“War on Terror”


The War Bin Laden Wanted
How the U.S. played into the terrorist’s plan
By Paul W. Schroeder
The American Conservative, 2004-10-25


Terrorized by ‘War on Terror’
How a Three-Word Mantra Has Undermined America
By Zbigniew Brzezinski
Washington Post, 2007-03-25

[Paragraph numbers and emphasis have been added.]

The “war on terror” has created a culture of fear in America.
The Bush administration’s elevation of these three words into a national mantra
since the horrific events of 9/11 has had a pernicious impact
on American democracy,
on America’s psyche and
on U.S. standing in the world.
Using this phrase has actually undermined our ability
to effectively confront the real challenges we face
from fanatics who may use terrorism against us.

The damage these three words have done -- a classic self-inflicted wound --
is infinitely greater than any wild dreams entertained by
the fanatical perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks
when they were plotting against us in distant Afghan caves.
The phrase itself is meaningless.
It defines neither a geographic context nor our presumed enemies.
Terrorism is not an enemy but a technique of warfare
political intimidation through the killing of unarmed non-combatants.

But the little secret here may be that
the vagueness of the phrase was deliberately (or instinctively) calculated
by its sponsors.
Constant reference to a “war on terror” did accomplish one major objective:
It stimulated the emergence of a culture of fear.
Fear obscures reason, intensifies emotions and makes it easier for
demagogic politicians to mobilize the public
on behalf of the policies they want to pursue.
The war of choice in Iraq
could never have gained the congressional support it got
without the psychological linkage between
the shock of 9/11 and
the postulated existence of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.
Support for President Bush in the 2004 elections
was also mobilized in part by the notion that “a nation at war”
does not change its commander in chief in midstream.
The sense of a pervasive but otherwise imprecise danger
was thus channeled in a politically expedient direction
by the mobilizing appeal of being “at war.”

To justify the “war on terror,”
the administration has lately crafted a false historical narrative
that could even become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

By claiming that its war is similar to
earlier U.S. struggles against Nazism and then Stalinism
(while ignoring the fact that both Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia
were first-rate military powers,
a status al-Qaeda neither has nor can achieve),

the administration could be
preparing the case for war with Iran.
Such war would then plunge America into a protracted conflict
spanning Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan and perhaps also Pakistan.

[These very signficant ideas are considerably expanded
in his 2007-02-01 testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.]

The culture of fear is like a genie that has been let out of its bottle.
It acquires a life of its own -- and can become demoralizing.
America today is not
the self-confident and determined nation that responded to Pearl Harbor;
nor is it the America that heard from its leader, at another moment of crisis,
the powerful words “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”;
nor is it the calm America that waged the Cold War with quiet persistence
despite the knowledge that
a real war could be initiated abruptly within minutes
and prompt the death of 100 million Americans within just a few hours.
We are now divided, uncertain and potentially very susceptible to panic
in the event of another terrorist act in the United States itself.
[Brzezinski omits mention of
the various peace and disarmament movements during the Cold War.]

That is the result of five years of
almost continuous national brainwashing on the subject of terror,
quite unlike the more muted reactions of several other nations
(Britain, Spain, Italy, Germany, Japan, to mention just a few)
that also have suffered painful terrorist acts.
In his latest justification for his war in Iraq,
President Bush even claims absurdly that he has to continue waging it
lest al-Qaeda cross the Atlantic
to launch a war of terror here in the United States.
[I’m not sure how “absurd” that threat is.
Isn’t that exactly what 9/11 amounted to?
But I certainly do not agree that
our current war policies and hostile diplomatic relations
vis-à-vis much of the Muslim world
is the right answer to that threat.]

Such fear-mongering, reinforced by
security entrepreneurs, the mass media and the entertainment industry,
generates its own momentum.
The terror entrepreneurs, usually described as experts on terrorism,
are necessarily engaged in competition to justify their existence.
Hence their task is to convince the public that it faces new threats.
That puts a premium on the presentation of credible scenarios
of ever-more-horrifying acts of violence,
sometimes even with blueprints for their implementation.

That America has become insecure and more paranoid is hardly debatable. A recent study reported that in 2003, Congress identified 160 sites as potentially important national targets for would-be terrorists. With lobbyists weighing in, by the end of that year the list had grown to 1,849; by the end of 2004, to 28,360; by 2005, to 77,769. The national database of possible targets now has some 300,000 items in it, including the Sears Tower in Chicago and an Illinois Apple and Pork Festival.

Just last week, here in Washington, on my way to visit a journalistic office, I had to pass through one of the absurd “security checks” that have proliferated in almost all the privately owned office buildings in this capital -- and in New York City. A uniformed guard required me to fill out a form, show an I.D. and in this case explain in writing the purpose of my visit. Would a visiting terrorist indicate in writing that the purpose is “to blow up the building”? Would the guard be able to arrest such a self-confessing, would-be suicide bomber? To make matters more absurd, large department stores, with their crowds of shoppers, do not have any comparable procedures. Nor do concert halls or movie theaters. Yet such “security” procedures have become routine, wasting hundreds of millions of dollars and further contributing to a siege mentality.

Government at every level has stimulated the paranoia. Consider, for example, the electronic billboards over interstate highways urging motorists to “Report Suspicious Activity” (drivers in turbans?). Some mass media have made their own contribution. The cable channels and some print media have found that horror scenarios attract audiences, while terror “experts” as “consultants” provide authenticity for the apocalyptic visions fed to the American public. Hence the proliferation of programs with bearded “terrorists” as the central villains. Their general effect is to reinforce the sense of the unknown but lurking danger that is said to increasingly threaten the lives of all Americans.

The entertainment industry has also jumped into the act. Hence the TV serials and films in which the evil characters have recognizable Arab features, sometimes highlighted by religious gestures, that exploit public anxiety and stimulate Islamophobia. Arab facial stereotypes, particularly in newspaper cartoons, have at times been rendered in a manner sadly reminiscent of the Nazi anti-Semitic campaigns. Lately, even some college student organizations have become involved in such propagation, apparently oblivious to the menacing connection between the stimulation of racial and religious hatreds and the unleashing of the unprecedented crimes of the Holocaust.

The atmosphere generated by the “war on terror” has encouraged legal and political harassment of Arab Americans (generally loyal Americans) for conduct that has not been unique to them. A case in point is the reported harassment of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) for its attempts to emulate, not very successfully, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). Some House Republicans recently described CAIR members as “terrorist apologists” who should not be allowed to use a Capitol meeting room for a panel discussion.

Social discrimination, for example toward Muslim air travelers, has also been its unintended byproduct. Not surprisingly, animus toward the United States even among Muslims otherwise not particularly concerned with the Middle East has intensified, while America’s reputation as a leader in fostering constructive interracial and interreligious relations has suffered egregiously.

The record is even more troubling in the general area of civil rights. The culture of fear has bred intolerance, suspicion of foreigners and the adoption of legal procedures that undermine fundamental notions of justice. Innocent until proven guilty has been diluted if not undone, with some -- even U.S. citizens -- incarcerated for lengthy periods of time without effective and prompt access to due process. There is no known, hard evidence that such excess has prevented significant acts of terrorism, and convictions for would-be terrorists of any kind have been few and far between. Someday Americans will be as ashamed of this record as they now have become of the earlier instances in U.S. history of panic by the many prompting intolerance against the few.

In the meantime, the “war on terror”
has gravely damaged the United States internationally.
For Muslims, the similarity between the rough treatment
of Iraqi civilians by the U.S. military and
of the Palestinians by the Israelis
has prompted a widespread sense of hostility toward the United States in general.
It’s not the “war on terror” that angers Muslims watching the news on television, it’s the victimization of Arab civilians.
And the resentment is not limited to Muslims.
A recent BBC poll of 28,000 people in 27 countries that sought
respondents’ assessments of the role of states in international affairs
resulted in
Israel, Iran and the United States being rated (in that order) as
the states with “the most negative influence on the world.”
Alas, for some that is the new axis of evil!

The events of 9/11 could have resulted in
a truly global solidarity against extremism and terrorism.
A global alliance of moderates, including Muslim ones,
engaged in a deliberate campaign both
to extirpate the specific terrorist networks and
to terminate the political conflicts that spawn terrorism
would have been more productive than
a demagogically proclaimed and largely solitary
U.S. “war on terror” against “Islamo-fascism.”
Only a confidently determined and reasonable America
can promote genuine international security
which then leaves no political space for terrorism.

Where is the U.S. leader ready to say,
“Enough of this hysteria, stop this paranoia”?
Even in the face of future terrorist attacks,
the likelihood of which cannot be denied,
let us show some sense.
Let us be true to our traditions.

Zbigniew Brzezinski, national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter,
is the author most recently of
Second Chance: Three Presidents and the Crisis of American Superpower
(Basic Books).

Make No Mistake: This Is War
By Michael Chertoff (Secretary of Homeland Security)
Washington Post Outlook, 2007-04-22

[This is a response to the article by Zbigniew Brzezinski above.]

The Terrorist Threat to the US Homeland
National Intelligence Estimate
Director of National Intelligence

Bush Aides See Failure in Fight With Al Qaeda in Pakistan
New York Times, 2007-07-18

President Bush’s top counterterrorism advisers acknowledged Tuesday that
the strategy for fighting Osama bin Laden’s leadership of Al Qaeda in Pakistan
had failed,
as the White House released a grim new intelligence assessment
that has forced the administration
to consider more aggressive measures inside Pakistan.

News Analysis:
6 Years After 9/11, the Same Threat

New York Times, 2007-07-18

Nearly six years after the Sept. 11 attacks,
the hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of lives expended
in the name of the war on terror
pose a single, insistent question:
Are we safer?

On Tuesday, in a dark and strikingly candid two pages,
the nation’s intelligence agencies offered an implicit answer,
and it was not encouraging.
In many respects, the National Intelligence Estimate suggests,
the threat of terrorist violence against the United States is growing worse,
fueled by the Iraq war and spreading Islamic extremism.

Al-Qaeda’s Gains Keep U.S. at Risk, Report Says
Safe Haven in Pakistan Is Seen as Challenging Counterterrorism Efforts
By Karen DeYoung and Walter Pincus
Washington Post, 2007-07-18

Al-Qaeda has reestablished its
central organization, training infrastructure and lines of global communication
over the past two years,
putting the United States in a “heightened threat environment”
despite expanded worldwide counterterrorism efforts,
according to a new intelligence estimate.

Can’t Find Osama?
Attack Iran Instead

by Philip Giraldi
Antiwar.com, 2007-07-18

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

In a tour-de-force of misinformation disguised as fact,
the [NIE] states, erroneously, that al-Qaeda in Iraq
represents the principal threat for an attack on the U.S. homeland
“because it has expressed a desire to attack us here.”
The “attack us here” theme has been around for several years,
and it has lately been reinforced by
the White House’s incessant linkage of Iraq to al-Qaeda,
culminating in a July 10 speech in Cleveland in which
President Bush named the terrorist organization 30 times
during comments that were ostensibly on the war in Iraq.
Anyone who follows terrorism even in a pedestrian fashion
might politely suggest that
the administration’s position on the terrorism problem is nonsense.
The main threat to the U.S.
comes from the real original unadulterated al-Qaeda in Pakistan.
Iraq, though a magnet and training ground for terrorist aspirants,
is neither interested in nor capable of
exporting its own particular brand of anarchy to America’s shores.

Given the prominence of Iraq,
the NIE is clearly more a political document than an objective assessment.

Another White House tactical response to the very real terrorist threat,
which it doesn’t want anyone to think about too much, is, predictably,
to look for a diversion in the form of someone else to kick.
With Iraq and Afghanistan in shambles,
there just happen to be a couple of neighbors
who can be credibly accused of “interference”
with the U.S. military’s civilizing mission.
In the intelligence business it is sometimes necessary to use “disinformation”
to establish a false factual basis or
to create a straw man
that can be used to divert attention from an unpleasant reality.
If it is too hard to catch Osama bin Laden,
it might be more convenient to talk about Iran instead.
Syria and Iran
have both long been in the crosshair of the neoconservatives
because of those countries’ antipathy to Israel,

it is reassuring to know that they have not been forgotten by the White House.
It is possibly no coincidence that
there has been a significant increase in the anti-Iran rhetoric emanating from both the Bush administration and Congress over the past few weeks,
mostly seeking to establish a casus belli by
contending that Iran is masterminding lethal attacks
directed against U.S. troops in Iraq and NATO forces in Afghanistan.

Bush’s Wooden-Headedness Kills
by Ray McGovern
Antiwar.com, 2007-07-29

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]
NIE Ducks Key Issues
The latest National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) titled
The Terrorist Threat to the US Homeland,”
is a disappointment,
at least judging from its declassified Key Judgments
that were made public on July 17.
The judgments caused a stir by describing a
“persistent and evolving terrorist threat”
and pointing out that al-Qaeda has secured safe haven
in the border area between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

And then came the “mushroom-cloud” warning:
“Al-Qaeda will continue to try to acquire and employ
chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear material in attacks
and would not hesitate to use them
if it develops what it deems is sufficient capability.”

Now that I’ve got your attention,
I must tell you there is in the Key Judgments absolutely no hint as to
how likely it might be that al-Qaeda will be able to acquire such material.
The message seems to be simply: Be afraid.
Let us “assess” and “judge,” but don’t ask us about sources or provenance.

The Unaddressed Why of It All
Worse still,
the Key Judgments throw no light at all on
why al-Qaeda or other terrorist groups
would want to use such weapons against the U.S.

With this key element missing, the paper reads like a long police bulletin:
Be alert; heightened threat; terrorists want to do bad things to us.
We don’t know if they can;
but “we assess” they will try to do very bad things...
and don’t ask us why.
They’re evildoers; is that not enough for you?

The estimate bears the earmarks
of having been drafted originally by law enforcement agencies
like the Department of Homeland Security,
whose portfolio include terrorist threats to the U.S., and the FBI.
There are pitfalls here.
There is a tendency to inflate the threat,
when one has a parochial interest in building up one’s capacity to deal with it.

In the past, the Pentagon would routinely magnify external threats
by writing what we disdainfully called “budgetary intelligence”
to justify burgeoning budgets.
There is more than a whiff of that in the Key Judgments.
The National Intelligence Council, which has purview over NIEs,
is supposed to monitor this.
But there is no sign in the Key Judgments
that judicious restraint has been applied.

even if the president and Cheney wished to know
what actually fuels all this terrorism,
they would receive little if any help from this estimate.

Help Needed
Ms. Fran Townsend, the young woman with the portfolio for terrorism
at the National Security Council
seems ill suited to the job.
She confessed to being frustrated at
al-Qaeda’s success in rebuilding its infrastructure and links to affiliates
and the fact that
Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenants have found safe haven,
as the estimate makes clear.

And she was far from comfortable responding to journalists’ questions,
as can be seen from her answer to this one:
Q. The president was warned before the war that
this was actually going to help al-Qaeda gain influence...
Isn’t that something the president ignored?

A. But you’re assuming this is a zero-sum game,
which is what I don’t understand.
The fact is,
we are harassing them in Afghanistan.
We’re harassing them in Iraq.
We’re harassing them in other ways non-militarily around the world.
And the answer is,
every time you poke the hornet’s nest,
they are bound to come back and push back on you.
That doesn’t suggest to me that we shouldn’t be doing it.

Is this what passes for a strategic plan to counter terrorists?
If so,
it certainly highlights the need for adult supervision in the White House....
and for creating the capability to prepare honest, sophisticated estimates,
which in turn can enable policies of some vision and imagination.

Terrorists Are Everywhere
by Philip Giraldi
Antiwar.com, 2007-07-31

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

There should be no confusion about
what constitutes the terrorist threat against the United States.
There is only one terrorist group
that is genuinely willing and able to attack the U.S.,
and that is al-Qaeda in Pakistan.
Al-Qaeda in Pakistan
has attacked the United States,
has both the desire and capability to do so again, and
has stated its intention to stage new attacks on a number of occasions.
And the danger of even al-Qaeda in Pakistan
should be put in some kind of perspective.
The group is weaker than it was in 2001,
having lost many of its leaders and funding mechanisms.
It has decentralized and is largely dependent on unreliable local resources:
witness the bungled planning and execution
that went into the recent attempted attacks in Britain.
There is no evidence whatsoever
that al-Qaeda has anything like a weapon of mass destruction
that could cause massive damage or fatalities,
and there is no intelligence that suggests that
al-Qaeda has any group or organization currently in place in the U.S.
that might be capable of carrying out a major terrorist attack.
Recent arrests of terrorism suspects in the United States suggest that
while there are a number of disgruntled individuals
who have made the transition into terrorism supporters,
most of the groups have been infiltrated [by] FBI informants
and there would appear to be little danger
that any of their frequently far-fetched plans
might evolve into actual terrorist attacks.


The comments of the White House Homeland Security adviser Frances Fragos Townsend on July 22 were particularly maladroit,
suggesting that
it might be necessary to take military action against Pakistan
to solve the al-Qaeda problem.
Her comments suggest that she is unaware that the U.S.
lacks the kind of tactical intelligence
that would make such a strike effective.
[That seems like a rather arrogant assertion.
How can Giraldi be sure that Townsend, and the U.S.,
don't know more than he thinks they do?]

Nor were her comments coordinated with the Pentagon or the State Department,
both of which have been taking pains
to reassure Pakistan's President Pervez Musharraf
that Washington will do nothing that will lead to his overthrow.
[Is that really true?
If so, it would indicate a White House
that doesn't have the most competent people in place.]

Both Musharraf and some of the better-informed voices in the administration
know that
a U.S. invasion of the tribal areas would lead to
an immediate change in government in Islamabad.
The new government
would almost certainly have to incorporate religious extremists
would be unlikely to continue to cooperate with the United States.
Ironically, Pakistan is also under pressure from some of its American allies.
It has been increasingly criticized by the U.S. Congress
[and the media!
Fred Hiatt has been mounting a one-man jihad
against practically the entire Muslim world
(Pakistan, Syria, and Saudi Arabia, in particular)
for quite a few years from his WP editorial page.]

in spite of the fact that
its security services have arrested and killed more al-Qaeda
than the rest of the world's intelligence services combined.

The U.S. would have no effective program against al-Qaeda
without Pakistani assistance.

Can the War on Terror Be Won?
How to Fight the Right War
by Philip H. Gordon
Foreign Affairs, November/December 2007

[An excerpt; emphasis is added.]

It can, but only if U.S. officials start to think clearly about
what success in the war on terror would actually look like.
Victory will come only when Washington succeeds in
discrediting the terrorists’ ideology
and undermining their support.
These achievements, in turn, will require accepting that
the terrorist threat can never be eradicated completely and that
acting as though it can will only make it worse.


Where the war on terror is concerned,
some of the most instructive lessons can be drawn from
the experience of the Cold War,
thus named because, like the war on terror,
it was not really a war at all.
Although the current challenge is not identical to the Cold War,
their similarities --
as long-term, multidimensional struggles
against insidious and violent ideologies --
suggest that there is much to learn from this recent, and successful, experience.
Just as the Cold War ended only when one side essentially gave up on
a bankrupt ideology,
the battle against Islamist terrorism will be won when
the ideology that underpins it
loses its appeal.
The Cold War ended not with U.S. forces occupying the Kremlin but
when the occupant of the Kremlin abandoned the fight;
the people he governed had stopped believing in
the ideology they were supposed to be fighting for.

The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act
by Philip Giraldi
The Huffington Post, 2007-11-26

[Topics covered:]

Alien Act, Alien And Sedition Act, Anti-American Professors, Anti-Muslim, Committee On Un-American Activities, Daniel Pipes, David Horowitz, Department Of Homeland Security, Fascism, Frank Gaffney, Habeas Corpus, Homegrown Terrorists, Huac, Jane Harman, John Adams, Joseph Lieberman, Joseph McCarthy, Justice Department Seizure Of Property, Ku Klux Clan, Martin Dies, Military Commissions Act, Neoconservatives, Palestinian Americans, Patriot Act, Post 9/11, Sacco And Vanzetti, Samuel Dickstein, Sedition Act, Steve Emerson, Thomas Jefferson, Violent Radicalization And Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act, Breaking Politics News


Nukes, Spooks,
and the Specter of 9/11

by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2008-01-07

We're in big trouble if even half of what Sibel Edmonds says is true…

Bin Laden Laughs
by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2008-09-12

… as his predictions of America's impending bankruptcy come true

Susan Sontag Was Right
And so were Michael Moore, Noam Chomsky,
and the former head of British intelligence

by Justin Raimondo
Antiwar.com, 2008-10-20

The former head of Britain’s intelligence agency, MI5, says
the U.S. response to the 9/11 terrorist attacks –
specifically the invasion of Iraq –

the launching of a worldwide “war on terrorism”
“a huge overreaction.”


End of the War on Terror
By Philip Giraldi
Campaign for Liberty, 2009-01-29


Hillary’s Enemies List
by Philip Giraldi
Antiwar.com, 2010-08-12

[I]n today’s America we have a new enemies list,
one that is updated annually to make sure that
nary a single malefactor is overlooked.
It is the US State Department’s Country Reports on Terrorism,
which was unveiled last week in its 2009 version
at a briefing conducted by Ambassador Daniel Benjamin,
Foggy Bottom’s Coordinator for Counterterrorism.
Conveniently for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,
who signed off on the report,
the list is very light on introspection.
The United States is certainly the world’s leading supporter of terrorists
that actually kill people, mostly in places like Iran,
under direction from the CIA and military special ops
but its actions are not described in the report.
Israel too, engages in terrorism through its intelligence service Mossad,
most recently assassinating a Hamas official in Dubai in January,
and its armed forces and police regularly engage in
terrorism directed against the Palestinian people
in an attempt to demoralize and intimidate them into submission.
But, according to the State Department,
soldiers and other government employees cannot be considered terrorists.

The State Department report sometimes seems like
a press release for the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

Hamas and Hezbollah, which do not threaten the United States,
are unambiguously described in the report as terrorists,
almost certainly because they do threaten Israel,
ignoring their roles as
national resistance movements
to an aggressive and expansionistic Tel Aviv.
It also does not concede their greater significance as
legitimate and generally respected political parties in Gaza and Lebanon.
The report suggests a new, heavily armed and malignant axis of evil.
It clearly makes opponents of Israel the designated bad guys
and fails to note that
US intelligence has not been able to confirm Tel Aviv’s allegations,
making one wonder why
uncorroborated claims from biased foreign sources
should appear in
a United States government document without any additional caveats.
Israel’s enemies are America’s enemies ...

If anyone is curious,
precisely how many Americans have Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Iranians
killed in the past eight years?
The answer is “none.”

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