The Conspiracy Theory Issue!

  • The shiny-object ruse behind “bin Laden’s bookshelf”
  • Now they tell us: Mainstream acknowledges “conspiracy theories” about the CIA and drugs, Oklahoma City, TWA 800
  • Ugly: A fiscal report card for all 50 states
  • Mediocre manufacturing… the rules of the club… a reader thrilled to see we published his email… and more!

  “Bin Laden Bookshelf Shows Taste for Conspiracy Theories,” sniffs this morning’s Financial Times.
As you might have heard, the federal government has released a stack of documents seized during the raid on Osama bin Laden’s quarters in 2011 — plus a list of books and magazines he kept there.
The motley collection included Bob Woodward’s Obama’s Wars and Yale historian Paul Kennedy’s magisterial The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers.
But those aren’t “conspiratorial” titles in the eyes of the mainstream. Among those that are…

  • Confessions of an Economic Hit Man — in which author John Perkins recounted his days carrying out threats and/or regime change in various countries on behalf of the U.S. government and major corporations
  • Secrets of the Federal Reserve by Eustace Mullins. Hmmm… There are far better exposes about the Fed, by authors who don’t carry the taint of Holocaust denial
  • The Best Enemy Money Could Buy — one of several titles by historian Antony Sutton meticulously documenting how U.S. corporations built — and U.S. taxpayers funded — much of the Soviet Union’s technological and manufacturing base.

“Next thing we’ll hear OBL subscribed to one of our newsletters,” quips colleague Peter Coyne, managing editor of The Daily Reckoning.
A spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said the documents and reading list were being released now in the interest of greater government “transparency.”
Puh-leeze. The only thing “transparent” about this disclosure is the attempt to divert attention from reporter Seymour Hersh’s bombshell about the bin Laden raid.
Shiny object! Squirrel!
  Of course, Hersh has been dismissed as a “conspiracy theorist,” too.

In case you missed it, Hersh published a massive expose in the London Review of Books 10 days ago, demolishing the official version of bin Laden’s last years and ultimate demise.
He wasn’t hiding out in Abbottabad, Pakistan — he’d been imprisoned there since 2006, his upkeep paid for by Saudi Arabia. It wasn’t brilliant work by U.S. intelligence (with a little help from torture) that uncovered his whereabouts — it was a retired Pakistani intelligence officer motivated by a $25 million U.S. bounty. Nor was there a firefight when bin Laden met his maker — the Americans were the only ones shooting.
Nearly every article trashing Hersh’s expose followed the same script — acknowledging Hersh is a legend for his reporting on My Lai and Abu Ghraib, then playing the conspiracy card. “Hersh’s story reads like a fantasia of clandestine intrigue and deception,” says a typical smear piece.
“Barrels of ink have been spilled ripping apart Hersh’s character,” writes Trevor Timm in the Columbia Journalism Review, “while barely any follow-up reporting has been done to corroborate or refute his claims — even though there’s no doubt that the Obama administration has repeatedly misinformed and misled the public about the incident.”
Hersh, now 78 years old, will likely be vindicated in the end… but not until after he’s gone.
  That’s how it went for Gary Webb, the reporter who blew the lid off the relationship between the CIA and the drug trade.

Webb documented how the agency turned a blind eye to drug dealing by the CIA-backed Contra rebels of Nicaragua during the 1980s. Large amounts of Contra cocaine wound up on the streets of Los Angeles.
Webb’s 1996 series in the San Jose Mercury News was ripped to shreds by more “respectable” newspapers like The Washington Post and Los Angeles Times. As with Hersh, the “conspiracy theory” trope was pulled out. Successfully, too: It wasn’t long before Webb’s editors threw him under the proverbial bus. He ended up killing himself in 2004.
Only with the release last fall of the thriller flick Kill the Messenger, based on Webb’s story, is the mainstream acknowledging that while Webb might have flubbed a few minor details, he basically got the story right. Of the smear campaign, “It was a really kind of tawdry exercise,” recalls Jesse Katz — who wrote some of the L.A. Times’ most egregious hit pieces.

Gary Webb as portrayed by actor Jeremy Renner in Kill the Messenger.

Maybe there’s an unspoken two-decade moratorium on the truth being acknowledged. In addition to the destruction of Webb’s career, two other episodes from the mid-1990s come to mind…
  It is no longer “conspiracy theory” to say the feds missed obvious clues before the Oklahoma City bombing in 1995. Nor is it kooky to wonder whether people other than Timothy McVeigh and Terry Nichols were involved in the plot.
Both matters are tackled forthrightly in the 2012 book Oklahoma City: What the Investigation Missed — and Why It Still Matters. It won considerable mainstream praise.
But it didn’t break particularly new ground. Much of the territory the authors cover was trod by the newsletter Strategic Investment only months after the bombing.
  It is also no longer “conspiracy theory” to question the official story about the midair explosion of TWA Flight 800 off Long Island in 1996.

Last month, a veteran pilot whose assignments included flying Obama’s campaign plane in 2008 was given space in the New York Daily News. Wrote Andrew Danziger: “There’s hardly an airline pilot among the hundreds I know who buys the official explanation — that it was a fuel-tank explosion — offered by the National Transportation Safety Board.”
“After the explosion, more than three dozen witnesses reported they’d seen contrails going up into the sky toward the plane; 18 of those people said they saw something coming up from the water, rising to meet the plane…
“The FBI only summarized the interviews in its reports; the witnesses weren’t permitted to see what was written or to review the reports, and the NTSB only received summary reports in which all personal information was redacted. And maybe most importantly, the witnesses — there were more than 700 of them — weren’t permitted to testify.”
Danziger won’t venture whether it was a terrorist attack or a U.S. military training exercise gone wrong. “But as an experienced commercial pilot,” he concluded, “I know this much: Planes do not blow up by themselves. I firmly believe that this plane was shot down.”
  “The term ‘conspiracy theory’ was invented by elite media and politicians to denigrate questions or critical presumptions about events about which important facts remain unrevealed,” writes the veteran Washington journalist Sam Smith.
“The intelligent response to such events is to remain agnostic, skeptical and curious. Theories may be suggested — just as they are every day about less complex and more open matters on news broadcasts and Op-Ed pages — but such theories should not stray too far from available evidence.
“Conversely, as long as serious anomalies remain, dismissing questions and doubts as a ‘conspiracy theory’ is a highly unintelligent response.”
  “The unresolved major event is largely a modern phenomenon,” Mr. Smith goes on, “that coincides with the collapse of America’s constitutional government and the decline of its culture.
“Beginning with the Kennedy assassination, the number of inadequately explained major events has been mounting steadily,” he adds, “and with them, a steady decline in the trust between the people and their government.”
Ah yes. JFK. The granddaddy of them all. Respectable or not, a solid majority of Americans don’t buy the Warren Commission’s official story. The Washington Post and ABC News commissioned a poll to mark the 50th anniversary in 2013. It found 62% of those surveyed reject the lone-gunman theory and believe there was a broader plot.
But who? And why?
That brings us to an expose of our own. Not only does it shed light on the JFK assassination, but it could help you create a legacy of wealth for your children and your children’s children.
Big claim, we know. We back it up at this link.
  To the markets, although there’s not much to say: The major U.S. stock indexes are up this morning, but barely. At last check, the S&P 500 sits at 2,131.
Nor did stocks move meaningfully yesterday when the minutes of the Federal Reserve’s April meeting were released. Any notion that the fed funds rate would be raised in June was scotched. But that merely affirms the obvious.
Treasuries are rallying modestly, the 10-year yield at 2.21% as we write. Gold is little moved at $1,205.
The big mover is crude — up more than 3%, to $60.84.
The most meaningful economic indicator out today is the “Philly Fed” survey. It shows manufacturing in the mid-Atlantic is growing, but weakly. That’s what it’s been showing all year.
  Some recovery this is: Nearly two-thirds of state governments are having trouble achieving a balanced budget.
So concludes S&P and the Rockefeller Institute of Government. “A majority of states are making cuts, tapping reserves or facing shortfalls,” sums up Bloomberg, “despite an improving national economy and stock markets at record levels.”
“The extent of the weakness is really impressive,” says the Rockefeller Institute’s Donald Boyd. “There’s a lot of pressure on governors and legislators.”
All told, 32 states face a fiscal gap either this year or next. You can see where your state fares here…

Whaddya know… California doesn’t suck. Indeed, the report shows it’s flush with revenue. Evidently not every millionaire is following Phil Mickelson out of the Golden State, a 13.3% income tax rate on the highest incomes notwithstanding.
Four years ago, your editor collaborated with our executive publisher Addison Wiggin on a special report called American Oases. We used three metrics to measure which states would be best equipped to ride out a possible funding crisis in Washington, D.C. We were working on the theory that “the mother of all financial bubbles” would be felt on the local level first — when services you take for granted are no longer there.
Our top three candidates — Indiana, New Hampshire and Texas — turned in a mixed performance on the list above. But there are other factors that go into a state government’s fiscal soundness — how much debt it’s run up, how much it depends on subsidies from Washington, and how big are its unfunded pension liabilities.
Rest assured, on two of those three scores, California is still awful.
  “Yes, of course,” a reader chimes in after Jim Rickards’ remark yesterday about gold and the global club of governments: “The rules of the game say you need a lot of gold to play, but you don’t recognize the gold or discuss it publicly.”
“That,” says our reader, “has always been the etiquette amongst old-money folks for centuries. If you must talk about how much, then you clearly are merely nouveau riche and lack taste.”
  “WOW….” writes a reader who rose to our defense on Tuesday “I’m published!!! Me and Steve Martin!!! Now I can realize all that other stuff that comes along with it!!! Thanks, THAT made my day, truncated or no!!!”
The 5: You’re welcome.
To be clear, having your email published in The 5 confers the following privileges…
Best regards,

Dave Gonigam
The 5 Min. Forecast
P.S. “Osama died on about 15 December, 2001,” says Jim Fetzer — a founder of Scholars for 9/11 Truth, interviewed by the Guardian about the bin Laden bookshelf.
“He was suffering from serious diseases, including a kidney disease, and it’s hard to get those dialysis machines in and out of those caves in Afghanistan.”
We’d forgotten until now about the notion he died within weeks of the attacks.
Conspiracy theory, or another one of those “unresolved major events”? Around here, we’re inclined to go with the Seymour Hersh account — just because of the vociferous pushback it’s getting from Washington’s kept journalists.
But JFK? It’s conceivable he wrote his own death warrant 172 days before his assassination.
Get the eye-opening story right here.

Dave Gonigam

Dave Gonigam

Dave Gonigam has been managing editor of The 5 Min. Forecast since September 2010. Before joining the research and writing team at Agora Financial in 2007, he worked for 20 years as an Emmy award-winning television news producer.

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