Sunday, June 25, 2006

Cribbing from Conrad

The link's to an article by Bill van Auken, essentially summing up what we know about the plot to blow up the Sears Roebuck tower in Chicago, which for a time was the tallest building in the world. , which is roughly that a paid FBI information manufactured both the plot and a link to Al Qaeda, and got some cultists who ran a construction company and did good works to sign on in exchange for shoes. The plot was then held essentially in escrow until the administration deemed it a good time to foil a terrorist plot.

So, great. Three things.

1. This is one more example of this cultural quirk where we believe that if we get a subcontractor to do some nasty business -- this guy isn't portrayed as an agent, but more of a contractor with a continuing FBI relationship -- we're somehow not accountable. This really is something we should stamp out. It doesn't reflect well on us.

2. I get most of my news from headlines. If a headline sufficiently interests me, I'll read the story, but mostly I just construct whole narrative from the 12 words or so editors have chosen to represent the article and store it uncritically in my head as gospel truth. I suspect I'm not alone in this, so headlines are pretty important in driving public opinion.

Now, close your eyes and ... OK, finish reading the sentence, then close your eyes. Close your eyes and imagine what the headline would be. Something like "Craven officials cow Chicagoans with apocryphal 'terror' plot" or "Al Qaeda's influence in America enhanced by Bush Administration." Maybe, "'Homeland Defense' refocuses American people on terror by recruiting, equipping quirky religionists." So, now let's look at some news sources. We'll do a search on 'sears tower plot'. (headlines from first two groups):
And, just for yucks, Newsmax' current cover, by the way, is "Gore spins global warming." I don't even want to know what they mean by that:
That last one's from back in March. Apparently even NewsMax hasn't had the balls to run with this story. OK, and from that great bastion of government sanctioned liberalism, the grey lady:
Can you see why the enemies of freedom choose the New York Times to set up as a straw man? Well, you need two sides to any debate, and it's better if the other side agrees with you.

3. I'm not a super interesting reader. I like novels by novelists that everyone likes: Ernest Hemmingway, Sinclair Lewis, Joseph Contrad. I know that last one's not an American, but he's still good. And this business has got me interested in reading The Secret Agent again. So, I'm going to do that -- the British Government works with this guy to create and expose terrorist plots, which seems somehow relevant.

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