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From: Matt Taibbi <exile.taibbi@matrix.ru>
Subject: re 5450-Dresen/Kagarlitsky,
Date: Wed, 19 Sep 2001

I would like to respond to Joseph Dresen's comment about Kagarlitsky.

Mr. Dresen's comments seemed to me exactly in the spirit of the current war
hysteria in the United States, which violently rejects any possible
explanation for the bombings other than the one being offered by our
leaders. It was also offensive to Boris personally.

First of all, there is the comment: "I can only hope that this article is
some kind of parody sparked by
resentment on his part over theories published here and elsewhere that the
tragic apartment bombings in Moscow were not carried out by Chechen
terrorists, but by other "forces," to use his word and sentiment."

Surely Mr. Dresen is aware that it was Boris's own newspaper, Novaya
Gazeta, which broke the story about the alleged connection between the FSB
and the Kazan bombings. Two of the journalists who worked on that story
were viciously beaten in what appeared to me to be an obvious government
retaliation for their reports. The Novaya Gazeta offices in Kazan were
ransacked. If Boris "resents" anything, it's certainly not those theories.

Secondly, on the question of motive for the attacks, Mr. Dresen is dead
wrong when he says that far-right extremists would not attack the World
Trade Center, because it is not a symbol of the Federal Government and
because innocent people worked there. For one thing, the Oklahoma City
bombing demonstrated that rightist extremists have no qualms about
attacking, say, a day-care center. Secondly, if Mr. Dresen were familiar at
all with the rhetoric of these extremist groups, he would know that one of
the chief targets of their anger is what they consider to be a worldwide
conspiracy of global capital. Sometimes this is anti-semitic in nature and
the enemy is a ZOG-like organization; sometimes it is just a shadowy
conspiracy of transnational corporations. In either case, Wall Street has
always been a primary focus of extremist anger. The World Trade Center is
therefore absolutely a logical target. It certainly makes more sense than a
Federal building in Oklahoma.

In addition, the experience of the last decade or so has proven that the
targets of violent attacks are not always reasonably arrived at. The
pharmaceutical plant in Sudan is a great example. If the United States
hadn't claimed responsibility for that one, it would have been hard to
guess who would have bombed that building, or why. The nature of
terrorists, and violent governments, for that matter, very often precludes
rational analysis.

It is also not true that Americans have absolute freedom of travel within
their borders. Many domestic airline companies require that identification
be shown at the gate before departure. (The ACLU has even complained about
these practices) Reports surfaced earlier this year that Amtrak is sharing
passenger information with the DEA. You can't rent a car in America without
a major credit card. Any law enforecement officer will tell you: it is e
xtremely easy to track the movements of a person in the United States,
particularly if he uses a credit card or public transportation.

Not only that, the surveillance apparatus in the United States far
surpasses in reach any other network in the world. For international phone
calls, faxes, and e-mails, we have the ECHELON system, which digests every
single international communication, running them through a "dictionary" of
keywords and addresses. Anyone with ties to any known foreign terrorist
organization is relatively easily thus monitored. Domestically, we have
Carnivore and an extensive wiretapping program.

All of these obstacles are much easier for a American to overcome than they
are for foreigners.

That said, I don't believe that Americans were responsible. But the
experience of Oklahoma City, added to the fact that so many of the people
who are telling us that the culprit was bin Laden are proven to be
completely without credibility when it comes to terrorism and
identification of the enemy (the first night of CNN coverage featured
Richard Holbrooke, who lied to the world about Rambouillet, and a parade of
ex- Iran-Contra Defendants, who previously covered up their own ties to
terrorist states) makes me reluctant to pass judgement on this one too
quickly. That and the fact that bin Laden himself was a beneficiary of U.S.
financing in the past (in the 1980s in Afghanistan).

As for the use of quotation marks, Mr. Dresen is not here in Moscow, or
else he would have seen that the culprits in these bombings are routinely
being referred to in the Russian press as "nelyudi"-- not-people. Subhuman
is an acceptable translation, I think. Additionally, the idea that there
has not been a far-ranging racist reaction to the attacks is absurd.
According to a CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll, 58 percent of Americans support
the notion that all Arabs, including U.S. citizens, should "undergo
special, more intensive security checks before boarding airplanes in the
U.S." Forty-nine percent think all Arabs, including U.S. citizens, should
have to carry a special ID card.

About the Reichstag comparison-- unnatural as it sounds, it seems to me
very important to keep the lesson of the Reichstag in mind when we follow
these events. I can't imagine the Bush administration being capable of
committing the bombings. But it is certainly capable of taking advantage of
the political fallout from the attack to implement all sorts of fascist
changes in our society. It has already shown that inclination. Any
politician whose mandate goes from 25% of the population to nearly 100% in
one year is not likely to discourage further war hysteria. The enhanced
security powers already called for by John Ashcroft are, I think, just a

One last thing. No concrete proof has been offered against bin Laden, and
the extent of the terrorist network responsible fo rthe attacks has yet to
be even partially described. Even if they identify the actual people
involved, it may take quite a long time to actually learn where those
people got their money from, which is the real issue. Whoever did it had a
lot of that money, a lot of very dedicated people, and a high level of
criminal sophistication-- far exceding anything ever shown by Islamic
terrorists in the past. The attack was made possible by the very fact that
Americans did not imagine it to be possible. If they make the same mistake
in not believing certain explanations for the attack are possible, they may
suffer even more. History is full of incredible surprises that were
dismissed as jokes before it was too late-- Lenin, Hitler, the atomic bomb.
I don't agree with everything Boris writes, but are we really ready to
stake everything on conscious ignorance of the possibilities? I don't think
we should "exclude" anything yet, even "idiotic" theories.

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