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Culture and Life: Operation Northwoods and the two towers

by Rob Gowland Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2001 at 10:17 PM

The US economy is in deep, deep trouble. It is in fact galloping headlong towards an economic abyss, and it's going to drag the rest of us over the edge with it. In a frantic effort to loosen up the money supply, the US Federal Reserve has cut interest rates "nine times" this year.

All to no avail: layoffs continue to grow, more corporations go belly up every week.

The country's biggest banks continue to soak up the wealth of the Third World like a sponge - leaving behind poverty, wretchedness and a well-founded sense of injustice. Meanwhile, the US itself is running on credit, fuelling its industry and commerce with investment funds from overseas corporations and institutions.

The US is, in fact, the world's biggest debtor nation. That's not a problem when the economy is doing well. But right now the US economy is, as I said, doing less than well.

At the same time, there is a global movement of revolt against the policies of big capital. The leaders of the major capitalist countries or the heads of the main capitalist financial institutions cannot even hold a summit meeting in peace any more.

Gone is the pomp and ceremony. Now they have to meet behind enormous barricades of concrete and razor wire, protected by an army of riot police and, yes, soldiers.

There is no country where the bigwigs of capitalism can hobnob in peace and comfort while they figure out new ways to extract even more profit from the labour of the rest of humanity. The police and security forces turn every meeting place into an occasion for violence against demonstrators.

And not only the impoverished of the world but their governments are standing up and refusing to be bullied. The revolt in the streets has merged with the revolt of the Third World.

In fact, capitalism - especially US capitalism -- desperately needs a war. How convenient that the worst terrorist actions in history should happen just at this time.

No doubt it was just a fortunate coincidence. After all, no government, no intelligence agency, would be so devoid of morality and scruples as to organise the slaughter of its own people, even with so much to gain as the US has at this time.

Or would they? With a lot less at stake than now, US intelligence agencies in the 1960s prepared for the Joint Chiefs of the country's military plans by launching a wave of terrorism across the USA.

The intent was to build public support at home and abroad for a military invasion of Cuba. Despite all the anti-communism of the preceding 20 years, most Americans and most of America's allies still felt that saying a country's leader was a "Commie" just wasn't enough reason for going to war with them.

Hence the need for the "very" top secret Operation Northwoods. According to the book "Body of Secrets" by US journalist James Bamford, Operation Northwoods was very comprehensive.

Cuban emigres who had "fled Communism" to the "freedom" of the USA would be murdered in the street. No doubt "agents of Castro" would have been blamed.

It was proposed that boats of Cuban emigres heading for Florida could be sunk on the high seas (once again they would have blamed Cuban agents or even the Cuban Navy). Of course, the hijacking of planes "by Cubans" was part of the plan.

The planners knew the value for their purposes of US military casualties: They wrote "We could blow up a US ship in Guantanamo Bay and blame Cuba", adding "casualty lists in US newspapers would cause a helpful wave of national indignation".

The US military still operates on this principle, maintaining a special unit whose unique function is to be infiltrated into countries where the US needs an excuse to undertake military action, and, dressed in the uniforms of "that country's" soldiers, attack US personnel.

The creation of such incidents did not originate with the US military, of course. Hitler used the same stunt in order to provide the pretext for attacking Poland.

Operation Northwoods also included proposals for a campaign of violent terrorism against civilians in US cities. Nevertheless, this plan for terrorist attacks on the US people had the "written approval" of all of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (ie, the heads of the US military).

It was presented to US Defence Secretary, Robert McNamara, in March of 1962. At the time, the Operation was not given the go-ahead.

That was probably not because it was deemed to be immoral. After all, the US had waged a very similar campaign of terrorism against civilians in Belgium after WW2.

The Belgian Communists were held in high esteem for their heroic leadership of the wartime Resistance to the Nazis. They looked set to win the post-war elections.

The US launched a terrorism campaign, (killing shoppers in stores, anything to create an atmosphere of fear) while blaming the Communists who were supposedly "trying to take over by force". It worked, and it was not the only place or time where such murderous terrorism was utilised by the US.

Operation Northwoods never went ahead, but was not disclosed for 40 years. If a similar operation was in any way involved in the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon, then you can rest assured it will be well and truly buried from public scrutiny for ever and a day.

Until that day, it will remain a very convenient coincidence.

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