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August 8, 2014

Summary of Adam Curtis Power of Nightmares Part 3

By Pal Palsimon

This summarizes Adam Curtis award-winning video, in which he analyzes how the foreign policy managers in America and Britain have left us nothing to believe in, and have severely damaged our more positive values without which we are very much diminished as nations.


The Power of Nightmares Part 3 by Adam Curtis - "The Shadows in the Cave"

"The final episode addresses the actual rise of al-Qaeda. Curtis argues that, after their failed revolutions, bin Laden and Zawahiri had little or no popular support, let alone a serious complex organisation of terrorist............After the American invasion of Afghanistan fails to uproot the alleged terrorist network, the Neo-Conservatives focus inwards, searching unsuccessfully for terrorist sleeper cells in America. They then extend the war on "terror" to a war against general perceived evils with the invasion of Iraq in 2003."

Critiques of The Power of Nightmares - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Summary of Power of Nightmares - "The Shadows in the Cave"

By Pal Simon

This section repeats much of what is shown in Parts 1 and 2, and generally the newest observations are as follows:

In 2001 in Federal Court in New York Americans were prosecuting the four bombers on charges related to the simultaneous bombings at two American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania on August 7, 1998 which killed 224 people and wounded thousands. Prosecutors wanted to be able to establish the existence of a large organization of terror so that any of their leaders could be tried in absentia for the crimes of the member followers, (as was the law of case for Mafia prosecutions.) But bin-Laden had no large "criminal organization so they invented one for him. They got help for this from Jamal Ahmed Al-Fadl who was to become a witness in the case.

In an interview on this video, Jason Burke (See note 1) said of Jamal Ahmed Al-Fadl that he was a Sudanese ex-militant who had no credibility but was taken up by the prosecutors as a key prosecution witness and given a great deal of taxpayer money.

He said they got al-Fadl and a number of other witnesses that were willing to make a case from "raw material" and to turn this into testimony that would fit the needs which the prosecutors told them they required. This turns into an extremely influential "first al-Qaeda myth." Curtis said that "In fact, Jamal Ahmed Al-Fadl, having stolen money from bin-Laden, was actually on the run. In return for his evidence Americans gave him witness protection and hundreds of thousands of dollars."

The Defense lawyer Sam Schmidt stated in interview that he believed Al-Fadl fabricated much of his testimony to meet the needs of prosecutors.

Curtis said the evidence produced by prosecutors painted a mythical picture of a huge organized terror network under bin-Laden, who had also given this network the name "al-Qaeda." But the reality was that al-Qaeda was not a huge organization, only a "loose association of dissident groups who planned their own operations and looked to bin-Laden for funding. He was not their commander. There was also no evidence that bin-Laden had ever used the term al-Qaeda until after September 11th, when he realized this was the term Americans had given them." And Brock in interview agreed and reiterated that there is no such organization called al-Qaeda with sleeper cells all over the world that obeys commands from a central figure or organization, spreading its tentacles out.... this "simply does not exist." And yet, now having al-Queda recognized as a world wide criminal organization, the government could prosecute any members and commanders of such an organization anywhere around the world in the same way they could legally do so for a mafia member. (See Notes 2 and 3.)

Just as the neocons had exaggerated the will and power of the Soviet Union to impose tyranny upon the world, they also exaggerated the power and extent of a network of terrorists attempting to impose their own tyranny on the world. In reality the Soviet Union was on its last legs, collapsing from within, and jihadists were, at the same time, losing influence in the world. And yet, the idea of neocons was that it was to be and should be "America's destiny to fight an epic battle against the forces of evil." Vincent Cannistraro, Head of Counter-terrorism CIA 1988-90 in interview also agreed on this position.

This myth became a reality in the minds of almost everyone on September 11, 2001 when the attack on the World Trade Center made the pervasive al-Queda threat seem even more real in the minds of Americans.

Curtis states that the actual "brainchild" of the WTO attack was Khalid Sheikh Mohammed [See Notes 3 and 4 Motive] who had gone to Osama in search of funds for the project. Before the attack George W. Bush publicly indicated he did not believe in going into other countries to force them to "live as we live."

But neocons, "in the wake of the panic" of World Trade Center, blamed the vast network of al-Queda for the crime".and Bush's rhetoric publicly changed. After the attack, he spoke of al-Queda, with the words "mafia as the terror and al-Queda the crime"". the work of "thousands of terrorists in more than 60 countries," and that the vast terror network recruited terrorists from all over the world, "brought to camps in places like Afghanistan, where they are trained in the tactics of terror."

Curtis says that this was the event that brought the neoconservatives back to power in America. Where Bush's administrators, Paul Wolfowitz and Donald Rumsfeld had previously been ignored during the 1990s, (especially during the Clinton years) they now were able to show evidence of their predictions. These neocons had been working under the Reagan Administration 20 years before, and were now again appointed within the administration of George W.

Now Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and Richard Perle began to lay plans for the response to the World Trade Center attack.

Richard Perle, Chairman of the Pentagon Defense Policy Board 2001-2003 in interview said the same struggle as they had against Soviet totalitarianism was the struggle they had with a "War on Terrorists," good vs evil. Both Russia and al-Queda wanted to impose an "intolerant tyranny upon all mankind" an Islamic universe in which we are compelled to accept their universe.."

Thus began the invasion of Afghanistan (See Notes 7 and 8). Americans allied with the Northern Alliance, fighting the Taliban. The neocons imagined and publicized the idea that Osama lived and worked out of fortress-like caves in the mountains of Afghanistan. These structures of many stories had all the comforts of home; computer systems, dormitories, offices, underground tunnels, and even places where large trucks could drive right in. Wolfowitz publicly stated that "there is not one of those, there are many of those." But no such elaborate structures were ever found, either by the Americans or the British.

According to Curtis, "The majority of these fighters had never had anything to do with bin-Laden or international terrorism." They were simply an Islamic group that wanted to impose Islamic governments in their own countries and were not part of an al-Queda organization. (See notes 7 and 8.) The Taliban consisted mainly of fighters from other countries being trained in Afghanistan, and, as foreigners, the Northern Alliance hated them, willingly took them prisoners and turned them over to Americans "as al-Queda members" in exchange for monetary reward. It did not matter to members of Northern Alliance whether or not they truly were associated with a network called al-Queda, as long as they were paid for turning them in. Once in hands of Americans they were either killed or taken to Guantánamo Bay.

Says Curtis: "The terrible truth is that there was nothing there [in the mountains of Tora Bora] because al-Queda as an organization didn't exist. The attacks on America had been planned by a small group that had come together around bin-Laden in the late nineties"... united by the idea of an extreme interpretation of Islamism developed by Zawahiri." In searching for an organization, Americans were chasing a fantasy and missing the "real threat."

Jason Burke, (See Note 1), interviewed said that there had been no organized group in Afghanistan, no cells, etc., and that all that was really there was an idea "prevalent among young, angry Muslim males throughout the Islamic world," and it is the idea which is the threat.

The neocons also began looking for this fantasy network in America. Paul Wolfowitz, (U. S. Deputy Secretary of Defense), stated publicly that the networks existed in over 60 countries around the world, including the United States and "we will do whatever it takes to dismantle them." (See Note 6 on Wolfowitz doctrines.) All branches of law and military were told to look for terrorists. Many people were arrested, and George W announced publicly that they had "thwarted" terrorists in "Buffalo, Seattle, Portland, Detroit, North Carolina, Tampa, Florida." David Cole, Professor of Law at Georgetown University said "they call them sleeper cells, but when you look at the details the facts just don't support that, and they have not proved that any group within the United States has plotted or engaged in any terrorist activity within the United States." The Curtis video gives examples of a number of flawed efforts to convict people based on flimsy, ridiculous evidence, and flawed analyses, and activities that could not be classified as "terrorist," so that they made not one successful case to prosecute any of them as terrorist cells. Nevertheless, the fantasy of terror was expedient, both in the U. S. and in Britain.

The British government also promoted the idea that there were terrorist cells waiting to attack. And yet, "of 664 people arrested under the Terrorism Act since September 11, 2001, none of them had been convicted of belonging to al-Queda. Only 3 people have been convicted of having any association with any Islamist groups, and none of them were convicted of being involved with a terrorist cause, but only for fund-raising and possessing Islamist literature. The majority of people convicted under the Terrorism Act since September 11, 2001 were actually members of Irish terrorist groups UBF or real IRA ". The video indicates some ridiculous British arrests and charges that could never amount to convictions.

Curtis says that while there are extreme Islamist theories that have inspired many violent actions around the world, the bombings in Madrid as an example, "This is not a new phenomena. What is new is the way Americans and other governments have transformed this complex and disperate threat into a simplistic fantasy of an organized web of uniquely powerful terrorists who may strike anywhere at any moment. But no one questions the fantasy because it served the interests of so many".." It even served the interests of the terrorists themselves. For example , take Abu Zubaydah (See note 9) who, under intense and frequent interrogation and severe torture, told interrogators of terrifying plots that al-Queda was preparing -- "some of which were copied from Hollywood movies." Zubaydah gave a lot of details that he thought would cause panic, such as plans to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge, mass transit, the Statue of Liberty, apartment buildings, banks, etc., and how they had a dreaded "dirty bomb" which could spread radiation throughout cities and cause many people to die.

Neocons publicly announced they had information that al-Queda had plans to do all these things, and the media also announced as if true that al-Queda might launch dirty bombs in America. Such announcements served the purpose of instilling fear in the public that tended to increase support for their war on terror. None of these threats could ever be confirmed, and, in fact, the testing of dirty bombs proved that, if such existed in hands of al-Queda, they would be almost harmless.

The neoconservatives used this panic and fear as they began a campaign against Iraq. George W announced fervently and publicly that his administration had evidence from various sources and from people "now in custody that Saddam Hussain aids and protects terrorists, including members of al-Queda." Richard Perle in an interview also adamantly insisted that there was good evidence that Saddam Hussain had assisted the 9/11 hijackers and that there was also evidence of links between Saddam and al-Queda to aid them in their activities. The fantasy took hold around the world and "transformed the very nature of politics" and gave neoconservative politicians "a new and heroic role in the world," as managers on the world stage to protect us from terror. The American and British foreign policy-makers began to advise that there was no need for real evidence of threats, but one must imagine the worse, (" a grand dark vision of imagined threats"), and do whatever necessary to prevent them. (See Note 10 on Permanent War or the Permanent Preparation for Permanent War)

Such policy was based on the same "precautionary principle" which came about as a consequence of the idea that we must prepare for the potential effects of climate change, even though we had not yet proven there would be any real threat to us. This principle in the political area, however, led to many breaches of constitutional rights of due process, for example, many arrests of people who had not committed any crimes, but who police suspected were "potential" criminals or "sleeper cells." The loss of the rights of due process was to become a sacrifice we should make because of these threats to our nation. It led to imprisonment of foreign nationals without trial, which is illegal under the European Convention.

Finally, many have come to believe that terrorists, such as al-Queda, do not actually threaten the existence of our nations, as would be a Hitler, and that the sacrifices being made to the political and social values we once believed in are not justified. Because of politics of fear we have lost those values, and now politicians give us nothing to believe in at all.

For our future in this context, see Notes 10 and 11.


Note 1 Jason Burke In 2003, Burke wrote Al-Qaeda: Casting a Shadow of Terror, which was later updated and republished as Al-Qaeda: The True Story of Radical Islam. Noam Chomsky described it as the "best book there is" on Al-Qaeda.[4] He was interviewed in the 2004 BBC documentary The Power of Nightmares. In 2006, he wrote On the Road to Kandahar: Travels through Conflict in the Islamic World.

Note 2 [According to The Base "al-Queda is a global militant Islamist and Wahhabist organization founded by Osama bin Laden, Abdullah Azzam,[25][26] and several other militants,[27] at some point between August 1988[28] and late 1989,[27] with its origins being traceable to the Soviet war in Afghanistan.[29][30] It operates as a network comprising both a multinational, stateless army[31] and a radical Wahhabi Muslim movement calling for global jihad and a strict interpretation of sharia law.[32]It has been designated as a terrorist organization by the United Nations Security Council, NATO, the European Union, the United States, Russia, India and various other countries . Al-Qaeda has carried out many attacks ". ." ]

Note 3 - Responsibility for the September 11 attacks

Note 4 - Khalid _Sheikh_Mohammed "According to testimony by Philip Zelikow, bin Laden was motivated by a desire to punish the US for supporting Israel and wanted to move up the attack date. Mohammed argued for ensuring the teams were prepared." In fact Sheikh Mohammed was the financial supporter for the 1993 bombing of the WTC also 1993 bombing WTC.

Note 5 -- Secret email from Ayman al Zawahiri's computer "Abu Khalid (brother of President Sadat's killer) tells me he has resigned because he doesn't want to face the consequences of this latest initiative. I am also informed, """"" This obviously refers to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

Note 6 -- Various doctrines of Paul Wolfowitz are interesting read.

Note 7 Civil war in Afghanistan (1996--2001) In 1996 the Taliban captured the Afghan capital Kabul and established the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan. The Islamic State of Afghanistan government remained the internationally recognized government of Afghanistan. The Taliban's Emirate received recognition only from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and the United Arab Emirates. The defense minister of the Islamic State of Afghanistan, Ahmad Shah Massoud, created the United Front (Northern Alliance) in opposition to the Taliban. The United Front included all Afghan ethnicities: Tajiks,Uzbeks, Hazaras, Turkmens, some Pashtuns and others. During the conflict, the Taliban received military support from Pakistan and financial support from Saudi Arabia.

Note 8 War in Afghanistan (2001--present) (section Origins of Afghanistan's civil war) refers to the intervention by North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) and allied forces in the ongoing Afghan civil war. The war followed the September 11 attacks, and its public aims were to dismantle al-Qaeda and denying it a safe basis of operation in Afghanistan[22][23] by removing the Taliban from power.U.S. President George W. Bush demanded that the Taliban hand over Osama bin Laden and expel al-Qaeda.

Note 9 - Abu Zubaydah has been in US custody for more than ten years, [since 2002] four-and-a-half of them in the CIA secret prison network. He was transferred among prisons in various countries as part of their extraordinary rendition program. Post 9/11, Zubaydah was extensively tortured.

Note 10 - Article: The Significance of Dick Cheney, Part I | OpEdNews reading on Policy of Fear: The most important part of the Cheney Doctrine is the establishment of either Permanent War or the Permanent Preparation for Permanent War............Cheneyite policy; the Promotion of Fear and its importance for Cheneyite policy; and the Privatization of Government, one of the central elements of Cheneyite policy. Finally we shall consider the 2016 Presidential election, and what are the interests of the dominant sector of the ruling class, led in major part by Dick Cheney, in gaining full control of the Federal government.

Note 11 Zawahiri warned that Bin Laden would continue to "terrify" the US from beyond the grave.

Previously in emails he wrote that Killing innocent Egyptians, al Zawahiri wrote, is morally and religious justifiable, because the staff, diplomats, and guards who perished at the Embassy in Pakistan supported the Egyptian government. His country's authorities, he continued, had prevented the rule of Islam, imposed a secular constitution, and didn't follow the laws of God. The government has also opened its prisons to militant Muslims, with al Zawahiri estimating the number of detainees was as high sixty thousand. See also

(Article changed on August 9, 2014 at 04:53)

(Article changed on August 9, 2014 at 05:08)

(Article changed on August 9, 2014 at 05:30)

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Palsimon, formally educated in journalism & law, is an independent progressive activist & writer, focusing on guarding integrity of media & government. (.)