Glenn Greenwald has written that pundit David Ignatius “vividly demonstrates the dishonesty and shallowness of our opinion-making elite.” (Read it here.)
At Salon, Greenwald has regularly dissected Ignatius, exposing his columns as outlets for Bush administration propaganda and lies.
The favorite image of the fear-mongering journalist. “…al-Qaeda is trying to acquire a nuclear bomb that will leave the ultimate terrorist signature — a mushroom cloud,” writes David Ignatius.
In a column today, Ignatius takes up fear-mongering on “a nuclear al Qaeda.”
It is a topic which various pundits have regularly beaten Americans over the head with in the past year. Notably, in the pages of the Washington Post (the home of David Ignatius) and other big newspapers.
There is never a shortage of copy on al Qaeda and its plans to get the bomb. If you have passed over it be rest assured that it’s always the same 750-1000 words.
“We’ve all had enough fear-mongering to last a lifetime,” writes Ignatius as he takes on the job of being head fear-monger for yet another day.
“Indeed, we have become so frightened of terrorism since Sept. 11, 2001, that we have begun doing the terrorists’ job for them by undermining the legal framework of our democracy,” he continues, not honestly admitting he’s about to use the Bush administration’s favorite tool for “undermining the legal framework of our democracy.”
Many times druing the past year we have heard or read that some repellent piece of legislation — justifying torture or the granting of immunity to those involved in illegal wiretapping — must be passed because, according to the Bush administration, preventing a devastating attack from al Qaeda depends upon it.
It is the pure and simple methodology of the American fear-monger and it enhances the aim of terrorists in providing a rationale for those who are destroying our principles, trashing our once good reputation and corrosively eating away our liberties. To put it the Greenwald way, fear-mongering is used by the Bush administration and its enablers as a means to shred the Constitution and undermine the rule of law in the United States, vesting all power in an executive branch made immune from investigation.
“[It’s] worth listening to [the latest expert’s] warnings — not because they induce more numbing paralysis but because they might stir sensible people to take actions that could detect and stop an attack,” writes Ignatius, parroting the nuclear-armed al Qaeda script.
There are already many experts and agencies working on preventing al Qaeda from getting bomb-grade uranium or plutonium and Ignatius surely knows this.
These warnings are numbing, not because of any paralyzing quality, but because they have been repeated so many times they have lost all civic value, becoming only blandishments used as cover for something bad being done or needing to be done behind our backs.
“[The] danger of a nuclear attack by terrorists is not only very real but disturbingly likely,” wrote Graham Allison deadeningly for the Baltimore Sun on July 2.
“Who could be planning a nuclear terrorist attack?” the man mused rhetorically.
“Al-Qaida remains a formidable enemy with clear nuclear ambitions.”
The Sun’s Harvard-expert-on-nuclear-al-Qaida continued: “Former CIA Director George J. Tenet wrote in his memoirs that al-Qaida’s leadership has remained ‘singularly focused on acquiring WMD’ – weapons of mass destruction – and willing to ‘pay whatever it would cost to get their hands on fissile material.'”
“Now that the uproar over [George Tenet’s] mistaken ‘slam dunk’ assessment of the Iraqi threat has died down, it’s worth rereading [his book again],” writes Ignatius, copying from the same menu. “It provides a chilling, public record of al-Qaeda’s nuclear ambitions.”
“Consider the worst-case scenario: a suitcase nuclear attack at a presidential inauguration, with the outgoing and incoming president and vice president, most of Congress, and the Supreme Court present; the outgoing Cabinet scheduled to leave office; and no incoming Cabinet members yet confirmed,” wrote another fear-mongering hack, this time from the American Enterprise Institute, for the Washington Post, only in July.
Ignatius roped in the mythology of the dreaded Mubtakkar of Death, too.
The Mubtakkar of Death was an unseen instrument of catastrophe in a so-called cyanide bomb plot that was allegedly not carried out because Ayman al Zawahiri decided to spare New York City for reasons known only to the journalist, Ron Suskind, who used the tale to sell his book on the Bush administration-led war on terror, The One Percent Doctrine, to other journalists.
“Most chilling of all was Zawahiri’s decision in March 2003 to cancel a cyanide attack in the New York subway system,” wrote Ignatius. “He told the plotters to stand down because ‘we have something better in mind.’ What did that mean? More than four years later, we still don’t know.”
The Mubtakkar of Death was terrible to behold, it was said. But because it was never used (actually, one was — in Afghanistan, where it fizzled, but no one includes that part of the story), something even more terrible had to be in the pipeline, said the fear-mongers.
If you ask someone in the street what the great threat to the nation, the Mubtakkar, was today, they won’t know.
The only people who do still know are journalists who jumped on board the publicity train for The One Percent Doctrine in June of 2006.
“So what to do about this [nuclear] danger?” writes Ignatius. “The first requirement … is to try to visualize it. What would it take for al-Qaeda to build a bomb? How would it assemble the pieces?”
Again and again, the same numbing details and claims on the building of al Qaeda’s bomb are delivered through the press.
They have been passed out so many times it seems they ought to be put into a required course in high school: “How Terrorists Might Build the Atomic Bomb and Your Civic Duty in Understanding the Menace which Threatens Us All (0r those of us in Washington, DC, the first address of interest to the bomb-makers.)”
“One way or another it will be no great feat to transport the stolen [bomb-grade uranium] to Istanbul where assembling it into a workable bomb will require a machine shop, a nuclear scientist, several technicians and up to four months of work,” wrote some other fear-mongering hack for the New York Times in May. (One hallmark of the script is that you can cut and paste pieces of it together, taken from any article delivering it, and the result will read fine.)
“In [one] fictional scenario … a nondescript terrorist drove a vehicle-borne explosive’ on Interstate 465 bound for downtown Indianapolis,” wrote another fear-mongering op-ed hack embarked on an alleged public service mission at the Indianapolis Star, also in May. “When the terrorist saw [a] cop, he detonated the bomb while driving.”
There. Now you know how it will be done. Again. Remember, it’s not a matter of if, but only when.
Your course — “How Terrorists Might Build the Atomic Bomb and Your Civic Duty in Understanding How an Industrious Army of Fear-Mongers are using it to help rip up the Constitution” — is complete.
Reasonably astute readers have probably figured out that, theoretically, were al Qaeda to get the bomb and detonate it on American soil during the last months of the Bush administration, we would most certainly see the rest of our democracy killed off in the immediate government response. And its burial would be rubber-stamped and rabidly endorsed by the present Congress and judiciary. This being the case, there is no rational reason to do the terrorists’ work for them ahead of time.