Journal of 9/11 Studies Volume 39, May 2014
by Daniele Ganser

Historians today and in the coming years face a challenging task: they must write the history of the events of September 11, 2001. What they write will be taught in history classes. But what will they write? Will they write that Osama Bin Laden sent 19 Muslims to launch a surprise attack on the U.S.? Or will they write that the administration of President George W. Bush was responsible for the attack, either constructing it or deliberately permitting it in order to shock the U.S. population and to create a pretext for increasing military spending and attacking Afghanistan and Iraq?

Having examined much of the data related to the 9/11 events, I am convinced a new and thorough investigation is needed. But when I have questioned the official narrative of 9/11 in my native Switzerland I have encountered vigorous objections from people. Why would any government in the world, they have asked, attack its own population or, only slightly less criminal, deliberately allow a foreign group to carry out such an attack?

While brutal dictatorships, such as the regime of Pol Pot in Cambodia, are known to have had little respect for the life and dignity of their citizens, surely a Western democracy, the thinking goes, would not engage in such an abuse of power. And if criminal elements within a Western democracy, in North America or in Europe, had engaged in such a crime, would not elected officials or the media find out and report on it? Is it imaginable that criminal persons within a government could commit terrorist operations against innocent citizens, who support the very same government with the taxes they pay every year?

Would nobody notice? These are difficult questions, even for academics who specialize in the history of secret warfare. But in fact, there are historical examples of such operations being implemented by Western democracies.

In this essay, I will not deal directly with 9/11 but will look at what we can learn from history. I will report on some of the newest academic data about secret warfare during the Cold War. A secret military strategy that targets domestic populations with terrorism does indeed exist. It is called the “strategy of tension.” And it was implemented by Western democracies.

The Strategy of Tension
It is probably fair to say that of the roughly seven billion people who live on our planet today, far less than one percent has ever heard of the “strategy of tension.” And only a very few of these could illustrate the strategy with specific historical examples.

It is indeed a strategy of a shadow world, known only to a few military and intelligence officers (and some criminals) who have carried it out, a few police officers and judges who fought against it, and a handful of journalists and academics who have written about it.

*Note: This article is taken, with changes and with the permission of author, editors and publisher, from David Ray Griffin and Peter Dale Scott, eds., 9/11 and American Empire: Intellectuals Speak Out, Vol. 1 (Olive Branch Press, 2006). Journal of 9/11 Studies Volume 39, May 2014! #!

In its essence, the strategy of tension targets the emotions of human beings and aims to spread maximum fear among the target group. “Tension” refers to emotional distress and psychological fear, whereas “strategy” refers to the technique of bringing about such distress and fear. A terrorist attack in a public place, such as a railway station, a market place, or a school bus, is the typical technique through which the strategy of tension is implemented. After the attack—and this is a crucial element—the secret agents who carried out the crime blame it on a political opponent by removing and planting evidence.

It must be noted that the targets of the strategy of tension are not the dead and the wounded of the terrorist attacks, as many might assume. The targets are the political opponents, who are discredited through the attack, and those who remain unharmed but learn of the attack, thereby coming to fear for their lives and those of their loved ones. Since the aims of the strategy are to discredit opponents and to create fear, the real targets are not the people who were killed, whether they number in the dozens or even thousands, but the millions of people who survive physically unharmed but emotionally distressed.

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