Alex Jones used to operate under the radar of mainstream media, which studiously ignored him and his theories about 9/11 Truth, Chemtrails, FEMA concentration camps and deadly vaccines that have been staples of his websites InfoWars and PrisonPlanet.
Thanks to Matt Drudge, who helped to mainstream Mr. Jones' ideas -- about Barack Obama's forged birth certificate, Andrew Breitbart's assassination and Aurora-shooter James Holmes' CIA mind-control programming, to name the topics of just a few of the 200-plus Infowars articles that Mr. Drudge has linked -- and to blowback from Mr. Jones' theories about "false flag attacks" in Newtown and Boston, media figures at Salon, Gawker, Mediaite, The Raw Story, The Washington Post and MSNBC's "The Rachel Maddow Show" are finally taking notice.
Last week, Ms. Maddow asked if Mr. Jones' bizarre speculation that a "secret weather weapon" might have been responsible for the tornado in Moore, Okla., would finally disqualify him from Republican politics -- or at least discourage senators like Rand Paul from appearing on his radio show. Ms. Maddow called the "secret weather weapon" an idea that exists only in Mr. Jones' mind, but as nutty as it might sound, he didn't pull the notion of weather weaponry out of his hat.
Nicholas Begich Jr., son of Alaska Rep. Nick Begich and older brother of Alaska Sen. Mark Begich, has been writing about the High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, a joint research project of the U.S. Air Force and Navy, whose principle facilities are in Gakona, Alaska, since the 1990s.
HAARP's website claims it is "a scientific endeavor aimed at studying the properties and behavior of the ionosphere, with particular emphasis on being able to understand and use it to enhance communications and surveillance systems."
In his book "Angels Don't Play This HAARP: Advances in Tesla Technology," Mr. Begich Jr. argues that HAARP can modify the weather, create earthquakes and manipulate or disrupt "human mental processes through pulsed radio-frequency radiation."
Mr. Jones interviewed Paul Kossey, HAARP's director, in 2008. When Mr. Kossey denied that HAARP could affect weather systems, Mr. Jones countered that the Russians have HAARP-like facilities they've already used to modify the weather. Even if HAARP were above board, Mr. Jones insisted, others in the U.S. government must be secretly using it as a weapon.
In 2009, the first episode of Jesse Ventura's popular TV series "Conspiracy Theory" was devoted to HAARP, which he called "the top secret government project that can destroy the world ... the ultimate conspiracy weapon." Weeks after it aired, there was a devastating earthquake in Haiti, and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez was quick to pin the blame on HAARP and the U.S. government. Alex Jones' Infowars was on the case as well.
There had been HAARP-related rumors about Hurricane Katrina, too. A Rense.com report speculated that it was "a man-made storm for profits." Last fall, US News and World Report took note of the stories that President Obama had "engineered" Hurricane Sandy to influence the election. One of the many stories that Infowars ran was headlined: "Could Hurricane Sandy Be Weather Modification at Work?"
Theoretically, directing extremely low or extremely high frequency waves into the ionosphere could potentially alter weather patterns or maybe even produce tectonic effects a la Tesla's "earthquake machine" -- but HAARP would have to be millions of times more powerful than it is before those theories could be tested, never mind put into practice.
For all of its aura of secrecy, HAARP makes its data available -- data that conspiracy theorists frequently republish as proof of its evil intentions. Oddly enough, many of the same people who believe that the government can and does control the weather also believe that man-made climate change is a myth.
Richard Hofstadter wrote long ago of the conspiracist's penchant for personalizing historical forces in the form of "a kind of amoral superman -- sinister, ubiquitous, powerful, cruel, sensual, luxury loving ... a free, active, demonic agent." Hofstadter made him sound like a Bond villain -- effete and deadly, building doomsday machines in hollowed-out volcanoes. But demonic is very much to the point.
In classic conspiracy theory, the enemy is literally Satan -- and Alex Jones is nothing if not a classic conspiracy theorist. Watch his 2007 movie "Endgame: Blueprint for Global Enslavement or Dark Secrets and Order of Death," his exposes of the pagan goings on at Bohemian Grove, and you'll see the conspiracies he purports to expose are older than Barack Obama.
The New World Order of Mr. Jones' imagination is literally Luciferian; its plots unfolding according to a grand plan that was conceived centuries ago and which will culminate with the slaughter of 80 percent of the people in the world. The leap from there to weather manipulation isn't far.opinion_commentary
Arthur Goldwag is author of "The New Hate: A History of Fear and Loathing on the Populist Right." Copyright (C) 2013 Washington Spectator. Distributed by Agence Global.