11:03 GMT +326 March 2019
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    American tragedy: five years on

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    MOSCOW. (RIA Novosti political commentator Vladimir Simonov) - U.S. President George W. Bush chose an unusual way to mark the fifth anniversary of the horrendous September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington that killed 2,996 people.

    The president invited the relatives of the victims to the White House and told them that secret CIA prisons where suspected terrorists are kept is a fact, rather than a scandalous myth publicized by the American press.

    These prisons use the so-called "alternative procedures" to force inmates into talking when they prefer to keep silent.

    Why did George Bush make this revelation on the eve of the fifth 9/11 attack anniversary?

    The CIA prison scandal flared up this spring when The Washington Post wrote about the so-called "CIA black sites," i.e. secret investigation centers, in Europe. At that time, the European Parliament established a commission to investigate the rumors, and the U.S. Senate demanded an explanation from the CIA director. Human rights activists accused the U.S. Administration of torturing prisoners outside the country.

    Why did not the president make this confession before?

    In an effort to explain his unexpected decision, President Bush said security operatives had stopped interrogating the 14 prisoners and transferred them to Guantanamo, Cuba. The suspects will now be court-martialed. Although the U.S. Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that such military tribunals were illegal, the president hopes to use new legislation to circumvent this decision.

    The president's confession seems to imply that terrorists, including the masterminds of the 9/11 attack, will be punished soon. We will have to wait and see whether he keeps this promise.

    It appears that, apart from establishing secret prisons overseas [where "alternative procedures" are used to force inmates into confessing], the U.S. Administration has made little headway in fighting international terrorism since September 11. President Bush apparently has no good news for the relatives of the deceased, the country and the world.

    The Taliban is resuming military operations in Afghanistan, and NATO forces are unable to stop the insurgents. The war in Iraq has exposed a blunder made by President Bush's neo-conservative entourage. The National Commission on Terrorist Attack Upon the United States, also known as the 9/11 Commission, has established that former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein did not maintain any contacts with Al-Qaeda. The U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 triggered a civil war there and turned the country into a breeding ground of terrorism, destabilizing the entire Middle East.

    Explosions in London, Madrid and Antalya prove that extremists are becoming more active, and the authorities are unable to apprehend them. Investigators have learned little from Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who apparently masterminded the 9/11 attack and was kept in secret CIA prisons for three years. French citizen Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person convicted for the New York tragedy, was in prison at the time of the attack and was not a major September 11 conspirator.

    Al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden has not been caught to date. A recent Al-Jazeera video footage of Bin Laden shows him talking to the actual hijackers, who later perished in the attacks, somewhere in a mountain area. The video testifies to the fact that Bin Laden instructed and inspired the suicide bombers, but, intelligence experts say, the footage contains no new details for determining his whereabouts. Bin Laden appeared in good health and full of energy, and his organization could still inflict considerable damage.

    It is fairly obvious that Washington's global crackdown on terrorism [including wars in Afghanistan and Iraq] has largely discredited itself and is a major fiasco.

    Moreover, the U.S. Administration is now inadvertently undermining its positions by an ill-conceived ideological campaign. Washington theoreticians are trying to portray diverse extremist movements, which sometimes have a complicated history, as "Islamic fascism." However, this is a far-fetched and dubious concept.

    This ideological campaign changes society's perception of racist evil. Racism, which denoted white-black tensions until September 11, now mostly implies animosity towards Muslims and Arabs. Ultra-right parties in Western Europe are telling ordinary people that their swarthy neighbors could be potential hijackers. The Europeans are coming to perceive Islam as a "fifth column" and as an enemy that may strike from within.

    This is happening at a time when Muslim diasporas in the Old and the New worlds are stating their desire to combat terrorism brandishing the green banner of Islam, and when they can become an effective anti-terrorist instrument.

    Those who have coined the term "Islamic fascism" have failed to remind President Bush about one important aspect. U.S. business giants, such as Standard Oil of New Jersey, Chase Manhattan Bank, Texas Company, International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation, Ford and Sterling Products, had cooperated with the Nazi regime during World War II. The Washington Administration did not denounce this cooperation, as is proved by U.S. archive records. Secretary of Commerce Jess Jones, Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau and high-placed State Department officials of that period never said a word in criticism of those activities.

    Consequently, it is a bad idea for President Bush to reproach modern extremists for their ideological similarity to fascism. A person living in a glass house should not throw stones at others.

    This apparently explains the president's decision to tell the public about secret investigation centers on the eve of the 9/11 anniversary. George Bush, in his condemnation of "Islamic fascism," seems eager to distance himself from this issue, because secret prisons where inmates are kept for years without trial are a classic feature of any totalitarian regime.

    The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and may not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.

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