Life and Lies Under the Terrordome
Revolutionary Worker #1249, August 15, 2004, posted
"What we're talking about here is a very serious matter based upon sound
intelligence.We are a nation in danger."
George W. Bush, August 2
The official American political season has opened in a war frenzy.
First, the Democrat's team "reported for duty" in Boston--wrapped
in flags, surrounded by vets and generals--and promising to build up more
military strength and launch aggressive new actions.
Then, the Republican government roared back with their own bid to orchestrate
fear and war fever: Quickly after the Democratic convention closed, on August 1,
the current administration announced a major terror alert--complete with claims
of immediate threat, new "intelligence streams," capture of key
plotters, supposed targeting of the New York Stock Exchange and the Citicorp
Center in Manhattan, the Prudential Financial building in Newark, and the World
Bank and International Monetary Fund buildings in Washington, DC.
Large parts of these three cities became armed camps of roadblocks, heavily
armed police installations and open deployments of military equipment.
How intensely war moves on the "home front" are being escalated!
How suspicious the timing of all this is!
How completely flimsy all the supposed "evidence" turned out to
The White House and its top officials are clearly working to have fears of
"terrorist attack" define the political debates and choices of the
Since early July, the Bush White House, John Ashcroft's Justice Department,
and Tom Ridge's Office of Homeland Security had been talking about
"increased chatter" that suggested dangers of attack.
In mid-July, the Pakistani secret service arrested and interrogated a
25-year-old computer engineer, Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan. This was kept secret
until the Democratic Convention closed.
Then, on August 1, the U.S. government announced Khan's arrest and claimed
that his computer files contained graphics and documents with detailed
descriptions of financial institutions in the three U.S. cities.
The U.S. government officials acted as if they had discovered the actual
blueprint and target list for a coming attack. People, especially all those
living, working or traveling around the supposed targets, got the impression
that they could be hit by car bombs or bio-weapons at any moment.
Overnight, the federal and local governments unleashed a massive mobilization
of armed force (and, undoubtedly, many unreported deployments of clandestine
forces and surveillance).
In Washington, DC, surface-to-air missile batteries were set up prominently
in several city parks. The city's police chief overruled the city's elected
officials and expanded the city's permanent "security zone" by
shutting down even more blocks to traffic. People ran into roadblocks and
In New York City, "anti-terror" police showed up with body armor
and automatic weapons at Manhattan's downtown Stock Exchange and the mid-town
Citicorp Center. Helicopters clattered overhead. The subways were flooded with
squads of tense and heavily armed cops. Convoys of police cars swarmed from one
location to another in "anti-terrorist exercises." Bridge and tunnel
traffic into Manhattan was severely cut--as if the island was suddenly under
military sanctions--causing worries about how the city would feed itself and how
its economy would function.
New York City is about to become the site for the Republican National
Convention--scheduled for August 29 to September 2. Huge numbers of people are
planning to take to the streets and parks--especially on Sunday, August 29-- to
"Say NO to Bush and all he stands for!"
To suppress this resistance, there have been mounting claims (from officials
and media at many levels) that protesters might be a cover for "terrorist
attacks," or that they might themselves be "targets of terrorist
Now, as the RNC opening nears, Tom Ridge suddenly claims to have specific intelligence
about specific targets for attack. This escalation of government claims
is quickly being exploited--trying to create a pacified New York City that could
serve as a backdrop for George W. Bush, the "anti-terror president."
All this is intended to scare people away from the protests. And it is
intended to build support among the people of New York City for whatever massive
and extreme actions the police may decide to take--all (of course) in the name
of keeping the RNC and the population "safe."
And this intimidation and the suppression of political protest and resistance
simply must not be allowed to succeed.
Who Believes Them?
"The threats we're dealing with are real."
George W. Bush's "Trust Me"
defense, August 6
"You have to take them at their word."
Steve Elmendorf, Kerry's deputy campaign
manager, defending Bush's claims
"The information was 3 years old, for God's sake!"
Jack Evans, member DC City Council, Washington
The moment Tom Ridge announced his August Surprise, a raging debate broke out
across the United States. It was not over "how to deal with this danger of
Millions of people started arguing over whether anyone could believe anything
the Bush government claims. This "sudden" discovery of
"specific" new information was just too timely, just too perfect, just
too useful for government purposes.
Folks thought the whole thing was fishy--and that these liars might invent,
or plant, or exaggerate anything to stay in power.
A day later, on August 2, it came out that the info on the financial centers
was several years old! The alleged surveillance of U.S. financial centers had
taken place before September 11, 2001!
So, even if the reports on building security were real, they were obviously
outdated. The New York Times reported that police officials were
skeptical that any of this indicated an active plot to attack.
The crew that lied to invade Iraq had now done it again! This time their
cooked intelligence was to justify invading three major U.S. cities--at a
moment pregnant with potentially historic events.
The fact that millions of people responded with such suspicion shows how
discredited this government has become. This distrust is an extremely positive
And that's also why it is so reactionary for the Kerry presidential campaign
to pointedly accept the White House claims as credible.
Former presidential candidate Howard Dean--whose self-appointed task is to
keep disaffected people in the Democratic Party by making them think there is
someone representing them while sucking his supporters into the Kerry
campaign--quickly accused the White House of manipulating this terror threat.
And he was quickly repudiated by the Kerry campaign.
Asked if they thought there was a suspicious timing to all this, Kerry's
senior foreign policy adviser James P. Rubin said: "We have no reason to
believe that this information that was most recently released was released for
political reasons." Kerry himself just kept insisting that in power he
would do more than Bush to tighten the "security" of the U.S.--a pitch
to the ruling class that he is a reliable alternative to Bush, and that he will
continue the myth of the "war on terror"--which has provided the
justification for projecting U.S. power in the Middle East and Central Asia.
Meanwhile, George W. Bush, Tom Ridge and the rest of the government spent a
week also trying to shore up their credibility. They said al-Qaida might still
be planning attacks using the three-year-old evidence. They said one of the
files may have been updated recently. They claimed to have plot
information from some other unnamed "stream of intelligence."
In other words (once again) they were saying "Trust us."
The Makings of an Election Surprise
"Over the next 60 days, my guess is you're going to be seeing more of
this kind of thing."
Senior U.S. counterterrorism official after
early August arrests, New York Times , August 6
In fact, there is every reason to suspect that both information and events
are being manipulated in the struggle for power. In a famous episode during the
1980 election, then-President Jimmy Carter tried to negotiate the release of 54
U.S. spies and personnel who were being held by Islamic students in the U.S.
embassy in Iran. Carter hoped that an "October Surprise"--a release of
the hostages--might win the election. But meanwhile, the Iranian government was
secretly negotiating with Carter's Republican opponent, Ronald Reagan, through
Reagan's future CIA director William Casey. Reagan's forces promised future help
to Iran if they would hold the hostages longer -- until after the
election--helping to guarantee Reagan the White House. The day Carter left
office and Reagan was sworn in, a planeload of the former hostages landed in the
U.S. (See Gary Sick's book October Surprise: America's Hostages in Iran and
the Election of Ronald Reagan .) How little these ruling class forces really
care about "American lives and safety"! While Reagan was attacking
Carter for not successfully "freeing the hostages," his campaign was
secretly working hard to keep them captive for a few months longer!
A recent report in the New Republic (July 19) provides evidence that
the Bush White House has been actively trying to orchestrate events to keep
"terror threats" in the headlines and portray the Bush team as
effectively "keeping America safe."
Highly placed Pakistani officials and military men told the New Republic that
this spring the Bush administration demanded that Pakistan's government
capture or kill "high value targets" (HVTs) on a timetable that would
influence the U.S. election. Some were to be arrested at the time of the
Democratic Convention-- while Osama bin Laden and the Taliban's Mullah Omar were
to be captured or killed before the election itself.
Someone close to Lieutenant General Ehsan ul-Haq, director of Pakistan's ISI
secret police, said White House aides had put on the pressure: "The last 10
days of July deadline has been given repeatedly by visitors to Islamabad and
during meetings in Washington." One Pakistani general said that the Bush
administration threatened to punish Pakistan's military if they did not produce
headline-making arrests--by making a public issue out of Pakistani involvements
in the global traffic of nuclear weapons technology. The general said: "If
we don't find these guys by the election, they are going to stick this whole
nuclear mess up our asshole."
Such pressure could also serve to pressure the ISI (which was very closely
allied with Osama bin Laden and the Taliban) to invent false
"evidence" to serve U.S. purposes.
In the end of July, Pakistan did, in fact, stage some arrests, and accuse
their captives of being al-Qaida operatives. On July 30, Pakistan's Interior
Minister, Faisal Saleh Hayyat, announced the arrest of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani,
who is accused of the 1998 bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa. On August 1,
Tom Ridge announced Pakistan's earlier arrest of Mohammad Naeem Noor Khan. On
August 3 Pakistan's Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed announced the
arrest of seven or eight more alleged al-Qaida suspects. On August 3, at least
12 people were arrested in Britain, with CIA involvement, though the charges
against them remain vague.
Welcome to the ominous kickoff of the U.S. political season!
The Stakes of This Moment
"Our enemies never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and
our people--and neither do we."
George W. Bush, August 5, making his latest
revealing slip of the tongue as he signed over $417 billion for military use
These events underscore the extreme seriousness and the serious extremism of
The Bush crew are deeply determined to press ahead with a sweeping world
agenda. They have launched a major offensive of war and transformation that is
intended to cement U.S. hegemony and domination for the rest of our lives. And
they believe that cementing their own hold on power--keeping a continuity of
policy, power and power centers--is key to carrying that offensive to victory.
Rather openly, for years now, they have treated any other rivals for power as
illegitimate, and even essentially traitorous to the larger interests of the
U.S. empire. That is how they viewed, and treated, President Clinton during his
years in office--despite his own aggressive imperialist moves against Iraq and
Serbia. This is the view that gave the Bush team such an arrogant sense of
entitlement as they grabbed the 2000 election out of Al Gore's hands by Supreme
We can all see in these latest developments that this crew has no illusion
that elections are "when the people decide." They intend to shape the
whole framework of these elections--and control how millions of people see the
world and their place in it. They intend to create intense fears and fan
war-like moods of revenge and aggression. They hope to make millions of people
crave a government of escalating police powers headed by a "decisive"
And, they even seem willing to consider postponing elections--if they sense
that power may be slipping from their grasp. Newsweek magazine revealed
last month that highly placed U.S. federal officials in the Justice Department,
Homeland Security, and the White House were discussing how presidential
elections could be canceled or postponed in case of a "terrorist
attack." An election-eve attack on railroads in Madrid this year had
triggered an election defeat for the conservative pro-war Spanish government.
Sections of the Bush government were wondering out loud if there were situations
where they should postpone elections--and clearly, in their discussions, there
was an underlying assumption that it would be intolerable (and even "a
victory for terrorism") if anyone but Bush came to power. And it is a sign
of the seriousness of all this, that the House of Representatives debated and
passed a resolution, on July 20, opposing any postponement of presidential
elections or giving anyone in the government the power to postpone the
The world is a dangerous place. U.S. actions around the world are making many
different forces determined to "strike back" somehow. The crimes of a
U.S. empire have put the people of the U.S. "in harm's way"--and all
that has only intensified through the crimes and conquests since 9/11. At the
same time, CIA operatives or allies like the Israeli Mossad, or the many extreme
networks in military and fascistic circles, are all quite capable of themselves
carrying out such actions, if they thought that might serve the sinister
ambitions of their favored team.
All of this underscores the seriousness of this moment--and the need to
boldly mobilize people to say NO to Bush and everything he stands for in
Powerful forces are determined to shape the world, the future and our very
lives. They are carrying out the most cynical and dishonest operations to make
sure that they (and their policies) keep a firm grip on power. Their goals and
their moves must be met with determined, courageous and growing opposition.