Pathetic Fail #4: Matt Kwong and the CBC
Matt Kwong, Accessory after the Fact [source: CBC]
Number 4 : Matt Kwong and the CBC, for “Why the ‘9/11 Truth’ movement endures 15 years later”
As we saw in the previous installment, when Jack Holmes tried to prove the Truthers wrong on all major points and failed dismally, a head-on, evidence-based attack on 9/11 Truth is sub-optimal strategy. In this episode, we turn to an accessory after the fact who set himself a much different task, but failed anyway.
Presumably because he’s too smart to attack the Truth Movement from the front, Matt Kwong of the CBC comes at it from the rear. Rather than taking on the evidence, which did no good at all for Jack Holmes, Matt Kwong turns to time-honored journalistic tactics: smear and innuendo, woven together with sleight-of-hand that would have made a magician drool if it had worked.
The result is not merely a pathetic fail but a nasty one — a transparently ugly smear against the people who want to know the truth about 9/11, and especially against Bob McIlvaine, who lost his son Bobby that day.
Bob McIlvaine has been trying to find out what happened to Bobby, and trying to get people to care about what happened to all of us, for the past 15 years. To those of us who have followed the story, Bob McIlvaine is something of a role model — because he didn’t believe the lies he was told, and he didn’t cower when he was told to sit down and shut up, and he’s been waging an uphill battle for a long time, and he hasn’t quit.
If Bobby McIlvaine had died under mysterious circumstances in a foreign country, and Bob had spent 15 years trying to find out what happened to him, Bob would be seen as a heroic figure. A paperback writer would churn out a vapid tribute to his dogged persistence and his enduring love for his son, and we would see the result in drugstores.
But because of where, and when, and how Bobby McIlvaine died, Bob’s efforts cannot be praised, only denigrated. This is how far we have fallen.
Under the bizarre sub-heading “Father of 9/11 victim reconciles unconventional beliefs with grief,” Matt Kwong writes:
Robert McIlvaine knows better than to talk, unsolicited, about the research he pores over at home in Oreland, Pa. […] it’s the circumstances around the attacks — specifically, McIlvaine’s beliefs about precisely how the world-altering event unfolded — that he’s cautious to discuss. […] “My wife doesn’t take me out; doesn’t go with me anymore because she’s afraid I’ll bring it up with friends,” he says. […] “No one wants to talk about it,” McIlvaine says. “It’s like you have leprosy.”
… and so on. But there’s a mystery. If no one wants to talk about it, why are people still talking about it?
There must be a reason. What could it be? … Well, maybe it’s the Internet!
Fifteen years later, the devastating attack on America that coincided with the nascent internet age continues to spawn discussions hosted in forums that speculate about the moon landing, the Hollow Earth hypothesis and the JFK assassination.
Here we go! This is called red herring and guilt by association, a truly journalistic combination of logical fallacies to provide just the right context for what comes next — the few relevant details we will ever get from Matt Kwong:
The official account says McIlvaine’s eldest son […] was […] on the 106th floor when American Airlines Flight 11 struck the north tower.
McIlvaine suspects otherwise. Based on injuries his son sustained, including to his face and chest, he maintains Bobby was killed by an explosion, possibly before the plane crash. As Bobby was among the first 10 bodies found, he says, McIlvaine believes his son was in the tower’s lobby.
“If he was on the 106th floor, he wouldn’t have been found so quickly.”
I think Bob’s kidding himself. In my view, if Bobby was on the 106th floor, he probably wouldn’t have been found at all!
But that’s not the real issue. The real issue is the condition of Bobby’s body. “Injuries […] to his face and chest” hardly qualifies as an accurate description of the wounds.
Matt Kwong doesn’t give you enough details to help you understand this aspect of the story. But if you do some research to supplement his so-called journalism, you can learn quite a bit, fairly easily.
According to McIlvaine, the wounds described by the doctor indicated that his son had been hit by flying glass from some kind of massive blast. Bobby’s face was damaged beyond recognition, he had lacerations all over his chest from flying glass, and he had post-mortem burns. In fact, the blast was strong enough to literally blow Bobby out of his laced shoes (they were not on the body when it was brought to the morgue).
“My final summation is that he was walking into the building, and before he got into the building there was a huge explosion, and of course the force of it just threw him back into the open area,” McIlvaine says. “That’s why he was picked up so quickly, because the EMTs came down there so quickly. Someone had gotten him out of there and to the morgue before the towers came down.”
In other words, Bob has good reason to think Bobby was not killed by fire at the top of the tower, but by blast and flying glass at its base. And if Bob thinks these were the result of a massive explosion? Well, what else could it have been?
Matt Kwong could have told you this; anyone familiar with the stories of the 9/11 families could have done the same. Bob’s been speaking in public for a long time, and his story about Bobby — unlike the official narrative — hasn’t changed. He certainly wouldn’t have been reluctant to tell Matt Kwong why he thinks what he thinks.
But Matt Kwong can’t (or won’t) tell you all this. And the reason is simple: If you focus on two things — what Bob knows about his son’s death, and the official explanation behind the attacks — you can’t help seeing the basic contradiction: How could Bobby have been killed by an explosion if there were no explosions?
National Security adviser Condoleezza Rice responds to a question during testimony before the 9/11 Commission in the Hart Senate office building in Washington on April 8, 2004.
(Larry Downing/Reuters) [source: CBC]
What did Bob McIlvaine do about it? According to Matt Kwong, he waited to see what the government would say, thus:
McIlvaine attended the 9/11 Commission [but] he left angry and dissatisfied by testimony from then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice.
(Curiously (or not!), several paragraphs before mentioning Condoleezza Rice, the CBC inserted a photo of Miss Rice herself, looking cool and comfortable as she testified before the Commission. The photo, the caption, and the placement combine to create a subtle hint that Bob’s got his nose out of joint for nothing. I’ve included the photo and CBC’s caption verbatim, several paragraphs before mentioning it, to give you a subtle hint of what CBC is doing.)
But Matt Kwong doesn’t tell you about Miss Rice’s testimony. And he certainly wouldn’t want you to see a video of her being questioned. Matt Kwong won’t show you video evidence of the other family members who were outraged at the hearings, either.
But I digress. Here’s Matt Kwong again:
McIlvaine began to dig on his own for answers online, watching web documentaries such as Dylan Avery’s 9/11 truth staple, Loose Change, as well as reading more American history.
And this was the dangerous, slippery part. By daring to educate himself, Bob McIlvaine put himself in danger of becoming what’s called a “conspiracy theorist,” of the noxious variety known as “9/11 Truther.”
To help you “understand” what happened to Bob, Matt Kwong takes you on a journey to the land of conspiracy theory research. But he weaves the McIlvaine story through the travelogue, making things very confusing. (I didn’t say the confusion was deliberate.)
In this piece, I have shuffled the order somewhat, separating Bob McIlvaine’s story (which we’ve been reading) from the conspiracy theory research (to which we now turn).
Here’s Matt Kwong:
“People who are more personally distrustful tend to buy into conspiracy theories more,” says Mike Wood, a Canadian lecturer at the University of Winchester in England specializing in the psychology of conspiracy theories.
If anything, Americans seem more distrustful of their government than in a long time. […]
Wood says those suspicious of the government also tend to be more aware of “actual historical conspiracies, where the government did something shady.” […]
Research also shows conspiracy theories tend to reach peaks around “times of uncertainty,” according to Wood. In the case of something as extraordinary as a 9/11, an event resulting in thousands of lost lives, a massive reshaping of the iconic New York skyline and two wars, he says the conventional narrative may be tough to swallow.
It certainly is. And there’s nothing wrong with this analysis as far as it goes. But where does it go?
Matt Kwong again:
Some Americans had never heard of al-Qaeda or even Afghanistan before 9/11. And so, alternative explanations filled the vacuum, says Dave Thomas, a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry […]
Dave Thomas may be Skeptical, but I fear he’s not quite skeptical enough!
It may be true that “Americans had never heard of al-Qaeda or even Afghanistan before 9/11,” and it may be true that “alternative explanations filled the vacuum,” but there’s no causal connection here, because there’s a link missing.
As the attack was unfolding, and in the immediate aftermath, there was no vacuum. There was an avalanche. No matter where you turned, the news kept talking about Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda and Afghanistan, and the country was ready to go to war before the dust had settled. The vacuum came later, when more and more people began to see through the lies that comprise the official story. That’s when “alternative explanations filled the vacuum.”
As time went on, we learned more and more about the official story, and the more you know about it, the less credible it is, so the number of people who questioned it — or rejected it outright — grew. Some people started reading American history, just like Bob did. And what they learned was shocking … until all the pieces started to click into place. And suddenly, the nonsensical official story made perfect sense to them, once they saw it as an elaborate deception rather than a series of unprecedented failures.
Had the official story been credible, none of this would have happened. If the story had been even halfway believable, most of us would have been happy to believe it and get on with other things. But that didn’t happen.
I can explain what did happen in a parable. Think of this mystery as a “connect-the-dots” puzzle. From the day of the attack (or earlier in some cases), we started taking note of important dots, and wondering what they could mean. As the official story became clearer, we looked at how the dots were being arranged, and how they were being connected, and how many of the dots weren’t being connected at all, and we started to wonder. But when we realized how many of the dots had been erased, we stopped wondering, because we knew those dots didn’t erase themselves.
So it’s far more accurate to say the vacuum was caused by the holes in the official story.
The fact that “some Americans had never heard of al-Qaeda or even Afghanistan before 9/11” doesn’t make any difference at all.
But Matt Kwong can’t tell you that. Instead — if we want to follow his story — we have to think backwards.
Backward thinking regarding 9/11 shows up in many guises. For instance, as I showed in the previous installment, the 9/11 Commission was set up to run backward. They decided who committed the crime, and then they decided which evidence to consider, based on whether it could be used to support their predetermined conclusions. Then they put together a narrative that was supposed to tie all the evidence together. But there was a problem with some of the evidence, namely: the evidence they decided not to consider. And the problem is: We know about that evidence, and it undermines their story. So their solution is: the facts must be suppressed. And now the defenders of the official story claim not only that there were no explosions, but also that there was no evidence of explosions!
This claim is clearly false. The New York Times published an oral history of 9/11, compiled by the NYFD, in which more than 100 first responders described bombs in the towers, or gave other evidence that can only be explained by explosions. Numerous other eyewitnesses, who were interviewed on the day and later, described the explosions they experienced. There are videos in which we can see and hear explosions going off in the buildings. Mainstream media reports on the day of the attacks contained many mentions of explosions. And the whole world watched the towers exploding on television, over and over and over — for two weeks! But according to defenders of the official story, none of this happened — even though much of it, including the NYT oral history, is freely available online.
And the reason why they claim none of this happened is because the official story-tellers couldn’t figure out a way to explain how al Qaeda could have planted explosives in the towers. Their line of backward thinking ran: al Qaeda did it; al Qaeda could not have planted explosives in the towers; therefore there were no explosives in the towers.
Similarly, we have a whole new field of academic research now, in which Conspiracy Theories are studied as a sociological or psychological phenomenon. Bright, well-educated people, who really ought to be doing productive work, are now paid to track conspiracy theories, to watch how they grow and spread, and to explain, if they can, why people believe them.
But explaining this is more difficult than I’ve indicated, because they have to explain them in a politically acceptable way. That is to say: they cannot ever consider the possibility that some “conspiracy theories” may be more credible than the corresponding official stories.
This consideration is essential, in my analysis, because of the fact that so many official stories are impossible. In each of these cases, all conspiracy theories are more credible than the official story, even if they are only marginally plausible. But no academic researcher can say this; they have to pretend that the official stories are all true.
So all their research has to run backward. They can’t connect cause and effect in the logical way, so they do it in reverse. And this is how they get the idea that we believe conspiracy theories because we don’t trust the government.
To be sure, some researchers will grant that we don’t trust the government because we know more about the government than those who do trust it. But they can’t admit that what separates conspiracy theorists from the people around us is our greater knowledge of topics such as history and government!
Instead they claim that we believe conspiracy theories because we don’t trust the government, when in fact the opposite is true: We don’t believe the official stories because they are clearly false. And this is why we believe conspiracy theories, and this is also why we don’t trust the government.
But this is a path which accessories after the fact dare not tread.
Instead Matt Kwong continues this way:
Distrust in authority “plays into this rejection of the reigning or orthodox narrative of some subject,” says Syracuse University professor emeritus of political science Michael Barkun, author of A Culture of Conspiracy.
“We want stories and narratives that make sense of the world,” Barkun says. “The idea that such an event like the sudden destruction of landmark buildings like the World Trade Center could be caused by 19 nobodies belonging to an organization that almost no Americans had ever heard of, living in ragged encampments in Afghanistan, simply, I think, made no sense to some people.”
It made no sense to a lot of people!
Some of them went on with their lives and didn’t think about it anymore. What could they do about it? So why should they worry about it? What’s so mysterious about that?
The rest of us did worry about it. We didn’t just get on with our lives, because we could see that something fundamental had changed, in a truly awful way, based on a story which couldn’t possibly be true. It bothered us, and we thought we lived in a democracy, because we’ve been taught that we have some influence in the political process, so we got active. What’s so mysterious about that?
But NO! NO, NO, NO! We are definitely not going there! We’ll go sideways instead, with Matt Kwong:
Researchers who study conspiracy theorists point to the dismissal of an official “lone nobody” conclusion on 9/11 as sharing similarities to the continued obsession with the assassination of U.S. president John F. Kennedy in 1963.
It’s a diversion and a red herring, and the word “obsession” is a smear, but in sad fact, the JFK assassination and the 9/11 attacks display many similarities, some of which are relevant enough to discuss here.
For serious researchers, the main point of interesting similarity is not that “Oswald was a nobody” and “Nobody had ever heard of al Qaeda,” although these curious facts may have piqued some interest for some of them at one time. Personally, I’ve never given either of these ideas any thought at all, except when I’ve stumbled over them in propaganda pieces.
The main point for me, and for many other serious researchers, is this: neither Oswald nor al Qaeda could possibly have done what they are alleged to have done.
Does this matter? YES! As Webster Tarpley keeps reminding us, we always need to ask: Did they have the physical and technical capabilities to cause the observed effects? And the answers, in the cases of JFK and 9/11, are clearly “NO!”
Why? The sight on “Oswald’s rifle” was out of alignment. The FBI fired it for testing, and their expert marksmen couldn’t hit any targets with it. So they adjusted the sight and tested it again. But Oswald, who was not a marksman at all, was said to have caused 7 wounds with 3 shots, firing at a moving target, all in 6 seconds, with that rifle, before the sight was adjusted.
Oswald’s pistol was in even worse shape. It wouldn’t fire at all because the firing pin was bent. So the pistol was disassembled, the firing pin was straightened, and the pistol was reassembled so that it could be tested. But Oswald was said to have killed Dallas policeman J. D. Tippit, with that pistol, before it was repaired.
This information came into the public domain through the Warren Commission itself. So the facts themselves can hardly be disputed, and therefore the accessories after the fact would prefer us to ignore them. Otherwise the situation would be too clear.
We don’t have problems with the story because “Oswald was a nobody.” We would have been much more reluctant to accept the story if we’d been told that JFK was killed by somebody famous — like Frank Sinatra or Doris Day. On the contrary: aside from the obvious tampering with evidence, we have problems with the official story because Oswald lacked the physical and technical means to commit the crimes for which he was accused.
With 9/11, we have the same pattern, and the primary illustration is this: al Qaeda could not have put explosives in the towers, so the official story doesn’t try to explain how they did; instead it pretends there were no explosives in the towers at all.
How do we know al Qaeda couldn’t have put explosives in the towers? We have two main ways of knowing this. First, according to defenders of the official story, nobody could have put explosives in the towers. It would have taken too long, somebody would have noticed, and so on. Presumably this logic applies equally, or especially, to nasty-looking foreigners who have no reason to be in the towers at all. And second, if al Qaeda could have put explosives in the towers, then the official story-tellers would admit the presence of explosives and blame them on al Qaeda, which would be much easier than trying to suppress all the evidence of explosives, if only it could be done at all.
But that’s not the only impossibility in the story. The alleged hijackers had no idea how to fly a jumbo jet — according to their instructors, they could barely fly a Cessna — and yet they were said to have performed low-altitude maneuvers that the best pilots in the country couldn’t match, at speeds which would have been far beyond the capabilities of the aircraft.
The terrorists had no way of disabling America’s security systems, from airport surveillance videos right up to the US Air Force. But they are said to evaded every defense along the way.
And no magician has ever made a jumbo jet disappear into a field, leaving only a 20-foot wide hole and no wreckage. But that’s what the plane in Shanksville is supposed to have done.
The list of impossibilities goes on and on. But we don’t have to examine all of them to see the same pattern that we saw in the JFK case.
It doesn’t matter whether anybody had ever heard of al Qaeda. We don’t buy the official story because the alleged hijackers lacked the physical and technical means to cause the effects for which they were blamed.
In other words: we know both official stories are false because the events they describe not physically possible.
So why should we believe them? According to Matt Kwong, the answer lies in Popular Mechanics.
As I mentioned in the previous post, no “report” in such a format could be anything but cursory and shallow.
The format: (1) Reduce all the implausible aspects of the official story to a short list of bullet points. (2) Then, for each point: Reduce all the relevant evidence and all its implications to a single sentence, a crazy one if possible; then “debunk” it with a “telling quote” from an “expert source.”
It’s a combination of logical fallacies, primarily Special Pleading, Straw Man, and Appeal to Authority. And it’s all predicated on the notion that “denied” means the same as “debunked.”
But in PM‘s case, the format was the strongest part of the “report.” The so-called “evidence” presented by PM wasn’t even weak — it was ludicrous.
Thus, contrary to Matt Kwong’s assertion, the “report” from Popular Mechanics was neither “special” nor “exhaustive,” and because they can’t give us anything more convincing, and because nobody else even wants to try, it may be time to consider the possibility that “a sizeable population of Americans dispute the official account” because it’s simply not true!
But Matt Kwong won’t go in that direction. He’s going this way instead:
For his part, McIlvaine doesn’t care about the Truther movement one way or the other, or about the many articles and investigations that have debunked 9/11 conspiracy theories.
He remains convinced about his own narrative.
“I feel good about what I’ve done. My wife’s happy about it, my [other] son’s happy about it. I still go to bed,” he says. “And I’ll say I did what I did for Bobby.”
Bob McIlvaine is tired of being lied to, he’s tired of being belittled and betrayed, and he doesn’t care what anybody thinks anymore — all of which is entirely understandable in my view, given what he’s experienced.
Matt Kwong paints him as a stubborn crackpot who started wondering why his son’s body was found so soon, fell into a hole called the Internet, and wound up believing the craziest nonsense — and he leaves it to the reader to fill in the gaps: the 9/11 truth movement endures because it’s made up of stubborn crackpots who started out asking simple questions and fell into the same hole.
That may be true in some instances, but for me personally it’s despicable slander. I know the official story is false because so many of its features are physically impossible. I don’t care how many accessories after the fact call me crazy. And I am not one in a million — I am one of many millions!
This is why the 9/11 Truth movement endures.
We’re smart enough to spot an obvious lie, even though we’ve heard it a thousand times. And we’re brave enough to say so.
If that makes us stubborn crackpots, so be it. Like it or not, that’s the reason we haven’t gone away. And we’re not going away anytime soon.
Sorry, Matt! You lose! You had all the pieces in your hand and you couldn’t — or wouldn’t — put them together.
Sorry, CBC. You lose, too! There will be a special place in Heaven for any mainstream news organization that’s brave enough to treat this issue with the integrity it deserves. But so far we have none.
In any case: Matt Kwong and CBC, you both stand clearly and willingly on the wrong side of a mass-murderous lie, and an obvious one at that. May God have mercy upon your souls.
On the other hand, Congratulations! You’ve made my list!
As I’ve been saying:
The facts must be suppressed, and the people who are trying to gather and disseminate those facts must be suppressed, and that is the one and only thing that matters to these people. And why? Why would you hide the crime unless you were trying to protect the criminals?