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Conspiracy Conference: ‘Patriots,’ Others Tout Tales of Government Evil

By Bill Morlin on June 6, 2011 - 10:28 am, Posted in Conspiracies

If hundreds of antigovernment conspiracy buffs gathered under one roof, would that be a conspiracy?

And even if it weren’t, wouldn’t having them all together make them easy targets for everything they fear, loathe and hate — the mind-control operatives, spying government agents, the Illuminati, man-made earthquakes, maybe a big chemtrail pattern overhead or even UFOs landing in the parking lot?

Well, several hundred conspiracy junkies did get together, then went their separate ways, apparently unharmed after a two-day conspiracy conference — “ConspiracyCon 2011” — this past weekend in Santa Clara, Calif.

It was a weekend of worrying and finger pointing. Many used the conference to reinforce their belief that either the government, corporations, Jews, Communists, secret societies, shadow governments or aliens are doing something very bad to the rest of us, and most the world unfortunately just doesn’t know about it. While many of those who attended seemed harmless, if overly given to theories with little observable basis in reality, the event was thick with the kind of conspiracy theories that animate the antigovernment “Patriot” movement.

It wasn’t all conspiranoia, however. At least one smile was readily apparent — the one on the face of Brian William Hall, the Bay Area promoter, conference organizer and “truth movement” guru who sold tickets for $99 a day or $219 for his special “conspiracy weekend package.” (T-shirts, extra.) Hall also sold table space to a large room full of vendors peddling everything from “ear coning” and palm reading to assorted books on how to fight the IRS, detect covert government spies, survive a nuclear war, fight the “New World Order” and discover “the truth” about the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Hall said his 11th annual conspiracy convention, in addition to helping his bank account, was an opportunity “for those of us in the truth movement to assess ourselves.” “I believe we are indeed a legitimate movement of concerned citizens,” he said. Those in attendance represented a “wide spectrum politically and spiritually.” For example, he said, fundamentalist Christians and agnostics can come together to jointly fight the New World Order.

“Most of us are not ‘buffs,’” Hall bristled. “This is not cute. It’s not fun. This country, this planet [are] in serious doo-doo, deep doo-doo.”

Behind the evils that confront us, Hall explained, are shadow governments, secret societies — “the very powers we try to expose when we pierce that veil at this conference to determine who is running this planet.” “This group of connected people — some call them the Illuminati, the powers that be, the global elite — are working together in concert through their own institutions and their own secret societies, whose decisions affect all of us but they answer to none of us,” Hall said. Their decisions “make us toxic and make us slaves, and that is the matrix in which we live,” he said.

Then he ducked away into the Conspiracy-Con exhibit hall, where vendor H. Michael Sweeney, who calls his website “pro-paranoid,” was reluctant to assign names to the mind-control agents and foreign powers he claims are out there. (He did mention two tried-and-true Patriot enemies, the Trilateral Commission and the Bilderberg group, which are said to be working for global elites at the cost of enslaving the rest of us). “It’s kind of difficult to give a 1, 2, 3 answer, but you can see them at work every day,” said Sweeney, who was wearing the same “Armageddon Machine” T-shirts he sells. Its supposedly simple message (depicted on the T-shirt in a far-from-simple flow chart): Terrorism generates nationalism; nationalism drives capitalism; capitalism seeks globalism, and globalism therefore needs terrorism. “It’s a vicious circle,” said Sweeney, with the “end game” of various powerful agents being to “seat the anti-Christ.”

“The most direct route would be to have more serious terrorist attacks, so the government can declare martial law, suspend the constitution and have the military shoot citizens who don’t surrender their firearms,” he explained. (Such theories are widely touted by members of militias and other Patriots, most of whom believe the government has set up secret concentration camps, as well, to help impose on Americans the New World Order, a kind of one-world socialist government.)

Nearby, other vendors hawked everything from palmistry (“We’ll read a left palm for $9, a right for $9 and both for $15”) to a wall full of UFO videos (“You know the government is hiding the truth”). For $35, attendees could lie down under an asbestos blanket (with a fire extinguisher nearby) and have a burning candle placed in their ears for an “ear coning” to remove parasites and — you guessed it — government-made toxins.

One exhibitor sold purely natural skin treatments and another sold bottles of “magnascent” iodine to those who worry about mental retardation or other ills. Still another exhibitor handed out leaflets encouraging homeowners to oppose “smart meters” — those nefarious devices being increasingly used by utilities to remotely read natural gas and electric usage at residences. The meters, naturally, are seen as yet another government invasion of privacy, certain to cause radiation health effects and very likely to be used to involuntarily cut your power.

Then there was the handout from Kewaunee Lapseritis of Duvall, Wash., who sells books about the elusive Sasquatch — claiming “these gentle creatures” can’t be found because of their connection with extraterrestrials and UFOs.

For those interested in more about UFOs, there was speaker Jose Escamilla. Escamilla told the crowd that his “vector symbology” studies, along with color photographs, suggest there are giant structures made of gold on the moon – one of many secrets being kept by the U.S. government and now of interest to Third World countries planning their own moon visits. “There’s something on the moon that we brought back and kept secret that they want a piece of now,” he explained.

Another speaker, Douglas Duane Dietrich, talked about the batch of “Satan’s crusaders” that he says he encountered in the 1980s while in the U.S. Army, stationed at the Presidio near San Francisco. Not only did Satan’s men, who had blood-inscribed pentagrams on their rifles, conduct secret occult experiments on humans and dogs and then make him destroy the evidence, Dietrich told the crowd — they also engaged in sexual abuse of children at Army day care facilities.

Two other speakers attempted to debunk the “official versions” of what happened on 9/11, claiming events of that historic date, too, have been covered up by a government conspiracy that misleads the public.

Steven E. Jones, a former physics professor at Brigham Young University who likens himself to Galileo, said his scientific studies have convinced him that planted explosives, not jetliners, brought down the Twin Towers and a third building – still another government conspiracy and secret cover-up.

If that wasn’t enough red meat for the 9/11 “truthers,” former White House aide Barbara Honegger took to the podium to say that she’s uncovered proof that it was nano-thermite explosives, not a jetliner, that damaged the Pentagon. She knew that, she said, in part “because no Arab DNA” was found in the ruins. “It was a highly secret, highly specialized, covert Joint Special Operations Team undertaking, a red, white and blue smoke-and-mirrors pre-emptive self-attack planned and executed under the cover of hijack scenario emergency response exercises.”

Honegger said she believes the Pentagon bombing could have been carried out by the same Navy Seal team that recently killed bin Laden. And behind it all, Honegger suggested, are those forces she didn’t further identify who want to push their “Global Domination Agenda.” After her talk, Honegger was mobbed by enthusiastic autograph-seekers.

Outside the large banquet hall where Honegger, was a sign the hotel staff had put up for the weekend that seemed to say it all: “Con-Con.”

  • DC

    Well, you should hear Douglass Dietrich speak, or go to coast to coast Am radio site and listen to his last 4 hour show.
    He was a kid who was paid to destroy many redundant records at the Presidio in SAN Fransisco.
    If you listen many things that should never had made sense, in all the wars that the US has allowed itself to be involved in, are somewhat explained by his research and backed up by other sources. Or of course we could all remain ignorant, or useful idiots to I party or faction.and bend over and take it like we are expected too.
    My .02 worth

  • Lex

    Whats “Arab Dna” and how is it different from “American Dna”

  • Lex

    If hundreds of antigovernment conspiracy buffs gathered under one roof
    No but it would be a spectacular event of craziness well worth paying for to see

  • Jonas Rand

    My first post contained an error : I meant to say Rick Snyder, not Scott.

  • James Hutchings

    But do we REALLY know whether this convention took place?

  • Difluoroethene

    Honegger says that 9/11 was an inside job “because no Arab DNA was found at the ruins”.

    Um….that is SO ridiculous:

    1. The hijackers’ DNA would almost certainly have been damaged beyond recognition by the blast.

    2. Even if some hijacker DNA remained intact, it would have been extremely difficult for any investigators to locate. Indeed it would probably make finding a needle in a haystack seem like an easy task.

    3. While DNA tests can guess ethnic origins, these tests can never be 100% accurate, due to individual variation, DNA damage, and the fact that lots of people are actually of mixed ancestry and don’t realize it.

    4. Finding identifiably Arab DNA wouldn’t mean anything either; most of the Arabs who died on 9/11 were _victims_ of the attack, not the hijackers.

  • Jonas Rand

    As for the rest of the stuff discussed in this article, it seems like a paranoid nuttery convention. All that is missing is dowsing and mediums conjuring up spirits. Brian Hall perfectly exemplifies Poe’s Law; his ideas are so bizarre and over-the-top, they seem like farcical parodies of conspiracy theorists. I have some conspiracy theories, and know of some actual conspiracies that the US government was involved in (such as multiple coup plots over the last half century); to believe some unproven theories is not an inherently paranoid or crazy thing. But the superstitious, paranoid silliness of constantly looking under your bed for 666 (d)Evil Satan coming to take over the world is nonsense. Ordinarily, it would be resisted by anyone who is rational, but since most Americans are undergoing economic trouble, and regular people find ourselves atomized, without a real means of expression, these theories spread. Vulnerability to belief in nonsense without critical examination spreads during times of crisis and poverty, where some people know that it is ridiculous to accept the conventional wisdom about a “recovery”, but treat any nutty theory that decries the system with uncritical acceptance.

  • Deep Ecology

    Isn’t this a “hate” blog? Neo-whatevers are much more interesting than people who just gave up on their medication a little too soon.

    I have always been fascinated by conspiracy buffs, whatever their political flavor. A friend of mine in the teaching business went so far as to write a book about them plus societies and cultures that seem to spawn more than their fair share of cranks plus followers.

    Really moderators, this post was tongue firmly in cheek, right?

  • Gregory

    She knew that, she said, in part “because no Arab DNA” was found in the ruins.

    After I stopped laughing over the obvious stupidity of this remark, I would have to ask her, “What of the victims who were of Middle Eastern descent?” Surely their “Arab DNA” would have been in the rubble.

  • Leslie


    Why couldn’t the gov. also use the data on regular bills without using smart meters?

  • Leslie


    That is the reason that PG&E spent 40 million dollars on misleading advertising of a ballot proposition that would make it illegal for city governments to set up their own publicly run power companies. They lost because most voters could see through the ruse. None of this is a secret conspiracy though–it is pretty out in the open.

  • Jonas Rand

    re: smart meters. Yes, there is nothing wrong with being worried about their defectiveness or fearful that they might endanger your privacy. “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.” Leslie, you are correct in that PG&E is a private company and is independent from the government, but the distinction between government and private industry is becoming more and more blurred, due to the considerable influence corporations have on the government. The government has become somewhat of a shill for corporations, and big business is like a shadow government. Politicians are “bought off” and then get campaign contributions from the corporations with which they have cozy relationships. They pass anti-union legislation to protect the rich CEOs and prevent workers from having a voice, they contract government services out to businesses, etc., and just look at what Rick Scott, Michigan governor, did not very long ago in Benton Harbour! Scott appointed what was, in essence, a private dictatorship, a junta who would do private industry’s bidding, and stripped the mayor and city council of all their power. The divide between public and private power is being gradually erased, as fewer and fewer people are controlling information and wealth (though it’s been happening for decades).

    PG&E being a private company does not stop it from giving the government information about power usage, which itself could cause paranoia about “terrorists” . There is a possibility that the government intel apparatus (which, after warrantless wiretapping, FBI harassment and many other controversies, is known to have been spying on its own citizens) would use “smart meter” data about power usage to confirm, in their eyes, a suspicion that someone is a “terrorist” experimenting with bomb plots or some ridiculous nonsense. Concerns about paranoid “patriots” should not stifle other concerns about government violation of citizens’ privacy.

  • Ruslan Amirkhanov

    I like the idea of conspiracy cons because it actually shows other people why conspiracy theories are so ridiculous. After all, it can’t be the Illuminati, Jews, Masons, Communists, at the same time. Get enough conspiracy theorists to tell their story and what you get is a circular firing squad. For example, one time a person was shocked that I didn’t believe 9-11 was an inside job, so they provided me with sources from Stephen Jones(who claims, ridiculously, that it was thermate), and Judy Wood, who says some kind of secret “death ray”. It didn’t matter to her that their hypotheses were mutually exclusive.

  • Shadow Wolf

    Actually, some of the stuff in there are quite true, like some of the comments above(like the 1st & 2nd posters). But not all of it are factual. Most blathers at these sort of events is nothing more than hype, such as the one where Obama was born in Kenya.

  • The Prisoner

    You never know, could be true.

  • skinnyminny

    this is how a private company can be a government conspiracy – you have all of these candidates from the tea party that came from the private industry that says government should be run like a business. Local government officials are getting bonuses – i.e. housing authority…there are corporations with advertisements in national parks and schools and say it is ‘government speech.’ The corporations and teas are saying that unions are illegal and people shouldn’t have to pay to be in a union – notwithstanding, the people that have a govt-union job have a choice to not work for govt and get a private sector job.
    I personally think there should be a balance of small-mid-large businesses with government being independent from private sector. Meaning, government jobs should not be privatized, and government should be able to regulate private businesses. I am tired of businesses trying to tell the public that government is bad when they are the ones who brought damage to all of us – i.e. medicines they said was safe, people have suffered side effects. Once tobacco companies said cigarettes were cool, people have suffered and/or died. Cell phones were said to be safe, the industry denied it caused brain cancer. The new houses built during the W adminstration, builders used cheap drywall from China that made people sick, the builders initially denied it was the drywall. So, turning everything over to private sector would be a disaster because the little rights we have now would probably be wiped out.

  • Linnea

    This sounds more like “Nutcase Con”…

  • LilBite

    It’s hard to take someone seriously when they britstle about being “cute” or “fun” and then say “doo-doo”. This is soooo middle school.

  • Leslie

    As a customer of PG&E (pacific gas and electric) I am familiar with the smart meter controversy. Some PG&E customers have seen their rates rise significantly after they were installed. PG&E later issued an apology and said some of the meters were not installed correctly resulting in higher bills. However, PG&E is a private company and not part of the government. I don’t understand how a private company’s mistakes can be considered a government conspiracy by anyone.

  • Ryan

    Honestly, there are enough verifiable discernable cases of abuses of power and abuses of the constitution by recent US administrations – such as warrantless wiretapping under Bush and the current failure of Obama to get congressional clearance within the mandated 60 days for the military action in Libya – without anyone having to make anything up to hang on them.