Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Peeking into the memory hole

The memory hole is deep, dark and quiet. With our short attention span and constant need of being stimulated by something new, story after story has been cast into this hole, rarely discussed even on fringe sources of commentary or research. Save for bloggers, a few devoted online researchers who maintain specialized websites and the occasional reference in non-fiction books we lose the story and no one seems to question the timing or the effect of these stories. Time marches on, as the old saying went.

Here are three stories that have fallen into the memory hole but have been on my mind in recent weeks. These stories were like the month of March – in like a lion, out like a lamb.

The al-Qaeda chemical weapon test video.

Soon after the invasion of Afghanistan and just in time for the holiday get together with your family, the government released video excerpts of a supposed chemical weapon test that was performed by members of al-Qaeda. The tape showed a small dog enclosed in a room where a chemical weapon was released. Of all the somber and serious things being discussed at that time, the contents and inherent threat of this tape was very chilling.

So, have there been any more tapes like this discovered over the last 6 years of war? We have seen neither hide nor hair of a new tape. Considering the absolute fear this tape struck at the heart of every American and the speed in which it was found in Afghanistan, one would assume that if new tapes were found the intelligence agencies and the White House would want them declassified and released ASAP.

The ever changing terror alert levels.

You know the drill. All through 2002, 2003 and 2004 we had to live through various and vague warnings from the government that chatter was high or a specific threat had alarmed them sufficiently to raise the terror alert level. Every time it happened we had the living shit scared out of us, and the ominous feeling of the other shoe about to drop was on everyone’s mind.

Keith Olbermann of MSNBC has done one of the greatest services to this country that we can ever imagine by piecing together his “Nexus of Politics and Terror” pieces for his show. Unlike every Bush apologist in the country, I am not going to make a cause and effect correlation between the abrupt ceasing of these raised terror alerts and Olbermann’s work but it is interesting that once his story made it into popular culture of America the terror alert tweaking, stopped.

The kidnapping and beheading videos.

Daniel Perl and contractors galore were kidnapped and their executions videotaped in the early stages of the Iraq occupation. While the mainstream media refused to show the actual executions, the unedited tapes could be found for download online at various mayhem sites. The violence in Iraq has been dynamic. It has gone from being focused on the occupying forces to a Sunni on Shiite/Shiite on Sunni massacre. The number of contractors who are kidnapped and murdered has decreased but it’s not a sign that it’s safe for contractors or anyone in Iraq.

What is curious about these videos is how they solidified an idea into the collective minds of Americans that the invasion of Iraq was just and necessary at a time immediately after major combat operations had ended and it was obvious that there was absolutely no plan for “what next?” in Iraq by the White House. Instead of the media probing the coalition plan for rebuilding the nation the media could not stop talking about the kidnappings and brutal executions.

It is very interesting to me that these instances and other like them, have come and gone so quickly and considering the level of discussion they provided the American public, no one seems to wonder why they stopped. In the case of the chemical weapon tape it is curious to note that there has been no other instances of similar tapes being discovered. I’m quite sure that if tapes like this had been found we would have seen them as the fear and worry they produce is effective beyond belief in advancing the White House agenda and justifying their occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.

What is the real mechanism of a story jumping into and off our radar? Our memory has always been short and with few exceptions even the worst of tragedies are forgotten and life goes on. Military disasters are forgotten; no one remembers or talks about the Forrestal flight deck fire even though Sen. John McCain was involved. Two nuclear powered American submarines lie at the bottom of the Atlantic, the only references to these sinking’s are related to the threat of radioactive materials. When was the last time you read or heard a reference to the hundreds of soldiers who died in the Gander air disaster?

Do these stories have a valid connection to current events? In the case of the chemical weapon test video, yes, that does have a connection with current events. The continual wolf cry of the neo-con operatives allude to the threat of CBR (Chemical, Biological and Radiological) attacks on American soil. So why has there not been another video of these types of tests released?

Over the years I have found it interesting to go back and look at my personal journals and see what newsworthy events of the day were noted. It is not often that a story that is not directly affecting my daily life is mentioned. The three stories I have mentioned in this posting were stories of the day that prompted an entry in my daily journal. It all leads me to wonder what other people think about their own memory hole.

No comments: