WASHINGTON, Sept. 27 (UPI) -- No sooner did Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad suggest from the rostrum of the U.N. General Assembly that most of the world believes the U.S. government was involved in a 9/11 conspiracy, than 32 nations followed the U.S. delegation as it walked out.
These were members of NATO, the European Union (21 countries are members of both), Australia, New Zealand and Costa Rica.
More importantly, 167 nations didn't budge and went on listening to the Iranian's incendiary speech.
We keep forgetting that countless millions in the world, including millions of Americans, have swallowed the monumental canard that the United States and Israel were part of a conspiracy designed to legitimize the invasions of Afghanistan in 2001 and Iraq in 2003.
The first to finger the United States and Israel was Hamid Gul, two weeks after 9/11, in an interview with this reporter in Islamabad.
Gul, a former head of Pakistani intelligence and notorious anti-American, added the U.S. Air Force to the conspiracy mix. The "evidence" he provided was that no U.S. fighter aircraft were scrambled on 9/11 to intercept the passenger planes that had abandoned their flight plans.
Gul, a friend of Osama Bin Laden dating to the days when they were allies against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, is yet to explain what he was doing in Kabul with his Taliban friends for two weeks immediately preceding 9/11.
More recently, in Cairo, two former Egyptian ambassadors to the United States told me they believed there was a Mossad-CIA plot designed to keep Israel and America in lockstep in a war on terror. They pointed out that when President George W. Bush declared Global War in Terror, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was the first to sign up.
For the two Egyptians, that validated their suspicions.
There were also bestselling books about the "fact certain conspiracy" written in both French and German, by different authors, that each sold a million copies in both countries.
For Gordon Duff, a Vietnam veteran and senior editor of "Veterans Today" and frequent "self-hating American" guest on radio and TV stations the world over, there is no doubt he is to the conspiracy theory born.
"In America," he wrote last week, "groups have been popping up for years, not 'fringe' types but military and professional organizations, architects, engineers, pilots, intelligence officers. There is a vast underground that is never reported, never spoken of in the news and continually threatened. The FBI and Homeland Security have infiltrated these groups, illegal surveillance has been on a massive scale and, as the groups have grown and their reach has touched millions of Americans, the government, in the usual whispers, is talking about mass arrests, 'unplugging' the Internet, all those things the militia movements of the '90s said would happen."
Outside of the United States, Duff adds, not in the Middle East, but Canada, Europe, Latin America and the Far East, "finding people who accept the Bush and Obama administration's 'party line' about 'box cutters and hijackers' is difficult. No one wants to risk the public scorn of seeming like an imbecile."
In the age of the Internet and the blogosphere it spawned, the media and free speech have never been freer. Trouble is that it's also free for calumny and lies, disinformation and misinformation, all with impunity and no fear of legal retribution.
Former Bush 43 White House counter-terrorism expert Juan Zarate says, "What bothers me most is the seeming loss of coherent argumentation in the conspiracy theorists' world has crept into the mainstream. We've entered the wiki age, in which mere assertions are all judged equally as valid and definitive truths. Relativism abounds -- from the bowels of the Internet to the heart of Washington, D.C."
At the other end of the conspiracy scale come former CIA Director R. James Woolsey and 18 like-minded theorists who have published a "White Paper" titled "Shariah: The Threat to America."
Unlike previous warnings about Islamist extremism, this one posits that the internal threat of Shariah to the United States is graver than anything we faced from the Soviet Union and its international communist movement. That stretches credulity a tad. American Muslims are about between 1 percent and 2 percent of 310 million Americans. The overwhelming majority reject Islamist extremism.
There is no doubt a number of young Muslim Americans are seduced by what they see as a global caliphate in cyberspace -- among the thousands of pro-al Qaida Web sites. This, in turn, has led to the recruitment and subsequent brainwashing of young terrorists trained in Pakistan or Yemen to do harm to the country adopted by their parents.
The signatories portray themselves as the descendants of the CIA's Cold War B team, assembled by Bush 41, to challenge the conventional wisdom of the CIA consensus that the Soviets were genuinely interested in detente and not as a weapon to lure America and its allies into a false sense of security. Team B claimed that detente was snare and delusion.
The only one who got it right was Herb Meyer, a former Fortune magazine senior editor, who became CIA Director Bill Casey's deputy in 1981. As his first order of business, Meyer decided to read all the secret assessments on the Soviets Union's strengths and weaknesses.
When he was through a few weeks later, he said to this reporter privately: "I don't understand how the Soviet Union is still standing. Everything is falling apart. All the stats are phony and they should be suing for peace."
The mighty Evil Empire imploded eight years later, beginning with the February 1989 withdrawal from Afghanistan.
The U.S. intelligence community numbers 100,000 professionals divided among 17 agencies with a combined budget of $80 billion. There are another 100,000 IC professionals in Europe divided among almost 100 agencies. And yet they all managed to get it wrong on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, which triggered a $1 trillion war -- and the subsequent global economic and financial plight.
Less reliance on the 180,000 documents our government agencies stamp TOP SECRET each and every day, or almost 66 million per year, and more attention paid to open sources and recent history might have been quite different.