Why Disinformation Works

Today Only “Conspiracy Kooks” Produce Real Evidence

Have you ever wondered how the government’s misinformation gains traction?

What I have noticed is that whenever a stunning episode occurs, such as 9/11 or the Boston Marathon bombing, most everyone whether on the right or left goes along with the government’s explanation, because they can hook their agenda to the government’s account.

The leftwing likes the official stories of Muslims creating terrorist mayhem in America, because it proves their blowback theory and satisfies them that the dispossessed and oppressed can fight back against imperialism.

The patriotic rightwing likes the official story, because it proves America is attacked for its goodness or because terrorists were allowed in by immigration authorities and nurtured by welfare, or because the government, which can’t do anything right, ignored plentiful warnings.

Whatever the government says, no matter how problematical, the official story gets its traction from its compatibility with existing predispositions and agendas.

In such a country, truth has no relevance. Only agendas are important.

A person can see this everywhere. I could write volumes illustrating how agenda-driven writers across the spectrum will support the most improbable government stories despite the absence of any evidence simply because the government’s line can be used to support their agendas.

For example, a conservative writer in the June issue of Chronicles uses the government’s story about the alleged Boston Marathon bombers, Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev, to argue against immigration, amnesty for illegals, and political asylum for Muslims. He writes: “Even the most high-tech security systems imaginable will inevitably fail as they are overwhelmed by a flood of often hostile and dangerous immigrants.”

The writer accepts all of the improbable government statements as proof that the brothers were guilty. The wounded brother who was unable to respond to the boat owner who discovered him and had to be put on life support somehow managed to write a confession on the inside of the boat.

As soon as the authorities have the brother locked up in a hospital on life support, “unnamed officials” and “authorities who remain anonymous” are planting the story in the media that the suspect is signing written confessions of his guilt while on life support. No one has seen any of these written confessions. But we know that they exist, because the government and media say so.

The conservative writer knows that Dzhokhar is guilty because he is Muslim and a Chechen. Therefore, it does not occur to the writer to wonder about the agenda of the unnamed sources who are busy at work creating belief in the brothers’ guilt. This insures that no juror would dare vote for acquittal and have to explain it to family and friends. Innocent until proven guilty in a court has been thrown out the window. This should disturb the conservative writer, but doesn’t.

The conservative writer sees Chechen ethnicity as an indication of guilt even though the brothers grew up in the US as normal Americans, because Chechens are “engaged in anti-Russian jihad.” But Chechens have no reason for hostility against the US. As evidence indicates, Washington supports the Chechens in their conflict with Russia. By supporting Chechen terrorism, Washington violates all of the laws that it ruthlessly applies to compassionate Americans who give donations to Palestinian charities that Washington alleges are run by Hamas, a Washington-declared terrorist organization.

It doesn’t occur to the conservative writer that something is amiss when martial law is established over one of America’s main cities and its metropolitan area, 10,000 heavily armed troops are put on the streets with tanks, and citizens are ordered out of their homes with their hands over their heads, all of this just to search for one wounded 19-year old suspect. Instead the writer blames the “surveillance state” on “the inevitable consequences of suicidal liberalism” which has embraced “the oldest sin in the world: rebellion against authority.” The writer is so pleased to use the government’s story line as a way of indulging the conservative’s romance with authority and striking a blow at liberalism that he does not notice that he has lined up against the Founding Fathers who signed the Declaration of Independence and rebelled against authority.

I could just as easily have used a left-wing writer to illustrate the point that improbable explanations are acceptable if they fit with predispositions and can be employed in behalf of an agenda.

Think about it. Do you not think that it is extraordinary that the only investigations we have of such events as 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombing are private investigations, such as this investigation of the backpacks.

There was no investigation of 9/11. Indeed, the White House resisted any inquiry at all for one year despite the insistent demands from the 9/11 families. NIST did not investigate anything. NIST simply constructed a computer model that was consistent with the government’s story. The 9/11 Commission simply sat and listened to the government’s explanation and wrote it down. These are not investigations.

The only investigations have come from a physicist who proved that WTC 7 came down at free fall and was thus the result of controlled demolition, from a team of scientists who examined dust from the WTC towers and found nano-thermite, from high-rise architects and structural engineers with decades of experience, and from first responders and firefighters who were in the towers and experienced explosions throughout the towers, even in the sub-basements.

We have reached the point where evidence is no longer required. The government’s statements suffice. Only conspiracy kooks produce real evidence.

In America, government statements have a unique authority. This authority comes from the white hat that the US wore in World War II and in the subsequent Cold War. It was easy to demonize Nazi Germany, Soviet Communism and Maoist China. Even today when Russian publications interview me about the perilous state of civil liberty in the US and Washington’s endless illegal military attacks abroad, I sometimes receive reports that some Russians believe that it was an impostor who was interviewed, not the real Paul Craig Roberts. There are Russians who believe that it was President Reagan who brought freedom to Russia, and as I served in the Reagan administration these Russians associate me with their vision of America as a light unto the world. Some Russians actually believe that Washington’s wars are truly wars of liberation.

The same illusions reign among Chinese dissidents. Chen Guangcheng is the Chinese dissident who sought refuge in the US Embassy in China. Recently he was interviewed by the BBC World Service. Chen Guangcheng believes that the US protects human rights while China suppresses human rights. He complained to the BBC that in China police can arrest citizens and detain them for as long as six months without accounting for their detainment. He thought that the US and UK should publicly protest this violation of due process, a human right. Apparently, Chen Guangcheng is unaware that US citizens are subject to indefinite detention without due process and even to assassination without due process.

The Chinese government allowed Chen Guangcheng safe passage to leave China and live in the US. Chen Guangcheng is so dazzled by his illusions of America as a human rights beacon that it has never occurred to him that the oppressive, human rights-violating Chinese government gave him safe passage, but that Julian Assange, after being given political asylum by Ecuador is still confined to the Ecuadoran embassy in London, because Washington will not allow its UK puppet state to permit his safe passage to Ecuador.

Perhaps Chen Guangcheng and the Chinese and Russian dissidents who are so enamored of the US could gain some needed perspective if they were to read US soldier Terry Holdbrooks’ book about the treatment given to the Guantanamo prisoners. Holdbrooks was there on the scene, part of the process, and this is what he told RT: “The torture and information extraction methods that we used certainly created a great deal of doubt and questions in my mind to whether or not this was my America. But when I thought about what we were doing there and how we go about doing it, it did not seem like the America I signed up to defend. It did not seem like the America I grew up in. And that in itself was a very disillusioning experience.”

In a May 17 Wall Street Journal.com article, Peggy Noonan wrote that President Obama has lost his patina of high-mindedness. What did Obama do that brought this loss upon himself? Is it because he sits in the Oval Office approving lists of US citizens to be assassinated without due process of law? Is it because he detains US citizens indefinitely in violation of habeas corpus? Is it because he has kept open the torture prison at Guantanamo? Is it because he continued the war that the neoconservatives started, despite his promise to end it, and started new wars?

Is it because he attacks with drones people in their homes, medical centers, and work places in countries with which the US is not at war? Is it because his corrupt administration spies on American citizens without warrants and without cause?

No. It is none of these reasons. In Noonan’s view these are not offenses for which presidents, even Democratic ones, lose their high-minded patina. Obama can no longer be trusted, because the IRS hassled some conservative political activists.

Noonan is a Republican, and what Obama did wrong was to use the IRS against some Republicans. Apparently, it has not occurred to Noonan that if Obama–or any president–can use the IRS against opponents, he can use Homeland Security and the police state against them. He can use indefinite detention against them. He can use drones against them.

All of these are much more drastic measures. Why isn’t Peggy Noonan concerned?

Because she thinks these measures will only be used against terrorists, just as the IRS is only supposed to be used against tax evaders.

When a public and the commentators who inform it accept the collapse of the Constitution’s authority and the demise of their civil liberties, to complain about the IRS is pointless.

# # # #

Paul Craig Roberts, Boiling Frogs Post contributing author, is a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and former associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He has been reporting on executive branch and cases of prosecutorial abuse for two decades. He has written or co-written eight books, contributed chapters to numerous books, and has published many articles in journals of scholarship. Mr. Roberts has testified before congressional committees on 30 occasions on issues of economic policy, and has been a critic of both Democratic and Republican administrations. You can visit his website here.

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  1. greybeard616@yahoo.com says:

    The real test of one’s commitment to justice is will I complain, not when MY interests are threatened, but when MY OPPONENT’S interests are threatened. Anything less is self-interest.

  2. dreaminglucidly says:

    Another excellent article by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts. Many of my colleagues in the academic left are still finding themselves defending this administration, but the cognitive dissonance is palpable.

    It has taken me a few years to come to terms with the fact that most people are sheeple and will nearly always bow to authority. I guess I want to believe in this nation and I still think it doesn’t have to be this way forever. Hell, I would consider myself part of the herd until a few years ago and thankfully slipped through the cracks due largely to this website and others. Although there is undoubtedly a genetic component to this worship of power, I have a hope that we can outgrow this.

    There is no excuse anymore. Anyone with a dose of curiousity about the true nature of power in today’s world (~1-5% of U.S. population?), will eventually find themselves going down the rabbit hole. How do we make Americans curious about what the government and other powers are really up to? Its hard to imagine anything but a cessation of bread and circuses that could deliver that. According to economists like Dr. Paul Craig Roberts and others, perhaps that’s exactly what we’ll get.

  3. chuck70 says:

    Looks lie MI 6 was trying to recruit (or perhaps did) these guys,

  4. Terry Holdbrooks recently released book, “Traitor?” is an interesting counterpoint to “Guantanamo: My Journey” by David Hicks, the Australian prisoner who was tortured and effectively coerced into a confession. His military commission conviction was later treated as invalid by the Australian judiciary, and also overturned by the U.S. Court of Appeals since it was based on a law not in existence at the time of his charged offense. To the best of my knowledge his book which recounts his treatment and the conditions at Guantanamo where he was held for six years is still not offered for sale by U.S. bookstores and U.S. online booksellers, though it is available from Australian vendors.

  5. Speaking of ‘Conspiracy kooks’, offered are 2 examples of the intellectualMEDIAleft[?] approaching the question of the-public-right-to-question official narratives.
    To be considered alongside Rachel Maddow holding PopM and the 911 comicbook as ‘evidence of technical proof’. http://911blogger.com/news/2013-04-26/msnbc-rachel-maddow-show-crackpot-conspiracy-theories-enjoy-mainstreaming-right

    This is what Bill M sais [from the Cass Sunstein songbook]

    “It’s often said that you can measure the health of a society by how readily it believes in conspiracy theories. …OK, maybe it’s not often said, because I just made it up, but it should be. Because it’s true.
    Now, our fair country has its share of conspiracy theories, and we may have just added another: that the Boston Marathon bombing was a false flag operation designed to frighten the citizens so the government can take away our rights and our guns. Or something like that. I try not to click on those links so my IP address doesn’t get “pinged” in the FBI’s PND — Potential Nutcase Database.
    But when anything major happens in America, you can set your watch and within 48 hours someone will be explaining to you how some nefarious group wanted this to happen, and also planned it. These are usually fringe, Alex Jones-type groups, but not always. The 9/11 Truther movement wasn’t exactly tiny, probably about the same size as the Ron Paul movement. Because they’re the same people. Then there are the Roswell/UFO conspiracy types, the U.N. black helicopter conspiracy people, those who think the moon landing was faked. Not to mention the people who think all the fat black women in Tyler Perry movies are actually Tyler Perry.
    But nothing compares to the Middle East, where conspiracy theories are so pervasive you’d think the whole region was entirely backward and overly religious or something.
    For instance, a 2011 Pew survey showed that 75 percent of Egyptian Muslims don’t believe that Arabs were behind the 9/11 attacks. They believe it was…oh, I’ll let you guess who they think did it. But it rhymes with “Da Blues.”
    But there’s a reason people in the Middle East believe in so many conspiracy theories — because their governments are often so corrupt and evil, they are working behind the scenes to screw their people. And then blame it on America and the Jews. In the Middle East, people are also usually confined by a state press and have no history of not being lied to.
    Also, we’re now in an era where, in addition to porn and bomb-making guidelines, you can see any amount of crazy information you like on the internet, whereas before you could only communicate with like-minded losers via ham radio or at a Star Trek convention.
    But we should be way ahead of societies where everything the government does is greeted with automatic suspicion, and I’m not sure we are. In America, there seems to be a very thin wall separating those of us who are being critical and skeptical and those who are just being conspiratorial and crazy.
    Isn’t that, you know, bad for democracy? ”

    He kids us not. Bad for democracy.

  6. gogetem says:


    Here, let me just change one of Maher’s sentences from above:

    “But there’s a reason people in (America) believe in so many conspiracy theories – because their governments are often so corrupt and evil, they are working behind the scenes to screw their people”.

    There, fixed.

  7. tonywicher says:

    I would only like to add that those Chinese and Russian “dissidents” are supported and paid by the U.S. Some may sincerely believe what they say about the U.S. supporting human rights, but it hardly matters. As Mark Twain said, “Tell me where a man gets his corn pone and I’ll tell you his ‘pinions.”

  8. visservrouw says:

    I don’t think it’s fair to label all Russian dissidents as foreign influence agents. Many people really are misinformed (how many Russians do you think read western alternative press?) and then there’s the “enemy of my enemy” psychology. Quite a few of western dissents seem to think of Putin far better than he really deserves, but that hardly means they are being paid by GRU, does it?

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