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The lies behind their war
Why won't they tell the truth?

May 24, 2002 | Page 1

BY EXPLOITING the tragedy of September 11, George W. Bush got a blank check for war--from the carpet bombing of Afghanistan to the witch-hunt of Arabs in this country. But now the White House is reeling from revelations that top officials had information about the attacks before they happened--and did nothing to stop them.

In a period of a few days last week, the smug Bush gang was exposed as liars and hypocrites--and spineless Democrats came to life, at least briefly, to demand some answers.

White House puppet master Dick Cheney attempted to shut down the scandal--turning to his tried-and-true method of accusing anyone that questions the administration of aiding terrorists. When that didn't work, the White House went with Plan B--filling the airwaves with frantic warnings of another terrorist attack. The uproar is sure to continue.

But in asking whether the September 11 attacks could have been prevented, Washington will focus on the blunders of the government's security apparatus--and new proposals for antiterrorism measures, regardless of how many civil liberties are shredded.

There's a different answer--but you won't hear it from the politicians. The truth is that the U.S. government's long history of imposing its interests around the globe--by whatever bloody means are necessary--stoked the violence and hatred that "blew back" at the U.S. on September 11.

Neither Democrats nor Republicans will admit that Bush's worldwide "war on terror" is causing new nightmares, from Afghanistan to Iraq to Colombia--and setting the stage for future attacks.

It's little wonder that the administration kept quiet after the attacks about how much prior information it had. Many people who supported Bush's war drive might have thought twice about it if they knew the White House had early warnings that hijackings were being planned.

The new revelations will fuel such doubts--and cast a spotlight on some of the questions that never got answered after September 11. For example, European newspapers reported last year that the Bush administration was using a carrot-and-stick approach to try to get the Taliban government in Afghanistan to go along with a plan for an oil pipeline across the country. "Either you accept our offer of a carpet of gold, or we bury you under a carpet of bombs," was how one U.S. diplomat reportedly put it, according to a former Pakistani official.

The U.S. media dismissed any speculation about U.S. oil interests as "conspiracy theory." But last week, NBC News broke the story that Bush was considering a draft plan--before September 11--for a military attack on the Taliban and the al-Qaeda network.

It's a pleasure to watch the Bush gang squirm as they try to explain their post-September 11 cover-up. But the scandal is double-edged.

If the question is how future attacks can be prevented, the Washington establishment--Republican and Democrat alike--has a simple answer: Expand police powers. Remove restrictions on the FBI and CIA, so they can go out and catch "bad guys."

This is the same simple-minded justification that John Ashcroft used for his post-September 11 witch-hunt of Arabs and Muslims. More than 1,000 people were detained, hundreds are still behind bars--and the Justice Department hasn't charged a single one with any crime connected to the attacks. This should be evidence enough that Ashcroft and his goons make our lives less secure, not more--especially if you happen to have the wrong skin color.

Meanwhile, the focus on antiterrorism measures obscures the questions that should be asked about September 11.

How many pundits who hyperventilate about al-Qaeda terrorism mention that Osama bin Laden was a valued U.S. ally--when Washington was arming Islamists to fight the ex-USSR in Afghanistan?

What politician who fumes about Islamic fundamentalism will criticize the horrors that the U.S. government has carried out in Iraq?

Where, amid all the stories about every Palestinian suicide bombing in Israel, is the coverage of the incomparably greater terror carried out by the U.S. government and its allies--the daily violence that goes with maintaining and extending imperialist interests, regardless of the human cost?

"The innocent of the 21st century are going to harvest unexpected blowback disasters from the imperialist escapades of recent decades," wrote foreign policy expert Chalmers Johnson in a prophetic book called Blowback written a year before September 11. "Although most Americans may be largely ignorant of what was, and still is, being done in their names, all are likely to pay a steep price--individually and collectively--for their nation's continued efforts to dominate the global scene."

We have to stand up against the Bush war machine. That is the only just response to a system where the mightiest military in the world is used against the most vulnerable--fueling violence and hatred around the globe.

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