I always wonder which conspiracy theories are allowed and which are publicly condemned. And which are ignored.
The grandest conspiracy theory, and the one most beaten back by Officialdom, is the JFK assassination. Even fifty years later most Americans believe there was some kind of conspiracy to kill Kennedy. But the official guardians of reality in the media continue to berate any rational discussion on it. The fact is, and has been known for decades, that someone was impersonating Oswald in Mexico City six weeks before the assassination, trying to connect Oswald to both the Soviet embassy and the Cuban consulate. There's pictures of the guy, who is definitely not the Oswald arrested for JFK's murder. Common sense says that someone impersonating a nobody (and trying to implicate him as part of a conspiracy with foreign enemies) who becomes a somebody six weeks later by allegedly assassinating the President indicates a conspiracy.
There have been plenty of 9/11 conspiracy theories, and anyone who doubts the official story has been branded mentally ill and/or somehow unpatriotic. But as noted here, there is plenty to question about the backgrounds of the hijackers and no discussion erupts in the mainstream media.
The most embraced conspiracy theory in the past fifty years has been Watergate, and by conspiracy I mean the accepted story, that Nixon conspired to spy on the Democrats and then tried to cover things up. It's worth noting that almost every player in the Watergate scandal was connected with our intelligence services, from the burglars (some of whom were wandering around in Dealey Plaza a decade earlier), to those who gave testimony, and even to the official historian of the event, Bob Woodward, who had top secret clearance working at the Pentagon only a few years prior to Watergate.
I bring this up because Seymour Hersh, famed for many investigative reporting coups, has just announced that the whole story surrounding the death of bin Laden was fake. Hersh said this in an interview with Britain's Guardian, which has been the home of Glenn Greenwald and the continuing Snowden saga.
Hersh's first coup was his investigation of My Lai, where he exposed Lieutenant Calley and the slaughter in a Vietnamese hamlet. But how complete was his expose? Most people came away from that story wringing their hands about man's inhumanity to man, or demonizing the individual Americans, like Calley, who were involved in the incident. But a fuller understanding of that incident can be found in Douglas Valentine's The Phoenix Program, which details this in the context of the secret war waged by the CIA in Vietnam. So years later the question should be did Seymour Hersh make full revelations of My Lai, or was he performing what has become known in intelligence circles as a "modified limited hangout", revealing as much as necessary while helping to cover up the bigger story, that the CIA was destroying hundreds of villages this very way during the Vietnam War? If the latter, then Hersh has been less an investigative reporter than a coverup artist for the CIA.
Hersh wrote a particularly bad book on JFK called The Dark Side of Camelot, filled with lots of hearsay and innuendo smearing JFK while ignoring facts pointing to the CIA's murder of Kennedy. This is not an uncommon occurance. Many reporters and writers who seem to be doing the CIA's handiwork have come out periodically with books about "the dark side" of John Kennedy while avoiding any blame for the CIA's role in his murder and coverup. (There are two fine essays, "The Media and the Assassination" and "The Posthumous Assassination of John F. Kennedy", about CIA assets obscuring government involvement in the JFK assassination and the periodical attacks on Kennedy. Both can be found in the book The Assassinations.)
Even if one concludes that Hersh has been a CIA asset over the years while acting to the world as an investigative reporter, why would he say that the whole Osama story was a fake? As is the case in these spy vs. spy media eruptions in the press, it always helps to ask the age-old question: "Cui bono?"
So who benefits from Hersh's story? (Note that I don't even address whether or not it's true. In the greater scheme of things it's unimportant if Osama died during that raid or died five years earlier. Osama's career as a boogeyman justifying American military involvement in Afghanistan were over.) I don't know, but I think that looking at the location of the story, in The Guardian, can provide clues. It's the same source as Greenwald and Snowden.
At the height of the Cold War the world, when it was Us versus Them, the scorecard was easier to decipher. But sabotaging US interests when they diverge from CIA interests get more complicated. One example was the CIA flying a U-2 over the Soviet Union, against Presidential orders, which sabotaged peace talks between the Soviet Union and the US at the end of the Eisenhower years. Another obvious example is the murder of JFK. On reflection it's pretty clear that elements within the CIA wanted to and did sabotage Nixon. After President Carter had his CIA Director put a number of loose cannons out to pasture there was full-fledged mutiny run against the President which has become known as The October Surprise, which begat Iran-contra. It's not surprising that over the next twelve years that former CIA Director George H. W. Bush was either President or Vice President.
So who benefits? I can definitely say who doesn't benefit. Obama. And Obama seems to have been the target of the Greenwald/Snowden revelations, never mind that our government intelligence apparatus has been spying on American citizens over the last sixty years (at least). The Echelon program, for example, has been in place since the nineties. The intrusive spy programs were put in place during the post-9/11 days under George W. Bush. Nevertheless, the tone and direction of Snowden's revelations points very much to President Obama. Likewise, if Obama oversaw the raid on Osama's compound, and it were all a lie, then Obama again gets the blame.
But notice that both things laid at Obama's feet were under the control of our intelligence services. To understand the dynamics of Washington DC one must understand that the CIA has had its own agenda, and has been very much in control of events, especially international events, since the U-2 incident. When a President is consonant with CIA goals it's smooth sailing. When a President isn't in sync with our intelligence interests, things get interesting.