Sunday, May 07, 2006

Conspiracy Theories Can Drive You Nuts

Dealing with an administration that has felt free to fold, spindle and mutilate information to further their own ends has enabled me to watch shows such as Lost or 24 with a complete suspension of belief, because I know they are going to change the storyline as they go along (unfortunately this clownish administration aren't Indy). For the past five years someone has either been off or on their meds and the average American is forced to deal with the consequences.
Who's Crazy Now? - New York Times: "Of more immediate political relevance is the claim that the reason we hear mainly bad news from Iraq is that the media, for political reasons, are conspiring to suppress the good news. As Bill O'Reilly put it a few months ago, 'a good part of the American media wants to undermine the Bush administration.'

But these examples, of course, aren't what people are usually referring to when they denounce crazy conspiracy theories. For the last few years, the term 'conspiracy theory' has been used primarily to belittle critics of the Bush administration - in particular, anyone suggesting that the Bush administration used 9/11 as an excuse to fight an unrelated war in Iraq.

Now here's the thing: suppose that we didn't have abundant evidence that senior officials in the Bush administration wanted a war, cherry-picked intelligence to make a case for that war, and in some cases suppressed inconvenient evidence contradicting that case. Even so, it would be an abuse of the English language to call the claim that the administration misled us into war a conspiracy theory.

A conspiracy theory, says Wikipedia, 'attempts to explain the cause of an event as a secret, and often deceptive, plot by a covert alliance.' Claims that global warming is a hoax and that the liberal media are suppressing the good news from Iraq meet that definition. In each case, to accept the claim you have to believe that people working for many different organizations - scientists at universities and research facilities around the world, reporters for dozens of different news organizations - are secretly coordinating their actions.

But the administration officials who told us that Saddam had an active nuclear program and insinuated that he was responsible for 9/11 weren't part of a covert alliance; they all worked for President Bush. The claim that these officials hyped the case for war isn't a conspiracy theory; it's simply an assertion that people in a position of power abused that position. And that assertion only seems wildly implausible if you take it as axiomatic that Mr. Bush and those around him wouldn't do such a thing."
All the President's men lied? Say it isn't so. Really.

No wonder the security detail is so large. And well-equipped for any emergency.

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