly over utilized by the paranoid.

The dictator who is assembling the world's most dangerous weapons has already used them on whole villages -- leaving thousands of his own citizens dead, blind, or disfigured. – G.W.B. State of the Union Address, Jan 29, 2003

One source of [WMD’s] is dangerous and secretive regimes that build weapons of mass destruction to intimidate their neighbors and force their influence upon the world… The former dictator of Iraq possessed and used weapons of mass destruction against his own people. For 12 years, he defied the will of the international community. He refused to disarm or account for his illegal weapons and programs. – G.W.B., Remarks by the President on Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation, Fort Lesley J. McNair - National Defense University, Washington, D.C.

DU munitions are classified by a United Nations resolution as illegal weapons of mass destruction. Their use breaches all international laws, treaties and conventions forbidding poisoned weapons calculated to cause unnecessary suffering. – Amy Worthington, Triangle Free Press, July 11, 2003

As many as 400,000 U.S. troops entered into and some lived as long as two months inside areas heavily contaminated by more than 640,000 pounds (300,000,000 grams) of very fine, yet highly toxic, DU dust particles. – National Gulf War Resource Center, August 27, 1999

Dr. Asaf Durakovic explains that the initial symptoms will be mostly neurological, showing up as headaches, weakness, dizziness and muscle fatigue. The long-term effects are cancers and other radiation-related illnesses, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, joint and muscle pain, rashes, neurological and/or nerve damage, mood disturbances, infections, lung and kidney damage, vision problems, auto-immune deficiencies and severe skin conditions. It also causes increases in miscarriages, maternal mortality and genetic birth defects. – Sara Flounders, “Another US war crime? Iraqi cities ‘hot’ with depleted uranium”, 18 August 2003

The Pentagon and the United Nations estimate that the U.S. and Britain used 1,100 to 2,200 tons of armor-piercing shells made of depleted uranium during attacks on Iraq in March and April--far more than the 375 tons used in the 1991 Gulf War… By now, half of all the 697,000 U.S. soldiers involved in the 1991 war have reported serious illnesses. According to the American Gulf War Veterans Association, more than 30 percent of these soldiers are chronically ill and are receiving disability benefits from the Veterans Administration. Such a high occurrence of various symptoms has led to the illnesses being named Gulf War Syndrome.

Let me close with a passage from what I consider the best book on the subject, Peter Dale Scott’s Deep Politics:

Bureaucratic struggles, even when not officially acknowledged, could be discussed in mainstream journals like the New York Review of Books. My articles which focused on underlying economic motives for U.S. intervention were denied such outlets, but could still be published in journals like The Nation, or what I have come to think of as the establishment left. But even the Nation is fiercely hostile to the notion that criminal interventions… can themselves be part of the system or process by which we are governed. (Scott, 10)


Office of the Circuit Executive

Ninth Circuit Model Criminal Jury Instructions


A conspiracy may continue for a long period of time and may include the performance of many transactions. It is not necessary that all members of the conspiracy join it at the same time, and one may become a member of a conspiracy without full knowledge of all the details of the unlawful scheme or the names, identities, or locations of all of the other members.

Even though a defendant did not directly conspire with [the other defendant] [or] [other conspirators] in the overall scheme, the defendant has, in effect, agreed to participate in the conspiracy if it is proved beyond a reasonable doubt that:

(1) the defendant directly conspired with one or more conspirators to carry out at least one of the objects of the conspiracy,

(2) the defendant knew or had reason to know that other conspirators were involved with those with whom the defendant directly conspired, and

(3) the defendant had reason to believe that whatever benefits the defendant might get from the conspiracy were probably dependent upon the success of the entire venture.

It is no defense that a person's participation in a conspiracy was minor or for a short period of time.


A person may be a member of a conspiracy even though the person does not know all of the purposes of or participants in the conspiracy. United States v. Escalante, 637 F.2d 1197, 1200 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 449 U.S. 856 (1980); United States v. Kearney, 560 F.2d 1358, 1362 (9th Cir.), cert. denied, 434 U.S. 971 (1977).

A single conspiracy can be established even though it took place during a long period of time during which new members joined and old members dropped out. United States v. Green, 523 F.2d 229, 233 (2d Cir.1975), cert. denied, 423 U.S. 1074 (1976). See also United States v. Thomas, 586 F.2d 123, 132 (9th Cir.1978) (holding that proof that the defendant "knew he was plotting in concert with others to violate the law was sufficient to raise the necessary inference that he joined in the overall agreement"); United States v. Perry, 550 F.2d 524, 528 (9th Cir.) (holding that the law of conspiracy does not require the government “to prove that all of the defendants met together at the same time and ratified the illegal scheme”), cert. denied, 431 U.S. 918, 434 U.S. 827 (1977).

[1] Licenses for India and Pakistan: H.R. 1646 also amended Section 9001(e) of Public Law 106-79, making applicable to munitions authorizations for India and Pakistan the dollar amount thresholds of Section 36 of AECA (i.e., the global non-NATO thresholds of $14/50 million for MDE/non-MDE respectively).

Firearms Notification Requirements: Sales or exports of U.S. Munitions List Category I articles at $1 million or more will also, henceforth, require prior notification to Congress pursuant to a new provision H.R. 1646 added to Section 36 of the AECA. (Exporters are reminded that, as with other notification requirements, contracts and orders may not be split to avoid notification.)

Reports to Congress: Recently posted reports include the Section 655 Report on all authorizations for Fiscal Year 2001 and the End Use Monitoring Report for 2001, which points out the continued need for the utmost care by U.S. defense exporters in assuring that all appropriate measures are in place in order to prevent U.S.-origin military equipment from falling into the wrong hands.

[2] For an example of a State official who espouses this view and has resigned in protest as a result, see the Kiesling letter at

[3] The evidence for this claim is so massive that any choice of references is quite arbitrary, but see for example Forbidden Truth, Jean-Charles Brisard, p.7; Drugs, Oil, and War, Peter Dale Scott, p.xviii.


[5] “Bad Faith Again: An Open Letter to The Nation Magazine,” Media Monitors Network (MMN), May 12, 2003:; “Failure and Crime Are Not the Same: 9/11's Limited Hangouts,” From The Wilderness, November 22, 2003:



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