by Gary North
Vice President Cheney says we are safer than we were on 9/11. Senator Kerry says we are not safe enough, but we could be. It's an election year. "Vote for us. Be safer."
Ignorance is bliss. Until it kills you.
There are some bad things going on out there. Sometimes the media focus on them. More often, however, they focus on innocuous things or highly improbable things and call them looming emergencies. Something big is always going to kill us, one of these days, we are told: the hole in the ozone layer, global warming, man-made carbon dioxide in the oceans, whatever. Unless the government . . . . If only the government would. . . .
In contrast, there is a tendency for every influential institution to downplay the really bad things that really do threaten society — things for which there is no known solution by a government agency or a United Nations treaty, things that would require a reversal of existing government policy, for the government to do less, not more. If a potential disaster can't be used to justify the expansion of the government, the media ignore it or else bury it on page 17.
To illustrate my point, I shall select a back-page industry: cruise liners.
A SLOW BOAT TO CHINA, IF THINGS GO WELL
Have you ever taken a cruise? I have. Three, actually. I was a speaker at conferences on board cruise ships. So, I got free tickets. That was back in the late 1970s. Been there, done that.
The cruise industry's ads on TV feature young, nubile couples — rarely seen on actual cruises — frolicking in the surf. These ads are in fact aimed at graying people with lots of money, who will spend most of their daylight hours on board either snoozing in deck lounge chairs or eating. They don't call these ships "The Love Bloat" for nothing.
The Securities & Exchange Commission requires a publicly traded company to send out a fat, unreadable prospectus before selling any stock. The cruise ship industry is not similarly regulated. A case in point. . . .
Does any cruise line mention the existence of 100-foot waves that appear out of nowhere on calm seas, without warning, and sink any ship in their path? No?
Also unmentioned is the fact that these waves are continual phenomena, not "perfect storm" phenomena.
I did not know of their existence until a week ago. Lew Rockwell posted a link from the BBC News on his site. It was at the bottom of his home page, which gets changed every day. I might easily have missed it. Tom Brokaw, Peter Jennings, and Dan Rather missed it.
If you think the media tell you the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, front and center, think about the following news report. Think about the fact that this is probably the first time you have heard about it, unless you visit Lew Rockwell's site regularly.
The shady phenomenon of freak waves as tall as 10 storey buildings has finally been proved, the European Space Agency (ESA) said on Wednesday.
Sailors often whisper of monster waves when ships sink mysteriously, but, until now, no one quite believed them.
As part of a project called MaxWave — which was set up to test the rumours — two ESA satellites surveyed the oceans.
During a three-week period they detected 10 giant waves, all of which were over 25m (81ft) high.
Over the last two decades, more than 200 super-carriers — cargo ships over 200m long — have been lost at sea. Eyewitness reports suggest many were sunk by high and violent walls of water that rose up out of calm seas.
But for years these tales of towering beasts were written off as fantasy; and many marine scientists clung to statistical models stating monstrous deviations from the normal sea state occur once every 1,000 years.
"Two large ships sink every week on average," said Wolfgang Rosenthal, of the GKSS Research Centre in Geesthacht, Germany. "But the cause is never studied to the same detail as an air crash. It simply gets put down to ‘bad weather'."
To prove the phenomenon or lay the rumours to rest, a consortium of 11 organisations from six EU countries founded MaxWave in December 2000.
As part of the project, ESA tasked two of its Earth-scanning satellites, ERS-1 and ERS-2, to monitor the oceans with their radar.
The radars sent back "imagettes" — pictures of the sea surface in a rectangle measuring 10 by 5km (6 by 2.5 miles), which were taken every 200km (120 miles).
Around 30,000 separate imagettes were produced by the two satellites during a three-week period in 2001 — and the data was mathematically analysed.
ESA says the survey revealed 10 massive waves — some nearly 30m (100 ft) high.
"The waves exist in higher numbers than anyone expected," said Dr. Rosenthal.
Ironically, while the MaxWave research was going on, two tourist liners endured terrifying ordeals. The Breman and the Caledonian Star cruisers had their bridge windows smashed by 30m waves in the South Atlantic.
The Bremen was left drifting for two hours after the encounter, with no navigation or propulsion.
Now that their existence is no longer in dispute, it is time to gain a better understanding of these rogues.
In the next phase of the research, a project called WaveAtlas will use two years' worth of imagettes to create a worldwide atlas of freak wave events.
The goal is to find out how these strange cataclysmic phenomena may be generated, and which regions of the seas are most at risk.
Dr. Rosenthal concluded: "We know some of the reasons for the rogue waves, but we do not know them all."
Had this not been published on the BBC News Web site or some equally establishment source, you would have thought this story was an urban legend. It isn't.
Presumably, this phenomenon has been with us from the beginning of the oceans, yet it has never gotten into the public's consciousness, from long before Christopher Columbus until today. Of course, there is always tomorrow.
Think about this. How did this story NOT get into the public's consciousness? This is "The Perfect Storm" in the form of a soap opera rather than a George Clooney movie. "Tune in tomorrow!" This is "The Poseidon Adventure" every two weeks.
As for the media? Silence. "A story not worth pursuing. No news value here!"
Critics of conspiracy theories usually argue, "No group could keep a story like this hidden. The story would leak out." But would it? Would anyone believe it if it did?
Stories that are sufficiently threatening to scare lots of people into not spending money, or scare them away from employment in a particular industry, or get them to lose faith in the establishment's reliability are simply not passed along. Even when they do leak out, the public resists thinking about them. The stories are just too unnerving. People think: "If I can't do anything about this, I prefer not to believe in its existence. I would rather not believe it than believe it and feel completely vulnerable."
THE WAR ON TERRORISM
There is a lot of media attention on terrorism these days. The 9/11 Commission has issued Part 1 of its report. It blames everyone in Washington, which means no one in particular. It calls for another layer of bureaucracy to solve the problems of the existing layers of bureaucracy.
Tell me: How many of the federal government's 15 separate and competing intelligence agencies can you name, besides the CIA and the FBI? If you got NSA ("No Such Agency"), you're doing better than most Americans. Twelve to go.
The Commission's report suggests that an Intelligence Czar should be appointed to oversee these huge, long-established, independent bureaucracies. That will fix things — just like the Energy Czar in 1974, William Simon, whose primary task was to reduce America's dependence on imported oil. We are more dependent on imported oil today than we were in 1974.
William Lind is a specialist on fourth generation warfare: the kind of war the Vietcong waged against us a generation ago and unnumbered insurgency groups are waging against us today in Iraq. For anyone interested in fourth-generation warfare, start here.
In a July 29 column, Lind analyzed the 9/11 Commission's report. He thinks it is typical of Washington reports. He thinks its main recommendation will lead to more intelligence failures: centralization.
When bureaucracies fail, one of their favorite ways to deflect demands for reform is to offer reorganization instead. That appears to be what has happened in the report of the 9/11 commission and Washington's response to that report. Worse, the reorganization envisioned is to further centralize intelligence by establishing a national intelligence director and creating a counterterrorism center. One is tempted to ask, if centralization improves performance, why didn't the Soviet Union ("democratic centralism") win the Cold War?
What American military and national intelligence really require is that bureaucratic anathema, reform. And reform in turn means not centralization and unification, but de-centralization and internal competition. What did us in both on 9/11 and in the run-up to the Iraq war was an intelligence process that valued committee consensus and internal harmony above the open rough-and-tumble disagreements that surface new ways of looking at things.
The media have given a lot of attention to the report and to terrorism. But there is one aspect of the terrorist threat that the media refuse to talk about: suitcase nuclear weapons. For this threat, there is no deterrent other than product scarcity and price. For this threat, there is no reliable defense.
If a terrorist group sets off a real, live nuke along the lines of the one in Tom Clancy's The Sum of All Fears, the world's economy will go down. The second bomb, exploded a week later, will keep it down. The third bomb will destroy the modern division of labor.
It takes no strategic genius to know where to explode them. It only takes familiarity with "Diehard III." The locations are: (1) 33 Liberty Street, New York City (the New York Federal Reserve Bank), (2) the City of London (the Bank of England), and (3) Frankfurt-am-Main, Germany (European Central Bank).
Mentally move from "nuclear explosion" to "fractional reserve banking." Then move from "we interrupt this broadcast" to "ATM machine." I don't mean move mentally. I mean move. The moment you hear about a nuclear explosion, get into your car and drive to the nearest ATM. Take out the limit. You can always redeposit the money later.
Two days after a nuclear bomb hits an American city, your credit cards will be rejected by all card-swipe machines. My credit cards will be rejected. All God's chillun's credit cards will be rejected.
These two words — "card rejected" — would shut down the West. Who has a month's currency in small bills in ready reserve? Nobody will be able to pay anybody with digital money.
The U.S. government would then create a national rationing system. It would put a moratorium on debt collection: no evictions, no cessation of municipal services, and rationing in terms of last month's consumption, minus 20% (initially).
The credit markets would be gone. That would be the end of everyone's productivity and lifestyle. It would cripple the division of labor.
I have talked about this scenario with Sam Cohen, who invented the neutron bomb. Sam and I disagree. I think we would get total panic and economic breakdown on the day the third bomb went off. He thinks it would take only one bomb.
I wish I could remember the arguments I used on Sam to prove to him that he's wrong.
JOE DOUGLASS LOGS IN
Dr. Joseph Douglass has specialized in matters of government intelligence and counter-intelligence for over three decades. His book on chemical and biological weapons, America the Vulnerable, was published in 1987. I read it when it first came out. I was persuaded of its accuracy. It is still in print.
His assessment of the 9-11 Commission report is worth considering.
The good news is at least this will provide the news media and their hundreds of hired talking heads something to use to fill time other than the two political conventions.
This has proven to be the case. More than this, says Douglass, is unlikely. Here's why.
First, as usual, Washington investigations are mainly held to create the impression that our elected representatives and government officials are hard at work protecting the citizenry. In reality, they invariably seem to spend monstrous amounts of money, work hardest making certain no sacred cows are gored, including themselves, and garnish millions of dollars worth of free publicity and newspaper headlines. Rarely if ever is anyone held accountable. Rather, the "system" is blamed, reorganizations are proposed as a fix as though merely shuffling the deck of cards will change the luck of the draw, and the size of government continues to grow.
Douglass rounds up his usual prime suspects: chemical and biological weapons, which he thinks are state-sponsored; the drug trade, which he thinks is partially state-sponsored; and nuclear weapons, which are obviously state-sponsored. There is an on-going link, he argues, between the state manufacture of terrorist weapons (the production system) and the criminal underworld (the distribution system).
A fourth issue concerns what is known about the possible existence of nuclear warheads already in the United States under the control of foreign intelligence service agents or terrorists. This issue was first raised by Col. Stan Lunev, formerly with Soviet military intelligence, who defected from Russia in 1992 shortly after Boris Yeltsin took the helm. Another source, retired FBI agent Paul Williams, has reported in his book that bin Laden and company purchased a significant number (20) of suitcase nucs from the Chechen Mafia as the Soviet Union was changing back into Russia and has smuggled several of the warheads into the United States already. Presumably, they are just waiting for an opportune time to set them off. For an overview, see J. R. Nyquist's "Is al-Qaeda Preparing a Nuclear Hit?"
Nyquist's article is a truly depressing piece. Douglass takes it seriously. Nyquist writes:
A new book by terrorism expert and former FBI consultant Paul Williams says that al Qaeda acquired 20 nuclear suitcase bombs from the Chechen mafia between 1996 and 2001. This agrees with similar statements made by Yossef Bodansky in his 1999 book, "Bin Laden: The Man Who Declared War On America." In saying that al Qaeda poses a nuclear threat, Williams takes his analysis a step farther. He says that al Qaeda has almost assuredly smuggled suitcase bombs into the United States. He also says that these bombs are in the 10-kiloton range, capable of inflicting millions of casualties. Williams believes that al Qaeda will use several of these devices in simultaneous attacks against urban targets by the end of 2005.
I remain open to the suggestion but skeptical regarding the specifics. I don't think Western intelligence operators have penetrated al Qaeda. That such a transaction for a single bomb is possible, I have little doubt. That it is only a matter of time seems obvious, which is why the mainstream media refuse to touch this story.
Douglass then asks two rhetorical questions:
Does not the public have a vested interest in knowing what the U.S. intelligence assessment of this reported threat really is? Is the Senate Committee convinced that U.S. intelligence now is doing all that they could reasonably be expected to do?
Here is the problem: having a vested interest and admitting that one has a vested interest are two different things. If a person's vested interest is such that he would be wise to make major changes in his lifestyle and spending habits, let alone his geography, the average person decides that the price of his vested interest is just too high. This is why men die without writing wills. It's a lot easier to pass along one's vested interest — in this case, to Tom Ridge, who gets paid to worry about such matters.
As for the Senate Intelligence Committee, this is an oxymoron: Senate, intelligence, and committee.
If any national political leader believed that a nuclear bomb had been smuggled into his country, would he warn his people about this? Of course not. The warning would create such horrendous economic effects — call this the ATM effect — that it would paralyze the country.
The movie "Deep Impact," about a comet heading for earth, is like all of the other movies about the Great Collision, beginning no later than George Pal's "When Worlds Collide." Everything runs smoothly until the object actually hits the ocean, creating a huge wave. When the wave comes, everyone is still living on the Eastern seaboard — or, in the case of the Pournelle/Niven novel, Lucifer's Hammer, the West Coast. But it would never happen this way. The entire economy would collapse long before the comet/meteor/planet struck. The division of labor would disappear, along with just about everyone living in an urban society. Who would go to work? Who would not clean out his bank account? What bank could survive?
I have seen no report from any official source about what the government is doing to deal with the problem of suitcase nukes. I have seen nothing from any official source on the steps that we citizens should take in order to prepare for the detonation of a suitcase nuke.
Maybe they are training uranium-sniffing dogs.
This much, I do know: the U.S./Mexican border is a sieve. Ranchers on the American side of the border are being threatened by the illegal aliens who are entering across their property.
The media give no coverage to this story. It has been going on for years.
Dr. Douglass makes a crucial point: it is possible, even likely, that the same underworld network that is bringing in illegal drugs is capable of bringing in biological weapons.
The anthrax letter attack seems to me to display the systemic problems within our government even more than 9-11. It is important to understand how serious the CBW (chemical and biological warfare) threat is — not the CBW threat as described in government announcements and the media, but the threat as represented in data that often does not get into intelligence estimates. Information on the CBW threat that goes well beyond nerve agents and anthrax and plague has been both suppressed and/or deliberately not collected since 1969. The history of this is extensive. The conclusion that comes out of this material is that it would be child's play, notwithstanding the Department of Homeland Defense and remedy of the various "structural problems," to mount a massive terrorist attack on the U.S. homeland using advanced CBW agents and without the government seeing any warning or afterwards being able to link the attack with any perpetrator. Recall from the above that terrorists or saboteurs and sufficient CBW agents can be brought into our country using drug trafficking networks and mechanisms.
The war on terrorism is being brought to us by the same high-efficiency organization that has waged the war on drugs for five decades. We should expect similar results.
ARMED AND DANGEROUS
The U.S. government has invaded Iraq and Afghanistan. This has turned the entire Muslim world against us. A July 23 press release reveals the results of a Zogby poll conducted in June.
Arab views of the United States, shaped largely by the Iraq war and a post-Sept. 11 climate of fear, have worsened in the past two years to such an extent that in Egypt — an important ally in the region — nearly 100 percent of the population now holds an unfavorable opinion of the country, according to two polls due out today.
Both surveys were conducted in June by Zogby International and polled Arab men and women in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco and the United Arab Emirates.
The findings reflect the concerns raised in the Sept. 11 commission report released yesterday, which emphasized a losing battle for public opinion. "Support for the United States has plummeted," the commissioners wrote.
"What we're seeing now is a disturbing sympathy with al Qaeda coupled with resentment toward the United States, and we ought to be extremely troubled by that," said Shibley Telhami, a University of Maryland professor who commissioned one of the surveys.
We now face a determined and growing number of enemies who are willing to die for their cause, who seek vengeance, and who may be supplied with weapons of mass destruction by unnamed states whose leaders have scores to settle with the United States. This country is no longer loved, let alone well-loved.
We are not told officially what the worst-case terrorism scenarios are. We are also not told officially what things are still being done poorly, and how a specific rearrangement of priorities and authorities will restore national safety. The experts interviewed on TV tell us, "We can't be 100% safe." True enough. The question is: "What, precisely, are we 80% safe from, meaning what are we 20% vulnerable to?"
Americans don't seriously believe the war in Iraq can come home. They don't think that Osama & Co. can get to us. They really don't believe in weapons of mass destruction in enemy hands. They do not believe that the mass production of such weapons by the Soviet Union (R.I.P.) could lead to a black market transfer of a nuclear bomb to a Muslim terrorist or a disgruntled Communist posing as a Muslim terrorist. They do not understand that a state-built nuke delivered by a non-state terrorist removes the supplier from the short list of counter-attack targets.
If you don't think North Korea would become a supplier if push ever comes to shove, then you are not familiar with that branch of the Kim family.
There comes a point where an aggressive foreign policy starts producing negative results. That point came for this country no later than 1898.
But there were no suitcase nukes in 1898.
We do not hear anything specific about portable weapons of mass destruction that already exist or are cheap to create, such as anthrax. We assume that because such weapons have not been used yet, they will not be used, ever.
We hear nothing about the steps being taken by government agencies to reduce this kind of threat. There are two possible reasons for the silence: (1) The authorities will not tip their hand on the nature of our national defenses; (2) The authorities really don't have a handle on the extent of the threat, and they don't want voters to know this. Either way, the real threats are not discussed publicly. The public worries about subway bombings, but not very much.
I worry about two words: "card rejected." This is the overhanging legacy of government-licensed fractional reserve banking. Call it digital fallout. It can kill you.
July 31, 2004
Copyright © 2004 LewRockwell.com