An article in the Oregonian yesterday was based on a BBC documentary that argues the threat to the West of Islamic terrorism is a politically-inspired fantasy. Robert Scheer of the Los Angeles Times asks the provocative question, “Is Al Qaeda just a Bush Boogeyman?”
The three-part BBC documentary is called “The Power of Nightmares.” Hopefully it will be shown in this country soon. Do you think the Sinclair Group is freeing up time in its schedule for this series? Or will Fox News, the self-styled paragon of “fair and balanced” reporting, air this counterpoint to the Bush administration’s portrayal of Osama Bin Laden as the real-life equivalent of Dr. Evil? (or, for those with a longer cinematic memory, Dr. No).
I usually enjoy pooh-poohing conspiracy theories. For example, I don’t think voting machines were rigged to elect Bush. But the producer of “The Power of Nightmares,” Adam Curtis, makes some eminently believable arguments in his response to comments from British viewers.
When you think about it, both Al Qaeda and the Bush administration have a mutual interest in fostering a belief in the existence of a world-wide Islamic organization which is powerful enough to rattle the foundation of Western civilization. Such a belief aids Al Qaeda recruiting (who wants to join a wimpy terrorist group?) and also is a great support for neo-conservative policies (if you’re not with us, you die).
Finding no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq because they didn’t exist is a big story—one largely ignored by the docile American media (motto: "Pat us and we'll purr"). Discovering that the Al Qaeda threat has been vastly exaggerated by the Bush and Blair administrations would be an even bigger story. It’s too bad that the BBC was the first to raise this possibility, ahead of ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox and CNN.
The United States may be #1 in many regards, but not when it comes to investigative reporting of questionable Bush administration policies.