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Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Who Are The Terrorists?

Who Are The Terrorists?

Everyone is talking all about crime, crime; But tell me: who are
the criminals? – Peter Tosh, “Equal Rights”

By Gene Glickman
Counter Punch.org
August 28, 2013

To paraphrase Peter Tosh, everyone is talking about terrorism;
but who are the terrorists?

These two words – “terrorism” and “terrorist” – have come into
common usage, but their meanings often vary, depending on who
is using them and to what ends.

Here is my working definition:

“Terrorism” is an act or series of acts designed to create feelings of
terror in a target population, thereby influencing and/or inhibiting its
actions; a “terrorist” is an individual or a member of an organization
which perpetrates such an act or series of acts.

Many have spoken about the courage of recent whistle-blowers.

Others have spoken about the lack of documented evidence of the
effectiveness of government anti-terrorism policies in preventing
or discovering terrorist actions.

It’s time to put these two together.

If whistle-blowers require courage to reveal government lies and
abuses, then there must be a reason: a fear they need to overcome
when they decide to come forward.

The two latest prominent cases – those involving Pfc. Manning and
Mr. Snowden – are stark examples of what happens to those who do.

Manning has been called many names disparaging his actions,
intentions, emotional state and character.

Snowden has suffered similar abuse.

In his case they range from pseudo-psycho-babble (“narcissist”)
to the moralistic “hypocrite” for seeking asylum in Russia, whose
government is regarded by some as being less open to criticism
than the U.S. government.

All rhetorical guns have been trained full force on these two
whistle-blowers.

But it wasn’t merely rhetoric; punitive treatment was the order
of the day.

Manning was subjected to torture in several forms prior to the
show trial.

Moreover, the government ignored the defendant’s constitutional
right to a speedy trial.

Snowden, learning from Manning’s experience, chose to avoid,
successfully so far, though not without travails of its own, the
tentacles of American justice.

Since Snowden wasn’t available in person for torture or detention,
the government was reduced to depriving him of his passport
(without so much as a hearing) as the most punitive action it could
muster (aside from stopping and frisking the Ecuadoran presidential
plane).

It made sure to do this promptly.

In both instances, the government was perfectly willing to break
domestic and/or international law in its desire to come down as
heavily as possible.

At Manning’s sentencing hearing, the prosecutor said, in calling
for a heavy sentence, that an example had to be made of Manning,
thus revealing the primary aim of the prosecution: to act as an
admonitory lesson for other possible whistle-blowers.

While the 35 years Manning received was less than the 60 the
prosecution had asked for, it certainly is a daunting sentence.

Many believe Manning should have been released without having
to serve any additional time.

Thus we see the people of the United States being shown, through
their government’s words and actions, that potential whistle-blowers
should think twice, or thrice, before taking this risk: real and
extreme negative consequences flow from attempting to illustrate
publicly governmental malfeasance.

The government’s actions, in order to dissuade people from
indulging in, or even contemplating, whistle-blowing, are
carefully designed to create terror in their minds.

All this is in aid of preventing the truth from coming out.

This explains why the administration has shown such a penchant
for “classifying” as much as possible: most of the secrets are
being kept, not from the terrorists, but from the people.

Nevertheless, while many might be dissuaded from revealing these
secrets, inevitably someone, another Snowden, will come forward
because his/her conscience will not rest while they remain hidden
from us.

On another hand, this same government, which claims to be using surveillance as a necessary tool to detect terrorists’ plans, (rather
than detecting details about us) has not demonstrated much success
in doing so.

They had been alerted to the Boston Marathon bombers’ tendencies
by the Russian government; it didn’t help.

They had been warned about aircraft being used as bombs before
9/11; it didn’t help.

On a third hand, this same government staged an unprovoked attack
on Iraq, based on lies, leading to widespread destruction in that
country, including much loss of life and huge population displacement.

This same government sends drones that kill and wound people, both
alleged terrorists and non-combatants – currently mostly in Pakistan
and Yemen, two countries with which the United States is not at war.

Unlike the President, sitting in comfort in the White House while he
decides on who should die that week thousands of miles away, and
for the drones’ operators, who feel they are “playing video games”
for those in the target countries this is deadly serious business.

To them, being on the drones’ receiving end has had the natural
effect of creating widespread fear and hatred of the United States
in those countries and elsewhere.

But, similar to the whistle-blowers, while many will suffer from a
fear-induced paralysis, some will become anti-U.S. terrorists and
thus, future targets of drones.

I am deliberately not differentiating between the Bush and Obama
administrations, nor between the Democrats and the Republicans.

When it comes to these policies, the two parties are pretty much
indistinguishable and the latter administration is a continuation
and extension of the former.

The mindset that produced “shock and awe” in Iraq is much the
same in its desire to create terror as is the more current use of
drones.

But the capacity of the U.S. identified “terrorists’” to do damage
is dwarfed by that of the U.S. military.

It is the latter that has ready access to almost unlimited and
up-to-date weaponry, which it either employs as a threat or
actually puts to use.

This assorted weaponry kills, wounds and terrorizes large segments
of populations, not merely “the terrorists.”

When innocents are harmed, and such euphemisms as “collateral
damage” are called into service, the reasons may be ignorance
rather than malice on the part of the U.S. military, but the
effect on the local population is the same: fear and paralysis
in uneasy tension with rage and the desire for retribution.

It should be pointed out that U.S. use of terrorism as a tactic is
not new, though the term itself was not applied until recently.

The easy use of the military option was what led Martin Luther King,
Jr. to say that his own government was the greatest purveyor of
violence in the world.

Earlier on, in 1945, the atomic bombs that destroyed Hiroshima
and Nagasaki were an example.

They were designed to terrorize not the Japanese, who had
already recognized they had lost the war, but the Soviets, in
the then nascent Cold War to come.

In sum, the use of surveillance to discover terrorists’ plans
and forthcoming actions has been mostly ineffective.

But the use of U.S. military power, while undoubtedly effective in
inflicting great damage, including killing some who may well have
been terrorists, has had the overall effect of creating terror in the
populations of wide swaths of Asia and the Middle East.

Ultimately, however, it will also produce in some the opposite effect:
swelling the ranks of those who the U.S. government then describes
as “the terrorists.”

Thus, the U.S. government is using terrorism as an instrument
of its foreign and domestic policy: in its foreign policy, through
its widespread use of military force, domestically, through its
punishment of whistle-blowers.

Let us now turn our attention more directly to surveillance.

How does surveillance fit into the U.S. government’s terrorist
matrix?

Since surveillance has not been notably successful in accomplishing
its stated purpose, keeping an eye on terrorists, could something
else be its actual purpose?

In practice, surveillance, both domestically and abroad, has created
fear in the world at large as well as in the minds of virtually everyone
inside the United States.

The government line on this is:

“If you’re innocent of wrong-doing, you have nothing to fear.”

Surveillance is but one of many governmental terror tactics.

Here are some others:

a) people are put on airplane watch-lists with no possibility of
appeal;

b) people, such as David Miranda, are stopped and questioned
for hours while in transit;

c) grand juries are used to harass peace activists, as their organizations are infiltrated;

d) the Occupy Movement and similar resisters are targeted by
the police;

e) employees of the NSA are “encouraged” to spy on each other.

The more such practices become part of our daily experience,
the more ordinary citizens come to realize that anyone and
everyone can be treated as dangerous by a paranoid official
of a paranoid government.

Perhaps it could be argued that the government did not intend
for the Snowden disclosures to become public knowledge, and
that it therefore did not want the populace to be terrorized.

But even if the facts had not appeared as rapidly as they actually
did, they would have eventually come out in dribs and drabs (if
in no other way, then through planned leaks from “unidentified
government sources”), as they had been doing prior to Snowden’s
flight to Hong Kong.

Snowden himself has said that his primary purpose was not to
reveal facts, but to encourage discussion.

The government wanted at least some of the facts to emerge but
without engendering the nationwide discussion that Snowden’s
disclosures did.

They wanted the terror without the outrage.

The government has demonstrated a marked tendency toward
concealment, or, rather, controlled disclosure, such as the outing
of Valerie Plame, while simultaneously proclaiming its desire for
transparency.

This is coupled with treating the citizenry’s hostility toward
government surveillance as a mere problem of public relations
to be remedied by lying and obfuscation to Congress and the
public, and rewarding, rather than punishing, those officials
who participate in such distortion and concealment, whether
or not their attempts are successful.

In fact, the U.S. government has thoroughly perverted certain
words in the language.

“Transparency” masks concealment, “supporting whistle-blowers”
becomes attacking them, “non-surveillance of U.S. citizens” turns
into their total surveillance, and “spying on and attacking foreign
terrorists” morphs into spying on and attacking domestic resisters.

All this is in aid of a government bent on tyranny over our minds
and spirits, a government afraid of its own people.

U.S. government domestic and foreign policies thus operate
in tandem.

Except for the elites, all of us, inside and outside the country,
are the enemy.

Citizens and foreigners alike are subject to similar treatment.

The hallmark of this treatment is the production of fear.

In order to achieve this, the Terrorism State is aiming to acquire
the God-like qualities of omniscience and omnipotence.

It hasn’t quite managed this as yet, but it is diligently and single-
mindedly working toward it.

Have you become reluctant to speak out?

Do you know of others who are now cautious about speaking
their minds in public?

Have you or others begun to hesitate to organize against a
government with whose policies you disagree?

This is the real purpose of the use of terrorism as a scare tactic.

The “world-wide fight against terrorism” is being used as a
smokescreen by the US government, the most formidable terrorist
outfit of all, as a technique to cow us: to inhibit us from challenging
it.

But there will always be those whose conscience insists they rebel.

It is to them we must look.

It is they we must encourage, support and emulate.



Gene Glickman is a retired college professor of music. He now
conducts a progressive chorus, called “Harmonic Insurgence,”
and makes choral arrangements for it and other choruses.

http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/08/27/who-are-the-terrorists

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