It's terror when we say so
By Pepe Escobar
Bush administration's iron-clad spin is that it is
winning the "war on terror". Then comes a problem:
the recently created (by a George W Bush executive
order) National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC)
states there were more terrorist attacks in 2004
than in any year since 1985. So what does the
State Department do? Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice orders the "sanitation" of this
year's version of "Patterns of Global Terrorism",
a report regularly issued by the State Department.
The NCTC was created on a recommendation
by the 9-11 Commission. Now it has the
responsibility of analyzing and integrating all US
intelligence on terrorism. By law, Congress and
the Senate must receive "Patterns of Global
Terrorism" by April 30 every year, detailing what
Washington considers terrorism activity country by
country. This year, there will be not be a
complete "Patterns of Global Terrorism", but a
simple report without any data. The NCTC will be
in charge of the details. According to US State
Department spokesman Richard Boucher, this data
will be released, but no date has been set.
It would be naive to assume that Rice's
decision on the report was disclosed by US
mainstream media. Once again the information had
to be found on the Internet, through Larry C
Johnson, a former Central Intelligence Agency
analyst writing for the online journal The
Congressman Henry Waxman, a Democrat from
California, "This is the definitive report on the
incidence of terrorism around the world. It should
be unthinkable that there would be an effort to
withhold it - or any of the key data - from the
public. The Bush administration should stop
playing politics with this critical report."
It's politics, stupid
seems to forget that the fiercely loyal Rice would
never allow the disclosure of sensitive
information bound to contradict her boss - thus
the flood of denials from State Department
officials, who blame the shelving on dubious NCTC
"methodology". The NCTC reported 624 "significant"
terrorist attacks in 2004, compared with 175 in 2003 -
the year of the Iraq invasion and the bombing of
the United Nations building in Baghdad.
the data did not even include attacks on the US
occupying force in Iraq. According to the Bush
administration's own logic, Iraq is "a central
front in the war on terror". Considering the Sunni
Arab Iraqi resistance had been able to mount as
many as 70 attacks a day throughout 2004, this
would mean - according to Bush's own criteria - a
had already crept in in 2004, when the State
Department was forced to revise upward the number
of terrorist attacks included in the 2003 report.
The previous numbers were doctored so they would
not contradict the Bush re-election machine - which
at the time was spinning the notion that the war
in Iraq was a major blow against the enemy in the
"war on terror". The official explanation for the
doctoring was "bureaucratic mistakes".
It's telling that all the members of the
US intelligence community who volunteered to talk
off the record about the shelving of the new
report stressed the information is classified.
Most of all they fear the wrath of the gods, ie
the White House. Many agree that Rice decided to
ax "Patterns of Global Terrorism" because the NCTC
would not use an "alternative methodology" that
would have decreased the number of terrorist
attacks, ie doctored downward the impact of the
Sunni Arab Iraqi resistance.
The NCTC is
not exactly there to undermine the White House. On
the contrary. It operates under the "direction and
control" of the new director of central
intelligence, Porter Goss, an extremely close Bush
ally. Goss would have something to say about
terrorism himself, as he was having breakfast on
the morning of September 11, 2001, with Mahmud Ahmad,
then director of the Pakistani Inter-Service
Intelligence, and the author of a wire transfer to
one of the September 11 masterminds.
problem is, the NCTC has come up with figures that
reflect reality on the ground - contrary to the
fantasy world sold via a massive public relations
campaign by the White House.
one follows the powerful and
influential neo-conservative rumor mill, all indications
point to a terror inflation. The latest neo-con rumor
is that the cipher Abu Musab al-Zarqawi - who may
or may not be alive - is going nuclear, or is
at least preparing a dirty bomb. "Classified
reports" say that the alleged Zarqawi bomb is stored in -
of all places - Afghanistan. Perhaps in a Taliban
cave in Kunar province? This follows the story of
a "correspondence" between Zarqawi and Osama bin
Laden intercepted by US intelligence.
The European Union has a secret cell in
Brussels tracking terrorism all over the world. One of
its analysts has confirmed to Asia Times Online:
1) Terrorism is up, not down, centered in Iraq.
2) There's no evidence that Zarqawi is planning
a chemical-weapon attack in Europe. 3) If the
Americans really had enough intelligence to
intercept al-Qaeda correspondence, they could
easily apprehend Zarqawi, bin Laden, or both.
Is it yes or no?
considered "terrorism" by the Bush administration
is perceived as something completely different
around the world. "Terrorism" is defined
differently in the Middle East. A helpful guide is
a February study on Middle Eastern public opinion
- conducted in Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and
Palestine - and released by the Center for
Strategic Studies at the University of Jordan.
For more than 85% of the population in four of
these five countries polled (64% in Lebanon), the
US war on Iraq was an act of terrorism. Ninety
percent in all countries polled say that Israel's
killing of Palestinian civilians is terrorism.
Hamas and Hezbollah are not regarded as terrorist
groups: they are regarded as legitimate resistance
organizations. For a majority of Jordanians and
Palestinians, even al-Qaeda's fight is legitimate.
for Rice, she had a very tense meeting with
Russian President Vladimir Putin this Wednesday in
Moscow. She said there would be more orange
revolutions in Russia's back yard, she told Putin
not to try getting re-elected, and she stopped
short of labeling Russia a terrorist state -
according to Russian journalists from, among other
sources, Kommersant and Pravda. Then she went for
an interview at the popular radio Echo Moskvy.
Rice - sold by the White House as a Russian expert
and fluent Russian speaker, although she never
lived in the country - couldn't understand her
interviewer "even when discussing the only
non-political question", according to Kommersant.
She was asked whether she was going to run for US
president in 2008. She answered da (yes)
in Russian. Then a mental "ooops!" intervened, she
realized she didn't get it, and hastened to say
(no) seven times. It's possible as well
that Rice may not have really understood what the
NTCT is trying to say.
For the State
Department's briefing on this issue, click
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