A conspiracy theory of conspiracy theories

I’m not one for conspiracy theories.  One reason is that they divert attention from the proven bad things we already know about.

Sometimes it seems to me that there is a conspiracy to spread bogus conspiracy theories in order to divert attention from the actual existing conspiracies.

Whether or not there are unanswered questions about the 9/11 attacks, there are plenty of such questions about the anthrax attacks that came a week later.  Yet the anthrax attacks are virtually forgotten.

And whether or not the assassination of President Kennedy was the result of a conspiracy, it seems obvious to me that the killings of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and of Malcolm X were conspiracies.  Yet while there is a whole Kennedy assassination industry, there is little interest in the King and Malcolm X assassinations.

When the 9/11 attacks took place, my thought was that a tiny group of criminal conspirators had got lucky.   I saw nothing improbable in a bunch of fanatics taking control of airplanes and flying them into buildings, but I also saw no reason to expect this to happen on a regular basis.

Bruce Ivins

Bruce Ivins

It was the anthrax attacks, coming a week later, that made me think my nation was under siege.  I thought this was going to be what the United States was going to be in for—constant attacks, each one radically different from the other.

At the same time, the identity of the targets seemed strange.   The anthrax attacks consisted of mailing of powders mixed with spores of anthrax bacteria to ABC, CBS and NBC News, the New York Post, and the National Enquirer, and two Democratic Senators, Tom Daschle, the Senate majority leader, and Patrick Leahy, the chair of the Senate judiciary committee.

Why would Muslim terrorists single out these particular individuals?  These are targets you would pick if you were trying to stampede public opinion into committing to a “war on terror”.

Initial reports speculated that the anthrax was made in a supposed germ warfare laboratory under the control of Saddam Hussein.   In 2002, the Department of Justice named Steven J. Hatfill, a virologist, as a “person of interst” in the case, but he was never charged.   Then suspicion shifted by Bruce E. Ivins, a researcher at Fort Detrick, who committed suicide before the FBI was ready to prosecute.

Maybe Ivins really was the culprit, and maybe he acted alone.  I don’t know enough to argue otherwise.  All I know is that there wasn’t enough proof to put him on trial.

There also are unanswered questions about the assassinations of Dr. King and Malcolm X.

One reason I think that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in murdering President Kennedy is that he did not have anything to indicate he had a getaway plan—no foreign passport, no getaway money, no getaway plan.

That is precisely what James Earl Ray, the convicted killer of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. had.  He was arrested in London with a false passport intended to take him to Rhodesia (the present Zimbabwe).

James Earl Ray

James Earl Ray

Ray was a high-school dropout and, at the time of the King killing, was an escaped convict.  He reportedly had been stalking King for some time, and he also somehow knew enough to rent a motel in Memphis opposite King’s motel.  Did he figure out all these things by himself, or did he have help?  Or was he set up?  I don’t claim to know.

Malcolm X, in the weeks leading up to his murder, was afraid of being assassinated by agents ot the Nation of Islam.  His three accused killers were adherents of the Nation of Islam.  Yet there didn’t seem to be any interest in knowing whether they acted alone or were sent by someone.  Maybe they did act alone.  I would like to know for sure.


I think there is a good reason—not involving a conspiracy—why bogus conspiracy theories get more attention than actual proved conspiracies.

Promulgating a bogus conspiracy theory, such as President Obama being born in Kenya, is low-risk.  The worst that can happen to you is that you look foolish, or maybe get sued.

But if you uncover actual conspiracies, as Julian Assange and Edward Snowden did, you can expect the powerful people you’ve unmasked to strike back.


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