The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

As Gulf Oil Spreads, So Do Slippery Conspiracy Theories

By Larry Keller on June 11, 2010 - 7:28 am, Posted in Conspiracies, Patriot Groups

Pelicans and dolphins in the oil-polluted waters of the Gulf of Mexico: Dead. Conspiracy theories about the disastrous BP oil rig explosion: Very much alive.

As BP and federal officials struggle to deal with the eruption of millions of gallons of oil from the ocean floor following an April 20 explosion at BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig, conspiracy buffs in the antigovernment “Patriot” world are hard at work coming up with unusual explanations for the disaster.

Conspiracy-mongering radio host Alex Jones and two others wrote an article on one of Jones’ websites this week claiming that evidence “suggests … that the incident could have been manufactured.” They say that Halliburton, the huge oilfield services corporation, acquired a company that contains fires and blowouts on oil rigs and oil wells little more than a week before the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, killing 11 workers and causing a colossal eco-catastrophe. Plus, they claim, there was huge dumping of BP shares of stock in the days and weeks before the explosion, perhaps showing that some people had prior knowledge the disaster would occur.

Then there’s Greg Evensen, a militia sympathizer and former Kansas state trooper whose essays and radio broadcasts are featured on apocalyptic Christian and militia websites. Evensen described Barack Obama as a “socialist, Muslim sympathizing, gun rights hating, Mexican illegals embracing, abortion loving charmer” five days before the presidential election. With respect to the gulf oil spill, Evensen predicts that the government will begin evacuating 40 million people around mid-June from areas that will become unlivable because of a toxic chemical in the dispersants BP is using to try to clean up the sticky mess. In case that’s not scary enough for you, Evensen also suggests that possible “alien hybrids” pretending to be U.S. troops could be among those enforcing the evacuation.

Meanwhile, over at the website of Well Regulated American Militias, a slightly hysterical-sounding blogger named Steve wrote on Sunday that possible “battle hardened troops” were in Grand Isle, La. “in full battle gear and body armor.” Humvees with gun turrets also were on the scene. Steve said he knew this because of reports from “on scene guerilla reporter Robert Rutherford.”

Rutherford is with, which describes itself as “a place where Patriots, Militias and Survivalist can meet and learn.” Responding to “hot intel,” Rutherford shot videos and filed reports from Grand Isle. “I went down there to try to get footage of the Oil Spill that Main Stream Media couldnt or wouldnt show,” the spelling- and grammar-challenged “reporter” wrote on his first day.

Rutherford’s first big exclusive: “[W]e looked at the Beach Obama was at the day before … there was no sign of Oil.” But he did see two Army Humvees “with full battle dress and even more unusual contractors in white helmets in the back.” The “guerilla reporter” wrote that he “also heard there was a off shore mission that night from someone at the hotel.” The authoritative “someone” was not identified.

In dispatches filed the following two days, Rutherford said he saw Coast Guard and Army troops and “seemingly uncontroled kaos” at one point. He opted not to try and access a blocked road, he said, because “I had a bad feeling since we just had filmed Homeland 15 minutes earlier and was seen. Grand Isle was Oil Free when we left, all of this was video taped.” That was an unusual observation: Two weeks earlier, the Audubon Society’s online magazine published photos of Grand Isle beaches copiously coated with globs of gooey oil. CNN and other media also reported that oil had reached the barrier island, and it could be smelled as well as seen. Then again, they’re part of the perennially suspect “Main Stream Media.”

As enlightening as it may have been, don’t expect more such intrepid reporting from Rutherford on the gulf. “From this point on, while on trips my phone will be very limited to a select few for my safety and reputation,” he wrote. Then he helpfully provided a link for making a donation to pay for his gas. He says he has received $507 so far.


Somebody with a group called American Militia wrote to members on Friday urging them to send him dated photos and unedited videos of armed National Guard troops dispatched to coastal areas affected by the oil spill. He made it clear he is skeptical of Robert Rutherford’s statements. “I have talked to [a Mississippi National Guard sergeant] and there are no troops on the streets any where on the MS coast in response to the oil spill or anything else. Guys in LA, AL, and FL we need intel and truthful info. Robert Rutherford claims they’re Armed troops in Grand Isle. I have called a former co-worker and a life long resident of grand Isle and there are no troops in Grand isle that are armed. We all have a civic duty to bring the truth to light!”

  • Frank

    “the spelling- and grammar-challenged “reporter” wrote on his first day.”

    Have you paid a visit to CNN’s website lately? Don’t be so haughty.

    And events like the Gulf Oil Spill and all the nastiness that happened after don’t just ‘happen’.

    I don’t really care for militias, for the record.

  • beholder

    Danielle Boone,

    I have. Why do you ask?

    Where there is a state religion, such as during much of European history, religious dogma did have an obvious effect on polity. In medieval England rites were chanted in Latin behind screens and could not be understood by commoners. That might perhaps be characterized as a kind of conspiracy among those who are in a position to influence human events, but I am not sure that the effect was as profound as it might seem. Chattel is still chattel, no matter the rites.

  • Danielle Boone

    beholder said,

    “Do conspiracies exist among those who are in a position to influence human events? I think there is no question of it.

    But can such conspiracies manipulate humanity to the point where free will and spontineity could not overcome those influences? I think not.”

    Have you looked at religions?

  • beholder

    Nanook good point about plans. For much of the last century there was considerable philosophical credence given to determinism.

    I remain skeptical that human events can be molded, for the same reason that I am skeptical of classical psychoanalysis (i.e. early childhood determines adult results), simply because it cannot be shown to be the case in all examples.

    Do conspiracies exist among those who are in a position to influence human events? I think there is no question of it.

    But can such conspiracies manipulate humanity to the point where free will and spontineity could not overcome those influences? I think not.

    It appears however that in the example of the American democracy, our two-party system has generally preserved the status quo of the powerful forces in society you refer to (large corporations and wealthy individuals). So I tend to think free will is not doing all it could to prevent the influence of those forces over the vote.

  • Nanook of the North

    I recognize the story about Alien hybrids infiltrating the National Gaurd + evacuating residents from the Gulf Coast. There was good but short lived TV series called Invasion or something like that. The plot was that the Gulf coast got hit by a hurricane and amphibian alien/human body snatchers were using the emergency to gain a foothold in the small towns of Louisiana.

    Note to conspiracy skeptics and lovers. The current issue of Scientific American has a great article arguing that human history is not guided by intentions in the way we all like to assume. They point out that results dictate behaviour not ‘plans” or “design”. Why then should the most powerful forces in society be any different?

  • beholder

    I think it is another sign of desperation (or simple ugliness) on the part of the right to demonize Obama over something that the federal government cannot control.

    Now assuming we nationalize oil companies like 80% of the planet, perhaps it would be fair to blame the federal government.

    The facts remain that Obama has been broadly open to oil drilling, which is going to have to be a reality one way or the other simply because we have no other technology that can replace hydrocarbons for fuels (yet).

    The 2005 energy policy act indicated that over 80% of our nation’s energy supply for the next 25 years would still have to come from hydrocarbons, and that presumes maximum effort toward developing renewable sources.

    I think accidents like these are horrendous and tragic, but part of living in an industrialized world. We could all go back to candles and salted meat of half the world’s population disappears. But I tend to think that both quality and quantity of life depends on oil right now. Should we pursue nuclear, solar, wind and fuel cells? Yes. But will they be able to wean us off hydrocarbons any time in the next three to four decades? No.

    So I think it’s unwise to turn this into an political debate over the ideology of hydrocarbons. Obviously we need to see what we can do to prevent more such incidents, and make sure there is accountability.

    However, we are, as a question of science, inexorably dependent upon hyrdrocarbons at this point in history. We need to continue to explore and produce them, while at the same time pursuing all avenues to prevent the kind of human error and faults in planning that led to the catastrophe in the Gulf.

    The alternative I think will be a shortage of energy around the world, which will cause much more human misery than this spill. We’ve got to get beyond it, with intelligence as well as compassion.

  • Carter

    “Radio host Alex Jones”……Wooow Buddy! If that valiant reporter of truth is on the case, we are safe & well informed!!!!
    “Alien hybrids” pretending to be U.S. troops? If that’s not code for a guy or gal with a Latino last name then it means the Reptilians are hiding behind their dust goggles.
    And frankly I wouldn’t bet 2 cents on Haliburton’s involvement. When you find a really well working conspiracy nut, he or she doesn’t care about Right or Left, Republican or Democrat, or rich or super rich. They just let the feces fly.

  • Tezuka fan

    To continue Ruslan’s analysis of stupid Obama characterizations, Obama also signed legislation to allow guns on Amtrak and in National Parks. So,… Obama hates gun rights so much, he expands them.

  • skinnyminny

    My, oh my! Why don’t they use the 72-hour hold on these people for mental examinations when they are most needed? On another note, where is Dick and Lip Cheney? Usually they are on cable programs blasting the Prez for everything, but now they are mum?

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    Ah yes, Obama is a socialist, which is why he bails out banks and hands over taxpayer money to private corporations, as well as totally destroys any hope for single-payer healthcare. He’s a Muslim sympathizer, so naturally he continues the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, keeps Gitmo open, and supports Israel just the same. He’s a gun-rights hater, so he pursues absolutely no new gun legislation.

  • Mason Green

    “Alien hybrids” pretending to be U.S. troops?

    I think this Evenson guy has been watching too much Star Trek. We ought to beam him back up to the Enterprise, Scotty!

  • daemonesslisa

    Haliburton’s involvement with this disaster is actually evident. I would not put -anything- past Haliburton.

    As for the rest of them, yeah, it’s the same tin-foil hat stuff. For anyone wondering/whining about the SPLC’s focus on conspiracy theorists, you have to remember where this kind of thing can lead. Public figures can end up dead and federal buildings exploded if any of these people try to ‘stop’ these conspiracies from happening.