USA 2000: Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid

Revolutionary Worker #1037, January 9, 2000

Official U.S.A.--hyped and fearful on the eve of a new millennium--what a revealing and pathetic sight.

The whole society had been told to stash away bottled water and extra cash. And everyone waited to see if those much-worshipped new computer toys would have some massive Y2K breakdown. News broadcasts muttered that high-level Pentagon operations had worked to make sure that the fireworks of a new millennium did not include the outbreak of accidental nuclear war--providing us all a reminder of the hair-trigger madness the imperialists have imposed on international relations between countries.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government (and the ever-loyal media) pumped out a mounting hysteria about "possible terrorism"--until literally millions of people were convinced to hunker down behind locked doors, afraid to gather in crowds, afraid to become a "target" for some nonexistent enemy. Hotel occupancy dropped, plane travel petered out, crowds were smaller than expected (and so, naturally, were more "manageable" by the police).

A few glitzy celebrations in Times Square, Paris, London and Egypt were projected over TV. And the fake electronic festivity was used to brighten that fearful isolation of darkened living rooms where so many sat awaiting the New Year.

Y2K Clampdown

Meanwhile, in cities across the U.S., police and national guard carried out massive clampdowns--that had been prepared in secret, far in advance.

In Seattle, the festivities were simply called off.

Washington, DC reportedly had the most massive security clampdown since World War 2.

Los Angeles had the largest police mobilization in the city's history.

In Chicago, the Mayor announced that fear would not dominate his city's celebrations--and hosted fireworks up and down the lakefront. But, unreported in any mainstream media, the Chicago police set up roadblocks on every major street leading into the Cabrini Green housing projects--literally stopping people from driving in or out of this Black community. The emptied streets and police barricades gave this whole area the chilling feel of a military coup.

In New York, the authorities had developed a detailed "military style" plan for crowd control and emergency clampdown. The traditional ball-drop in Times Square was supposed to go on with huge crowds allowed to participate--but the whole operation was conducted under conditions that seemed drawn straight out of movies like Enemy of the State or Gattica.

The authorities declared a "frozen zone" of some 75 square blocks of midtown Manhattan from 35th to 59th Streets. They shut off car traffic and air traffic and created a huge police-controlled maze of barriers and checkpoints--where people were herded from one location to another and then "locked in." People were everywhere under the watchful eyes of armed police, including sharpshooters on the tops of buildings, helicopters roaming the skies and squads of police dogs.

Mayor Giuliani's secret security plan (called "Operation Archangel") was published in the Daily News. It contained four stages of alert: Alpha, Bravo, Gamma and finally Omega. At the highest stage, Omega, police were prepared to systematically stop and question thousands of people--and cordon off entire sections of the city.

Giuliani held a press conference to denounce the fact that his military plans had been "leaked" to the public they were designed to control.

Manufacturing a "Terrorist Threat"

Everyone with a TV in the U.S. knows the supposed justification for all of this: the arrest of an Algerian man crossing the U.S.-Canadian border into Washington State--who allegedly carried explosives in his car.

This micro-incident was suddenly the excuse for countrywide raids and media hysteria--demanding public acceptance for the massive police clampdowns on New Year's Eve that had clearly been worked out months before.

On the northern border of Vermont and Quebec, an Algerian man and a Canadian woman were arrested and held--while the media used bizarre techniques to explain "links" that were found between them and possible "terrorist forces." For example, it was reported that the man's cell phone had been registered to a political activist in Algeria, who was part of a political movement which ("though not terrorist itself") was "believed to have links" with others who...blah, blah, blah.

FBI agents reportedly arrested over 50 people across the U.S.--including in Washington state, Texas, Massachusetts, New York, Chicago and California.

Several people were then held in Boston--all of them Algerian people suspected of ties to Islamic forces in their home country. They have been held on the most flimsy basis--like routine minor immigration violations.

On Thursday, December 30, four Algerian people were arrested by heavily armed teams of the joint New York Police Department/FBI terrorism task force. One was charged with possible credit card fraud--but the real accusation (blasted out in the media) is that he is part of a "terrorist network of Algerian nationals." There was widespread reporting that the man told someone "a new generation will punish America" (which, as far as we know, is not yet officially an illegal statement in the U.S.).

Officials had to admit, over and over again, that they had no evidence of any planned attacks in New York. And they admitted that so far they have only found evidence of a speaking tour planned in U.S. to raise funds for political forces in Algeria.

"To the best of my knowledge there were no explosives recovered in this operation," New York's police chief Safir said. "We have no information in this operation or any other that there is any specific credible threat or plot to do anything in New York City." But minor things (like lack of evidence) did not prevent the mounting media hysteria.

And so, the new millennium has ushered in a deliberate campaign of "preventive detention"--which is formally illegal under U.S. law. It has been done on the basis of nationality and politics--without any real evidence. It has set a dangerous legal precedent for police powers--and it has been a racist outrage. The ripples of the campaign traveled everywhere, as Arab-looking people were being singled out, questioned and searched--in airport after airport and all along the border--during the hustle and bustle of the holiday traffic.

Hussein Ibish of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee said: "We've sort of passed over from the stage of heightened vigilance into the stage where people's ethnic identity becomes suspect in and of itself. People of Arab ethnicity who are being held on routine visa violations--the most mundane types of arrest--are being treated as potential terrorists."

Many details of these operations remain unclear as we go to press. But this much is obvious: we have just all been through a huge campaign of manufactured fear--designed to prepare minds to accept anything that government agents do in the name of "security."


What millennial party poopers the U.S. ruling class turned out to be!

The speeches of Clinton and other world leaders were filled with babble about optimism and hope--but a whole police-state reality on the ground reveals how fearful they truly are that things might at any moment spiral out of their control--even on a night of worldwide celebration.

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