The first sentence of my Wikipedia page reads as follows: “ Jack Cashill …is an American author, blogger and conspiracy theorist.” If I try to amend that description, some left-wing troll will flip it right back.
As it happens, the Left takes Wikipedia seriously. Some of those who conspired to “disinvite” me from a scheduled library appearance in Fredonia, New York, this summer cited my Wikipedia page as the reason.
Wrote one of the conspirators to the local paper, “This guy is a hack-fraud, couldn’t make a living off of TWA 800 conspiracy theories so he became a shill for every right wing dog whistle. The right loves their con men and to be grifted.”
Well traveled as I am in the world of conspiracies, I write this column as a caution to my fellow citizen journalists: before you put words on a page, before you invest too much emotional equity in a given conspiracy, think your theory all the way through.
This past week, I have seen too many smart people conjecturing about whether the Hamas invasion of Israel was a “false flag” operation. This possibility has prompted others to state as a given that 9/11 was an “inside job,” or that the CIA killed John F. Kennedy. None of these theories is a given. Skepticism is healthy. Cynicism is not. In times of genuine peril, it can be crippling.
Conspiracies fall into two general categories: conspiracies of execution and conspiracies of concealment. The former are rare, at least at high levels; the latter are a dime a dozen. In my own humble career, I have emerged as the chief chronicler of at least three significant conspiracies, two of concealment, one of concealment and possible execution.
The investigation of each begins with the question of why the conspirators would run substantial risk to execute a given plan of action. When in the fall of 2008 I deduced that terrorist emeritus Bill Ayers had helped Barack Obama with his overpraised memoir, Dreams from My Father, it made perfect sense for Obama and his media allies to conceal the truth. To do otherwise would have cost Obama the election.
The case of TWA Flight 800, the Paris-bound 747 accidentally shot down off the coast of Long Island in July 1996, was also a conspiracy of concealment. I rule out execution because no known risk/reward scenario would persuade U.S. Navy officers to shoot down an American airliner and kill 230 people. There are any number of reasons, however, why all concerned would want to conceal Navy involvement.
The officers, of course, would want to protect their reputations and their careers. The national security state would want to protect its secrets. The president, Bill Clinton, would want to preserve his chances at re-election in November. Without at least the tacit approval of Clinton, this conspiracy could not have succeeded.
The fact that some very serious people had come to this conclusion before I did bolstered my confidence. I felt confident enough, in fact, to do my Book-TV presentation for C-SPAN at the TWA Museum in Kansas City before an audience of TWA veterans. No one in that audience dissented.
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