Who would do such a thing?

In the comments for Maarten’s recent post regarding the flying Yugo, the conversation turned towards the inevitable question of who would participate in such a ruse?

My immediate guess is military personnel. No big headline, that, but it should be stated once again to ward off the suspicion that actual criminals may be involved. The people used in hoaxes have to be reliable, and the notion of a criminal being reliable long term doesn’t really add up, in my opinion.

With military personnel, you get sworn loyalty to command structures with no questions asked. The individuals that move up the pay ladder are willing to take on more complicated tasks and to participate in a hoax, certainly on a need to know basis, you would not be some monosyllabic grunt, the kind that wave you in at the front gate or clean latrines for their daily portion.

Hoaxes are for the veterans that have proven their mettle and can be relied on to just do their job. “Leslie Pluhar” did her job well. Waiting tables and delivering packages is an odd job combo, but it suggests someone with a physical presence and energy. The military would expect such things to come standard in new recruits. She needed to establish a persona that witnesses would recall in the aftermath. As I mentioned in the Yugo comments, a corpse is optional because this kind of op would not be executed where the coroner was not part of the team. His signature is all that is needed to verify a death has occurred.

The contradictions in Leslie’s story suggest her mission was unknown to her and her handlers in total and that some post mortem tweaking left a few strands out of whack. No matter. By the time anyone noticed, the objective had long ago been achieved: The public was spooked into buying big cars that guzzled gas, and all the attendant winners in that shift from small foreign imports got a taste as well. Maarten hit the nail on the head regarding motive.

I’m also certain the key participants in these hoaxes are not just military. Loyalty and obedience can be found in other structures of command, such as fraternal lodges, though these outfits tend to attract veterans so the pool of talent is not diluted much. Veterans predominately staff police departments as well. Another level of oath taking and respect for rank to insure cooperation in the ensuing investigation.

The key for these assets, in my opinion, is accepting a rank within the group and drawing some positive reaction, at least at first, to being part of something bigger than they are, even if they never know the bigger picture. Peer support is always a good thing and can become the primary justification for certain behaviors. In time, the ongoing lie may be the only thing these people can define themselves by. They may even be assigned dull and predictable lives so that the occasional call to duty is all they have to live for. That form of manipulation I can truly believe happens.

I suspect, though, these “Leslies” eventually begin to fray at the edges, in time passing their expiration date as useful assets. No matter what you tell yourself, willful deceit will gnaw away on a subconscious level. The small fry like “Leslie Pluhar” do not reinvent themselves as another public persona like dead rock stars becoming pundits. That kind of high profile task is reserved for the bloodliners, illegitimate though I believe these people to be. Leslie disappeared for good, which is what she was trained to do. If that’s her sitting on the last stool near the Men’s Room, drinking herself to death under an alias, well, some part of her had already drowned years earlier…


4 thoughts on “Who would do such a thing?

  1. No doubt the people planning and running and taking the lead roles would be as you describe. Seeing military officers get up in public and praise their daughters for joining the army shows me they will say and do about anything. For the bit players, it wouldn’t take a lot to see how a psychological profile and a layered approach could bring them in.

    With the dependency created in our modern, division of labor world, where few of us could survive a grocery store shut down, it’s not hard to see how people can fall into doing things like this. Extreme debt, pension collapses, or any sort of compromising position could be a huge lever point. Starving actors and musicians grasping at straws would be easy targets. Apparently there are plenty of these types willing to do porn and other demeaning roles. A nice paycheck while helping their wayward fellow citizens “understand” how dangerous the terrists or North Korean nukes or unvaccinated children are to us all isn’t hard to imagine.

    Explaining that the media picked up and ran with the drill as a “real” story, and no way of putting the genie back in the bottle without undermining the citizens faith in the media and their government, is probably enough for most people to swallow, chased with a little kicker added to the future payments for keeping it on the down low. After a week it’s either embedded in the group mind or forgotten (like the Navy depot thing a few years back) so who would listen anyway?

    Christopher Lasch wrote the “Culture of Narcissism” 50 or so years ago. We’re raising them in spades nowadays. How hard is it to find people willing to do anything to get in front of a camera? With “fat shaming” now verboten, the pool has really expanded.


  2. Military, yes. Did you also mention the prison system? There is someone in my area who is connected to both of these. I believe that his 20-something son played a small role in one of these attacks. Not the son directly, but a “new acquaintance” of the son. I have always suspected the “acquaintance” was likely a prisoner given a chance at redemption. Can a criminal/prisoner be “reliable long term”? If it means freedom or returning to jail, I think they would have ample motivation.


    1. Prisoners, possibly, but prisoners with any aptitude do telemarketing or factory like work, I assume. Basically they are slave labor. Military are one step up: free range slaves. Okay, they call it loyalty, but same result: do as told, period!


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