Not Everything That Looks Like a Conspiracy Is a Conspiracy

The first sentence of my Wikipedia page reads as follows: “ Jack Cashill …is an American author, blogger and conspiracy theorist.” If I try to amend that description, some left-wing troll will flip it right back.

As it happens, the Left takes Wikipedia seriously. Some of those who conspired to “disinvite” me from a scheduled library appearance in Fredonia, New York, this summer cited my Wikipedia page as the reason.

Wrote one of the conspirators to the local paper,  “This guy is a hack-fraud, couldnt make a living off of TWA 800 conspiracy theories so he became a shill for every right wing dog whistle. The right loves their con men and to be grifted.”

Well traveled as I am in the world of conspiracies, I write this column as a caution to my fellow citizen journalists: before you put words on a page, before you invest too much emotional equity in a given conspiracy, think your theory all the way through.

This past week, I have seen too many smart people conjecturing about whether the Hamas invasion of Israel was a “false flag” operation. This possibility has prompted others to state as a given that 9/11 was an “inside job,” or that the CIA killed John F. Kennedy. None of these theories is a given. Skepticism is healthy. Cynicism is not. In times of genuine peril, it can be crippling.

Conspiracies fall into two general categories: conspiracies of execution and conspiracies of concealment. The former are rare, at least at high levels; the latter are a dime a dozen. In my own humble career, I have emerged as the chief chronicler of at least three significant conspiracies, two of concealment, one of concealment and possible execution.

The investigation of each begins with the question of why the conspirators would run substantial risk to execute a given plan of action. When in the fall of 2008 I deduced that terrorist emeritus Bill Ayers had helped Barack Obama with his overpraised memoir, Dreams from My Father, it made perfect sense for Obama and his media allies to conceal the truth. To do otherwise would have cost Obama the election.

The case of TWA Flight 800, the Paris-bound 747 accidentally shot down off the coast of Long Island in July 1996, was also a conspiracy of concealment. I rule out execution because no known risk/reward scenario would persuade U.S. Navy officers to shoot down an American airliner and kill 230 people. There are any number of reasons, however, why all concerned would want to conceal Navy involvement.

The officers, of course, would want to protect their reputations and their careers. The national security state would want to protect its secrets. The president, Bill Clinton, would want to preserve his chances at re-election in November. Without at least the tacit approval of Clinton, this conspiracy could not have succeeded.

The fact that some very serious people had come to this conclusion before I did bolstered my confidence. I felt confident enough, in fact, to do my Book-TV presentation for C-SPAN at the TWA Museum in Kansas City before an audience of TWA veterans. No one in that audience dissented.

Clinton was also involved in another fatal plane crash that same year, the one that killed Commerce Secretary Ron Brown and 34 other people, including six US Air Force personnel. When I proposed the book Ron Brown’s Body, I cautioned the publisher not to expect a clear verdict at books end.

I believed the most likely explanation would prove to be either an accident or possibly a terrorist incident covered-up for the sake of political expediency. For that reason, I chose to focus on why the plane went up rather than why it came down.

I expected to conclude that in its illicit pursuit of campaign cash -- Enron cash in this case -- the White House frequently and needlessly put its principal bagman, the secretary of Commerce, in harms way.

In exploring Ron Browns life, however, I came to see just how desperate were its circumstances, especially at the end. I also came to see how deeply -- and willfully -- flawed was the investigation into his death.

After reviewing all the variables, I concluded that the Clintons did conspire to conceal all relevant evidence and may very well have commissioned an indebted Croatian leadership to execute Brown. No variable undid the execution theory, but still, I shied from accusing the Clintons of murder.

That said, the underlying logic was strong.  The compromised commerce secretary threatened to blow the whistle on the Clintons’ illicit cash grab, especially from China. Having him discreetly killed in a faraway country solved a lot of problems.

By contrast, destroying the Twin Towers or encouraging Hamas to invade Israel solved no known problems. In the former case, the proponents of an “inside job” are at a loss to devise a rationale powerful enough to allow the murder of 3,000 American citizens. No fan of neo-cons myself, I cannot imagine any cabal among them evil enough or clever enough to pull off such an atrocity.

Did the agencies responsible for national security scramble to cover their respective asses after this disaster? Of course they did, just as they did after the assassination of JFK. As I said, conspiracies of concealment are a dime a dozen.

That brings us to Israel and one other complicating variable in the dissection of a conspiracy, the question of competence. Incompetence often clouds the picture as it surely did in the case of Jeffrey Epstein. At New York’s Metropolitan Correction Center, it does not stretch the imagination to believe that guards sleep on the job and that cameras break. Incompetence makes it harder to close the case for murder. Conspirators may have counted on this.

The Israelis, by contrast, are victims of their own competence. We expect so much of their intelligence services -- and so little of Hamas -- that we have a hard time believing they were unaware of Hamas’s plans. This much assumed, we then ask what was the underlying logic of their plot. One week in, color me naive, but I don’t see a risk-reward scenario that would allow the murder of 1300 of their fellow citizens and run the risk of world war.

Pollyanna that I am, I still don’t see the logic of a 9/11 inside job. With TWA 800, all variables -- eyewitnesses, radar, explosive residue, debris field -- pointed in the same direction. Until all variables line up, I would be reluctant to accuse anyone of anything. An anomaly or two opens the door to questioning, but it does not a conspiracy make.

Jack Cashill’s new book, Untenable: The True Story of White Ethic Flight from America’s Cities, is now available in all formats.
Image: Pexels

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