[1st Annual Conspiracy Con: An Exercise in Group Paranoia]

as reported by Skylaire Alfvegren

It was in the shadow of two federal rulings significant to the conspiratorially-inclined (a possible stay of execution for Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh and a possible trial for FBI sharp shooter Lon Horiuchi, who bungled the infamous raid in Ruby Ridge, Idaho) that the first conference on conspiracies was held in northern California.

Last-minute ads on Art Bell, as well as notices on the speakers' web sites, attracted an international, near-capacity crowd. "People called and said they were canceling their vacations," remarked conference producer Brian Hall. 40% of those in attendance traveled from outside California (an unprecedented figure for such an event), some as far away as Denmark and Australia, to experience seven of "the world's most controversial speakers" under one roof.

A number of the speakers--fringe pin-up David Icke, Jordan Maxwell, recovered CIA mind control sex slave Cathy O'Brien and her partner, Mark Phillips--are familiar to anyone who's trolled the American UFO lecture circuit. "There are many types of conferences that briefly touch on the issues that we're addressing here. UFOs, New Age, spirituality, alternative healing, preparedness. But in my opinion, they fall short because they don't address the issues that we face right now," remarked Hall, who, along with Charles Wren and Victoria Jack, have been involved in organizing Bay Area UFO conferences for a decade. "How can we even begin to address the possibility of life and intelligent civilizations on other worlds if we don't even know who we are and what is happening right under our noses? There are forces working very hard to not only suppress esoteric knowledge, but to maintain a population of taxpaying zombies stuck in survival mode."

Although stuck with the first slot of the conference (8:30am), Mark Phillips and Cathy O'Brien packed them in. O'Brien bills herself as the first victim of MK Ultra to speak out about her own torture; Mark Phillips, an ex-intelligence agent, rescued O'Brien and her daughter in 1983. Together they wrote Trance-Formation of America, which details the US government's involvement in white slavery operations, an international child porn ring, drug dealing and of course, mind control.

O'Brien's personal saga of sexual torture and mind control at the hands of everyone from current Vice President Dick Cheney to third-rate country singer Boxcar Willie paved the way for other self-styled mind control survivors (Bryce Taylor, Arizona Wilder) to come forward. Trance-Formation is filled with claims so outlandish even conspiracy theorists have trouble swallowing them (her mind control programming was triggered by The Wizard of Oz, the CIA controls the country music industry, etc.), and it was apparent that many attendees wished to make up their minds about her claims after witnessing her in person.

Phillips has been repeating the same lecture for years; very little new material has been added to their talk since "Trance-Formation" was published in 1995. Detailing his career in intelligence, Phillips makes a case that anything that can be used for good can also be used for evil--including complicated mind control techniques which he claims to have first witnessed being used to rehabilitate schizophrenics and serial murderers. Speculations that the pair are agents of disinformation, or that Phillips is O'Brien's "handler," do seem as possible as the claim that he "deprogrammed" O'Brien, allowing her to remember her years as a victim.

Whether well-rehearsed or earnest, Phillips presented O'Brien on-stage like a prized stallion, where she theorized that the Army is behind the popularity of violent video games, using them to deprogram children from as early an age as possible. But it is O'Brien's presence, and not her words, which seemed to ignite the audience. Seeing O'Brien in the flesh is sort of like finding a unicorn at the petting zoo, or debris from a crashed UFO: she's tangible, a totem: her mere existence somehow confirms that SOMETHING sinister is going on, that there really IS a shadow world in control of everything from global events to the sweetener in your coffee.

"There's a genuineness to her that's just heart-breaking," one attendee commented. "You look at the bags under Phillips' eyes... and you consider the fact that they're making a few hundred bucks per lecture. There have been senate hearings on the CIA's MK Ultra mind control experiments...a whole medical industry has been created for people seeking help. There's confusion in the psychiatry sphere as to how to treat these people, because their conditions aren't supposed to exist. You can't help but feel empathy for her." The majority of attendees seemed to walk away from her appearance believing O'Brien is legitimate, but to what extent?

While O'Brien may have gotten the tongues wagging, it was clear that British researcher David Icke is the closest thing to a rock star the conspiracy set has. His two-part lecture was vintage Icke: using an abundance of slides and jokes, he explained how a race of shape-shifting reptilians have been in control of world events since time immemorial, and how this elite bloodline has been maintained to the present.

While battle lines are sometimes drawn between "experiencers" like O'Brien and "researchers" like Icke, it was obvious that Icke has exposed the greatest number of people to these concepts. "He's a performer, a showman. He pulls it all together--all the theories--just absorbs them and compiles them," said one attendee from Seattle. "O'Brien is the real deal. With her, you feel you're getting closer to the bone, but Icke makes these ideas sexy."

The conference provided a well-rounded primer on what to expect in the New World Order, and the audience--a far cry from the sea of gullibility one often finds at UFO conferences--seemed to weigh each lecture with surprisingly robust objectivity.

William Thomas, an award-winning indipendent investigative journalist from Canada, provided a concise overview of the contrail/chemtrail threat. He explained how both the public and private sector are blanketing the upper atmosphere with materials (speculated to be primarily aluminum) which are intended to reflect 1% of the sun's energy so that we can continue depending on fossil fuels for another half-century. Now in his third year of research, he vowed that 2001 will be the "breakthrough year" for bringing it before the public. He rallied the audience to take action by forming grass-roots organizations, protesting properly and bringing the issue to the attention of the media.

(Later, during the panel discussion, Dr. Len Horowitz would be the first to bring up the mainstream media, explaining to the rapt crowd that five corporations control it which have "a lock over the military-industrial-entertainment complex." He commented on Thomas‚ earlier suggestions on how to get press coverage of chemtrails and the like. "If there's one thing we can use to our advantage it's the herd instinct. And I know as a former mainstream journalist, that once a story is broken, the rest of the media will jump on it and that's to our advantage. That's the way to drag the mainstream media kicking and screaming into serious truth-telling.")

Horowitz, like a number of conspiracy researchers, wears many hats: he's an independent journalist, a Harvard-educated expert in public health education, a dentist and the author of more than two-dozen books on the engineered origins of global health crises. He fell into the world of conspiracies after investigating the case of the Florida dentist who purposefully transmitted the AIDS virus to his patients. (Already something of a sleuth, he published scientific evidence that the dentist fit the FBI's profile of a serial killer, and from there, began researching AIDS.) His 600-page tome, Emerging Viruses: AIDS & Ebola--Nature, Accident, or Genocide? (Tetrahedron Press, 1996) is probably the most frightening book of the decade, and already a classic in the US. In it, Horowitz investigates currently-used "non-lethal" warfare practices including polluted blood supplies, contaminated vaccines, emerging microbes and electromagnetic force fields.

Of all the lecturers presenting at Conspiracy Con, Dr. Horowitz is the one whose information should be most heeded. On a distressing note, Horowitz pre-empted his usually concise lecture with a plea for prayer: soon to leave for South Africa, he had recently received four phone calls claiming he would be assassinated there.

Jordan Maxwell, with over 40 years of research experience under his belt, is quite possibly the world's foremost expert on symbolism, the origins of Western religions, occultism and secret societies. The legendary Southern Californian researcher assaulted the audience with an impassioned, almost free-association semantical explosion on the triptych of power: government, religion and commerce.

He even worked in a zinger aimed at the Charismatic Catholic convention booked in the other half of the convention center. ("I was raised Catholic. I had family members with ties to the Vatican. So when I made it to my confirmation around 10, it was a big deal. I'm standing in line with the other children, and my entire family is there. The bishop tells us that if we have any questions, to ask, but the nun there shoots us a look that says, 'If you do, I'll break your face'‚ So of course I raise my hand and ask, (If I got myself a welder's torch, could I burn an angel with it?‚ And the bishop said, 'of course not--angels are made of spirit and spirit doesn't burn'‚ So I asked, 'if spirit doesn't burn, why should I worry about burning in Hell for eternity?')

On Sunday, Maxwell invited his crony Victor Varjabedian to explain how Americans can trade in their US citizenship and become "expatriated," a rather complicated and somewhat suspicious-sounding way of getting out of paying taxes, parking tickets, one's credit card debt and basically all the laws of the country. (Really, now, who WOULDN'T want to be above the law?)

Last but not least, retired Air Force intelligence agent William Lyne single-handedly illustrated the short-comings of the conference's two hour format. He also provided the best entertainment. Not only did he veer completely away from the lecture he was advertised to present ("Nikola Tesla's Secret Technologies and the Government Conspiracy to Conceal Them"), his monotonous rambling had a number of audience members out cold before his time was even half-up. He ended up giving something of an opinionated, autobiographical essay (on his UFO experiences, how the National Security Act of 1947 is an illegal betrayal of American sovereignty, how US government mind control violates the Bill of Rights, and how the flying saucer, as man's greatest invention, should be "enjoyed by all").

Not surprisingly, the after-hours parties featured some of the liveliest cocktail chatter EVER. Guests traded first-person accounts of electro-magnetic mind control and swapped tips on how to combat the physical effects of chemtrails. Phillips‚ claim that O'Brien's story forms the basis of "at least" two movies currently in production had staffers musing on who should be cast (Jenna Elfman and Mel Gibson, respectively). The hostess, draped in faux-snakeskin as an unspoken reference to mankind's supposed reptilian origins, debated the proper pronunciation of "Merovingian."

Sunday night was capped off with a lively panel discussion. If one was hoping to discover the ultimate answer, the key that ties everything together, they didn't find it here. There was no consensus, apart from an agreement that the One World government is not simply "emerging," but is being unveiled right on schedule. "The further down this road I go, the more questions I have," remarked Icke. As is the nature of conspiracies, it felt as though you left with more questions than you came with; or as one attendee put it, "It's like the UFO that turns into a black helicopter and turns back into a UFO." Thankfully, organizers are already gearing up for Conspiracy Con 2002.