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June 2, 2005

Washington Is the Source of Terror


by Paul Craig Roberts

The U.S. government gave the slave trade a boost by offering money for al-Qaeda and Taliban fighters. Afghan and Pakistani warlords simply rounded up people who looked Arab or foreign and sold them to the Americans as captured fighters. The "fighters" apparently included relief workers, refugees, and Arab businessmen. The tribunals looking into the classification of Guantanamo prisoners as "enemy combatants" have uncovered numerous examples of hapless victims of a naive U.S. government too flush with money.

The Bush administration, of course, denies that it bought its detainees, as it denies everything. However, on May 31, 2005, Michelle Faul of the Associated Press reported that in March 2002, leaflets and broadcasts from helicopters in Afghanistan enticed Afghans to "Hand over the Arabs and feed your families for a lifetime." One leaflet said: "You can receive millions of dollars. This is enough to take care of your family, your village, your tribe for the rest of your life, pay for livestock and doctors and school books and housing for all your people."

Najeeb al-Nauimi, a former Qatar justice minister, leads a group of lawyers representing 100 detainees who were sold to the naive Americans. He says a consortium of wealthy Arabs are buying back fellow citizens kidnapped by Pakistani gangs before they can be sold to the Americans.

More is going on here than merely unintended consequences of a harebrained policy. The Bush administration has proven itself to be utterly irresponsible in the use of power. And it keeps demanding more power, including the suspension of our civil liberties in order to better fight "terrorism."

Aside from 9/11, an event of several years ago, the only terrorism the U.S. has experienced is the terrorism Bush created by invading Iraq. Why are we worried about Osama bin Laden when the moronic Bush administration is so adept at creating terrorism?

Notice the pattern. Bush creates terrorism and then suspends our civil liberties in the name of his war on terror.

The real terror Americans experience comes from their own government. Indeed, consider the terror the accounting firm, Arthur Andersen, and its 85,000 worldwide employees experienced as a result of the Gestapo tactics of federal prosecutors. Prosecutors used a stupid jury and a weak-minded judge to convict an entire accounting firm for the actions of the few accountants who handled the Enron account. It was completely clear at the time that whereas a case existed against a few individual accountants, no case existed against the firm itself. Arbitrary and capricious prosecutors grabbed power. The American public was so whipped up in a frenzy over Enron that it didn't care whose blood was spilled. Just as someone had to pay for 9/11 – even if it is our own troops and tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis who had no more to do with 9/11 than the U.S. troops who are losing their lives and limbs – someone had to pay for Enron. So the prosecutors destroyed Arthur Andersen, one of the top 10 companies in the world ranked by market value and one of America's greatest assets.

Now the U.S. Supreme Court has reversed the conviction. The highest court says Arthur Andersen was not guilty. But how do we bring Arthur Andersen back to life and restore the reputations and careers of its many thousands of employees? Federal prosecutors effectively executed the firm and destroyed the highly valuable asset.

Don't expect Bush, who admits no mistake, to make restitution for the criminal actions of his Department of Justice (sic). The remedy is a civil suit by all the partners and employees of Arthur Andersen against the U.S. government for damages. I think $1 trillion is a good number. It is a figure demanded by justice. And it will serve the cause of peace by bankrupting the warmongering Bush administration and applying the brake to Bush's wars of empire.


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    Paul Craig Roberts wrote the Kemp-Roth bill and was assistant secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was associate editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and contributing editor of National Review. He is author or co-author of eight books, including The Supply-Side Revolution (Harvard University Press). He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon chair in political economy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University, and senior research fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He has contributed to numerous scholarly journals and testified before Congress on 30 occasions. He has been awarded the U.S. Treasury's Meritorious Service Award and the French Legion of Honor. He was a reviewer for the Journal of Political Economy under editor Robert Mundell.

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