Showing posts with label 9/11. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 9/11. Show all posts

5/28/2015

In Defense of the Worst Libertarians


Search for the "worst types" of conservatives or liberals and you'll find just what you expect, the blue team attacking the red team, and vice versa.  It makes logical sense, likely born out of an instinct to distrust and fight the neighboring tribe.  Rather than look for complex answers to the question of why a world with such technological wonders can be so screwed up, it's easier to blame the other team for not voting the right way.

Alas, libertarians don't have it so easy.  We lack a consistent 49% to 51% voting bloc, creating a constant tug-of-war with friends and family split evenly down the middle.  Libertarians see the rulers, the ones who weld a monopoly of violence, against everyone else.  It's not the left vs. the right; it's all of us vs. the State.

But the State is so abstract, so far way.  Few of us have the opportunity to be in contact with a real "enemy" - a Bush or a Clinton or a Rockefeller.  We need closer, more tangible enemies to explain our own shortcomings.  So maybe that explains articles like this, The Top 10 Worst Kinds of Libertarians, written by a libertarian who purports to examine our faults as a movement so that we can be more successful.  If our enemies are ignoring us, we might as well attack each other.

Full disclosure: I identify with more than half of these categories, so I must be the worst of the worst.  I was hoping for a perfect 10, but I don't consider myself to be a creeper, a jerk, or a bigot - so that knocks me down to 7.  When it comes to smoking pot, I abstain not because "libertarians must point out the negatives of drugs", but because drugs are a trap set by the government to make you a slave, so that puts me at a solid 6.

There are two ways to respond to this article.  The first is by dismissal by pointing out what libertarianism is: a philosophy concerned with the permissible use of violence.  While some believe that social contracts or special costumes grant the ability to initiate violent acts against the innocent, libertarians believe that all such aggressions are illegitimate.  As Lysander Spooner wrote, the government is worse than a highwayman. Rothbard identified the State as a gang of thieves writ large.  So what is the point of calling out those of us that are jerks, pot-smokers, or "anti-science"?  These attributes have nothing to do with our core philosophy.  A libertarian can be a church-going social conservative or a drug addicted atheist philanderer; abide by the Non-Aggression Principle and both are equally libertarian.

However, I find myself in the unique position to relish scoring a 6 out of 10, so rather than dismiss the article, I'll defend the "worst libertarians".  While these are characteristics that have nothing to do with being a libertarian, I wear them like a badge of honor.  Not only that, but it's not often that I find so many of my favorite fallacies contained in a single article, so for that alone I am grateful to the author.

In Defense of Conspiracy Theorists


Starting at the very top, the #1 worst kind of libertarian is the "conspiracy theorist".  We can answer this charge merely by defining our terms.  A conspiracy theory is a hypothesis that two or more people secretly did something illegal.  Unbelievable!  Yes, libertarians may believe that aggressive violence is impermissible, thereby relegating all coercive acts of government as illegitimate, but accuse them of secretly doing something illegal?  What kind of monster are you?

In all seriousness, it's one thing to use the term "conspiracy theory" in a derogatory way when the CIA first "weaponized" the term in the 1960's.  There is no excuse when it is 50 years later and there are dozens of declassified, main line "conspiracy theories", from the Gulf of Tonkin attack that never happened to the NSA's illegal spying which continues to this day.  A person who is awake to libertarianism but brushes off conspiracy theories as preposterous must be pitied; the mental gymnastics required to hold such contradictory views must cause the most painful cognitive dissonance.

With all due sympathy to the author, let's review the patently lame arguments he presents against conspiracies:
"It is truly amazing that the same types of people who believe that the government is far too inept to plan a central economic structure think highly enough of that same bureaucracy to surmise that state actors could orchestrate a full-scale ruse upon the public.  There is a simple line of thought that destroys nearly every conspiracy theory ever to exist: if this were ever to happen, it would necessitate the involvement of hundreds, if not thousands of individuals; for the conspiracy to go unnoticed, not one of those parties involved could ever reveal the slightest hint.  Furthermore, there would be millions, if not billions of dollars in media waiting for someone who would break such a story."
There are three false arguments here, and unfortunately, they are the same ones I've seen countless times before.  The first, however, is unique in that you only hear it from fellow libertarians and fiscal conservatives.  It comes down to this: how can the government be incompetent in one area (central planning), but clever in another area (conspiracies).

However, this question just highlights a subtle but important point in the case against central economic planning.  The problem is not that the individuals attempting to orchestrate the central plan aren't clever - the problem is they are trying to make decisions without the benefit of the pricing system.  No individual, group of individuals, or even a super computer could direct scarce goods and resources to their optimum place in space and time as well as the pricing system, which coordinates all mankind's true preferences as expressed by their choice to buy or not buy in a global marketplace.

This is really the same fallacy that Hayek describes in Chapter 10 of The Road to Serfdom, "Why the Worst Get on Top".  Hayek's point is that whatever the character of the dictator, angelic or demonic, incompetent or clever, the mission of central planning is doomed from the start.  Hayek's great insight is that when the carefully laid plans of the czars inevitably result in shortages and surpluses, shoes without laces and cars without wheels, the economic dictator will come to a decision point: "assuming dictatorial powers or abandoning his plans", such that "the totalitarian dictator would soon have to choose between disregard of ordinary morals and failure".

The reason the government cannot plan a central economic structure also explains why we can expect increasingly immoral and corrupt individuals to be the ones governing.  While those in the market economy are busy specializing in their profession, be it art, athletics, or business, those in government are specializing in how to govern: how to achieve power and stay in power through whatever means necessary.  They specialize in the art of blackmail, bribes, back-room deals, insider trading, and all forms of violence and corruption.  Do not confuse the State's inability to centrally plan the economy with inexperience in orchestrating a "full-scale ruse", several wars founded on lies that have killed millions of innocents and continue to this day should be evidence enough of this fact.

The second fallacy comes straight from talking point number 4 part C of the declassified CIA Dispatch 1035-960: a conspiracy would require too many people, and someone would talk.  But even since the 1960s the answer to this misbelief hasn't changed: it's called compartmentalization and the most obvious example is the Manhattan Project.  It was October 9th of 1941 when President Roosevelt approved the atomic program, and it wasn't until the bombings of 1945 that the 100,000 people involved in the program even knew what they were a part of.  As written in a 1945 Life article, "[p]robably no more than a few dozen men in the entire country knew the full meaning of the Manhattan Project, and perhaps only a thousand others even were aware that work on atoms was involved."

However, compartmentalization only answers the question of how hundreds or thousands of people could work on something "like moles in the dark" and not be aware of the end result, there would still be some people that would know the truth.  The answer to this belief that "someone would talk" is to point out… people have talked!  One doesn't have to look any farther than Sibel Edmonds, the "most gagged person in American history".  But she's just one notable example in the 9/11 Truth Movement.  There are hundreds of professionals in the military, intelligence service, and the government, as well as architects, engineers, and pilots who question the "conspiracy theory" put out by the government in favor of a different conspiracy - and that includes the co-chairs of the 9/11 Commission Report!

Ah, but what about the millions and billions of dollars in media just waiting for the right gumshoe reporter to break the story?  Again, maybe this type of argument would work for mainline republicans or democrats who religiously watch MSNBC or Fox News, but is this really supposed to speak to libertarians?  In a world where all major media outlets are owned by 6 corporations with intimate ties to the military industrial complex, does this argument even deserve a response?  Perhaps the author just recently became a libertarian and is unfamiliar with the media's coordinated treatment of a certain libertarian congressman from Texas during his presidential runs of 2008 and 2012.  Ultimately, the best person to respond to this would be Gary Webb, who was a true believer in the media until his exposé of CIA drug running caused his entire profession to turn against him.  He realized his prior success was an illusion, because in all his previous works he "hadn't written anything important enough to suppress".

In Defense of Purists


More horrifying than creepers, jerks and even bigots is the dreaded "purist", coming in as the #2 worst kind of libertarian.  According to the author, the libertarian purist drops a turd in the punch bowl just to ruin the party.  This contrarian by nature compares libertarian credentials as an "artificial contest" simply for the perverse goal of sabotaging the movement.  There is no "perfect libertarian", so the author says we should welcome a broad group of individuals as long as they are "willing to lessen the size and scope of government", "willing to defeat government overreach", "reduce taxes and keep government accountable", or have the correct positions on spending and surveillance.

Interesting that when offering various criteria that could be used to judge one's libertarian credentials the author never speaks the words of the twin pillars supporting our entire philosophy: Self-Ownership and the Non-Aggression Principle.  Reducing taxes and the scope of government may be positions compatible with libertarianism, but they certainly do not define it.  Our philosophy is not a random hodgepodge of political issues that change with the wind.  We have something much stronger, much more beautiful than that.

So what would a "perfect libertarian" be in theory?  Here's an answer: someone who believes in these two foundational principles and uses perfect logic to apply them to every issue pertaining to the use of violence in society.  This person may have unimpeachable libertarian credentials and yet could be a far stretch from being a perfect human being.  This duality of being a perfect libertarian but a flawed person is entirely consistent when libertarianism is defined within its proper scope.  It has nothing to say about whether people should be charitable or stingy, accepting or intolerant, egalitarian or elitist.  This is the heart of why libertarianism can reach such a diversity of people: refrain from initiating violence against the innocent and you can live your life as you see fit.

So there you have it, three cheers for the purists!  It is a title to which we should all aspire.  It is especially important when all kinds of bizarre distinctions are being thrown around which try to expand libertarianism beyond its function.  "Thick vs Thin", "sophists vs brutalists", there are even those who purport to combine libertarianism with goals of social justice and somehow arrive at supporting a government mandated minimum wage!  For those that have such goals, fine, let's form alliances and work together on issues with which we find common agreement, but the purists must ensure those individuals do not abuse the term libertarian and distort our message.  Someone must be the vanguard against those that are hopelessly confused or actively trying to subvert our cause.

In reality, there are very few issues that cause serious disagreement among libertarians.  Every Libertarian Party national convention highlights the two biggest ones: minarchism vs. anarchism and abortion.  The LP's model for handling this difference of opinion is one that should be followed.  Whether one wishes for a night-watchman state limited to purely defensive services or goes bravely forward to a full-blown anarcho-capitalist utopia free from any organization with a monopoly of violence, both sides can agree that we are so radically far from both of those end-states that we might as well work together and settle our differences once we're there.  Hence, the Dallas Accord is a tacit agreement from the LP's founding that all statements in our platform will be sufficiently vague to satisfy both anarchists and minarchists.  For instance, we may say there is a maximum role for government in offering defensive services, which logically allows for a minimum role of government that does not exist.  The LP platform makes the same principled compromise on abortion, simply stating that since libertarians of good faith will forever disagree on this issue, we can at least agree that government should be kept out of the matter and move forward from there.

Stick to the Non-Aggression Principle and keep an open mind to those rare cases where libertarians can make passionate arguments on both sides.  For those that hold positions totally inimical to the N.A.P, then let's enlist them in our "liberty friendly" alliance and make progress towards common goals.  That is a recipe for big-tent libertarianism and success.

In Defense of the Hard Core


Using terminology straight from the lexicon of what Tom Woods would call the gate-keepers of allowable opinion, "Neo-Confederates" are listed as the fourth worst type of libertarian, and "civil disobedience warriors" take the #7 slot.  The author states that there is no libertarian reason to defend the confederacy because the CSA was not itself libertarian.  When it comes to those that "endanger one’s own life and liberty to protest" minor laws that appear to be just, those that are sent to jail are " being in fact not principled, but selfish in their pursuits of liberty and justice".

How could a libertarian defend the wicked "neo-confederates"?  Simple, first unask the leading question and examine what libertarians are really supporting: the right of secession.  After we abandon the convenient myth that the Civil War was fought over slavery and accept that the southerners and northerners were both guilty of many crimes, first of those being slavery, we have a simple decision to make.  Can you defend the right of secession even if you don't agree with the culture of the seceding group, or do you throw your lot in with the invading army?  Put another way, do you have the courage to defend the freedom of speech from a group who has terribly nasty things to say, even if they are racist or sexist? Do you have the conviction to defend the rights of religious fundamentalists not to bake a cake, even if their refusal is based on homophobia?

These are serious questions.  It's easy to talk about standing up for people's rights when everyone agrees with how they are exercised; it's much harder to defend unpopular speech and politically incorrect decisions.  This is the difficult but logical consequence of the Non-Aggression Principle.  We libertarians have plenty of potential responses to vices, but violence isn't one of them.  If the author of the "worst libertarians" list can't even muster the imagination to foresee this argument, then no wonder he takes such a bizarre stance as to call the "civil disobedience warriors" selfish for sacrificing their liberty in defiance of unjust laws, or as he would smugly call it, "rabble-rousing".

Just think of how far we've come, from a nation of rugged individualists who were willing to risk their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor for their cause, to these nervous nellies that are terrified to plainly state their beliefs in the fear of hurting someone's feelings. Lysander Spooner showed the way: he wrote and spoke and used every medium he could to spread a bold and unflinching libertarian message, he engaged in civil disobedience to the point of conspiring in support of slave rebellions, and he was one of the strongest supporters for the south's right to secede.

The fact of the matter is that we need libertarians of all kinds, armchair intellectuals and hard-core activists.  Some people just don't find the same pleasure in debating the exotic cases of libertarian thought as others do, they want to see action, to feel like they are doing something to make a difference.  Someone who is ready to "walk the walk" will do far more to get people out of their comfort zones and motivate the kind of action we need than those that just talk.  After all, our great conclusion is that the State is nothing more than a gang of thieves, so what better way to teach this lesson than to show that all of its dictates, even the most minor infractions, are ultimately backed up by the real threat of kidnapping, imprisonment, and death.  This is the bizarre "social contract" we've signed, and we owe a debt to the "civil disobedience warriors" for reminding us of this unfortunate fact.

Conclusion

Should libertarians be conspiracy theorists, purists, or civil disobedience warriors?  There is a time and place for everything.  When running as a candidate for the Libertarian Party, one is there to represent libertarianism, not to promote 9/11 truth, the benefits of a Paleo Diet, or a love of juggling because libertarianism, as rightly defined, is neither here nor there on these issues.  So while libertarianism has nothing to say as to whether or not you should subscribe to conspiracy theories, question government funded science, or long for a world where the noble right of secession was not cursed with the connection of slavery, I for one think libertarians would benefit from being open to these ideas.

Just as conspiracy theorists that don't have an understanding of libertarianism and Austrian economics could be led down the false path of the Zeitgeist movement, those that are confined within a "range of allowable opinion" that stops thought like a shock collar whenever terms like "conspiracy theory", "anti-science", "neo-confederates", or other derogative terms are used will not appreciate the full scope of the challenge we face.  If you can be scared out of these opinions, you can be scared out of any principled libertarian stance, and we desperately need those brave enough to defend the undefendable.

It comes down to this; people are not the same and will respond to different messages.  For many, an unapologetic and fiery defense of freedom will inspire hearts and minds where a half-measured wet-noodle libertarianism will fail.  Some may first start down the rabbit hole via research into a particular conspiracy theory, and when confronted with a problem without a solution, will then stumble upon the glories of libertarianism.  Thus, we need libertarians well versed in conspiracy research just as we need purists and "civil disobedience warriors" that will energize our movement with the boldness of their words and deeds.  We probably even need those like the author who sit safely in the camp of government-approved libertarians, as people like him may spark a small flame in the minds of those who would otherwise be quickly scared off from a libertarian message revealed too boldly in all its consistency and implications.  But if that flame is to grow, than we must be open to the full expression of the libertarian message, not spending time writing half of us off on "the worst" lists.

10/30/2014

Government Drug Dealing: from "Kill the Messenger" to "Pinocchio"

“For the better part of a decade, a San Francisco Bay Area drug ring sold tons of cocaine to the Crips and Bloods street gangs of Los Angeles and funneled millions in drug profits to a Latin American guerrilla army run by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, a Mercury News investigation has found.

This drug network opened the first pipeline between Colombia's cocaine cartels and the black neighborhoods of Los Angeles, a city now known as the "crack" capital of the world.  The cocaine that flooded in helped spark a crack explosion in urban America and provided the cash and connections needed for L.A.'s gangs to buy automatic weapons.

It is one of the most bizarre alliances in modern history: the union of a U.S.-backed army attempting to overthrow a revolutionary socialist government and the Uzi-toting "gangstas" of Compton and South-Central Los Angeles."
These are the opening sentences of Gary Webb's three-part series "Dark Alliance: The Story Behind the Crack Explosion".  Published for the San Jose Mercury News, Gary Webb's year long investigation culminated in the "most talked about piece of journalism in 1996".  It was released on the internet at the same time of its print publication, making it one of the first national security stories to "go viral" by bringing the Mercury's website over 1 million hits a day.  "Dark Alliance" prompted congressional hearings by Rep. Maxine Waters, an internal CIA investigation in 1998, and now, 18 years later, a major motion picture starring and produced by Jeremy Renner.

The movie Kill the Messenger is based on the book of the same title by Nick Schou, subtitled How the CIA's Crack-Cocaine Controversy Destroyed Journalist Gary Webb.  In the film, Gary Webb (Jeremy Renner) is cryptically warned by a Washington insider, "They’ll make you the story", and that, more than the CIA-Contra-Cocaine controversy itself, is what the book and movie are about.

In today's era of Snowden's NSA revelations and government distrust at an all-time high, the allegations made in the Mercury series and Gary Webb's follow-up book Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Cocaine Explosion seem almost quaint in comparison.  While it was as early as 1986 that the government publicly acknowledged that cocaine smuggling was funding the CIA-backed Contras, Gary Webb was the first one to answer the question of where that cocaine went and where the money came from.  The answer was found in "Freeway" Rick Ross, the "king of crack" who sold $3 million worth of coke a day, bought 455 kilos a week, and in today's dollar had earnings over 2.5 billion between 1982 and 1989.  Rick Ross was a true entrepreneur in his field.  Unlike typical drug dealers, he didn't get bogged down in petty street rivalry because the whole nation would be his market.  He would introduce himself to other dealers by giving them a kilo for free and then offering them his price that was $10,000 per kilo lower than anyone else, thereby turning all of his would-be competitors into customers.

The reason "Freeway" Rick Ross had a seemingly never-ending supply of the cheapest, purest product was because his supplier was Oscar Danilo Blandón - a protected CIA asset.  Blandón sold cocaine through Nicaraguan kingpin Norwin Meneses and thereby funded the "freedom fighting" Contras against the Sandinista government.  While Webb's investigation sparked outrage across the country and prompted many black leaders to accuse the government of purposefully creating crack to destroy inner city minorities, "Dark Alliance" never claimed anything so conspiratorial. What it claimed, and what the CIA's 1998 investigation later admitted, was that the CIA worked with known criminals as a "means to an end" and merely looked the other way when it came to their drug smuggling activities.

Yet, for such a tame accusation, the major papers of the time unanimously rose against Gary Webb and denounced his reporting, his sources, and his ethics - even making straw man arguments by claiming that he went farther than he did in his accusations.  In the beginning of the attack his editors stood up for him, even writing a letter to the Post saying, "While there is considerable circumstantial evidence of CIA involvement with the leaders of the drug ring, we never reached or reported any definitive conclusion on CIA involvement.  We reported that men selling cocaine in Los Angeles met with people on the CIA payroll.  We reported that the money raised was sent to a CIA-run operation.  But we did not go further."

But soon his editors betrayed him. The Los Angeles Times assigned 17 reporters to join the "Get Gary Webb Team", with Nick Schou writing that some former LA Times writers thought it was their mission not to investigate the allegations but to debunk them, commonly saying "We're going to take away this guy's Pulitzer".  Ultimately, they printed more material attacking "Dark Alliance" than the 20,000 words that comprised the series itself.  When the Mercury editor printed a letter acknowledging that some mistakes were made in "Dark Alliance", it was seen as a full retraction and sealed Gary Webb's fate as a professional journalist.


While many reviews of Kill The Messenger are favorable, often echoing Nick Schou's conclusion that "his big story, despite major flaws of hyperbole abetted and even encouraged by his editors, remains one of the most important works of investigative journalism in recent American history", there are still elements that want to downplay the truth that Gary Webb exposed.

Keeping in the tradition of his former peers at the Washington Post, Jeff Leen, the current assisting managing editor of investigations, says that Gary Webb was "no journalism hero", that an "extraordinary claim requires extraordinary proof", the Hollywood version of the story is "pure fiction" and finally, he believes it "significant" that the 1998 CIA internal investigation "found no CIA relationship with the drug ring Webb had written about."

Of course, Gary Webb addressed this problem of the CIA investigating itself in Dark Alliance.  CIA Inspector General Fred P. Hitz appeared before the House Intelligence Committee in March 1998 and after admitting that the agency did not cut off relationships with drug traffickers that supported the Contra program, he testified "the period of 1982 to 1995 was one in which there was no official requirement to report on allegations of drug trafficking with respect to non-employees of the agency, and they were defined to include agents, assets, non-staff employees".  As Webb explained, "the CIA wouldn't tell and the Justice Department wouldn't ask" - so no wonder the CIA didn't find any relationship to drug traffickers - they didn't have to keep any records!

That such a response from the Post could still be given today reminds me that Walter Pincus, the Washington Post reporter who had been assigned to debunk "Dark Alliance", had collaborated with the CIA in spying operations in the late 1950s and early 1960s and openly written about it.  It's also interesting that in promoting their new film, Focus Features presents an article Unbelieveable but True that details six political conspiracies that "turned out to be true".  The first conspiracy they document is Operation Mockingbird, which details how the CIA recruited and worked with 25 news organizations and 400 journalists to create pro-American propaganda and "help paint the appropriate image of United States foreign policy".

With curious timing, less than two months ago the CIA declassified a six page article titled "Managing a Nightmare: CIA Public Affairs and the Drug Conspiracy Story."  As described by The Intercept, "Dark Alliance" was initially a disaster for the CIA that "could hardly be worse", but luckily, due to “a ground base of already productive relations with journalists", the CIA was able to sit back and watch "with relief as the largest newspapers in the country rescued the agency from disaster, and, in the process, destroyed the reputation of an aggressive, award-winning reporter."

Was it a lucky coincidence that large papers with formal ties and "productive relations" to the CIA came out so aggressively to attack Gary Webb?  It's probably just as much of a coincidence that Gary committed suicide with two shots to the head.  While Nick Schou makes a strong case that Gary Webb killed himself due to depression from his "controversial career-ending story - and the combined resources and dedication of America's three largest and most powerful newspapers" combined with going off anti-depressants, financial woes, and having to move back into his mom's house after being denied by both his ex-wife and ex-girl friend, others view the suicide with understandable skepticism.


According to Alex Jones, he had interviewed Gary Webb a dozen times over the years and reports that months before his death Webb had told him he was "receiving death threats" and was "regularly being followed".  Jones states that Gary Webb was working on a new book that would vindicate his claims and he wanted Jones to build a website to host all of the documentation, similar to how the San Jose Mercury News hosted the material for the original "Dark Alliance" series.  Freeway Rick Ross also recalls Webb speaking about a new book and his gut feeling is that "they killed him, because I think it's pretty hard to shoot yourself in the head twice."  If Jones and Ross are correct, it would be odd timing for Webb to commit suicide on the verge of publishing a new book and building a website to reclaim his reputation, but it would be the perfect time to be murdered.

When reflecting on his expulsion from the journalistic community, Gary realized that the reason he'd had prior success wasn't because he was a careful and diligent reporter, but because he "hadn't written anything important enough to suppress".  If Gary Webb had gone deeper down the rabbit hole there would have been no limit to the amount of additional evidence he could have found establishing the relationship between the CIA and drug dealers across the world.  There is so much information to be found that the film Kill the Messenger, far from being an exaggeration, is just the tip of the iceberg and doesn't go far enough.  Instead, when taking the evidence in its entirety, the reality we face is a nightmare scenario only found in a children's tale.

CIA Cocaine Trafficking Collaboration

The documentation and allegations of CIA drug trafficking are legion, so where to begin?  We could start with former Panama leader General Manual Noriega's decades of drug-trafficking under CIA protection that only ended when his connection became a PR liability.  Venezuelan General Ramon Guillen Davila was another CIA asset that smuggled tons of cocaine into the US with CIA approval.  In more recent times, the Costa Rica Star reported on a curious shipment of 24 tons of cocaine that was loaded onto a U.S Air force transport aircraft in route to Miami.  In the category of poetic irony, two blemishes in the history of the CIA collided on September 24, 2007 when a CIA torture plane ran out of fuel over the Mexican Yucatan Peninsula.  Jet aircraft #N987SA, known to have been used on at least 3 rendition flights to Guantanamo's torture chambers, was carrying 3.6 tons of cocaine when it crashed.  How embarrassing when the "logistical coordinator" for a top Mexican drug-trafficking gang that was responsible for purchasing the jet told the U.S. District Court in Chicago that he had been a government asset for the DOJ, DEA, FBI, ICE and Homeland Security since 2004.

These examples are noteworthy for their historical legitimacy, but there are plenty of other whistle-blowers that directly confirmed Gary Webb's accusations of the CIA's cocaine complicity.  When the black community of South Central L.A. was at its height of unrest over the "Dark Alliance" revelations, CIA Director John Deutch made an unprecedented move by going directly to L.A. and speaking at a town meeting.  His plan to placate their concerns and promise that he'd "get to the bottom of this" fell to pieces when he was confronted by former Los Angeles Police Department officer Michael Ruppert.  Ruppert told Deutch that "the agency has dealt drugs throughout this country for a long time" and referenced three specific agency operations - the crowd went wild, chanting "we told you".

Another whistle-blower tied to Gary Webb was former DEA agent Celerino Castillo III.  Castillo spent 12 years at the DEA where he assembled and trained anti-narcotics teams in several countries and raided drug rings from New York to the Amazon.  But it all came to an end one day in El Salvador when he was given a tip to investigate possible drug smuggling by Nicaraguan Contras.  As documented in his book Powderburns: Cocaine, Contras & The Drug War, Castillo discovered that the Contra pilots were smuggling cocaine using the same pilots, planes, and hangers as the CIA.  He thoroughly documented dates, places, names and DEA file numbers, bringing his superiors reams of evidence warranting a full scale investigation.  Instead of being commended he was told to back off.  When he kept going he was reprimanded and then placed under an Internal Affairs investigation that would help destroy his marriage, his career, and nearly his life.

Someone that would not succeed in escaping this controversy with his life was suspected CIA agent Barry Seal, infamously known as "the most successful drug smuggler in American history, who died in a hail of bullets with George Bush's private phone number in his wallet."  According to Daniel Hopsicker's Barry & 'the boys': The CIA, the Mob, and America's Secret History, Seal had an active role in scandals such as the Bay of Pigs, the Kennedy assassination, and Watergate - but his most well-known and undisputed role was in the Iran-Contra Affair.  Seal owned and operated numerous planes out of the CIA cocaine drop point at the municipal airport of Mena, Arkansas.  This included the plane used in the DEA sting operation against Pablo Escobar and other members of the Medellín Cartel to implicate the Nicaraguan Sandinista government.  In the height of hypocrisy, one month after Seal was murdered, one of the photographs that Seal took was paraded on television by Reagan to suggest that top Sandinista government officials were involved with drug smuggling in order to boost support for the Contras.

When the IRS came to seize Seal's property and claimed that he owed back taxes for 30 million made in drug dealing, Seal's response was a presumptuous "Hey, I work for you… we work for the same people!".  When that didn't work, he started making threats that "If you don't get these IRS assholes off my back I'm going to blow the whistle on the Contra scheme."  One week after that conversation he was sentenced to a halfway house as a condition of his plea bargain, making him an easy target.  Within two weeks he was dead, shot to death in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on February 19, 1986.

Another CIA asset that knew Barry Seal, worked with him, and confirms his drug dealing and money laundering activities was former Air Force Intelligence operative Terry Reed.  In Reed's book Compromised: Clinton, Bush, and the CIA, he documents how he was recruited into the Contra operation by Oliver North himself.  Reed was initially recruited as a pilot instructor to train the Contra pilots at rural airstrips in Mena, Arkansas.  His last tour of duty was in South East Asia to equip the Cambodians to fight a covert war - a skill set that was very transferable for the Contra operation.

At Mena, Reed was introduced to Barry Seal, who he was told was the CIA contractor who had the contract work to equip the Contras.  Reed was told that George Bush himself was overseeing the project to insulate the executive branch from constitutional violations and he even encountered then Arkansas Governor Bill Clinton during this time.  Barry Seal told Reed that more than $9 million a week was dropped from planes at Mena that were laundered through an investment banking firm with direct ties to Clinton.  But where did that money come from?

For two years Reed didn't understand that question.  He worked with the Contras "with blinders on" until one day in 1987 when he came face to face with a C130 filled with tons of cocaine stored in ammo crates.  Like others before and after him, Reed asked for a full-scale investigation that went directly to Oliver North, causing him to be labeled a "security risk" and a threat to the operation.  While Oliver North is a well known key player in Iran -Contra, Reed was the one to go on record putting George Bush and Bill Clinton squarely in the middle of the CIA-Cocaine-Contra-Arkansas loop.  When Hillary Clinton said that we can't legalize drugs because "There is just too much money in it", Reason magazine assumed it was because she didn't understand how drug prohibition itself causes the high prices.  But instead, maybe Hillary meant exactly what she said.

The Politics and Money of Heroin

Suffice to say, the Washington Post and the Las Angeles Times didn't find the CIA-cocaine testimonies of Michael Ruppert, Celerino Castillo III, Barry Seal, or Terry Reed compelling enough to corroborate Gary Webb's "Dark Alliance".  However, these individuals were making claims far more bold than Gary Webb ever did.  Instead of pointing to agents that "looked the other way", they had direct knowledge of the CIA-Contra-Cocaine policy being run by the highest levels of power, from the director of the CIA all the way to the presidency.

Taking a step back on the conspiracy spectrum, we can review the work of Alfred W. McCoy, a well-respected academic who holds his Ph.D in Southeast Asian history from Yale University.  In McCoy's voluminous work The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, he goes through great lengths to document his thesis that organized crime throughout American and Europe collaborated over several decades to establish new centers of opium production, heroin refining, and distribution in Southeast Asia that was often aided and accelerated by the CIA.  His detail-oriented book is known as the first to prove CIA and U.S. government complicity in global drug trafficking, something that even CIA mockingbird papers can't deny.

McCoy writes,
"Looking back on the forty years of the cold war, it is clear that the CIA's four major covert wars transformed tribal warlords into major drug lords and protected covert assets from criminal investigation.  Under the pragmatic policy of accepting any ally effective against Communism, the CIA used tribal leaders for proxy warfare in the mountains of Asia, unconcerned when these same warlords used its protection to become drug lords.  In the history of drug trafficking during the cold war, there is repeated coincidence between CIA covert assets and major dealers."
In the 1950's you find the CIA working with the Corsican Mafia to fight communism at the expense of strengthening them as they became America's leading heroin supplier.  At the same time, two of the CIA's covert wars developed the Golden Triangle drug trade, giving arms and logistics support to the Nationalist Chinese (KMT) in Burma that turned the region into the worlds largest opium producer.  The same thing happened in Laos during the Vietnam War, with the CIA working with opium-growing Hmong tribesmen and Laotian generals to create heroin laboratories and direct routes to ready buyers, first to the U.S. forces in South Vietnam and next to the U.S. domestic market.  Into the 1980's the CIA's support for Afghan guerrillas aligned with Central Asia becoming the major heroin supplier - and we've already heard enough about the Nicaraguan cocaine trade.

For McCoy, he looks at this legacy of CIA complicity and finds plausible answers that ring of the theme "the ends justify the means":
"American drug agents, with limited budgets and side arms, tracked the drug flow as it moved toward America, occasionally intercepting a shipment but never approaching the source…
...
Their ultimate enemies in this war on drugs were … ruled … with the arms and support of the CIA and its allied agencies.  In the invisible bureaucratic battle for these strategic highlands, the DEA's weak, distant attempts at drug interdiction were overwhelmed by the CIA's direct alliances with drug lords.
...
Critics who look for the CIA's agents to actually dirty their hands with drugs in the line of duty are missing the point.  Under its covert warfare doctrine, the CIA avoided direct involvement in combat and instead worked through local clients whose success determined the outcome of the agency's operation.  The CIA's involvement thus resolves around tolerance for, or even complicity in, drug dealing by its covert action assets - not, in most instances, any direct culpability."
McCoy's magnum opus ends in several key questions: Was the agency ever allied with drug traffickers, did the CIA protect these allies from prosecution, and did the CIA's alliances with drug lords contribute significantly to the expansion of the global drug trade?  To those three questions, he gives a resounding yes, beyond any doubt.  When it comes to the question of, "did the CIA encourage cocaine smugglers to target African-American communities", McCoy takes a queue from Gary Webb:
"Instead of targeting downstream drug flow, the CIA, in its mission myopia, simply ignored it.  The agency's complicity in the drug traffic was an inadvertent consequence of its tactics of indirect intervention through paramilitary operations.
...
Whatever the global impact of CIA covert warfare might have been, the agency's alliances with drug lords has left, in the aftermath of the cold war, a domestic legacy of illegality, suspicion, and racial division.  From their mission myopia, CIA agents fighting secret wars in Laos, Pakistan, and Central America seemed to regard narcotics as mere "fallout" - even when the victims were U.S. soldiers in South Vietnam or Americans in the inner cities."
Apparently, as if 60 years of CIA complicity in drug-trafficking wasn't enough, the fallout must continue.  This year, publications such as Business Insider and the Guardian have reported the embarrassing statistic that, despite spending over $7 billion on counter-narcotics efforts since 2001, opium cultivation is at an all-time high in American-occupied Afghanistan.


So let's get this straight.  In July of 2000 the Taliban declared growing poppies un-Islamic and led one of the most successful anti-drug campaigns of all time, resulting in a reduction of 99% of the opium poppy farming and cutting off roughly three quarters of the world's supply of heroin.  Next comes a supposed attack by men mainly from Saudi Arabia on 9/11, so we do the logical thing and invade Afghanistan.  According to McCoy, it's an unfortunate coincidence that given we had to fight the Taliban we had to ally with regional warlords that just happened to be the country's top drug pushers - and then we're off to the races.  Afghanistan's opium cultivation and heroin production were revived as if the 1 year drought had never happened and now we're seeing all time highs - an “unprecedented” 523,000 acres of opium poppy in 2013.

If that isn't enough to get you thinking, recall the bizarre Geraldo interview of Marines openly guarding the opium fields of Afghanistan.  Geraldo reports that if the U.S forces were to destroy the opium then "the population would turn against the Marines".  But don't worry, they are confident that providing the local Afghans with resources and alternatives will help them grow things like wheat, watermelon and cucumber.  What a "dilemma" they are in, we should all feel sympathy for that Marine because guarding the opium just "grinds in his guts".  Who could have guessed that instead of having record bumper crops of cucumbers we are setting a record in heroin production?

Follow the money and it's pretty easy to guess.  With Afghanistan now producing more than 80% of the worlds opium and the estimated value approaching $3 billion, you have to ask where all that money is going.  Are Afghan drug lords putting it all under their mattresses?  No - worldwide drug organizations launder their billions through the largest banks and any google search will find countless examples of bankers admitting to money laundering on massive scales with hardly a slap on the wrist in response.

In April of 2006 when a DC-9 jet was seized by Mexican soldiers with 5.7 tons of cocaine valued at $100 million, the real prize was the paper trail exposing banking complicity in laundering billions of dollars.  The investigation ended with Wachovia settling the biggest action ever brought under the US bank secrecy act, paying a measly $100 million in forfeiture and a $50 million fine when the bank was sanctioned for transferring some $378 billion dollars without applying the anti-laundering regulations.  That's almost half a trillion dollars, one-third of Mexico's gross national product, and they paid a fine less than 2% of the bank's 2009 profit.  To make matters more humiliating, Wachovia was then acquired by Wells Fargo during the 2008 crash as it gobbled up $25 billion in taxpayer money for the Wall Street bail out.

This is hardly the only example of large banks getting caught with billions of drug dealer money.  HSBC paid a hefty $1.9 billion fine to settle money laundering accusations after a Senate report alleged they were "playing fast and loose with U.S. banking rules" and doing business with Mexican drug lords, with their affiliate HSBC Bank Mexico going through $7 billion in a single year.

Citigroup was hit with enforcement actions for breakdowns in money laundering but they were able to get away without admitting wrong doing.  Citibank had $1.8 million seized from drug dealer accounts after a massive undercover money laundering investigation, but only after Citibank had moved $300 million through their accounts known to be tied to Mexican drug dealers because they "had not realized that anything might be amiss".

Whole books are dedicated to the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI), which takes the title of "the outlaw bank" and "the dirtiest bank of all".  What a surprise that there are indications that CIA officials were involved in the founding of BCCI, with Alfred McCoy pointing to evidence that "the boom in the Pakistan drug trade was financed by BCCI".

But where would we be without one last "ends justifies the means" argument.  The UN's drug and crime chief says that during the height of the banking crisis of 2008 $325 billion in drug money was laundered by the major banks and kept the financial system afloat.  It was "the only liquid investment capital available" to those fine institutions of the public good.  So not only do we need the CIA working with drug dealers to fight our covert wars but we need that drug money to keep our banking system propped up too!  If it weren't for the millions of lives that are absolutely ruined in the drug war, you'd think there was no down side to this story.

Who Benefits, Who Suffers?

Far off in Washington, sitting at the top of their would-be world empire, our leaders look down on us common folk with pity.  How could we understand the tough choices that must be made?  To cook an omelet you have to break some eggs. What's more important, stopping a nuclear 9/11 or allowing a few more kilos of cocaine or heroin to hit America's streets?  As Dick Cheney said, "We have to work the dark side, if you will.  We’ve got to spend time in the shadows in the intelligence world...  It’s going to be vital for us to use any means at our disposal to achieve our objective."

As McCoy concluded in The Politics of Heroin, we have two choices, "We can either deny the agency the authority to conduct covert operations, or we can accept that these missions will involve the CIA in criminal alliances that may well compromise some future war on drugs."

So let's assume that we accept the premise that our national interest extends across the globe in a way that forces our highest government officials to work side-by-side empowering, collaborating, and protecting the largest world-wide drug trafficking networks.  I get it, "drugs are bad", but there are other ways for society to deal with vices.  What really keeps us from having a rational discussion about prohibition and ending the hypocrisy where a government asset can do one thing with total impunity but someone without a special badge can do the same thing and have his life absolutely ruined?  If we are a nation of laws and not of men, then this schizophrenic policy must not continue.

As documented in books like Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces and A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, we've gone from a country raised on Andy Griffith and "peace officers" to battle-hardened "law enforcement" troops - and this change could never have happened without the specter of the drug war.  Today we have 80,000 SWAT teams raids per year, some 220 per day.  They were sold to Americans as the necessary response to Uzi-toting gang-bangers, but now they are in 80% of small towns across the country.

The personal examples of how the drug war utterly destroys innocent families are endless and horrifying.  "Smoke a joint, Lose your Kids", says the Huffington Post.  We're not talking about child abusers here, these are parents that are using legally prescribed medical marijuana to treat diseases like epilepsy and multiple sclerosis only to have their children kidnapped by CPS workers that are far more likely to abuse them.

Her name was Alexandria Hill
One particularly horrible example recently took place in Round Rock, Texas.  The parents of Alexandria Hill made the biggest mistake of their lives when they admitted that they had smoked some pot after putting her to bed.  For his act of "neglectful supervision" the Texas CPS stole her away and put her in foster care.  While the Hill's maintained that Alex had never been hurt, abused, or gone to the hospital while with her family, the first home the state put her in quickly had her coming to her visitations covered with bruises.  The next home they put her in would be her last, as she would be air-lifted to a hospital where she would later die due to blunt force trauma to the head.  Ironically, an investigation into the foster parents revealed the foster father himself had been twice convicted of selling marijuana.

Her name was Rachel Hoffman
Consider the story of Rachel Hoffman.  She was a bright young lady, having just completed her bachelor's degree from Florida State University.  She smoked marijuana occasionally and her troubles started when she was arrested for having some weed during a traffic stop.  Months later her apartment was searched and revealed more government-trafficked contraband which prompted the police to give her a choice: turn over other dealers or face the wrath of the state.  They eventually pressured her into participating in a drug sting, giving her $13,000 in cash to purchase 1,500 pills of ecstasy.  Scared out of her mind, with no training or supervision, her attempt at playing secret agent with the police got her summarily executed by the dealers, her body discarded in a ditch fifty miles away.

The children of John Horner
Finally, in a story that the Atlantic called "a heartbreaking drug sentence of staggering idiocy", you have all the elements of injustice come together: a first time "offender", entrapment by a police informant, and a zero-tolerance jail sentence.  John Horner, a 46-year-old fast-food worker, was legally prescribed painkillers for an eye he lost in 2000. When a "friend" related the pain he was under and asked for help, John agreed to sell him some of his pills.  The "friend" was a police informant and John was sentenced to 25 years in prison.  He has three children and he will be 72 when he's released.

It may be the stories of untimely deaths of the innocent that tug at the heart strings and stir our sensibilities the most, but it's arguable that serving 25 years, 25 years, is a far worse fate.  But at least with a 25 year sentence Mr. Horner can dream of the day when he'll see his children all grown up with families of their own.  For many others they have no hope at all.  A 24 year-old named Tyler was given life without parole for mailing LSD to a friend and he is one of thousands of examples of nonviolent drug offenders that will spend their entire lives behind bars.  An ACLU report reviewed 646 life sentences and instead of finding murderers and rapists, 83% of the time they found nonviolent "criminals".  The ACLU shakes their heads at the waste of it all, $1.8 billion in cost to the tax payers to house 3,278 such inmates.  But is it a waste?  To whom?  Where is that money going?

This is where the individual parts of the government drug running conspiracy come together, as it all begins to make a kind of sick sense: Private Prisons.  As reported by non-US media, America enjoys Chinese style labor camps from coast to coast, bringing the stockholders of America's for-profit prison industry a healthy return on investment with a cheap and readily available workforce.  They aren't just making license plates.  During a time of high unemployment, millions of prisoners are performing slave labor for companies like Chevron, Bank of America, AT&T, Starbucks and Walmart in a variety of industries such as "making office furniture, working in call centers, fabricating body armor, taking hotel reservations, working in slaughterhouses, or manufacturing textiles, shoes, and clothing".

That's right, the next time you call customer support for a company or government agency you're probably talking to a poor soul that's behind bars for possession of government-run narcotics.  The Fed calls it "the best-kept secret in outsourcing", making hundreds of millions a year with their 75-year-old "Federal Prison Industries" program that deceptively markets itself through company names like Unicor.

When the inmates of private prisons aren't busy raising Tilapia fish for Whole Foods, they enjoy extracurricular activities such as getting raped, being placed in solitary confinement for weeks and months at a time, beatings by security guards, fighting off giant rat infestations, and eventually resorting to madness or suicide.  The best part is if the cops aren't catching enough people using government-run drugs then the private prison corporations can always pay off the judges to keep their prisons full and their profits up.  The documentary Kids for Cash relates one such instance where a Pennsylvania Judge was caught and sentenced to 28 years for accepting more than $2 million in bribes for jailing over 3,000 juveniles - some only 10 years old.

Conclusion - The True Story of Pinocchio

Just like when I woke up and saw how 100 different puzzle pieces only formed a coherent picture when taken together, watching Kill the Messenger in isolation may result in one walking away with the feeling that the story of government drug-dealing must be exaggerated.  Sure, there may be a few bad apples, but let's not throw the baby out with the bath water.  Instead, take a look at decades of government complicity, collaboration and encouragement of worldwide drug-dealing, from the forests of Nicaragua to the mountains of Afghanistan.  Think of the hundreds of billions of dollars of drug money laundered through the largest and most prestigious banks on the planet.  Contemplate the additional billions spent by tax payers to "fight" a hopeless war that does nothing to stop drugs, but if anything just takes out the government's small-time competition in the drug-dealing business.  Finally, review the network of industries making hundreds of millions in building jails, housing inmates, and profiting off of their slave labor.  Taken together, this is something so diabolical it only belongs at the doorstep of a shadowy group like the Illuminati.

Our predicament is so awesome in its scope and sinister in its consequences that it's easier to grasp by relating it to a children's tale.  In the movie Pinocchio, the young puppet is lured away from his loving father and the guidance of his conscience to a place called Pleasure Island.  Here, Pinocchio can drink, smoke, gamble and engage in other vices with his peers without a care in the world.  But the owner of Pleasure Island, the one who encourages the children to engage in vices, the one who runs the "drugs" of Pleasure Island, he's not providing this service from the good of his heart.  No, this enterprise is going to make the owner a lot of money.  Once the children have crossed the line and tasted of his forbidden fruit a magic spell transforms the helpless boys into donkeys.  After their metamorphosis is complete they are stripped of their human remnants, packed into crates, and shipped to the salt mines by shadowy figures to work and die - all for the benefit of the owner and all according to his master plan.

If there is one honest and effective anti-drug PSA out there it would be this: don't do drugs because it's a TRAP.  The criminals that run the planet ship the drugs, launder the money and handsomely profit when the legal system catches drug users and turns them into slaves.  Don't do drugs: don't become a jackass like the prisoners of Pleasure Island.

9/21/2014

How I Woke Up

We've just passed the 13th anniversary of 9/11 and now, more than ever, individuals on all sides of the 9/11 spectrum are demanding to know more about what really happened on that day.  On one side you have the co-chairs of the 9/11 commission report, Lee Hamilton and Thomas Kean, who have called for the 28 classified pages of the 9/11 commission report to be released in the public eye.  As more and more congressmen and senators read those pages for themselves, a growing coalition on the right and left is forming behind a bill that would declassify them for all to see.  On the other side of the 9/11 spectrum you have Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth (AE911 Truth) making unprecedented ground in their cause.  AE911 Truth is a major force behind the High Rise Safety Initiative, which has collected tens of thousands of signatures from New Yorkers and is currently fighting and appealing various legal battles to ensure a ballot measure will be put to the voters that would require the NYC Department of Buildings to investigate the causes of high-rise building collapses in New York City, starting with World Trade Center 7.  AE911 Truth has also put up a video billboard in Times Square this month showing millions of New Yorkers the 6.7 second collapse of WTC 7 and challenging them to "Rethink 911".

But for the 9/11 truth movement, one of the most exciting events is a new documentary called Anatomy of a Great Deception.  It has been getting great reviews from the 9/11 truth community and Richard Gage, founder of AE911 Truth, is calling it "the best chance in years to push the 9/11 debate into the mainstream".  So what is so revolutionary about this movie? Does it have new information or new evidence? No, the hype around this documentary is not because of the evidence it presents, but the way it presents it.  It's not overloaded with ten thousand questions and puzzle pieces of evidence concerning the various reasons to doubt the official story.  Instead, it's a personal story, a story of how one man stumbled upon an innocent question that lead him to another question, and then to another, until months later he was on the brink of personal disaster.  David Hooper is a successful businessman and entrepreneur; and in this very personal film he relates how his research destroyed his world view and almost ruined his most precious relationships with his wife, family and friends.

As Hooper describes the genesis of this film, "I began assembling footage to visually relay what I had found for my wife, my sister, and a couple of dear friends.  This footage turned into the documentary The Anatomy of a Great Deception."  Hooper's amateur documentary succeeded to convince his family where other documentaries failed.  As word of mouth spread, Hooper decided to raise money to take his film to the next level and professionally release it so that others in the 9/11 truth community could share it with the people in their lives.

Several years ago, for various reasons, I decided that I would not promote 9/11 truth in the same way that I unashamedly promote libertarianism and Austrian economics.  Yet, I can't honestly describe how I've come to be the person I am today and carry the beliefs that I do without going back to 9/11.  More specifically, not 9/11, but WTC 7.  Like Hooper, that building shattered my world view and set me on a course of investigation that would completely transform my belief system.  So in the same spirit that Hooper took when telling his story, I will tell mine.  My purpose is not to try to convince anyone to accept my beliefs, I've given up on that long ago.  I merely hope this will help others understand my journey.

WTC 7 and Me

The most transformative event of my life occurred on Saturday, April 15th, 2006 - Easter weekend.  I was completing my Senior year at the University of Iowa and I had recently taken an internship at the Operator Performance Laboratory instead of pursing a 3rd summer with my door-to-door book selling career.  I had completed the math and physics classes required for all engineers, and now that I was taking my upper level courses in Electrical Engineering things were really starting to get interesting.  The seemingly abstract world of calculus and differential equations was finally made real as I learned how to apply those concepts to understand the physical phenomena of the world around me.

It was under this context that I went home for the holiday weekend and my youngest brother showed me a video that he had accidentally found while searching for Tool music videos.  Someone had intentionally mislabeled a 5 minute video called "Painful Questions" to trick people like my brother into downloading it.  He was shocked and scared by what he saw, and he didn't discuss it with anyone until I came home for a visit.

He told me he had a video that I needed to see, I watched it, and my whole world was turned upside down.


It's hard to remember my exact reaction, but I was in a state of total shock, my mind racing at the consequences of what I saw.  I watched it again and again to make sure I could believe my eyes.  The video was a condensed version of a longer documentary by Eric Hufschmid called Painful Deceptions.  While the full length documentary covers many aspects of 9/11, this 5-minute version only discussed a sky scrapper called World Trade Center Building 7, or WTC 7, which I had never heard of before.  In this crude and unprofessional video I was quickly made aware of a few key facts:

  1. On 9/11 there existed a modern 47-story steel-framed skyscraper called WTC 7.
  2. This building was not hit by a plane on 9/11, but it did catch fire on several floors.
  3. At 5:20 pm on 9/11 this building "collapsed" into its own footprint in 6.7 seconds.

That's all I had, 3 inconvenient facts and the video of it "collapsing" from multiple angles over and over again.  Right away I saw this could not have been a fire-induced "collapse".  What I saw looked identical to a building that was brought down in a controlled demolition.  But that conclusion was too painful, it immediately brought question after question: Who was responsible for bringing this building down?  If WTC 7 was a controlled demolition, does that mean the Twin Towers were too?  If so, then that means people in the government were involved.  How was I not aware of this event?  Does that mean elements of the media are in on this too?  How could people be so evil?  How could a conspiracy this big and this important be hidden from me for so long?

I didn't have answers to any of those questions.  For all I knew, myself, my brother and the maker of this video might be the only 3 people in the world that were aware of this evidence.  I couldn't wrap my head around the giant implications of this revelation, but I had seen all I needed with my own two eyes.  Eric Hufschmid's video might have also brought up the fact that the maximum temperature of an office fire is 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit while the melting point of steel is 2,700.  It might have shown me examples of other sky scrappers that had burned longer and hotter than WTC 7 but weren't even weakened, let alone brought down.  It probably pointed out that no sky scrapper in history had ever collapsed due to fire.  It might have mentioned a character named Larry Silverstein, the man who told fire fighters to "pull" WTC7 and whose recent acquisition of the lease for the Twin Towers 6 weeks before 9/11 would allow him to collect billions in insurance claims.  It might have even shown examples of reporters saying WTC 7 collapsed before it did, most notably the BBC reporting it had collapsed while it was still standing and visible in the background!

But I didn't need any of that.  The three inconvenient facts were all I needed and they could not be refuted.  No one denied that this mysterious building existed and fell on 9/11 and the rest I could see for myself from the video evidence.  The height of this building and the speed in which it "collapsed" were a matter of public record.  And that is the key that woke me up - the fact that this building "fell" so fast and into its own footprint, the path of most resistance.

In physics I had learned how calculus could take me from the velocity of a moving object to the change in velocity (acceleration) to the change in acceleration.  In statics I learned how to calculate the opposing and combining forces of objects at rest - how various forces would act against "static" objects like weights, dump trucks and buildings on ramps, pulleys and wires.  I knew how the law of conservation of momentum applied to inelastic collisions and how kinetic energy and gravitational potential energy would be converted to other forms of energy like heat and sound.  So when I saw the videos of WTC 7 coming straight down in 6.7 seconds I knew that fire and gravity alone could not have caused this.  Why?

David Chandler, the retired physics teacher who forced NIST to admit in its final report that WTC had 2.25 seconds of complete free-fall acceleration, puts it this way:
“Anything at an elevated height has gravitational potential energy.  If it falls, and none of the energy is used for other things along the way, all of that energy is converted into kinetic energy – the energy of motion, and we call it ‘free fall.’  If any of the energy is used for other purposes, there will be less kinetic energy, so the fall will be slower.  In the case of a falling building, the only way it can go into free fall is if an external force removes the supporting structure.  None of the gravitational potential energy of the building is available for this purpose, or it would slow the fall of the building.
...
[P]articularly striking is the suddenness of onset of free fall.  Acceleration doesn’t build up gradually...  The building went from full support to zero support, instantly...  One moment, the building is holding; the next moment it lets go and is in complete free fall...  The onset of free fall was not only sudden; it extended across the whole width of the building...  The fact that the roof stayed level shows the building was in free fall across the entire width.  The collapse we see cannot be due to a column failure, or a few column failures, or a sequence of column failures.  All 24 interior columns and 58 perimeter columns had to have been removed...  simultaneously, within a small fraction of a second.”
That explanation spoke to my education, but I thought of a much simpler way of finding the absurdity in this situation.  Without even having to perform the calculations myself, I could go to a simple free fall calculator online and execute a thought experiment.  Knowing the height of WTC 7 was 190 meters, I could plug in my own weight and the air resistance coefficient for a person sky diving and calculate the time it would take for me to fall that distance in free fall acceleration.  The answer: 6.75 seconds...  So if I had jumped off the top of WTC 7 the moment it started "collapsing", I would have hit the ground only 1/20th of a second faster than the roof did?  What hits first, my falling body with nothing but thin air underneath, or WTC 7 with 40,000 tons of structural steel to crash through?  The question answers itself.

I could fall the same height of WTC 7 in 6.75 seconds, only 0.05 seconds longer than it took WTC 7 to "collapse".

It didn't add up, and I knew that I couldn't go back to my normal life and forget about this information.  My world view had been shattered.  I didn't understand the big picture, but I knew that I needed to reset my biggest assumptions about how the world worked and do some serious research to understand how this event could be possible.

Down the Rabbit Hole

To my great relief, over the next few days I found that there was a whole movement of people well aware of the evidence calling into question the official story of 9/11.  I watched dozens of documentaries that exposed me to more and more information like Loose Change, 911 Press for Truth, and what became one of my favorites, 9/11 Mysteries: Demolitions.

I read the testimony of Sibel Edmonds, the FBI translator for terror-related communications and the "most gagged person in the history of the United States of America" who said 9/11 was executed by the "highest levels of NATO, the U.S., M16, CIA and the Pentagon."  I listened to the harrowing story of William Rodriguez, the last man out of the Twin Towers who saved countless lives by leading firefighters up the stairwells with his master key. Unsurprisingly, I had never heard his testimony of bombs going off in the basement before the planes hit.

I wanted to know all I could about 9/11 and along my journey I found claims that made sense to me and plenty of claims that didn't hold water.  Some people said that no planes hit the buildings - that they were holograms!  Others said only space beams or secret direct energy weapons could account for the buildings collapse.  Others claimed that it was all a conspiracy orchestrated by "the Jews".  I found documentaries and YouTube comments that were downright hateful, bigoted, ignorant, and devoid of logical thinking.  Before long I realized that I knew enough about 9/11, in fact I had known all I truly needed to know in the first 5 minutes with my 3 painful facts concerning WTC 7.  I didn't need to know exactly what really happened on 9/11 - whether it was space beams or nano-thermite that brought down the towers didn't add much value.  If WTC 7 could not possibly have been a fire-induced collapse, if that part of the official story was a lie, then the rest of the narrative goes with it.

The big question was cui bono, who benefited?  Who had the motive, the means, and the opportunity to pull this off?  I recalled going to the theatre to see Michael Moore's film "Fahrenheit 9/11" and walking away unconvinced.  If this was all about making money off oil sales it seemed like there were easier ways to get it done.  Eventually I stumbled upon Alex Jones and his film Terrorstorm: A History of Government Sponsored Terrorism.  Now the rabbit hole was getting deep and splitting off into a dozen different directions. From the first time I tuned into the Alex Jones Show he begged his listeners not to believe a word he said but to research the facts for themselves, and I took him up on that challenge.  Every guest he had was an expert on a different topic pointing me to research Eugenics, the Franklin Cover-up, government drug trafficking, the fluoridation of the water supply and a dozen other topics that I would have dismissed as "conspiracy theories" in my old mindset but now I was willing to approach with an open mind.  One of his guests was producer and director Aaron Russo and I watched his documentary America: Freedom to Fascism.  His film sent me back 100 years to 1913 where I started researching the creation of the Federal Reserve and the origin of the income tax.  Now that international bankers were in my sights, my research took me to Antony Sutton and the powers that bankrolled both sides of the greatest wars of the last century including WW1, WW2 and the cold war.  Finally, I started reading the words of the conspirators themselves, books like Tragedy and Hope and The Anglo-American Establishment by Carrol Quigley, The Grand Chessboard by Zbigniew Brzezinski, white papers like Rebuilding America's Defenses by the Project for a New American Century, and declassified documents like Operation Northwoods.

As I processed all of this information found in countless books, reports and documentaries a coherent picture started to emerge.  This picture was composed of a hundred puzzle pieces and 9/11 was just one of those pieces to the larger puzzle.  If I took any one of these other pieces and examined it in isolation I could see how one's first reaction would be to discard it.  "What is more likely, that this one particularly conspiracy theory is real or that everything I know is wrong?"  But when you have a hundred of these instances the odds flip in the other direction and now evidence of an "invisible hand" guiding these events seems more and more plausible.  This force is composed of the most inner circles of banking, government and military found in groups like the Council on Foreign Relations, the Bilderberg Group, and the Order of Skull and Bones.  Some call the this group the Illuminati, Gary Allen called them the Insiders, Alex Jones refers to them as globalists, the John Birch Society described them as a "conspiratorial cabal of internationalists, greedy bankers, and corrupt politicians", and the most popular name of all is what many top government and banking elites refer to as the New World Order.

9/11 Truth Evangelicalism

Once I felt that I sufficiently understood enough of the big picture that I could explain the "who, what, and why" of 9/11, I began spreading the word all day, every day.  First I would burn DVDs of my favorite documentaries to hand out to friends, family, classmates, co-workers and strangers - anyone that would listen.  Then I learned about the activists in Alex Jones' home town of Austin, Texas.  They started a student group called Project for a New American Citizen (PNAC), a play-on words of the previously mentioned Project for a New American Century, a think tank composed of top government officials in the bush administration that infamously longed for a "catastrophic and catalyzing event––like a new Pearl Harbor".

Knowing there is strength in numbers, I formed a chapter of that student group at the University of Iowa and started trying to recruit other activists.  When I was invited to speak at PNAC's conference in Austin, "Rebuilding America's Senses", I met the men behind Brave New Bookstore.  Instead of burning 1 DVD at a time myself, I would order 100 or 500 DVDs and ship them straight to the bookstore.  They would use their superior equipment to burn them all in a fraction of the time and send them to me, professionally labeled, ready to distribute.  Now I could take my activism to the next level.

I networked with the campus anti-war group (those things still existed when the red team was in charge) and secured a booth at their rally.  I made a giant banner for our table and relished the opportunity to hand out DVDs and fliers for our scheduled campus meeting.  I used our status as a recognized university student group to get funding and to set up a table at the student union so that everyone could know why "9/11 was an inside job".

Ultimately, I didn't have much success gaining the kind of converts I wanted.  I expected people to have the same reaction I did when shown WTC 7.  If that particular piece of evidence didn't have the effect I expected, then I had an entire arsenal of 9/11 questions to throw at them - surely something would stick.  But instead, only a handful of people had the same "awakening" that I did, where they recognized the importance of this information and went on their own quest to research and find the truth.  In retrospect, I didn’t have much at all to do with those people, they had the type of life experience or personality that would set them onto that path whether or not I had intervened.  Instead, the majority of people reacted in one of a few ways to my 9/11 Truth evangelicalism:

  • Some claimed to understand what I had shown them but then took an ostrich approach to the information.  One person literally said, "You are right about this, but you shouldn't talk about it."  That statement boggled my mind.
  • Others would agree with me when I talked to them, but then if they encountered someone else preaching the opposite view they would change their tune like a leaf in the wind.  They weren't convinced by the evidence, they were just easily persuaded by anyone that spoke with authority.
  • The vast majority weren't convinced by the evidence I presented.  My carefully presented arguments would elicit an emotional response and the next thing we're in an argument.  In the case of a close friend or family member we would end with a stalemate to save the relationship, there are some topics that we just don't talk about.

I didn't come to the conclusion that I should change tactics until the professor that I worked for asked me about my new beliefs.  This was a man I highly respected.  He held multiple advanced degrees in Electrical, Mechanical, and Industrial engineering.  When I worked at his lab I saw him accomplish feats of technical ability that truly humbled me and showed me how much I had to learn.  I did my best to just stick to the scientific facts around WTC 7.  I thought that since that was the evidence that woke me up it had the best chance of getting through to him.  After some back and forth debate I drew a picture on the whiteboard to illustrate my closing argument.  It was a long vertical rectangle on one side (to represent one of the Twin towers) and next to it was a square 1/5th the size of the rectangle suspended in the air.  I asked him, "explain to me the mechanism that would allow the structure to the left to crash through itself and come to the ground at nearly the same speed that it would take the structure to the right to fall through the air".

If there's any reason to question 9/11, the speed and the manner in which the buildings fell is it.

He looked at me and said, "I don’t believe people can be that evil".  And that was it.  We didn’t speak of it again, and frankly, the wind was taken out of my sails.  I realized then that there were some topics that are just too painful to try to push on people and 9/11 was certainly one of them.  Like the Matrix, no one could be told what 9/11 truth is.  You have to see it for yourself.

Changing Tactics: From Negative to Positive

It was around the time that I was becoming disillusioned with 9/11 Truth activism that I stumbled upon a series of YouTube videos of Michael Badnarik's constitution class. This was my 2nd great awakening. After the first 2 segments I was hooked and I proceeded to watch the entire series in one sitting.  He is the one that first taught me the difference between rights and privileges and how they are interconnected with the concept of property.  The consistent logic and common sense of his arguments rang true - even if he held some radical views like "just about everything the government does is unconstitutional".  Learning that he was a presidential candidate for the Libertarian Party, I started reading about libertarianism.  From there I heard about a book called Economics in One Lesson.  Reading that book was my third awakening.  Henry Hazlitt introduced me to the Austrian School of Economics and for the next few years all my free time was spent reading the works of its greatest thinkers, from the founder Carl Menger, to the heroic Ludwig Von Mises, to the man that would become my intellectual mentor through his works on history, economics, ethics, and libertarianism - Murray Rothbard.

Unlike my other awakenings where there was a clear event that separated a former way of thinking from a new world view, my transition from a constitution-supporting minarchist libertarian to a full-blown rothbardian anarcho-capitalist came gradually.  I don’t recall a particular doubt that was shattered as a grand event but I do know that it was through reading Rothbard that the economic, ethical, and even practical case for individualist, property-rights based anarchism made more and more sense.  With all arguments for the "middle of the road" night-watchmen state laid to waste, there was only two logical places to go: full-blown socialist collectivism or to the logical conclusion of libertarianism, anarcho-capitalism.

This second and third awakening was just as important as the first because it showed me what I was for, not only what I was against.  Libertarianism taught me the moral case for freedom: how the consistent application of the non-aggression principle would solve most, if not all of the conflicts we encounter in society.  Austrian Economics teaches the consequences of whether or not we follow the non-aggression principle. It shows how voluntary interactions lead to wealth creation, to capital formation, and to a rising standard of living for everyone.  On the flip side, when we abandon voluntary and peaceful solutions and go to the government with our problems, the laws of human action dictate that scarce resources will be misallocated, wealth will be squandered, and we will be worse off than we would be otherwise.

Without a solid foundation in economics and an ethical / political philosophy, it's easy to be lead astray by anyone that claims to have a common enemy.  For instance, the documentary Zeitgeist became very popular and also spoke to the 9/11 truth community.  However, as the solution for the problems in the world it endorsed getting rid of all money and entering a resource-based economy where all decisions would be dictated by a technological elite with the promise that everything would be free. With an understanding of what money is and how free-market economic decisions ultimately guide scarce resources to be efficiently allocated these pipe dreams are easy to see through.  But without that understanding a 9/11 truther may be jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire.

The other big difference these final awakenings had was to my effectiveness as a communicator and an activist.  From an end-point perspective, I want as many people to join my cause as possible.  So looking at it practically, it is a very difficult and possibly fruitless undertaking to convince someone of a giant conspiracy so that they are against what the New World Order is pushing.  Instead, you can teach logic, economics, and libertarianism so that one naturally ends up at the very same solutions.  This line of attack also allows people to keep the commonly held assumption that the government is filled with well meaning people at all levels.  Once someone finds a hundred examples of government policies that have the opposite effect of the claimed goal, the next logical step is to question if our elites and leaders can really be so intelligent and successful in some areas while completely ignorant and incompetent in others.  At that point one may independently come to the conclusion that it is much more likely that some of our government leaders simply have a different set of secret goals that are not communicated to the public because they are not in our best interest.

Conclusion

In April of 2006 there was no official story on WTC 7.  The 9/11 Commission Report didn't devote a single sentence to the third worst structural failure in history.  That in itself was revealing to me but now that NIST has provided its final report in November of 2008 defenders of the official story are in an even more indefensible position.  At least with no story one could speculate on mysterious causes for WTC 7's collapse such as diesel tanks that may have been stored in the building or entire sections that may have been scooped out by debris without any photographic evidence showing it.  But now NIST's final report has come out and it explicitly states that fire alone caused the collapse and those other factors did not contribute!  Yes, that's right, a heretofore unknown phenomenon called "thermal expansion" explains how normal office fires caused a chain reaction of a "key critical column" to fail and that alone set off a "rapid succession" of structural failures that resulted in a 47 story building laying in a pile of rubble.  I'd call this the "death star" theory of WTC 7.  And while on the one hand I recognize how ridiculous all this is, I always try to keep in mind how difficult this information is to others - even to fellow libertarians or Austrian economists.

Understanding that there is a place and time for everything, I keep my multi-layered beliefs separate based on the type of activity I'm engaged in.  I find that some 9/11 Truth activists continue to talk about 9/11 all day, everyday, whether they are at a libertarian event, a Mises circle, or the local city council meeting.  And on one hand I can't blame them - I used to be that way myself.  But instead of using that approach I like to think of my interactions with others as carefully going through a series of filters.

If I'm interacting with someone that is a die-hard member of the republican or democratic party I'll ask a series of questions related to economics or libertarianism to see how well I can poke holes in their belief that the use of government violence is the best way to solve the issues of society.  If I'm talking to a John Stossel type of libertarian I will try to challenge them to strengthen their foundation by digging deeper into Rothbard and the works of other Austrian economists.  If I'm talking to a fellow anarcho-capitalist, someone that is well aware of the state's crimes and is courageous enough to think we are better off with no state than with one, then that's when I'll start pushing their boundaries when it comes to "conspiracy theories".

There are many entrances to the rabbit hole and while the "collapse" of WTC 7 was the starting point for me that doesn't mean it should be the starting point for everyone.  Looking at the history of false flag attacks on America, 9/11 is just one of many and it's notable only for its boldness.  When the Golf of Tonkin was admittedly faked and resulted in the death of some 3.1 million people in the Vietnam war, or one looks at the false narrative that justified dropping atomic bombs on civilian cities, or the west's involvement in funding Mao Zedong and the mass murder of 60 million people - what are 3,000 deaths compared to that?  Admittedly, the people behind that event were full of hubris and confident in their control over the American booboisie to think they could blow up buildings in broad daylight and get away with it - and that in itself is noteworthy as it shows just how serious a predicament we're in.  But as every 9/11 anniversary comes to pass and every additional false flag event wakes up another wave of people and re-energizes the truth community we'll see if their gamble pays off.
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