Friday, October 14, 2005
Young Republicans support our troops, by not joining the military. These guys really are pathetic. The Punisher says "Sign Up, Or Shut Up, Punks!"
by CLARISSE PROFILET
The cheeky website buzzflash.com recently posted a petition calling for Jenna and Barbara Bush to serve in Iraq. But the famously private Bush twins have never disclosed their views on the war; they may even be opposed. So calling for them to serve might not be fair. But there are young and prominent Bush-backers who deserve to be targets of such a petition: The assorted leaders of the College Republicans and Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) are cheerleaders for a war they are unwilling to fight.
Both YAF and College Republicans have staged prowar demonstrations on college campuses across the country. Prior to the invasion of Iraq, the College Republican National Committee released a statement proclaiming, "As our troops prepare for battle, the College Republican National Committee and its 100,000 members are prepared to show the world that the majority of students support the efforts of the president and our troops to liberate the people of Iraq and to rid the world of this murderous dictator and his weapons of mass destruction." The CRNC's website praises George W. Bush for "defending the peace by taking the fight to the terrorists."
The even more zealous YAFers have made it clear that they not only support the war but are openly hostile to those who oppose it. Their rowdy prowar rallies have attracted plenty of press. In March 2003, CBS news reported on a YAF event held in Minnesota at which the chapter's executive director Chris Hill had strong words for antiwar activists: "The top of the antiwar movement is led by communists, and I will call them that," he said. "Unlike these communists, we have truth on our side.... We say to those who oppose this war, Go to France." Hill's YAF chapter has also publicly denigrated antiwar demonstrators as "cowards." All of this raises the question: If opponents of the war should go to France, shouldn't Hill--and other members of YAF and College Republicans--go to Iraq? In response to a query by The Nation about whether any leaders have volunteered to fight the war in Iraq, Shauna Moser, the chairman of Penn State YAF, said only that information on YAF officials could be found with a simple "search in a search engine."
Indeed, YAF chairman Erik Johnson, vice chairman Darren Marks and fourteen other national officials have posted brief autobiographies on YAF's website. According to these bios, not one of them has served in the military or has any intention to do so in the future. YAF official Chris Hill told The Nation that he had been a member of his university's Navy ROTC program and the moderator of a blog where he offered advice to aspiring soldiers on how to obtain a military commission. But he chose to seek a master's degree rather than join the armed forces. Asked about this decision, he said, "But I know people over there, and that's a fact." Does it undermine his group's prowar position if all the YAF higher-ups are unwilling to participate directly in the war? "I don't think so," Hill replied. "You don't have to be involved in something to believe in it."
And that appears to be the sentiment of the College Republicans' board members as well. None of them--the controversial chairman Paul Gourley and officers Jess Beeson, Nathaniel Harding, Britton Alexander, Dan Schuberth and Tom Robins--boast any military experience. Their posted bios do not refer to any past, present or future military service, though they do describe in detail the postgraduate work and political aspirations of these young right-wingers.
Conservative campus groups like YAF and College Republicans are growing in strength and numbers. And since the start of the Iraq War, these outfits have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Bush to support the war, but they have not stood alongside the soldiers doing the actual fighting and dying. They want someone else to do the hard work.
Thursday, October 13, 2005
Thu Oct 13, 2005 at 02:34:52 PM PDT
This week, Chris Matthews of MSNBC's Hardball has been exploring the Plame affair; or, more accurately, the implications and possible charges to be brought in the Plame affair. While I presume the media expects us to shut up and be grateful that they are devoting premium punditry time to something of more substantial national import than Aruba Girl or court testimony about Michael Jackson's masturbation habits, the "reporting" in this case, perhaps more than any other, tears into shreds and tatters whatever thin premise of integrity the various media figures involved in this case have clung to.
The Plame case isn't just a story about potential espionage in the White House. It isn't just about the hamfisted protections of the flimsy pretexts, and some would say outright fabrications, used to "sell" the Iraq War to a skeptical public. And it isn't just about the crass nature in which the politics of personal destruction is used by political strategists, and worshipped by media pundits.
A large -- very large -- part of the Plamegate story is the role of the media not as investigators or defenders of the public interest, but as self-appointed and self-interested filters of what they deem the public should or should not know. Plamegate, for them, is an inside game.
Chris Matthews, in particular, has a direct tie to the Plame case. One that, curiously enough, none of the Hardball shows this week has managed to touch on -- in spite of the fact that Matthews has personal evidence directly pertaining to the very questions his show is ostensibly asking. Evidence that, in fact, a number of Matthew's guests apparently share between them.
In July of 2003, Newsweek's Evan Thomas and Michael Isikoff reported on the Plame story. Among the information that, at that time, seemed justifiably pertinent to their readers were the contacts between Karl Rove and major media figures, as Rove tried to "sell" them on the Plame outing:
Wilson told NEWSWEEK that in the days after the Novak story appeared, he got calls from several well-connected Washington reporters. One was NBC correspondent Andrea Mitchell. She told NEWSWEEK that she said to Wilson: "I heard in the White House that people were touting the Novak column and that that was the real story." The next day Wilson got a call from Chris Matthews, host of the MSNBC show "Hardball." According to a source close to Wilson, Matthews said, "I just got off the phone with Karl Rove, who said your wife was fair game."
It takes a certain amount of chutzpah for Mitchell, and Matthews to appear on television together, furrowing their brows intently as they try to "ask the hard questions", all the while avoiding mention of their own involvement in the very case they are reporting on. To add Isikoff himself to the mix -- and yet, never bring up one of the more compelling publicly known demonstrations of how the Plame outing unfolded -- crosses the thin line from scandal to outright farce.
Matthews is just now exploring the implications, evidence, and potential for indictments in the Plame story?
Why now? Why not two years ago?
And why the self-serving implicit assertion, by Matthews, by Mitchell, by their producers, by the executives of their network, and in fact by all of the involved parties -- Cooper and Judy Miller excepted, not of their own free will -- that their own involvement in the story is not something the public has a right to have reported?
Pardon my bluntness, O heroes of journalism, O pundits who are constantly droning on about the importance of blogger ethics and journalistic integrity, but give us a eyebrow-raising, eye-rolling, burger-flipping, cow-tipping break. In a case where political figures took multiple concrete actions to push the identity of a CIA NOC operative into public view, using your resources to do it, you are an integral part of your own story.
And you'd better figure out how to deal with it. Because two years after the Plame leak, your integrity is shot. You're being openly mocked as airheaded, self-absorbed journalistic frauds. You're being roundly denounced as willing accomplices to a crime -- willing to cover up evidence of the scope and intent of the actions of your sources, in exchange for future access to the same deals and actions.
And you deserve to be. Because, quite frankly, the shoe fits.
What is particularly galling about the so-called Hardball coverage is that it purports to ask questions to which the journalists in question have hard evidence of the answers. From this Tuesday's Hardball, a truly bizarre piece of Kabuki journalism:
MATTHEWS: Mike Isikoff is an investigative correspondent with "Newsweek" magazine. Andrea Mitchell is chief foreign affairs correspondent for NBC News and author of the booming book "Talking Back to Presidents, Dictators and Assorted Scoundrels." And Jim Warren is deputy managing editor of "The Chicago Tribune."
Let me go to Mike Isikoff. You've been owning this story for years now. After two years of investigation, what do we really know that might incriminate the people around the president?
Good freakin' question, Matthews. I mean, you've really hit it on the head with that one. If only there was someone or someone(s) on your show who directly talked to people around the president about Joseph Wilson's wife, and why her identity was suddenly important, and could clue us in on that information!
But in large part, these Hardball stories have existed largely so that Matthews could play the part of his own Greek chorus, postulating theories of the case while feigning innocence at the evidence that he, as an arguable 'journalist', deems it unproductive to report on himself.
Both he and Andrea Mitchell do the public the slightest of favors, however, by opining aloud on what is probably the central hub of the entire Plame case:
MITCHELL: Absolutely. But, Chris, we should point out that there is a difference between playing political hardball, which people in Washington play and people in this White House play, and anything that approaches a crime.
I don't think they knew about this statute and were probably as shocked as anyone when this whole statute came up of disclosing the identity of a covert operative.
MATTHEWS: I'm not sure you are right. Because I think this guy, Fitzgerald, may see what we call political hardball, misuse of public authority because the people who are accused here, perhaps, are people who are getting government salaries to work for the interest of the whole country.
And they go after a person to defame and discredit him and hurt his family to the point of what they did, then he could argue, I don't care if this hasn`t been enforced before, I'm going to enforce it, this is breaking the spirit of the country.
Given that both Matthews and Mitchell were directly privy to that effort, I think we can take this "hypothesizing" as rather more informed than they're willing to let on. This was likely, in a nutshell, politics as usual for both White House and reporters. Mitchell rather incredulously opines that nobody figured that outing an operative might be illegal -- in spite of vigorous warnings stating just that signed by all recipients of such classified information -- but more importantly, nobody involved in the case figured that outing a CIA NOC operative would be prosecuted. When supposed business as usual runs starkly afoul of the law, it is a shock to government figures and reporters alike that the public interest might demand accountability for the crime. That serious federal crimes by political figures might actually be pursued is, apparently, a new and controversial idea, and not one that the national media corps, to this day, is fully ready to sign off on.
But the core of the matter, the central point that the entirety of the Washington press corps refuses to engage on, if it means exploring their own involvement in the case, is the matter of motive: the rather pivotal question of why Plame's name came into public view, and towards what ends the leak was being used by very high-level political figures.
On Wednesday, Matthews asked as part of his lead in:
Did a so-called Iraq group in Bush White House that included Karl Rove and Scooter Libby sell the Iraq war with the claim that Saddam Hussein was buying nuclear materials from Africa? Did this same inner White House group try to destroy Former Ambassador Joe Wilson for undercutting that claim? Did the same White House group act to cover up their activities by holding one reporter to her promise of confidentiality that slams her into jail for nearly three months?
Important questions, all. But to at least the second of them, Chris Matthews himself has evidence that directly answers his own mushy-headed "suggestion" of impropriety. If, as Matthews asserted to Joseph Wilson, Karl Rove directly told Matthews that Wilson's wife was "fair game" for reporters to ask questions, that bears rather emphatically on the question of White House motive. Ya think?
So exploring the behaviors and motives of the reporters in question -- a question that apparently nobody in the national news business has the slightest interest in taking up -- would seem to be a legitimate inquiry here.
In future textbooks, the Plame espionage case may hopefully be someday referred to as a prime example of when and how journalism fails. But we'll see. The question becomes whether or not the sheepish and dishonest self-interest of the dozen or so most involved reporters outweighs the now-primitive notion of journalism for the public interest. To wit: when are journalists justified in not reporting central facts of a story?
As for me, I'm about done hearing about journalistic integrity. Save the highminded, self-important drivel; the "journalism" of this major story has been on display for two solid years now, and the selective omissions and soft-shelled "analysis" have been apparent to all. The national reporters and pundits that make up the upper ranks of political journalism see themselves as part and parcel of the government circles they report on, and act as such; therefore, they should be treated -- and critiqued, and investigated, and when the situation demands it, condemmed -- as such.
Update [2005-10-13 19:51:33 by Hunter]: Digby found the exact same word -- Kabuki -- to describe the Hardball situation. And correctly points out via The Anonymous Liberal that NBC's Tim Russert is a very key player in this extended story:
A deal that special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald cut last year for NBC "Meet the Press" host Tim Russert's testimony may shed light on the emerging White House defense in the Valerie Plame leak case. The agreement between Fitzgerald and NBC avoided a court fight over a subpoena for Russert's testimony about his July 2003 talk with Dick Cheney's top aide, Lewis (Scooter) Libby. The deal was not, as many assumed, for Russert's testimony about what Libby told him: it focused on what Russert told Libby.That's also a story brought to us by Michael Isikoff as it turns out. (Russert allegedly told the grand jury that he did not give information to Libby about Plame or her CIA status.)
So Matthews, Mitchell, and Russert. NBC -- just as much as the New York Times -- is up to their well-groomed eyebrows in the Plame outing effort. Think there will be an accounting there? No, neither do I.
By ALISON GENDAR
DAILY NEWS POLICE BUREAU CHIEF
The city's rich and well-connected were tipped off to last week's subway terror threat days before average New Yorkers, the Daily News has learned.
At least two E-mails revealing the purported plot were sent to a select crowd of business and arts executives early last week by New Yorkers who claimed to have close connections to Homeland Security and other federal officials, authorities said.
The NYPD confirmed that it learned of the E-mails on Oct. 3 - three days before Mayor Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly and the FBI went public with the threat.
"I have just received a most disturbing call from one of my oldest friends from growing up in Washington," one E-mail began. "He called with a very specific caution to not enter or use the New York City subway system from Oct. 7 through 10th."
A second E-mail sounded a similar ominous tone: "As some of you know my father works for Homeland Security, at a very high position and receives security briefings on a daily basis.
"The only information that I can pass on is that everyone should at all costs not ride the subway for the next two weeks in major areas of NYC."
One of the E-mails was dated Oct. 3 with a 6:05 p.m. time stamp, about 90 minutes before Bloomberg was fully briefed on the threat, a police source said.
The early warning infuriated several police officials, who noted that Homeland Security officials had challenged the credibility of the threat after the city and FBI warned the public.
"We're briefing the mayor, ratcheting up security, talking about when to go public - and Homeland Security is downplaying the whole thing while their people are telling friends to stay out of the subways," a police source said. "It's pretty bad."
NYPD investigators obtained copies of the E-mails on Oct. 4, as Bloomberg and Kelly were finalizing a plan to respond to the threat, and police officials gave the E-mails to the Homeland Security Department, police said.
'Members of our corporate security network informed the Police Department of the E-mails' existence days prior to any announcement of the threat," NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said yesterday.
Homeland Security officials confirmed that they were told about the early E-mail warnings.
"We have looked into them, but do not consider them to be of great significance," Homeland Security spokesman Russ Knocke said yesterday.
"At best, they were based on anecdotal accounts of very limited information," he added, declining to reveal whether the feds were investigating.
The News obtained copies of two E-mails, one with the foreboding subject line: "Alarming call from Washington." Unsigned versions were also posted on Snopes.com, a site that examines urban legends.
One of the E-mail senders, when reached by The News, declined comment.
The plot, calling for terrorists to detonate bombs hidden in briefcases, suitcases or strollers, has been largely discredited since the public warning.
Bloomberg has defended his response, arguing the city had no choice but to act on the "specific threat." He has said he held off alerting the public until Oct.6 to give authorities time to round up suspects in Iraq.
Secaucus - Last Thursday on Countdown, I referred to the latest terror threat - the reported bomb plot against the New York City subway system - in terms of its timing. President Bush’s speech about the war on terror had come earlier the same day, as had the breaking news of the possible indictment of Karl Rove in the CIA leak investigation.
I suggested that in the last three years there had been about 13 similar coincidences - a political downturn for the administration, followed by a “terror event” - a change in alert status, an arrest, a warning.
We figured we’d better put that list of coincidences on the public record. We did so this evening on the television program, with ten of these examples. The other three are listed at the end of the main list, out of chronological order. The contraction was made purely for the sake of television timing considerations, and permitted us to get the live reaction of the former Undersecretary of Homeland Security, Asa Hutchinson.
We bring you these coincidences, reminding you, and ourselves here, that perhaps the simplest piece of wisdom in the world is called “the logical fallacy.” Just because Event “A” occurs, and then Event “B” occurs, that does not automatically mean that Event “A” caused Event “B.”
But one set of comments from an informed observer seems particularly relevant as we examine these coincidences.
On May 10th of this year, after his resignation, former Secretary of Homeland Security Ridge looked back on the terror alert level changes, issued on his watch.
Mr. Ridge said: “More often than not we were the least inclined to raise it. Sometimes we disagreed with the intelligence assessment. Sometimes we thought even if the intelligence was good, you don’t necessarily put the country on (alert)… there were times when some people were really aggressive about raising it, and we said ‘for that?’”
Please, judge for yourself.
May 18th, 2002. The first details of the President’s Daily Briefing of August 6th, 2001, are revealed, including its title - “Bin Laden Determined To Strike In U.S.” The same day another memo is discovered - revealing the FBI knew of men with links to Al Qaeda training at an Arizona flight school. The memo was never acted upon. Questions about 9/11 Intelligence failures are swirling.
May 20th, 2002. Two days later, FBI Director Mueller declares another terrorist attack “inevitable.” The next day, the Department of Homeland Security issues warnings of attacks against railroads nationwide, and against New York City landmarks like the Brooklyn Bridge and the Statue of Liberty.
June 6th, 2002. Colleen Rowley, the FBI agent who tried to alert her superiors to the specialized flight training taken by Zacarias Moussaoui, whose information suggests the government missed a chance to break up the 9/11 plot, testifies before Congress. Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Graham says Rowley’s testimony has inspired similar pre-9/11 whistle-blowers.
June 10th, 2002. Four days later, speaking from Russia, Attorney General John Ashcroft reveals that an American named Jose Padilla is under arrest, accused of plotting a radiation bomb attack in this country. Padilla had, by this time, already been detained for more than a month.
February 5th, 2003. Secretary of State Powell tells the United Nations Security Council of Iraq’s concealment of weapons, including 18 mobile biological weapons laboratories, justifying a U.N. or U.S. first strike. Many in the UN are doubtful. Months later, much of the information proves untrue.
February 7th, 2003. Two days later, as anti-war demonstrations continue to take place around the globe, Homeland Security Secretary Ridge cites “credible threats” by Al Qaeda, and raises the terror alert level to orange. Three days after that, Fire Administrator David Paulison - who would become the acting head of FEMA after the Hurricane Katrina disaster - advises Americans to stock up on plastic sheeting and duct tape to protect themselves against radiological or biological attack.
July 23rd, 2003: The White House admits the CIA -- months before the President's State of the Union Address -- expressed "strong doubts" about the claim that Iraq had attempted to buy uranium from Niger. On the 24th, the Congressional report on the 9/11 attacks is issued; it criticizes government at all levels; it reveals an FBI informant had been living with two of the future hijackers; and it concludes that Iraq had no link to Al-Qaeda. 28 pages of the report are redacted. On the 26th, American troops are accused of beating Iraqi prisoners.
July 29th, 2003. Three days later, amid all of those negative headlines, Homeland Security issues warnings of further terrorist attempts to use airplanes for suicide attacks.
December 17th, 2003. 9/11 Commission Co-Chair Thomas Kean says the attacks were preventable. The next day, a Federal Appeals Court says the government cannot detain suspected radiation-bomber Jose Padilla indefinitely without charges, and the chief U.S. Weapons inspector in Iraq, Dr. David Kay, who has previously announced he has found no Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq, announces he will resign his post.
December 21st, 2003. Three days later, just before Christmas, Homeland Security again raises the threat level to Orange, claiming “credible intelligence” of further plots to crash airliners into U.S. cities. Subsequently, six international flights into this country are cancelled after some passenger names purportedly produce matches on government no-fly lists. The French later identify those matched names: one belongs to an insurance salesman from Wales, another to an elderly Chinese woman, a third to a five-year old boy.
March 30th, 2004. The new chief weapons inspector in Iraq, Charles Duelfer tells Congress we have still not found any WMD there. On the 31st, after weeks of refusing to appear before the 9/11 Commission, Condoleezza Rice finally relents and agrees to testify. On April 1st: Four Blackwater-USA contractors working in Iraq are murdered, their mutilated bodies dragged through the streets and left on public display in Fallujah. The role of civilian contractors in Iraq is widely questioned.
April 2nd, 2004. The next day, Homeland Security issues a bulletin warning that terrorists may try to blow up buses and trains, using fertilizer and fuel bombs - like the one detonated in Oklahoma City - stuffed into satchels or duffel bags.
May 16th, 2004. Secretary of State Powell appears on “Meet The Press.” Moderator Tim Russert closes by asking him about the “enormous personal credibility” Powell had placed before the U.N. in laying out a case against Saddam Hussein. An aide to Powell interrupts the question, saying the interview is over. Powell finishes his answer, admitting that much of the information he had been given about Weapons of Mass Destruction was “inaccurate and wrong, and, in some cases, deliberately misleading.”
May 21st, 2004, new photos showing mistreatment of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib Prison are released. On the 24th - Associated Press video from Iraq confirms U.S. forces mistakenly bombed a wedding party - killing more than 40.
Wednesday the 26th. Two days later, Attorney General Ashcroft and FBI Director Mueller warn that intelligence from multiple sources, in Ashcroft’s words, “indicates Al-Qaeda’s specific intention to hit the United States hard,” and that “90 percent of the arrangements for an attack on the United States were complete.” The color-coded warning system is not raised, and Homeland Security Secretary Ridge does not attend the announcement.
July 6th, 2004. Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry selects Senator John Edwards as his vice presidential running mate, producing a small bump in the election opinion polls, and a huge swing in media attention towards the Democratic campaign.
July 8th, 2004. Two days later, Homeland Secretary Ridge warns of information about Al-Qaeda attacks during the summer or autumn. Four days after that, the head of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, DeForest B. Soaries, Junior, confirms he has written to Ridge about the prospect of postponing the upcoming Presidential election in the event it is interrupted by terrorist acts.
July 29th, 2004. At their party convention in Boston, the Democrats formally nominate John Kerry as their candidate for President. As in the wake of any convention, the Democrats dominate the media attention over the ensuing weekend.
Monday, August 1st, 2004. The Department of Homeland Security raises the alert status for financial centers in New York, New Jersey, and Washington to orange. The evidence supporting the warning - reconnaissance data, left in a home in Iraq - later proves to be roughly four years old and largely out-of-date.
Last Thursday. At 10 AM Eastern Time, the President addresses the National Endowment for Democracy, once again emphasizing the importance of the war on terror and insisting his government has broken up at least 10 terrorist plots since 9/11.
At 3 PM Eastern Time, five hours after the President’s speech has begun, the Associated Press reports that Karl Rove will testify again to the CIA Leak Grand Jury, and that Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald has told Rove he cannot guarantee that he will not be indicted.
At 5:17 PM Eastern Time, seven hours after the President’s speech has begun, New York officials disclose a bomb threat to the city’s subway system - based on information supplied by the Federal Government. A Homeland Security spokesman says the intelligence upon which the disclosure is based is “of doubtful credibility.” And it later proves that New York City had known of the threat for at least three days, and had increased police presence in the subways long before making the announcement at that particular time. Local New York television station, WNBC, reports it had the story of the threat days in advance, but was asked by "high ranking federal officials" in New York and Washington to hold off its story.
Less than four days after revealing the threat, Mayor Michael Bloomberg says "Since the period of the threat now seems to be passing, I think over the immediate future, we'll slowly be winding down the enhanced security."
While news organizations ranging from the New York Post to NBC News quote sources who say there was reason to believe that informant who triggered the warning simply ‘made it up’, a Senior U.S. Counter-terrorism official tells the New York Times: "There was no there, there."
The list of three additional examples follows.
October 22nd, 2004. After weeks of Administration insistence that there are terrorist plans to disrupt the elections, FBI, Law Enforcement, and other U.S. Intelligence agencies report they have found no direct evidence of any plot. More over, they say, a key CIA source who had claimed knowledge of the plot, has been discredited.
October 29, 2004. Seven days later - four days before the Presidential election - the first supposedly new, datable tape of Osama Bin Laden since December 2001 is aired on the Al-Jazeera Network. A Bush-Cheney campaign official anonymously tells the New York Daily News that from his campaign’s point of view, the tape is quote “a little gift.”
May 5th, 2005. 88 members of the United States House of Representatives send a letter to President Bush demanding an investigation of the so-called “Downing Street Memo” - a British document which describes purported American desire dating to 2002 to "fix" the evidence to fit the charges against Iraq. In Iraq over the following weekend, car bombings escalate. On the 11th, more than 75 Iraqis are killed in one.
May 11th, 2005. Later that day, an instructor and student pilot violate restricted airspace in Washington D.C. It is an event that happens hundreds of times a year, but this time the plane gets to within three miles of the White House. The Capitol is evacuated; Vice President Cheney, the First Lady, and Nancy Reagan are all rushed to secure locations. The President, biking through woods, is not immediately notified.
June 26th, 2005. A Gallup poll suggests that 61 percent of the American public believes the President does not have a plan in Iraq. On the 28th, Mr. Bush speaks to the nation from Fort Bragg: "We fight today because terrorists want to attack our country and kill our citizens, and Iraq is where they are making their stand. So we'll fight them there, we'll fight them across the world, and we will stay in the fight until the fight is won."
June 29th 2005. The next day, another private pilot veers into restricted airspace, the Capitol is again evacuated, and this time, so is the President.
To summarize, coincidences are coincidences.
We could probably construct a similar time line of terror events and warnings, and their relationship to - the opening of new Walmarts around the country.
Are these coincidences signs that the government’s approach has worked because none of the announced threats ever materialized? Are they signs that the government has not yet mastered how and when to inform the public?
Is there, in addition to the "fog of war" a simple, benign, "fog of intelligence”?
But, if merely a reasonable case can be made that any of these juxtapositions of events are more than just coincidences, it underscores the need for questions to be asked in this country - questions about what is prudence, and what is fear-mongering; questions about which is the threat of death by terror, and which is the terror of threat.
Washington, DC — The National Park Service has started using a political loyalty test for picking all its top civil service positions, according to an agency directive released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Under the new order, all mid-level managers and above must also be approved by a Bush administration political appointee.
The October 11, 2005 order issued by NPS Director Fran Mainella requires that the selection criteria for all civil service management slots (Government Service grades or GS-13, 14 and 15) include the “ability to lead employees in achieving the …Secretary’s 4Cs and the President’s Management Agenda.” In addition, candidates must be screened by Park Service headquarters and “the Assistant Secretary [of Interior] for Fish, and Wildlife, and Parks,” the number three political appointee in the agency.
The order represents a complete centralization of Park Service promotion and hiring in what has traditionally been a decentralized agency. More strikingly, the order is an unprecedented political intrusion into what are supposed to be non-partisan, merit system personnel decisions.
The President’s Management Agenda includes controversial policies and proposals such as aggressive use of outsourcing to replace civil servants, reliance on “faith-based initiatives” and rollbacks of civil service rights. Interior Secretary Gale Norton’s “4Cs” is a slogan she uses to express her management approach: “4 Cs: communication, consultation, cooperation, all in the service of conservation.”
“It is outrageous that park superintendents must swear political loyalty to the Bush agenda and parrot hokey mottos in order to earn a promotion,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch. “The merit system is supposed to be about ability, not apple polishing.”
The order applies to all hires for park superintendents, assistant superintendents and program managers, such as chief ranger or the head of interpretive or cultural programs. Overall, the policy applies to more than 1,000 mid-level management and supervisory positions in the Park Service.
“Presidents come and go but the civil service is designed to serve whoever occupies the swivel chair in the Oval Office,” Ruch added. “It is downright creepy that now every museum curator, supervising scientist and chief ranger must be okayed by a high-level political appointee.”
Bush Rally's the Troops by putting on a Play. By all accounts he read his lines well.
Before the teleconference, Allison Barber, deputy assistant to the secretary of defense, went through a rehearsal of the scripted question-and-answer session, telling the troops that any nonscripted questions from the president should be handled by Kennedy.
When asked about the rehearsed event, White House spokesman Scott McClellan said the coordination was done because of the "technological challenges" of a satellite feed, denying responses had been screened.
How do you know when Scott McClellan is lying? His lips are moving. This President Commander in Chief is such a coward he's afraid to take unscripted questions from his own troops. Yeah, things must be going really well in Iraq.
Robert Kagan's "Everybody's Doing It" Defense of the Iraq War.
The most interesting intellectual contortions are when Kagan tries to claim that because liberals supported the removal of Saddam Hussein, they also supported Bush's war in Iraq. As if these are the same thing. Kagan claims that Bill Clinton, Al Gore and others all supported regime change in Iraq. They may have, but this does not mean that they approved of Bush war as the method of regime change in Iraq. To argue otherwise is fucking stupid, just like this war.
Kagan, one of the Iraq War Cheerleaders, now wants to claim that it wasn't just me! You all did it too, just like a child. Stand up and take accountablity for your action Kagan, this clusterfuck is the fault of all you warmongers who ignored contrary evidence, stifled dissent, and sold this War to the American people, countless Iraqi's lay dead, families are destroyed, 1900+ American soldiers are dead, and the fucking best you can come up with is Everybody thought is was a good idea? Bullshit, and you know it.
On Iraq, Short Memories
By Robert Kagan
Monday, September 12, 2005; Page A19 Washington Post
If you read even respectable journals these days, including this one, you would think that no more than six or seven people ever supported going to war in Iraq. A recent piece in The Post's Style section suggested that the war was an "idea" that President Bush "dusted off" five years after Bill Kristol and I came up with it in the Weekly Standard.
That's not the way I recall it. I recall support for removing Saddam Hussein by force being pretty widespread from the late 1990s through the spring of 2003, among Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives, as well as neoconservatives. We all had the same information, and we got it from the same sources. I certainly had never based my judgment on American intelligence, faulty or otherwise, much less on the intelligence produced by the Bush administration before the war. I don't think anyone else did either. I had formed my impressions during the 1990s entirely on the basis of what I regarded as two fairly reliable sources: the U.N. weapons inspectors, led first by Rolf Ekeus and then by Richard Butler; and senior Clinton administration officials, especially President Bill Clinton, Madeleine Albright, William Cohen and Al Gore.
I recall being particularly affected by the book Butler published in 2000, "The Greatest Threat: Iraq, Weapons of Mass Destruction, and the Growing Crisis of Global Security," in which the chief U.N. inspector, after years of chasing around Iraq, wrote with utter certainty that Hussein had weapons and was engaged in a massive effort to conceal them from the world. "This is Saddam Hussein's regime," Butler wrote: "cruel, lying, intimidating, and determined to retain weapons of mass destruction."
A big turning point for me was the confrontation between Hussein and the Clinton administration that began in 1997 and ended in the bombing of Iraq at the end of 1998. The crisis began when Hussein blocked U.N. inspectors' access to a huge number of suspect sites (I'm still wondering why he did that if he had nothing to hide). The Clinton administration responded by launching a campaign to prepare the nation for war. I remember listening to Albright compare Hussein to Hitler and warn that if not stopped, "he could in fact somehow use his weapons of mass destruction" or "could kind of become the salesman for weapons of mass destruction." I remember Cohen appearing on television with a five-pound bag of sugar and explaining that that amount of anthrax "would destroy at least half the population" of Washington, D.C. Even as late as September 2002, Gore gave a speech insisting that Hussein "has stored away secret supplies of biological weapons and chemical weapons throughout his country."
(Editor's Note: Notice the classic red herring. Al Gore said Hussein has biological weapons, is not the same thing as Al Gore wants to go to WAR.)
In his second term Clinton and his top advisers concluded that Hussein's continued rule was dangerous, if not intolerable. Albright called explicitly for his ouster as a precondition for lifting sanctions. And it was in the midst of that big confrontation, in December 1997, that Kristol and I argued what the Clinton administration was already arguing: that containment was no longer an adequate policy for dealing with Saddam Hussein. (Editor's Note: Once again notice the Red Herring, Albright called for Hussein's ouster as a precondition for lifting sanctions is not the same as Albright called for WAR.) In January 1998 I joined several others in a letter to the president insisting that "the only acceptable strategy" was one that eliminated "the possibility that Iraq will be able to use or threaten to use weapons of mass destruction." That meant "a willingness to undertake military action" and eventually "removing Saddam Hussein and his regime from power." The signatories included Francis Fukuyama, Richard Armitage and Robert Zoellick.
About a year later, the Senate passed a resolution, co-sponsored by Joseph Lieberman and John McCain, providing $100 million for the forcible overthrow of Hussein. It passed with 98 votes. On Sept. 20, 2001, I signed a letter to President Bush in which we endorsed then-Secretary of State Colin Powell's statement that Hussein was "one of the leading terrorists on the face of the Earth." We argued that "any strategy aiming at the eradication of terrorism and its sponsors must include a determined effort to remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq." That letter, too, was signed by Fukuyama, Eliot Cohen, Stephen Solarz, Martin Peretz and many others.
I recall broad bipartisan support for removing Hussein right up to the eve of the war. In March 2003, just before the invasion, I signed a letter in support of the war along with a number of former Clinton officials, including deputy national security adviser James Steinberg, ambassador Peter Galbraith, ambassador Dennis Ross, ambassador Martin Indyk, Ivo Daalder, Ronald Asmus and ambassador Robert Gelbard.
(Editor's Note: I also recall anyone opposing the Iraq War being called UnAmerican, UnPatriotic, that we Hate America, if you don't remember any of this just look up Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, Kristol, Hannity, Malkin and all the other morons from the right wing echo chamber. You bastards encouraged people to not debate the issue! You bastards stifled discussion! I guess Kagan was asleep in class the day der Furer Bush read his famous "I have an Enemy" speech where he proclaimed "You're either with us or with the enemy." You Fucktards prevented people from discussing your Rush to WAR! And now you want to use the Everybody's doing it Defense? Go Fuck yourself Kagan.)
I recall a column on this page by my colleague Richard Cohen on March 11, 2003, shortly before the invasion. He argued that "in the run-up to this war, the Bush administration has slipped, stumbled and fallen on its face. It has advanced untenable, unproven arguments. It has oscillated from disarmament to regime change to bringing democracy to the Arab world. It has linked Hussein with al Qaeda when no such link has been established. It has warned of an imminent Iraqi nuclear program when, it seems, that's not the case. And it has managed, in a tour de force of inept diplomacy, to alienate much of the world, including some of our traditional allies."
(Editor's Note: And these are the people you are willing to trust to guide the fate of America's Best, our men and women in uniform? You really must be mad, and again, fucking stupid.)
Despite all that, however, and despite acknowledging that "war is bad -- very, very bad," Cohen argued that it was necessary to go to war anyway. "[S]ometimes peace is no better, especially if all it does is postpone a worse war," and that "is what would happen if the United States now pulled back. . . . Hussein would wait us out. . . . If, at the moment, he does not have nuclear weapons, it's not for lack of trying. He had such a program once and he will have one again -- just as soon as the world loses interest and the pressure on him is relaxed." In the meantime, Cohen wrote, Hussein would "stay in power -- a thug in control of a crucial Middle Eastern nation. He will remain what he is, a despot who runs a criminal regime. He will continue to oppress and murder his own people . . . and resume support of terrorism abroad. He is who he is. He deserves no second chance." I agreed with that judgment then. I still do today.
(Editor's Note: Saddam was no less murderous in 1983 when Reagan and his war hawks were selling him weapons, why is he more so today? Talk about rewriting history.... but I'm getting ahead of the article/excusefest.)
It's interesting to watch people rewrite history, even their own. My father recently recalled for me a line from Thucydides, which Pericles delivered to the Athenians in the difficult second year of the three-decade war with Sparta. "I am the same man and do not alter, it is you who change, since in fact you took my advice while unhurt, and waited for misfortune to repent of it."
(Editor's Note: I guess Kagan doesn't read USA Today who reported yesterday: "A newly released report published by the CIA rebukes the Bush administration for not paying enough attention to prewar intelligence that predicted the factional rivalries now threatening to split Iraq.
Policymakers worried more about making the case for the war, particularly the claim that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, than planning for the aftermath, the report says. The report was written by a team of four former CIA analysts led by former deputy CIA director Richard Kerr." Ooops, I guess Everybody Wasn't Doing It, eh Kagan? Sounds to me like some members of the CIA were raising concerns, but were ignored in the Rush to War. I guess the CIA just Hates America.)
Robert Kagan, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Transatlantic Fellow at the German Marshall Fund, writes a monthly column for The Post. A version of this article appears in the Weekly Standard.
NEOCONS PLAY THE BLAME GAME.
The neocons develop an exit strategy — a political one
By Howard Fineman
Updated: 12:46 p.m. ET Oct. 12, 2005
WASHINGTON - President George W. Bush may have no military exit strategy for Iraq, but the “neocons” who convinced him to go to war there have developed one of their own — a political one: Blame the Administration.
Their neo-Wilsonian theory is correct, they insist, but the execution was botched by a Bush team that has turned out to be incompetent, crony-filled, corrupt, unimaginative and weak over a wide range of issues.
The flight of the neocons — just read a recent Weekly Standard to see what I am talking about — is one of only many indications that the long-predicted “conservative crackup” is at hand.
The “movement” – that began 50 years ago with the founding of Bill Buckley’s National Review; that had its coming of age in the Reagan Years; that reached its zenith with Bush’s victory in 2000 — is falling apart at the seams.
In 1973, Karl Rove met George W. Bush, and became the R2D2 and Luke Skywalker of Republican politics. At first, neither was plugged into “The Force” — the conservative movement. But over the years they learned how to use its power.
By the time Bush was in his second term as governor, laying the groundwork for his presidential run, he and Rove had gathered all of the often competing and sometimes contradictory strains of conservatism into one light beam. You could tell by the people they brought to Austin.
To tie down the religious conservatives, they nudged John Ashcroft out of the race and conducted a literal laying on of hands at the governor’s mansion with leaders such as James Dobson.
For the libertarian anti-tax crowd, they brought in certified supply-sider Larry Lindsey as the top economic advisor.
For the traditional war hawks they brought in Paul Wolfowitz, among others, go get Bush up to speed on the world.
For the traditional corporate types – well, Bush had that taken care of on his own.
But now all the constituent parts are — for various reasons — going their own way. Here's a checklist:
The Harriet Miers nomination was the final insult. Religious conservatives have an inferiority complex in the Republican Party. In an interesting way, it’s the same attitude that many African-Americans have had toward the Democratic Party over the years. They think that the Big Boys want their votes but not their presence or their full participation.
And what really frosts the religious types is that Bush evidently feels that he can only satisfy them by stealth — by nominating someone with absolutely no paper trail. It’s an affront. And even though Dr. Dobson is on board — having been cajoled aboard by Rove — I don’t sense that there is much enthusiasm for the enterprise out in Colorado Springs.
I expect that any GOP 2008 hopeful who wants evangelical support — people like Sam Brownback, Rick Santorum and maybe even George Allen — will vote against Miers's confirmation in the Senate.
For them, Bush’s handling of Katrina was, and remains, a mortal embarrassment to their class, which Bush is supposed to have represented — at least to some extent.
These are people who believe in the Faith of Management — in anticipating problems and moving mass organizations. They also like to think of themselves as having a social conscience. And even if they don’t, they are sensitive to world opinion.
The vivid images from the Superdome were just too much for these folks. Recently, a prominent Republican businessman, whom I saw in a typical CEO haunt, astonished me with the severity of his attacks on Bush’s competence. And Bush had appointed this guy to a major position! Amazing.
Main Street: Smaller government deficit hawks
This is an old-fashioned but important core of conservatism: people who think federal spending should be relentlessly reduced, and that we should always view with suspicion any proposals to increase the role of the federal government in local and private life.
After binges of spending and legislating, backbenchers in the GOP, especially in the House, are in open revolt, having gathered around Rep. Mike Pence of Indiana and Sen. John McCain in the Senate. They tend to view the “Leadership’s” spending habits with alarm.
An old term, but still applicable. With the fall of Communism in Europe and Russia, the old anti-Communist wing of the conservative movement lost its role. Now the isolationists of old are back, and with a new crusade: immigration.
The relatively unchecked flood of illegal immigrants into this country is indeed a legitimate cause for alarm. But in the eyes of this crowd — one leader is my MSNBC colleague, Pat Buchanan — the Bush Administration is doing nothing.
They think that the Middle East can be remade, and this country made safe, by instilling a semblance of democracy in the Fertile Crescent and beyond. But they seem to have given up on the ability of the Bush Administration to see that vision through.
They want more troops, not fewer; more money, not less; more passion, not the whispered talk of timetables for withdrawal.
Besides championing democracy, we need to show strength and resolve, they believe — and they are no longer convinced that Bush can show much of either.
This is the one faction that the president has yet to disappoint in a major way. He pushed through two major tax cuts, and is pushing more — targeted ones — in the wake of Katrina.
Deep in their collective memory bank, Bush and Rove remember what happened when Daddy moved his lips and raised taxes. But now that the son has been reelected, will he move his lips, too? If the conservative crack up is to be complete — and I think it will be — the answer is yes.
Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Who lied? Karl Rove or Scott McClellan?
On September 29, 2003 Presidential Spokeman Scott McClellan was asked if Karl Rove was involved in the leak of a CIA agents identity.
McClellan said “The president knows that Karl Rove wasn't involved.” When asked how he knows that Scott said, “I have spoken with Karl Rove.” He later admitted “I spoke with them (Scooter Libby, Karl Rove and Elliott Abrams) so that I could come back to you and say that they were not involved.”
Now that we know that Karl Rove and Scooter Libby were involved, we know a little more about the puzzle. Either Scott McClellan asked Karl Rove if he was involved, and Rove lied to him. Or, Scott McClellan lied when he said I’ve spoken to them, and they say they were not involved.
The bottom line is that one or both of these men lied. There is no other option.
So my question is simple, knowing that one of them lied, why doesn’t Bush ask the liar to fess up, so he can fire their ass?
I smell a cover up.
America's Ministry of Propaganda Exposed
By Gar Smith / The-Edge
November 7, 2003
A Strategy of Lies: How the White House Fed the Public a Steady Diet of
Colonel Sam Gardiner (USAF, Ret.) has identified 50 false news stories
created and leaked by a secretive White House propaganda apparatus.
Bush administration officials are probably having second thoughts about
their decision to play hardball with former US Ambassador Joseph Wilson. Joe
Wilson is a contender. When you play hardball with Joe, you better be
prepared to deal with some serious rebound.
After Wilson wrote a critically timed New York Times essay exposing as false
George W. Bush's claim that Iraq had purchased uranium from Niger, high
officials in the White House contacted several Washington reporters and
leaked the news that Wilson's wife was a CIA agent.
Wilson isn't waiting for George W. Bush to hand over the perp. In
mid-October, the former ambassador began passing copies of an embarrassing
internal report to reporters across the US. The-Edge has received copies of
The 56-page investigation was assembled by USAF Colonel (Ret.) Sam Gardiner.
"Truth from These Podia: Summary of a Study of Strategic Influence,
Perception Management, Strategic Information Warfare and Strategic
Psychological Operations in Gulf II" identifies more than 50 stories about
the Iraq war that were faked by government propaganda artists in a covert
campaign to "market" the military invasion of Iraq.
Gardiner has credentials. He has taught at the National War College, the Air
War College and the Naval Warfare College and was a visiting scholar at the
Swedish Defense College.
According to Gardiner, "It was not bad intelligence" that lead to the
quagmire in Iraq, "It was an orchestrated effort [that] began before the
war" that was designed to mislead the public and the world. Gardiner's
research lead him to conclude that the US and Britain had conspired at the
highest levels to plant "stories of strategic influence" that were known to
The Times of London described the $200-million-plus US operation as a
"meticulously planned strategy to persuade the public, the Congress, and the
allies of the need to confront the threat from Saddam Hussein."
The multimillion-dollar propaganda campaign run out of the White House and
Defense Department was, in Gardiner's final assessment "irresponsible in
parts" and "might have been illegal."
"Washington and London did not trust the peoples of their democracies to
come to the right decisions," Gardiner explains. Consequently, "Truth became
a casualty. When truth is a casualty, democracy receives collateral damage."
For the first time in US history, "we allowed strategic psychological
operations to become part of public affairs... [W]hat has happened is that
information warfare, strategic influence, [and] strategic psychological
operations pushed their way into the important process of informing the
peoples of our two democracies."
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced plans to create an Office of
Strategic Influence early in 2002. At the same time British Prime Minister
Tony Blair's Strategy Director Alastair Campbell was setting up an identical
operation in London.
As soon as Pvt. Jessica Lynch was airlifted from her hospital bed, the first
call from her "rescue team" went, not to military officials but to Jim
Wilkinson, the White House's top propaganda official stationed in Iraq.
White House critics were quick to recognize that "strategic influence" was a
euphemism for disinformation. Rumsfeld had proposed establishing the
country's first Ministry of Propaganda.
The criticism was so severe that the White House backed away from the plan.
But on November 18, several months after the furor had died down, Rumsfeld
arrogantly announced that he had not been deterred. "If you want to savage
this thing, fine: I'll give you the corpse. There's the name. You can have
the name, but I'm gonna keep doing every single thing that needs to be
done -- and I have."
Gardiner's dogged research identified a long list of stories that passed
through Rumsfeld's propaganda mill. According to Gardiner, "there were over
50 stories manufactured or at least engineered that distorted the picture of
Gulf II for the American and British people." Those stories include:
The link between terrorism, Iraq and 9/11
Iraqi agents meeting with 9/11 hijacker Mohammed Atta
Iraq's possession of chemical and biological weapons.
Iraq's purchase of nuclear materials from Niger.
Saddam Hussein's development of nuclear weapons.
Aluminum tubes for nuclear weapons
The existence of Iraqi drones, WMD cluster bombs and Scud missiles.
Iraq's threat to target the US with cyber warfare attacks.
The rescue of Pvt. Jessica Lynch.
The surrender of a 5,000-man Iraqi brigade.
Iraq executing Coalition POWs.
Iraqi soldiers dressing in US and UK uniforms to commit atrocities.
The exact location of WMD facilities
WMDs moved to Syria.
Every one of these stories received extensive publicity and helped form
indelible public impressions of the "enemy" and the progress of the
invasion. Every one of these stories was false.
"I know what I am suggesting is serious. I did not come to these conclusions
lightly," Gardiner admits. "I'm not going to address why they did it. That's
something I don't understand even after all the research." But the fact
remained that "very bright and even well-intentioned officials found how to
control the process of governance in ways never before possible."
A Battle between Good and Evil
Gardiner notes that cocked-up stories about Saddam's WMDs "was only a very
small part of the strategic influence, information operations and marketing
campaign conducted on both sides of the Atlantic."
The "major thrust" of the campaign, Gardiner explains, was "to make a
conflict with Iraq seem part of a struggle between good and evil. Terrorism
is evil... we are the good guys.
"The second thrust is what propaganda theorists would call the 'big lie.'
The plan was to connect Iraq with the 9/11 attacks. Make the American people
believe that Saddam Hussein was behind those attacks."
The means for pushing the message involved: saturating the media with
stories, 24/7; staying on message; staying ahead of the news cycle; managing
expectations; and finally, being prepared to "use information to attack and
Audition in Afghanistan
The techniques that proved so successful in Operation Iraqi Freedom were
first tried out during the campaign to build public support for the US
attack on Afghanistan.
Rumsfeld hired Rendon Associates, a private PR firm that had been deeply
involved in the first Gulf War. Founder John Rendon (who calls himself an
"information warrior") proudly boasts that he was the one responsible for
providing thousands of US flags for the Kuwaiti people to wave at TV cameras
after their "liberation" from Iraqi troops in 1991.
The White House Coalition Information Center was set up by Karen Hughes in
November 2001. (In January 2003, the CIC was renamed the Office for Global
Communications.) The CIC hit on a cynical plan to curry favor for its attack
on Afghanistan by highlighting "the plight of women in Afghanistan." CIC's
Jim Wilkinson later called the Afghan women campaign "the best thing we've
Gardiner is quick with a correction. The campaign "was not about something
they did. It was about a story they created... It was not a program with
specific steps or funding to improve the conditions of women."
The coordination between the propaganda engines of Washington and London
even involved the respective First Wives. On November 17, 2001, Laura Bush
issued a shocking statement: "Only the terrorists and the Taliban threaten
to pull out women's fingernails for wearing nail polish." Three days later,
a horrified Cherie Blaire told the London media, "In Afghanistan, if you
wear nail polish, you could have your nails torn out."
Misleading via Innuendo
Time and again, US reporters accepted the CIC news leaks without question.
Among the many examples that Gardiner documented was the use of the "anthrax
scare" to promote the administration's pre-existing plan to attack Iraq.
In both the US and the UK, "intelligence sources" provided a steady diet of
unsourced allegations to the media to suggest that Iraq and Al Qaeda
terrorists were behind the deadly mailing of anthrax-laden letters.
It wasn't until December 18, that the White House confessed that it was
"increasingly looking like" the anthrax came from a US military
installation. The news was released as a White House "paper" instead of as a
more prominent White House "announcement." As a result, the idea that Iraq
or Al Qaeda were behind the anthrax plot continued to persist. Gardiner
believes this was an intentional part of the propaganda campaign. "If a
story supports policy, even if incorrect, let it stay around."
In a successful propaganda campaign, Gardiner wrote, "We would have expected
to see the creation [of] stories to sell the policy; we would have expected
to see the same stories used on both sides of the Atlantic. We saw both. The
number of engineered or false stories from US and UK stories is long."
The US and Britain: The Axis of Disinformation
Before the coalition invasion began on March 20, 2003, Washington and London
agreed to call their illegal pre-emptive military aggression an "armed
conflict" and to always reference the Iraqi government as the "regime."
Strategic communications managers in both capitols issued lists of
"guidance" terms to be used in all official statements. London's 15
Psychological Operations Group paralleled Washington's Office of Global
In a departure from long military tradition, the perception managers even
took over the naming of the war. Military code names were originally chosen
for reasons of security. In modern US warfare, however, military code names
have become "part of the marketing." There was Operation Nobel Eagle,
Operation Valiant Strike, Operation Provide Comfort, Operation Enduring
Freedom, Operation Uphold Democracy and, finally, Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The "Rescue" of Jessica Lynch
The Pentagon's control over the news surrounding the capture and rescue of
Pfc. Jessica Lynch receives a good deal of attention in Gardiner's report.
"From the very beginning it was called an 'ambush'," Gardiner noted. But, he
pointed out, "If you drive a convoy into enemy lines, turn around and drive
back, it's not an ambush. Military officers who are very careful about how
they talk about operations would normally not be sloppy about describing
this kind of event," Gardiner complained. "This un-military kind of talk is
one of the reasons I began doing this research."
One of the things that struck Gardiner as revealing was the fact that, as
Newsweek reported: "as soon as Lynch was in the air, [the Joint Operations
Center] phoned Jim Wilkinson, the top civilian communications aide to
CENTCOM Gen. Tommy Franks."
It struck Gardiner as inexplicable that the first call after Lynch's rescue
would go to the Director of Strategic Communications, the White House's top
representative on the ground.
On the morning of April 3, the Pentagon began leaking information on Lynch's
rescue that sought to establish Lynch as "America's new Rambo." The
Washington Post repeated the story it received from the Pentagon: that Lynch
"sustained multiple gunshot wounds" and fought fiercely and shot several
enemy soldier... firing her weapon until she ran out of ammunition."
Lynch's family confused the issue by telling the press that their daughter
had not sustained any bullet wounds. Lynch's parents subsequently refused to
talk to the press, explaining that they had been "told not to talk about
it." (Weeks later, the truth emerged. Lynch was neither stabbed nor shot.
She was apparently injured while falling from her vehicle.)
Rumsfeld and Gen. Myers let the story stand during an April 3 press
conference although both had been fully briefed on Lynch's true condition.
"Again, we see the pattern," Gardiner observed. "When the story on the
street supports the message, it will be left there by a non-answer. The
message is more important than the truth. Even Central Command kept the
story alive by not giving out details."
Gardiner saw another break with procedure. The information on the rescue
that was released to the Post "would have been very highly classified" and
should have been closely guarded. Instead, it was used as a tool to market
the war. "This was a major pattern from the beginning of the marketing
campaign throughout the war," Gardiner wrote. "It was okay to release
classified information if it supported the message."
Transforming Language to Market the 'Big Lie'
Iraq's 'Terrorist Death Squads'
Secretary of State Colin Powell warned the UN General Assembly that Iraq
possessed chemical, biological and nuclear weapons of mass destruction. Was
Mr. Powell merely advancing "stories of strategic influence"? ©Michael Gross
/ State Department photo
To Gardiner, the "most serious transformation of language" involved
Washington's directive to refer to Iraq's irregular troops as "terrorist
death squads." The order apparently came down on March 25.
Renaming the Iraqi defenders "terrorists" appears to have been part of the
strategic influence campaign since it served to connect the Iraqi fighters
with "one of the major themes of Gulf II -- Iraq = terrorist = 9/11."
Gardiner stressed the role repetition plays in the "effective implementation
creating memory in a population" and observed that "this theme was
successful by US opinion polls" that show a majority of US citizens now
believe, in the absence of evidence, that Iraq "was connected" to 9/11.
The propaganda artists selected a small Kurdish splinter group called Ansar
al-Salam and elevated it into an organized group of Al Qaeda "terrorists"
who were "said to be" controlled by Saddam Hussein and "believed to be"
producing ricin, a deadly biotoxin.
Since Ansar al-Salam was formed shortly after 9/11, "it was tied to bin
Laden." Because a single source claimed to have seen Republican Guard
officers in the region, "it was tied to Saddam Hussein."
"This was part of the 'big lie' to tie Iraq to 9/11," Gardiner wrote. "The
'terrorist' connection took many other forms, many forms but the truth. I
don't see evidenced they cherished the truth."
In the first days of the invasion, a US Marine Corps spokesman made a
prophetic statement: "The first image of the war will define the conflict."
The attempts to control those "first images" were of overriding interest to
the coalition's ministries of propaganda. Because it was believed that the
city of Basrah would quickly fall to the coalition troops, the "Battle of
Basrah" was heavily scripted long before the first soldiers even entered
Marines were given food packets to hand out to Basrah children. Journalists
were to be bused to the newly captured city and TV crews were to be flown in
to film the "liberated" citizens welcoming coalition soldiers with smiles
and flowers. The UK had expected to lead the attack on Basrah but, over
Blair's objections, the US insisted on giving this plum assignment to the US
Marines. Gardiner's sources in Britain told him that the sole reason was
that the US "wanted to have their forces lead the victory into Basrah."
When the residents of Basrah refused to be "liberated," the carefully
planned media event evaporated in a hail of gunfire.
"It was about image," Gardiner marvels. "So much effort and money on image."
In a widely publicized September 12, 2002 briefing paper entitled, "Decade
of Deception," the White House described "a highly secret terrorist training
facility in Iraq known as Salman Pak, where both Iraqis and non-Iraqi Arabs
receive training on hijacking planes and trains, planting explosives in
cities, sabotage, and assassinations."
"This facility became a major part of the strategic influence marketing
effort," Gardiner writes. Yet, in the invasions aftermath, the Pentgon
offered no "compelling evidence" that such a site existed.
In his February 3 presentation to the United Nations, Secretary of State
Colin Powell flashed a photo of an Ansar al-Salam "poison factory" in
northern Iraq. In September 3, seven months after Powell's presentation, an
Los Angeles Times reporter managed to reach the "poison factory," which he
described as "a small cinderblock building bearing brown granules and
ammonia-like scents." When the Times had the material tested, the granules
turned out to be a commercial rat poison.
US Lied about Attacks on Iraq's Power Grid
Secretary Powell claimed that Iraq possessed mobile trucks designed to
produce biological weapons. When invading forces located the trucks it
turned out they were actually designed to produce hydrogen for surveillance
balloons and Iraq had bought the trucks from the Britain.
When the capital city of Baghdad was blacked out by a power failure during
the April bombardment, Pentagon spokesperson Victoria "Tori" Clarke rushed
to assure the world that "We did not have the power grid as a target. That
was not us."
The facts would subsequently show that the US had targeted portions of the
power grid. In the North, a special operations team staged an attack on the
Hadithah Dam on April 1 or 2. Human Rights Watch documented at least two
attacks on the power grid south of Baghdad "along Highway 6 [that] included
a Tomahawk [missile] strike using carbon fibers."
The use of a sophisticated carbon-fiber weapons is significant since the
deployment of these specialized devices required prior approval from
Iraq's "Dirty Bomb"
In June 2002, an Iraqi expatriate named Khidhir Manza told the Wall Street
Journal that the situation was "ideal for countries like Iraq to train and
support a terrorist operation using radiation weapons." Manza's interview
with the Journal was arranged by the Iraqi National Congress, a group of
Iraqi exiles that was set up by the Rendon Group and supported financially
by agencies of the US government. (See Weapons of Mass Deception, by John
Stauber and Sheldon Rampton.)
Helping to make Manza's charges more credible, unnamed intelligence
officials earlier had told the International Herald Tribune that "they are
kept awake at night by the prospect of a dirty bomb." Astute readers will
note that these anonymous sources never actually said Iraq had a dirty bomb.
It was all managed through suggestion and innuendo.
American's Heroic Hostage
In an episode that recalled the creation of the "Old Shoe, the fictitious
hero concocted by Robert deNiro's ace "perception manager" in the film "Wag
the Dog," Washington's propaganda artists literally brought someone back
from the dead.
Lt. Commander Scott Speicher had been shot down during the first Gulf War in
1991. In an attempt to generate sympathy and support for Bush's pre-emptive
war, "intelligence sources" began circulating a bizarre new story to the US
media. In what Gardiner called "a pattern typical of created stories," these
unnamed sources started a rumor that Commander Speicher had not only
survived but that he had somehow spent the past decade trapped in an Iraqi
Iraqi officials vehemently denied that they were holding Speicher or, for
that matter, any Americans. When asked about the Iraqi denial at a press
conference, Rumsfeld's response was calculatingly oblique. "I don't believe
much the regime puts out," Rumsfeld stated.
In Gardiner's estimation, Rumsfeld's answer "was too clever not to have been
formulated to leave the impression that [Speicher] was alive."
Gardiner was troubled by Rumsfeld's apparent disinterest in the truth but,
as a former military officer, there was another question that bothered
Gardiner even more. "Why didn't [Rumsfeld] consider what he was doing to
On January 11, 2001, Speicher's status was changed from KIA (Killed in
Action) to MIA (Missing in Action). As the invasion forces gathered in the
Middle East, Speicher's status was changed once more, to "captured." Navy
officials who contacted ABC News reported that they had been pressured to
make this change.
In January, "intelligence officials" continued to leak information to the
media that suggested Speicher was still alive. In April, the secretive
ministry of propaganda leaked a report that his initials had been found on
the wall of a cell in Iraq. Gardiner found this leak particularly strange
since "Military POW recovery personnel are very careful about releasing
information that would cause false hope in families." The release of such
information would also, obviously, endanger the captives.
Long after Baghdad fell and the media's attention had been drawn to the
fruitless search for weapons of mass destruction, a reporter thought to ask
Rumsfeld about America's lost hero. The secretary replied vaguely that there
was "nothing turned up thus far that I could elaborate on that would be
appropriate." On July 16, a Washington Times investigation belatedly
concluded that there was "no evidence" Speicher had survived or had been
held captive in Iraq.
Chemical Cluster Bombs
On March 10, administration officials attempted to discredit Hans Blix and
UNMOVIC, the UN weapons inspection program. Administration officials told
the Boston Globe that "Blix did not give details... of the possible
existence of a cluster bomb that could deliver deadly poisons."
Presidential spokesperson Ari Fleischer claimed that the US was "aware of
UNMOVIC's discovery of Iraqi production of munitions capable of dispensing
both chemical and biological weapons." Videotape was released allegedly
showing the Iraqis testing a cluster bomb for dispersing chemical weapons.
"The chemical cluster bomb story certainly didn't linger," Gardiner wrote.
"It was around only a couple of days, but it still served its purpose at the
Few newspaper readers or TV watchers realized that there was never any
evidence that Iraq had such technologically complex weapons. Indeed, the
Pentagon had dismissed the possibility of Iraq ever developing these weapons
during the first Gulf War.
Iraq's Planned Computer Attack on America
An alarming White House paper presented by Paul Wolfowitz before a meeting
of the Council on Foreign Relations warned that Iraqi engineers were
preparing a vast attack on the country's computer networks.
The warning came from a single source who claimed that Iraq's Intelligence
Service was working with the Babylon Software Company to break into US
computers, steal documents and spread viruses. There were no such attacks.
There was no such program.
Iraqi Troops in US Uniforms
On March 7, White House Deputy Director of Communications Jim Wilkinson,
described as "a senior US official," released a story about Iraq's alleged
acquisition of US and UK military uniforms "identical down to the last
detail." Wilkinson claimed Iraqis in US camouflage were planning to commit
battlefield atrocities to cast discredit on coalition troops.
On March 26, Pentagon spokesperson Victoria "Tori" Clarke embellished the
story. Clarke told reporters that "we knew they were acquiring uniforms that
looked like US and UK uniforms. And the reporting was ... [that Saddam
Hussein would] give them to the thugs, as I call them, to go out, carry out
reprisals against the Iraqi people, and try to blame it on coalition
Two days later, Rumsfeld added a new twist, claiming that Saddam Hussein's
troops planned to don UK an US uniforms "to try to fool regular Iraqi
soldiers into surrendering to them and then execute them as an example for
There were never any reports of Iraq attempting such stunts. In his report,
Gardiner concludes: "The way it was put by Jim Wilkinson (a name that keeps
appearing in these questionable stories), it seems to fit a pattern of
pre-blaming Iraq. It has the feel of being a created story."
Iraq's Scud Missiles
In the lead-up to the war, the British and American people were told
repeatedly that Iraq had Scud missiles capable of striking Israel. When the
invasion began, Iraq began to fire what the Pentagon called "Scud-type
missiles." As Gardiner discovered, these rockets "were not Scuds and we have
found no Scuds, but for three days they kept the story alive."
In October 2002, a CIA report determined that evidence for the existence of
Iraqi Scuds was inconclusive. Nonetheless, by the time Colin Powell stepped
up to the plate at the UN, the missiles had become an accepted fact as far
as Washington, London and Tel Aviv were concerned.
During the invasion, "American officials" told the New York Times that "the
sheer tenacity of the Iraqi fight" near a compound at Al Qa'im had led them
to believe that "the Iraqis might be defending Scud missiles" hidden at the
site. Gardiner notes laconically: "No Scuds or WMDs were found at Al Qa'im."
Saddam's Remote-Controlled Drones
The CIA's October report also claimed that Iraq had converted some J-29 jet
fighters to deliver chemical and biological weapons. George W. Bush quickly
seized on this specter for a speech in Cincinnati, where he told the
astonished crowd that Saddam's poison-laden aircraft were capable of hitting
By the time Powell testified before the UN, the threat had been measurably
pared down -- the fighter jets had become smaller, remotely piloted drones.
Mr. Bush went public with the extraordinary claimed that these tiny drones
could strike the US.
On June 15, an Air Force team in Iraq finally seized the drones. The Los
Angeles Times described them as "five burned and blackened 9-foot-wings."
The Air Force captain in charge of the inspection concluded that the drones
could have been "a student project or maybe a model."
A subsequent investigation by the USAF determined that the drones' only
possible mission was to take pictures.
America's Ministry of Propaganda -- Part Three
By Gar Smith / The-Edge
November 7, 2003
Targeting Critics, Spreading Lies, and PSYOPS
Protesters in Baghdad lie down in the path of US armored vehicles. The White
House Office of Global Communication is not interested in distributing
photos of ordinary Iraqi citizens nonviolently demonstration against the US
The tools of strategic influence were not only wielded against Saddam
Hussein, they were also turned against foreign allies and domestic critics
who dared to question Bush's agenda. The French were among the first to feel
the sting of these attacks.
Sam Gardiner's report notes that the French were clearly "the focus of
punishment in the strategic influence campaign." He has identified "at least
eight times when false stories or engineered stories were aimed at them, the
majority appearing after their lack of support in the UN for US and UK
In September, government sources informed the New York Times that the French
and German governments had provided Iraq with precision switches that could
be used to produce nuclear weapons. The Times ran the story before
discovering that the France and Germany had both, in fact, refused to
provide the switches.
"American intelligence sources" told the Washington Postthat the French
possessed illegal strains of smallpox virus. Again, the story was false.
The Washington Times received a tip from "US intelligence sources" that two
companies in France had sold equipment to Saddam. The companies denied the
charge and no evidence was ever provided to sustain the charge.
On April 9, Brig. Gen. Brooks told the media that his troops had discovered
"an underground storage facility containing... Roland-type air defense
missiles." Lt. Greg Holmes, an army intelligence officer, told Newsweek that
US soldiers had found "51 Roland-2 missiles, made by a partnership of French
and German arms manufacturers." Holmes also stated that at least one of the
Roland missiles "was manufactured last year."
The story served to further defame the irascible French but, Gardiner writes
with a touch of sarcasm, the story "was not very well put together" since it
turned out that "the production line for the Roland-2 was shut down in
Punishing the French
For the French, the War of the Leaks was just beginning. On May 6, "US
intelligence officials" were quoted as telling the Washington Times that "an
unknown number of Iraqis who worked for Saddam Hussein's government were
given passports by French officials in Syria." The story was kept alive by a
succession of press leaks attributed to "State Department and intelligence
officials," and a bevy of "Administration officials."
On May 6, Fox News reported that "Paris had been colluding with Baghdad
before and during the coalition invasion." On May 7, the Washington Times,
citing reports from "US officials," claimed that "officials of the Saddam
Hussein government... fled Iraq with French passports."
The French government angrily denied the allegations and accused Washington
of running a "smear campaign." But when the press confronted Rumsfeld about
these accusations, he "followed pattern." Instead of confirming or denying
the charges against the French, he simply smiled and said, "I have nothing
As Gardiner sees it, the intended effect of that kind of non-answer was that
"he wanted people to believe the stories."
This campaign of Francophobe fibbing eventually contaminated the White House
press briefings. On May 14, a reporter asked White House press officer Scott
McClellan about the stories accusing the French of selling Iraq arms and
issuing passports to fleeing Iraqi officials. "Are those charges valid?" the
McClellan's response: "Well, I think that those are questions you can
address to France."
Reporter: On that point, Scott, do you have any information that the French
did, in fact, issue passports to people so that...."
McClellan: I think -- no, I think that's a question you need to address to
Reporter: Well, no. It's information the US claims to have.
McClellan: I don't have anything for you.
"The Secretary of Defense told us before the war he was going to do
strategic influence," Gardiner notes wryly. "It appears as if the French
were a target."
Targeting Domestic Critics: The Galloway Forgeries
The White House claimed that these aluminum tubes were proof that Iraq was
attempting to produce nuclear weapons. US intelligence agents knew the
truth: the tubes were useless for nuclear processing.
In Britain, Labor Member of Parliament George Galloway became an open
skeptic of Tony Blair's rhetoric. In a bold attempt to avoid war, Galloway
had gone to Iraq to interview Saddam Hussein in hopes of promoting a
diplomatic resolution to the crisis.
Galloway's skepticism began to gnaw away at Bush-and-Blair's broad-brush
claims that Hussein was only months away from building a nuclear bomb or
that he was capable of launching a WMD attack within 45 minutes.
Galloway soon found himself under attack. Government officials leaked a
packet of supposedly "classified documents" to the Daily Telegraph. The
papers, which were represented as having been seized from Iraq's Foreign
Ministry, suggested MP Galloway had accepted "payoffs" from the Iraqi
At he same time, in the US, a "retired general" contacted the Christian
Science Monitoron April 25, with similar documents showing that Hussein had
given Galloway $10 million.
Galloway's reputation was seriously sullied. It wasn't until June 20, that
the Monitor disclosed that the "general's" incriminating documents were
forged. The documents released in Britain also turned out to be forgeries.
The White Flag Incidents
On March 24, Pentagon briefing officer Tori Clarke told reporters that "the
Iraqi regime is engaged in other deadly deceptions. They are sending forces
out carrying white surrender flags... The most serious violations of the
laws of war."
There were only two alleged incidents cited to support this story. One
appeared engineered and Gardiner now believes that the other incident was
"fabricated to cover a very serious friendly-fire event."
On March 23, a Marine unit came under artillery fire near Nasiriyah in
southern Iraq soon after some Iraqi soldiers had surrendered. Gen. Abizaid,
the Deputy Commander of CENTCOM called the surrender "a ruse" to draw the
Marines into an ambush. Gardiner finds this difficult to believe since it
was well known that "the Iraqi Army had trouble coordinating artillery fire
The other "White Flag" incident was a widely reported tragedy in which Iraqi
soldiers shot civilians who were trying to flee to safety under a white
flag. But the Iraqi soldiers were also killed, Gardiner notes.
Other white flag incidents were not mentioned by the Pentagon or Messrs.
Bush and Blair. Gardiner recalls one "memorable picture of the war" that
showed "British troops standing over two dead Iraqis in a foxhole: they had
been holding up a white flag."
George W. Bush repeated the white flag story on April 5. By then, Bush
should have been aware of the real cause of those Marine deaths. Gardiner
reports that, according to the surviving Marines, nine of those killed "may
have been killed by an A-10 [a US military aircraft] that made repeated
passes attacking their position."
A report released in October indicates that these deaths were being
investigated as a "friendly fire accident." At least one of the young
Marines caught in the supposed Iraqi "ruse" was, in fact, killed by a round
fired from an A-10 gun that hit him directly in the chest.
The Execution of Prisoners
At a joint news conference with Mr. Bush at Camp David on March 27, British
PM Tony Blair informed the media that the Iraqis had executed two British
prisoners. "If anyone needs any further evidence of the depravity" of
Hussein's reign, Blair suggested, this was it.
Unfortunately, further evidence was exactly what Blair lacked. The very next
day the sister of one of the dead soldiers told the Daily Mirrorthat her
brother's colonel "told us he was not executed. We just can't understand why
people are lying."
Pentagon spokesperson Victoria Clarke also told reporters that the Iraqis
had killed "Americans who had either surrendered or were attempting to
surrender." This report turned out to be "unconfirmed."
A week after the British press had attacked the "executions" story as a
total fabrication, and Blair's press spokesperson had been forced to admit
that there was no "absolute evidence" to support the story, George W. Bush
told the American Forces Press Service: "They have executed prisoners of
war." Bush repeated the falsehood on April 5 and Rumsfeld echoed the lie on
The US press attempted to catch up to their British counterparts by
questioning Rumsfeld on April 7. As usual, Rumsfeld's defense was the
Reporter: Mr. Secretary, you stated flatly that American POWs have been
executed. On what basis do you make that statement?
Rumsfeld: I think I said they have executed prisoners of war.
Reporter: Are you saying that there have not been American prisoners
Rumsfeld: I'm not saying that either. There may very well have been, but I'm
not announcing that, if that's what you're asking... We do know that they
executed a lot of prisoners of war over the years."
The Shula District Bombing
On March 29, an explosion in an open-air market in Baghdad's Shula District
killed more than 50 Iraqi civilians. The Iraqi government condemned the
attack and blamed it on coalition bombers. US military spokespersons tried
to turn the blame back on Iraq, suggesting that the civilians were killed by
Iraqi artillery or anti-aircraft rockets that went awry.
British journalist Robert Fisk reachned the site soon after the massacre and
uncovered a 30-centimeter shard of shrapnel that showed the serial number of
the weapon that caused the massacre. It was a HARM missile built by the US
military contractor Raytheon.
On April 3, CENTCOM issued a new story claiming to have received "reliable
information" that the Hussein regime was planning to bomb Shiite Muslim
neighborhoods in Baghdad so that it could blame the damage on the US-UK
"The CENTCOM cover story came from Jim Wilkinson," Gardiner discovered. The
British, however, refused to support this argument. They continued to claim
(rightly, it now appeared) that no British bombs had caused the death and
devastation in the Shula District.
PSYOPS -- The Darkest Face of Deception
"Strategic influence is aimed at international audiences (and maybe domestic
audiences)," Gardiner explains, while PSYOPS (Psychological Operations) "are
targeted at the bad guys."
The disturbing thing about this war, Gardiner found, was that "PSYOPS became
a major part of the relationship between the governments of the US and the
UK and the free press."
The record reveals how the Pentagon, State Department and White House all
relied on PSYOPS techniques to manipulate the media as a psychological
weapon against the Iraqis.
When Rumsfeld declared that "The days of Saddam Hussein are numbered," that
the "regime is starting to lose control of their country," and that "The
outcome is clear. The regime of Saddam Hussein is gone. It's over," he was
really using the US media to send a message to the people in Iraq.
On March 24, British Air Marshall Brian Burridge told the press that the old
regime was "crumbling" and encouraged Saddam's opponents to "develop greater
levels of courage" and rise up against the dictator.
There was no better example of PSYOPS "distorting the free press with false
information," Gardiner claims, than the alleged surrender of Iraq's 51st
On March 21, Reuters (citing "defense officials, who asked not to be
identified") reported the stunning news that an entire Iraqi division had
surrendered en mass to US Marines in southern Iraq.
CBS News followed with a report the next day claiming that "an entire
division of the Iraqi army, numbering 8,000 soldiers, surrendered to
coalition forces." CBS's source: unnamed "Pentagon officials."
The surrender of the 51st became a major news story that truly seemed to
confirm the Pentagon's predictions of a quick and easy victory. "It was told
as if it were a truth," Gardiner writes. "It was told on both sides of the
Atlantic. It had been coordinated. It was not true."
The story was intended to break the fighting will of the Iraqi army. On
March 23, reporters from Agence France-Presse and Al-Jazeera TV managed to
reach Col. Khaled al-Hashemi, the commander of the 51st. He replied in no
uncertain terms that he not only had not surrendered but he would remain in
Basrah and "continue to defend the people."
The surrender of an entire division would have been a powerful blow to the
will of the Iraqi army. The perception managers knew this. It is clear to
Gardiner that this story "was not an intelligence failure. You would know if
you have an entire division" suddenly surrendering. The story was a PSYOPS
Other PSYOPS hoaxes were to follow. Stories were leaked that Hussein had
made secret plans to spirit his family out of Iraq to safety. It was rumored
that Hussein had deposited $3.5 billion in Libyan banks.
America's Ministry of Propaganda -- Part Four
By Gar Smith / The-Edge
November 7, 2003
Black Programs and the Future of Propaganda
Gardiner claims that the Pentagon was behind the creation of the
"EmpowerPeace" website. Gardiner says the site was pulled because it
violated US laws against domestic propaganda but the site can still be found
on the Web (www.empowerpeace.org). The-Edge has invited EmpowerPeace to
respond to Gardiner's assertions.
The bogus "surrender" of Iraq's 51st division raised a "profound question"
for Gardiner: "If we would manipulate truth, would we also manipulate
evidence? That would be very serious. Is that what the Secretary of Defense
meant when he said he was going to be doing strategic influence?"
Milt Bearden, a former CIA manager for clandestine operations has a related
question: "It will be important to learn who was behind the fake Niger
document [alleging Iraq's attempt to obtain uranium ore] and why and what
other information driving American policies might carry their fingerprints."
The falsehoods about Iraq's alleged attempt to purchase African uranium
turned out to be based on a forged document. Gardiner wonders why no one in
the administration is asking who forged the document? Who stood to gain from
this unconscionable act of "creating evidence"? Gardiner believes that the
American people have "a need to know."
Another probable "black program" identified by Gardiner involved the
planting of a false story that Saddam Hussein had taken refuge in the
Russian Embassy in Baghdad. The story served to slime the Russians, who had
refused to back Bush's pre-emptive invasion.
In the oddest example of perception management, Pentagon media masters
actually created a website to promote world peace. The "EmpowerPeace"
website appeared to represent a citizen's anti-war movement. The goal seemed
to be to foster the impression that the US people (and especially US
children) were essentially peace-loving. "It looked like a grassroots
effort," Gardiner recalls. "It seems to have been aimed at the Arab audience
The EmpowerPeace website didn't last long. The reason, Gardiner suspects, is
that its creation probably violated the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, which bans
the domestic dissemination of government propaganda.
Gardiner found another "strange website" called "The Iraq Crisis Bulletin,"
which offered daily updates and reports from around the world. The site was
recommended by the American Press Institute but there was "absolutely no
indication of the sponsor of the site." With a little research, Gardiner
discovered that "the articles were [written] by Voice of America
The problem with this, Gardiner notes, is that "the Voice of America is
prohibited from doing communications for the American press. But, during
Gulf II, it was getting the message to them." The VOA refused to respond to
Gardiner's requests for information on "The Iraq Crisis Bulletin."
Mapping the Ministry of Propaganda, a historic merging of politics,
militarism and public "perception management." The Coalition Information
Center with offices in the London, Islamabad and the White House started
work in mid-2002 (six months before it was officially authorized by an
Executive Order). In 2003, the CIC morphed into the Office of Global
Communications, staffed by Tucker Eskew, Dan Bartllett, Jeff Jones, Peter
Reid. The OGC works closely with the White House Iraq Group, which consists
of Karl Rove, Condi Rice, Jim Wilkinson, Stephen Hadley, Scooter Libby,
Karen Hughes, Mary Matalin, and Nicholas Callo.
Gardiner wraps up his 56-page investigation with a series of charts that
assess several Defense Department press briefings to determine the role
played by PSYOPS, false or engineered information, and non-informative
responses. His conclusion: "Even if you give them slack for not giving any
information, it turns out that more than half the answers were not truth...
Maybe a better way to say it would be that if an American (or Brit) were
diligent about wanting to understand the war, he could not rely on the
statements made by the US Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff."
Perhaps the penultimate example of the non-responsive response came in an
April 7 DOD press briefing when General Myers was asked about the status of
the chemical missile unit cited by Secretary Powell during his UN testimony.
Powell had told the world that Iraq had outfitted a group of rockets on the
outskirts of Baghdad with warheads filled with WMD and was prepared to fire
them at a moment's notice.
According to Gardiner, Myers "was very evasive, saying that he did not
recall ever having heard about such a unit."
The Future: The OGC, the Roadmap and 'Strategic Fusion'
Perception management (the art of propaganda, misdirection and lies, if you
will) is no longer discreetly hidden away in some dark wing of the
intelligence or defense establishments: It has become firmly enshrined right
down the hall from the Oval Office.
The Office of Global Communications (OGC) is centered in the White House. If
there is a Ministry of Propaganda in the Bush administration, the OGC is it.
As Gardiner notes: "The White House is at the center of the strategic
The OGC has two components: One committee deals with conducting the
perception of the war on terrorism while a second committee concentrates on
"more general" propaganda projects.
According to the Times of London, the exact dispensation of the OGC's $200
million operating budget is largely a mystery. It is known that the OGC
spent $250,000 on its military pressroom in Doha.
Gardiner discovered that "at times there were as many as three Brits
associated with the Office of Global Communications. These assets were
networked. To insure the military would be a willing part of the network,
three people from the White House Office of Global Communications were sent
to work with Central Command. Jim Wilkinson became General Franks' Director
of Strategic Communications.
"The war was handled like a political campaign. Everyone in the message
business was from the political communications community. In London, there
was a parallel organization and a parallel coordination process. They kept
the coordination with secure video teleconferences."
The system worked well but, as John Rendon revealed at a London conference
on July 3, there was still room for improvement. Rendon told his fellow
conferees that the idea of using "embedded journalists" was quite successful
and worked just as they hoped it would from tests they had run to gauge how
reporters would perform once they bonded with the soldiers in their assigned
One of the mistakes, Rendon said, was that while they had taken command of
the story, they had "lost control of the context." The problem was the
veteran newsmen in the networks: they had "too much control of context,"
Rendon complained. "That has to be fixed for the next war," Rendon declared.
At the same conference, Captain Gerald Mauer, the Joint Staff Assistant
Deputy Director for Information Operations, observed that public diplomacy
and public affairs are slowly morphing into a single combined information
operation. Mauer envisions a Strategic Fusion Center that "brings everything
together." The Pentagon is already hard at work crafting an Information
Mauer also told his fellow perception managers that "We hope to make more
use of Hollywood and Madison Avenue in the future." The overall goal remains
the same Mauer explained: to allow the men who now control Washington to
"disrupt, corrupt or usurp adversarial... decision-making."
Gardiner finds that the future envisioned by Rendon and Mauer is
fundamentally "frightening." The phrase "adversarial... decision-making will
be disrupted" reportedly was added by Douglas Feith, the Under Secretary of
Defense for Policy. What it means, Gardiner warns, is that "we will even go
after friends if they are against what we are doing or want to do."
Criticism, questioning and debate are now defined as "adversarial" and the
new watchword out of Washington is: "If you don't agree with us, you could
be the target of an information attack." The new reality is that "punishment
of those who disagree is a dimension of the strategy."
"If the democracies of the United States and the United Kingdom are based
upon informed, open debate of the issues," Gardiner states, "we've got some
fixing to do.
"It's not enough to look at the arguments about weapons of mass destruction
before the war," Gardiner argues. "There needs to be an inquiry of the
broader question of how spin got to be more important than substance. What
roles did information operations and strategic psychological operations play
in the war" What controls need to be placed on information operations?"
Solutions Are Needed to Control Information Warfare
Sam Gardiner has become the Paul Revere of our generation. He has raised a
cry: It is no longer "The Redcoats are coming!" but "The PSYOPS are coming!"
"We need a major investigation," Gardiner insists. "We need restrictions on
which parts of the government can do information operations. We should not
do information operations against friends. We have to get this back in
One remedy is the Smith-Mundt Act, which was created in the aftermath of
WWII with the intent of protecting American citizens from brainwashing by
covert government propaganda campaigns. Unfortunately, Gardiner has
discovered, the Smith-Mundt Act "no longer works." We became collateral
damage, a target group of messages intended for other groups."
Gardiner's findings have not yet received due attention from the US media
and with good cause. Gardiner's investigation revealed that the mainstream
media not only failed to stand up to the government and insist on the truth,
they all too often submitted in complicit cooperation with the government.
Even in peacetime, the corporate media is an "embedded" media.
Gardiner has some hard questions for America's press barons:
"How was it that the Washington Post took classified information on the
Jessica Lynch story and published it just the way the individual leaking it
in the Pentagon wanted?"
"Why did the New York Times let itself be used by 'intelligence officials'
"Why did the Washington Times never seem to question a leak they were
"Why were newspapers in the UK better than those in the US in raising
questions before and during the war?"
Since releasing his study, Gardiner has had the opportunity to talk with
many people in the print media. While many have appeared "quite interested"
in his findings, Gardiner admits that he has "not heard any self-criticism
from reporters to whom I have talked." In conversations with TV producers
and reporters, Gardiner found the prevailing reaction was that "the whole
story is just too complex to tell."
Gardiner's most disheartening reaction came during a presentation at "a
major Washington think tank." Most of the Washington veterans in the
audience kept asking, "So, what's new?" And when Gardiner opined that there
was "no passion for truth in those who were taking us to war," he distinctly
heard callous laughter breaking out among his listeners.
It is the sound of that brittle laughter that keeps Sam Gardiner going.
Things must be changed. The dragons of information warfare must be slain.
As Gardiner says: "I pain for our democratic process when I find individuals
not angered at being deceived."