Comedy of Terrors

cartoon illustrating the Shakespearean quote from Hamlet, "Madness in great ones must not unwatch'd go"“Madness in great ones must not unwatch’d go.”

Hamlet, act 3, sc. 1


While “misery acquaints a man with strange bed-fellows”(1), the FBI looks for strange bed-fellows to increase their misery – in the name of the war on terror and terrors.

Some background for our international readers. The official 9/11 story is still that the operation was hatched and directed by a haggardly man with a beard, a turban and bad kidneys, who lived in a cave in Afghanistan.

However, after the event, it was also assumed that the US was teeming with terrorist, Al Qaida-directed cells, ready to strike at will, unless tracked and destroyed.

Except that these cells did not exist. Or rather, after 9/11, domestic terrorism adopted what has been called the “franchise” or “lone wolf” model.  That is, rather than exporting terrorists, fanatic Islamists exported ideas. They would set up websites and forums directed at disenfranchised, disillusioned Muslims – or non-Muslims angry at the US foreign policy.

Consequently, in the new “lone wolf” model, terrorists (Muslim or otherwise) would have to operate independently and unassisted.

An example is US Army Major Hassan, who killed 13 people and wounded 29 others at Fort Hood in Texas in 2009. He had corresponded with an Imam in Yemen, who indeed encouraged acts of terrors through the web. A drone duly assassinated the Imam. And shortly later, his 16-year old American son, while he was sipping coffee in a bar in Sanaa, with a friend, both pulverized.

There have been domestic mass shootings even with more victims than at Fort Hood, but, for whatever reason, they do not fall into the FBI classification of terrorism.

The “lone wolf” model led, in turn, to a FBI counter-program called “Preemption, Prevention and Disruption.” The program increased the number of informants from 1500 to 15000 (according to published data) – while engaging the immense spying operation of the NSA.

We would naturally expect that any “lone-wolf”, as such, will do everything possible to hide his intents. In fact, the cases of actual “lone wolf” attacks are less than the fingers of one hand. The shooting at the EL AL counter in Los Angeles (two victims), the Pakistani who tried to blow up a van in Times Square in New York but was spotted in time by an attentive citizen. And the Boston Marathon attack, for which, however, many unanswered questions remain.

The majority of other terrorism cases have been sting operations, where an FBI agent noticed a menacing message on an online forum. Or when an informant picked up someone’s anti-government and threatening statements in a bar or other public place.

Whereupon the FBI sent another informant and/or agent provocateur to befriend the would-be terrorist, offer him money and (fake) ammunition for the purpose. After which the FBI would arrest him, try him and put him out of circulation.

As an ex-FBI agent said, referring to the subjects arrested in sting operations, and subsequently tried and convicted, “These are people who could not find their own house at the end of their street.” Consciously or unconsciously they are impelled by the violence of pent-up resentment, surprised  by the suddenness of passion and proud of the originality of their terrorist idea, born during the sallies of their imagination.

Some of the would be “lone wolf” terrorists are indeed comedic material. Take, for example, Antonio Martinez, 22, a punk from Baltimore, who liked to be called Muhammad Hussein, but his mother still called him ‘Tony’.

He had dropped out of high school to practice small thievery around Washington DC. At 21 he turned Christian but didn’t like it and switched to Islam. On his Facebook page he wrote of himself that he was “just a yung brotha from the wrong side of the tracks who embraced Islam.”

What caught the interest of the “Preemption, Prevention and Disruption” operatives, was Tony’s message on Facebook that went, “The sword is cummin the reign of oppression is about 2 cease inshallah.”

This is what Caliban would write, after telling Prospero that, “You taught me language and my profit on it is, … that I know how to curse.”(2)  But that was enough for the FBI to engage one informant and one agent provocateur – the latter a purported Afghan terrorist who, after a meeting with Tony-Muhammad, gave him an SUV, a car bomb, and a detonator.

The agent provocateur instructed him on how to detonate the fake bomb. Here is an extract from the recorded conversation. Tony, “I’m ready, man. It ain’t like you seein’ it on the news. You gonna be there. You gonna be there, shooting and gettin’ shot at. It’s gonna be real. I’m excited, man.”

The night before the attack Tony enjoyed himself driving the SUV in an empty parking lot. He had little driving experience. Next day, as he was activating the fake detonator of the fake bomb, the FBI arrested him.

At the trial, it was easy for the defense to prove that the terrorist plot was a creation of the government. It was also clear that Tony-Muhammad could not possibly carry out any plan, even with his best intentions. But he was condemned to 25 years in jail after pleading guilty to the attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

And the attorney for the District of Maryland could proudly bring forth his irrefragable argument that, “We are catching dangerous suspects before they strike, and we are investigating them in a way that maximizes the liberty and security of law abiding citizens.”

Given the subject condemned, and he is one of similar others, there could have been another solution. For example, sending a social worker to spend, say, 3 hours with Tony-Muhammad. Maybe introducing him to a community center or placing him under the supervision of a non-threatening tutor.

But to think so shows a lack of understanding of neo-liberal economics. Here are the numbers.

Cost of, say, 3 hours of a social worker at $10.00/hour = $30.00. Add $20.00 for transport and coffee. Total, $50.00. Arranging minimum assistance to direct the subject to a Community Center, say $100.00. Total investment, $150.00

But under the “Preemption, Prevention and Disruption” plan, here are the estimates.

** Time spent by the FBI agent in charge of the operation,  $1000.00
** The rewards for the informants, after a successful conviction, range from $50,000 to $100,000 and more. Let’s say $80,000 to be conservative, $40,000 for each of the two.
** Cost of trial, attorneys etc. say $20,000.00
** Cost of incarceration, officially estimated at $40,000 per year per inmate.
** Total: 1,000 + 80,000 + 20,000 +(40,000 x 25years = 1 million $) = 1,101,000

As you can see there is no comparison. For – as counterintuitive as it may seem – at the root of neo-liberal economics, is disaster capitalism. $150 is nothing, but with 1 million$, we start talking.

It does not matter that the million could be allocated to more human (in the etymological meaning of the word) resources. In neo-liberal economics, it does not make sense. No wonder, then, that there are 2.5 million people in jail, while the Custodial Industry is thriving.

The same reasoning applies to the trillions spent on the military and, for the matter, on Health Care. It would be a tragedy if just only 20% of the population took it upon themselves to adopt a healthier life-style. Disbelieving readers may remember the pronouncement by the CEO of a large pharmaceutical conglomerate at a recent congress, when he publicly called for new illnesses to be invented.

Back to terrorism. It is the nature of the business that informants and provokers come from the same milieu as the provoked. In other words, they are criminals who struck back-door deals with the FBI to have reduced sentences, or not to be deported or similar.

The problem is that honest people don’t make good informants. The consequences, when prosecutors use criminals as witnesses are easily imaginable. Since the informants are rewarded based on conviction, they use their genius to make their victim appear a terrorist even when he actually isn’t. And if a conviction means success, why quarrel with it, why bother about the means.

Among the many cases, as I said, some are comedic material. Take the “Miami Five”, young unemployed African Americans, spotted playing basketball near an abandoned warehouse. A self-styled Al-Qaida Arab befriended them and promised 50,000$ each, if they could blow-up the Sears Towers in Chicago. But the first task in the operation was to take a picture of an FBI office nearby. For this he gave them a $50.00 camera and money for the bus ticket. They were arrested as they were taking the picture, tried and condemned to lengthy jail sentences.

In another case – also involving the prospected bombing of the Sears Tower in Chicago – it is not clear if the FBI was conning the terrorist, or the terrorist the FBI.  The investigated asks the investigator for an advance ASAP, because “I do not have money for my rent.”

However, there is a more sinister shadow behind the “Preemption, Prevention and Disruption” project. Of the sinister shadow, there were glimpses in France, after the “Charlie-Hebdo” massacre. For, if intent without action is punishable, the next target for punishment is thought without intent.

On French TV, (the video is extant at it is plainly stated that those who did not take part in the minute-of-silence in honor of the victims, or who say “I am not Charlie-Hebdo”, are complicit in terrorism (sic).

In America an idea first floated on TV, or other regime media outlets, is called a “trial balloon”, to test reactions at large. And it is meaningful that such extraordinary idea is proposed in the nation that considers herself the cradle of free speech.

Now, to be found a “complicit in terrorism”, the accomplice must be targeted and discovered. In the instance, anyone can say at one point “I am not Charlie-Hebdo”, but how can he be caught saying so? The answer is complete control of any and all communication of everybody all the time. That is, the total destruction of privacy and the de-facto Orwellian implementation of thought-crime and of the thought police. Followed, in natural sequence, by complete government control and policing of the web and of all other means of communications.

Exaggeration? Not really by considering the matter coldly. 17 people are murdered in Paris spurring natural outrage, amplified by the regime media and by an unprecedented, worldwide PR campaign. It is the same media that expresses no outrage at other terrors and at the hundreds of thousands of civilians killed in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and elsewhere. Besides, killing women and children by drone is not even considered murder, let alone terrorism.

We are accustomed to ignore small changes from day to day. Just as we are constantly aging, but notice the changes only when looking at our pictures of years ago.

It is the same with freedom. Compare the restrictions of today with those of 20 years ago – without even mentioning the massive wall of secrecy surrounding the actions of the government. Which – secrecy – is in itself a clamp on freedom (of information).

But freedom itself does not age, it can only expand, shrink or be eliminated.

The web has remained, for the moment, the only avenue for discovering the gargantuan lies propounded by the governing cabal and its media acolytes. As such, the web is dangerous for the organs of power.

It seems improbable today, but the web may foster the birth of a national or international movement or revolt, wished by many and dreaded by a few. In the circumstances, the last frontier open to policing is thought. And thought can only be monitored by constant scrutiny of the data of everyone, everywhere, all the time. Data and, of course, metadata (e.g. keywords, GPS location, time etc.)

During a recent debate at the John Hopkins University, NSA General Counsel Stewart Baker said,  “Metadata absolutely tells you everything about somebody’s life. If you have enough metadata, you don’t really need content.”

Equally present General Michael Hayden, former director of the NSA and the CIA, called the comment “absolutely correct. ” And with a barely concealed smile of pride he added, “We kill people based on metadata.”

It is the same General Hayden who, in front of Congress and on National TV, had the guts and the gall to say that, “We do not spy on Americans.” And of whom we can only say, “God made him, therefore let him pass for a man.”(3)

(1)    The Tempest
(2)    The Tempest
(3)    Merchant of Venice

In the play. The King concurs with Polonius’ suggestion to send Hamlet to England hoping for his mental recovery.

Note. Some information in the article was obtained from the book, “The Terror Factory” by Trevor Aaronson.

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