In fact, Tomlinson’s constant assertions of an inextricable link between the deposed Islamic Courts and al Qaeda rests on the word of those fountains of unerring truth — “intelligence officials” in the service of the Bush Administration. These charges are in turn based on the alleged presence in Somalia of a bare handful of individuals with alleged ties to alleged al Qaeda-associated enterprises. Tomlinson breathlessly relates that a whole ten “al Qaeda operatives remain in Somalia,” and are “at least partially responsible for the growing violence in the capital.” Who knew that these wily al Qaeda operators were somehow able to sneak into the tanks and artillery batteries of the American-trained Ethiopian army, which has been the source of most of the “violence in the capital” in the last month, when more than 1,400 people were killed, most of them civilians? Gadzooks, is there nothing these evil masterminds can’t do?
There is more — much more — in this vein. Tomlinson notes that those opposing the invasion are said to possess some shoulder-fired anti-aircraft guns. Now, you and I might think these weapons would be used by the “insurgents” to attack those who have invaded their country. (And indeed, their only reported use has been to shoot down an Ethiopian cargo plane supplying the invaders and an Ethiopian military helicopter.) But Tomlinson is mainlining the Bush juice now, and so simply says flat out — again without even the fig leaf of an unnamed “intelligence official” — and that these weapons “could be used against civilian aircraft throughout the region.” Al Qaeda! Airplanes! 9/11! 9/11!
But yes, it’s true that shoulder-fired missiles could be used against civilian aircraft in the region. And the Chinese could give a nuclear bomb to the Ku Klux Klan. Germany could invade Poland tomorrow. All kinds of things could happen in this crazy world. But normally, in a “news” story, one offers some kind of evidence for this kind of assertion.
But this is not a story designed to provide readers with the news of what is happening in Somalia. It is designed to convey — without a single dissenting viewpoint — the official line of the Bush Administration regarding the murderous proxy war that it has greenlighted in Somalia. There is no mention of the American air strikes against fleeing refugees in the early days of the war — an ostensible attempt to kill alleged al Qaeda operatives that instead murdered dozens of innocent civilians. There is no mention of the “rendition” of refugees — including innocent American citizens — into Ethiopia’s torture chambers. There is no mention of the years, and millions of dollars, that the Bush administration has spent in arming and training the repressive Ethiopian military. There is no mention of the complexities of the political situation in Somalia, just constant invocations of “Taliban” and “al Qaeda” to evoke a Pavlovian response of fear — and unquestioning acquiescence to the Terror War policies of the Bush Administration. After all, who could possibly oppose a righteous operation to keep Somalia from “turning back into a haven for al Qaeda”?
The reality, of course, is that deposing the Islamic Courts council — which had reached out to the West, seeking recognition and cooperation — and plunging Somalia back into anarchy virtually guarantees that it will indeed become a haven for terrorism, just as in Bush’s other “regime change” operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. But then, the Terror War has never been about curtailing the terrorist threat against Americans. This is blatantly obvious, as every aspect of the “War” has only exacerbated terrorism and anti-American feeling around the world. The Terror War is about securing even more loot and power for elite factions in the American Establishment (and selected foreign cronies). Somalia’s oil and its strategic location make it a prime target for the Terror Warriors; hence the invasion and the blood-soaked occupation.
But these truths must remain forever hidden from the American people. And here Tomlinson’s story has been marvelously effective. The ubiquitous AP wire serves countless papers and television stations, large and small, across the length and breadth of the land, and around the world as well. Even a cursory Googling of the story’s appearances in print shows the tremendous reach of Tomlinson’s piece:
Casper, Wyoming. White Rock, South Dakota. Wilmington, North Carolina. Fort Wayne, Indiana. State College, Pennsylvania. Gainesville, Florida. Seattle, Washington. Twin Falls, Idaho. Sacramento, California. Baltimore, Maryland. Houston, Texas. Atlantic City, New Jersey. Albany, New York. Los Angeles. Las Vegas. Denver. The Federal News Radio. Newsday. Fox News. The Guardian. Pravda. The Scotsman.
On and on it goes. This conglomeration of fear, fantasy, manipulation and omission is now the picture of the situation in Somalia for millions of Americans: a propaganda coup for the Bush Administration, yet another “mission accomplished.”