America’s Dangerous Love Affair With Counterinsurgency

The incomparable Adam Curtis, director of several powerful documentary films including The Power of Nightmares, delves deep into the psychology of the war on terror via his BBC blog:

At the beginning of this year one of the weirdest characters ever to become involved in the present Afghan war died. He was called Jack Idema and he was a brilliant con-man. For a moment, during the early part of the war, Idema persuaded all the major TV networks and scores of journalists that he was some kind of special forces super-hero who was using all kinds of “black ops” to track down and arrest the terrorists.

In reality, before 2001, Idema had been running a hotel for pets in North Carolina called The Ultimate Pet Resort. He had been in prison for fraud, and had tried to con journalists before about being some kind of super-spy. But September 11th gave him his chance — and he turned up in Kabul dressed like this.

And everyone believed him and his stories. In the process Idema brilliantly exposed the emptiness and fakery of much of the TV and newspaper reporting of the war on terror. He told the journalists and the TV presenters all kinds of lies and fantasies. He even became the central, heroic figure in a book called The Hunt for Bin Laden.

Then Idema charged journalists fortunes for what he said was an “al qaeda” video of a “a training camp” — where strangely many of the terrorists spoke in english, and allegedly you could hear Idema’s voice on the soundtrack. Few of the journalists did anything to really check if any of what he was saying was true…

[continues at Adam Curtis's BBC blog]

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