On Sunday, six days after a furious and deadly tornado, President Obama will reportedly head to Moore, Oklahoma. It took less than 48 hours for the truthers to furiously accuse the White House — perhaps by way of George Soros — of creating the tornado itself. If you thought 9/11 conspiracy theorists were bad, or the Sandy Hook and Boston bombing truthers were reckless, Obama's meteorological manipulation — all to distract a country from three Washington scandals — well, that might be a new level of ridiculous.
"Of course there's weather weapon stuff going on — we had floods in Texas like fifteen years ago, killed thirty-something people in one night. Turned out it was the Air Force," Alex Jones said on his radio show Tuesday afternoon, adding he wasn't sure if a government "weather weapon" was used against Moore. And being "unsure" of something is exactly the way conspiracy theories work: It allows people like Jones to sow doubt, float an untrue story — in this case, about the government creating a massive tornado — while at the same time giving truthers a loophole to squeeze through, without being held accountable or stating on the record anything they actually do believe.
The conspiracy theory of the moment goes something like this: The Obama administration is being asked how much they knew about three apparent scandals — Benghazi, the IRS, the Justice Department's double leak investigations — and in order to make Americans think about something else, the administration manipulated the weather and created the mile-wide Moore tornado.
Officials at a press conference in Moore Wednesday afternoon said that 12,000-13,000 homes had been affected, with property damage of $1.5-$2 billion, and six people still missing. (Update: Five were found alive.) Toddlers died in this tornado, the medical examiner's office said late Thursday morning. So, yes, it's been distracting. Obviously, there's been a little less coverage of scandalmania this week.
But, obviously, no one in the administration is a mutant who can psionically change weather patterns like Storm of the X-Men. So, yes, the Oklahoma tornado truthers claim the administration whipped up a storm that killed 24 people through HAARP, the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, in Alaska. Here's a screen grab of a contributor post on Before It's News, a citizen journalist website that's home to many of these conspiracy theories, from a contributor who says this is "compelling evidence" that HAARP is at work:
As Gawker's Ken Layne writes, the "stated goal of HAARP is to study the ionosphere and how the spectrum of radio waves works within these upper layers of the Earth's atmosphere." Essentially, HAARP researches communications. But there are budding conspiracy theories that HAARP could be ultimately used to disrupt the ionosphere, and manipulate weather patterns. As one Redditor pointed out, one of the permutations of the conspiracy theory in Moore is that the left-wing financier George "the Sorcerer" Soros is behind all of this.
Jones's theory is a little bit different. The left-leaning Media Matters has the segment of his show where Jones claims that if people in Oklahoma saw helicopters and aircrafts "in and around the clouds, spraying and doing things" that "if you saw that you better bet your bottom dollar they did this, but who knows if they did. You know, that's the thing, we don't know."
And another contributor on Before Its News says the whole thing is a farce — that no one is actually dead, even though they very much are. A fellow conspiracy theorist on that site says that the fake bodies post is a planted post, seeded by the government and designed to make conspiracy theorists look dumb:
You don't have to believe any of these to see how dumb these people really are — to think terrible events like the Newtown shootings, like the Boston marathon bombs, were all the work of the Obama administration, who might be somehow, somewhat hiding something even more terrible than killing its own citizens. Never mind that there was burgeoning meteorological evidence that a saggy jet stream coupled with moisture from the Gulf of Mexico on top of the Plains region created a perfect weather stew for horrifying tornadoes in Oklahoma. Or the fact that for the past 63 years in Oklahoma's history, May has been the month that has continually seen the most tornadoes, according to statistics from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Or that 22 tornadoes — some of them truly massive and deadly — have hit the town of Moore since 1890. Because who wants to hear the truth when you have weather-manipulating presidents?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.