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Monday, October 06, 2014

Crazy conspiracy theories

Naomi Wolf is in trouble for suggesting that there is something funky about those beheading videos.
Wolf went on to write several other posts insisting she was not "calling into question the authenticity of the ISIS videos" while arguing independent verification was indeed necessary to authenticate the recorded beheadings. Wolf accused the news media of "badly distorting" her comments Sunday in a rather lengthy, elliptical post and further tried to silence her critics by citing the insight she gained into how political narratives are crafted while advising former President Bill Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore.

"So all the people who are attacking me right now for 'conspiracy theories' have no idea what they are talking about … People who assume the dominant narrative MUST BE TRUE and the dominant reasons MUST BE REAL are not experienced in how that world works," she wrote.
I can't disagree with that last sentence.

Do I think that the videos were staged? I've toyed with the notion, but for a number of reasons, that oft-heard claim now seems pretty unlikely. Granted, I'm hampered in my analysis by the fact that I simply don't want to look at the evidence. I asked the opinion of a friend of mine who is a professional video editor. He didn't want to look at the evidence either. Forensically speaking, the matter rests there -- at least as far as this blog is concerned. You may want to consult other blogs run by people of stronger stomach.

A close look at Wolf's original statement indicates that she was primarily concerned not by the authenticity of the beheadings but by the "backstory" we've been given vis-a-vis the captives:
Ok....two of the hostages just happened to go from long careers into the military to...sudden humanitarian work? (same was true of the latest British hostage.)
Seems like a legitimate question to me.

Nevertheless, Vox has published a rejoinder titled "The insane conspiracy theories of Naomi Wolf." This article somewhat misrepresents Wolf's positions.

When it comes to insane conspiracy theories, the world has adopted a blanket policy of "left eye open; right eye blind." The right wing lives, eats and breathes conspiracy theories. Everyone knows that if you turn on Fox News or right-wing radio, you probably won't have to wait very many minutes before you hear someone spew an outrageously unlikely exercise in paranoia. Our reigning Conspiracy King is Alex Jones, beloved of Drudge and hater of liberals.

Today, Rush Limbaugh told his radio audience that Barack Obama has implemented a plan to infect America with Ebola as payback for slavery. Now that's a truly insane conspiracy theory. If Naomi Wolf took a lifetime supply of crazy pills in one swallow, she still couldn't come up an idea as nutty as that one. We must give Limbaugh cudos for creativity.

Were Wolf's words really that wacky? Look at the context. Quite recently, our government scared the world with tales of an all-new terror group called Khorasan, which many people now say is fictional. Last year, John Kerry assured the world that he possessed hard proof that Assad masterminded the sarin attacks. His "proof" was also an exercise in fiction. And let's not even get into the lies we've been told about Ukraine.

When compared to modern day realities, Naomi Wolf's "insane" theorizing is downright mundane.
thanks for the post and to ben for pointing it out to me.. i agree with your overview here..
indeed this "Ok....two of the hostages just happened to go from long careers into the military to...sudden humanitarian work? (same was true of the latest British hostage.) is an important and ignored detail.. too much bs in everything the war party touches to avoid asking hard questions, or keeping an open mind - which incidently scares the shit out of right wing types.. james

This is where the Democratic tool sites, like TPM, serve to shoot down any questioning of the dominant narrative, coming from the left.
At least one expert watched one of the videos and thought it was staged (not fake, just staged for effect). I've only seen one, and my knee jerk reaction is that it was staged AND fake. I'm not an expert and am probably far too cynical about the US government and its motives (though I honestly don't think you can be TOO cynical when it comes to US foreign policy). Let's not forget HOW these videos are brought to one CIA connected company. Who just happens to "find" them on Youtube when no one else manages this feat. The whole thing is very suspicious. What is the motive for ISIS to release these things? What are they accomplishing? How are these helping their cause?
One possibility is that SITE is presenting edited versions of the original videos not just to snip out the worst of the gore but to change the wording of the messages delivered by the executioner. There may be something in there that this administration does not want the general public to hear. Hell, as far as we know, the executioner may be speaking in Arabic, and the English-language threats are pure ADR.

If this theory has any validity, then it is possible that the real, unedited videos are meant solely to be watched by Obama, Cameron and their inner circles.

But how would ISIS deliver a video to them and ONLY to them? That is an interesting question to mull over.

Of course, it is also important to ask what these people think they are accomplishing. In the case of the Italians, the answer is clear: They are getting ransom. But it should be clear by now that the US won't pay ransom.
Interesting article by Mike Whitney, pointing out that a significant number of ISIS leaders spent time in Camp Bucca detention center in Iraq. That this US administered military prison intentionally functioned as a recruitment and training center for Al Queda In Iraq. But that would be a conspiracy theory wouldn't it?

Whitney quotes Alakhbar English;

"Former detainees had said in documented television interviews that Bucca...was akin to an 'al-Qaeda school,' where senior extremist gave lessons on explosives and suicide attacks to younger prisoners. A former prisoner named Adel Jassem Mohammed said that one of the extremists remained in the prison for two weeks only, but even so was able to recruit 25 out of 34 inmates who were there. Mohammed also said that U.S. military officials did nothing to stop the extremists from mentoring the other detainees....
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