Do we REALLY have millions of terrorists on American soil plotting our demise? According to the ACLU, Uncle Sam’s list of those it considers terrorists is growing by leaps and bounds — some 20,000 individuals are added each month. In its March 2008 online newsletter, the ACLU surmised that at the rate names were being compiled, the terrorist “watchlist” would surpass one million…that was nearly 4 years ago.
One has to ask why our government has strayed so far from the core, defining, aspects of TRUE terrorism to one which seemingly includes nearly everyone. Most of us can remember the following events where the term “terrorist” did indeed correctly apply to the individuals involved, even if their underlying cause may have held legitimacy:
The 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich West Germany — members of the Israeli Olympic team were taken hostage and killed by the Palestinian terrorist group Black September. The terrorists were demanding the release and safe passage to Egypt of 234 Palestinians and non-Arabs jailed in Israel. 11 Israeli athletes, 1 West German police officer and 5 terrorists died.
Oct. 7th, 1985 — The Achille Lauro — four heavily armed Palestine Liberation Front gunmen hijacked the cruise ship off the coast of Alexandria, Egypt, threatening to blow it up and kill the 11 Americans on board if 50 Palestinian militants imprisoned in Israel were not released. When their demands weren’t met they shot and killed disabled 69-year-old Jewish-American, Leon Klinghoffer, then pushed him overboard in his wheelchair.
There are exhaustive examples of bonafide acts of terrorism, genuinely deserving of that classification. However, what the public is being force fed today has little to do with real terrorism and is nothing short of a full-fledged propaganda campaign. A deliberate, controlled, mass indoctrination — not unlike Bush’s prelude to the Iraq invasion — of lies, fear and hysteria utilizing the “terrorist” label to scapegoat innocent citizens in a bid to quash multiple dissent across the board.
Setting fire to a Hummer to draw attention to society’s gluttonous, over-consumption of fossil fuels is arson — not terrorism — no matter how disingenuously our government uses the term to intensify public prejudice and paranoia. Hoisting one’s self into a tree to prevent clear-cutting an old growth forest is a defiant, non-violent act of protest against corporate greed and environmentally destructive practices; it is by no stretch of a sane person’s logic — terrorism. Freeing non-human animals subjected to neglect, abuse, torture and murder may be relabeled “terrorism” by powerful corporate interests controlling Congress, in order to expeditiously imprison and dispose of those who stand in the way of their rapacious business practices and profits, but that doesn’t make those individuals terrorists. Such acts can never be compared — with any moral or ethical honesty — to the violent acts of kidnapping, torture and murder of human beings undertaken by real terrorists. No. The “terrorist” paradigm is being rabidly exploited by the corporate state to silence any and all opposition to its imperialistic agendas.
Redefining the ‘terrorist’ label to include non-violent acts of civil disobedience has become a convenient strategy to demonize, criminalize and incarcerate those who publicly denounce the growing multifaceted, unconstitutional, jackbooted behavior of a government gone mad. Entrapping peaceful groups by infiltrating them and using coercive, bullying tactics by government snitches and provocateurs, to railroad law-abiding citizens into committing crimes they never would have undertaken in the first place, seems solely “American” in nature. For all of the historic red-baiting hysteria about Russia and China’s brutal crackdowns, it’s doubtful that these countries actually INVENT crimes to imprison people. How do I know this? Because they don’t need to. They don’t hide behind a hypocritical facade of democracy. If an individual is problematic to the government they are simply arrested — no need to play mind games for the benefit of an uninformed public to cover their tracks. Their citizens are well aware of the extent of their government’s criminality.
The “terrorist” moniker, now tossed about with as much caution as a knife-wielding psychotic, has little to do with reality and everything to do with the number one threat to an open society — not terrorism — GREED. As long as the U.S. government can continue expanding the myth of terrorists hiding behind every rock, the military, prison and surveillance state will balloon undeterred. In the end, the “War on Terror” has morphed into a form of psychopathic capitalism run amok.
Consider Uncle Sam’s two-fold strategy. The first generates vast wealth into what can be described as a “subterranean economy.” This economy does nothing to support or rectify the current depression the rest of us are ensconced in. Instead, it funnels billions in tax money away from infrastructure and social programs, toward those who directly profit from expanding the “War on Terror” as a capitalist enterprise.
Multibillion dollar government contracts engorge the cherry-picked private sector — those which have direct, influential ties to individuals holding the purse strings in Congress — and are all too willing to sell themselves to the highest bidder to provide technology/services which are destroying any vestige of freedom left to Americans.
An outstanding example of the way this self-serving system operates is Michael Chertoff. Former Homeland Security secretary, founder of the Chertoff Group and [ex] mouthpiece for Rapiscan full body scanners. Before body scanning technology was recklessly foisted on the flying public, providing a perfect Orwellian excuse for state-mandated perversion, Chertoff used his influence to publicly pitch the necessity of installing the scanners from coast to coast. This cozy set-up provided free national advertising for Rapiscan under the guise of an urgently needed upgrade to airport security, which, according to Chertoff, if not undertaken immediately, could result in endless 9/11 type scenarios. A deal that if Congress agreed to — which they did — would potentially make Chertoff very rich. Chertoff conveniently omitted disclosing his security consulting firm’s Rapiscan connection to the public.
Putting blatant conflicts of interest aside, he was given virtual carte blanche to preach his biased solicitations of untested equipment [for health effects on humans] unencumbered by facts, statistics, logic or opposing points of view. Erstwhile, Israeli security has refuted body scanning technology as being worthless in detecting potential terrorists, and points to their perfect record of safety utilizing a system which employs the common sense approach of verbally screening passengers to assess their threat levels.
Chertoff continues to exploit his past government position in order to push agendas which benefit his bank account, amplify ‘terrorist’ phobias and further erode the now weakened thread by which most of our basic freedoms hang.
His is only one example of an endless stream of opportunists, selling democracy down the river while using taxpayer funds and/or former government positions to enrich themselves and intensify a totalitarian state through the ‘terrorist’ paradigm. He is in the “business” of national security…and business is booming. He endorses the virtues of biometric identification systems and a plethora of other invasive technologies which he doesn’t consider unconstitutional or an infringement on personal privacy; anymore than he did by subjecting innocent citizens to legitimized sexual assault when hawking body scanners. He has profited handsomely by denying others’ rights and as long as the “War on Terror” can be continuously rammed down the throats of the citizenry, his golden goose will never die. There are thousands out there just like him, cashing in on the fear and ignorance of a gullible populace.
The need for continuously upgraded spy technology and weaponry systems feeds the secretive network of those employed in the further development and servicing of a ravenous, fascist behemoth.
This brings us to the second of the government’s objectives which I referred to earlier: expanding the label of ‘terrorist’ to one which is all inclusive. This facilitates rapidly removing individuals from society who are a threat to corporatism by their social activism, whistle-blowing, political beliefs, religious affiliations and/or ethnicity, and can now be deemed enemy combatants. The growing reality is that any U.S. citizen may potentially find themselves in the shoes of Jose Padilla or Bradley Manning with seemingly little effort.
More than 2.3 million inmates are incarcerated in the U.S. prison system, outnumbering all other countries combined. This metastatic growth is overwhelming the government’s ability to cope, yet hasn’t deterred the courts from further burdening the system with a majority of offenders accused of non-violent crimes. Uncle Sam’s “War on Drugs” is a significant contributing factor with unreasonably long, punitive, sentences for non-violent offenders. The “War on Terrorism” accounts for nearly one million people, many undocumented, imprisoned due mainly to their Middle Eastern roots. This is forcing the government to utilize for-profit prisons as options. These corporations [heavily subsidized by taxpayers] lobby Congress to the tune of millions for the souls needed to fill their beds. At the same time, their profit incentive drives cost-cutting measures which foster inhumane conditions for inmates, while generating billions of dollars for privately-run prisons.
Ominously, imprisoning people has taken on an economic silver lining for corporations looking to avail themselves of slave labor. This, coupled with Uncle Sam’s growing aversion to anything which might lend undue social and/or financial support to his citizens, has led the corporatized government into unholy alliances where inmates are the fodder.
Judges are also guilty of feeding this corrupt leviathan, by giving first offenders harsh, lengthy sentences unbefitting their crimes, in return for lucrative kickbacks to fill for-profit prison beds.
Uncle Sam has entered the slave labor business by providing companies driving the ‘War on Terror,’ with inmates earning 23 cents an hour. Prisoners are building high-tech electronic components for Patriot Advanced Capability 3 missiles, launchers for TOW (Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided) anti-tank missiles, and other guided missile systems. As well as night-vision goggles, body armor, camouflage uniforms, radio and communication devices, lighting systems and components for 30-mm to 300-mm battleship anti-aircraft guns, along with land mine sweepers and electro-optical equipment for the BAE Systems Bradley Fighting Vehicles’ laser rangefinder. They also recycle toxic electronic equipment and overhaul military vehicles.
What conclusions can we draw from what has now become Uncle Sam Incorporated? — a corporate enterprise which is intensely pursuing the deaths of its own people through an onslaught of sociopathic legislation which destroys the old, the young, the helpless, the homeless, the hungry, the wildlife, and which has squandered and polluted every last bit of land, water and air so the godless CEO’s at the top can profit from it all? What can we deduce from witnessing the shameless annihilation of our individual freedoms and the contemptuously dismissive imprisonment, abuse and exploitation of our population by legions of greed-driven collaborators willing to lie, steal, cheat, entrap and murder, while perpetuating a global fantasy about who the U.S. government is and what it stands for?
Can we all be ‘homegrown terrorists’ because we haven’t sold our souls to the Devil for profits and power? Or because we hold genuine patriotism in infinitely higher esteem than tacking some cheap U.S. flag pin to our chests?
I do not trust my government. That does not make me a terrorist. It makes me an individual who possesses the ability to tell truth from lies, right from wrong and sanity from insanity, even when the powers that be are claiming otherwise.
I do not trust my government anymore than I would trust an abusive mate who is robbing me blind, locking me away and torturing me senseless at every opportunity. Uncle Sam has proven money and power trump ethics, morality and lives. He will remove, by whatever means necessary, all those who stand in his way.
Perhaps each of us should reevaluate our attitudes toward conspiracy theories. Tales of razor-wired FEMA camps dotting the landscape from sea to shining sea waiting to be filled with clueless American citizens, now doesn’t sound so far-fetched. I’m sure there are more than a few Japanese Americans out there that would readily agree.
Brennan Browne is a freelance writer whose commentaries have appeared on web media and in numerous blogs.