The United States of BOO!
How to Stop Terrorism
excerpted from the book
Dude, where's my country?
by Michael Moore
Warner Books, 2003, hardcover
The United States of BOO!
Americans are rarely targets of international terrorism, and almost
never on U.S. soil.
In the year 2000, your chance as an American
of being killed in a terrorist attack in the United States was
exactly zero. In 2002, your chance of dying in a terrorist incident
was, again, ZERO. And in 2003, as of this writing, the total number
of people to die in the United States from acts of terror? Zero.
Even in the tragic year of 2001, your chance as an American of
dying in an act of terrorism in this country was 1 in 100,000.
In 2001, you had a greater chance of dying
from the flu or pneumonia (1 in 4,500), from taking your own life
(1 in 9,200), being a homicide victim (1 in 14,000), or riding
in a car (1 in 6,500).
We have come to believe that we are in harm's way, that any of
us anywhere in this vast country could die at any time. Never
mind that the chances of that happening are virtually nil. A mass
psychosis has gripped the country; I'm part of it, you're part
of it, and even high-ranking generals ' who now weep openly are
part of it.
Why has our government gone to such absurd lengths to convince
us our lives are in danger? The answer is nothing short of their
feverish desire to rule the world, first by controlling us, and
then, in turn, getting us to support their efforts to dominate
the rest of the planet. Sounds crazy, huh? It reads more like
a movie script, doesn't it? But Bush/Cheney/Ashcroft/Wall Street/Fortune
500 see this post-September-1 1-America-in-fear as their moment-
a moment handed to them by fate, via the terrorists-to seize the
reins and ram the USA down the throats of any people in the world
who dare question who is number one...
They know that real Americans are not
into dominating anyone, so they have to sell it to us in fancy
packaging-and that package is FEAR. In order to properly scare
us, they need a big, bad enemy. Once the Soviet Union disappeared,
Bush Sr. couldn't figure it out. Before he knew it, Clinton had
given him the boot. The right wing was out in the cold, but they
had eight long years to plot their return.
To their rescue came a high-powered political
think-tank, The Project for a New American Century (PNAC), which
argued that America should have but one goal: an unchallengeable,
military-imposed, U.S.-run world.
They took their first step on January
26, 1998, in an open letter to President Clinton. PNAC neoconservatives
Paul Wolfowitz and William Kristol, along with Donald Rumsfeld
and Richard Perle, warned that the policy of containing Iraq was
"dangerously inadequate" and the aim of U.S. foreign
policy must be "removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from
When Bush Jr. seized power in 2000, he
turned the Pentagon over to this radical right-wing nut group.
After September 11, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz (now Rumsfeld's deputy
secretary of defense), and the war crowd immediately pushed an
attack on Iraq as one of the first actions in the new Permanent
War Against Terror. Their next act: rush through a $400 BILLION
defense budget, including $70 billion for new weapons.
Because of September 11, Wolfowitz and
his right-wing hawk buddies had found the enemy they could sell
to the public. Former Clinton CIA director James Woolsey joined
in, declaring that World War IV had begun (the Cold War being
"WWIII"). By this thinking, the "War on Terror"
would be unilateral and without limits; it could last as long
as the Cold War (fifty years) or longer, maybe forever. And if
you don't believe me, maybe Donald Rumsfeld can convince you:
"[I]t undoubtedly will prove to be a lot more like a cold
war than a hot war," Rummy said. "If you think about
it, in the Cold War it took fifty years, plus or minus. It did
not involve major battles. It involved continuous pressure....
It strikes me that that might be a more appropriate way to think
about what we are up against here."
Wow-a war without end. If you get the
people to believe this, they'll let you do anything, just as long
as it's in the name of protecting them. This is Bush's version
of the old mafia protection racket. There's somebody out there
who's gonna mess you up. Osama, he did it! Saddam, he did it!
Those crazy ayatollahs, they might do it! North Korea, they could
do it! Hello, PLO! We'll protect you, just give us all your money
and all your rights. And keep our trap shut!
How many of our freedoms and our children are we willing to sacrifice
just so [neoconservative hawks] ... can line their pockets with
all the money that can be made from a terrified nation and a permanent
It is my firm belief that Bush and his cronies (especially Attorney
General John Ashcroft) have only one goal in mind: To scare the
bejesus out of us so that whatever bill they want passed, whatever
powers they want Congress to give them, we will happily hand it
Wisconsin Democrat Russ Feingold was the only true patriot in
the Senate that day, casting the sole dissenting vote [against
the USA Patriot Act] as he stood and spoke these eloquent words:
There have been periods in our nation's
history when civil liberties have taken a backseat to what appeared
at the same time to be the legitimate exigencies of war. Our national
consciousness still bears the stain and the scars of those events:
The Alien and Sedition Acts, the suspension of habeas corpus during
the Civil War, the internment of Japanese-Americans, German-Americans,
and Italian-Americans during World War II, the blacklisting of
supposed communist sympathizers during the McCarthy era, and the
surveillance and harassment of antiwar protestors, including Dr.
Martin Luther King Jr., during the Vietnam War. We must not allow
these pieces of our past to become prologue.
The "Patriot" act is as un-American as Mein Kampf.
According to the American Civil Liberties Union, few members of
Congress actually read the final version of the [USA Patriot Act]
act. It was perhaps the most reckless and irresponsible action
our Congress has ever taken.
The Bush administration has never let the law limit its bigger
goals. Bush maintains that he has the inherent power as commander
in chief-i.e., without any basis in the laws of our country-to
label anyone an "enemy combatant," then lock them up
and throw away the key. According to this novel approach-a wholesale
violation of international law and everything this country stands
for-an enemy combatant is a person with no legal rights whatsoever.
Six hundred and eighty people-including three children ages thirteen
to sixteen-are incarcerated there [Guantanamo Bay] indefinitely.
No charges, no sentence to serve, no lawyers, no nothing. it any
wonder there have been 28 suicide attempts among those imprisoned
To date, there are already at least thirty-four
documented cases of FBI abuse under the Patriot Act-and at least
another 966 individuals have filed formal complaints. Many of
these people were just minding their own business, or seeking
to partake in our free and open society. Consider these examples:
* John Clarke, an organizer with the Ontario
Coalition Against Poverty (OCAP), was detained at the American
border by immigration officials on his way to a speaking engagement
at Michigan State University. A State Department agent drove in
from Detroit and interrogated Clarke about his participation in
anti-globalization protests, about whether he "opposed the
ideology of the United States" and even about the whereabouts
of Osama bin Laden. The agent presented a State Department folder
on OCAP that included the name of a man with whom Clarke had stayed
in Chicago, and leaflets from Clarke's previous speaking engagements
in the U.S.
* A suburban New York judge asked Anissa
Khoder, a U.S. citizen of Lebanese descent, if she was "a
terrorist" when she appeared in court over parking tickets.
* In May 2002 six French journalists were
stopped at Los Angeles International Airport, interrogated and
subjected to body searches. They were detained for more than a
day and expelled from the United States before they could reach
their final destination: a video game trade show.
* At a high school in Vermont, a uniformed
police officer entered teacher Tom Treece's classroom at 1:30
a.m. to photograph a student art project that depicted "President
Bush with duct tape over his mouth" and the caption, "Put
your duct tape to good use. Shut your mouth." Treece was
removed from teaching his current-events class.
* A college student from North Carolina,
A.J. Brown, was visited by two Secret Service agents who questioned
her about her possession of "anti-American" material.
Without inviting them in, Brown showed the agents what she assumed
they came for: an anti-death-penalty poster showing Bush and a
group of lynched bodies with the caption: "We hang on your
* North Carolina Green Party activist
Doug Stuber was detained and questioned while trying to fly to
Prague, then told that no Greens were allowed to fly that day.
His interrogators showed him a document from the Justice Department
that showed that Greens were likely terrorists, and the Secret
Service took a mug shot. Stuber was forced to turn back.
There are other incidents that, while
they may not be the work of the Feds, they represent the chilling
effect this has had on our society. Here are two examples:
* CBS fired a producer of Hitler: The
Rise of Evil for statements he made comparing the mood of America
to that in Germany when Hitler ascended to power.
* And, a twelfth-grade teacher at English
High School in Lynn, Massachusetts, was forced to stop showing
my film Bowling for Columbine to her classes because the principal
said the movie contains "anti-war messages."
... What really gets to me is the way
this band of deceivers have used September 11 as the excuse for
everything. It's no longer just to pass measures to protect us
from a "terrorist threat." September 11 is now the answer.
It is the manna from heaven the right has always prayed for. Want
a new weapons system? Y Have to have it! Why? Well . . . 9/11!
Want to relax the pollution laws? It's a must! Why? 9/11! Want
to outlaw abortion? Absolutely! Why? 9/11! What does 9/11 have
to do with abortion? Hey, why are you questioning the government?
Someone call the FBI!
To the rest of the world, it looks like
we've gone mad. People in most other countries have been living
with acts of terrorism for years, some for decades. What do they
do? Well, they don't go crazy with fear. The average German doesn't
stock up on duct tape or stop using the subway. They just learned
to live with it. Shit happens.
But what do we do? We invent color-coded
threat charts. We frisk ninety-year-olds in wheelchairs. We attack
the Bill of Rights. Yeah, that'll show those terrorists! Let's
dismantle our way of life so they won't have to blow it up.
This makes no sense.
... Perhaps George W. Bush should have
made it a point to read the reports the CIA sent him. On August
6, 2001, according to the Washington Post, just weeks before September
11, Bush was given a comprehensive report marked "URGENT"
warning him that al Qaeda was planning a major attack on the U.S.
(The full contents of the memo are not known because Bush has
refused to release it, despite Condoleezza Rice saying repeatedly
that there was nothing specific in the report. If there's nothing
specific, then why can't they release it?) Worse, a 1999 report
had already warned that al Qaeda was looking into using planes
as missiles with the intention of crashing them into government
Why didn't Bush, with an intelligence
memo in his hands warning that attacks were imminent, coupled
with the reports passed along by the Clinton administration, alert
the nation? Was he too busy taking his month-long vacation in
Crawford, Texas? Bush failed to do his job and it may have cost
3,000 people their lives. That alone should be enough to haul
him before an impeachment tribunal.
In 1987, I went to work for al while in Ralph Nader's office in
Washington, D.C. What was one of the projects Nader's Raiders
were working on at that time? They were lobbying the government
to make airline travel safer and pushing for all the airlines
to install new cockpit doors that would be impenetrable. The airline
industry objected loudly and refused to do a thing. Of course,
had they listened to Nader then, would the nineteen hijackers
have been able to get control of those planes? I can pretty much
guarantee the 3,000 who died that September day would be alive
today had Nader's group prevailed fourteen years earlier.
I've always thought it was interesting that the mass murder of
September 11 was allegedly committed by a multi-millionaire. We
always say it was committed by a "terrorist" or by an
"Islamic fundamentalist" or an "Arab," but
we never define Osama by his rightful title: multi-millionaire.
Why have we never read a headline saying, "3,000 Killed by
Multi-Millionaire" ? It would be a correct headline, would
it not? No part of it is untrue-Osama bin Laden has assets totaling
at least $30 million; he is a multi-millionaire. So why isn't
that the way we see this person, as a rich fuck who kills people?
Why didn't that become the reason for profiling potential terrorists?
Instead of rounding up suspicious Arabs, why don't we say, "Oh
my God, a multi-millionaire killed 3,000 people! Round up the
multi-millionaires! Throw them all in jail! No charges! No trials!
Deport the millionaires!!"
We need protection from our own multi-millionaire,
corporate terrorists, the ones who rip off our old-age pensions,
destroy the environment, deplete irreplaceable fossil fuels in
the name of profit, deny us our right to universal health care,
take peoples' jobs away whenever the mood hits them. What do you
call a 19 percent increase in the homeless and the hungry from
2001 to 2002? Are these not acts of terrorism? Do they not cost
lives? Is it not all part of a calculated plan to inflict pain
on the poor and the working poor, just so that a few rich men
can get even richer?
We have our own "terrorists"
to deal with, and we need our entire focus returned to them so
that we can one day live in a country where the people once again
pick the president, a country where the wealthy learn that they
have to pay for their actions. A free country, a safe country,
a peaceful country that genuinely shares its riches with the less
fortunate around the world, a country that believes in everyone
getting a fair shake, and where fear is seen as the only thing
we truly need to fear.
How to Stop Terrorism
Five percent of the world's population (that's us) use up 25 percent
of the entire world's energy resources, and the well off 16 percent,
mostly the U.S., Europe, and Japan, use up 80 percent of the world's
When they kill civilians we call it terrorism. But we drop bombs
on Iraq, and more than 6,000 Iraqi civilians are slaughtered.
We then apologize for the "spillover." Al Qaeda bombs
the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, 3,000 are slaughtered,
and it's terrorism. But what right did we have to drop bombs on
Iraq's civilian population? Were those civilians threatening any
of our lives? I thought the only time you can take another's life
is when they are about to take yours-or did I miss something somewhere?
Only after we smash every atom bomb into depleted uranium ploughshares
will we have the right to tell North Korea, India, Pakistan, Israel,
and the rest that THEY don't need such weapons.
1984 by George Orwell
"The two aims of the Party are to
conquer the whole surface of the earth and to extinguish once
and for all the possibility of independent thought."
"All that was required of them was
a primitive patriotism which could be appealed to whenever it
was necessary to make them accept longer working hours or shorter
"They could be made to accept the
most flagrant violations of reality, because they never fully
grasped the enormity of what was demanded of them, and were not
sufficiently interested in public events to notice what was happening."
"The capitalists owned everything
in the world, and everyone else was their slave. They owned all
the land, all the houses, all the factories, and all the money.
If anyone disobeyed them they could throw him into prison, or
they could take his job away and starve him to death. When any
ordinary person spoke to a capitalist he had to cringe and bow
to him, and take off his cap and address him as "Sir."
Remember that lesson about treating people the way you would like
to be treated? It still works! When you treat people well, 99.9
percent of the time they respond in kind. What if our entire foreign
policy was based on that novel concept? What if we were known
as the country that sought first to help people instead of seeking
first to exploit them for their labor or their natural resources?
What if we were known as the country that shared its incredible
wealth-shared it even to the point where it might mean that we
go without some of the luxuries we're accustomed to? How would
the poor and desperate around the globe feel toward us then? Wouldn't
this reduce our chances of being victims of terrorist attacks?
Wouldn't it be a better world to live in all around? Isn't it
the right thing to do?
The only true security comes from ensuring that all people, here
and around the globe, are able to meet their basic needs and dream
of a better life. At the very least, we have to make damn sure
we are not the ones robbing them of that dream.
where's my country?