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Context of 'October 20, 2004-November 3, 2004: BBC Documentary Argues that Many Aspects of ‘War on Terrorism’ Are Exaggerated Myths'

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A man and his wife who were reported to have died on 9/11 in one of the aircraft that hit the World Trade Center are found to be still alive. (Pompilio 11/2001) Reports stated that on September 11, Jude Larson, 31, and his pregnant wife Natalie, 24, had been en route to the University of California at Los Angeles, where Jude was a student. Some reports said they were on Flight 11, others said Flight 175. (Antone and Altonn 9/12/2001; Vaishnav 9/19/2001) The alleged deaths were first reported in several newspapers in Hawaii, where Jude’s father, Curtis Larson, lives. (Antone and Shapiro 9/13/2001; Lasorsa 12/2003) The Associated Press, which has strict instructions to verify the names of victims independently, reported the deaths on its worldwide wires. The two names were then reported on passenger lists in the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, and on the websites of CNN and MSNBC. (Vaishnav 9/19/2001) But on this day, Jude Larson—whose real name is in fact Jude Olson—contacts the Honolulu Star-Bulletin and notifies it that he and his wife are still alive. (Kubota 9/18/2001; Lasorsa 12/2003) He is 30, not 31, his wife is not pregnant, and they live in Washington State, not California. His father had told the Maui News about his son and daughter-in-law’s deaths in an interview on September 11, in the hours after the attacks. (Fujimoto 9/18/2001) But Curtis Larson will now say he has been the victim of a hoax. He says someone pretending to be his ex-wife called him on 9/11 to inform him of the deaths. Then someone claiming to be from one of the airlines called him with the same news. (Kubota 9/18/2001) But the American Journalism Review will accuse Larson of having “fabricated almost every detail of his story” about the two deaths. The Associated Press subsequently asks its members to remove the names of Jude and Natalie Larson from its victim list and delete any photographs of them. American newspapers will have corrections columns noting the error. (Pompilio 11/2001)

Adam Ereli, the deputy spokesman at the State Department, says, “Iran is engaged in a clandestine nuclear weapons program.” Ereli adds, “This program is a matter of concern to the international community.” (Associated Press 8/17/2004)

Leo Strauss.Leo Strauss. [Source: Publicity photo]The BBC airs a three-part documentary entitled “The Power of Nightmares: The Rise of the Politics of Fear.” It is directed by Adam Curtis, who the Guardian calls “perhaps the most acclaimed maker of serious television programs in Britain.” The documentary argues that much of what we have been told about the threat of international terrorism “is a fantasy that has been exaggerated and distorted by politicians. It is a dark illusion that has spread unquestioned through governments around the world, the security services, and the international media.” The documentary begins by focusing on Sayyid Qutb in Egypt and Leo Strauss in the US. Both developed theories in the 1950’s and 1960’s that liberalism and individualism was weakening the moral certainties of their societies. Qutb has a strong influence on Islamic Jihad leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, and then through him, Osama bin Laden. Strauss meanwhile has a strong effect on neoconservatives such as Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, and Paul Wolfowitz, who all eventually gain prominent positions in George W. Bush’s administration. The documentary follows the rise of Islamic radicals and compares and contrasts this with the rise of the neoconservatives. Curtis argues that both groups have greatly benefited from 9/11, because both have been able to use fear of terrorism to gain widespread popular support. Curtis claims that al-Qaeda is not the highly centralized, widespread, and powerful organization that it is frequently depicted to be. Rather, it is more of a concept and loose alliance of groups with coinciding interests. He says, “Almost no one questions this myth about al-Qaeda because so many people have got an interest in keeping it alive.” The documentary gains favorable reviews in newspapers such as the Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, and the Guardian. (Regan 10/18/2004; BBC 2 10/20/2004; BBC 2 10/27/2004; BBC 2 11/3/2004; BBC 2 11/3/2004; Scheer 1/11/2005)


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