America’s War on Terrorism (Chapter 1)

Chapter 1
Background: Behind September 11

The world is at the crossroads of the most serious crisis in modern history. In the wake of the tragic events of September 11, in the largest display of military might since the Second World War, the United States has embarked upon a military adventure which threatens the future of humanity.

Barely a few hours following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, Osama bin Laden and his Al Qaeda network were identified by the Bush administration-without supporting evidence-as “the prime suspects”. Secretary of State Colin Powell called the attacks “an act of war”, and President George W. Bush confirmed in an evening-televised address to the Nation that he would “make no distinction between the terrorists who committed these acts and those [foreign governments] who harbor them”.

Former CIA Director James Woolsey pointed his finger at “state sponsorship”, implying the complicity of one or more foreign governments. In the words of former National Security Adviser Lawrence Eagleburger,”I think we will show when we get attacked like this, we are terrible in our strength and in our retribution.”(1)

Meanwhile, parroting official statements, the Western media had approved the launching of “punitive actions” directed against civilian targets in Central Asia and the Middle East. According to William Safire writing in the New York Times: “When we reasonably determine our attackers’ bases and camps, we must pulverize them-minimizing but accepting the risk of collateral damage-and act overtly or covertly to destabilize terror’s national hosts.”(2) The Bush administration, using the US media as its mouthpiece, was preparing the Western World for the merciless killing of thousands of innocent civilians in Afghanistan and beyond.

Osama bin Laden: Pretext for Waging War

At the outset, the “war on terrorism” had conveniently been used by the Bush administration not only to justify the extensive bombing of civilian targets in Afghanistan, but also to repeal constitutional rights and the Rule of Law at home, in the context of the “domestic war” on terrorism.

It turns out that the prime suspect in the New York and Washington terrorists attacks, Saudi-born Osama bin Laden, is a creation of US foreign policy. He was recruited during the Soviet-Afghan war “ironically under the auspices of the CIA, to fight Soviet invaders”. Our analysis in Chapters II, III and IV amply confirms that Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda network is what the CIA calls an “intelligence asset”.

During the Cold War, but also in its aftermath, the CIA-using Pakistan’s military intelligence apparatus as a “go-between”-played a key role in training the Mujahideen. In turn, the CIA-sponsored guerrilla training was integrated with the teachings of Islam. Both the Clinton and Bush administrations have consistently supported the “Militant Islamic Base”, including Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda, as part of their foreign policy agenda. The links between Osama bin Laden and the Clinton administration in Bosnia and Kosovo are well documented by congressional records. (See Chapter IV.)

A few months after the attacks, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, stated that it will be difficult to find Osama and extra dite him: “It’s like searching for a needle in a stack of hay.” But the US could have ordered, with no problem, his arrest and extradition on several occasions prior to the September 11 attacks. Two months before the September 11 attacks bin Laden, America’s “Most Wanted Fugitive”, was in the American Hospital in Dubai (United Arab Emirates) receiving treatment for a chronic kidney infection. If the US authorities had wanted to arrest Osama bin Laden prior to September 11, they could have done it then. But then they would nothave had a pretext for waging a major military operation in Central Asia.

The US Support of the Taliban

While the Western media (which echoes the Bush administration) portrays the Taliban and Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda as the “incarnation of evil”, they fail to mention that the Taliban’s coming to power in Afghanistan 1996 was the result of US military aid, channeled to Taliban and Al Qaeda forces through Pakistan’s ISI. Jane Defense Weeklyconfirms that “half of Taliban manpower and equipment originate[d] in Pakistan under the ISI”.(3)

Backed by Pakistan’s ISI, the imposition of the hardline Taliban Islamic State largely served American geopolitical interests in the region. The hidden agenda behind US support to the Taliban was oil, because no sooner had the Taliban taken Kabul in 1996 and formed a government, than a delegation was whisked off to Houston, Texas for meetings with officials of Unocal Corporation regarding the construction of the strategic trans-Afghan pipeline. (See map page 2.)

Largest Display of Military Might Since World War II

Presented to public opinion as a “campaign against international terrorism”, the deployment of America’s war machine purports to enlarge America’s sphere of inßuence not only in Central Asia and he Middle East, but also into the Indian sub-continent and the Far East. Ultimately, the US is intent upon establishing a permanent military presence in Afghanistan, which occupies a strategic position bordering on the former Soviet Union, China and Iran. Afghanistan is also at the hub of five nuclear powers: Russia, China, India, Pakistan and Kazakhstan. In this regard, the Bush administration has taken the opportunity of using the “war against terrorism” to establish US military bases in several former Soviet republics including Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and the Kirgyz Republic. (See Chapter VI.)

Authoritarian State

Under the Bush administration, the military and intelligence apparatus has clearly taken over the reins offoreign policy in close consultation with Wall Street. With key decisions taken behind closed doors at the CIA and the Pentagon, “civilian political institutions” including the US Congress increasingly become a facade. While the illusion of a “functioning democracy” prevails in the eyes of public opinion ,the US President has be figure head, with visibly little understanding of key foreign policy issues:

(O)n too many issues,especially those dealing with the wider worldof global affairs, Bush often sounds as if he’s reading from cue cards. When he ventures into international issues,his unfamiliarity is palpable and not even his unshakable self-confidence keeps him fromavoiding mistakes.(4)

When a journalist asked Governor Bush during the 2000 election campaign what he thought about the Taliban:

(H)e just shrugged his shoulders, bemused. It took a bit of prompting from the journalist (“discrimination against women in Afghanistan”) for Bush to rouse himself: “Taliban in Afghanistan! Absolutely. Reprisals. I thought you were talking about some rockgroup.” That’s how well-informed about the outside world the prospective US President is,(e)ven about very important present-day developments that are on everyone’s lips—that is, everyone with the slightest pretensions to culture; developments that he, if elected, will have to deal with.(5)

George W. Bush’s statement on the Taliban was made to a Glamor correspondent. While commented on by a number of newspapers outside the US, it has barely been acknowledged by the American media.(6)

Who decides in Washington? In the context of a major military operation which has a bearing on our collective future and global security-not to mention Washington’s “first strike” use of nuclear weapons-this question is of the utmost significance. In other words, apart from reading carefully prepared speeches, does the the military intelligence establishment?

Military Planners Call the Shots

Under the New World Order, military planners in the State Department, the Pentagon and the CIA call the shots on foreign policy. They are not only in liaison with NATO ,they also maintain contacts with officials in the IMF, the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation (WTO). In turn,the Washington-based international financial bureaucracy, responsible for imposing deadly “economic medicine” in the Third World and in most of the countries of the former Soviet block, maintains a close working relationship with the Wall Street financial establishment.

The powers behind this system are those ofthe global banks and financial institutions, the military-industrial complex,the oil and energy giants,the biotech and pharmaceutical conglomerates and the powerful media and communications giants, which fabricate the news and overtly influence the course ofworld events by blatantly distorting the facts.

“Criminalization” of the US State Apparatus

Under the Reagan administration, senior officials in the State Department had used the proceeds ofillicit narcotics trade to finance the supply of weapons to the Nicaraguan Contras. In a bitter twist,the same State Department officials implicated in the “Iran-Contragate” scandal now occupy key positions in the Bus hadministration’s inner cabinet.

These same “Iran-Contragate officials” call the shots in the day-to-day planning ofthe “war on terrorism”. Richard Armitage “worked closely with Oliver Northand was involved in the Iran-Contra arms smuggling scandal”.(7) (See Chapter XII.)

Bush has been choosing people from the most dubious part of the Republican stable of the 1980s, those engaged in the Iran-Contra affair. His first such appointment, that of Richard Armitage as Deputy Secretary of State, went through the Senate quietly back in March by voice vote. Armitage served as Assistant Secretary of Defense forInternational Security Affairs in the Reagan years, but a 1989 appointment in the elder Bush administration was withdrawn before hearings because of controversy over Iran-Contra and other scandals.

Bush followed up the Armitage appointment by appointing Reagan’s Assistant Secretary of State,Elliot Abrams, as the NationalSecurity Council’s senior director for democracy, human rights and international operations, a post which does not require Senate approval. Abrams pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor counts of lying to Congress during the Iran Contra hearings and was subsequently pardoned by George H.W.Bush.(8)

Richard Armitagewas also one ofthe main architects behind US covert support to the Mujahideen and the “Militant Islamic Base”, both during the Afghan-Soviet war as well as in its aftemath. Financed by the Golden Crescent drug trade,this pattern has not been fundamentally altered. (See Chapters II and XVI.) It still constitutes an integral part of US foreign policy. Moreover, amply documented, the multi-billion dollar drug trade has been a major source ofillicit funding by the CIA.(9)

Destroying the Rule of Law

Since September 11, state resources have been redirected towards financing the military-industrial complex, while social programs have been slashed. Government budgets have been restructured and tax revenues have been channeled towards beefing up the police and the domestic security apparatus. A “new legitimacy “has emerged, which undermines the fabric of the judicial system and destroys “the Rule ofLaw”. Ironically,in several Western countries including the US, Great Britain and Canada, “existing democracies” are being repealed by democratically elected governments.

While “national security” has been reinforced, the new legislation is not meant to “protect citizens against terrorism”. Rather, it largely upholds and protects the “free market” system. Its purpose is to disarm the civil rights and anti-war coalitions as well as to curb the development of a meaningful anti-globalization protestmovement.(See Text Box 1.2) With the civilian economy in a free-fall, “Homeland Security”and the military-industrial complex con-stitute America’s new economic growth centres.

Text Box 1.2
The Anti-Globalization Protest Movement and Canada’s proposed Bill C-42

Proposed shortly after the September 11 attacks, Bill C-42 would have allowed the government to arbitrarily define military zones anytime and anywhere it wished. Had Quebec City been declared a military zone during the Free Trade Area of the America’s (FTAA) Summit in the Spring of 2001, anyone caught inside the perime-ter, including Quebec City residents, could have been declareda terrorist, arrested on the spot and detained indefinitely with-out recourse. (Bill C-42 was rescinded by the Canadian Parliamentin April 2002.)

The New “Anti-Terrorist” Legislation

In the US, the “PATRIOT Act” criminalizes peaceful anti-globalization protests.(10) Demonstrating against the IMF or the WTO, for instance, is considered “a crime of domestic terror”. Under the Act, “domestic terrorism” includes any activity which could lead to” influencing the policy ofa government by intimidation or coercion”.

The US “anti-terrorist legislation”, rubber-stamped by the US Congress, was decided upon by the military-police-intelligence establishment. In fact, several features of this legislation had been designed prior to the September 11 terrorist attacks in response tothe growing anti-globalization protest movement.

In November 2001, President George W.Bushsigned an executive order establishing “military commissions or tribunals to try suspected terrorists”.(12)

Under this order, [at the discretion ofthe President,] non-citizens, whether from the United States or elsewhere,accused ofaiding inter-national terrorism…can be tried before one of these commissions. These are not court-martials,which provide for more protections….Attorney General Ashcroft has explicitly stated that terrorists do not deserve constitutional protections.These are “courts” of conviction and not of justice.(13)

Immediately following the September 11 attacks, hundreds of people in the US were arrested on a variety of trumped up charges. High school students were dismissed for holding “anti-war”views, university professors were fired or reprimanded for opposing the war.

A Florida University professor has become the first post-September 11 academic casualty of the war against terrorism. Dr.Sami Al-Arian, a tenured professor of computer sciences at the University of South Florida (USF)…had been investigated by the FBI and had never been arrested or charged with a crime…Professor Al-Arian received death threats and was quickly suspended, with pay, by university President Judy Genshaft.

[In November 2001]…the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) issued a report titled “Defending Civilization: How Our Universities Are Failing America, and What Can Be Done About It.” The report reproduced statements from some 117 college anduniversity faculty who dared to speak out against or raise questions about the President’s war on terrorism. “Defending Civilization” called these academics, the “weak link in America’s response to the attack”ofSeptember 11.(14)

Extending More Powers to the FBI and the CIA

According to the new legislation, the powers of the FBIand the CIA have been extended to include routine wiretapping and surveillance of non-governmental organizations and trade unions, as well as journalists and intellectuals:

Under the new law, the same secret court will have the power to authorize wiretaps and secret searches of homes, in criminal cases—not just to gather foreign intelligence. The FBI will be able to wiretap individuals and organizations without meeting the stringent requirements of the Constitution. The law will authorize the secretcourt to permit roving wiretaps of any phones, computers or cellphones that might possibly be used by a suspect. Widespread reading of e-mail will be allowed, even before the recipient opens it. Thousands of conversations will be listened to, or read, that have nothing to do with the suspect or any crime.

The new legislation is filled with many other expansions of investigative and prosecutorial power, including wider use of undercover agents to infiltrate organizations, longer jail sentences and lifetime supervision for some who have served their sentences, more crimes that can receive the death penalty and longer statutes of limitationsfor prosecuting crimes.

The Act [also] creates a number of new crimes. One ofthe most threatening to dissent and those who oppose government policiesis the crime of “domestic terrorism”. It is loosely defined as acts that are dangerous to human life, violate criminal law and “appear to be intended to intimidate or coerce a civilian population”or “influencethe policy of a government by intimidation or coercion”. Under this definition, a protest demonstration that blocked a street and prevented an ambulance from getting by could be deemed domestic terrorism. Likewise,the demonstrations in Seattle against the WTO could fit within the definition. This was an unnecessary addition tothe criminal code; there are already plenty oflaws making such civil disobedience criminal without labelling such a time-honoured protest as terrorism and imposing severe prison sentences.

Overall, the new legislation represents one of the most sweeping assaults on liberties in the last 50 years. It is unlikely to make us more secure;it is certain to make us less free.

The US Government has conceptualized the war against terrorism as a permanent war, a war without boundaries. Terrorism is frightening to all ofus,but it’s equally chilling to think that in the name of anti-terrorism, our government is willing to suspend constitutional freedoms permanently as well.(15)

The Canadian legislation broadly replicates the clauses ofthe US anti-terrorist laws.(See Text Box 1.3) In the course of two months following the September 11 attacks,” over 800 people in Canada have disappeared into Canada’s detention system without being allowed to contact family or lawyers”.(16) And this happened before the Canadian Anti-Terrorist Legislation was adopted by the Canadian Parliament:

The “anti-terrorism”laws…do far more than eliminate civil liberties. They eliminate justice. They return to an inquisitorial system of arbitrary arrest and detention. Summarized police allegations replace evidence. The concept ofevidence is gone. Accusation equals guilt. The concept of innocent until proven guilty is gone.(17)

Canada’s Anti-Terrorist Legislation

“The two essential pillars of criminal law to establish guilt: mens rea (intention to do a crime) and actus reus (the fact of doing the reacrime), are gone. If the State decides a terrorist act was committed and you were in any way connected or associated with it, you are guilty whether or not you ‘intended to do the criminal act’or whether or not you ‘did the act’.” ‘The right to remain silent’ is gone. The principle of confidentiality between lawyer and client is gone (akin to forcing a priest to reveal the contentsof the confessional). The concept of a fair trial and the right to a full defense is gone.

“People or organizations accused of being ‘terrorists’ are put on a list. Anyone who associates with a ‘listed’ person or organiz-tion can, by association, be defined as a terrorist. Hence lawyers who defend people accused of being terrorists could find them-selves being defined as terrorists.

“Property and bank accounts can be frozen and confiscated simply on the accusation of being a terrorist. Punishments areexcessive and severe (life imprisonment in many cases). These are some of the horrors of [Canada’s Anti-Terrorist Legislationunder] Bill C-36.” (18)

In the European Union, the “anti-terrorist legislation”—while contributing to derogating civil libertie sand undermining the Rule of Law—is less drastic than that adopted in the US and Canada. In Germany, the Greens within the government coalition had pressured Interior Minister Otto Schily to “tone down” the original draft of the legislation presented to the Bundestag. The anti-terrorist legislation in Germany, nonetheless, grants extraordinary powers to the police. It also reinforces the laws pertaining to deportation. Of significance, the German government has allocated more than three billion marks to beefing up their domestic security and intelligence apparatus, largely at the expense of social programs.

Global Economic Crisis

The “war on terrorism” and the development of the authoritarian State are occurring at the outset of a huge global economic depression marked by the downfall of State institutions, mounting unemployment, the collapse in living standards in all major regions of theworld, including Western Europe and North America, and the out-break off a mines over large areas.

At a global economic level, this depression could be far more devastating than that of the 1930s. Moreover,the war has not only unleashed a massive shift out of civilian economic activities into themilitary-industrial complex, it has also accelerated the demise of the welfare state in most Western countries.

Five days before the terrorist assaults on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, President Bush stated almost prophetically:

I have repeatedly said the only time to use Social Security money is in times of war, times of recession,or times of severe emergency. And I mean that.(September 6,2001.)(19)

The tone of the President’s rhetoric has set the stage for a dramatic expansion of America’s war machine.The “recession” and “war” buzzwords are being used to mould US public opinion intoaccepting the pilfering of the Social Security fund to pay the producers of weapons of mass destruction—i.e., a massive redirection of the nation’s resources towards the military industrial complex.

Since the terrorist attacks, “love of country”, “allegiance” and “patriotism” pervade the media and day-to-day political discourse. The hidden agenda behind Bush’s declaration of an “axis ofevil” (Iraq, Iran, North Korea, Libya and Syria) is to create a new legitimacy, opening the door for a “revitalization of the nation’s defenses”, while also providing various justifications for direct military interventions by the US in different parts of the world. Meanwhile, the shift from civilian into military production pours wealth into the hands ofdefense contractors at the expense of civilian needs.

The boost provided by the Bush administration to the military-industrial complex will not in any way resolve the mounting tide of unemployment in America.(See Text Box 1.4) Instead, this new direction of the US economy will generate hundreds of billions of dollars of surplus profits, which will line the pockets of a handful of large corporations.

War and Globalization

War and globalization are intimately related processes. The global economic crisis, which preceded the events of September 11, has its roots in the New World Order” free market” reforms. Since the 1997 “Asian crisis”, financial markets have plummeted, national economies have collapsed one after the other and entire countries (e.g., Argentina and Turkey) have been taken over by their international creditors, forcing millions of people into abysmal poverty.

“The post-September 11 crisis” in many regards announces both the demise of Western social democracy, as well as the end of an era. The legitimacy of the global “free market” system has been reinforced, opening the door to a renewed wave ofderegulationand privatization, eventually conducive to the corporate take-over of all public services and State infrastructure (including healthcare, electricity,municipal water and sewerage, inter-city highways and public broadcasting, just to name a few).

Moreover, in the US, Canada and Great Britain, and also in most countries ofthe European Union, the legal fabric of society has been overhauled. Based on the repeal ofthe Rule o fLaw,the foun
dations of an authoritarian state apparatus have emerged with little or no organized opposition from the main stay ofcivil society. Without debate or discussion, the “war on terrorism” against “rogue states” is deemed necessary to “protect democracy “and “enhance domestic security”.

A collective understanding of the root causes of America’s war, based on history, has been replaced by the need to “combat evil”, contain “rogue states” and “hunt down Osama”. These buzzwords are part of a carefully designed propaganda campaign. The ideology of the “rogue state”, developed by the Pentagon during the 1991 Gulf War, constitutes a new legitimacy, a justification for waging a “humanitarian war” against countries which do not conform to the New World Order and the tenets of the “free market”system.


Job Creation in America’s War Machine

“The Big Five defense contractors (Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Boeingand Raytheon) have been shifting staff and resources from ‘civilian’ into ‘military’ production lines. Lockheed Martin(LMT)—America’s largest defense contractor—has shifted resources out of its troubled commercial/civilian sectors, into the lucrative production of advanced weapon systems including the F-22 Raptor high-tech fighter-jet. Each of the F-22 Raptor fighters will cost $85 million. Three thousand direct jobs will be created at a modest cost of $20 milliona job.”(20)

Boeing, which is bidding for the $200 billion dollar contract with the Defense Departmentfor the production of the JointStriker Fighter (JSF), confirmed that while some 3,000 jobs wouldbe created under this contract, as a result of the September 11 attacks it will fire as many as 30,000 workers. At Boeing, each job created in the JSF Program, will cost US taxpayers $66.7 million. No wonder the Administration wants to downsize Social Security programs.(21)



1.PBS News Hour,11 September 2001.http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/military/terroristattack/government.html.

2. New York Times, 12 September 2001

3. Christian Science Monitor, 3 September 1998

4. Time Magazine, 15 November 1999

5. Alexander Yanov, “Dangerous Lady: Political Sketch of the Chief Foreign Policy Adviser to George Bush”, Moscow News, 12 July 2000

6. See also The Irish Times, 20 January 2001, The Japanese Times ,6 January 2002.

7. The Guardian, London, 15 September 2001

8. Peter Roffand James Chapin, “Face-off:Bush’s Foreign Policy Warriors”, United Press International, 18 July 2001, Centre for Research on globalization,http://globalresearch.ca/articles/ROF111A.html,3 November 2001.

9. Alfred McCoy, “Drug Fallout: The CIA’s Forty Year Complicity in the Narcotics Trade”,
The Progressive, 1 August 1997.

10.PATRIOT is an acronym based on George W.Bush’s “Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism” Act. Soon followed by ‘TIPS’—Terrorism Information and Prevention System.

11.Michael Ratner,”Moving Toward a Police State(Or Have We Arrived?)”, Global Outlook, No.1, 2002, p.35. Also at Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/RAT111A.html, 30 November 2001.

12. Ibid.

13. Ibid.

14. Bill Berkovitz,”Witch-hunt in South Florida,Pro-Palestinian professor is firstcasualty ofpost-9/11 conservative correctness”, Centre for Research on Globalization(CRG), http://globalresearch.ca/articles/BER112A.html,dated 13 December 2001.

15. Ratner, op.cit.

16. See Constance Fogal, “Globalization and the Destruction of the Rule of Law”, Global Outlook, No.1, Spring 2002, p.36.

17. Ibid., page 17

18. Ibid.

19.Remarks by President Bush in the presence of Mexican President Vicente Fox prior to their departure to Toledo, Ohio; US Newswire Inc.,6 September 2001.

20.See Michel Chossudovsky,”War is Good for Business”, Global Outlook, ,No 1. Spring 2002.

21. Ibid.


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