By Kevin Ryan
July 21, 2012

“Terrorism is theater.” – Brian Michael Jenkins

For many years prior to 9/11, two Americans were in unique positions to originate and frame the national conversation about terrorism. Those same two people, Brian Michael Jenkins and L. Paul Bremer, played extraordinary roles related to aviation security and World Trade Center (WTC) security in the few years before the 9/11 attacks. Could Bremer and Jenkins have been front men for a program that hyped the threat of terrorism while at the same time manufacturing terrorist events for political purposes?

If so, it would not have been the first time that the American people were subject to the hard sell of a threat to national security only to discover that the threat was overblown or non-existent. The Soviet military threat to the U.S. after World War II is now widely known to have been a fabrication hyped for political and financial gains.[1]

The propaganda that drove the Cold War was effective in establishing government policy primarily because it was effective in framing the national conversation about what threats were important to consider, and in controlling the media. The same has been true for the propaganda driving the War on Terror. A short review of the people and reports that promoted the Soviet communist threat is helpful in understanding the “Islamic terrorist” threat that has evolved from it.

The communist threat and state-sponsored terrorism

One man, Paul Nitze, was behind the three most important reports that promoted the perception of a Soviet threat against the United States after World War II. The first of these reports, NSC68, was instrumental in changing the policy of the Truman Administration, which initially did not perceive the Soviets as a major threat. The second Nitze report was the Gaither Report that, in 1957, said the U.S. had fallen behind the Soviets in nuclear weaponry.

As an investment banker turned top government policy maker, Nitze was clearly a powerful man. Author Burton Hersh has said that Nitze was one of two people who met quarterly in Frank Wisner’s office to select the missions that would be approved for The Office of Policy Coordination, the CIA’s early covert operations group.[2]

Nitze was also the founder of the Committee on the Present Danger (CPD). This was a political action group that brought about the remilitarization of the U.S. in the 1950s by promoting the ideas in NSC68. CPD was resurrected in 1975 and 1976 by Cold War hawks, including Donald Rumsfeld, who wanted to eliminate the policy of détente and Soviet containment in favor of another military build-up. The group was resurrected yet again in 2004 to promote a more aggressive War on Terror.[3]

Author Peter Dale Scott noted a significant difference in process between the first incarnation of the CPD and the second. As Scott wrote, the first CPD was created by a consensus within the state to mobilize against a Soviet threat that was open to misunderstanding at the time. The second iteration, however, “was mounted in opposition to a government policy that threatened to establish a more peaceful and less militarized world. In short, the interests being defended were not those of the nation but of the military-industrial complex itself.”[4]

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