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August 13, 2007

Karl Rove's False Flag Operations

With Karl Rove leaving the White House, it's a good time to remember this intriguing story from his career: I interviewed people who knew Rove, they brought up examples of unscrupulous tactics—some of them breathtaking—as a matter of course.

A typical instance occurred in the hard-fought 1996 race for a seat on the Alabama Supreme Court between Rove's client, Harold See, then a University of Alabama law professor, and the Democratic incumbent, Kenneth Ingram. According to someone who worked for him, Rove, dissatisfied with the campaign's progress, had flyers printed up—absent any trace of who was behind them—viciously attacking See and his family. "We were trying to craft a message to reach some of the blue-collar, lower-middle-class people," the staffer says. "You'd roll it up, put a rubber band around it, and paperboy it at houses late at night. I was told, 'Do not hand it to anybody, do not tell anybody who you're with, and if you can, borrow a car that doesn't have your tags.' So I borrowed a buddy's car [and drove] down the middle of the street … I had Hefty bags stuffed full of these rolled-up pamphlets, and I'd cruise the designated neighborhoods, throwing these things out with both hands and literally driving with my knees." The ploy left Rove's opponent at a loss. Ingram's staff realized that it would be fruitless to try to persuade the public that the See campaign was attacking its own candidate in order "to create a backlash against the Democrat," as Joe Perkins, who worked for Ingram, put it to me. Presumably the public would believe that Democrats were spreading terrible rumors about See and his family. "They just beat you down to your knees," Ingram said of being on the receiving end of Rove's attacks. See won the race.

In addition to this, there are longstanding suspicions that in the 1986 governor's race in Texas, Rove bugged his own office so it would be blamed on the Democratic candidate.

This illustrates why I'm driven crazy by claims that we shouldn't suspect politicians have done something grimy because they're "honorable men." Nothing's clearer in human history than that politicians will do anything, including murdering millions of their own citizens, to get and hold power.

Thus, it's never crazy merely to consider the possibility that anything anywhere is a false flag operation. Usually it's not the case—usually things are pretty much what they seem.

But what holds politicians back from doing more of this is that it's generally so complicated they'll get caught, not some kind of "moral" consideration. For instance, I do think it's nuts to consider the U.S. government was involved in 9/11, because too many people would have to be involved. But I strongly suspect George Bush, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove would have considered it if they thought they could get away with it. Certainly immediately afterward they were willing to lie to New Yorkers and let them die from breathing the air in lower Manhattan.

Posted at August 13, 2007 03:57 PM | TrackBack

Mostly agreed, though I think there's probably a psychological difference between lying about air quality and ultimately causing deaths that way and actually having someone fly a plane into a building. But I'm not sure. It is interesting to wonder just how far politicians would go if they thought they could get away with it--if there are any limits to what some of them would do.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at August 13, 2007 05:08 PM

It's not fashionable to bring up 9/11, since there's a whole host of kooky theories surrounding it, but I still feel like a whole bunch of my questions surrounding the day itself were unanswered. For example, the 911 commission report has no discussion of FAA preparedness and of how FAA procedures were followed, or not, on that day. This seems especially bizarre considering the timing of the hijackings, the huge gap between the WTC and the Pentagon events, and the near-certainty that people knew exactly what was happening, at least at the Pentagon, before it happened. Absent answers to these questions, I will, as I suspect will a great many people with a similar distrust of authortiy, fly to the False Flag position - openings were left to allow things to happen. The Pentagon turned out to be a relatively modest target. If the White House, or the Capitol, had been struck - imagine that. So why wasn't that plane intercepted, redirected, forced down?

Posted by: saurabh at August 13, 2007 05:43 PM

It's a difficult question, because different systems and cultures don't just place different restrictions on what's possible for politicians, they also allow different types of people to rise to the top. Democracy and limited terms of office are important both because they place restrictions on officeholders' power and also because it means you don't have only people willing to stage a coup in office.

That said, I'm very sure Cheney would kill lots of Americans if he could and felt the circumstances demanded it. Almost certainly Rove as well. I'm less sure about Bush himself, although it might be carried out by underlings and he just wouldn't be aware. Of course, they would all tell themselves they were doing it for the good of the country, it was just "criminals," etc., and would get extremely angry if anyone suggested they'd done something wrong. Just like Saddam.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at August 13, 2007 05:46 PM

I estimate low, as low as I can bear; and I don't assume that politicians are like myself or people I know. Becoming a politician in this day and age automatically makes one a freak. That goes double for operatives, scuttling behind the scenes.

I haven't a clue what happened on 9/11, but given the behavior of the current Administration, the decay of our political culture, and the vast reward that has been reaped as a result of 9/11, I think--as always--the official version should be viewed with great skepticism. When have they NOT lied to us for their own benefit? Why wouldn't they lie about 9/11? Because it would be horrific and obscene? Yeah, so?

It's always silly to predict the future, but here goes: a century from now, I think historians will find the official version of 9/11 extremely curious. I think the vast expansion of powers post-9/11 will force this conclusion. Empires have no conscience.

Posted by: Mike of Angle at August 13, 2007 06:09 PM

You write "For instance, I do think it's nuts to consider the U.S. government was involved in 9/11, because too many people would have to be involved."

I reject the 9/11 bunkum about the WTC being brought down with explosives but those kinds of rumors are false flag operations of a similar kind.

You really only need a small core of people to leave a back door open to allow four airplanes to make unauthorized u-turns in the most tightly controlled air space in the world, i.e. the Eastern US seaboard.

It only takes a couple people whispering over the transom to its cat's paw in Pakistan, the ISI, which in turn could easily have had a double agent-provacateur planted in or near the hijacking camp.

That's all you need - an ear to the ground and if necessary maybe tweak (through the ISI) the scheduling so the attack coincides with military exercises, etc.

You do know that Bush put that TANG CO in charge of NORAD, yes? The guy who signed off Bush's pilot log book certification? The guy who called Bush an "extrordinary" pilot? Extrordinary is one of those words that sounds positive but actually be intended to suggest negativity.

Posted by: Maezeppa at August 13, 2007 06:41 PM

There's a common trope in movies where someone has access to all the secret bits of information that the government has been hiding all these years - usually these are "the alien landing at Roswell, who shot Kennedy, (breaks off into mumbling)". I think the recurrence of this trope indicates a real distrust amongst Americans of their government - sure, of COURSE our government lies. Of course the real truth is hidden from us. And of course we lust to know what that is. But it also suggests that for most people, those items are, as Mike of Angle suggests, merely "curious" - we wouldn't change our thinking because of them. My roommate recently expressed frustration with his parents' refusal to understand that, say, the deposing of the Shah by the CIA via Kermit Roosevelt was meaningful. It was merely "curious", or something that the CIA is supposed to do - that is simply the nature of the CIA. Similarly for a great deal of bad behavior, including, probably, most False Flagging. Why? Because, as Jon points out, most people believe that they are fundamentally "honorable men". Empiricists would observe the world and conclude, based on the rampant chicanery they noted, that those men are not, in fact, honorable. But very few people are actually empiricists. They've been taught that those men are honorable from childhood. It is received wisdom. Other observations must coincide with it, or be discarded.

Posted by: saurabh at August 13, 2007 06:59 PM

OK, I share the expressed views on W,Cheney,Rove et al, but their involvement in 9-11? Do they care if 3,000 Americans get killed, no. But could they or would they come up with and participate -directly or indirectly - in putting th 9-11 plan into practice? The American people would have accepted a far less deadly event for going to war against Saddam. And if it had "worked," the lie to start it wouldn't have mattered all that much--or, at all.
And the WTC? Why, there could be some Yalies working in the corner offices! Ain't like killing swarthy types far away.
Think stupidity, arrogance, greed. Far bigger fctors, it seems to me, than the intelligence required for false flag ops.

Posted by: donescobar at August 13, 2007 07:12 PM

while we're having fun, "hey, google! somebody in this comment thread mentioned the dan rather memo!"

Posted by: hapa at August 13, 2007 08:11 PM

Look at Bush in the seven miniutes after he was told, "America is under attack". He just sat there like an idiot with the kids as they read "My Pet Goat". He would never have acted like that if he had known it was coming.

Posted by: cemmcs at August 13, 2007 08:49 PM

Apparently Ben Franklin used to write fake letters to newspapers in the guise of an offensive and foolish supporter of George III, so the false flag tactic has kind of a long history in US politics. A longer history in America than US politics, in fact.

Posted by: RobW at August 13, 2007 08:56 PM

Dick Cheney is the kindest, warmest, most decent person I've known in my life. And I'm really looking forward to taking a break frum politics.

Posted by: Karl Rove at August 13, 2007 09:18 PM

Donescobar, don't think for a second Bush would weep over dead Yalies. He despises Yale--or at least the Yale that Jon and I recognize.

I'm happy to say that the feeling is mostly mutual. I know a LOT of Yale alums of every vintage, and one thing that cuts across every age/class line is a lack of respect for Bush. He's neither a patrician nor a striver; the former class disapproves of his lack of noblesse oblige, and the latter thinks he's a moron. The only Yalies who like him are the power-worshippers, and while there are plenty of those, there's nothing "Yale" about them. That tribe does not recognize any affiliation but itself--the better to profit, you see...

Without venturing too far into the morass, two quick things, since the topic of conspiracy is so close to my heart:
1) Yeah, releasing material can be used to distract and control. And also to turn a crime into a parlor game. The assassinations of the 60s aren't a curiosity; they are the weeping wound at the heart of the country. Unpunished political murder nullifies democracy. Without resolution (calling it "justice" seems somehow quaint), there are only two stances, apathy and bitterness--sound like any country you know? Cover-ups aren't necessary, just enough "incompetence" in the beginning, to make sure the cases can never be solved.
2) I don't think it's wise to approach topics like the assassinations, or 9/11, by creating your own plan, then saying "But that couldn't've happened because..." You're not a conspirator (or are you? :-) ). You don't know what can be done, by how many people, how quickly. You don't know that "somebody would've talked"--or that lots of people didn't. People do all sorts of amazing things; people working together, even more so. What I imagine to be possible, as a reasonably moral comedy writer, has no bearing on what (for example) an unhinged CIA-trained contractor looking to hasten the Rapture might be able or willing to attempt.

I put nothing past people whose only enduring identification is with themselves, that are interested in nothing but accumulating power, that are torturing the world to heal some strange, wounded aspect of their psyches. What crashed at Roswell? No idea. Who shot JFK? Take your pick. Was 9/11 an inside job, incompetence, or some mixture of both? Really don't know. But given all we know, it's foolhardy to accept the official version of such stuff. The burden of proof--the intellectual resistance--the mockery--should be directed towards them, not individuals asking questions. We may THINK the individual is crazy, but we KNOW the government lies.

Posted by: Mike of Angle at August 13, 2007 10:52 PM

I keep wondering how exactly do people living in the one country where it is supposed to be embedded in its DNA to question authority more than any other, actually come to even find that the prospect that they may invite the worst of their own into power actually remote?

Posted by: En Ming Hee at August 13, 2007 11:10 PM

En Ming Hee. Puleeze, this IS AMERICA after all. The Blind shoving the Blind.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at August 14, 2007 01:41 AM

No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up.

— Jane Wagner, for Lily Tomlin, The Search for Signs of Inteligent Life in the Universe, 1985.

Posted by: Mike at August 14, 2007 08:09 AM

Mike of Angle

My Yale crack was not in dead earnest.

While I agreewith you about all those "Don't Knows" in our history, they also lead to a kind of passivity. What have Americans gotten excited about since Vietnam--or "opposed?" Zilch.
Don't know anything, don't do anything except for me and mine.

Why, they're not even excited about the three Albanian submarines spotted off the coast of Florida recently. Or, whatever thy were. My vision isn't what it was.

Posted by: donescobar at August 14, 2007 10:29 AM

Any particular conspiracy theory should be disbelieved without hard evidence, but there's no reason not to be open-minded about the possibility of such things. And yeah, maybe mike of angle is right. All I know for sure is that some of America's worst crimes are committed in plain sight--it's just that you have to read obscure sources like Amnesty International to find out about them.

Over at Obsidian Wings there's a thread (I'm not bothering to link to it--no time) where a conservative is defending Karl Rove and inevitably, a liberal is admitting that Rove is nowhere near as bad as some Al Qaeda terrorist. This kind of thing bugs me. There's no shortage of US-supported throat-cutters and civilian-murderers in the world and I don't think Washington operatives are any less guilty because they can keep several degrees of separation between themselves and the actual spilling of blood.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at August 14, 2007 12:31 PM