9/11 in Context:
The Strategy of Tension Gone Global
Guns and Butter, January 24, 2007
BF: This is Guns and Butter. I'm Bonnie Faulkner. Today on Guns and Butter: Tod Fletcher. Today's show: "9/11 In Context: the Strategy of Tension Gone Global." Tod Fletcher is a 9/11 researcher and writer. Under the pen-name Max Kolskegg he has posted online a three-part series of articles on 9/11 in its historical and political-economic context: After Genoa: Reform or Revolution?, 9/11: A Desperate Provocation by U.S. Capitalism and 9/11 In Context: Plans and Counterplans.
BF: Tod Fletcher — welcome.
TF: Thank you very much, Bonnie.
BF: You wrote a series of long articles, one before the September 11, 2001 events, and several in the year after. In your article written before September 11, "After Genoa: Reform or Revolution?", you saw events taking place in Genoa, Italy foreshadowing great struggles to come. What went on during the time of the G8 conference in Genoa, in July of 2001, that so alarmed you?
TF: Well, it was an outbreak of what can only be called fascist attack on the protestors at the G8 meetings, and it was complicated and it was very bloody, and it included the killing of a protestor, Carlo Giuliani by the police, and he was the first protestor in any of the anti-globalization protests that had been happening in cities around the world for several years to be killed, directly like that. And there were reports of other deaths there, but nobody had it on camera like they did with Carlo Giuliani. So that was one thing. Genoa was a meeting of the G8, George Bush was there. The G8 is the seven biggest industrial countries in the world, plus Russia, which is allowed to join with them, sort of out of a courtesy because of its former significance, I guess, economically. And this was a very large meeting. There were over 300,000 people there. It was the largest of the series of meetings. There had been a first major one in Seattle in 1999, and I believe you were there, were you not, Bonnie?
BF: I was indeed. On behalf of Project Censored, by the way.
TF: From there the contestation took off, and there was a long string of meetings. Every time the major economic institutions would try to meet, people would meet out in the streets with them — Quebec, Prague, Gotheburg and Genoa — and Genoa was the biggest. Bush was there, and Blair, and all the heads of state of these eight nations. Most of them were staying in the Ducal Palace, on land, but Bush was on a ship, a U.S. naval vessel out in the harbor, because they didn't consider the security on land adequate for someone like George Bush. The security that was put in place prior to the beginning of the meetings and before any of the demonstrators arrived was very extreme, including [ground to air] missile batteries on the roofs of the buildings around the Ducal Palace, because they feared that Islamic Fundamentalist Terrorists might hijack a plane and crash it into the Ducal Palace while the heads of state were having dinner sometime. There was a lot of press buildup, and a lot of attention to these security precautions, and they sort of dared the protestors to come on. And so the protestors came from all over the world, hundreds of thousands of them. These are complex demonstrations, involving people from all walks of life, not just entirely industrial proletarians by any means, but environmental activists, people concerned about the terrible conditions in the Global South, anarchists, Marxists, and grandmothers, and all kinds of people who are concerned about what is happening globally — part of this movement that's been called the "anti-globalization movement."
BF: Was there a social forum going on in Genoa?
TF: Yeah, there was a simultaneous social forum going on. Social forum is a development that has sprung up, sort of counter fora to the economic planners' fora, and there was definitely one in Genoa. And there was alternative press coverage, including the Indymedia group, global Indymedia, had many journalists there, so it was being covered not just by mainstream press but by the newly developed alternative press, and so there was a lot of real-time information available to people by going online, going to indymedia and other websites. We here in the U.S. who didn't go to Genoa were able to follow what was happening there very closely, and from a sympathetic perspective to the people in the streets.
Well, what happened was that there was a major crackdown on the demonstrators. Essentially, Berlusconi, [then] the Prime Minister of Italy, unleashed the Carabinieri, who are the domestic police force, the national police force, in Italy. And there were pitched battles in the streets, including this death, by gunfire, of Carlo Giuliani. Furthermore, there was infiltration of the demonstrators by fake demonstrators. There were fake black bloc provocations. It came out in the months after that the police had permitted hundreds of fascists, fascist street fighters from surrounding countries — Germany, Austria, Italy — to come into Genoa. And what they did was they dressed up in black, and they put themselves at the disposal of the Carabinieri, and they were delivered by the Carabinieri to key locations at key times. And looking like anarchist, genuine anarchist black bloc groups, what they did was either attack the police or actually attack the demonstrators. They were extremely violent. They set in motion a lot violent combat in the streets, they broke lots of windows, although they were careful to choose which windows they broke — they didn't break windows of major banks, they went after little shops and stuff. But anyway, there was fake black bloc provocation, and you know they were acting in ways that the black bloc in Seattle didn't act. Extremely easy to do. All you have to do is dress in black to look like an anarchist at one of these gatherings.
BF: So, is a black bloc, is that synonymous for an anarchist?
TF: Well, the "black bloc" is a name that has been given to what, for the most part, have been self-identified anarchists — the "action faction" that likes to do more than politely carry banners and things, but thinks that the struggle needs to be considerably more intense than that — and everyone in the black bloc imagines that it's sort of exemplary action rather than leading to anything major. But they're a major component of modern demonstrations.
BF: So then didn't a bunch of them — were they activists from the social forum or whomever — were attacked actually in their sleeping quarters?,
TF: Yeah, I was going to get to that. The third major violent incident was when, in the middle of the night, after Carlo Giuliani had been killed, the Carabinieri arrived in the middle of the night where the Indymedia alternative media group was sleeping and some of the Genoa Social Forum people were sleeping, and they stormed the building where the people were sleeping and they rushed in, and while the people lay in their sleeping bags they started crushing their heads with truncheons and kicking them, and they hauled them all out of the building and they took them to prison, where then subsequently they tortured them, some of the people for several weeks. One person was very seriously injured, a British guy was very seriously injured, by this. Nobody was killed. But these people had committed no crimes, they were journalists, and they were lying quietly in their sleeping bags when they were attacked by these police forces.
So, this whole development was very shocking, and it was a level of violence far in excess of anything that had happened before. Starhawk was one of the demonstrators there, she is very well known. She, after Genoa, wrote a couple of very moving articles about her experience, and she said the fascists are moving into gear, and that they're cracking our skulls in the streets now, but their plan is to start cracking our skulls in our beds. I think she said they're going to be coming into your house some night soon, so she made it very clear that we needed to pay a lot of attention to this, and I noticed that.
So, shortly after Genoa the next major event was slated for Washington D.C. at the end of September, September 30th. It was going to be a major meeting of the IMF and World Bank, I believe it was. And there were plans to take that on every bit as strenuously as the G8 meeting had been taken on.
BF: Now, Tod, are you talking about World Trade Organization demonstrations that were planned for DC in late September?
TF: Yes, that's what I was trying to say — that big demonstrations were planned for Washington D.C. at the end of September, 2001, following on what was a major show of force by the anti-globalization movement in Genoa, and the plan was to keep it going, with the lessons learned from Genoa regarding infiltration of the black bloc and all that kind of stuff. So, I wrote a paper, called "After Genoa: Reform or Revolution?" in early September, I started it probably in August. I had it finished before September 11th happened. My purpose in writing it was just to share some thoughts about what we learned from Genoa, and specifically around the fascist response and what the implications of that were for the movement.
And then September 11th happened. September 11th, in that context, didn't go down smoothly for me. That is to say, I didn't buy it hook, line and sinker like most folks, by any means. I made connections pretty quickly between what I'd seen in Genoa and what happened on September 11th.
BF: Well now, you just mentioned that the authorities were worried that a plane was going to hit a building in Genoa.
TF: Precisely. That's a major part of it. Because they had made such a big deal about Islamic Fundamentalist Terrorists hijacking airliners or an airliner and flying it into the Ducal Palace as their principal concern, and why they had missile batteries on the roof, when precisely that happened in September in New York and Washington, you know, the coincidence seemed like more than a coincidence. Furthermore, they immediately started claiming, the officials started claiming, that they had no idea that anything like that could possibly happen, and this was their explanation for the standdown — the fact that none of the air defense responses of NORAD, the Pentagon's air defense command, had responded to the hijacked planes. And their claim was "Well, we simply weren't prepared for something like that."
One thing that's interesting, that I've just learned, actually. Part of the defense of the Bush administration, and NORAD and the Pentagon, has been that, on September 11th, because the planes were hijacked, the response was following what's called the hijacking protocol, rather than the emergency protocol. The hijacking protocol is a much more relaxed one, surprisingly, because they figure, the idea here is, behind this excuse, is that "well, we just thought that the planes were hijacked, and hijackers always just want to go to Cuba. So all we had to do was set up communication with them and deal with their demands." But the problem is the planes were not identified as having been hijacked until long after they had been identified as being in emergency situations. They had lost radio contact, their transponders had been turned off, and they had changed course, they'd left their flight plan. Those are three signs of flight emergency, for which there is an emergency protocol. And NORAD scrambles fighters in response to emergencies, and they do it very rapidly. And every timeline that the Pentagon has put out, explaining their behavior on September 11th, has left them subject to suspicion because there's plenty of time for them to have intercepted the hijacked airliners before any of them had hit their targets, had they followed the standard emergency protocol. But what they're claiming, and it's subtle, they do it subtly, but I'm sure they're preparing their defense, in the future, with this defense in mind, is that they were following the hijacking protocol, which is one, like I said, where there is not such a need for an immediate response.
BF: Well, do you think that's illogical, that they would have been following a hijack protocol rather than an emergency one?
TF: It is illogical, because these planes were not determined to have been hijacked until long after they were determined to have been emergencies. So there should already have been an emergency response before the determination that the planes had been hijacked was ever made. So it doesn't hold up.
BF: I never heard of that distinction before.
TF: Yeah, it's just come out recently.
BF: Well, before we leave the subject of Genoa, Italy, those demonstrations and that crackdown took place in July of 2001, less than two months before the events of September 11th, you have written in one or more of your extensive articles about something called "the strategy of tension". There is a history in that country of state-sponsored, staged terror attacks that have been referred to as "the strategy of tension". What was the strategy of tension, what forces were involved, and what was the objective?
TF: Yes. Italy is the crucible of this strategy; the name is I believe Italian and it has been translated into English, and the term refers to a strategy that was revealed in the 1980s and 1990s, but was operative starting in the 1960s, into the 1970s and 1980s in Italy, in which terrorist attacks, upon the innocent Italian public, were staged, very deadly attacks. Bombs were placed in plazas, on trains, in marketplaces, in buildings, and killed hundreds of Italian, innocent Italian people. And they were blamed systematically, they were always, right after they happened, they were never claimed by any group but they were always blamed on the left in Italy. Most of them were blamed on a group called the Red Brigades. The Red Brigades had early on been an underground faction of leftists, Leninists, who thought that revolution could be advanced by violent struggle, but the leaders of the Red Brigades were imprisoned in the early '70s and they were replaced by agents of the Italian secret services, in other words, the Red Brigades were infiltrated. It turned out, in court findings, in the 1980s and 1990s, that the whole sequence of the major terrorist attacks in Italy, which had been blamed on the Red Brigades and other leftist groups, had actually been performed, had been carried out, by Italian secret service operational units, in the defense structure of Italy and the intelligence structures of Italy, and they had been blamed on the leftists in order to create a political backlash by the Italian public — seeing, you know, how terrifying these leftists are, the backlash then is a sharp political shift to the right. So, this also allowed all kinds of anti-terrorist legislation to be passed in Italy, in the '80s and '90s — the '70s and '80s I should say. Well, it turns out, if you look into the few studies that have been done, and there have been some very good books written about it, that these groups, these secret service operational groups in Italy, were actually doing this under the control of the C.I.A., the United States C.I.A.. So the strategy of tension was a strategy applied by the C.I.A. to Italy, to control Italy's internal politics, which involved murdering hundreds of innocent Italians in order to create a political atmosphere that enabled them to pass draconian anti-terrorist legislation, including things like we've seen since September 11th — being able to incarcerate people without charging them, holding them for up to twelve years without ever charging them with anything or bringing them to any judicial proceeding. Very comparable things to the PATRIOT Act, which by the way, had already been written and was waiting, ready, when September 11th happened. That wasn't a response to September 11th, that was a document that had been prepared ahead of time.
BF: Now were right-wing groups targeted as well? Or was that a subterfuge to look like it wasn't only the left that was staging bombs? Now what was the idea, to hang these bombings, these terrorist acts on whom?
TF: So, the strategy of tension, the idea was to hang the terrorist acts on representatives of left politics. The principal point of it all, according to people who've analyzed it, they wanted to create the impression that the terrorism was caused by groups that were associated with the Italian Communist Party. The Italian Communist Party had been trying to get itself accepted by other powers in the Italian social structure, political powers. And they had been trying to become part of coalition governments, and there's a faction of the ruling class in Italy that simply could not stomach the notion of the Italian Communist Party, no matter how dedicated they were to suppressing strikes or any kind of labor activity or whatever, no matter how many promises the Italian Communist Party made, it didn't convince certain very powerful sectors in Italy that they were ready for a coalition set-up.
So, the problem came to a head, the most famous of the strategy of tension incidents, was the kidnapping of the several-time Prime Minister and President of Italy, Aldo Moro, in 1978. He was held for almost two months, I believe, before he was finally killed by whoever abducted him. This was blamed on the Red Brigades. Aldo Moro had been determined, he had been determined to bring the Italian Communist Party into the government, to create a coalition between the Christian Democrats, which he was the head of, and the Italian Communist Party. And he was determined to go ahead with this. He had come up with this idea somewhat earlier, in the '60s during Nixon's administration, and it was very unpopular with the U.S. at that time, as well as later. Aldo Moro, according to the best book on the strategy of tension in Italy, which I should mention — it's called Puppetmasters, by an author named Philip Willan, an Englishman — and he studied this in great detail. He describes Aldo Moro's earlier attempt to make a coalition government with the P.C.I. in the '60s. This was very unpopular with American ruling figures, and they tried to talk him out of it. Willan describes how Aldo Moro came to the United States and had a close, a long meeting, a private meeting, with Henry Kissinger. And the result of the meeting was, that Aldo Moro had a nervous breakdown. And he left politics, for at least a year. Kissinger had made his displeasure at the idea very, very clear. And Moro dropped it, and took a while to get back together, and then he carried on, and then tried this again in the late '70s. And then he was kidnapped, and murdered, and it was blamed on the Red Brigades. OK, well, it turned out, later, in court investigations, investigations under the judicial system in Italy, that this whole thing had been done by, again, an Italian military secret service operational unit, under the direction of the C.I.A.
BF: Now in Italy, do they refer to that as Gladio?
TF: OK, well, Gladio, Operation Gladio, is the name that was given to a program, an operation in Italy, that was also controlled by the C.I.A., and yes, all of these incidents in the strategy of tension were parts of this long-term operation called Gladio. The name Gladio now has been applied to all of Western Europe, because similar things were going on in other European countries — other operations, in each of the Western European countries, run by the C.I.A., using strategy of tension where necessary. Not every country had identical or similarly violent history as Italy did, although some did. These were run through N.A.T.O., they were directed by the C.I.A. and the Pentagon, through N.A.T.O., which has offices in all the Western European countries, except for France. De Gaulle kicked N.A.T.O. out, possibly because he didn't like this operation that N.A.T.O. was maintaining on the soil of all the N.A.T.O. countries. And so Gladio is used to describe this set-up throughout Western Europe.
It's commonly described as an operation of what are called "Stay Behind Armies". This is the spin that N.A.T.O. put on it when it was finally discovered. They're saying that these units of killers and arms and bombs, run by the C.I.A. and the national secret services in each of these countries, were set up to form the nuclei of resistance fighters should the Soviet Union invade Western Europe. So they had arms caches through each of these countries, hundreds of them in each country, in forests and meadows and places like that — rifles, bullets, bombs, grenades, all kinds of stuff — hidden away. But they also had training — they carried out active training — and they recruited fascists, in Italy's case members of Mussolini's fascist units were recruited by these N.A.T.O., the Operation Gladio in Italy. They often, in fact, some of them came to the United States to train, or went to U.S. military bases outside the countries, and then went back. So the whole thing was run by the U.S., for the purpose of controlling the internal politics of the countries. And their big concern is any kind of leftward shift in the politics. And of course this is based on the concern for controlling the population and making sure that capitalism is able to continue to operate as usual without any kind of interference. So it's a form of class war. They don't do it openly, they do it surreptitiously and they blame the very people that they're attacking for being the perpetrators of it, so that then they can make changes in the open legal structures and things to be ever more dictatorial and control more effectively the population.
BF: Gee, that sounds familiar.
TF: It does indeed. And so, once again, after September 11th, if you looked at what was happening with the draconian legislation immediately ready to pass, and being passed by unanimous votes, practically, with Democrats as well as Republicans voting for the PATRIOT Act and similar legislation, agreeing to launch the war on Afghanistan with virtually no resistance to the idea, a blank check for the launching of a global "war on terror."
The big difference here, as I studied the whole situation, I think the strategy is the same, I think that what we're dealing with here is still the strategy of tension. September 11th was simply the biggest one of these things. Another term for it is a "false flag operation". In other words, it was a major attack which was blamed on someone, who didn't commit it, in order to provide a pretext to launch an aggressive attack, cloaked as a response to an attack from an outsider. It's still the strategy of tension, and I believe that the objective is the same. I believe that the "war on terror" is a fraud. The people who have launched it are the terrorists. They know that all the [so-called] terrorists that they're going after, this is just an illusion, a fabricated phony reality of global terrorism that they're trying to get rid of. They are the terrorists. And they're launching this attack for a different reason. It's not a war on terror. It's still, I believe, class war. It's a global class war. It's launching an attack on people everywhere to make sure that they can lock down control of resources and labor from all over the world. Their principal concern early on is with oil, they're concerned about running short of oil. They want to control the oil, the U.S. state wants to control the oil because by controlling it they can control their capitalist rivals — Europe, and China. They want to control the oil. But once they get their big grab taken care of, all of this legislation will make it extremely easy for them to eliminate dissent, eliminate the ability of people to resist. And now I'm talking about domestically, in the United States, and then wherever they want. I mean, we're familiar with the history of the United States and its imperial adventures in Latin America and elsewhere around the world.
TF: So, what I'd like to do is just do a step back just for a second and describe what I see as the general concern and game plan here on the part of United States capitalism. When I say capitalism I mean private power, private wealth and power, the center of which is Wall Street, and the United States government, the state. There's a symbiosis between the two. Modern states, their principal purpose is to maintain profits: To maintain the flow of profit to all the holders of titles to different forms of profit, whether profit from manufacturing production, or profit from interest, dividends on stocks, other forms. The purpose of the government is to make sure that the people who own the titles to those incomes, those sources of profit, continue to get their incomes. What happened in Genoa is connected to September 11th and to the earlier major demonstrations. What has been going on in the late '90s and through the turn of the millennium was increasing resistance to this profitable set-up, where the United States, through the agencies of the I.M.F. and the World Bank, bleed countries all over the world, force them to restructure their economies, and privatize their industries and basically just syphon money out of countries all over the world, right into Wall Street. So, globally, for the last ten years at least, there's been a growing, very conscious resistance to the set-up. People understand how the United States operates internationally. U.S. aid is actually a way of bleeding countries all over the world. So there's been global resistance, and this has been of great concern, and of course the challenge of keeping these incomes coming in is ever-present. So the launching of this September 11th approach to a global war is designed to get all this contestation, all of this resistance, back under control. That's the long view, I believe. Essentially, it's a maneuver on the part of capitalism, and its biggest concentration, the U.S. corporate-government symbiosis, to take the next step forward in crushing any possible resistance to their continued domination.
BF: And as well, just prior to September 11th, 2001, a lot of people were anticipating a stock market crash. There I guess had been one in 2000 with the dot-coms, but then in the fall of 2001 there was a lot of concern about the economy, about the stock market, and then right around that time, that's when the attacks of September 11th happened.
TF: And look at what the impact was. The September 30th meetings went ahead [sic] with virtually no demonstrators ...
BF: Now are you talking about the G8 or the World Trade Organization?
TF: The World [Bank] / IMF meetings; it was sort of cut back [in fact it was cancelled] and there was no major event there, and essentially the anti-globalization movement has petered out. And part of the reason it has petered out is the changed mood now, with the anti-terrorist legislation and the very clear equating of anti-globalization demonstrators with "terrorists." It's been very explicit, that if you're out demonstrating in the streets and making trouble for business you're "working for al-Qaeda." And so the threat, the threat there, the threat-level has been raised and people are more careful about demonstrating. But if you just look at what happened, the anti-globalization movement seems to have just sort of petered out.
BF: And I remember at the time, the demonstrations were called off!
TF: And this shocking trend continued right on after that in the way that left analytical efforts have responded to September 11th, and have bought the official story about what happened on September 11th, and have been a major support of that story. So that it's very hard for the truth to get out, because the people that you'd think would be making this claim, if this claim were true, are not making it. And so it's been, as Barrie Zwicker said about Noam Chomsky's work, it's worth 50 divisions to the U.S. government to have Noam Chomsky denying that there's any credibility to 9/11 truth. The left in general is taking the same cue. In fact it appears often that their responses and their actions are being orchestrated, when articles come out in left journals all in the same week with very similar stories about how 9/11 truth is completely ridiculous and incredible.
BF: From the beginning it's been difficult if not impossible to deconstruct the phony "war on terror" without dealing with the events of September 11th. And I have noticed more of late, that there are activists who are trying to put the lie to "war on terror", but they come up against September 11th, and unless you go there it's very difficult to deconstruct this phony "war on terror." Let's not forget about the anthrax attacks on the leaders in Congress, shortly after September 11th.
TF: Right, and while the PATRIOT Act was being, so-called "being considered" within Congress for passage. That's when the anthrax attacks happened. Then, when Congress was shut down as a result of these attacks, which it's now virtually certain, according to people who've continued to research it, including Francis A. Boyle who's just written a book about it, that the source of the anthrax was a military lab, probably at Fort Detrick in Maryland, which is where a lot of biowarfare research goes on. Anyway, these attacks shut down Congress. They were sent to the Democratic senators who were spearheading resistance to the PATRIOT Act, but when they opened up their chambers again after a few weeks, the PATRIOT Act was passed extremely rapidly, so rapidly that it's clear that no one even had read it. Congress passed the PATRIOT Act without even reading it. It had already been written, and it was never read before it was passed. Of course what it does is it sets up a surveillance capability on the part of the government that is what the F.B.I. and the C.I.A. and the Pentagon had wanted for decades but had not been able to get.
BF: You mentioned the PATRIOT Act and that it was passed by Congress without having even been read.. Could you talk a little bit about what that law includes and how important it is?
TF: Yeah. The PATRIOT Act is pretty amazing. It included provisions allowing surveillance of telephone and internet communications; it legalized for the first time C.I.A. operations within the United States, and it allows sharing of information by the C.I.A. with domestic law enforcement, and vice versa, from local police forces to the C.I.A.; it allows for grand juries to provide material in their investigations to the C.I.A., which had not been allowed before, and then the C.I.A. can share that grand jury material widely with other agencies; it allows the seizure of assets of people held under terrorist accusations; it allows surreptitious entry of homes, what are called "black bag jobs", removal of evidence from homes without warrants; and of course arrest and detention, without formal charges, of anyone the government deems to be a "terrorist". So the Congress was willing to pass this complex body of legislation without discussion, after the anthrax attacks went through. So I think one could infer that the anthrax attacks terrified, "terrorized", certain members of Congress. And that might explain the absolutely supine performance of Congress since September 11th.
BF: In one of your latest articles, 9/11 in Context, which is a lengthy article, but you have a semi-chapter in it called "A Nest of Vipers", and you talk about something that you have termed the Global Fascist Terror State, which made me think of the New World Order that George H.W. Bush announced, ironically enough, on September 11, 1990. In that vein, you talk about the Secret Team. How would you describe the forces behind some of these most horrific terror events?
TF: The Secret Team is a term that was coined by a man named L. Fletcher Prouty. He had been an Air Force officer, working in the Pentagon in the '50s and early '60s. His job in the Pentagon had been to provide Pentagon materiel, planes, whatever, weaponry [. . . ] from the Air Force to C.I.A. operations, covert operations around the world. So he got to understand what the C.I.A. was doing, and the interpenetration of the C.I.A. and the Pentagon. What he saw over time was that the C.I.A. was infiltrating the Pentagon. He developed this analysis that the C.I.A. is much bigger than the C.I.A. that's visible, and that there are C.I.A. agents in virtually every government department, as well as in many other institutions in American society. And the people who run this secret, very large C.I.A. he calls the Secret Team. He connects them to Wall Street; he says they're mostly connected to Wall Street and they're instructing their operatives to do the bidding of Wall Street, but all surreptitiously, that they've infiltrated departments and that the heads of the departments don't even know that they're actually C.I.A. with this task.
Furthermore, the C.I.A. is not the only agency that undertakes covert operations or special operations like September 11th. Often operations are jointly shared between the C.I.A. and other agencies like the D.I.A., the Defense Intelligence Agency, and there's the F.B.I. and there's the Office of Naval Intelligence. There actually are many of these intelligence agencies that have covert operational capabilities. And of course the United States is not the only country that has these. There's the Mossad in Israel, MI6 and MI5 in Britain, the F.S.B. in Russia. So the term "Nest of Vipers" was just to suggest the complex nature of these groups. They don't all work in tandem, in fact sometimes they war.
Peter Dale Scott and other scholars have put out a valuable concept. They've noted that conspiratorial actions, that is actions that have affected society that have been the result of conspiracy, have not been looked at by scholars, sociologists, political theorists, because there's an aversion to looking at conspiratorial action. Most attempts to understand society are based on a structuralist approach, where you look at the visible institutions of the society and figure out why things are the way they are based on what these institutions do, but that actually there's another level of decision making, and it's not visible, it's invisible. And Peter Dale Scott's term for this is "deep politics"; some people prefer the term "clandestine politics". But the idea here is that there are major concentrations of power that can operate on a scale to affect national and international affairs secretly, without it being visible to people, to the news. The results of what they do may be visible but knowing who did it and how they did it and why they did it is very unclear. So the major players in the clandestine political world are intelligence agencies, of all the different countries, and there are many in the United States, not just the C.I.A., but others. Some people think that the Defense Intelligence Agency is actually more powerful than the C.I.A. now. Certainly since September 11th it's been obvious that the D.I.A. has grown tremendously. It's now participating in covert operations that formerly were the preserve of the C.I.A., worldwide. In addition to governmental groups operating clandestinely, of course, there are private ones. So the Mafia is a classic example; people know about the Mafia and different Mafias — there are different national Mafias from different countries. This is called "organized crime", but since capitalism is organized crime that's a little bit unfair.
So decisions are being made by powerful players behind the scenes and they're capable of implementing their decisions without going through visible, democratic processes. The strategy of tension is a classic example. It was initially restricted to Western Europe; now it's come to the United States and essentially it has gone global. There have been a whole series of comparable bombings around the world since September 11th. There was the Bali bombing, the bombing in London, the bombing in Madrid. It's all the same operational structure, for the same purpose. All the ones since September 11th have uniformly been blamed on Islamic Fundamentalist Terrorists, and have allowed the same reaction, legislative reaction, in the countries in which they occurred. So the strategy of tension, which had been restricted, has now been opened up globally.
TF: It's legitimate to describe the government that's developing in the United States as fascist. The origins of fascism are in Europe, right after World War I, in the twenties. The United States government isn't really comparable to them — it's a very powerful government — whereas the Western European governments after World War I were quite weak. There was lots of disorder in the streets, and there was a shocking economic collapse in Europe after World War I, that enabled the fascist governments to develop, to bring about order. It's a different situation now, but the tendency of capitalism, I believe, is toward dictatorship, because capitalism always creates these social crises, that people have to respond to and try to resist. It requires top-down control and at times dictatorial control. It seems to me that the United States is trying to assert primacy amongst capitalist nations and to set up a global control structure, principally through the use of terror.
BF: How would you fit the mass media, the corporate media, into this?
TF: The corporate media is major, these are major corporations, and increasingly concentrated. In fact, on September 11th itself they started lying about what happened. George Trinkhaus wrote an excellent pamphlet about how N.B.C News on September 11th in its broadcasts, started describing events falsely. The South Tower fell first, but it had been struck by the second plane. And this was perceived as a difficult thing to explain right away, and N.B.C. News, as it recapped over and over through the day, started describing how the North Tower fell first because it was struck first, and the South Tower fell second because it was struck second — started telling outright lies on that very day, as it continued to show the towers falling, but it claimed that they fell in the reverse sequence. And that's not an error that it's possible to make, that was an intentional thing. What they will cover is controlled.
What we have to do is figure out, why it was done, and what the purpose of it is, and what the plans are behind it. What is the future that we're heading toward, based on the fact that the people who did this have been allowed to this point to get away with it completely? The Bush administration has become amazingly brazen in just refusing to pay attention to law. It's essentially above the law. They don't provide Congress with the things Congress requires. They just say "We're gonna do what we're gonna do, and you'd better get used to it." So they have plans, and the plans are to establish global totalitarian control, over all the resources and all the workers that do the labor for them.
BF: You mentioned the illegality of the actions of this administration.
TF: Yeah, they seem to have wrested control definitively from Congress. There's no longer an operational oversight function on the part of Congress.
So it seems like it's time that people wake up to the true magnitude of what's happening. We need to start discussing the situation in its reality and figuring out what to do about it. I think that the internet has been fantastic, it's enabled us to share a lot of information, but I still think people ought to try to talk to one another face to face as well, and try to rebuild some sense of "we're in this together and we've got to figure out a way out of it together." I think that if all of our communication is mediated through electronic technology that we're essentially pretty isolated from one another. We're dependent upon the system as it's set up; we need to figure out ways to free ourselves from this dependence. That's going to be a long struggle.
BF: Do you think the recent rounding up of immigrants, in large numbers, is a dry run for rounding up others?
TF: I think that going for the oil, the "war on terror," going after "terrorists" and going after immigrants, saying "immigrants are potential terrorists," is just sort of the first order of business, like you say a dry run. Their real concern is domestic populations. The United States is by no means the only country that has operated this way. I mean, essentially all the Western European countries operated with this strategy of tension set-up after World War II, up until the present. And [in] all these countries key, high, government officials in every Western European country knew about these "Stay Behind Armies" and the truth about the terrorism. That's the way they're controlling their countries. It suits elements within each country to go along with the C.I.A.'s overarching control. Heads of state in countries all around the world have the same relationship to their domestic populations as the United States does. And they've been colluding in this.
So it's really a global class warfare situation; it's the same structure in all the different countries. Capitalism is a global system, and this is nowhere seen more clearly than in the fact that productive activity, productive jobs have been leaving the United States and going to countries around the world, at lower wages. In other words, the working class, the people who make the profits for corporations, is now not a national working class, it's a global working class. There's no point any longer in workers in the United States to feel that they are in competition with workers in other countries. The fact is that with jobs going to other countries, and this is happening everywhere, we're all in the same situation, basically. The working class has become an international working class, just as the ruling class is an international ruling class. The fact that all the countries run the same sort of control set-up, and use domestic terror to control the populations makes perfect sense. In other words, we're all in the same situation.
BF: In that vein I'm just reminded of Russia, and of course some of the bombings there, of the apartment buildings, etc.
TF: Right, that's another good example, yeah.
BF: You've written another article, 9/11: A Desperate Provocation by U.S. Capitalism. So, in fact, you do see the events of 9/11 as an act of desperation.
TF: I do, because I think it's incredibly risky. Some of the elements of this desperation involve this increasing level of resistance globally — the continued impoverishment of the great majority of the world's population, the destruction of the environment, which is just proceeding at a horrific rate. I mentioned before, the purpose of the government being to keep these profit flows coming. This is getting to be increasingly difficult. Fewer and fewer people work, worldwide, in productive activity, which is the source of profit. People produce things that can be sold for a profit, that's where profit comes from. But lots of people who work don't produce things that can be sold. Worldwide, fewer and fewer people make more and more as the level of productivity goes up. People are being thrown out of work, globally — once again I'm thinking in terms of a global working class. So the source of profit is diminishing as technological sophistication increases, productivity increases. So the owners of wealth have put more and more of their money into speculative, non-productive activity, such as real estate, stocks, bonds, all that kind of stuff. There is an increasingly fictitious element in global capitalism, and these owners of titles to income expect their income, but there's less and less actual production, relative to the growth of these titles, less and less production of value to underlie profit. It's ever more difficult to keep these incomes floating.
For example, the United States has tremendous balance-of-trade deficits. And so people in foreign countries, companies, end up with dollars after having sold us cars, and they take these dollars which they can't use in their own countries, they take them to their central banks, and their central banks then have not much that they can do with these dollars except buy U.S. Treasury bonds, which the government issues. With, you know, a promise of some kind of payment down the line. Well then that money comes back to the United States, and is used in the United States to fund escalation in military operations, building more weaponry, launching new attacks elsewhere, and is part of the credit bubble that Americans are benefiting from, the American population, because of the fact that the dollar is the global reserve currency and is still attractive to foreign investors. So dollars are circulating and being returned, circulating and being returned through this process, and it's creating a big bubble. The whole thing is getting very, very strung out and prone to collapse. Mainstream economists are talking about this all the time. The fact of this is one of the elements of desperation, the need to get the situation under control, get their rivals under control, and get the global working class under control.
Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote a book in 1997 called The Grand Chessboard in which he laid out the need to control Central Asia, and the fact that it would only happen if there was a shock sufficient to mobilize the American public, which typically is against imperial adventures like this. This is long-term planning. The desperation I'm talking about is not measured in weeks or months, but in decades. There's been a long trend of increasingly intense warfare upon working people around the world, and the environment. They're stripping the environment, they're immiserating world populations. This is keeping them going for the time being, but it's all trending toward collapse. And so they want to be in a situation of being able to exert total control when the collapse comes and all kinds of, you know, revolutionaries are created overnight when their economies, their national economies, collapse around them. They want to be able to control that.
BF: The system we live under is not sustainable.
TF: It is not sustainable. Capitalism is totally unsustainable. There's no way that this can go on for much longer.
BF: Tod Fletcher, thank you very much.
TF: Thank you so much, Bonnie.
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