Saturday, April 10, 2010

Alexander Cockburn like Noam Chomaky denies 911 REPOSTE

Noam, please read this and spend an hour speedreading the
HUGE MASS of information about what a stinking mess 9/11 is.

Because you could be wrong. People look what you do.
Many intuitively understand that you don't allow yourself
to speak about 9/11 being an inside job.

It would be enough to say that it is highly unlikely that
19 late teenagers brought down 4 skyscrapers (wtc1,2 3[!] and 7)
hit the pentagon near groundlevel. There are physical impossiblities,
ask any expert who has actually studied the events.

so here, a MUST READ for you:

Counterpunch co-editor Alexander Cockburn ... [wrote] ...
an article describing theologian and ethicist David Ray
Griffin, the author of The New Pearl Harbor (2004) and
of The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions
(2005), as a "high priest" of the "conspiracy nuts" --
whom Cockburn denounces as cultists who "disdain all
answers but their own," who "seize on coincidences
and force them into sequences they deem to be logical
and significant," and who "pounce on imagined clues in
documents and photos, [...] contemptuously
brush[ing] aside" evidence that contradicts their
own "whimsical" treatment of "eyewitness testimony
and forensic evidence."


The overall quality of the essays that he and Jeffrey
St. Clair publish in Counterpunch makes it easy on
most days of the week to agree with Out of
Bounds Magazine.s description of it -- trumpeted on
Counterpunch.s masthead -- as "America.s best political
newsletter." And admired Cockburn.s own
political essays for many years: he.s written
movingly, sometimes brilliantly, on a wide range of
subjects 1 -- even if his flashes of brilliance sometimes
alternate with breathtaking pratfalls: among them his
dismissal, as recently as March 2001, of the
evidence for global warming; his scoffing, in
November 2004, at the rapidly gathering indications
that the US presidential election of 2004 had been
stolen; and a year later, his mockery of the
well-established theory of peak oil and his adherence
to the genuinely daft notion that the earth
produces limitless quantities of abiotic oil. 2 One can
forgive a journalist.s slender grasp of the rudiments of
scientific understanding. But given his self-appointed
role as defender of the progressive left against a horde
of fools, it.s dismaying to find him sliding as
frequently as he does into positions that seem not just
quirky but -- dare I say it -- unprogressive.


What of my subtitle, then -- which I.m afraid is wordy as
well as impolite?

"How Alexander Cockburn, Otherwise So Bright, Blanks Out
on 9/11 Evidence"

It sets out to parody the scarcely less
elephantine subtitles of two of the three recent
Counterpunch articles that I.m going to be commenting
on here (read .em yourself, and weep):

Alexander Cockburn, "The 9/11 Conspiracy Nuts: How They
Let the Guilty Parties of 9/11 Slip Off the Hook,"
Counterpunch (9-10 September 2006),

Joshua Frank, "Proving Nothing: How the 9/11 Truth
Movement Helps Bush & Cheney," Counterpunch (11 September

The subtitle of Cockburn.s diatribe is no doubt
meant to be inflammatory -- though if
understood him rightly, he.s not literally arguing
that the perpetrators of 9/11 would all be behind bars
if it weren.t for those 9/11 wackos. Frank.s subtitle
might also border on the category of fighting words,
were it not that his essay, as he himself predicts,
proves nothing. (Students of political rhetoric
will note, in passing, how precisely Cockburn.s and
Frank.s subtitles exemplify the trope of unintended
consequences that Albert Hirschman in his classic study
of The Rhetoric of Reaction calls "the perversity
thesis," which "reactive" or reactionary thinkers since
Joseph de Maistre at the time of the French
Revolution have deployed to argue that the actions
of their

deluded opponents "will produce, via a chain of
unintended consequences, the exact contrary of the
objective being proclaimed and pursued.") 4

After the appearance of these two pieces on
successive days, Counterpunch honoured a familiar
boxing rhythm (quick left and right, pause, sucker-punch)
by leaving a gap of several days before releasing a third
broadside against 9/11 researchers:

Diana Johnstone, "In Defense of Conspiracy: 9/11: In
Theory and Fact," Counterpunch (15 September 2006),

Johnstone.s essay is more substantial than the preceding
two. But any reader lured by its title into thinking that
Counterpunch was actually permitting real debate on the
subject of 9/11 would indeed be suckered. And there is
again a problem with subtitles. As I intend to show, this
piece offers little in the way of facts, and is defective
-- though instructively so -- in its theorizing.

1. Alexander Cockburn: beyond table-thumping to the
evidence Alexander Cockburn.s attack on "The 9/11
Conspiracy Nuts," though rhetorically skilful, is vacuous
in substance. It is in large part devoted to arguing that
a "devout, albeit preposterous belief in American
efficiency" is the "fundamental idiocy" which leads
"conspiracy nuts" to think that there must be
something suspicious about the massive failures of
the US air defense system on 9/11. Anyone even
remotely acquainted with military history, Cockburn
asserts, would know "that minutely planned operations
-- let alone responses to an unprecedented emergency --
screw up with monotonous regularity, by reason of
stupidity, cowardice, venality, weather and all the
other whims of providence." I.m not interested in
defending the efficiency of the American military --
or of anyone else.s military, for that matter. (In fact,
I could supplement the little catalogue of military
ineptitudes that Cockburn presents with some choice
additional ones drawn from the period of my own brief
spell decades ago with the Canadian navy -- among them
an incident in which an American destroyer
contrived to get itself cut in half by the
Australian aircraft carrier Melbourne.) Yet if we attend
for a moment not to Cockburn.s overheated rhetorical
questions and table-thumping repetition of the
capitalized word "CONSPIRACY," but rather to the
established and uncontroversial evidence, it is at once
obvious that what is at issue is not primarily, as
Cockburn thinks, the gap between his own expectations
of bungling incompetence and David Ray Griffin.s
understanding of what a normal air defense response
should have been. As anyone who presumes to hold forth
on this aspect of the 9/11 evidence should know, what is
really incriminating about the failure to intercept
the aircraft which were flown on that day into the Twin
Towers and (by the official account) into the Pentagon is
not the simple absence of fighter-interceptors over New
York and Washington, but rather the fact that that
absence was ensured by a series of concurrent military
exercises which had transferred most of the
available interceptors out of the northeastern
region, and which for a crucial period that morning left
the military air traffic controllers responsible for
vectoring the remaining fighters into position unable to
determine which of the many blips appearing on their
radar screens represented actual as opposed to simulated
threats. (See Michael C. Ruppert, Crossing the Rubicon pp.

We can add to this what seems the no less
incriminating testimony of Transportation Secretary
Norman Mineta to the 9/11 Commission, which suggests
very strongly that Vice President Cheney had
ordered a stand-down of missile defenses protecting
Washington DC.


Midway through his essay, Cockburn offers a
curious little detour into the complexities of the
JFK assassination, telling us that in his view, the
Warren Commission, as confirmed in almost all essentials
by the House Committee on Assassinations in the late
1970s, had it right and Oswald fired the fatal shots
from the Schoolbook Depository. The evidentiary
chain for his guilt is persuasive, and the
cumulative scenarios of the conspiracy nuts entirely
unconvincing. But of course -- as the years roll by,
and even though no death bed confession has ever
buttressed those vast, CIA-related scenarios -- the
nuts keep on toiling away, their obsessions as
unflagging as ever.

These sentences are a close rhetorical analogue to
that fighter.s tactic -- more in use among
half-crocked bar-room brawlers than boxers, it must
be said -- known as leading with one.s chin. The
"conspiracy nuts" Cockburn sneers at include D. B. Thomas
of the USDA Subtropical Agriculture Research Laboratory
in Texas, who after analyzing the acoustical evidence
of gunshots preserved on a Dallas police department
recording from Dealey Plaza at the time of the
assassination, concluded in a peer-reviewed study
published in 2001 by the journal Science &
Justice that the recording "contains five impulsive
sounds that have the acoustic waveform of Dealey
Plaza gunfire," and that "One of the sounds matches
the echo pattern of a test shot fired from the Grassy

CITE: D. B. Thomas, "Echo correlation analysis and the
acoustic evidence in the Kennedy assassination
revisited," Science & Justice 41 (2001): 21-32. Thomas
finds that "A conservative estimate of the true value of
the probability that the putative Grassy Knoll shot is
attributable to random radio noise is no greater than

So much for the Warren Commission.s three (and no more)
shots fired by Oswald from the Texas Book Depository:
more than three shoots, and more than one shooter, means
a conspiracy. And by the way, it.s not strictly true
that the 1979 House Select Committee on Assassinations
Report confirmed the Warren Commission Report "in
almost all essentials," since the HSCA Report did
in fact conclude that the assassination was
probably organized by a conspiracy.

CITE: House of Representatives Select Committee on
Assassinations, House Report Wo. 95- 1828 (Washington, DC,
1979), p. 95; quoted by Thomas, "Echo correlation
analysis," 22.

There is more in Cockburn.s essay on the 9/11 evidence:
he has a brief fling at the people who doubt that a
Boeing 757 could have hit the Pentagon, and
exercises his ironic wit for several paragraphs at the
expense of the reality-disdaining nuts who think that
the towers of the World Trade Center were brought down
by planned demolitions. Cockburn scoffs at the paranoid
folly of those who believe that

-- The WTC towers didn.t fall down because they were
badly built as a consequence of corruption,
incompetence, regulatory evasions by the Port
Authority, and because they were struck by huge
planes loaded with jet fuel. No, they fell because Dick
Cheney.s agents methodically planted demolition charges
in the preceding days. It was a conspiracy of
thousands, all of whom -- party to mass murder --
have held their tongues ever since. --

Perhaps (although he doesn.t share it with us)
Cockburn has evidence that the Twin Towers were so
incompetently built as to be especially liable to
explosive disintegration into showers of cut steel and
pyroclastic clouds of fine-particle dust. But like the
9/11 Commission, he manages quietly to forget about the
collapse of WTC 7 late in the afternoon of 9/11: this
47-storey steel-framed tower, which was damaged by debris
from the North Tower but not struck by any aircraft,
collapsed at free-fall speed into its own footprint in
what half a dozen different videos show to have been a
classic implosion demolition. Significantly, FEMA and
NIST have failed to offer any plausible alternative
explanation of this collapse.

Why don.t we try replacing the gag orders that
have silenced 9/11 whistleblowers like Sibel Edmonds
with an independent criminal investigation, and see
what crawls out of the woodwork? But refuting this
rhetoric at length would be tedious. I would prefer
instead to quote Paul Craig Roberts. magisterial rebuke:

-- The explanation that the three WTC buildings collapsed
as a result of damage and fire is a mere assertion. The
assertion is not backed up with scientific calculation
to demonstrate that the energy from the airliners,
fire and gravity was sufficient to collapse the
buildings. A number of independent authorities
believe that there is a very large energy deficit
in the official account of the collapse of the
buildings. Until this issue is resolved, the
official explanation is merely an assertion no matter
who believes it. --


Looking away from the 9/11 evidence

Why have otherwise admirable leftist journalists
like Cockburn, Frank, and Johnstone been so
strangely averse to attending to the evidence
about 9/11 alluded to above? One reason may be that
even the hypothesis of state complicity in the events
of 9/11 entails confronting the possibility that we
are living through a moment of major historical
transformation and discontinuity.

It is one thing to accept, as an abstract
proposition, that the United States may have moved
from the end of its republican period into a
state of imperial autocracy. Chalmers Johnson.s
diagnosis in The Sorrows of Empire is, after all, both
scrupulous and unambiguous -- as is his conclusion that
the American people might conceivably retake control of
Congress, reform it along with the corrupted election
laws that have made it a forum for special
interests, turn it into a genuine assembly of
democratic representatives, and cut off the supply of
money to the Pentagon and the secret intelligence
agencies [...] At this late date, however, it is
difficult to imagine how Congress, much like the Roman
senate in the last days of the republic, could be brought
back to life and cleansed of its endemic corruption.

Johnson.s analysis may well arouse in us a Virgilian
sense of lacrimae rerum, of the grief of temporality, and
the sadness of "states doomed to ruin," perituraque

But it is another thing altogether to confront in
detail the manner in which the transition from
republic to autocracy is being orchestrated -- not
just through the out-of- control militarism that
Johnson so finely documents, but also through what
Peter Dale Scott has called the "deep politics" of
a ruling elite which is thoroughly habituated to
reliance on covert agencies that are in no way
answerable to democratic governance.

Yet if going to deal in historical
parallels, perhaps we ought to strive for
consistency. Rome.s imperial-autocrats-in-the-making
never hesitated to shed blood, whether of their
compatriots or other nations: why should we imagine
our own to be more fastidious, or less Machiavellian?
Another motive for aversion may also be involved: the
fear of being mocked as a "conspiracy theorist" or
"tinfoil hat wearer," with a consequent loss of public
credibility and professional respect. If such a fear were
no more than what it seems, one might well ask what value
there could be to markers of professional standing
which block inquiry into historical truths and material
realities -- or what claims to courage or integrity
could be made by public intellectuals who fold
their tents at the mere threat of scurrilous
handling by opponents. But something more profound may be
at work. Peter Dale Scott, who like Chalmers Johnson
indulges in what he calls the "clichéd analogy"
of a comparison between the contemporary United
States and Rome in the period of its transition
from republic to imperial autocracy, remarks on
the refusal of the Roman senatorial class to accept
that "real power had migrated out of" the civic
institutions in which they continued to participate,
and had passed into the hands of "an imperial
regime, the armies and the courts of the army
commanders." Their motive, though unacknowledged, was
quite simple: "The self-respect of the senatorial
classes depended on this denial."

An analogous motive may be in play among our own
class of academics and public intellectuals, for
whom a migration of power into military,
deep-political, and corporate-media hands may for
similar reasons be difficult to acknowledge. István
Meszáros has proposed that we are currently facing not
merely a "conjunctural crisis" of the kind that
occurred at intervals over the past century, but
rather an all-embracing "structural crisis" -- one
which "affects the totality of a social complex" because
it throws into question "capital.s mode of social
metabolic reproduction" up to the ultimate limits of
"the established global structure."

It would be no novelty to argue that the Bush
regime.s military aggressions, together with its
evident contempt for the constraints of republican
governance (the Bill of Rights and habeas corpus among
them) and its ever- increasing reliance on
deep-political manipulations, are part of the
corporatist ruling elite.s response to this structural
crisis. Understandably enough, public intellectuals who
are habituated to conjunctural crises in which their
oppositional function was understood by all concerned,
and who have in addition made a lifelong habit of
ignoring or belittling political analyses which
incorporate deep-political factors, have resisted
the gathering evidence that these very factors have
been decisive in the political transformations
pushed through since 9/11. And yet counter-forces
are arguably at work against what Scott calls "the social
function of denial in masking political change." 29
One of them, intellectual integrity, though it might
seem a quaint abstraction to invoke in this
context, has yet impelled conservative academics and
public intellectuals like Paul Craig Roberts and
Morgan Reynolds (who in addition to their university
careers held senior positions in the Reagan and first
George W. Bush administrations, respectively) into
vehement opposition to the crimes of the present
regime. Both have written powerful analyses of the
present administration.s folly and criminality, and
both recognize the events of 9/11 as a key
element of that criminality. Another counter-force may
be a growing recognition of the delegitimizing power of
the 9/11 evidence.

Delegitimizing the Bush regime

When Joshua Frank says of the Bush regime that
"this administration, like so many before it, needs to
be stopped at once," I agree whole-heartedly with the
sentiment (although the modifying phrase seems
unfortunate: stopping the crimes of previous
administrations is now something only
time-travellers can hope to do).

Let.s pause, then, to think about how the current US
administration is to be stopped.

I would suggest that the concept of delegitimation
should figure importantly in our reflections. People
who have acquiesced in the actions of a
government may be persuaded to withdraw their support
and even to move into active opposition by evidence that
those actions have been ill-judged, rash, or
unprincipled. But evidence that a government has
acted in ways that unambiguously violate the
state.s foundational covenant -- in this case the US
Constitution and Bill of Rights -- and that
unambiguously sunder the ruling elite.s claims on the
consent and loyalty of citizens and the obedience of
state employees, whether civilian or military, cuts much
deeper. What is at stake in this case is the
legitimacy of the governing elite -- and also, to
the extent that people can recognize that elite.s
declinations from the nation.s foundational democratic
principles as systemic in nature, the legitimacy of the
system of corporatized governance that has made it
possible for such people to acquire and exercise power.
Since regular visitors to the websites of The
Centre for Research on Globalization, or of
Counterpunch, scarcely need to be told of the many
ways, from electoral fraud to the abolition of
habeas corpus, from unconstrained mendacity to
military aggression, in which the administration of
George W. Bush has demonstrated its illegitimacy, I.m not
going to rehearse them all here. But the evidence that on
every key aspect of the events of 9/11 the Bush
administration has lied, and that the official version of
what happened on 9/11 cannot stand up to critical
inquiry, does not simply necessitate the development of
alternative hypotheses: it also provides what must
be one of the strongest and most inescapable arguments
against this regime.s legitimacy.

For if the emerging evidence of what happened on 9/11 is
cogent enough to stand up in the face of the most
rigorous critical examination -- and a large part
of it demonstrably is -- the consequences for the
legitimacy of the Bush government are quite literally
shattering. If the government merely facilitated
this terrorist atrocity through neglect or
incompetence, then it abdicated its primary
responsibility to protect the lives and property of
its citizens. But if the evidence drives Americans to
suspect that senior government officials may have been
active parties in the catastrophic events of 9/11, and
quite possibly their primary organizers as well as
their most obvious beneficiaries, then the truly
appalling possibility is raised of a treasonous
perversion of state power resulting in mass murder. One
might well argue that only an independent and bona
fide criminal investigation could determine whether
the evidence supports such a hypothesis. But it
should be evident that officials whose actions are
believed by large numbers of people to merit criminal
investigation are well on their way to losing political

Rather than arguing in the abstract for the
delegitimizing power of the 9/11 evidence, let me
give a concrete example of it. Robert Bowman, a
retired USAF Lt. Colonel who holds a Ph.D. in
physics, was director of Advanced Space Program
Development for the USAF in the Ford and Carter
administrations. Here.s a part of what he had to say
as a speaker at the DC Emergency Truth Convergence
organized by the 9/11 Truth Movement in Washington, DC
in July, 2005:

You know, our freedoms are not under attack from the
remnants of Saddam Hussein.s Baathist party.
under attack by the likes of John Ashcroft,
trampled by Donald Rumsfeld, disdained by
Dick Cheney, and not even understood by George W.
Bush. The battle to preserve our freedoms is not
taking place in Baghdad and Tikrit and Fallujah.
It.s taking place in peace marches and demonstrations
in Girardelli Park in San Francisco, in Memorial Park
in Oklahoma City, and in Lafayette Park in Washington DC.
[...] We, my sisters and brothers, are protecting
this nation by speaking truth to power. [...]

And when we speak, this is the truth that we proclaim.
This war in Iraq has nothing to do with national
security, or freedom or democracy or human rights or
protecting our allies or weapons of mass
destruction or defeating terrorism or disarming Iraq.
It has to do with money, it has to do with oil, and it
has to do with raw imperial power. And it.s based
totally on lies. Those who forced this war on an
unwilling world are guilty of violating the US
Constitution, the UN Charter, the Nuremberg
principles, and international law. What they have
done is illegal, immoral, unconstitutional, and treason.

This cabal of neoconservatives from PNAC who
planned this war -- Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz,
Perle, Jeb Bush -- even before W. became president,
they told us why they had to do it. They said we need to
occupy Iraq permanently in order to dominate Iran,
Syria, Saudi Arabia, and the southern Russian republics
around the Caspian Sea. We need to control the entire
Middle East and all its oil. [..]

[T]hey knew the American people wouldn.t stand for it,
and they said so in their documents -- and they
said, unless there.s that new Pearl Harbor. Well,
9/11 did supply that -- and been lied to not
only about the war, but about 9/11 itself. They
ignored the warnings: more than that, we have mounting
evidence that -- at least -- they made it impossible for
those planes to be intercepted. If our government had
merely [done] nothing, and I say that as an old
interceptor pilot -- I know the drill, I know what it
takes, I know how long it takes, I know what the
procedures are, I know what they were, and I
know what changed them to -- if our
government had merely done nothing, and allowed normal
procedures to happen on that morning of 9/11, the Twin
Towers would still be standing and thousands of dead
Americans would still be alive. My sisters and brothers,
that is treason!

As a combat veteran, I will not stand idly by
and watch our security destroyed by a president who
went AWOL rather than serve in Vietnam. As one
who.s devoted his life to the security of this
country, I will not stand by and watch an appointed
president send our sons and daughters around the
world to kill Arabs for the oil companies. [...]
I joined the air force a long time ago to protect
our borders and our people, not the financial interests
of Folgers, Chiquita Banana, Exxon, and Halliburton. had enough corporate wars!

No more Iraqs, no more Kosovos, no more El
Salvadors, no more Colombias! These are not isolated
incidents of stupidity; part of a long,
bloody history of foreign policy being conducted
for the financial interests of the wealthy few. [...]

As a pilot who flew a hundred and one combat
missions in Vietnam, I swore to uphold the
Constitution of the United States against all
enemies, foreign and domestic -- and that includes
a renegade president! It.s time for George W.
Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice,
and the whole oil mafia to be removed from office and
indited for treason. 31


The 9/11 evidence is evidently for Bowman neither
isolated, nor inert, nor immobilizing. It forms part
of what he has come to understand (as he says in this
same speech) as "a new form of colonialism." Though
Bowman has been a forceful critic of Reagan.s "Star
Wars" Strategic Defense Initiative and subsequent
missile defense systems, and though his religious
commitments as a lay minister may also have exposed him
to forms of thought beyond the customary discursive range
of air force officers, one might guess that 9/11, which
he evidently believes to have been a planned catalyst in
the Bush regime.s project of oil geopolitics and
aggressive warfare, was also a catalyzing factor in
the development of his own understanding of "corporate
wars" and the "long, bloody history of foreign policy
being conducted for the financial interests of the
wealthy few."

As I have already noted, Bowman is not the only
conservative one-time senior member of the state
apparatus to have been jolted into open opposition by
9/11 and the other crimes of the current administration.

Perhaps it.s time that people on the left allowed
themselves to be jolted as well -- at the very least,
into an honest and painstaking analysis of the evidence.

this was excerpts from an article:

Into the Ring with Counterpunch on 9/11:

How Alexander Cockburn, Otherwise So Bright, Blanks Out
on 9/11 Evidence

by Michael Keefer Professor of English University of

December 4, 2006

full article on,9,0,0,1,0

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posted by u2r2h at 3:53 PM


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