Saturday, April 30, 2005

The Power of Nightmares 3

"The driving force behind these new global policies in the war on terror was the power of a dark fantasy: a sinister web of hidden and interlinked threats that stretched around the world. And such was the power of that fantasy that it also began to transform the very nature of politics because, increasingly, politicians were discovering that their ability to imagine the future and the terrible dangers it held gave them a new and heroic role in the world."

A confrontation started between the United States and the new imagined evil power - Al Qaeda, seemingly a giant network of thousands of dangerous terorrists operating in more than 60 countries, but in reality just a handful of Bin Laden's supporters.

The ridiculous fantasy of Tora Bora hidden underground base is one of the best example of how nonsensical were the tales that the neo-cons told, but also of how easily everyone was misled. What was presented as a giant military facility with hydroelectric power from underground streams and the gates large enough to have a tank pass through (on the left) turned out to be nothing more than a couple of abandoned holes (on the right). The interviews with the commander of the British forces (right after coming to Afganistan to do what the Americans failed to do - find Al Qaeda terrorists and after a few months when his forces killed zero terrorists and captured zero terrorists) is pure comedy gold.

Having not found that evil power in Afganistan, the American government turned to its own country, looking for anyone looking at least potentially like a terrorist. On the left photo are pictured two members of Detroit Al Qaeda sleeper cell on their sinister trip to Disneyland in California in their hotel room jumping on their bed and having a pillow fight. On the right are the secret plans to attack the American military base in Turkey disguised as doodles in a day planner discovered under the sofa in the house in Detroit.

Two of the suspects were convicted. "One by one the terrorists are learning the meaning of the American justice." told George W. Bush to the press after the conviction. But the court decision was overturned later, when the government's only witness (an international con artist) admitted he made everything up to reduce his own sentence for fraud. But the War on Terrorism continued.

"A group of students who supported the liberation of Kashmir were found paint-balling in the woods of Virginia. They were convicted of training to attack America. A group of African-Americans from Oregon tried to go to Afghanistan to support the Taliban but got lost in China. All these groups, the government said, were part of a hidden and terrifying Al Qaeda network."
With even less evidence than it had for the existence of a giant Al Qaeda network the US government moved on to attack the next evil power - the President of Iraq Saddam Hussein.

Adam Curtis, the writer, producer and narrator responds to a similar question to one that I raised earlier - how to deal with all the information in order to get to the truth?

"Today we all have to work much harder to weigh up the different versions of the truth that are being presented to us. This is exactly what I tried to do in the series."

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