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US: Merchants of Death Cash In on Tragedy

by Tom TurnipseedCommon Dreams
September 25th, 2001

While the dead and missing toll rose toward 7000 people and the stock market suffered it's largest week's loss since the great depression due to the terrorist attack on the symbols of U.S. economic and military power, the stock of the weapon and surveillance industries zoomed. The 401 (k) retirement plans of U.S. citizens took their biggest one week hit ever as the Dow Jones fell 14.3% last week, but the big winners of the week were the weapons industry, who were the top eight corporations in percentage increase in the price of their stock.

These Merchants of Death increased their stock's value from 39.9% for Armor Holdings, Inc, who specialize in bullet resistant vests and flax jackets to armored vehicles and sells them to government agencies and multinational corporations, to 21.2 % for Northrop Grumman Corporation, who sell killing tools like the B-2 stealth bomber, warships, and battlefield surveillance systems and is a 15 billion dollar company with 80,000 employees. Other members of the money-making-from-misery elite from last week's market included: Raytheon(meaning light of the gods), whose stock rose 37% and who sell 66% of their aerospace products to the U.S. Department of Defense; L-3 Communications Holdings, Inc. whose stock gained 35.8% from America's loss because they make specialized communications systems for satellite, avionics, and marine communications with the U.S. Department of Defense accounting for 63% of the company's business; EDO Corporation whose stock gained 24.8 % during the week of war talk and boasts of products that are used on land , sea and in space that they sell to the U.S. Defense Department for 70% of their revenues; Alliant Techsystems Inc.(ATK), stock soared 23.5% last week because they sell about 75% of their gunpowder, smart bombs, tank mines, and rocket propulsion systems and other war-making products to the U.S. Government.

Meanwhile, the fear-of-terror syndrome caused security companies' stock on NASDAQ to soar. InVision Technologies and ICTS International rose 195.5% and 103.4% respectively. They offer magnetic resonance imaging to check baggage and risk analysis. Visage Technologies went up 175.8% because they develop "biometric" technologies such as face recognition and fingerprint imaging with "instantaneous" surveillance applications that have an Orwellian aura.

The market for weaponry and surveillance is created by anger, hate and fear. The successful terrorist attack on the ultimate symbols of the United State's sole-super-power status, our economic and military might, has fueled the flames of fear and ignited the passions of patriotism. With U.S. leadership threatening the world with Star Wars and arrogantly dissing and ditching long-sought-after-agreements on global climate change, germ warfare, land mines, small weapons, rights of children, and criminal justice, our global hegemony has been cunningly challenged by murderous Muslim martyrs armed with knives and box-cutters. Their mysterious mastermind is said to be a CIA-trained terrorist named Osama bin Laden, a Saudi Arabian from a wealthy family, who has lived like a nomad among the poor people in the Middle East and Africa and in Afghanistan. He is said to be under the protection of the Taliban ruling religious sect in Afghanistan which was put into power by the U.S. to "stabilize" the area against the Russians.

While U. S. public opinion surveys say that more than 90% of the people support the President in the "war against terrorism", many of us are finally beginning to question U.S. policies that are causing the deaths of thousands of innocent people, including children, in places like Iraq, the West Bank and Gaza. In Iraq the United Nations Children's Fund(UNICEF) reported in a 1999 study that without the U.S. led military action and economic sanctions imposed against Iraq there would have been half a million fewer deaths of children under five from 1991 to 1998. On the West Bank and in Gaza high tech U.S. weaponry has been killing Arabs for decades. Are we taxpaying United States' citizens innocent?

All the people in the United States are people whose ancestors migrated from just about everywhere in the world or were either brought here as slaves. Even the Native Americans are thought to have come to this continent from elsewhere. "Americans" are people of all races, religions, and ethnic groups who share so many more basic human needs with people everywhere than differences. We have no differences worth killing one more person over, anywhere. We must call the hands of the Merchants of Death and make them realize that war profits are false prosperity. Let's stop the killing now!