|Nano-Thermite at the WTC (image source).|
Leaders in a democracy must be perpetually at work to maintain their credibility.
The effort takes many forms. There are legitimate appeals to reason and interest through the media, in the legislature or on the campaign trail.
In addition, there can be many other more or less illegitimate forms of persuasion.
Public relations activities that skew the news.
Sheer propaganda: fireworks, flags, fliers and government indoctrination by advertising or perversion of the educational system.
Destruction of opponents by entrapment or assassination.
And now, cognitive infiltration, the invention of Cass Sunstein, who heads President Obama's White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.
Cognitive infiltration is a proposed government response to the spread of theories that question the integrity of the government, i.e., conspiracy theories. To these, Sunstein believes
the best response is cognitive infiltration by Government agents of groups (and their allies) attached to such ideas. [Such agents] might enter chat rooms, online social networks, or even real-space groups and attempt to undermine percolating conspiracy theories by raising doubts about their factual premises, causal logic or implications for political action.Of particular concern to Sunstein, apparently, is the need to undermine groups who question the official 9/11 conspiracy theory whereby 19 Arabs with box cutters are said to have outwitted America's multi-trillion-dollar air defense system, blown-up part of the Pentagon -- conveniently killing dozens of government accountants trying to figure out where several $trillion in unaccounted Defense Department funds had gone -- destroyed the CIA's New York offices in Building 7 of the World Trade Center, which was not hit by a hijacked aircraft, and conveniently demolished WTC 1 and 2, obsolete asbestos-filled office towers, extremely well insured against terrorist attack only weeks before their destruction.
Actually, there's nothing really new in Sunstein's approach. Democratic governments have rarely felt constrained in the means they employ to control public opinion, and they have never felt constrained in time of war.
Thus, for example, during WW1, President Wilson established the Committee for Public information under the direction of former journalist, George Creel. The Creel "Commission" was:
... created to influence U.S. public opinion regarding American participation in World War I. Over just 28 months, from April 13, 1917, to August 21, 1919, it used every medium available to create enthusiasm for the war effort ...
The committee used newsprint, posters, radio, telegraph, cable and movies to broadcast its message. It recruited about 75,000 "Four Minute Men," volunteers who spoke about the war at social events for an ideal length of four minutes, considering that the average human attention span was judged at the time to be four minutes. They covered the draft, rationing, war bond drives, victory gardens and why America was fighting. It was estimated that by the end of the war, they had made more than 7.5 million speeches to 314 million people ... (Wikipedia)It is not known publicly to what extent, if at all, Cass Sunstein has implemented an electronic-age version of such a propaganda exercise, but it is hard to believe that an equivalent of the Creel Commission is not in operation, infiltrating discussion in countless thousands of Internet forums, at public meetings and in the editorial offices of newspapers and magazines.
An obvious strategy to follow in this kind campaign to subvert the democratic process is to create and promote stupid conspiracy theorists who point only to bogus evidence, employ dopey arguments and encourage those who are dopey by natural inclination to overwhelm the debate with false leads, looney ideas, illogical arguments and utter nonsense, thus discouraging participation in the debate by all sensible people.
Likely Sunstein Commission conspiracy theorists constantly raise their heads, from those who attribute the destruction of the Twin Towers to space-based lasers, or micro-nukes, to the "Israel did it crowd" and those who believe the world is ruled by shape-shifting alien reptiles.
Fortunately, there remains a group of dedicated conspiraloons, committed to the application of logic and the pursuit of real evidence who take the time to deconstruct some of the obviously intellectually incompetent, if not entirely fake, 9/11 conspiracy theorists.
Here Stefz tackles one, by the name of Charles Veitch, whoever he may be, while Gyges takes on a nutter who seems to have made his conspiracy theorist debut onboard a space ship.
So long as such genuine, passionate and intelligent conspiraloonacy thrives, democracy will live.
More here about ex-police intelligence analyst Tony Farrell conversion to 7/7 Truthdom from Conspiraloonacy Central, and Stefz: 7/7 ‘was a plot by the Govt’ Bizarre cop expert claim.
This must be true. Britain's other big daily tab takes up the story.