Attribute To Stupidity That Which Qanon Inadequately Explains As Malice

by Belle Waring on August 12, 2019

So, this rich pedophile/trafficker in the rape of minors guy killed himself in what is ambiguously federal-run, NY-local jail. One imagines he did this to avoid the agony of his revolting crimes being discussed in court, inability to conceive 45 years in prison, the real kind where you don’t get to check out for half the day, and a craven fear of facing the victims of his innumerable rapes (said by a number of credible sources to amount to three a day.) Now, it’s true that Trump has accused a president of being responsible, and that by strict and iron rules of the Republican law “it’s always projection,” he himself is guilty. And it’s also true that he or some flunkie in the federal justice system (cough Barr) are the only people capable of kicking Epstein out of suicide watch just eleven days after a suicide attempt.

Epstein had so many contacts with so many powerful or influential or intellectually prestigious people (like, just so, so randomly, Murray Gell-Mann) that’s it’s very tempting to imagine someone must have taken him out. BUT, we have to consider how much this jail sucks, and how little the guards give a crap about anyone, and how particularly they probably don’t give a crap about child molesters. They didn’t follow even their own lame procedures, taking him off suicide watch after only eleven days, placing him in a cell without a fellow inmate (who is meant in part to warn guards and in part to talk the other inmate out of being depressed (?)), and failing to check on him every 30 minutes as required. These places are notoriously under-staffed, in addition to which there are almost twice as many inmates in the facility than what it was built for.

I have a friend who’s been under both failure mode direct observation and well-run direct observation. For…reasons, but she’s fine now. In failure mode D.O. they just look in on you from time to time, let’s say half-hourly, having made sure at the beginning that there’s nothing in your room that you can ever hurt yourself with, but actually failing on this front because you can hurt yourself on the very construction of the room/shower/sheets etc. Successful D.O. is when they watch you literally every second, and if you so much as glance at a paper clip they are on your ass like white on rice. You can’t go to the bathroom by yourself. It’s so draining that they do it in four-hour shifts, around the clock. You know what that must be? Expensive. So expensive. You could do it somewhat more cheaply with panoptical clear cells, and by deputizing other inmates as guarded guards.

Inmates on suicide watch are generally placed in a special observation cell, surrounded with windows, with a bolted down bed and no bedclothes, the official said. A correction officer — or sometimes a fellow inmate trained to be a “suicide companion” — is typically assigned to sit in an adjacent office and monitor the inmate constantly.

Robert Gangi, an expert on prisons and the former executive director of the Correctional Association of New York, said guards also generally take shoelaces and belts away from people on suicide watch. “It’s virtually impossible to kill yourself,” Mr. Gangi said.

Was this too expensive? Did he get crowded out? Were there not enough guards to run the suicide watch centre? Were the officers just sick of him whining about his private island full of child rape victims? I guess we’ll find out, but the answer is going to be some combination of the previous and some further, mundane poorly-run federal jail problem that hasn’t occurred to me. Or, I mean, I guess it could be some high-up in the DOJ had him taken off suicide watch and then murdered! But, you know, almost certainly not. Now what’s necessary is to give his accusers something equivalent to the day in court they have been cheated of, with the most thorough investigation of all time, of his finances, contacts, records, co-conspirators, Alan Dershowitz, and who all else ever went to those fancy parties. Like every other Democrat I’ve ever met, I don’t care what side of the aisle anybody is from. Let justice rain down like waters. Alternately, burn it all down.

[Belle, why not mention the former president in question by name? Google search trending fans the flame of conspiracy theories even when the intention is to debunk them.]

UPDATE: sure, convince me of your conspiracy theory. I am not entirely unpersuadable on this front.



Mitch Guthman 08.12.19 at 3:25 am

Generally speaking this makes a lot of sense. It’s apparently a prison that’s so horrible and poorly run so as to make the infamous Orleans Parish Prison look like a luxury hotel by comparison. And, as Belle reminds us, what we might sometimes think to attribute to malice is almost invariably the product of incompetence.

First, Jeffrey Epstein was indisputably the most inmate of any prison in the world. He was a defendant and potential cooperator in the highest profile case in the country. An investigation of a possible ring of sex traffickers who supplied underage girls to rich and powerful men; the names of presidents, princes, and robber barons have been widely mentioned in connection with this case.

Belle’s friend might nearly have died because of the indifference and incompetence of prison guards and administrators but I would imagine that someone like Epstein would be an entirely different case. The administration of this jail might be sloppy and too casual in applying the BOP’s regulations about taking inmates off of suicide watch in many cases but this wasn’t an ordinary case. I would be genuinely shocked if the warden and all of the jail’s top brass weren’t receiving daily briefings about what was going on with Epstein.

A second, and closely related observation, is that Epstein’s Florida plea deal seemed to have contained a unique provision in which the Justice Department agreed not to prosecute some potential coconspirators who were named and some whose names were kept secret. I’ve never heard of such an agreement and I don’t know anybody else who’s ever heard of such a deal being made by the DOJ. So, if my reading of the reporting about this deal is correct, there’s at least one somebody and perhaps several somebodies whose asses were saved when Epstein’s plea deal was negotiated.

Now, add to that the fact that the Public Corruption Unit in the Southern District of New York was supposedly handling the Epstein prosecution which implies that in addition to the aforementioned presidents, princes, and robber barons with exposure in the case, it’s also likely that some of Epstein possible co-conspirators in the sex trafficking ring or the sweetheart deal might be public officials. It starts to look like Epstein’s arrest and the major push to keep him in jail was part of a strategy to get Epstein in the door, to get him a lawyer and to get talking about whether he wants to cooperate, whether he will name names.

Either way, with Barr in charge of the investigation, you’ve got to figure this is going to be the least aggressively and throughly pursued homicide investigation in history.


Donald 08.12.19 at 5:41 am

“Or, I mean, I guess it could be some high-up in the DOJ had him taken off suicide watch and then murdered! ”

I don’t know. Maybe we could go through the formality of having some meaningless investigation before all the Serious People start talking about Occam and how much he prefers stupidity to malice as an explanation whenever people start wondering about the fundamental trustworthiness of our political system, including the msm.

Or, and this is just me being wild and conspiratorial, maybe letting events take their natural course in a crappy jail seemed like a good way to avoid embarrassment. You might not even need to bribe anyone.

Suppose a prisoner had really valuable information about something people in power really cared about. Well, they care about power and money, but pretend they were good people and were fighting Bad Guys, Nazgul, say, and they had a prisoner who could give them the inside scoop on how to beat them. Suppose the prisoner was suicidal. I bet with a valuable prisoner there would be great care taken to ensure he didn’t commit suicide. ( I see I am repeating Mitch’s point here now that I read his post.)

With someone you don’t care about or might actually prefer dead, well, no need to take any special precautions. Incompetence, you know. Waddaya gonna do? Every bad thing a Western government does is done with good intentions, but sometimes there are bad apples and mistakes were made and we just need reforms so that once again we can point to how, in the end, the system works.

Also, I have never completely understood the rules governing what is considered a conspiracy theory. But here you have a guy who seems like he would be catnip for every intelligence agency in the world that might have their crack analysts following the news, so maybe they might have heard of this guy Epstein and his plane trips and all the fun loving influential people who he has befriended. Wouldn’t they be curious about what he knows? Or to what extent powerful people could be blackmailed? People got all obsessive about a supposed pee tape and how the Russians might have something on Trump. This goes a little beyond pee tapes— you might expect all sorts of governments to have taken an interest in Epstein’s life. I don’t even have a specific theory here. I just think it likely that spies were probably involved in Epstein’s life and that if so, we might never hear about it. Yeah, sure, I am multiplying entities. Occam can put a sock in it.


Belle Waring 08.12.19 at 6:29 am

I don’t feel entirely non-conspiratorial. It’s just that unless he was murdered I don’t totally see it. It’s a bit much for you (as conspirator) to just rely on someone’s committing suicide. But maybe you’re feeling hopeful and roll the dice? Remove the suicide watch and cross your fingers? That’s not crazy and it’s true that it was very important to very important people that he died, and then he ended up dead–maybe Occam’s razor runs the other way here? On the whole still one wonders whether he himself didn’t use his vast wealth and connections to get himself off suicide watch and then arrange for some lazy-ass guards. Because he really wanted to kill himself rather than face his crimes and his accusers in court. Having said that I do think, were people trying hard enough to prevent him? I could be persuaded that they were not.


Orange Watch 08.12.19 at 6:44 am

As per the above commenters, mere incompetence is fine for explaining ordinary, run-of-the-mill prisoners meeting bad outcomes, but not extremely high-profile ones. And likewise, the issue is not malice so much as malign negligence. A prisoner this high-profile would be handled with care if the chain of command wanted them to be, even with strained resources, simply because they would make very clear that there would be consequences for embarrassing mistakes on anyone’s watch. The amount of negligence involved in this suicide points more towards cultivated indifference allowing “nature to take its course” than simple incompetence. For someone as high-profile as this to be handled so cavalierly beggars credulity unless the authority ultimately responsible for his custody and care made an active decision to indifference, and communicated that apathy downwards.


SusanC 08.12.19 at 7:26 am

Either way, with Barr in charge of the investigation, you’ve got to figure this is going to be the least aggressively and throughly pursued homicide investigation in history.

It should get a Lee Harvey Oswald level of investigation.

I think this is completely scandalous – all the conspiracy theorists were expecting this to happen.

If I was the prosecutor, before this happened i’d be like: listen up, we have here a high-profile witness who some very rich guys have a motive to kill. If he doesn’t make it to court, you are all going to be under investigation yourselves. How many extra resources do you need to watch this guy? We’ve got budget for it. As a precaution we’re putting extra surveillance cameras in. (Epstein is murdered. Everyone involved gets interviewed by police and then gets to have an awkward convesation with the HR department,)


Hidari 08.12.19 at 10:08 am

It’s not really on-topic, particularly, but it’s worth pointing out that the ‘Oh, I don’t believe in conspiracy theories….I think these are mostly explained by the ‘cock up’ theory!’ which is a boiler plate dinner party statement….is a non sequitur. The obvious counterargument is the Nazis (better still, Mussolini’s fascists) who were both completely evil and totally incompetent (the media has done much to cover this up, but anyone who committed what Orwell called ‘the unheard of folly’ of opening up a second front (against Russia) before the first front was pacified was clearly two or three spoons short of a picnic set).

In other words, it’s not an either/or. You can totally f**k things up and be completely evil as well. Both interpretations of history can be true. After all (so far as we know) most serial killers eventually get caught.

(Still less does the antonym ‘corrupt or evil’ work: again the Nazis were totally incompetent, totally evil, AND totally corrupt).

Remember those who reflexively condemn ‘conspiracy theorists’ that Epstein was actually in jail being accused (implicitly) of a conspiracy: a conspiracy of wealthy white male Americans to f**k up and f**k over as many poor females as possible. This isn’t my imagination. it’s not something I heard about on Alex Jones. That’s actually the charge.

Not to mention all those mysterious facts about how a maths teacher became a billionaire, on the basis, so far as we can tell, of nothing.

This doesn’t of course prove that Epstein was murdered or anything like it, but it might affect where you pre-set your Bayesian prior before updating that after looking at the evidence.


Jacob 08.12.19 at 10:43 am

In a twist of fate, the jail Epstein died in was site of the Supreme Court case on double bunking, Bell v. Wolfish, during the 1970s run up to mass incarceration.

Right after MCC opened, the jail started putting two people in cells designed for one, effectively doubling the jail population. People sued but lost.


Barry 08.12.19 at 12:21 pm

Mitch Guthman 08.12.19 at 3:25 am

“And, as Belle reminds us, what we might sometimes think to attribute to malice is almost invariably the product of incompetence. ”

This, in fact, is simply not true. The ‘incompetence is because the people in power either actively want evil done, or don’t care. If a prison is understaffed, it’s not because the people in power don’t have money to spend, but rather want to spend it on something else.

If police and prison guards regularly get away with murder, even when caught on film, it’s because the prosecutors, judges and most of the ‘liberal’ media are fine with that.

The past couple of years have been 100% confirmation of the ‘evil over incompetency’ hypothesis.


Donald 08.12.19 at 12:59 pm

My grand overarching conspiracy theory, which is more an entire worldview, or to be less pompous, justified cynicism, is that slimy people are disproportionately represented at the highest levels of any society and as a group they have a collective interest in not letting people see the gory details of how things really work. Rather, people must believe there is a basically trustworthy system in place. Investigations of the powerful in one’s own society tend to be modified limited hangouts or whatever the Watergate term was. Scapegoats are found when necessary. People are supposed to think what the quality press tells them is important. That same press viciously ridicules people who believe the wrong sorts of conspiracy theory as opposed to the mainstream conspiracy theories we are supposed to embrace. It helps, of course, that many of the alternative conspiracy theories are overdetailed and unlikely to be true. It would be better if people adopted the view of Benjamin the donkey in Animal Farm and just assume that much of what we are told is self serving BS if it can’t be easily checked, but it is usually a waste of time to adopt some detailed alternative theory that can’t be checked either. Not everything can be framed as a testable scientific hypothesis if you don’t have subpoena power.

Okay, coming down to earth, in this case Epstein’s body is barely cold and already people are rushing to warn us away from conspiracy theories, using that term in the usual pejorative way. It’s like some massive social reflex, utterly predictable. It also shows a lack of imagination. Maybe nobody ordered the suicide watch lifted, but nobody thought it was important to ensure that Epstein not attempt suicide again. It’s risky to order a murder, but you can stay within the system and hope for the best. And the reliance on incompetence as an all- embracing explanation when something bad happens ( in the US) is predictable. If this happened in Russia people would instantly assume the opposite. But there is actually a position in- between deliberate murder and simple incompetence.

And if there is to be a serious and open investigation, which is unlikely, I would expect it would turn up spies. Powerful people were doing things far worse than Trump’s alleged antics in a Russian hotel room— what do people pay intelligence and counter intelligence people to do if not investigate or spy on such goings on, or maybe to help Epstein run them and pick his “ friends”. They should have been falling over each other trying to find out what Epstein knew. At the very least spooks would want to know if powerful people with sensitive information were being blackmailed by other intelligence agencies.


Donald 08.12.19 at 1:10 pm

Oh, btw, since I don’t have any detailed information to back up an alternative theory, I will shut up now rather than make the same points several more times.


Scott P. 08.12.19 at 1:17 pm

And it’s also true that he or some flunkie in the federal justice system (cough Barr) are the only people capable of kicking Epstein out of suicide watch just eleven days after a suicide attempt.

I would read this Twitter thread for enlightenment:


Z 08.12.19 at 1:24 pm

I’m on the conspiracy side. Months ago people were joking about how Epstein would “suicide” on Twitter, so if he ends up in your ward, you basically have one job. Everybody in the prison and above knew it, and everybody knew that everybody knew it. Under these circumstances, it is possible that Epstein managed to strangle himself because everybody failed at the one thing they and all their bosses perfectly knew they had to do, but that seems less likely that somebody helped along the way.


Bernard Yomtov 08.12.19 at 1:38 pm


Remove the suicide watch and cross your fingers? That’s not crazy and it’s true that it was very important to very important people that he died, and then he ended up dead

What if you remove the suicide watch and the (hypothetical) anti-depressants?


JanieM 08.12.19 at 1:46 pm


a craven fear of facing the victims of his innumerable rapes (said by a number of credible sources to amount to three a day.)

Because he really wanted to kill himself rather than face his crimes and his accusers in court.

This wouldn’t be because he felt any remorse, or wanted to resist having to see his victims’ anguish, about which he didn’t give a shit. It would only be because he understood that he was now permanently not the one in control, rather he would be for the rest of his life controlled by other people. He was accustomed to a godlike power to manipulate and control other people, and anything less would be worse than death.

And it wasn’t just young girls he manipulated. He didn’t just have “contacts” with “powerful or influential” people, he cultivated them, and you could even say groomed them. Not to let them off the hook at all, but surely he didn’t just accidentally run into these people at parties.


JanieM 08.12.19 at 1:58 pm

Adding to my earlier comment, and trying to be crystal clear: I am not putting Epstein & Co.’s victims on the same footing as the members of “& Co.” Except in this one way — I do think that the “& Co.”, like probably everyone else he ever encountered, were to him just another set of marks. Useful for (as people have already said) blackmail purposes, insurance against the legal system, camouflage, etc. Some of them were probably psychopaths in their own right, others greedy, arrogant, stupid, whatever. Either way: Let justice rain down.


Rex Visigothis 08.12.19 at 2:05 pm

I have heard purported quotes of Epstein’s family wherein (disclaimer, second degree hearsay…) he is described as not suicidal, and contradicting the initial attribution of his earlier incident to a bungled suicide attempt.

It is hard to credit the repeated avowals from those implicated by Virginia Guiffre (eg, George Marshall) “I knew nothing…”

Epstein seems to have flamboyently open about/proud of (?) his predilections (cf, eg, Trump’s familiarity with them as evidenced in his New York Magazine interview).

He was a serial video taper who generated huge sums of money without visible activities commensurate therewith.

One need not strain for conspiracies–it looks like a well oiled blackmail factory.


Jerry Vinokurov 08.12.19 at 2:12 pm

I’m with Mitch above. I find it very difficult to believe that he wasn’t simply allowed to kill himself by design; it was obviously known that he wanted to, and while incompetence on the part of prison authorities is par for the course, it beggars belief that they couldn’t have kept this one really famous guy alive if they had wanted to. That they didn’t suggests that they didn’t want to.


Orange Watch 08.12.19 at 2:12 pm


I don’t feel there’s a lot I could say about this than what you already said better (particularly WRT the middleground between active malice and apathetic negligence), but I will elaborate on one point you made.

That same press viciously ridicules people who believe the wrong sorts of conspiracy theory as opposed to the mainstream conspiracy theories we are supposed to embrace.

It’s useful to remember Gulf War II – or the Bush II presidency in general – in this context. We had the principles conspiring to loot Iraq’s oil, plunder its resources (as well as engage in general war profiteering), and install a friendly puppet government. They did so openly; they didn’t shout their intentions at the top of their lungs, but they also didn’t make a serious effort to hide what they were doing even if they mouthed platitudes when directly questioned. And yet the media dutifully labeled claims of such as conspiracy theories. The same was true of NSA spying; there was quiet but “respectable” journalism noting that network backbones were having infrastructure installed and telecoms were being told to comply silently (which almost all, but not all, did). This was widely ridiculed as tinfoil hat territory right up until leaks irrevocably collapsed the countervailing narrative – at which point the existing narrative suddenly became that of course that’s what was happening and anyone who ever thought otherwise was a naive simpleton.

Dismissing the readily-apparent fact that the powerful conspire to maintain and expand their power as “conspiracy theories” is a deceptively powerful tool for media narrative control. It seems so blatant that it shouldn’t work as well as it does, but it does.


Peter D Lebling 08.12.19 at 2:32 pm

Isn’t his suicide both over-determined in that practically every power center in the Western world potentially had reason to want him dead, and by the same token easily explained as the result of incompetence in the prison system?

It is somewhat interesting that a guy who supposedly wanted his head and genitals cryogenically preserved after his death would commit suicide, though.


Brian 08.12.19 at 2:38 pm

Normally, I would agree with you. But consider this list of 51 people close to, or accusing, or witnesses against the Clintons who committed suicide in strange ways like shooting themselves in the back of the head.

Consider also, that Bill Clinton’s official story is that he only flew on the Lolita Express 4 times, and always with his security detail. But logs show it was 27 times, often without his security, and always with many initials indicating the underage girls. .

Consider that Trump flew on it. Consider that Hillary was on that plane, and she is notorious in Washington for her lesbian interests. Did they include underage girls? I strongly suspect so.

Consider the extreme arrogance of Jeffrey Epstein throughout his career. Consider the massive amount of interference that had to happen to get Epstein his slap on the wrist previously from the Federal prosecutor.

Consider that even now there is a studious lack of rush to investigate the obvious. Where is the search warrant for Jeffrey’s private island with its mystery temple that has the medieval bar on the outside of the door to keep people from escaping? Where are the subpoenas to all of the staff on that island to tell what they know? When any of those staff refuse to talk, where is the contempt of court, fines, and jail time for them until they acquiesce? On and on.

One of the strongest bonds in human networks is criminality. That will force people together to do what they need to do in order to keep from being exposed as criminals. When those people are the most influential, most powerful, most intelligent and capable people in the world? Yes, then, you can correctly assume they can pull off almost anything.

This particular clan centered around the Clintons has unprecedented influence on the media. We saw in the Wikileaks DNC emails exactly how she operates, and how deep it went. In just one example, Hillary had gotten a contract written that the head of the DNC was not allowed to speak about that funneled all of the DNC’s money to her. That kind of hubris breeds a level of contempt for the “little people” and a brazen modus operandi that these people come to realize won’t be believed, precisely because it is so brazen.

So, beware, Ms. Waring. Be wary of your instinct, and be very careful to look for evidence and patterns and larger patterns of conduct. Be wary of joining in as a member of the “nothing to see here” chorus.

We also need to dispense with this fatuous journalistic tripe of, “despite his lurid lifestyle, Jeffrey Epstein succeeded and had connections to the rich and powerful.” There’s no “despite”! This man was a pimp. He was a nasty pimp and his clients were the richest and most powerful people on the planet. That’s WHY he was rich. That is WHY he was successful. That was what Epstein brought to them, and it is what they wanted.


Anarcissie 08.12.19 at 3:15 pm

Donald 08.12.19 at 12:59 pm @ 7:
‘Okay, coming down to earth, in this case Epstein’s body is barely cold and already people are rushing to warn us away from conspiracy theories, using that term in the usual pejorative way.’

Depends which people. In the last few days, I have not talked with a single person out of dozens, of all kinds, who doesn’t believe that Epstein was done away with by one means or another. I think there is quite a Credibility Gap going there. Of course the superhumans who make up our news are told to tell us otherwise.


Jim Harrison 08.12.19 at 3:30 pm

We don’t know that anybody decreed Epstein’s death. What we do know is that there are people who could have prevented it if they wanted to, and two of their names are Trump and Barr.


hix 08.12.19 at 4:24 pm

Being understaffed and instructed to focus resources on punishment is perfectly consistent with the outcome. No need for conspiracy theories or incompetence. Unless you think it requires a conspiracy to negate and ignore the darker sides of life.


Chip Daniels 08.12.19 at 4:36 pm

Part of what makes conspiracy theories so delicious is that they reek of thrilling fiction yarns.
Except fiction yarns almost always rely upon people doing things that are nonsensical (e.g. a cop chases a group of bad guys armed with machine guns to a building; No, he doesn’t call backup but instead walks in with his trusty 6 shooter and hopes for the best)

Killing Epstein shields HIM from further investigation, but does absolutely nothing to shield all the others.
There is still a mountain of witnesses (Pilots, chauffeurs, waiters, maids, security personell) and physical evidence (Flight logs, passenger lists, legal agreements, payments) and most of all, the girls themselves.

So far, all the evidence points to suicide, aided by the documented incompetence and depraved indifference of the penal system.


Lee A. Arnold 08.12.19 at 5:04 pm

I was called a conspiracy theorist for writing in these threads two years ago that it looked possible that Trump conspired with Russia in 2016.

The Mueller Report recently stated that yes there is evidence of conspiracy although not enough to win the case, perhaps because investigators couldn’t see all the evidence (due to witnesses lying, pleading the 5th Amendment, deleted & encrypted phone messages, witnesses & documents beyond reach overseas, & Justice Dept rules against interviewing lawyers). And there is more than enough evidence to win on several counts of obstruction, if only a sitting President could be charged.


mpowell 08.12.19 at 5:38 pm

It’s just so awesome that even in a CT thread we get someone pointing the figure right away at the Clintons in spite of a different set of individuals who are not at all friends with the Clintons completely controlling all the relevant levers of power related to the case.


Ebenezer Scrooge 08.12.19 at 6:12 pm

It’s important to go after–or at least publicize–the creeps who benefitted from the Lolita Express. (IIRC, the statute of limitations has passed on everything but trafficking, although I’d be happy if I’m wrong.)

But it’s not the most important unfinished business of the Jeffrey Epstein mess. The way our system works in practice, everything depends on the integrity of the prosecutors. EVERYTHING! They have no legal liability for any prosecutorial decision they make, no matter the circumstances. If they want to put your ass in jail for lulz, you’ll likely plead guilty, even if innocent. If you fight it, the consequences are unbelievably severe if you lose. Even if you win and can prove their motivation, there are no legal consequences to them. And inversely. If you’re guilty as hell, your local prosecutor is the best friend you could possibly have.

Epstein had friends. He seemed to suborn the prosecutors at least twice: the Florida sweetheart deal, and Cy Vance’s request that he be treated in the mildest class of sex offenders. This subornation must be thoroughly investigated, even if nobody can be thrown in jail. We might at least be able to revoke a few bar licenses.


PatinIowa 08.12.19 at 6:14 pm

The Twitter thread referenced by Scott P at 11 should be required reading for everybody thinking about this. It’s especially useful in reminding us why a self-absorbed, non-depressed psychopath might take his own life.

As someone with who did most of an MSW, including working with people experiencing suicidal ideation, the thread rings true to me.

Two points emerge:

You don’t have to believe a priori that there was a conspiracy to believe that there should be a complete, independent, authoritative investigation of [name redacted because he wanted to be famous]’s death. The fact that this or that person did not kill [name redacted], doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t have, given the chance. (Remember Bill Clinton and Ricky Ray Rector?) If possible, there should be transparency.

The second point is an expansion Jim Harrison’s at 22: The prison/jail/corrections system we have breaks people, kills people, and drives human beings mad. By any plausible definition of the term, we torture people, sometimes to death. We know who’s responsible for that, and it’s far more people than Trump and Barr. To the degree there are small-d democratic processes in this country, it’s all of us.

[Name redacted] is dead. We might be able to save the next one, if we try.


divelly 08.12.19 at 6:48 pm

Remember the Rat in Godfather II who did the “right thing” after the Consigliere affirmed that his family would be OK?
What could he have JS been offered?


Hillary 08.12.19 at 7:03 pm

20. Brian

You’re next.


Grung_e_Gene 08.12.19 at 7:53 pm

If anyone believes in this secret cult of Clinton Ninjas (looking at you Brian #20) I’ll need to see some proof. Epstein is dead because of LIHOP, prisons are notorious for blaise uncaring for looking after inmates. Violence against inmates by the guards, system, and other inmates is accepted and often approved of by society.

Epstein was buddies with Trump. Trump DOJ and AG are in charge of his prison if any #ClintonBodyCount people want to claim some low level guard at the MCC is secretly a Black Ops Janet Reno Ninja still enthralled to the Clinton Presidency which ended 19 years ago then that person (and there are millions of them is a lost cause).


Donald 08.12.19 at 9:48 pm

Sigh. Breaking my promise, but this misses the point.

“There is still a mountain of witnesses (Pilots, chauffeurs, waiters, maids, security personnel) and physical evidence (Flight logs, passenger lists, legal agreements, payments) and most of all, the girls themselves.”

Which won’t necessarily tell us much about whether Epstein had intelligence connections of some sort, which seems plausible to us kooks. It would have been helpful to question Epstein about that. Did he have help? Did anyone suggest to him who he should invite to his parties? Who protected him and why? It might be harder to find out some of these things since he was allowed to kill himself.


Anarcissie 08.12.19 at 9:58 pm

For a compendium of related conspiracies going back to Roy Cohn, J. Edgar Hoover, Meyer Lansky, etc., see Mintpressnews on the subject. (Three connected articles.) I know nothing about Mintpressnews except what I read in Wikipedia: where suspicions are reported. This is also interesting on the subject. Unquestionably some of the conspiracies are or were true and active, even if we find the Clintons innocent as new-fallen snow. Someone should make a social map starting with poor Redacted.


Roland Stone 08.12.19 at 10:23 pm

“Where is the search warrant for Jeffrey’s private island…?”


Tabasco 08.12.19 at 10:51 pm

The autopsy has been completed and the cause of death established. He fell on a knife, twice.


Gerry 08.12.19 at 11:31 pm

I propose the following framework, for clarity going forward:

The masses aren’t buying the suicide story. He was an unprecedented danger to too many super powerful and wealthy people. He was clearly someone who felt no guilt or shame and whose experience over many years was that the system would keep him going.

The conspiracy theorists are two types: one thinks they know exactly which one of those powerful people killed Epstein. Another thinks they know that he is still alive.

To say that you believe he’s dead but you don’t know who exactly killed him isn’t an unreasonable conspiracy theory on the level of fake moon landings or whatever. It’s just a reasonable and observant position and it’s shared by I believe the vast majority. Mainstream media, owned by the plutocratic class who enabled Epstein all along, are never going to be believed by ordinary people again. My hope is that this can solidify into an unshakeable and trans-partisan skepticism that will help the masses lose their baseline disinterest in the class struggle.


Chip Daniels 08.13.19 at 12:38 am

One of the things about VIPs like the sort Epstein cavorted with, is that they lead very public lives, with a massive trail of data.
For example, we have a girl who has credibly accused Prince Andrew of statutory rape.

If she can pin down a timeframe, it should be relatively easy to ascertain his whereabouts from the logs kept by his security detail. Even if he ditched his security for a night, that itself is evidence.
Further, these people are waited on by a small army of staff that would put Downton Abbey to shame.
Where are all these cooks, waiters, maids, valets, porters?
What are their recollections of those nights?
Who was present when underage girls were served drinks, who laundered the sheets and clothing from the weekend?

Killing Epstein hasn’t made the collection of all that data and testimony harder to get, it has made it easier because he no longer has standing to object to the evidence gathering.


Belle Waring 08.13.19 at 1:11 am

mpowell: I considered not letting it through the filter but whatever. Obviously if there are any murderers they are on the Trump/guilty billionaire side. And ‘Hilary’s well-known lesbian predilections’ GAWD. John is talking me around to the conspiracy theory side of things by pointing out that if you really needed and wanted someone to be alive you would keep them alive. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed might well have wanted to commit suicide after waterboarding number 201, but ain’t nobody was going to let that happen.


Belle Waring 08.13.19 at 1:12 am

My husband can be really persuasive when he’s not trolling trolls like an internet ninja.


Donald 08.13.19 at 1:19 am

Orange Watch—

Thanks. Several of us had basically the same idea. False dichotomies seem to be one of the most common forms of misleading political argument. And the term “ conspiracy theory” is so tiresome. Any and every theory that is outside the mainstream gets that label slapped on it, whether it makes sense or not.

Your examples were good. Here is another, not well known. Israel ran a car bomb campaign in Lebanon in the early 80’s, using a shadowy organization ( the FLLF) to cover their involvement. This was long suspected by leftist kooks, but was revealed to be true by an Israeli reporter in his book Rise and Kill First, which got favorable coverage.

The NYT Sunday magazine carried an article based on the book in early 2018 ( by the same author Ronen Bergman) which mentioned this in passing. Most of the article is about times when Israeli officials with a conscience nixed this or that operation because it would kill too many civilians. I will link that in another post. Anyway, I suspect most readers just passed right over the mention of the FLLF.

I am old enough to remember that time. I am pretty sure if I had read Fisk or somebody like that some years later and told my friends that Israel ran a car bombing campaign designed to create terror they would have said it was a crazy conspiracy theory. Western governments don’t do false flag terror operations. Why would they do it? Only kooks think such things. Except it happened.


Donald 08.13.19 at 1:25 am

Here is the NYT link I promised. The reference to the FLLF is in somewhere the middle of the article. Blink and you miss it. I did, the first time I read it. Almost all of the piece is about the human drama of Israelis deciding whether or not to do this or that. The revelation that an apparent rogue group of Israeli officials ran a terror campaign that killed hundreds of civilians gets about a paragraph.

That’s our press, keeping us well informed about what is or isn’t reasonable to believe.


Sebastian H 08.13.19 at 2:28 am

My background belief in conspiracy theories is pretty low. If I hear something semi plausible and shadowy I assign it a low percentage change–something like 0.5%. I tend to think that the things surrounding this case make some level of conspiracy much more likely. Maybe 10 times as likely. So I’d put it at around 5%. So it can be both true that the chances of there being a conspiracy which killed him is low, and that it is much more likely than most semi-plausible conspiracies.

I agree with Donald that much of his ring might still end up being investigated post death, but that the intelligence aspects of it might end up being easier to obscure post death.


nastywoman 08.13.19 at 7:27 am

@30 – Hillary

”20. Brian – You’re next”.

Hey!! – are you stealing my jokes? –
(and why did CT allow a monicker called ”Hillary” while I’m already present?)
and how can Americans – any Americans nowadays believe in any conspiracy theories?
I mean in the 20th century that was still possible –
but now? –
while everything – every single detail of ”anything” finally get’s out – comes out – is written about in thousands of pages -(like some ”Mueller” report)

Don’t you guys know – that WE (Americans) just can’t keep a secret – and so it will be with this suicide and the whole Epstein case – everything and everybody will be outed – (thanks god) – but there still will be all these Americans who will be believe that Hillary did it!



Hidari 08.13.19 at 7:45 am

Just getting in my tinfoil hat pitch in early…..

If and when Assange is ever extradited to the States, I’m willing to put money on the idea that he will ‘commit suicide’ while in custody too.


nastywoman 08.13.19 at 7:51 am

BUT as there is this comment of this ”Brian” –
(and I know it is ”Brian Kilmeade” from FOX?)
and he is saying all these bad things about me (Hillary) and my family – let me offer the undeniable proof – that it IS and WAS just another conspiracy of ”Von Clownstick” –

He not only got the Deep State -(or is it the ”Depp”- State?) – to erect himself – He now also pointed to himself that it was him – everything – and we have all this footage -(and photos) to prove it.

So there is this proof that Trump and Melania are standing side by side with ”their friend” – the sickest piece of… in America and his ”madam”.

What else do need to know that it was Trump -(and not ME – Hillary) which is guilty about everything?


Donald 08.13.19 at 12:15 pm

I should have added, since people tend to go nuts on that subject, that bringing up Israel wasn’t meant to pull the thread that way. But it is a classic not well known example of something that sounds exactly like a melodramatic TV show scenario that conspiracy kooks would love— rogue agents of a Western power running a false flag terrorist operation designed to create confusion which killed hundreds of people. It happened. What was interesting is that in the NYT story they buried the lead— they made it about the preferred NYT model of responsible Western officials keeping the cowboys in check. Both things happened. One thing was emphasized.

Unrelated to that example— Ross Douthat actually wrote a mostly reasonable piece on this subject—


VR Experience 08.13.19 at 2:26 pm

I absolutely agree with you. If we talk about the real number of pedophiles in America (registered, imprisoned and walking around at large), then, according to some sex therapists and forensic scientists, it exceeds two million people (that is, approximately every 155th resident). If the police and special services of the United States could catch all the pedophiles in one day, then there would not be enough prison cells for them, and a huge amount of work would fall on the shoulders of prosecutors, judges and lawyers. Therefore, as in the case of the illegal downloading of free music, films and books (which is a violation of copyright, but quite common), the authorities catch only one of the long list of suspected pedophilia. Good luck!


Anderson 08.13.19 at 6:05 pm

My sole comment is that while some of us go, “Epstein was so important, it’s suspicious how he was neglected,” we forget that to the actual jailers, none of the prisoners are important. Or even human.


Dipper 08.13.19 at 6:51 pm

Two things:

The Spectator USA ran the top five Jeffrey Epstein conspiracies, and two days later he is dead.

To take the first item, Epstein is often referred to as a ‘billionaire hedge fund manager’, but as the article points out, there is little evidence for this.

Even in the rarified atmosphere of hedge funds, a billion is a lot. People who make a billion from managing other people’s money are famed, noted individuals. They leave a heavy footprint, in investment strategies, in ups and downs, in people who have worked for them, in people they do over. Jeffrey Epstein left none of these marks. My guess is he wasn’t managing money in any meaningful way, in which case it seems reasonable to ask where it all came from.

Secondly, in the UK we’ve just had Carl Beech. He alleged famous people being involved in child sexual abuse, and a few years and many police investigations, arrests, and searches later, it turned out to be all nonsense. So I find it unlikely that allegations of sexual abuse of minors are going to go anywhere unless there is strong physical supporting evidence, particularly when the victims include Gulfstream Girl If Epstein had lived, there would have been lots of “you did this”, “no I didn’t” and no-one would have been any the wiser. In a way, Epstein’s death is irrelevant to the Epstein case. The only evidence that counts is the hard factual variety, paper trails, bank accounts, possibly recorded conversations.


otpup 08.13.19 at 11:48 pm

Anderson @45, most prisoners do count for very little, but prisoners with means are treated very differently, I cannot help but conclude. So no.


lathrop 08.14.19 at 12:38 am

I recall some sort of maxim “don’t attribute to malice what can be explained by stupidity.” I’m inclined to be suspicious too, but it seems somewhat likely this is the operative principle. Very prescient of Trump to put stupid people in charge to budget-cut every agency down to incompetence levels.


peregrine 08.14.19 at 1:00 am

Interesting how life imitates art. As Warden Norton observed in Shawshank Redemption:

” Lord it’s a miracle! Man (woman) up and vanished like a fart in the wind!”

I guess this is my own pet conspiracy theory about this particular conspiracy but where the hell is Ghislaine Maxwell? Why is there no emphasis or even barely a mention ( one comment with an allusion upthread) of her?

How about this personal observation based on the testimony of victims that she was in the position to quite likely know more about the “operation” than even Epstein? Who was she working for?


Kiwanda 08.14.19 at 1:19 am


…we forget that to the actual jailers, none of the prisoners are important…

Indeed, there are some outrageous examples. (A few more here.)


Donald 08.14.19 at 5:07 am

On Ghislaine, we’ve mostly been talking about Epstein’s death, but while I bet he had intelligence connections of some sort ( or was spied upon) I haven’t seen much to make me lean towards any particular theory. Acosta supposedly said somebody told him Epstein was associated with intelligence, which might be BS. But Acosta should be questioned under oath and asked if someone really told him that. Too lazy to find links, but people can google.

Getting back to Ghislaine, her father allegedly had connections with several different opposed intelligence agencies. The Wikipedia cites a claim that he was a double or triple agent. If he had that many connections he would almost have to be.


Orange Watch 08.14.19 at 5:42 am


I’d actually not expect that of an extradited Assange. As Belle alluded to above with Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, if the state is determined to keep someone alive they’ve shown they can – and while Epstein softly and suddenly vanishing away might be convenient, Assange (like KSM) is useful as a symbol and example of the consequences of acting against the state rather than against private citizens. Paranoia and cynicism doesn’t really lend itself towards expecting someone like that to die before “getting their due”.


While it may be true that corrections as a field dehumanizes both prisoners and guards, it’s dangerous to adopt a tone of world-weary cynicism which dismisses all correctional personnel as viewing their charges as subhuman, because it’s simply not true, and suffers from the same sort of dehumanizing logic it accuses all corrections officers of.

Even if this blanket dismissal was accurate – which again, it’s not – the idea that “no prisoners are important” to jailers again fails to treat the staff as human. They may not care one bit about the prisoners. They may hate them and wish them ill. But they’re doing a job. Not all will have professionalism, but almost all will have concern for keeping their job and avoiding reprimands. You may not care about a particular project you’re assigned – you may even hate it – but if your boss makes it clear your job requires you to treat it as important, you’ll generally treat it as important. I read an article citing no record of successful suicides at MCC since 1998, so even if the jailers hate their wards, they’re plainly not entirely negligent of their jobs.


nastywoman 08.14.19 at 6:32 am

– and about:
”sure, convince me of your conspiracy theory”.

My favourite ”conspiracy theory” is – that Americans desperately need all of these conspiracy theories in order to get over all of the ”terrible” facts that –

”a bunch of guys with box cutters did it”
or –
”that mass shootings must be false flag”
or –
”that some Deep State is responsible for everything”
or –
”that Fake News manipulated US”
”that a bunch of Russians fooled US”
or –
”that we elected a Clownstick”
or –
”that his ex-friend Epstein committed suicide”…

ALL of this… is just far, far too ”terrible” and embarrassing – that it just could happen by accident if we would be just a bunch of people who are completely totally unable to ”pay attention” –
(and understand that ”everything worth doing” is ”worth doing well”?)


Cranky Observer 08.14.19 at 11:45 am

Correct me if I am wrong, but there has not been a report of a single successful suicide at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility since that location was repurposed into an interrogation and torture center – going on 17 years of holding prisoners under conditions of extreme distress and despair. Apparently it is possible to prevent prisoner suicide if the authorities in command decide it is worthwhile to do so. In this case they just happened to decide it wasn’t worthwhile I guess.


Orange Watch 08.14.19 at 1:38 pm


Possibly the only positive result of what happened at Abu Ghraib was that the Army realized it still needed professional jailers and reversed its plan to scrap the Internment/Resettlement Specialist (ie corrections) MOS. I’ve known and worked with people who worked the tiers at Gitmo, and while I never really got into detail discussing it, they tended to take the job very seriously even when dealing with prisoners they despised (for context, when I was working in this environment, it was in a facility with 40% sex offenders, some of whom had done truly awful things). The professional opinion within that field was that quality of custody and care in DOD facilities was higher than BOP facilities, which was higher than state facilities, which was higher than private facilities. Some of that comes down to resources, and some of that comes down to the type of prisoner populations, but it also comes down to how the staff are managed – and for better and worse, military personnel are generally going to be more disciplined than federal corrections officers, who will likewise generally be more professional than civilian jailers. Since Abu Ghraib, it’s fairly safe to assume that when bad things happen in military confinement it’s because they’re meant to happen, or at a bare minimum knowingly condoned by all responsible parties. Having said that, while I hesitate to extend that same level of confidence to the BOP in most cases, but in a high-profile case where both media and gov’t attention at literally the highest levels are focused on it, my confidence is quite strong. So while I’d generally hesitate to point to Gitmo as a close parallel, I’d say that MCC’s 21y w/o reported successful suicides suggests in this particular area you’re probably quite justified in doing so.


alfredlordbleep 08.14.19 at 11:08 pm

a topical notion revisited
CT’s n****woman (@43) must, while in the Fatherland-most known-for this sort of thing—in public spectacle worthy of Leni Riefenstahl—torch a pile of Art of the Deal.

Why should that Oaf be the only one to hold a rally when he feels like it?

That is, conduct a mass spectacle at Nuremberg on her way to doing HERSELF -a Comedy Intervention- on behalf of Angela Merkel in Berlin (who could use some laughs at this time).

The Blond Ambition Tour then winds up in The Homeland with a taste of conspiracy and murder

This is the deal that gets “Hillary” into the Oval Office: on the promise of showing Oaf a document from beyond the grave, signed “Love, Jeffrey”. This to bring a version of the poisoned chalice to the lips of bottled Blondness. Hillary’s co-conspirators think up the precise detail of the finishing touch—maybe on the lips of Hillary herself?


faustusnotes 08.15.19 at 11:12 am

Just in case anyone is reading who is taking that clinton body count shit seriously, here is the Snopes article on the list, which makes pretty clear that the list is full of lies and concoctions.


musical mountaineer 08.15.19 at 12:28 pm

I don’t have any particular conspiracy theory to push, but in light of some new information today, we can rule out suicide by hanging.

There are two ways to kill yourself by hanging: slump or drop.

Suicide is almost always by the slump method. You fix the rope tight and high, just under the jaw, and then lean or slump to increase the pressure. It doesn’t take a painful amount of pressure to strangulate the carotids and cause loss of consciousness. Gravity then finishes the job. It’s a quick and painless method. Note that the victim does not end up suspended; their feet will be on the floor. It can even be done from a kneeling or sitting position. It causes no real trauma to the neck, maybe not even a bruise.

In the drop method, you rig the rope so the body will end up suspended. Then you jump or kick out the chair or whatever. Depending how the rope is rigged and the length of the drop, any quality or severity of damage to the neck is possible, up to outright decapitation.

Jeffrey Epstein, it was revealed today, had a broken hyoid bone. That absolutely rules out the slump method. If the rope was positioned under the hyoid, it would be agonizingly painful (and maybe even physically impossible regardless of pain) to slump hard enough to cause strangulation. Nobody without a headful of bath salts could deliberately break his own hyoid, any more than you can just reach down and break your own finger.

That leaves the drop method. Epstein would have needed a strong ligature and an attachment point high enough to leave him suspended. Nothing like either of those two things was available.

Jeffrey Epstein did not kill himself by hanging. If the cause of death was strangulation, Epstein didn’t cause it.


musical mountaineer 08.15.19 at 12:49 pm

So yeah, that broken hyoid can only mean Epstein was murdered. And I don’t think it’s possible to get away with murder in the MCC, unless there’s a conspiracy.

The question is, who’s in it? One guard and one inmate? Michelle Obama and Prince Andrew? Donald Trump and the Dalai Lama? Dianne Feinstein and Vladimir Putin?


rogergathmann 08.15.19 at 4:59 pm

I’m as interested in the downplaying of conspiracy theories as in the Epstein conspiracy theory. It seems, well, odd. From Cicero to Machiavelli – not QANON names – conspiracy was at the very center of political theory. From the Communist conspiracy to the Al Qaeda conspiracy, conspiracy has been at the very center of America’s justification for its foreign policy. So what is the deal? Is it that you can’t handcraft your conspiracy – you must go to an authorized think tank dealer? Because if you are looking for, say, the conspiracy theory that Iran is behind the “troubles” in Yemen, you can go through D.C. and pick up boatloads of literature. Is there in fact any conspiracy theory that begins on the grassroots level that the elites would accept, in any way? Myself, I think the Epstein case and career is an xray of the elite world. My conspiratorial conclusion is that historians should forget presidential papers when trying to understand American policies in the last fifty years, and should try to get the flight manifests of billionaire jets. Because they have it all – the elite scientist, the Senate majority leader, the ex president and all the ex presidents aides, all engaged in philanthropy and amassing millions for themselves under various guises. As Machiavelli might have put it, when you have a society ruled by concentrated wealth and power, whilst ostensibly ruled by some democratic procedure, you have a rich environment in which to grow conspiracies. Although perhaps he would not have used the gardening metaphor. The American system, which experienced a brief democratic surge in the 60s and 70s, has definitely regressed to a pre-democratic norm. Jeffrey Epstein fits right in – he’s as american as apple pie.


Trader Joe 08.15.19 at 8:58 pm

I’m not normally much for conspiracy, but this is all too convenient.

The only ‘fact’ which can ultimately be learned is if either:

A) Epstein provided the grease that encouraged the guards to look the other way allowing him to take his own life (one last measure of control) or

B) some third party provided the grease and did the job to look like a suicide (having beat him up a couple weeks ago to let him know he was entirely reachable).

I put ‘facts’ in scare quotes because even later when some investigation tells us its factual findings, in either scenario, they could still be complete fabrication and the we’ll have either been told a lie to conceal truth, or a truth to conceal a lie…we’ll never know.


Jim Harrison 08.16.19 at 4:23 pm

As I wrote before, what’s clear in this affair is that Epstein would still be alive if Barr had wanted him to be. American prisons are hellholes, but the government is perfectly capable of keeping high value prisoners alive for trial when it wants to. What is also clear is that Barr is the last person on the planet who should have anything to do with an investigation since his own father gave the young Epstein a job that gave him access to underage women. I make no assumptions about the elder Barr’s culpability or innocence in doing so, but I will point out that this piece of history creates a huge conflict of interest for his son, who can’t possibly know what a genuine investigation would turn up about his father. It’s telling that Barr has not already recused himself from any role in the investigation, though, to be fair, nobody is going to trust an investigation conducted by any one in the administration. We’re probably past the point where official commissions have any credibility. Nevertheless, a lack of credibility is guaranteed if the investigation is headed by Barr, even if you ignore the fact that the Attorney General very recently lied publicly and obviously in relationship to another important investigation.


dsquared 08.16.19 at 5:28 pm

We’re obviously never going to find out, but “hand him a ligature, tell him he’s facing thirty years of living hell on the nonce wing if he doesn’t do the decent thing and rely on a bad jail not to prevent the inevitable” sounds like a plan that even I could execute.

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