Sunday, September 10, 2006  

ON oboes and other seditious instruments

The list of things you may not bring with you on a plane is growing. Add to that list- instruments:
The issue even struck a false note at the world-renowned Last Night of the Proms on Saturday night, with one conductor joking that next year audiences may have to put up with "Concerto for Laptop and Orchestra".

As most people who travel know, baggage handlers are not the most tender of people and there is little chance a priceless viola will make it intact to its next concert.

Whither these newest regulations?
Seventeen people have been charged with terrorism-related offences and 11 with conspiring to murder and preparing acts of terrorism following police raids in Britain on August 10.
Ah ha! you may say. Look at that! Yes. Look at it. And then look it up.
Some interesting facts to consider:

none of the alleged would-be bombers had a plane ticket to anywhere.
- most had no passport (which would make going overseas a tad difficult, don't you think?)
- some had visited Pakistan recently- something thousands of Brits of Pakistani origin do every year
- originally no bomb making material was found- until when pressed, the British police said things that could make bombs were found. (no stabs at specifics or anything- just, you know, things)
- computer and media equipment were seized. (like you don't have any anyone could take?)
- Pakistan arrested one suspect and handed his confession over. I bet. Pakistan is known to have very persuasive techniques. The suspect, Rashid Rauf, has not yet been charged with any terrorism attempts, but the British are asking for his extradition. Rauf has been variously described as having an alias (Khalid Rauf), being an important go between and a familar of Al-Libbi (rather hard to do since al-Libbi was reported killed in 2004- but you never know), as well as a senior operative (why his name has not popped up until now- hmmmmm, please speculate. I'll wait), most of which cannot be substantiated. More importantly- more for the Pakistanis, than the US- Rauf is married to a relative of Maulana Masood Azhar, wanted in both India and Pakistan for attacks on parliament, attempts on Musharref, etc.
So, there seems to be a quid pro quo operating here. Here is what it might be:
The Brits "suspect" a terror plot, the US and Pakistan swear that yes, there is one and it's eminent (facts are such annoying things, don't you think?) and pressure the Brits to step it up. The fact that last week in the UK, there were still months of analyzing material ahead, suggests that plenty had not been done to create a substantial case. Several "suspects" have already been released and the others are being held on charges while the Brits (with American assistance) "analyze" stuff.
Why the pressure? On the US side, the reasons are legion- Lebanon was primary because of the need to conflate Hezbollah, Lebanese resistance and the new buzzword- Islamo-fascism in the minds of the population. In a further move to discredit trust in investigative reporting that was beginning to probe the US involvement in aiding Israel in its invasion of Lebanon, questioning the official line on 9/11 and the potentially explosive issue of marines up on aggravated murder charges, Cheney has accused "islamo-fascists" of manipulating the American press (Greenish is now the new Yellow jouralism?)
Pakistan needs to be seen as firm on terrorism in part because of the accusations stemming from the bombing of the train in India and because the debate of the use of torture in the "war on terror" is causing support for his regime to come up for re-examination. And, as various other countries have seen, it's so much easier to internally attack your population and your dissidents if you are seen by the US as an ally (see Operation Condor, Argentina, etc.), and get all kinds of assistance. Plus, the US needs Pakistan as an ally to balance India and keep an eye on Afghanistan.

So, back to the oboe and friends. Here are more tails than dogs to wag. People are being incovenienced in basic ways, Islamo-facism is becoming a fabulous buzzword and everyone is annoyed.

Consider this:
It will take "many months" for investigators to analyze all of the data, he said. CNN's Robin Oakley said the sheer amount of material seized by police indicated that it would be some time before a trial starts.

Oakley said he believed police had revealed so much information partly to assure the public that the terror threat remained high more than a year after the London bombings that killed 52 people and the four bombers.

He added that Scotland Yard was probably also keen to show it was avoiding mistakes it had made in previous terror investigations.

That would include shooting several innocent people, ruining reputations and making pre-mature arrests that including a number people who were later released.
(read the rest)

And here's the bonus, the afghan hound. if you will- most of this has been "caused by" home-grown terroristas. They couldn't make it work with the Canadian cell (heard much about them lately?), nor the Florida guys (really incompetent group + the level of entrapment was pathetic)- so here's another chance to make the imagery of terrorists amongst us really concrete. This feels like phase I, because, however you slice it, most Pakistani Brits look, well, Pakistani. So, now, there is a legitimized feeding into subconscious post-colonial fear, coupled with a sneaking suspicion that national politics and foreign policy are not winning one friends. Phase II is probably in the offing and that would be terroristas who look like the general populace - McCarthy's dream come true - suspect everyone, trust no one, not even the family dog. Hence Cheney's need to suggest that Islama-fascism has infiltrated and compromised the 4th estate (never mind the US has been found to have paid journalists in Iraq and in the US to create and plant favorable stories on Iraq and and negative stories on Cuba).

The fact the poor oboe, and the bagpipe and the cello and the flute and the sittar and the list goes on, have fallen afoul of the new terrorism-inspired edicts is merely gravy. It only serves to deaden cultural commerce (already a suspect in the New American Century) and to subtly underline why "they" hate "us" by suggesting that the free exchange of primarily Western/ized culture- through music (when is the last time you saw someone haul a (*)through the airport?) is under attack.
And again, this allows the mainstream to turn inward on minorities- making profiling the visual mark of second-class status, and encouraging a demonizing mindset that no amount of apologies or public stances, etc. will be able to quiet.

And then, it's a slippery slope to profile and civicly quarantine all those who dare to question, think seditious thoughts, talk about, etc.

Yes, you may argue that we were attacked on Sept 11, 2001- and yes, something did happen, but what has happened since internally in our societies, we have allowed to be done to us by our public servants and by each other.

So, leave the oboe out of this. What did it ever do to you?
(* a kanoon)

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