I've known about and followed Greg Palast's important work for some time. I read his eye-opening book The Best Democracy Money Can Buy a few years ago and have mentioned it several times in some of my other writing. Greg is one of the most important and exhaustively thorough investigative journalists anywhere, which is especially important at a time when that kind of effort is needed more than ever. I knew he had a new book in the works, and I looked forward to getting and reading it knowing it would be full of important and explosive material we all should know about. I wasn't disappointed nor did I expect to be.
Living in the US under a rogue administration bent on world conquest and dominance, I can easily understand what Greg might have had in mind by his title. But as he explained, he chose it from his late teacher Allen Ginsberg who wrote: "The soul should not die ungodly in an armed madhouse." He also explained before he became an investigative journalist he was a "forensic economist" meaning he cut deeply into the inner workings of companies like Enron and Exxon-Mobil (my favorite one to pick on because they make it so easy for me to do) to learn what they've really been up to - no good for sure as everyone now knows about Enron which was little more than a crime organization posing as a legal business.
I suspect not enough people know about Greg in the US. That's because the dominant corporate media won't go anywhere near him. Why? Because he uncovers and discloses some of the most important information we should know that gets people upset when they find out about it. That's not the kind of material an empire wants in circulation nor its corporate media. It might interfere with the empire's plans if the public knew what it was up to, and it wouldn't be good for business either as the corporate media and the rest of corporate America profit from its government's antics which are engaged in on their behalf. So to assure it's business as usual, the public is kept uninformed except for the steady stream of propaganda, lies and distortion reported that's called news and information.
Greg does get some air time on BBC Television's Newsnight in the UK. But I'm surprised he gets any as that august organization is as much in bed with its government as our dominant media is with ours. Nonetheless, apparently over there some important information slips between the sheets and manages to come out over the airwaves and into peoples' homes. In the US, it's almost impossible finding any of that. Over here we have a highly controlled system of mass communication and in a nation claiming to have a free press. In the words of a former commentator of a bygone era, the press here is free to anyone who owns one.
Greg divides his book into five chapters crammed with facts we need to know that we'll never see on CNN or hear on National Public Radio which has about as much to do with the public as Pravda did in the former Soviet Union. We're clever in our use of language here, and sadly too many people are none the wiser about it. But thanks to the efforts of journalists like Greg, that number is declining. I'll give you a healthy sample of what he reported in Armed Madhouse chapter by chapter.
Chapter One - The Fear - It's Osama Again
I'd guess more people in the US know who Osama bin Laden is than the mayor of their city, governor of their state or Vice-President of the US. They have to know because he's been packaged as the world's most fearsome bogeyman and placed in the spotlight enough times to make the public believe he's a threat to life on the planet. He's the face and persona used to justify the so-called "war on terror," which is the convenient scam scare tactic the Bush administration uses to justify its war on the world and on the US public for good measure. That war without end against new enemies whenever we run out of old ones is to make the world safe for corporate America, and to make sure its extra safe it destroys our civil liberties and essential social services as well.
We've blamed Osama for everything from 9/11 to conspiring with Saddam to maybe causing the price of gasoline and gold to skyrocket making them both the world's two greatest bogeymen. With Saddam in the dock and his show trial now ongoing at the kangaroo court we set up for him, it leaves Osama alone on the loose as boogeyman-in-chief to allow the scare hoax to continue. It's an old con game used to heighten the level of public fear even more and thus make the scam of the "war of terror" sound real when, if fact, it's not. Whatever Osama did or didn't do, Greg explains what he wanted and why he had reason to be upset at the US.
As far as we know, he's not a particularly nice fellow, but what he wanted was our troops removed from the "Land of Holy Places" called Saudi Arabia. They'd been sent there in preparation for the 1991 Gulf war and remained after it ended. His motive was not out of compassion for the Saudi people. It was because our presence threatened what he called the largest oil reserves in the world. Those reserves certainly are enormous but not nearly the greatest as Greg explains later in his book which I'll get to below. The US initially recruited him as a CIA asset and financed his jihad against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s which he also found oppressive and wouldn't tolerate. He had other motives as well which included removing Saddam, overthrowing the House of Saud and creating a new fundamentalist Islamic state from Sudan to Kazakhstan with every nation in it an oil producer which Greg calls a Petroleum Kingdom of God run by Osama and his followers.
While the Bush administration was busy fingering Osama and Saddam as the twin threats we had to remove, although neither one had the weapons to threaten anyone, they went to great pains to ignore the real threat of A.Q. Khan. He happens to be the father of Pakistan's nuclear bomb and was eager and willing to share his technology at a price with interested buyers like North Korea, Libya and possibly others we may never know about until they develop their own "bomb" and test one. Selling nuclear secrets apparently is a good way to make a living. It's easy to get away with it when you do it as a representative of a client state run by a man who came to power the old-fashioned way - he forcibly seized it but claimed it was to benefit his people. Don't they all say that? But that's never a problem for the US if that leader or any other is willing to sell out the sovereignty of his nation and turn it over to us. General Pervez Musharraf was very willing to do that, and he's been well-rewarded for his consideration.
So instead of trying to restrain the threat of nuclear technology proliferation, the Bush administration concentrated instead staking out "Marion the Librarian" so it could violate our civil liberties to learn if anyone was reading books in libraries it didn't happen to like. I do that all the time, like the one I'm now reviewing, but I don't get mine from libraries. I wonder if they also stake out Barnes and Noble and Borders. You can bet not if they're big contributors to Bush or the Republican party.
The Bush enforcers and protectors of our liberty then went after most anyone they decided threatened our security regardless of whether, in fact, they did. Topping the list have been Muslims and their organizations for no other reason than their religion happens to be Islam and their skin color is a little darker than ours - even those from Arab countries who are caucasians but not ones white enough to suit us. That's enough to make them convenient targets, using the ruse that persecuting and rounding them up makes us all a lot safer. It hardly seems to matter to a gullible public that it does just the opposite.
So using a daily mantra of fear (with added emphasis from color-coded levels flashing across TV screens) as needed, the Bush administration has managed to convince the public it's a good idea to wage two wars without end and is getting ready to wage one or two more for good measure against Iran and Venezuela. It hardly matters that we don't have the troop strength, we're violating international laws we call "quaint" and "obsolete," we've amassed huge and growing budget and trade deficits, we're illegally spying on our own people, and the world has never been less safe because we, not Osama or Saddam, made it that way by our actions. Is it any wonder why most everyone hates us, and as a result, Greg says: "We will be hit again." I certainly agree we will but would suggest it may be another inside job just like the first one on 9/11 whoever was on those planes.
Chapter Two - The Flow - War Is Good, Especially If Winning It Means A Big Oil Bonus
We learned right from the start of the first George W. Bush administration there was a secret plan to attack Iraq and seize its oil fields. But most people think there was one plan while Greg reports, in fact, there were two very different ones competing to be the one used.