Conspiracies and Pseudo-Skepticism, Part I
Ongoing events, coupled with some discussions I’ve been having in the context of those events, have prompted me to revisit a story which I consider to be among the most telling in terms of the nature of governments, media, and the thought processes that inform them, for better or worse. Such a story as this will take several days to tell properly; consider this blog post to be the prologue.
A few months back, I was set to appear on Russia Today in order to discuss Michael Hastings and General McChrystal and what the incident means for journalism. As a practicing anarchist, I do not appear on state-funded media without causing trouble in the process, and as such I decided that after making my points I would cause a bit of trouble for the Kremlin by mentioning something on a station that serves as its mouthpiece which the Kremlin does not like to see mentioned anywhere. That particular something is the false flag attacks that the FSB perpetrated in 1999 as a justification for the Second Chechen War. My case, which has appeared in various outlets and which has been looked over without opposition by former CIA Directorate of Operations agent Barry Eisler, aforementioned war correspondent Michael Hastings, the fact checker of a New York publishing house, a noted literary agent who is not in the business of representing fairy tales, and other parties, may be found in summary form at this link, although I will have occasion to discuss it in further detail at The League soon enough. In fact, I may be continuing a dormant debate on the subject with Holocaust researcher Sergey Romanov here at The League if our timing is lucky.
The day before I was to go on Russia Today, I had the following conversation with journalist and Antiwar.com founder Justin Raimondo, whose employees had interviewed me for their syndicated radio program on the subject of Wikileaks a few months prior. I had also encountered Raimondo when he left a number of comments on an article I had written in which he accused me of being a hawkish Likud sympathizer, which was certainly a novel charge for me. A mutual friend had told me that Raimondo was familiar with the network so I sought out his opinion on my intended prank, not realizing that his own socio-political tendencies would prompt him to oppose it. I include the entirety of our conversation here, without comment until tomorrow, when I will analyze it for the purpose of making a point about the nature of information flow in modern society.
me: Justinnot sure if you remember me8:47 PMat any rate, I’m going to be on Russia Today tomorrowand I understand that some of your people have appeared on thatplease let me know your opinion of the stationif you get a moment8:48 PMJustin: Nothing wrong with RT. but any state-owned or subsidized media outlet is suspect.me: yesJustin: Theuy’ll let you talk, however, and the women they send — invariably women — are quite comely.8:49 PMme: that would seem to be their modus operandiI will be on liveare you familiar with the 1999 Russian apartment bombings?Justin: yeah, the plan is to mesmerize you with some buxom lassie thrusting them at you: hopefully it will make you pro-Russian. Hahahahah8:50 PMthose bombings were carried out by chechens, NOT the Russkies my friendme: not likely, the breasts will not even be in the same roomI knowI have written an article about thisand part of a chapter on my upcoming book explains itJustin: The Litvinenko story is BS.8:51 PMme: but the people at Russia Today do not seem to have looked into me very thoroughlyJustin: why should they?they have a lot of air time to fillme: trueat any rateI want to know if they would have a delay8:52 PMor any means of preventing me from addressing their audienceJustin: well they edit of course: u aren’t going to come out with some anti-Russian tirade, r u?me: wait, I misunderstood you aboveyou say the official story is correct?8:53 PMthat it was the Chechens?Justin: Who else? The Americans?me: The FSBJustin: This is the russian equivalent of 9/11 trutherismand just as wackome: on the surface, yes8:54 PMinsomuch as that both involve governments killing their own citizens in order to carry out some objectivethis one involves a Russian government doing itJustin: please.8:55 PMThe idea that the Russians bombed themselves makes no sense. If the Putinites can’t demonstrate that they’re in control of events, that they can protect the russian people, then why should anyone put up with all their bullshit?me: but the Russians did put up with itin fact, Putin’s share of votes went from two percent to electability-range in just a few months8:56 PMJustin: I’m aware of the campaign by Beresovsky and other exiled oligarchs to promote this crazed idea.Putin was never at two percentme: I’m aware that not everyone who has promoted this idea is on the side of the angelsnot two percent approvaltwo percent share of the vote in a poll previous to the bombing8:57 PMJustin: I suppose you also believe the Litvinenko-was-poisoned-by-the-Russians — and so was that Ukrainainan who got elected Prez.It’s all the KGB — the Evil Russians.Where have we heard all this before?that was before your timeme: When you pushed the Israeli art student story, perhaps?8:58 PMwhich I did not discountsimply because it can be rephrased to sound sillyJustin: Don’t blame me for the art students story — blame Fox News.me: I don’t blame anyoneI am saying that both of us have tread in waters that others find to be off-limits or crazy8:59 PMJustin: the idea that the Israelis were interested in bin Laden’s lads is hardly crazy, no matter how u rephrase itme: likewise, it is hardly crazy to suspect that the KGB folks might kill their fellow Russians and lie about itas they spent much of the 20th century doing that very thingJustin: on the other hand, there is NO credible evidence that Putin bombed his own peopleme: on a vaster scale9:00 PMexcept that three FSB agents were arrested at the scene of one failed bombing?that the FSB later claimed it was a drill?but that the apartment they used had been rented months before the bombings began?9:01 PMI am simply asking you to consider the evidence before you discount it, particularly when we are discussing the possibility of a government doing something unethicalJustin: Three FSB agents arrested at the scene is not evidence of anything: what were they arrested FOR?me: for planting the bombJustin: arrested by whom?me: actually, they were arrested after fleeing the sceneby the local policewho used bomb-sniffing equipment to verify that the explosive was hexogen9:02 PMJustin: I don’t believe a single word of itme: same substance used in other bombingsI see thatI probably can’t persuade you, thenJustin: the only fashionable, socially acceptable conspiracy theories seem to be anti-Russian. that in itself could form the basis of a very convincing conspiracy theory9:03 PMme: this one is not even socially acceptable, I have had people turn on me for brining it upin fact, I have nothing to gain by promoting itJustin: but George Soros and the exiled Russkie oligarchs have very deep pockets.9:04 PMme: Yes, Soros’ deep pockets have been noted quite a bitJustin: he hates russia. witness the Kosovo warhe funded the pro-war “grassroots” organizations like the “Balkan Action Council.”9:05 PMme: I am not involved with Soros anymore than you are involved with PutinJustin: and why were the serio-comic Russian “moles” suddenly arrested — after being watched for 10 years.me: who is of course quite pro-war himselfI don’t knowa conspiracy?Justin: why now?9:06 PMI don’t know the answer to that question.me: I don’t know, I only express opinions on things after having duly looked into themJustin: I’ve been covering the russophobia of the neocons and their allies on the “left” since the beginning of antiwar.com, in the 1990s.so I’ve duly looked into it.9:07 PMme: I don’t doubt that you have looked into thatAnd I’m aware that certain parties oppose Russia for the wrong reasonsthis does not discount the possibility of Russia having engaged in poor conduct9:08 PMnor does it discount the necessity of looking into possibilities before dismissing them9:09 PMJustin: go for it.