Sunday, November 25, 2007

Who's the nutcase?

-- by Dave

It seems Michelle Malkin (along with the New York Post) is all atwitter about the results of polls showing that the American public doesn't believe the same as evidently proper-thinking Americans should.

The most significant evidence? The polls showing that "62% believe the feds ignored specific warnings about 9/11," or as the Post described it:
Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe the federal government had warnings about 9/11 but decided to ignore them, a national survey found.

And that’s not the only conspiracy theory with a huge number of true believers in the United States.

The problem is, this isn't a conspiracy theory. It's a perfectly rational belief based on established facts.

After all, as Roy Edroso observes, that belief is fully consistent with what can be found in the 9/11 commission report, as we've discussed here in some detail. Remember what Richard Clarke told the commission:
Former top counterterrorism adviser Richard A. Clarke told a special commission today that the Bush administration initially did not treat terrorism as "an urgent issue" and sidetracked his proposals to deal with the threat more aggressively.

...Clarke said that in the Clinton administration, there was no higher priority that fighting terrorism in general and al Qaeda in particular. But he said that "the Bush administration in the first eight months considered terrorism an important issue, but not an urgent issue." He and CIA Director George J. Tenet "tried very hard to create a sense of urgency," Clarke said. "Although I continued to say it was an urgent problem, I don't think it was ever treated that way."

Indeed, the warnings about the looming likelihood of a terrorist attack were issued by Clarke as early as January 2001. And as Mahablog noted at the time, former CIA chief George Tenet, in his tell-all book, claims that he told then-National Security Adviser Rice in July 2001 of an “urgent threat” from al Qaeda -- and that Rice did nothing with it.

And perhaps most notably, there was the infamous Aug. 6, 2001, Presidential Daily Briefing, the one titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." [That's a copy of it above.] After getting this memo, as we noted, the official Bush response was this:
-- The problem is handed off to Richard Clarke (if anyone in the White House could have been accurately described as warning everyone they knew of an imminent attack, it was Clarke).

-- The intelligence agencies involved send out a handful of warnings and the State Department beefs up security abroad.

-- The FAA sends out some warning fliers.

-- Rice prepares her missile-defense speech.

-- Bush takes nap, clears brush, remains resolutely on vacation. Finally ends vacation and returns to his leadership role by reading My Pet Goat to Florida schoolchildren.

Now, as for the other items that horrify Malkin -- such as a belief in JFK conspiracy theories, or a belief in UFOs, I'd say they both reflect the kind of misperceptions that arise whenever the government gets secretive and unresponsive. Note that in the latter case, only 32% believe in UFOs -- which isn't a lot different than the lingering core of support for George W. Bush.

As for the note that "50% say it's 'very likely' oil companies are conspiring to keep fuel prices high" -- well, once again, this isn't a conspiracy theory so much as a realpolitik appraisal of the way the business world operates.

We've discussed the difference between genuine conspiracies and conspiracy theories many times here, having had abundant experience exploring the latter in the 1990s. One of the real signals that differentiates people who believe in the latter is that they ardently believe things that are provably false.

Calling people who believe in things that are provably true "conspiracy theorists" is actually turning the term on its head. But then, that's something Michelle Malkin specializes in, isn't it?

As we've noted before, Malkin herself has specialized in manufacturing a veritable cottage industry of right-wing conspiracy theories in recent years, including the General Ripperesque notion that the Flight 93 memorial is actually a tribute to the terrorists; or that a suicide bomber in Oklahoma was the forerunner of an Islamic conspiracy there. She likewise groundlessly attacked the Pulitzer winner in photography as a secret Jihadi sympathizer; attacked USA Today with conspiratorial accusations for a badly retouched photo; and perhaps most notoriously, tried to ferret out a nefarious conspiracy by the Associated Press in Baghdad that turned out to be completely false. Though perhaps nothing quite matches her attack on a 12-year-old that again turned out to be a case of overwrought right-wing fantasizing. But then, that incident pretty much was a case of self-immolation.

Not that Malkin seems to have noticed. But then, she's been estranged from reality for awhile now.

Thers has more.

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