LIES, DAMNED LIES AND TERROR WARNINGS
By John Pilger
ON November 7, the day before the United Nations Security Council voted on a
resolution that made an American and British attack on Iraq more than
likely, Downing Street began issuing warnings of imminent terrorist threats
against the United Kingdom.
Cross-Channel ferries, the London Underground and major public events were
all said to be "targeted".
The anonymous Government sources described "emergency security measures"
that included a "rapid reaction force of army reservists" and a squadron of
fighter jets "on constant standby". Plans were being drawn up to "evacuate
major cities and deal with large numbers of contaminated corpses". Police
snipers were being trained "to kill suicide bombers" and anti-radiation
pills were being distributed to hospitals. By November 11, Tony Blair
himself was telling the British public to be "on guard" against an attack
that could lead to "maximum carnage".
Curiously, the national state of alert for a likely attack, colour-coded
amber, which such a grave warning would require, was never activated. It
remains on "black special", which is just above normal. Why?
That was more than two weeks ago, and urgent questions remain unanswered.
Now health service teams are to have smallpox vaccinations to "meet the
threat of a germ warfare attack"; and the Foreign Office has produced a
remarkable video suggesting that Britain is about to attack Iraq because of
its concern for that country's human rights record. (This must mean Britain
will soon attack other countries because of their human rights records, such
as China, Russia and the United States).
The absurdity of all this is becoming grotesque, and the British public
needs to ask urgent questions of its Government.
Where is the evidence, any evidence, for a national "alert" that borders on
such orchestrated hysteria? And what explains its uncanny timing with the
latest American and British machinations at the UN on Iraq?
Lying as government strategy is known as black propaganda. The British
invented its modern form. Josef Goebbels, the Nazis' propaganda chief, was
full of admiration for the British model. Since September 11, 2001, every
attempt by black propagandists in Whitehall and Washington to justify an
unprovoked attack on Iraq by linking the regime in Baghdad with al-Qaeda
terrorism has failed.
FIRST, there was the charge that Iraq was responsible for last year's
anthrax scare in the United States, then it was claimed that Mohamed Atta,
one of the alleged September 11 hijackers, had made contact with Iraqi
intelligence in Prague. Both claims have been proven false, along with
stories planted in newspapers by American intelligence that Iraq has been
training al-Qaeda terrorists at a secret base.
Surmounting the truth that the secular Iraqi regime actually fears and
loathes Osama bin Laden and his Islamic militants has always been difficult
for American and British propagandists - even though George W Bush currently
babbles nonsense about "exporting this evil al-Qaeda threat to the world".
Blair is more careful; but his implied message is the same: that the
"scourge" of world- wide terrorism is linked to Saddam Hussein, whose
demonology must now rival that of the "baby-eating Boche" during the First
World War, an early triumph of black propaganda.
These deceptions and outright lies are aimed at the great majority of the
British people who, as the polls show, are opposed to attacking Iraq, a
country that offers them no threat. However, if you frighten the public with
apocalyptic warnings about evacuating cities and incessantly link Iraq,
September 11 and the Bali bombing, then people may change their minds and be
ready for war - or so the propagandists bargain. "It's a softening up
process," says a former intelligence officer familiar with the black art, "a
lying game on a huge scale".
It is also an indication of the Blair government's desperation. Blair knows
that, however successful his enfeeblement of parliamentary democracy, public
opinion matters and, at times, has unforeseen power.
So as an antidote to the "softening up" of public opinion, I offer this
pocket guide to the current lying game:
What Bush and Blair want us to forget...
THE LOVE AFFAIR
THE present Iraqi regime is a product of the Ba'athist Party, which the CIA
helped bring to power. The CIA officer in charge of the operation described
it as "my favourite coup". During the 1980s, America and Britain supplied
Saddam Hussein with every weapon he wanted, often secretly and illegally.
The relationship was known cynically in Washington as "the love affair".
When Blair and Bush incessantly refer to Saddam "using chemical weapons
against his own people", specifically the Kurdish village of Halabja in
1988, they never explain that Britain and America were accomplices.
Not only did both governments secretly and illegally approve the sale of
chemical weapons' agents, officials in Washington and Whitehall tried to
cover up the Halabja atrocity, with the Americans even faking a story that
Iran was responsible.
And while the gassing was going on, Saddam Hussein was being congratulated
on his wise leadership by David Mellor, a Foreign Office minister, whose
turn it was to sit at the feet of the dictator. Almost as a reward, the
Thatcher governments gave Saddam £340million of British taxpayers' money in
export credits. When Bush and Blair call Saddam "a threat to his
neighbours", they never mention that George Bush Senior, as head of the CIA
and later President, pushed Iraq to attack Iran and supplied crucial
intelligence to the Iraqi military that ensured the war went on for eight
years. The result was millions of dollars in profits for American and
British arms firms, and a million young men dead on both sides. A
congressional investigation, long forgotten, described this as a "great
ON September 12, George W Bush appeared before the UN General Assembly and
asked dramatically: "Are Security Council resolutions to be honoured or cast
The answer came a few weeks later when the Security Council passed
Resolution 1435, which demanded that "Israel immediately cease measures in
and around Ramallah including the destruction of Palestinian civilian and
security infrastructure" and withdraw its "occupying forces from Palestinian
cities towards the positions held prior to September 2000".
The resolution was passed 14-0 with one abstention, the United States.
Israel dismissed it; and nothing happened. This was no surprise. The
Israelis have defied at least 40 Security Council resolutions and scores of
General Assembly resolutions: a record of dishonouring and "casting aside"
the law (to quote Bush) unequalled by any nation since the UN was founded.
Like Saddam Hussein's Iraq in the 1980s, Israel's defiance is rewarded with
all the weapons and fighter aircraft it wants. Just as Britain used to
supply Saddam with the means of making chemical bombs, so the Blair
government currently supplies the Israeli regime of Ariel Sharon with
chemical warfare technology. This includes "PCPs" which can easily be turned
into lethal sarin nerve gas which, next to nuclear weapons, is the most
feared weapon of mass destruction.
THE REAL REASON FOR ATTACKING IRAQ
AMERICA burns a quarter of all the oil consumed by humanity. A study
sponsored by the US Council on Foreign Relations says that "the American
people continue to demand plentiful and cheap energy without sacrifice or
inconvenience". Transport in the United States alone burns 66 per cent of
One estimate is that the world's oil reserves will begin to decline within
five to 10 years at the rate of about two million barrels a day. In the
Middle East, the only country capable of significantly increasing its
production is Iraq, once described by Vice President Cheney as "the great
At present, America depends on Iraq's neighbour Saudi Arabia, not just for
oil but for keeping the price of oil down. However, Saudi Arabia is the home
of al-Qaeda, and Osama bin Laden and 15 of the alleged September 11
THE grievance against the Americans for their imperial interventions in the
Middle East is said to be deepest in the country that was invented by
British imperialism and has since been maintained by the US as an oil
If America installs a colonial regime in Baghdad, certainly its dependence
on Saudi Arabia will be dramatically eased, and its grip on the world's
greatest oil market will be tightened. The price, for the people of the
region, for Americans and the rest of us, will be an enduring turmoil
similar to that of Palestine, exemplified by last week's terror bombing of
an Israeli hotel in Kenya.
This is the hidden agenda of the "war on terrorism" - a term that is no more
than a euphemism for the Bush administration's exploitation of the September
11 attacks and America's accelerating imperial ambitions. In the past 14
months, on the pretext of "fighting terror", US military bases have been
established at the gateways to the greatest oil and gas fields on earth,
especially in Central Asia, which is also coveted as a "great prize".
In Afghanistan, the president, Hamid Karzai, guarded by 46 American special
forces troops, was employed by a subsidiary of Unocal, the American oil
company. The post-Taliban US ambassador is a senior executive of Unocal, and
a pipeline to carry lucrative oil and gas across the country from the
Caspian Sea will be built by Unocal.
The majority of Bush's cabinet are from the oil industry, which has made
them extremely rich. Bush's father is still a consultant for the huge oil
services company, the Carlyle Group, and his personal clients include the
family of Osama bin Laden. One of the reasons the Americans attacked
Afghanistan was not to liberate women but to liberate the pipeline deal. As
the BBC reported on September 18, 2001: "Niaz Niak, a former Pakistani
foreign minister, was told by senior American officials in mid-July (2001)
that military action against Afghanistan would go ahead by the middle of
October. It was Naik's view that Washington would not drop its war against
Afghanistan even if bin Laden were to be surrendered immediately by the
Taliban. Remember, he said this before the attacks of September 11 had
Only a pittance of the millions of dollars pledged to rebuild Afghanistan
has arrived. As many as 20,000 people, estimates the Guardian, if you count
those bombed to death and who starved during the bombing, died so that the
West could reconquer Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden was no where to be seen.
WHILE Saddam Hussein's crimes against his own people are well known, those
of the West in Iraq are generally suppressed. The suffering of ordinary
Iraqi people is never mentioned by Bush and Blair, and only rarely by the
media. This is not surprising. Under a United Nations blockade that
resembles a medieval siege, devised and controlled by the United States and
Britain, Iraq is allowed to spend little more than £100 per person on
sustaining the life of each of its citizens for one year. This is less than
half the annual per capita income of Haiti, the poorest country in the
Western Hemisphere. It is less than the amount the UN spends on food for
dogs used in Iraqi de-mining operations.
A recent comprehensive investigation by an American academic, Professor Joy
Gordon, has revealed that the United States has placed "on hold" more than
$5billion worth of humanitarian goods that should have gone to Iraq. All the
goods were approved by the UN and financed from the sale of Iraqi oil. They
include flour, medicines, medical equipment, milk production equipment,
fire-fighting equipment, water tankers.
"Over the last three years," wrote Professor Gordon, "I have acquired many
of the key confidential UN documents concerning the administration of Iraqi
sanctions. What they show is that the United States has fought aggressively
throughout the last decade to purposefully minimise the humanitarian goods
that enter the country. And it has done so in the face of enormous human
suffering, including massive increases in child mortality and widespread
These are the people, more than half of them children, whom Bush and Blair
are planning to attack once the UN's weapons inspectors have outlived their
usefulness. (In the last three years, the Blair Government alone has spent
£1billion illegally bombing Iraq - with America. Shepherds, fishermen, truck
drivers are blown to bits with rarely a word in the media. Neither country
has a UN mandate to do this; under international law, it is simply an act of
THE one connection between international terrorism and Iraq will be the
undoubted consequence of an Anglo-American attack. Nothing will do more to
convert al-Qaeda from a relatively small gang to a fanatical international
jihad, or network. Nothing will do more to create a generation of
anti-Western bitterness and recruits for terrorism.
When Blair warns about the threat of terrorist "carnage" in Britain, the
terrible irony of his predictions is that they are likely to be
self-fulfilling if he involves the British people in a criminal foreign
For this irresponsible act, he will place at risk every British citizen at
home and abroad. It will spread fear and foster ethnic division. Such is the
true measure of his fawning devotion to great power. The people of Britain
should not allow it.