I consider myself a rational person who believes things based on evidence. I don't do blind faith. So I sometimes lose track of the number of people out there in the world who are apparently comforted by the belief that there is a great Conspiracy afoot to fool us. Or something. Everybody knows about the conspiracy theories around the assassination of President Kennedy. It seems to offend some people that one guy with a rifle and a telescopic sight could kill the President of the United States; they can't believe it. He must have had help, he must have been part of a Cabal. I've always felt, never underestimate what one determined nut can accomplish, especially if what he's trying last happened 60 years or so ago and nobody realizes what he's up to. People see what they expect to see, which sometimes means they miss what's going on.
Last weekend I became aware of the latest flavor of conspiracy theories, which is almost as good as the U.N. Black Helicopters. You may have heard this one: it's the theory that the 9/11 attacks were staged by the U.S. government. That's right: it wasn't Al Qaeda. Because we know Bush wanted to go to war in the Middle East, the theory goes, it's reasonable to assume that he would arrange the attack on the World Trade Center so he could use it to justify going to war. Or maybe he knew about it and didn't prevent it, just like Churchill (as another conspiracy theory goes) knew about the attack on Coventry and allowed it to proceed so as not to let the Germans know he was reading their mail. Yeah, sure he did.
If you want to read the arguments, which are endless and involved, you can find them described in this article in the San Francisco Chronicle, which is about a video called "Loose Change"; or you can go find the video on YouTube. The video has a whole list of things the producer believes aren't covered by the official explanations, and therefore he argues that the government either actually caused the attack, or knew about it and let it go through.
I freely admit that the U.S. administration in 2001 was composed of neocon crazies, who were on public record as saying we ought to invade the Middle East and clean it up. Go check out the Project for the New American Century site if you don't believe the public record bit: they argued in a position paper that "a new Pearl Harbor" would galvanize Congress into strengthening the U.S. military. If you don't know about PNAC, you should; they are scary people, and most of them are running our government right now. Sorry, what I hate about these people is that they make me sound like a wingnut conspiracy theorist...
But I don't believe this, just because I don't think they're that bright or that organized. As Hanlon's Razor suggests, Never assume malice when stupidity will suffice. This is Our Government these people are talking about, the same government that couldn't see a cat 5 hurricane heading for New Orleans; the same government that has all the financial sophistication of a drunken sailor on payday; the same government that thought the Iraqi citizens would greet our (invading) soldiers with flowers and song. Our government? Nah.