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Apocalypse of Coercion: Why We Listen to What “They” Say About 9/11

By Kevin Barrett

“Apocalypse of Coercion” uses Douglas Rushkoff’s landmark book Coercion
as a touchstone for understanding 9/11 as a psychological warfare
operation.  Rushkoff’s well-researched insights into the mind-control
techniques of car salesmen, spin doctors, cult leaders, and CIA
psych-war specialists explain how 9/11 was designed as a war-triggering
“New Pearl Harbor.” These insights also explain why so many people can
continue to believe the official myth of 9/11 in the teeth of the
overwhelming evidence against it. Perhaps most importantly, Rushkoff
predicts that new communications technologies promise to put an
explosive end to the era of pervasive coercion. His prophecy of the
coming apocalyptic end of coercion explains why the coercers were
desperate enough to try to re-infantalize the public through 9/11 in
order to maintain the old coercive structures of social control. In
predicting doom for the coercers, Rushkoff provides us with a roadmap
to a post-9/11-truth world.

Apocalypse of Coercion: Why We Listen to What “They” Say About 9/11

“That’s just like hypnotizing chickens.”  --Iggy Pop, “Lust for Life”

“Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice...uh...(long pause)...we
won’t get fooled again.” George W. Bush

    They say suicidal Muslim fanatics did it. They say those radical
Muslims hate our freedoms. They say the country is full of sleeper
agents who could wake up and kill us at any moment, as soon as their
little red-white-and-blue “I hate the USA” wristwatch alarms go off.
    They say that Saddam Hussein had something to do with it—he’s Muslim,
isn’t he? They say invading Afghanistan and Iraq was the appropriate
response; we had to do something, right? They say if you’re not with
us, you’re against us—and if you’re against us, you’re on the side of
the evildoers.
    They say those cunning, devious suicide hijackers defeated America’s
defenses using flying lessons and box cutters. They say it was ordered
by a tall, dark, handsome, sinister, hooknosed kidney patient in a cave
in Afghanistan—a ringer for the evil vizier Jaffar in the Disney film
Aladdin, but with a thicker beard to signify “Islamist.” They say it
was masterminded by a real bad dude named KSM. They say they finally
caught KSM, and that the whole story, enshrined in the official 9/11
Commission Report, is based on what KSM said under interrogation—so
it’s all right from the horse’s mouth.
    They say it happened because our defense and intelligence systems
didn’t see it coming, despite all those urgent warnings from dozens of
countries as well as whistleblowers from our own agencies. They say
that nobody was really to blame, so nobody had to be prosecuted or
fired or even reprimanded. They say that by promoting the very people
who made the most outrageously improbable blunders, and giving the
screw-up agencies a whole lot more money, we’ve ensured that they’ll do
better next time.
    They say that anybody who questions what they say is a conspiracy
    “Who, exactly, are ‘they,’ and why do they say so much? More amazing,
why do we listen to them?”
—Douglas Rushkoff, Coercion: Why We Listen to What “They” Say (NY:
Penguin, 1999)
    Rushkoff’s Coercion is a sizzling exposé of mind control, American
style. Unlike Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent, Rushkoff’s book provides
a detailed guide to the nuts-and-bolts techniques employed against us
every day by advertisers, marketers, public relations specialists,
Hollywood filmmakers, salespeople, pyramid-scam artists, and cult
leaders —the very same techniques applied for decades, and gradually
perfected, by CIA interrogators and psychological warfare experts.
These techniques are designed to disable rational thought and
manipulate behavior at the unconscious and emotional levels. Anyone
curious about why so many otherwise rational people have believed the
official story of 9/11 for so long, in the teeth of the overwhelming
evidence against it, should start by reading Coercion.
    The secret of mind-control is simple—so simple that Rushkoff can sum
it up in one sentence: “In whatever milieu coercion is practiced, the
routine follows the same basic steps: Generate disorientation, induce
regression, and then become the target’s transferred parent figure”
(64). Hard-sell car salesmen, CIA interrogators and psychwar ops, and
cult leaders have long used this technique. Under coercion, millions of
otherwise rational people can be persuaded to act against their own
interests—whether by shelling out big bucks for an overpriced lemon,
betraying a comrade and a cause, or allowing a gang of criminals to
destroy their nation’s Constitution and launch criminal wars of
    How do they do it? Let’s start by zooming in on your local automobile
dealership. The car salesman carefully leads the mark to be
dissatisfied with his current car, and by extension his current
life—and as the mark sees his current life through newly dissatisfied
eyes, he begins to experience disorientation. The salesman then takes
the mark on a test drive and, at the right moment, asks “Is this the
type of vehicle you would like to own?” Rushoff quotes a
And anyone will tell you this, the vacuum cleaner salesman, the car
salesman—the customer has a split-second of insanity. The mind goes
blank, the body paralyzes, the eyes get glassy, dilated. And you’d be
surprised how many people have an accident at just that moment! Ask any
car dealer. We always joke about it. (43)
    The car salesman’s question, like the well-timed words of a good
hypnotist, triggers a sudden intensification of the customer’s
dissociated, suggestible state. Rushkoff explains: “The customer is
already in a vehicle, being asked to imagine himself owning the same
type of vehicle. It’s the same as if I asked you if this is the kind of
book you can imagine yourself reading. Your current situation is
reframed in fantasy. It creates a momentary confusion, or dissociation,
from the activity you’re involved in. That’s why so many drivers crash”
    If the customer answers no, he gets the same treatment in other cars
until he answers yes. Then he is brought back to the dealership and
infantilized, as the salesman becomes his transferred parent figure:
He is told where to go, how to walk, where to sit. One training manual
instructs the salesman to give the customer coffee whether he wants it
or not: “Don’t ask him if he wants a cup of coffee—just ask him how he
takes it.” In this way, the customer is trained to obey, and given his
fear and disorientation in the sales environment, he welcomes the
commands and their implied invitation for him to regress into the
safety of childhood. (43)
Once the customer has been infantilized, he is controlled by various
tricks. One of the best-known is the “common enemy” technique. The
salesman pretends to be conspiring with the customer against the nasty
head of the dealership, or against another salesman who is greedy and
dishonest. The “common enemy” technique is also used by the CIA—one
interrogator, the “good cop,” teams up with the subject against the
other interrogator, the “bad cop.” Governments, of course, use the same
technique: The illegitimate son-of-a-Bush of August, 2001 doubled his
approval ratings by infantilizing the American public on 9/11 and
rallying them against the “common enemy” of evildoing Muslim
    The CIA, like the automobile industry, has long been refining coercive
techniques aimed at eliciting compliance. Whether the Company wants to
coerce an interrogation subject into spilling the beans, or a whole
nation into supporting a war, the techniques are basically the same as
those used by hard-sell car salesmen: Generate dissociation through
disorientation, induce regression, and become the target’s transferred
parent figure.
    In an interrogation, the CIA begins by disorienting the subject:
As the minutes, hours, or days go by, the “sights and sounds of an
outside world fade away, [and] its significance is replaced by the
interrogation room, its two occupants, and the dynamic relationship
between them” (CIA Interrogation Manual) which is why interrogation
rooms are generally devoid of windows and free of all references to the
outside world, including time of day and day of the week. The subject
becomes completely dependent on the interrogator for all external
stimuli and, accordingly, his sense of self (35).
After the subject’s sense of self has been broken down, the CIA
interrogator chooses from a grab bag of techniques that accomplish the
same thing as the car salesman’s line “Is this the type of vehicle you
would like to own?”  These techniques induce a sudden state of radical
confusion by disrupting the target’s familiar emotional associations.
The CIA manual explains: “When this aim is achieved, resistance is
seriously impaired. There is an interval—which may be extremely
brief—of suspended animation, a kind of psychological shock or
paralysis...that explodes the world that is familiar to the subject as
well as his image of himself within that world. Experienced
interrogators recognize this effect when it appears and know that at
this moment the source is far more open to suggestion” (qtd. In
Rushkoff, 36). At this moment, the interrogator encourages the subject
to regress to a childlike state of mind, and becomes the subject’s
transferred parent figure.
    This is a very good description of what was done to the American
people on and after September 11th, 2001. The images of the planes
crashing into landmark buildings, and those buildings exploding into
powder and shards, created a state of extreme confusion, “a kind of
psychological shock or paralysis.” The bombs that brought down the Twin
Towers and WTC-7 literally exploded the world that was familiar to us,
and our images of ourselves in that world. We experienced a moment of
dissociation, which is why we can still recall where we were and what
we were doing when we learned of the attack. As the psychological
warfare experts who designed the operation knew very well, this left us
radically open to suggestion—to mass hypnosis. Our old world had been
annihilated, and we were ready to be hypnotized, and to have a new
world created for us. We desperately needed a parent figure to tell us
how to make sense of the madness.
    The government, of course, became that transferred parent figure. The
presidency, instituted by George “father of his country” Washington, is
a paternal institution
. Even an illegitimate son-of-a-Bush could
briefly become our idealized national daddy. We believed what “they”
told us about 9/11, with little or no effort to discern the actual
facts, because we had been coerced and infantilized. When Susan Sontag
spoke out against the absurd infantilization of the American people
post-9/11, she was subjected to vicious attacks by intelligence-asset
pseudo-journalists. Why? Not because what she said wasn’t true—it
obviously was. The reason Sontag had to be ripped to shreds by the CIA
rag National Review and its epigones was that she was getting too close
to understanding that 9/11 was a psychological warfare operation by US
and allied intelligence agencies, not a “terrorist attack” by
anti-American foreigners. Sontag understood that the American public
had been subjected to induced regression. By calling attention to this
fact, she was indirectly calling attention to the psy-op man behind the
    The choice of September 11th as the date of the attacks was obviously
made by a psychological warfare expert who wanted to make the American
people suffer induced regression and put childlike faith in their
government. The number 911 has overwhelming emotional associations in
the mind of every American. From early childhood, we are taught that
this is the magic number we can call in the event of an emergency
. If
anything terrible or deeply threatening happens to us, all we have to
do is push those three buttons on the nearest telephone, and a
benevolent parent figure—the government—will come rushing to help us.
With the ongoing breakdown of the family and its authority, and the
widespread consciousness of abuse between family members, the number
911 represents the government that has become our real daddy. The
planners of 9/11 took advantage of this fact, enshrining their
false-flag attack with a number that evokes our desperate, childlike
need for the government to be the daddy who comes racing to help us in
an emergency. Every time we hear “9/11” we are enveloped in
subconscious emotional associations of a benevolent, fatherly
government that can be counted on to save us from catastrophe. Unless
we have learned how to defend ourselves against coercion, it is these
emotional associations, not facts, that condition how we think.
    Once our old world had been exploded, our minds regressed to a
childlike emotional level, and our faith placed in the transferred
parent figure of our government and its paternal figurehead, we were
ready to be bombarded by hypnotic words and images. The hypnotic
inculcation of thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes is a simple matter. The
key is repetition: Repetition, repetition, repetition
. In the
Alice-in-Wonderland world of the so-called war on terror, “what I tell
you three times is true.” They tell us over and over that 9/11 was like
Pearl Harbor; we accept the paradigm and prepare for a righteous world
war. They tell us over and over that Bin Laden did it, and we
internalize that belief, without reference to evidence. They tell us
over and over that Bin Laden is America’s enemy, and we accept the
story, even though many of the world’s most prestigious journalistic
outlets have told us that Bin Laden spent the first two weeks of July,
2001 getting treated at the American Hospital in Dubai and meeting with
CIA Station Chief Larry Mitchell. They tell us over and over that the
guy in the grainy video confessing to 9/11 is Bin Laden, even though
there is very little resemblance between this overweight impostor and
the Osama Bin Laden of other photos and videos. They tell us over and
over about the 19 suicide hijackers, and we believe them, even when we
find out that many of these alleged hijackers are still alive, that
these individuals were/are not Muslims at all but intelligence agents,
and that the “flight schools” they trained at were actually CIA drug
import airstrips.
They tell us over and over that (whore-chasing,
boozing cokehead) Mohammad Atta put a bizarre parody of an “Islamic
terrorist’s last will and testament” into a suitcase and checked that
suitcase on board his suicide flight—say what?!—and that the suitcase
was mistakenly put onboard a different flight so it could be quickly
discovered and offered as “evidence.” They tell us that other “suicide 
hijackers” conveniently left a car full of evidence at the airport.
They tell us that a hijacker’s passport miraculously floated down from
the inferno in the Towers to be discovered as more “evidence
.” They
tell us that the fact that the “hijackers” spent the night of 9/10/2001
in a motel right across the street from the gates of the National
Security Agency headquarters is just a weird coincidence. They tell us
that a good Samaritan burglar happened to “steal” the briefcase
containing the “evidence” of the “hijackers” concocting their plot in
Hamburg, Germany, and felt compelled to deliver the briefcase to the
German police. (What they don’t tell us is that the German police are
rolling on the ground laughing at the absurd pretext, and have publicly
stated that the “burglar” was an intelligence agent.) They tell us over
and over that the World Trade Center collapsed from diesel-fuel-induced
fires, despite the fact that no high rise steel frame skyscraper has
ever collapsed due to fire, including much worse ones than those on
9/11. They tell us over and over that Hani Hanjour, who could not fly a
Cessna training aircraft, somehow executed an amazing stunt maneuver in
a hijacked 757 in order to hit the empty, newly-reinforced wing of the
Pentagon and cause minimal damage—instead of just diving into the roof
and killing thousands.
    Even more important than the repetition of such ludicrous
propositions, has been the bombardment of the public with words and
phrases designed to disable rational thought: terror, terrorism, the
war on terror, hate our freedoms, hate our values, patriot, patriotic,
Patriot Act, evildoers, extremists, security, anthrax, homeland,
biological weapons, Islamo-fascist, dirty bombs, weapons of mass
destruction. These emotionally-charged terms, drummed incessantly into
our brains, reinforce the unconscious emotional predispositions that
govern our thoughts. They literally force us to think certain thoughts,
and render us literally incapable of even entertaining others. Just as
the car salesman’s coercive question “How do you take your coffee”
literally forces 90% of non-coffee-drinkers to obediently accept a cup
of coffee, the psych-war experts’ attack of disorientation, regression,
and parental transference literally forces 90% of the American public
to think patently ludicrous thoughts, adopt those thoughts as a model
of reality, and cling to those self-evidently absurd thoughts in the
teeth of overwhelming factual evidence.
    The question remains, who are “they” ? The answer is obvious—just read
the Project for a New American Century’s manifesto Rebuilding America’s
Defenses, published in September, 2000, which openly  calls for a “New
Pearl Harbor.” The 9/11 “New Pearl Harbor” was brought to us by the
neoconservatives, who believe that all human beings except themselves
are governed by irrational emotions and incapable of evidence-based
reasoning. The neoconservatives are Zionist extremists and cult
followers of the demented philosopher-guru Leo Strauss, whose worldview
can be summed up in the adage “if you can’t beat Hitler, join him.”
They apparently believed that a massive dose of coercion, in the form
of 9/11, could motivate Americans to preserve and expand their imperial
domination of the planet in general, and their commitment to a
belligerent, expansionist Israel in particular.
    Oddly enough, 9/11 was apparently designed with the help of focus
...The trick only needs to work long enough to win (or avoid) a war.
Even if “the truth” emerges sometime later, at least the primary
objective has already been achieved...when American corporate and
governmental interests adopted these techniques for use against the
American people, they needed to cloak their assault in a seemingly
benign manifestation: the focus group. About ten “average” members of a
target population are brought into a room and asked to discuss an issue
while a team of researchers, clients, and a camera record their
responses from behind a one-way mirror. A researcher stays in the room
with the subjects, asking them questions and pushing them in new
    Bob Deutsch,  an anthropologist [and legendary psy-op focus group
guru] who worked for the Department of Defense...led focus groups
revealing Americans’ irrational beliefs about Japan. “You want to
uncover in your audience what I call a “spasm of sentiment,” he
explained. “It’s their illogic—their emotional logic.” He told us how
in focus groups with average American citizens, he learned that most
people still associate the Japanese with Pearl Harbor: “People say, for
example, “Japan took our lives in 1941, and they took our livelihoods
in 1991.” Because Japan disrupted America’s self-mythology of being
invincible, the nation would never be forgiven in the irrational
American sentiment. (140)
The authors of 9/11 needed a horrifyingly spectacular, murderous attack
on the American “homeland”
  in order to elicit this “Pearl Harbor effect.” They needed to “disrupt
America’s self-mythology of being invincible” so that Arabs and Muslims
“would never be forgiven in the irrational American sentiment.” They
were not interested in triggering just one quick war in Afghanistan, or
a second one in Iraq. They were after “the war that will not end in our
lifetimes”—an ongoing war that would remove Americans’ Constitutional
liberties, massively increase military expenditures, and legitimize
attacks against Middle Eastern nations for decades into the future, on
behalf of Israeli expansionism and the petrodollar hegemony on which it
    9/11, in short, was an apocalypse of coercion. It was a psy-op on a
scale of murderousness and mendacity to make the Reichstag Fire look
like a kid playing with matches.
    Play with fire, however, and you just might get burned. This
“apocalypse of coercion” could end up being an apocalypse for its
authors, and for coercion itself. The neocons have been revealed and
reviled as pathological liars, and only the flimsiest film of reticence
is preventing the major media from exposing the 9/11 psy-op and
triggering the greatest scandal in world history, and a Constitutional
crisis light-years beyond anything in the American experience.
people awaken to 9/11 truth, they grow psychic armor that renders them
invincible to coercion in any form. Recoiling from the sheer horror of
such murderous coercion, their psychic immune system is strengthened.
It is a safe bet that no 9/11 skeptic will ever buy a lemon from a car
salesman—or even accept an unwanted cup of coffee. The 9/11
truth-awakened individual will not succumb to the blandishments of
advertisers, political pundits, cult leaders, politicians, or Fox News
commentators. He or she will smell coercion coming from a mile away,
and tell the prospective coercer into which orifice their coercion may
be inserted.
    The simple truth is, coercion doesn’t work any more, and future
historians will view 9/11 as its final implosion
. In the mid-1990s PR
guru Howard Rubenstein saw that the internet had made damage-control
coercion obsolete, and began advising clients that they had no choice
but to let the ugly truth hang out. Need a coverup? “The lesson is not
to do it. Sure, people will come to you and say, ‘Let’s set up a
committee and we’ll call it so-and-so, and we’ll hire someone to run
it,’ and my attitude is: What’s known is known. Simple. What is known
gets published. So it’s foolhardy to set up a fig-leaf committee and
hope nobody will look under the fig leaf and see what’s there” (160).
Unfortunately, the Bush Administration didn’t take Rubenstein’s advice
when it set up the 9/11 Commission.
    The word “apocalypse” denotes the cataclysmic end of the world, but
its original Greek meaning is “unveiling.” By unveiling the truth of
9/11, and the mechanisms of coercion it employed, we can avoid the
apocalyptic future of endless war that the New Pearl Harbor was
designed to trigger. Less obviously, we can expose and discredit the
mechanisms of coercion that governments and corporations use to
dehumanize us. It is time for coercion-savvy media specialists like
Rushkoff and Rubenstein to join the 9/11 truth movement and help us
figure out how to communicate 9/11 truth, turn the 9/11 apocalypse of
coercion against its perpetrators, and ensure that in our shared human
future, communications technologies will be used to empower people, not
enslave them.

Kevin Barrett
Coordinator, MUJCA-NET: