Monday, March 23, 2020

#2322: Webster Tarpley

Webster Griffin Tarpley is an author, critic of U.S. foreign and domestic policy, founder of the Tax Wall Street Party, and deranged conspiracy theorist. Tarpley was for a long time affiliated with the LaRouche movement, and even attempted to run on LaRouche’s U.S. Labor Party platform in the NY Democratic senate primary in 1986. His 1992 book with Anton Chaitkin, George Bush: The Unauthorized Biography, was also published by LaRouche’s Executive Intelligence Review magazine, and already illustrated Tarpley’s problematic relationship with truth, facts and accuracy. Currently he hosts the online talk show World Crisis Radio, and is a member of the “world anti-imperialist conference” Axis for Peace, Scholars for 9/11 Truth, as well as a “research” Netzwerk of German 9/11 authors. He also hosts the podcast, co-hosted with the chairperson of the Tax Wall Street Party, Daniela Walls.

Yes, Tarpley believes that the September 11 attacks were engineered by a rogue network in the military-industrial complex and intelligence agencies as a false-flag operation, and has denounced the official story as an “outrageous myth” and “absurd fairy tale.” Instead of fundamentalist islamists, Tarpley claims that the organisations involved in 9/11 included Britain's MI6 as well as “government officials loyal to the invisible government,” the cabal that really controls everything and is invisible, so you won’t find evidence that it exists, which for conspiracy theorists like Tarpley is evidence that they really are a secret government and, moreover, extremely resourceful. As for the British connection, Tarpley is one of a rather surprising number of conspiracy theorists who have managed to convince themselves that Great Britain really are pulling the strings here and have been doing so for a long time (we’ve encountered the type before, e.g. here), and he has managed to receive some attention for instance for his “Versailles Thesis”, which lays the blame for the great wars of the 20th century on intrigues by Britain to retain dominance. For good measure, Tarpley also believes the Pearl Harbor attack was a government conspiracy. Tarpley’s views on 9/11 are summed up in his book 9/11 Synthetic Terror: Made in USA – Myth of the 21st Century (with a foreword by the noted and equally utterly deranged French conspiracy theorist Thierry Meyssan), which has been published in a number of languages.

Tarpley has, in fact, had several opportunities to take his conspiracy theories abroad. In 2011 Tarpley travelled to Syria to tell Syria’s Addounia TV that the Syrian Civil War was a NATO-CIA ploy to destabilize the country using mercenaries and death squads – in particular CIA-contracted Al-Qaeda groups, or “Ciaqaeda” – against the population and the Syrian government. Indeed, the idea that there is even a civil war going on “is absolute baloney, this is a Goebbels big lie campaign, there is no civil war here, there is no insurrection, there is no mass political movement against Assad,” just NATO working behind the scenes to try to topple a regime loved by the people. Tarpley’s evidence consists mostly of his own assertions (“I would like to argue that” followed by an assertion with neither argument nor evidence). And in 2012, he was interviewd by the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation regarding the 2011 Norway attacks, saying that he believed “that the evidence points to a private network, or even a NATO network, within the police that contributed the long time delay until they stormed the Island.” That claim is, of course, not really consistent with the details, but Tarpley’s ideas are not about details but about large narratives. Tarpley’s conspiracy theory breakthrough, meanwhile, was the book Who Killed Aldo Moro, commissioned by Italian Parliamentary member Giuseppe Zamberletti, and which alleged, entirely unsurprisingly, that the US and NATO, not the Red Brigades, were behind Moro’s murder.

Part of the point of invisible shadow governments is that they remain invisible, and Tarpley’s primary evidence that the US (and everywhere else) is ruled by an invisible shadow government is of course, as mentioned above, that he cannot find any evidence for them. Accordingly, Tarpley has been rather dismissive of actual revelations of government secrets, such as Snowden’s revelations about the National Security Agency. According to Tarpley, Snowden is probably a triple agent ultimately working under the control of the CIA with the aim of weakening President Barack Obama and pushing him into intervening in Syria – that is why he would publicize minor public manipulation operations: in order to conceal greater covert misdeeds such as promoting war in the Middle East. Daniel Ellsberg and Julian Assange are other examples of covert CIA operatives. 

Tarpley has actually written two books outlying his conspiracy theories about the Obama administration, Obama & The Postmodern Coup: Making of a Manchurian Candidate (2008) and Barack H. Obama: The Unauthorized Biography(2008). His discussions of Obama, in particular how Obama is “clearly being controlled” – “The Elite are using Obama to pacify the public so they can usher in the North American Union by stealth, launch a new Cold War and continue the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan” – were heavily featured in Alex Jones’s “documentary” The Obama Deception: The Mask Comes Off (there are fine discussions of that movie, including Tarpley’s contributions, here, here, here and here); Jones is in general a big fan of Tarpley’s work. In 2012, Tarpley added a book about Romney: Just Too Weird: Bishop Romney and the Mormon Takeover of America: Polygamy, Theocracy, and Subversion to his portfolio. 

The general methodological principle of Tarpley’s work in his books, articles and videos is to take any claim made or article written by his target (the alleged member of the shadow government who is planning a New World Order or genocide or whatever) and interpret any description of an ongoing situation and any attempt to predict future developments, as advocating for the situation described or prediction made – so if you predict that humans may use bodily implants for various purposes in the future, for instance, then Tarpley will reinterpret you as actively trying to force people to get bodily implants. Add to that technique a generous amount of cherry-picking and strawmanning, and you quickly become, in Tarpley’s view, an advocate for a “global police force” to enforce totalitarian measures of population control, including forced abortions, mass sterilization programs conducted via the food and water supply, and forced bodily implants to prevent you from having children – such as John Holdren, who according to Tarpley, in a conspiracy theory popularized by Glenn Beck, ended up as a “Malthusian fanatic in the tradition of the arcane anti-human ideology that originated amongst British aristocracy in the 19th century.”

In 2017 Tarpley received renewed attention when he agreed to settle a libel suit brought by Melania Trump for publishing a “false and defamatory” report In August 2016 alleging that the First Lady had been a “high-end escort” prior to meeting Donald Trump. The settlement apparently involved a rather large sum of money, as well as a public apology.

Diagnosis: Tarpley has for decades been one of the leading kooks in the US, and still wields an impressive amount of influence among US conspiracy theorists – Alex Jones, for instance, seems to have picked up a trick or three from Tarpley. And his books and articles still seem to find a receptive and disconcertingly large audience. He is, accordingly, not just some harmless ball of colors and rage but someone whose paranoia might be causing actual harm.


  1. Tarpley has gotten a lot of things right. At best he should get honorable mention as a loon.

  2. Tarpley is a good guy and very educated.