AMERICAS GREENS RALLY TO FLAG
Run for Cover Hot to present themselves as staunch flag-waggers, some of America's premier environmental organizations have disgracefully ditched their principles. The Sierra Club, America's oldest green group has abruptly turned off its campaign against the anti-environmental program of the Bush administration. CounterPunch has secured an internal memo in which the club's high command explains to its staff why it suspending its campaigns. "In response to the attacks on America," the memo goes, "we are shifting our communications strategy for the immediate future. We have taken all of our ads off of the air; halted our phone banks; removed any material from the web that people could perceive as anti-Bush, and we are taking other steps to prevent the Sierra Club from being perceived as controversial during this crisis. For now we are going to stop aggressively pushing our agenda and will cease bashing President Bush " The memo then instructs club staffers on how to respond to the press: "If you are asked about what this terrorism does to the Sierra Club's agenda, please respond simply by saying that right now the public needs to focus on comforting each other and strengthening our national security to deal with the crisis at hand."
Imagine if this craven posture spreads across the public interest movement. We could expect First Amendment defenders to say that they were abandoning efforts to protect the Bill of Rights. We could expect groups defending immigrants to say that henceforth the INS should be given free rein. Fortunately First Amendment defenders and defenders of immigrants have stronger spines and principles than the supposed defenders of the environment at the Sierra Club. Are we now to expect the Club to endorse drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve as necessary "for national security"? Even groups that we here at CounterPunch have admired are now in pellmell cowardly retreat.
The Berkeley-based International Rivers Network, which has been the main bulwark against the Three Gorges dam in China, now announces that it is suspending its planned nationwide protest against Morgan Stanley, one of the dam's principle financiers. Morgan Stanley had 50 floors of offices in the World Trade Center. IRN has also announced that "out of respect for the victims of this disaster, with understanding of the strategic difficulties in conveying to a shocked media and public our messages regarding the World Bank and IMF, with concern for the integrity of security systems in Washington DC, and for the safety of all, we will refrain from participating in activities surrounding the planned World Bank / IMF this month. We are also sharing our concerns with the leading organizations responsible for planning and coordinating these activities."
The Ruckus Society, the direct action training group involved in many demonstrations at the World Trade Organization has simultaneously announced that it is canceling its training camp, to be held in Middleburgh, Virginia, scheduled as preparation for the next World Bank meeting. This camp was to be cosponsored by the Institute for Policy Studies, Jobs with Justice and Global Exchange. All these organizations have now backed out, saying that now is not the time for such activity. The Rainforest Action Network, based in San Francisco, has called for the cancellation of the protest and said that in the event it goes forward it will not participate.
Let's get this straight. If all resisters to the Bush political program were to follow this shameful exhibition by these green groups, we would see peace groups declining to protest against nuclear attacks on Iraq and armed invasion of Afghanistan. We would see civil rights sitting on their hands as racial and religious profiling is used to persecute people of Middle Eastern descent. Defenders of Palestinian rights would say that for the time being they wouldn't protest the use of US Apache helicopters against civilians in West Bank towns and villages. What nonsense! Principles are never more important than when it is inconvenient or dangerous to stand up for them.
BIG OILS KAMIKAZE REP
Don Young, the wild man from Alaska, was one of the few members of congress who didn't completely buy into the notion of Osama bin Laden as the mastermind of the attacks on the World Trade complex and the Pentagon. There's some possibility, Young told the Alaska Daily News, that the attacks are linked to the protests against the World Trade Organization, another of which is scheduled for later this month in Washington D.C. "If you watched what happened (at past protests) in Genoa, in Italy, and even in Seattle, there's some expertise in that field," Young said. "I'm not sure they're that dedicated but ecoterrorists --which are really based in Seattle -- there's a strong possibility that could be one of the groups."
Young doesn't believe any of this. But he smells weakness in the environmental movement and, like the old fur-trapper that he is, he is poised to exploit it. Young is not beneath using the carnage of the World Trade Center as a launching ground for his own agenda: oil drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge, logging in the Tongass rainforest, passing laws against environmental protest and construction of new missile bases in the Alaska tundra and on the Aleutian Islands.
CHEMICAL WAR IN MANHATTAN
As the environmentalists are putting themselves into a state of suspended animation, the citizens of Manhattan and the thousands of volunteer rescue workers mulling through the rubble at the World Trade Center complex may well be in the whirlwind of a toxic event, which has received little media attention and almost no precautionary aid from FEMA or other federal agencies coordinating. Early reports from the Environmental Protection Agency described the destruction of the World Trade complex "an environmental catastrophe": the air of Manhattan clotted with asbestos, dioxin and other poisons. Yet, rescue workers found themselves without little more than surgical masks between their lungs and the poisons emanating from the smoldering ruins.
For years, the Pentagon and other terror pundits had been warning of the vulnerability of American cities to attack by biological and chemical weapons, the so-called asymmetrical warfare. These apocalyptic scenarios held that terrorist groups would unleash anthrax or sarin gas attacks in subways, water supplies or mega-office buildings, such as the World Trade Towers. Well, it turns out that the attackers didn't need to pack any chemicals, the buildings themselves proved to be quite toxic enough. The attackers used American planes as missiles and the buildings as chemical weapons. Built during the height of the asbestos boom, the guts of the World Trade Center may have been one of the world's largest repositories of the carcinogenic fiber, used as insulation in the giant towers. Underneath the rubble, thousands of tires continue to burn, sending plumes of pitch black smoke down the canyons of Manhattan. This smoke is contaminated with dioxins and assorted other poisons of the petrochemical age.
Early Warnings Reports keep coming in to us of advanced warnings that an attack of some sort was eminent. San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown was booked to fly from the Bay Area to New York City on the morning of September 11. But Brown says that late Monday evening, a full 8 hours prior to the attack, he received a call from a person Brown described as his "airport security man" telling him that he should be extra cautious about air travel on September 11. In addition to what we have previously reported about heightened security at the World Trade Center itself in the weeks leading to the attack and at the Picatinny Arsenal in Rockaway, New Jersey, CounterPunch has also learned that an internal memo was sent around Goldman Sachs in Tokyo on September 10 advising all employees of a possible terrorist attack. It recommended all employees to avoid any American government buildings. That said, according to Rep. David Bonior, the Michigan Democrat, the Congress was the last to know. Even after two planes had struck the World Trade Center towers and another had smashed into the Pentagon, Bonior says congressional officials were not warned by the CIA or any other intelligence arm of the federal government that the 30,000 workers in the Capitol might be at risk of an attack. Bonoir has been one of the few members of Congress to openly question the value of bowing to the demands for more money made by CIA and other intelligence agencies. "If they can't even warn members of Congress about an ongoing attack, you really have to wonder what good they are," Bonior said. CP