STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
CIA: Terrorists to Nuke U.S. Cities
By Staff News & Analysis - January 28, 2010

A new report by retired longtime intelligence officer Rolf Mowatt-Larssen, who served as chief of the CIA's Weapons of Mass Destruction Department, accuses the U.S. government of seriously misreading al-Qaida's operational objectives. "Al-Qaida's reasoning," according to Mowatt-Larssen's new report from Harvard's Kennedy School, "runs counter to analytic convention that equates the ease of acquisition of chemical, biological or radiological weapons with an increasing likelihood of terrorist use – i.e., a terrorist attack employing crude weapons is therefore more likely than an attack using a nuclear or large scale biological weapon." "In fact, it is the opposite" of that conventional wisdom, according to the analysis, entitled "Al-Qaida Weapons of Mass Destruction Threat: Hype or Reality." Al-Qaida's motivations suggest "the greatest threat is posed by the most effective and simple means of mass destruction, whether these means consist of nuclear, biological, or other forms of asymmetric weapons." That makes all the scarier the scolding that came this week from the congressionally authorized Commission on the Prevention of Weapons of Mass Destruction Proliferation. That panel gave the Obama administration an F grade for its performance in preparing the U.S. homeland for a terrorist attack that utilized biological warfare. – Newsmax

Dominant Social Theme: Batten down the hatches.

Free-Market Analysis: We follow up yesterday's somewhat controversial column "Lieutenant Colonel Says US Coup Feasible" with this item from Newsmax (and perhaps elsewhere as well) which is actually entitled, "Former WMD Chief: Al-Qaida Awaiting Nukes." We focus on analyzing this story because it is yet another variant in our opinion of the authoritarian meme that has continually retained popularity with the US military, America's 16 separate spy agencies and, for some reason, many in the alternative media.

Yesterday we discussed the potential for martial law in the West and especially in America, and pointed out the Internet's never-ending fascination with this potential state of affairs, especially in America. But we then suggested that a gradualist strong-man model followed by a Hitler or Mussolini was perhaps more likely than the naked declaration of martial law by an Obama presidency (or any other) for the foreseeable future (or near future anyway).

If you missed yesterday's coverage of this issue, click here to read now.

We pointed out that, especially in America, the size of the country, the lack of programs to control gun ownership (despite every effort) and the basic culture of the republic, which still abides, would spell no end of trouble for a political class that decided to solve its problems with a brutal military solution. This is NOT to say it could not happen – anything can happen – but an abrupt attempt at a military takeover, especially of America, would more likely result in an endless guerilla-style insurrection than a docile and pacified nation.

The "martial law" meme, we suggested, was (at least potentially and in-part) a power-elite promotion designed to frighten people, especially those with libertarian leanings, and make them feel hopeless and helpless. The promotion itself (if that is what it is), is being cleverly combined with the limnings of an increasingly authoritarian state that includes an ever-more militarized police force and "cooperation" between federal, state and local policing authorities – as if such totalitarian efficiencies are actually a net positive for civil society (they aren't).

Britain of course is far down this road, but the US is hurrying down it, too. We would suggest that the unseemly haste we observe on the way to "endless policing for endless security" is aided and abetted by a military and intelligence community that is happy to reinforce every social fear available. Not only that, but we have a suspicion that as aggressively as the mainstream press echoes these themes, the alternative Internet press is unfortunately no slouch itself.

Yes, fear is rife on the Internet, even or especially among the alternative press which specializes in anti-state declarations – and we do have our suspicions as to why this should be. Malevolent Illuminati signs, implacable secret societies and a general presumption that the power elite is inviolable are part of the language of a certain part of the ‘Net. The result? A kind of meme that reinforces the impossibility of successfully confronting or challenging the current, shadowy power structure that stands behind the visible organs of the state.

Within this context, we find the statements of former CIA agent Rolf Mowatt-Larssen (as so generously reported by Newsmax) perfectly comprehensible and even predictable. Whatever else it may be, it is certainly an attempt to remind American citizens that they must live in terror forever, never knowing when or whether their cities are about to be blown into near nothingness along with their families. And what is indisputable, we believe, is that within this terror-context, Americans (and Western citizens in general) are being driven toward surrendering more and more freedom and privacy.

In the 20th century, America engaged in an almost endless cycle of "wars against communism" to make sure that the "dominoes didn't fall." The idea was that a loss in Korea, Vietnam, etc., would ensure soon afterwards that courageous nations would be fighting such wars on its own soil. In fact, America "lost" the Vietnam war, yet the Vietnamese for some reason never followed retreating troops to America. Al Qaeda, American citizens are told, are different from the Vietnamese. If Al Qaeda is not defeated overseas, or even if it is, the remnants, like the head of a snake, will wiggle across the Atlantic to sink its fangs into the soft underbelly of a hapless American municipality.

It so happens, being an exceptionally paranoid bunch, your editors researched the whole issue of nuclear and biological warfare after 9/11, and again several years later. What we discovered is that any effort to use biological weapons from the standpoint of asymmetric warfare (terror attacks) is incredibly difficult. Biological weapons are very hard to control and unreliable as well.

As far as mini-nukes go, when we looked into the matter we were surprised to find that the technology does not yet exist, so far as we know, to stuff a nuclear weapon in one's pocket with the idea of taking a stroll into the center of town. You could, indeed, we suppose, create a mini-nuke (or find one of the ones that Russia is endlessly said to have mislaid) but these are not small weapons after all. They are not easy to make, even today, and they are heavy.

And then there is this … Warfare, as we have pointed out before, is the job of the state. Even terrorist movements need funding and support from governmental entities – and thus any government providing a platform for a mega-terror event would be risking everything it had. America went into both Iraq and Afghanistan on flimsy pretexts after 9/11. Imagine what she would do to a country that abetted a significant and successful, major attack on a US municipality.

Whether or not you believe in the entire paraphernalia of the war on terror, it seems indisputable to us that for nearly a decade external threats have been used to erode Western civil liberties. To live in America – and certainly Britain – today is to live in a society at war with a shadowy enemy that can never be defined and never be entirely stopped. The terror is endless as are the increasingly Draconian remedies.

In the larger scheme of things – even excluding the way various war-on-terror signifiers seem to be developed – the conclusion that war on terror is in a sense an elite promotion seems hard to avoid. It has the signifiers of a promotion in that it rolls forward regardless of evidence and opposition. Its rationales have in some sense been proven false, but that does not seem to matter. Its necessity is not clear to many but it progresses nonetheless. It has the same imperviousness as other power elite promotions, including most famously global warming.

After Thoughts

We bring up global warming because to date it provides the most successful evidence we think we have that the Internet itself is proving a formidable foe when it comes to debunking dominant social themes. In the case of global warming – as in the case of central banking (also a dominant social theme) the elite has seemingly gone into crisis mode, attempting damage control. We would argue that the elderly men (they are apt to be men) running these promotions are living in the 20th century when the power elite controlled all the elements necessary to develop a successful social meme. If a dominant social theme was somehow questioned, a strategy would be developed to salvage it. But today it's different. Thanks to the Internet, what is happening is a process. There are perhaps no crises to react to anymore – only the potential for a long, slow discrediting of the themes the elite worked so hard to erect in the past 100 years.

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