Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Round Table Conspiracies

One of the main reasons I don't believe in conspiracies is my faith in the incompetence of others. And so I read about a fairly botched cover-up by the CIA regarding a former DEA agent who says he was illegally wiretapped in 1993. I have no idea of the legitmacy of this case, but thought this part was interesting.
Horn says he became suspicious when he came back from a trip out of town to find his government-issued rectangular coffee table replaced with a round one.
Uh, yeah. That's a bit suspicious. Now, assuming there's something to this, what the fuck? You're planting a secret listening device into some dude's house, something that should be discrete and unnoticeable (or so I would imagine), and you have to replace the dude's coffee table to do it? Seriously? And it wasn't even the same shape? Incredible.

Or perhaps this guy's insane. Perhaps there was some perfectly good explanation for why his coffee table changed shape while he was out of town. Perhaps it was bored. Or perhaps this guy is totally insane and it was a round table the whole time. I don't know. Sure, you'd think if his case had no merit that the government wouldn't require a head and former head of the CIA to lie about it. But maybe it does. I don't know. This isn't really my area of expertise, not having been a spy or anything.

All I know is that people are f-ing crazy, aren't nearly as competent as they'd have you believe, and will generally do a far more piss poor job of covering anything up than you'd possibly imagine. The wonder isn't that we find out about conspiracies, but that anyone believes in them at all. Remember, either the CIA is incompetent for doing such a botched job in tapping this guy, or the DEA was incompetent for hiring an insane person. Either way, it doesn't speak well of the government's ability to keep a low profile.

10 comments:

Mike Goldman said...

Some conspiracy theories are wacky.

Ergo, conspiracies do not exist.

Perfect logic.

ex DLB said...

Maybe the table was a shape shifter. I've heard the CIA has perfected that technology.

My problem with conspiracy theories is the number of people who would always have to be involved. And, keeping them quiet about it.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Mike - If I had written "Conspiracy theories aren't real because some of them are wacky," you might have a point. But I've never said anything of the kind, and definitely wasn't saying that now. Nor would I ever use such a fallacy. Once again, your attempt at making my argument look absurd is an insult to everyone's intelligence.

But just to clarify, I was actually siding with the guy in this story and think the government DID conspire to wiretap him as well as to coverup the wiretap and avoid a trial. Not that I know much about the case, but the lengths that they're going through to deny him a fair trial really seems a bit extreme if the government hadn't done anything wrong; and the judge in the case seems to be saying the same thing. And my point was that this conspiracy against him was so entirely incompetent that they outright just changed his coffeetable, hoping he wouldn't notice. And it reminds me of the Seattle lawyer who was wrongly nabbed, who had realized someone had been in the house because they had locked the wrong lock on the door. And it also reminds me of the first Watergate break-in attempt in which two of the conspirators got locked in the conference room overnight because they hadn't anticipated the alarm system. Or their second attempt when the locksmith didn't have the right tools and had to fly back to Florida to get them. Or their final attempt when they all got caught and eventually brought down the president they were trying to protect. The point here isn't that conspiracies are "wacky," but rather, extremely difficult to pull-off. And the bigger the conspiracy, the more difficult it is.

And in the broader scheme of things, this is the same government that people accuse of planting bombs in the Oklahoma City Federal Building and WTC buildings. We're to imagine that they could successfully plant bombs throughout several secure buildings, yet bungle a simple wiretapping of their own employee. Such a feat would require the work of at least dozens of people, all of whom would fully realize they were responsible for 9/11 and none of them want to confess to it. And then there are the dozens and dozens of investigators, all of whom are knowingly lying about what happened; effectively making them accomplices in this. And all of these people risk being put to death for treason, all so we could blame the attack on the wrong people and lie our way into Iraq. And again, this by the same government that changed a dude's coffee table in order to listen to his conversations, as well as the same government that is pissing off a judge in their futile attempt to deny the guy a trial.

And in case you were wondering, no, I'm not a big proponent of this guy's wiretap theory. The evidence is enough to make both me and the judge suspect the government is hiding something, but not enough that I'm going to do anything beyond write a blog post about it. But again, the purpose of this post wasn't to suggest that conspiracies are too wacky to be true, but rather, too difficult to pull off.

As DLB suggests, the more people needed to pull off this sort of thing, the more unlikely it is to be real. And pulling off 9/11 in order to blame the wrong guys seems extremely unlikely.

Mike Goldman said...

Oh, I see. This post is really about your fixation on not bringing criminal charges for 9/11. Thanks.

John of the Dead said...

No, Mike, the point is that the burden of proof is on the people making the claim. The more extraordinary the claim, the more proof is required. If you claim that there was a conspiracy whereby the US government bombed the WTC, the burden of proof is on YOU to offer support for that claim. What the good Doctor is saying is that, given how incompetent several of these agencies seem to be, and how often such conspiracies fall apart under their own weight, the odds of proof of a conspiracy being presented are vanishingly slim.

Unless, of course, you do have some evidence to present that you have heretofore kept to yourself?

Mike Goldman said...

I haven't made any claim, John, except that the crime of murder should be prosecuted. What burden of proof must I satisfy for that?

John of the Dead said...

Mike Goldman said...

I haven't made any claim, John, except that the crime of murder should be prosecuted. What burden of proof must I satisfy for that?

Before that, he said...

Some conspiracy theories are wacky.

Ergo, conspiracies do not exist.

Perfect logic.


... followed by ...

Oh, I see. This post is really about your fixation on not bringing criminal charges for 9/11. Thanks.

Very well, then, Mike. Perhaps you'd like to conjoin those two thoughts, especially in comments to a post relating to the unlikelyhood of a genuine conspiracy existing? I'd hate to try to read your mind, but in this context, the first comment seemed to indicate a support for some conspiracy theory; specifically one relating to the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. It's possible that I am not aware of all internet traditions, but the most widely help 9/11 conspiracy "theories" a) have almost no shred of evidence in their support and b) have been thoroughly debunked anyway. Given your comment string, I think my conclusions were reasonable, but if not, please allow me to apologize and follow up with a question: Just what are you trying to say?

Typically, in order to engage in debate or discussion, one must make some sort of claim and then defend it, or at the very least offer logical rebuttals to someone else's claim. Simply making reductio ad absurdum snark on the sidelines isn't contributing.

Mike Goldman said...

Since the post was not obviously about the September 11 attacks, my first response could not be about that unless I read DrB's mind about his intentions.

Conspiracies do exist. Sometimes they are successful. Sometimes they fail. When they are successful they may not be called conspiracies at all.

Was there a conspiracy to steal the 2000 election?

As to your insistence that I must present some theory of conspiracy on 9/11 in order to express the view that murder should be investigated, charged, and tried under our system of laws and due process -- well I don't even know what to say because that's fucking stupid.

Doctor Biobrain said...

Oh, I see. This post is really about your fixation on not bringing criminal charges for 9/11. Thanks.

Yes, Mike. Because that's the only conspiracy in existence and it's far different from all the other conspiracies I ignore.

And yes, I'm fixated on not bringing criminal charges. And I'm especially fixated on not bringing criminal charges against the people we already brought criminal charges against. I find their trials to be especially troubling. Let's all just set the time machine back and do that investigation so we can REALLY not capture Bin Laden.

Snark aside, I fail to understand what point you might possibly have here. Your argument might have made sense in 2001. In 2009, it's a brainless conspiracy theory that embarrasses everyone who touches it. And the main thing to remember, the actual perpetrators killed themselves. Not a lot of trials we can do on them. I fail to understand which criminals you expect us to put on trial. Or will your Grand Jury investigation finally locate Bin Laden for us?

I'm sorry to be a dick about this, but I'm telling you, you're really embarrassing yourself here. Al Qaeda did it with airplanes. Case closed. And if you have some evidence to the contrary, present it. But lack of evidence ISN'T evidence. If you don't want people laughing at you, you at least need to present an argument for why the official story is wrong. Short of that, you look as silly to us as the Birthers look to you.

Mike Goldman said...

Were charges filed against Osama Bin Laden for the September 11 attacks? I must have missed that. Of course if everyone involved was on the planes, and nobody else conspired with them to organize the attack, then case closed, like you said. But then why the fuck do we care about Bin Laden or al Qaeda again?

Oh, yeah. Because we allege it was a conspiracy. But your head is too far up your ass on this to see the contradiction. Let's go bomb some people, it's much more gratifying. We don't have time for legal niceties in this post-9/11 world.