I found myself in uneasy agreement reading Ron Netsky's interview with Michael Barkun ("Paranoia Strikes Deep," August 4). It's true that there are dyed-in-the-wool conspiracy addicts whose whole world view is organized around whatever fixed idea they happened to have. And they won't give it up no matter what facts refute it.

            But I was uneasy because Mr. Barkun (and Mr. Netsky echoing him) didn't grant the possibility that powerful interests can develop far-reaching plans, without publicizing them, to do things that are good for them but harmful for the public. To believe otherwise in today's world is to be naive.

            The problem is that when something is labeled "conspiracy theory," people who understand the craziness of many conspiracy ideas may not look further into the "theory" at hand to see whether it has merit.

            Case in point: the current questioning of the official 9/11 story, which Barkun pretty much dismissed as conspiracy theory with no mention of the huge discrepancies between the "official story" and much of the publicly available evidence that tends to put it in question. Anyone who digs deeply enough into the record of events (preserved by a few independent journalists like Michael Ruppert), and begins to wonder about what really happened and why, is likely to be labeled a conspiracy theorist.

            At the July 30 Senate hearing on the 9/11 Commission Report, Senator Mark Dayton brought up honest questions regarding the inexplicable, unprecedented, across-the-board failure of NORAD on 9/11. Is he a conspiracy theorist?

            On August 1 Sibel Edmonds, the FBI whistleblower, wrote an open letter to Chairman Thomas Kean pointing out that the Commission's report omitted any reference to her extensive testimony. Edmonds had testified that the FBI had suppressed a number of fairly specific warnings about attacks using planes as missiles against prominent US buildings (among other related information).

            The major media has almost entirely avoided investigating any of this.

            Is anyone who is concerned about these and many other disturbing occurrences merely a nut whose brain has become addled by some fixed idea about conspiracy?

            Whatever the issue, if there is evidence that something strange may be afoot, the reasonable thing to do is to look into the facts squarely and objectively, not turn away out of fear of where such an investigation (by official bodies, the news media, or individuals) may lead.

            Labeling something "conspiracy theory" just because it looks as if it could be is as bad as calling something a conspiracy just because it looks as if it could be. Both are the result of turning the brain off.

            Let's not make assumptions, but turn our brains on so that we can see beyond our own filter of beliefs --- so we can see what's true and what isn't. What's thought to be crazy may turn out to be true, given a real examination by people willing to look (for hard evidence) outside the box of shared beliefs. This has actually been done in human history. On occasion.

            Bob Brown, Brighton

"Paranoia Strikes Deep" is symptomatic of academic debunking of unconventional opinions that disagree with a standardized center-to-left vantage point. It seems that all viewpoints radically out of sync with this, from the far right to "Fahrenheit 9/11," can be trashed with the dismissive label "conspiracy theory."

            However, with the "Protocols" taught as fact throughout the Islamic world, we are dealing with a deliberate fabrication promulgated by a society's leaders: conspiracy, not conspiracy theory.

            Involvement of some factions of Freemasons (we don't tar all with the same brush) as an extra-national illuminati in the American and French Revolutions is well documented. And UFO's have been sighted by many trained military, civilian, and police observers who were ordered to keep the information suppressed by their superiors.

            Such people have nothing to gain and everything to lose by publicly reporting the facts but continue to do so anyway. The only reason is a personal commitment to the truth --- unless one maintains that as conspiracy theorists, they're all out of their collective minds.

            The Warren Commission Report on the Kennedy assassination made conspiracy theories necessary. The theory of a "lone gunman" with a "magic bullet" was roundly dismissed by the few military experts willing to speak up. When the official version is such an obvious lie, what choice is there other than to come up with better theories?

            The most locally accessible source for up-to-date governmental conspiracy theories is Alex Jones's radio program (1240 AM; about 1:20 to 3 p.m.) and websites (; Though right wing, he is paid close attention to by both right and left. Check out the info (not hard; it's well documented) and you will find that most of it is dead accurate.

            And even if we object to Michael Moore's Marxist economic determinism and howl over his Leninist distortion of facts for propaganda purposes, that in no way reduces the seriousness of his charges.

            This is your conspiracy theory dismissal? Can't you do any better?

            Daniel Gordon, Meigs Street, Rochester

Paranoia strikes deep indeed, Mr. Barkun and Mr. Netsky --- and anyone else who shares their contempt for those of us labeled "conspiracy theorists." Fear is the natural outgrowth of paranoia, and it was obviously fear that served as the impetus for the ridiculous pseudo-psychoanalysis masquerading as journalism in the City article.

            Fear of the truth is a very real mental disorder, and it is particularly dangerous when those who purport to bring us the truth are inflicted with it. What a shame that the last real president this nation had, a brave, intelligent man, justly held up as an example for the "left" to emulate (transgressions excepted), should have his heinous murder, and those who study it, marginalized by a newspaper that identifies itself as intelligently liberal.

            As a young lad some years ago, good fortune allowed me to embark on a journey from which I could never return, nor would I ever wish to. That journey started with an attempt to understand the Kennedy assassination. My father served two tours in Vietnam, and our discussions about the war and its surrounding events sparked my desire to understand it all.

            I can say with absolute confidence that you would be hard pressed to find a person more knowledgeable about the Kennedy assassinations, John's or Bobby's, than myself. What I have to say is said not out of paranoia but out of an intense, in-depth, scholarly study not only of the tragic event itself but of all events that surrounded it. You are all absolutely dead wrong.

            Viciousness and audacity were redefined on November 22, 1963. The truth that a secret cabal runs this country was made painfully clear that day in Dallas; the murder of a "heretic" is forever justified by those who hold the power to choose who shall live and die. Because preservation of the hierarchy is paramount, our ongoing ignorance is essential to maintaining the fiction.

            But ignorance is fleeting. Truth reveals the oppressive force behind the scenes pulling the strings. Awareness is empowerment. And empowerment is liberty.

            I encourage anyone wishing to understand the murder of our president to study the subject for themselves, rather than assuming that those with big degrees from big universities have even the slightest clue about what they say.

            Jim Muhs Jr., Bellehurst Drive, West Irondequoit


I was astonished by John Cook's reply to "The War of Lies" (The Mail, August 4). Mr. Cook states that a lie is a deliberate telling of a falsehood; thus Bush did not lie to the country, since he truly believed in the WMDs. But of course this is only part of the definition of a lie, much as Bush has told us only part of the story about the war.

            Suppose that as Mr. Cook started to drive to the hardware store, his daughter said, "Dad, I just talked to Mom. Can you drop me off at Crystal's house on your way?" And suppose that on his return home, Mr. Cook learned that his wife had indeed talked to her daughter but had expressly forbidden her to go to Crystal's. The girl would face all sorts of trouble for her dishonesty. That she did not specifically tell a falsehood will not be relevant. She created a false impression. And the deliberate creation of a false impression is also a lie.

            Pairing Iraq and 9/11 to create a false association between the two in the minds of the public was the brainchild of Republican strategist Frank Luntz. Bush was so good at creating this false impression that he managed to convince almost two-thirds of the American people that Iraq was involved in 9/11. It wasn't honest. It wasn't the truth. It was a lie.

            Bush has now tried to convince us that even though the 9/11 report could find no meaningful ties between Saddam and Al Qaeda, low-level contacts were sufficient justification to tie the two together. Bush's Texas oil friends invited the Taliban to the US for a business proposition after 9/11. So should we have bombed Texas for alleged Al Qaeda ties?

            Bush lied.

            Georgianne Arnold, Elmwood Avenue, Rochester

John Cook obviously follows the Republican party line, even blaming Clinton for 9/11. He misses several points:

            • He says, "All parties (including the UN) believed Saddam had WMD's." Ever hear of Hans Blix and the UN inspection teams? They said Iraq had no WMD's.

            • Mr. Cook mentions a Saddam-Al Qaeda link. Seems some sort of camp existed in northern Iraq, yet it is unproven whether Saddam ever knew about it. There are, in fact, closer ties between the US itself (Shock! Horror!) and Al Qaeda. Two of the 9/11 hijackers lived in Hamburg, Germany, for a while. Why didn't we attack Germany?

            • Cook mentions American lives lost in Iraq but never mentions the 11,000 Iraqi civilians killed by the US occupation or the 1 million lives brought to a premature end thanks to US-led sanctions.

            • The facts are that the US has invaded a sovereign country against the International Protocols established at the Nuremburg trials and has killed 11,000 civilians. It is a war. An invasion. And it was done like any invasion in the history of mankind. Greed. Power. Strip the country of its natural resources.

            The US has had its "sheep eyes" on the oil fields of Iran and Iraq since before World War II. This has been a 14-year siege. Bring the country to its knees through sanctions; then go in for the kill.

            Does Mr. Cook think that the US would have invaded Iraq if it had WMD's? Iraq was a soft and easy target, giving the US a chance to show the world that it is back, after all. Iran will be next in some form.

            And please don't continue the anti-French bile. The French are still good buddies of the US; both parties worked closely to bring regime change in Haiti.

            D. Brennan, Oxford Street, Rochester

John Cook's take on Mary Anna Towler's article "The War of Lies" bears some scrutiny.

            Bi-partisan investigations found no attempt to alter intelligence. Nor did they find any evidence that Donald Rumsfeld had any intelligence to back up his statement that

"we know where the WMDs are." Colin Powell claimed we had located mobile chemical labs.

            If the war on terror was intended to bring harm to those who supported and funded terrorism, when does the United States invade itself? After all, we supplied both Saddam and Osama with money and munitions. And training. And we have pictures of the Donald acting like a grateful tourist with the spidey-hole man himself.

            An informed populace needs news that is edited not only for content but also for intent. Most reporters seem content being paid to distribute press releases.

            Voting to give George Bush war-making power so he could browbeat the UN was a terrible mistake. If a guy asks to borrow my tire iron in case he should need it, then uses it to smack somebody, I would be guilty of something --- say, trust.

            Mr. Bush is a liar. Not to call him a liar is to hide, as Mr. Bush does, behind the implications that his actions and words contain but do not state.

            Tim Shea, Nelson Street, Rochester


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