Shuck and Jive

Friday, December 10, 2010

Griffin, Sunstein, "Cognitive Infiltration", and 9/11 Truth

David Ray Griffin will be remembered as the Dietrich Bonhoeffer of the early 21st century. It may not be until long after he is dead. It may not be until long after I have breathed my last and the readers of these words have breathed theirs that we will recognize that Griffin was right to challenge the official conspiracy theory of 9/11.

I am proud that the intellectual leader of the 9/11 Truth Movement is a theologian. In a time in which theologians have become little more than peddlers of antiquities at best and superstitious quacks at worst, along comes one who knows what it means to be a theologian. A theologian speaks truth to power. That is enough. It is, however, more than the vast majority can do.

In addition to his books on theology and philosophy, David Ray Griffin has written ten books on the events surrounding September 11th, 2001. I regard these ten as theology that matters. The previous books were preparation.

His books on 9/11 include:

  1. A New Pearl Harbor (2004)
  2. A New Pearl Harbor Revisited (2008).
  3. The Mysterious Collapse of the World Trade Center 7 (2009)
  4. The 9/11 Commission Report: Omissions and Distortions (2004)
  5. Christian Faith and the Truth Behind 9/11 (2006)
  6. Debunking 9/11 Debunking (2007)
  7. 9/11 Contradictions: An Open Letter to Congress and the Press (2008)
  8. 9/11 and The American Empire: Intellectuals Speak Out (2006)
  9. Osama Bin Laden: Dead or Alive? (2009)
However, his latest is the one I recommend that folks who have yet seriously to consider this question read first.

In his most recent book, Cognitive Infiltration: An Obama Appointee's Plan to Undermine the 9/11 Conspiracy Theory, Griffin responds to an article by Cass Sunstein.

Stephen Lendman sets the stage in this opinion piece for the Baltimore Chronicle, David Ray Griffin v. Cass Sunstein.

Cass Sunstein is an interesting character. President Obama appointed Sunstein to be the Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs.

In his 2008 essay, Conspiracy Theories, Sunstein advocated infiltrating the 9/11 truth movement in order to discredit it, much like the FBI's counter-intelligence movement in the 60s and 70s, COINTELPRO, against civil rights groups. Here is a sample of what he proposes:

[W]e suggest a distinctive tactic for breaking up the hard core of extremists who supply conspiracy theories: cognitive infiltration of extremist groups, whereby government agents or their allies (acting either virtually or in real space, and either openly or anonymously) will undermine the crippled epistemology of believers by planting doubts about the theories and stylized facts that circulate within such groups, thereby introducing beneficial cognitive diversity. (Page 219.)

In other words, secretly break into groups and illegally disrupt their activities. If you cannot prove their case wrong with reason, then use subterfuge. This is the guy Obama appoints?

Elsewhere, Sunstein contemplates censorship:
We could imagine circumstances in which a conspiracy theory became so pervasive, and so dangerous, that censorship would be thinkable. p. 133 (Griffin)
Griffin writes:
Which is more dangerous, people who believe 9/11 was an inside job, or people occupying influential positions within our government who can calmly contemplate canceling the First Amendment? p. 133
Griffin's book is a careful, point by point critique of Sunstein's essay. As he critiques the essay, he makes the case for questioning the official 9/11 conspiracy theory. This book will show that the search for the truth behind the events of September 11th, 2001 is not going away.

There is an obvious answer to "dangerous" conspiracy theories such as 9/11 Truth. Answer the questions. Have a public debate. Have a truly independent commission investigate.

Griffin writes:

What Sunstein's essay comes down to, therefore, is a proposal to use tactics of questionable decency and legality to undermine a movement that could not be defeated through the normal tools of his trade, evidence and argumentation. Besides being appalled by Sunstein's proposal, those of us in the 9/11 Truth Movement should also be grateful for it. Why? Because this proposal, which is encapsulated in the phrase "cognitive infiltration," almost explicitly acknowledges that the government would be able to undermine the 9/11 Truth Movement only through surreptitious means, not by using evidence and argumentation to discredit it intellectually.

The Truth Movement should, therefore, take Sunstein's proposal to use "cognitive infiltration" to undermine it as a compliment--as a Harvard law professor's recognition that this movement, which claims to speak the truth about 9/11, actually does so. The movement should, accordingly, publicize this phrase, using it to educate the public about his law professor's implicit admission that, if the government had to defend its account of 9/11 in a court of law, it would not have a winnable case. pp. 155-6
Griffin's book is a piece of art. Well-written, clear, incisive, even humorous. It is an excellent introduction to the rest of his books on 9/11. Sadly, Professor Griffin's health is not good. This could be his last book. You can read an account of his recent illness.

As I wrote at the beginning, David Ray Griffin will be remembered among the great ones. When he was needed he used his gifts and skills and with courage spoke truth to power.

1 comment:

  1. It is tempting for Cass Sunstien; with his Training in “Law and Behavioral Economics” the Study of a Planned Control Economy, to answer in terms of individual pathologoies applied to the population.

    The Conspiracy Theorist Theory and the Crippled Epistemology and Active Tactics of Cass are unscientific, selective, subjective, hypocritical and dangerous.