Has COVID-19 Testing Made the Problem Worse?

Concern about the virus SARS-COV-2 that causes the disease called COVID-19 has been largely due to reported mortality rates. However, errors in reporting these rates, as well as unresolved differences between rates in different countries has led to confusion regarding the true health impacts. Because all rates currently being reported are dependent on the test used to identify infected patients, understanding that test and its history could lead to much needed clarity.

Errors in reported mortality rates have come from simple mistakes in calculation. An example has been equating the measured case fatality rate (deaths divided by patients testing positive for virus) with the number of people who died who had ever been infected. The latter number is unknown and will not be known until antibody titers can be produced for a much larger segment of the population. But that actual mortality rate is expected to be much lower, perhaps around 0.3% as estimated by an epidemiologist from Stanford University.

Another common error has been attributing the deaths of all infected people to COVID-19, regardless of other pre-existing illnesses. This error has become much worse recently due to governments mandating that all deaths of presumptive patients be listed as death from COVID-19, even if the patient was never tested for SARS-COV-2 at all.

These mortality rate errors would be worsened if there were errors in testing for presence of the virus. What is becoming increasingly clear is that there have been, and in some cases still are, serious questions regarding the reliability of the testing.

The test that is the focus of this discussion is the reverse transcriptase quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) test to identify presence of nucleotide sequences attributed to the RNA of SARS-COV-2. For this test, which follows different protocols in different countries, serious problems have been seen. The first of these problems relates to the testing performed in China, the reported origin of the virus.

The Chinese Mystery

A scientific study was performed in China that targeted the testing of subjects who had been in close contact with SARS-COV-2 infected patients. The results were peer-reviewed and published in the Chinese Journal of Epidemiology on March 5th, 2020. The data-driven conclusion of the study was that “nearly half or even more” of patients testing positive for SARS-COV-2 did not actually have the virus. In other words, half of the results were false positives.

For perspective, this study was peer-reviewed and published in a Chinese state journal a month after COVID-19 was said to have surpassed the 2003 SARS epidemic and just as the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the outbreak to be a pandemic. This was a full month after China had ordered a lockdown affecting over 36 million people.

Mysteriously, this peer-reviewed study was withdrawn a few days after publication and is no longer available for review. In response, one investigative team asked a Chinese graduate student to contact the lead author of the study, Dr. GH Zhuang, for explanation. Dr. Zhuang responded by email but did not cite a reason for withdrawal of the paper, only saying that it was “a sensitive matter.” Others then made the false assumption that the author had identified some kind of mistake in the science despite the fact that no such mistake was ever identified.

As reported by the investigative team that contacted Dr, Zhuang, “Without access to the paper, nobody can assess the value of the work or determine whether it suffers from a scientific flaw. It’s also unknown if the paper was retracted for political reasons.”

At about the same time the paper was withdrawn, it was reported that the White House had ordered all meetings regarding COVID-19 to be classified. This meant that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) would filter all information and decision making through the National Security Council (NSC). This unprecedented decision led to meetings being held in secret facilities that were “usually reserved for intelligence and military operations.”

Today, all decisions about COVID-19 in the U.S. are coordinated by secretive agencies like the CIA and DIA and the information behind them is classified. This fact is concerning given that U.S. senators who were members of intelligence committees engaged in insider trading related to the COVID-19 weeks before stock markets crashed due to the virus.

Regardless of politics, to understand the concept of a false positive one should realize that analytical test methods need to be balanced with respect to quality considerations like sensitivity and specificity. If a test is not sensitive enough, the analyte of interest will not be found when it is there, giving a false negative. If a test is not specific enough, something else in the test sample will be identified as being the target analyte when it is not, giving a false positive.

In this case, false positives could mean that the test is reacting to another virus or genetic source. Alternatively, the test could be detecting the presence of SARS-COV-2 residues after a previously infected individual is no longer sick. That would mean results are falsely attributing infection to a patient who has recovered. In other words, the test can detect the presence of viral material in a sample that does not represent a replicating (i.e. active) virus. Lastly, even very small amounts of contamination in the laboratory can cause a false positive. No matter the cause, false positives mean higher reported mortality rates, more confusion, more fear, and more bad decisions.

The RT-qPCR test for SARS-COV-2 is being used a qualitative test, despite the technique name including the word quantitative. This means that the actual amount of virus in a sample is not considered important, only the presence of even a small amount of virus. This approach is odd for a pandemic screening test because a replicating virus should be present in large quantities in an infected patient. That is, if you’re trying to identify who is infected, you don’t need more sensitivity, you need more specificity because a replicating virus should not be hard to detect. This concern would be lessened if the actual test results showing levels of virus detected were available. Unfortunately all the public sees is numbers of positive or negative determinations.

WHO Guidelines and the Virus

The World Health Organization (WHO) originally based testing on a relatively simple kit developed in Germany, not on the Chinese protocol. WHO has since developed general guidance for testing SARS-COV-2. This guidance requires some understanding of terminology so it’s helpful to understand the virus and the principle of RT-qCPR.

The SARS-COV-2 virus genome was first sequenced in early January 2020.. Like other coronaviruses, it is a single-stranded, positive sense RNA, as opposed to double-stranded RNA or DNA viruses. The viral genome is approximately 29.9 kilobases long, making it, like other coronaviruses, among the largest single-stranded RNA viruses. And like other such viruses, it evolves quickly, meaning the genetic sequence changes over time.

RT-qPCR involves multiple steps. The sample is first lysed (i.e. the cells are cut) to release any viral material. Then the RNA present is converted into complementary DNA (cDNA) using an enzyme called reverse transcriptase. This is sometimes called the “extraction” step. After this, the cDNA is used as a template for amplification using qPCR, allowing the original quantity of target RNA to be determined.

The amount of virus present is determined by the number of PCR cycles the sample required above the threshold, or background noise. The number of cycles required is called the Cq and the threshold is called the Ct although many people refer to both as Ct. The Cq is inversely related to the amount of virus present so large Cqs mean less virus and typically levels above a Cq of 38 are considered negative.

The amplification is not done on the entire cDNA sequence but on segments that are expected to be representative of the specific genome of interest and, correspondingly, not representative of other genetic materials that could be present. Segments of the SARS-COV-2 genetic code that are usually targeted by primers correspond to sections of the original RNA named ORF1a, ORF1ab, S, M, E, and N. The first two are Open Reading Frames (ORFs), the next three are genes coding for surface proteins, and the last (N) is a gene that codes for what is called the nucleocapsid, a protein shell immediately surrounding the genetic material but beneath the surface proteins.

Synthetic primers and fluorescent probes are identified to match up with the target genetic segments to facilitate amplification and detection. The primers are small nucleotide sequences that bind to the targeted segments of the cDNA genetic sequence. The number of primers used is recommended to be at least two but can be three. Sometimes there is only one if there are other confirmatory tests performed on presumptive positives. Protocols from different countries target different genes in the SARS-COV-2 sequence. China used Orf1ab and then confirmed with a test for N. In any case, the target sequence within the viral genome, and therefore the primers used, are critical decisions for success because issues with primer design and efficiency can lead to variation in results.

As described in an article in The Scientist, the WHO-recommended primers first target the E gene of SARS-COV-2. The E gene is considered highly divergent and therefore more specific to the different coronaviruses. If a lab following WHO guidance obtains a positive screening test, it will do confirmatory testing targeting other areas of the virus genome. To avoid false positives, “every positive test has been confirmed with whole genome sequencing, viral culture, or electron microscopy.”

The U.S. Test

Unfortunately, the U.S. did not follow the WHO recommended test guidance and decided to follow its own rules for testing of SARS-COV-2. In fact, WHO and CDC never discussed the U.S. using the same test as being done internationally. Those who questioned the decision learned that “It’s not clear why the CDC chose to develop a different assay to that selected by the WHO and taken up by other countries. The CDC declined to respond to questions from The Scientist.”

Due to problems later found with the CDC tests, the U.S. was later severely criticized for its decision. Although CDC has been secretive about the details, the problems with its test appear to have included both test design issues and contamination.

CDC began manufacturing its test kit in January and shipped it on February 5th to state labs and to 30 other countries including 191 international labs. A February 12th briefing at the CDC discussed problems with the CDC test. Although the statements made were unclear, it appears that states were complaining that the test was “inconclusive” and therefore CDC was going to focus on “redoing the manufacturing.”

It was reported that, “in addition to originally sending out flawed tests, the CDC added to the confusion by providing limited information to labs in the weeks that followed. There was a period of time after the tests were recalled where there was near silence. It was about two weeks.” It was only after an open letter to Congress on February 28th, from more than 100 virologists and other specialists, that the CDC responded by allowing independent labs that had validated their own tests to begin testing.

The CDC test originally included three primers, all targeting one gene—the N gene of SARS-COV-2 that encodes for the nucleocapsid. The primers were denoted N1, N2, and N3. Nucleocapsids of RNA viruses “are fairly simple structures that contain only one major structural protein, often referred to as the nucleocapsid protein or core protein. This protein is usually basic or has a basic domain.”

Although the CDC test might have provided good sensitivity, it appears that it did not provide high specificity as it targeted only one basic gene of the coronavirus. CDC admitted this in a disclaimer noted in the method, saying, positive results “do not rule out bacterial infection or co-infection with other viruses. The agent detected may not be the definite cause of disease.”

At first, due to CDC secrecy, problems with the test kit were difficult to understand. As the Washington Post reported, “The trouble with the CDC test arose because the third attempt at a match, known as the N3 component, produced an inconclusive result even on known samples of the coronavirus.” But that was not the whole story.

On February 28th, as the open letter to Congress was being recognized, it was reported that the N3 primer of the CDC kit was contaminated. This caused the negative control within the kit, containing DNA that was unrelated to SARS-COV-2, to react as if it was a positive hit for SARS-COV-2. In other words, the kits were generating false positives for negative controls.

How much contamination was present was not clear because, again, the actual test results giving amounts of virus found are not available to the public. And CDC has not been open with communications about the problems found. Oddly enough, in April, test kits in the UK were also found to be contaminated with COVID-19.

What did CDC do to correct the problems with the kit? Instead of re-manufacturing the N3 primer as originally planned, on March 15th the CDC simply told everyone who had the kit to remove the N3 primer and use the kits without it. Additionally, CDC changed its method requirements to eliminate the need to confirm positive results. This made the test kit that was based on detection of only one basic gene in SARS-COV-2 even less specific and told users that results didn’t need to be confirmed. These changes made the test less reliable in terms of identifying SARS-COV-2 and therefore made any subsequent estimates of mortality rates less reliable as well.

Summary

The history of testing for SARS-COV-2 infection has involved mysteries and problems that have led to delays in testing and reporting of rates of infection than are falsely higher than actual. Exacerbating these issues are government mandates for medical professionals to list COVID-19 as cause of death for patients that have inconclusive causes of death and, in some cases, were never tested for SARS-COV-2 at all.

These facts add to the growing concerns among citizens around the world about government response to the COVID-19 pandemic. These concerns include that the response is estimated to generate at least as many deaths as the virus will cause and that mortality rates have been reported in error. Moreover, the introduction of alarming government actions that are reminiscent of a totalitarian police state must be considered as well as the unprecedented decision in the U.S. that all public health information and decisions be controlled by the NSC in secret meetings.

Only complete transparency of the details behind the decisions made and issues seen can help maintain the public trust and lead to mutual agreement about the path forward. There are many questions that will need answers. For example: Are reported rates for other diseases like influenza dropping in proportion to the rise in reported infection by SARS-COV-2? What did the Chinese study that was mysteriously retracted actually say? What has investigation into the CDC kit contamination revealed? What other countries have based their mortality figures on test kits that could have been unreliable?

Citizens can help by calling on authorities and test facilities to publicly share the details of testing including the actual results of the RT-qPCR tests, including Cq (or Ct) values. In addition to information sharing, an international investigation into the problems seen with testing, starting with Chinese results and U.S. test kits, should be conducted. Such an investigation can lead to preventing the reporting of false positives and the ensuing panic that comes from artificially high estimated mortality rates.

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More Will Die from the Response to COVID-19 Than From the Virus

The initial, alarming estimates of deaths from the virus COVID-19 were that as many as 2.2 million people would die in the United States. This number is comparable to the annual U.S. death rate of around 3 million. Fortunately, correction of some simple errors in overestimation has begun to dramatically reduce the virus mortality claims. The most recent estimate from “the leading U.S. authority on the COVID-19 pandemic” suggests that the U.S. may see between 100,000 and 200,000 deaths from COVID-19, with the final tally likely to be somewhere in the middle.” This means that we are expecting around 150,000 U.S. deaths caused by the virus, if the latest estimates hold up.

How does that compare to the effects of the measures taken in response? By all accounts, the impact of the response will be great, far-reaching, and long-lasting. To better assess the difference we might ask, how many people will die as a result of the response to COVID-19? Although a comprehensive analysis is needed from those experienced with modeling mortality rates, we can begin to estimate by examining existing research and comparative statistics. Let’s start by looking at three critical areas of impact: suicide and drug abuse, lack of medical treatment or coverage, and poverty and food access.

Suicides and Drug Abuse

According to the National Center for Health Statistics, over 48,000 suicides occurred in the U.S. in 2018. This equates to an annual rate of about 14 suicides per 100,000 people. As expected, suicides increase substantially during times of economic depression. For example, as a result of the 2008 recession there was an approximate 25% increase. Similarly, during a peak year of the Great Depression, in 1932, the rate rose to 17 suicides per 100,000 people.

Recent research ties high suicide rates “to the unraveling of the social fabric” that happens when societal breakdowns occur. People become despondent over economic hardship, the loss of social structures, loneliness, and related factors. There is probably no greater example of these kinds of losses than what we are experiencing today with the extreme response to COVID-19 and the effects will be felt for many years. The social structures might return in a few months but the economy will not. Some think that the economy will recover in three years and others think it will never recover in terms of impact to low-income households, as was the case for the 2008 recession. However, if we estimate a full recovery in six years, the effects will contribute around 3 suicides per 100,000 people every year during that time for a total of over 59,000 deaths in the United States.

Related to suicides are drug abuse deaths. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, over 67,000 deaths from overdose of illicit or prescription drugs occurred in 2018. This does not include alcohol abuse. Only 7% were suicides and 87% were known to be unintentional deaths largely due to drug abuse caused by depression or other mental conditions. Such conditions can be expected to rise during times of economic collapse and if we estimate the impact due to COVID-19 over six years as being a 25% increase (as with suicides) that projects about 87,000 additional deaths due to drug abuse.

Lack of Medical Coverage or Treatment

Unemployment is expected to rise dramatically as a result of the COVID-19 response and the effect is already being seen in jobless claims. One of the major impacts of unemployment, apart from depression and poverty, is a lack of medical coverage. A Harvard study found nearly 45,000 excess deaths annually linked to lack of health coverage. That was at the pre-COVID-19 unemployment rate of 4%.

As reported recently, millions of Americans are losing their jobs in the COVID-19 recession/depression. For every 2% increase in unemployment, there are about 3.5 million lost jobs. The U.S. Secretary of Treasury has predicted a 20% unemployment level, which translates to 12 million lost jobs. If the 45,000 excess deaths due to lack of medical coverage increases uniformly by unemployment rate, we can expect about 225,000 deaths annually due to lack of medical coverage in the U.S. at 20% unemployment. Extrapolating this over a 6-year period would mean 1.35 million deaths. This assumes that funding for important health-related programs are not further cut or ignored, a bad assumption that means the estimate is probably low.

Beyond lack of coverage, medical services are being reprioritized to respond preferentially to COVID-19, causing less resources to be available for treatment of other medical conditions. The capacity of medical service providers has already been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 response in some areas. Additionally, clinical trials and drug development are expected to be severely impacted. This means that important new medicines will not reach the market and people will die who otherwise would have lived. There is not yet enough information on the overall impact to medical service provision therefore we will not include an estimate.

Poverty and Food Access

The Columbia University School of Public Health studied the effects of poverty on death rates. The investigators found that 4.5% of U.S. deaths were attributable to poverty. That’s about 130,000 deaths annually. How will this be affected by COVID-19? One way to begin estimating is to consider how the number of people living in poverty will increase.

Before the COVID-19 response, approximately 12% of Americans lived below the officially defined poverty line. That percentage will undoubtedly rise significantly due to the expected increase in unemployment. If unemployment rises to 20% (from 4%) as predicted, the number of people living in poverty could easily double. If that is the extent of the effect, we will see another 130,000 deaths per year from general poverty.

Although deaths due to poverty are not entirely about food access, it is a significant factor in that category. In times of economic hardship many people can’t afford good food, causing malnutrition and, in some cases, starvation. People also can’t access food causing the same outcomes. Limited access to nutritious food is a root cause of diet-related diseases, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and infant mortality issues. A recent estimate suggests 20% of all deaths worldwide are linked to poor diets.

Food access issues will be further exacerbated with the COVID-19 problem due to the anticipated issues with food production and prices. If the COVID-19 response lasts for years as expected, our estimate will need to be a multiple of the 130,000 annual figure. Using the 6-year estimate, we get 780,000 deaths.

Conclusion

The total deaths attributable to the COVID-19 response, from just this limited examination, are estimated to be:

  • Suicides 59,000
  • Drug abuse 87,000
  • Lack of medical coverage or treatment 1,350,000
  • Poverty and food access 780,000

These estimates, totaling more than two million deaths above the estimated 150,000 expected from the virus itself, do not include other predictable issues with the COVID-19 response. An example is the lack of medical services as stated above. Other examples include the EPA’s suspension of environmental regulations. It has been estimated that the EPA’s Clean Air Act alone has saved 230,000 lives each year. Moreover, the anticipated failure of the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) will lead to more illness and death. The USPS “delivers about 1 million lifesaving medications each year and serves as the only delivery link to Americans living in rural areas.”

Even using these low estimates, however, we can see that the response will be much worse than the virus. The social devastation and economic scarring could last more than six years, with one expert predicting that it will be “long-lasting and calamitous.” That expert has noted that he is not overly concerned with the virus itself because “as much as 99 percent of active cases [of COVID-19] in the general population are ‘mild’ and do not require specific medical treatment.” Yet he is deeply concerned about the “the social, economic and public health consequences of this near total meltdown of normal life.” He suggests a better alternative is to focus only on those most susceptible to the virus. Others have reasonably suggested that only those who are known to be infected should self-quarantine.

Some public health professionals have been pleading with authorities to consider the implications of the unreasonable response. Many experts have spoken out publicly, criticizing the overreaction to COVID-19. A professor of medical microbiology, for example, has written an open letter to German Chancellor Merkel in an attempt to draw attention to the concerns.

The real problem we face today is not a virus. The greater problem is that people have failed to engage in critical thinking due to the fear promoted by some media and government officials. Fear is the mind killer, as author Frank Herbert once wrote. Ultimately, the fear of COVID-19 and the lack of critical thinking that has arisen from it are likely to cause far more deaths than the virus itself.

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Carbon Nanotubes in WTC Dust

At the Toronto Hearings in 2011, Professor Niels Harrit described a new discovery related to the World Trade Center (WTC) dust. That new discovery was the presence of carbon nanotubes in the residues of nanothermite ignition. The importance of these results relates to the health of 9/11 first responders, whose fatal illnesses have remained largely a mystery to the medical profession.

Professor Harrit’s presentation in Toronto is available online in its entirety. Here is the shorter segment related to the finding of carbon nanotubes (CNTs).

As Harrit describes, the ignition residues he used were from experiments that I performed in my garage. Nanothermite was prepared using a formulation documented by researchers at a national laboratory and ignition was achieved simply by heating the nanothermite on a hot plate to the appropriate temperature. Here are video highlights of the process.

Harrit’s CNT results were duplicated by an independent commercial laboratory. The independent laboratory identified CNTs in the nanothermite ignition residues using Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM) and Energy Dispersive Spectroscopy (EDS) and comparison to reference CNT data. See the image below for an excerpt of the report on the sample submitted.

In 2010, researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine reported the presence of high levels of carbon nanotubes in the lungs of WTC first responders as well as in WTC dust samples. They wrote, “The finding of CNT in both WTC dust and lung tissues is unexpected and requires further study.”

CNT formation requires three basic components: a very high temperature, a source of carbon, and the presence of certain metals. In particular, formation of the single walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs) found in the lungs of first responders requires the metals to be present. All of these requirements are met in the ignition of nanothermite. As Harrit stated in his presentation, it is the ideal environment for production of these CNTs.

Unfortunately, until medical professionals are willing to look at the evidence for the presence of thermitic materials at the WTC, which is extensive and compelling, the cause of 9/11 first responder illnesses will remain a tragic mystery.

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Ignoring the Elephant at Gitmo: Yet Another 9/11 Crime

The dubious legal proceedings at the Guantanomo Bay (Gitmo) prison camp continue to promote the idea of justice for victims of 9/11. Unfortunately, these proceedings do not represent an administration of law but an unstated claim that the Global War on Terror is above the law. More importantly, the Gitmo antics have one obvious objective—to perpetuate willful ignorance of the 9/11 crimes. There is a dangerous elephant in the Gitmo courtroom, however, and if it ever gets reported it could bring down the terror-torture house of cards.

Reporters covering Gitmo continue to call it a trial but it is not a trial, it is a “military tribunal.” They continue to call the site “Camp Justice” when justice is as far from the prison camp as it has ever been from any human endeavor. What they don’t do is think critically about the information they are parroting from court sources.

The history is profoundly absurd. The suspects were brutally tortured and held without charges for up to 18 years. The alleged evidence obtained from the torture was made secret. Then the records of the secret torture evidence were illegally destroyed. Then the secret evidence simply turned out to be completely false. FBI and CIA officers then began to make a mockery of the whole thing, secretly bugging defense team discussion rooms and covertly inserting themselves as translators and defense team members.

This is not just a matter of an extreme violation of human rights and an utter disrespect for the law. Within this sequence of stupidity looms the mother of all oversights. That is, the secret evidence that turned out to be false was used as the basis for The 9/11 Commission Report.

At the center of the media’s willful ignorance is “forever prisoner” Abu Zubaydah, the first alleged al Qaeda leader captured and tortured. In 2009, the U.S. government began correcting the record by admitting, in habeus corpus proceedings, that Zubaydah was never associated with al Qaeda and that he had no role in, or knowledge of, the 9/11 attacks. That Zubaydah was never associated with al Qaeda is no longer challenged by anyone and is regularly repeated in the mainstream press. What is not mentioned is the astounding implication of that admission.

Abu Zubaydah’s “torture testimony” was used to construct the official narrative of 9/11 that is still accepted as fact today.

Check for yourself. Do a quick search for the word “Zubaydah” in The 9/11 Commission Report. You’ll find it 52 times. As you read these references and claims, ask yourself—how could a man who the government now says had nothing to do with al Qaeda have known any of these things? How could he be a key travel facilitator for al Qaeda operatives when he wasn’t associated in any way with al Qaeda? How could Zubaydah give detailed accounts of Osama bin Laden and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM)’s plans for 9/11 when he had no knowledge of those plans?

Disassociating Zubaydah from al Qaeda causes so many problems for the official narrative of al Qaeda and 9/11 that people like Lee Hamilton, the co-chairman of the 9/11 Commission, simply develop amnesia when asked about him.

As seen in the 9/11 Commission Report, the official account begins with linking “Mukhtar” (KSM) to “al Qaeda lieutenant Abu Zubaydah,” who we now know was never associated with al Qaeda. Both FBI interrogator Ali Soufan, in a 2009 New York Times opinion piece, and Vice President Dick Cheney, in his 2011 book, claimed that Zubaydah (who never had any knowledge or connection to 9/11) identified KSM as the “mastermind of the 9/11 attacks.” The official account of 9/11, and the ongoing fake trial at Gitmo, all proceeded from there.

But none of it was true.

The latest crime of 9/11 is that this fact is not being reported. The media admits that Zubaydah was never associated with al Qaeda but entirely ignores the devastating consequences of that admission. The false official account for 9/11 is the root cause and ongoing justification for greater crimes—1) wars of aggression in multiple countries that have destroyed millions of lives, 2) the public’s acceptance of torture and indefinite detention, and 3) mass surveillance and an overall attack on freedom.

Instead of reporting that the basis for those greater crimes has been obliterated, the media reduces the subject to a discussion of how torture is bad but perhaps still justified by the gain. Of course, torture is bad but mass murder is much worse and the justification for both the wars and the torture is now indefensible! Until the media reports this fact there will be no justice for victims of 9/11 or for the victims of the resulting wars and torture.

We know that there are many striking anomalies and inexplicable facts about 9/11 that have yet to be resolved. But the fake Gitmo trial stands as a final absurd crime in the history of 9/11 as it is represented as an attempt at justice yet includes more farcical elements every day. For example, the CIA-driven architect of the torture program recently claimed that he was acting on behalf of the 9/11 families and that he would do it again.

The final proceedings have been set to officially begin in January 2021, aligning with the 20th anniversary news cycle and re-emphasizing that propaganda is the primary goal. The propaganda narrative focuses on setting the false official account in stone and further normalizing torture. Sadly, reporters and editors covering these events don’t seem to have an interest in challenging any substantial part of the story. Let’s hope that one or more of them comes to their senses and proves that suspicion wrong.

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Seven Questions to Evaluate Nineteen 9/11 Suspects

Who could have committed the crimes of September 11, 2001? Answering that question requires understanding the details of 1) what happened that should not have happened and 2) what did not happen that should have happened. Additionally, it requires asking specific, well-formulated questions and seeking answers that are evidence-based to assess potential suspects in terms of means, motive, and opportunity.

In my book Another Nineteen: Investigating Legitimate 9/11 Suspects, a case is made for the investigation of nineteen people who were in position to do everything that was needed to affect the crimes. These legitimate suspects can be compared to the nineteen young Arabs who were accused of the crimes yet who did not have the means or opportunity to accomplish most of what happened that day.

The following seven questions should be asked when considering suspects. For each question, my nominees are described.

  1. Who could have prevented U.S. intelligence agencies from tracking down and stopping the alleged hijackers before 9/11?
    • Louis Freeh was Director of the FBI for the nine years leading up to 9/11. Under Freeh’s leadership, the FBI failed miserably at preventing terrorism when preventing terrorism was the FBI’s primary goal. During this time the actions of FBI management suggest that it was facilitating and covering-up acts of terrorism. After 9/11, Freeh went on to become the personal attorney for Saudi Arabian ambassador Prince Bandar and a director for a company linked to 9/11 insider trading.
    • As Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (DCI) from 1997 to 2004, George Tenet led an agency that botched and bungled its duties related to counterterrorism. The evidence suggests that, as with Louis Freeh and the FBI, at least some of those failures were intentional. Tenet had developed secret paths of communication with Saudi authorities and he appears to have disrupted plans to capture or investigate al Qaeda suspects.
    • Richard Clarke was appointed U.S. “Counterterrorism Czar” by President George H.W. Bush in1992 and he held that position until after the 9/11 attacks. Clarke was also a member of the highly secret Continuity of Government planning group along with Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and he implemented that secret plan for the first time on 9/11. He was a personal representative of the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a country that financed terrorism and had many ties to 9/11. Clarke predicted terrorist attacks on Washington and New York and, through tipping off his friends in the UAE, was behind the failure of two CIA attempts to kill or capture Osama Bin Laden. On 9/11, he led the secure White House videoconference that failed to respond to the attacks.
    • Richard Armitage was a special operations soldier, long-time covert operative, and a member of the Project for a New American Century (PNAC). On 9/11, Armitage was Deputy Secretary of State and, in this role, he implemented an express approval program that provided visas to the alleged 9/11 hijackers. On 9/11, he was involved in the secure videoconference run by Richard Clarke that failed to respond to the hijacked airliners.
  1. Who could have disabled the systems in place to prevent hijackings that should have been effective?
    • On 9/11, General Michael Canavan was in the role of hijack coordinator for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) but he was mysteriously missing that morning. Canavan’s role was most responsible for communications between the FAA and the military and his absence was critical to the failure of air defenses. Having only started as FAA’s hijack coordinator just months earlier, Canavan left the position in October 2001. According to an FAA intelligence employee, Canavan started his job by running training exercises that were “pretty damn close to the 9/11 plot.”
    • Duane Andrews, a long time protégé of Dick Cheney, was a leading expert on the defense systems that failed on 9/11. At the time, he led the company Science Applications International (SAIC) that created the national databases to track and identify terrorists, supplied U.S. airports with terrorism screening equipment, predicted and investigated terrorist attacks against U.S. infrastructure including national defense networks and the WTC, helped create the official account for what happened at the WTC both in 1993 and after 9/11, was a leader in research on thermitic materials like those found in the WTC dust, led the robotics team that scoured the pile at Ground Zero using equipment capable of eliminating explosives, and provided the information to capture the alleged mastermind of the attacks, Khalid Sheik Mohammed.
    • Benedict Sliney was the FAA’s Command Center national operations manager on 9/11. It was his first day in the job, having just left a lucrative law career defending Wall Street financiers. Despite his lack of experience, his FAA superiors deferred to him as the attacks proceeded and allowed him to take charge of the response to the hijacked airliners. Sliney’s failure to respond effectively on the day of the attacks, allegedly not even knowing how to respond, contributed significantly to the failure of the national air defenses.
  1. Who could have disabled the U.S. chain of command that should have immediately responded to the attacks but did not?
    • Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was in charge of U.S. defenses on 9/11. After the Pentagon was hit, Rumsfeld wandered out to the parking lot for approximately 30 minutes. His presence there showed that he was not concerned about other planes that were reported as hijacked, as if he knew what to expect. Rumsfeld did not concern himself with the work of his direct subordinate, NORAD Commander Ralph Eberhart, and he did not do his job to ensure the nation’s air defenses. Rumsfeld and his Defense department later failed to cooperate with 9/11 investigations.
    • Vice President Dick Cheney was in charge at the White House on 9/11 and is known to have been the primary decision maker that day. In the Presidential Emergency Operations Center, Cheney gave instructions that appear to have directed a stand down of air defenses as well as an order to shoot down United Flight 93. Cheney later worked to prevent any investigation into 9/11 and led a campaign of lies to start the Iraq War.
  1. Who could have disabled the U.S. national air defenses that should have responded effectively and intercepted some, if not all, of the hijacked aircraft?
    • Ralph Eberhart, the commander of NORAD on 9/11, sponsored the highly coincidental military exercises (i.e. war games) that obstructed the military response. Twelve hours before the attacks, Eberhart apparently ordered the defense readiness alert system Infocon to its least protective level, making it easier to hack or compromise the defense computer networks. Failing in his duties to protect the nation while giving orders that further prevented response, Eberhart later lied to Congress about the military’s knowledge of the hijackings.
    • As a special agent in charge for the Secret Service, Carl Truscott supervised all protective matters relating to the president, the first family, and the White House. The response of the Secret Service to the 9/11 attacks suggests foreknowledge of the events because the agency failed to protect the president from the obvious danger posed by terrorists. Combined with the failure of the Secret Service to follow-up on offers of air support from Andrews Air Force Base, this led to the suspicion that the agency was complicit in the attacks.
  1. Who could have caused three WTC skyscrapers to fall through the path of what should have been the most resistance?
    • Brian Michael Jenkins, as deputy chairman of Crisis Management for Kroll Associates, played a leading role in planning for terrorist events at the WTC, including having reviewed the possibility of airliner crashes into the towers. A special operations soldier and long-time right-wing political advisor, Jenkins had been accused of implementing a “terror war” in Central America during the 1980s.
    • Wirt Walker was named a 9/11 insider trading suspect in previously classified 9/11 Commission documents. Walker’s company Stratesec provided security services for the WTC, United Airlines (which owned two of the planes hijacked on 9/11), and Dulles Airport (where American Airlines Flight 77 took off that day). Stratesec held its annual meetings in offices leased by Saudi Arabia and Walker also ran an aviation company in Oklahoma at an airport that was associated with the alleged hijackers.
    • Barry McDaniel was the chief operating officer of Stratesec. McDaniel was in charge of WTC security in terms of what he called a completion contract, to provide services up to the day the buildings fell down. He is also an Iran-Contra suspect and previously worked for companies that conducted covert operations, like Sears World Trade and The Vinnell Corporation. After 9/11, McDaniel went on to start a business with Dick Cheney’s former business partner, Bruce Bradley.
    • Rudy Giuliani was Mayor of New York City on 9/11. He and his staff had foreknowledge that the WTC Towers would fall when no one could have predicted such a thing. Giuliani was also responsible for the destruction of critical WTC evidence at Ground Zero. In a crime that continues to take lives, he told people in the area that the air was safe to breathe, when it was not, in order to speed the removal of evidence.
    • L. Paul Bremer’s career with the State Department and as managing director of Kissinger Associates led to him becoming, like Jenkins, one of few leading experts on terrorism before 9/11. On the day of 9/11, Bremer had an office in the South Tower of the WTC and was working for Marsh & McLennan, a company that occupied all the impact floors in the North Tower. Also associated with a company that had patented a thermite demolition device, Bremer was one of the first people to provide the official account for what happened on television that morning.
  1. Who could have coordinated an attack against the Pentagon that struck the exact spot that had just been renovated while allowing all Pentagon leadership to escape unharmed?
    • Paul Wolfowitz was Deputy Secretary of Defense on 9/11. Along with Armitage, Cheney, and Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz was a leader of the organization PNAC that, one year before 9/11, had called for a transformational event “like a New Pearl Harbor” to reinvigorate U.S. military spending. In the eight months leading up to 9/11, Wolfowitz led the Pentagon building project that renovated the exact spot where Flight 77 was reported to have impacted the building.
    • Peter Janson was the chief officer of AMEC Construction, the company that performed the renovation work on the Pentagon building in the exact spot where it was hit on 9/11. AMEC was also hired to clean-up the debris at both the Pentagon and the WTC immediately after the attacks. A long-time business associate of Donald Rumsfeld, Janson went on to benefit from the War on Terror as a director of an oil and gas transport company.
  1. Who could have ensured that no effective investigation was conducted and that no one was held accountable?
    • Porter Goss was a CIA operative who, after 9/11, became DCI. On the day of 9/11, Goss was meeting with Pakistani secret service (ISI) General Mahmud Ahmed as the first plane struck the WTC. He later helped cover-up the crimes through his leadership of the Congressional Joint Inquiry into 9/11. As DCI in 2004, Goss took actions to ensure that no one in the intelligence community was held responsible for 9/11.
    • Robert Mueller, although not named as a suspect in my book, was a leader of the 9/11 cover-up in his role as director of the FBI, a position he took one week before the 9/11 attacks. Mueller had a history of covering-up government crimes including FBI collusion with organize crime, the 1988 bombing of Pan Am 103, and the CIA terrorist financing network known as BCCI. That made him the perfect guy to lead the FBI investigation into 9/11.

It should be obvious that the 19 young Arab suspects accused of the crimes could not have accomplished any of the things required to pull off the 9/11 crimes, as described in these seven questions that need to be answered.  In fact, the evidence indicates they could not even fly small aircraft. On the other hand, the suspects noted above not only had the means, motive, and opportunity to carry out the crimes, many of them were long-time associates known to have engaged in covert operations or cover-ups. Anyone who is objective in an analysis of 9/11 suspects knows which of these groups should be investigated first.

Posted in 9/11, 9/11 Suspects, Terrorism | Tagged , , , | 15 Comments

The CIA’s Influence Over the Media: Use of the Conspiracy Theorist Slur

“Let us never tolerate outrageous conspiracy theories concerning the attacks of September the 11th.”—George W. Bush, November 10, 2001

In April of 1967, a CIA official sent a memorandum dispatch to agency chiefs and stations. This memo described a strategy for discrediting critics of the Warren Report, the official account for the assassination of President Kennedy released in 1964. At the time of the memo, polls showed that 46% of Americans did not think that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, in contradiction to the official finding. To counter such criticisms, the memo proposed labeling critics as “conspiracy theorists” and proposed that the CIA’s “propaganda assets” in media begin to use the slur and other, related techniques to marginalize critics.

Classified as Secret but finally released in 1998, the memo stated, “Conspiracy theories have frequently thrown suspicion on our organization, for example by falsely alleging that Lee Harvey Oswald worked for us. The aim of this dispatch is to provide material for countering and discrediting the claims of the conspiracy theorists, so as to inhibit circulation of such claims.”

The memo instructed media assets to discredit those questioning government reports by saying the critics should be depicted as “wedded to theories adopted before the evidence was in, hasty or inaccurate in their research, or infatuated with their own theories.”

The approach laid out by the memo was adopted by many in the American media. That’s not a surprise given that Operation Mockingbird, a domestic propaganda campaign aimed at promoting the views of the CIA within the media, was in full swing at the time. And despite official claims that the CIA’s influence of American media was halted in 1976, after the Church Committee findings, the continued use of the terms “conspiracy theory” and “conspiracy theorist” indicates that the practice has continued.

A few years ago, I tested this by checking how many times the phrase “conspiracy theory” had appeared in the Washington Post and the New York Times in the 45 years before and after the CIA memo.

Before the memo was issued, “conspiracy theory” was a phrase used 50 times, or about once per year, in the Times or the Post. In the 45 years after the CIA memo, these newspapers used the term 2,630 times, or about once per week.

Before the CIA memo came out, the Washington Post and New York Times had never used the phrase “conspiracy theorist.” After the CIA memo came out, they have used the phrase “conspiracy theorist” 1,118 times.

The continued use of terms such as “conspiracy theorist” suggests that the CIA still controls the mainstream media. With regard to the crimes of 9/11, The New York Times has led the way in terms of support for official propaganda. Moreover, many “alternative” media sources use these slurs as frequently, or more, than mainstream media do.

An example was in August 2011, when I was a guest on National Public Radio’s ‘On Point” talk show to discuss 9/11 skepticism. Interestingly, I was the only 9/11 skeptic invited to appear on this show about 9/11 skeptics. The other two guests were Jim Meigs from Popular Mechanics and dubious “truther expert” Jonathan Kay. During the show, I answered questions from the host for about 5 minutes, until it became clear that my skepticism of 9/11 sounded rational. After I was dismissed—for the remaining 42 minutes of the show—Meigs, Kay, and the substitute host rambled on about the evils of conspiracy theories, using some form of the phrase conspiracy theory a total of 85 times. That’s more than once every 30 seconds.

The use of “conspiracy theory” to deter citizens from investigating historic events is paradoxical, to be sure. It suggests that those who commit criminal conspiracies can only be relatively powerless people who happen to live on the most strategically important lands, and conspiracies among rich, powerful people are impossible or absurd. It’s just that kind of doublethink mindset that has led us to where we are today as a nation.

Of course, 9/11 was a conspiracy. The only question is was it a conspiracy of people who could not possibly pull it off and who would only suffer as a result or was it a conspiracy of the people who benefited and had the power to accomplish it? The first option presents many problems. Common sense suggests the latter.

These days, it seems that you can tell who is working for the CIA simply by the way they use “conspiracy theory” and “conspiracy theorist” in attempts to belittle others. An example might be when a lawyer for gold mining companies was presented by the corporate media as a public servant/truth teller based on stolen documents that were never shared with the public. That lawyer and his colleagues at The Intercept use the conspiracy theorist slur as much as any other media source, and often when they are questioned about their dubious rise to fame.

In any case, our entire legal system is based on the idea of conspiracy. Yet despite this fact we have been conditioned by the government and the media to blindly accept official reports and to treat anyone questioning those reports as conspiracy theorists. That is, you are a conspiracy theorist if you don’t believe the government’s conspiracy theory.

This technique is easy to see. Next time you read an article that uses these slurs, look more closely at the author and where he or she is trying to lead you.

Posted in 9/11 | 18 Comments

Nothing is More Racist Than the War on Terror

Americans were outraged over a recent incident in which a group of white kids from Kentucky taunted a Native American elder in Washington, DC. It appeared that a racist mindset played a role in the actions of the MAGA-cap wearing kids as they reportedly chanted, “Build that wall!,” apparently ignorant of the fact that Native Americans are not the target of Trump’s wall. Apologists for the kids later suggested that the their behavior was the fault of the Native American or that Black Israelite protestors had provoked them. In any case, racist ignorance is not limited to kids from Kentucky as it is the signature of the nearly 18-year long War on Terror that a majority of Americans support.

According to a national poll taken in September last year, 56% of Americans believe that the U.S. is “winning The War on Terror.” That dubious war began as a response to the crimes of September 11, 2001 and has been used as the driving force to kill half a million people and destroy the lives of many more. The terrorism that this war allegedly confronts conveniently originates in geographical areas that are most important for the production and transport of strategic natural resources. It also reflects a “grand strategy” that was defined two years before 9/11 by people who are suspected of actually committing the crimes.

The pervasive anti-Muslim racism that has evolved from the 9/11 Wars is a form of cultural racism that requires the victims to have little more than brown skin. The public has become easily manipulated by fear and their most banal, racist tendencies into accepting horrific crimes committed in their names including mass murder, torture, and indefinite incarceration. The victims don’t need to have any solid evidence against them and they only need to look like “the enemy,” to use a dubious term from the 9/11 Commission Report.

An example was recently revealed when a judge stated that the conviction of the first alleged Muslim terrorist after 9/11, Hamid Hayat, should be vacated. Hayat did not commit a crime but was accused of having trained in an al Qaeda camp in Pakistan and of returning as part of a sleeper cell. The evidence presented was allegedly gained from interrogation of Hayat and his father, in which they both accepted what FBI interrogators suggested after long hours of abuse. The father’s “confession” was obviously absurd in that he “described visiting his son’s camp and finding 1,000 men wearing black Ninja Turtle masks and performing “pole vaulting” exercises in huge basement rooms.” Further evidence against Hayat came from the testimony of a well-paid FBI informant, whose own mother said he was “a bagful of lies.”

Nonetheless, in the post-9/11 hysteria fueled by racism, America bought the story of Hayat being a terrorist. This was despite the affidavits of 18 family and community members who swore that Hayat could not have attended an al Qaeda training camp because they saw him every day during the period in question.

Another example of the racism and ignorance that has fueled American perceptions since 9/11 was seen with the San Bernardino shooting in 2015. This was a sensationalized mass murder in which most of the evidence was ignored in favor of an official account that accused a brown-skinned, Muslim husband and wife. Contrary to the unchallenged accusation, the evidence suggests that the attackers were three white men who appeared to be special operations soldiers.

The most important example of how racism and ignorance define public opinion about terrorism involves the first alleged al Qaeda leader captured after 9/11, Abu Zubaydah. One of the forty men still imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay Detention Center, Zubaydah was tortured extensively based on numerous claims from top U.S. leaders that he was a leading al Qaeda operative. Those claims have since been revealed to be completely false. Today, everyone agrees that Zubaydah was never associated with al Qaeda in any way.

The problem that both Zubaydah and the U.S. government have is that the official account of 9/11 was based on information allegedly gained from his torture. We know that Zubaydah could not have known any of that information and that is very problematic for the entire War on Terror. In other words, if not for the alleged torture testimony of Zubaydah and the people he reportedly identified, KSM and Ramsi bin Alshibh in particular, the 9/11 Commission Report would have little evidentiary basis. If Zubaydah was to be released or exonerated, it could bring the whole house of cards down, revealing 9/11 to be a lie. That’s undoubtedly why Zubaydah has now been classified as a “forever prisoner.”

Americans did not question the obvious falsehoods behind the conviction of Hamid Hayat. They have not questioned the obvious falsehoods behind the official account for the San Bernardino shooting. They have not questioned the many other instances in which U.S. authorities blatantly manufactured stories of Muslim terrorism. And they have not called for the release of Abu Zubaydah or the reconciliation of the official account of 9/11 with his false torture testimony.

How can Americans continue to buy into all the obvious falsehoods that have led to the torture, imprisonment, and murder of countless people who just happen to have brown skin? Only willful ignorance and racism can explain why the public accepts and supports these weak excuses for the War on Terror. The outrage at kids taunting a Native American is therefore hypocritical for many Americans. On this Martin Luther King Jr. Day, if we really despise racism we should all speak out against the “starless midnight of racism and war” that began with 9/11.

Posted in 9/11, Terrorism | Tagged , , | 3 Comments