Right Woos Left: Chip Berlet
professional anti-conspiracist defense Bush regime's claim 9/11 was a surprise attack
Chip Berlet, "leftist" professional anti-conspiracist who defends the official 9/11 conspiracy theory, calls oilempire webmaster "essentially an industrious rumor-mongerer with a penchant for conspiracy theories"
Some background on Berlet
Berlet for Beginners
Portland Free Press, July/August 1995
by Ace R. Hayes
FROM THE PORTLAND FREE PRESS
The Truth Matters
by Ace R. Hayes
(July/August 1997 issue)
Chip Berlet, SlimVirgin, and Wikipedia
more on Wikipedia: www.wikipedia-watch.org/russmag.html
(dead link, sorry)
Ford Foundation funding
Organization: Political Research Associates
Purpose: To study the college and university campus leadership and outreach programs of major national organizations and social movements and their relationship to political environment on campuses
Location: SOMERVILLE, MA
Program: Peace and Social Justice
Unit: Governance and Civil Society
Subject: Civil Society
Amount: $ 175, 000
|Political Research Associates|
a liberal / progressive / left non-profit that claims that Bush is innocent of complicity in 9/11
PRA's page denouncing "conspiracies" about 9-11
This page insinuates that the "9/11skeptics" movement largely consists of anti-semites, far-right fanatics and holocaust denial people. Yes, those sites do exist, but one could make a very good case that several of them are "false flag" operations to provide rhetorical ammunition to attack the idea that the Bush regime allowed 9/11 or gave it technical assistance to ensure it succeeded.
PRA has resisted numerous opportunities to discuss credible evidence that 9/11 was not a surprise attack, refusing to discuss:
- prior warnings by allied governments
- warnings to political, military and corporate officials to get out of the way
- the NORAD wargames that confused the Air Force response
- the CIA / NRO plane into building exercise on 9/11
- the motivations of Peak Oil and "Homeland Security"
- anthrax attacks on the Democrats and passage of the Patriot Act
If the racists on the web didn't exist, groups like PRA would have to invent them.
After trashing 9/11 skeptics as racists and anti-semites, Mr. Berlet then mentions Mike Ruppert, and provides the liberal establishment "party line":
Ruppert, however, makes sweeping claims that cannot be verified at a time when there is some much verifiable wrongdoing by the government and corporations that the outcome, no matter how unintentional, is that Ruppert’s allegations serve to distract from serious progressive opposition to the status quo and sometimes even discredit it.
However, Berlet does not cite a single "unverifiable claim" by Ruppert to justify his comments. Berlet's page spends more energy pointing out that anti-semites believe there was a conspiracy on 9/11 than discussing the best evidence evidence of complicity. It's a relatively clever smear campaign.
Finally, Berlet states that
There are many unanswered questions about the attacks on 09/11/01, the obvious failures of existing security systems, the decisions regarding the assessment of terrorist threats; the wisdom, morality, and legality under international law of the unilateral attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq; the implementation of repressive domestic measures such as the Patriot Act and the confinement of immigrants and undocumented visitors without due process; and the reluctance and refusal of key government officials to fully cooperate with congressional and media investigations. Political Research Associates fully supports the vigorous investigation of these matters.
Despite the alleged support for "vigorous investigation of these matters," PRA doesn't provide any actual links to the independent investigations, not even to the most credible efforts such as the "Complete 9/11 Timeline," a database of over 1,000 mass media articles that show beyond any doubt that 9/11 was not a surprise attack.
FROM THE PORTLAND FREE PRESS
The Truth Matters
by Ace R. Hayes
(July/August 1997 issue)
Ace political analyst Ace Hayes (now deceased) takes on Berlet's limited hang outs.
It is fascinating that Chip Berlet sees so much need to attack the idea that 9/11 was not an "intelligence failure," and carefully omits any discussion of the volumes of evidence that is sourced to mainstream papers that shows that 9/11 was not an "intel failure."
I first heard of PRA when it published its "Old Nazis and the New Right" report during the 1988 presidential campaign, it was excellent work. I used it extensively in an anti-Bush campaign that a group of my friends were doing, although our main focus point was the "October Surprise" scandal, which Mr. Berlet probably doesn't share our enthusiasm for focusing on. (The Bush / Iranian deal to DELAY the release of the hostages constituted treason.) We had a great chant: "On October 19, 1980, Bush was dealing with Khomeini!"
A few years later, I was shocked to see PRA and other liberal / leftists (The Nation, David Corn, Alexander Cockburn, etc) attack the film JFK. This was extremely curious, since the film had an enormous amount of very credible material in it, particularly the "stand down" of the Secret Service's standard operating procedures. (The fact that it was a Hollywood production and not a literal re-enactment was less important than the volumes of excellent material it did include, particularly the motivation for the coup.) Does PRA really think Arlen Specter's single bullet theory is real?
Is PRA unaware of Kennedy's June 10, 1963 speech at American University (calling for cooperation with the USSR), his September 20, 1963 speech at the United Nations calling off the Cold War, the nuclear arms race and the moon race? JFK's repeated refusal to bomb Cuba? JFK's negotiation of the Limited Test Ban Treaty, which Kennedy personally pushed through over military objections? Or is PRA unaware of Kennedy's agonizing with his advisors about how to remove troops from Vietnam? Is PRA unaware of Kennedy's promise to scatter the CIA into a thousand pieces -- and the evidence the CIA scattered John Kennedy into a thousand pieces?
I imagine next Mr. Berlet will attack Coretta Scott King and the King family for publicly stating that James Earl Ray was the patsy and that the FBI and military were really behind the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Dexter King met with James Earl Ray in prison, told him that the family knew he was not the assassin, and worked (unsuccessfully) for a trial for him for the rest of his life. Has he read the work of William Pepper, an advisor to King who has done some of the best work on the government role in the murder of Dr. King? Is Mr. Berlet aware of the King family's trial in Memphis in 1999 against some of the co-conspirators, the jury found for the King family. The most amazing thing about that trial was not the shocking evidence that was presented but the complete media blackout -- the corporate media and the so-called liberal alternative media refused to mention it at all. The only writer who covered the entire trial was James Douglass, who later wrote the 2008 book JFK and the Unspeakable and now is working on a similar book about the King assassination.
|July 2004 discussions about Berlet's appearance on Alternative Radio|
in descending chronological order (most recent first ...)
from Mark to Chip:
Actually, I try very hard to separate reasonable speculation from what
has multiple credible sources in the mainstream press.
The wargames, insider trading, and prior warnings are sourced in many, many different ways, and are not speculative.
There are other aspects that are strongly suggestive, but unprovable, such as remote control technology (the only thing I'm aware of that fits the fact the Pentagon was struck in the nearly empty sector).
I actually disagree with the "no plane at the Pentagon" meme - there were too many eyewitnesses. But why would terrorists hit the nearly empty part of the building, why would they fly 270 degrees around the complex to minimize casualties?
It is fascinating that the liberal / left alternative media largely avoids the topic of Peak Oil.
It is also fascinating that you don't cite a single rebuttal to Mike Ruppert on your site, merely attacking him seems sufficient for your purposes.
I can relate to the "White Rose" in Germany (who tried to warn German non-Jews about the Holocaust) and the underground newspapers of the Warsaw Ghetto, who tried to warn the Jews not to get on the trains to Treblinka. We live in a country of "not see's."
Best wishes for continued grants from the Ford Foundation in their 2005 and 2006 funding cycles.
Subject: RE: in response to chip berlet's challenge - a logical chart
that explains Bush's complicity in 9/11
Date: Tue, 13 Jul 2004 15:42:37 -0400
From: "Chip Berlet" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To: "Mark Robinowitz" <email@example.com>, <firstname.lastname@example.org>
I looked at your "chart."
You have no idea how logic works.
You have no idea what constitutes a documented fact.
You have no idea what would be reasonable speculation based on an incomplete set of facts.
You are essentially an industrious rumor-mongerer with a penchant for conspiracy theories.
I fully support your First Amendment right to waste bandwidth on the Internet.
That does not mean I have to answer every absurd question you send to me.
Political Research Associates
From: Mark Robinowitz [mailto:mark@ oilempire.us]
Sent: Tuesday, July 13, 2004 3:05 PM
To: Chip Berlet; email@example.com
Subject: RE: in response to chip berlet's challenge - a logical chart that explains Bush's complicity in 9/11
So how do you evaluate the warnings from 15 countries, the stock
trades betting the value of United and American would drop, and the
paralyzing "war games" at NORAD, NRO, CIA and FEMA that morning? Are
reports in Newsweek, AP, SF Chronicle, the German mainstream press,
Financial Times, BBC, Aviation Week, CNN, USA Today, Toronto Star,
etc. not good enough for looking at these issues? Are you waiting
for Dick Cheney's confession on national television before
considering that the official "surprise attack" story might have a
flaw or two? Who do you think managed to simultaneously schedule war
games at NORAD, NRO, CIA and FEMA that paralyzed the military
response to the hijacked planes?
DId you even bother to look at my logic chart, or are you merely
issuing a blanket denial based on an ideological objection? You DID
make a challenge on "Alternative Radio" that there aren't any logic
diagrams showing how Bush could have been complicit in 9/11 -- and
this is my feeble effort. Surely you will want to look at it so you
can pretend to rebut it on your website.
(page moved to www.oilempire.us/lihop-mihop.html
At 10:27 AM -0400 2004-07-13, Chip Berlet wrote:
We obviously disagree on what the word "evidence" means, and have different ideas about how logic should be used. There is no point in extending an already fruitless conversation when we are using different rules for dealing with reality.
Political Research Associates
From: Mark Robinowitz [mailto:mark@ oilempire.us]
Sent: Tuesday, July 13, 2004 4:37 AM
To: Chip Berlet; firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: in response to chip berlet's challenge - a logical chart that explains Bush's complicity in 9/11
In response to your challenge on Alternative Radio that there is no way to logically outline the case for Bush's 9/11 complicity, here's a rough draft of this. I don't expect that you will dare talk about the mass media stories about foreknowledge, warnings from other countries, insider trading on United and American stock, or the wargames in the military, intelligence agencies and FEMA that morning. Good luck trying to disprove this, your Ford Foundation grants will not be very helpful to you in this regard.
One of the Murphy's Laws is "if the facts do not conform to the theory they must be disposed of." It seems that the defenders of the official surprise attack conspiracy theory are totally unable to deal with basic information such as the prior warnings and the 9/11 wargames. Since there is no way to explain the "wargames" in their incompetence theory, they must merely be ignored and hope that none of their readers and listeners have wandered onto a subversive internet site that dares to describe this information.
see the chart at http://www.oilempire.us/understanding.html
it's not exactly what you said was needed on the "Alternative Radio" show but it is a worthy effort toward this request
Meanwhile, the Bush regime is floating the idea of "postponing" the 2004 election. I hope that PRA, Alternative Radio, David Corn and the rest of the left / liberal elite won't ignore this the way 9/11 evidence has been ignored. www.oilempire.us/2004.html
earlier Email exchange with Chip Berlet:
Thanks for your suggestions, but many of the articles you clipped are
full of conjecture and speculation, and lack enough facts to be considered
Serious opposition has to be based on serious research.
Perhaps you might browse our pages on conspiracism.
From: Mark Robinowitz
Sent: Tuesday, March 25, 2003 4:01 PM
To: Chip Berlet
Subject: RE: coincidence theory
I've read your pages on coincidence theory - it seems to be yet another
case of ideology being more important than evidence. Not all of the "conspiracy"
stuff re: 911 is real - some is intentional disinfo - but the official
story is mostly lies, as easy to disprove as the "Oswald shot JFK
by himself" story.
I'd love to know how the coincidence theorists explain the refusal of the US Air Force to scramble planes from Andrews AFB.
From: Chip Berlet
Let's just focus on this false claim.
There is no evidence that the Air Force had planes ready to scramble from Andrews on that day. On some days it did, but on that day the task was assigned to another airbase.
This claim was originally based on an incompetent reading of a web page that used a military phrase about readiness that the conspiracy-minded authors simply misunderstood.
To: "Chip Berlet"
From: Mark Robinowitz
March 25, 2003
Subject: RE: coincidence theory - the stand down
I think you are wrong, since Andrews AFB has been known for years to
have scramble ready planes. The DC area is the most monitored in the US,
if not the whole world (with CIA, NSA, NRO and the rest of fed.gov). Read
"Puzzle Palace" by James Bamford to get a sense of this.
The other "airbases" that you suggest had been delegated the defense of the Capitol were still within range of DC. They had over an hour to intercept the plane that hit the Pentagon, but did not. If it was utter incompetence, Gen. Eberhart (then commander of NORAD) would have been court-martialed, not promoted (which is what happened). (Norfolk is not far from DC, especially at Mach 2.)
Even if you are right, then it would be interesting to hear your explanation
-- the CIA was running a simulation of a plane hitting the National Reconnaissance Office HQ (near Dulles) on 911
-- why numerous warnings from allied governments were supposedly ignored (at least a dozen countries, possibly more, warned the US that 911 was coming)
-- why the General in charge of Air Defense received a PROMOTION to run the "domestic" use of the US military
-- why the planes that eventually were scrambled traveled much, much slower than they are capable of traveling, especially in an emergency (ie. after the second tower was hit but before the Pentagon)
-- why the part of the Pentagon that was hit was the only part that had almost no one in it, and the part that had been strengthened against such an attack
-- why the CEO of Fiduciary (in the towers) just happened to be at a "fundraiser" sponsored by Warren Buffett at Offutt AFB (strange place for a charity fundraiser) on 911, the same base that Bush went to in the afternoon
-- why Bush showed no reaction when told of the attacks, and kept reading to second graders (and why his aide, Andrew Card, didn't even wait to ask for a reply from the "President")
-- why Bush had anti-aircraft missiles set up around Genoa, Italy during the July 2001 G-8 summit (due to concerns about a 911 type attack) but not around the Capitol despite numerous warnings that 911 was coming
-- why the director of the "commission" to investigate 9-11 is a business partner of Osama bin Laden's brother in law (Gov Thomas Kean, formerly of New Jersey, is a director of Amerada Hess, which is invested in the Saudi consortium to build the fabled pipeline across Afghanistan ...)
-- the Bush regime interfered with the investigation of al-Qaeda before 911, something that FBI whistleblowers, journalist Greg Palast and FBI counterterrorism director John O'Neill charged.
There's an enormous amount of evidence for this that is not easily dismissed with name calling like "conspiracy theory" or pointing out that some of the investigators don't share your particular political philosophies. However, this name calling does serve a very useful purpose in deflecting opposition to Bush's world war.
While I'm definitely "left" "progressive" or whatever label you wish to use, I was amused to read recently that even the John Birch Society (yuck) is making comparisons between Bush's Patriot Act and Hitler's Enabling Act (I assume you know what that was). Of course, it seems obvious - at least to much of the rest of humanity - that 911 was America's Reichstag Fire, and this is one of the reasons why the rest of the world is horrified at America's slide into blatant fascism.
Perhaps it's all a coincidence - Lee Harvey Osama was behind it all ...
note: Mr. Berlet declined to answer any of these questions, since they did not fit with his ideological attack on "conspiracy" researchers.
Chip Berlet: Sponsored By Ford Foundation?
by Bob Feldman
Like Democracy Now! and FAIR, Chip Berlet's Political Research Associates alternative media group has been subsidized by the Militaristic U.S. Establishment's Ford Foundation in recent years. In 2002, the Ford Foundation gave Chip Berlet's Political Research Associates $175,663 in grant money. That same year the Ford Foundation also gave a grant of $100,000 to the Militaristic U.S. Establishment's Council on Foreign Relations "for the development of a Council Task Force on Terrorism." A few years ago, the Ford Foundation also gave a $701,130 grant to the Council on Foreign Relations for "core support for the activities of the Program on Alternative Future for Southern Asia, its Energy and United States Policy."
Coincidentally, Chip Berlet's Political Research Associates has apparently not been eager to do any research about the Ford Foundation's historical role in funding either the Council on Foreign Relations, the RAND Corporation or the Institute for Defense Analyses.
The Ford Foundation and the CIA
PRA and ADL
an early report on a case which didn't end up well for the ADL...
The ADL Spy Probe
from Alexander Cockburn's "Beat the Devil," a bi-weekly column in The Nation.
May 31, 1993
There have been fears that political pressure might squelch the case against the Anti-Defamation League spies being built by the San Francisco District Attorney, Arlo Smith. But the "San Francisco Examiner"for May 11 carried a story by Dennis Opatrny and Scott Winokur reporting that top officials of the ADL are "the ultimate targets of the San Francisco district attorney's domestic spying investigation."
Such officials include the ADL's New York-based director of research, Irwin Suall. Meanwhile, the ADL's strategy is to link critics of its spy operation with neo-Nazis and with the World Trade Center bombers.I note here a story on the scandal in "The Village Voice" for May 11 by Robert Friedman. Since Friedman once wrote "The Nation" complaining I had credited another reporter for facts he had unearthed, I must say that I have a serious problem with the way he avoids giving credit to anyone but himself.Last July, in "Washington Report on Middle East Affairs," Gregory Slobodkin broke the story of AIPAC's smear operation in a story titled "The Secret Section in Israel's US Lobby That Stifles American Debate."
On August 4, Friedman did a "Voice"story, "The Israel Lobby's Blacklist. "Nowhere in Friedman's story was it stated that Slobodkin had already published an account of his experiences at AIPAC.In his May 11, 1993, piece on the ADL, Friedman was still boasting that AIPAC's "spy operation was disclosed last summer in the `Voice,'" which it wasn't. And he never thanks his sources or acknowledges the efforts of people long laboring on the story, such as journalists in San Francisco or ABC-TV's James Bamford, who discovered the Benjamin Epstein letter from which Friedman quotes without tipping his hat to the journalist who got the document first.In fact, Friedman relies uncritically on the statements of ADL spy Roy Bullock to the FBI and to San Francisco police, as though they were proven facts. And in the end he lets off the ADL with a light stroke, courtesy of researcher Chip Berlet, who says the ADL "is a group whose leaders, at least, consistently defend the actions of Israel against critics, which ... is entirely appropriate" and "is a group that maintains an information-sharing arrangement with law enforcement. Again, there is nothing wrong for a group to do that." Berlet argues that it was some malign synergy between such ADL functions that led to trouble. In effect, he OK's the ADL's venomous smearing of critics as anti-Semites and then makes the amazing statement that there's nothing wrong with illegal acquisition and dissemination of privileged government information about individuals. This is the basis of the class-action suit against the ADL in California.
Rebuttal by Chip Berlet:
The assertion by Alexander Cockburn that I was trying to apologize for
the actions of the Anti-Defamation League in the San Francisco Spy Scandal
are false. Cockburn was forced to retract this claim in print when Victor
Navasky of the Nation agreed with me that the quote Cockburn used had
been taken out of context and its meaning essentially reversed. I sometimes
praise the work of the ADL and I sometimes criticize it.
Your decision to post the original (and retracted) assertion from the Cockburn article raises serious questions about either your ethics, your competency as a researcher, or both.
offer from oilempire, not responded to:
I will gladly make a correction if you can provide the retraction. I'm
not omnipotent, and did not come across the retraction in my research.
I don't claim to be 100% correct. I don't have fat foundation grants,
I do the best that I can as a volunteer. However, the ADL story is not
central to my critique of your current criticism on 9/11 skepticism, it
is a tertiary issue.
I hope that you, in turn, will make a retraction of your claims about Andrews Air Force Base, Norfolk air base, NORAD's standard operating procedures, the absence of your analysis having any mention of the war games of 9/11 that paralyzed the response, the Pentagon's nearly empty part being struck, the fact that Bush did not give any responses when told the WTC had been hit (which shows he's not the commander in chief), the anthrax sent to the Democrats from the military during the Patriot Act debate, and other critical issues left out of your attack on Dr. Griffin and other prominent writers who have dared to try to connect the dots.
On your "conspiracism" site you attack Michael Ruppert for promoting unproven theories, yet you decline to mention anything from his analysis that is allegedly unproven. This is character assassination, not a scholarly analysis subject to peer review. Ruppert's work is far beyond the limited focus of PRA, and has broken numerous stories that have stood the test of time (and cross examination).
I did not answer your long list of questions about 9/11 because I am employed as a researcher by a non-profit think tank that sets my research agenda. While I try to answer e-mails sent to me, it is simply not fair for you to send me a long list of questions and demand that I answer them. It is even more unfair for you to falsely characterize my reasons for not answering your list of questions.
I read the transcript of your "debate"
with Griffin on DN, and heard your hour long interview on "Alternative
Radio," which was one of the more intellectually dishonest things
I have heard about 9/11 and 11/22 (JFK).
You accused "conspiracists" of selectively picking evidence, yet you did this far more than even the most incompetence 9/11 researchers (and I am painfully aware of some 9/11 skeptics whose research skills are poor).
If you are going to be paid by foundation grants to defend the official point of view than the official conspiracy theory of 9/11 (19 guys being directed by the evil one in a cave in Afghanistan) is correct, then don't be surprised if people who have looked at the evidence more than you apparently have point out where you are misleading and lying in public. I'm sure you have thick skin from years of political advocacy and won't take it personally. If you can deal with racists and other bigots, I'm sure you can cope with people who point out the logical inconsistencies and ignored evidence in your statements about 9/11 "conspiracism."
I note that you imply I run PRA. I do not. I am an employee. Ms. Jean Hardisty, Ph.D., our founder, runs PRA. Mr. Nikhil Aziz, Ph.D. is Director of Research.
I heard Ms. Hardisty at the Bioneers conference last fall. it was a good
speech, but it didn't say anything that 95% of the audience didn't already
agree with (preaching to the choir is getting tiring). Afterwards, I asked
her, as did others, why PRA chose to attack folks like Mike Ruppert for
daring to connect the dots of 9/11 complicity - and she didn't reply.
It is getting quite tiring to ask nearly all of the liberal / left defenders of the official conspiracy theory and the "incompetence / surprise attack" paradigm why they are backing Bush's view on this, and never get any substantive reply. This is the same non-response that numerous other people who have also asked these questions of the liberal elite -- and the non-response is nearly always the same. Must be a coincidence.
It is hard to escape the idea that sexism and racism are involved in the attempt to portray me as running PRA.
That is a fantasy of yours, which you can believe if you like.
You seem to be the most vocal person connected with PRA. You're the one chosen to attack David Griffin on the air, to defend the official conspiracy theory (the official story IS a conspiracy theory, it involves many people working together and it is not proven). Your name seems to be much more prominent on the PRA website, and in the many years that I've been aware, somewhat, of your organization, it has seemed to be largely your effort. Perhaps this is wrong, but it is not the real issue.
I have spent a lot of time on your website looking for justification of your attacks on Mike Ruppert and David Griffin (and noted that you did not address any of the central theses they promote). Perhaps I missed something, but your name seems much more prominent at publiceye.org than Ms. Hardisty.
The vast majority of research PRA conducts and publishes is not related to the issue of conspiracism, and much of it is critical of current government policies.
I like the quote by Peter Dale Scott who says that the best disinformation is 95% correct.