As Gulf Oil Spreads, So Do Slippery Conspiracy Theories

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 Patrioticspace.com, 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!”