Friday, November 11, 2005

Conspiracy Practice (II)

Three questions:

1. Who uses the term "conspiracy theory"?

2. Under which circumstances?

3. Why?

- Clues can be found in The Guardian of Monday September 12, 2005:

The United Nations is investigating the CIA's use of British airports when abducting terrorism suspects and flying them to prisons around the world where they are alleged to have been tortured. The inquiry, led by Martin Scheinin, a special rapporteur from the UN Commission on Human Rights, comes as an investigation by the Guardian reveals the full extent of the British logistical support. Aircraft used in the secret operations have flown into the UK at least 210 times since the September 11 terror attacks.

Foreign Office officials have denied all knowledge of the secret flights, telling MPs on the foreign affairs select committee that the ministry has "not granted any permissions for the use of UK territory or air space", and suggesting to the Guardian that it was "just a conspiracy theory".

Privately, Ministry of Defence officials admit that they are aware of the flights, and that they have decided to turn a blind eye. "It is not a matter for the MoD," said one. "The aircraft use our airfields. We don't ask any questions. They just happen to be behind the wire."


  1. Chalabi is a little backward, as one expects from a furriner; he's still saying 'urban myth' instead of the more compact and evocative 'conspiracy theory':;_ylt=A86.I2pGuHJDiwUB_zn9wxIF;_ylu=X3oDMTBjMHVqMTQ4BHNlYwN5bnN1YmNhdA--

  2. Less compact, but more evocative - and a much more effective weapon. I think it''s the (misused) word "theory" that does the trick, with its connotations of scary nuttiness and antisocial cogitation. The grasp of such details is one of the things that distinguishes a successful politician - a "survivor" - from a Chalabi. (Not that he's finished yet, of course.)

  3. Yes..."against theory"...can-do forthright American pragmatism and reactivism: a glorious bumpkinhood, starting every new day at square one. No preconceptions - that is, no rationality - just the facts ma'am. And lawymakers and corporate heads are imagined living inside these sound proof booths from quiz shows.

    I remarked on Long Sunday that it was possible that Cheney's open brazen pro torture stance was a tactic to create this drama of rejection; of the US "illegalizing" torture all over again, a desperate measure basically to restore the common wisdom that the US doesn't torture, a wisdom in tatters. Someone said - wait, you're saying Cheney is conspiring, is in a conspiracy, with McCain and others who oppose him? Conspiring! With his own party! But as if Cheney would be less able to predict the senate response to his measure than you or I. As if he steps into an isolation booth when his political hat is on. As if government officials are all playing poker with eachother, even within their own parties, and keeping all the cards close to their chest, not telling eachother how they intend to vote about things etc.. It's just the most bizarre fantastic atmosphere...the underlying assumption, only half-consciously maintained, is that every senator is watching the world on television, and doesn't know anything until the spokesgolem announces it, and it always comes as a complete surprise. The public is accepting the posture of a sequestered jury and attributing it to everyone else as well.