Manufacturing Panic & Paranoia By William Bowles

7 January 2004

What’s wrong with the Independent’s lead story on 6/1/04 that opened with the assertion?

“Air travel turmoil as terror threat grows”

Terror threat grows? Three loaded words for which there is not a shred of evidence that supports either the existence of terror or that there is a ‘threat’ or that it’s ‘growing’. Why this choice of words? For not only are they irresponsible as they have no basis in reality, they set the ‘tone’ for the entire front page article. The article then compounds its unsupported allegations when it says in the second paragraph:

“In an atmosphere of growing panic and intelligence reports that Islamic terrorists [sic] intend to hijack a passenger plane to use as a missile, foreigners arriving in the United States were for the first time electronically fingerprinted and photographed.”

So who exactly, is panicking? Not the passengers that’s for sure, though the hysteria fomented by the security state’s allegations of impending doom is surely intended to have that effect. And in spite of all the hot air expended on the ‘intelligence reports’ not a single ‘terrorist’ has been apprehended, let alone identified. And what of the ‘shoe bombers’ and the ‘al-Qu’eda’ terrorist that the Sunday Telegraph informed us had been identified this past Sunday? In fact, aside from disrupting travelers and costing the UK government (that is, the British public) £100,000 for every flight that’s cancelled under the pretext of security, the only thing ‘gained’ is the construction of the global security state that has been advanced yet one more notch.

And the Brit government’s ‘Civil Contingency Act’ that I reported on awhile back, gets published today (7/1/04). Coincidence? It would seem that the US and UK governments are in lockstep in their combined assault on our liberties in a ‘war’ that they freely admit has ‘no end’ in sight.

The Independent’s long lead story on ‘terror in the air’ had only a single mention of the threat to our hard-won freedom’s when it said:

“”But some have questioned the measures. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) said it was concerned the new checks could be used to discriminate against people. “Contrary to the assertions of the Homeland Security Department, the US-Visit programme is an addition to — not a substitute for — the notorious special registration programme that resulted in the detention and deportation of hundreds of Arab and Muslim men because of their national origin””

The Independent’s story continued on p. 4 with a purely ‘personal’ view of traveling on BA flight 223 that had been delayed by the US authorities. The issue that I raised the other day, that flights had actually been cancelled because of the refusal of British pilots to fly with armed ‘sky marshals’ onboard has still to be dealt with by the British media. The Independent’s story had only a passing reference to the issue when it reported on Thomas Cook’s refusal to fly its planes if they had to carry armed police. The report in the New York Times that I referred to has had only a passing mention and has certainly not been the focus of a single news story that I have been able to trace in the British press.

The reason for the cancellation of flights is still being presented to us as one of a terrorist threat rather than the refusal of pilots to fly with armed police onboard. What is most insidious about the reportage is that it is impossible to separate fact from speculation except that what surfaces like scum on water is the generic sense of an unspecified ‘threat’ and that’s what the public carries away as ‘received opinion’. Such is the making of the propaganda war to persuade the public that it should lay down and roll over in the face of the state’s manufacturing of terror and the outrageous attacks on our liberty.

So why is the hysteria being jacked up at this particular time? I think that there are several issues involved here and probably the most important, at least from the public’s perception, is the dire straights of the Iraqi occupation that needs a distraction.

The second is the sneaky introduction of Patriot II legislation in the US Congress. The third reason is connected insofar as the public needs to be properly ‘primed’ for ever more authoritarian restrictions on civil liberties and what better reason than some nebulous and dire ‘threat’ from equally nebulous ‘terrorists’ and what better time to do it than during a major public holiday.

The fourth reason is the abject failure of the imperium’s strategy to prepare us not only for the war on everything but the realisation that the imperium is incapable of waging war on the planet, at least in the way it waged war on a starved and broken and essentially defenceless Iraq.

At the heart of this failed strategy is the very notion of the ‘war on terror’ as a pretext for propping up terminal capitalism, for unlike a country whether a ‘legitimate’ target or not, individuals ie terrorists’ are not liable to having war waged upon them. At best, targeted police actions may or may not achieve success. It should be obvious to anyone that the ‘war on terror’ is nothing but a pretext for a (not so) hidden agenda. If as the securicrats admit, the ‘war’ may last 50 years, what is the ‘end product’? Is there an ‘end product and is one actually intended’?

The only ‘end product’ is the creation of a police state that looks to be around for at least 50 years and frighteningly, what we are witnessing now is merely a prelude, for the longer the ‘emergency’ is maintained, sooner or later, we will see some kind of attack on the US and the UK if only in response to increasing repression and further breakdown of the poor countries of the world. And then what? The security state will demand ever more restrictions on our freedoms (or what’s left of them) as they will argue that what we have already, wasn’t effective. It’s obvious that there is no end to this process in a classic case of negative feedback.

The ‘Iron Heel’ of Jack London’s prescient novel written almost a century ago has arrived, that predicted 400 hundred years of capitalist repression. And what of the ‘war on dictatorships’ that lasted much of the 20th century and led to the rise of military-industrial domination of the major powers’ economies and in no small measure contributed to the demise of the Soviet Union? A war ‘we’ supposedly won in 1990?

The end of democracy has been brought about under the pretext that a tiny handful of people that numbers maybe a few hundred at most, who, if you add up every victim that can be said to be a result of their actions, doesn’t even add up to a few US bombing raids on Iraq, Afghanistan or Panama. This is the reality of the world the imperium is busily building. Think about it.

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