The politics of terror are the greatest covert operation
In explaining why, I�ll begin by defining some terms,
because, when discussing the covert op called �the politics of terror,� words
and their management are all important.
How are politics and terror actually defined: how are these
meanings manipulated; for what purposes, and by whom?
Terrorism is defined as �violence against civilians intended
to obtain a political purpose.�
This is an ambiguous phrase, which begs the questions: what
are politics and violence?
Politics is defined as �the process by which groups of
people make collective decisions.� And violence is the use of force to compel a
person or group to do or think something against their will. That includes the
violence of words -- of threatening to hurt - and of social structures, as well
as the violence of deeds.
So, by definition, terrorism is political violence -- hurting
people, or threatening to hurt them, in order to make them govern themselves
against their will.
terrorism is always condemned by the government, and, accordingly, America is
never a perpetrator of terrorism, but always the victims of it. The US war on terror is the ultimate expression of
this principle: it is a military response to terrorism; violence in
self-defense, not (ostensibly) violence for a political purpose.
That�s the official story -- the assumption. But I�m going
to show that America
does engage in terrorism -- violence against civilians for political purposes. This
�state� terrorism, however, is covert, in so far as it is equated with national
security, and thanks to that built-in ambiguity, it has both stated and
The state and
unstated policy in America
Politics is a process by which groups of people make
collective decisions. But who really makes the overarching political decisions
Who governs us?
The two political parties represent the people and they
compete for control of the government. Republicans generally favor business and
Democrats favor labor. The political division is, generally, class based.
Now, the government can be controlled by either political
party; but the state endures �
�the state� being the nation�s indispensable industries and
infrastructure (banking, auto industry, insurance, Microsoft), and the
institutions which defend the nation�s enduring interests: the military, law enforcement,
the intelligence & security services.
In Europe they often,
cynically, refer to the state as �industry� or Big Business. In America, we
tend to call �the state� the Establishment -- an ambiguous word that needs to
The dictionary defines Establishment as, �An exclusive group
of powerful people who rule a government or society by means of private
agreements and decisions.�
I would venture to say that the interests of the state and
the Establishment are the same, and that the definition of Establishment with a
capital E is the pivotal phrase in discussing �state� terrorism.
Consider this: there is the politics of the two parties
vying for control of the government, and there is the Establishment, the state,
making the covert (ostensibly non-political) decisions that effectively govern America.
Many of those covert decisions concern national security:
they are unstated policy.
Moreover, these covert policy decisions about national
security are made by people who control the military, law enforcement, and
intelligence & security services. These guardians of �the state� are
collectively called the National Security Establishment.
Like the Establishment that secretly rules the �state,� the
National Security Establishment is an exclusive group that is not accountable
to the political whims of the people.
These professional guardians of the state -- the
Establishment - are assumed to be above partisan politics. Their loyalty is
assumed to be to the law or national security. And that assumption is the Big
Lie upon which state terrorism is based.
Yes, it is true that the National Security Establishment is
not accountable to the people: and, in fact, it has built a series of
ever-larger, concentric moats around itself called the National Security
State, precisely to keep
the people out of its business.
The National Security Establishment rules the National Security State,
with an iron fist, but it is pure propaganda that the National Security
Establishment and State are not political.
In order to get inside the National Security Establishment,
and rise to a position of authority within it, one must be born there (like
Bush -- make a billion like Gates), or submit to years of right-wing political
indoctrination calibrated to a series of increasingly restrictive security
Political indoctrination -- adopting the correct right-wing
ideology -- and security clearances represent the drawbridge across the moats.
is the covert social structure of the Establishment, and it has as its job not
just defending the Establishment from foreign enemies, but also expanding the
Establishment�s economic and military influence abroad, while preserving its
class prerogatives at home.
By �class prerogatives,� I mean the National Security
State is designed to keep
the lower class from exerting any political control over the state; especially,
redistributing the Establishment�s private wealth.
To these unstated ends -- imperialism abroad and repression
at home -- the National Security State engages in terrorism -- political
violence -- on behalf of the Establishment.
Indeed, the National
is political violence, terrorism, in its purest form.
The Establishment and
its National Security State
The lower classes in America have little voice in making
government or state policy. Some are hopeless, others content, but, in either
case, voter turnout is a mere 54 percent.
Whether hopeless or content, they know they cannot fight
conventional thinking. For example, when the Establishment exerts its
influence, it is not considered politics; it is simply the status quo. The rich
create jobs and must be accommodated with trillion dollar bailouts, paid for by
workers taking furloughs.
That�s just the way it is. Politicians in the service of the
Establishment, for overarching reasons of national security, have to keep the
capitalist financial system afloat.
It is the same thing with the National Security
and there was nothing the people do about it. The decision was made for them. Peace
activists, least of all, had no voice in the decision, because they are assumed
to have no stake in national security. You will not find peace activists in the
National Security Establishment; and that political repression is covert state
Likewise, if labor seeks to exercise influence, its efforts
are described as exploiting the state for more than it deserves, because it
does not have an enduring stake in the state.
It is a fact: only Establishment wealth -- ownership - is
equated with national security.
Consider the immortal words of Leona Helmsley: �Only the
little people pay taxes.�
That injustice in the tax code is political repression and,
in so far as it makes the people fearful, it is state terrorism. The
Establishment fears losing its loopholes, while workers and the poor fear
losing their homes: two types of terror, one for each class, one stated, one
The Establishment engages imperialism and political repression
through propaganda (word management violence) and social structures. This state
terrorism is unstated, covert.
Only when the people rebel and challenge the Establishment
is the word terrorism applied.
Likewise, the military, police or intelligence causes of
rebellion, or responses to it, are never called terrorism: they are national
And that�s how the management of words helps to repress the
Language and the
psychology of state terror
America�s industrial sized war machine was never said to
terrorize Iraq; the invasion was not political -- because the war machine is
owned by the Establishment.
The Establishment profiting from war is not politics; it is
ideological neutral �profits.�
In fact, America
exerts its unwanted political influence overseas, through the state terror of
aircraft carrier fleets, bombers, nuclear subs, shock and awe invasions,
pacification programs, the overthrow of governments, and support of repressive
This state terrorism, which you never hear about, is the
biggest covert psychological warfare operation of all time.
This psy-war operation depends on narrowly defining
terrorism as a suicide bomber, a hijacked plane, the decapitated body of a collaborator:
the �selective terrorism� of rebels and nationalists who, outgunned, and
outlawed in their own country, have no other options, other than submission.
The purpose of selective terror is psychological: to isolate
collaborators, while demonstrating to the people the ability of the rebels to
strike at their oppressors.
Shock and Awe, and brutal pacification cam�paigns -- state
terrorism -- prevent people from making a living -- selective terrorism does
That�s a big, meaningful �class� difference.
The National Security Establishment understands that
selective terror achieves political and psychological goals that state terror
does not -- that it rallies people to revolutionary ideals. So the National
Security Establishment engages in selective terror too, by targeting the rebel,
his family and friends in their homes.
This is the selective terror con�ducted by
counter-terrorists. But don�t be confused: it is terrorism. All terror is
psychological and political; state terror by immobilizing people and making
them responsive, submissive, apathetic, and/or ostensibly �content.�
The National Security Establishment fully understands that
once people have been terrorized, they have been politically defeated, without
necessarily receiving bullets.
As former Director
of Central Intelligence William Colby once said: �The implication or latent threat of terror was sufficient to insure that
the people would comply.�
This principle of the psychological use of �the implication or latent
threat of terror� is what brings us back to America and the business of terror.
The business of terror
State terror -- colonization abroad and political repression
at home -- is a key means of extracting profits and maintaining ownership of
property. Ask the American Indian.
In its colonies, the US
engages in state terrorism by removing all legal protections for rebels;
detention, torture, and summary execution are the price for rebellion against US policy.
State terrorism overseas, imperialism, is never acknowledged
by the media, because the media is a big business; indeed, two of the major
networks are owned by defense contractors.
And state terrorism applied domestically to ensure
�internal� security is never acknowledged -- America says it has no political
prisoners. But the National Security State is well thought out by professionals
in language management, and political and psychological warfare, aimed at you.
�Personal violence is for the amateur in dominance,� says
two-time Nobel Prize winner Johan Galtung, but �structural violence is the tool
of the professional. The amateur who wants to dominate uses guns; the
professional uses social structure. The legal criminality of the social system
and its institutions, of government . . . is tacit violence. Structural
violence is a structure of exploitation and social injustice.�
As Colby said: �The implication or latent threat is enough to
insure people will comply.�
The war on terror and its domestic version �homeland
security� are the law of the land -- America�s new legally criminal social
structure based on administrative detention, enshrined in The Patriot Act and a
number of executive orders, some secret.
This lack of due process comes on top of a justice system
already skewed to protect the propertied elite and pack the prisons with the
poor, through �structural violence,� mainly the drug wars.
The Establishment�s new anti-terror and anti-drug laws make
the National Security State the most fearsome covert political and psy-war
machine the world has ever seen. And the National Security
State is growing: the
�Top Secret America� series in the Washington
Post put it at 750,000 cadres.
This secret state within a state extends into the homeland�s
critical infrastructure and beyond. For example, the arms industry provides
good jobs, making American imperial aggression seem a positive value.
And this is how the psyched-out people become one of the
As it is modeled on the totalitarian corporate paradigm, the
National Security State in al its manifestations fits the classic definition of
a fascist dictatorship. And we know what its intentions are. They have been
In the days after 9-11, right-wing Republican stalwart
Kenneth W. Starr, the Clinton
inquisitor, said the danger of terrorism requires �deference to the judgments
of the political branches with respect to matters of national security.�
But is there an on-going emergency that requires deference
to the political branches, meaning the right-wing ideologues who rule the
National Security State? And what does it mean for Establishment opponents if
due process is completely abandoned at home, and subjected to politics?
Michael Ledeen, a former counter-terror expert on Reagan�s
National Security Council, blamed 9-11 on Clinton
�for failing to properly organize our nation�s security apparatus.�
Ledeen�s solution to the problem of those who sneered at
security was �to stamp out� the �corrupt habits of mind.� By which he means Liberalism.
In other words, the reactionary right wing that owns the
National Security State wants to impose its total rule on the people in order
to create a security conscious, uniform citizenry -- marching in lock step,
flags waving - that is necessary to win the war on terror.
This is how the National Security professionals are
incrementally creating the requisite fascist social structure -- through
terror, the best organizing principle ever.
�This is time for the old motto, �kill them all, let God
sort �em out.� New times require new people with new standards,� Ledeen
asserted. �The entire political world
will understand it and applaud it. And it will give us a chance to prevail.�
When Ledeen says �political�
world, he means the �owners of the business� of state terror, the right-wing
ideologues who pack the National Security State and the capitalist
Establishment they serve.
And they have won the propaganda war, folks.
Valentine is the author of �The Phoenix Program� and his latest book is �The
Strength of the Pack: The Personalities, Politics and Espionage Intrigues That
Shaped The DEA.� Please visit his website at www.members.authorsguild.net/valentine/bio.htm.