Life and Lies Under the Terrordome

Revolutionary Worker #1249, August 15, 2004, posted at

"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 be!


The White House and its top officials are clearly working to have fears of "terrorist attack" define the political debates and choices of the coming months.

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 checkpoints.

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 attacks."

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 Post

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 attack."

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 factor.

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 this moment.

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 Court coup.

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" strongman.

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 elections.

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 unmistakable ways.

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.