(INDYBAY) The report, called The Power of Unreason: Conspiracy Theories, Extremism and Counterterrorism
, says “most notoriously and influentially, the ‘9/11 truth movement’ has questioned the official accounts of 9/11 and has become a large and growing political force.”
The authors note that the 9/11 truth movement is “peaceful”, but make no distinction between the legitimate questioning of the official account of 9/11 and any number of unrelated, and often racist, conspiracy theories. The Demos report acknowledges that “some conspiracies have turned out to be true. Our institutions and governments have
deceived the population to advance hidden and unstated interests”, and goes on to cite Operations Northwoods, the Joint Chief of Staff’s unimplemented plan to stage a false flag Cuban terror attack in 1963, as well as the CIA’s involvement in the Chilean coup of 1973. But the report is only concerned with limiting the effects of conspiracy theories on operations of the state, not with justice or the accuracy of the historical record. It states:
More broadly, conspiracy theories drive a wedge of distrust between governments and particular communities. Conspiracy theories – such as those that claim 7/7 or 9/11 were ‘inside jobs’ – demolish the mutuality and trust that people have in institutions of government, with social and political ramifications that we still don’t fully understand. This can especially hinder community-level efforts to fight violent extremism.
Demos makes a number of recommendations for governments to combat conspiracy theories, including a call for more government openness. The report also cites the writings of Cass Sunstein, an Obama appointee who recently called for the “cognitive infiltration” of 9/11 truth groups. The Demos paper in turn calls for government agents to “openly infiltrate” websites and chatrooms in order offer “alternative information” and “plant seeds of doubt”. The Demos report can be downloaded here.