Robert Scheer: Does Al Qaeda exist?


Richard Moore

To: "mer" <•••@••.•••>
From: "MER - Mid-East Realities - MiddleEast.Org" <•••@••.•••>
Subject: The Great Al Qaeda Conspiracy?
Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2005 15:10:19 -0500

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            "The nightmare vision of a uniquely powerful hidden
            organization waiting to strike our societies is an illusion.
            Wherever one looks for this Al Qaeda organization, from the
            mountains of Afghanistan to the 'sleeper cells' in America,
            the British and Americans are chasing a phantom enemy."
                                   - BBC Documentary

MIDDLEEAST.ORG - MER - Washington - 11 January:   Quite a few
times last year and before we drew attention to Canadian,
British, and European documentaries and articles that no
American media would show or publish and thus which few
Americans have ever heard about.   Today, already well into
2005 and the Bush/neocon/evangelical Term II, the L.A.Times
allows one article to slip through that maybe could begin to
unmask a historical conspiracy far greater than most have even
imagined.   And there's much more to come.

Is Al Qaeda Just a Bush Boogeyman?

Robert Scheer

January 11, 2005 - Is it conceivable that Al Qaeda, as defined
by President Bush as the center of a vast and well-organized
international terrorist conspiracy, does not exist?

To even raise the question amid all the officially inspired
hysteria is heretical, especially in the context of the U.S.
media's supine acceptance of administration claims relating to
national security. Yet a brilliant new BBC film produced by
one of Britain's leading documentary filmmakers systematically
challenges this and many other accepted articles of faith in
the so-called war on terror.

"The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear," a
three-hour historical film by Adam Curtis recently aired by
the British Broadcasting Corp., argues coherently that much of
what we have been told about the threat of international
terrorism "is a fantasy that has been exaggerated and
distorted by politicians. It is a dark illusion that has
spread unquestioned through governments around the world, the
security services and the international media."

Stern stuff, indeed. But consider just a few of the many
questions the program poses along the way:

*  If Osama bin Laden does, in fact, head a vast international
terrorist organization with trained operatives in more than 40
countries, as claimed by Bush, why, despite torture of
prisoners, has this administration failed to produce hard
evidence of it?

*  How can it be that in Britain since 9/11, 664 people have
been detained on suspicion of terrorism but only 17 have been
found guilty, most of them with no connection to Islamist
groups and none who were proven members of Al Qaeda?

*  Why have we heard so much frightening talk about "dirty
bombs" when experts say it is panic rather than radioactivity
that would kill people?

*  Why did Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld claim on "Meet
the Press" in 2001 that Al Qaeda controlled massive high-tech
cave complexes in Afghanistan, when British and U.S. military
forces later found no such thing?

Of course, the documentary does not doubt that an embittered,
well-connected and wealthy Saudi man named Osama bin Laden
helped finance various affinity groups of Islamist fanatics
that have engaged in terror, including the 9/11 attacks. Nor
does it challenge the notion that a terrifying version of
fundamentalist Islam has led to gruesome spates of violence
throughout the world. But the film, both more sober and more
deeply provocative than Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11,"
directly challenges the conventional wisdom by making a
powerful case that the Bush administration, led by a
tight-knit cabal of Machiavellian neoconservatives, has seized
upon the false image of a unified international terrorist
threat to replace the expired Soviet empire in order to push a
political agenda.

Terrorism is deeply threatening, but it appears to be a much
more fragmented and complex phenomenon than the
octopus-network image of Al Qaeda, with Bin Laden as its head,
would suggest.

While the BBC documentary acknowledges that the threat of
terrorism is both real and growing, it disagrees that the
threat is centralized:

"There are dangerous and fanatical individuals and groups
around the world who have been inspired by extreme Islamist
ideas and who will use the techniques of mass terror - the
attacks on America and Madrid make this only too clear. But
the nightmare vision of a uniquely powerful hidden
organization waiting to strike our societies is an illusion.
Wherever one looks for this Al Qaeda organization, from the
mountains of Afghanistan to the 'sleeper cells' in America,
the British and Americans are chasing a phantom enemy."

The fact is, despite the efforts of several government
commissions and a vast army of investigators, we still do not
have a credible narrative of a "war on terror" that is being
fought in the shadows.

Consider, for example, that neither the 9/11 commission nor
any court of law has been able to directly take evidence from
the key post-9/11 terror detainees held by the United States.
Everything we know comes from two sides that both have a great
stake in exaggerating the threat posed by Al Qaeda: the
terrorists themselves and the military and intelligence
agencies that have a vested interest in maintaining the facade
of an overwhelmingly dangerous enemy.

Such a state of national ignorance about an endless war is, as
"The Power of Nightmares" makes clear, simply unacceptable in
a functioning democracy.

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Richard Moore (rkm)
Wexford, Ireland

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