Sunday, October 12, 2008

US game designer blasts into space with DNA cargo

An American computer game designer reached space Sunday, fulfilling a long-deferred childhood dream that began with the flight of his astronaut father.

The Soyuz TMA-13 spacecraft carrying Richard Garriott and two crewmates — and the digitized DNA sequences of some of the world's most famous minds — hurtled into a clear blue sky from the Baikonur facility on the Kazakh steppe.

Garriott, a 47-year-old multimillionaire from Austin, Texas, is the sixth paying space traveler and the first American to follow a parent into orbit.

The Soyuz is due to dock Tuesday with the international space station, where British-born Garriott will spend about 10 days conducting experiments — including some whose sponsors helped fund his trip — and photographing Earth to measure changes since his father snapped pictures from the U.S. station Skylab in 1973.

As the bright orange glow of the rocket disappeared, Garriott's 77-year old father watched with binoculars.

"I'm elated, elated," Owen Garriott said when a loudspeaker announcement confirmed the spacecraft had reached orbit safely about 10 minutes after lift-off.

The younger Garriott said before Sunday's launch that he managed to recoup a significant slice of his trip's price — a reported $30 million — through some of his experiments and that he hoped his trip would provide a viable model for financing private space travel.

"What I am trying to do is demonstrate that you can mount a very successful campaign to go into space and beyond because it's good business," Garriott told The Associated Press.

The spacecraft is bearing the digitized DNA sequences of some of the world's greatest thinkers and musicians — as well as athletes, video game players and others.

The eclectic list ranges from famed physicist Stephen Hawking to comedian Stephen Colbert and Matt Morgan, best known as the "Beast" from the U.S. television show "American Gladiators."

The digitized DNA is part of "the immortality drive," a kind of time capsule that will also include a list of humanity's greatest achievements and personal messages from Earth. The program will be stored on the space station in case calamity were to one day wipe out the planet.

Garriott's crewmates on the landmark 100th manned Soyuz flight are Mike Fincke, an American astronaut who spent six months on the international space station in 2004, and Russian Yuri Lonchakov.

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Protesting nuns branded terrorists

"There is no way that we ever want to be identified as terrorists. We are nonviolent. We are faith-based," she said.

The women freely acknowledge their participation in antiwar activities.

On Oct. 6, 2002, the two sisters and another nun - armed with bolt cutters, a hammer and baby bottles filled with their own blood - broke into an unmanned Minuteman III missile site in northeastern Colorado and painted bloody crosses on the silo. It was the day before the one-year anniversary of the war in Afghanistan.

Sister Carol was sentenced to 30 months and Sister Ardeth to 41 months in federal prison for the action.

"I learned to make it a meditation, almost a prayer," Sister Carol told the Baltimore Sun upon her release in 2005.

But they say being tagged as terrorists in a federal database is false and a blow to their commitment to a pursuit of peace.

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Elections: A Trap for Fools

"When I vote, I abdicate my power — that is, the possibility everyone has of joining others to form a sovereign group, which would have no need of representatives. By voting I confirm the fact that we, the voters, are always other than ourselves and that none of us can ever desert the seriality in favor of the group, except through intermediaries. For the serialized citizen, to vote is undoubtedly to give his support to a party. But it is even more to vote for voting, as Kravetz says; that is, to vote for the political institution that keeps us in a state of powerless serialization."
By Jean-Paul Sartre
In 1789 the vote was given to landowners. What this meant was that the vote had been given not to men but to their real estate, to bourgeois property, which could only vote for itself. Although the system was profoundly unfair, since it excluded the greater part of the French population, it was not absurd. The voters, of course, voted individually and in secret. This was in order to separate them from one another and allow only incidental connections between their votes. But all the voters were property owners and thus already isolated by their land, which closed around them and with its physical impenetrability kept out everything, including people. The ballots were discrete quantities that reflected only the separation of the voters. It was hoped that when the votes ere counted, they would reveal the common interest of the greatest number, that is, their class interest. At about the same time, the Constituent Assembly adopted the Le Chapelier law, whose ostensible purpose was to put an end to the guilds but which was also meant to prohibit any association of workers against their employers. Thus passive citizens without property, who bad no access to indirect democracy (in other words, to the vote which the rich were using to elect their government), were also denied permission to form groups and exercise popular or direct democracy. This would have been the only form of democracy appropriate to them, since they could not be separated from one another by their property.

Four years later, when the Convention replaced the landowners' vote by universal suffrage, it still did not choose to repeal the Le Chapelier law. Consequently the workers, deprived once and for all of direct democracy, had to vote as landowners even though they owned nothing. Popular rallies, which took place often even though they were prohibited, became illegal even as they remained legitimate. What rose up in opposition to the assemblies elected by universal suffrage, first in 1794, then during the Second Republic in 1848, and lastly at the very beginning of the Third in 1870, were spontaneous though sometimes very large rallies of what could only be called the popular classes, or the people. In 1848 especially, it seemed that a worker's power, which had formed in the streets and in the National Workshops, was opposing the Chamber elected by universal suffrage, which had only recently been regained. The outcome is well known: in May and June of 1848, legality massacred legitimacy. Faced with the legitimate Paris Commune, the very legal Bordeaux Assembly, transferred to Versailles, had only to imitate this example.

At the end of the last century and the beginning of this one, things seemed to change. The right of the workers to strike was recognized, and the organization of trade unions was allowed. But the presidents of the Council, the heads of legality, would not tolerate the intermittent thrusts of popular power. Clemenceau in particular became known as a strikebreaker. All of them were obsessed by fear of the two powers. They refused to consider the coexistence of legitimate power, which had conic into being here and there out of the real unity of the popular forces, with the falsely indivisible power which they exercised and which really depended on the infinitely wide dispersal of the voters. In fact, they had fallen into a contradiction which could only be resolved by civil war, since the function of civil war was to defuse this contradiction.

When we go to vote tomorrow, we will once again be substituting legal power for legitimate power. The first, which seems precise and perfectly clear-cut, has the effect of separating the voters in the name of universal suffrage. The second is still embryonic, diffuse, unclear even to itself. At this point it is indistinguishable from the vast libertarian and anti-hierarchical movement which one encounters everywhere but which is not at all organized yet. All the voters belong to very different groups. But to the ballot box they are not members of different groups but citizens. The polling booth standing in the lobby of a school or town hall is the symbol of all the acts of betrayal that the individual may commit against the group lie belongs to. To each person it says: "No one can see you, you have only yourself to look to; you are going to be completely isolated when you make your decision, and afterwards you can hide that decision or lie about it." Nothing more is needed to transform all the voters who enter that hall into potential traitors to one another. Distrust increases the distance that separates them. If we want to fight against atomization, we must try to understand it first.

Men are not born in isolation: they are born into a family which forms them during their first years. Afterwards they will belong to different socioprofessional communities and will start a family themselves. They are atomized when large social forces — work conditions under the capitalist regime, private property, institutions, and so forth — bring pressure to bear upon the groups they belong to, breaking them up and reducing them to the units which supposedly compose them. The army, to mention only one example of an institution, does not look upon the recruit as an actual person; the recruit can only recognize himself by the fact that he belongs to existing groups. The army sees in him only the man, that is, the soldier — an abstract entity which is defined by the duties and the few rights which represent his relations with the military power. The soldier, which is just what the recruit is not but which military service is supposed to reduce him to, is in himself other than himself, and all the recruits in the same class are identically other. it is this very identity which separates them, since for each of them it represents only his predetermined general relationship with the army. During the hours of training, therefore, each is other than himself and at the same time identical with all the Others who are other than themselves. He can have real relations with his comrades only if they all cast off their identity as soldiers — say, at mealtimes or during the evening when they are in the barracks. Yet the word "atomization," so often used, does not convey the true situation of people who have been scattered and alienated by institutions. They cannot be reduced to the absolute solitude of the atom even though institutions try to replace their concrete relations with people by incidental connections. They cannot be excluded from all forms of social life: a soldier takes the bus, buys the newspaper, votes. All this presumes that he will make use of "collectives" along with the Others. But the collectives address him as a member of a series (the series of newspaper buyers, television watchers, etc.). He becomes in essence identical with all the other members, differing from them only by his serial number. We say that he has been serialized. One finds serialization in the practico-inert field, where matter mediates between men to the extent that men mediate between material objects. (For example, as soon as a man takes the steering wheel of his car he becomes no more than one driver among others and, because of this, helps reduce his own speed and everyone else's too, which is just the opposite of what he wanted, since he wanted to possess his own car.)

At that point, serial thinking is born in me, thinking which is not my own thinking but that of the Other which I am and also that of all the Others. It must be called the thinking of powerlessness, because I produce it to the degree that I am Other, an enemy of myself and of the Others, and to the degree that I carry the Other everywhere with me. Let us take the case of a business where there has not been a strike for twenty or thirty years, but where the buying power of the worker is constantly falling because of the "high cost of living." Each worker begins to think about a protest movement. But twenty years of "social peace" have gradually established serial relations among the workers. Any strike — even if it were only for twenty-four hours — would require a regrouping of those people. At that point serial thinking — which separates them — vigorously resists the first signs of group thinking. Serial thinking will take several forms: it will be racist ("The immigrant workers would not go along with us"), sexist ("The women would not understand us"), hostile to other categories of society ("The small shopkeepers would not help us any more than the country people would"), distrustful ("The man near me is Other, so I don't know how he would react"), and so forth. All the separatist arguments represent not the thinking of the workers themselves but the thinking of the Others whom they have become and who want to keep their identity and their distance. If the regrouping should come about successfully, there will be no trace left of this pessimistic ideology. Its only function was to justify the maintenance of serial order and of an impotence that was in part tolerated and in part accepted.

Universal suffrage is an institution, and therefore a collective which atomizes or serializes individual men. It addresses the abstract entities within them — the citizens, who are defined by a set of political rights and duties, or in other words by their relation to the state and its institutions. The state makes citizens out of them by giving them, for example, the right to vote once every four years, on condition that they meet certain very general requirements — to be French, to be over twenty-one — which do not really characterize any of them.

From this point of view all citizens, whether they were born in Perpignan or in Lille, are perfectly identical, as we saw in the case of the soldiers. No interest is taken in the concrete problems that arise in their families or socioprofessional groups. Confronting them in their abstract solitude and their separation are the groups or parties soliciting their votes. They are told that they will be delegating their power to one or several of these political groups. But in order to "delegate its power," the series formed by the institution of the vote would itself have to possess at least a modicum of power. Now, these citizens, identical as they are and fabricated by the law, disarmed and separated by mistrust of one another, deceived but aware of their impotence, can never, as long as they remain serialized, form that sovereign group from which, we are told, all power emanates — the People. As we have seen, they have been granted universal suffrage for the purpose of atomizing them and keeping them from forming groups.

Only the parties, which were originally groups — though more or less bureaucratic and serialized — can be considered to have a modicum of power. In this case it would be necessary to reverse the classic formula, and when a party says "Choose me!" understand it to mean not that the voters would delegate their sovereignty to it, but that, refusing to unite in a group to obtain sovereignty, they would appoint one or several of the political communities already formed, in order to extend the power they have to the national limits. No party will be able to represent the series of citizens, because every party draws its power from itself, that is, from its communal structure. In any case, the series in its powerlessness cannot delegate any authority. Whereas the party, whichever one it might be, makes use of its authority to influence the series by demanding votes from it. The authority of the party over the serialized citizens is limited only by the authority of all the other parties put together.

When I vote, I abdicate my power — that is, the possibility everyone has of joining others to form a sovereign group, which would have no need of representatives. By voting I confirm the fact that we, the voters, are always other than ourselves and that none of us can ever desert the seriality in favor of the group, except through intermediaries. For the serialized citizen, to vote is undoubtedly to give his support to a party. But it is even more to vote for voting, as Kravetz says; that is, to vote for the political institution that keeps us in a state of powerless serialization.

We saw this in 1968 when de Gaulle asked the people of France, who had risen and formed groups, to vote — in other words, to lie down again and retreat into seriality. The non-institutional groups fell apart and the voters, identical and separate, voted for the U.D.R. [1] That party promised to defend them against the action of groups which they themselves had belonged to a few days earlier. We see it again today when S…guy asks for three months of social peace in order not to disturb the voters, but actually so that elections will be possible. For they no longer would be if fifteen million dedicated strikers, taught by the experience of 1968, refused to vote and went on to direct action. The voter must remain lying down, steeped in his own powerlessness. He will thus choose parties so that they can exert their authority and not his. Each man, locked in his right to vote just as the landowner is locked inside his land, will choose his masters for the next four years without seeing that this so-called right to vote is simply the refusal to allow him to unite with others in resolving the true problems by praxis.

The ballot method, always chosen by the groups in the Assembly and never by the voters, only aggravates things. Proportional representation did not save the voters from seriality, but at least it used all the votes. The Assembly accurately reflected political France, in other words repeated its serialized image, since the parties were represented proportionally, by the number of votes each received. Our voting for a single ticket, on the other band, works on the opposite principle — that, as one journalist rightly said, 49 percent equals zero. If the U.D.R. candidates in a voting district obtain 50 percent of the votes in the second round, they are all elected. The opposition's 49 percent is reduced to nothing: it corresponds to roughly half the population, which does not have the right to be represented.

Take as an example a man who voted Communist in 1968 and whose candidates were not elected. Suppose he votes for the Communist Party again in 1973. If the results are different from the 1968 results, it will not be because of him, since in both cases be voted for the same candidates. For his vote to be meaningful, a certain number of voters who voted for the present majority in 1968 would have to grow tired of it, break away from it, and vote further to the left. But it is not up to our man to persuade them; besides, they are probably from a different milieu and he does not even know them. Everything will take place elsewhere and in a different way: through the propaganda of the parties, through certain organs of the press. As for the Communist Party voter, be has only to vote; this is all that is required of him. He will vote, but he will not take part in the actions that change the meaning of his vote. Besides, many of those whose opinion can perhaps be changed may be against the U.D.R. but are also deeply anti-Communist. They would rather elect "reformers," who will thus become the arbiters of the situation. It is not likely that the reformers will at this point join the Socialist Party-Communist Party. They will throw their weight in with the U.D.R. which, like them, wants to maintain the capitalist regime. The U.D.R. and the reformers become allies — and this is the objective meaning of the Communist man's vote. His vote is in fact necessary so that the Communist Party can keep its votes and even gain more votes. It is this gain which will reduce the number of majority candidates elected and will persuade them to throw themselves into the arms of the reformers. There is nothing to be said if we accept the rules of this fool's game.

But insofar as our voter is himself, in other words insofar as he is one specific man, he will not be at all satisfied with the result he has obtained as an identical Other. His class interests and his individual purposes have coincided to make him choose a leftist majority. He will have helped send to the Assembly a majority of the right and center in which the most important party will still be the U.D.R. When this man, therefore, puts his ballot in the box, the box will receive from the other ballots a different meaning from the one this voter wished to give it. Here again is serial action as it was seen in the practico-inert area.

We can go even further. Since by voting I affirm my institutionalized powerlessness, the established majority does not hesitate to cut, trim, and manipulate the electoral body in favor of the countryside and the cities that "vote the right way" — at the expense of the suburbs and outlying districts that "vote the wrong way." Even the seriality of the electorate is thereby changed. If it were perfect, one vote would be equal to any other. But in reality, 120,000 votes are needed to elect a Communist deputy, while only 30,000 can send a U.D.R. candidate to the Assembly. One majority voter is worth four Communist Party voters. The point is that the majority voter is casting his ballot against what we would have to call a supermajority, meaning a majority which intends to remain in place by other means than the simple seriality of votes.

Why am I going to vote? Because I have been persuaded that the only political act in my life consists of depositing my ballot in the box once every four years? But that is the very opposite of an act. I am only revealing my powerlessness and obeying the power of a party. Furthermore, the value of my vote varies according to whether I obey one party or another. For this reason the majority of the future Assembly will be based solely on a coalition, and the decisions it makes will be compromises which will in no way reflect the desires expressed by my vote. In 1959 a majority voted for Guy Mollet because he claimed be could make peace in Algeria sooner than anyone else. The Socialist government which came to power decided to intensify the war, and this induced many voters to leave the series — which never knows for whom or for what it is voting — and join clandestine action groups. This was what they should have done much earlier, but in fact the unlikely result of their votes was what exposed the powerlessness of universal suffrage.

Actually, everything is quite clear if one thinks it over and reaches the conclusion that indirect democracy is a hoax. Ostensibly, the elected Assembly is the one which reflects public opinion most faithfully. But there is only one sort of public opinion, and it is serial. The imbecility of the mass media, the government pronouncements, the biased or incomplete reporting in the newspapers — all this comes to seek us out in our serial solitude and load us down with wooden ideas, formed out of what we think others will think. Deep within us there are undoubtedly demands and protests, but because they are not echoed by others, they wither away and leave us with a "bruised spirit" and a feeling of frustration. So when we are called to vote, I, the Other, have my head stuffed with petrified ideas which the press or television has piled up there. They are serial ideas which are expressed through my vote, but they are not my ideas. The institutions of bourgeois democracy have split me apart: there is me and there are all the Others they tell me I am (a Frenchman, a soldier, a worker, a taxpayer, a citizen, and so on). This splitting-up forces us to live with what psychiatrists call a perpetual identity crisis. Who am I, in the end? An Other identical with all the others, inhabited by these impotent thoughts which come into being everywhere and are not actually thought anywhere? Or am I myself? And who is voting? I do not recognize myself any more.

There are some people who will vote, they say, "just to change the old scoundrels for new ones," which means that as they see it the overthrow of the U.D.R. majority has absolute priority. And I can understand that it would be nice to throw out these shady politicians. But has anyone thought about the fact that in order to overthrow them, one is forced to replace them with another majority which will keep the same electoral principles?

The U.D.R., the reformers, and the Communist Party-Socialist Party are in competition. These parties stand on a common ground which consists of indirect representation, their hierarchic power, and the powerlessness of the citizens, in other words, the "bourgeois system." Yet it should give us pause that the Communist Party, which claims to be revolutionary, has, since the beginning of peaceful coexistence, been reduced to seeking power in the bourgeois manner by accepting the institution of bourgeois suffrage. It is a matter of who can put it over on the citizens best. The U.D.R. talks about order and social peace, and the Communist Party tries to make people forget its revolutionary image. At present the Communists are succeeding so well in this, with the eager help of the Socialists, that if they were to take power because of our votes, they would postpone the revolution indefinitely and would become the most stable of the electoral parties. Is there so much advantage in changing? In any case, the revolution will be drowned in the ballot boxes — which is not surprising, since they were made for that purpose.

Yet some people try to be Machiavellian, in other words, try to use their votes to obtain a result that is not serial. They aim to send a Communist Party-Socialist Party majority to the Assembly in hopes of forcing Pompidou to end the pretense — that is, to dissolve the Chamber, force us into active battle, class against class or rather group against group, perhaps into civil war. What a strange idea — to serialize us, in keeping with the enemy's wishes, so that he will react with violence and force us to group together. And it is a mistaken idea. In order to be a Machiavel, one must deal with certainties whose effect is predictable. Such is not the case here: one cannot predict with certainty the consequences of serialized suffrage. What can be foreseen is that the U.D.R. will lose seats and the Communist Party-Socialist Party and the reformers will gain seats. Nothing else is likely enough for us to base a strategy on it. There is only one sign: a survey made by the I.F.O.P. and published in France-Soir on December 4, 1972, showed 45 percent for the Communist Party-Socialist Party, 40 percent for the U.D.R., and 15 percent for the reformers. It also revealed a curious fact: there are many more votes for the Communist Party-Socialist Party than there are people convinced that this coalition will win. Therefore — and always allowing for the fallibility of surveys — many people seem to favor voting for the left, yet apparently feel certain that it will not receive the majority of the votes. And there are even more people for whom the elimination of the U.D.R. is the most important thing but who are not particularly eager to replace it by the left.

So as I write these comments on January 5, 1973, I find a U.D.R.-reformer majority likely. If this is the case, Pompidou will not dissolve the Assembly; lie will prefer to make do with the reformers. The majority party will become somewhat supple, there will be fewer scandals — that is, the government will arrange it so that they are harder to discover — and Jean-Jacques Servan-Schreiber and Lecannet will enter the government. That is all. Machiavellianism will therefore turn against the small Machiavels.

If they want to return to direct democracy, the democracy of people fighting against the system, of individual men fighting against the seriality which transforms them into things, why not start here? To vote or not to vote is all the same. To abstain is in effect to confirm the new majority, whatever it may be. Whatever we may do about it, we will have done nothing if we do not fight at the same time — and that means starting today — against the system of indirect democracy which deliberately reduces us to powerlessness. We must try, each according to his own resources, to organize the vast anti-hierarchic movement which fights institutions everywhere.

~ Good Morning, Revolution ~


Stop the Clash of Civilizations



Avaaz.org (Avaaz means "voice" or "song" in Hindi, Urdu, Farsi, and other languages) is a community of global citizens who take action on major issues around the world. We have members in every country on earth, and operate in twelve languages. Our aim is to ensure that the views and values of the world's people--and not just political elites and unaccountable corporations--shape global decisions.


This video, made with agit-pop.com with music by DJ Spooky, helped launch our campaign against the so-called Clash of Civilizations--starting with a call for real Middle East peace talks now. Sign up at www.avaaz.org!

Europe and America: Lessons from a crisis

It would be wrong to exaggerate Europe's sense of self-righteousness over Wall Street's fall. This week governments in Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands all scrambled to bail out their troubled banks (see article), confirming how exposed Europe's economies are to knock-on effects from America. Even left-wing editorialists in France, quick to sneer at degenerate American capitalism, have tempered their glee. "There would be something comical, even pleasurable, in watching the frenetic agitation of the banking world", wrote Laurent Joffrin, editor of Libération newspaper, "if millions of jobs were not at stake, not to mention the economic balance of the planet."

A common thread can nonetheless be detected in European responses to America's troubles. It goes as follows. We always knew that unbridled free markets were a mistake, yet we were derided for saying this; now we are all paying the price for your excesses. In the face of popular consternation at capitalist decadence, the activist state is back in fashion—and we Europeans are taking credit for it.

Yet there are doubts whether this will actually alter any country's policies. There has been much Schadenfreude about America in Germany, for instance. The latest issue of Der Spiegel, a weekly, shows the Statue of Liberty with her torch out and the strapline, "The price of arrogance: an economic crisis is changing the world". Mr Steinbrück has called for the civilising of financial markets. His boss, Chancellor Angela Merkel, has cited the crisis as proof that she was right at successive international meetings to demand tougher regulation of hedge funds and financial markets—and that the Americans and British were wrong to resist it. Yet she is not going to abandon the free market. The slowing of reform in Germany is mainly caused by gridlock within the grand coalition and the approach of the next federal election.

A bigger test still is France, home of Colbertism and Gaullism, where l'Etat has both a capital letter and a cherished place in the popular imagination—as well as a heavy claim on the taxpayer's purse. Judging by his recent declarations, the centre-right Mr Sarkozy has taken a decidedly leftward turn. In the space of three days, he twice laid into free-market capitalism. "Laissez-faire is finished," he announced in Toulon. "The all-powerful market that is always right is finished."

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The lies and crimes of 911 - A Canadian view of the War on Terror's origins

Prof. Anthony J. Hall
Paper Presented at 'Edmonton Questions 9/11': Convention and Film, Stanley A. Milner Public Library Theatre on September 6, 2008.

Framing the Issues

During this, the season of the seventh anniversary of 911, we must continue to increase the effectiveness of our transnational peace lobby aimed at extending the Nuremberg process towards an international investigation into the war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in the name of the War on Terror. Such an investigation must begin by asking some foundational questions about the underlying crime that gave rise to the War on Terror. Were the events of 911 orchestrated by a very different cast of characters and for very different motives than those identified in the trial by media that began with unseemly haste on the very day of the Great Shock?[i] Is the War on Terror a War on Truth? Did the official conspiracy theory originate in a web of lies, distortions and cover-ups expressed to this day in the dense shroud of public mythology surrounding the events of 911? We must empower a credible international tribunal of esteemed jurists with sufficient independence to asses on its own merits the growing body of evidence to indicate that the destruction of the Twin Towers and World Trade Centre 7, together with the hit on the Pentagon, were caused by something considerably more elaborate than the actions of nineteen young Saudis equipped with nothing but box cutters, flight training and jihadist zeal.

www.PEJ.org


Too much state terror and too much state criminality has occurred since 911 not to revisit the scene of the crime that created the springboard for such systemic and unrelenting abuses of authority and sacred trusts vested in our governments. Was the whole 911 operation really planned and instigated by a band of Islamic extremists acting alone? Was the whole undertaking really planned and coordinated in distant Eurasian caves, ones conveniently located on planned pipeline routes meant to tap the last large reserves of unexploited Middle Eastern oil? Was the role of Wall Street in the events of 911 confined to that of victim? Or are some central figures in America's commercial capital more implicated in the crime's planning, execution and outcomes than our governments and the commercial media would have us believe? Who benefited most from the events of 911? Who had the motives and who had the means? Wouldn't any truly independent inquiry into what actually transpired on 911 begin by addressing such fundamental questions and then work from there?

From Manifest Destiny to the Cold War to the War on Terror

The War on Terror continues old patterns that developed in the transcontinental, hemispheric and global expansions of the United States. This twenty-first century war without end gives new expression to the old mythology of American Manifest Destiny. The term Manifest Destiny is a code to identify the idea that God himself has given ample manifestation of his wish that the people, government and corporations of the United States have a special role to play in realizing the hegemonic destiny of Western civilization. In the nineteenth century the public mythology of Manifest Destiny generated broad public support for the US annexation of Texas, Mexico, Hawaii, and the Philippines. The adherents of Manifest Destiny also planned to acquire the northern portion of North America. My country, however, was saved from falling under the reign of the Stars and Stripes. As I outline in considerable detail in The American Empire and the Fourth World, my country retained its sovereignty because a strategic alliance between Great Britain and the very effective fighting forces of Tecumseh's Indian Confederacy repelled the US Armed Force's invasion of Canada during the War of 1812.[ii]

By presenting the conflict as an epic struggle between savagery and civilization, the War on Terror is being sold to the public in much the same guise as the US Indian wars and the scores of similar invasions that have stripped Indigenous peoples of their lands and resources around the world. The War on Terror's propagandistic subtext would picture our soldiers as champions of democratic salvation shining the light of Judeo-Christian civilization even into those dark Eurasian caves where Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and the axis of false and evil religion are said to dwell.

As Kevin Phillips has outlined in American Theocracy, there are strong motivations behind these dangerous flirtations with the imagery and substance of religious warfare.[iii] The imagery of militant Christianity in armed confrontation with demonic Islam helps energize the evangelical base, both Protestant and Roman Catholic, of the governing Republican Party in the United States. Similarly the War on Terror's religious symbolism helps Canada's Public Safety Minister, Stockwell Day, deliver some evangelical gravy to his own Born-Again constituency. Many of those on the religious right of western Canada played a central role in the founding of the Alberta-based Reform Party, now in a fragile alliance with the supposedly extinct Progressive Conservatives.

This alliance between the Reform Party's constituency and the Progressive Conservatives came about in direct violation of the precise terms of a signed agreement between David Orchard and Peter MacKay. MacKay is the ex-leader of the Progressive Conservatives whose willingness to sabotage his Party resulted in his appointment by Prime Minister Stephen Harper as Foreign Affairs Minister and now as Minister of National Defence. Hence MacKay's violation of his signed promise to David Orchard and his supporters not to join Stephen Harper's Alliance Party forms the underlying episode of fraud and deceit that created Canada's current minority government, a government that has invested considerable political capital in elaborating a Canadian version of the War on Terror. Make no mistake about it. Canada's contribution to George Bush's War on Terror is enormous because the ecologically brutal assault on the Alberta tar sands is now the source of more energy for the United States than the oil wells of Saudi Arabia. It is largely Canadian energy that is fueling the rise of the US terror economy and the building of the global police state.

Even more than the well orchestrated psychological warfare on the capitalist side in the Cold War, the War on Terror's propagandists renew, amend and exploit some of the most deep-rooted symbols to emerge from the transcontinental expansion of the United States. The mythology of this saga of Manifest Destiny served to lionize the US Armed Forces, but especially during the era when its main military function was to clear the land of hostile Indians in order to prepare the ground for the operation of railway companies, land speculators and Euro-American settlers. From its inception the close partnership between the US military establishment and the largest US corporations has had as its goal the creation of a New World Wealth Machine. [iv] This partnership between business and the Armed Forces formed the essential axis of collaboration in building up an Anglo-American superpower to the point where it could replace many of the functions of imperial Europe after its internal wars exhausted its capacity to dominate and exploit colonized peoples.

The open ended construction of a never ending War on Terror assures a constant supply of new enemies to justify the unbroken expansion of the most heavily militarized economy the world has ever seen. The US government has continued to finance its permanent wartime economy ever since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941. After emerging victorious from the Second World War, the US government extended its imperial control over its informal empire by building the machinery of the national security state, the core polity in charge of capitalism's primary police force. At the jurisdictional core of the national security state resides the executive power of the US president. Throughout the Cold War the CIA would emerge as one of the most active agencies of the national security state. In its early years the CIA integrated much of the anti-communist apparatus of the defeated Nazi regime into its own worldwide anti-Soviet, anti-communist crusade.

The incorporation of Hitler's anti-communist brain trust into the CIA's espionage, assassination, torture, and thought control operations was just one aspect of a more elaborate history that made many of the largest US cartels and financial institutions, including Ford, IBM, and the J.P. Morgan/Rockefeller concerns, major participants in the industrial rise of the fascist axis.[v] Many of the largest US corporations and financiers, therefore, invested in the military industrialization of both sides during the Second World War. This fact goes far to explain the totalitarianism implicit in the Pentagon's preoccupation with objectives like Full Spectrum Dominance and Total Information Awareness'[vi] The fascistic thrust inherent in this kind of dark enterprise has derived so much momentum from the authoritarian deployment of fear that it will continue no matter who is elected as president of the United States or as Prime Minister of Canada this autumn. As long as the truth of 911 continues to be subordinated to the political exploitation of the event's public mythology we shall continue to see the evaporation of the freedoms and civil liberties some of us have so long taken for granted .

In Iran, Guatemala, the Congo, Iraq, Indonesia, Chile and many, many other polities, the CIA and other branches of the national security state intervened covertly to oust and kill those leaders who sought to express the principles of decolonization by attempting to nationalize their peoples' indigenous natural resources. The War on Terror now extends and intensifies the Cold War's heritage of illegal intervention in the sovereign self-governance of Indigenous peoples the world over. The War on Terror continues to provide cover for the continued promotion of an unjust regime of property relations that empowers an entitled minority at the expense of a disentitled majority. This phony War on Terror entails one of the most ambitious and insidious campaigns of psychological warfare ever mounted. It provides a justification for entrenched elites everywhere to jail, torture and kill their opponents in the name of quelling terrorism. The War on Terror helps draw attention away from the huge and pressing threats to humanity's environmental security, our health security, our food security, and our education security. This diversionary war is being mounted at a crucial moment when our very survival depends on our collective capacity to plan and implement coordinated global solutions to the very real menaces we collectively face. Most of this threat emerges from the accelerating pace of the industrial degradation of Earth's ecosystems, the only true source of healthy life and genuine wellbeing available to humanity.

Although the National Security Act was passed in 1947, it was not until the presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower that the vast and elaborate national security state went seriously into the business of assassinating foreign leaders and covertly changing regimes in order to protect and advance the global business interests of US corporations. Given his background as America's most celebrated general in the Second World War and his experience as a two-term Republican president, Eisenhower well understood the elaborate links connecting the US military establishment to the interests of capitalism's biggest corporations. As Eisenhower was passing the presidential torch to his doomed young successor, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the departing Commander-In-Chief coined a telling phrase to identify the tight convergence of political and economic power in a single US sector. Eisenhower warned against the betrayal of democratic ideals through the concentration of too much influence in something he called 'the military-industrial complex.'

Eisenhower's flagging of the military-industrial complex's potential to generate tyranny is even more apt on the seventh anniversary of the events of 911 than it was in 1960. In the post 911-world the military-industrial complex appears more and more like a force of global mayhem than an asset to protect humanity's collective security. In the post-911 world the vast influence of the military-industrial complex and the national security state extends deep into the commercial media extending the psychological warfare that began in the Cold War to new extremes of censorship, perception management, and outright thought policing. The depth of the problem is well illustrated in the striking unwillingness of any major commercial news venues to report in a serious and unrelenting way on the growing disconnect between the published evidence on 911 and the public mythology of 911. [vii] But a critical mass of informed public opinion is at this very moment coalescing on the events of 911 and on the appalling litany of lies shot through virtually every aspect of the so-called War on Terror. Some reckoning, however, with all the self-censorship and strategic silence on the part of those with the responsibility to keep the public well informed cannot be postponed indefinitely. The chips shall fall where they will. Indeed, I predict that the day is not too far distant when many of our most influential opinion makers will be in a hurry to declare retroactively that they knew all along that something was terribly inconsistent between the compelling visual evidence of controlled demolitions on 911 and the implausible official explanation that makes burning jet engine fuel, melting steel and the force of gravity the basis of the pancake theory of the Twin Towers' demise.

Since Eisenhower's day the military economy of the United States and its satellites is becoming a privatized terror economy dominated by companies like Halliburton and the Blackwater Mercenary Army Corporation.[viii] For the propagandists of the War on Terror and for the primary beneficiaries of the terror economy, even the CIA is seen as too liberal to be trusted in the engineering the New World police state whose capacity for domination is strategically poised on how the public perceives the events of 911.

911 in the Political Culture of Canada, the Public Mythology of the United States, and in the Popular Culture of the Internet

While the War on Terror recycles many old patterns of US conduct in the Indian Wars and in the Cold War, there is, nevertheless, something unprecedented in the intensity of the undisguised contempt displayed by many of the top figures in the US executive branch for the rule of law and the ideals of universal human rights. The official conspiracy theory of the events of 911 has been deployed to bring us to this point where we are being walked through a series of steps that Naomi Wolf, a child of Holocaust survivors, has recently identified as the classic points of transition along the road to fascism.[ix] The national security state is creating the basis of a global police state that violates the sovereign status of every national government on earth. We live in an era when the US government has asserted the unique authority of its president to designate unilaterally any person anywhere in the world as an unlawful enemy combatant. We can guesstimate that possibly tens of thousands of individuals have already been rounded up and transported to known and unknown locations around the world on the basis of the illegitimate claim that the US executive branch possesses some sort of worldwide jurisdiction that supersedes the sovereign character of all national entities. Those targeted by the national security state are being jailed in a global network of gulags and secret concentration camps where they may be tortured or even eliminated without any prospect of receiving a fair trial.

In this country on the eve of a national election, the minority government of Stephen Harper seems thoroughly complicit with many US incursions on Canada's national sovereignty. Indeed our Prime Minister seemed perfectly content to run his minority government as some sort of franchise or branch plant operation of George Bush's White House. When has Prime Minister Stephen Harper uttered even a hint of criticism directed at US violations of international law and global human rights inflicted in the name of 911 and the War on Terror' The ongoing incarceration of Canadian citizen Omar Khadr in the infamous US concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay epitomizes the problem. Canadian General Romeo Dallaire recently condemned Khadr's US jailers and their Canadian enablers for violating those laws and treaties that prohibit the abusive treatment of child soldiers. Khadr was fifteen when he was apprehended in 2002 by US forces in Afghanistan.[x] Dallaire's insistence on the need to respect international law contrasts dramatically with the attitudes displayed by Gordon O'Connor, a retired Brigadier General in the Canadian Army who served for two years as the Harper government's Minister of National Defence. In January of 2007 O'Connor was called upon to justify the Canadian commitment of almost 3,000 soldiers to serve the US-led NATO mission in Afghanistan.[xi] O'Connor said, 'When the Taliban or al-Qaeda came out of Afghanistan, they attacked the Twin Towers and those in the Twin Towers, 25 Canadians were killed [sic]. The previous government and this government will not allow Canadians to be killed without retribution.'[xii]

O'Connor's comment brings us to the core issues we have come to address at this convention. On what basis did Gordon O'Connor or anyone else in the Canadian government decide who is responsible for the attacks on the Twin Towers and those in the Twin Towers' What is the evidentiary base of the Canadian government's contention that the portion of the Afghani people who identify themselves as Taliban or supporters of the Taliban are the primary culprits responsible for the crimes of 911 including the murder of 25 Canadians? Why has not the Canadian government undertaken its own independent investigation to decide for itself the identity of those most responsible for the death of our citizens in the explosive pulverization of the Twin Towers? In this season when many politicians in North America are asking us for our vote, what can we do to exact a commitment that a proper investigation will yet take place, ideally in a way that helps stimulate a larger international process aimed at bringing to justice those genuinely responsible for the crimes of 911?

The Canadian investigation will have to address the issues involved in keeping our soldiers in a civil war zone where the factions known variously as the Taliban, al-Qaeda and the Northern Alliance have all in recent times been united mujahadeen backed and armed by the US government in order to overthrow a Soviet-backed puppet regime. This US government's backing of the mujahadeen through Pakistan's Inter-Service Intelligence agency was one episode of a more pervasive pattern during the Cold War when the US national security state encouraged, helped organize, and richly financed religious extremists of all stripes in the name of opposing the atheism of Godless Marxism. In the Canadian investigation of the genesis, events and outcome of 911, careful consideration must be devoted to the role and legacy of CIA agent Osama bin Laden as well as to the background of Hamid Karzai, the current CIA agent and pipeline consultant in charge of the US-client regime in Kabul. Careful consideration must be given to the great increase in the export of opium from Afghanistan since the US-backed Northern Alliance ousted from Kabul the governing Taliban.[xiii] Does it make sense to continue to put our sons and daughters in harm's way in order to visit Canadian 'retribution' on Afghani citizens, Taliban or not? We need our own Canadian inquiry, emphasizing our own national perspectives and our own national interests?

As we mourn the terrible loss of our Canadian soldiers, diplomats and aid workers we must not lose sight of those Afghanis who have been killed and maimed because of the way the events of 911 have been interpreted, spun and exploited? How many Afghani lives have been lost or ruined because of the actions our own military personnel? How many of those Afghanis detained by our own people have ended up in torture chambers, including those reported to exist in the US Armed Force's notorious Bagram Theatre Internment Facility? How many Afghanis have been wrongfully subjected to the same kinds of nightmares visited on Maher Arar. Arar and his wife, Monia Mazigh, are Canadian heroes with ample cause to understand the kinds of injustice that can occur when overzealous officials abuse the arbitrary powers invested in them by this so-called War on Terror?[xiv] Why should we betray our national identity and international reputation as peacemakers and peacekeepers on the basis a foreign government's absurd proposition that warfare diminishes terror. How is terror being diminished by the US weaponization of space, by the US financing of newer and ever more devastating technologies of mass destruction, or by the massive privatization of state violence through the large-scale deployment of mercenary armies empowering contractors with guns?

The fast and circus-like media trial that almost immediately assigned blame for the crimes of 911 formed a rude introduction to the attempt by the US executive branch to extinguish habeas corpus—the basis of the principle that individuals are innocent until proven guilty. The appearance of official duplicity and cover-up only grew in 2002 when President George W. Bush tried to appoint Henry Kissinger as the White House's main investigator into the crimes of 911. As a prime candidate himself for the role of the accused in possible war crimes tribunals of the future, Kissinger's appointment proved unacceptable.[xv] But the effort to make Kissinger the US agent in charge of covering up what happened on 9/11 established patterns that continued until the 9/11 Commission released its final report. From its inception the Bush White House's 9/11 Commission had everything to do political protection of the powerful and nothing to do with the substance of an impartial judicial review. The work of the 9/11 Commission was shot through with evasion, fraud and cover-up from beginning to end.

The suspicion generated by George Bush's original choice of Kissinger led to the appointment of Thomas Kean and Lee Hamilton as Chair and Co-Chair of an investigation where the real substance of the process was left to the Commission's hired staff. Kean and Hamilton began their own book looking back on the work of the Commission by declaring that they had been 'set up to fail' by the White House.[xvi] And fail they certainly did. The key figure who drafted much of the report was the 9/11 Commission's executive director, Philip D. Zelikow. Zelikow is a professor as well as an insider in the Bush White House. He was a member of the Project for a New American Century, a member of President Bush's transition team and a very close associate of Condolezza Rice with whom he co-authored an academic book. Accordingly, Zelikow's many conflicts of interest could not be more clear. He used his position to shield his political patrons in the White House from political harm.

Zelikow's own academic specialty involved studying the relationship between terrorist attacks and the making of public mythology. This background made him the White House's ideal candidate for his role as the guardian of the 911 myth. The 9/11 Commission didn't even address the sudden demolition at 5:20 in the afternoon of September 11 of World Trade Centre 7. WTC 7 was the 47 story building that instantly plunged to the ground without being hit by any airplane. Many of those who have studied the 9/11 Commission report in greater detail than I have see it as a farce that is totally unworthy of the gravity of the event it addresses. For instance Benjamin DeMott wrote in Harper's Magazine, hardly a radical or a marginal publication, that the 9/11 report is a 'whitewash' a cheat and a tremendous fraud.' It is full of 'evasive manoeuvres that infantilize the audience, transforms candor into iniquity, and conceals realities that demand immediate inspection and confrontation.' DeMott concludes, 'The Commission, in sum, offers peace through exculpation, evasion, and entertainment—and in doing so dangerously re-energizes a national relish for fantasy.'[xvii]

The absence of any disinterested third-party investigation and arbitration of the crimes of 911 together with the timidity, laziness, or outright complicity of the commercial news media have opened up a huge field for the intervention of a concerned citizenry who do not buy the officially-sanctioned conspiracy theory. This convention hosted by Edmonton 911 Truth is one expression of the vitality of our fast-spreading grass roots movement. The quest for some measure of truth about the genesis and events of 911 have created a virtual cottage industry of research, book writing, and digitally published movies, texts and radio shows. Increasingly the lies and crimes of 911 are the subject of raprock music videos and all manner of artistic interpretation As a former student of Marshall McLuhan I find this whole phenomenon to be of huge academic interest quite apart from the specifics of the information being presented. It represents a classic display of what McLuhan meant when he said the medium is the message.

The 911 Truth Movement is creating one of the most lively and interesting districts of critical inquiry on the Internet. Of course the material presented in the New Media is of uneven merit and quality. But in its totality, this complex of web sites together with the related books and DVD's has become the basis of vast and extremely accessible public archives on a huge array of topics joined by their critical importance to the public interest. The topics include, for instance, assessments by engineers of the demolitions that took down the three World Trade Centre structures, the double dealing that goes on to this day in the CIA-backed Inter-Service Intelligence Agency in Pakistan, the complex business dealings in and around the events of 911, and the many military drills that were planned to coincide with the attacks of 911. These drills drew the US Air Force away from intercepting the attack airplanes and the projectile that hit the Pentagon. Yet another rehearsal for a terrorist attack just happened to put in downtown New York on September 10 scores of agents of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. FEMA had a major role in coordinating the removal of the structural evidence from the scene of the mass murder as quickly as possible once various caches of gold, including one belonging to the Bank of Nova Scotia, were removed. The role of Rudolf Guiliani in this part of the 9/11 cover-up operation incensed many members of the New York Fire Department who were prevented from finding the remains of their killed brethren by the rush to cart off to the dump the evidence of the 911 crime scene.[xviii]

In my estimation there has never been anything quite like this digital challenge to the authority of many institutions, but particularly to the traditional role of commercial news venues as the gatekeepers of information deemed suitable for public consumption. As I have been preparing for this presentation over the summer I have been especially impressed by the many You Tube productions depicting small groups of activists, some of them obviously new to the political process, heading out into their communities, pamphlets and DVDs in hand. As far as I can see their quest is animated for the most part by the simple and sincere hope that the Big Lie of 911 can be transcended so that justice will prevail. Along the journey towards 911 truth the seekers attempt to engage their fellow citizens in meaningful dialogue about the importance of connecting the dots. They encourage those they encounter to see through the official conspiracy theory and its huge negative consequences for all humanity. Doesn't this kind of community-based and web-based activism epitomize how honest political transactions are supposed to take place among the members of responsible citizenries who understand their civic duty to be as well informed as they can be on the major issues of the day? Doesn?t this example point to an exit from, rather than a manifestation of, 'the great derangement' that Rolling Stones journalist Matt Taibbi wrote about in his satirical literary romp that is none-too-flattering to the 911 truth movement.[xix]

The experience of looking through a representative sample of the many thousands of Internet sites and the many hundreds of Internet movies, all devoted to the quest for 911 truth, is giving me some hope that a new form of citizens' journalism is replacing the form of paid investigative journalism that once was fairly common even in the commercial media. But make no mistake about it. The best of the contributions seeking to explain key elements of the most visually dramatic crime ever committed serve as a marker of how retrograde the commercial media has become in keeping up with an extremely consequential and fast-breaking story. After all their early involvement in helping to create and cultivate the public mythology of the events of 911, what commercial or publicly-funded news venue would dare now to assume the enormous responsibility of confronting the lies of 911? Who in the commercial media would be willing to the lead an unrelenting exploration of the scenario that the War on Terror may be based on the criminal acts of individuals who learned their black arts not in some distant caves in Afghanistan and Pakistan but in locations much closer to home? Nevertheless the chips shall eventually fall where they will. I predict that they day is not too far distant when many of our most influential opinion makers will be in a hurry to declare retroactively that knew all along that something was terribly inconsistent between the compelling visual evidence of controlled demolitions and the official explanation that would make burning jet engine fuel, melting steel and the force of gravity the basis of the pancake theory of the Twin Towers' demise.

Trying to Move Towards the Truth in Telling the Story of 911

Although I have been documenting the so-called War on Terror from its inception, this presentation is my first formal address on the lies and crimes of 911. In stepping forward I'm aware that Canadians have made many substantial pioneering efforts in the rich scholarship on this topic. For instance Barry Zwicker and Michel Chossudovsky were among the earliest and most clear and consistent scholarly commentators to identify the gross deceptions installed into the public mythology of 911. In putting together the ingredients in 2004 of the Toronto International Citizens Inquiry into 9/11 Zwicker and Chossudovsky helped push the boundaries to create the framework for the kind of citizens' movement epitomized by this event and the hard work of its organizers. I want also to make special mention of the academic contributions of John McMurtry's and Peter Dale Scott. Both are hugely accomplished senior academics who helped establish the framework of critical 911 studies. Interestingly both men come from illustrious Canadian families whose members have played significant roles in the academy, in the law, and in social activism at its finest.

A member of the Royal Society of Canada, McMurtry is a retired philosophy professor at the University of Guelph whose very original explorations into the concept of values drew him towards the analysis of how what he calls the life economy is assaulted by the market economy. Scott is a former Canadian diplomat and a retired Professor of English at the University of California in Berkeley. In his work on the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Scott developed the concept of 'deep politics.' This study drew him to explore the intertwined role of oil and drug cartels in the complex workings of our secret governments. Like Chossudovsky and Zwicker, McMurtry and Scott spent decades developing lines of analysis that flowed almost organically into 911 studies. Scott is the son of F.R. Scott, the great constitutional authority, civil libertarian, and poet. Among his many posts, F.R. Scott was once Dean of the McGill Law School. McMurtry's brother, Roy, is a former Attorney General and Chief Justice of Ontario. The third brother, Bill, who recently passed away, was a legendary lawyer who fought urban sprawl, helped found the Toronto International Film Festival, and made significant strides advancing the legal case for Aboriginal and treaty rights.

My continuing work with Splitting The Sky forced me to realize I could not indefinitely postpone some sort of scholarly reckoning with the lies and crimes of 911. Among the various projects on which Splitting the Sky and I have collaborated is the case of the United States versus James Pitawanakwat. In 2000 I wrote the expert report for the Pitawanakwat's government-assigned lawyer in the Federal Public Defender's Office in Portland Oregon. Pitawanakwat is veteran of the Indian war that took place at Gustafsen Lake British Columbia in 1995. The Canadian government put in a request to the US government to extradite Pitawanakwat back to Canada. After hearing the evidence that we put forward Judge Janice Stewart decided not to grant this request. She overruled the US State Department. Judge Stewart agreed with our contention that Pitawanakwat had been criminalized largely for political reasons in a conflict where the Royal Canadian Mounted Police led a media campaign of 'disinformation and smear.' The governments of BC and Canada used the media spin doctoring of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to stigmatize the Gustafsen Lake sun dancers as terrorists rather than deal with the serious constitutional arguments they tried to bring forward through their lawyer, Dr. Bruce Clark. Clark was later disbarred by the Law Society of Ontario for his unrelenting efforts to represent his clients under extremely difficult circumstances.

Last spring I invited Splitting The Sky to speak to my class on his years of research into the events of 911. In the process I spent two days with my friend extending my own research into various sites in and around the 911 Truth Movement. The next thing I knew Kevin Barrett, the erudite Dean of 911 Studies, invited me to speak on his Truth Jihad radio show on the Internet. Wayne Prante of Fraser Valley 911 Truth wrote a brief web news story on the webcast. Wayne's story, I beleve, led to the invitation from Doug Brinkman to address you here today. Splitting The Sky the Sky, a frequent contributor to Kevin's audio broadcasts, is starting to hit his stride exposing the web of Wall Street and other connections in and around the events of 911. As I've come to know him over the years, I appreciate more and more how closely Splitting The Sky's own harsh experiences reflect the history of ruthless repression of Indigenous peoples over five centuries of colonization in the Americas. This history of repression is now being globalized through the mechanisms of the terror economy and the so-called War on Terror.

When he was nineteen years old Splitting The Sky was charged with killing a guard in the Attica Prison uprising ending with the murder of 39 individuals, most of them inmates. Since then Splitting The Sky has been at the centre of many major controversies involving core issues in the relationship of the ruling class to the underclass. Splitting the Sky's growing contributions to the 911 Truth Movement embodies the links with the larger quest to transcend the injustices of slavery, colonialism and economic exploitation. The quest for 911 Truth, therefore, carries forward a heritage of resistance against the forces of imperial globalization that gathered force with the genocide and dispossession of the Indigenous peoples in the course of inventing America as a promised land for immigrants and their descendants. I have attempted to elaborate some of these connections in my text, The American Empire and the Fourth World.

I wrote the core text of the preface to that volume one week after the illegal US invasion of Iraq began in 2003. It was quite clear to me that the invasion of Iraq continued many patterns of US conduct in the Indian wars. I did revisions on the preface after viewing live the spectacle of political propaganda on board the USS Abraham Lincoln beginning with George Bush imitating the Hollywood imagery of the US president in Independence Day. Bush began the spectacle by landing his fighter jet on the deck of the giant aircraft carrier. Bush emerged in his combat suit to declare that his mission of freeing the Iraqis had been accomplished. By staging the event on board a US instrument of warfare named after the author of the Gettysburg Address, Bush's propagandists sought to convey that the US president had freed the Iraqis as Lincoln has freed the slaves; that Bush was handing over the government of those formerly 'enslaved' by Saddam Hussein to a regime 'of, for and by the Iraqi people.'[xx]

The kinds of lies and distortions of the Bush White House go very far beyond the fiction that Saddam Hussein menaced the whole world with his deadly weapons of mass destruction. The obvious implication, I believe, is that the 911 Truth Movement and the anti-war movement must merge. We must join forces to continue our international quest for a world governed by the rule of law and the self-determination of peoples rather than by the brute force of the military-industrial complex in conjunction with the lawless national security state. I have tried to develop these ideas in Volume 2 of my Bowl With One Spoon series published by McGill-Queen's University Press. The American Empire and the Fourth World is volume one of the series. Volume 2, which we hope to have on bookshelves by this time next year, is entitled Earth into Property: Aboriginal History and the Making of Global History.

Earth into Property is not a 911 book. It is not specifically about the events in and around the tragedy of 911 although it does touch on them here and there. As in The American Empire and the Fourth World, in Earth into Property I try to present a sweeping panorama of both imperial and anti-imperial globalization in the genesis of world history over more than five centuries. Since working with Splitting The Sky last spring I felt the need to introduce revisions into the draft text of Volume 2 that do specifically address the subject matter of this convention.

Let me share some excerpts from those revisions. The following excerpt concludes the second chapter. In it I return to a discussion earlier in the first chapter of the text about the frontier theory of Frederick Jackson Turner. Turner introduced his famous essay on the significance of the US frontier in the making of American history at the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. The event was meant to commemorate and celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus's 'discovery' of America. I write,

In the years before he became the disgraced former governor of New York state, Attorney General Eliot Spitzer made his name and fame as the Sheriff of Wall Street—as a gun slinging investigator with an urge to prosecute some striking high-profile examples of executive criminality. Through his efforts and those of other law enforcement agents a few high-profile CEO's were eventually prosecuted for insider trading and for stealing corporate assets. The convicted included press baron Conrad Black and the media darling of American domesticity, Martha Stewart. While the public were served up a few show trials, however, there is little doubt that much of malfeasance during the Wild West years of maximum deregulation on Wall Street went largely uninvestigated, unprosecuted, and unconvicted. Moreover, the wholesale commodification of new frontiers mind and matter continued unabated. As The New York Times proclaimed in a headline: 'Enron's Other Legacy: The Idea That Anything Can Be Traded.'[xxi]

The prospect of even larger political scandals coming to light in the unfolding of the Enron debacle may have been significantly diminished when, during the late afternoon of September 11, 2001, World Trade Centre 7 (WTC 7) fell to the ground in a well filmed episode still widely displayed on the Internet. The fall of WTC 7, reported by the BBC fully twenty minutes before it actually occurred, shows all the attributes of a controlled demolition. No airplanes crashed into WTC 7. The official explanation given for the instant destruction of the 600 foot structure is that the building had been damaged by fires caused earlier in the day when World Trade Centers 1 and 2 plunged to the ground at the speed of a free fall. Interestingly, WTC 7 held the offices of the Security Exchange Commission that was then investigating Enron on a number of fronts, including its possible role in apparently manipulating supplies of electricity in California in order to advance its push to elevate profits through further deregulation and privatization of that lucrative energy market. Key records in Enron's investigation, along with those demonstrating possible infractions in the business activities of about 3,000 other companies, were destroyed in the destruction of WTC 7. WTC 7 also held the New York Offices of the Internal Revenue Service, the CIA, the FBI, the U.S. Secret Service, the Defense Department, as well as the New York Mayor's Office of Emergency Management.

The events of 911 seem to have been anticipated by some traders on the New York Stock Exchange.[xxii] While some corporations suffered heavily after 911, others benefited greatly. The heightened fear of terrorism, for instance, provided a bonanza for the global insurance industry. Moreover the US government's quick declaration of a global War on Terror significantly heightened the budgets and quickly advanced the further privatization of the world's largest military-industrial complex through vehicles such as the Blackwater Corporation.[xxiii] Blackwater was one of a whole generation of corporate entities whose operatives are well positioned to benefit most from the rapid development of the post-911 terror economy. The rapid increase in military budgets occurred even in the face of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfield's admission made on September 10, 2001 that the Pentagon's accountants could not explain the disappearance of $2.3 trillion from the books of the US government's military spending.[xxiv]

These suggestive facts together with many, many more of their ilk suggest the continuing validity of Frederick Jackson's Turner's insights on the importance of violence and lawlessness in those moving zones of frontier interaction where the political culture of the United States takes form. In the first decade of the twenty-first century some of the leading frontiersmen of the capitalist superpower continued to move out in front of the law in order to avoid regulation. In the anything-goes-atmosphere of New World fortune seeking, the frontiersmen of business deregulation staked their claims to new forms of wealth in a globalized Indian Country where the attributes of the Wild West's new incarnation would extend to the quest to gain expanded ownership and control over the oil fields of the Middle East and Eurasia.[xxv]

In the fifth chapter I make additional references to the frontier historian Frederick Jackson Turner Wall and to Eliot Spitzer. The former Attorney General and Governor of New York, Spitzer recently faced his own lewd trial by media. This following excerpt from the forthcoming Earth into Property concludes a long narrative where I document in considerable detail the role of US business and finance on both sides of the Second World War. From the relevant evidence I develop the thesis that the military-industrial complex emerged from both the fascist Axis and from and the social democracy of Roosevelt and the United Nations. I write,

The dubious official conspiracy theory to explain the events of 911 gave the Republican Party of George W. Bush and the bipartisan leadership of the military-industrial complex some evocative, yet conveniently vague and elastic imagery of an ethnically and religiously defined enemy. Conveniently absent from day one was even a hint from the official sources that there might be some sort of domestic and/or economic motivation woven within the complex texture of an extremely elaborate and multi-faceted crime. As with the Kennedy assassination, those said to be the culprits were identified almost immediately forming the basis of an explanation that was quickly reified in report after report. The enemy appeared just when it was needed to give the US president a rallying cry and the US executive branch a justification for continuing the enormous military expenditures that have continued to grow ever since the United States adopted its permanent wartime economy after the Japanese government attacked the US naval base at Pearl Harbour. The mythology of 911 gave the United States yet another savage other against which to develop its self-understanding of its own civilization's superiority.[xxvi] As Richard Cizak of the National Association of Evangelicals saw it, many of his constituents responded to the official explanation of 911 by substituting Islam for the Soviet Union. 'The Muslims have become the modern-day equivalent of the Evil Empire,' Cizak declared. One poll of right-wing Christian leaders found that two-thirds of those questioned agreed that Islam is 'dedicated to world domination.' They agreed that Islam is ' a religion of violence.'[xxvii]

The official interpretation of the events of 911 created a perfect basis to renew the alliance between Christian fundamentalists and Cheney-style business hawks that ushered in the anti-New Deal presidency of Ronald Reagan. In ways that were completely antagonistic to the social democracy of Roosevelt and Keynes, the War on Terror opened the door to ratcheting up right-wing tactics for the expanded reach of government into every facet of human interaction. Patterns began to be repeated that had earlier been deployed when the fascist Axis had first been fashioned as an anti-communist laboratory of totalitarian capitalism.[xxviii] Now terrorism replaced communism as the all-purpose demon to be manipulated as deemed necessary in order to fend off any challenge to the omnipotence of finance capital and those who control it. Even more than the wars on communism, the war on terrorism evoked the mythological encounter between savagery and civilization that Frederick Jackson Turner had identified at the World's Columbian Exposition as the formative interaction in shaping his country's political culture.

As in both the Nazi-led and US-led versions of the war on communism, in the War on Terror business cartels were once again dealt lucrative licenses to derive large profits from their expanded function as privatized agents of the state's expanding claims to police, propaganda and military powers. The Patriot Act of 2001, the Homeland Security Act of 2002, the Military Commissions Act of 2006 and the amendments of 2008 to Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act are prominent projectiles in the legislative arsenal aimed at piercing the fragile protections of universal human rights both inside and outside the United States.[xxix]

Plans to eliminate habeas corpus—the basis of the principle that individuals are innocent until proven guilty—were already well advanced before the events of 911 created the necessary psychological environment to trigger military invasions abroad and police state transformations at home. The invocation of the ideals of Homeland Security conjured up the same language used by the White minority regime during the height of South African apartheid even as it exposed the outward orientation of so-called national security. In the United States, national security has always meant going outside the so-called Homeland to meddle in other people's sovereign business. The remarkably quick enactment of the Patriot Act barely a month after the events of 911 suggests that its drafting was already well in the works even before the Twin Towers were instantly pulverized as if in a controlled demolition energized by the coordinated explosions of many thousands of thermite charges. Similarly the growth of the apparatus of so-called Homeland Security applied principles already outlined in January of 2001 in the reports of the United States Commission on National Security co-chaired by Gary Hart and Warren D. Rudman.[xxx]

The technological engines of capitalism have changed significantly since the era when the German subsidiary of IBM Corporation handled the data processing for the Nazi assault on European Jewry. Since the early 1980s much of the most sophisticated intelligence gathering has been done with computer software such as PROMIS and Echelon. These and other programs have enabled spy agencies and banking institutions secretly to observe each other's data bases, current communications and ongoing transactions through myriad forms of back door access.[xxxi] High-tech spying can also extend to outright manipulation of digital traffic. Indeed, software companies like Ptech, Mitre and AMDOCS have been well positioned to enhance, disrupt or monitor the flow of communications between core agencies in the military-industrial complex. Ultimately it all comes down to who possesses the computer codes or access to technology powerful enough to obtain or break through these codes. This transformation of the so-called intelligence industry in the era of the Internet developed simultaneously with the digitalization of financial transactions in stock markets, venues of buying and selling that make information about what to expect in the future the most valuable of all commodities. Technological transformations such as these have dramatically altered the nature of capitalism during this era of an ascendant terror economy. The terror economy invests tremendous financial advantages in those who possess insiders' knowledge about the inner workings of the global police state that is being constructed in the War on Terror's name. Indeed, transactions on stock markets are key sites for the gathering of crucial intelligence about the identity of those interests that sponsor, promote, or exploit major changes in the alignment of geopolitical power.

The core elements of the terror economy informed the compelling script of A Few Days in September. Written and directed in 2006 by Santiago Amigorena, this dramatic feature film focuses on the intrigues swirling around an imaginary cartel of investors who seek to exploit their prior knowledge about how the pretext for the War on Terror would be created. Why has there been no serious public investigation into the activity of the New York stock market to identify those who may have exploited prior knowledge about the global transformations that would be set in motion after the events of September 11, 2001? What insights do Wall Street insiders have about the events of 911? Why did Eliot Spitzer, the former New York state Attorney General who clearly enjoyed his persona as the Sheriff of Wall Street, not seriously investigate the 911 crime scene, the site of a terrible mass murder that decimated the lives and destroyed the morale of thousands of functionaries who inhabit the very core of the commercial capital's financial district?

Rather than demonstrate due diligence by ordering a thorough investigation of the scene of the crime, the Attorney General forfeited his claim as a disinterested law enforcement officer by submitting an amicus brief to a New York court arguing that the Larry Silverstein, the lease holder of the World Trade Centre buildings, should receive a $4.5 billion settlement from insurance companies for two separate terrorist attacks rather than one. Silverstein's finances were deeply integrated into a complex set of legal and financial arrangements confused by the fact that the Twin Towers, which were initially nicknamed David and Nelson after their Rockefeller brother builders,[xxxii] had become giant liabilities because they were infested with industrial asbestos that would have cost a fortune to remove.[xxxiii] The evidence at the crime scene was removed as quickly as possible after 911 by operatives of the Federal Emergency Management Agency whose agents began arriving in New York on September 10 for a drill named Tripod II on how to respond to a biochemical terrorist attack.[xxxiv] The failure of the US Air Force to identify and intercept the attackers was similarly explained by the coincidence of several drills on September 11 involving mock responses to terrorist attacks.[xxxv] In the months after 911 Silverstein appeared on a PBS documentary where he seemed to refer to the decision to 'pull' a mechanism triggering the quick fall of World Trade Center building number 7 in a fashion that epitomized all the attributes of a controlled demolition. This demolition required the insertion of explosives within the structure before its demise.[xxxvi]

The genocide of North American Indians helped clear the way for those who sought to erase the past in their rush to achieve a New World Order. There are striking elements of continuity linking the westward expansion of the United States into Indian Country and the Hitlerian drive to acquire Lebensraum at the expanse of the Slavic nations and the Soviet Union. Similarly there are some undeniable threads of continuity linking the financial and industrial backers of the fascist Axis's rise and those with the largest interest in promoting the national security state's so-called War on Terror. The national security state points humanity away from the Fourth World principles of peoples' security, environmental security, health security, educational security and global security. The citizens of the Fourth World seek a third way between those who would idealize or obliterate the past. The Atlantic Charter and the international institutions and covenants to which it gave rise still point towards the possibility of a world governed by law rather than force. They still point to the possibility of a planetary regime of biocultural diversity governed democratically by a confederacy of many sovereigns. [text removed] They point towards extensions of the vision of Roosevelt and away from the heritage of Hitler.

I'll include one more excerpt from Earth into Property. When I wrote the initial drafts of this section I accepted the reports that Osama bin Laden was behind the attacks. I took the liberal line that the attacks had more to do with the injustices imposed on the colonized world than with political Islam. I emphasized this point by highlighting the conference which had taken place in Durban just days before 911. The South African government hosted this World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance. In my initial draft I advanced the idea that the attacks might not have taken place if the very serious issues raised at the Durban assembly had been more seriously addressed. While I still want to emphasize the importance of creating more just regimes of human relations as the best guarantee of global security, I also had to incorporate my changing understanding of the crimes and lies of 911. He's an excerpt from the revised text.

The Durban conference highlighted issues that would be swept from the headlines only days later when the events of September 11, 2001 changed history. There is a growing body theory, some of it serious and well informed and some of it spurious, that the events of 911 were a false flag operation.[xxxvii] Although uneven in substance, the lively citizens' investigations into these matters on the Internet cannot be categorically dismissed. In false flag operations acts of violence are perpetrated or purposely misinterpreted through the covert activity of governments, corporations and their agents in order to turn public opinion against a previously targeted group. Acts of violence are engineered and portrayed in the media in ways that cause the public to look to their own authorities for protection from groups that those in control want demonized and attacked. The bombing of the Reichstag in Berlin in 1933, for instance, is now generally understood as a false flag operation to prepare public opinion in Germany for Adolf Hitler's totalitarian rule as initially justified in the name of waging an internal war against a phantom conspiracy of communist Jews. Many media outlets inside and outside Germany, including Lord Beaverbrook's Daily Express, helped to repress any alternative interpretations of the fire's causes. Operation Gladio was a similar covert operation where right-wing operatives planted bombs to blame and demonize left-wing groups in Italy. False flag operation like Operation Gladio or the Tonkin incident in Vietnam took place fairly frequently throughout the Cold War to justify various forms of intervention and aggression.

Regardless of the identity of the true pratongonists behind the events of 911—regardless of whether 911 was a false flag operation or not-- that episode provided the primary justification for significant changes in the world's political economy in the name of the War on Terror. The War on Terror has been used to explain many intiatives including military invasions, the curtailing of civil liberties, and the further elevation of the national security state and its corporate extensions to positions far above the laws that most common folk are compelled to follow. The psychological dimension of this strange war without end has been mythologically constructed to focus attention on religious and ethnic antagonisms even as it draws attention away from those forms of inequality that regularly materialize in the economic violence that permeates global capitalism. While Arab and Muslim people globally suffer most obviously from the kind of profiling and targeting that flows naturally from the War on Terror's embrace of the theory that the world is engulfed an inevitable clash between discordant civilizations, the engendered prejudices do not end there.[xxxviii] The War on Terror helps protect the claims of the rich to large concentrations of property even as it helps downplay the plight of those whose marginalized socio-economic status gives them the greatest reason to reject assertively the proprietary status quo. For all these reasons the War on Terror is first and foremost the most concerted and most broadly cast campaign of psychological warfare ever attempted in the global community. The aim of this so-called war is to perpetuate oligarical governance rooted in popular fears and thereby counter the possibility of anti-authoritarian governance rooted in popular hopes.

The main modus operendi of this dubious campaign of control through fear is to manufacture consent for a continuing license for global domination as policed through the instruments of the national security state and its attending military-industrial complex. The War on Terror's propganda, as epitomized by the work of David Frum and Richard Perle, lend legitimacy to entrenched plutrocacies everywhere even as it arouses suspicion that those who question authority are outright evil.[xxxix] Hence the global War on Terror gives cover to the propensity of ruling elites to repress rivals and dissenters through the denial of civil liberties and suppression of the rule of law. The War on Terror gives credence to the erroneous assumption that history is approaching an end; that there can be no basis for any legitimate revolutionary challenges to the proprietary advantages enjoyed by those who have gained disproportionate amounts of influence over the dominant means of political, economic, military and technological exploitation in today's world.[xl]

It makes no sense to try to vanquish terror from the world through increased warfare, more systematic and broadly applied methods of torture, or the militarization of space. In the long run global security through peace is only attainable through concerted efforts to ease the maladies identified at gatherings such as the World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance.

Concluding Reflections

The people and government of Cuba are engaged in their own War on Terror. Only for them the terrorists are often anti-Castro Cubans who work with the US government to inflict arbitrary murder and mayhem in the effort to undermine and destroy the Cuban Revolution. The most blatent example of this pattern was the full-fledged US military invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs in 1961. But the violent interventions did not end there. It is widely known that Fidel Castro has faced literally dozens if not hundreds of US-engineered and US-backed assassination attempts since his revolutionary government replaced the US-puppet regime of Fulgencio Batiste in 1959.

Luis Posada Corriles is for many Cuban people the very personification of terrorism. In 1976 this Cuban-American CIA agent engineered the bombing of a Air Cubana passenger jet killing 73 innocent people. This expert in explosives is also thought to have been responsible for many other bombings including those that rocked the tourist district in Havanna in 1997. The Cuban government has sound reason to believe that over 3,000 of its citizens have been murdered and about 2000 maimed in US-engineered or US-backed terrorist terrorist incidents. Several Cuban citizens went to Florida to investigate the possibility of more terrorist attacks directed against their own brothers, sisters, children and parents. Five of them were arrested to face a broad range of charges including those of espionage and conspiracy to commit murder. Like the US legal proceedings surrounding the case of Poseda Corrlies, the legal proceedings surrounding the Cuban Five illustrate the deep internal corruption plaguing the criminal justice system and its political masters in the United States.[xli]

Given their own experience with US-engineered and US-backed terrorism there is nothing particularly surprising in the lies and crimes of 911 from the perspective of many people in Cuba and in Latin America more generally. There is nothing to arouse dismay among the millions who have refused, and continue to refuse, the inevitability of the universalization of capitalism as the primary goal and end of history. The same cannot be said, however, for millions of us who have grown up in the relative comfort of the predominantly White, middle class of North America. It was predominantly for us that the public mythology of 911 was created. It is predomonately in our communities in North America where the public mythology of 911 has acquired the strongest hold over the symbolic cosmologies of the imagination that inform our basic sense of right and wrong, good and bad. Until we can replace the mythology of 911 with the truth of 911, however difficult that inevitably will be, the terror economy shall continue to engulf us all with the devastating implications that it must have for humanity's future and for that of our many relatives in life's fragile interconnected web.


Endnotes

[i] Naomi Klein, The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism (New York: Metropolitan Books/Henry Holt, 2007)

[ii] Anthony J. Hall, The American Empire and the Fourth World (Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2005)

[iii] Kevin Phillips, American Theocracy: The Peril and Politics of Radical Religion, Oil, and Borrowed Money in the 21st Century (New York: Viking, 2006)

[iv] John C. Edmunds, 'Securities: The New World Wealth Machine,' Foreign Policy, September, 1996

[v] The literature on this subject is vast and detailed. See , for instance, Max Wallace, American Axis: Henry Ford, Charles Lindberg, and the Rise of the Third Reich (New York: St. Martin's Press, 2003); Edwin Black, IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance between Nazi Germany and America's Most Powerful Corporation (New York: Crown, 2001)

[vi] John Markoff and John Schwartz, Many Tools of Big Brother are Now Up and Running, The New York Times, 1 September, 2008 at

http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html'res=9500E6DA173CF930A15751C1A9649C8B63

Rahul Mahajan, Full Spectrum Dominance: US Power in Iraq and Beyond (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2008)

[vii] Federally-backed propaganda in the United States goes back at least as far the First World War, when President Woodrow Wilson appointed journalist George Creel in 1917 to head up the US Committee on Public Education. More recent surges of activity to manipulate public opinion built on the foundation of the US Central Intelligence Agency's very broad and deep infiltration of the domestic and international m[sic]

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