Monday, April 22, 2013

This Earth Day Is Conspiracy Day (UFOs, al Qaeda, a real CIA director in a gorilla suit on a motorcycle, etc.)

•On Earth Day, J.P. Freire posts a reminder that the host of the first Earth Day (in 1970), Ira Einhorn, went on to murder -- and compost! -- his girlfriend (but fled to Europe after getting out on bail with the help of then-lawyer Arlen Specter). 

•Twenty years later, a Brown University college communist told me he was delighted that Earth Day 1990 seemed to be making environmentalism mainstream (he was right) and that thus, so soon after the seeming implosion of communism, “capitalism would end not to the sound of marching Soviet boots but to the sound of falling trees.” 

(Can you blame me being inclined to believe the worst when it was thought by many people for a few hours last week that a missing Brown student might be the culprit in the Boston bombings?) 

•This year’s Earth Day brings, among other things, the premiere (in L.A.) of that documentary Sirius that alleges the government possesses UFO technology that could save the environment (the film also shows a surprisingly convincing-looking six-inch humanoid corpse that purportedly has non-human DNA -- my bet would still be deformed human-fetus mummy, since mummies are common in the part of Latin America where it was found, but who the hell knows). 

Sirius will be followed next week by a week-long National Press Club conference on UFOs headed by six former Congress members -- and the film itself will be shown again in Charlottesville in early May.  I think Reason’s Ron Bailey should attend and tell us how it goes.  He likes energy issues and biotech.

•What with next week also bringing the Toronto premiere of the much-touted, evidence-or-bust, we-mean-it-this-time, we’ll-shut-our-websites-down-if-it-ain’t-real documentary Shooting Bigfoot...

•and with reckless conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones pushing the idea that Craft International mercenaries were not merely running a drill but were in fact the real perps in Boston (those fellows in tan pants who were in a front-page photo on the Times this Sunday with no explanatory caption at all and were formerly run by recently-murdered sniper Chris Kyle)...

•not to mention Vice President Biden (like George H.W. Bush before him) using the phrase “New World Order” in a speech without seeming to notice that’s like waving a red cape in front of conspiracy theorists...

...April has been an incredibly bountiful month for people who allege cover-ups.  I am less paranoid, prone to see a world of screw-ups and disasters rather than conspiracies and extraterrestrials. 

However, reality has a tendency to get almost as weird as the conspiracy theories if you look at it closely enough, and it is with that in mind, post-Boston, that I find myself marveling again at one nice, cleanly-written paragraph from the 1996 memoir From the Shadows (p. 349) by CIA man turned Defense Secretary Robert Gates, which I blogged about last month.  The book was written five years before 9/11/01, and I think it’s safe to say that this is the haunting paragraph where al Qaeda happens, with all the same ambiguity about the degree of U.S. negligence in its formation that people still bicker about a decade after 9/11:

It was during this period that we began to learn of a significant increase in the number of Arab nationals from other countries who had traveled to Afghanistan to fight in the Holy War against the Soviets.  They came from Syria, Iraq, Algeria, and elsewhere, and most fought with the Islamic fundamentalist Muj groups, particularly that headed by Abdul Rasul Sayyaf.  We examined ways to increase their participation, perhaps in the form of some sort of “international brigade,” but nothing came of it.  Years later, these fundamentalist fighters trained by the Mujahedin in Afghanistan would begin to show up around the world, from the Middle East to New York City, still fighting their Holy War -- only now including the United States among their enemies.  Our mission was to push the Soviets out of Afghanistan.  We expected post-Soviet Afghanistan to be ugly, but never considered that it would become a haven for terrorists operating worldwide.

Again, that was written in 1996, as was this sentence two chapters later about eventual Deputy Director of CIA Dick Kerr, which you might want to visualize any time you ask yourself what the CIA heads were really up to while all this was going on:

Kerr was a first-rate intelligence professional, a good friend, and had a wonderful -- though at times bizarre -- sense of humor (such as dressing up in a gorilla suit and riding a motorcycle around posh Great Falls, Virginia).

Sleep soundly, America, and don’t worry about extraterrestrials or terrorists.  You have protectors. 

P.S. Oh, and while we’re at it (lest we think either ideology or conspiracy divides the world into tidy camps), given how tenuous my ties to the political establishment are and how limited my inside info is, I’m surely not the only one who has pretty good reason to believe the U.S. was using that Benghazi embassy as a CIA base -- but shouldn’t hawkish conservatives really be the last people pressing a presidential administration to publicly divulge all its info on such a sensitive operation? 

I’m just throwing that thought out there without any real partisan stake in the question one way or the other.

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