Marathon Bombing Trial Will Stay In Boston, Appeals Court Rules


BOSTON (AP) — The trial of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev can stay in Massachusetts, a federal appeals court ruled Friday.

A three-judge panel of the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said any high-profile case would receive significant media attention but that knowledge of such case “does not equate to disqualifying prejudice.”

“Distinguishing between the two is at the heart of the jury selection process,” the panel wrote.

Tsarnaev’s lawyers argued that intense media coverage of the case and the large number of people personally affected by the deadly attack made it impossible for him to find a fair and impartial jury in Massachusetts.

Prosecutors insisted that Judge George O’Toole Jr.’s individual questioning of prospective jurors has successfully weeded out people with strong opinions on Tsarnaev’s guilt.

In its 2-1 ruling, the appeals court found that the defense did not meet the standards necessary to have the trial moved.

Chief Judge Sandra Lynch and Judge Jeffrey Howard said it was not clear and indisputable that pretrial publicity required a change of venue, and that the ongoing jury selection process did not suggest pervasive prejudice. Furthermore, they said, the defense did not demonstrate irreparable harm if the trial was not moved.

The judges noted that other high-profile terrorism cases such as the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and the prosecution of Zacarias Moussaoui, the man who became known as the “20th hijacker” from the Sept. 11 attacks, occurred in the district where the crimes occurred.

“The nearly two years that have passed since the Marathon bombings has allowed the decibel level of the publicity about the crimes themselves to drop and community passions to diminish,” they wrote.

In a dissent, Judge Juan Torruella wrote: “If a change of venue is not required in a case like this, I cannot imagine a case where it would be. … If residents of the Eastern Division of the District of Massachusetts did not already resent Tsarnaev and predetermine his guilt, the constant reporting on the Marathon bombing and its aftermath could only further convince the prospective jurors of his guilt.”

A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney’s office declined to comment on the ruling. A defense attorney did not immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press seeking comment.

Tsarnaev’s lawyers had asked O’Toole three times to move the trial, but he refused, saying bias among prospective jurors could be rooted out through careful questioning about their thoughts on Tsarnaev and the death penalty.

A panel of 12 jurors and six alternates will be chosen to hear the case. The same jury will decide whether Tsarnaev lives or dies. If he is convicted, the only possible punishments are life in prison without pariole or the death penalty. Only jurors who said they are willing to give meaningful consideration to both punishments can be seated on the jury.

Three people were killed and more than 260 were injured when twin bombs exploded near the marathon finish line on April 15, 2013.

In arguments before the appeals court, federal public defender Judith Mizner said the local jury pool is “connected to the case in many ways” and cannot be counted on to be fair and impartial.

“This attack was viewed as an attack on the marathon itself … and an attack on the city of Boston,” Mizner said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney William Weinreb told the appeals court that prospective jurors who have strong opinions have “unhesitatingly admitted” them, allowing the judge to rule them out as jurors.

Mizner also argued that the trial needed to be moved to maintain public confidence in the judicial system.

Opening statements are scheduled for Wednesday.


The CIA Coined the Term Conspiracy Theorist In 1967

Democracy and free market capitalism were founded on conspiracy theories.

The Magna Carta, the Constitution and Declaration of Independence and other  founding Western documents were based on conspiracy theories. Greek democracy and free market capitalism were also based on conspiracy theories.

But those were the bad old days …Things have now changed.

The CIA Coined the Term Conspiracy Theorist In 1967

That all changed in the 1960s.

Specifically, in April 1967, the CIA wrote a dispatch which coined the term “conspiracy theories” … and recommended methods for discrediting such theories.  The dispatch was marked “psych” –  short for “psychological operations” or disinformation –  and “CS” for the CIA’s “Clandestine Services” unit.

The dispatch was produced in responses to a Freedom of Information Act request by the New York Times in 1976.

The dispatch states:

2. This trend of opinion is a matter of concern to the U.S. government, including our organization.


The aim of this dispatch is to provide material countering and discrediting the claims of the conspiracy theorists, so as to inhibit the circulation of such claims in other countries. Background information is supplied in a classified section and in a number of unclassified attachments.

3. Action. We do not recommend that discussion of the [conspiracy] question be initiated where it is not already taking place. Where discussion is active addresses are requested:

a. To discuss the publicity problem with and friendly elite contacts (especially politicians and editors) , pointing out that the [official investigation of the relevant event] made as thorough an investigation as humanly possible, that the charges of the critics are without serious foundation, and that further speculative discussion only plays into the hands of the opposition. Point out also that parts of the conspiracy talk appear to be deliberately generated by …  propagandists. Urge them to use their influence to discourage unfounded and irresponsible speculation.

b. To employ propaganda assets to and refute the attacks of the critics. Book reviews and feature articles are particularly appropriate for this purpose. The unclassified attachments to this guidance should provide useful background material for passing to assets. Our ploy should point out, as applicable, that the critics are (I) wedded to theories adopted before the evidence was in, (II) politically interested, (III) financially interested, (IV) hasty and inaccurate in their research, or (V) infatuated with their own theories.


4. In private to media discussions not directed at any particular writer, or in attacking publications which may be yet forthcoming, the following arguments should be useful:

a. No significant new evidence has emerged which the Commission did not consider.


b. Critics usually overvalue particular items and ignore others. They tend to place more emphasis on the recollections of individual witnesses (which are less reliable and more divergent–and hence offer more hand-holds for criticism) …


c. Conspiracy on the large scale often suggested would be impossible to conceal in the United States, esp. since informants could expect to receive large royalties, etc.


d. Critics have often been enticed by a form of intellectual pride: they light on some theory and fall in love with it; they also scoff at the Commission because it did not always answer every question with a flat decision one way or the other.


f. As to charges that the Commission’s report was a rush job, it emerged three months after the deadline originally set. But to the degree that the Commission tried to speed up its reporting, this was largely due to the pressure of irresponsible speculation already appearing, in some cases coming from the same critics who, refusing to admit their errors, are now putting out new criticisms.

g. Such vague accusations as that “more than ten people have died mysteriously” can always be explained in some natural way ….

5. Where possible, counter speculation by encouraging reference to the Commission’s Report itself. Open-minded foreign readers should still be impressed by the care, thoroughness, objectivity and speed with which the Commission worked. Reviewers of other books might be encouraged to add to their account the idea that, checking back with the report itself, they found it far superior to the work of its critics.

Here are screenshots of part of the memo:

CIA conspiracyCIA conspiracy2

Summarizing the tactics which the CIA dispatch recommended:

  • Claim that it would be impossible for so many people would keep quiet about such a big conspiracy
  • Claim that eyewitness testimony is unreliable
  • Claim that this is all old news, as “no significant new evidence has emerged”
  • Ignore conspiracy claims unless discussion about them is already too active
  • Claim that it’s irresponsible to speculate
  • Accuse theorists of being wedded to and infatuated with their theories
  • Accuse theorists of being politically motivated
  • Accuse theorists of having financial interests in promoting conspiracy theories

In other words, the CIA’s clandestine services unit created the arguments for attacking conspiracy theories as unreliable in the 1960s as part of its psychological warfare operations.

But Aren’t Conspiracy Theories – In Fact – Nuts?

Forget Western history and CIA dispatches … aren’t conspiracy theorists nutty?

In fact, conspiracies are so common that judges are trained to look at conspiracy allegations as just another legal claim to be disproven or proven based on the specific evidence:

Federal and all 50 state’s codes include specific statutes addressing conspiracy, and providing the punishment for people who commit conspiracies.

But let’s examine what the people trained to weigh evidence and reach conclusions think about “conspiracies”. Let’s look at what American judges think.

Searching Westlaw, one of the 2 primary legal research networks which attorneys and judges use to research the law, I searched for court decisions including the word “Conspiracy”. This is such a common term in lawsuits that it overwhelmed Westlaw. Specifically, I got the following message:

“Your query has been intercepted because it may retrieve a large number of documents.”

From experience, I know that this means that there were potentially millions or many hundreds of thousands of cases which use the term. There were so many cases, that Westlaw could not even start processing the request.

So I searched again, using the phrase “Guilty of Conspiracy”. I hoped that this would not only narrow my search sufficiently that Westlaw could handle it, but would give me cases where the judge actually found the defendant guilty of a conspiracy. This pulled up exactly 10,000 cases — which is the maximum number of results which Westlaw can give at one time. In other words, there were more than 10,000 cases using the phrase “Guilty of Conspiracy” (maybe there’s a way to change my settings to get more than 10,000 results, but I haven’t found it yet).

Moreover, as any attorney can confirm, usually only appeal court decisions are published in the Westlaw database. In other words, trial court decisions are rarely published; the only decisions normally published are those of the courts which hear appeals of the trial. Because only a very small fraction of the cases which go to trial are appealed, this logically means that the number of guilty verdicts in conspiracy cases at trial must be much, much larger than 10,000.

Moreover, “Guilty of Conspiracy” is only one of many possible search phrases to use to find cases where the defendant was found guilty of a lawsuit for conspiracy. Searching on Google, I got 3,170,000 results (as of yesterday) under the term “Guilty of Conspiracy”, 669,000 results for the search term “Convictions for Conspiracy”, and 743,000 results for “Convicted for Conspiracy”.

Of course, many types of conspiracies are called other things altogether. For example, a long-accepted legal doctrine makes it illegal for two or more companies to conspire to fix prices, which is called “Price Fixing” (1,180,000 results).

Given the above, I would extrapolate that there have been hundreds of thousands of convictions for criminal or civil conspiracy in the United States.

Finally, many crimes go unreported or unsolved, and the perpetrators are never caught. Therefore, the actual number of conspiracies committed in the U.S. must be even higher.

In other words, conspiracies are committed all the time in the U.S., and many of the conspirators are caught and found guilty by American courts. Remember, Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme was a conspiracy theory.

Indeed, conspiracy is a very well-recognized crime in American law, taught to every first-year law school student as part of their basic curriculum. Telling a judge that someone has a “conspiracy theory” would be like telling him that someone is claiming that he trespassed on their property, or committed assault, or stole his car. It is a fundamental legal concept.

Obviously, many conspiracy allegations are false (if you see a judge at a dinner party, ask him to tell you some of the crazy conspiracy allegations which were made in his court). Obviously, people will either win or lose in court depending on whether or not they can prove their claim with the available evidence. But not all allegations of trespass, assault, or theft are true, either.

Proving a claim of conspiracy is no different from proving any other legal claim, and the mere label “conspiracy” is taken no less seriously by judges.

It’s not only Madoff. The heads of Enron were found guilty of conspiracy, as was the head of Adelphia. Numerous lower-level government officials have been found guilty of conspiracy. See this, this, this, this and this.

Time Magazine’s financial columnist Justin Fox writes:

Some financial market conspiracies are real …

Most good investigative reporters are conspiracy theorists, by the way.

And what about the NSA and the tech companies that have cooperated with them?

But Our Leaders Wouldn’t Do That

While people might admit that corporate executives and low-level government officials might have engaged in conspiracies – they may be strongly opposed to considering that the wealthiest or most powerful might possibly have done so.

But powerful insiders have long admitted to conspiracies. For example, Obama’s Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Cass Sunstein, wrote:

Of course some conspiracy theories, under our definition, have turned out to be true. The Watergate hotel room used by Democratic National Committee was, in fact, bugged by Republican officials, operating at the behest of the White House. In the 1950s, the Central Intelligence Agency did, in fact, administer LSD and related drugs under Project MKULTRA, in an effort to investigate the possibility of “mind control.” Operation Northwoods, a rumored plan by the Department of Defense to simulate acts of
terrorism and to blame them on Cuba, really was proposed by high-level officials ….

But Someone Would Have Spilled the Beans

A common defense to people trying sidetrack investigations into potential conspiracies is to say that “someone would have spilled the beans” if there were really a conspiracy.

But famed whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg explains:

It is a commonplace that “you can’t keep secrets in Washington” or “in a democracy, no matter how sensitive the secret, you’re likely to read it the next day in the New York Times.” These truisms are flatly false. They are in fact cover stories, ways of flattering and misleading journalists and their readers, part of the process of keeping secrets well. Of course eventually many secrets do get out that wouldn’t in a fully totalitarian society. But the fact is that the overwhelming majority of secrets do not leak to the American public. This is true even when the information withheld is well known to an enemy and when it is clearly essential to the functioning of the congressional war power and to any democratic control of foreign policy. The reality unknown to the public and to most members of Congress and the press is that secrets that would be of the greatest import to many of them can be kept from them reliably for decades by the executive branch, even though they are known to thousands of insiders.

History proves Ellsberg right. For example:

  • A BBC documentary shows that:

There was “a planned coup in the USA in 1933 by a group of right-wing American businessmen . . . . The coup was aimed at toppling President Franklin D Roosevelt with the help of half-a-million war veterans. The plotters, who were alleged to involve some of the most famous families in America, (owners of Heinz, Birds Eye, Goodtea, Maxwell Hse & George Bush’s Grandfather, Prescott) believed that their country should adopt the policies of Hitler and Mussolini to beat the great depression”

Moreover, “the tycoons told General Butler the American people would accept the new government because they controlled all the newspapers.” Have you ever heard of this conspiracy before? It was certainly a very large one. And if the conspirators controlled the newspapers then, how much worse is it today with media consolidation?

  • The government’s spying on Americans began before 9/11 (confirmed here and here. And see this.) But the public didn’t learn about it until many years later. Indeed, the the New York Times delayed the story so that it would not affect the outcome of the 2004 presidential election
  • The decision to launch the Iraq war was made before 9/11. Indeed, former CIA director George Tenet said that the White House wanted to invade Iraq long before 9/11, and inserted “crap” in its justifications for invading Iraq. Former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill – who sat on the National Security Council – also says that Bush planned the Iraq war before 9/11. And top British officials say that the U.S. discussed Iraq regime change one month after Bush took office. Dick Cheney apparently even made Iraqi’s oil fields a national security priority before 9/11. And it has now been shown that a handful of people were responsible for willfully ignoring the evidence that Iraq lacked weapons of mass destruction. These facts have only been publicly disclosed recently. Indeed, Tom Brokaw said, “All wars are based on propaganda.” A concerted effort to produce propaganda is a conspiracy

Moreover, high-level government officials and insiders have admitted to dramatic conspiracies after the fact, including:

The admissions did not occur until many decades after the events.

These examples show that it is possible to keep conspiracies secret for a long time, without anyone “spilling the beans”.

In addition, to anyone who knows how covert military operations work, it is obvious that segmentation on a “need-to-know basis”, along with deference to command hierarchy, means that a couple of top dogs can call the shots and most people helping won’t even know the big picture at the time they are participating.

Moreover, those who think that co-conspirators will brag about their deeds forget that people in the military or intelligence or who have huge sums of money on the line can be very disciplined. They are not likely to go to the bar and spill the beans like a down-on-their-luck, second-rate alcoholic robber might do.

Finally, people who carry out covert operations may do so for ideological reasons — believing that the “ends justify the means”. Never underestimate the conviction of an ideologue.


The bottom line is that some conspiracy claims are nutty and some are true. Each has to be judged on its own facts.

Humans have a tendency to try to explain random events through seeing patterns … that’s how our brains our wired. Therefore, we have to test our theories of connection and causality against the cold, hard facts.

On the other hand, the old saying by Lord Acton is true:

I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men, with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption it is the other way, against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority, still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.

Those who operate without checks and balances – and without the disinfectant sunlight of public scrutiny and accountability – tend to act in their own best interests … and the little guy gets hurt.

The early Greeks knew it, as did those who forced the king to sign the Magna Carta, the Founding Fathers and the father of modern economics. We should remember this important tradition of Western civilization.

Postscript: The ridicule of all conspiracy theories is really just an attempt to diffuse criticism of the powerful.

The wealthy are not worse than other people … but they are not necessarily better either. Powerful leaders may not be bad people … or they could be sociopaths.

We must judge each by his or her actions, and not by preconceived stereotypes that they are all saints acting in our best interest or all scheming criminals.

Why Do Good People Become Silent—or Worse—About 9/11? Part 14: Learned Helplessness

By Frances T. Shure

Editor’s Note: Frances Shure, M.A., L.P.C., has performed an in-depth analysis addressing a key issue of our time: “Why Do Good People Become Silent — or Worse — About 9/11?” The resulting essay, being presented here as a series, is a synthesis of both academic research and clinical observations.


Fran ShureIn answering the question in the title of this essay, the December 2014 segment — Prior Knowledge of State Crimes Against Democracy and Deep Politics — explored how our prior knowledge of high crimes by governments, as well as our knowledge of the deep state — as opposed to the visible public state in which we participate as citizens — influences our level of receptivity to the evidence that contradicts the official 9/11 storyline.

Here, in the January 2015 installment, we continue Ms. Shure’s analysis with Part 14: Learned Helplessness, a conditioned response to trauma or adversity that involves ongoing pain as well as actual or perceived lack of control.

“I can see that 9/11 was a false flag operation, but there is nothing I can do to make a difference,” a male friend quietly admitted to me.

He is one of several friends who, in the years since September 11, 2001, have made similar remarks when I have asked them to tell me their thoughts about the evidence that refutes the official account of 9/11.
A female friend made another such statement, forcefully declaring, “If this is true about 9/11, then we’re in much worse shape than any of us have thought. This is way, way bigger than I am. In this case, perhaps evil will just need to run its course. There is nothing I can do.”
Then there was the man I met at the Denver People’s Fair, who hurried away from me to avoid any further conversation, simultaneously explaining, to my astonishment: “I agree with you that 9/11 was a false-flag operation. But this is what those in power have done to the rest of us for centuries. It will continue into the future, and there is nothing we can ever do to stop it.”
Still another acquaintance, upon hearing for the first time some of the unanswered questions surrounding 9/11, blurted out one of my favorite retorts: “What! I’ve never heard of this! Listen! If you are going to go after Sauron, you’d better be sure you have the ring!”His colorful declaration meant that without supernatural power, such an ambitious undertaking would be hopeless.1
I have long wondered if people with responses like these could be victims of “learned helplessness,” a psychological condition that was discovered by Martin E. P. Seligman and colleagues when they performed a series of brutal experiments that began with dogs as the subjects.
learned helplessness graph cpIn the 1960s, Seligman et al subjected approximately 150 harnessed and restrained dogs to a series of 64 moderately painful and inescapable electric shocks on the first day of each trial. It didn’t take the dogs long during that first phase to “learn” that they could not escape the torture. Soon they gave up trying and passively submitted to the pain, whining and sometimes rolling over in a submissive posture.
The second phase of the trial began 24 hours later. In it, the canine subjects were each put in a shuttle box, a two-sided chamber with a barrier in the middle that the dog could jump over — an action that would automatically turn off the shocks, allowing the dog to stop the pain. Additionally, a dimming light was used to signal that the next shock would come in 10 seconds, so that the dog could not only learn to escape the shocks, but could also eventually learn to avoid the shocks altogether by jumping the barrier as soon as he saw the light dim.
“Naïve” dogs, whohad not undergone the first phase of the trial with the inescapable shocks, quickly learned to escape the shocks in the shuttle box by jumping the barrier. They also eventually learned to avoid the shocks altogether by jumping when they saw the light begin to dim.
The very first time they were shocked in the shuttle box, the dogs in both groups ran around frantically for about thirty seconds. But after that, two-thirds of the first group of canines — those who had been given the first inescapable trial — showed a strikingly different pattern from the naïve dogs. Instead of discovering they could jump to safety, these dogs gave up, lying down and quietly whining while the shocks continued for 60 more seconds, at which time the trial ended.
To the surprise of the researchers, the same two-thirds of these traumatized dogs failed to escape in all of the succeeding trials. They had “learned” to feel helpless and hopeless. In other words, they had generalized their initial inescapable trauma, feeling trapped in all future escapabletraumatic situations.
Interestingly, the other one-third of the traumatized dogs did learn to escape the shocks in the shuttle box as effectively as the naïve dogs.
Of the approximately 100 dogs that had been conditioned to learned helplessness, Seligman summarizes:
Laboratory evidence shows that when an organism has experienced trauma it cannot control, its motivation to respond in the face of later trauma wanes. Moreover, even if it does respond, and the response succeeds in producing relief, it has trouble learning, perceiving, and believing that the response worked. Finally, its emotional balance is disturbed: depression and anxiety, measured in various ways, predominate.3
The key to learned helplessness, then, is actual or perceived lack of control.4
Variations of this study, conducted by Seligman and by other researchers, have demonstrated that whether the subjects are dogs, cats, rats, fish, monkeys, or humans, being subjected to uncontrollable trauma produces a marked decrease in one’s ability to respond adaptively to future controllable trauma.
Moreover, researchers have found that learned helplessness does not have to be the result of trauma. All that is needed to affect future behavior is an inescapable adverse event, such as an uncontrollable loud noise. Uncontrollable adverse events, they have discovered, tend to decrease the subject’s motivation to escape from frustration, retard his ability to solve problems or to learn in general, and chill his normal aggressive or defensive responses to future adverse events.
Seligman and his colleagues determined that people with the learned-helplessness condition express themselves with pessimism when they explain challenging situations. Expressions such as “It will never change” . . . “It’s my fault” . . . “I’m stupid” . . . “It’s going to last forever” . . . “All teachers are unfair” . . . “Diets never work” are clues that the speaker likely suffers from learned helplessness. These words convey the learned beliefs of: 1) permanence – the bad events or circumstances he faces are permanent, not temporary; 2) pervasiveness – a failure in one area of his life will automatically pervade all aspects of his life; and 3) low self-esteem – a sense of being inherently worthless, unlovable, and talentless.5
Learned helplessness, the researchers also discovered, is associated with subsequent depression, anxiety, phobias, shyness, and/or loneliness.6
The good news, however, is that learned helplessness is reversible. Seligman et al determined, after much trial and error, that the dogs who were conditioned to feel helpless could in fact be rehabilitated through “directive therapy.” The researchers removed the barrier in the shuttle box and, after the shocks began, used a leash to drag the dogs to the other side of the box, thus forcibly removing them from the electricity. After being pulled anywhere between 25 and 200 times, all the dogs finally responded on their own. Then, when the researchers replaced the barrier and gradually built it higher, these formerly helpless dogs continued to escape the electric shocks by jumping the barrier. Their recovery from helplessness proved to be complete and lasting.
Let’s now recall that one-third of the dogs who were subjected to the inescapable shocks acted just like the naïve dogs in the shuttle box. Why were these dogs apparently immune to being conditioned to learned helplessness? The answer most likely lies in subsequent studies, which have demonstrated that animals and people who have a history of experiences with controllabletrauma — in other words, trauma that they managed to master with their own efforts (and this criterion is key) — became immune to learned helplessness. Therefore, even when these beings are subjected to a traumatic situation later on, in which the outcome is actually uncontrollable, they remain unconvinced that they are now powerless. “This,” says Seligman, “is the heart of the concept of immunization.”7
Of course, the opposite is also true: A past history of experiences in which there was no escape will make it difficult for the human or animal to believe that an outcome is controllable, even when it actually is.
learned helplessness flow chartThese discoveries have profound implications for child rearing. Infants, children, and adolescents who are subjected to uncontrollable trauma or adverse events have a poor self-image. They become hopeless, unmotivated, depressed or anxious, and they fail to learn. These children become the very adults who, when subjected to the evidence that refutes the official 9/11 storyline, might run in the other direction to avoid the messenger — or, if cornered or pressed, quietly admit, “There is nothing I can do to make a difference” (or a variation thereof).
In my psychotherapeutic work, I discovered that some of my clients had experienced severe traumas during their birth process, their preverbal years, or their childhoods. These early, overwhelming traumas caused these individuals to automatically respond with a feeling of powerlessness whenever they were faced with a challenging situation. One example that comes to mind is the person who, as an infant, was reared in dire poverty. Her overworked, exhausted mother was largely unavailable, both physically and emotionally during her infancy and childhood. None of her attempts to get her mother to care for her succeeded, making this an uncontrollable situation. Another example I recall is the toddler who was left alone in a hospital for weeks on end without his mother or father present to comfort him. Both individuals, not surprisingly, suffered from subsequent depression and low self-esteem.
Another illustration of learned helplessness comes from the work of psychiatrist Stanislav Grof, who has documented many examples of birth trauma. If, for example, the second stage of birth is prolonged, with intense uterine contractions and a cervix not fully opened, the child is subjected to an uncontrollable, inescapable, and seemingly interminable battering from the contractions. No effort on her part can change this “no exit” situation. Babies who have undergone this birth trauma, Grof discovered, can develop “inhibited depression” later in life, even if other events in their subsequent development were benign. Inhibited depression is characterized by feelings of inferiority, inadequacy, helplessness, hopelessness, and existential despair. In other words, the uncontrollable aspect of trauma at this stage of birth can result in learned helplessness.8
Learned-helplessness conditioning can be established in adulthood as well. Victims of torture and troops who served in a war are liable to suffer from a condition that has been labeled Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). As with the childhood and animal-research cases, if these adults exhibit signs of learned helplessness, it is an indication that they were probably subjected to a prolonged traumatic event that was uncontrollable.
If those who unconsciously harbor uncontrollable traumatic histories hear that they have been brutally lied to and that their fellow Americans have been mass murdered by their own government, the old, unconscious emotional reactions of being overwhelmed and helpless in infancy and childhood are likely reactivated, causing great distress and fear. These emotions are immediately followed by defensive responses such as avoidance, resignation, and/or apathy. Though the source of learned helplessness in humans often lies deep within the unconscious psyche, the condition can be healed through extensive psychotherapeutic work. Before healing is accomplished, however, any attempt to logically explain the 9/11 Truth evidence to such a traumatized person will probably fall on infertile ground.
Clearly, 9/11 is not the only tragic event in recent history that elicits a reaction of learned helplessness. The toxic cocktail of corruption, violence, and dysfunction so prevalent in today’s world can easily activate old traumas, reigniting feelings of being overwhelmed and hopeless. But then again, anyone with a modicum of awareness and sensitivity to the plight of other beings and the earth itself is rightly disturbed by the realities of today’s world.9
As activists, we need to heal our own anxiety and overarching sense of urgency to help us cultivate the understanding and compassion that allows us to empathize with people burdened by such internal handicaps as learned helplessness. These individuals are probably coping as best they can. Unless their wounds are healed, all the mountains of evidence we share with them about 9/11 Truth will likely make them feel disempowered and will thus be summarily rejected.
While the phenomenon of learned helplessness is backed by copious research, a concept called “the abuse syndrome” has not yet received this backing. Nonetheless, the abuse syndrome deserves to be considered as a possible explanation for reactions of helplessness, hopelessness, and apathy. We will explore it in the next segment of this series.

Editor’s note: To be continued in the next issue with Part 15: The Abuse Syndrome. Electronic sources in the footnotes have been archived. If they can no longer be found by a search on the Internet, readers desiring a copy may contact Frances Shure for a copy [ here ].

Continued with Part 15: The Abuse Syndrome

1 Sauron is the main antagonist in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. The cursed ring, which was to be destroyed by the relatively pure hero Frodo Baggins, seduced even the most pure of beings who possessed it into an insatiable lust for power. My acquaintance was implicating that if we were going to challenge such evil as was perpetrated on 9/11, then we had better have a ring of evil power in our possession.

2 After a conversation with one of my editors, I agreed with her that we should help raise consciousness about the plight of animals in our world. We have been trained in our culture to think of non-human beings as objects, even commodities — and as much less important than humans. The everyday language we use is one way to increase our awareness that animals feel, both physically and emotionally. They respond to pain, imprisonment, or betrayal with fear and anguish and confusion. They also respond to being treated with compassion, respect, and love. Thus, in this essay, I will use the pronoun “who” rather than “that” in referring to these innocents. To those who want to witness the profound sensitivity and intelligence of animals, I highly recommend one of the most beautiful films I have seen: The Animal Communicator, which may be watched or purchased online.

3 Martin E. P. Seligman, Helplessness: On Depression, Development, and Death (W.H. Freeman & Co., May 1992), 22 – 23.

Seligman, Helplessness.

5 Ibid. xx – xxiv.

6 Seligman, Helplessness

7 Ibid.60.

8 Stanislav Grof, Beyond the Brain: Birth, Death and Transcendence in Psychotherapy (State University of New York, 1985).

Stanislav Grof, The Adventure of Self-Discovery: Dimensions of Consciousness and New Perspectives in Psychotherapy and Inner Exploration (State University of New York Press, 1988).

Stanislav Grof is a world-renowned pioneer of psychodynamic and transpersonal psychology.

9 Dennis, Sheila, and Mathew Linn, Healing the Future. The Linns tell their personal stories of healing from societal trauma, activated by earlier developmental trauma, offering examples of simple healing exercises.

Appeals Court Will Hear Tsarnaev’s Change of Venue Request


Tsarnaev_AppealThe First Circuit Court of Appeals on Feb. 19 will hear arguments on Boston Marathon Bombing defendant Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s latest attempt to move his trial.

The hearing by a three-judge panel will be open to the public. Not that there will be much to listen to, though. 

Here’s how dissenting Judge Juan. R Toruella put it in the court’s order setting the hearing:

It will be quite an interesting hearing since the parties will be forbidden from discussing the details of facts directly at the heart of the issue presented: whether the answers given during the jury selection process have demonstrated that the jury pool is so tainted and prejudiced that it is impossible for the Defendant to receive a fair trial.

That’s because his two colleagues,  Chief Judge Sandra L. Lynch and Jeffrey R. Howard, granted the prosecution’s request to keep its response secret:

The parties are ordered to refrain from disclosing or discussing at the hearing any of the sealed materials in this case. These materials have been sealed in part to protect the integrity of the selection process. Indeed, each side has asked us to seal materials and those materials are before the court.

The two judges also denied Tsarnaev’s request to halt jury selection pending the appeal. On Jan. 3, the appeals court denied his first appeal for a change of venue. Judge George A. O’Toole Jr., who is presiding over the trial in the lower court, has thrice denied the defendant’s motions to move the trial out of the city, where trauma from the bombing still lingers.

Tsarnaev argues that the jury pool in Boston is hopelessly tainted with prejudice. His defense cited an analysis of the prospective jurors showing that a stunning 68 percent already believe he’s guilty.

That’s not really a surprise, given the tremendous campaign of law enforcement leaks that reinforced the perception that the government got its man. Coupled with O’Toole’s insistence on keeping the trial in Boston, many observers have questioned whether Tsarnaev has been given his right to a fair trial.

Although the appeals judges made no mention of their position on moving the trial, it’s noteworthy that Lynch and Howard specified that it was their colleague who wanted the oral arguments. Not them.

Our concurring and dissenting colleague has requested oral argument and argument may be granted at the request of a single judge.

So don’t hold your breath for any revelations or a change of venue to come out of the appellate court’s hearing.

How Science Died at the World Trade Center

by Kevin Ryan

Science has been misused for political purposes many times in history. However, the most glaring example of politically motivated pseudoscience—that employed by U.S. government scientists to explain the destruction of the World Trade Center (WTC)—continues to be ignored by many scientists. As we pass the 10th anniversary of the introduction of that account, it is useful to review historic examples of fake science used for political purposes and the pattern that defines that abuse.

An early example of pseudoscience used to promote a political agenda was the concerted Soviet effort to contradict evolutionary theory and Mendelian inheritance. For nearly 45 years, the Soviet government used propaganda to foster unproven theories of agriculture promoted by its minister of agriculture, Trofim Lysenko. Scientists seeking favor with the Soviet hierarchy produced fake experimental data in support of Lysenko’s false claims. Scientific evidence from the fields of biology and genetics was banned in favor of educational programs that taught only Lysenkoism and many biologists and geneticists were executed or sent to labor camps. This propaganda-fueled program of anti-science continued for over forty years, until 1964, and spread to other countries including China.

pseudoscienceIn the 2010 book Merchants of Doubt, authors Naomi Oreskes and Erik Conway describe several other examples of the misuse of science, spanning from the 1950s to the present. They show how widely respected scientists participated in clearly non-scientific efforts to promote the agendas of big business and big government. Examples include the tobacco industry’s misuse of science to obfuscate the links between smoking and cancer, the military industrial complex’s use of scientists to support the scientifically indefensible Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI), and several abuses of environmental science.

As Oreskes and Conway made clear, science is about evidence. “It is about claims that can be, and have been, tested through scientific research—experiment, experience, and observation—research that is then subject to critical review by a jury of scientific peers.” In science, if experiments performed do not support a hypothesis, that hypothesis must be rejected. If conclusions fail to pass peer-review due to a lack of supportive evidence or the discovery of evidence that directly contradicts them, those conclusions must be rejected.

From Lysenkoism through the examples given by Oreskes and Conway, politically motivated pseudoscience demonstrates a pattern of characteristics as follows.

  1. There is a lack of experiments.
  2. The results of experiments are ignored or contradicted in the conclusions.
  3. There is either no peer-review or peer-reviewer concerns are ignored.
  4. The findings cannot be replicated or falsified due to the withholding of data.
  5. False conclusions are supported by marketing or media propaganda.
  6. Hypotheses that are supported by the evidence are ignored.

All six of these characteristics of pseudo-science are exhibited by the U.S. government investigation into what happened at the WTC on September 11th, 2001. That investigation was conducted by the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) and it had much in common with the examples given by Oreskes and Conway. As with the false science that supported tobacco use, millions of lives were lost as a result—in this case through the “War on Terror.” Like support for the Strategic Defense Initiative, the abuses were focused on supporting the military-industrial complex. And as with the environmental examples, NIST’s manipulations affect everyone on the planet because they prop up a never-ending war.

In terms of historical experience, the destruction of the three WTC skyscrapers was unprecedented. No tall building had ever experienced global collapse for any reason other than explosive demolition and none ever has since that time. In terms of observation, nearly everyone who examines the videos from the day recognizes the many similarities to explosive demolition. Perhaps the most compelling evidence in favor of the demolition theory is that the NIST WTC Reports, which took up to seven years to produce, exhibit all six of the characteristics of politically motivated pseudoscience.

The lack of experiment:

NIST performed no physical experiments to support its conclusions on WTC Building 7. Its primary conclusion, that a few steel floor beams experienced linear thermal expansion thereby shearing many structural connections, could have easily been confirmed through physical testing but no such testing was performed. Moreover, other scientists had performed such tests in the past but since the results did not support NIST’s conclusions, those results were ignored(see peer-review comments below)

The results of experiments were ignored or contradicted in the conclusions:

  • For the Twin Towers, steel temperature tests performed on the few steel samples saved suggested that the steel reached only about 500 degrees Fahrenheit, This is more than a thousand degrees below the temperature needed to soften steel and make it malleable—a key requirement of NIST’s hypothesis. NIST responded by exaggerating temperatures in its computer model.
  • Another key requirement of NIST’s explanation for the Twin Towers was that floor assemblies had sagged severely under thermal stress. Floor model tests conducted by my former company Underwriters Laboratories showed that the floor assemblies would sag only 3 to 4 inches, even after removal of all fireproofing and exposure to much higher temperatures than existed in the buildings. NIST responded by exaggerating the results—claiming up to 42-inches worth of floor assembly sagging in its computer model.
  • After criticism of its draft report in April 2005, NIST quietly inserted a short description of shotgun tests conducted to evaluate fireproofing loss in the towers. These results also failed to support NIST’s conclusions because the shotgun blasts were not reflective of the distribution or trajectories of the aircraft debris. Additionally, the tests suggested that the energy required to “widely dislodge” fireproofing over five acre-wide floors—required by NIST’s findings—was simply not available.

There was no peer review and public comments from peers were ignored:

NIST published its own WTC reports and therefore its work was not subject to peer-review as is the case for all legitimate science. The people and companies involved in the NIST investigation were either government employees or contractors dependent on government work and were therefore not objective participants.

In terms of indirect peer-review, the international building construction community has made no changes to building construction standards in response to NIST’s officially cited root causes for the WTC destruction. Furthermore, no existing buildings have been retrofitted to ensure that they do not fail from those alleged causes.

NIST provided a period for public comment on its draft reports but the comments provided by those not beholden to government were not supportive of NIST’s findings. In some cases, as with NIST’s linear expansion claim for WTC 7, independent scientists submitted comments about physical tests they had performed (which NIST had not) that directly contradicted NIST’s findings.

There was one important exception to NIST’s ignoring of public comments. After a physics teacher’s well-publicized comments, NIST was forced to admit that WTC 7 was in free-fall for a vertical distance equivalent to at least eight stories of the building. Structural engineers have since noted that many hundreds of high-strength steel bolts and steel welds would have had to vanish instantaneously for an 8-story section of the building to fall without any resistance.

The findings cannot be replicated or falsified due to the withholding of data:

NIST will not share it computer models with the public. A NIST spokesman declared, in response to a Freedom of Information Act request, that revealing the computer models would “jeopardize public safety.” Because NIST’s conclusions depend entirely on those computer models, they cannot be verified or falsified by independent scientists.

False conclusions are supported by media or marketing propaganda:

As with the Soviet propaganda machine that supported Lysenkoism and the tobacco industry’s marketing propaganda, NIST’s pseudoscience was fully and uncritically supported by the mainstream media. Hearst Publications, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), and Skeptic magazine are examples of media that went to great lengths to stifle any questioning of the official account and divert attention from the glaring discrepancies.

NIST depended on that media support as indicated by the timing of its release of reports. NIST’s final report appeared to be scheduled for dual political purposes, to coincide with the seventh anniversary of 9/11 and to give the appearance of finished business at the end of the Bush Administration. The timing of NIST’s other reports coincided with political events as well. These included the draft report on the towers in October 2004—just before the election, the final report on the towers—just before the fourth anniversary of 9/11, and NIST’s first “responses to FAQs”—just before the fifth anniversary. All of them appeared to involve politically motivated release dates.

The report release dates allowed time for the media to quickly present the official story while public interest was high, but did not allow time for critical review. With the report on WTC 7, the public was given just three weeks prior to September 11th, 2008 to comment on a report that was nearly seven years in the making.

Hypotheses that are supported by the evidence were ignored:

Throughout its seven-year investigation, NIST ignored the obvious hypothesis for the destruction of the WTC buildings—demolition. That evidence includes:

  • Free-fall or near-free fall acceleration of all three buildings (now acknowledged by NIST for WTC 7)
  • Photographic and video evidence demonstrating the characteristics of demolition for both the Twin Towers and WTC 7

The WTC reports produced by NIST represent the most obvious example of politically motivated pseudoscience in history. The physical experiments NIST performed did not support its conclusions. The reports were not peer-reviewed and public comments that challenged the findings were ignored. NIST will not share its computer models—the last supposed evidence that supports its conclusions—with the public and therefore its conclusions are not verifiable.

These glaring facts should be readily recognizable by any scientist and, given the unprecedented impact of the resulting War on Terror, this abuse of science should be the basis for a global outcry from the scientific community. The fact that it is not—with even Oreskes and Conway ignoring this most obvious example—indicates that many scientists today still cannot recognize false science or cannot speak out about it for fear of social stigma. It’s possible that our society has not suffered enough to compel scientists to move out of their comfort zones and challenge such exploitation of their profession. If so, the abuse of science for political and commercial purposes will only get worse.

Kevin Ryan blogs at Dig Within.

Ashton B. Carter Is Confirmed as Defense Chief

via the NYTIMES

“The Senate on Thursday confirmed Ashton B. Carter to be the next defense secretary, installing a new Pentagon chief as the United States increases military action against the Islamic State.

Mr. Carter, a former deputy defense secretary who is President Obama’s choice to replace Chuck Hagel, was approved by a vote of 93 to 5, a striking scene of accord as tensions mount over the wait to confirm Loretta E. Lynch as the next attorney general. Five Republicans opposed Mr. Carter’s confirmation”.

911 researcher’s will recognize Mr. Carters’ name from the Catastrophic Terrorism: Tackling the New Danger paper he co -authored with John Deutch and Phillip Zelikow
Foreign Affairs,in
November / December 1998

“Long part of the Hollywood and Tom Clancy repertory of nightmarish scenarios, catastrophic terrorism has moved from far-fetched horror to a contingency that could happen next month. Although the United States still takes conventional terrorism seriously… it is not yet prepared for the new threat of catastrophic terrorism.” They predict the consequences of such an event: “An act of catastrophic terrorism that killed thousands or tens of thousands of people and/or disrupted the necessities of life for hundreds of thousands, or even millions, would be a watershed event in America’s history. It could involve loss of life and property unprecedented for peacetime and undermine Americans’ fundamental sense of security within their own borders in a manner akin to the 1949 Soviet atomic bomb test, or perhaps even worse. Constitutional liberties would be challenged as the United States sought to protect itself from further attacks by pressing against allowable limits in surveillance of citizens, detention of suspects, and the use of deadly force. More violence would follow, either as other terrorists seek to imitate this great ‘success’ or as the United States strikes out at those considered responsible. Like Pearl Harbor, such an event would divide our past and future into a ‘before’ and ‘after.’” [CARTER, DEUTCH, AND ZELIKOW, 10/1998; FOREIGN AFFAIRS, 11/1998; 9/11 COMMISSION, 7/24/2004, PP. XI-XIV]