Spooking the Spooks By William Bowles

12 June 2003

Having spooked the entire population with tales of terror as part of its programme to win over the population to its policies, the Bush administration is faced with the reality of being hoisted by its own petard as the saying goes. As more and more information comes out about the real nature of the repressive tactics being used and the role of big business in propelling the entire insane machine, it’s becoming clearer and clearer to citizens, that they have more to fear from their own government than they have from any elusive enemy.

‘[S]ources tell TIME, the TSA has had to put scores of federal air marshals (FAMs) on leave for discrepancies in background checks. The large number of grounded FAMs — the armed men and women who fly undercover and are authorized to use deadly force — has industry veterans worried. ‘It raises concerns about the entire TSA vetting process,’ says Captain Bob Lambert, who flies for a major airline and is president of the Airline Pilots’ Security Alliance. ‘FAMs are arguably the most important part of our security system, but now, after several months of them flying around with weapons and the responsibility to shoot to kill, the TSA has to question their honesty?’ TSA spokesman Brian Turmail says, ‘The FAMs have undergone extensive and complete background investigations, and during a rapid buildup of personnel, only a handful of discrepancies have arisen. The TSA has acted quickly to clear those up and will take appropriate action.’’ — Time magazine, June 16 2003

Yet of course, the entire idea of arming people and putting them inside pressurised aluminium cans that go pop when pierced, has got to get you wondering about the policy from the getgo. Surely, preventing arms being brought onboard has got to be the only viable solution. But when the flying public has been stampeded by a policy of paranoia and fear, logic flies out of (one hopes, not a depressurised) window. And whilst one can sympathise with the pilots who after all, carry the can so to speak, given the abject failure of TSA’s ground-based security, who can blame them? Yet even the policy of arming the pilots themselves seems to be unraveling, The same Time article goes on to say:

‘The pilot-arming program, as ANN predicted, is being delayed as much as possible by the TSA. We have learned that three of the original 44 pilots who were authorized to carry guns (out of an initial class of 48, four were deemed ‘unfit’ for psychological, and possibly additional, reasons) have left the program. There are now, at best, 41 armed pilots, and an unknown and unverifiable number of Air Marshals, protecting our flights.’

But the essence of the entire Bush policy of the ‘war on terrorism’ rests on the notion that there is no connection between US policies and the rise of ‘terrorism’. It attempts to sell us the idea of a benign US government peacefully going about its business that has been ‘provoked’ into taking extreme measures in order to defend ‘freedom and democracy’. Yet the reality couldn’t be further from the truth. Several decades of US foreign and domestic policy and actions contradict this assertion. Millions of people in the developing world who have been on the receiving end of US ‘democracy’ can tell you the tale far better than I can and as the endless litany of examples of double-speak attest to, it’s not as if one has to look far or dig deep for proof of US government hypocrisy in this regard.

But what is the reality of the ‘war on terror’ and whence did it come from? The Bush administration would have us believe that like mushrooms after the rain, the ‘terrorists’ just sprang up one dark night with a ‘plan’ to takeover America. Exploiting the US population’s almost total ignorance of the world beyond its borders, it has created a monster, not only out of ‘Islamic extremists’ but out of its own federal government that threatens the very foundations of what is left of the democratic state. And, as even those moderate liberals finally wake up, money, in the form of corporate funding of a select group of ‘Democrats’ has suborned whatever was left of the democratic tradition.

Yet of course, ‘ye reap what ye sow’. Having incurred the wrath of the dispossessed of the world, and found out (and not for the first time) that the hand that feeds can be painfully bitten, the issue is, what can be done about it? It is after all , the ordinary citizen who pays the price, either with their lives or their liberty (or both). Increased repression as history has shown us, over and over again, will not solve the problem, all it does is up the ante. Repression at home and war abroad go hand in hand.

The TSA debacle represents something far more insidious than even that of the links that it reveals between business and political machine. As with everything else surrounding the Department of Homeland Security [sic], it signals the consolidation of the corporate, security state and all in the name of the ‘war on terror’. The Republican cry of ‘less government’ rings hollow as it concentrates ever more power into fewer and fewer (obviously incompetent and corrupt) hands. Driven by greed masquerading as ‘patriotism,’ the citizen is less safe now than ever before but not from the threat of ‘terrorists’ but from their own government.

The Warfare state
The ‘war on terror’ is better described as the government’s war on its own citizens, for in order to conduct the ‘war’, just like the ‘war on drugs’, it has had to abrogate the rights of citizens right across the board. So far, we have seen habeas corpus, rights to privacy, rules of evidence, the right to representation, the right to confront your accusers, the right to a trial by jury (even any kind of trial at all) fall by the wayside. In the name of protecting citizens’ rights, rights which have been won at great cost, have been taken away. Where does it end when the ‘enemy’ is invisible and presented to us as limitless in number? Already, we read that the DoD projects the ‘war’ as lasting at least fifty years, that’s almost two generations.

In a ‘war’ without end, the citizen is held to ransom by his or her ‘own’ government. Forced to watch what’s left of any kind of social contract between the citizen and the state be jettisoned overboard, peoples’ frustrations grow and without a coherent public opposition, inevitably, they will be drawn ever deeper into reaction. And it is this process that will lead to some kind of fascism, perhaps not of the Third Reich variety, but the seeds and the signs are all there. A government led by rich white males, imbued with racism, arrogant in their assumptions about might equaling right, and their ‘God-given right to rule’ they represent the real danger not only to the US population, but to the entire planet. One can only hope that their complete incompetence and arrogant assumptions about their invincibility will prove to be their undoing, but not without a voice to hasten their demise. Now, more than ever before, is the time to speak out, or as they say in Zulu, ‘Sekunjalo ke Nako’.

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