Confirmed: Bin Laden was into conspiracy theories, including 9/11 conspiracy theories

That’s the choicest morsel from this morning’s kinda interesting but not terribly newsworthy document dump by the feds of what they found in Casa Osama. The SEALs reportedly took more than one million documents from the compound in 2011, including evidence of Al Qaeda’s relationships with Iran and Pakistan, but all the White House is comfortable with Americans knowing is the fact that Bin Laden read Noam Chomsky. Which we already knew, as if we couldn’t have guessed. (Chomsky returned the compliment after Bin Laden was killed, calling the operation a violation of international law and absolving Bin Laden of any role in 9/11.)

Turns out the guy who pulled off the most spectacular attack on America since Pearl Harbor, killing thousands of people in the process, was curious about alternate theories of what happened. And now that I think about it, that doesn’t seem so odd.

“In terms of the materials that are there, some of the things that we’ve found to be of note were that Bin Laden was probably an avid conspiracy theorist,” the senior intelligence official said in a phone call. “Of the 38 full length English language books he had in his possession, about half of them were conspiracy theory books” about the Illuminati, Freemasons, and other conspiracy topics. Texts listed on the “bookshelf” include Bloodlines of the Illuminati by the American conspiracy theorist Fritz Springmeier; The New Pearl Harbor: Disturbing Questions About the Bush Administration and 9/11, by the 9/11 conspiracy theorist David Ray Griffin; and The Secrets of the Federal Reserve, a book by the Holocaust denier and anti-Semite Eustace Mullins.

The list also includes materials from Congressional hearings about Project MKUltra, the so-called “mind control” program conducted by the CIA in the 1950s and 1960s. Also on the list: several resources about France and its economy, as well as maps of Iranian nuclear sites.

Ironically, the most commonly offered theory on Twitter this morning for why the feds are releasing this now is because they’re trying to … debunk a conspiracy theory, namely Seymour Hersh’s recently published alternate history of the Bin Laden raid in which the operation was staged with Pakistan’s approval and the documents seized from the compound were faked. How this “bookshelf” list debunks that any more thoroughly than the dozens of pieces that came out over the past few weeks blowing holes in Hersh’s theory is unclear, but oh well. It’s interesting, though, to learn that Bin Laden was sufficiently proficient in English that he was able to make his way through some comparatively dense prose. Offhand I can’t recall him ever recording a message in English aimed at western audiences; maybe he feared that would spoil his “authenticity” among the Arab audiences he was aiming at. (Footnote: Ayman al-Zawahiri also speaks English but has never recorded a message in English as head of AQ as far as I’m aware.) As I say, though, it doesn’t seem unusual that the mastermind of a famous terror attack would be morbidly intrigued by attempts to rewrite the history of his greatest “achievement” in the name of advancing a different agenda. Imagine how engrossing an alternate history of your own life would be, with all the major events connected by a storyline that you knew to be false but which seemed kinda sorta vaguely plausible. I wonder if, reading the Griffin book, Bin Laden had so much as an inkling that if elaborate lies could be cooked up to discredit an “official narrative” that he himself knew to be true, maybe other politically inconvenient official narratives, like the fact that the Holocaust really happened, might be true despite elaborate self-serving theories by others, including jihadis, to debunk it.

Probably not. Asking a guy who pushed his politics by blowing up office towers to quietly reflect on his own ideological blind spots is asking a lot. Anyway, any thought of Al Qaeda interacting with 9/11 Truthers obliges me to re-post this Onion oldie, surely one of the 10 best bits they’ve ever done. Enjoy.