The term 'conspiracy theory' invokes certain reactions. It tends to stir true believers, the skeptically cynic and a few demographics in between.
On the one extreme, we have people all too willing to accept unsubstantiated claims as factual. Obvious enough.
The other extreme consists of people proudly proclaiming they do not subscribe to c-theories of any shape or size. This demographic tends to dismiss all conspiracy theories as fodder for the delusional while often selectively omitting confirmed conspiracies from discussion.
Perhaps extreme perspectives are often poorly conceived. A well balanced middle ground might provide a more rational and productive approach to examining information.
What, exactly, is a conspiracy theory? For the record, it is defined as “a belief that some covert but influential organization is responsible for a circumstance or event.”
That doesn't sound so delusional to me. As a matter of fact, it sounds much more like common sense.
If the anti-conspiracy demographic is trying to communicate that it doesn't accept wild claims without supporting evidence, then I'm on board. If, however, some people literally deny the validity of any conspiracy theories, I must adamantly disagree. Following are just a few examples why.
What would you do if I told you the PTB were controlling significant segments of the news and media? Roll your eyes? Suspend judgment? Or would you say, 'yeah, I knew that'?
|Original project director of|
Mockingbird, Cord Meyer
Well, Operation Mockingbird was a covert CIA initiative to influence and manipulate key members of the media beginning in the 1950's. Pages 191-192 of a 1976 Senate report on intelligence activities stated:
“In pursuing its foreign intelligence mission the Central Intelligence Agency has used the U.S. media for both the collection of intelligence and for cover. Until February 1976, when it announced a new policy toward U.S. media personnel, the CIA maintained covert relationships with about 50 American journalists or employees of U.S. media organizations. They are part of a network of several hundred foreign individuals around the world who provide intelligence for the CIA and at times attempt to influence foreign opinion through the use of covert propaganda. These individuals provide the CIA with direct access to a large number of foreign newspapers and periodicals, scores of press services and news agencies, radio and television stations, commercial book publishers, and other foreign media outlets.”
The report went on to document that Senator Frank Church criticized such operations. He noted that the CIA was spending an estimated $265 million per year of taxpayers' money to misinform them.
Completely old news? Not so fast.
In much more recent years, The Washington Post reported that intelligence officials acknowledged paying media outlets to allow them to plant stories in efforts to shape political views and control opinions. It has since become public knowledge that state-sponsored information operations regularly include the distribution of thousands of military-authored stories per year to mainstream media outlets, and The New York Times reported that consultants working for military contractors are routinely misrepresented to be objective analysts of military operations. The Guardian informed us that “sock puppet” software allows a single U.S. soldier to covertly control multiple separate Internet identities so they can, basically, troll louder and faster than adversaries while distributing propaganda.
It just doesn't happen to be a classified conspiracy anymore. Neither can we any longer spend as little as 265 mil to get misinformed. It now costs us a whole lot more to be misled.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation began Counterintelligence Program, or COINTELPRO, in 1956 in order to survey, infiltrate, discredit and disrupt domestic political organizations. As suggested, the operation largely broke the laws it claimed to uphold and abused the citizens it claimed to protect.
|FBI czar J. Edgar Hoover|
The public learned of the operation in 1971 after the Citizens' Commission to Investigate the FBI broke in to a Bureau field office in Media, Pennsylvania. Files were obtained, copied and delivered to news outlets documenting that the FBI infiltrated such groups as the Socialist Workers Party, Ku Klux Klan and Black Panther Party. Objectives included intentionally creating dissension within and between the groups, inciting violence and similar disruptions.
MIT professor and political activist Noam Chomsky explained, “"COINTELPRO was a program of subversion carried out not by a couple of petty crooks, but by the national political police, the FBI, under four administrations...”
By the time it was discovered, Chomsky added, “It was aimed at the entire new left, at the women's movement, at the whole black movement, it was extremely broad. Its actions went as far as political assassination.”
A 1976 Select Committee final report indicated FBI investigations included conspiring with other intelligence and law enforcement agencies while employing vague standards and vicious tactics. Attorney and writer Brian Glick explained in his book, War at Home, that the Bureau used four primary strategies during COINTELPRO: infiltration, psychological warfare, harassment through the legal system and illegal force, the latter of which included burglary, vandalism, assault, beatings and assassination. A 1976 final report completed by the Church Committee (see page 5) stated that targeting and directing such actions at various political groups had “continued for decades, despite the fact that those groups did not engage in unlawful activity.”
No writer worth their keep could address confirmed conspiracies without referencing the CIA mind control venture, Project MKULTRA. The efforts of researcher John Marks resulted in the release of FOIA docs and contributed to Congressional hearings during the 1970's that revealed a 25-year CIA effort to control the human organism. The operation included the exploitation of involuntary human research subjects who underwent experiments involving the administration of drugs, hypnosis, torture, psychological conditioning and combinations thereof. Project MKULTRA was a primary component of the effort in which funds were covertly funneled through nonprofit foundations in order to finance some 149 known sub-projects. Research and experiments were conducted at over 80 facilities including - but not limited to - military bases, prisons, hospitals, universities and even CIA funded and operated brothels.
|MKULTRA Project Director Dr. Sidney Gottlieb (left)|
with his attorney in 1977
Several lawsuits spanning many years resulted from such circumstances as the death of CIA man Frank Olson, the abuse of psychiatric patients at the Allan Memorial Institute of McGill University and research called “terminal experiments” in which methodology included loss of human life. Numerous court judgments have subsequently been issued against the CIA, Department of Defense and associates, the latest of which occurred in July on behalf of Vietnam Veterans of America.
False Flag UFOs
While segments of the UFO community perpetually argue the validity of the possibility Uncle Sam is tainting the well of UFO data, the fact of the matter is that has long been the case. Page 9 of the USAF Project Grudge final report of August, 1949, noted, “Planned release of unusual aerial objects coupled with the release of related psychological propaganda could cause mass hysteria.”
The report added, “Employment of these methods by or against an enemy would yield similar results.”
|Dr. Leon Davidson|
As writer/researcher Mark O'Connell wrote about at his blog, High Strangeness, the Air Force then continued developing an aspect of electronic warfare known as electronic countermeasures, or ECM. Chemical engineer, scientist and Manhattan Project participant Dr. Leon Davidson explained in a work titled, ECM + CIA = UFO, by 1950 ECM was standard equipment on advanced bombers. The technology soon evolved into providing “simulated targets for training radar operators,” or, in other words, false radar paints.
“I contend that since 1951,” Dr. Davidson wrote, “the CIA has caused or sponsored saucer sightings for its own purposes.”
Whether or not Davidson was entirely correct, ECM research and development indeed culminated into Project PALLADIUM. In a 1998 report titled, Stealth, Countermeasures, and ELINT, 1960-1975, CIA man Gene Poteat explained how the project worked. Teams consisting of intelligence personnel and military support would calibrate and inject false targets onto radars. Phantom aircraft of whatever size desired could appear to travel on any flight path at any speed and altitude.
The capabilities were combined with planned release of unusual aerial objects, similarly to how Project Grudge had foreseen in 1949, and one particular operation was conducted off the coast of Cuba during the missile crisis of 1962. The report explained how the coordination of PALLADIUM equipment and strategically placed personnel baffled the enemy, and descriptions might ring more than a few bells with UFO buffs.
“The false aircraft was made to appear to be a U.S. fighter plane out of Key West about to fly over Cuba,” Poteat wrote. “A Navy submarine slipped in close to Havana Bay, and it was to surface just long enough to release a timed series of balloon-borne metalized spheres of different sizes. The idea was for the early warning radar to track our electronic aircraft and then for the submarine to surface and release the 'calibrated' spheres up into the path of the oncoming false aircraft.”
Describing how the operation unfolded, Poteat explained, “We had no trouble in manipulating the PALLADIUM system controls to keep our ghost aircraft always just ahead of the pursuing Cuban planes. When the Cuban pilot radioed back to his controllers that he had the intruding aircraft in sight and was about to make a firing pass to shoot it down, we all had the same idea at the same instant. The technician moved his finger to the switch, I nodded yes, and he switched off the PALLADIUM system.”
The report additionally stated, “Every PALLADIUM operation consisted of a CIA team with its ghost aircraft system, an NSA team with its special COMINT and decryption equipment, and a military operational support team.”
The CIA, NSA and DoD apparently found it advantageous as early as the mid 20th century to create false UFO incidents. Similar options were included in the IC bag of tricks until at least the 1980's, as documented by Mark Pilkington in his book, Mirage Men.
National Security Agency
It turns out the U.S. government, specifically the NSA and associates, actually were eavesdropping and intercepting email after all. You may have heard about it. If not, you can research that one yourself. Be advised that you might choose to save some credible sources, because a few years from now people will be saying things like, "If that really happened, wouldn't some of them have been arrested?"
Neither side of a debate is absolved of responsibility to do its homework and conduct competent investigation when further research is justified. Let us not forget that premature conclusions, either supporting or negating reasonable theories, can each be found on different sides of the same coin of bias. Let us support efforts to conduct credible research with sincere intentions, allowing the data a chance to speak for itself.
People do lie. Intel agencies do conduct classified operations. That is not delusion, but realism.
What we must guard against is taking the mounting - and at times justifiable - distrust of the government and confusing it with evidence that any given conspiracy theory is founded. That is not always the case, but neither should reasonable possibilities be dismissed out of hand.
Sometimes there are conspiracies, and if no one ever investigated the possibilities, we would never have heard of some of the circumstances described above. Sometimes a covert but influential organization is responsible for a circumstance or event – and when it is competently researched and proven, a conspiracy theory becomes a matter of historic record.