Friday, August 25, 2006

Are FOX News Employees really “Noncombatants”?

By Mike Whitney






Are FOX employee’s innocent bystanders or an integral part of the American war machine? That may turn out to be an important question now that 2 FOX workers have been captured by a group of Palestinian militants.

It would be hard, if not impossible to draw a line of separation between the US military and FOX News. Their anchors may shun the camouflage fatigues and jack-boots, but that is where the difference ends. FOX is a fully-integrated cog in the corporate/state media apparatus; faithfully reiterating the official statements of Pentagon Big-wigs and administration powerbrokers. Their “embedded” news team provides the splashy graphics and right wing chatter which energize their base and marshal public support for American aggression. They carefully create a narrative which makes deliberate acts of unprovoked warfare appear necessary and (even) humanitarian.

No one has violated the basic standards of journalistic integrity more consistently than FOX News. Their unwavering support for the war in Iraq demonstrates their blatant disregard for professional evenhandedness and neutrality. Dissenting opinions are scrupulously scrubbed from their broadcasts while the vulgar displays of jingoism and xenophobia are presented as “Fair and Balanced” coverage. On some FOX web sites it’s still possible to find articles which claim that Weapons of Mass Destruction were actually found in Iraq. No wonder nearly 50% of the American people still believe that Saddam posed a threat to our national security and that Bush’s illegal invasion was justified.

If FOX is an essential part of the state propaganda-system which facilitates the war, then how can we absolve their employees from accountability? Doesn’t that make them legitimate targets for resistance organizations?

Reporters are given immunity because their work is perceived to be beyond the activities of combatants. That rule cannot be applied to FOX. FOX is the corporate-arm of the war machine; a critical cog in the Pentagon’s information-management strategy. It is as indispensable to the smooth operation of the modern army as any of the high-tech weaponry or space-age gadgetry.

FOX News is franchise journalism; information that is crafted to meet the requirements of ownership. Counterpunch editor Alexander Cockburn summarized the Rupert Murdoch business-model this way:

(Murdoch) “offers target governments a privatized version of a state propaganda service, manipulated without scruple and with no regard for truth. His price takes the form of vast government favors such as tax breaks, regulatory relief, monopoly markets and so forth. The propaganda is undertaken with the greatest cynicism, whether it’s the stentorian fake populism and soft porn in the UK’s Sun and News of the World, or the shameless bootlicking of the butchers of Tiananmen Square” (Alexander Cockburn “A Journey into Rupert Murdoch’s Soul” counterpunch.org)

The journalists who participate in the Murdoch-system are mere functionaries in a corporate news-militia. They deserve the same treatment as any other POW, nothing more.

The group which captured the two FOX employees did what they felt they had to do to address the egregious human rights abuses at American gulags at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. When peaceful means for acquiring justice are foreclosed, violence becomes inevitable. This truism is even enshrined in our own Declaration of Independence.

The “Holy Jihad Brigades” has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, although the group remains unknown in Gaza. They have released a video demanding a prisoner-swap for Muslims held by the United States.

“We are going to exchange the Muslim female and male prisoners in American jails in return for the prisoners we have. We are going to give you 72 hours, beginning tonight, to make your decision,” says the voice on the video. “If you implement and meet our condition, we will fulfill our promise. If not, wait, and we are going to wait with you.”

It is not clear what will happen to the victims after the 3 day deadline passes, but the FOX duo appears to be in good health and there are no signs of torture or abuse. The same cannot be said for the victims of American detention in Iraq or Cuba.

The demands of the militants are consistent with the basic principles of American justice. The prisoners at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib have been detained in violation of international law and without regard to their fundamental human rights. Bush claims the absolute authority to imprison anyone he chooses; stripping them of their right due process and of any legal means for acquitting themselves.

The prisoners at Guantanamo are nothing more than Bush’s personal hostages. It was only a matter of time before someone responded to this insidious act of tyranny.

Bush is not above the law. The inmates at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib have “inalienable rights” just like the rest of us. These rights cannot be repealed by presidential edict.

The first of these rights is the “presumption of innocence”. If Bush insists these men are “the worst of the worst”; let him prove it in court of law with solid evidence of wrongdoing.

Secondly, “justice delayed is justice denied”; either try them or let them go. Bush has no authority to keep these men languishing indefinitely in a legal black hole without formally charging them with a crime.

Guantanamo should be shut down, dismantled, and steamrolled into finely-ground powder. The prisoners should be returned to their countries of origin and compensated for their mistreatment at the hands of American jailors. The men who are responsible for creating Guantanamo should be held accountable before an international tribunal.

As long as Muslims are deprived of their rights and freedom, we can expect more random incidents of kidnapping andcruelty. These are the unavoidable consequences of injustice.

The Holy Jihad Brigades is the natural offspring of Bush’s “New Middle East”, a hotbed of animosity and violence. America has radicalized the region and is fueling the rage and bloodshed. The chickens will continue to come home to roost until America withdraws from Iraq, stops its blind support of Israel, and negotiates a comprehensive settlement to the Palestinian issue.

If Bush really wants to know why Americans are targets, he ought to take a good look at his own blinkered foreign policy and rethink his strategy.

Source

Does Shashi have the vision

One man is capable of strengthening the UN's ability to be a genuinely effective global player





In the next few weeks, a new secretary general of the United Nations will be chosen by the security council. In a world racked by violent divisions surpassing anything witnessed since the organisation was created "to end the scourge of war," the secretary general can play a much more important role than is currently the case in easing global tensions and in making the weak and the dispossessed feel that their voices are being heard.

Keep reading Here

Iraq PM bans TV from showing attacks

Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has banned television channels from broadcasting gory images of daily bloodshed in the country, the interior ministry said in a statement.




During a visit to the ministry on Wednesday, Maliki issued an order prohibiting broadcasters from showing "blood and killings that magnify the horror" and warned of legal action against those violating the order.

Major General Rashid Flayah, head of a national police division, urged reporters to tone down stories that could inflame sectarian passions in a country riven by violence between Sunni and Shiite groups.

"We will let you do the job, but we want you to stop publishing pictures that arouse passions and sectarian feelings," he told a news conference. "You should reject it. We are building the country with Kalashnikovs and you should help in building it with the use of your pen."

Source

So there was no real concern when we were planting false news items in to Iraqi press . Propaganda is good. But now the press want to start telling people the truth and all hell breaks loose. We can show you what didn't happen here yesterday once the Pentagon script writers had completed it. But if you have real story then you better keep it quiet buddy. The truth it seems, is always unpatriotic.

We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavoring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still. ~John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, 1859

Thursday, August 24, 2006

On Bush's Iraq speech from the past three years

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Six Questions for Michael Scheuer on National Security

Michael Scheuer served in the CIA for 22 years before resigning in 2004; he served as the chief of the bin Laden unit at the Counterterrorist Center from 1996 to 1999.




1. We're coming up on the five-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Is the country safer or more vulnerable to terrorism?

On balance, more vulnerable. We're safer in terms of aircraft travel. We're safer from being attacked by some dumbhead who tries to come into the country through an official checkpoint; we've spent billions on that. But for the most part our victories have been tactical and not strategic. There have been important successes by the intelligence services and Special Forces in capturing and killing Al Qaeda militants, but in the long run that's just a body count, not progress. We can't capture them one by one and bring them to justice. There are too many of them, and more now than before September 11. In official Western rhetoric these are finite organizations, but every time we interfere in Muslim countries they get more support.

In the long run, we're not safer because we're still operating on the assumption that we're hated because of our freedoms, when in fact we're hated because of our actions in the Islamic world. There's our military presence in Islamic countries, the perception that we control the Muslim world’s oil production, our support for Israel and for countries that oppress Muslims such as China, Russia, and India, and our own support for Arab tyrannies. The deal we made with Qadaffi in Libya looks like hypocrisy: we'll make peace with a brutal dictator if it gets us oil. President Bush is right when he says all people aspire to freedom but he doesn't recognize that people have different definitions of democracy. Publicly promoting democracy while supporting tyranny may be the most damaging thing we do. From the standpoint of democracy, Saudi Arabia looks much worse than Iran. We use the term “Islamofascism”—but we're supporting it in Saudi Arabia, with Mubarak in Egypt, and even Jordan is a police state. We don't have a strategy because we don't have a clue about what motivates our enemies.

2. Is Al Qaeda stronger or weaker than it was five years ago?

The quality of its leadership is not as high as it was in 2001, because we've killed and captured so many of its leaders. But they have succession planning that works very well. We keep saying that we're killing their leaders, but you notice that we keep having to kill their number twos, threes and fours all over again. They bring in replacements, and these are not novices off the street—they're understudies. From the very first, bin Laden has said that he's just one person and Al Qaeda is a vanguard organization, that it needs other Muslims to join them. He's always said that his primary goal is to incite attacks by people who might not have any direct contact with Al Qaeda. Since 2001, and especially since mid-2005, there's been an increase in the number of groups that were not directly tied to Al Qaeda but were inspired by bin Laden's words and actions.

We also shouldn't underestimate the stature of bin Laden and Zawahiri in the Muslim world now that they’ve survived five years of war with the United States. You see commentary in the Muslim press: “How have they been able to defy the United States? It takes something special.” Their heroic status is an important fact. It helps explain why these cells keep popping up. Meanwhile, Al Qaeda is also assisting insurgencies in Afghanistan and Iraq. I agree with the view that we've moved from man and organization to philosophy and movement, but one hasn't entirely replaced the other. There are three levels: Al Qaeda central is still intact; there are groups long affiliated with Al Qaeda, in places like Kashmir, the Philippines, and Indonesia; and there are the new groups inspired by Al Qaeda.

3. Given all this, why hasn't there been an attack on the United States for the past five years?

It's not just a lack of capacity; they're not ready to do it. They put more emphasis on success than speed, and the next attack has to be bigger than 9/11. They could shoot up a mall if that's what they wanted to do. But the world is going their way. Our leaders have been clever in defining success as preventing a big terrorist attack on the United States, but we've lost some 3,000 soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. We've spent billions on those wars, and as in Vietnam the government has suffered a real hit on its credibility. The war in Iraq has created huge divisiveness in our domestic politics, not to mention in our relationships with our European allies. At the same time, there are more people willing to take up arms against the United States, and we have less ability to win hearts and minds in the Arab world. If you're bin Laden living in a cave, all those things are part of the war and those things are going your way.

4. Has the war in Iraq helped or hurt in the fight against terrorism?

It broke the back of our counterterrorism program. Iraq was the perfect execution of a war that demanded jihad to oppose it. You had an infidel power invading and occupying a Muslim country and it was perceived to be unprovoked. Many senior Western officials said that bin Laden was not a scholar and couldn't declare a jihad but other Muslim clerics did. So that religious question was erased.

Secondly, Iraq is in the Arab heartland and, far more than Afghanistan, is a magnet for mujahideen. You can see this in the large number of people crossing the border to fight us. It wasn't a lot at the start, but there's been a steady growth as the war continues. The war has validated everything bin Laden said: that the United States will destroy any strong government in the Arab world, that it will seek to destroy Israel's enemies, that it will occupy Muslim holy places, that it will seize Arab oil, and that it will replace God's law with man's law. We see Iraq as a honey pot that attracts jihadists whom we can kill there instead of fighting them here. We are ignoring that Iraq is not just a place to kill Americans; Al Qaeda has always said that it requires safe havens. It has said it couldn't get involved with large numbers in the Balkans war because it had no safe haven in the region. Now they have a safe haven in Iraq, which is so big and is going to be so unsettled for so long. For the first time, it gives Al Qaeda contiguous access to the Arabian Peninsula, to Turkey, and to the Levant. We may have written the death warrant for Jordan. If we pull out of Iraq, we have a problem in that we may have to leave a large contingent of troops in Jordan. All of this is a tremendous advantage for Al Qaeda. We've moved the center of jihad a thousand miles west from Afghanistan to the Middle East.

5. Things seemed to have turned for the worse in Afghanistan too. What's your take on the situation there?

The President was sold a bill of goods by George Tenet and the CIA—that a few dozen intel guys, a few hundred Special Forces, and truckloads of money could win the day. What happened is what's happened ever since Alexander the Great, three centuries before Christ: the cities fell quickly, which we mistook for victory. Three years later, the Taliban has regrouped, and there's a strong insurgency. We paid a great price for demonizing the Taliban. We saw them as evil because they didn't let women work, but that's largely irrelevant in Afghanistan. They provided nationwide law and order for the first time in 25 years; we destroyed that and haven't replaced it. They're remembered in Afghanistan for their harsh, theocratic rule, but remembered more for the security they provided. In the end, we'll lose and leave. The idea that we can control Afghanistan with 22,000 soldiers, most of whom are indifferent to the task, is far-fetched. The Soviets couldn't do it with 150,000 soldiers and utter brutality. Before the invasion of Afghanistan, [the military historian] John Keegan said the only way to go there was as a punitive mission, to destroy your enemy and get out. That was prescient; our only real mission there should have been to kill bin Laden and Zawahiri and as many Al Qaeda fighters as possible, and we didn't do it.

6. Has the war in Lebanon also been a plus for the jihadists?

Yes. The Israel-Hezbollah battle validates bin Laden. It showed that the Arab regimes are useless, that they can't protect their own nationals, and that they are apostate regimes that are creatures of the infidels. It also showed that the Americans will let Israel do whatever it wants. It was clear from the way the West reacted that it would let Israel take its best shot before it tried diplomacy. I saw an article in the Arab press—in London, I think—that said Lebanon was like a caught fish, that the United States nailed it to the wall and Israel gutted it. The most salient point it showed for Islamists is that Muslim blood is cheap. Israel said it went to war to get back its captured soldiers. The price was the gutting of Lebanon. Olmert said that Israel would fight until it got its soldiers back and until Hezbollah was disarmed. Neither happened. No matter how you spin it, this will be viewed as a victory for Hezbollah. Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon six years ago. Since then there have been the two intifadas, and now this. The idea of Israel being militarily omnipotent is fading.

Source

They want your soul



It's really hard to describe this video with words. It features assaulting visuals, with facts and combined information that you will find in no other documentary, laid over an music score that you wont soon forget. With the intense audio/visuals and loads of information you may need to watch this several times to absorb the many things you've probably never heard of. The information contained in this video applies to all Americans and humans alike, regards of beleifs or affiliations. This is as unbiased as it gets

Source

How Many and where were the nukes ?

1946 Documentary / Propaganda film about Despotism



Relevent today ? You decide.

Source

7 Facts You Might Not Know about the Iraq War

With a tenuous cease-fire between Israel and Lebanon holding, the ever-hotter war in Iraq is once again creeping back onto newspaper front pages and towards the top of the evening news. Before being fully immersed in daily reports of bomb blasts, sectarian violence, and casualties, however, it might be worth considering some of the just-under-the-radar-screen realities of the situation in that country.



Here, then, is a little guide to understanding what is likely to be a flood of new Iraqi developments -- a few enduring, but seldom commented upon, patterns central to the dynamics of the Iraq war, as well as to the fate of the American occupation and Iraqi society.

Article continues : Here

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

UK: ‘Spot’ teams to spy on passengers

ELITE teams of security officers are to be trained to monitor passenger behaviour at airports in a new attempt to combat terrorism.






The “behaviour detection squads” will patrol terminals to monitor the gestures, conversations and facial expressions of passengers. One of their aims will be to spot those who may be concealing fear or anxiety.

Source

Looking for fear and anxiety at an airport eh ? I wonder how many sufferers of aviophobia will be arrested as suspected terrorists.

Poll: Opposition to Iraq war at all-time high

Opposition among Americans to the war in Iraq has reached a new high, with only about a third of respondents saying they favor it, according to a poll released Monday.



Just 35 percent of 1,033 adults polled say they favor the war in Iraq; 61 percent say they oppose it -- the highest opposition noted in any CNN poll since the conflict began more than three years ago. A bare majority (51 percent) say they see Bush as a strong leader, but on most other attributes he gets negative marks.

Most Americans (54 percent) don't consider him honest, most (54 percent) don't think he shares their values and most (58 percent) say he does not inspire confidence. Bush's stand on the issues is also problematic, with more than half (57 percent) of Americans saying they disagree with him on the issues they care about.That's an indication that issues, not personal characteristics, are keeping his approval rating well below 50 percent.

Bush's disapproval rating exceeds his approval, 57 percent to 42 percent.That's in the same ballpark as was found in an August 2-3 poll: Bush garnered a 40 percent approval.And that was up slightly from a 37 percent approval in a poll carried out June 14-15. Fewer than half of respondents (44 percent) say they believe Bush is honest and trustworthy; 54 percent do not.And just 41 percent say they agree with Bush on issues, versus 57 percent who say they disagree.Americans are about evenly split on whether their commander-in-chief understands complex issues, with 47 percent saying yes, and 51 percent saying no.

poll data

Bush Now Says What He Wouldn’t Say Before War: Iraq Had ‘Nothing’ To Do With 9/11

President Bush was in the midst of explaining how the attacks of 9/11 inspired his “freedom agenda” and the attacks on Iraq until a reporter, Ken Herman of Cox News, interrupted to ask what Iraq had to do with 9/11. “Nothing,” Bush defiantly answered. Watch it Here.



Now I know that someone out in Internet land will state that nobody in the Bush administration actually said that Iraq had anything to do with 9/11. But they never ruled it out when asked.

More importantly they connected Saddam and Iraq to Al-Qaeda in every possible way they could. It is stunning to look back at the amount of time Al-Qaeda and Iraq/Saddam where mentioned in the same sentence . The Bush administration certainly implied that Saddam was connected to Al-Qaeda.

Check out some quotes Here and see if you can fail to spot the obvious implications being made at the time.

Monday, August 21, 2006

amateur warlords

For a leader who styles himself "the war president," U.S. Commander-in-Chief George W. Bush's military record now stands at 0 for 4. Even Italy's born-again "imperial Roman conqueror," Benito Mussolini, fared better.



Fiasco I: Five years after Bush ordered Afghanistan invaded and proclaimed "total victory," U.S. and allied forces are fighting a losing war against Afghan resistance groups. Afghan heroin exports are up 90%. The U.S. just quietly deployed thousands more troops to Afghanistan to hunt Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri in a desperate attempt to save Republicans from getting clobbered in November midterm elections.

Fiasco II: "Mission accomplished" in Iraq. Bush's war in Iraq is clearly lost, but few dare admit it. The U.S. has spent $300 billion on Afghanistan and Iraq, with nothing to show but bloody chaos, deficits, body bags, and growing hatred of America. The Bush/Dick Cheney "liberation" of Iraq has now cost more than the Vietnam War.

Fiasco III: The White House had the CIA and Pentagon spend tens of millions bribing Somali warlords to fight Islamist reformers trying to bring law and order to their strife-ravaged nation. The Islamists whipped CIA-backed warlords and ran them out of Somalia. Following this defeat, the U.S. is now urging ally Ethiopia -- shades of Lebanon -- to invade Somalia, thus raising the threat of a wider war between Somalia, Ethiopia, and Eritrea. Good work, Mr. President.

Fiasco IV: Bush and Vice President Cheney egged Israel into the hugely destructive but militarily fruitless war in Lebanon over the past month, in what many view as the first part of their long-nurtured plan to militarily crush Hezbollah, Syria and Iran. They did there best to thwart world efforts to halt the conflict.

To Washington and London's shock and awe, Hezbollah, Iran, and Syria emerged the war's victors. Hezbollah is now the Muslim world's new hero after battling Israel's mighty armed forces to a humiliating draw.

Hezbollah's victory put the kibosh on the Bush/Cheney Holy Land crusade.

No sooner had bombing stopped last week than Hezbollah bulldozers were busy clearing rubble, and Hezbollah social workers resettling refugees. Perhaps Bush should ask Hezbollah to take over rebuilding New Orleans.

Israelis have now turned from fighting Arabs to furious finger-pointing. Politicians and generals are blaming each other for the Lebanon debacle that killed 118 Israeli soldiers and 41 Israeli civilians, cost at least $1 billion, ruined the summer tourist trade, and, after a burst of initial sympathy, brought worldwide condemnation. And no captured soldiers -- the war's supposed objective -- have been yet returned.

Still, a swap of Israeli prisoners for Lebanese and Palestinian ones remains likely, as this column predicted at the war's beginning. The killing of 1,000 Lebanese civilians, a million Lebanese and Israelis made refugees, and billions in wanton destruction, could all have been avoided.

By turning a routine skirmish into a big war, Israel's PM Ehud Olmert showed he had no more grasp of military affairs than those other amateur warlords, Bush, Cheney and British PM Tony Blair.

Even Washington hawks are wondering if invading Iran may not be such a cakewalk as they envision. Iran's Revolutionary Guards helped train and arm Hezbollah's fighters.

America was the big loser in the Lebanon war. From Morocco to Indonesia, each night some 1.5 billion Muslims watched the carnage in Lebanon on TV and most blamed America. Even the poorest shepherd in Uzbekistan heard that the U.S. was airlifting the precision bombs and deadly cluster munitions to Israel that wound up killing hundreds of Lebanese.

Any hope of damping down the Islamic world's surging hatred of the U.S., Britain, and Israel (and now Canada, thanks to the federal government's pro-Israel stance) was killed in Lebanon.

Even the interestingly-timed airport hysteria in London over claims of liquid bomb plots failed to divert attention from the latest egregious U.S.-British Mideast policy disaster.

The "war president" has become the fiasco president. The White House should stop listening to bogus military advice from neocon couch commandos who thirst for Muslim blood, and start listening to experienced Pentagon officers who understand the meaning and cost of war.

Source

Racial profiling passenger style

Two men were taken off a flight bound for Manchester after some passengers became alarmed about what they regarded as suspicious behaviour. People on the Airbus 320 at Malaga alerted staff and demanded their removal, Monarch Airlines said.




The pair were subsequently taken from flight ZB 613, carrying 150 passengers and seven crew, early on Wednesday.

Two men, reported to be of Asian or Middle Eastern appearance, were questioned for several hours. Authorities allowed them to fly back to the UK later in the week. The plane had been due to take off about 0300 BST but was delayed by about three hours.

A spokesman for Monarch Airlines said: "There were two passengers on the flight who came to the attention of the other people because they were apparently acting suspiciously. "The flight attendants were sufficiently concerned to alert the crew who in turn informed the security authorities at Malaga airport." No details of their "suspicious" behaviour were revealed.

The Conservative homeland security spokesman, Patrick Mercer, described the incident as "a victory for terrorists".

"These people on the flight have been terrorised into behaving irrationally," he told the Mail on Sunday. "For those unfortunate two men to be victimised because of the colour of their skin is just nonsense."

Souce

We should note that suspicious behaviour turned out to be the crime of speaking in Arabic whilst wearing Arabic clothes.

They were of course released immediately by Police and passengers have now been warned that racial profiling of other passengers is not allowed. Simply put, If you do not like the people that you are on the plane with , then you should get off the plane.

UK : Our foreign policy is just plain wrong

The relationship between Mr Bush and Mr Blair has done untold damage both at home and abroad.

Menzies Campbell





Over one issue in particular, effort must be made - Israel/Palestine. As the Lebanese government was being chastised for its failure to implement Security Council Resolution 1559, calling for the disarmament of Hizbollah, little was said about Resolution 242, calling for Israel's withdrawal from territories it had occupied in 1967. As long as the Palestinians are subject to daily humiliations and settlements are expanded on the West Bank, all in breach of international law, and denied a viable homeland, Israel's legal and moral right to live in peace behind secure and recognised borders will be undermined. Israel/Palestine should become not a cause but an obsession. If it redefines our relationship with the United States, so be it.

Read the full article Here

I am not a natural fan of Mr Cambell but on this ocassion he has my support.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Lebanese village in ruins

The United Nations estimates that up to 900,000 people have been displaced in Lebanon.



The BBC's Fergal Keane visited the Lebanese town of Bint Jbeil where scores of houses have been destroyed.

Intelligence officials doubt Iran uranium claims, say Cheney receiving suspect briefings

The Bush administration continues to bypass standard intelligence channels and use what some believe to be propaganda tactics to create a compelling case for war with Iran.

Here

The Anti-Empire Report

"Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear -- kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor -- with the cry of grave national emergency. Always there has been some terrible evil at home or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it by furnishing the exorbitant funds demanded. Yet, in retrospect, these disasters seem never to have happened, seem never to have been quite real." General Douglas MacArthur, 1957


By William Blum

So now we've (choke) just been (gasp) saved from the simultaneous blowing up of ten airplanes headed toward the United States from the UK. Wow, thank you Brits, thank you Homeland Security. Well done, lads. And thanks for preventing the destruction of the Sears Tower in Chicago, saving lower Manhattan from a terrorist-unleashed flood, smashing the frightful Canadian "terror plot" with 17 arrested, ditto the three Toledo terrorists, and squashing the Los Angeles al Qaeda plot to fly a hijacked airliner into a skyscraper.

The Los Angeles plot of 2002 was proudly announced by George W. early this year. It has since been totally discredited. Declared one senior counterterrorism official: "There was no definitive plot. It never materialized or got past the thought stage."[2]

And the scare about ricin in the UK, which our own Mr. Cheney used as part of the buildup for the invasion of Iraq, telling an audience on January 10, 2003: "The gravity of the threat we face was underscored in recent days when British police arrested ... suspected terrorists in London and discovered a small quantity of ricin, one of the world's deadliest poisons."

It turned out there was not only no plot, there was no ricin. The Brits discovered almost immediately that the substance wasn't ricin but kept that secret for more than two years.[3]

From what is typical in terrorist scares, it is likely that the individuals arrested in the UK August 10 are guilty of what George Orwell, in 1984, called "thoughtcrimes". That is to say, they haven't actually DONE anything. At most, they've THOUGHT about doing something the government would label "terrorism". Perhaps not even very serious thoughts, perhaps just venting their anger at the exceptionally violent role played by the UK and the US in the Mideast and thinking out loud how nice it would be to throw some of that violence back in the face of Blair and Bush. And then, the fatal moment for them that ruins their lives forever ... their angry words are heard by the wrong person, who reports them to the authorities. (In the Manhattan flood case the formidable, dangerous "terrorists" made mention on an Internet chat room about blowing something up.)[4]

Soon a government agent provocateur appears, infiltrates the group, and then actually encourages the individuals to think and talk further about terrorist acts, to develop real plans instead of youthful fantasizing, and even provides the individuals with some of the actual means for carrying out these terrorist acts, like explosive material and technical know-how, money and transportation, whatever is needed to advance the plot. It's known as "entrapment", and it's supposed to be illegal, it's supposed to be a powerful defense for the accused, but the authorities get away with it all the time; and the accused get put away for very long stretches. And because of the role played by the agent provocateur, we may never know whether any of the accused, on their own, would have gone much further, if at all, like actually making a bomb, or, in the present case, even making transatlantic flight reservations since many of the accused reportedly did not even have passports. Government infiltrating and monitoring is one thing; encouragement, pushing the plot forward, and scaring the public to make political capital from it is quite something else.

Prosecutors have said that the seven men in Miami charged with conspiring to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago and FBI buildings in other cities had sworn allegiance to al-Qaeda. This came after meeting with a confidential government informant who was posing as a representative of the terrorist group. Did they swear or hold such allegiance, one must wonder, before meeting with the informant? "In essence," reported The Independent of London, "the entire case rests upon conversations between Narseal Batiste, the apparent ringleader of the group, with the informant, who was posing as a member of al-Qaeda but in fact belonged to the [FBI] South Florida Terrorist Task Force." Batiste told the informant that "he was organizing a mission to build an 'Islamic army' in order to wage jihad." He provided a list of things he needed: boots, uniforms, machine guns, radios, vehicles, binoculars, bullet proof vests, firearms, and $50,000 in cash. Oddly enough, one thing that was not asked for was any kind of explosives material. After sweeps of various locations in Miami, government agents found no explosives or weapons. "This group was more aspirational than operational," said the FBI's deputy director, while one FBI agent described them as "social misfits". And, added the New York Times, investigators openly acknowledged that the suspects "had only the most preliminary discussions about an attack." Yet Cheney later hailed the arrests at a political fundraiser, calling the group a "very real threat".[5]

Perhaps as great a threat as the suspects in the plot to unleash a catastrophic flood in lower Manhattan by destroying a huge underground wall that holds back the Hudson River. That was the story first released by the authorities; after a while it was replaced by the claim that the suspects were actually plotting something aimed at the subway tunnels that run under the river.[6]

Which is more reliable, one must wonder, information on Internet chat rooms or WMD tips provided by CIA Iraqi informers? Or information obtained, as in the current case in the UK, from Pakistani interrogators of the suspects, none of the interrogators being known to be ardent supporters of Amnesty International.

And the three men arrested in Toledo, Ohio in February were accused of -- are you ready? -- plotting to recruit and train terrorists to attack US and allied troops overseas. For saving us from this horror we have a paid FBI witness to thank. He had been an informer with the FBI for four years, and most likely was paid for each new lead he brought in.[7]

There must be millions of people in the United States and elsewhere who have thoughts about "terrorist acts". I might well be one of them when I read about a gathering of Bush, Cheney, and assorted neocons that's going to take place. Given the daily horror of Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Palestine in recent times, little of which would occur if not for the government of the United States of America and its allies, the numbers of people having such thoughts must be rapidly multiplying. If I had been at an American or British airport as the latest scare story unfolded, waiting in an interminable line, having my flight canceled, or being told I can't have any carry-on luggage, I may have found it irresistible at some point to declare loudly to my fellow suffering passengers: "Y'know, folks, this security crap is only gonna get worse and worse as long as the United States and Britain continue to invade, bomb, overthrow, occupy, and torture the world!"

How long before I was pulled out of line and thrown into some kind of custody?

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