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[infowar.de] Anthrax Psyops
nachdem IW nun ja wirklich die breite Palette von Cybercrime, CNA bis hin zu medialer und psychologischer Kriegsführung enthält, hier noch mehr zu Psyops. Wir wissen zwar noch nicht, wer die Täter sind, die diese Briefe verschickt haben, klar ist, daß was von psyops verstehen.
Anxiety Attacks Terrorists Have Measure of Success
With Psychological Warfare
By Geraldine Sealey
Oct. 19 ? Unlike the massive and blunt trauma of Sept. 11, the recent anthrax incidents have trickled in, and while the potentially deadly cases have produced far fewer casualties, their perpetrators may be getting exactly what they want.
One person has died after anthrax exposure, compared to more than 5,300 who perished in the hijacking attacks on New York and Washington. But that doesn't necessarily mean terrorists are failing by not snuffing out more American lives with a biological warfare campaign. They could be after something else.
Experts say whoever is behind the recent anthrax scares ? and there is no known connection with the Sept. 11 attacks ? may be accomplishing exactly what they set out to do. They're inducing confusion and psychological distress ? a good definition of terrorism. In an ABCNEWS poll released Tuesday, 65 percent said they were worried about the anthrax situation, with a third saying they were worried a "great deal." And 54 percent said they were worried that they or a loved one might become infected.
In waging psychological warfare, the bioterrorists are manipulating our fears by posing risks of unknown and potentially deadly consequences to a large population of Americans, even if the actual casualties are limited in number, says Stephen Cimbala, a terror expert and Penn State political scientist.
"People are led to expect that disaster may strike randomly and regardless of their ability to prevent it or prepare for it," he said. "Creating this expectation of random vulnerability is the necessary condition for widespread hysteria."
Also necessary for widespread panic is making the privileged feel as vulnerable as the lower rungs of society, Cimbala said.
The pattern of anthrax incidents thus far meets these requirements. At some of the nation's most prominent news organizations, critical in setting the national tone, journalists are on edge with anthrax spores found in their offices and infecting at least four of their colleagues.
And the nation's business has been disrupted to the highest levels, with the U.S. House of Representatives closing down for several days. The chairman of the congressional subcommittee that has studied anthrax for years acknowledges that terrorists appear to be winning another battle here, even if the results are not catastrophic.
"This anthrax is not such a dramatic advance that we are in real danger yet," Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., said Wednesday. "But it is exactly what I have been expecting ? just enough to stop the country from going about its business. They are putting sands in the gear of the U.S. government and the gears are grinding to a halt."
'Most Bang for the Buck'
In launching targeted, small-scale anthrax attacks, experts say, it suggests that the bioterrorists haven't yet figured out how to inflict massive casualties. As an alternative, then, the perpetrators are probably trying to get the most "bang for their buck" by hitting government and national media, says Neil Kressel, a terrorism expert and psychology professor at William Paterson University in New Jersey.
"Clearly they've figured out they can't inflict major destruction, so they seem to be hitting symbols," he said. For Americans, watching daily news reports of new anthrax cases in national centers of power and influence sends the message of "If they can get those people, they can get everybody else," Kressel said, which can instill fear in large numbers of Americans.
In reality, experts say, the typical American's risk of dying from an anthrax-laced letter is minute. There is a much better chance of dying in a car crash, as an estimated 40,000 Americans do every year.
"Rationally, this is absurd," says Milton Schwebel, a Rutgers University professor emeritus and terror psychology expert. "One person has died. We're at war, this is very little. The terrorists have been very effective in undermining our morale and that's a pity."
But coming on the heels of Sept. 11, when our sense of homeland security was shattered, it makes some sense that Americans would feel vulnerable to fears of further attacks.
Consider what has taken place in the last several weeks: The FBI has warned Americans of "imminent" further attacks on U.S. soil. Suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden and his spokesman have called, on international airwaves, for the continued killing of Americans wherever they are. The United States began a military campaign in a foreign country. And then anthrax popped up in Florida, New York, Washington, D.C., and New Jersey.
It's no wonder we're unnerved.
This, Too, Shall Pass
Americans have weathered other bouts with potentially random violence, however, including cyanide-laced Tylenol that killed seven in 1982 and the Unabomber's suspected 17-year string of attacks, which left three dead and 23 wounded.
"Those incidents did not seem to be as terror-provoking as these [anthrax] incidents, but they were much more damaging," said Paul DeVito, executive director of the federally funded Early Responders Distance Learning Center, which counsels emergency response teams on the psychological consequences of terror attacks. "The country is in a recovery period, though, and these things will continue to be blown out of proportion," he said.
Americans will likely get less fearful as they see anthrax victims responding to treatment and as they learn specific steps they can take to protect themselves, DeVito added. We, too, can thrive despite danger, as other nations have despite terrorism on their soil, he said.
Psychologists say the nation likely will take the same path many individual trauma victims do as we continue to heal and cope with new fears. "Things will never be the same, but they'll be better, and that's a rule of thumb in doing trauma and loss work," said University of Florida psychology professor Alan Stewart, a trauma specialist.
"You never get the pre-morbid way of existing back, but sometimes people make good transformations afterwards," he said.
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