The Wingers and the War of the World: the post 9/11 nervous Nellie

The Wingers and the War of the World

by digby

From the "America lost its mind after 9/11" files:

The FBI taught its agents that they could sometimes “bend or suspend the law” in their hunt for terrorists and criminals. Other FBI instructional material, discovered during a months-long review of FBI counterterrorism training, warned agents against shaking hands with “Asians” and said Arabs were prone to “Jekyll & Hyde temper tantrums.”

These are just some of the disturbing results of the FBI’s six-month review into how the Bureau trained its counterterrorism agents. That review, now complete, did not result in a single disciplinary action for any instructor. Nor did it mandate the retraining of any FBI agent exposed to what the Bureau concedes was inappropriate material. Nor did it look at any intelligence reports that might have been influenced by the training. All that has a powerful senator saying that the review represents a “failure to adequately address” the problem.
I remember Seymour Hersh's stories that the Pentagon was showing "The Battle of Algiers" to the top brass and passing around a discredited book of nonsense from the 70s called "The Arab Mind." It was one of the more embarrassing -- and frightening --- revelations of the early post 9/11 period. There is just no doubt that our nation's leadership panicked.

Indeed, back in the day I used to write a lot about the "War of the Worlds" syndrome which had the US reacting as if we had been invaded by space aliens rather than the target of a terrorist attacks by a small band of human beings. It wasn't a surprise to me that Spielberg would remake that film, and neither was the reaction of the right wing, which I wrote about at the time:

I don't think the fighting keyboarders understand that the movie is anti-colonial. I think they think it's about 9/11 and the martians are supposed to be al Qaeda. They think it shows America as being weak and afraid because Tom Cruise tries to get away from the aliens.

I actually agree with them, although not in quite the same way, I'm afraid. Before I ever knew that Spielberg was re-making WOTW, I saw the crazed reaction of the right wing as being comparable to the hysteria we would see if Martians had landed rather than the intelligent, critical response we would expect a superpower to show in the face of a bunch of Islamic fundamentalist losers. Rightwing behavior from the beginning has been one of extreme overreaction --- the "existential threat" the "our oceans no longer protect us," the whole litany of fear inducing lies about Iraq are all manifestations of severe panic. Look at the difference between the way everyone else in the world behaved in the face of terrorist attacks and look at us. It's embarrassing.

I think you can see the movie both as a criticism of the invasion of Iraq and as a criticism of the inchoate frenzy that overtook the right wing after 9/11. Their hysterical reaction betrayed what they would do if a real existential threat emerged --- they'd fall apart.
A decade later new evidence of that is still emerging:
The FBI’s counterterrorism training review was prompted by a Danger Room series revealing the Bureau taught agents that “mainstream” Muslims were “violent“; that Islam made its followers want to commit “genocide“; and that an FBI intelligence analyst compared Islam to the Death Star from Star Wars. The review led the bureau to remove hundreds of pages of documents from its training course.
It wasn't the liberals who were a bunch of pearl clutching nervous nellies after 9/11: it was the macho right wingers,the Pentagon and the police state authorities who lost their heads. And when you think about it it was far more frightening and dangerous than the attacks themselves.