The Terror Game

jacdon at jacdon at
Fri Feb 28 14:00:01 MST 2003

The following article will appear in the March 3, 2003, issue of the
Mid-Hudson Activist Newsletter, published by the Mid-Hudson National
People's Campaign/IAC in New Paltz, N.Y., via jacdon at


What's really behind the high terrorism alerts declared for a few weeks
in February in the U.S. and Britain -- the two countries dedicated to
invading Iraq in March despite increasing public pressure in opposition
to war?

Dare we suggest it was at least in part an act of mass psychological
manipulation intended to maneuver the bewildered populations of the
aggressor states into supporting a new military adventure? Heaven
forfend!  But the timing -- just before and after the mass international
peace demonstrations -- is, let us venture, rather curious.

President Bush decided to declare a "high terror alert" ("code orange")
Feb. 7 -- one week before the scheduled protests and several weeks
before Washington's preemptive war against Iraq, evidently now scheduled
to start between March 15 and 22.

Al Qaeda, the American people were informed, is about to attack homes,
hotels, public buildings, museums, transportation systems, factories and
other targets. The basis for the warning was secret "intelligence
reports," but when questioned homeland defense officials acknowledged
having no concrete evidence of impending attacks.  Even so, tens of
millions of families were advised to take specific precautions to
protect hearth and home against the horrors of  gas and deadly germ
attacks.  This was when Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge issued
his pathetic duct-tape-and-plastic-sheeting advice to survive a
biological or chemical attack upon one's abode.

By Feb. 19, officials were indicating that the terror alert might soon
be lowered, without producing any evidence as to why the "threat"
diminished, much less why it materialized in the first place.  Ridge was
still telling scare stories, although now he was urging the multitudes
to remain calm and to lead normal lives, at least until the moonless
night when the bogeyman comes to fetch them.

By the end of February the "crisis" in the U.S.  appears to have
evaporated and the orange (high condition)"terror alert" was reduced to
a yellow (elevated condition) status.  In so doing, Attorney General
John Ashcroft and Ridge issued a joint statement predicting that "Al
Qaeda will wait until it believes Americans are less vigilant and less
prepared before it will strike again."

The British "crisis" began Feb. 12 and lasted a few days.  "UK on
missile terror alert" read the relatively subdued page 1 banner headline
in the liberal Guardian.    The tabloids were deliriously inventing more
sensational headlines, with one paper suggesting that terrorists were
after the two young royal princes.

Tanks and 1,500 troops and special police were rushed to London's
Heathrow airport -- the world's largest -- for several days to protect
the facility from potential terrorists with portable SAM 7 antiaircraft
missiles.  The nation's terrorism alert was moved to "high."  This
provided the mass media with a constant supply of photos showing heavily
armed police on patrol and soldiers posing in tank turrents.   It was
all based on "high-quality intelligence." The "emergency" was over by
Feb. 17.  No missiles were found.

Between the start and finish of both terror warnings, millions of people
on both sides of the Atlantic participated Feb. 15 in the largest
manifestation of worldwide antiwar activism in history.    At the same
time, however, the terrorism alerts in the U.S. and UK sufficed to
divert considerable popular attention to such mundane matters as
possibly inhaling lethal gases or ingesting killer germs at a time when
both governments were the target not of missiles but international
criticism for war-mongering.

It's an interesting coincidence, one we wager will be replicated in
various guises until our Little Caesar's legions come back with the oil
(for his corporate givers), a big chunk of territory (for his empire),
and a wreath of laurels (for his reelection campaign).

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