is "the war on terror" a sham?

call me crazy, but i’ve always been a bit of a skeptic on a lot of things. i work in scientific research, so if someone doesn’t provide a verifiable citation, you can’t be sure he’s telling the truth. this is the way i’ve felt about the terror alerts we’ve received for the past three years, and now knowledge of a possible motive has led me to seriously consider the possibility that they might be cooked.

generally, these sorts of thoughts are dismissed out of hand. what i ask then, is that you refrain from doing that, and if you don’t think the so-called war has been has been in any way a hoax, please reason along those lines.

since i’m bringing up the point, i’ll take the liberty of providing a few arguments in favor of considering the war on terror to be used as much as a tool for control by the current administration as it is for catching terrorists.

i’ll start with a list of things they may gain by over-politicizing the terrorist threat. first, they gain political favoritism. when you want to be reelected, one way to help your campaign is to make sure everyone is afraid of something and that they believe you can save them from it. another side effect is that you can make the people believe that they need to give up some of their rights to protect themselves better, and you gain greater control over them.

the rest of the motivation is more specific and has to do with us hegemony in the world. the project for the new american century (pnac) believes it is the responsibility of those in power in this country to see to it that the us achieves and maintains a position of global dominance. to do this, they advise discouraging all potential competitors, limiting the influence of foreign governments on us actions, and maintaining strategic and ecomonic interests worldwide. you may be familiar with them, as in 1998, they sent several letters to the clinton administration and members of congress asking them to consider going to war with iraq. current and former members include dick cheney, donald rumsfeld, paul wolfowitz, richard perle, dan quayle, jeb bush, i. lewis libby, and william kristol.

how this ties in: creating a culture of fear in the us would allow them one giant excuse (terror) under which they can launch any number of elements on their agenda. these include taking out iraq (and iran, whom we’ve recently threatened), pushing the israeli agenda in the middle east, limiting the power of the un, and backing the us out of various international defense treaties.

so now that we’ve layed down some possible gains from what i propose is happening, let’s look at some evidence of how they might be politicizing the war on terror rather than doing what they can to keep us safe.

one of the glaring problems with the terrorist threats has been their lack of specificity. i’m not convinced that the american populace knowing anything about potential terrorist attacks can do anything to prevent them, but if it can, wouldn’t it help to know what sorts of things to look for, or perhaps where they’d heard the information? the impossibility of verifying the source in all these cases makes me healthily skeptical, but nothing has been shown to dispel that skepticism. there have been no significant attempts at attacks in the last three years. and a few weeks ago, the first big democratic stump speech was interrupted so that homeland security could tell us that, while they had no new evidence to suggest it, we should all be aware that something might happen during election season. also, they floated the idea of postponing the elections in the event of a terrorist attack. it seems a bit convenient, all things considered.

shortly after the 911 attacks, condi rice told the national security council to “to think about how do you capitalize on these opportunities to fundamentally change american doctrine, and the shape of the world, in the wake of september 11th…i really think this period is analogous to 1945 to 1947 when fear and paranoia led the us into its cold war with the ussr”. pnac, in their “rebuilding america’s defenses” (page 51), said:

they got their new pearl harbor with the attacks on september 11th. the motto of the administration’s press relations became “in a post september 11th world” any time they were challenged by journalists. they could finally attack iraq, as they’d been waiting to do for about 8 years or so. they could finally use something to keep americans questioning anyone with the gall to question their actions, and hide anything under the umbrella of “fighting terrorism”.

so, i’m not trying to argue that terrorism is not a legitimate threat. what i’m saying is that if we were legitimately fighting terrorism, would it have been done so half-assed? would we have sent so few troops after al qaeda, and then convinced the world that iraq was involved in 911? if this isn’t just the new cold war, the “new pearl harbor” that many of the administration’s top executives were waiting for, in short, wouldn’t we be fighting the “war on terror” to actually win?

Exactly these points have been made by Michael Moore in his movie: “Fahrenheit 911”. Have you seen it?

It sure looks that way, doesn’t it? I’m in Quebec and this morning, the newspaper headlined with “Americans scared shitless [because of warning of terrorists attacks]” (liberally translated of course :wink: ).

I’m having a real hard-time understanding what the heck the color-coded warnings is for and how the hell broadcasting intelligence information is going to help. Couldn’t they do this covertly and put their hands on the bad guys to get rid of the threat definitely?

If I was a terrorist I’d postpone my plan, wait for a drop in warning level and then drive the truck bomb in a financial center… Americans can’t and won’t be vigilant forever.

At this point, you could completly put the U.S. on it’s knees by calling up and announcing a bunch of false bombs in airports and interesting targets. Or sniping like the Beltway snipers. Or starting rumors to fuel the paranoia and take advantage of the collective hysteria… The average American reaction to the next terrorist attack will be scarier then the attack itself I think.

No, it is not.

It is, however, entwined with an environment of fear and ange that teh unscrupulous and/or just plain opportunistic can (and certainly are) manipulating to thieir personal advantage at times. It does not take a neo-con conspiracy to explain the actions and reactions of this nation and its leaders after 9/11. Take healthy doses of fear, ignorance to the nuances of the Islamic world as a whole, accurate perception of the hatred toward the US expoused by certain Muslims, distrust (well earned) of Saddam Hussain, contempt (perhaps finally well learned) for those who use civillian terror to influence government policy, and a naivete about what it takes to transform a totalitarian state into a democracy through invasion; mix well in a melting pot seething with pain and frustration.

Viola. The soup is served.

I think those who find certain and calculated manipulation in these events underestimate the degree to which all of our perceptions can be colored by preconception, especially during times of great stress and emotional intensity.

‘Terrorism’ is a tactic that
–involves a specific guerilla manuever, or series of manuevers
–targets a disruption or destruction of specific structure or structures, either symbolic or functional to the institution fighting against.
–which is intended to demonstrate or advocate a point of view, and not as a land grab or military advancement, although that can be achieved as well.
–It can involve massive loss of life.

The US should be concerned about terrorism, because while no standing armed force on Earth can defeat the US armed forces, a bunch of determined guerillas, militias, etc, have been proven to cause massive havoc that no other armed force can hope to achieve, even in a surprise attack. That is why the US government work feverishly to quell any small sign of guerilla uprisings in the US, no matter what’s the cause the guerillas fought for, from Shays’ and Whisky Rebellion to Nat Turner to John Brown to Black Panthers to David Koresh.

al Qaida is different in that this involved battle-hardened members that kicked the USSR out of Afghanistan, and, indirectly, out of existance. al-Qaida also reside in territories friendly to the group as well as to the Taliban, and hostile, terrain-wise, to mechanized infantry.

As to favoritism, I disagree. The neo-cons may have tried to push some agenda items through, but only so many. Also, more importantly, 9/11 did occur during local primary elections across many states, including that of Mayor of New York, all of which were postponed because of the attack. From this standpoint, the Bush administration is right about thinking delaying national elections in the event of an attack, because al-Qaida have disrupted elections before.

Besides, I think at this point in the election, the Bush administration would rather say

"We are proud to say that we caught Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar’,

than say,

“Citibank, the NYSE, JP Morgan, and others should be in real high alert, and all trucks going in and out of US cities must be inspected”.

It really can’t be worked into part of a stump speech.

Seems like you answered your own question. Making terrorists postpone an attack is a good thing. At the very least it give the authorities more time to eliminate the threat.

Bush and the present administration scare me more than a terrorist ever will. I’d vote for a stick before I’d vote for Bush. But in this I have to say they are in a no-win situation. If they say nothing and a terrorist attack happens, everyone screams that information was withheld. If they give warnings with no specifics, everyone clamors that maybe they shouldn’t give the warnings at all.

However, having said that, if it is found that the present administration is using the threat alerts for political gain they should be immediately impeached. I’ve not seen anything to indicate this is happening.

i have seen it, but when i did, i thought it was more or less irrelevant. from what i got out of it, i was under the impression that he was arguing that bush and his cronies were all about the money, and had perhaps done various things with this country in order that they might make more money.

my approach is much more ideological, i think. i’m arguing that we have been deceived, and that the reasons for that deception involve the advancement of a doctrine of american hegemony. i also tried to stay away from the evidence he presented in his movie, in favor of citing pnac and administration officials practically saying that they had the opportunity to get the country to follow them anywhere they wanted.

Now, the potential terrorists know their plan is compromised and they also have time to scramble. And what if this was the plan all along? Heighten the security threat levels for a few targets by releasing fake information and then bombing somewhere/something else entirely?

Hmm, actually I was thinking that it might be better to get them with discrete, covert-ops - no? How do the experienced Israelis handle it? Do they run around screaming “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!” everytime they have information about a potential terrorist attack? Or do they buy intelligence assets, infiltrate and destroy the terrorists cells?

I don’t think the public will scream if they are shown that everything possible was done behind the scene to catch and eliminate the threat instead of simply warning against it.

The OP would not only mean the War on Terror is a sham, but the current admin is actually EVIL. This is a VERY BIG burden to prove.

My current view is Dems (all my humble O), we are at war here, cut the ----, stop politicizing it and get with the ------ program.

evil is a very subjective word. could you be a bit clearer? if we’re talking proofs here, i’d like to know what i’m up against.

one thing that eliminates what i’ve expounded upon from the realm of conspiracy theories is that there is no apparent cover-up. all their goals are out there for everyone to see, and it’s a simple decision as to whether a “possible threat” is significant enough to announce to the nation that it is time again to be afraid.

i admit the possibility that i’m reading too much into this, but from your post, i could not glean much of an alternative view. what’s really going on, if keeping the american public afraid isn’t calculated?

If your logic is as carefully thought out as your punctuation…

[Nitpick]
If you can make quotes “” and question marks ??, you can make capital letters, too. Just hold down the ‘Shift’ key when typing the first letter of a sentence, and when using the personal pronoun (I). You are otherwise ‘well-spoken’, and it’s disconcerting to think that you might be e.b. white re-incarnate. Thanks. [/nitpick]

Not to speak for kanicbird, but you’re suggesting the administration is fighting the war on terror with less fervor than it could simply to advance its own political ends. In other words, they are deliberately putting American civilian lives at risk to advance their own goals.

That’s pretty evil, no two ways about it.

I think the terror alert that NYC and DC and Newark are under right now is totally legit. It’s too specific not to be. Yes, the timing is suspect, but not as suspect as putting off the announcement of the high-ranking al Qaeda member for four days so that it coincided with the day of Kerry’s acceptance speech. The info we learned from that guy, btw, apparently led to the specific warning those of us in Code Orange Land are under right now.

The warning before this one was suspect, too. It came two days after Edwards was named as Kerry’s running mate, and seemed to serve only as a reminder that al Qaeda is planning an attack that would attempt to disrupt the election, something we had already learned months ago. That warning didn’t even come with a change to the infamous color chart.

The administration’s biggest problem with these terror warnings is avoiding a “Boy Who Cried Wolf” syndrome. Some of these warnings have had such suspect timing and such a dearth of information that even those not hellbent against the administration can’t help but be skeptical of them. One hopes they are judicious enough in their use of the alert system that when something very real comes down the pike, we actually pay attention to what they’re saying.

One big problem with conspiracy theories like this is the total number of people who would have to be “in” on the conspiracy to make it work.

You are simply arguing that you disagree with Bush’s tactics in the war on terror, and the extrapolate that to conclude that the administration doesn’t really want to catch the terrorists at all. I’ll agree that the war in Iraq is a misguided tactic in the “war on terror”, but do you think the overthrow of the Taliban was? If you’re implying that Bush doesn’t actually want to catch, say, Osama bin Laden, that just doesn’t make any sense. The downside to Bush of not capturing ObL is far greater than any political upside he might get by ObL still being at large.

Invading Afghanistan was necessarily a militar operation. Chasing down ObL and much of the terror network is more of an intelligence/spy operation. There certainly is a role for the Special Ops in this action, but not so much for the regular military forces.

[nitpick-nitpicking]
e.e. cummings, not E.B. White, who, as co-author of the single greatest and efficient book on the use of the English language ever, is probably rolling in his grave at the mere suggestion that he would not use capitalization.
[/nitpick-nitpicking]

I can’t debate to save my life, but I enjoy reading debates, and I can add some information once in a great while.

Exhibit X:

Exhibit Y:

That’s politics.

Exhibit Z:

I’m sure there’s a really good reason why president Bush would send his wife into a building that was targeted by al Qaeda the day after a terror alert was announced. To inspire the workers? Because he’d get a lot of sympathy if a bomb went off and she were vaporized along with thousands of other New Yorkers? Or maybe because the threat was deemed to be not a big deal, even though it was a big enough deal to call a press conference about, and a big enough deal to dominate the covers of the New York press.

=======================

Since no one has brought up what Howard Dean said yesterday, I’ll throw that out too.

Here’s a transcript of the relevant portion of Dean’s interview, conducted by Wolf Blitzer on CNN yesterday morning.

Perhaps a sense that there really are things to be afraid of and that it is better to trust the public with the information than to keep it secret and risk a further eroding of public ocnfidence in their government if a second tragedy occurs without warning.

Perhaps a group of civil servants who, though I find very little to admire in their views of personal liberty, are honestly struggling with a Gordian Knot that would blunt Alexander’s finest sword: how to protect a free populace from the determined actions of fanatical enemies without destroying the very freedom you are trying to protect.

Perhaps teh actions of fervent idealogues bent on fulfilling their duty but willing to allow realpolitik influence what they see as minor exercises of judgment or timing.

I would imagine that some measure of all three is involved. You seem convinced that something more pernicious and more extreme than any of the three is dominating the decisions of the administration.

You may be right, but I suspect that you are not.

:smack: I always get those two confused.

At some point the plan has to be made firm. Hopefully, the intel will be good enough to pick up on this and warn ahead of time. Again, this may lead to a delay in attack which will allow more time to find them. The assumption has to be that the terrorists were ready if the plans to attack were firm. Delaying that can only be good for the good guys.

You’re kidding, right? You want to hold Israel up as an example of a land without terrorist attacks and peace in our time? You must read different news than do I.

First, people will scream no matter what happens. People are screaming the government didn’t do enough to stop 9-11. So then we get the Patriot Act and terror alert levels and people are still screaming.

Second, I don’t know about you, but I don’t think I even WANT it possible for the government to be so tuned in they can know when any and all attacks will happen. I shudder thinking about the leeway they have now, let alone how much worse it would have to be to deal with what you are proposing. There are 300,000,000 legal citizens of this country and millions of visitors, students, etc. Do you know the kind of man power it would take to supervise all those people at all times? And that is just in this country.

The best defense is for a vigilant populace. 300,000,000 people watching for a few thousand terrorists increases the odds dramatically of catching them. Thus, we have the terror alert levels. We can’t all be on pins and needles all the time, so the government is kind enough to let us know when there are suspicions of something possibly about to happen.