Thursday, December 04, 2008

Mumbo Jumbo Mumbai

Just as in the build-up to the Iraq War the New York Times is fanning the flames of paranoia and fear as the focus on the phony War on Terror shifts from Iraq to Afghanistan and Pakistan, Pakistan in particular, while that other bogey man Iran is always in the background, lurking, scheming, to unleash terror against the righteous and oh so innocent Western World.

You really have to love this particular piece of fear mongering in this Times article. I truly appreciate the close-up picture of a crazed Pakistan man screaming with his mouth gaping seemingly full of sharp predatory teeth. The caption beneath the photo reads “A Pakistani in Islamabad on Wednesday shouted slogans against the United States and India.” I mean, really, these kinds of scare tactics are a bit transparent but no doubt are quite effective for the milling masses of Blackberry toting Americans.


LAHORE, Pakistan — Mounting evidence of links between the Mumbai terrorist attacks and a Pakistani militant group is posing the stiffest test so far of Pakistan’s new government, raising questions whether it can — or wants to — rein in militancy here.

Oh that is good, “whether it can—or wants to—rein in militancy here.” Obviously this leads to the idea that if Pakistan doesn’t want to well then America certainly can which fits in beautifully with all the tough talk about Afghanistan and Pakistan we have been hearing lately from our Democratic leadership and its new bevy of reconstituted Clinton warmongers and the neocons who have embraced the Democratic Party now that the Republicans have been turned out, mainly because of the same neocons and their big ideas about turning the rest of the globe into an U.S. territory.

The Times speaks of mounting evidence pointing to Pakistan and suggest that there might be a connection with al Qaida. Never mind that al Qaida has already been dismantled just the name itself is enough to make Americans shiver and quiver.


Although the administration continues to scare Americans with the specter of Al Qaeda, the organization that attacked the United States on 9/11 has been virtually wiped out. While Osama bin Laden and a number of Al Qaeda veterans are still at large, the force that assaulted New York and Washington has been effectively dismantled. "I personally don't believe Al Qaeda exists as a robust organization anymore," says Wayne White, a top intelligence official in the State Department who left the Bush administration last year.

The systematic elimination of Al Qaeda began within weeks of the 9/11 attacks. Going into Afghanistan in October 2001, the CIA had a fair understanding of Al Qaeda's strength, organization and location. "We had a pretty good idea of who was there," says a CIA veteran who asked not to be identified. "We weren't asleep. We had a list of Al Qaeda people going in, and it included a lot of people who'd passed through their training camps over the years."

CIA intelligence at the time suggested that Al Qaeda was about 5,000 strong in Afghanistan. According to U.S. intelligence officials, many - perhaps most - of the group's members were killed in the bombing raids unleashed by the U.S. military. "We had a lot of success with airstrikes," says a former CIA operations officer. "We came in with B-52s and F-16s, and at Tora Bora we dropped a 15,000-pound device on them. We blew them to bits. If you wanted to do a body count, you would have needed to pick up the pieces with Q-Tips."

According to Gary Berntsen, a longtime CIA operations officer and former CIA station chief, only a few hundred Al Qaeda members managed to get out of Afghanistan in 2001. "Before Tora Bora, some did slip out, a dozen here and a dozen there," says Berntsen, who led the CIA team in the field that was assigned the task of hunting down Al Qaeda. "In Tora Bora, we estimated there were about a thousand who fell back, and many of those were killed. They broke into two groups, finally. One group, of about 130, was captured in Pakistan. Another group, about 180 people, got away."

The few who managed to get out - including bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri - were barely able to scramble to safety. "It was a disorganized rout," says White, the former intelligence official.

In Afghanistan, the CIA reaped an intelligence bonanza, seizing Al Qaeda's computers, files and organizational records. "Once we got Al Qaeda's hard drives, our knowledge expanded exponentially," says a retired CIA station chief. That intelligence has enabled counterterrorism officers to target Al Qaeda operatives around the world, all but eviscerating the group's foreign presence. "We've killed or captured at least one or two terrorists a day for five years, all over the world," says an experienced CIA hand. "More than 4,000 in all." A relentless crackdown in 2003 by authorities in Saudi Arabia virtually eliminated Al Qaeda there, and a terrorist group in Algeria allegedly tied to bin Laden was smashed.

Well, well, we certainly can’t expect the Times to inform readers, that wouldn’t fit in with their claim for “breaking news” which seems to consist chiefly of breaking the news into little pieces so as to leave out key bits of information. The Guardian, not to be outdone by the New York Times, regales us with this headline “Terrorists could mount nuclear or biological attack within 5 years, warns Congress inquiry” and by golly who could ever doubt that bastion of honesty the U.S. Congress. Chilling isn’t it, a terrorist attack within the next five years, who could have predicted such a thing? Why the U.S. Congress of course. And amazingly enough the report just happens to focus on Pakistan as the new center of all things evil, what a coincidence!


It pointed to Pakistan, both at state level and among stateless groups, as one of the areas of most concern. "Were one to map terrorism and weapons of mass destruction today, all roads would intersect in Pakistan," the report said.

Talent told journalists: "It is the epicentre of a lot of these dangers." He said the report had been drawn up before the Mumbai attacks. The commission recommended that Pakistan be top priority for the Obama administration in terms of terrorism and proliferation.

Proposals include eliminating terrorist safe havens through military, economic, and diplomatic means, securing nuclear and biological materials in Pakistan, countering and defeating extremist ideology, and constraining a nascent nuclear arms race in Asia.

Actually it would be surprising that there wouldn’t be a “terrorist” attack in the next five years considering that since the implementation of the War on Terror terrorist attacks have been on the rise. So what is the point of all this fear mongering? Since there really is no War on Terror as presented by the news media rather what we have is U.S. imperialism in the form of dominating the Middle East this is just a lot of propaganda to bring the masses in line with our imperial endeavors and prepare the public for Obama’s insane plan for an open ended endless war in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and probably Iran as well (we’ll leave Russia out for now but they are also in the gun sights). But is Pakistan really to blame for the Mumbai tragedy as the NYT and the Guardian suggest? Justin Raimondo offers us an alternative view on this with his essay on this topic, one that is well worth reading.


In assigning responsibility for the Mumbai horror, we enter a world of murky ambivalence. Lashkar-e-Taiba is said to be affiliated, in some vague way, with "rogue" elements of Pakistani intelligence, which is, in turn, connected to the Taliban, the protector and ally of al-Qaeda. The War Party has its terrorist genealogy down to an exact science, but its precision comes into serious doubt when we look a little closer at this alleged "parent organization" of Lashkar-e-Taiba – which apparently wasn't a terrorist organization when they were working alongside American soldiers and relief workers in aiding victims of the devastating 2005 Pakistan-India earthquake.

The neat little narratives pumped out by war propagandists to rationalize acts of mass murder are an important part of any campaign to spark a conflict, so they have to be minimally convincing, or at least credible. Yet the story coming out of the Indian government is frankly incredible. The terrorists left a satellite phone conveniently placed next to the body of their ship's captain, whose throat they had slit, with the numbers of their handlers stored in memory. Very convenient. Even less convincing, however, is the assertion that even after Ajmal Kasab, the lone survivor of the terror squad, had been captured, he continued to get messages from his handlers. That little embellishment, I believe, gives the show away. Add to this the oddly unprepared – indeed, criminally negligent – role of the Indian security apparatus, and the whole thing reeks to high heaven. "Fishy" is putting it mildly.

A bad smell indeed and you thought change was in the air? The only thing that is changing is the targets as Iraq falls down the memory hole. But then our government never likes to look back (too painful) but always looks to the future, future endless war that is certain to bankrupt an already morally bankrupt nation now more concerned with its own insurmountable problems than the millions of murdered people it is responsible for. Raimondo finishes with the following.

The argument that we must end the war in Iraq so that we can concentrate on the "real" enemy, the amorphous and exaggerated al-Qaeda, which is supposedly hiding in the wilds of Pakistan's tribal areas, is leading to an even wider, more open-ended conflict, one so combustible that it could spark a nuclear exchange between Pakistan and India.

As bad as George W. Bush was, he never messed up that badly. One can almost hear the collective sigh of relief now that we are approaching the day when an easily-manipulated ignoramus is no longer in charge of American foreign policy. What may be even more dangerous, however, is a very smart president who thinks he and his advisers know more than they actually do.

The strategic shift in the balance of U.S. military forces in the region, away from Iraq and eastward to Afghanistan and Pakistan, seems almost to have been conceived in order to confirm the complaints of the anti-American forces in the region that the U.S. and its allies have launched a crusade to eliminate Islam from the map. From this perspective the pattern is clear enough: having exhausted their efforts in Iraq, now the West strikes from a different direction, in alliance with India. At the geographic center of it all, you'll note, sits Iran, which can look forward to being surrounded on both sides.

If Mr. President-erect Obama was really about change and really concerned about the dangers of a terrorist attack he could quickly defuse the dangers by pulling all the troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, stop the attacks inside Pakistan’s borders, cut off all military aid and money going to Israel, in short stop the murderous slaughter that has created the enmity toward the U.S. and the West in the first place. Unfortunately for the rest of the world and for us that is not part of the Obama agenda.

Margaret Kimberley writes…


The scenes of dead bodies and bloody streets were painful but necessary to see. In five years of the Iraq occupation American television networks have not seen fit to broadcast images of dead and maimed Iraqis. That absence of vital information is shameful and keeps the country in a state of blissful ignorance. It makes already incurious and uninformed Americans more susceptible to propaganda from the government and the media.

The reaction to the Mumbai terror attacks is all too predictable. People are shocked at first, then saddened and frightened. Muslims feel compelled to apologize for their violent coreligionists. Christians and Jews are exempt from guilt by association, however. They are even permitted and encouraged to embrace the violent acts committed by individuals among them.

As always, Americans never see a connection between themselves, the acts of terror committed by their own government and anger directed at them around the globe. Empathy for terror victims in Mumbai is sadly not extended to the victims of the American government.

Warfare is the ultimate act of terror. It kills not just scores of people, but many thousands, or in the case of the Congo, millions. War is given a pass by religious groups, by politicians and by the media. It is considered an acceptable form of murder. The victims in Mumbai will be mourned by Americans, as they should be. The victims of the United States government in Iraq and Afghanistan are not.

But go read Kimberley’s essay in its entirety, well worth your time. It really is too bad that anyone who does not conform to the idea of American exceptionalism, which is the belief that America has the moral prerogative to shape the world in its own image, are considered outside of the norm, radicals (gasp), and relegated to being somehow at the fringes of society. For what lies at the root of such beliefs as American exceptionalism is nothing but propaganda for the care and feeding of more imperial wars.


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