S/SW blog philosophy -

I credit favorite writers and public opinion makers.

A lifelong Democrat, my comments on Congress, the judiciary and the presidency are regular features.

My observations and commentary are on people and events in politics that affect the USA or the rest of the world, and stand for the interests of peace, security and justice.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Activism, Investigative Journalism or Conspiracy Theory?

CONSPIRACY THEORY -- A Cuil search on "conspiracy theory" returned 2,076,650 results, so the very idea is a big deal in the blogosphere. The theories vary widely all the way from 1) the government's unwillingness to tell us about earth having been visited by extra-terrestrials; to 2) the neocons have been planning and executing this take-over since the days of Nixon; to 3) the attacks of 9/11 having been an inside job. I do not believe any of the above. So I do not qualify for a tinfoil hat.

INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM, is evidentally a much smaller deal, returning only 149,202 Cuil results. "Book says White House ordered forgery" (8/4/08) by Mike Allen at To quote:

A new book by the author Ron Suskind claims that the White House ordered the CIA to forge a back-dated, handwritten letter from the head of Iraqi intelligence to Saddam Hussein.

Suskind writes in “The Way of the World,” to be published Tuesday, that the alleged forgery – adamantly denied by the White House – was designed to portray a false link between Hussein’s regime and al Qaeda as a justification for the Iraq war.

ACTIVISM, however is the biggest deal of all, according to Cuil. That single word search returned 11,394,749 results. And it also yielded some very interesting drop-down lists, including these category names, Political Advocacy Groups in the United States, Veterans Organizations Opposed to the Iraq War, Canadian Anarchists, Community Organizing, Civil Disobedience, Anti-pornography Activists, COINTELPRO targets, Anti-globalization, Social Movements, and Politics and Technology. This is the category in which I found those of us in the blogosphere (thank goodness, not under "COINTELPRO TARGETS.) The subcategories here are Internet activism, Move On, Howard Dean and Joe Trippi.

Drilling down even more, in the Google Directory, the tree looks like this: "Society> Activism> Internet> Hacktivism, and all the way to an article called, "Activism, Hacktivism and Cyberterrorism: The Internet as a tool for influencing foreign policy." Written in 2001 by Dorothy E. Denning, then teaching in the computer department at Georgetown University, its summary paragraph says,


The Internet offers a powerful tool for communicating and coordinating action. It is inexpensive to use and increasingly pervasive, with an estimated 201 million on-line as of September 1999.3 Groups of any size, from two to millions, can reach each other and use the Net to promote an agenda. Their members and followers can come from any geographical region on the Net, and they can attempt to influence foreign policy anywhere in the world. This section describes five modes of using the Internet: collection, publication, dialogue, coordination of action, and direct lobbying of decision makers. While treated separately, the modes are frequently used together and many of the examples described here illustrate multiple modes.

Denning left Georgetown the next year for the west coast. She is currently at the Naval Post Graduate School in in the Department of Defense Analysis at Monterrey, California. Her latest two publications , which I would also love to read, are titled,
  • Denning, D. E., “A View of Cyberterrorism Five Years Later,” Readings in Internet Security: Hacking, Counterhacking, and Society (K. Himma ed.), Jones and Bartlett Publishers, Boston, 2006.
  • Denning, D. E., “The Ethics of Cyber Conflict,” in Information and Computer Ethics (K. E. Himma and H. T. Tavani eds.), Wiley, 2007.

Why does any of this minutia matter? For one thing, it has made me realize so much more how important it is to use correct terminology. The government thinks about citizens expressing alternate views of reality very differently than I do. We are sometimes lumped together as "dangerous," for the purposes of domestic intelligence. I have blog friends who are dedicated activists who actually protest. My so-called little bits of "activism" are confined to sitting at this keyboard searching, researching, reading and writing. I feel puny by comparison.

I conclude with these four links sent to me recently by my blog friend, "betmo," who writes Life's Journey. I leave it up to you to decide into which category they belong.

  1. Rising Hegemon: (8/5/08), is titled "Always the same pathetic story." To quote the blog author's comment regarding Mike Allen's Politico story (above):
    Of course, this article is written by Mike Allen so it contains 80% White House push-back - uncritically.

    And that will undoubtedly be the end of that as far as the media is concerned.

  2. "The question of right-wing terrorism: anthrax," by Rick Perlstein, 8/1/08). To quote:

    Glenn Greenwald has put together a must-read account of how panic over the post-9/11 anthrax attacks, and disinformation claiming Saddam Hussein was probably behind them, convinced various members of the media and political elite to get behind the idea of attacking Iraq. His research follows reports that government scientist Bruce E. Ivins committed suicide Tuesday night because he was about to be charged with staging the attacks. Greenwald writes with scrupulous care, and asserts nothing beyond the known facts—but one of those known facts, and Greenwald's bottom line, is that ABC News has it within its power to help clear up the mystery, and refuses to do so. . .

    This guy was no down-the-line conservative ("The Roman Catholic Church should learn from other equally worthy Christian denominations and eagerly welcome female clergy as well as married clergy," he writes in March of 2002), but I hope I don't exaggerate in claiming a decidedly wingnutty tilt to his thinking. If this is the same guy who composed the note framing jihadists for the anthrax attacks ("This is next/Take Penacilin Now/Death To America/Death To Israel/Allah is great"); and, as Greenwald seems to suspect, and if he was the same guy who misled ABC into reporting the presence in the anthrax of a substance that only Iraq had used to create biological weapons, what we may have on our hands here is an American ginning up a causis belli for a Christian jihad against Islam, and killing fellow Americans to do it.

    This is very, very heavy stuff. If any of this turns out to be the case, I will, again, take no pleasure in the vindication.

  3. "betmo says this about this link, "why would this be surprising? they outsource and contract everything else." From The Raw Story comes this perfect illustration of how hard it is to figure out in which theoretical camp you live. "Deleted photo sparks fears DEA hiring mercenaries" by Muriel Kane, 8/4/2008

    However, one particular photograph from the Times story has drawn more attention than anything else. That picture, which has now been widely reproduced at blogs, shows a long-haired man, wearing a Blackwater tshirt and with a pistol at his belt, passing a box marked "DEA Evidence" to other agents participating in the raid.

    . . . The photo has since been taken down by the Times, but it has continued to circulate online. Although there has been no previous suggestion of a Blackwater role in domestic drug enforcement, the single picture was sufficient enough to set off furious discussion at both left-wing and libertarian message boards and blogs.

  4. AfterDowningStreet: "Cheney, Neocons Considered Killing Americans in Pretext to Attack Iran" This article is the best summary I have found of some of the most predomimant conspiracy theories that have been around since the post 9/11/01 period. There are people that bwlieve that the 9/11 attacks were planned and carried out by the U.S. government. Even earlier another theory posits that the U.S., under Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, planned "Operation Northwoods," a false flag attack on Fidel Castro in Cuba. British author, Phillipe Sands revealed a discussion in January 2003 between Tony Blair and George Bush involving "painting planes in United Nations colors “in order to provoke an attack which could then be used to justify material breach” and thus set in motion an invasion." A tape revealed in May 2008 by Paul Joseph Watson regarding "efforts of former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and top military analysts to cook up another terrorist attack on America in order to gain support for their ambitious plans to decimate Muslim culture." To quote further:

    Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh reveals how the neocons convened around Dick Cheney and brainstormed ways to kick off World War IV, as they fondly call their pet project to take out the Muslims and foment a contrived “clash of civilizations.”

    . . . In an exclusive Think Progress story, we learn the meeting took place in Cheney’s office and the subject on the table was “how to create a casus belli between Tehran and Washington,” part of an ongoing effort to provide an excuse to attack Iran. “There was a dozen ideas proffered about how to trigger a war,” Hersh explains. “The one that interested me the most was why don’t we build — we in our shipyard — build four or five boats that look like Iranian PT boats. Put Navy seals on them with a lot of arms. And next time one of our boats goes to the Straits of Hormuz, start a shoot-up.”

    . . . Obviously, the neocons will stop at nothing — including the murder of more Americans in a false flag terror attack — to realize their agenda.

Activism, Investigative Journalism or Conspiracy Theory? In the minds of some they all run together. In my mind it is important for me to make distinctions. That helps me continue to behave in good faith and act courageously and with authenticity. It is also about trying to tell the truth, and about trying to make a difference. These are the things all of of us have permission to do without becoming targets of domestic surveillance, as a result of our words being scooped up in mass funneling of Internet material into the NSA.

View my current slide show about the Bush years -- "Millennium" -- at the bottom of this column.

(Cross-posted at The Reaction.)

My “creativity and dreaming” post today is at Making Good Mondays.

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1 comment:

betmo said...

with all of the lists and databases and government sanctioned spying- i can't help but wonder if distinctions are going to matter in the grander scheme of things. i have no doubt that truth seekers of any kind- or folks who simply disagree with whoever is in power- will be in one of the aforementioned places. and end up in an outsourced, mercenary run detention center complete with undetermined stays and torture- oh, excuse me, we don't torture.

not to be too snarky- you are one of the few folks i have met with integrity- and many of the ones i have met- have been online seeking the truth and researching and trying to make sense out of all of this too. with all of the lies coming to the forefront and being held up to the light of day- i have a feeling that many folks branded 'conspiracy theorists' will indeed be reclassified- as truth tellers.