Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Body Counts and Conspiracy Hypotheses

I've gotten some interesting comments lately, along with suggestion for things to write about.  I've also been tagged with the book meme, and have written a response to that, but I know I am supposed to tag five other people at the end.  

I just have to figure out if I want to tag people whose Internet personnas I like, or otherwise.  Technorati lists over twelve thousand hits for "book meme", so I might decide to cut it down to three.  We don't want it to spread so fast that we run out of victims.

But what I am posting today does not require any particular brain power.  Earlier today, in the category of things found while looking for other things, I encountered an interview (small PDF file) with Sen. Biden, on Face the Nation. The headline for the interview has to do with his Presidential aspirations.  What got my attention, though, was his description of the problems he has had getting access to the mortuary at the Dover Air Force base in Delaware.  

Apparently, there have been occasions upon which families of deceased soldiers want Biden to accompany them to the airbase when they do to get the remains.  But someone at the Pentagon will not allow him to do so.  He does not know who, or why.

Recall that there was a controversy about that, back when the press wanted to be able to view and photograph returning coffins.  This never has been permitted.

Now, as it happens, a few days ago I ran across a wild conspiracy theory.  It has been rumored that, in addition to the 1,700 reported military causalities in Iraq, there have been around 6,000 soldiers who died after being airlifted to military hospitals in Europe.  It is alleged that these causalities are not included in the official total, with the rationale being that they did not die in Iraq.  I can't find the original reference, but it does not matter since I am only using it to advance my own conspiracy theory.

Of course, those coffins would have to come back to the US, regardless of whether the soldiers died in Iraq or in Europe.  If the press were allowed access to Dover, and if they ended up with photos of 7,000 to 9,000 coffins, it would be a little difficult to convince anyone that only 1,700 soldiers had died.  Note that, for this theory (a hypothesis, technically) to be valid, it would not matter how many soldiers actually have died.  All that matters is that the Administration has a mechanism to keep the actual number secret, so it can lie if it wants to.

That is really the point.  They can lie if they want to, and this is just one example of the kind of secrecy that has become the hallmark of this Administration.  It's irritating because all we can do is sit around and speculate.  I suppose that is politically expedient. in fact, the more wild conspiracy theories, the better, because they become a smokescreen for the one or two times that people actually guess correctly.  What this means is that, so long as secrecy is the norm, we cannot allow ourselves to get so complacent about all of these wild conspiracy hypotheses that we stop paying attention to them.  A few of them might be true.  We can't be dissuaded by a rote refrain of dismissals of "just another wild theory."

Why should we have to tolerate this?  Democracy can work only if the people are informed.  If they are made to guess, then mocked for having guessed, we can't have any meaningful dialog.

Look at the invectives flying around over the .  There is no dialog.  Each side is suspicious of the other, and each dismisses the concerns of the others as being grounded in unfounded suspicion.  That's no way to run a country.

Categories: nutty ideas
Technorati Tags: Politics

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