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The War OF Terror's Deadly Embrace, the Drums of War, and What Time It Is (Jan. 6, 2012)

By Dennis Loo

The media have, with few exceptions, not covered the passage and signing by Obama of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (NDAA) in a fashion that would alert the populace to the momentousness of what is afoot. Even among those who know of the NDAA, many are reacting with astonishing muteness, with all too many of those who despise the Republicans still planning to vote for Obama on the sole grounds that they can't stand the GOP. If you can't stand the GOP but can stand what Obama's been doing, then pray tell what distinctions are you making that would puzzle even the angels dancing on the head of a pin? Fortunately, there are those who are appropriately alarmed.

Obama in his signing statement upon the NDAA on New Year’s Eve stated that he would never use the provisions of NDAA against American citizens. Whether he uses it or not is moot since he is not going to be president into perpetuity. If he didn’t want the law to be used against Americans, then why not veto the bill? An even more salient point is that it was his administration that asked for the inclusion of American citizens in the bill before Congress passed it. If you don’t want American citizens to be subjected to indefinite detention merely on an accusation, then why would you insist that it be put into the bill in the first place?

Obama’s words and actions can only be viewed as a calculated attempt to mislead people into thinking that what he’s doing is not as monstrous as it is. If one is not blinded by partisanship or by personality cultism, when one looks at what he’s been doing since he won the election, it is impossible to conclude anything else than that his candidacy and his presidency were a ruse in the first place to try to mislead Americans about what their government is doing. Republicans and Democrats can only continue this path of relentlessly and ruthlessly refashioning the norms of governance through considerable subterfuge and by instilling fear among the populace. In this excerpt from my book Globalization and the Demolition of Society, I discussed this from the particular angle of the “War on Terror”:

“Bush and Cheney’s approach was to use the fear of attacks to consolidate their power and control (witness the USA PATRIOT Act and illegal spying) rather than to take obvious steps that would truly help make America safer. In the spring of 2002, for example, the Bush White House slashed the Energy Department’s requests for funding to protect nuclear plants and waste against terrorism by 93 percent. The Bush White House’s priorities in response to 9/11 indicated that they were not even particularly interested in preventing another attack. Beginning in the summer of 2007, several people who supported or represented the White House made it brazenly clear that another 9/11 would in fact be good and necessary because it would justify White House policies.

“Dennis Milligan, Arkansas GOP Chairman, stated on June 3, 2007: ‘[A]ll we need is some attacks on American soil like we had on [9/11], and the naysayers will come around very quickly to appreciate not only the commitment for President Bush, but the sacrifice that has been made by men and women to protect this country.’[1]

“Rick Santorum, ex-Senator from Pennsylvania, speaking on the Hugh Hewitt Show on July 7, 2007, stated: ‘Between now and November, a lot of things are going to happen, and I believe that by this time next year, the American public’s going to have a very different view of this war, and it will be because, I think, of some unfortunate events, that like we’re seeing unfold in the UK. But I think the American public’s going to have a very different view.’[2] [Boldfacing added]

“Lt. Col. Doug Delaney, War Studies Program Chair, Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario, said on July 8, 2007: ‘The key to bolstering Western resolve is another terrorist attack like 9/11 or the London transit bombings of two years ago. “If nothing happens, it will be harder still to say this is necessary,’ adds Delaney.[3] (Delaney paraphrased by Toronto Star reporter, Andrew Chung.)

“A Sacramento Democratic strategist, paraphrased by one of the pro-impeachment Democrats at a Democratic gathering on July 17, 2007, offered the following as one of the reasons why he thinks impeachment is foolhardy for the Democratic Party: ‘There will be another terrorist attack between now and next November . . . the public will run into the arms of the Republicans as a cause of that, and . . . Democrats are essentially helpless to do anything about that.’[4]

“Jack Goldsmith, head of the Office of Legal Counsel in 2003 and 2004, quotes David Addington, Cheney’s then-current Chief of Staff, in his book The Terror Presidency: Law and Judgment Inside the Bush Administration as saying in a February 2004 meeting: ‘We’re one bomb away from getting rid of that obnoxious [FISA] court.’[5]

“Preceding these overt comments was a 2005 internal GOP memo that indicated that another terrorist attack on the US would help Bush and the GOP because it would ‘restore his image as a leader of the American people,’ and ‘validate’ his ‘War on Terror.’[6] As it turned out, no such attack occurred, but not for the lack of wishing and prognosticating by these forces. The openly expressed desire for such an incident was very revealing of the underlying political agendas. (More on this in Chapter Four.)

“Bush/Cheney represented neoliberalism’s most extreme and aggressive variant. Under Clinton/Gore, globalization and neoliberal policies were also pursued, albeit less unilaterally, yet generating fundamentally the same ineluctable consequences in economic and social fallout. The largest gap between the rich and poor in history occurred under Clinton, only to be exceeded subsequently by Bush/Cheney. Under Clinton/Gore, NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement) was pushed through, terrorism grew, the criminal justice system expanded, and ‘welfare as we know it’ was eliminated. Under sanctions against Iraq some five hundred thousand Iraqi children perished. When asked about this, former UN ambassador Madeline Albright famously said that the ‘price is worth it.’”[7]

In short, the people who run this country are cynical and ruthless enough to invite and actually wish for devastating terrorist attacks upon the country in order to justify their ongoing unconstitutional attacks on the people’s rights. The Democrats have not been as bold and frank as the GOP in describing such attacks as a good thing for them, but have gone along willingly with it, including providing the necessary Democratic votes to pass the NDAA (drawn from among the putative progressive Democrats) and Obama’s signing the bill after insisting that the bill include American citizens picked up on American soil as potential indefinite detainees. As Glenn Greenwald has pointed out, NDAA actually only extends to the military the unsupervisable and unfettered executive acts of Obama such as publicly assassinating those he has alone determined to be “terrorists.” This is the man that so many people thought was going to be an alternative to that awful Bush and Cheney.

The drums of war are being beaten in earnest now; we are on the verge of a probable attack upon Iran with excuses no more credible than the WMD one was against Iraq. Those in power need to stoke the tools of repression here at home because they know that their policies are triggering, and can only trigger, mass dissatisfaction here at home and abroad and because they know that their illegal, immoral and unjust actions abroad can only be carried out if the populace is prevented from expressing its opposition and from publicly exposing the deceitfulness of this government’s actions.

The mass media are, as before, rallying around the tattered and bloody flag of lies and bellicose national chauvinism. In light of these developments, such as Obama and Congress’ NDAA, those who are not blinded by fear and/or hate can see ever more vividly everyday what those in power are really about. The idea that voting for one or the other in their electoral circus is any kind of useful exercise becomes more clearly absurd.

The hope that people of conscience have is to strike out in an independent direction, building upon the work that Occupy and other groups such as World Can't Wait have been blazing, decisively casting aside with disdain the quicksand trap of electoral politics. We are the 99%. We cannot be stopped by bullying, intimidation, fear-mongering, and repression if we recognize both the dangers and the opportunities inherent in situations such as this. The storms of the present and the grander storms of the future will tear and break some, but it will steel others. If we do not give into fear, our struggle will bring others to our side who have been waiting on the sidelines, gnashing their teeth. If you want others to be brave, you must yourself set an example. The future can be ours. We must not allow the future to be written for us and for our children by those who every day take the world further down the road to ruin.



[1] Josh Catone, “Arkansas GOP Head: We Need More ‘Attacks on American Soil’ So People Appreciate Bush,” June 3, 2007, RawStory.com, http://rawstory.com/news/2007/Arkansas_GOP_head_We_need_more_0603.html, accessed July 1, 2007.

[2] This was originally posted at Hugh Hewitt’s blog, but it has been removed. A transcript of Santorum’s remarks is still available at 9/11 Blogger, “Rick Santorum predicts some unfortunate events will give Americans a very different view of this war,” Infowars.com, July 7, 2007, http://www.infowars.com/articles/us/santorum_predicts_some_unfortunate_events.htm, accessed February 6, 2011.

[3] Andrew Chung, “Why Military Might Does Not Always Win,” TheStar.com, July 8, 2007, http://www.thestar.com/News/article/233617, accessed July 20, 2007.

[4] dday, “How An Insider Consultant Changed My Mind on Impeachment,” DailyKos.com, July 17, 2007, http://www.dailykos.com/story/2007/7/17/141844/051, accessed July 18, 2007.

[5] Dan Eggen and Peter Baker, “New Book Details Cheney Lawyer’s Efforts to Expand Executive Power,” WashingtonPost.com, September 5, 2007, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wpdyn/content/article/2007/09/04/AR2007090402292_pf.html, accessed September 10, 2007. The FISA court [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] was created in 1978 in the wake of Congressional revelations of Nixon’s illegal domestic intelligence surveillance against political opponents such as the anti-war movement. FISA provided congressional and judicial oversight over executive foreign intelligence work while providing secrecy for those activities so that sensitive activities would not be compromised. If the executive branch wanted to apply a wiretap, for example, it applied to the FISA court in camera for authorization. Since its inception, FISA has only turned down two or three executive applications for covert surveillance. When it was revealed in 2005 that the Bush White House was skirting FISA approval for its massive domestic surveillance, the White House asserted that the “war on terror” necessitated their acting swiftly and avoiding FISA. FISA, however, has provisions allowing retroactive surveillance approval, a fact that the White House never mentioned. In 2008 after the revelations of the White House’s illegal activities, the Democratically controlled Congress revised FISA to grant amnesty to the major communications companies such as AT&T, Verizon and so on that had illegally gone along with the White House’s demands that they secretly allow NSA to wiretap all US electronic communications.

[6] Doug Thompson, “GOP Memo Touts New Terror Attack As Way to Reverse Party’s Decline,” CapitolHillBlue.com, November 10, 2005, available as of February 6, 2011 in its entirety at http://forums.mtbr.com/showthread.php?t=143814.:

A confidential memo circulating among senior Republican leaders suggests that a new attack by terrorists on US soil could reverse the sagging fortunes of President George W. Bush as well as the GOP and “restore his image as a leader of the American people.”

The closely-guarded memo lays out a list of scenarios to bring the Republican party back from the political brink, including a devastating attack by terrorists that could “validate” the President’s war on terror and allow Bush to “unite the country” in a “time of national shock and sorrow.”

[7] Sheldon Richman, “Albright ‘Apologizes,’” The Future of Freedom Foundation online, November 7, 2003, http://www.fff.org/comment/com0311c.asp, accessed on February 11, 2011.

 

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