The War on Terrorism – An Alternative View

Media critic Barrie Zwicker, the host of Canada's VisionTV Insight: Mediafile, is one of the few North American journalists to offer an alternative viewpoint on the Sept. 11 tragedy. In this provocative six-part series of Mediafile commentaries, he challenges the official explanation for the attacks and considers the troubling implications of America’s new war.

Part One   Part Two   Part Three   Part Four   Part Five

Barrie Zwicker.
  What really happened on Sept. 11th?
“9/11 – Part 6”
Conclusion (What Did George Bush Know and When Did he Know it?” popularly known as “The Great Deception.”)"

Subject: Moral and spiritual challenges amidst fear and denial in a propagandized society

The editors at the New York Times made the right judgment call, in my opinion, by playing this story [“Pentagon Readies Efforts to Sway Sentiment Abroad; Debate over Credibility; New Office Proposes to Send News or Maybe False News to Even Friendly Lands,” by James Dao and Eric Schmitt] at the top of their front page recently. Because a campaign of government deception is a moral issue.

But in a way, these headlines are laughable, including as they do phrases such as “…readies efforts…?” And “…proposes to send…false news…?”

Are readers supposed to believe the Pentagon might… start lying?

Those who have seen the documentary The Panama Deception will find this assumption impossible to swallow. [VIDEO CLIP from “The Panama Deception,” Jeff Cohen of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) of New York City, speaking]:

“The U.S. military said 250 civilians were killed. There isn’t a single credible source in Panama that believes that’s true, whether it’s ambulance drivers, human rights monitors, people – doctors who worked in hospitals, neighbours of bombed-out blocks. It’s just clearly false. That story would be so easy to tell for any journalist worth his or her salt. But they’re not telling it.”

Back to the Times article. The odd thing about it is that you can go over it with a divining rod and find that neither the writers, nor anyone they quote, makes so much as a passing reference to the simple wrongness of government lying. Not once are the words “moral,” “morality,” “ethics” or such, used, let alone “lies” or “lying.”

In my moral book, publishing a story with morality at its heart, without mentioning the word, is committing the sin of omission.

The story also accepts foolish statements about Saddam Hussein and prints them with a straight face, as it were. It’s claimed he “…has a charm offensive going on…’ ”

I don’t know about you, but I’ve noticed the offensive part but not the charm part.

“ ‘…and we haven’t done anything to counteract it,’ a senior military official said.”

Well, if you don’t count the U.S. government’s all-out propaganda campaign against the Iraqi leader for more than a decade, then I guess this guy’s got a point.

Readers are also misled to focus on side issues such as “public perceptions,” “strategy,” “possible illegality” and bureaucratic turf wars. This article – representing the crème de la crème of U.S. journalism – symbolizes how disconnected the U.S. media and government have become from moral questions, one might almost say, from reality.

To give credit where credit’s due the Times ran an editorial terming the Pentagon’s proposed new Office of Strategic Influence “Orwellian.” Yet the editorial fails as well to question the fundamental justness of the Pentagon.

Which brings me to my main point. The less people ask themselves questions about deceit the more it clears the way for organizations such as the CIA to continue to receive seemingly unending billions of dollars. Taxpayer money used to train terrorists, as the CIA acknowledges it has. To destabilize governments, as former CIA agent John Stockwell writes in his book In Search of Enemies. And to inject toxic grey, white and black disinformation into the world’s information systems, as William Blum spells out in Killing Hope. All with barely a whisper of dissent.

“The lie,” wrote theologian Andre Dumas, “is biblically portrayed as ‘the first and most poisonous source of injustice.’” “Truth telling,” he wrote “is…absolutely essential to the very life and health of the whole community.”

Which is at the heart of the Great Deception, about what really happened on September 11th. For the past five weeks I’ve asked questions: How could it be that no U.S. Air Force jet interceptors turned a wheel on September 11th until it was too late? Is it coincidence that the war on Afghanistan triggered by September 11th will clear the way for petroleum pipelines of huge interest to the White House? How to explain the virtual non reaction of President George Bush immediately following the planes slamming into the World Trade Center?

These marked-up passages are from my dog-eared copy of a gem of a book, The Idea of Disarmament, Rethinking the Unthinkable, by Alan Geyer. Geyer, in 1982, writes: “The nuclear arms race has become this generation’s severest test of truth. It is zealously promoted with false words, deceptive jargon, pretentious dogmatics, hateful propaganda, and arbitrary bars on access to the truth. “No realm of public policy,” he continues, “is more corrupted by untruthful speech than national security.”

Today the Big Lie of the so-called war on terrorism – itself firmly based on the linchpin of the implausible official version of what happened on September 11th -- is an even more severe test of truth, in my opinion. Under the banner of the war on terrorism George W. Bush – with the aid of the media -- zealously promotes perpetual global war in the service of resource looting and permanent popularity for himself.

There’s unprecedented militarism. The USA is spending more than half its budget on wars past, present and future, according to the Center for Defense Information.

As Christian humanist Geyer writes in words truer today, in my view, than when written: “Demythologizing has become the indispensable theological tool of peacemaking: it is the operation empowering the people of God to understand the stratagems by which inhuman speech violates the Word of God. Those stratagems include a relentless outpouring of myths about weapons, strategy, security, enemies, history, and human nature – from government bureaucracies and adjunct think tanks and co-opted media and electronic theologians.”

And in this gem of a book I find the perfect conclusion to this series about what really happened on September the eleventh, about the Great Deception, about moral and spiritual challenges amidst fear and denial.

In the 1930s there was a powerful peace movement. At that time a play by Viennese poet Stefan Zweig was produced. The play’s principal character, Jeremiah, bursts forth with these words:

Peace is not a thing of weakness.
It calls for heroism and action.
Day by day you must wrest it from the mouths of liars.
You must stand alone against the multitude,
for clamor is always on the side of the many.
And the liar has ever the first word.
The meek must be strong.



Blum, William: Killing Hope, U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, Black Rose Books, 1998, 457 Pages, soft cover, ISBN 1-55164-096-1

Geyer, Alan: The Idea of Disarmament! Rethinking the Unthinkable, The Brethren Press, Elgin, Illinois and The Churches’ Center for Theology and Public Policy, Washington, D.C., 1982, 256 pages, soft cover, ISBN 0-87187-396-7

Stockwell, John: In Search of Enemies, A CIA Story, W. W. Norton & Company, 1978, 285 pages, soft cover, ISBN 0-393-00926-2


The Panama Deception, 1992, by The Empowerment Project, in association with Channel Four, London, and Rhino Home Video. Produced by Barbara Trent, Joanne Doroshow, Nico Panigutti and David Kasper. One of the best documentaries I’ve ever seen. Greatly relevant to our future.


The New York Times, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2002, pages A1 and A10.

Toronto Star, Thursday, Feb. 21, 2002, page A24


Center for Defense Information

The Great Deception
Video version is available on VHS cassette.

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