An Open Letter about the Subject of Disinformation and Disruption within the 9/11 Truth Movement
September 7, 2008
In my humble opinion, the issue of disinformation and disruption is of critical importance to the success of the 9/11 truth movement. In fact, as I have argued, the official story of 9/11 itself is disinformation; a deliberate attempt to mislead the public about the truth about 9/11. As I have said:
“The official story of 9/11 is disinformation, which means that the subject of disinformation is a vital and essential topic of 9/11 discussion. The opinion that disinformation is ‘extraordinarily low’ in this movement misses the mark by a long-shot since the very purpose of our movement is to expose the disinformation of the official story of 9/11. We cannot avoid the subject of disinformation.”
As controversial 9/11 researcher Jim Fetzer explains:
“One of the telling signs of many disinformation artists (who may or may not be gainfully employed by some ‘shadowy government agency’) is that a lot of their claims are simply too strong to be true… I am not suggesting that any of them works for the NSA, the CIA, or the FBI. That creates an exaggerated version of the situation as I see it that makes it easy to satirize. I have no idea why they are doing what they are doing. But there are ample grounds based upon past experience to believe they are abusing logic and language to mislead and deceive others about the state of research... On the basis of my experience with them, I believe this is deliberate. Their function appears to me to be obfuscation... There is a serious disinformation movement afoot, one that finds the work of those they attack to be too good to ignore. Disinformation… is the major obstacle to the search for truth about the death of JFK.”
Jim Fetzer, Signs of Disinformation
First of all, I want to make absolutely clear that I do not endorse or approve of allegations or speculation that cannot be proven. As I have written:
FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, in a letter entitled Disruption of the New Left explained that activist groups would be neutralized through various means including “the instigating of or the taking advantage of personal conflicts or animosities existing between New Left leaders… hostility should be exploited wherever possible…” According to Brian Glick, this would be partly achieved through infiltration, “[agents] and informers did not merely spy on political activists. Their main purpose was to discredit and disrupt… set up pseudo movement groups run by government agents.”… False and misleading accusations are frequently and effectively used by agent provocateurs. The most common accusation within the 9/11 truth movement is that a 9/11 researcher or activist is an “agent” working for the US government… 9/11 activists should be wary of any and all accusations that are not readily supported by credible evidence, facts, or documentation. Ultimately, false and misleading accusations create divisiveness and encourage hostility.
As I concluded in elsewhere the end result of disinformation or misinformation is the same, regardless of intent:
Those who care about the truth about 9/11 should also care about disinformation and misinformation. All 9/11 “official story” skeptics agree that the 9/11 commission report consists of substantial disinformation… The truth about 9/11 is of primary importance. If we accept this to be true, then it is also true that all misleading arguments are harmful to this cause. Therefore, the intent involved in promoting misleading arguments is irrelevant. Arguments based on disinformation and misinformation will almost always result in false, incomplete, inaccurate, and misleading conclusions.
In summary, there is a clear distinction between criticizing the actions of an individual and making allegations or accusations that can not be verified or proven. As well, we do not need to understand “intent” to understand that a statement itself is false or misleading. Following this premise, we do not need to understand “intent” to understand that promoting misleading claims or divisive behavior discredits and divides the 9/11 truth movement. As Jim Hoffman has explained:
“The scientific method depends on critique (peer review)… A culture hostile to critique is antagonistic to science and to the development of a persuasive, actionable case for investigation of the crimes of 9/11/01… Such a culture supports stereotypes of challenges to the official story as irrational and faith-based.”
I believe that the 9/11 truth movement not only has a right to be critical—it has a responsibility. First of all, while I do not endorse any claim that a 9/11 activists is an “agent” (as I explained above quite clearly), I believe that we have the responsibility as a truth movement to be critical. Furthermore, as I have established, it is indeed possible to be critical without making accusations.
One of the 9/11 researchers most criticized for promoting false and misleading information about 9/11 is Jim Fetzer. A co-founder of Scholars for 9/11 Truth, Fetzer has been harshly criticized for promoting information and theories about 9/11 widely regarded as disinformation.
It didn't start out that way. In fact, as Victoria Ashley explains, “James Fetzer started off appearing to support the work of Dr. Steven Jones and offered to help form a scholars group with Jones and a handful of others. Fetzer ran the website for the group, but within months Fetzer's increasingly speculative, bizarre and one-sided posts began to earn criticism from other researchers... By the end of about one year, the situation had gotten so dire that some of the members, including Steven Jones, decided they could no longer allow Fetzer to control the website, and decided to take a vote on what to do, since Fetzer refused to remove the offending posts."
9/11 blogger George Washington described the situation:
”...people hostile to rationality and the scientific method are close to completely taking over Scholars for 9/11 Truth. Such people claim that "space beams" destroyed the World Trade Center, that no planes hit the Twin Towers, and that the Twin Towers fell faster than free-fall speed. None of the scientists in the Scholars' group buy these theories. These people throw out false arguments and then -- when caught in an untruth -- start calling anyone who raises contrary facts names and attempts to bully them into submission.”
Was this an example of 9/11 disinformation? Some of these “theories” were supported by surprisingly sophisticated, but misleading interpretations of evidence. Many are extensively and exhaustively critiqued in the Journal of 9/11 Studies.
Fetzer wrote an open letter, and posted it on the Scholars website he controlled claiming:
"[Steven Jones] is now planning to take control of the web site from me. I have raised objections on moral, legal and intellectual grounds and I am categorically opposed to it. But he appears to be persisting in what might be described as a "hostile take over" to control Scholars. Because this is going on behind the scenes and you would otherwise be unaware of this scheme, I am publishing this open letter on st911.org."
Was this true? Ashley explains that, "Eventually, after several weeks involving hundreds of emails attempting to resolve the situation, a poll and subsequent vote was taken of the membership via email. All but ten of the more than two hundred members who participated in the vote voted to leave Fetzer's original group and form a new group." In other words, what Fetzer called a "hostile takeover" involving only Dr. Jones, was in reality the vast majority of the Scholars group wrestling over control of a website that Fetzer solely controlled. The "hostile takeover" claim was deliberately misleading; an obvious example of disinformation.
What is striking about the Scholars for 9/11 truth site is its uncritical approach to 9/11; every possible theory, no matter how implausible is pursued as valid inquiry. No possibilities are eliminated as Ashley explains, "Jim Fetzer is the primary force behind publicity and press releases for the claims of Judy Wood and Morgan Reynolds, advocating endless investigation into every possible scenario imaginable: '...once [Fetzer] had become convinced that thermite/thermate could not explain the extent and character of the destruction, he began encouraging investigation of alternative hypotheses, including lasers, masers, and plasmoids." What is even more striking is that every possible theory about 9/11 was encouraged on this website—with one interesting exception: a hit piece by Wood and Reynolds targeted Jones’ thermite evidence.
In summary, Fetzer co-founded scholars for 9/11 truth, but his actions eventually became so divisive and disruptive that only 10 people out of 200 decided to not leave Fetzer's group. It is worth asking if many of these scholars would have joined the original group in the first place if Fetzer had acted this way all along. Of course, this is extremely doubtful. Was this a "controlled demolition" of Scholars for 9/11 Truth?
Having established the above, I now turn to the subject of Kevin Barrett, a member of the “dynamic duo” radio show with Jim Fetzer. I will suggest it is past time to critically examine some of the statements that Kevin Barrett has made on behalf of the 9/11 truth movement. But before I do so, I will quote the Political Director of the Libertarian party who I think understands the issue quite clearly:
“In almost all cases, as Political Director I support the candidates as nominated by our state parties no matter how I feel about them. I cannot in good conscience do this in the case of Kevin Barrett. I do not have a problem with him or anyone as a so-called "9/11 Truther." I accept that people who express skepticism over the official story about what happened that day have a home in the LP. But Mr. Barrett goes well beyond that in two ways:
1) He frequently calls for the mass executions for treason for reporters who wrote articles with which he takes issue. I absolutely will not support any candidate who calls for mass murder of anyone, and am appalled that anyone who considers themselves Libertarian would advocate something so horrific.
2) He has made qualified statements of support for the preeminent Holocaust deniers in North America. I researched this extensively before coming to this conclusion. He seems to be playing both sides of that fence. I am and will always be totally intolerant of the Holocaust deniers….
I strongly urge the Wisconsin LP to not nominate Kevin Barrett for US Congress. Regardless of your decision however I will go out of my way to disassociate him from the national LP.
Yours in liberty - Sean Haugh Political Director”
I will now quote Jim Hoffman’s 9/11 research website:
“MUJCA.com is apparently mostly the work Kevin Barrett. Before August 2007, 9-11 Research expressed concerns about Barrett's apparent sympathy with Holocaust deniers, based on previously published conversations with the OilEmpire.us webmaster archived here. However, we removed quotations from that conversation after Barrett wrote to us to express his belief that our excerpt of it was libelous. Barrett's public statements suggestive of violence are in stark contrast with 9-11 Research's policy stressing civility, verifiable information, and rational analysis. In 2007 Barrett's support for 9/11 junk science presented as 9/11 Truth typified by postings on James Fetzer’s website became increasingly obvious.”
I have also been critical of Kevin Barrett for many of these statements. Let it be confirmed that nowhere do I call Kevin Barrett “an agent”. I know that many leaders in the 9/11 truth movement consider him a personal friend. I also understand that Kevin Barrett has helped spread awareness of the 9/11 truth movement. However, this does not mean that we cannot be critical of anything that he does. “Peer review” depends on the concept of being critical of our peers.
Now, what you may or not be aware about and might find interesting is Kevin Barrett’s apparent response to my criticism. Did he give an explanation for these statements? Did he apologize for them and say that he would discontinue making statements such as these? No—in fact his response is very interesting. Here is what he said about me on his radio show. I want to be clear that he does not say my name directly, but he is nevertheless referring to me personally:
“I know Tarpley was being sort of tongue in cheek [calling 9/11 truth activists Michael Wolsey, Cosmos, Arabesque, and Col. Jenny Sparks COINTELPRO agents]... but no. 1 that's just not a not a smart thing to do [Barrett proceeds to ignore his own good advice]--no. 2 even though I agree that two of the four people he named---that is the ones who had aliases who are afraid to operate under their own names--[disgusted voice] these people are obviously frauds and plants, bogus… those people I have no use for, whatever Webster wants to say about them I happily endorse. The people with real names that he called out were actually good people. Maybe misguided on this particular issue... throwing them in with these two false names--COINTELPRO people who are intelligence fronts or idiots, whoever they are was completely mad. It was really unfair to those two real human beings. I told him so, I gave him a really hard time after that.”
Let’s be clear about this: The only thing that I have done is report direct statements by Kevin Barrett himself. I have quoted his own words and I have provided links to the original sources. The apparent response to this was for Barrett to call me “COINTELPRO”—a serious allegation without any substance or evidence whatsoever on his radio show. Kevin Barrett is a “leader” of the 9/11 truth movement. His response to what I think is valid criticism (in fact, quoting his own words)—is to call me a COINTELPRO operative. This is obvious nonsense and this is slander. I do not feel it is necessary for me to defend myself, because many in the 9/11 truth movement have openly supported my work and in fact link to my blog as a credible resource. These sites include 911truth.org, 911research, and Scholars for 9/11 Truth and Justice.
This accusation is simply unacceptable in my humble opinion, coming from someone who is considered a “leader” of the 9/11 truth movement. Unfortunately, this is not unprecedented behavior as seen from some of our so-called “leaders” of the 9/11 truth movement. The obvious example for this is the Kennebunkport Warning controversy. Note that Mr. Barrett said above that 9/11 activists were “Maybe misguided on this particular issue”. Well, I would like to humbly disagree with Mr. Barrett here. What I and others repeatedly said in this context was that “divisive behavior is destructive and counterproductive to the 9/11 truth movement.” Who can honestly disagree that this is “misguided”? I would like to emphasize that our charges of incivility were completely ignored by many involved in the controversy or who claimed that we “opposed the warning” itself. I find this last charge particularly ridiculous because I posted my own research to support the warning. Ironically enough, we were accused of being “divisive” for pointing out divisive attacks, not to mention attacked viciously with copious amounts of slander. 9/11 activists were even targeted by a Youtube harassment campaign in which literally over a hundred youtube videos spread personal information including phone numbers and addresses along with encouragement of harassment. These videos even included accusations that members of the 9/11 truth movement were “Al Qaeda” members and even “perpetrators” of the 9/11 attacks. One of the individuals spreading these videos belonged to Captain May’s Ghost troop. Captain May himself for his part accused me and others of being COINTELPRO professionals during this controversy. All of my claims above are verifiable and I have taken the care to verify them.
I will quote Martin Luther King who said, “A time comes when silence is betrayal.” I would thank people like Kevin Ryan, Jim Hoffman, Jon Gold, and others who did speak out in support of the 9/11 activists were obviously and transparently being slandered and attacked. In retrospect, I found it very striking and surprising that such obvious attacks such as the above could occur and the response would be mostly indifference. Or instead, the entire controversy was framed as a “personal” or “equal dispute”. Is it an “equal dispute” when a country is invaded without provocation? Is it a “personal dispute” when Bill O’Reilly attacks 9/11 truth activists and calls them dangerous? It is a “personal dispute” when protesters are attacked at a peaceful protest? No, it is not—it is simply a one-sided and unprovoked attack.
Regarding “controversial theories”, it can be observed that there is “disagreement” and then there is “ignoring criticism”. Remember, peer review depends on critique of our “peers”. Let me quote the words of Dr. Judy Wood who when questioned about the Directed Energy Weapon Theory stated:
“I do not find it necessary to respond directly to the interview criticism in either its original content or in the further criticism in the new letter. My line of research in furtherance of DEW causal theory has taken a different direction that neither benefits nor suffers from public criticism of the theory. Opinions on the matter differ and I respect those who have differing opinions.”
In other words, Judy Wood's response to the extensive and thorough criticism of her theory is essentially a non-response. Dr. Jenkins observed with irony, "Amazingly, [Wood] explicitly claims that her research has now moved beyond the original claims that were so suspect in the first place, thus neutralizing all past and present scientific scrutiny... [however,] Wood has repeated the same points in contention.” This is also strikingly similar to the approach taken by defenders of the official story of 9/11 itself who might say, “We simply disagree and we respect those who have differing opinions” while refusing to directly respond to those questioning the official story of 9/11. Does this mean that we should simply go home since the U.S. government will not address our concerns? Unfortunately, I think we know the answer to this rhetorical question. As someone who has actually taken the time to “debate” and examine the “theories” of “Directed Energy Weapons” and “TV fakery”, I can tell you that they are not only complete nonsense, but that the theorists themselves completely refuse to even acknowledge or respond to serious criticism of these theories. This is not a question of “open mind”, it is a question of a “closed one”—a refusal to discuss or acknowledge counterarguments. This is no longer simply “disagreement” but willful and deliberate avoidance of debate or criticism.
Here is an excerpt from a radio interview with Jim Fetzer interviewing Judy Wood while discussing the aforementioned "directed energy weapon theory":
Jim Fetzer: “I must say I think we’re finding out Judy, what happened on 9/11. I’m just blown away by your work. This is the most fascinating development in the history of the study of 9/11… I’m going to make a wild guess Judy; I’m going to presume that these [directed energy] beams had to be located in Building 7?”
Judy Wood: “Nope. I don’t think so.”
Judy Wood: “No… I think it’s very likely it’s in orbit.”
Reprehensor explains that, “the DEW proponents only plow ahead, indifferent to reason… What has support of this idea by a handful of people done for 9/11 Truth? By far (to date) the most damaging thing has been that Morgan Reynolds and Judy Wood attempted to take their ideas to court. United States District Judge George B. Daniels dismissed their complaints, with prejudice.” Quoting Jim Fetzer who says, “It’s obvious to me that you have to consider all the possible alternatives,” Reprehensor responds, “Yes, you CAN exclude some. The most improbable, the most unlikely, the impossible, the absurd ... grossly obvious disinformation, you CAN exclude this nonsense from your 9/11 horizons.”
It is true that the corporate sponsored media will ridicule the 9/11 truth movement regardless of what it promotes. However, this does not therefore mean that we should give them as much ammunition as possible to discredit by association the real questions and contradictions of the 9/11 "official story". This is a disservice to the family members who wanted their real questions answered in the first place. As explained by Thomas Pynchon, “If they can get you asking the wrong questions, they don't have to worry about answers.” I believe that the 9/11 truth movement has to be aware of how it can be discredited instead of simply taking a passive approach to dealing with the issue of disinformation and misinformation. Otherwise, we are playing right into the hands of those who wish to discredit the 9/11 truth movement itself.
This issue is not simply limited to the problem of “controversial theories”. Ad hominem attacks and disruption are an equally important issue. Should members of 9/11 truth movement demand accountability from its leaders when they engage in destructive behavior and promote damaging information or speculation? I think the answer is clear: we cannot afford not to.