MOTHER OF INVENTION
own favorite tale of alarmism run amok is the one in the New
York Times, that tells the story about the hapless American
arrested at the Bahamas airport, who
found to be carrying wires, magnet coils, a putty-like substance,
batteries and circuit boards. After trying to flee an immigration
preclearance area, the man was arrested. He told the authorities
that he was an inventor."
beware you may be in the possession of subversive materials.
This guy could indeed have possessed the above-mentioned items,
but you'll notice that no one is alleging that they were assembled
in the form of a bomb. And what, exactly, is the charge
possession of a concealed battery?
TERRORIST AT WORK: A SCENARIO
intrigues me about this story, however, is that if this poor
slob is being charged with having the separate ingredients
of a bomb, then obviously he meant to build his bomb on
board the plane. Boy, can you imagine what the person
sitting next to him would have had to go through? Well,
actually, maybe I can:
excuse me, but I'd like to get through."
get nervous on planes. Besides, I've had three glasses of
wine, two Cokes, and I need the exercise."
know, it's really hard to concentrate on this when I'm being
well, what is it you're doing, anyway? What's up with
all the wires and junk? And, say, isn't that a circuit board?"
sure is, buddy and you know what they're for,
together, and in such rapid succession, all these scary stories
would seem to justify the propaganda campaign now being unleashed
on a panic-stricken public. After all, if government officials
have some credible specific evidence that Americans are about
to be attacked, they have a responsibility to act. The only
problem is that these same officials continually deny
having any knowledge of a specific threat, as in this
ABC News story about
the alleged mail-bombs
postmarked "Frankfurt" that are supposedly on their
way to a post office near you:
FBI warned Americans today about the possible threat of mail
bombs being sent from Germany. The agency said in a statement
that it was issuing the warning as a precaution and not because
it had specific, verified information about any possible German
mail bomb plot. In the statement, the FBI said it has received
'unsubstantiated information that individuals may be planning
to send bombs in small parcels to addresses in the United
States' from Frankfurt, Germany. 'Out of an abundance of caution,
the public is being promptly alerted to this information.'"
their own admission, the FBI, which made this harebrained
announcement, has no evidence to back up its claim,
a concession that raises several questions: Since when does
a federal law enforcement agency call a press conference and
go to such lengths to urge the public to take "precautions"
on account of "unsubstantiated information"? How
many threats does the U.S. government get in, say, a week, and
does it routinely report all of them? Why this one, and why
now? Inquiring minds want to know.
abundance of caution? I would say an excess of alarmism, and
probably the most incautious and even provocative strategy
to combat a possible terrorist attack. Am I going mad, or
does it really seem as if this administration is goading the
terrorists to lash out or lose face?
TO THE POINT
what's the point of all this hysteria? Well, there
are two points, really, and the
President made one of them explicit when he said:
don't think the American people should stop their holiday
activities. I think they ought to go on and enjoy the season.
But because we in the government are taking extra steps and
we're on alert, I think it would be good for them and good
for us if they'd just be careful and not suspicious
but aware of their circumstances. And if they see anything
that doesn't look right, to report it to us."
Mr. President, I would like to make a report, because your
phony anti-terrorist campaign sure doesn't look or sound right
to me. It seems somehow, uh, intrusive to report "anything
that doesn't look right." Anything? Does this
in the Oval Office?
to the twenty-first century, a paranoid's paradise, where
everybody is always "on alert" and it's only natural
to snoop and spy on your neighbors:
I know. What a racket! He does it every night. What's he building
in that garage of his, anyway?"
dunno, but whatever it is, he's making an awful racket."
what if he's making a bomb?"
then, maybe we should call the police, dear."
idea, Martha, hand me the phone. . . . Hello, yes, I like
to report a terrorist threat. . . ."
can laugh at the transparent hypocrisy and crass power-lust
of our rulers, but there is nothing funny about the statement
of U.S. Attorney Kate Pflaumer, upon the arraignment
of Ahmed Ressam in a Seattle courtroom: At a news conference
Pflaumer framed her appeal for public cooperation with the
anti-terrorist campaign in terms of a threat. If you know
something, or think you saw something, or even suspect
something, and you don't come forward, you will pay the price:
"Under conspiracy law," said Pflaumer, "an
individual is responsible until he disassociates himself and
affirmatively goes to the authorities. For anyone out there
with any information about any similar devices or plots, we
urge them to come forward."
WAR AT HOME
why would a committed terrorist, presumably a fanatic, come
forward with information leading to his own arrest and conviction?
Pflaumer's pronouncement is directed, not at terrorists, but
at ordinary Americans, who are supposed to be intimidated
into spying on their neighbors.
there is another reason for this concerted campaign to convince
the country that a terrorist attack is imminent. Aside from
tightening the government's grip at home, the terrorist scare
(in tandem with the spy
scare) is meant to whip up a war fever against a foreign
enemy a likely one being the fundamentalist
Taliban regime that has taken over Afghanistan.
the war drums are already beating, with limited economic sanctions
likely to be expanded, and the War Party, in the person of
MSNBC international editor Michael
Moran, already howling for military action. In "Times
up for the Taliban," Moran likens the terrorist threat
to an attack by aliens
from "outer space" and demands to know why we
haven't moved more aggressively:
Taliban movement is widely accused of sheltering terrorists
plotting attacks on Americans, on Indians, on Russians and
others. If so, why has this powerful coalition of states done
nothing to change this?"
IN THE MARINES?
to "change" the obstreperous Afghans, who refuse
to hand over Osama
bin Laden, and thumb their noses at economic sanctions?
What else, but send in the Marines? As Moran so cannily puts
"Back in America these days, no thought of using American
military force in a far-off land can escape this litmus test:
Is it worth risking American lives? If the question were put
to the American public, 'Should the United States sponsor
an international force to establish order in far off Afghanistan?'
would answer with a resounding 'no.'
if there is real evidence that bombers trained and succored
in Afghanistan are planning to strike at U.S. cities, the
question changes. The West, which fought a war to rescue Kuwait
from Saddam Hussein and Kosovo Muslims from Slobodan Milosevic,
has made surprisingly little a threat to its own populations.
Some are asking precisely what order of atrocity will it take
for these great powers to put aside their differences and
act together against the Taliban and the threat it nurtures.
Would the destruction of the Seattle Space Needle have been
enough? It's hard to say."
much more hysterical can you get? Precisely nothing
has occurred, and already Moran is calling for retribution
isn't this jumping the gun just a little bit? What
is truly an atrocity is the brazen bloodthirstiness of the
War Party, which can hardly restrain itself these days. So
eager are they to unleash the dogs of war, from Kosovo to
Iraq and now Afghanistan, that they hardly care whether their
arguments make a modicum of sense. Just as endless film loops
of Kosovar refugees and phony
"atrocity" stories prepared the country for
the last war, so the current barrage of fear-mongering is
meant to prepare them for the next war and it won't
be long, now.
I have remarked before, are perfect hate objects for our
liberal interventionists: they "oppress" women,
insist on strict morality, and have banned all television
from the country. What really provoked Moran was no doubt
smashing of TV screens staged for Western cameras by Taliban
supporters. Just think, if such a craze took hold in the West,
Moran and MSNBC would have to find other work no wonder
they're calling for a preemptive strike!