The Last Ditch -- DOUGLAS OLSON -- I love a conspiracy


The Olson file

I love a conspiracy


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Now, I love a good conspiracy as much as the next guy.

Unfortunately, however, too many of the "next guys" today put their faith in a fantasy scenario that supports a conspiracy instead of accepting the plain truth that explodes — or simply doesn't support — the myth. They would rather believe a transparent lie suggesting a conspiracy than admit that happenstance, coincidence, and human error are much more logical explanations.

One of the many Websites devoted to conspiracies surrounding the 9/11 terrorist attacks on America confidently asserts that no plane flew into the Pentagon on that date — that the facility was instead hit by a missile. That is great conspiracy fodder because it leaves open the question of what happened to the plane (American Airlines Flight 77) and all of the people on it, including Barbara Olson, wife of a high official in the Department of Justice. Did the government kill them all just to hide the fact that they did not plunge into the Pentagon? Are they still being held prisoner in some undisclosed location? What sinister possibilities!

Reasonable people might want to ask another question, namely, why on Earth would the conspirators seize the plane in the first place if they didn't intend to use it? But let's not stray too far into logic with this scenario.

There's one huge problem, which of course the theorists never address: The missile story is simply not possible. The Pentagon sits right on the edge of Interstate 395, the major commuter highway leading from Virginia into the District of Columbia. The building and particularly the part of it that was hit are plainly visible from the road. The plane approached so low and erratically that it unquestionably drew the attention of every one of the thousands of drivers and passengers on that highway during rush hour, and they actually witnessed it crashing into the building. But the theorists think they are so clever, and able to draw such brilliant conclusions, that they can brush off as insignificant thousands of witnesses to the contrary.

I'll be told that eyewitness testimony is "notoriously unreliable." Fair enough, but can we grope toward some consistency, at least? Contrast the case of Flight 77 to that of TWA Flight 800, which fell from the sky right after departing New York's JFK International Airport in 1996. The conspiracy mavens are sure that it was shot down by a missile, although they differ on whether the U.S. military or free-lance terrorists were responsible. In this case, a handful of the many witnesses to the tragedy claim to have seen something rise from the ground or the water and head toward the sky. The testimony of that tiny minority, we are told, is proof of a missile — and of a conspiracy to cover up its existence.

This is the logic of the fever swamp: If a handful of people believe they saw something indicating a conspiracy, they are hailed as witnesses bearing proof. If thousands unquestionably did see something that invalidates the conspiracy theory, they are ignored.

Another aspect of the 9/11 Pentagon conspiracy is the assertion that the assault weapon had to be a missile because no airplane engines were discovered in the rubble. I have seen the assertion, but I've never encountered a reliable source documenting an absence of engines. Such an absence would certainly constitute a problem, but it still would not negate the fact that thousands of people saw an airplane fly into the building.

Consider here my own personal theory about "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq:

Cynical as I am toward our rulers, I am of the definite opinion that the Bush administration sincerely believed Saddam Hussein had such weapons. The most convincing evidence of that is the fact that no WMDs were found. If the entire scenario had been a conscious lie from the beginning, a charade used to invade Iraq, then the U.S. government would have had WMDs ready to plant there to prove its case!

The same logic works for the Pentagon attack — any attempt to mask a missile hit as a plane crash would include the planting of engines, along with other wreckage and masses of bodies. The inexcusable failure to attend to such basic details would certainly cost the agent in charge his right to participate in future conspiracies.

With respect to Iraq, was there a conspiracy of neocons to get the United States to invade that country for the benefit of Israel? Certainly! Was George W. Bush a conscious agent of that conspiracy? I doubt it. Bush is much more believable as a Zionist dupe than as a criminal mastermind.

And we can all agree on that, can't we?

July 19, 2005

© 2005 Douglas Olson.

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