Russian TV’s Max Keiser: Blaming the Victims of 9/11

April 8, 2014

Conspiracy theorists have an unfortunate tendency to blame those killed in mass-murders for the attacks that killed them. Nothing about the 9/11 “Truth” movement is more disturbing than when it either says outright or just implies that the victims somehow deserved to die. Disgracefully, Max Keiser, whom RT provides a daily forum, does just this. Both on his RT program and in interviews elsewhere, Keiser has promoted the idea that Cantor Fitzgerald, the World Trade Center-based trading firm that lost 658 employees to the 9/11 attacks, had foreknowledge of the attacks. Keiser says that Cantor Fitzgerald attempted to make money on this knowledge by keeping it secret and placing put options on stocks which could be expected to suffer a loss because of the attacks. Keiser literally and in so many words accuses Cantor Fitzgerald traders of trying to make a corrupt profit based on this macabre form of insider trading rather than saving their own lives and those of the other victims.

Those familiar with the 9/11 Truth movement will no doubt be familiar with the conspiracy theory claiming that a rise in demand for put options on American Airlines and United Airlines in the days leading up to 9/11 can be reasonably explained only by advance knowledge of the attacks. It’s been a mainstay of the truther movement, appearing in books by the movement’s leaders, such as David Ray Griffin (9/11 Commission Report: Omissions And Distortions and 9/11 and American Empire: Intellectuals speak out), and Jim Marrs (Inside Job: Unmasking the 9/11 Conspiracies and The Terror Conspiracy: Deception, 9;11 and the Loss of Liberty), and repeated on innumerable websites and talk shows. Proponents of this theory also claim that financial institutions and government regulators, seeing these suspicious trading patterns, must have known something was amiss and worked to cover it up, proving that they too were in on the conspiracy.

As with other 9/11 truth theories, there is a kernel of truth at its origin. There were, in fact, spikes in put options for those two stocks prior to 9/11. The problem for the truthers is that such spikes are not unusual, nor were these particular spikes without other explanation. In fact, all of that was made clear by journalists and investigators in the months following 9/11. The conspiracy theory was, in effect, debunked before it was immortalized by the truthers. By June 2002, Insight Magazine had pointed out that other spikes in put options for these stocks, including one much larger than these, occurred in the year leading up to the attacks.

On Sept. 6, 2001, the Thursday before the tragedy, 2,075 put options were made on United Airlines and on Sept. 10, the day before the attacks, 2,282 put options were recorded for American Airlines. Given the prices at the time, this would have yielded speculators between $2 million and $4 million in profit–hardly what any analyst would call a killing in the options markets. Based on historical data for both airlines, the put options just prior to Sept. 11 neither were dramatic nor unprecedented. For example, there were repeated spikes in put options on American Airlines during the year before Sept. 11, including June 19 with 2,951 puts, June 15 at 1,144 puts, April 16 at 1,019 and Jan. 8 at 1,315 puts. United Airlines puts were a little more during the prior year, including Aug. 8 at 1,678 puts, July 20 with 2,995, April 6 at 8,212 and March 13 at 8,072. Since such relatively small spikes in options occur frequently and in a random pattern, why would respected financial analysts and government investigators cry foul?

That article goes on to point out that airline stocks are particularly vulnerable to fluctuation and are therefore frequent targets of such short-selling, that United and American shares had taken a beating in the preceding months, and that the best estimate for the total profits taken on all these pre-9/11 put options was only $2.7 million. In other words, nothing particularly unusual took place in these trades.

The 9/11 Commission Report seemed to put the final nail in the coffin of this conspiracy theory when it pointed out that the financial institution behind 95% of the pre-9/11 put option purchases on United Airlines at the same time invested heavily in American Airlines stock. If the main trader in one of these purportedly suspect put options expected both of these stocks’ value to fall, why on earth would it be buying one of them as they sold the other short? The commission’s report also points out that both of these trades were done quite openly after being recommended in that institution’s newsletter, giving reasonable, non-9/11-related bases for the trades. Conclusion: there was no conspiracy and no cover-up.

Max Keiser not only ignores all the evidence against this conspiracy theory, he counters it with what he claims is information to which only he is privy, and which he uses in the cruelest manner possible. In an interview broadcast on April 3, 2014, Keiser speaks to Jim Rickards, who is not a conspiracy theorist, but is a proponent of a plausible (but yet unproven) theory that terrorists purchased put options, and that their trades may have driven others in the market to do the same, thus magnifying their impact and creating the pre-9/11 spikes. (Rickards is the author of a book called The Death of Money, which he claims proves this theory true.) Rickards specifically calls the idea that the government and financial institutions had advance knowledge of the attacks “crazy theories” and “nonsense”. In the interview, Keiser will have none of it, first citing a German freelance journalist, conspiracy theorist and gold standard advocate Lars Schall (with whom Keiser works frequently), to the effect that the CIA was connected to this trading. Keiser then drops a bombshell, claiming that, just before 9/11, he spoke privately to employees of Cantor Fitzgerald who told him that they had insider information from a CIA-connected source that was making them sell the two airline stocks short. Keiser: “This looks to me as if CIA insiders knew enough about what was going on, but chose to make money rather than blowing the whistle.” Rickards responds that he knows of no evidence for this theory, and that his theory makes better sense. Keiser ignores this and, smiling, reaches a conclusion that’s notable for both its meanness and its insanity: “Presumably somebody who was trading on their own demise was unable to collect on the profits…they chose to take the money rather than running away and escaping with their lives.”

(The interview is viewable here — start video at 15:20. The clip of the conclusion is below.)

What would motivate someone to blame Cantor Fitzgerald’s 658 employees for their deaths on 9/11? Keiser has a grudge against Cantor Fitgerald, as he himself admits on his blog:

Since 2000 – when I decided to move to Europe as a protest against the Bush administration and the fraud that was growing exponentially on Wall St – and 2001 when the ownership of the company I started, HSX Holdings – was illegally transferred to Cantor Fitzgerald – who moved it to the top floor of the World Trade Center just a few short months before 9/11 – I have been readying for this battle.

We need to rid the world of financial terrorists. Who’s with me?

Those who’ve seen Keiser on TV know him as a quirky, nervous man with a habit of stretching bad jokes beyond their breaking point. Those characteristics can be either endearing or irritating, depending on your taste. His program is largely devoted to promoting, at great length, crackpot theories about economics — particularly about the malfeasance of the banking system and the benefits of the gold standard. He does this with the help of others with similar beliefs to his, rarely allowing the intrusion of contrary ideas, leaving him free to take his theories to their extreme. When confronted with a mild reminder that his preconceived ideas may be wrong, he falls back on the word of those who share his beliefs, and on assertions that he has secret information to which only a select few are privy. This type of propaganda is largely self-debunking so there’s no need to belabor the point, but anyone who takes joy in the deaths of innocent people because of a failed business deal is not only undeserving of hosting a television program, they’re beneath contempt. Even a station with RT’s biases should question their allowing such ideas on the air.