San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee Knows A Useful Tragedy When He Sees One

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

I do not accept the first and most extreme assertion of Truthers — the proposition that mass-casualty tragedies are secretly engineered by (unusually competent, unusually close-mouthed) government agencies.

I do, however, accept the second and eminently correct assertion of Truthers — that politicians and law enforcement make cynical and unscrupulous use of tragedies for their own ends.

This week San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee is here to prove it.

San Francisco is a city that’s famous — or notorious — for being liberal, depending on your point of view. But in modern America “liberal” does not reliably mean “an advocate of limited police power” or “a supporter of Fourth Amendment rights.” Nominal “liberals” in government are as eager to milk fear and law-and-order sentiment as the most gravel-knuckled conservative. Ed Lee is no different.

Mayor Ed Lee remains resolute in implementing some form of a stop-and-frisk program – even if it’s not called that – in the wake of Friday’s horrific movie theater mass shooting in Aurora, Colo., and a trip to Philadelphia, which has its own controversial stop-and-frisk program.

“I am as, if not more, committed, and especially in light of the massacre that occurred in Aurora, but also the review of what’s happening in New York and Philadelphia and Chicago and the crime that’s committed,” Lee said Monday on the sidelines of an announcement about federal transportation funding.

Bringing up Aurora to justify a stop-and-frisk policy is jaw-droppingly dishonest — the sort of argument that shows not only shamelessness but a willingness to insult the intelligence of one’s audience. If you’re a guy in red clown hair and body armor carrying a rifle and a shotgun into a movie theater, well-established law is more than sufficient to justify the police to conduct an investigative stop of you. No special stop-and-frisk policy is required. Rather, a stop-and-frisk policy is a device calculated to give legal and political cover to arbitrary harassment of the sort of people they like to harass and in an attempted end run around Fourth Amendment principles like probable cause and reasonable suspicion.

That this is common does not make it less outrageous. Yet after 9/11, perhaps our capacity for outrage about such rhetoric is exhausted. We live in a country, after all, where politicians tell us they need to use post-9/11 anti-terrorism powers against people who pirate Shrek. So what’s a little callous misappropriation of a mass shooting, in the scheme of things?

–Ken White

Digg it |  reddit | |  Fark

49 Responses to “San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee Knows A Useful Tragedy When He Sees One”

  1. #1 |  MH | 

    Agree, although I’m not sure it was necessary to make any connection to Truthers at all. Who posted this one? With the guest bloggers on board I like to know who’s writing.

  2. #2 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    I will just point out that modern self-described “Liberals” are, in fact, elitists, who believe that they should be running That State for the good of All. As such it is no surprise to find one calling for a loss of general liberty. Tiresomely predictable would be more like it. The one comfort I have in dealing with these swine is that the pattern of history is for them to put incredible amounts of energy into creating an all powerful State, which then gets taken over by the likes of Stalin, who liquidates every one of the sorry prats.

  3. #3 |  Ken from Popehat | 

    Sorry. That was me.

  4. #4 |  Mike T | 

    One thing I’ve never understood about liberals is why their go-to reaction about guns is to restrict them rather than create a government program to have the police and their affiliates offer government-run shooting ranges and safety classes for the public. If the solution to bad speech is more speech instead of censorship, then why not respond to the misuse of guns by trying to create a gun-educated and competent citizenry that can democratically aid the police in protecting public safety?

  5. #5 |  Mike T | 

    ** and offer police-run mass purchase programs to let the law-abiding poor use the purchasing power of large police forces to buy a cheap personal defense weapon at or below retail.

  6. #6 |  MH | 

    The goal is to eliminate personal self defense so that people are entirely dependent on government for protection, resulting in more funding and power for government agencies and workers. That goal would not be served by focusing on funding additional safety training for gun owners.

  7. #7 |  SamK | 

    MikeT, I’m not sure if this is accurate, but I’m beginning to think that the reason you see self-described liberals going after guns is pure politics. i.e. you’re only hearing the squealers who are appealing to a voting base. The vast majority of people I know who self-describe as liberals own guns. There is definitely an anti-gun bloc in the ‘liberal’ section, and it’s unlikely to find a serious anti-gunner in the ‘conservative’ groups, but I essentially refer to myself as a socialist libertarian these days and I’m ex-military, anti-cop, own more guns than the average American or anyone else I know in the small town I live in, and spend one heck of a lot of my expendable income at the range. I also end up defending gun rights online more often than I like to think about.

    That said, if reality showed that restricting gun rights led to massive increases in personal safety I’d be for the restriction. It doesn’t so I’m not. I find that basic observation to be at home with almost anyone I have the gun discussion with no matter how liberal they are. Even the libs I know who are scared shitless of firearms understand that basic fact. It really makes me wonder if there are enough people in the anti-gun voting bloc as single issue voters to support catering to it. Note that Obama hasn’t exactly gone nuts going after firearms and didn’t even mention gun laws when making his statement about Aurora.

    I figure the primary reason that Democrat pols like to restrict guns these days is to consolidate power and the primary reason that Republican pols don’t is that they realize they don’t need to; they already have too much power to be particularly threatened by the individual right.

  8. #8 |  Weird Willy | 

    “[T]he proposition that [all] mass-casualty tragedies are secretly engineered by (unusually competent, unusually close-mouthed) government agencies” is one I have not ever seen advanced by anyone.

  9. #9 |  a leap at the wheel | 

    #8 – That just means you are not hanging out in the right (wrong, really) places.

  10. #10 |  George | 

    Ken from P, you make sense. I would point out, tho, that the killer in Aurora apparently came into the theater unarmed, went into the theater and then used the exit door near the screen to get his weapons out of his car and then returned thru that exit to begin shooting.

  11. #11 |  EH | 


    “That said, if reality showed that restricting gun rights led to massive increases in personal safety I’d be for the restriction. It doesn’t so I’m not.”

    Name a country with more-restrictive gun rights and a greater number of shootings. I’ll even give you per-capita.

  12. #12 |  Miroker | 

    I am not sure why you are lumping all “modern self-described “Liberals”” into one group, but I can tell you your premise is wrong. Since I consider myself a liberal, I resent your doing that. As a matter of fact, the “modern self-described “Liberals”” I hang out with would all have a problem with what he is trying to do in San Fran.

    What I find “Tiresomely predictable” is that some people here seems to think their philosophy is the one all people should prescribe to. The one comfort I have in dealing with these swine is that the pattern of history is for them to put incredible amounts of energy into trying to make any one that does not agree with them seem like a low life scum that does not deserve to be alive.

    And if you think that liberals are like Stalin, I suggest you stop and think about that. The US government turned into a Stalin like entity many years ago. Does this sound familiar: Government created to serve the people. Over time, government gets stratified and captured by a small amount of “elites” who proceed to screw the population of said country. That in turn leads to resentment of the elites by the general population and trouble ensues.

    I can also tell you I am far from an elite. I grew up dirt poor and basically am still in that position, but I keep an open mind and let others think and do what they wish, without talking down to them or calling them “swines”. As long as they do not interfere with my life, I could care less about what they do.

  13. #13 |  Burgers Allday | 

    I do not accept the first and most extreme assertion of Truthers — the proposition that mass-casualty tragedies are secretly engineered by (unusually competent, unusually close-mouthed) government agencies.

    Where does the Antrax Attack of 9/11 fall with respect to this characterization?

    That seems like a government conspiracy that was somewhat competent and also somewhat closed mouth, but not completely competent or completely closed mouth.

    I guess the casualities weren’t massive (unless you count the Iraq War as collateral damage and I kind of do).

    I always wondered what the non-Truther take on this was. Like TWA800, non-Truthers never seem to speak about this one.

  14. #14 |  Z | 

    “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”- We proved Ben in spades after 9/11. Also, I don’t consider myself a truther but will say that 9/11 was the best thing that ever happened to Guiliani, Bush and Cheney.

  15. #15 |  Powersox | 

    #11 EH:
    Take a look at which states that the UK has a much higher rate of violent crimes than the US does. A minor amount of double checking didn’t show me anything that would make me disbelieve it.

  16. #16 |  Deoxy | 

    “That said, if reality showed that restricting gun rights led to massive increases in personal safety I’d be for the restriction. It doesn’t so I’m not.”

    Name a country with more-restrictive gun rights and a greater number of shootings. I’ll even give you per-capita.

    “personal safety” “lack of shootings”

    It’s quite a bit more than simply avoiding mass shootings – check the crime stats in Britain, for instance. The chances of being a victim of a violent crime there are TREMENDOUSLY more than they are here.

    Mass shootings are rare – they just get lots of attention. For instance, Chicago has more murders in a typical month these days that Aurora, even this year, will have all year, and Chicago has the most restrictive gun laws in the nation.

    If you’re willing to put up with a lot more rape, assault, and theft (including a LOT more home-invasion style theft), then yeah, you can (probably) lower the number of shootings… but I’d hardly call that an improvement in “personal safety”.

    The real problem is that, absent guns, people can still resort to physical violence, and that playing field is highly tilted towards the large and strong, with no real way to even things out.

    Having guns around ups the lethality of combat… but it evens the playing field, such that the criminals are also likely to die. This is to the advantage of the law abiding, statistically speaking. At the societal level, “statistically speaking” is just about all you’ve got.

    And that’s all entirely pragmatic – no philosophy at all.

  17. #17 |  Mike T | 


    Note that Obama hasn’t exactly gone nuts going after firearms and didn’t even mention gun laws when making his statement about Aurora.

    Actually, he just announced that he is going to press for a new wave of gun control.


    Some stats about how bad crime actually is in Australia and the UK vs the US. Sure, you’re much more likely to get shot here than in one of those countries. However, your general likelihood of being the victim of a criminal act is much higher there.

  18. #18 |  EH | 

    Powersox: Greater number of shootings.

  19. #19 |  Powersox | 

    #18 EH:
    His argument was about personal safety, not about shootings. I’d go with a higher number of shootings and a much lower violence rate than I would the other way around.

  20. #20 |  croaker | 

    Why do dismiss with a pejorative the people who notice that every time there is some gun control law being considered there is a “gun tragedy” to grease the skids?

    Once is happenstance.
    Twice is coincidence.
    Thrice is enemy action.

  21. #21 |  Nodnarb the Nasty | 

    I think the truth of the matter here is that both sides often get their numbers confused (or they just make them up out of thin air).

    Jacques Delacroix has a good post on this titled Guns and Truth. He uses a rough cross-national comparison to come to some solid conclusions about gun control.

  22. #22 |  Personanongrata | 

    Single acts of tyranny may be ascribed to the accidental opinion of the day; but a series of oppressions, begun at a distinguished period, and pursued unalterably through every change of ministers (adminstrators) too plainly proves a deliberate, systematic plan of reducing us to slavery.

    ~ July 1774: Thomas Jefferson, Rights of British America, ME 1:193, Papers 1:125 –

    You can pretty much use this quote for any and all government acts of tyranny.

  23. #23 |  EH | 

    croaker: if hard cases make bad law, what do easy cases make?

  24. #24 |  EH | 

    Powersox: “Personal safety” is so nebulous as to be meaningless in this context, i.e. what is the definition? You might as well use the word “fun.”

  25. #25 |  Powersox | 

    23 EH: I’d say it’s pretty well defined – if there is a (just making up numbers here) 10% chance of being the victim of a violent crime in an area with no guns, and a 1% chance of being shot + 1% chance of being the victim of a violent crime in an area without gun control, I’d happily take that 2% chance.
    Otherwise, we can cherry-pick away statistics we don’t like. “Yeah, let’s ignore the violent crimes that were a woman beating up her husband. He was probably a prick who deserved it. Oh, and how about we ignore instances of a black guy beating up a white guy – just getting even for years of slavery…” pretty soon, there’s no crime rate whatsoever!

  26. #26 |  EH | 

    Are you saying that your made-up numbers are good enough to prove your point, but the FBI’s aren’t?

  27. #27 |  Powersox | 

    So, looking at real numbers: All other things being equal, I have a 2% chance of being the victim of a violent crime in the UK, with very strict gun laws. Compare that to a .4% chance in the US, with very liberal gun laws. I would consider that a good indicator that lack of guns doesn’t make for a less violent society.

  28. #28 |  EH | 

    I’m not convinced that you’re comparing apples to apples.

  29. #29 |  albatross | 


    There doesn’t seem to be any evidence of conspiracy in the anthrax case, outside of the broad outline of the case smelling funny.

    a. The case was closed with unseemly haste once a plausible suspect killed himself, which makes me pretty suspicious that anyone really knows who did it. (The authorities were pretty sure another guy did it earlier, and if that guy had killed himself, we’d all know the anthrax bomber was named Hatfill instead of Ivins.)

    b. If Ivins did it and had any co-conspirators, and he really was about to get arrested, you at least have one hell of a plausible motive for murder right there. “If he gets arrested and talks, I’ll get the death penalty, too” is a pretty convincing motive.

    c. My understanding is that there is pretty good evidence that the anthrax used in the attacks came from (or was really closely related to the source of) anthrax Ivins had in his lab. But my understanding is that otherwise, the case for him being the guy is rather shaky–it’s not clear how he would have done it without someone else noticing, there doesn’t seem to be any physical evidence of him having done it, the rest of the case is, as best I understand it, basically circumstantial. Ivins was creepy and obsessive and a bit of a nut (just the sort of guy you want working on your bioweapons program, I guess), he seemed to be coming unglued as the years went on past the 9/11 and anthrax attacks, he maybe might have been able to mail some of the letters somehow without leaving evidence, etc.

    d. In broader outline, the anthrax attacks had the effect of amping up the fear level at the top, among political and media elites. I suspect we would have seen a whole lot less of the crazy 9/11 reactions without that. (For example, during the discussion of the Patriot Act, I think many Congressional offices and buildings were closed because of feared anthrax contamination. That has to have had a big impact on the congressmens’ thinking.) So if you are looking for a political motive for the anthrax attacks, the spy agencies and military and defense contractors and homeland security contractors all would plausibly have had that motive. (Though the other side of the motive is that nobody is so powerful and well connected that, if their participation in this kind of attack became public, they could avoid jail. This is in a very different league from padding government contracts or wiretapping a few annoying journalists.)

    e. Unlike 9/11, which I think would have been all but impossible to carry out with many American conspirators, the anthrax attacks killed a very small number of people. (A moderately competent nut with a handgun could get a higher body count.)

    f. And the truth is, if I heard exactly the official story of the anthrax attacks, but the whole thing had taken place in Russia, I’d be about 95% sure it was some kind of internal power struggle involving the FSB. I mean, map this out: There is a big attack by Chechens in Russia, and there is maybe some reluctance among the powerful to hand Putin and the FSB and the army unlimited power and resources to fight it. Then, someone starts mailing anthrax spores to prominent journalists and politicians, and in the fear-soaked atmosphere that follows, all kinds of power goes into the hands of the FSB, army, and Putin. Later, it comes out that the anthrax came from a Russian bioweapons research lab. Then, one of the scientists from one of the labs commits suicide, and the authorities declare the case solved. If that happened and you read about it in newspapers in the US, you would be massively suspicious of the story.

    Now, the universe is not required to lay things out as I expect. Ivins may have done it. He may have acted alone. But I don’t have all that much confidence in that story. And we will almost certainly never know the truth, since the investigation was closed and nobody with any power has any interest at all in reopening it, for whatever reason.

  30. #30 |  buzz | 

    “Bringing up Aurora to justify a stop-and-frisk policy is jaw-droppingly dishonest ”

    Or he isn’t very bright and believes that. OTOH a politicians capacity for self delusion is nearly boundless. Hmmmm, on further reflection, so is jaw dropping dishonesty. Never mind. Carry on.

  31. #31 |  Todd | 

    #11 EH

    I don’t even need your per capita. The Eighth United Nations Survey on Crime Trends and the Operations of Criminal Justice Systems lists three countries that have had more murders with firearms than the US: South Africa, Colombia and Thailand.

    All three have more restrictive gun laws than the US.

  32. #32 |  el coronado | 

    You might wanna rethink your assessment of ‘no conspiracy’ in the 9/11 anthrax deal, Albatross. The so-famous-even-I-know-who-he-is investigative reporter, Edward Jay Epstein, pretty much *destroyed* the USG/FBI case against Bruce Ivins, the guy they ended up blaming the whole thing on. While this made for a nice tidy ending, suitable for a Lifetime Movie of the Week, Epstein conclusively showed there were a few *small* problems with their case.

    Small like this:
    a) the anthrax in question had an enormously high concentration of silicon in it – the better for weaponization, my dear. But….
    b) Ivins didn’t have the know-how to insert that degree of silicon into anthrax spores. Doing so is extremely difficult: that’s why siliconized anthrax is assumed to be from a state-sponsored actor & lab. That kind of thing was way out of Ivins’ skill set.
    c) even if Ivins had been taking online classes on the sly, there’s another problem: siliconizing anthrax requires – in addition to those mad skillz I mentioned – it requires *very* specialized equipment. USAMRID, where Ivins worked, well….they didn’t….uh…”did not have the capability to add silicon to anthrax spores.” That quote came from Ivins’ boss.

    There’s lots more, but the gist is that Epstein absolutely _eviscerates_ the FBI case against Ivins, who (conveniently?) committed suicide before they could get around to charging him. Eviscerated ’em in print: in the mighty WSJ, in fact. Tellingly, the FBI made no comment on the fact they’d just gotten buttfucked on national TV. “Never believe anything until it has been officially denied” – Bismarck. (“Or is ignored in the hope it’ll go away with the complicity of the state-run media.” – El Coronado)


  33. #33 |  Mairead | 

    I do not accept the first and most extreme assertion of Truthers — the proposition that mass-casualty tragedies are secretly engineered by (unusually competent, unusually close-mouthed) government agencies.

    Operation Northwoods

    As to the WTC claims, I give great weight to the findings of Dr Steven Jones, a respected experimental physicist who was willing to sacrifice his career to say that the evidence flatly contradicts the Official Conspiracy Theory, and that it gives at least preliminary support to the belief that 9/11 was a false-flag operation run by or with the collusion of people at the highest levels of US government.

  34. #34 |  Burgers Allday | 

    el coronado‘s interesting post to the side (and it really shouldn’t be pushed to the side because the anthrax attacks are way underdiscussed, here and elsewhere), I am going to respond to this:

    There doesn’t seem to be any evidence of conspiracy in the anthrax case, outside of the broad outline of the case smelling funny.

    The reason that I know it is a conspracy is that the government knows when its own bioweapons are stolen. It is not like stealing a Smickers bar from the Circle K (although Circle K probably would catch you). Even if the US government didn’t have advance notice of the anthrax attacks, they certain could have quickly figured out who did it after the attack. By checking surveillance footage and inventory records and so on. Bioweapons are more secured even than fertilizer.

    But, instead of simply outing the culprits in October of 2011, and saying that the US had let some bad apples get their hands on government bioweapons, the government obfuscated with fake investigations and a fake “suspect” (ooooooh, errr, I mean, person of interest).

    There was only one plausible reason that they would not have wanted to find the anthrax terrorist (or, more likely, terrorists), and that would be because the attack was a government conspiracy.

    They probably killed Ivins, too. I found it interesting that he died right about the time it became apparent that McCain / Palin was going to lose.

    The anthrax conspiracy is exactly the type of thing that undercuts Mr. White’s assumptions about conspiracies. They aren’t always done perfectly. While the anthrax conspiracy did help tip the scale in a way that made it acceptable to make war on Iraq, it obviously didn’t work out quite as well as the person who wrote the nasty things about Israel in those letters wanted it to work out over the long run. What I don’t get is why Americans don’t care about this kind of thing.

    I guess it is like trying to get a policeman to admit that policemen sometimes plant evidence. If they admit that then their whole worldview kind of collapses, so they conveniently forget about the anthrax when it is time to villify the Truthers.

  35. #35 |  Burgers Allday | 


    –October of 2001–

  36. #36 |  Burgers Allday |

  37. #37 |  Deoxy | 


    Besides the EXTREMELY and perfectly “apples to apples” Todd #31 gave you there’s also this:

    The latest United Nations homicide data show that America tied Argentina for the 50th most violent country, again using murder as an indicator. Like Klein’s graph, this dataset consists of OECD member countries, except for Tajikistan, which had a lower murder rate and didn’t affect our ranking.

    Including Small Arms Survey’s firearms inventory research destroys the “guns equals violence” premise. (SAS is a pro-gun control, UN-affiliated organization.) All countries with higher murder rates—and more gun control—have much lower rates of gun ownership than America. The graph below shows a downward trend in murder rates as firearms ownership increases (more guns, less murder).

    The links:
    – murder rate from the UN:

    – firearm ownership:

    Link to SAS mission statement (to show they are indeed pro gun control):

    Then there’s a graph of those two tables: murder rate vs firearm ownership, and to be fair, while yes, technically, it does slope the right direction (downward as guns increase), it’s not by much AT ALL, and looks really almost random.

    But you can do your own analysis – the data is there.


    The US is first in civilian gun ownership, by a LOT, both in per capita and total.

    The US is NOT REMOTELY first in terms of yearly murders by firearm per capita. Not even close (US rate hangs out just over 3/100,000 – there are dozens of countries with rates at 10+, and a good many with 20+ – heck, there’s a few with 30+, year after year). Even by absolute number, the US is not first, though obviously a lot closer.

    That would be appear to be exactly, “apples to apples” evidence that you were asking for. Are you intellectually honest enough to change your position, or were you arguing in bad faith?

  38. #38 |  Yizmo Gizmo | 

    SAN ANTONIO — The Bexar County Sheriff’s Department says two of its K-9s have died after they were left inside a hot patrol vehicle overnight.
    According to a statement from the Sheriff’s Office, the dogs were found dead Thursday morning from apparent heat exposure after being “inadvertently” left inside the vehicle overnight.

    Damn, what would cops do without that adjective inadvertent?
    Shootings, dead dogs, missing videotapes…
    Gives them so much more wiggle room.

  39. #39 |  Miroker | 

    Stand Your Ground in action:

  40. #40 |  Weird Willy | 


    Since you seem to have a handle on this, could you please explain to me what a “Truther” is?

  41. #41 |  Weird Willy | 


    Since you seem to have a handle on this, could you please explain to me what a “Truther” is?

  42. #42 |  Burgers Allday | 

    A Truther is someone who thinks the US and/or Israeli governments caused the Twin Towers to fall and/or believe that the Pentagon was hit by a US missile. Spare Change, the movie, is probably the best sympathetic explanation of the Truther cause. Personally, I don’t believe either of these things and don’t consider myself a Truther.

    Then there are three classes of ppl who are sometimes called Truthers, but probably really aren’t:

    1. 9/11 agnostics who think that the true cause of the fall of Twin Towers cannot be known (at least not by a regular person). I, personally, am not a 9/11 agnostic.

    2. LIHOP’ers (stands for Let It Happen On Purpose). These people think the US government had specific knowledge that actual bona fide terrorists were going to do 9/11 and the government decided not to stop the attacks. The thing with LIHOP’ers is that are infinite shades of variation as to what specific degree of knowledge the government had. For example, we all know now about the memo that said terrorists determined to strike in the US. In that broad sense, everbody is a LIHOP’er. However, as a person begins to think that the government had knowledge more specific than that, they begin to be a LIHOP’er in a more strict sense of that term. Personally, I think it is quite possible that there were people in the US government who knew quite a bit more than we realize, but, even if that is true (and it may or may not be), then I don’t think the foreknowledge will ever be provable or proven.

    3. Those who believe in some ancillary conspiracies or coverups. One possible coverup is that WTC7 (not one of the Twin Towers) was brought down by controlled demolition on 9/11. I personally think this is probably true. Another is the possibility that Flight 93 was shot down. Again, I think this was probably true — in fact I am pretty sure of it. Another is the possibility that the anthrax attacks were not the work of a lone nut and were a government operation. Again, I think this is probably true. Another is whether flight 587 was brought down by an Muslim terrorist bomber’s shoe bomb in October 2001. I don’t have much idea about this one way or the other. However, I don’t think that believing in any or all of these ancillary conspiracies / cover-ups really qualify one as a Truther.

  43. #43 |  albatross | 

    Just as an aside, I don’t know much about controlled demolitions of buildings, but a plan to destroy a building that requires

    a. Placing explosives in a building for demolition without anyone noticing in the days before the attack.

    b. Hijacking two planes

    c. Crashing them into nearby buildings

    d. Waiting for those buildings to collapse

    e. Setting off your explosives (in the midst of a huge disaster, after big impacts have shaken all kinds of stuff in your setup apart, with firemen and policemen and news reporters and bystanders all around) in a way that is plausibly enough like an accidental collapse to be convincing.

    is a plan that is counting on an insane sequence of things going just right for you. If the explosives don’t go off, and they’re discovered a few days later as the fire department or building inspectors or insurance adjusters check out the building, you, personally, have just become America’s Most Wanted. If anyone noticed you placing the explosives before, and (say) took a picture or two, again, there is no place safe for you to hide. And so on. Incompetence is a constant in all human actions, but I think someone stupid enough to try that plot would be too stupid to carry it off.

    I mean, the reason the anthrax mailing case could plausibly be a conspiracy is because it didn’t necessarily need a huge footprint. Someone takes spores from Ivins’ lab and takes them somewhere else, cultures anthrax and makes new spores, maybe weaponizes them[1], and mails them. You’re probably looking at a conspiracy size of like one to four people, who could do their work far from anyplace anyone was looking for them. And maybe Ivins did it himself, or with one other guy. Hell, maybe Hatfill did it and slipped past the FBI’s investigation and media leaking campaign that otherwise wrecked his life, though that seems very unlikely.

    My best guess, honestly, is that the FBI had no f–king clue who did it, and that they waited till someone plausibly a suspect committed suicide or did some other interestingly incriminating action, and then declared the case closed as an alternative to having to acknowledge that they didn’t really know who did it. But again, we will probably never know.

    [1] I’ve seen reports that the spores were not weaponized–they were in two batches of very different quality, perhaps representing a learning curve for the terrorist who prepared them, and there is evidence that the silicon present was incorporated into spores by the bacteria, rather than being added in the right way to increase the ability of the spores to stay airborne for a long time. But this is all miles outside my expertise.

  44. #44 |  albatross | 


    As far as “let it happen on purpose,” I don’t see how we would ever know, but it seems very unlikely to me as a political decision from the top. I don’t think anyone could really be *sure* that the worst terrorist attack in history happening on W’s watch would increase his power–it seems just as plausible to me that it could have seen him hounded out of office for incompetence, or crippled for the rest of his term by the contempt of the public. (Note how well the financial meltdown worked out for his party, a few years later.)

    Compounding this, anyone who was plausibly asleep at the switch and let the 9/11 attacks slip past them has an immense personal motive for both covering up their screwup and for finding a way to make themselves believe they weren’t really responsible. And it is clear that there were people who were asleep at the switch, one way or another–there were a couple FBI agents who wanted to pursue tips about Arab guys taking flight classes who didn’t want to learn how to land, but were stymied by their bureaucracy, for example.

    Whether flight 93 was shot down and whether that plane crash in October were terrorist attacks really turns on whether you think the NTSB investigations could have been completely subverted. I am extremely skeptical of that, though I don’t know enough to be sure. But I am pretty sure that the investigators would be able to tell a bomb or missile explosion from an engine falling off or crashing a plane into the ground, so having the official story be wrong there requires compromising basically everyone on the NTSB team that investigated them.

  45. #45 |  el coronado | 

    “…[it] depends on whether you think NTSB investigations could be completely subverted. I am extremely skeptical of that….”

    *cough* TWA 800 *cough*

    I know a man who spent 30 years piloting 747’s overseas, 23 of them as captain. Just the mere mention of TWA 800 was enough to send him and his pilot buddies into a foaming rage. Their unanimous opinion was the official story was bullshit, and low-grade bullshit at that. They also knew, and complained loudly, about the 150+ “credible” [per FBI assessment] witnesses who all say they saw a missile heading towards that plane; or destroy it; or both.

    As far as the difficulty of an NTSB investigation being “subverted”, you’re talking about a gaggle of careerist bureaucrats running & manning that agency. Are we *really* supposed to believe any one of them would risk his career and Sacred Pension by defying a ‘tell ’em a lie’ phonecall from Washington? Federal investigations into JFK, Waco, OKC, and 9/11 have all proven to be nothing but ass-covering jokes that a) lie when necessary b) just ignore any inconvenient facts c) ‘lose’ any troublesome evidence contradicting their official whopper. (Whatever happened to the front door of the Mt. Carmel complex in Waco? JFK autopsy photos & X-rays? RFK murder site photos? ATC radar track tapes for the planes of 9/11? “it, uh, got lost.” Oh, OK.)(and there are literally dozens more examples of this crap that could be named.)

    It’s been done before, successfully. A lot. *cough* Sandy Berger *cough* So why couldn’t they do it again any time they want to?

  46. #46 |  Burgers Allday | 



    I am not a Truther, but Truthers always seem at least as sane and sensoible to me as “Mainstreamers” like albatross.

  47. #47 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    @15 – Using the Daily Fail for statistics is the equivalent of skydiving without a parachute.

    They’re mixing entirely different types of statistic (self-reported and police-reported) to create a story which is basically a fabrication.

    Also, bluntly lol @ the conspiracy theories. There is no conspiracy, there is only people fucking the hell up. (Repeatedly!)

  48. #48 |  el coronado | 

    @#47 –

    Somehow, in the end, it’s always all about guns with you, ain’t it, Bubba. Nasty, sinister, frightening, aggressively phallic-shaped *guns*. How did Faulkner put it? Ah, yes: “I have heard this [notion] expressed by others, but never before by a man. The others were woman, usually northern or middle western women, in their 50’s and 60’s. I don’t know what a psychiatrist would make of this.” Now I ask you, who doesn’t love Faulkner?

    Also, “There is no conspiracy”. Really. – and you know this….how, exactly?

  49. #49 |  Leon Wolfeson | 

    @47 – No, it’s always about guns with YOU. Blaming others for your obsessions is nasty. And yes, you spew meaningless verbiage as usual, I speak English.

    And how? Because they can’t keep that idiot Assange from spilling half their secrets.