In the first part of my dissection of Mike Ruppert's 9/11 conspiracy timeline, I addressed a favorite argument among the conspiracy loons -- the allegation that the U.S. had planned to invade Afghanistan before the terrorist attacks, as evidenced by threats passed to the Taliban via a Pakistani intermediary in July 2001. David Corn also addresses this argument here. Because Michael Rivero was allowed to repeat the charge on C-SPAN yesterday, as evidence that Afghanistan was a "war of conquest" that had more to do with natural resources than terrorism, the issue deserves a recap.
The story of these "track two" back-channel diplomatic meetings was reported immediately after September 11, in a couple of reports in the British press. Rivero's site includes the BBC story as an article "from before 9/11," which of course is a lie. Former diplomats from the U.S., Russia, Iran, and Pakistan met in a Berlin hotel to discuss what to do with the Taliban regime. The Pakistani representative, former foreign minister Niaz Naik, alleges that the Americans relayed a threat of military action to him, to be passed along to the Afghan government (which Naik also claims was done). Rivero and Ruppert -- as well as French authors Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasquie -- offer this as proof that the war in Afghanistan was over a natural gas pipeline the U.S. government wanted built in Afghanistan. The problems with this theory are numerous.
First, it should be noted that contrary to Ruppert's claim that Naik's account was "confirmed" by the Guardian and BBC stories, they remain to this day nothing more than an allegation. The three American participants in the talks, former diplomats Karl Inderfurth, Tom Simon, and Lee Coldren, flatly deny that any such threat was made. The Russian participant Nikolai Kozyrev, does not remember hearing the threat, but does not discount the possibility that it was brought up in "discussions in the corridor" -- though Naik claim's that it was brought up in the full session of the meetings.
As much as the conspiracymongers may want to believe it, Naik's claim doesn't make much sense. We all remember the very public reaction of the Taliban after September 11 -- when it became evident that we were going to attack them, and would be coming in heavy this time. But we are to believe that a threat of military action was passed to the Taliban in July, and they never uttered a word of protest? No denunciations of American imperialism, or attempts to portray the conflict as a "war on Islam" -- in order to rally Muslim countries to the defense of Afghanistan and turn international public opinion against the U.S., which frankly would have been their only chance of survival (and without a September 11-type event, would probably have worked)? Right.
And even though the U.S. may have had an interest in passing such a threat to the Taliban, why would they give specific details as to how the attack would be launched -- such as where the attack would come from, and how many troops the Russians were ponying up for the effort -- to an unofficial representative of a government that had at the time supported the Taliban?
But even if we are to accept Naik's version of what was said in the July meetings, this in no way proves the "war for oil" theory. Naik makes it clear that the threats had nothing to do with any pipeline deal, and had the singular aim of getting the Taliban to stop providing safe haven for al-qaeda. Salon's Damien Cave asked Naik directly whether the pipeline was discussed at all in the July meetings. His response: "No, absolutely not."
There are also problems in the differing accounts about the nature of the military threat. The Guardian version suggests a surgical strike aimed at bin Laden -- on a larger scale than the 1998 strikes, but by no means in keeping with a "war of conquest":
In the break afterwards, Mr Naik told the Guardian yesterday, he asked Mr Simons why the attack should be more successful than Bill Clinton's missile strikes on Afghanistan in 1998, which caused 20 deaths but missed Bin Laden.
"He said this time they were very sure. They had all the intelligence and would not miss him this time. It would be aerial action, maybe helicopter gunships, and not only overt, but from very close proximity to Afghanistan. The Russians were listening to the conversation but not participating."
The BBC version does suggest that the "plan" called for "action to kill or capture both Bin Laden and the Taleban leader, Mullah Omar." And this:
Mr Naik was told that Washington would launch its operation from bases in Tajikistan, where American advisers were already in place.
He was told that Uzbekistan would also participate in the operation and that 17,000 Russian troops were on standby.
I certainly don't consider it out of the realm of the possible that the U.S. would pass such a threat in order to scare the bejeezus out of the Taliban, but if this level of detail -- even though many of the details turned out to be wrong in the actual military action we took -- doesn't add to the plausibility.
But in any event, this episode doesn't support the "wars of conquest" rantings of people like Rivero at all. If anything, it demonstrates further that the conspiracy theorists have serious problems with the truth.
This has got to be one of the most egregious cases of delusions of grandeur -- to say nothing of complete ignorance of current events -- in the history of mankind: Mike Ruppert taking credit for the firing of Army Secretary Thomas White.
Of course, he's had such fits of imaginary relevance before, once claiming that his public confrontation with Director of Central Intelligence John Deutsch in 1996 cost him an appointment as Secretary of Defense -- seriously! Quite an ego for a guy who can't even get a manuscript past a publisher that specializes in porn and Satanism.
It should be noted that a Canadian was in operational command of NORAD that day, so Landsberg is actually slandering a Canadian Forces member here.
Heh. I don't know how I missed that.
:: COINTELPRO Tool 10:22 PM [+] ::
:: Tuesday, May 13, 2003 ::
Trouble In the Enchanted Kingdom
Mike Ruppert is shopping for a new publisher for his September 11 conspiracy book. He and the publishing firm Feral House -- whose alluring titles include Hot Girls of Weimar Berlin, The Imp #4, and The Satanic Witch (by church of Satan founder Anton Lavey -- have had a falling out, and Mikey needs is shopping for someone else to print his drivel.
Larry Flynt, call your office!
:: COINTELPRO Tool 9:33 PM [+] ::
What is unintentionally comical about Ms. Landsberg's piece is the way she presents herself and Mr. Zwicker as a pair of heroic free thinkers who "challenge conventional wisdom" and stand up to the "rank-smelling" censors and lackeys who guard the path to truth. The duo ask "embarrassingly uncool" questions, she says, which "99% of Canadian journalists have not dared or deigned to ask."
The truth, of course, is rather less dramatic. While 99 out of every 100 Canadian journalists do indeed find Ms. Landsberg's nonsense "embarrassing," it is not for any lack of courage. Rather, they recognize that Mr. Zwicker's "Big Lie" theory is an eccentric crock. The reason they haven't reported on it is because they're good reporters.
We will not try to argue down Ms. Landsberg: Clearly, her logic circuits have been blown by a blinding hatred of the United States. And just as it is impossible to prove to a true conspiracy theorist that the Holocaust happened or that the moon landing wasn't faked, no one will ever be able to definitively "prove" 9/11 to those who see the hand of the CIA behind every evil. But surely, Ms. Landsberg's editors at the Star were in a position to exercise better judgment. Poisonous delusions such as these do not belong in a mainstream newspaper.