On July 17, 1996, TWA Flight 800 took off from JFK International Airport bound for Paris and Rome. Twelve minutes later the plane exploded off the coast of Long Island leaving no survivors. On July 19th, two days later, the Olympics were scheduled to begin in Atlanta, Georgia. All federal resources were on high alert preceding the start of the Games, and the timing of the plane crash caused “concern” starting at the White House and working its way down to those responsible for preventing any incidents.
The NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) launched an immediate investigation into the cause of the crash. The FBI and other federal agencies, to include the JTTF (Joint Terrorism Task Force) began a parallel criminal investigation. Various witnesses on the ground and air reported an explosion, which suggested a possible terrorist act. Considering the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City on April 19, 1995, and the bombing of the World Trade Center in February 1993, it was plausible that the airplane had been sabotaged or shot down by a missile.
In a remarkable feat, the recovered pieces of the plane were reassembled like a jigsaw puzzle. Eventually it was determined that a faulty centerline fuel tank had exploded for a number of possible reasons. But the internet, relatively new at the time, “exploded” with its own theories, and they did not include the unanimous finding of the probable ultimate cause. Among the theories was that a U.S. Navy missile had accidently been launched and struck the plane.
Pierre Salinger had been Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson’s press secretary. He also became one of the most vocal supporters of the Navy missile theory and lent credibility to it because of his name and reputation.
For a U.S. Navy missile to have been launched by accident or otherwise, and kept secret, would be a virtual impossibility. The number of steps involved and safety precautions on its face would rule it out. And had it occurred, as Salinger and others claimed, surely the NSA (National Security Agency) and National Reconnaissance Office, which is responsible for the operation and maintenance of our satellites that gather defense intelligence, would have picked up on it. Surely, out of hundreds, if not thousands of sailors and others in the loop, one person would have come forward with knowledge of the launch. But it didn’t happen.
Conspiracy theories have a lot of moving parts. Remove one or two, and they generally collapse except to the true believer. We are seeing endless new such theories related to the coronavirus pandemic, and now with President Donald Trump hospitalized with Covid 19, both the left and right are having a field day.
Any number of respectable people, not unlike Pierre Salinger, have postulated that the pandemic was caused by Trump opponents in order to shut down the economy, which in turn would inure to the benefit of the Democrats. Having failed to remove Trump from office by the Mueller investigation and impeachment, this was a fallback plan that seems to be working if one looks at the polls. The claimants of this theory have stated that the pandemic would miraculously go away right after the election.
Facts and evidence need not be presented since this is a “plausible” theory. Factor in the Deep State, those unnamed career bureaucrats who have subverted Trump and his administration at every turn, and the notion of the pandemic as the last best hope of taking Trump down has to be true.
Then there are those who believe that requiring the wearing of masks is a plot by the left to kill people for who knows what reason. Never mind that if this was true, we probably would have wiped out the entire medical community decades ago. How about the 5G broadband conspiracy coupled with mandatory vaccinations that would inject microchips, both of which would allow the government to track people?
The left has demonstrated that it can be nutty, too. They are propagating various theories that Trump doesn’t have the coronavirus but is claiming to have it to either avoid any further debate debacles, or since he can’t campaign---and may not be able to before the election---as an explanation to save face if he loses the election.
Of course not a single person involved with Trump’s healthcare---not one---would ever leak that it is all fake. They would all risk being charged criminally for being part of falsifying government medical records, taking part in disseminating fake news, and going through an incredibly elaborate cover-up where no one in the loop reveals anything. Pretty amazing since the government is known to leak like a sieve.
By the time this commentary gets published, there may be several more wild ideas about Trump’s health that only the very imaginative can conjure up. The one I expect at any time is that Trump was poisoned despite some of the best security measures in the world to prevent it. It’s not uncommon to find “thinkers” like this residing in mental health facilities. Even though H.L. Mencken may not have said this famous quote attributed to him, that “No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public”, it could well be applied to those who subscribe to conspiracy nonsense.
Trump is president for at least the next three months. I won’t be voting for him, but he was democratically elected and deserves better right now. So do those who serve our country honorably in the civil service and military. And so do all Americans who believe in our institutions and our republican form of government. Just because some things are possible, however remote, does not make it so.