The Propaganda of Anxiety

FEMA and Tom Ridge say I need to be prepared.

This is what they tell me I need to do: rush out to the local hardware store and buy duct tape, plastic sheeting, and batteries for the radio. Next run over to the grocery store and stock up on bottled water and food. FEMA says I should keep some of this stuff separated in a backpack just in case we need to evacuate quickly.

Bush elevated the color-coded terrorism threat level to orange last week in response to the possibility of a chemical or biological attack. Ridge told reporters the other day the terrorism alert issued last week is “the most significant” since 911. “The threat is real,” he warned.

Yeah, right.

I’m not rushing out to the store. I’m not buying into Bush’s propaganda war. I don’t think al-Qaeda is capable of launching a chemical or biological assault of any measurable significance against America. In fact, I don’t think al-Qaeda is anywhere near as organized and ominous as Bush and Ridge and the corporate media keep telling us it is. It’s nothing more than a terrifying and mostly imaginary monster used to frighten the people into acquiescence.

Are there pissed off Muslims who’d kill Americans if given half the chance?

You bet.

There’s also pissed of Israelis who’d kill Palestinians, pissed off Hindus who’d kill Muslims, and pissed off drivers who’d run you down for making a lane change. I’m more worried about this last category than I am about anything Osama bin Laden may or (more likely) may not do. I’m more worried about some nut with a gun freaking out while I’m shopping for my plastic sheeting and duct tape than I am about becoming a “soft” target for al-Qaeda. I’m more worried about Tom Ridge and the Ministry of Homeland Security, John Ashcroft and the Justice Department, and what FEMA may have in mind for me and others who not only think these so-called terrorists alerts are pure and unadulterated bullshit, but who also think Bush is an illegitimate poseur and the invasion of Iraq will be an immense crime perpetuated against humanity.

Now don’t get me wrong. I think there’s a good chance there will be some kind of “terrorist” attack in the near future.

Bush needs a terrorist attack, so there will be one.

Remember the anthrax scare that followed on the heels of 911? Remember how frightened everybody was? People were scared to go out and collect their mail. Remember the Bushites attempting to place the blame on Saddam? Well, as it now turns out, Saddam bought the Vollum strain of anthrax from American Type Culture Collection, a company based in Rockville, Maryland. The anthrax used in the Washington attacks was traced back to the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Maryland. It was the Ames strain, not the Vollum strain.

Put two and two together.

Who do you think sent out those microbe-infested letters? It sure the hell wasn’t Saddam Hussein. Since it now appears somebody in the US military may have perpetuated this terrorist attack, the FBI investigation has conveniently stalled. Since Bush couldn’t scam the people into thinking it was Saddam, the crime will now be allowed to die a neglected death.

I’m more afraid of the CIA and the Department of Defense than Saddam Hussein. Why? Because they actually have an extensive track record of using biological, chemical, and nuclear agents on unsuspecting Americans.

The CIA has dosed people with LSD without their consent, the Navy released a cloud of bacteria from ships in San Francisco, the US military released toxic clouds of zinc cadmium sulfide gas over Winnipeg, St. Louis, Minneapolis, Fort Wayne, the Monocacy River Valley in Maryland, and Leesburg, Virginia. Thousands of people were exposed to the airborne germs Serratia marcescens and Bacillus glogigii in New York and San Francisco. Mosquitoes infected with Yellow Fever were released over Savannah, Georgia, and Avon Park, Florida. The US Army dropped light bulbs filled with Bacillus subtilis variant niger into ventilation grates throughout the New York City subway system. In 1987 the Department of Defense admitted that, despite a treaty banning research and development of biological agents, it continued to operate research facilities at 127 facilities and universities around the nation. In 1995 the Advisory Committee on Human Radiation Experiments (formed by President Clinton in January 1994) concluded that several different agencies of the US government had conducted thousands of human radiation experiments and several hundred intentional releases of radiation.

No, I’m not particularly worried about Saddam Hussein.

It’s Donald Rumsfeld I’m worried about.

In 1983 Rummy traveled to Iraq to shake hands with Saddam Hussein — and soon thereafter the Reaganites showered the brutal Iraqi regime with scads of military intelligence, economic aid, and covert supplies of munitions (including the aforementioned anthrax) for use in its war against Iran. “It is hard to believe that, during most of the 1980s, America knowingly permitted the Iraq Atomic Energy Commission to import bacterial cultures that might be used biological weapons,” writes Christopher Dickey and Evan Thomas (the quote is taken from an article Senator Byrd inserted in the Congressional Record on September 20, 2002).

Rumsfeld the Enabler, now leading the charge against Saddam. These guys are really a piece of work. Why should you trust them any further than you can throw them?

Is it crazy to think Bush and his Masters of Death and Destruction at the Pentagon would pull off a bio attack and blame it on Saddam or the now mythical (or apparently invisible) Osama bin Laden?


All you have to do is surf on over to the National Security Archive’s website and search for “Operation Northwoods.” It will return a formerly top secret document titled “Justification for U.S. Military Intervention in Cuba.” It was cobbled together by the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Seems the Joint Chiefs thought it was a dandy idea to stage assassinations, blow up things (like passenger airplanes), and sink ships jammed full of refugees and blame it all on the Cubans as a pretext for an invasion of Cuba. The Joint Chiefs were gunning for Castro. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara and President Kennedy nixed this fantastically fascist idea.

Would Bush and Rummy do the same?

Cui bono? That’s Latin for “who benefits?” It’s a term used a long time ago when the Romans were investigating crimes. It’s an expression that pops in my head when Ridge and FEMA start talking about making sure you have a flash light and battery operated radio and a big roll of duct tape because you never know when Saddam or al-Qaeda or some enemy who hates our way of life may release anthrax or small pox or blow up a dirty bomb in the parking lot of the Mall of America. Cui bono? Not Saddam because it would give the US a perfect excuse to bomb the hell out of his country like the US bombed the hell out of Afghanistan after 911. Saddam might be a sadist but he certainly isn’t an idiot. Also, as a megalomaniac, he wants to stay in power. Killing shoppers in Cleveland or Tampa is the wrong way to go about making sure you stay in power (or remain alive).

It just doesn’t make sense.

Of course, since the Bush administration thinks Americans are so gullible (and, unfortunately, too many of them are), they keep throwing out flimsy and transparent pretenses in a desperate attempt to pin terrorism on Saddam.

Secretary of State Colin Powell was no sooner caught with his pants down at the United Nations — thanks to his buddy, Tony Blair, who gave him some kid’s homework as evidence against Saddam — then Powell told the Senate Budget Committee he had a transcript “of what Bin Laden, or who we believe to be Bin Laden, will be saying on al-Jazeera during the course of the day… Once again he speaks to the people of Iraq and talks about their struggle and how he is in partnership with Iraq.” At first al-Jazeera said they had no such tape and then later in the day they said they did. Maybe the CIA gave Powell the tape before they delivered it to al-Jazeera? Oops.

But even if bin Laden really is on the tape, so what?

He didn’t say he was in “partnership” with Saddam, but the Iraqi people. But then, since the US will bomb the Iraqi people regardless, maybe this distinction is lost on Powell (who, after all, said last time the US bombed Iraq the number of dead wasn’t something that “interested” him). It’s probably irrelevant to Powell, as well, that bin Laden hates Saddam and offered to lead the mujahadeen against his secular dictatorship.

None of this means squat at the end of the day because the real target of Bush’s attack is the Iraqi people. For Bush and Rumsfeld and Cheney there is no difference between Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi people. In fact, the Iraqi people (and all the other people on Bush’s hit list) are more of a threat because they will resist occupation and subjugation.

Even if Saddam moved to Saudi Arabia and shared a guest house with Idi Amin, even if he stood on his head on the White House lawn and kissed Dubya’s shoes, it wouldn’t change the fact Bush and Crew are going to kill an additional 500,000 or more innocent Iraqis. Murder’s in the script and the UN, the French, the Germans, and millions of Americans demonstrating in the street will not change it.

Bush is attempting to whip up fear and hysteria with these completely transparent threat warnings.

For Americans, his message is: Although we cannot give you specifics on the terrorist threat, you need to prepare, you need to be in a state of paranoid readiness, you need to hate and fear the people we say you need to hate and fear (today Saddam, yesterday Osama, next week maybe Kim Jung-il of North Korea), who are our official enemies, our shifting visage of Emmanuel Goldstein.

The American people certainly need to be prepared for the next anthrax scare or worse (maybe a controlled release of chicken pox so you won’t question that needless vaccination) because there’s one country after another that needs to be invaded.

Oh, and the Son of Patriot Act needs to be steamrolled through Congress. Just in case you get any funny ideas about freedom and liberty and all that stuff written in the Constitution.

Son of Patriot Act is even more draconian than its predecessor, but then the next attack may be more draconian and severe than 911.

As for the Iranians, the Syrians, and the North Koreans — all they need to do is keep their eyes on what will soon happen to the Iraqis.

All they need to do if they love their children is submit to the new masters. All they need to do is give up their oil and other natural resources to transnational corporations. They also need to allow the US to set up military bases.

In the meantime, I’m not buying sheets of plastic and rolls of duct tape. I’m not watching CNN or Fox News or tuning in my portable radio to the emergency station. I won’t hide in the closet or lock myself in the bathroom and tape plastic sheets over the door. I refuse to cringe in fear and hope Tom Ridge, John Ashcroft, and Dubya will save me from the monsters they created (or, rather, the monsters the CIA created).

I’m calling a spade a spade.

If the DoD or the CIA or whatever malignant “intelligence” agency decides it wants to gas the small town where I live, or even parachute in bogus al-Qaeda operatives to do us harm, there’s nothing I can do about it.

Not directly, anyway.

All I can do is continue writing this and attend the antiwar demonstrations here in my small town. I can speak out, refuse to believe the lies, and urge my neighbors and others I pass in the street to do the same. If there are enough of us maybe one day soon we can put a stop to all this madness and send Bush packing back to his ranch in Crawford, Texas.

Or send him signed, sealed, and delivered to International Criminal Court to face charges of crimes against humanity.

On that day that happens it will be Christmas all over the world.

KURT NIMMO is a photographer and multimedia developer in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Visit his excellent online gallery. He can be reached at: nimmo@zianet.com

We highly recommend regular visits to Nimmo’s website, Another Day in the Empire


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KURT NIMMO is a photographer and multimedia developer in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Visit his excellent no holds barred blog at www.kurtnimmo.com/ . Nimmo is a contributor to Cockburn and St. Clair’s, The Politics of Anti-Semitism. A collection of his essays for CounterPunch, Another Day in the Empire, is now available from Dandelion Books. He can be reached at: nimmo@zianet.com

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