....LMB: "War on Terror: The First Year"....

September 10, 2002

[This article was originally printed in the 9/11/02 edition of Eat the State!. They've actually done a bit of editting and improved it. So I'm using their version instead of my original]

This is not a 9/11 retrospective that reminds us about national heroes, reflects on the psyche of the nation, or tells how celebrities are coping with last year's tragedy. You can get all that and more if you turn your television on any time this month (the channel won't matter).

There were two obvious outcomes of the attacks the subsequent war on terror: thousands of people were killed in NYC, DC, and Pennsylvania; and the US unseated the Taliban from Afghanistan. But many aspects of the stimulus and the response have been forgotten in the shuffle. Here are a few.

Environmental disaster in NYC. The transformation of two enormous skyscrapers into a mountain of rubble and an immense cloud of dust endangered the lives of many New Yorkers. Modern buildings are filled with all sorts of materials that human beings should not inhale: asbestos, mercury, lead, concrete dust, ground glass, and who knows what else. Even today, New Yorkers are finding significant levels of asbestos, mercury and lead floating about.

The EPA seemed reluctant to do anything about the toxic cloud, but under public pressure, eventually agreed to clean up the residences in lower Manhattan. What long-term effects the pollution might have on the health of the people living in the area is unknown.

"Anti-Terrorism" Worldwide. After George W. Bush announced the beginnings of a War on Terrorism, many other national governments realized that they could also cry "terrorism" and use it as an excuse for violent conflict with unruly portions of their population. We saw Israel crack down on the Occupied Territories, Russia crack down on rebels in Chechnya, China crack down on the Uighur rebels in Xinjiang, India cracked down on militants in Kashmir, the Philippines cracked down on terrorist/thug group Abu Sayyaf, and Colombia cracked down on its Marxist rebels. Most of these rebel groups would claim that they are fighting for freedom against a repressive government, while of course those governments claim that the rebels are terrorists. Either way, the US is currently looking the other way while these governments bring in the big guns. Had the American "war on terrorism" not happened, it is unlikely that these nations would have used this additional force in their battles.

Afghanistan: Aftermath. Afghanistan was a nation already impoverished and torn to bits by both the Soviet invasion of the 1980s, the civil war between the mujahadeen warlords in the early 1990s, and the battles between the Taliban and the warlords in the later 1990s. While Hamid Karzai was given the Afghan presidency, the position held little power. The real power belonged to these warlords. The US has managed to keep the warlords peaceful for the most part, but this peace seems to be rapidly deteriorating as the warlords begin to again fight each other for power. With last week's assassination attempt upon Karzai, perhaps this peace is drawing to a close.

As though that wasn't bad enough, there are now reports that the Taliban and Al Qaeda may be regrouping for an attempt to reclaim their territory once the summer heat recedes. Also, under the warlords' rule, the heroin trade has skyrocketed.

India-Pakistan. The US attack relied heavily upon Afghanistan's neighbor to the south, Pakistan. This new close relationship terrified Pakistan's biggest enemy, India, and increased tensions tremendously. When Kashmiri militants attacked the Indian parliament, India and Pakistan teetered on the brink of war--a conflict made more frightening by the fact that both nations have nuclear weapons. Somehow, that barely-averted crisis seems to have slipped from everyone's minds--so much so, that no one is complaining that the United States is currently selling weapons to both India and Pakistan.

Attack on immigrants' rights in US. Almost immediately after the hijacked planes crashed, the FBI and INS began rounding up as many as 2,000 Arabs, South Asians, Muslims, and Sikhs and held them secretly for extended periods of time, denying many of them contact with their families, or even lawyers. Some were held on no charges. These detentions were illegal. None of these detainees have been publicly alleged to have any connection to the 9/11 attacks, Al Qaeda, or any terrorist organizations. Most of them were found guilty of some sorts of violations of immigration laws and were deported. Scores remain imprisoned, many remaining in isolation.

Civil Liberty Erosion. Soon after the terrorist attacks, Congress passed the USA PATRIOT Act. Many members of Congress admitted that they approved the bill without even reading the 342-page document first. The new law, and subsequently adopted regulations based upon it, greatly expanded the powers of law enforcement, in some ways to scary degrees. Law enforcement's restrictions on surveillance and searches have been relaxed. Public access to government information is being limited.

The Bush administration has also fabricated an entirely new legal term, "enemy combatant." In the past, persons being held by law enforcement or the government had to be classified as suspects, arrestees, or prisoners of war. Each of these terms are attached to laws which determine how they are to be treated, how long they shall be held, etc. Since "enemy combatant" is not a legal term, there are no such laws about their rights and treatment. The Bush administration argues that it can classify individuals, even American citizens, as "enemy combatants," and hold them as long as they like with no evidence and no charges, and with no access to courts, lawyers, or any outside contact. Others being held as "material witnesses" face similar conditions.

Revival of Bush's Political Career. Just prior to the terrorist attacks, George W. Bush's popularity was down to 51%. Only days afterwards, his approval rating jumped up to 90%, the highest numbers that Gallup polls have ever recorded for a sitting president. Politically, the terrorist attacks were a windfall to Bush, who then could get nearly anything he proposed passed through the Congress.

Iraq Attack. Immediately after 9/11, the Bush administration tried to link the terrorist attacks to Saddam Hussein. They failed. Now the White House alleges that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, is developing further weapons, intends to make those weapons available to terrorists, and that a "regime change" is necessary for the safety of the United States. There is virtually no evidence to support these claims (that Iraq has these weapons, or that Hussein must be removed). Nearly every day there is a new story that makes it seem like the White House is backing away from war, and another that makes it look like a US war with Iraq is inevitable.

Budget Deficit. Thanks to Bush's massive tax cut and the skyrocketing of military expenditures, an estimated $170 billion surplus will become by year's end a $165 billion deficit. Just in time for a sagging economy. Yay!

General Destabilization of Central/Southern Asia. Afghanistan is still in chaos since the fall of the Taliban. The Northern Alliance, long an ally of the Russians, now rules northern Afghanistan. Pakistani "president" Gen. Pervez Musharraf has strengthened his dictatorship, but the Islamic militants in his country are angry that he aided the US against the Taliban (in fact, Pakistan's version of the CIA was a staunch ally of the Taliban since its inception). Iraq might be invaded by the US. Israel and Palestine are still locked in guerrilla war. The US and Saudi Arabia are falling out since neo-conservatives inside the US claimed that that nation is a threat. And tensions between Pakistan and India over Kashmir remain unresolved.

US Troops Abroad. The US not only has troops in Afghanistan, but also in a number of other countries with regard to the "war on terrorism." Thousands of US soldiers recently returned from the Philippines after training Filipino soldiers. More than 100 US soldiers were training the army in the former Soviet province of Georgia, which just announced for the first time ever that it would join Soviet efforts to attack Chechen rebels. Another few hundred are in Yemen, training Yemeni soldiers. The United States armed forces are now active in over 60 countries around the world.

Anthrax. Anthrax-tainted mail infected more than 20 people and killed five of them in the weeks following 9/11. While the anthrax spores have been determined to be of military grade and to have a US source, the investigation has lagged. The culprit(s) behind this crime have still not been found.

Camp X-Ray. The United States is still holding hundreds of detainees from the battles in Afghanistan in camps at Guantanamo Bay marine base in Cuba. Are they members of Al Qaeda? Are they members of the Taliban? Are they dangerous anti-American terrorists? Who knows? All we're told is that they're "enemy combatants" (see above).

Where's Osama? What happened to Al Qaeda? Probably the most important question to ask, what happened to al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden? No one knows where bin Laden is, or whether or not he's alive or dead. Therefore we can't really say whether or not the "war on terrorism" has been a success or a failure, because we just don't know. And with the Bush Administration's focus having shifted from "preventing terrorism" to "eradicating evil" to, well, whatever it is now, it no longer seems to matter whether the War On Terror is successful. It just is. And, should the Bush Administration's vision take root, it will continue to be.

Posted by Jake at 11:40 PM

Jake, you gutless coward. Who did you loose in September 11 attack? If you are an America and consider yourself a patriot, you should be ashamed of your self. You certainly picked a wrong topic to exersize your creative writing skills. You are not from Cleveland, are you?

Posted by: Doctor at November 15, 2002 07:15 AM

face it doc, jake makes a lot of valid points.

Posted by: Wamiq at November 22, 2002 07:12 PM

Anyone who does not reveal one's funding source should not be trusted irrespective of country or religion.

Disclosure of the funding source is the first thing one should do before making or deeming any statement credible.

Both terrorism and anti-terrorism exist like injustice, poverty and illiteracy because of the funds available for it.

The former two would not survive if the fund for the first is diverted to the latter three issues.

Is it too complex to understand?

Posted by: Gopal Krishna at November 3, 2004 06:01 AM
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Lying Media Bastards is both a radio show and website. The show airs Mondays 2-4pm PST on KillRadio.org, and couples excellent music with angry news commentary. And the website, well, you're looking at it.

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Media News

November 16, 2004

Tales of Media Woe

Senate May Ram Copyright Bill- one of the most depressing stories of the day that didn't involve death or bombs. It's the music and movie industries' wet dream. It criminalizes peer-to-peer software makers, allows the government to file civil lawsuits on behalf of these media industries, and eliminates fair use. Fair use is the idea that I can use a snippet of a copyrighted work for educational, political, or satirical purposes, without getting permission from the copyright-holder first.

And most tellingly, the bill legalizes technology that would automatically skip over "obejctionable content" (i.e. sex and violence) in a DVD, but bans devices that would automatically skip over commericals. This is a blatant, blatant, blatant gift to the movie industry. Fuck the movie industry, fuck the music industry, fuck the Senate.

Music industry aims to send in radio cops- the recording industry says that you're not allowed to record songs off the radio, be it real radio or internet radio. And now they're working on preventing you from recording songs off internet radio through a mixture of law and technological repression (although I imagine their techno-fixes will get hacked pretty quickly).

The shocking truth about the FCC: Censorship by the tyranny of the few- blogger Jeff Jarvis discovers that the recent $1.2 million FCC fine against a sex scene in Fox's "Married By America" TV show was not levied because hundreds of people wrote the FCC and complained. It was not because 159 people wrote in and complained (which is the FCC's current rationale). No, thanks to Jarvis' FOIA request, we find that only 23 people (of the show's several million viewers) wrote in and complained. On top of that, he finds that 21 of those letters were just copy-and-paste email jobs that some people attached their names to. Jarvis then spins this a bit by saying that "only 3" people actually wrote letters to the FCC, which is misleading but technically true. So somewhere between 3 and 23 angry people can determine what you can't see on television. Good to know.

Reuters Union Considers Striking Over Layoffs- will a strike by such a major newswire service impact the rest of the world's media?

Pentagon Starts Work On War Internet- the US military is talking about the creation of a global, wireless, satellite-aided computer network for use in battle. I think I saw a movie about this once...

Conservative host returns to the air after week suspension for using racial slur- Houston radio talk show host (and somtime Rush Limbaugh substitute) Mark Belling referred to Mexican-Americans as "wetbacks" on his show. He was suspended for a couple of weeks, and then submitted a written apology for the racial slur to a local newspaper. But he seems to be using the slur and its surrounding controversy to boost his conservative cred with his listeners.

Stay Tuned for Nudes- Cleveland TV news anchor Sharon Reed aired a story about artist Spencer Tunick, who uses large numbers of naked volunteers in his installations and photographs. The news report will be unique in that it will not blur or black-out the usual naughty bits. The story will air late at night, when it's allegedly okay with the FCC if you broadcast "indecent" material. The author of this article doesn't seem to notice that Reed first claims that this report is a publicity stunt, but then claims it's a protest against FCC repression. I'd like to think it's the latter, but I'm not that much of a sucker.

Posted by Jake at 04:02 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)
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Mission: Mongolia

Jake's first attempt at homemade Mongolican barbecue:


What went right: correctly guessing several key seasonings- lemon, ginger, soy, garlic, chili.

What went wrong: still missing some ingredients, and possibly had one wrong, rice vinegar. Way too much lemon and chili.

Result: not entirely edible.

Plan for future: try to get people at Great Khan's restaurant to tell me what's in the damn sauce.

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