Every clear-thinking American knows that education and jobs are needed more than armed guards in poor neighborhoods. But average Americans are led to believe in a terrorist threat that may or may not exist, and that in any case is greatly exaggerated, while the corporate/military/political complex creates new forms of terror to safeguard the assets of the rich.
1. War Terror
It started with our leaders comparing notes on Iraq:
Cheney 08/26/02: There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction.
Cheney 09/14/03: We never had evidence that he had acquired a nuclear weapon.
Powell 02/05/03: Iraq today has a stockpile of between 100 and 500 tons of chemical weapons agents.
Powell 09/13/04: I think it's unlikely that we will find any stockpiles.
Bush 05/29/03: We found the weapons of mass destruction.
Bush 10/08/04: I wasn't happy when we found out there wasn't weapons.
In the first Iraqi war, two air missions per minute were conducted over 43 days, with the equivalent of seven Hiroshima bombs dropped on a largely defenseless country. Much of the slaughter was caused by "dumb bombs" that fell on civilian areas. U.S. troops attacked retreating Iraqi soldiers with cluster bombs and napalm as American pilots, adopting metaphors such as 'turkey shoot' and 'fish in a barrel,' conducted target practice from above. Some Iraqis were buried alive by bulldozers that spread tons of sand over them.
In the end, at least 190,000 Iraqi lives were destroyed in a war that cost over $2.2 trillion. AJohns Hopkins study puts the tally much higher, with an estimate of 650,000 Iraqi deaths.
2. Drone Terror
In Pakistan, civilians can hear the droning in the sky all day long. Said one resident: "I can't sleep...when the drones are there...I hear them making that sound, that noise. The drones are all over my brain." A humanitarian worker added, "I was in New York on 9/11...This is what it is like."
When bombings kill townspeople, their family and friends are often afraid to run to their aid, because standard procedure is to bomb the first responders. Afterwards the funerals are sometimes bombed.
A Pew survey reported that 75% of Pakistanis consider us their enemy. A former advisor to General Petraeus stated, "Every one of these dead noncombatants represents an alienated family, a new desire for revenge, and more recruits for a militant movement.." Indeed, militant groups have rapidly been forming, such as Lashkar, which has been attacking U.S. troops across the border in Afghanistan. The sentiment goes beyond Pakistan. A spokesperson for Yemen, also under attack, told a U.S. Senate committee, "What radicals had previously failed to achieve in my village, one drone strike accomplished in an instant: There is now an intense anger and growing hatred of America."
The disease is spreading. There are now 737 U.S. Military Bases around the world, and over 2.5 million military personnel. Since 9/11 about 100 new generals and admirals have been added to the ranks of top brass, all with private jets and chefs and guards and secretaries and drivers.
Africa, already swollen with a U.S. military presence, is under further siege by the Pentagon.The Economist speaks of "Afrighanistan," calling it "the next front of the global war on terror."
3. Unconstitutional Terror
The Fourth Amendment guarantees the "right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures."
Since 9/11, numerous measures have been employed in the name of national security: The Patriot Act, Homeland Security, the National Security Agency, and the National Defense Authorization Act. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act has facilitated the monitoring of foreign communications in the name of anti-terrorism.
Internet privacy has been threatened by proposals like the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). Privacy is at risk with the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), passed in the House.
In addition, new techniques such as Iris Scans, License Plate Recognition, GPS devices in pharmaceutical products, and Facial Recognition Technology invade our privacy. Drones are flying over our homes. The National Security Agency is building a data center big enough to store every email, text, phone call, web search, and video in the United States. With the Electronic Communications Privacy Act on its side, government is authorized to take anything it can get.
4. Terror against Opponents of Unconstitutional Terror
In 1778 the Continental Congress created the first whistleblower protection law by declaring "it is the duty of all persons in the service of the United States to give the earliest information to Congress or other proper authority of any misconduct, frauds, or misdemeanors committed by any officers or persons in the service of these states."
In 2008 Barack Obama campaigned with a pledge to "strengthen whistleblower laws to protect federal workers who expose waste, fraud, and abuse of authority in government."
But Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning was found guilty of espionage for reporting extreme cases of war misconduct. And Edward Snowden faces prison for reporting abuses of the 4th Amendment by the NSA.
The hypocrisy continues with the proposed Animal and Ecological Terrorism Act, which would have made it an act of terror to report on the terrorizing of animals. And with the efforts ofTransCanada Corporation to convince law enforcement agencies that pipeline protestors are terrorists.
Going even further, FBI documents reveal that the agency repeatedly monitored Occupy Wall Street activities, viewing them as possible acts of terrorism.
5. The Terror of Poverty
The largely imagined threat of foreign attacks is diverting billions of dollars into a Homeland Security fund that safeguards the assets of the rich, while the poverty rate for black children has risen to almost 50 percent, and unemployment among blacks has almost doubled the rate of whites.
Meanwhile, paranoia has infiltrated our schools. As K-12 education has been cut by $20 billion over five years, and as funding for guidance counselors and school psychologists has dropped to all-time lows, the Department of Justice's COPS Office has awarded over $750 million for the hiring of more than 6,500 police officers for schools, even though studies show that placing armed police in schools actually increases physical dangers to youth.
People burdened by economic oppression and authoritarian rule can begin to understand Frederick Douglass' bitter words to his own country, on behalf of the American slave: To him your boasted liberty [is] an unholy license; your national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass-fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery.
Paul Buchheit is a college teacher, an active member of US Uncut Chicago, founder and developer of social justice and educational websites (UsAgainstGreed.org, PayUpNow.org, RappingHistory.org), and the editor and main author of "American Wars: Illusions and Realities" (Clarity Press). He can be reached at paul@UsAgainstGreed.org.