Tuesday, August 25, 2009

LTTE: Hillary's fear factor, maintains Bush's scare tactics

An open letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, copy to President Barrack

When you have had an electronic mailbox as long as I have, it is inevitable that large quantities of unwanted mail start showing up, usually in waves with brief periods of respite when the antiviral software gears up and shuts down the spammers.

One piece of mail I get every three to six months was unexpected. The “Worldwide Caution – Warden Message” letter sent from the U.S. Embassy in Paris to registered U.S. citizens in France. I expected to get just about anything under the reign of G.W. Bush from the Warden, but since President Obama has taken office the same “service” continues. The last note (July 29, 2009) is over 2,300 words and six pages of dire warnings to overseas Americans that they are in grave danger from “terrorist attacks, demonstrations, and other violent actions”. The letter is if anything, inclusive, as it covers not only France, but also the Middle East, North Africa, East Africa, West Africa, South and Central Asia and the rest of Europe. There are detailed descriptions of dozens of “bombings, hijackings, hostage taking, kidnapping and assassinations” and assaults with “explosive devices … non-conventional weapons, including chemical or biological agents …”.

I wonder when reading the Warden’s message just how all this effects me and my family who have lived in central Paris for the past thirty-five years and have seen our share of demonstrations, and a period of terror back in the 1990’s that has never been elucidated.

A similar note a while back when the Bush people were still in office alerted me to the immanent danger of a demonstration between the Place de la Nation and La Bastille that “could deteriorate and become a threat to American nationals”. The striking French nurses did not lash out at me with their stethoscopes as I wandered by totally absorbed by my crossword puzzle from the International Herald Tribune. If there were any potential terrorists ready to commit grievous acts, they took it out on their patients in the following weeks and I was grateful to have avoided hospitalization during those difficult days.

I also wonder that if I express my disgust with this spewing out of fantasies of disorder, decline and humiliation, whether I am exposing myself. If anything happens to me will I be ridiculed or held accountable for not maintaining a suitable level of paranoia? Is it better to keep my mouth shut than to tick off the powers that be? Apparently if the current administration and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton require that the U.S. Embassy vomit out this tripe to maintain a necessary state of vigilance among the citizenry, then we must be in tight straights indeed.

I am sorry; I will not keep my mouth shut. The people who are paid to churn out this letter are not defenders of democracy. They are populist demagogues who are a danger to us and themselves.

In 1995 a series of assassinations, bombings and attempted bombings electrified France. The police worked quietly and mostly in secret killing one suspect in a shootout and identifying a radical Islamist group from Algeria (the GIA) as the probable terrorists responsible. The GIA had been very effective in eliminating the non-Islamist opposition to the Algerian generals. The question never answered was: is the GIA a terrorist organization or a front organization for the Algerian secret police? See Nzaima Bouteldja, “Who Really Bombed Paris” in http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2005/sep/08/france.comment. In all cases these are really bad guys and I wouldn’t want to meet them in the metro. The
noticeable difference between the reactions of the U.S. government now and the French government then, was that the French did not pamper up to populist fear mongering. Parisians had to go out of their way to find out where the investigations were going. The citizenry carried on with a stiff upper lip. When the free publicity for terrorist recruiters was not forthcoming, terror, as if by magic, dried up and lapsed from public consciousness, while the police went about the real work of tracking down the guilty.

Fascism grows in the disturbed soil of a mature democracy in crisis. Fascist movements take root, turn into real political parties, and seize their seat at the table of power in such circumstances described in this letter. When the power elite form a deliberate, committed institutional partnership with brownshirts, then we are on the road to real fascism. (All these steps are cited from Robert Paxton, The Journal of Modern History, 1998, as analyzed by Sara Robinson in “Is the U.S. on the Brink of Fascism” on

So let’s be positive and propose an alternative to President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton before it’s too late. First of all you should fire these Bush holdovers. They haven’t got a clue what overseas Americans have for everyday issues. They are not going to endorse this administration’s programs unless they are the same programs Bush shoved down our throats through blatant lying, distortion and state-sponsored terror. These guys would be of much more use back in southside Chicago. There have been no warnings from the Warden to U.S. citizens concerning visits to Illinois (my home state). There were more murders in Chicago last year (509) than U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq (314). This year shows no improvement on either front.

Secondly, as a cost saving measure, if the State Department must publish such grim warnings, why not take out a subscription to the National Enquirer for all overseas Americans. It would at least give us a hint of what’s happening “back in the world” as well. Some observers have even pointed out that since the Enquirer switched from “flying saucers – freaks – felons” format to celebrity gossip they have been better than many at ferreting out dirt on Washington wrong doers.

Third, in all cases, at least adhere to internet standards for embassy email. Internet publicists are required to put an “unsubscribe” link on the bottom of the page. Without it most anti-viral software will automatically class your letters as spam, which is what they are, with or without the unsubscribe

Tom Nagel
Paris, France