November 20, 2002
By Maureen Farrell
the DU 4th Quarter Fundraising Drive!
Yes, it's that time of year again -
when we beg for money to keep Democratic Underground
online. Unfortunately the site doesn't run by
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no DU. So please take a moment right now
"In the next 5 to 10 years, we are all going to live in
a global version of Nazi Germany." - David Icke
"Basically, all the conspiracy theories about secret societies
wanting to take over the world are wrong." - Daniel Pipes
Anyone who's ever tuned into the History Channel's "Secret
Societies" recognizes these quotes from its opening segment.
As part of the "History's Mysteries" series, "Secret Societies"
is a fun, often sensational journey inside the world of would-be
cabals and plots for world domination. Featuring volleyed
testimony from various experts, the program mixes factual
information and historical trivia with open speculation on
the role secret societies may have played in these events.
"Do shadowy and clandestine groups really rule the world?"
host Arthur Kent campily inquires, before hinting at hidden
subtext behind historical moments.
During the 1980 presidential campaign, for example, the History
Channel reports that Ronald Reagan repeatedly expressed a
distrust of secret societies and promised that Skull and Bonesman,
Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) member and Trilateral Commission
alumni George Bush would not be offered a position in his
administration. Yet during the Republican Convention, Reagan
broke tradition by making a late-night dash from his hotel
room to the convention floor and declaring George Bush his
running mate. The Iran hostage situation was miraculously
resolved the day Reagan was sworn in.
Ever since Prescott Bush was penalized for trading with the
Nazis during World War II and the words "George Bush of the
CIA" surfaced on a 1963 FBI report on the JFK assassination,
the Bush family has been tied to speculation. And certainly,
October Surprises and Iran/Contra add to the intrigue while
links between the Bushes and the Hinkleys and Bushes and bin
Ladens have not gone unnoticed. Regardless how entertaining
this speculation may be, however, reasonable people have historically
heard the word "conspiracy" and rejected theories outright
- even those theories that later proved to be true. And given
a choice between the conspiracy theorists and debunkers, they've
tended to take the road less kooky.
In the History Channel-extracted exchange above, for example,
CFR member Daniel Pipes clearly asserts the more sensible
view. Serving on three editorial boards and working on four
presidential campaigns, this author of CONSPIRACY: How
the Paranoid Style Flourishes and Where It Comes From
once headed the Foreign Policy Research Institute, which is
funded, in large part, by conspiracy-monger Richard Mellon
Scaife. Pipes is also known for his latest endeavor, Campus
Watch, wherein he actively encourages "the paranoid style"
by targeting professors who don't toe his politically correct
line. Monitoring Middle East Studies professors, Pipes' group
scours educators' work for bias and enlists students and academics
who are "interested in promoting American interests on campus"
to spy and tattle. A professor who is concerned about Dick
Cheney's $73 million in business transactions with Iraq (even
as sanctions continued to kill 5,000 Iraqi children monthly),
for example, might be wise to keep his mouth shut, else possibly
be listed on Pipes' website and become besieged with hate
mail and death threats. What was Pipes saying about paranoia,
Now that debunkers like Pipes have been linked to conspiracies
to squelch dissent and Bush's official national security policy
openly expresses a desire for dominance and control, is it
any wonder conspiracy theories thrive? From the 2000 election
to unanswered Sept. 11 questions to outright fabrications
over Iraq, the president has repeatedly proven that he will
lie shamelessly in order to garner more power for himself
and his cronies. The shroud of secrecy under which the administration
operates only serves to fuel speculation, while last minute
GOP sneakiness, like the maneuvers that ballooned the 32 page
Homeland Security Bill to nearly 500 pages virtually overnight,
prove once again whose side theses folks are on.
One hastily added amendment to the Homeland Security bill,
for example, which was rumored to have been added at the White
House's request, is the provision under which pharmaceutical
companies would be protected from lawsuits. Currently, 150
lawsuits have been filed against vaccine manufacturers, alleging
that mercury preservatives within measles, mumps and rubella
vaccines caused their children's autism (the New York Times
recently dubbed this "the not-so-crackpot autism theory").
This amendment, which has nothing to do with Homeland Security,
would limit compensation to $250,000. Paul Wellstone's amendment
which would prevent companies who avoid paying US taxes by
moving offshore from contracting with the Homeland Security
Department was removed.
Even more sinister, however, is that new provisions reintroduce
proposals which were previously rejected by most states in
last years' Model State Emergency Health Powers Act (MEHPA).
Calling for mandatory vaccination, MEHPA allows for confiscation
of real estate, food, medicine and other property; and outlines
plans to herd afflicted citizens into stadiums. Health and
Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson urged state legislatures
to adopt the act, providing all the proof conspiracy theorists
needed to prove that the U.S government was using 9/11 to
impose a reign of tyranny. The mysterious deaths of 15 microbiologists
following the attacks didn't help.
Yet according to the American Association of Physicians and
Surgeons, under this Homeland Security provision, MEHPA would
be all but reborn under section 304, subsection C of the bill.
Tommy Thompson would be given sweeping powers to unilaterally
declare an emergency and order forced vaccinations, detainment
and quarantines. Bemoaning that the provision was "snuck into
the bill at the last minute," Rep. Ron Paul (R, TX) said,
"It is hard to think of a more blatant violation of liberty
than allowing government officials to force people to receive
potentially dangerous vaccines based on hypothetical risks."
Representative Paul also complained that Homeland Security
Bill "expands the federal police state" and "gives the federal
government new powers and increases federal expenditures,"
while media watchdog groups reported that other provisions
added would make requests under the Freedom of Information
Act easier to squelch. Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) said
the disclosure rules represent "the most severe weakening
of the Freedom of Information Act in its 36-year history,"
adding they had been inserted in the bill "behind closed doors."
Sen. Robert Byrd also voiced concerns that the amendments
would "give the president carte blanche to expand the culture
of secrecy that now permeates this administration."
If passed, last minute changes to the bill would also give
the federal government permission to monitor citizens' internet
use, e-mail, travel plans, credit-card purchases and other
personal data. Headed by John Poindexter, in the Information
Awareness Office, Americans can rest assured that "bringing
dignity to the White House" means hiring a five-time felon
to keep an eye on them. The Information Awareness' logo, an
all-seeing eye hovering atop a pyramid contains the slogan
"Scientia Est Potentia" ("Knowledge Is Power") and is eerily
similar to the illuminati symbol on the dollar - which fuels
conspiracy theorists all the more.
"What people are going to see is going to make their hair
curl," David Icke promised the History Channel. "What's been
going on, in front of their face and behind their back, all
their lives, while they thought a completely different story
After the latest example of stealth legislation designed
to take away liberties under the guise of national security,
our hair is already Shirley Temple tight. Provisions snuck
into Homeland Security legislation make mockery of "the land
of the free," and it's hopeful that the good Senators who
still consider themselves public servants will apply the brakes
to this legislation.
But the very fact that these provisions have been considered,
and have already been snuck through the House, is troubling
in itself. At the moment, conspiracy theorists seem far less
extreme than those hell-bent on ruining the America we love.