Websites Allow Mice to Roar
The click of a mouse can locate a plethora of Websites challenging the accepted explanations for current and historical events. Why is Big Brother so interested?
With more information than any human could absorb in a lifetime only a click away, eccentric scholars and independent journalists are speculating about how the world works and then using Internet Websites as a kind of personal megaphone to set the record straight (or crooked, as the case may be). While many are written off as part of the underground fringe, alternative-news Websites have increased in popularity to the point that even Big Brother is logging on and watching them with a wary (and sometimes amused) eye.
In fact, the power and influence of this new communication network are growing exponentially. Consider that one in six people in North America and Europe now use the Internet; 64 million adults access it regularly in the United States alone. Last year, more than one-half of all U.S. companies sold products online, and nearly 20 million households shopped in cyberspace.
It is not just the number of people communicating that excites comment but also the substance of what is posted and who’s reading it. Of particular interest are the increasing numbers of Websites presenting alternative views challenging long-accepted explanations of events that have changed or are changing the course of history. The list of conspiracy issues runs the gamut from the Illuminist role in the French Revolution to the assassination of John F. Kennedy and extraterrestrials landing in Roswell, N.M. Cults and theories — sometimes interesting, insane or just wacky — are being propagated in cyberspace as if all ideas were equal at the click of a mouse.
Whatever search engine is used —Hotbot, Excite, Yahoo, Google, etc. —researchers have no problem turning up a wonderment of theories, bizarre and otherwise. Type in “alternative news” under the Google search engine and 2,170,000 sites become available. Or type in “conspiracy Websites” under the Excite search engine and 847,000 sites appear. Those with such specific areas in mind as the J.F.K. assassination or the explosion of TWA Flight 800 will find nearly 100,000 sites each.
Curious about proliferation of these sites, Insight contacted alternative Websites at random to learn what they are about, who visits them and in what numbers. Seeking an inside look at three such sites, Insight sought operators willing to share private data about their operations, which turned off many of those contacted, though not all.
For example, Uri Dowbenko, founder and developer of www. conspiracydigest.com, a Website featuring investigative articles about alleged connections between corporate and government fraud, was glad to speak on the record. “Fewer and fewer Americans believe the news reported by the networks and the megacorporate media cartel,” he says. “I want to see a viable counterpoint to the government/media cartel. Alternative media transcend the false distinction of conservatives versus liberals or right versus left. The truth is that the underworld and overworld are in conjunction. There is little difference between the crime bosses of the underworld and the crime bosses of the government.”
“What I write about,” Dowbenko continues, “are things I think are important, not what you see in the mainstream press. Take for example the attention being paid to the Powerball game and Rep. Gary Condit [D-Calif.]. Pravda couldn’t have done a better job of diverting attention from the stories that have real significance and importance in our lives, like the billions missing at DOD [Department of Defense] and other federal agencies, or the tens of thousands of jobs being lost while the stock market is tanking. The media/government cartel is an agency of disinformation.”
Dowbenko has gone after the IRS and Commissioner Charles Rossotti, devoted several issues to fraud at the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and likes nothing better than to attack politicians. In one issue, Dowbenko published a series of articles titled “Bushwhacked: HUD Fraud, Spooks & the Slumlords of Harvard,” which focused attention on Catherine Austin Fitts, a HUD official in the George H.W. Bush administration who was destroyed financially by a series of lawsuits, audits and rumors. While these include stories on which Insight has taken the lead, Dowbenko explains that he does not pussyfoot around and puts these developments in their true perspective.
“I’m not against the Bushes or the Clintons,” Dowbenko says. “I just see them as the same pack of corporate/ government parasites. There is no difference in my mind between the two, and I’m attempting to connect the dots between the criminal, corporate and government networks. It isn’t just a matter of exposing corruption, as Insight does. People already assume these people are corrupt. I just want to connect the dots among the corrupt.”
Dowbenko may be connecting more than anticipated. He reports that his site receives many thousands of hits each month, many from corporations and government agencies he thinks he’s exposing to public scrutiny. Analysis of Website data provided to Insight confirms who visits.
Then there’s the site operated by Al Martin, who introduces himself as a retired naval officer who worked in the Office of Naval Intelligence and was a player in the Iran-Contra affair. He’s published a book called The Conspirators: Secrets of an Iran-Contra Insider and started up an Internet site at www.Almartinraw.com. A review of his Website-user activity shows lots of cybervisits from government and corporate entities, which delights Martin. His weekly columns focus on colorful allegations, such as his claim that the U.S. State Department sponsors training exercises for foreign “terrorists” at the Redstone Arsenal in Alabama. He also claims the loss of the EP-3E Aries II surveillance aircraft on Hainan Island in the South China Sea was a project to cover technology transfers to the People’s Republic of China.
Martin says, “I decided to write a weekly investigative-news piece and combine it with commentary. No one else is writing as well about these things because people who want to talk about it don’t have the information I do. The stuff I put out isn’t going to be found in the mainstream press. Sure they’ll have snippets of information, but they won’t have the corporate dope — how much money is involved and who is profiting from the deal. I’m able to write about this because I get information from insiders I’ve helped in the past.”
Martin watches closely to see who’s hitting his site. “I get a lot of hits from the FBI. They’re looking to see what information may have gotten loose and is floating around out here. But sometimes they hide. Government entities don’t always sign on under their own login, and it’s difficult to know just who is hitting the site. Traditionally they use other agencies — for instance the FBI might sign on as [the] Interior [Department] or something like that.”
Those who click on Martin’s site, he indicates, depend on the subject matter. When he writes about alleged mischief at the Redstone Arsenal (such as weapons thefts), the visitors become more eclectic, including hits from Boeing, Honeywell, Harvard University, J.P. Morgan, Ohio Capital, Abbott Labs, Bell Global, the offices of the Texas attorney general and the U.S. Department of Justice, just to name a few.
While Martin and Dowbenko research and write their own material, some conspiracy sites offer visitors a variety of news in other formats, such as links or data dumps. One of those that agreed to share internal information is run by Kate Dixon, an attorney, private investigator and founder/developer of newsmakingnews.com. Dixon tells Insight that her site “specializes in data dumps — a kind of repository of information on specific issues. We try to link all the information together so it can be readily accessed.”
Dixon continues: “I felt that we weren’t getting in-depth coverage of the news and decided to give the site a try. When the major media outlets have given up on a story we think is important, we continue to go after it in-depth. We therefore tend to cover news stories that have been forgotten or neglected by the major media.” Dixon receives on average of 10,000 hits per day. Although her count is much smaller than those of Dowbenko or Martin and the information more centered on issues concerning the San Francisco Bay area, www.newsmakingnews also is visited by a surprising number of government and corporate entities.
While the issues these three “alternative news” sites cover seem to have no common denominator other than suspicious populism, they assuredly share mistrust of corporate and government bigness and of the national press — hardly anti-American notions. And their common experience is that the government/corporate entities being written about want to know what’s being said about them.
Are these, then, dangerous conspiracy theorists about whom establishment commentators roll their eyes? They reject only the pejorative. “I’m not a conspiracist,” Dixon says, “but I’d consider it an accolade to be called one. There’s no one in America today who doesn’t think there’s a meeting of the minds at a higher level. Use of the word ‘conspiracy’ is becoming more mainstream, and I think the flood of information from the Internet has helped to open the eyes of many people to the fact that covert deals frequently are made at high levels.”
Dowbenko says, “I’m rehabilitating the C-word because conspiracy in its most basic form comes from the Latin root conspirare, which literally means to breath together.” While there’s breath there’s life, at least on the Internet.