The Anti-Empire Report #36
By William Blum – Published August 18th, 2006
Saved again, thank the Lord, saved again
“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 1
So now we’ve (choke) just been (gasp) saved from the simultaneous blowing up of as many as 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. In the Sears case, the FBI paid almost $56,000 to two confidential informants and government officials also granted one of them immigration parole so he could remain in the country. 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?
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.” 8
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 11th, this is going to play big,” said a White House official, adding that “some Democratic candidates won’t ‘look as appealing’ under the circumstances.” 9
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’.” 10
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.” 11 We should be hearing further from the administration as it tries to take advantage of these tactics. But as of yet neither the US nor the UK authorities have been able to provide any concrete evidence to back up the story that the police raids and mass arrests in Britain thwarted an imminent attack that would have taken the lives of thousands of transatlantic travelers.
The American Empire for Dummies (an excerpt from an unwritten book)
The United States is determined to dominate the world, not to mention outer space. This is not a left-wing cliché, 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 role.” 12
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 and Freedom”.)
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 smooths 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 disappears."
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?” 13
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 Hit:
“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 be gone.”
“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 city.”
“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 leave Hit.”
“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 Iraq.
- Vorin Whan, ed. “A Soldier Speaks: Public Papers and Speeches of General of the Army Douglas MacArthur” (1965)
- The Daily News (New York), February 10, 2006
- Washington Post, April 14, 2005; United Press International, April 18, 2005
- Time, July 7, 2006, article by Joshua Marshall; Associated Press, July 14, 2006
- Sears case: Knight Ridder Newspapers, June 23, 2006; The Independent (London), June 25, 2006; St. Petersburg Times (Florida), June 24, 2006; New York Times, August 13, 2006
- Associated Press, July 14, 2006
- Toledo: Associated Press, April 18, 2006; Sears: South Florida Sun Sentinel, July 26, 2006
- Associated Press, July 8, 2006
- Agence France Presse, August 11, 2006
- New York Times, August 17, 2006. p.23
- Washington Post, August 14, 2006, p.9
- “Defense Planning Guidance for the Fiscal Years 1994-1999”, as quoted in New York Times, March 8, 1992, p.14, emphasis added
- NPR, Day to Day, August 1, 2006, 12:08 pm
Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to William Blum as author and a link to williamblum.org is provided.