| April 4, 2002 [From Norman Solomon]
A few people have suggested that I respond
to a statement written by Michael Ruppert that has circulated in recent
days. The following brief comments address a few factual matters and
summarize some of my concerns.
* Ruppert wrote: "I have not only been denied free-speech access
to public airwaves [KPFA Radio] but I have been deprived of a most basic right
in any democracy, the right to confront and challenge accusers who do
not have the courage to engage in an open and unbiased debate."
But Ruppert did not mention that he had already
been heard previously and extensively on KPFA, without challenge. As
for the last half of his sentence, while my name is the first one he
mentions in his letter, he doesn't mention that I accepted an invitation
from KPFK Radio in Los Angeles to debate with him on March 1, and that
debate aired live for a full hour.
* With reference to Ruppert's much-hyped claims about the significance of
the Vreeland story in Canada, Ruppert faults columnist David Corn: " Not
once did Corn address the undisputed FACTS of the case; namely that Vreeland
had written an accurate warning a month before the attacks."
That is a good example of highly unreliable
characterizations. The note that Ruppert refers to as "an accurate warning" of
the September 11 attacks was nothing of the kind, as a look at the actual
scribblings makes clear. It's quite a fantastic leap to extract an "accurate warning" from
those ambiguous rambling snippets of words and phrases.
As someone who's been a progressive activist
for about 30 years and a media critic for most of that time, I believe
that progressives should maintain solid standards for evaluating ostensible
logic and documentation in all situations. (By the way, while Ruppert's
letter identifies me as "Norman Solomon of FAIR," I don't speak for the organization;
I'm a FAIR "associate" and not on its staff.)
* Ruppert acknowledged just that "one of the web sites I recommend
is that of Matt Drudge."
But Ruppert has not just listed Matt Drudge's
site as "one of" the web sites he recommends. Ruppert's site has quoted
himself as saying that Drudge's site is his (Ruppert's) favorite site
on the web.
* Ruppert wrote that I had written a "secretive internal memo."
There was nothing "secretive" about the three-page
letter dated March 7 that I sent to a KPFA staff member, with the prior
understanding that it would be xeroxed and shared with people who work
at KPFA; which is what happened.
In the letter, I discussed cases in point about
Ruppert's approach as well as his overall approach: "Some of the problem
is in how he characterizes news reports. These citations can be narrowly
factual yet presented in a misleading way. Yes, such-and-such newspaper
reported that thus-and-so claim was made by so-and-so. The paper reported
on the claim, but that doesn't mean the claim is true." I described it
as a " selective vacuum cleaner approach" -- "pulling in whatever supports
a thesis and excluding context and perspectives that undermine it."
I added: "But even if we accepted the idea
that many of the reported claims are factual claims and not just reported,
Ruppert tends to use convoluted substitutes for logic in his eagerness
to make the case for CIA 'foreknowledge' and U.S. government 'criminal
complicity' in what happened September 11. When connecting the dots,
many innuendos and suppositions are so central to the case that logic
sometimes points backwards. So, the fact that oil companies and the Bush
administration have done all they can to take advantage of September
11 events is presented by Ruppert as backing up his claim of their 'foreknowledge' and
And: "Does Ruppert include some interesting
and solid information in his mish-mash? Sure. But such information is
available from a lot of researchers who are, in contrast, progressive
-- and who don't combine the solid information with fast-and-loose machinations
that reach specious conclusions.... Aren't the well-documented crimes
of the U.S. government and huge corporations enough to merit our ongoing
outrage, focused attention and activism?"
Norman Solomon email@example.com