TOPOFF 4 and Vigilant Shield 08: a view from the "feverish fringe"
By Warren Pease
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Oct 8, 2007, 01:02
Go to Original
"Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we." --George W. Bush, Aug. 5, 2004, in a rare moment of unscripted candor.
Mass media is fond of creating labels and lumping people of certain philosophical or political persuasions into groups of designated societal misfits, all carrying some pejorative nickname intended to clearly define the borders between "them" and "us."
This helps the citizenry distinguish between the members of certain marginalized -- and therefore untrustworthy -- groups who take a somewhat jaundiced view of the actions and motivations of authoritarian institutions, and the great American mainstream that can always be counted upon to internalize and recite the most preposterous nonsense as long as it carries the official stamp of institutional authority and mass media approval.
A recent case in point: a group based in Portland called the Oregon Truth Alliance aired their concerns and objections regarding a series of upcoming anti-terrorism/national security drills scheduled to take place in their city this month. They were rewarded for their efforts in an October 2 editorial in The Oregonian, the local daily, that snickered:
It's hard to know what's scarier: the idea of responding to a terrorist attack in Portland or the idea that the government is using a drill as a pretext to seize power, declare martial law and, possibly, attack Iran. The average Portlander doesn't give much thought to either notion, but a feverish fringe sees a disaster drill as evidence of a future police state . . .
At issue is a series of simulations scheduled to begin October 15 in Portland (as well as in Phoenix and Guam) that has caused much concern among locals, ranging far beyond the "feverish fringe" of activists, a convenient "them" to which The Oregonian would prefer to attribute exclusive ownership of such imbecilic notions.
But surprise, surprise. The mainstream is waking up and it's not particularly fond of what it's seeing. Thanks to occasional peeks behind the curtain that reveal unprecedented levels of corruption, insatiable lust for oil and power and disdain for the Constitution, the lines are blurring between "us" and "them" on many issues involving the conduct of the Bush administration.
These days, particularly in this bluest of blue cities, many people of varying political viewpoints are united in their concerns over possibly nefarious government-sponsored exercises and maneuvers, particularly when they're taking place in their own backyards.
Fears and objections notwithstanding, though, Portlanders are being asked to welcome thousands of armed strangers -- from the DHS, FBI, DoD and other federal security agencies, NGOs, National Guard, local law enforcement -- as they gather to enact a week's worth of anti-terrorism drills called TOPOFF 4 and Operation Vigilant Shield 08.
TOPOFF 4 (short for "top officials") is an exercise that simulates (we hope) the detonation of a "dirty bomb" near Portland's Steel Bridge. Vigilant Shield 08 simulates (we hope) imposition of martial law to control the civilian population in the aftermath of the radiological event.
Read the rest at Online Journalhttp://onlinejournal.com/artman/publish/article_2506.shtml