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Will There Actually Be a 2004 Presidential Election?
by Dennis Rahkonen
July 17, 2004

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Tom Ridge and his Department of Homeland Insincerity are once again issuing dire warnings of the amorphous potential for a possible terrorist attack of perhaps major proportions, based on “credible” but unrevealed sources.

Notice how the latest, alleged threat conveniently emerged just as John Kerry was getting favorable press (and positive public response) for choosing John Edwards as his running mate.

Maybe I shouldn’t be so cynical.

After all, there definitely are murderous forces made violently angry by decades of rampant Ugly Americanism, and they’ve certainly proven their capacity to vengefully hurt us in a big way.

Before conservatives get wildly lathered over the preceding sentence, let me posit a simple notion.

Al Qaida didn’t assault Stockholm on 9/11. Or Berne. Not even Toronto. The perpetrators struck a glaring symbol of the self-servingly interventionist Yankee capitalism that’s been vamping on the Third World for as long as we can remember.

No Swedish country cottage was blown away. Just the twin towers in New York.


Scandinavians don’t run around the planet unrelentingly antagonizing people by jamming their own political, economic, and religious “values” down foreign throats, in furtherance of a bogus and massively hypocritical “democracy.”

Some countries actually seek to be friends and benefactors of humanity, not Thug Nation serving Wall Street. It’s the difference between neutrality and Globocop.

So, it’s quite possible that a terrorist attack designed to disrupt our upcoming election is authentically in the offing.

But what if it isn’t?

Suppose the neo-con zealots who populate the White House like frenzied ants at a badly chosen picnic spot have decided to fabricate a provocative incident to trigger bedlam, ensuing martial law, and “postponed” balloting.

Suggesting such a scenario is hardly groundless absurdity.


“In the early 1960s, America's top military leaders reportedly drafted plans to kill innocent people and commit acts of terrorism in U.S. cities to create public support for a war against Cuba.”

So begins a chilling ABC News account of what has to be the sickest idea ever conceived in Washington.

Uncovered through an insider disclosure by investigative journalist James Bamford, “Operation Northwoods” was calculated to dupe the American people into backing a war against Fidel Castro’s Cuba via a series of staged actions involving murdering even our own citizens.

Approved by all members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the amazing proposal boggles rational minds: "We could blow up a U.S. ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba," and, "casualty lists in U.S. newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation."

Stung by the disastrous Bay of Pigs invasion, key figures in the Pentagon (plus influential elements on the political Right) were obsessed with getting rid of the “communist menace” just 90 miles from our coast.

Operation Northwoods shows how insanely far they were prepared to go to achieve their objective.

Featuring an array of outrageous suggestions, the plan proposed deliberately flying a U-2 spy plane low enough over Cuba that it could be easily shot down, permitting propaganda incitement in the aftermath.

Had John Glenn’s sub-orbital space flight attempt resulted in tragedy, Castro was to have been blamed for an envisioned booster explosion.

An excerpt from Bamford’s own book on the matter, Body of Secrets, discloses that Operation Northwoods “called for innocent people to be shot on American streets; for boats carrying refugees fleeing Cuba to be sunk on the high seas; for a wave of violent terrorism to be launched in Washington, D.C., Miami, and elsewhere. People would be framed for bombings they did not commit; planes would be hijacked.”

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Lyman L. Lemnitzer, presented the diabolical scheme to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara on March 13, 1962, urging that Operation Northwoods be carried out by the military.

McNamara apparently scotched the plan, with President Kennedy informing Lemnitzer a few days later that there would be no further use of force against Cuba. Ultimately, Lemnitzer was removed from his top leadership position.

But, in an environment of intense conflict between military hardliners and a Kennedy administration that sought to assert greater civilian control, the President himself was “removed” from office by an assassin’s (or assassins’) bullets.

Operation Northwoods was, of course, completely unknown to Congress and the nation at the time, taking a full forty years to be uncovered.


Should the ultra-conservative ideologues who actually run the White House and who’ve already taken America on a course of comprehensive rightwing extremism decide to resurrect Operation Northwoods, who would stop them?

Certainly not the craven Democrats who knuckled under to Florida’s vote theft in 2000 and meekly acquiesced to Bush’s rapacious Iraq war.

Just as the contrived Reichstag Fire allowed Hitler to push through his Enabling Act that consolidated German fascism, it’s a virtual certainty that a cowardly Congress would do essentially the same if the Sears Tower went up in flames before November, or a lethally poisonous substance were released at the Mall of America.

Can we count on the American people rising up to thwart a fascist coup?

Despite my progressive’s faith in populist good sense, that salvation is illusory. Toby Keith would probably sing a country song celebrating our descent to tyranny, and little American flags would flutter from cars in the figurative funeral procession of our freedom’s death.

It’s logical to deduce from how our entire culture has decided to meekly accommodate itself to America’s worsening Enron-Abu Ghraib depravity that we’d rather go to Hell than seriously rock the boat that’s delivering us there.

The unnerving truth is that, should they actually decide to implement it, there’s nothing to prevent Fascism American Style.

Reactionary, white males making millions (billions) by hook or crook aren’t simply going to suddenly become Mr. Nice Guys when confronted with the irresolvable contradictions of their increasingly compromised socio-politico-economic system.

Their lust for exploitatively-derived mammon would turn them into Nazis in the blink of an eye.

Perhaps things won’t go as far as I’ve grimly conjectured. Maybe Bush will “win” a second term through a vote-theft repeat, facilitated by easily hacked electronic voting machines that leave no paper trail. Same result, less Draconian means.

But we can’t rule out a neo-Hitlerian power grab, replicating the dictatorial abuses that quashed liberty in Germany.

What a tragically telling commentary it is on how far our beloved country has fallen under rightwing rule that all this can be raised with such a large measure of believability, even probable likelihood.

Immediately after the Reichstag Fire, the Nazis secured passage of an emergency decree that permitted history’s most monstrous evil to be unleashed on humankind:

"Restrictions on personal liberty, on the right of free expression of opinion, including freedom of the press; on the rights of assembly and association; and violations of the privacy of postal, telegraphic and telephonic communications and warrants for house searches, orders for confiscations as well as restrictions on property, are also permissible beyond the legal limits otherwise prescribed."

We already have -- in the USA Patriot Act -- the foundation upon which an Americanized version of that evil could rather easily be built.

It’s entirely logical to assume that, incredibly, the land of the free and the home of the brave is just one real or falsified terrorist attack away from unabashed tyranny.

Be alarmed, fellow citizens.

Be very alarmed.

Dennis Rahkonen, from Superior, WI, has been writing commentary and verse for various progressive outlets since the ‘60s. He can be reached at

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