Since Unknowncountry.com began its coverage of 911 and I began reading my 'What I Love About America' statement on the radio, hundreds of people have voted with their feet, quitting my newsletter and abandoning the website.
It has been a hard, hard few weeks in our world, beginning with 911 and ending now with the latest FBI warning that Sunday could bring another terror attack. Anne and I have spent a great deal more time on Unknowncountry.com than ever before. The number of stories published by the site has quadrupled.
At the same time, we have experienced a decline in the number of people subscribing to our newsletter, the first time we have ever seen a decline. Since it?s a free service, the recession isn?t the answer. Between fifty and a hundred people a day have been canceling their subscriptions since we began our war coverage. Each newsletter transmitted has resulted in a hundred or so cancellations. More telling, each time I have read my What I Love About America statement on air, there has been a flood of cancellations, and few to no new subscriptions. When I read it on Coast-To-Coast last Thursday night, the result was 280 cancellations and 6 new subscriptions.
I received 4 e-mails from listeners saying that the liked the statement, 73 from listeners who were angry about it for one reason or another. The majority of these objected to my referring to us as a ?gentle? people. ?We aren?t gentle, we are greedy and cruel and indifferent to the suffering of others,? is the gist of these responses.
Now, why would this be? How could it be that people would vote with their feet when somebody expresses a patriotic sentiment at a time like this?
Our e-mail, with a volume of about 500 messages a day, tell a very different story than the media does about how some people actually feel about what is happening in our country. In general, people who choose to write me angry letters believe the following:
George W. Bush engineered the terrorism in order to shore up a failing administration. It was failing because he stole the election. He wants to become a dictator. He and his father are both parts of a great international conspiracy to take away our freedoms and subject us to a ?new world order.? The CIA is an oppressive, blood-soaked empire of monsters. The government uses weather control to harm us and ruin our health, and mind-control to make us indifferent to its attacks on us.
Now, reading all of these crazy ideas, you might think that my website has collected a large following of paranoids because of the fact that I have expressed my own concerns about cold-war mind control abuses, including my personal experiences with this sort of abuse. However, I think it goes deeper than that. A lot deeper.
There are a large number of Americans who do not believe that the President won the election fairly. The New York Times has published a careful indictment of the way the Florida vote was handled. In fact, Mr. Bush lost the popular vote, but was running his minority presidency as if he had won by a landslide.
He was developing a foreign policy that was astonishingly isolationist. He was planning to render the US military incapable of fighting a war on two fronts at the same time. If that were true now, when we are involved in both Kosovo and Afghanistan, the world would at present be at flashpoint, as both Iraq and North Korea saw that they had a chance to become aggressors again. His middle east policy was so extremely pro-Israel that his father had to call Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah and reassure him that the President?s ?heart was in the right place.?
The administration?s Israeli policy was so odd, when compared to previous American policy, including that of the senior George Bush, that some opinion suggested that it was influenced from one of the darkest corners of right wing thought: the desire to cause trouble in the middle east in order to induce Armageddon and thus bring on the ?rapture,? which supposedly involves the bodily removal of the devout into heaven.
The idea that any administration could be influenced by something so sick and crazy seems absurd, but the effects of Bush?s policy in the middle east were indeed inflammatory. The administration that is now calling for a Palestinian state was so pro-Israel that American peace efforts had become a pro-forma exercise.
At home, Bush had appointed a religious extremist as attorney general, an act that was regarded as a mistake by the majority of Americans.
The public had responded to all this by returning the Senate to the control of the Democrats, and it appeared likely that they would also win control of the House in November. We were looking at a repeat of the first two years of the Clinton administration: a president was about to lose control of congress due to his own ideological over-zealousness.
Before September 11, George W. Bush was not a popular president and not a trusted president, and it can be argued that his policies were tailor-made to cause outrage among Arabs.
Fertile ground for the conspiracy theorists, and a lot more people than ever before are listening to their arguments.
I do not trust the conspiracy theorists, any more than I trust anybody else who goes on faith alone. They offer arguments in place of facts, and that is never a good way to get at the truth. Their websites are full of undocumented statements and incendiary retellings of history that are not founded in fact. One of the leaders of the movement has published on his website the fact that he believes that the British Royal Family are giant lizards from another planet who are ?shape- shifted? into human form. (Don?t believe me? Click here and see for yourself.)
Critics have reason to contend that the Bush administration has not been the best of presidencies. But that has been true of every single American presidency since George Washington first took office. Liberals point to the Roosevelt administration as the best of presidencies. But the Roosevelt administration was filled with communist fellow-travelers, and its policies toward the Soviet Union, especially toward the end of World War II, created the geopolitical foundation from which the USSR fought the cold war for seventy long and dangerous years. Franklin Roosevelt gave up the freedom of a billion human beings at Yalta, when he and Stalin and an appalled Winston Churchill divided the world into spheres of influence. The man who had rescued us from the Depression and won World War II left us with a legacy of suffering and terror that was to last for seventy years.
Likewise, conservatives point to the Reagan administration as the paragon. But what it did in Central America was appalling. Blatant criminal acts were engaged in to defeat the will of the US Congress. The CIA ran rampant in the world, assassinating leaders and destroying governments almost at will. However, Reagan?s military policy caused the USSR to bankrupt itself in order to keep up with the arms race.
In other words, they were typical of most presidencies in troubled times: they did some things right and some things wrong, but their efforts were sincere and, in crucial ways, supportive of our nation?s welfare.
There is no such thing as a perfect presidency, and the Bush presidency will be just the same. We saw an uneasy and poorly focused president rise to one of the most terrible occasions in the history of our country, and inspire a deeply shaken nation in just the way that a president must at such a moment. We have seen him graduate from timid isolationist to forceful internationalist in just a few weeks. We have witnessed the creation of an extraordinary coalition of nations and a brilliant military strategy to fight and win a very new kind of war.
But it hasn?t made any difference to the conspiracy theorists and their camp-followers. They really believe that the president is responsible for the attack on America, not just because of policy missteps?which would in itself be a hard case to make?but directly.
They have voted with their feet and left my website because they believe that I am being ?soft? on a president who personally ordered 911. I know that this will sound completely incredible to the normal people who flock to this website in the hundreds of thousands, but it?s exactly what they DO think. I know, I have read the outraged e- mails. And many of them were core supporters of my work, as witness that they took my newsletter in such numbers.
There is a reason that they looked to me as a leader. I have often spoken out against excessive government secrecy. I do not like the existing system of classification. It is too accessible to misuse and abuse. But I have reasons for my concern. It is not simply emotional or imaginary. For example, throughout the late seventies and into the eighties, there was a budget item in the Air Force budget for an aircraft called the Aurora. A few years ago, the prestigious Janes All the World?s Aircraft even published information about the plane. The project was incredibly expensive. It was also incredibly unsuccessful. Some analysts believe that it was the most expensive R&D project ever undertaken by the military. But the plane failed, at some point in the past few years. And what does the Air Force have to say? It never existed.
This is an outrage. It could only happen in a deeply flawed system. The public deserves to know how it is money is spent. The classification system exists as much to conceal things from us as it does from our enemies, and that is wrong. It needs careful reform, so that it cannot be used to conceal failures, and thus also the incompetent and possibly corrupt people responsible.
But I have reason to believe that the classification process is flawed. I can make a case based on facts. It is not simply imagination.
I have also expressed my concern that the great untold story of CIA cold war abuse involves the use of children in the same sorts of ghastly medical experiments that characterized MK-ULTRA and the Plutonium program.
But I have good reason for this, also, documented reason. It is not some kind of crazy imaginary conspiracy theory that suggests bizarre and impossible things, such as that our current president is evil on a Hitlerian scale, which is what one must conclude if we are to maintain that he intentionally induced the attack on America.
There is a great deal of difference between substituting imagination, belief and theory for facts, and adhering to the facts. Theories and facts are not the same, and the people who are buying into these conspiracy websites need to recognize the difference.
I believe that the CIA?s cold war experiments included the abuse of children, and that this process may still be ongoing. Now, how is that different from believing that Queen Elizabeth is a giant lizard from another planet, and that George W. Bush intentionally caused the attack on America?
The difference is not enormous, but it is very, very crucial. It is why I do not buy indiscriminately into all conspiracy theories. The difference is twofold: witness testimony and documentation.
Nobody has ever seen the Queen in her lizard form. Nobody has ever reported the least whiff of a suggestion that the president knew about or caused the attack on America.
MK-ULTRA, wherein the CIA, among other things, fed LSD to the mentally ill without telling them, is a matter of public record, its documentation in the national archives. It was the subject of congressional hearings and extensive news coverage. And the author of the Plutonium Files, who I have been privileged to interview on Dreamland, won the Pulitzer Prize for her work.
There are many witnesses claiming that they were abused as children in something very like MK-ULTRA. Because of the way it relates to the known abuses of that program, this witness testimony is important, and deserving of much more careful scrutiny than it has so far received from journalists.
My own personal memories suggest that I was a victim of cold war experiments on ?bright? children, and I have interviewed other people who believe that they were similarly victimized. There exists documentation to suggest that this may have been going on as recently as the early 1990s, and could still be going on. The documentation is not conclusive, but along with the witness testimony of people like Cheryl Hersha, who has also been on Dreamland, it is very, very troubling.
The documentation I am referring to consists of articles that appeared in the Washington Post on February 7, 1987 and in US News and World Report on December 23, 1993 and January 4, 1994. The Post article discusses a child abuse case involving a group called ?The Finders,? a group that allegedly conducted brainwashing of children and used them in rituals. The investigation grew out of a situation in Tallahassee, Florida where two well-dressed men were discovered with six disheveled children in a park. The children had been let out of a van for exercise.
The two men told police that they were transporting the children to Mexico, where they would be placed in a school for brilliant children. This concerned me greatly, because of my own personal memories of the existence of such a school. I also recalled it being in Mexico, the city of Monterrey.
At first, it appeared that the Tallahassee situation was a police case involving child abuse and possible kidnapping. However, in its articles in 1993 and 1994, US News revealed some very disturbing facts. Charges against the two men had been dropped. None of the allegations were ever proved. The children were eventually returned to their mothers. In 1993, the Justice Department began an investigation into whether or not the case had been dropped improperly. There were allegations that the Finders was somehow linked to the CIA. When the Customs Service sought to examine the evidence gathered by the Washington DC police, they found that the police report on the case had been classified as secret and that the investigation had ?become an internal matter.?
This makes no sense. It also makes no sense that, even after the case got attention from Rep. Charlie Rose (D-NC) and Rep Tom Lewis (R-FL), no progress was made. Marion David Pettie, the head of the Finders, denied all the charges. He claimed that the small organization does research and competitor intelligence for mostly foreign clients. The CIA claims that the only connection between it and the Finders was the fact that a firm that provided computer training to CIA officers also employed some members of the Finders organization.
Nobody ever explained what the children were doing in Tallahassee in a van, or why, if the Finders were not concerned with children in some way, the organization had been identified as being involved during the investigation into this matter.
And nothing more was ever done. What appears to be a possibly atrocious, and certainly very unsatisfactorily explained, case of child abuse simply evaporated. It is difficult to believe that this investigation, given that both congressmen and the Justice Department were demanding answers that they did not get, was not suppressed by some very powerful people.
So, there it stands: an incomplete investigation. But my concern about it is different from what is on the conspiracy theorist websites. I have not only witness testimony, but documentation that suggests that competent and careful people thought that there was a level of CIA involvement, and further evidence that their investigations were thwarted.
Before Eileen Welsome began her research into the Plutonium Files that eventually led not only to a Pulitzer Prize but to a presidential apology to the victims, she actually had a little less of a smoking gun.
My point is this: in supporting the American people and our government during this crisis, I have not changed my position one iota. I am just as concerned as ever that the CIA and FBI are failed institutions, and that the classification process is routinely used to cover up their failures. I think that it was probably used to conceal something quite awful in the case I have discussed here. I don?t know that, but I do know that the investigation was not resolved in manner that satisfies me.
My concerns are very different from those of the conspiracy theorists. They do not arise out of free-floating hatred for America. They arise out of the deep patriotism and love that I expressed in the ?I Love America? speech that has caused all those defections from my newsletter. I do love America. It is an incredible human experiment that has worked. For the most part, we human beings are actually learning to live together and to recognize the wonderful richness of the whole human tapestry, in America.
I love America too much to see elements of its government use our laws to conceal corruption and secret evil.
Personally, I think that George W. Bush has risen to the most terrible challenge faced by an American president since World War II. Will he succeed in his response? Nobody can know such a thing, but his effort so far suggests that he has a very, very good chance.
I think that people who are promoting baseless conspiracy theories and government-hating at a time like this are, at the least, highly unpatriotic. At worst, they are working for, or showing sympathy with, our enemies.
If we are to listen to their claims, they need to provide us not just with the rhetoric and ?logic? of their cases, but with their documentation. If you have no facts on which to base your case?and remember that a theory is not a fact?this is a time when you should be silent and let the patriots do their work of making our nation safe again.
NOTE: This Journal entry, previously published on our old site, will have any links removed.