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Beat Back the Bush Attack:
June 1, 2002
By Jack Smith
Posted via Jack Smith's Mid-Hudson Activist Newsletter, June 1, 2002, Issue #65 (subscribe to email@example.com)
Progressive-thinking people been waiting for the
proverbial other shoe to drop ever since Congress, in an hysterical fit of excessive patriotic
zeal a month after the Sept. 11 disaster, passed
that devastating attack on civil liberties known as the U.S.A. Patriot Act.
It finally dropped May 30 when the Justice
Department eliminated a number safeguards against wholesale FBI surveillance of domestic
political organizations, churches, libraries,
internet websites and civilians just going about their business.
It's all being done in the name of fighting
terrorism, as are the new wars President Bush is threatening against several countries with no
relationship to the attacks on the Pentagon and
World Trade Center.
It was obvious from the beginning, at least to those
who did not misuse the American flag as a blindfold, that President Bush and his top advisers intended to exploit the Sept. 11 tragedy to engage in military
expansion abroad and implement an ultra-right
political agenda at home.
The "opposition" Democratic Party has proven itself
to be useless in the struggle to impede the Bush administration's dangerous quick-march to
the right on all important issues from the
environment and economic justice to peace and civil liberties. The only recourse open to people
of the left who want to stop aggressive wars and to
keep their liberties is to take to the streets and meeting halls and unite with all who can be united in building a mass and militant protest movement
aimed at beating back the Bush attack.
4. THE SKY IS FALLING!
If ever there was evidence Washington was exploiting
and compounding the fear, insecurity and hyperpatriotism engendered by the Sept. 11 attacks
on Washington and New York, the Bush administration.s "Chicken Little, Chicken Little, the sky is falling!" scaremongering about terrorism the week of May 18-25 constituted proof positive. Evidently, there are few
lengths to which the White House will not go to
advance the right-wing agenda and the fortunes of empire.
By midweek, New York Times headline writers were
engaging in soft satire -- first by announcing that "Security is Tightened in New York After
Vague Threat of Terrorism;" then, introducing an
editorial headlined "Distractions and Diversions" (noting that "these warnings, which have
already lost much of their power to command public
attention, will become meaningless if they are perceived merely to be a way of changing
the subject"); then "The Warning du Jour Comes via
Rumsfeld...." (describing an article stating that most intelligence "was too vague to provide meaningful precautionary advice"); finally
concluding with a column headlined, "Cool It!" (pointing out, "Remember, it's supposed to
be al Qaeda that's running scared, not us").
Even our own Poughkeepsie Journal, in an editorial
supportive of the Bush administration and its war on terrorism, commented that Americans were being treated "to an overdose of terrorist warnings. It's an inevitable consequence of all the criticism
President Bush faced last week for failing to warn people about a possible terrorist attack before
The need to minimize the news that Bush and his
aides were vaguely informed of a planned attack before Sept. 11, but said nothing publicly,
evidently was a factor -- but not the major one --
in the flurry of scare stories. As soon as top Democrats began to ask, "What did the president know and when did he know it?" unnamed officials grabbed
headlines by suggesting that al Qaeda "is trying to
carry out an operation as big or bigger than the Sept. 11 attacks." This was followed in short order by Vice President Cheney's announcement that
another massive terrorist attack was "almost
certain," by FBI director Robert Mueller's suggestion that "We will not be able to stop" inevitable suicide bombings and "further terrorist attacks," by Homeland
Security director Tom Ridge's warning that another
terrorist attack was "not a question of if, but a question of when," by Secretary of State
Colin Powell's declaration that "terrorists are
trying every way they can to get their hands on weapons of mass destruction," and by Secretary
of Defense Rumsfeld.s warning that "terrorist
networks ... would not hesitate one minute in using" such weapons.
By the end of the week millions of Americans were
plunged back into fear and trembling. A few days later, the Justice Department was able to
exploit these new fears by providing the FBI with
vastly expanded new powers of surveillance. An even bigger reason for the administration's
terrifying alarms was to manipulate the multitude
into continuing its support for the war on terrorism -- no matter what comes next.
After nine months, the traumatized American people
are finally getting their lives back together. Osama bin Laden and Afghanistan are fading from the forefront of consciousness. At the same time, however, the Bush administration is planning several more military adventures, including a major war against Iraq that could result in thousands of
U.S. casualties -- and there.s no telling what the
government is preparing for Cuba, Colombia, Syria, Iran, North Korea, et al.
In order to fulfill its imperial objective of
sweeping the world clean of "Rogue States" over the next months and years, the White House
requires a pledge of unambiguous allegiance from the
great majority of the population, including the craven Democratic Party. And the only way to fashion such fidelity is to keep the people of the United States in a continual state of personal fear of terrorism, livid anger toward those who dared tread upon us, and flag-waving hyperpatriotism. It is thus
necessary from time to time for the administration
to stimulate emotions similar to those experienced by the American people in the first months after Sept. 11. Hence the choreographed recent reminders that after the twin towers, the sky itself may be next to fall, unless George W. Bush is allowed carry the war on terrorism through to the end, wherever that
5. 9/11 INQUIRY: FOR WHAT PURPOSE?
The leadership of the Democratic Party, backed,
oddly, by certain forces on the left, is calling for Congress to initiate an "independent" inquiry into what the Bush administration knew about the Sept. 11
attacks before they took place. At immediate issue
are revelations that the government was privy to some raw information from intelligence agencies months before the Pentagon and World Trade Center were hit,
suggesting that al Qaeda planned to hijack airliners
-- and did not make this material public, much less prevent the attacks.
By extension, these revelations dovetail with a
variety of reports circulating for many months that the Bush administration may well have participated in a conspiracy that knew about but did nothing to prevent the terror raids in order to provide a pretext to further the right-wing agenda and launch a war on terrorism.
We have no doubt that the Bush administration and
the Pentagon had various war plans ready to extend the U.S. empire into Central Asia, to topple Afghanistan, to wage war against Iraq, to finish off Cuba and North Korea, to weaken Iran and so on. These plans in fact constitute what has become known as the war on terrorism. Such blueprints have been on the Pentagon drawing boards for years, and are continually updated by the warmakers in each successive political administration, based on political, economic and military considerations and military opportunities of the moment. And it is obvious as well that the Bush administration has most certainly exploited the national crisis engendered by Sept. 11 to pursue its reactionary domestic policies.
But we are dubious about supporting the Democratic
Party's opportunist call for an investigation into why the Republican administration was unable to prevent the attacks. And we remain unconvinced there was a conspiracy involving the Bush administration.
Had the Democratic leaders coupled their call for an
inquiry with a declaration of opposition to the war on terrorism, perhaps some good could have come out of it. But since they strongly support the war,
backed the $48 billion hike in the Pentagon budget,
and remained mute when the White House announced the new policy of first-use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear states -- among many other outrages -- what, exactly, is supposed to come out of a full-scale investigation?
What we fear is that any such inquiry will conclude
that the FBI, CIA and other spy agencies must be strengthened even further, that the Homeland Security office must be enlarged to play a bigger role in
preventing future attacks, and that even more
restraints must be removed from police forces to enable them to act faster and more decisively in
future, among other such recommendations.
What will not emerge from such an inquiry is a
serious examination of the role played by the U.S. in creating many of the conditions that ripened to the point where a group such as al Qaeda could launch the
terror attacks. Will the inquiry examine the role
the CIA played in supporting right-wing fundamentalist forces in Afghanistan (including
Osama bin Laden) from 1979 to 1994? Will it analyze
the degree to which Washington's role in Iraq and Palestine and Saudi Arabia, among many other areas in the Middle East, contributed to the rising tide of
antipathy toward the U.S. throughout the region?
Will it investigate the imperialist uses to which the Bush administration has put the terror attack in terms of extending the empire? Will it question why the Pentagon needs permanent bases throughout Central
Asia as a consequence of the war against Afghanistan? Will it probe the number of civilian deaths in Afghanistan?
If these and dozens of other similar questions were
the focus of the inquiry demanded by Senate Democratic leader Sen. Tom Daschle and House
Minority leader Rep. Richard Gephardt, we would have
a great deal more confidence that it would serve a politically useful or at least educational purposes. But if it's just "what did Bush know and when did
he know it," or "who tied the FBI's hands," it seems
like two-party establishment politics as usual, intended to foster the customary illusions.
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