Recently, two of my 9/11 truth friends and colleagues have come under attack from within the 9/11 truth movement. I responded to Erik Larson’s attack on Dr. David Ray Griffin in my previous post. Today, I will consider the painful case of one friend’s attack on another.
Originally, Kevin R. and I were supposed to debate faculty members at the University of Michigan. Kevin Ryan would argue against the NIST Report on the destruction of the Twin Towers, which would be defended by one or more scientists or engineers from the University of Michigan. Then I would argue against the 9/11 Commission Report, which would be defended by one or more law, history, humanities or political science professors.
Unfortunately, not one of the more than 1,000 University of Michigan professors we invited was willing to defend either official report on the most important event of the century.
So Kevin Ryan and I ended up debating each other. I opposed Kevin R. and defended NIST, while Kevin R. opposed me by defending the 9/11 Commission.
Even in a mock debate like this, Kevin Ryan was a fierce opponent. While he is normally a gentle, mild-mannered Buddhist, Kevin’s pugnacious Irish heritage rises to the surface when he hears what sounds to him like BS. So when I attempted to defend the NIST report as best I could, by raising what I knew to be weak arguments but presenting them as convincingly as possible, Kevin actually got annoyed!
But that’s nothing compared to his annoyance at Jim Fetzer. As I recently wrote:
Investigative journalist Robert Parry’s vapid attack on the 9/11 truth movement has elicited spirited responses from Jim Fetzer and Kevin Ryan. Ryan’s response to Parry is even better than Fetzer’s. But Ryan follows his response to Parry with an attack on Fetzer implicitly accusing Fetzer of being a cointelpro-style disinformation agent. (Fetzer responds here.)
Ryan’s accusation of Fetzer may not be quite as ridiculous as Erik Larson’s recent “David Ray Griffin is disinfo” howler. But it’s pretty goofy.
If you’re going to accuse someone of being a paid agent working to obstruct justice and cover up the worst mass murder in US history, you’d better have some strong evidence. What evidence does Ryan offer?
First, he makes the hilariously absurd claim that Fetzer’s article rebutting Robert Parry contains two typos, and those typos must therefore be part of Fetzer’s “continued efforts to spread false information.” Thomas Pynchon couldn’t have invented a better example of the paranoid method of literary criticism.
Ryan accuses Fetzer of “shameful, self-aggrandizing theft and falsehood” because Fetzer has referred to the 9/11 truth movement’s collective research as “our research.” In fact, nobody in the 9/11 truth movement has individually contributed more than a small fraction of the total research – yet why shouldn’t we talk about our research when we are speaking as members of the 9/11 truth movement and researchers? Jim Fetzer, like David Ray Griffin, may be doing mainly secondary rather than primary research, but that is still research, and both are entitled to speak of “our” research in presenting selected findings of the 9/11 truth movement.
Ryan claims Fetzer makes “wild assertions” such as: “…every claim the government has made about 9/11 is false.” In fact, what Fetzer actually said was that “virtually every claim the government has made about 9/11 is false.” By removing the word “virtually,” Ryan misrepresents what Fetzer said to make it look like a “wild assertion.” This is deceptive at best, potentially libelous at worst. (Remember, this is supposed to be evidence that Fetzer is a treasonous, murder-assisting disinfo agent.)
Ryan then quotes Fetzer’s letter to potential members of the new (in 2006) group Scholars for 9/11 Truth: “Steve Jones and I would like to invite you to join us as members of a new society.” Ryan makes it sound as if Fetzer invented a false association with Jones, which is not true. The two were co-chairs of Scholars, by mutual agreement.
Ryan claims that Fetzer’s contributions to the JFK research community were “dubious.” In fact, the JFK research community, like the 9/11 truth movement, is not very cohesive; but Fetzer’s contributions to it are generally viewed as extremely important, and Fetzer is widely regarded as a leading scholar in the field by such experts as James Douglass, the author of the best generalist book on the subject – as Douglass told me when his book came out.
Ryan asserts: “Less than one year (after founding Scholars for 9/11 Truth), just before the 5th anniversary of the attacks when mainstream media attention was at its peak, Fetzer began speaking publicly about space beams destroying the WTC and other such nonsense.”
In fact, it is Ryan’s assertion that is nonsense – maybe even libelous nonsense. First, Fetzer has never used the term “space beams.” That is an invention of his opponents, who make their own arguments look weak when they stoop to using such pejorative language and falsely attributing it to Fetzer.
More importantly, Ryan’s claim that Fetzer’s unfortunate interest in Directed Energy Weapons was timed “just before the 5th anniversary of the attacks” is wrong. In reality, Wood and Reynolds first published the DEW paper that enthralled Fetzer on October 17th, 2006, and Fetzer’s infatuation with Wood’s DEW hypothesis began at least a few weeks later. Fetzer was actually a huge PR plus to the 9/11 truth movement, and universally regarded as such, throughout the summer of 2006, based on such performances as his evisceration of Oliver North on Fox TV in June. In October 2006, shortly before he went gaga for Judy Wood and DEW, Fetzer did another brilliant job on Hannity and Colmes. (I cannot imagine Ryan, Jones, Gage, Griffin, etc. despite their merits as a researchers and spokespeople, performing this well on national TV; they all lack the aggressiveness that serves Fetzer so well in this kind of situation, but which may work against him in others.)
Ryan writes: “False information like these claims (of DEW demolition) did, however, turn many serious people away from 9/11 truth.” But he gives no evidence for this. Names, please? One very serious person who was turned toward 9/11 truth, or at least not turned away, by these claims, was Bob Fitrakis, an esteemed political science professor and one of the Midwest’s leading alternative journalists for decades. Fitrakis, who has investigated the Pentagon’s secret development of exotic weaponry including DEW, came to Fetzer’s Madison 9/11 Conference and studied 9/11 more closely in part due to the presence of advocates of the DEW hypothesis there.
Citing the non-evidence, half-truths and outright lies I have cataloged above, Ryan writes: “The evidence we have suggests that Fetzer and his colleagues took the opportunity of the heightened mainstream media coverage around the 5th anniversary of 9/11 to engage in an evil parlor game of disruption, similar to the COINTELPRO operations of the past and the kind of ‘cognitive infiltration‘ supported by members of the Obama Administration.”
Since Fetzer had never even heard of the DEW hypothesis until about November 1st, 2006, and no allegations of him being anything but a PR plus for the movement prior to that time have ever been made as far as I am aware of – and since the “evidence” Ryan has presented does not even offer the faintest iota of suspicion that Fetzer is taking money to cover up mass murder – the above sentence is not just wildly defamatory, but completely absurd.
Ryan quotes Fetzer waxing enthusiastic (“ho ho ho, Judy!”) about DEW on the radio. While this was not exactly Fetzer’s best moment, anyone who engages in thousands of hours of spontaneous conversation on the radio is going to occasionally say stupid things, including things that sound considerably stupider in print than they did when spoken. But the bottom line here is that Fetzer’s maniacal enthusiasm for the work of Judy Wood, which would have to have been feigned if he were cointelpro, was unfortunately quite genuine, as I can testify from personal experience; how such over-enthusiasm could be construed as evidence for conspiracy to cover up high treason and mass murder is something that perhaps Kevin Ryan can explain.
Ryan next passes on a claim that a Fetzer paper about information theory, entitled “Information: Does It Have to Be True?” suggests that “spreading and using false information…is perfectly fine and acceptable.” Here Ryan and/or his source, a certain Floridi, have misconstrued a complex and highly specialized philosophical debate about information theory as a simple morality tale. Ryan claims that “all honest people” believe that “since information is data that changes what we do, only true information that helps us respond to our world accurately and effectively has value.” While Plato might have agreed with this argument and banished the poets from his Republic, I can testify that many honest people believe that fiction (untrue information) can have tremendous value in myth, poetry and literature, among other areas. Be that as it may, Fetzer was actually arguing about the definition of the word information by claiming, along with the majority of information theorists, that it should include both the true and false varieties. He was not holding a brief for the false variety. Thus Fetzer is emphatically not “known to be an expert on the use and value of false information” in the sense that Ryan implies.
In conclusion, Ryan claims: “…the continued support of known purveyors of false information like Jim Fetzer, gives the national discussion about 9/11 truth the potential to become an absurd theater of the damned.”
In fact, Ryan himself has presented a demonstrably false argument defaming the reputation of Jim Fetzer. He asserts that Fetzer is a cointelpro-style disinformation agent, yet produces only transparently fallacious “evidence” in support of his claim. I suppose this makes Ryan himself a “known purveyor of false information.”
Both “known purveyors of false information,” Jim Fetzer and Kevin Ryan, are human, and therefore fallible. Which kind of error is worse: Fetzer’s mistakes in interpreting technical evidence and/or presenting his findings to the public, or Ryan’s mistake in baselessly accusing Fetzer of criminal complicity in high treason and mass murder?
Today on my radio show, Ken Jenkins, who (like Kevin Ryan) deplores Fetzer’s enthusiasm for DEW and video fakery, made a very important point: We have so much evidence for 9/11 being an inside job that each particular evidentiary issue is, in and of itself, of only minor importance. This is especially true of “scientific” evidence, since in a courtroom there will always be counter-experts brought in to oppose any scientific evidence presented. Therefore, disputes about this kind of evidence are relatively unimportant in and of themselves. What is important is the damage to the morale of the truth movement that infighting – about anything – can cause.
That’s why Fetzer’s biggest mistake was not exploring DEW or video fakery hypotheses, but getting into an ego battle with Steven Jones in the late fall (not summer) of 2006. And Kevin Ryan’s mistake – which seems to me worse than Fetzer’s – is to accuse a fellow truth-seeker of complicity in the worst crime ever committed on American soil, without a shred of actual evidence.