Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Norway's 9/11: The Horror Is In The Message

The front page of The Sun
blamed the attacks on al Qaeda.
Unlike many other writers of various political persuasions, I have had great difficulty putting into words my reactions to the recent events in Norway. I hope my comments, though belated, may prove to be of some value.

As you must have read by now, a bomb exploded in central Oslo on the afternoon of July 22, killing eight people. And a few hours later, a shooting rampage decimated a gathering of about 700 people on the picturesque island of Utoeya, northwest of Oslo.

I became aware of the attacks shortly after the explosion but before the shooting started, and I got my first hint that things were not as they appeared when I saw that ABC News, citing U.S. State Department sources, had declared the blast the result of "a vehicle bomb."

This happened before the Norwegian police were even calling it "a bomb."

"How," I asked myself, "could the State Department know more about the cause of the blast than the police who were just starting to investigate it?"

"Watch closely," an inner voice replied, "and you may find out."

So I watched and read and listened and learned.

Bomb damage in Oslo, July 22, 2011
The target of the bomb appears to have been government offices, and the victims of the shooting were attending a camp run by the youth wing of the Labor Party. And the bombing and the shooting were the work of one man, Anders Behring Breivik, who planned the assault for nine years without any outside help, and pulled it off without any apparent source of significant income.

The shooting spree lasted more than an hour, even though the police had been alerted. They couldn't reach the island quickly because no helicopters were available, and no helicopters were available because all the helicopter crews were on holiday simultaneously. So the police approached by road and inflatable raft instead. But they overloaded the raft and it began to sink, so it took more than one try before they could reach the island. And still, they say they made the quickest response anyone could have asked for.

Even though multiple eyewitnesses described bullets coming from multiple directions, and some spoke of a shooter with dark hair, the blond-haired Breivik, who arrived on the island wearing a police uniform, acted completely alone, according to the Norwegian authorities. Therefore it should come as no surprise that all his court appearances will be held in secret, to prevent him sending coded messages to his accomplices.

In polite company, it may be considered improper to ask how the lone nut killer obtained a police uniform. Did the police search his residence? Did they find a sewing machine? Solitary psychos must sew their own uniforms, no? They can't get them anywhere else, can they? Not if they want to remain "lone" nuts!

After killing more than 60 campers, Breivik reportedly called the police, who arrived promptly and arrested him without a fight. The story is getting more and more credible as it develops, is it not?

The killer allegedly left a 1500-page manifesto, some of which was plagiarized from the Unabomber and some of which refers to modern writers who take extreme anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant positions. Although Breivik was Norwegian, the manifesto is mostly about other countries. There's not much about Norway itself. And it's in fluent English, which has made certain people wonder.

Bomb damage in Oslo, July 22, 2011
The manifesto was reportedly emailed to 250 of the lone nut's closest associates just before the attacks, and discovered online shortly afterward. In it, the author claims to have traveled extensively, although no record can be found of Breivik ever earning substantial income. How could he afford all that travel? Alas, we are getting ahead of ourselves.

When the story broke, many mainstream "news services" jumped to the immediate conclusion that the carnage was the work of al Q'aeda. Rupert Murdoch's British tabloid, The Sun, ran a front page headline saying as much, and calling the episode "Norway's 9/11." For words such as these, the mainstream operators were heavily criticized, even though the claim appears to have been substantially correct.

The suspect, who has been "strikingly calm" according to the police, appears to be a brain-damaged patsy. The story being told by the victimized government is full of internal contradictions and dotted with assertions that cannot possibly be said to make any sense. The mainstream media are busy echoing the official tale with blatant disregard for its lack of provenance, having made no discernible attempt to verify any of it. And many so-called "investigative reporters" and "dissident bloggers" are doing the very same thing, even though some of the self-incriminating evidence Breivik supposedly posted on the Internet did not appear until the day after he was arrested. It's 9/11 all over again, but on a different stage and in a different language.

And, just as in the aftermath of 9/11, reports almost everywhere have been full of transparently obvious nonsense.

Bomb damage in Oslo, July 22, 2011
As one example among many, consider the following, written by Peter Beaumont in The Guardian of July 23:
Norwegian police said that the individual believed responsible for the shooting in Utøya, a 32-year-old Norwegian man, was also spotted in Oslo before the bombing there.

The targeted nature of the attacks at both government offices and the Labour party youth camp both suggest a more political agenda rather than an attempt to create widespread terror.

Norwegian news reports said that police did not think the attacks were linked to international terrorism and that it was more likely directed at the current political system.

There were reports that the gunman responsible for the attack on PM Jens Stoltenberg's party youth camp on the island of Utøya was blond haired and Nordic looking – allegations still yet to be confirmed.

This suggests the attack might have been the work of an individual or individuals closer in outlook to the Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh driven by their own ideology, a theory backed up by a Norwegian police official who told the Associated Press the man suspected of the attacks does not appear to be linked to Islamist terrorism. He went on to say that the attacks probably have more in common with the 1995 attack on a US federal building in Oklahoma City than the September 11 2001 attacks.

The suspect appeared to have acted alone, he said, and "it seems like that this is not linked to any international terrorist organisations at all." He added that the investigation is still ongoing and that things can change.
Did you catch all that? Top marks if you did; it's spinning in so many different directions simultaneously that it's tough to catch any of it. So let's go slowly:

The targets of the attacks suggest a political agenda, rather than an attempt to create widespread terror. Why? Apparently because the fear generated by attacks on office buildings and defenseless children would not be widespread, provided the buildings and the children were connected to a political party.

Anders Breivik, the blond suspect
Even though allegations that the gunman was blond haired and Nordic looking were still unconfirmed, a Norwegian police official had already told the Associated Press that the suspect appeared to have acted alone. How did the police know this? Maybe they had been tipped off by one of the hundreds of people to whom Breivik emailed his manifesto.

All of the above certainly explains why the police could say, "it seems ... this is not linked to any international terrorist organisations at all," before journalists could even obtain confirmation of the color of the suspect's hair. It all makes perfect sense if you look at it from a certain angle.

Some people may think it's a remarkable coincidence that the police, who couldn't get a SWAT team to the scene of a massacre in less than an hour, could say almost immediately where the killer was seen before the attacks began, let alone that he apparently had no accomplices. It's probably also a coincidence that police conducted a bomb-scare terror drill and that suspicious sewer work was reported being done on Wednesday, in the very place where the bomb went off on Friday.

What can we make of all these strange coincidences? My understanding of the events in Norway has been colored by some of the writers I have been accustomed to reading, and my understanding of those writers has been colored to a certain extent by their coverage of the events.

In the blogosphere, I started, as I usually do, with Chris Floyd, whose site, Empire Burlesque, has been a great source of information and inspiration as long as it has existed. Floyd's one and only piece on the subject, "Fade to White: The Tender Treatment of Christian Terror," was posted the day after the attacks, and it reads:
There is not much to say about the horrific events in Norway, beyond this general observation. If a white, Christian nationalist carries out such atrocities, then he is, inevitably and always, a "lone nut," an outlier, emblematic of nothing but his own individual lunacy. But if a Muslim -- or any person of color or non-white ethnicity -- does anything similar (or indeed, far less serious in scope), why then, that perpetrator is emblematic of an entire race or religion or ethnic group: a group which must then be laid under collective suspicion, and collective harrasment, by the "security" forces (and the chattering classes) of the West.

In the coming days, we will hear much about the tormented psychology of the Norwegian terrorist ... who, as Glenn Greenwald notes, will no longer be known as a "terrorist" at all -- precisely because he is white, Christian and a "patriot."
I agree with almost all of this. But in my opinion, there is a great deal to say about these horrific events.

The piece by Glenn Greenwald to which Floyd linked was called "The omnipotence of Al Qaeda and meaninglessness of 'Terrorism'" and it primarily concerned itself with tracking the early mainstream coverage of the attacks. All such coverage, needless to say, assumed that 9/11 was done by bearded Muslim madmen in caves half a world away who couldn't even talk to one another on their cell phones without the NSA knowing what they were saying, but who somehow outsmarted the largest security apparatus ever built and outmanoeuvered the laws of physics to demolish three buildings with just two airplanes.

All such coverage, needless to say, is worthless, as are the propaganda organs which produced it. How anyone could analyze such nonsense every day, without ever mentioning that it is nonsense, is beyond me. But this could be one of the reasons why Glenn Greenwald has a huge audience whereas I do not.

In an earlier post called "The Oslo attacks," Greenwald had taken the New York Times to task for its description of Norway, writing:
Most media accounts express bafflement that Norway would be the target of such an attack given how peaceful it is; The New York Times, for instance, said "the attacks appeared to be part of a coordinated assault on the ordinarily peaceful Scandinavian nation." This is simply inaccurate. Norway is a nation at war -- in more than just one country.
Far from grasping the NYT's point that Norway is fittingly described as "ordinarily peaceful" because gun violence is not rampant in its cities (unlike some countries one could name), and mass murder there was formerly very rare (ahem), Greenwald continued by documenting Norway's relatively minor involvement in Afghanistan and Libya, and wrote:
I simply do not understand this bafflement being expressed that Norway -- of all countries -- would be targeted with violence.

Regardless of the justifications of these wars -- and Norway is in both countries as part of a U.N. action -- it is simply a fact that Norway has sent its military to two foreign countries where it is attacking people, dropping bombs, and killing civilians. Historically, one reason not to invade and attack other countries is because doing so often prompts one's own country to be attacked. Western nations typically only attack countries that are incapable of responding in kind, but those nations and their sympathizers are capable of perpetrating asymmetrical attacks of the sort that Oslo just suffered.
I cannot argue with Greenwald's other main point -- one so obvious that in a sane world it would not even require a mention -- that our media take a different approach to violence inflicted by Western countries than to violence inflicted upon Western countries.

But I can argue with part of his conclusion, which runs:
[O]ur own country and those in alliance with it -- unintentionally or otherwise -- replicate the horror that took place in Oslo in countless places around the world with great regularity, and that requires at least as much attention and discussion as the Oslo attacks are sure to receive.
Specifically, I don't understand how the horrors our countries inflict on others could possibly be described as "unintentional." But I suppose we must consider the source, the audience, and the platform.

However, my primary area of disagreement in this instance lies in the way Greenwald speculatively connects the attacks on Norway to the wars in Afghanistan and Libya, without mentioning that these wars were instigated and are driven from places like Washington, London, and Tel Aviv (which would be more likely targets for anyone seriously seeking retribution), or that Norway has obviously been, like many other small European countries, dragged into foreign entanglements reluctantly, pressured by the usual extortions and lies about membership in NATO and the UN, and itching to get out.

With respect to Libya, Greenwald's "connection" was especially spurious, because even as the war instigators were saying it might take a year or longer to effect the changes they desire, the Norwegians had already announced the imminent end of their participation in slaughter of innocent Africans.

But then again, we must consider the source and the platform. Unfortunately for the audience, in order to offer a more credible explanation for why Norway might have been so brutally attacked, one must grasp the third rail of American politics. This, as Glenn Greenwald has shown repeatedly, he will not do.

I certainly agree with William Blum, who wrote:
Amidst all the sadness and horror surrounding the massacre in Norway, we should not lose sight of the fact that "peaceful little Norway" participated in the bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999; has deployed troops in Iraq; has troops in Afghanistan; and has supplied warplanes for NATO's bombing of Libya. The teenagers of those countries who lost their lives to the US/NATO killing machine wanted to live to adulthood and old age as much as the teenagers in Norway. With all the condemnation of "extremism" we now hear in Norway and around the world we must ask if this behavior of the Norwegian government, as well as that of the United States and NATO, is not "extremist".
But to explain the significance of "Norway's 9/11," one must delve much deeper.

Breivik (or someone who looks a
bit like him) in a mock military uniform.
William Blum has compiled and continues to enlarge an agonizingly long and detailed compendium of CIA black ops -- crimes against democracy and crimes against humanity committed over the decades and all around the world. But he still accepts the official lies about "America's 9/11." Apparently he has trouble recognizing a black op when he sees one unfolding.

An even less astute analysis came from another longstanding favourite, Bob Koehler, who wrote:
Young adults — teenagers — being stalked and methodically murdered at their bucolic summer camp on Utoya Island in Norway. In God’s name, why?

This is the question we ask instantaneously, with sucked-in breath. Why? The question is bigger than any answer we make up. The killer, Anders Behring Breivik, had an agenda, of course. The Utoya murders, along with the deaths meted out by the bomb he detonated in Oslo a short while earlier — 76 victims in all — were explicit political killings; but first, they were the product of some psycho-social kink in the human condition ... Anders Behring Breivik is our creation.
Koehler's column is, like many others, utterly devoid of skepticism. Worse, in my opinion, it incorrectly tries to assign the blame for this monstrous attack, it claims without proof that the question is bigger than any possible answer, and it implies that the only available answers are those we "make up."

Well, no! Bob, I'm sorry! Anders Behring Breivik is not my creation! Neither is he yours! Please do what you ask and expect of real journalists: look at your sources to see whether they make any sense, and whether what they say is verifiable, before you go any further. This outrage is not my fault. It's not yours, either. Rather than labeling the killer "our creation," guys like you should be trying to figure out whose fault it really is, rather than simply pointing fingers at the mainstream media for pinning the blame on al Q'aeda.

It's been almost 10 years since ordinary Americans first heard of al Q'aeda, and if they are still inclined to link outrageously brutal terrorism with Muslim madmen, that reflects nothing so much as the failure of our allegedly dissident writers. We didn't expect the war-cheerleaders to stop in the middle of their blood-orgy and tell us the truth themselves, did we?

A large part of the horror of "America's 9/11" became visible in the aftermath, when, one after another, supposedly dissident writers, who were then thought of as leaders of the purported anti-war movement, published vicious screeds attacking the people who were questioning the official story of those attacks. Another part of the horror came more gradually, with the slow realization that certain writers were never going to mention doubts about the official story at all, much less tackle them.

To see so many intelligent people accepting without question another blatantly ridiculous official story about another politically-motivated mass murder was not especially surprising -- after all, it's been ten years. But, seriously: What has Norway been doing lately to tick off powerful people? Why is this question so difficult for people to formulate?

It turns out that the question itself isn't especially difficult. The problem people are apparently having is with the answer.

Norway has been a reluctant member of NATO's foreign expeditions. Norway owns and manages its own natural resources. Norway has refused to join the EU. And Norway has been a major thorn in the side of Israel.

Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store was met by demands that
Norway must recognize a Palenstinian state when he visited the
Labour Youth League summer camp on July 21. (Reuters)
From boycotting Israeli goods to divesting from joint Norwegian-Israeli enterprises; from resisting pro-Israeli propaganda merchants to barring investment by Israeli companies; from sponsoring education about Israel's crimes against the Palestinians to calling for Israeli leaders to be tried for their crimes; from offering to recognize a Palestinian state to threatening to attack Israel in the event of another attack on Gaza or the West Bank (using the same logic currently in play in Libya), Norway has been leading a growing worldwide campaign to stand up for the victims in the region, rather than the aggressors. The Labor Party has been prominent in that effort, and the youth of the party have been especially committed -- committed to supporting some of the most forsaken people on Earth.

Let us review, shall we? Supposedly to atone for crimes committed by Germans, the people of Palestine have been forced off their land, penned up in open-air concentration camps, cut off from normal life by walls and checkpoints, and terrorized by armed Israeli madmen who shoot first and ask no questions.

Their groves, to which they are almost always denied access, are being burnt and ripped up and converted into settlements in which the rightful owners are unwelcome at gunpoint. Their land and water have been stolen, their freedom of movement has been curtailed, and many thousands of them have been killed. But this is not enough for their oppressors, who now use deadly force against peaceful people who wish to bring them assistance.

And nobody is supposed to read about any of this, and nobody is supposed to write about any of this, except for propaganda outlets who deny that the Palestinians are oppressed, or that they are people, or who claim it's their own fault. And anybody who dares to criticize Israeli policy is anti-Semitic.

For that reason, members of the mainstream audience will never have access to the idea that the attack on Norway may have been a scripted event, a prefabricated act of terror in which Anders Breivik was a pawn of forces larger than he could ever imagine.

To some people, it will always remain an inexplicable act of madness, a psycho-social kink in the human condition, horrible and insane and ultimately meaningless. There are even some writers arguing that any attempt to find meaning in the Norway massacre is a sign of an unhinged mind.

If that is the case, I am proud to be unhinged. Ultimately, I have no choice, because the meaning of the massacre is as clear to me as it apparently is to some Norwegians, such as the Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg, who seemed to be speaking to a foreign audience when he said:
I have a message to the people who attacked us, and those behind them. This is a message from all of Norway:

You will not destroy us.

You will not destroy our democracy nor our quest for a better world. We are a small nation, but we are a proud nation.

No one shall bomb us into silence or shoot us into silence. Nothing will frighten us out of being Norway.

This night we will comfort each other, talk with each other, and stand together. Tomorrow we will show the world that Norway’s democracy grows stronger when it is challenged. We shall find the guilty and hold them responsible.
If Jens Stoltenberg believed the guilty had already been found, he would not have been speaking in such terms, would he? He seemed to be responding to a secret message, rather than reacting to the crime which the police and media have described.

But the message was no secret.
You will go along with the program. You will send your troops where we tell you, you will buy foreign products regardless of ethical considerations, you will stop supporting the vermin we are trying to eradicate, and under no circumstances will you threaten anyone.

Otherwise we will bomb your offices and kill your children.

We will do it on a famous anniversary, but it in such a way that no direct evidence leads back to us.

We will do it in a way that shows your police are thoroughly compromised and no use to you at all. We will do it in a way that exacerbates tensions between Christians and Moslems. And we will do it in a way that lends credibility to those who would trash the best features of your open, democratic society.

We will cover our tracks with a lame distraction which will confirm quite clearly -- to those with eyes to see -- that the entire world's "news" media are in our pocket. And most of your friends and neighbors -- including many who should know better -- will play along with it, if they show any interest at all.

And then ... ah, yes: then we will rejoice in your grief!

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