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Stoking fear to steal our rights
Ashcroft's dirty bomb hoax

June 21, 2002 | Page 12

ALAN MAASS explains how the Bush gang is using the faked discovery of a "dirty bomb" terrorist plot to grab more power.

JOHN ASHCROFT'S witch-hunt jumped to a new level earlier this month. On June 10, the attorney general held a press conference--by satellite from Moscow--to announce that U.S. authorities had arrested an alleged al-Qaeda operative who was plotting to set off a bomb packed with radioactive material in Washington, D.C.

The announcement sparked a wave of panic--with the mainstream media leading the way, their "experts" frantically describing the potential devastation of a so-called "dirty bomb." Yet in a week's time, even the White House had to admit that Ashcroft's Moscow statement was a tissue of exaggerations and outright lies.

The "dirty bomb" frenzy proved once again that the Bush gang will say anything to defend their "war on terrorism"--and deflect attention from any political criticism.

Meanwhile, the supposed al-Qaeda terrorist, Abdullah al-Muhajir, is in a military prison in South Carolina--denied any rights that he has as a U.S. citizen. Al-Muhajir has been classified as an "enemy combatant," which means that he can be held and questioned without being charged or having access to a lawyer until the "end of hostilities"--if there ever is an end to Bush's endless "war on terror."

This is what the Bush gang really wants from this hoax--to set a precedent that they can strip the civil rights of anyone in the name of stopping "terrorism."

Ashcroft's announcement set off such a wave of scare-mongering that it took the media days to discover the gaping holes in the case against al-Muhajir--a Brooklyn-born and Chicago-raised 31-year-old who changed his name from Jose Padilla when he converted to Islam.

First of all, there is no "dirty bomb." Al-Muhajir had neither access to bomb-making materials nor the technical knowledge to build one, and there's no evidence that he had U.S. contacts to help him with either one. As Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, the administration hawk wheeled out to stoke "dirty bomb" fears, later admitted: "I don't think there was actually a plot beyond some fairly loose talk."

Then there's the question of why the administration waited five weeks to mention that it had "foiled" a terrorist plot--after all, al-Muhajir had been arrested in early May.

In fact, the "dirty bomb" frenzy fits the pattern of the Bush administration since September 11--whenever faced with criticism, warn about the threat of new attacks.

The Moscow announcement coincided with congressional hearings into whether the administration missed prior warnings of the September 11 attacks. Plus the White House wants to push lawmakers into approving the reorganization of the federal government's law enforcement and security apparatus into a unified Department of Homeland Security--a $37.5 million proposal for shredding our civil liberties, and that doesn't even include the CIA and FBI, which will remain independent.

The Bush gang has a lot to answer for. Consider the apartheid proposal that Ashcroft floated a few weeks before--a requirement that nearly every person that comes to the U.S. from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Sudan be fingerprinted, photographed and interrogated by federal authorities.

Of course, the Justice Department has yet to offer a shred evidence that any citizen from any one of these four countries was connected to the September 11 attacks. This is nothing but racial profiling on a worldwide scale.

Don't buy Ashcroft's lies! We have to stand up against the Bush gang's racist witch-hunt.

Who's the real threat?

ABDULLAH AL-MUHAJIR is a U.S. citizen, which means that he's supposed to be protected by the Constitution from John Ashcroft's police-state tactics.

But the Bush boys figured out how to get around that. They turned over al-Muhajir to the Pentagon. Because he's in military custody, al-Muhajir can be held indefinitely.

The Bush gang's twisted logic sounds like something out of apartheid South Africa. But incredibly, hundreds of people--most of them young Arab men--share the same fate as al-Muhajir.

Authorities detained as many as 2,000 people as part of the investigation into the September 11 attacks. Hundreds of them are still rotting behind bars--though not a single one has been connected to September 11.

It's clear who represents the real threat to our "security"--especially if you happen to have the wrong skin color.

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