FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

the Terrorism of Everyday Life

by Alexander Cockburn

Gangbangers with dirty bombs! Now we’re talking. The big news about the latest suspected terror bomber is not that he now calls himself Al Muhajir but that he was formerly Jose Padilla, born a Puerto Rican, raised in Chicago. Padilla became a son of militant Islam in the slammer, the same way thousands of other young denizens in our Gulag do.

In the normal order of business suspected gangbangers don’t have much purchase on the Bill of Rights. Their rights of assembly, protections against unreasonable searches and seizures, were curtailed long since. Padilla’s current status could foreshadow a trend. Pending challenge in the courts, he’s classed as an “enemy combatant”, locked up in a navy brig in Charleston, S.C. with no rights at all.

Tuesday June 11, all the way from Moscow, Attorney General Ashcroft fostered the impression that that Padilla/Muhajir had been foiled pretty much in the act of planting radioactive material taped to TNT in the basement of the Sears Building, or the Commodities Exchange or the Field Museum or some kindred monument of Chicago. “U.S.: ‘Dirty Bomb’ Plot Foiled” exulted USA Today.

Wednesday brought us a modified climb-down. “Threat of ‘dirty bomb’ softened” muttered USA Today’s main head. It turned out Muhajir had ten grand in cash and maybe big dreams but nothing in the way of radioactive dirt or even TNT. Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz told the press “I don’t think there was actually a plot beyond some fairly loose talk.” He should know. Nameless administration officials dumped on Ashcroft for grandstanding.

But at least we’re now sensitized to the “dirty bomb” menace. USA Today (which has the advantage of being a Friedman-free zone) ran an exciting graphic put together by the Federation of American Scientists displaying the long term effects of ten pounds of TNT wrapped around a “pea-size” piece of cesium 137 from a medical gauge being exploded at the National Gallery of Art.

Anyone standing within three blocks downwind from the Gallery would stand a one-in-a thousand chance of getting cancer, An easterly breeze would put the Capitol within this radius.

We should be worried about this? I’d say it comes pretty low on the list of Major Concerns. Now suppose Al Qaeda was to plan something really nasty like shipping spent nuclear fuels by rail from every quarter of the United States to a fissured mountain in Nevada not that far from one of America’s prime tourist destinations?

That’s the Bush plan of course. The House has voted Aye. It now awaits approval by the US Senate. You can check out your own proximity to the contemplated nuclear shipping routes by going to www.mapscience.org, put together by a public interest group.

Chicago, St. Louis, Kansas City, Mo., and Salt Lake City will become hubs for the nuclear fuel shipments. Take Illinois. 1,063 schools will be within one mile of rail, barge and highway routes proposed by the Department of Energy. The White House is 1.1 miles from Union Station, through which shipments are expected to pass on the journey to Yucca Mountain.

But the scheduled Yucca Mountain nuclear dump is part of terror-as-normalcy, part of our domestic furniture.

What a gift to the powers-that-be the War on Terror is turning out to be as a subject-changer. Right now, across the United States from New York state to Oregon and Washington the final cut-offs for people on welfare are looming up. The guillotine blade ratcheted into position by Clinton’s welfare reform of 1996 is plummeting down.

Take Oregon. It has a terrible recession, the worst unemployment rate in the country and the largest deficit in the state’s history. Back in 1979, according to the Oregon Center for Public Policy, 39 per cent of poor Oregonians were getting public assistance. These days the percentage is below 10 per cent.

Does that mean that the previously destitute are now in regular jobs? No. It just means you have to be a lot poorer to get any sort of handout. It means the usual story: exhausted mothers scrabbling for petty cash, doing occasional starvation-wage work. Over the first 14 months of the current recession eight Oregon counties had their combined unemployment grow by 92 per cent. At the same time the number of welfare recipients went down by 16 per cent.

This is the Terrorism of Everyday Life, at the most elemental level, aimed at the weakest in our midst: no money for food, for shelter, for the kids, and a President who actually wants to stiffen the work requirements. Thus do we nourish the next generation of Enemy Combatants on the home front.

Dershowitz Says Baby Killing Plan Legitimate But Flawed

Nathan Lewin, a bigtime attorney in Washington DC, often tipped for a federal judgeship and legal advisor to several Orthodox organizations, told Forward, as reported there on June 7, 2002, that the families of suicide bombers should be executed, arguing that such a policy would offer the necessary deterrent against suicide attacks. Lewin magnanimously stipulates that family members would be spared if they immediately condemned the bombing and refused financial compensation for the loss of their relative.

According to the Forward’s reporter, Alan Dershowitz and Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, argued that Lewin’s proposal represented a legitimate attempt to forge a policy for stopping terrorism.

Foxman declined to take a stand on the actual proposal, citing his policy of deferring to Jerusalem on Israeli security issues. Exhibiting his habitual moral refinement, Dershowitz ­ also an advocate of judge-sanctioned torture here in the US –argued that the same level of deterrence could be achieved by leveling the villages of suicide bombers after the residents had been given a chance to evacuate.

Lewin argues that the biblical injunction to destroy the ancient tribe of Amalek serves as a precedent in Judaism for taking measures that are “ordinarily unacceptable” in the face of a mortal threat.

Those who care to consult the first book of Samuel will find the Amalekite precedent vividly described. First the divine injunction: “Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass”

King Saul hastens to obey. “And Saul smote the Amalekites from Havilah until thou comest to Shur, that is over against Egypt. And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive, and utterly destroyed all the people with the edge of the sword. But Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs.”

Even though the animals were scheduled for sacrifice to Him, God is furious at the breach of orders and prompts the prophet Samuel to berate Saul, which he duly does: “To obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.”

“Then said Samuel, Bring ye hither to me Agag the king of the Amalekites. And Agag came unto him delicately. And Agag said, Surely the bitterness of death is past. And Samuel said, As the sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women. And Samuel hewed Agag in pieces before the Lord in Gilgal.”

Now that’s what I call getting back to fundamentals!

 

More articles by:
May 24, 2016
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
The Financial Invasion of Greece
Jonathan Cook
Religious Zealots Ready for Takeover of Israeli Army
Ted Rall
Why I Am #NeverHillary
Mari Jo Buhle – Paul Buhle
Television Meets History
Robert Hunziker
Troika Heat-Seeking Missile Destroys Greece
Judy Gumbo
May Day Road Trip: 1968 – 2016
Colin Todhunter
Cheerleader for US Aggression, Pushing the World to the Nuclear Brink
Jeremy Brecher
This is What Insurgency Looks Like
Jonathan Latham
Unsafe at Any Dose: Chemical Safety Failures from DDT to Glyphosate to BPA
Binoy Kampmark
Suing Russia: Litigating over MH17
Dave Lindorff
Europe, the US and the Politics of Pissing and Being Pissed
Matt Peppe
Cashing In at the Race Track While Facing Charges of “Abusive” Lending Practices
Gilbert Mercier
If Bernie Sanders Is Real, He Will Run as an Independent
Peter Bohmer
A Year Later! The Struggle for Justice Continues!
Dave Welsh
Police Chief Fired in Victory for the Frisco 500
May 23, 2016
Conn Hallinan
European Union: a House Divided
Paul Buhle
Labor’s Sell-Out and the Sanders Campaign
Uri Avnery
Israeli Weimar: It Can Happen Here
John Stauber
Why Bernie was Busted From the Beginning
James Bovard
Obama’s Biggest Corruption Charade
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
Indian Point Nuclear Plant: It Doesn’t Take a Meltdown to Harm Local Residents
Desiree Hellegers
“Energy Without Injury”: From Redwood Summer to Break Free via Occupy Wall Street
Lawrence Davidson
The Unraveling of Zionism?
Patrick Cockburn
Why Visa Waivers are Dangerous for Turks
Robert Koehler
Rethinking Criminal Justice
Lawrence Wittner
The Return of Democratic Socialism
Ha-Joon Chang
What Britain Forgot: Making Things Matters
John V. Walsh
Only Donald Trump Raises Five “Fundamental and Urgent” Foreign Policy Questions: Stephen F. Cohen Bemoans MSM’s Dismissal of Trump’s Queries
Andrew Stewart
The Occupation of the American Mind: a Film That Palestinians Deserve
Nyla Ali Khan
The Vulnerable Repositories of Honor in Kashmir
Weekend Edition
May 20, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
Hillary Clinton and Political Violence
Andrew Levine
Why Not Hillary?
Paul Street
Hillary Clinton’s Neocon Resumé
Chris Floyd
Twilight of the Grifter: Bill Clinton’s Fading Powers
Eric Mann
How We Got the Tanks and M-16s Out of LA Schools
Jason Hirthler
The West’s Needless Aggression
Dan Arel
Why Hillary Clinton’s Camp Should Be Scared
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima Flunks Decontamination
David Rosen
The Privatization of the Public Sphere
Margaret Kimberley
Obama’s Civil Rights Hypocrisy
Chris Gilbert
Corruption in Latin American Governments
Pete Dolack
We Can Dream, or We Can Organize
Dan Kovalik
Colombia: the Displaced & Invisible Nation
Jeffrey St. Clair
Fat Man Earrings: a Nuclear Parable
Medea Benjamin
Israel and Saudi Arabia: Strange Bedfellows in the New Middle East
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail