Wingnuts Figure Islamic Terrorists Are Better Explanation For Wildfires Than Global Warming, Carelessness, Lightning (Updated)
UPDATE: We've heard back from the National Interagency Fire Center; additional details at end of post) Well, golly, here's a break from all that Syria stuff: the National Home for Completely Plausible Conspiracy Theories, aka WND, ran a story today suggesting -- in that asking-questions-in-a-headline way -- that al Qaeda is behind the wildfires burning up large chunks of the West this summer. Now, of course, it's completely impossible that global warming has anything to do with any of the fires, because it is fake. And so are lightning and carelessness. But terrorists setting wildfires? That makes perfect sense, and WND even found a guy with some credentials who says so!
In July 2012, William Scott, a former National Security Agency official and Aviation Week editor, told the American Center for Democracy that terrorists are using fire as a tactical weapon of war.
“Perhaps the most simple form of economic warfare is wild land arson,” Scott said in his “Fire Wars” presentation. “That’s just setting fires in U.S. forests [and] grasslands.”
We have no trouble believing that it could be done. Obviously, that must mean that it's actually happening, because that's just how sneaky those terrorists are.
And how's this for evidence?
Scott explained that after U.S. Navy SEALs killed al-Qaida chief Osama bin Laden, they “captured a treasure trove of material that provided some unprecedented insight into the al-Qaida plans. And one of those was a detailed campaign for starting fires throughout the [American] West.”
“U.S. officials have pretty much determined that some of the fires that burned in California [in 2011] were ignited by al-Qaida operatives,” Scott said.
And the officials who said that were who, exactly? And which fires? Oh, no details, no link. Probably just an oversight.
But there's still more evidence to consider! For instance, how about this summer's devastating Black Forest fire near Colorado Springs? It killed two people and destroyed over 500 homes, and WND found a "terrorism expert" who says that it sure looked suspicious to her, based on a presentation she saw in 2012 about Islamic extremists probably setting fires all over the West. Plus, there's a quote from a local sheriff saying that investigators have "all but ruled out natural causes" for the fire, which leaves only terrorism as a possible cause. Well, terrorism, arson by non-terrorist idiots, and accidents. Most likely an accident, since in late July, investigators
said the possibility of arson was small because they found no gasoline, matches or other accelerant usually found in arson fires. Investigators said the cause appears more likely to be accidental, but they want to know exactly how it happened and who was involved.
Still, it could have been terrorists who made their arson look accidental; did you think of that? Or maybe it's part of the United Nations plot to replace humans with cyborgs? And of course it would be foolish to overlook the most likely suspect: A vengeful God who dislikes women wearing pants.
Since Yr Doktor Zoom lives in Boise, the home of the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC), we decided to act like a journamalist and give them a call to ask their opinion of the WND piece. While a spokesperson was not able to get back to us before we posted this puppy, we can at least say that the person we left a message with chuckled at the question.
Update, 5:28 pm We are feeling all Professional-Journamalistic, because we just finished speaking with Don Smurthwaite at the NIFC, who says there is "absolutely zero evidence" that a foreign terrorist has ever been responsible for a wildfire anywhere in the U.S. (including the specific cases mentioned in the WND piece). Smurthwaite noted that NIFC hears similar rumors and stories every summer around the peak of fire season, but that there is no factual basis for any of them. He mentioned that August is the heaviest month of the year for lightning strikes, which account for the vast majority of wildfires, and said that while arson does happen, it's a criminal offense, not international terrorism.
We're also fairly certain we could hear him roll his eyes over the phone when we read him this quote from the WND piece:
Mother Jones reported Don Smurthwaite, a Bureau of Land Management spokesman, “downplayed” Ehrenfeld’s ideas, “but he didn’t dismiss the notion outright.”
“We don’t have any hard evidence that any wildfires in the U.S. were started by terrorists in recent years,” he told the publication. “But is it a possibility? Certainly.”
He said he "must have been feeling rather cautious that day," and emphasized that he was only acknowledging that terrorist firebugs are a conceptual possibility.
And so, the bottom line is this: Government spokesman Don Smurthwaite also did not rule out the possibility that wildfires are being set by space aliens or interdimensional elves. Largely because we didn't ask him.
[WND via Wonkette Tipzilla chascates]
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.