Sunday, December 07, 2014

Garner, Brown and Rodney King

December 5, 2014   As a friend and I were sitting in a coffee shop this evening, a crowd of protesters passed outside, shouting their outrage on the Eric Garner and Michael Brown verdicts.  It took a moment to make out the words of the spondaic chant but then all at once, the meaning hit with the force of three punches:  "I can't breathe!  I can't breathe!"
   The police response to this:  "If he was talking, then it means he could breathe," is reminiscent of Elizabethan witch trials.  They'd tie you up and throw you in the river.  If you drowned, you were innocent; otherwise, you were a witch. 
   Mike Ruppert once said that the Rodney King protests and the official response, or lack thereof, were a dry run for more widespread riots when the sh*t hit the fan.  Are the events of the past few weeks a still more refined rehearsal?  Between Garner, Brown and twelve-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland, it would seem that on the contrary, we're being goaded towards all hell breaking loose.
   Philip Agee echoes Mike's view:
Can anyone doubt that the events of Los Angeles will recur? Those struggling in the 1990s for change would do well to remember the repression visited on progressive movements following both World Wars and during the Vietnam War. The government has no more Red Menace to whip up hysteria, but the 'war on drugs' seems to be quite adequate for justifying law enforcement practices that have political applications as well. The hunt for aliens and their deportation, and the use of ...sophisticated methods of repression following the Los Angeles uprising, reveal what has been quietly continuing below the surface for years. We should be on notice that in the current political climate, with clamor for change everywhere, the guardians of traditional power will not give up without a fight. They will find their 'threats' and 'enemies' in Black youths, undocumented immigrants, environmentalists, feminists, gays and lesbians, and go on to more 'mainstream' opponents in attempts, including domestic covert operations, to divide and discredit the larger movement for reform." -- CovertAction Quarterly, Tracking Covert Actions into the Future by Philip Agee

Friday, August 01, 2014

Mike's Story Part 72: The Beginning

   I first met Mike at a symposium to observe the third anniversary of September 11.  I'd been invited to speak on the environmental disaster that had ensued from the collapse of the buildings and which I'd come to know intimately because at the time, my son had been a student at Stuyvesant High School, located four blocks north of Ground Zero.
   Through attending, and often testifying, at hearings at all levels of government as well as at blue-ribbon scientific panels, I'd become familiar with the infinitely inventive, mercurial ways in which the government lies.  They would announce they found no asbestos but neglect to add they did find exorbitant amounts of some other contaminant; use a test intended for a hard surface on a soft surface where its effectiveness was greatly reduced; not test in a place where they knew they'd be likely to find bad news; use outdated monitors which found 1/9 the asbestos detected by independent scientists; neglect to turn on a critical piece of equipment; allege, in the face of weighty evidence, that particles of a certain size were not dangerous; and in the unfortunate case where they managed, in spite of all precautions, to find anomalies, either bury them under mountains of meaningless data or "average them out" over an extended time or space until they disappeared.  In one case, they downgraded the pH level of the air by a seemingly insignificant one point, neglecting to explain that the scale is logarithmic, so the reduction is not one of approximately 10%, which is how it might appear to the untrained eye, but of a factor of ten.

   They also manipulated the message that filtered out to the public by refusing to testify at a hearing unless they could speak first, knowing that deadlines would preclude the press' being able to hear the truth from independent scientists or citizens later in the day.

   So when Mike spoke at that anniversary convocation, giving an encapsulated version of The Truth and Lies of 9/11, his revelation of corruption at a still deeper level and to a global extent resonated.  It wasn't a stretch to believe the Bush administration not only passively benefited from the attacks but actively abetted them, particularly given the massive amounts of evidence supporting the thesis and the unlikelihood that such a coup could have been pulled off without inside help. 
   Said evidence, some of which has been referred to by Senator Daschle and former Senator Clinton, includes a document by PNAC, the Project for a New American Century, asserting that the US needed to rev up its military program but that the generation of Americans who remembered the Vietnam war wouldn't support that prospect, absent "a new Pearl Harbor;" numerous warnings - which went unheeded - from French, Russian and Israeli intelligence agencies, among others, of an attack the week of September 9; highly anomalous put options on United and American Airlines which the CIA monitored in real time, thus putting the lie to allegations they were clueless that anything was up; and war games which drew planes away from the East Coast the morning of the attacks and introduced chaff onto the radar screens, confounding pilots who might have felt impelled to intercept the hijacked planes.  In direct contradiction of later testimony by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to the 9/11 Commission that no one expected a plane to fly into a building, one war game included just such a scenario:  A plane flying into the National Reconnaissance Office at approximately the same time as the real hijacked plane was flying into the Pentagon. 
    Mike's talk that day culminated in the accusation: "Richard Cheney was not only a planner in the attacks but also... on the day of the attacks, he was running a completely separate command and control and communications system, which was superseding any orders being issued by the National Military Command Center - that's the Pentagon or the White House Situation Room."
   The audience gasped.  And the next chapter in my post-9/11 life began.

   There was a room backstage where speakers hung out, partaking of a box of chocolates with vodka centers.  Mike spent most of the day there talking to Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney while intermittently pursuing - both professionally and personally - Indira Singh, a computer analyst who had conducted an investigation into PTech, a Saudi software company.  According to Singh's presentation that day, PTech had infiltrated numerous branches of the U.S. government including, Congresswoman McKinney observed, the House of Representatives.
   Mike had not focused on economics in his presentation but I sensed that his Weltanschauung - his way of looking at the world - might give him insight into a question that had been nagging me for years, waiting for the right person to come along.

   "They always talk about economic growth. Can the economy keep growing forever?"

   "No!" he exclaimed, bouncing slightly on the balls of his feet in frustration at our economic system as much as at the naivete of the question.

   In view of his stand on the matter, which I would come to know inside-out, as an introductory question, mine was ironic. For a fundament of Mike's world-view is that, "Until you change the way money works, you change nothing."  And the basic reason for this is growth. 

   Other writers substantiate this idea: Our economic system is based on interest, a notion that was initially condemned by all three major Western religions - Judaism, Christianity and Islam - when it was introduced. (Islam is the last holdout but even Shari'a banking has reconciled itself to some compromises by replacing the term "interest" with "commission.")  All three understood the unethical nature of profiting from a business while undertaking no risk oneself and doing no work beyond putting up front money.  (In the case of the Federal Reserve, even that front money was not earned; it was simply printed because of an unconstitutional gift bequeathed by Congress when it set up the Fed in 1913.)  But also embedded in the system is the implication that infinite growth is possible in a world with finite resources.

   Money, particularly paper, is the currency of a faith-based economic system.   Every year, the United States digs itself a trillion dollars deeper into debt which it has no intention of repaying because to do so is impossible.  Instead, it simply inflates the system outside the view of the American people, since as of a few years ago, it stopped publishing the M3 money supply. 

   Mike's answer to my loaded question was the first of two times he would confirm a suspicion I'd had my whole life. (The second would also be about economics,   I'd always wondered: When everyone was thrown into poverty after 1929, where did all the money go?  At a press conference held during a break at Petrocollapse, the Peak Oil conference which took place the following year, Mike said, "The Depression was not a loss of money; it was a transfer of money.")

   After the conference I returned to Google, that ever wakeful, impassive eye, as well as to Mike's website,, to educate myself in yet another field which was, as far as I was concerned, virgin.
   His book, Crossing the Rubicon, was hard to take in with only one reading. Each sentence represented a lifetime of work so that when 9/11 took place, his decades of experience paid off in that he knew where to look, whom to call for clarification.  But having read it twice, I'm convinced that few of the people, whether sincere or malicious, who write him off as an alcoholic/kook/conspiracy theorist, have bothered to read it.  (He openly admitted to having been an alcoholic as well as having been hospitalized for suicidal depression.  But when director Chris Smith asked him about conspiracy theories in the movie, Collapse, Mike replied, "I don't deal in conspiracy theory; I deal in conspiracy fact."  At his best, he minimized speculation in favor of just the facts, Ma'am.)

   The main motive for the attacks, Mike and his cohort alleged, was Peak Oil, the point at which the maximum amount of easy, conventional oil is produced on a global scale.  The projections for the date of this watershed event tend to range from 2008 to 2015 but such distinctions are infinitesimal in comparison to the event itself, whose arrival changes everything as it necessitates a reversal of economic growth.  (The introduction of technologies such as fracking, as well as shale and tar sands extraction extends our current economic paradigm of infinite growth but at intolerable cost to the environment.)  
   Einstein spent his life looking for a Unified Field Theory which would tie together gravity and other laws of physics that explain the universe.  It seemed to me that Peak Oil was the Unified Field Theory of global collapse, tying together the increasing volatility in the economy and the climate as well as the environmental destruction wrought by desperate efforts to mine the earth for resources.   
   I sent FTW an article on the environmental disaster of 9/11. Apart from an expose by Juan Gonzalez in October 2001 and further revelations by Andrew Schneider in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, by 2004, there was still little understanding among the general public of the cost in lives and health of the aftermath of the attacks.  FTW published the article.

   Then, studying the website's daily dispatches, I developed a sense of what they were looking for and began sending them articles from the mainstream media that might be up their alley.  They featured many of these finds as well 
   As with my research on the contaminants of 9/11, I also emailed this new information to allies from the battles of Lower Manhattan. Some were as hostile as they'd been three years earlier - when they had asserted that the government would never lie to the American people about the air quality - only now the jeers were muted by years of bitter experience. 

   In July of 2005, while speaking at the 9/11 Truth Convergence conference in Washington D.C., I saw Mike again when he served on a panel of questioners at a 9/11 hearing chaired by Congresswoman McKinney at the House of Representatives.
   Among the witnesses were several of the "Jersey girls," whose testimony conveyed outrage and the sort of exhaustive research that is fuelled by a determination I understood only too well.  Although they didn't explicitly accuse the Bush administration of having a hand in the attacks, they appeared to have read Crossing the Rubicon, referring to the stonewalling of investigations by Dave Frasca of the Radical Fundamentalism Unit of the FBI and other red flags that Mike had investigated.

   A couple of weeks later, I got an email from Jan Lundberg of Culture Change who'd read an article I'd written following a brief email correspondence with Robert Hirsch, the lead writer on a report on Peak Oil which had been commissioned by the US Department of Energy.  Lundberg asked if I'd moderate Petrocollapse, the first Peak Oil Conference in New York City, for which he would obtain the seed money.

   Organized with five weeks' notice, (for the last two weeks of August, we could do nothing but wait for the manager of our first choice venue to return from vacation,) the conference took place October 5.
   It was a stark, tell-it-like-it-is event. Although we had some Permaculture experts who offered advice on how society could get itself out of this mess, the over-all impression left a number of volunteers and audience members depressed.  In an effort to dispel the gloom, the next NYC Conference, organized by Phil Botwinick and the NYC Peak Oil Meetup the following April, optimistically called itself Local Solutions.

   But Petrocollapse afforded an opportunity for Peak Oil experts such as Mike and James Howard Kunstler, who'd previously known each other only through their writings or even by appearing in the same documentaries, to meet in person.

   Now part of the regular FTW circle, I let it be known that I'd be interested in a permanent job.  A while later, in February, the phone rang.
   "Is this the wonderful Jenna Orkin?" a male voice asked with an audible grin.
   I affirmed in a neutral tone, not engaging in whatever game this was.
   "The beautiful, intelligent, sexy Jenna Orkin?"  the voice continued.
   I would have hung up except that the confidence of the caller suggested he knew me personally.  Whoever he was hailed from an era when such an overture might have been thought of as flattering rather than sexist.  The approach carried the aura of Hollywood.  Perhaps it was one of my father's friends, some of whom held such attitudes towards women though, God knows, they kept them in check with their colleagues' daughters.
   "Who is this?" I asked.
   "This is Mike Ruppert...  Did you think it was a crank call?"
   "Yes!"  I sighed with relief.  How close I'd come to hanging up on the man I currently held in highest esteem.
   The ensuing eruption of laughter was slightly forced, as though at the absurdity of the notion that his approach generated overtones of an obscene phone-call. 
   He offered me the job of managing the FTW blog which would be launched some time in the next few months.  Naturally, I accepted.  (The blog would become the only remaining functional part of FTW after mid-2006 so that it was later contacted by Julian Assange of Wikileaks before he came to world prominence.)

   Two months later, Mike was in New York again for the Local Solutions Conference.  We hung out together the whole weekend, the first and most romantic in our ten year relationship.  I recited to him my poem, "King George and the Knights of the Oval Office; or:  9/11 for Dummies," which he fully appreciated.  (His compliments were as generous as his insults could be maddening.)

   “I feel so lucky,” Mike said.  “Remember Calvin and Hobbes?  There’s one cartoon where Calvin’s standing at the top of a hill and he trips over nothing and goes tumbling down.  Then he picks himself up and says, ‘Tada!’  After all I’ve been through, that’s how I feel.”
   “Will I see you again?” I asked.  From the way everyone at the conference talked about Peak Oil, it sounded as though the collapse of society was imminent.
   “You?!  Of course!  Come to L.A.  I’ll show you the sights, the old FTW office, where I went to High School...  I’ll play you all my favorite music and you can play me yours.”
   “Do you know anyone with a piano?” 
    “I’m sure I do.”
   He mused about how well we got along.  “But there are some formidable obstacles,” he observed wryly.
   On the last day, Mike, his Office Manager, Monica Psomas and I were in a cab heading west on 34th Street when, without saying anything, Mike pointed out a sign on the second storey of an office building: Spy Store.
   I laughed at the irony of happening upon such a store while in a cab with Mike, of all people.

   "Sorry, driver," I said. "I'm just laughing because....”  It was impossible to give an accurate explanation.  “I used to be a spy."

   Later, when I knew Mike better, I understood how that comment must have spooked him, in every sense of the word.  (He did once ask what it had meant.  It was nearly impossible for him to wrap his head around an upbringing like mine in which the intelligence world is simply the stuff of movies.  From my end, I couldn't imagine how he could think a real spy would risk joking about her métier and arousing suspicion.)
   Once Mike got back to L.A., I elaborated on the fantasy in an email:

   I went to the Spy Store yesterday. My poison-tipped umbrella was broken. The poison tip works OK but the umbrella leaks.

   Mike called on his way to Mary Tillman's house to copy thousands of pages of documents for Stan Goff's series on the death of Pat Tillman in Afghanistan from friendly fire.  Then he replied to the email:

   On a poison-tip umbrella scale, the danger involved is about a four. When it gets to seven is when I start worrying.

    Perhaps he was closer to seven than he realized. Within two months, the FTW office was burglarized and all seven computers, smashed.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Mike's Story Part 71: In Defense of Matt Stroud

(Written after reading a comment at but before reading Wes Miller's brilliant response to the original Verge article.)
   Let’s start with the observation that apart from two smearing “Conspiracy Theorist” headlines in some of the less reliable media, The Verge is the only mainstream outlet thus far to have acknowledged Mike’s death.  The reasons for this are best summarized by the following passage from Nathaniel Blumberg's The Afternoon of March 30:
...the American news media have been deeply penetrated by our intelligence community.  Confirmation of everything I have been saying on that score came less than two weeks ago, and I’ve been waiting for just the right moment to pass it on.  It comes from no less a source than the New York Times.  I would like to say that it was the lead story on page one but, alas, as usual it was buried at the bottom of the fourteenth page of the second section on June 9.  That story, my good and patient friends, reports that the Central Intelligence Agency, in order to settle a lawsuit under the Freedom of Information Act, reluctantly disclosed – those are the words of the good gray lady herself – that journalists have been used in a variety of roles and missions.  Among other duties, journalists provided cover or served as a funding mechanism, some provided nonattributable material for use by the CIA, some collaborated in or worked on CIA-produced materials or were used for the placement of CIA-prepared materials in the foreign media.  Some journalists had even served as couriers and as case officers who secretly supervised other agents.  And some – oh, it’s been a long time a-coming – provided assistance in suppressing what the CIA termed a media item, such as a news story.[1] [emphasis mine]
   So you may assume that the only way Mike’s story will get into the public arena is sideways, via a highly skeptical view. This is a major reason that my own memoir of his time at my apartment is so unsparing.
   While it’s true that most people read superficially in the sense of reading only the words on the page, for any who might probe more deeply, Stroud’s expose includes a link to Mike’s critical article, “Oh Lucy! – You Gotta Lotta ‘Splain’ To Do.” Anyone who checks that out will see that there’s more to this story than just a crazy guy with an oddly consistent world view which, unlikely as it might seem, happens to coincide with reality.
   Mike’s always been controversial but as we’re not talking about art, it doesn’t suffice to shrug off the argument by saying, “Ya love ’im or ya hate ’im.” On one extreme are followers who may believe, as he himself wrote in his suicide note, that he sacrificed himself for mother Earth, a sort of latter day Christ figure dying for our sins. This group sees his “flaws” as mere imperfections to be brushed away, allowing the humane spirit within to shine through.
   But our mistake may be in thinking of Mike’s impatience, intolerance etc. etc as “flaws” at all. It is impatient people, intolerant of the status quo, who get things done. Anyway, those who knew Mike well saw how essential the “flaws” were to him. They were the flip side to his accomplishments, motivating him in complex ways.
   On the other extreme are those who delight in his internal demons including the accusation, which he did not deny, that he appeared in his underwear in the doorway of a young female employee’s office. It was this sort of behavior of which he sought to purge himself by fleeing to Venezuela. That is not speculation; he told me.
   It was not the only reason for fleeing to Venezuela, of course. The “vandalism” of the FTW offices which The Verge refers to included the smashing of all seven of the company’s computers. Mike justifiably saw this as a warning: “Next time, it’ll be you.” He came to understand that he’d be allowed back in the US only on condition that he “get out of the game” meaning investigative journalism, an “agreement” he stuck by.
   Complicating the feud between Mike’s defenders and his detractors is that he gave the latter group so much rope to hang him with. In the last years of his life, he publicly aired the sort of views about extra-worldly affairs (aliens, the symbolism of the appearance of an eagle at a particular time) which can never be substantiated. He’s not alone in believing that a spirit or god communicated with him or others in these ways. But they’re the sort of beliefs that anyone staking his reputation on concrete evidence would be advised to keep to himself.
    One fact cited in the article which I’d like to clarify is the date of Peak Oil. Extrapolating from a graph in Crossing the Rubicon, the article implies that global peak took place in the 1960’s. The graph, however, was referring to the peak of discovery. There’s a significant gap between that and the peak of production which may have taken place c. 2008 or is taking place around now.
   This observation refers only to easy oil which is what the Peak Oil movement is concerned with. Fracking, shale and tar sands do indeed extend the life of oil supplies but at intolerable cost to the environment.
   Also, while it’s true that Mike was originally a mainstay of the 9/11 Truth movement, he later broke with them irrevocably for their promulgation of the “No Plane at the Pentagon” meme and other less reliable evidence such as witness testimony of explosions before the twin towers fell. First of all, any potential physical evidence of bombs was expeditiously dispatched to Fresh Kills, SI, or to China, India and South Korea for recycling. But even if you did find evidence of bombs, Mike pointed out, what would that prove about who had placed them? Mike stuck with incontrovertible evidence of US government involvement in the attacks such as the warnings from multiple foreign intelligence agencies which went unheeded, the wildly anomalous put options on United and American airlines which got “overlooked” although the government monitors the stock market in real time, and the at least five war games taking place the morning of the attacks which diverted planes away from the east coast.
   (There’s also a slight inaccuracy referring to my personal relationship with Mike which I mention only as a shield in case someone later accuses me of lying to the reporter.)
   Saints are not interesting. Stroud’s article will undoubtedly peak interest in Mike, thereby bolstering the case for the adage, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity.” Thus, however circuitously, it will help promulgate the invaluable information and insights Mike provided into our current global crisis.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Mike's Story Part 70 - Spin-Off

   The phone rang.  After going through the usual niceties, Mike said, "Listen to this:" 
   He donned an orotund Russian accent.
   "Dear George Bush and Dick Cheney:"
   The letter continued, a fantasy - grounded in reality, as good satire must be - of the message the Russians were sending the U.S. with their latest signing of a cease-fire agreement with Georgia even as they set forest fires to prevent the installation of concealed troops and weapons, and bombed bridges between their former satellite and Europe.  
   "I'm writing well, huh?"
   He was on a roll, getting into the character of a Russian potentate.
   "The book's going well too. I told Kenny I bet it's going to be number one on the New York Times bestseller list."
   "You set the bar high for yourself but sure, why not?"
   "CNN's reading me."
   "Yeah, I know. The powers that be are grateful for you these days. I don't think you have to worry about your survival."
   "I feel like Galileo. They couldn't kill him because he'd figured out how to navigate."
   "It's all about maps."
   "It's all about maps. Right."  Long time Mike aficionados will recognize that he spoke of FTW as providing a more accurate "map" than mainstream media with which to understand how global events had arrived at their current untenable position.
   "You know, someone like Buckminster Fuller said, 'The paradigm changes a long time before anyone realizes it.' That's what's happening now."
   "Another way of saying that is, we're the cartoon character who doesn't realize he's run off the cliff because he hasn't looked down yet."
   The next call was to tell me about his new girlfriend.  They knew as soon as their eyes locked that their relationship was pre-destined, just as he and I had at one time been pre-destined.  Likewise he and his fiancée.  If you went by resumees only, (one way or another, we were all involved in protecting the environment,) then any of these scripts was indeed plausible.
   “I only wish you the same happiness,” he closed, to rub in the hurt he presumed I felt.  ("I’m happily coupled and you’re not.  Nya nya nya nya nya.  But I’ll magnanimously send you best wishes.")
   I was not unhappy.  I had wonderful friends and a fulfilling job.  My book was progressing; my son, thriving.  The only disagreeable aspect of my life at that moment was Mike's attempt to drive me towards yelling or slamming down the phone.  Then he could tell his cohort, “Jenna went all psycho on me,” and relay the conversation by way of illustration.  After some time passed, he’d generously refer to the incident as my "breakdown."
   I made sure not to give him that satisfaction.
   (Of course, if he himself ended up in another breakdown, he'd regret the whole episode.)
   I didn’t expect calls to chat and there weren’t any.  Except one… several years after he left.  He was not so inept as to make small talk, then switch to a desperate plea for money.  That call came the following week.
   I sent a couple hundred.  The calls to shoot the breeze ceased.
   (This is not to suggest his need for money wasn't genuine.  It was and I am one of those who believe he was justified in asking to be paid for his unique insights into deep politics.)
   By that time, he'd gone through his inheritance, spending $35,000 on legal fees fighting for his "good name" in the sexual harassment lawsuit.  If he'd just told the same truth in public that is contained in the body of the suit itself - "Yes, I engaged in some, uh, unprofessional [read:  farcical] conduct but she had "unclean hands" by telling me about porn sites," - he would have ended up with the same result but $35,000 richer.  Still, we all have those coulda-woulda-shouldas.
---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Mike Ruppert <> 
Date: Fri, Oct 9, 2009 at 8:14 PM
To: Jenna <>
Oct.9, 2009 -- For those of you who have listened for so long and for those who may be new. Do whatever you can to get out of dollar denominated assets and do it quickly. It is looking to me like the run on the dollar has begun in earnest. This is the one I have consistently predicted as far back as 2003-2004. I'm not going to write a long argument. Those who have been reading this blog don't need it. All the rest of you can just go back and read the terrific postings made here by Jenna Orkin over the last month. Those of you who have followed me and FTW for years will remember our only four previous warnings and you know how right those economic alerts proved to be. That's why I left a record of between two and three million words.  Do it now. We're all reading the same map. 
   On Oct 10, 2009, at 10:47 PM, he continued:
   It is not too late to buy physical gold. That is what will shield you the best right now. I'm laughing because I sold all my gold to fight the political persecution in Oregon and to live on while we made CoLLapse for eight months. (It wasn't just shot over two days. There were five shoots. And every aspect of my life was vetted with a microscope.)  If I had money I would be running to buy gold first thing Monday morning and I'd keep it up until the wheels came off or the new playing field that's coming had opened other options.   
   Now imagine this: The dollar gets dumped (in progress) as the world's reserve currency. Oil is no longer priced in dollars and trillions of dollars come home to... do what? Sure, it may cost a thosand a month for phone service. But suddenly John Q will be told that his salary has gone up 50%... at first. But what about all those bullshit mortages (including the fraudulent ones), all those trillions in derivatives? Well if John Q suddenly finds he has a million worthless dollars in his pocket he could well go back and laugh as he pays off the $350,000 mortgage. But the books get cleaned and sanitized and some of the air leaves the derivatives bubble. A controlled-burn. Yeah, the only ones that are going to get burned are the people -- the New White Trash.

From an email concerning the making of CoLLapse:
Oct 11 2009  ...I had written about more than 100  suspicious military deaths. They asked for the files on all of them. They asked me to go through each death while Chris decided what he did or didn't want to use. That triggered my survivor's guilt and I almost crashed and burned behind it.  [I had to] pull all the Tailwind files, all the Tillman files, the Carone files, the Vreeland files, the CIA-drug files and all of many other files. I had to explain all of them and relive all of them, all over again.  
...It was utterly gureling at times. Once I was on set for 14 hours...
   As Mike settled into his life out west, he “went all spiritual” and knew I wasn’t interested in going along for that ride.  He involved himself with the sort of writers whom he would have avoided like kryptonite back in the FTW days.
   FTW was founded on the principle of hard evidence.  We may have believed that more was going on in a given situation than met the eye but if we had nothing to back up our hunches, we often kept silent.  (That assertion is not foolproof; spare yourselves the time and energy of digging up the numerous instances when Mike did go out on a limb.  Most of those relate to the timing of disaster; in his intensity, even desire, for a “fast crash” as opposed to a “slow burn” for human industrial civilization, - in order to preserve more of the natural world - his most frequent sin was to ratchet up the calendar.  He had been told of, and acknowledged, this foible but couldn’t stop himself.)
   There may or may not be a life after death or "spirits" communicating with us now.  But the essence of that field of inquiry is that no one can ever know, much less prove it.  It's the opposite of everything FTW stood for.  These are the reasons I don't spend time thinking about it; the endeavor is even more fruitless than arguing about whether there were explosives in the twin towers and WTC 7, an aspect of 9/11 Mike left alone since the Kennedy assassination had taught him that physical evidence, no matter how compelling, will always come down to, "He said, she said."  Only in this case, he and she are Ph.D.s.  The physical evidence from 9/11 has been dispatched to India, China, South Korea and Fresh Kills, Staten Island; the debate can never be resolved.  In the case of spiritual matters, there's no physical evidence to begin with; only phenomena we can't otherwise explain.
   Perhaps Mike told himself I wasn’t sufficiently evolved to see the light, if he even gave the matter that much thought.  I thought, “What are you smoking?” and eventually got the answer:  Apart from weed, he'd taken up peyote and assorted mushrooms, along with prescription medication.   
   The only regular contact we had towards the end was through the news dispatches I sent out every day to a list of interested readers, primarily at Collapsenet.  Often, Mike extracted one or two for his Facebook page.  
   He wrote an all-purpose blurb for my book, saying I could amend it as needed.  (I didn't.)  But he had a whole circle of new best friends (several generations' worth, in fact, between Los Angeles, Sebastopol and Colorado) so that I'd essentially become history, which boiled down to being my choice anyway.
   I was shocked at his suicide, of course, but didn't have the same sense of tragedy that newer friends felt.  I'd gone through that grief when he disappeared to Venezuela.  And I'm not sure the person I grieved for then existed outside my own wishful conjuring.
   But it's not quite time to wrap up this story.  By current estimates, (I haven't yet written the next section) two more parts are needed.