“What kind of nation uses a terrorist
threat to justify declaring war on three sovereign nations, however
ruthless and despicable their leaders, having no relation and bearing
no responsibility for the destruction we have suffered?”
-- Jack Random, “The Great Destroyer” (Jazzman
Chronicles, Volume II)
are two kinds of propaganda. One is guided by principle and strictly
adheres to what it knows to be the truth. The other is guided by a
political agenda and does not hesitate to distort, misrepresent and
obscure the truth whenever it conflicts with that agenda.
The former is an honorable tradition in
the service of justice and democracy, a legacy distinguished by Tom
Paine, Cesar Chavez, Martin Luther King and so many other
less-trumpeted American heroes. The latter is the refuge of political
hacks and demagogues exemplified by Karl Rove, Rush Limbaugh and Joe
While the demagogues and partisans are invariably financed by the most
powerful institutions in the nation, inheriting permanent seats at the
table of mainstream media, the purveyors of truth face a constant
struggle until finally their numbers are so many they can no longer be
On the fifth anniversary of the twin towers attack, all Americans need
to be reminded that there is a war going on within the nation. It is a
propaganda war, pitting truth versus power, and its outcome is
anything but certain. In the balance of this struggle for the hearts
and minds of America lies a future of constant war, fear and loathing,
against an alternative vision of enlightened leadership.
Five years after the attack on the twin towers, we remain fearful and
angry because we have been denied the essential truths that would
allow the healing to begin.
The government propaganda machine kicked in almost immediately after
the 9-11 attack with the omission from news reports of our president’s
inexplicable seven-minute paralysis in a Florida kindergarten
classroom. Within hours, Osama bin Laden was identified as the
perpetrator as his image was cast over the still simmering ruins of
Ground Zero. Within days, we had determined not only to attack Al
Qaeda but also to overthrow the government of Afghanistan for
complicity in the crime. We delivered an ultimatum and when they
countered with an offer to deliver the accused to a neutral country,
we turned them down. Within weeks of the attack, we launched a
At the time, Americans were so determined to back the president on the
path of vengeance that we were not allowed to ask the questions that
needed to be asked. We were not allowed to question the government’s
account of what happened on September 11. We were not allowed to ask:
Why not accept the Taliban’s offer? What more might we have learned
with bin Laden in custody, facing trial by an international tribunal?
Once the necessity of military action was determined, why did we
choose to attack the nation as a whole rather than Al Qaeda? Why did
we strike a deal with the opium-driven warlords of the Northern
Alliance, choosing one darkness over another, rather than
concentrating on our real enemies? Why did we choose to destroy and
occupy an impoverished land if it was not necessary to our
To this day, Afghanistan is considered the good war because the issues
have never been raised and the assertions of power have never been
We left Afghanistan a broken nation with a crippled government,
eventually handing the job off to an inadequately prepared NATO
alliance, in order to embark on the bigger war our government wanted
The deceptions, distortions and lies employed by the propaganda
machine in the push to war with Iraq are too well documented for any
serious observer to deny. The partial release of the Senate Foreign
Intelligence Committee report on intelligence in the buildup to war
shreds any remaining doubts that there was ever any connection between
Iraq and Al Qaeda.
There was no intelligence failure in Iraq. The intelligence community
got it right. Saddam Hussein was an enemy of our enemy in Al Qaeda.
There was virtually zero probability that Iraq would ever use weapons
of mass destruction against us or our allies even if he possessed
them. There was no connection to 9-11. There was no threat.
The propaganda war is still raging. As the old myths crumble, new ones
are hoisted up in their place. The latest are that Al Qaeda and their
kind are the great threat of the next century and that, if we fail in
Iraq, the Al Qaeda types will absorb the greater Middle East.
That these are mere puff and stuff to propagate the continuation and
expansion of war should be self-evident. In the event that it is not,
consult those who have knowledge of Al Qaeda and the Middle East. Ask
those who have no dog in this hunt. Ask the intelligence community
when it is not serving at the pleasure of the president.
Before we embark on yet another war, let us take a good look at where
the path of vengeance has taken us. The war in Iraq is already lost
and the occupation of Afghanistan is in shambles. Tens of thousands,
if not hundreds of thousands, have been sacrificed over and above the
thousands that we lost on September 11, 2001.
The central front in the “war on terror” is where Al Qaeda and Osama
bin Laden still reside. When we withdraw from Iraq (as we must
inevitably do), owing to the gross incompetence of our leaders, we
will have little choice but to return to Afghanistan -- not to occupy
but to complete the job and get out.
The legacy of 9-11 should not be a perpetual reign of terror in which
we are the great destroyer, the purveyors of violence and deception.
Rather, the legacy of 9-11 should be a new awakening that will
eventually serve to protect us all from such tragedies.
The victims of that solemn day and their survivors deserve better. We
all deserve better. In fact, we should demand it.
is the author of Ghost Dance Insurrection (Dry Bones Press) the
Jazzman Chronicles, Volumes I and II (City
Lights Books). The Chronicles have been published by
CounterPunch, the Albion Monitor, Buzzle,
Dissident Voice and others. Visit his website: