"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
So now we've (choke) just been (gasp) saved from the
simultaneous blowing up of 10 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."
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.
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.)
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
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."
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.
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.
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?
If MacArthur were alive today would he dare to publicly
express the thoughts of his cited above?
Policy makers and security experts, reports the Associated
Press, say that "Law enforcers are now willing to act swiftly against
al-Qaeda sympathizers, even if it means grabbing wannabe terrorists whose plots
may be only pipe dreams."
Commonly, the "terrorists" are watched for many
months, then the police pounce on them at a politically opportune time. The
reasons in the current case may stem from some aspect of the Blair and Bush
administrations being under attack from all sides, including the defeat of
super war-supporter Senator Joseph Lieberman (just 36 hours before the British
announcement), and the upcoming November elections, when the Republicans will
be running on the War on Terrorism issue. "Weeks before September 11, this
is going to play big," said a White House official, adding that "some
Democratic candidates won't 'look as appealing' under the
Referring to the alleged UK terrorism plot, the New York
Times reported that: "The White House and the Republican Party had pounced
on that news, along with the defeat of Senator Joseph I. Lieberman in the
Connecticut Democratic primary by an antiwar candidate, Ned Lamont, to paint
the Democrats as weak on national security. Mr. Cheney had gone so far as to
imply that the defeat of Mr. Lieberman, a strong backer of the war, would
embolden 'Al Qaeda types'."
Vote Republican or the terrorists win!
The announcement of this particular terrorist threat may
also be explained by this news item:
"Much of the televised discussion yesterday concerned
the investigative tools available in Britain that U.S. officials credit with
allowing authorities to get ahead of the plot before it proved catastrophic.
[Homeland Security Secretary Michael] Chertoff said the ability to monitor
monetary transactions and communications and to arrest suspects for a period of
28 days on an emergency basis made a significant difference in the
case." We should be hearing further from the administration about
The American Empire for Dummies (an excerpt from an
1. The United States is determined to dominate the world,
not to mention outer space. This is not a left-wing clich�, the empire's
leading lights trumpet Washington's desire, means, and intention for
domination, while assuring the world of the noble purposes behind this crusade.
Since the demise of the Soviet Union, these declarations have been regularly
put forth in policy papers emanating from the White House, the Pentagon, and
think tanks closely associated with the national security establishment. They
make it perfectly clear that any potential rival to the world's only superpower
must be, and will be, seriously challenged. Here is the first of these
warnings, from 1992: "We must maintain the mechanisms for deterring
potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global
2. World domination includes dominating the Middle East; one
might say particularly the Middle East. (See chapter 3, "Oil", and
chapter 6, "Israel". Please note that there is no chapter on "Democracy
3. In recent times only Iraq, Syria and Iran have stood in
the way of US Middle East domination ("remaking the Middle East" is
the usual euphemism). Iraq is now a basket case. The basketizing of Syria
awaits only a quasi-plausible excuse, which it was hoped Israel would provide
by provoking a hostile Syrian reaction in the recent Israeli-Lebanon war. The
US-Israeli assault on Lebanon was aimed at basketizing Hezbollah so that it
couldn't come to the aid of Iran by attacking Israel during the basketizing of
Iran; the latter may begin with sanctions, approved by a pliant Security
Council. This was one of the key ways the basketizing of Iraq began. Do not
believe the canard that France is hostile to US foreign policy. Time and again,
both in and out of the Security Council, France has raised a little objection
to this point or that point of Washington's policy because it needs to pretend
and feel that it's still a great power and has a significant role to play in
world affairs, but in the end it smoothes the way for the empire. And Germany
against the US war in Iraq? Hardly. Germany has helped the American war effort
in half a dozen important ways, including on the ground in Iraq, even while
German politicians ran on an anti-Iraq War platform. Carlos Romulo, former
president of the UN General Assembly: "If there is a problem between a
weak nation and another weak nation and the UN takes action, the problem
disappears. If there is a problem between a strong nation and a weak nation and
the UN takes action, the weak nation disappears. If there is a problem between
a strong nation and a strong nation and the UN takes action, the UN
4. World domination also includes Central Asia and its
massive oil and gas reserves. Afghanistan with its pipelines and US military
bases is vital to this undertaking. Through one war or another in recent years,
the United States has managed to establish military bases/facilities throughout
the region, including in Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and
Georgia, vital to protecting the pipelines to the eastern Mediterranean; one of
the pipelines will extend to Israel, which, along with Turkey, is expected to
play a role in the protection of the area.
The Cuban punching bag ad infinitum
I could scarcely contain my surprise. A National Public
Radio (NPR) newscaster was speaking, August 1, with an NPR correspondent who
had just left a White House press conference and was reporting that the
president, in response to a question, had stated that the United States had
nothing whatsoever to do with Israeli policies in Lebanon and Gaza. The
newscaster, Alex Chadwick, then asked the reporter: "How do you know what
to believe from the White House?"
Was this a sign of the long-awaited breath of skepticism
blowing in the mainstream media? No, it wasn't. I made the story up. What
really happened was that the correspondent reported that the Cuban government
had announced that Fidel Castro was going to have an operation and that his
brother, Raul Castro, would be replacing him temporarily. Chadwick then asked:
"How do you know what to believe in Cuba?"
This also really happened: Jay Leno on his August 7 program:
"There's news of a major medical crisis from Cuba concerning Fidel Castro.
It looks like he's getting better."
Think of a US president battling a serious ailment and a
broadcaster on Cuban TV making such a remark.
Can anyone find a
message hidden here?
The following quotations all come from the same article in
the Washington Post of August 4 by Ann Scott Tyson concerning the Iraqi town of
"Residents are quick to argue that the American
presence incites those attacks, and they blame the U.S. military rather than
insurgents for turning their town into a combat zone. The Americans should pull
out, they say, and let them solve their own problems."
"We want the same thing. I want to go home to my
wife," said an American soldier.
"Another U.S. officer put it more bluntly: 'Nobody
wants us here, so why are we here? That's the big question.'"
"If we leave, all the attacks would stop, because we'd
"The problem is with the Americans. They only bring
problems," said watermelon vendor Sefuab Ganiydum, 35. "Closing the
bridge, the curfew, the hospital. It's better for U.S. forces to leave the
"What did we do to have all this suffering?" asked
Ramsey Abdullah Hindi, 60, sitting outside a tea shop. Ignoring U.S. troops
within earshot, he said Iraqis were justified to attack them. "They have a
right to fight against the Americans because of their religion and the bad
treatment. We will stand until the last," he said somberly.
"City officials, too, are adamant that U.S. troops
"I'm the guy doing the good stuff and I get shot at all
the time! Nobody is pro-American in this city. They either tolerate us or
all-out hate us," said a US Marine major.
"If we do leave, the city will be a lot better and
they'll build it a lot better."
This just in: Dubya has just read this article and says the
hidden message is that the United States is bringing freedom and democracy to
1. Vorin Whan, ed. "A Soldier Speaks: Public Papers and
Speeches of General of the Army Douglas MacArthur" (1965)
2. The Daily News (New York), February 10, 2006
3. Washington Post, April 14, 2005; United Press
International, April 18, 2005
4. Time, July 7, 2006, article by Joshua Marshall;
Associated Press, July 14, 2006
5. Sears case: Knight Ridder Newspapers, June 23, 2006; The
Independent (London), June 25, 200
6; St. Petersburg Times (Florida), June 24, 2006; New York
Times, August 13, 20066. Associated Press, July 14, 2006
7. Associated Press, April 18, 2006
8. Associated Press, July 8, 2006
9. Agence France Presse, August 11, 2006
10. New York Times, August 17, 2006. p.23
11. Washington Post, August 14, 2006, p.9
12. "Defense Planning Guidance for the Fiscal Years
1994-1999", as quoted in New York Times, March 8, 1992, p.14, emphasis
13. NPR, Day to Day, August 1, 2006, 12:08 pm
William Blum is the author of
"Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2,"
"Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only
Superpower," "West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir" and
"Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire"