Monday, January 17, 2011

Loose Ends

The occasion of Martin Luther King Day this week seemed an appropriate time to talk about conspiracy theory. After all, the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King was no doubt accomplished through a conspiracy, the verdict on December 8, 1999, in the wrongful death civil trial by the King family against Loyd Jowers and "other unknown co-conspirators" found Jowers liable and that governmental agencies were parties to the assassination plot. Even career coincidence theorist Gerald Posner has conceded the possibility of conspiracy, just not involving the government. But of course, the government couldn't let an impartial jury of six whites and six blacks have the last word, so the Department of Justice completed an investigation in 2000 that they did not find evidence to support the allegations about conspiracy in the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Naturally, they recommended no further investigation. After all, what the jurors ruled on was just a "theory".

Where conspiracy theory is concerned, my chief complaint is the way the word "theory" itself has become denigrated in our culture to a degree that is unconscionable in a supposedly intelligent society. Why is it that gravity and relativity are accepted as reality, yet evolution and the greenhouse effect are a source of controversy? All four concepts are scientific theories. It seems to me that the more deeply a theory threatens the way certain powerful institutions in society operate (think Galileo and the Catholic Church), the more controversial that theory is made to appear within society by those same powerful institutions. As it goes for scientific theories, it goes to an even greater degree for conspiracy theories. After all, the academic study of conspiracy theory hasn't exactly been embraced by institutions of higher learning to the same degree the study of scientific theory has. If anyone offers a Doctorate in Political Conspiracy Theory, I'm not aware of it. Lacking that legitimacy, it is a field of study that is easy to debase because so many practitioners fail to apply the same rigorous standards that a scientist does when testing a hypothesis.

So without the same rigorous standards that scientists apply, how do you differentiate a conspiracy theory from a conspiracy hypothesis? Make sure the practitioner has actually tested their hypothesis against the larger pattern of facts to substantiate their claim. I'll take the most recent example by examining the case of Jared Lee Loughner. When I first heard about this tragedy last weekend, there had been initial reports that Loughner may have had an accomplice that accompanied him to the Safeway supermarket in Tucson, Arizona where six people were murdered and thirteen injured, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who remains hospitalized in serious condition with a gunshot wound to the head, and Judge John Roll, who died of his wounds. While Judge Roll had been a target of death threats in the past after ruling that a group of illegal immigrants could go forward with a multi-million dollar civil rights lawsuit against a state rancher, it was reportedly Congresswoman Giffords that Loughner was obsessed with and it was her event in the Safeway parking lot that Loughner targeted her.

So right from the beginning, an immediate hypothesis for conspiracy was established:

Shooting suspect Jared Lee Loughner had an accomplice in a conspiracy to assassinate Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords

Taking into account prior death threats, there was another conspiracy hypothesis:

Shooting suspect Jared Lee Loughner's accomplice conspired to assassinate Judge John Roll

It seemed as if both hypotheses could be invalidated the day after the shooting. The police had questioned the man whose picture had been published as a person of interest and discovered that he was only the taxi driver that Loughner had called for a ride to the Safeway. With his alibi verified by his employer, the police were no longer interested after questioning. This would invalidate the taxi driver as an accomplice if he were the only other person of interest detained by the police. The problem is, according to the Huffington Post, he wasn't:

Tucson Citizen:
"Police arrest man near Thornydale and Magee Roads who is suspected of being connected to the shooting of Giffords and others. A third man is being sought."”

However, as was originally pointed out by pepsified thinker at Rigorous Intuition, the Tucson Citizen citation by Oligarch at Huffington Post no longer contains any information about this arrest. Clearly the arrest is not in reference to the taxi driver; he was never arrested or apprehended on Thornydale and Magee on the day of the shooting. The driver, John Marino, was questioned by the FBI and Pima County sheriff's officers at the taxi company where he worked on Sunday morning, January 9, but was not taken into custody and had no idea he had dropped off the alleged shooter at Safeway the previous day.

So who was the man arrested "near Thornydale and Magee Roads who is suspected of being connected to the shooting of Giffords and others"? Clearly it was not the taxi driver and it couldn't have been Loughner either. Originally, I thought the Safeway that the shooting occurred at was located at 9705 North Thornydale Road in Tucson, which would be 2.14 miles north of where the arrest occurred. Later, I found out it was located at 7100 North Oracle Road, 5.19 miles away from the arrest. Either way, it's not Loughner, who was arrested in the Safeway parking lot. There has been no word from the Tucson Citizen regarding why any mention of this report was scrubbed from their website. So the identity of the arrested man remains a mystery.

What about the assassination of Judge John Roll? While I agree with Cenk Uygur from The Young Turks that there can be no debate that the shooting of Congresswoman Giffords was an intended political assassination ("Was Jared Loughner's act in shooting Rep. Giffords political? Apparently this is what's being debated with a straight face now. Is this a joke? He shot a politician in the head. He called it an "assassination." What part of that was unclear?"), the murder of Judge Roll is less clear. There is no evidence that Loughner had any prior hatred toward Roll in his writings as there is with Giffords. Was he aware that Roll would be stopping by to see Giffords at the event? No evidence has been found that he was aware. Who was it that told Roll over the phone an hour before, according to Homeland Security who found out from his wife, that he was invited to attend? (Thanks for the link, surfaceskimmer!)If someone else told him to come there, who was it? There could be a connection to Loughner or it could be an unfortunate coincidence. The questions need answers for verification one way or another.

Does all this add up to conspiracy theory? Maybe, maybe not. The possibility that Loughner may have an accomplice is still a working hypothesis that has not been invalidated. But for this hypothesis to move out of the realm of possibility into probability, more questions need to be answered regarding who, what, when, where and most importantly: why? There were early reports that Loughner was connected to a racist organization American Renaissance, later denied by Homeland Security, that if confirmed might have given a clue as to motive. Loughner's alleged professed motive, deducted from his internet ramblings, seems to be rooted in a belief that the government is engaged in a practice of mind control through grammar. While the grammar aspect is new, government involvement in mind control is not. Was Loughner's mind "programming" self-inflicted or brought about by another controller?

At this point, gathering all the loose ends hasn't clarified that picture. But that's why I think that the theoretical research of conspiracy is a valid academic endeavor: it ties up the loose ends, if done thoroughly, and gives a more complete picture of the whole truth. I'd like to thank everyone at Rigorous Intuition for their participation in this pursuit. Hopefully with the passage of time and the diligence of focused research, we will paint a more complete picture to separate the plausible from the possible. We'll see if either of my conspiracy hypotheses will eventually be deemed a conspiracy theory.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Happy New Year?

One area in which 2010 was a productive use of time was writing this blog. I wrote more entries within one year (45) than I did in the previous three years combined (46). But reflecting on the positive exposure that my last entry received on Rigorous Intuition and Democratic Underground (169 recommendations! Thanks!), it seems I'm always building on the foundation first established with the first and second editions of my initial research into Valerie Plame and Sibel Edmonds. I draw upon that foundation in analyzing this latest report:

Leading conservatives call for Obama to back terrorist group

By David Edwards
Monday, January 3rd, 2011 -- 2:03 pm

mek Leading conservatives call for Obama to back terrorist group

A group of prominent Republicans may have actually committed a crime last month when they traveled to Paris to speak to an Iranian opposition group that the US has deemed to be terrorists.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge, former national security adviser Fran Townsend and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey all attended a forum organized by supporters of Mujaheddin-e Khalq (MEK).
The MEK is a communist group that helped Saddam Hussein carry out attacks against Iraq's Shiite population in the 1990s. The group attacked Americans in Iran in the 1980s and helped with the 1979 takeover of the US embassy in Tehran.
The US designated the MEK a foreign terrorist organization in January 2009.

The name MEK sounded very familiar to me. I found it within the second edition of American Judas. It seems these terrorists have favorite sons of the neo-cons for some time:

It is clear the neo-cons have had plans for Iran, with or without Chalabi’s help. Even during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, Undersecretary of State John Bolton was credited with saying, “Real men want to go to Iran”. On May 30, 2003, the Pentagon was reported to be advocating massive covert action to overthrow Iran’s ayatollahs. Indicating they would like to use the Mujahedeen-e-Khalq (MEK), though the State Department had them on their terrorist list, Feith went on the record arguing that the MEK had not targeted Americans since the 1970s and was only put on the terror list in 1996 by President Clinton to improve Iran relations. Subsequently, in the spring of 2006, the MEK was committing acts of violence in Iran in hopes of staging an insurgency among the Iranian Sunni population. They were being used by the Pentagon to do this in a plan made by Rumsfeld under pressure from Cheney. (Yet another example of what former Secretary of State Colin Powell’s Chief of Staff Lawrence Wilkerson describes as the “Oval Office Cabal” headed by Cheney. The crazy plan was carried out by Stephen Cambone, which consisted of him making them swear an oath to democracy and resign the MEK. He then incorporated them into their special unit and trained them. That might explain why Major Gen. Geoffrey D. Miller, of Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib infamy, stated in a memorandum that the US has designated members of the MEK as “protected persons”. It might also explain why the MEK was the subject of the Paris meeting in June 2002 between Ghorbanifar, Rhode and convicted spy Larry Franklin.

I'm not sure if Guiliani and company are doing this because they feel emboldened by the Tea Party-fueled GOP House takeover in November or not. (Though I find it hard to imagine TP warming up to a group of commie terrorists, but then avoiding hypocrisy has never been their strong suit) But it just seems to me that the more things change, the more they stay the same!