Bush's Little Shop of Horrors

Since September 11 the FBI has issued 43 terrorism alerts, inducing feelings of fear, anxiety and helplessness in many Americans -- a condition that Washington, DC psychologist Rona Fields describes as Acute Prolonged Stress Syndrome. "After so many vague alerts, many based on uncorroborated evidence, it's fair to ask, What's the point? Why spook a country that's already spooked?" writes Geoffrey Gray. "The Bush administration likes to brand the fight against terrorism as a new kind of war, with new enemies and new rules, but using fear to push policy has been an actual play in the White House book since the Truman administration began commissioning behavioral studies on 'emotion management' during the early days of Cold War hysteria." The Bush administration's game plan, he says, mirror the Cold War strategies of the Truman administration's top-secret "Project East River," which "looked into ways of using paranoia to control behavior. " The Bush administration's PR initiatives -- Charlotte Beers, the Rendon Group, the Office of Strategic Influence, the Office of Homeland Security -- resemble the Truman administration's efforts at "calibrating the unease of the public by performing 'ritualized training behavior,' or civil defense. This meant duck-and-cover drills, bomb-shelter preparation, and asking citizens to keep a careful watch on others."