warplanes continue to bomb Afghanistan, with more than 300
of them engaged in some capacity in the skies over Bin Laden
Country, but we have hardly paid attention to any of that
as news of the bizarre and the ominous on the home front sends
a pre-Halloween chill down the spine. Yes, yes, Colin Powell
has traveled to Pakistan and it looks like the ground troops
are about to go in, but who cares about any of that when we
have to worry about a procedure so hopelessly mundane as opening
the mail? Even here at Antiwar.com we’re getting a little
nervous, and I told Eric, our webmaster, to wear gloves and
a protective mask while opening our snail-mail, and no one
thought such a request in the least bit odd. But then, nothing
is really odd these days, because the macabre is the commonplace:
we are all of us living in a grade-B horror movie, and I’m
not just talking about the threat of bio-nuclear terrorism….
add a hint
of the positively supernatural to the mix, or at least
a hint of clairvoyance, we have the news that on September
6, a Brooklyn youth at New Utrecht High School was sitting
in class, staring out the window which looked out over lower
Manhattan. "What are you looking at?" snapped the
teacher, who had been trying to stimulate a discussion of
current events amongst her lethargic students. This effort
no doubt met with limited success, and the probably frustrated
Antoinette DiLorenzo pounced on the young daydreamer, whose
thoughts seemed light years distant from the news of the day.
Ah, but perhaps not: "See those two buildings over there?"
he answered, pointing at the twin towers of the World Trade
Center, "well they aren’t going to be there after next
teacher failed to fully appreciate the eerieness of this remark
until after 9/11, whereupon she went to the authorities: who
soon had New Utecht HS in lockdown. While the rest of the
kids were given lunch, shown a movie, and told to be calm,
the cops hauled the clairvoyant kid and his brother off to
the local hoosegaw for milk-and-cookies with the FBI. They
are, we are told, still "investigating." Another
ongoing investigation has focused on the curious form of "insider
trading" that seems to have occurred in the days prior
to the attack.
options and "short sales" are a means of betting
that a stock will fall, and in two instances the volume in
these investments increased dramatically three days before
the twin towers debacle. The
San Francisco Chronicle reported that "on
one day, UAL put option purchases were 25 times greater than
the year-to-date average. In the month before the attacks,
short sales jumped by 40 percent for UAL and 20 percent for
mysterious investors, who seemed to be based
in Germany, have yet to claim their profits, which amount
to some $2.5 million, which seems to confirm our worst suspicions.
No doubt they didn’t count on having the markets closed for
4 days, and were stymied in their plan to take the money and
run. The Chronicle story sputters out toward the end,
when it comes time to identify these sinister practitioners
of what the head of the German central bank called "terrorist
insider trading." All the Chronicle could come
up with was they are "all presumed to be affluent residents
of Arab nations." Although naturally the information
this is based on is "classified," just like the
evidence against Bin Laden himself, knowledgeable insiders
assure us that this is so. "This smells real bad,"
said an anonymous source cited by the Chronicle, probably
some SEC official, and maybe he’s right – although not quite
in the way he means it.
article in Barron’s generally ridiculing the "terrorist
insider trading" scenario details the ongoing investigation,
which is currently examining financial instruments linked
to 38 companies, not only the two airlines but also insurance
carriers and the investment firms (such as Morgan Stanley)
once housed in the WTC. We are told that there are plenty
of documents with Social Security numbers and tax ID numbers:
they can trace the money as it flowed into investors’ bank
accounts. "If there’s something there," says Mary
Bender, of the Chicago Board of Exchange, "we’ll find
it," adding: "I’m not confident there’s anything
there." But why not? The unusual activity in UAL and
American Airlines options, and similar activity a month prior
to 9/11, is surely suspicious, which is why we heard about
it almost immediately after the Event. Now here it is more
than a month later, and what’s happened to this investigation?
It seems curiously… stalled. Surely the authorities must know,
by now, who profited from these highly unusual investments
– and don’t tell me it was two Pakistani kids in Brooklyn.
air of mystery that hangs over the Halloween War extends to
its very justification. No sooner had we been told the US
was going to release the evidence against Bin Laden, then
the offer was promptly retracted – although Tony Blair was
allowed a few peeks, so he could convey his marching orders
from Washington to Parliament. Blair has been striding about
and pontificating like the second coming of Winston Churchill,
speaking of which: All those World War II reminiscences preceding
the new Day of Infamy – the Pearl Harbor movie, The Greatest
Generation, the endless TV documentaries – have come
in handy, now haven’t they? "Loose lips sink ships!"
is back in a big way. That and "don’t you know there’s
a war on?" (a favorite phrase of Andrew Sullivan’s) are
heard loudly drowning out dissenting voices. What few venture
a protest are quickly quashed and smeared with the epithet
FASHION POLICE HAVE ARRIVED
are not supposed to ask too many questions: that is the main
feature of life in wartime America. Besides that, everything
is "classified" and everyone is so intimidated that
Sullivan, the neoconservatives' fair-haired boy, feels safe
in smugly demanding that news anchors wear little flags on
their lapels. From the Fashion Police to the Thought Police
is not that far a road to travel, and soon Sullivan and his
fellow neocons were haranguing Reuters for referring to Al
Qaeda by name instead of "the terrorists." It’s
amazing that they think they can get away with it – and what’s
really changed is that they can.
VERSUS THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE
here’s another mystery for you: Sullivan, according to a recent
profile in New York magazine, fancies himself the 21st
Century's equivalent of George Orwell. Yet he seems to have
missed his hero’s famous essay, "Politics
and the English Language," where Orwell lampoons
the literary tricks of various ideologues – and, presciently,
describes to a tee the behavior of his British epigone. "Writing
that aims at glorifying war usually takes on an archaic color"
– ah, so that explains the World War II allusions!
And here is a paragraph that fits Sullivan and his ilk quite
snugly, capturing the Orwellian spirit of our post-9/11 age
so perfectly that it outdoes even old Nostradamus at his most
one watches some tired hack on the platform mechanically repeating
the familiar phrases – bestial, atrocities, iron heel,
bloodstained tyranny, free peoples of the world, stand shoulder
to shoulder – one often has a curious feeling that one
is not watching a live human being but some kind of dummy....
And this is not altogether fanciful. A speaker who uses that
kind of phraseology has gone some distance toward turning
himself into a machine. The appropriate noises are coming
out of his larynx, but his brain is not involved … he may
be almost unconscious of what he is saying, as one is when
one utters the responses in church. And this reduced state
of consciousness, if not indispensable, is at any rate favorable
to political conformity."
VISION OF HACKS
famous novel of a future dystopia, 1984,
predicted so many different aspects of the world we live in
today – it’s politics, its perpetual war for perpetual peace,
its nightmarish quality. It is little short of amazing that
Orwell should also have anticipated the rise of such literary
hacks as Andrew Sullivan. Why, I wouldn’t be at all surprised
to find a portrait of David Horowitz in there, somewhere,
too. Indeed, Orwell gives one example of bad political writing
that brings the volatile commie-turned-conservative immediately
to mind, of a writer "who knows more or less what he
wants to say, but an accumulation of stale phrases chokes
him like tea leaves blocking a sink." And no doubt, if
we bothered to look, we could find Jonah Goldberg as well.
It sometimes seems as if Orwell really did have second sight:
there is a visionary quality to his writing, even his nonfiction,
which gives it an eerie ring in retrospect. What Orwell failed
to predict, however, is that these hacks would take his name
in vain, and claim him for their own. For all the darkness
of his imagination, that is something not even Orwell, a pessimist
by temperament, could have foreseen.
you might think, what phonies – particularly Sullivan!
How does he manage to get away with it? You can add this to
the other unsolved mysteries attending the Halloween War.
As I see it, however, the spookiest mystery is how we managed
to avoid all the clear warnings, none of which could have
been clearer than this
NewsMax story dated October 5, 1999, by Carl Limbacher,
which identified not only the culprit but the target:
London-based Terrorism and Security Monitor is reporting
that U.S. intelligence sources are worried that terrorist
Osama Bin Laden may be planning a major terrorist attack on
US soil. US sources are said 'to be particularly concerned
about some kind of attack on New York', and they have recommended
stepped-up security at the New York Stock Exchange and the
Federal Reserve. US authorities believe Bin Laden may have
acquired chemical weapons."
of Bin Laden’s activities come on the heels of heightened
agitation among Muslims against the West. Yossef Bodansky,
staff director of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism
and Unconventional Warfare, says, 'There are rumblings throughout
the Islamic community right now. There’s a lot of movement
and talk. It’s like a volcano just before the explosion'."
WORLD TURNED UPSIDE-DOWN
– a time of ghosts and goblins, monsters and ghouls, of horrors
shrouded in mystery and witches cackling at human incomprehension.
It seems not only to have come early, this year, but may just
stay around a bit longer. As the outlines of the ghostly enemy
take shape, at home as well as abroad, we are not so much
frightened as … astonished. The harder we look, the more it
seems that the Saudis, whom we fought to defend during the
Gulf War, stand behind Bin Laden. Perhaps they even profited
from the worst terrorist atrocity in American history. (Or
perhaps the truth is even stranger than that.) Our friends
turn out to be our enemies, and our enemies – Russia, China,
Pakistan – turn out to be our friends.
a happy Halloween – and don’t forget to watch your back….
of $50 or more will get you a copy of Ronald Radosh's out-of-print
classic study of Old Right conservatives, Prophets on the
Right: Profiles of Conservative Critics of American Globalism.
Send contributions to
520 S. Murphy Avenue, Suite 202
Sunnyvale, CA 94086
or Contribute Via
our Secure Server
Credit Card Donation Form
are now tax-deductible