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'The U.S. military must be able to perform the following three fundamental information warfare missions:
1. Protect its own information systems,
2. Attack and influence the information systems of its adversaries, and
3. Leverage U.S. information to 'gain decisive advantage'.
From: The Unintended Consequences of Information Age Technologies
"All war is based on deception." -- Sun Tzu, The Art of War
There is nothing new in a government lying to their people to start a war. Indeed because most people prefer living in peace to bloody and horrific death in war, any government that desires to initiate a war usually lies to their people to create the illusion that support for the war is the only possible choice they can make.
President McKinley told the American people that the USS Maine had been sunk in Havana Harbor by a Spanish mine. The American people, outraged by this apparent unprovoked attack, supported the Spanish American War. The Captain of the USS Maine had insisted the ship was sunk by a coal bin explosion, investigations after the war proved that such had indeed been the case. There had been no mine.
Hitler used this principle of lying to his own people to initiate an invasion. He told the people of Germany that Poland had attacked first. The Germans, convinced they were being threatened, followed Hitler into Poland and into World War 2.
FDR claimed Pearl Harbor was a surprise attack. It wasn't. The United States saw war with Japan as the means to get into war with Germany, which Americans opposed. So Roosevelt needed Japan to appear to strike first. Following an 8-step plan devised by the Office of Naval Intelligence, Roosevelt intentionally provoked Japan into the attack. Contrary to the official story, the fleet did not maintain radio silence, but sent messages intercepted and decoded by US intercept stations. Tricked by the lie of a surprise attack, Americans marched off to war.
President Johnson lied about the Gulf of Tonkin to send Americans off to fight in Vietnam. There were no torpedoes in the water in the Gulf. LBJ took advantage of an inexperienced sonar man's report to goad Congress into escalating the Vietnam
It is inescapable historical reality that leaders of nations will lie to their people to trick them into wars they otherwise would have refused. It is not "conspiracy theory" to suggest that leaders of nations lie to trick their people into wars. It is undeniable fact.
This brings us to the present case. Did the government of the United States lie to the American people, more to the point, did President Bush and his Neocon associates lie to Congress, to initiate a war of conquest in Iraq?
This question has been given currency by a memo leaked from inside the British Government which clearly indicates a decision to go to war followed by the "fixing" of information around that policy. This is, as they say, a smoking gun.
But the fact is that long before this memo surfaced, it had become obvious that the US Government, aided by that of Great Britain, was lying to create the public support for a war in Iraq.
First off is Tony Blair's "Dodgy Dossier", a document released by the Prime Minister that made many of the claims used to support the push for war. The dossier soon collapsed when it was revealed that much of it had been plagiarized from a 12-year old student thesis paper!
The contents of the dossier, however much they seemed to create a good case for invasion, were obsolete and outdated. This use of material that could not possibly be relevant at the time is clear proof of a deliberate attempt to deceive.
Then there was the claim about the "Mobile biological weapons laboratories". Proffered in the absence of any real laboratories in the wake of the invasion, photos of these trailers were shown on all the US Mainstream Media, with the claim they while seeming to lack anything suggesting biological processing, these were part of a much larger assembly of multiple trailers that churned out biological weapons of mass destruction.
This claim fell apart when it was revealed that these trailers were nothing more than hydrogen gas generators used to inflate weather balloons. This fact was already known to both the US and UK, as a British company manufactured the units and sold them to Iraq.
Our third piece of evidence consists of documents which President Bush referenced as in his 2003 State of the Union Speech. According to Bush, these documents proved that Iraq was buying tons of uranium oxide, called "Yellow Cake" from Niger. Since Israel had bombed Iraq's nuclear power plant years before, it was claimed that the only reason Saddam would have for buying uranium oxide was to build bombs.
This hoax fell apart fast when it was pointed out that Iraq has a great deal of uranium ore inside their own borders and no need to import any from Niger or anywhere else. The I.A.E.A. then blew the cover off the fraud by announcing that the documents Bush had used were not only forgeries, but too obvious to believe that anyone in the Bush administration did not know they were forgeries!
Along with forged "Yellow Cake" documents and balloon inflators posing as bioweapons labs, the US was shown a steady barrage of spy photos taken from high flying aircraft and spacecraft. On the photos were circles and arrows and labels pointing to various fuzzy white blobs and identifying them as laboratories and storage areas for Saddam's massive weapons of mass destruction program. Nothing in the photos actually suggested what the blobby shapes were and inspections which followed the invasion, all of them turned out to be rather benign. One purported biological weapons lab turned out to be a bakery, and a claimed nuclear facility turned out to be a commercial mushroom farm. Not a single one of the photographed targets proved to be what the labels claimed that they were.
In the end, the real proof that we were lied to about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction is that no weapons of mass destruction were ever found. That means that every single piece of paper that purported to prove that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction was by default a fraud, a hoax, and a lie. There could be no evidence that supported the theory that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction because Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction. In a way, the existance of any faked documents about Iraq's WMDs is actually an admission of guilt. If one is taking the time to create fake documents, the implication is that the faker is already aware that there are no genuine documents.
What the US Government had, ALL that they had, were copied student papers, forged "Yellow Cake" documents, balloon inflators posing as bioweapons labs, and photos with misleading labels on them. And somewhere along the line, someone decided to put those misleading labels on those photos, to pretend that balloon inflators are portable bioweapons labs, and to pass off 12-year old stolen student papers as contemporary analysis. And THAT shows an intention to deceive.
Lawyers call this "Mens Rea", which means "Guilty Mind". TV lawyer shows call it "Malice of forethought". This means that not only did the Bush Administration lie to the people and to the US Congress, but knew they were doing something illegal at the time that they did it.
All the talk about "Intelligence failure" is just another lie. There was no failure. Indeed the Army agents who erroneously claimed that missile tubes were parts for a uranium centrifuge received bonuses, while the Pentagon smeared Hans Blix, and John Bolton orchestrated the firing of Jose Bustani, the director of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, because Bustani was trying to send chemical weapons inspectors to Baghdad.
The President of the United States and his Neocon associates lied to the people of the United States to send them off on a war of conquest.
Defenders of the government will point to the cases listed at the top of the page as proof that lying to the people is a normal part of the leader's job and we should all get used to it. And because "Everybody does it" that we should not single out the present administration. But this is madness. We do not catch all the murderers, yet when we catch a murderer, we deal with them as harshly as possible, in order to deter more murderers.
Right now, we have the criminals at hand. and, while other leaders in history have lied to start wars, for the first time in history, the lie stands exposed while the war started with the lies still rages on, to the death and detriment of our young men and women in uniform. We cannot in good moral conscience ignore this lie, this crime, lest we encourage future leaders to continue to lie to use to send our kids off to pointless wars. Lying to start a war is more than an impeachable offence; it the highest possible crime a government can commit against their own people. Lying to start a war is not only missapropriation of the nation's military and the nation's money under false pretenses, but it is outright murder committed on a massive scale. Lying to start a war is a betrayal of the trust each and every person who serves in the military places in their civilian leadership. By lying to start a war, the Bsuh administration has told the military fatalities and their families that they have no right to know why they were sent to their deaths. It's none of their business.
Our nation is founded on the principle of rule with the consent of the governed. Because We The People do not consent to be lied to, a government that lies rules without the consent of the governed, and ruling without the consent of the governed is slavery.
You should be more than angry. You should be in a rage. You should be in a rage no less than that of the families of those young men and women who have been killed and maimed in this war started with a lie.You need to be in a rage and you need to act on that rage because even as I type these words, the same government that lied about Iraq's nuclear weapons is telling the exact same lies about Iran's nuclear capabilities. The writing is on the wall; having gotten away with lying to start the war in Iraq, the US Government will lie to start a war in Iran, and after that another, and after that another, and another and another and another because as long as you remain silent, and as long as you remain inactive, the liars have no reason to stop.
As long as you remain inactive, the liars have no reason to stop. None.
"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" - Edmund Burke
But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security - "The Declaration of Independence"
New Scientist - 8th May 2004
"Local people can be highly effective during emergencies and are often the first to respond"
CAUGHT up in a large-scale tragedy such as a terrorist attack or earthquake, most people lose their heads and panic. Disorder reigns and social responsibility breaks down. That, at least, is the view of many governments and emergency planners, who prepare for disasters presuming that people will throw rationality to the wind.
Both the UK's draft Civil Contingencies Bill, which aims to increase the government's powers to deal with major catastrophes, and the Homeland Security Act in the US, with its "command and control" model of dealing with terrorist attacks, discount any helpful contribution from the public. Instead, they rely on top-down approaches run by technocrats who are often far removed from the scene. The unspoken assumption is that when disaster strikes, ordinary people cannot be trusted.
They have got it very wrong. There is a large body of research, dating back to the second world war, which shows that far from panicking, people in the throes of a catastrophe behave quite rationally and with greater social responsibility than usual. Some of this work was reviewed last week at a conference at the University of Delaware to mark the 40th anniversary of its Disaster Research Center. DRC researchers have long questioned what they describe as the "disaster mythology". Now they fear this mythology is undermining how nations cope with emergencies.
One of the first people to look at how people behave in an emergency was Enrico Quarantelli, co-founder of the DRC. In a 1954 review of data he observed that the frequency with which people panicked in such situations had been exaggerated and that panic was "relatively uncommon". This is consistent with experience during the second world war.
Take the bombing of Hamburg by the Royal Air Force in July 1943. The raids killed between 30,000 and 45,000 people and left more than 900,000 homeless. Yet reports by the Hamburg local authorities at the time stated that people responded in a remarkably orderly manner and quickly found shelter after the bombing, or offered it to others. Within five months the city's industrial production was back to 80 per cent of the level before the attack. The residents of Hiroshima were similarly cooperative and resilient after the US dropped the atomic bomb. Despite the fact that 75,000 people were killed out of a population of 245,000, within a few days essential services were restored and after a week economic life was back in full swing.
There are plenty more recent examples of how calm reigns over chaos. When the Chernobyl nuclear power station caught fire and released deadly radiation in 1986, the maintenance and emergency operatives at the plant did not panic and flee. Instead, many of them risked almost certain death to contain the damage and search for victims. When the first Scudmissiles fell on Israel during the Gulf war of 1990-91, people suffered greater anxiety and used the healthcare services more than usual, but within a few days the levels of anxiety subsided as the public adapted.
Among the most analysed incidents ever in terms of crowd behaviour are the Al-Qaida terrorist attacks on the US on 11 September 2001. All the research indicates that people behaved in an orderly and socially responsible manner. A review by the US National Institute of Standards and Technology of 726 published eyewitness statements on the behaviour of the evacuees reveals that every injured or disabled person who was interviewed reported being helped to safety by a colleague.
The tragedy of the "disaster mythology" is that it tends to lead to government emergency programmes cutting ordinary people out of the picture on the assumption that they may be incapacitated by fear. Yet local people can be highly effective during emergencies and are often the first to respond. Certainly during floods, earthquakes and other natural disasters, they are generally at the forefront of search and rescue operations. This spontaneous provision of assistance can make all the difference; it can save lives and help restore essential services.
Emergency planners on both sides of the Atlantic appear to have overlooked this. The UK draft Civil Contingencies Bill totally ignores the role that local communities might play if disaster strikes. In the same way, the US Homeland Security Act puts the onus for survival on technocrats. Concerned by the prospect that citizens will respond irrationally, officials withhold from them "disturbing" information that could help them, and governments attempt to manage a disaster and its aftermath through bureaucracy and superior technology.
It is time they realised that community resilience is a hugely important factor in limiting the damage caused by a terrorist attack or other catastrophe. Recognising this will do more to protect society than billions of dollars spent on new technologies.
Frank Furedi is professor of sociology at the University of Kent, UK. His book Therapy Culture: Cultivating vulnerability in an uncertain age was published this year by Routledge
Since the beginning of the war in Iraq, the US has sought not just to influence but to control all information, from both friend and foe
Thursday January 8, 2004
"Information dominance" came of age during the conflict in Iraq. It is a little discussed but highly significant part of the US government strategy of "full spectrum dominance", integrating propaganda and news media into the military command structure more fundamentally than ever before.
In the past, propaganda involved managing the media. Information dominance, by contrast, sees little distinction between command and control systems, propaganda and journalism. They are all types of "weaponized information" to be deployed. As strategic expert Colonel Kenneth Allard noted, the 2003 attack on Iraq "will be remembered as a conflict in which information fully took its place as a weapon of war".
Nor is information dominance something dreamt up by the Bush White House. It is a mainstream US military doctrine that is also embraced in the UK. According to US army intelligence there are already 15 information dominance centres in the US, Kuwait and Baghdad.
Both the Ministry of Defence and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in this country have staff assigned to "information operations". In future conflicts, according to the MoD, "maintaining morale as well as information dominance will rank as important as physical protection".
Achieving information dominance according to American military experts, involves two components: first, "building up and protecting friendly information; and degrading information received by your adversary". Seen in this context, embedding journalists in Iraq was a clear means of building up "friendly" information. An MoD-commissioned commercial analysis of the print output produced by embeds shows that 90% of their reporting was either "positive or neutral".
The second component is "the ability to deny, degrade, destroy and/or effectively blind enemy capabilities". "Unfriendly" information must be targeted. This is perhaps best illustrated by the attack on al-Jazeera's office in Kabul in 2001, which the Pentagon justified by claiming al-Qaida activity in the al-Jazeera office. As it turned out, this referred to broadcast interviews with Taliban officials. The various attacks on al-Jazeera in Kabul, Basra and Baghdad should also be seen in this context.
The evidence is that targeting of independent media and critics of the US is widening. The Pentagon is reportedly coordinating an "information operations road map", drafted by the Information Operations Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. According to Captain Gerald Mauer, the road map notes that information operations would be directed against an "adversary".
But when the paper got to the office of the undersecretary of defence for policy, it was changed to say that information operations would attempt to "disrupt, corrupt or usurp" adversarial decision-making. "In other words," notes retired US army colonel Sam Gardiner, "we will even go after friends if they are against what we are doing or want to do."
In the UK, according to Major Nigel Smith of the 15 Psychological Operations Group, staffing is to be expanded and strategic information operations "will take on a new importance" as a result of Iraq. Targeting unfriendly information is central to the post-conflict phase of reconstruction too. The collapse of distinctions between independent news media and psychological operations is striking.
The new TV service for Iraq was paid for by the Pentagon. In keeping with the philosophy of information dominance it was supplied, not by an independent news organisation, but by a defence contractor, Scientific Applications International Corporation (Saic). Its expertise in the area - according to its website - is in "information operations" and "information dominance".
The Saic effort ran into trouble. The Iraqi exile journalists it employed for the Iraq Media Network (at a cost $20m over three months) were too independent for the Coalition Provisional Authority. Within weeks, occupying authority chief Paul Bremer introduced controls on the IMN. He also closed down some Iraqi-run newspapers and radio and TV stations. According to Index on Censorship, IMN managers were told to drop the readings from the Koran, the vox-pops (usually critical of the US invasion) and even to run their content past the wife of a US- friendly Iraqi Kurdish leader for a pre-broadcast check. The station rejected the demands.
But this did not stop Bremer, and further incidents culminated in a nine-point list of "prohibited activity" issued in June 2003. Bremer would reserve the power to advise the IMN on any aspect of its performance, including matters of content and the power to hire and fire staff. Thus, as Index on Censorship notes: "The man in absolute authority over the country's largest, richest and best-equipped media network is also his own regulator and regulator of his rivals, with recourse to the US Army to enforce his rulings."
Attacks on al-Jazeera continue. In September 2003 the Iraq governing council voted to ban reports from al-Jazeera and al- Arabiya on the grounds that they incite violence. As evidence of this, one member of the Iraqi National Congress who voted for the ban, noted that the TV stations describe the opposition to the occupation as the resistance. "They're not the resistance, they are thugs and criminals," he said.
But the Iraqi people appear not to share this view of al-Jazeera. Those with satellite access to al-Jazeera and al-Arabiya are more likely to trust them over IMN. As the experience of IMN shows, achieving dominance is not always a straightforward matter. This is precisely why the strategy for "unfriendly information" is to "deny, degrade and destroy".
· David Miller is editor of Tell Me Lies: Propaganda and Media Distortion in the Attack on Iraq
By Jim Wagner <email@example.com>
January 16, 2004
While our grandparents and parents had to deal with world wars fought on land, sea and air, future generations are going to have to worry about the threat of attack on a new level: cyberspace.
A study released Tuesday by Gartner Research predicts voice over IP and other converging network technologies make the possibility of a national-level cyberwar possible by 2009.
In the next couple years, the U.S. and other countries will likely have the capability to wage cyberwar, the Gartner report states, while "brute force," or distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, on VoIP systems could become commonplace by 2007.
The research points to the telecommunications industry's movement away from a circuit-switched telephone network to the more efficient packet-switching The migration opens critical communication services to Internet-like attacks.
VoIP is the most vulnerable, the report indicates, as the inherent latency found in the communication medium makes it an easy target for an enemy to launch a DDoS attack.
"Just like standard IP networking equipment, VoIP-specific equipment is susceptible to traditional IP threats such as worms, viruses and unauthorized system access," the report stated.
Signaling System 7 the circuit-switched technology used to route telephone calls today, is pulling double duty on many of today's telephone networks. Not only is it handling the day-to-day copper-wire telephone traffic but also being tapped more often by IP networks passing off data information between telephone providers.
Technologies like SS7, LAN/WAN telephony and the data switches used by the telephone companies will find itself the target of many of these communications-based attacks.
First a fad, VoIP as a viable communications alternative is gaining serious clout in the U.S. Telephone carriers AT&T, Qwest, SBC, Chart and Verizon, Chart have rollouts planned for this year, to stay in reach of startup Vonage's network.
Government oversight in the technology is minimal, with FCC Chairman Michael Powell taking a hands-off approach and putting discussion of the technology in working groups. A bill introduced Tuesday by U.S.
Sen. John Sununu looks to keep VoIP out of federal and state regulations altogether.
"VoIP providers should be free from state regulation, free from the complexity of FCC regulations, free to develop new solutions to address social needs, and free to amaze consumers," Sununu said recently.
While certain segments of the U.S. government are seeking unfettered VoIP deployments, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has been looking at the vulnerabilities the technology brings to critical communications services.
The National Infrastructure Protection Center (NIPC) published "Risk Management: An Essential Guide To Protecting Critical Assets," in November, 2002, mainly as a guideline for land-based threats to communications facilities in the U.S. However, it included the Internet as a source of critical information services.
"Any organization that connects critical networks to the Internet must be aware of events in the larger environment," the report stated. "When short-term periods of intense politically-motivated protests take place, the infrastructure community can expect that it may be attacked, physically or via cyber means, regardless of the individual organization's involvement in the event being protested."
The NIPC reports private sector companies should focus on risk management, not just risk avoidance. It suggests fives steps every company should take: asset, threat, vulnerability and risk assessments as well as identification of countermeasure options.
The Gartner report stated preparation for a cyberwarfare attack should be proportional to the perceived risk. The tools are out there, the report said, to protect the network.
"Most security technology, when used in conjunction with 'best practices,' is appropriate to the proportional risk presented by the threat of cyberwarfare.
By JAY PRICE
Raleigh News & Observer http://newsobserver.com/
July 02, 2003
FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Except for the woodland-camouflage dress code and a discreet lack of windows, the new building - with its state-of-the-art digital television and radio production rooms, studios and printing presses - could easily belong to a sophisticated marketing firm.
In a way it does. But the "firm" is the U.S. Army's 4th Psychological Operations Group, and its "products" are whatever messages the Defense Department wants to sell.
The group held an open house Monday to show off its new $8.1 million Special Operations Forces Media Operations Complex. It was a rare look inside the Pentagon's central production facility for "psyops" products such as fliers, posters and television and radio segments aimed at the hearts and minds of, well, those the military wants to persuade.
Since 9/11, those have included civilians and enemy troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. More than 150 million fliers, all of them produced at Fort Bragg and many of them printed there, have been spread over those countries, said Col. James Treadwell, the 4th POG's commander. About 16,000 hours of radio messages produced by the group were transmitted to Afghan listeners and another 4,000 hours to Iraqis, he said.
The psychological-operations campaign in Iraq reportedly cost tens of millions of dollars and has been called the biggest in history. It centered on Arabic-language leaflets and radio and television scripts designed by the 4th POG to encourage mass surrenders and erode support for Saddam Hussein.
Psyops troops are still in Iraq, but their efforts have shifted to calming and winning over civilians.
Like a marketing company, psyops soldiers often perform marketing studies before designing products. They also conduct detailed analyses of results. Army officials say it still may be a few months before the official report on the Iraq effort is complete. Civilian experts say the campaign probably had mixed results, but still likely saved thousands of lives on both sides by taking some of the fight out of the Iraqis.
Psyops has been busy lately, and not just in Iraq and Afghanistan: The staff of the media complex is supporting nearly 900 psyops troops spread across 13 countries, Treadwell said.
Until now, the psyops troops had to make do with facilities scattered around the base in several buildings, many of them predating the Vietnam War. The Pentagon's willingness to invest in the new media complex is a sign of its growing confidence in the value of psyops, he said.
"This facility marks past success and emphasizes our potential for future contributions," Treadwell said.
Lots of future contributions: The four new presses can churn out 1 million leaflets in a single day. The new, fully digital presses and audio and video equipment could cut the amount of time it takes to produce a given product by 20 percent or more.
Paul Bremer has ordered his legal department in Baghdad to draw up rules for press censorship. A joke, I concluded, when one of the newly styled Coalition Provisional Authority officials tipped me off last week. But no, it really is true. Two months after "liberating" Iraq, the Anglo- American authorities and their boss Paul Bremer - whose habit of wearing combat boots with a black suit continues to amaze his colleagues - have decided to control the new and free Iraqi press.
Newspapers that publish "wild stories", material deemed provocative or capable of inciting ethnic violence, will be threatened or shut down. It's for the good of the Iraqi people, you understand. A controlled press is a responsible press - which is exactly what Saddam Hussein used to say about the trashy newspapers his regime produced. It must seem all too familiar to the people of Baghdad.
Now let's be fair. Many stories in the emerging newspapers of Baghdad are untrue. There is no tradition of checking reports, of giving opponents the opportunity to be heard. There are constant articles about the behaviour of American troops. One paper has claimed that US soldiers distributed postcards of naked women to schoolgirls - they even published the pictures, with Japanese script on the cards. Even the most cynical Westerner can see how this kind of lie can stir up sentiment against Iraq's new foreign occupiers.
"The people of Iraq have fallen," Waleed Rabia, a 19-year-old student, wrote in the new paper Al- Mujaha. "Invaders are in our country. The wild animals of this jungle called a world are trying to rip us apart. We've been through hard times under the old regime, but we were better then than we are now ... Look at those girls who are having sex with the Americans in their tanks, or in the bathrooms of the Palestine Hotel ... What about those Muslim girls marrying Christian foreigners? No one can accept this as a true Muslim or true Iraqi."
It isn't difficult to understand the fury that this kind of article might arouse - and the idea that the Anglo-American presence is as awful as Saddam's torturers betrays a truly eccentric mind - though it would help if certain Iraqi police officers were not admitting that they were arranging "dates" for US troops.
What the Iraqis need, of course, is journalistic help rather than censorship, courses in reporting - by experienced journalists from real democracies (rather than the version Mr Bremer seems set on creating) - rather than a colonial-style suppression of free speech.
But we're now hearing that imams in the mosques may be censored if they provoke unrest - this would obviously include the imam of the Rashid Street mosque in Baghdad, outside of which I heard him preaching last week. The Americans must leave, he said. Immediately. Subversive stuff. Definitely likely to provoke violence. So goodbye in due course, I suppose to the Rashid Street imam. And of course, we all know how the first pro-American Iraqi government of "New Iraq" will treat the laws. It will enthusiastically adopt the Western censorship law, just as former colonies almost always take over the repressive legislation of their former imperial masters.
I can obviously see the kind of stories that must be, at the least, discouraged. Take last week's extraordinary UN announcement - mercifully ignored in most of the Western press - that Afghanistan is once more the world's Number One producer of opium. The hateful Taliban banned all poppy production under their vicious rule, cutting off the Northern Alliance warlords from their narcotics production. But since America's "success" in routing the Taliban, the drug barons - the very same Northern Alliance lads who were US allies in the "war on terror" - have gone back into business.
Not one American official dares to comment on this shameful fact. Quite a memorial to the thousands who died in the international crimes against humanity of 11 September 2001. As for the Iraqis, what lessons are they to draw? If the Americans can let the narco-terrorists rule again in Afghanistan, why should they be more moral in Baghdad where drugs are reappearing for sale on the streets, courtesy - you guessed it - of the Afghan drugs trade. So censor the story.
Then we have the German UN arms inspector Peter Franck telling Der Spiegel magazine that Colin Powell's evidence of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, which he presented to the UN Security Council in February, was merely "a big bluff". The former UN inspector Scott Ritter - who all along told audiences before the war that Saddam had no WMD - appears to have been telling the truth. Saddam, he says, "couldn't have destroyed weapons of mass destruction without leaving traces". So much for Donald Rumsfeld's cheerful suggestion that the Iraqi dictator had got rid of his nasties just before the Americans and British staged their illegal invasion. "Britain and the United States should admit they lied," Ritter now suggests. Censor the story.
Out at Baghdad airport, the Americans are now holding 3,000 prisoners without any intention of putting them on trial or charging them with offences. Where is Tariq Aziz, the former deputy prime minister? The Americans say they have him. But we don't know where. What's he being asked? About Saddam's weapons of mass destruction? Or - my own guess - how much he knows about America's close relations with Saddam after 1978? In fact, Aziz knows far too much about that shameful alliance; after all, he met Donald Rumsfeld several times. One thing's for sure. There'll be no trial for Tariq Aziz. Keeping him silent will be the first priority. But that's not something the Iraqis should learn about. Censor the story.
While we're still on the subject of Baghdad airport, it's important to note that American forces at the facility are now coming under attack every night - I repeat, every night - from small arms fire. So are American military planes flying into the airbase. Some US aircrews have now adopted the old Vietnam tactic of corkscrewing tightly down on to the runways instead of risking sniper fire during a conventional final approach. The source is impeccable (it's within the Third Infantry Division, if the int. boys want to know). But what will that tell the Iraqis? That the Americans cannot keep order? That a resistance movement is well under way? Censor the story.
And what to print? Well, there's the charnel house of mass graves being discovered every day, the visits to the Saddamite torture rooms, the continued and uproarious memoirs of the man who claims to have been Saddam's double - anything, in fact, which will remind the people of how awful Saddam truly was and take their mind off what is really being done to their country. Bremer is trying to quick-fix his new "consultative" council of wise Iraqis prior to the famous democratic election which has been briefly postponed. And meanwhile he's fired a quarter of a million Iraqi soldiers from their jobs - ready, no doubt, to join the nascent resistance movement. Yes, it truly is time for press censorship in Iraq.
(Robert Fisk, The Independant, 11 June 2003)
By Robert Fisk
Samia, a brave and honest woman, was almost destroyed as a human being by that American tank crew 26 April 2003
What is a journalists life worth? I ask this question for a number of reasons, some of them frankly quite revolting. Two days ago, I went to visit one of my colleagues wounded in the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. Samia Nakhoul is a Reuters correspondent, a young woman reporter who is married to another colleague, the Financial Times correspondent in Beirut. Part of an American tank shell was embedded in her brain a millimetre difference in entry point and she would have been half paralysed after an M1A1 Abrams tank fired a round at the Reuters office in Baghdad, in the Palestine Hotel, last week.
Samia, a brave and honourable lady who has reported the cruelty of the Lebanese civil war at first hand for many years, was almost destroyed as a human being by that tank crew.
At the time, General Buford Blount of the 3rd Infantry Division, told a lie: he said that sniper fire had been directed at the tank on the Joumhouriyah Bridge over the Tigris river and that the fire had ended after the tank had fired at the Palestine Hotel. I was between the tank and the hotel when the shell was fired. There was no sniper fire nor any rocket-propelled grenade fire, as the American officer claimed at the time. French television footage of the tank, running for minutes before the attack, shows the same thing. The soundtrack until the blinding, repulsive golden flash from the tank barrel is silent.
Samia Nakhoul wasnt the only one to be hit. Her Ukrainian cameraman, father of a small child, was killed. So was a Spanish cameraman on the floor above. And then yesterday I had to read, in the New York Times, that Colin Powell had justified the murder yes, murder of these two journalists. This former four-star general Im talking about Mr Powell, not the liar who runs the 3rd Infantry Division actually said, and I quote: According to a US military review of the incident, our forces responded to hostile fire appearing to come from a location later identified as the Palestine Hotel... Our review of the April 8th incident indicates that the use of force was justified.
But it gets worse. A few hours before I visited Samia, I was in Beirut with Mohamed Jassem al-Ali, the managing director of the Qatar-based Arab al-Jazeera channel. On that same day 8 April that the American tank fired at the Reuters office in Baghdad, an American aircraft fired a missile at the al-Jazeera office in Baghdad. Mr al-Ali has given me a copy of his letter to Victoria Clarke, the US Assistant Secretary of State of Defence for Public Affairs in Washington, sent on 24 February this year. In the letter, he gives the address and the map coordinates of the stations office in Baghdad Lat: 33.19/29.08, Lon 44.24/03.63 adding that civilian journalists would be working in the building.
The Americans were outraged at al-Jazeeras coverage of the civilian victims of US bombing raids. And on 8 April, less than three hours before the Reuters office was attacked, an American aircraft fired a single missile at the al-Jazeera office at those precise map coordinates Mr al-Ali had sent to Ms Clarke and killed the stations reporter Tareq Ayoub. We find these events, Mr al-Ali wrote in his slightly inaccurate English, unjustifiable, unacceptable, arousing all forms of anger and rejection and most of all need an explanation.
And what did he get? Victoria Clarke wrote a letter that was as inappropriate as it was economical with the truth. She offered her condolences to the family and colleagues of Mr Ayoub and then went on to write a preachy note to al-Jazeera. Being close to the action means being close to danger, she wrote. ...we have gone to extraordinary [sic] lengths in Iraq to avoid civilian casualties. Unfortunately, even our best efforts will not prevent some innocents from getting caught in the crossfire [sic]... Sometimes this results in tragedy. War by its very nature is tragic and sad...
Pardon me? Al-Jazeera asks why its office was targeted and Ms Clarke tells the dead mans employer that war is sad? I dont believe this. General Blount lied about his tank crew on the Tigris river. General Powell went along with this lie. And now Ms Clarke who clearly was told to write what she wrote since her letter is so trite does not even attempt to explain why an American jet killed Al Jazeeras reporter (just like an American missile was fired at Al Jazeeras office in Kabul in 2001).
A Ukrainian, a Spaniard, an Arab. They all died within hours of each other. I suspect they were killed because the US someone in the Pentagon though not, Im sure, Ms Clarke decided to try to close down the press. Of course, American journalists are not investigating this. They should because they will be next.
As for Mohamed al-Ali, he has the painful experience of knowing that he gave the Pentagon the map coordinates to kill his own reporter. Who was the pilot of the American jet that fired that missile at al-Jazeera? Why did he fire? What were the coordinates? Who was the American tank officer who blasted a piece of metal into Samias brain? A day after he fired, I climbed on his tank and asked the soldier on top if he was responsible. I dont know anything about that, sir, he replied. And I believe him. Like I believe in Father Christmas and fairies at the bottom of my garden. Independent
Apr 15 2003 12:34:57:700PM
The producer of a US TV series about Hitler has been fired for comparing the climate of fear that led to the rise of Nazism to the current situation in the United States.
Los Angeles - The producer of an American television series about Hitler has been fired for comparing the climate of fear that led to the rise of Nazism to the current situation in the United States.
According to Monday's Los Angeles Times, Ed Gernon, the executive producer of Hitler: The Rise of Evil, was fired by a Canadian production company at the behest of the CBS network after his controversial comments appeared in TV Guide magazine last week.
Scheduled to air next month, the drama stars Robert Carlyle as Hitler and examines the conditions that led to the rise of the notorious dictator.
Gernon stated his belief that fear fuelled both the Bush administration's adoption of a pre-emptive-strike policy and the public's acceptance of it.
"It basically boils down to an entire nation gripped by fear who ultimately chose to give up their civil rights and plunged the whole nation into war," Gernon told TV Guide.
"I can't think of a better time to examine this history than now. When an entire country becomes afraid for their sovereignty, for their safety, they will embrace ideas and strategies and positions that they might not embrace otherwise."
Fearing controversy over the project, which is the first American docu-drama to try to explain the rise of Hitler, CBS issued a strong condemnation of Gernon's comments.
His "personal opinions are not shared by CBS and misrepresent the network's motivation for broadcasting this film", the network said.
"It is very important that viewers understand that these views are not reflected in the tone or the content of the miniseries, which recounts the rise of Hitler to power and portrays him as the ruthless, maniacal force he was." - Sapa-DPA
09 April 2003 - Independent
First the Americans killed the correspondent of al-Jazeera yesterday and wounded his cameraman. Then, within four hours, they attacked the Reuters television bureau in Baghdad, killing one of its cameramen and a cameraman for Spain's Tele 5 channel and wounding four other members of the Reuters staff.
Was it possible to believe this was an accident? Or was it possible that the right word for these killings the first with a jet aircraft, the second with an M1A1 Abrams tank was murder? These were not, of course, the first journalists to die in the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq. Terry Lloyd of ITV was shot dead by American troops in southern Iraq, who apparently mistook his car for an Iraqi vehicle. His crew are still missing. Michael Kelly of The Washington Post tragically drowned in a canal. Two journalists have died in Kurdistan. Two journalists a German and a Spaniard were killed on Monday night at a US base in Baghdad, with two Americans, when an Iraqi missile exploded amid them.
And we should not forget the Iraqi civilians who are being killed and maimed by the hundred and who unlike their journalist guests cannot leave the war and fly home. So the facts of yesterday should speak for themselves. Unfortunately for the Americans, they make it look very like murder.
The US jet turned to rocket al-Jazeera's office on the banks of the Tigris at 7.45am local time yesterday. The television station's chief correspondent in Baghdad, Tariq Ayoub, a Jordanian-Palestinian, was on the roof with his second cameraman, an Iraqi called Zuheir, reporting a pitched battle near the bureau between American and Iraqi troops. Mr Ayoub's colleague Maher Abdullah recalled afterwards that both men saw the plane fire the rocket as it swooped toward their building, which is close to the Jumhuriya Bridge upon which two American tanks had just appeared.
"On the screen, there was this battle and we could see bullets flying and then we heard the aircraft," Mr Abdullah said.
"The plane was flying so low that those of us downstairs thought it would land on the roof that's how close it was. We actually heard the rocket being launched. It was a direct hit the missile actually exploded against our electrical generator. Tariq died almost at once. Zuheir was injured."
Now for America's problems in explaining this little saga. Back in 2001, the United States fired a cruise missile at al-Jazeera's office in Kabul from which tapes of Osama bin Laden had been broadcast around the world. No explanation was ever given for this extraordinary attack on the night before the city's "liberation"; the Kabul correspondent, Taiseer Alouni, was unhurt. By the strange coincidence of journalism, Mr Alouni was in the Baghdad office yesterday to endure the USAF's second attack on al-Jazeera.
Far more disturbing, however, is the fact that the al-Jazeera network the freest Arab television station, which has incurred the fury of both the Americans and the Iraqi authorities for its live coverage of the war gave the Pentagon the co-ordinates of its Baghdad office two months ago and received assurances that the bureau would not be attacked.
Then on Monday, the US State Department's spokesman in Doha, an Arab-American called Nabil Khouri, visited al-Jazeera's offices in the city and, according to a source within the Qatari satellite channel, repeated the Pentagon's assurances. Within 24 hours, the Americans had fired their missile into the Baghdad office.
The next assault, on Reuters, came just before midday when an Abrams tank on the Jamhuriya Bridge suddenly pointed its gun barrel towards the Palestine Hotel where more than 200 foreign journalists are staying to cover the war from the Iraqi side. Sky Television's David Chater noticed the barrel moving. The French television channel France 3 had a crew in a neighbouring room and videotaped the tank on the bridge. The tape shows a bubble of fire emerging from the barrel, the sound of a detonation and then pieces of paintwork falling past the camera as it vibrates with the impact.
In the Reuters bureau on the 15th floor, the shell exploded amid the staff. It mortally wounded a Ukrainian cameraman, Taras Protsyuk, who was also filming the tanks, and seriously wounded another member of the staff, Paul Pasquale from Britain, and two other journalists, including Reuters' Lebanese-Palestinian reporter Samia Nakhoul. On the next floor, Tele 5's cameraman Jose Couso was badly hurt. Mr Protsyuk died shortly afterwards. His camera and its tripod were left in the office, which was swamped with the crew's blood. Mr Couso had a leg amputated but he died half an hour after the operation.
The Americans responded with what all the evidence proves to be a straightforward lie. General Buford Blount of the US 3rd Infantry Division whose tanks were on the bridge announced that his vehicles had come under rocket and rifle fire from snipers in the Palestine Hotel, that his tank had fired a single round at the hotel and that the gunfire had then ceased. The general's statement, however, was untrue.
I was driving on a road between the tanks and the hotel at the moment the shell was fired and heard no shooting. The French videotape of the attack runs for more than four minutes and records absolute silence before the tank's armament is fired. And there were no snipers in the building. Indeed, the dozens of journalists and crews living there myself included have watched like hawks to make sure that no armed men should ever use the hotel as an assault point.
This is, one should add, the same General Blount who boasted just over a month ago that his crews would be using depleted uranium munitions the kind many believe to be responsible for an explosion of cancers after the 1991 Gulf War in their tanks. For General Blount to suggest, as he clearly does, that the Reuters camera crew was in some way involved in shooting at Americans merely turns a meretricious statement into a libellous one.
Again, we should remember that three dead and five wounded journalists do not constitute a massacre let alone the equivalence of the hundreds of civilians being maimed by the invasion force. And it is a truth that needs to be remembered that the Iraqi regime has killed a few journalists of its own over the years, with tens of thousands of its own people. But something very dangerous appeared to be getting loose yesterday. General Blount's explanation was the kind employed by the Israelis after they have killed the innocent. Is there therefore some message that we reporters are supposed to learn from all this? Is there some element in the American military that has come to hate the press and wants to take out journalists based in Baghdad, to hurt those whom our Home Secretary, David Blunkett, has maliciously claimed to be working "behind enemy lines". Could it be that this claim that international correspondents are in effect collaborating with Mr Blunkett's enemy (most Britons having never supported this war in the first place) is turning into some kind of a death sentence?
I knew Mr Ayoub. I have broadcast during the war from the rooftop on which he died. I told him then how easy a target his Baghdad office would make if the Americans wanted to destroy its coverage seen across the Arab world of civilian victims of the bombing. Mr Protsyuk of Reuters often shared the Palestine Hotel's elevator with me. Samia Nakhoul, who is 42, has been a friend and colleague since the 1975-90 Lebanese civil war. She is married to the Financial Times correspondent David Gardner.
Yesterday afternoon, she lay covered in blood in a Baghdad hospital. And General Blount dared to imply that this innocent woman and her brave colleagues were snipers. What, I wonder, does this tell us about the war in Iraq?
'The American forces knew exactly what this hotel is'
The Sky News correspondent David Chater was in the Palestine Hotel when the hotel was hit by American tank fire. This is his account of what happened.
"I was about to go out on to the balcony when there was a huge explosion, then shouts and screams from people along our corridor. They were shouting, 'Somebody's been hit. Can somebody find a doctor?' They were saying they could see blood and bone.
"There were a lot of French journalists screaming, 'Get a doctor, get a doctor'. There was a great sense of panic because these walls are very thin. "We saw the tanks up on the bridge. They started firing across the bank. The shells were landing either side of us at what we thought were military targets. Then we were hit. We are in the middle of a tank battle.
"I don't understand why they were doing that. There was no fire coming out of this hotel everyone knows it's full of journalists.
"Everybody is putting on flak jackets. Everybody is running for cover. We now feel extremely vulnerable and we are now going to say goodbye to you." The line was cut but minutes later Chater resumed his report, saying journalists had been watching American forces from their balconies and the troops had surely been aware of their presence.
"They knew exactly what this hotel is. They know the press corps is here. I don't know why they are trying to target journalists. There are awful scenes around me. There's a Reuters tent just a few yards away from me where people are in tears. It makes you realise how vulnerable you are. What are we supposed to do? How are we supposed to carry on if American shells are targeting Western journalists?"
27 Mar 2003
The Pentagon has threatened to fire on the satellite uplink positions of independent journalists in Iraq, according to veteran BBC war correspondent Kate Adie.
"I was told by a senior officer in the Pentagon," she said, "that if uplinks - that is the television signals out of... Bhagdad, for example - were detected by any planes ... above Bhagdad... they'd be fired down on. Even if they were journalists," she told The Sunday Show on Irish public radio network RTE. She said the source responded to her concern with "Who cares... They've been warned."
Recall for context that when the Al-Jazeera studio in Kabul was bombed it was suggested that the weapons had simply homed in on radio signals without caring who was transmitting. More follows as soon as we have it...
All across the Middle East, they are deploying by the thousand. In the deserts of Kuwait, in Amman, in northern Iraq, in Turkey, in Israel and in Baghdad itself. There must be 7,000 journalists and crews "in theatre", as the more jingoistic of them like to say. In Qatar, a massive press centre has been erected for journalists who will not see the war. How many times General Tommy Franks will spin his story to the press at the nine o'clock follies, no one knows. He doesn't even like talking to journalists.
But the journalistic resources being laid down in the region are enormous. The BBC alone has 35 reporters in the Middle East, 17 of them "embedded" along with hundreds of reporters from the American networks and other channels in military units. Once the invasion starts, they will lose their freedom to write what they want. There will be censorship. And, I'll hazard a guess right now, we shall see many of the British and American journalists back to their old trick of playing toy soldiers, dressing themselves up in military costumes for their nightly theatrical performances on television. Incredibly, several of the American networks have set up shop in the Kurdish north of Iraq with orders not to file a single story until war begins in case this provokes the Iraqis to expel their network reporters from Baghdad.
The orchestration will be everything, the pictures often posed, the angles chosen by "minders", much as the Iraqis will try to do the same thing in Baghdad. Take yesterday's front-page pictures of massed British troops in Kuwait, complete with arranged tanks and perfectly formatted helicopters. This was the perfectly planned photo-op. Of course, it won't last.
Here's a few guesses about our coverage of the war to come. American and British forces use thousands of depleted uranium (DU) shells widely regarded by 1991 veterans as the cause of Gulf War syndrome as well as thousands of child cancers in present day Iraq to batter their way across the Kuwaiti-Iraqi frontier. Within hours, they will enter the city of Basra, to be greeted by its Shia Muslim inhabitants as liberators. US and British troops will be given roses and pelted with rice a traditional Arab greeting as they drive "victoriously" through the streets. The first news pictures of the war will warm the hearts of Messrs Bush and Blair. There will be virtually no mention by reporters of the use of DU munitions.
But in Baghdad, reporters will be covering the bombing raids that are killing civilians by the score and then by the hundred. These journalists, as usual, will be accused of giving "comfort to the enemy while British troops are fighting for their lives". By now, in Basra and other "liberated" cities south of the capital, Iraqis are taking their fearful revenge on Saddam Hussein's Baath party officials. Men are hanged from lamp-posts. Much television footage of these scenes will have to be cut to sanitise the extent of the violence.
Far better for the US and British governments will be the macabre discovery of torture chambers and "rape-rooms" and prisoners with personal accounts of the most terrible suffering at the hands of Saddam's secret police. This will "prove" how right "we" are to liberate these poor people. Then the US will have to find the "weapons of mass destruction" that supposedly provoked this bloody war. In the journalistic hunt for these weapons, any old rocket will do for the moment.
Bunkers allegedly containing chemical weapons will be cordoned off too dangerous for any journalist to approach, of course. Perhaps they actually do contain VX or anthrax. But for the moment, the all-important thing for Washington and London is to convince the world that the casus belli was true and reporters, in or out of military costume, will be on hand to say just that.
Baghdad is surrounded and its defenders ordered to surrender. There will be fighting between Shias and Sunnis around the slums of the city, the beginning of a ferocious civil conflict for which the invading armies are totally unprepared. US forces will sweep past Baghdad to his home city of Tikrit in their hunt for Saddam Hussein. Bush and Blair will appear on television to speak of their great "victories". But as they are boasting, the real story will begin to be told: the break-up of Iraqi society, the return of thousands of Basra refugees from Iran, many of them with guns, all refusing to live under western occupation.
In the north, Kurdish guerrillas will try to enter Kirkuk, where they will kill or "ethnically cleanse" many of the city's Arab inhabitants. Across Iraq, the invading armies will witness terrible scenes of revenge which can no longer be kept off television screens. The collapse of the Iraqi nation is now under way ...
Of course, the Americans and British just might get into Baghdad in three days for their roses and rice water. That's what the British did in 1917. And from there, it was all downhill.
'Inevitable revenge' for the executions of Saddam's Baath party officials which no one actually said were inevitable.
'Stubborn' or 'suicidal' to be used when Iraqi forces fight rather than retreat.
'Allegedly' for all carnage caused by Western forces.
'At last, the damning evidence' used when reporters enter old torture chambers.
'Officials here are not giving us much access' a clear sign that reporters in Baghdad are confined to their hotels.
'Life goes on' for any pictures of Iraq's poor making tea.
'Remnants' allegedly 'diehard' Iraqi troops still shooting at the Americans but actually the first signs of a resistance movement dedicated to the 'liberation' of Iraq from its new western occupiers.
'Newly liberated' for territory and cities newly occupied by the Americans or British.
'What went wrong?' to accompany pictures illustrating the growing anarchy in Iraq as if it were not predicted.
By John Lettice Posted: 13/03/2003 at 17:10 GMT
Should war in the Gulf commence, the Pentagon proposes to take radical new steps in media relations - 'unauthorised' journalists will be shot at. Speaking on The Sunday Show on Ireland's RTE1 last Sunday veteran war reporter Kate Adie said she had been warned by a senior Pentagon official that uplinks, i.e. TV broadcasts or satellite phones, that are detected by US aircraft are likely to be fired on.
Bush pere's Iraq war featured tight control of the media, but the current administration intends to go rather further. According to Adie (who, overseas readers should be aware, is effectively a saint in the UK), the Pentagon is vetting journalists who propose to cover the war, and is taking control of their comms equipment. This presumably will ease the logistics of managing the hacks quite considerably, because if the US has control of all the gear, then any gear it doesn't know about that starts broadcasting is presumably a target.
According to Adie the official told her: "There is a 'no' list... they have been warned." We presume that US forces will not be specifically trying to kill journalists - that escalation sounds more like the next war to us. But by warning of the dangers, the US is providing further discouragement for the few journalists who'll attempt to report from behind Iraqi lines, or to 'freelance' outside the control of the US authorities. And should they get one or two while taking out unidentified communications systems, well, they've covered themselves. They should however bear in mind that should Saint Adie be in the slightest bit damaged, no force on earth will be strong enough to save Tony Blair from the British public.
Adie's remarks came as part of a discussion of war reporting and media freedom which also involved author Phillip Knightley, New York Times war correspondent Chris Hedges and former Irish Times editor Connor Brady. The whole discussion is well worth listening to, and we particularly liked Hedges' put-down of CNN: "CNN survives from war to war; as soon as the war starts they become part of the problem."
By CONNIE CASS Associated Press Writer
March 10, 2003, 2:52 PM EST
WASHINGTON -- A Cold War-era office with a shadowy name and a colorful history of exposing Soviet deceptions is back in business, this time watching Iraq.
The Counter-Disinformation/Misinformation Team's moniker is more impressive than its budget. It's a crew of two toiling in anonymity at the State Department, writing reports they are prohibited by law from disseminating to the U.S. public.
The operation has challenged some fantastic claims over the years -- a U.S. military lab invented AIDS, rich Americans kidnapped foreign babies for their organs, the CIA plotted to kill Pope John Paul II.
Since the office reopened in October, it's been responding to Iraqi claims about America, which tend to be more plausible and sometimes remain in dispute.
In coordination with the CIA, FBI and others, the team helps U.S. embassies identify and rebut other nations' disinformation, most often fabrications about the United States planted in foreign newspapers or television shows and, these days, on the Internet.
It's part of a broader Bush administration project to shore up America's reputation when sentiment against a possible war with Iraq is running high overseas.
It's not the stuff of James Bond movies, but disinformation has long been a tool of the world's secret operatives, including America's.
Reports that a new Office of Strategic Influence might dabble in disinformation caused such an uproar this year that Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld ordered it closed, insisting the Pentagon doesn't spread lies.
Even so, in Afghanistan last year, the U.S. military dropped leaflets with a doctored photograph showing Osama bin Laden beardless in a Western-style suit. And some of the administration's claims about links between Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida have been stretched.
In these days of war preparation, the pressure to peddle the U.S. version of events is enormous, and civil libertarians question how far the government should go.
"When you're fighting an enemy not constrained by social norms or morals, do you get down in the gutter or do you stick to certain rules of behavior?" asked Christopher Preble, director of foreign policy studies at the libertarian Cato Institute. "It's important to question where do we draw the line."
Tucker Eskew, White House global communications chief, says the administration can't concern itself with shooting down every lie about America.
"Yet we do have to more aggressively promote the truth about our foreign policy and about our society in the face of distortion," he said.
Eskew said the team helped write a report issued by the White House in January, "Apparatus of Lies: Saddam's Disinformation and Propaganda."
"The regime uses a combination of on-the-record lies, covert placements of false news accounts, self-inflicted damage and fake interviews," the report says.
The report recalls that, during the Persian Gulf War, Iraqis showed reporters a bombed-out factory with a hand-lettered sign that read "Baby Milk Plant" in English and Arabic. The White House says the factory had been converted to a biological weapons laboratory. Disagreement lingers to this day.
Dennis Kux, who coordinated counterdisinformation for the Reagan administration, said ignoring false stories is risky.
"It's like drops of water falling over a stone," Kux said. "In one year, five years, 10 years, you've worn a hole in the stone -- in this case, the U.S. reputation."
A decade after the Soviet Union's collapse, the KGB is remembered as a disinformation virtuoso, especially creative in faking documents.
"We saw forgeries signed Ronald Reagan, Jerry Ford, Jimmy Carter," said Herbert Romerstein, who ran the original counterdisinformation office during most of the 1980s. Once, a phony memo appeared under Romerstein's own letterhead.
The KGB even faked letters from the Ku Klux Klan, threatening to kill African and Asian athletes at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles, Romerstein said. The Soviets were boycotting, in retaliation for America's boycott of the Moscow games, and hoped to scare other nations away.
In 1992, former Russian spymaster Yevgeny Primakov admitted the KGB made up the AIDS story. The "baby parts" tale was an urban legend exploited and spread by the Soviets, Romerstein said.
"One of the more bizarre stories the Soviets developed was called the `ethnic weapon,'" he recalled. "Supposedly the Americans were developing a bomb that would kill blacks and keep whites alive."
In 1996, State laid off the last man in the counterdisinformation office, Todd Leventhal. He was rehired in October; now he has a researcher and a part-time writer, too.
On the Net: White House "Apparatus of Lies": http://www.whitehouse.gov/ogc/apparatus/printer.html
State Department: http://www.state.gov
7th March 2003 - Morning Star
AS THE war moves closer, it is becoming harder and harder to believe a word of what we are told by the president, the Prime Minister or the media.
Perhaps the most obvious example is that, even at this late stage in the build-up of military forces, we are still assured by those who are actually planning the invasion of Iraq that "war is not inevitable" when the war has already begun as US and British bombers step up the bombing of Iraq's no-fly zones as part of military operations which they have long planned.
Bush and Blair have, in that sense, already answered the question that everyone asks - "Would you go to war without a UN resolution?" - by going to war without such a resolution, since those bombing missions have never been authorised by the United Nations.
Those who argue for peace in our dealings with Iraq are denounced as favouring appeasement, whereas, in Northern Ireland and in Palestine, Blair and Bush claim to be working for peace - even though Trimble, for the Ulster Unionists warns about appeasing the republicans and Sharon in Israel refuses to talk to Arafat on the grounds that it would involve appeasing Palestinian terrorists.
Or, to take further examples, Osama bin Laden, the world's most wanted man, was actually sent to Afghanistan by the United States as a terrorist to get the Soviet Union out and Nelson Mandela, one of the world's greatest freedom fighters, was once denounced as a terrorist by Margaret Thatcher.
President Bush promises democracy in Iraq when he has conquered it, speaking from the same White House which has backed every tinpot dictator in the world, including Marcos in the Philippines, Pinochet, who killed Chile's elected President Allende, Papa Doc in Haiti and Suharto in Indonesia, who was responsible for the slaughter of millions and for the invasion of East Timor.
We are also told that the war is to defend American values of justice and human rights, while, in Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, which the US occupies against the wishes of the Cuban government, hundreds of people, including some British citizens, have been held in prison and, for all we know, actually tortured by the US for over a year, without being tried, charged or even allowed to see lawyers.
The UN, which was set up to represent the peoples of the world, has now apparently been replaced by a new entity, "the international community," which consists only of Bush and Blair or "a coalition of the willing" if you include small states which may be bribed with billions of dollars into voting for the war.
And, if by any chance, a security council resolution calling for war is vetoed by a France, China or Russia, as provided for in the UN charter, the Prime Minister says that he would disregard it as "unreasonable," although the US has used the veto 70 times to protect Israel.
It makes you wonder whether, if the Prime Minister actually lost a vote of No confidence in Parliament, he might be inclined to disregard it on the grounds that it was unreasonable.
But the corruption of language by political leaders goes way back and involves replacing words that may not be popular with other words that are thought to be more acceptable to the public.
For example, we used to have a War Office, but now we have a Ministry of Defence, nuclear bombs are now described as deterrents, innocent civilians killed in war are now described as collateral damage and military incompetence leading to US bombers killing British soldiers is cosily described as friendly fire.
Those who are in favour of peace are described as mavericks and troublemakers, whereas the real militants are those who want the war.
It is certainly arguable that President Bush is a maverick president of a rogue state with weapons of mass destruction which the US has used to bomb 19 countries since 1945, costing many, many hundreds of thousands - possibly millions - of lives.
Such actions are justified on the grounds that they were peacekeeping operations.
When Israel sent troops into the Lebanon, it was described as an incursion, whereas, when Iraq sent troops to Kuwait, it was an invasion.
Next week, when Bush launches his quarter-million strong army into Iraq, it will be presented as the first step in building a new world order and those who oppose it, including the Pope, may well be criticised by Mr Blair for having "blood on their hands."
The president and the Prime Minister tell us every day that the time is running out for Saddam and that he has his last chance to disarm, but, when he actually begins to destroy his missiles, this important act of disarmament is dismissed as another cunning trick to mislead us and divide us.
When Labour MPs vote for peace, they are described as rebels who are defying their leader, but, if the Prime Minister goes to war without the authority of the UN or Parliament, the media will welcome it as providing proof that he cannot be swayed by the emotional response of the British people, as if war and the killing it involves is not a suitable subject for emotion.
People are beginning to realise that, every day, we are being systematically told blatant lies to keep us quiet so that the killing can begin - and our worldwide anti-war movement is not only for peace but also for truth, without which peace is not possible.
This is the moment when we all must stand up and be counted.
Jan 25, 2003 8:14 am US/Central
You cannot hear the explosions, but as CBS News Correspondent Wyatt Andrews reports, the United States has been bombing Iraq for months.
In a warehouse at Ft. Bragg, Col. David Baker and his psychological operations team have already printed, stuffed and dropped more than 3 million leaflets aimed at the minds of Iraqis.
One tells workers not to repair air defense systems and warns of the suffering to expect if they do.
They say the U.S. can hit a specific neighborhood from 50,000 feet.
"We can calculate exactly where the leaflets need to be dropped to fall and land on that target," says Baker.
Psy Op is the Iraq campaign being waged with no U.N. debate. The major theme is that Saddam is a tyrant. Artist Brett Karpowitz, who draws Saddam for the leaflets was ordered to portray him just right.
Flipping through some of his sketches of the Iraqi leader, Karpowitz showed us one depiction that was rejected.
"I drew him kind of chunky, and uh, he seemed too powerful," he says.
More than half of the leaflets dropped on Iraq so far are advertisements for a radio broadcast: Tune into these frequencies at night and the U.S Army presents, Radio Iraq.
The broadcasts, which are also made at Ft Bragg combine music with pointed political commentary.
Saddam, one broadcast says, "spends on himself in one day what it takes to feed your family for a year."
Former CIA officer Michael Vickers says the U.S. strategy is focused on Baghdad: 5 million people, including Army and civilian.
Vickers says the PsyOP campaign seeks, "To take away that last stand for Saddam - for soldiers to stay in their barracks, refuse orders, for civilians to stay in their apartments."
On Wednesday, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld announced a new program.
"Starting today the department of defense will be broadcasting the Pentagon weekly press briefing to the Iraqi people," Rumsfeld announced Tuesday.
Success in psychological war is measured by the shots not fired. Just as in the Gulf War, when Iraqis got airdropped instructions for how to surrender.
The intent once again is to save lives - both Iraqi and American.
Last week brought yet another terrifying headline from an American newspaper: "US suspects al-Qaida got nerve agent from Iraqis".
The 1,800-word story in the Washington Post last Thursday got off to a reasonably promising start by saying: "The Bush administration has received a credible report that Islamic extremists affiliated with al-Qaida took possession of a chemical weapon in Iraq last month or late in October, according to two officials with firsthand knowledge of the report and its source."
Less promisingly, the second paragraph begins: "If the report proves true ... " The remaining 28 paragraphs offer little to suggest that it actually is true, and several reasons for thinking it may not be. Paragraph six tells us: "Like most intelligence, the reported chemical weapon transfer is not backed by definitive evidence."
Paragraph eight says: "Even authorised spokesmen, with one exception, addressed the report on the condition of anonymity. They said the principal source on the chemical transfer was uncorroborated, and that indications it involved a nerve agent were open to interpretation."
In paragraph 12, we are told that the report may be connected to a warning message circulated to American forces overseas and an unnamed official is cited as saying that the message resulted only from an analyst's hypothetical concern.
As one would expect from the Washington Post, the story is carefully written and meticulously researched. But it's basically worthless.
The reporter had clearly spoken to a lot of different people but he failed - not for want of effort - to substantiate the claim that Iraq provided al-Qaida with nerve gas. Although some officials were happy to describe the claim as "credible", none appeared willing to stand up and say that they, personally, believed it.
The sensible course of action at that stage would have been to abandon the story, or at least file it away in the hope of more evidence coming to light. That might have happened with any other story, but in the case of Iraq at present the temptation to publish is hard to resist.
This particular story was more tempting than many because it carried, as the American military would say, a multiple warhead. It not only suggested that Iraq - contrary to its recent declaration - does possess chemical weapons but, additionally, that it has close links with al-Qaida.
The effect, if not the intention, of publishing the story was to give currency to both these ideas. Stories in the Washington Post are instantly regurgitated by other news organisations around the world, usually at much shorter length and without all the cautionary nuances of the original.
Iraq itself helped the story along by issuing a denial which - since it could produce no evidence by way of rebuttal - simply sounded unconvincing.
The Post's story is also discussed on the BBC website. Under the headline "Wanted: an Iraqi link to al-Qaida ", Paul Reynolds, the website's world affairs correspondent, views it as part of a long and unsuccessful effort to link Iraq with al-Qaida.
"One of the most intriguing questions in the 'war on terrorism'," he writes, "is whether there are contacts between Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein and Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaida network. Intelligence agencies are constantly looking for the 'missing link'."
The quotation marks around "missing link" distance the BBC from the idea that such a link exists, though the definite article preceding it suggests otherwise. Why are intelligence agencies looking for "the" missing link and not "a" missing link?
Journalistically, it's more interesting to talk about a "missing" link than a "possible" link but even when the tone of discussion is sceptical - as it was in the BBC's case - there's still a drip effect. The more we mention missing links, the more people will assume they are out there somewhere, waiting to be found.
The risk of giving currency to false or questionable claims is now a daily problem for those of us who try to write about Iraq without turning into other people's weapons of mass deception.
Even a simple reference to Iraq's weaponry can be problematic. Some readers object that "weapons of mass destruction" is a tendentious phrase. "Chemical, biological and nuclear" is accurately descriptive, though it becomes too much of a mouthful when used repeatedly in a story. Reuters news agency and others increasingly - and rather emotively - talk about "doomsday weapons". In practice, "doomsday" is beginning to mean anything nasty possessed by Iraq, though not by the United States.
Last Wednesday, for example, a Reuters report stated: "The United States threatened possible nuclear retaliation against Iraq if its forces or allies were attacked with doomsday weapons." Let's see how that looks the other way round: "The United States threatened retaliation with doomsday weapons against Iraq if its forces or allies were attacked with chemicals."
In terms of mass death, it takes 28 Halabjas to make one Hiroshima.
Meanwhile, to the delight of pharmaceutical companies, the United States is pressing ahead with its smallpox vaccination programme - though the recent New York Times "scoop" about an Iraqi smallpox threat looks increasingly shaky. On December 3, Judith Miller, the paper's "bioterrorism expert" reported an unverified claim that a Russian scientist, who once had access to the Soviet Union's entire collection of 120 strains of smallpox, may have visited Iraq in 1990 and may have provided the Iraqis with a version of the virus that could be resistant to vaccines and could be more easily transmitted as a biological weapon. (See "Poisoning the Air", World Dispatch, December 9.)
Since the article was published, colleagues of the now-dead scientist, Nelja Maltseva, have said that she last visited Iraq in 1971-72 (as part of a global smallpox eradication effort) and last travelled abroad (to Finland) in 1982.
Another of Ms Miller's scoops, on November 12, cited "senior Bush administration officials" as saying that Iraq had ordered a million doses of atropine, which is an antidote to nerve gas, but also a routine drug for treating heart patients. This was interpreted as evidence that Iraq not only possesses nerve gas but intends to use it in a conflict with the United States - hence the need to protect its own forces from accidental injury.
The US then threatened to block a continuation of Iraq's oil-for- food programme unless atropine were included in the list of "suspect" items that Iraq cannot import without permission from the United Nations' sanctions committee.
As I pointed out in world dispatch last week, the sudden horror over atropine was very strange, given that the US had previously allowed Iraq to buy large quantities on normal medical grounds, and that UN had lifted all restrictions on Iraqi purchases of the drug only six months earlier.
This highly relevant information, which Ms Miller had failed to mention, eventually found its way into the Washington Post and the wires of Associated Press. The response from the New York Times was to run the Associated Press report without reference to Ms Miller's flawed scoop.
By no means do all the dubious scare stories about Iraq come from shadowy intelligence sources or officials who can't be named.
Last September, Turkish police announced the arrest of two men in a taxi who were apparently smuggling 35lb of weapons- grade uranium to Iraq from somewhere near the Syrian border. But a few days later it emerged that the material was harmless, containing only zinc, iron, zirconium and manganese. Its actual weight was only 5lb but the police, in their excitement, had weighed the lead container as well.
One day, perhaps, one of these scare stories may turn out to be true - but don't hold your breath waiting for it. In the meantime, readers are welcome to send more examples by email, to the address below.
"I am not a National Security strategist or a military tactician," says John W. Rendon, Jr., whose DC-based PR firm was recently hired by the Pentagon to win over the hearts and minds of Arabs and Muslims worldwide.
"I am a politician," Rendon said in a 1998 speech to the National Security Conference (NSC), "and a person who uses communication to meet public policy or corporate policy objectives. In fact, I am an information warrior, and a perception manager. This is probably best described in the words of Hunter S. Thompson, when he wrote 'When things turn weird, the weird turn pro.'"
The Rendon Group's contract with the Pentagon was awarded on a no-bid basis, reflecting the government's determination to hire a firm already versed in running overseas propaganda operations. Rendon specializes in "assisting corporations, organizations, and governments achieve their policy objectives." Past clients include the CIA, USAID, the government of Kuwait, Monsanto Chemical Company, and the official trade agencies of countries including Bulgaria, Russia, and Uzbekistan.
"Through its network of international offices and strategic alliances," the Rendon Group website boasts, "the company has provided communications services to clients in more than 78 countries, and maintains contact with government officials, decision-makers, and news media around the globe."
The Pentagon stipulates that the Rendon Group will receive $400,000 for four months of work. Details are confidential, but according to the San Jose Mercury News, Rendon will be monitoring international news media, conducting focus groups, creating a web site about the US campaign against terrorism, and recommending "ways the US military can counter disinformation and improve its own public communications."
In dollar terms, Rendon's Pentagon contract resembles the $100,000 monthly retainer that it received in the early 1990s from the Kuwaiti government as part of a multi-million- dollar PR campaign denouncing Iraq's 1990 invasion and mobilizing public support for Operation Desert Storm.
The Rendon Group's website states that during the Gulf War, it "established a full-scale communications operation for the Government of Kuwait, including the establishment of a production studio in London producing programming material for the exiled Kuwaiti Television." Rendon also provided media support for exiled government leaders and helped Kuwaiti officials after the war by "providing press and site advance to incoming congressional delegations and other visiting US government officials." Several of Rendon's non-governmental clients also have headquarters in Kuwait: Kuwait Petroleum Corporation, Kuwait University, American Housing Consortium, American Business Council of Kuwait, and KPMY/Peat Marwick.
The Rendon Group's work in Kuwait continued after the war itself had ended. "If any of you either participated in the liberation of Kuwait City ... or if you watched it on television, you would have seen hundreds of Kuwaitis waving small American flags," John Rendon said in his speech to the NSC. "Did you ever stop to wonder how the people of Kuwait City, after being held hostage for seven long and painful months, were able to get hand-held American flags? And for that matter, the flags of other coalition countries? Well, you now know the answer. That was one of my jobs."
Rendon was also a major player in the CIA's effort to encourage the overthrow of Saddam Hussein. In May 1991, then-President George Bush, Sr. signed a presidential finding directing the CIA to create the conditions for Hussein's removal. The hope was that members of the Iraqi military would turn on Hussein and stage a military coup. The CIA did not have the mechanisms in place to make that happen, so they hired the Rendon Group to run a covert anti-Saddam propaganda campaign. Rendon's postwar work involved producing videos and radio skits ridiculing Saddam Hussein, a traveling photo exhibit of Iraqi atrocities, and radio scripts calling on Iraqi army officers to defect.
A February 1998 report by Peter Jennings cited records obtained by ABC News which showed that the Rendon Group spent more than $23 million dollars in the first year of its contract with the CIA. It worked closely with the Iraqi National Congress, an opposition coalition of 19 Iraqi and Kurdish organizations whose main tasks were to "gather information, distribute propaganda and recruit dissidents." According to ABC, Rendon came up with the name for the Iraqi National Congress and channeled $12 million of covert CIA funding to it between 1992 and 1996.
ClandestineRadio.com, a website which monitors underground and anti-government radio stations in countries throughout the world, credits the Rendon Group with "designing and supervising" the Iraqi Broadcasting Corporation (IBC) and Radio Hurriah, which began broadcasting Iraqi opposition propaganda in January 1992 from a US government transmitter in Kuwait. According to a September 1996 article in Time magazine, six CIA case officers supervised the IBC's 11 hours of daily programming and Iraqi National Congress activities in the Iraqi Kurdistan city of Arbil. These activities came to an abrupt end on August 31, 1996, when the Iraqi army invaded Arbil and executed all but 12 out of 100 IBC staff workers along with about 100 members of the Iraqi National Congress.
The work of the Rendon Group is only one element of the Bush Administration's PR campaign. The United States has established "instant response" communications offices in Washington, London and Islamabad, and senior administration officials are regularly talking to Arabic news media.
The Wall Street Journal reported on November 8 that the Army's "4th Psychological Operations (Psyops) group" designed leaflets and radio broadcasts inside Afghanistan "to persuade enemy fighters to quit, and to convince civilians that U.S. bombs raining down on their country will result in a better future for their families."
A separate advertising campaign is headed by Charlotte Beers, a former Madison Avenue advertising executive who was recently named the State Department's Undersecretary of State for "public diplomacy" (the official government euphemism for "public relations"). The New York Times reported that Beers is "planning a television and advertising campaign to try to influence Islamic opinion; one segment could feature American celebrities, including sports stars, and a more emotional message."
In an October interview with Advertising Age, Beers said public diplomacy "is a vital new arm in what will combat terrorism over time. All of a sudden, we are in this position of redefining who America is, not only for ourselves under this kind of attack, but also for the outside world." The corporate- funded Advertising Council is reportedly working with Beers on developing the campaign. According to Advertising Age, the Ad Council "has boiled its message down to one strategic idea: freedom."
Hollywood executives have also joined the White House brain trust, conferring with administration officials on ways to help spread the U.S. message at home and abroad. "It's possible the entertainment industry could help the government formulate its message to the rest of the world about who Americans are, and what they believe," said Bryce Zabel, chairman of the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
Voice of America has dramatically increased its radio broadcasts in Arabic, Dari, Pashto, Farsi, and Urdu, but has had difficult reaching crucial elements of the Arab population in the Middle East. "We have almost no youthful audience under the age of 25 in the Arab world and we are concerned that ... this important segment of the population has enormous distrust of the United States," said Marc Nathanson, a spokesman for the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the entity that oversees international public broadcasting operations for the United States.
Many of the people charged with masterminding the propaganda war seem handicapped by a naïve belief that the US is simply misunderstood abroad. "They hate us out of ignorance," is a common trope. Communications strategies are being developed on the assumption that if "they" just knew how good "we" are and how much we love "freedom," then they will support the war.
"How is it that the country that invented Hollywood and Madison Avenue has such trouble promoting a positive image of itself overseas?" asked Rep. Henry Hyde, chairman of the House International Relations Committee. President Bush has expressed similar bafflement. "I'm amazed that there's such misunderstanding of what our country is about that people would hate us," he said. "We've got to do a better job of making our case."
Lee McKnight, director of the Edward R. Murrow Center at Tufts University's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, says this inability to understand the thinking of the Arab world is the single biggest reason that the United States is winning the military battle but losing the propaganda war. "We can't convince anyone we're right if we don't understand their point of view," he said.
The spin doctors and politicians have failed to realize that propaganda cannot hope to change opinions when fundamental US policies remain the same. "No amount of media management will matter if the US is not also seen--and actually working on--ways to resolve some of the intractable conflicts which have served to feed fanaticism and anti-US sentiment throughout many Arabic and Islamic nations," McKnight said.
"The United States lost the public relations war in the Muslim world a long time ago," says Osama Siblani, publisher of the Arab American News. "They could have the prophet Muhammad doing public relations and it wouldn't help."
"The calculus of human suffering is far less clear from the perspective of the Middle East," observes Princeton University history professor Nicholas Guyatt, "and the awful images of Sept. 11 fade quickly when supplanted by Israeli attacks on Bethlehem or even the 'collateral damage' of the U.S. bombing campaign in Afghanistan." The U.S. cannot hope to win the battle for hearts and minds until its leaders realize the importance of deeds in addition to words and begin to promote real democracy, peace and human rights in the Muslim world.
Britain is to step up its propaganda battle in the Arab and wider Muslim world next week as part of preparations for the potentially decisive Iraqi declaration on weapons of mass destruction.
The foreign secretary, Jack Straw, is to publish a Foreign Office dossier on Monday setting out the brutal human rights record of the Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein.
"In the Arab and Muslim world, we have just got to keep reminding people about the nature of the person we are dealing with," a Foreign Office source said.
Various other initiatives are planned for next week, including a new station, Radio Sawa ("together"), set up by Washington, which has begun to try to woo the Arab world.
Combined with this, the US is dropping leaflets across southern Iraq in an effort to demoralise the population.
Planes dropped 360,000 leaflets over the southern no-fly zone on Thursday following US-led attacks on unmanned communication facilities between al-Kut and Basra.
Iraq is required by a United Nations resolution to declare by December 8 all biological, chemical or nuclear-related weapons or components in its possession, if any. The British government is adamant that President Saddam is hiding such weapons and that if he insists in the declaration that he is not, it will provoke a crisis.
Mr Straw, who will visit Turkey on Tuesday, is planning an interview with Muslim media outlets in the Arab world and in Britain next week to put across a message that war is not inevitable and that a route to peace is open to Iraq if it chooses to follow it.
A similar message will be conveyed in a signed article by the prime minister, Tony Blair, today in Jang, an Urdu daily widely read in Britain as well as Pakistan and south-east Asia.
The British government has been more energetic than the US since September 11 in the pursuit of hearts and minds in the Muslim world.
Mr Blair, in the immediate aftermath of the Twin Towers attacks, succeeded in persuading the US president, George Bush, and the state department to stress that the "war on terrorism" was not a war against Islam.
The dossier, a follow-up to one published in September that was supposed to make a case that Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction, pulls together human rights abuses in Iraq over the last two decades and focuses on the treatment of women and of prisoners.
For legal reasons, Britain, unlike the US, cannot justify an attack on Iraq on the grounds of regime change. The Foreign Office source denied that the dossier was designed to make such a case.
The source said President Saddam's behaviour towards his own people explained why he could not be trusted with weapons of mass destruction. "His disregard for human life is why we can't let him have these weapons," he said.
The Foreign Office is also making longer-term plans to try to encourage changes in the Middle East through educational and cultural programmes, dealing especially with democracy, human rights and freedom of women.
More generally throughout the Middle East, the US is attempting to win hearts, if not minds, with Radio Sawa.
At a cost of $35m (£22.5m), it broadcasts almost non-stop music - a sugary mixture of Arab and western pop, carefully researched to appeal to the under-30s. There are also brief news bulletins in Arabic every half hour.
Radio Sawa is intended to replace Voice of America's Arabic service, which has proved unpopular in the region.
The Public Broadcasting System of the US is planning to broadcast a two-hour documentary on the life of Mohammed, the prophet of Islam, on December 18 and a day later rebroadcast a two-hour documentary on the diverse interpretations of Islam around the world.
The documentaries are mainly for internal consumption within the US.
The American leaflet drop on Iraq on Thursday is the fifth such in the last two months. It is designed to demoralise air defence forces and to discourage workers from repairing equipment damaged in air raids.
One leaflet warned Iraqis in Arabic not to attempt to repair fibre-optic cables.
"You are risking your life," it said. "The cables are tools used to suppress the Iraqi people by Saddam and his regime, they are targeted for destruction."
Another leaflet, addressed to Iraqi air defence forces, says: "The destruction experienced by your colleagues in other air defence locations is a response to your continuing aggression towards planes of the coalition forces.
"No tracking or firing on these aircraft will be tolerated. You could be next."
Defense Secretary Rumsfeld last week likened the brewing controversy over the Total Information Awareness program to an earlier dispute over the Pentagon's Office of Strategic Influence, which critics asserted -- erroneously, according to the Pentagon -- was created to engage in disinformation.
As a result of all of the negative publicity, the Office of Strategic Influence was shut down. Or maybe it wasn't. Rumsfeld said last week that only the name has been abandoned. The Office's intended functions are being carried out.
"And then there was the Office of Strategic Influence," Rumsfeld reminisced on November 18. "You may recall that. And 'oh my goodness gracious isn't that terrible, Henny Penny the sky is going to fall.' I went down that next day and said fine, 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."
See excerpts from Rumsfeld's November 18 media availability:
WASHINGTON - When Army Times writer Sean Naylor linked up with the 101st Airborne Division in Kandahar to cover the Afghanistan fighting, he found that instead of the traditional practice of being housed with the troops, reporters were ''quarantined'' in media tents. During USA Today reporter Andrea Stone's visits to Guantanamo, Cuba, she was never even allowed within shouting distance of the US-held detainees. And although he was traveling with US forces, San Diego Union-Tribune reporter James Crawley had to scan transcripts of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's Washington briefings to glean any hint of information about the Afghan war-related mission he was covering.
''People on the ship wanted to talk about it,'' he said. But ''everything was directed from the Pentagon. What do we need to do about it next time?''
That question was a rallying cry for the more than 100 journalists - many of them veterans of conflicts from Kosovo to Afghanistan - who gathered here last week for a conference sponsored by the two-month-old organization Military Reporters & Editors. With a potential war in Iraq on the horizon, the answer they heard was not reassuring. Given Afghanistan as an object lesson, the consensus was that Rumsfeld's Pentagon has taken the art of information control to new heights. And that isn't likely to change in any battle for Baghdad. (Although keynote speaker Bob Woodward of the Washington Post offered the distinctly dissenting view that there was no more than a 50-50 chance of conflict.)
''This Pentagon practices, regularly, lack-of-information warfare against the press,'' said Mark Thompson, Time magazine's national-security correspondent. ''Longtime sources in the building that you could call up and visit, they don't want to be called. ... This is a much different place.'' History Channel host Arthur Kent - best known as NBC's ''Scud Stud'' during the 1991 Gulf War - predicted that in the event of another war with Iraq, ''attempts to muzzle us ... are going to be unprecedented.''
The media and military's competing - if not clashing - agendas were highlighted in the remarks of Air Force Colonel Jay DeFrank, a Defense Department representative. Even as news outlets make plans to cover another war against Saddam Hussein, DeFrank declined to discuss such a contingency, saying that ''the president has made no decision about what we're going to do.''
''We're committed to access,'' he told the MRE gathering. ''But it's probably not going to be the access you want.''
Problems with access to battlefields is a major reason why the MRE was conceived during a journalism confererence at the University of Maryland last spring. Actually, as MRE president and Seattle Post-Intelligencer staffer James Wright acknowledges, the organization's origins can be traced to a slightly lubricated bull session in a lounge ''where everyone was griping like you couldn't believe.''
But MRE is about more than lobbying the Pentagon for a better view. It plans to offer training for journalists, providing them with practical advice on how to travel with troops, helping them understand the military culture, and advising them on how to win the trust of the men and women in uniform. Veteran Scripps Howard reporter Peter Copeland recalled how his editor once told him the way to achieve that last goal was to ''act like you're on your first date.''
If many of the speakers spoke warmly of the relationship between journalists and rank-and-file troops, there was concern about the Pentagon's top-down strategy of news management.
''There is a general sense that [information control] is just a higher priority with this administration,'' said USA Today military writer and MRE vice-president Dave Moniz. ''Even a lot of uniformed military officers are blanching at these restrictions.''
Compound that with all the lethal uncertainties of a new war in Iraq, and the outlook isn't good for reporters. Retired Army Major General John Meyer Jr. said that if the war plans he had read about were accurate, ''inherently, you have chemical, biological, and nuclear potential on the battlefield. ... I would think your access will be harder to get.''
Wall Street Journal staffer John Fialka told his colleagues that such a war holds out the possibility that ''we're going to have some dead bodies among us.''
Perhaps nothing reflected the uneasy relationship between the military and the media more clearly than a discussion of the Pentagon ''boot camp'' training for journalists that began last weekend.
The physically rigorous program has been lauded by some media outlets as a positive step in improving the relationship between the Defense Department and reporters.
But juxtaposing the harsh physical demands of the boot camp with predictions of minimal access to any war, USA Today's Stone mused aloud, ''Maybe they're just trying to scare people off.''
This story ran on page C3 of the Boston Globe on 11/20/2002.
November 14, 2002
WASHINGTON Sometime after the first of the year, residents of Baghdad could find some new programming on their FM radio dial: a soothing Arabic voice urging them to remain in their homes or away from the approaching U.S. troops who will liberate them from Saddam Hussein.
Meanwhile, the faxes or cell phones of Iraqi military and security officers may whir or chirp with more explicit and personal messages: "We know who you are. Lay down your arms or else."
Top Pentagon officials and members of the Iraqi opposition are now crafting what could be the most widespread and complex psychological operations campaign mounted by the American military since the Vietnam War, should President Bush give the order to invade Iraq, said defense officials and retired psy-ops officers.
"If you can minimize the conflict by way of information warfare, that's a significant thing," said a source familiar with recent psy-ops discussions that have included Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith. "Communicating with them is a very high priority."
The ambitious plan includes sending targeted radio messages to the groups that make up the 5 million residents of Baghdad, a polyglot of urbane Sunni Muslims, impoverished Shia Muslims and pockets of anti-foreign nationalists. In addition, though Iraq is a modern and secular country, there are elements of fundamentalism in both Muslim communities.
Another part of the operation will be to persuade members of Saddam's military and security forces not to resist the invading allied force.
Keeping the citizens of Baghdad on the sidelines will be an important part of any U.S. military operation in the Iraqi capital, a city that could quickly turn into a bloody battlefield should Saddam's forces dig in and fight and civilians get caught in the mix, officials said.
But some military analysts and retired officers are cautioning that not all psychological operations employed in past conflicts have had good results. Moreover, reaching the different groups within Iraq and cutting through anti-Western feelings or anger over the decade-old U.N. sanctions may be difficult, they said.
"I think it's going to be a terribly challenging effort. There are all kinds of different audiences. You've got to somehow figure out how to reach people," said retired Army Col. Charles P. Borchini, who commanded the 4th Psychological Operations Group during the U.S.-led bombing campaign against Serbia. The group, based at Fort Bragg, N.C., takes the lead in writing scripts, beaming radio and TV messages and publishing newspapers aimed at foreign foes and their civilian counterparts.
William Arkin, a former Army intelligence officer and now a military analyst, said that if the United States invades Iraq, "bombs are going to do the talking," rather than any psychological operation that attempts to influence the entire country. Some elements of Iraqi society might not trust an American-led campaign to set up a new government, said Arkin, who also doubted U.S. operatives would be able to reach any Iraqi officers with the "Gucci methods" of cell-phone calls or faxes.
Still, Iraqi opposition officials and longtime observers of Iraq contend that after nearly a quarter-century of living under a brutal dictator, strong support exists within the country for an overthrow of Saddam, even if it has to be carried out by the United States.
"Nobody wants a continuation of the regime. They want a return to normalcy," said Phebe Marr, a former professor at the National Defense University. "I think they want the job done and over with, and they don't want any long-term American occupation."
Marr said U.S. forces must send a simple and straightforward message: "We are not occupiers, we are liberators. We are going to help you set up your own government as rapidly as possible."
Said an Iraqi opposition official, "These folks don't support Saddam. What's necessary is to explain to them what's happening and what they can do."
Meanwhile, officials with the opposition Iraqi National Congress are providing the Pentagon with cell phone numbers, fax numbers and home addresses of key Iraqi security officials in an effort to drive a wedge between them and Saddam. The message would be, "We know who you are. It's definitely in your interest to lay low," said the source familiar with the Pentagon plans. "We are working actively to get that message to them when it counts."
U.S. military plans for city fighting say that "the key to success" might lie in the ability to "influence the thoughts and opinions of adversaries and noncombatants," according to "Doctrine for Joint Urban Operations," a Joint Chiefs of Staff publication that was updated in September. To do this, U.S. forces must seize what the plan terms "the information environment."
Retired Army Maj. Gen. Robert H. Scales Jr., who has written extensively on urban warfare, said it's vital in any conflict to immediately capture and control the sources of information for civilians. "The images have to be ours, not (Saddam's)," said Scales. "Mao said the surest way to win a war is to separate the army from its people."
Radio transmissions are expected to be the most effective way of getting the message out, officials said, since televisions aren't nearly as widespread as radios. Moreover, some of the initial targets of U.S. warplanes would likely include TV transmitters and other communications facilities, thereby preventing Saddam from contacting the population or his military once the war starts.
Sophisticated broadcasting planes operated by the 193rd Special Operations Wing of the Pennsylvania National Guard, together with ground transmitters in Kuwait and elsewhere, would be used to transmit anti-Saddam programming to the Iraqi populace, officials said.
The psychological operation also is expected to include leaflet drops some of which started last week over the southern no-fly zone in Iraq with a warning to Iraqi soldiers not to fire on patrolling allied aircraft. And, once troops are on the ground, newspapers printed in Arabic by specialized U.S. Army units are to be distributed.
Daniel T. Kuehl, a professor of information warfare at the National Defense University, said a psychological operation in Iraq may be the most extensive effort since the Vietnam War, which included a 6-year-long wave of loudspeaker announcements, radio and TV broadcasts, newspapers and leafleting by U.S. forces.
Although U.S. psychological operations units were active during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, they did not focus on the civilian population. Instead, they concentrated on the Iraqi forces in Kuwait with leaflets and radio broadcasts.
Such tactical efforts were effective, said Arkin, the military analyst. Specific Iraqi army units were named in the leaflets and radio messages, which urged them to abandon their vehicles or risk being bombed. Iraqi units fled their armored vehicles and surrendered in droves.
"It was sending a message of omnipotence," said Arkin. "That kind of message had an enormous impact."
October 9 - 15, 2002
Edged between a rack of 99-cent Cheetos and a display of pork rinds stood a life-sized cardboard cutout of a buxom blond in a red miniskirt. Resting on her inner thigh was a frosty bottle of Miller Genuine Draft. "That's essentially what we do," an army major remarked, pointing to the stiletto-heeled eye-catcher. "But we don't sell beer."
The scene was a recruitment barbecue conducted by the U.S. Army's 11th Psychological Operations Battalion ("Psy-ops," for short), held last month at Andrews Air Force Base, outside of Washington, D.C. Amid the Cheetos, cheesecake, and a sweaty game of softball, there was casual chitchat about the workplace challenges faced by these fatigue-wearing PR execs whose job it is to sell Brand America in foreign and hostile territory.
Part ad men and part ethnographers, these specialists, some of whom are just back from Afghanistan, are dispatched regularly to front lines in the Middle East for hearts-and-minds campaigns aimed at undercutting the enemy's military morale and winning over civilian support. Many are waiting eagerly for a call to Iraq. With the U.S. military deploying in every corner of the globe, demand is booming in the psychological-warfare industry these days, and Psy-ops is especially eager to recruit outsiders who have experience or interest in the Middle East. Hence, the barbecues, accompanied by war storiesactually, psy-war stories.
Recruiters and guests wouldn't speak to me for attributionI was invited but I'm a reporterbut they did reluctantly share some yarns.
"Much of the time on the ground," one private recalled about a tour of duty in Asia, "is spent driving around the desert in humvees mounted with nine speakers, each blasting a thousand watts of noise. Tank treads, helicopter propellers, huge gunswe broadcast anything that'll scare the shit out of 'em." When music is chosen, the playlist tends to be short: Beach Boys, AC/DC, and Jimi Hendrix's shrill "Star-Spangled Banner," repeated ad nauseam until the enemy submits out of sheer annoyance. Other psy-opers parachute in and then remain stationary, setting up the army's equivalent of a battlefield Kinko's to churn out agitprop handbills in the millions. Some operatives are airborne aboard Commando Solo, an air force cargo plane converted into a $70 million flying radio and TV station, beaming news, tunes, and an occasional bit of disinformation to the enemy.
"We just deliver the goods," quipped the major who played host to me. "The guys down South drawing the cartoons are the ones paid six figures to know that because bananas are a delicacy in Iraq, they should get drawn into the picture with an enticing feast scene."
Headquartered at the 4th Psychological Operations Group in Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the psy-op artists typically rely on cartoon animations to get their messages across. But it's psy-op history itself that belongs in a comic strip: Its collection of harebrained schemes is sometimes almost too colorful to believe, though all of the following tales have been reported on from time to time. One such plan initially investigated by the air force before Iraq's 1990 invasion of Kuwait entailed the projection of a holographic image of Allah floating over Baghdad and instructing Iraqi civilians to overthrow Saddam. The idea was promptly dropped after scientists informed the Pentagon that it would require a mirror that was a square mile in area, not to mention the added problem that no one knows what Allah looks like. Furthermore, since divine portrayals of any kind are strictly forbidden in Islam, the hologram would surely have gotten a reaction, but probably not exactly the one intended.
Framing an understandable message is always tough. When using comic strips, captions need to be as concise and simple as possible. Yet, even in small amounts, the use of text raises questions. One has to wonder, for example, whether it was really effective to drop millions of text-based leaflets on Afghanistan, where barely 30 percent of its 27 million people can read. In all cases, well-crafted animations are a must, and for the highest quality drawings the 4th at Bragg sometimes opts to contract out. In 2000, it hired DC Comics to produce special versions of Superman and Wonder Woman comic books, in the languages of the Balkans, Central America, Africa, and Southeast Asia, to educate locals on the dangers of land mines. But even Superman can be a bit confusing at times. Though widely understood in some contexts, thought bubbles appearing above a cartoon character's head left some readers, especially rural ones, completely baffled, according to press accounts.
Often more confusing than convincing, psy-ops can suffer hugely from the smallest graphical errors. A T-shirt used in Cambodia to try to deter kids from entering certain unsafe zones featured a boy squatting over a mine that he was poking with a stick. The silk-screened shirt was yanked from production, according to one account, when angered villagers kept asking why American personnel were distributing images of kids defecating over land mines. The squatting boy was eventually redrawn.
Bigger mistakes mean bigger consequences. Leaflets dropped in Somalia in 1992 prior to the UN troop arrival were meant to assure the populace of the mission's humanitarian intentions. Unfortunately, of all the personnel the U.S. initially deployed in the country, only two were native speakers, and one turned out to be the son of the country's bloodiest warlord. Pamphlet proofreaders, needless to say, were in short supply, and the result was sometimes quite embarrassing. Instead of announcing help from the "United Nations," the pamphlets spoke of help from the "Slave Nations," and as anyone who has seen the movie Black Hawk Down can certainly attest, neither the blue helmets nor the boys with stars and stripes were welcomed with open arms when they eventually landed ashore.
The backflow of misinformation can also be a serious problem. Though the Pentagon and the CIA are barred by law from propaganda activities in the United States, during the mid 1970s increased scrutiny of military intelligence operations revealed that programs planting fake leaks in the foreign press had resulted in false articles running back through the U.S. media. But sometimes the false articles are intentional. When the American public seemed to be developing weak knees about the Nicaraguan contras, the Office of Public Diplomacy, part of the Reagan-era State Department, quickly leaked fake intelligence to The Miami Herald that the Soviet Union had given chemical weapons to the Sandinistas.
Distribution of misinformation overseas can be trickier. In 1999, during the NATO air war in Yugoslavia, more than 100 million leaflets were to be dropped on Kosovo. But at the designated time, there was too much ground-to-air fire for planes to fly lower than 20,000 feet. Swept by strong winds, many leaflets landed in the wrong country, according to press reports.
Sometimes, though, the packages land in the right place, and the enemy is quite happy about it. During World War II, the Japanese utilized the standard tactic of telling American soldiers that their girlfriends were getting busy while they were away from home. But on the air-dropped handbills the Japanese illustrated their point a little too well, using graphic pornography that was otherwise tough to come by on the front lines. According to military historian Stanley Sandler, "Our guys loved it. They'd trade them like baseball cards . . . five for a bottle of whiskey."
But there are also some psy-ops success stories. In Vietnam, U.S. planes sprinkled enemy territory with playing cards, but prior to carpet bombing, they dropped only the ace of spades. Before long, the Pavlovian technique took hold, and just the dropping of aces was sufficient to clear an entire area. Incessant rock music did the job in Panama, getting Manuel Noriega to surrender from his presidential bunker. During the Persian Gulf War, many Iraqi soldiers surrendered with U.S. leaflets in hand. Throughout that war, American forces also cleverly floated 10,000 bottles with intimidating notes in the gulf toward Iraqi shores. According to subsequent interviews with captured Iraqi soldiers, the bottled messages effectively increased concerns in Baghdad over the possibility of a massive amphibious landing. No such landing took place. Enemy psy-opers occasionally brag, too. The North Vietnamese peppered American soldiers with leaflets using anti-war slogans from the States. "Hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?" was a particular favorite appropriated by Vietcong leafleteers. When American soldiers finally came home, many commented that the printed reminders of stateside opposition to the war really wore down morale. Last decade, the Iraqis made occasionally smart use of disinformation, often disseminated through their old enemy, Iran (making it more believable). According to U.S. military sources, leaflets were circulated in Bangladesh citing a Tehran radio report that U.S. troops had opened fire on Bangladeshi troops who refused to join the military strike on Iraq. The incident, allegedly leaving hundreds dead, was a complete fabrication.
Less than an exact science, psy-ops is a clumsy art that has seen few real innovations over the years. Alexander the Great ordered his metalworkers to craft giant helmets to fit men the size of 20-foot monsters. His soldiers would then leave the helmets strewn about in conquered villages, hoping to inflame the wildest imaginations of enemy armies passing through the area. Folklore has it that along the same lines, though pitching at a slightly lower angle, American psy-op specialists in Vietnam left foot-long condoms along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, presumably to preoccupy the enemy soldiers with hiding their wives and daughters.
The laundry list of actual psy-ops bloopers is certainly long and dirty, leaving some in the U.S. military skeptical of whether the American forked-tongued brigades are keeping up with the enemy. A May 2000 report by the Defense Science Board Task Force, an advisory panel to the Defense Department, concluded, "While the United States is years ahead of its competitors in terms of military technology, in terms of psy-ops there are already competitors on par with, or even arguably more sophisticated than, the U.S." But in other circles, confidence is unwavering. At a recent press conference, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said, "If Saddam were to issue such an order to use a chemical or biological attack, that does not necessarily mean his orders would be carried out." Rumsfeld's oblique speculation rested on the dubious hope, gaining popularity on Capitol Hill, that psychological operations might just do the trick on Saddam's key weapons handlers. But as one unnamed senior defense official pointed out to USA Today, the men in charge of the supposed Iraqi chemical or biological weapons and missile forces are likely Saddam's most loyal soldiers. In fact, if our psy-ops people are left to their old devices, the Iraqi commanders might just hit those red buttons all the faster.
Ian Urbina is based at the Middle East Research and Information Project in D.C.
CounterPunch - October 7, 2002
Most summers, I manage to decamp for a few weeks to the country where I grew up. Much as I try to avoid them, comparisons between the ancestral place, England, and the adopted one, the USA, do crop up. This year there was a moment of cultural transition when, twenty minutes after leaving Birmingham airport, I stood in the graveyard of a 12th century church which became my parents' final resting place. A fresh notice had appeared directing visitors not to adorn memorials or graves with artificial flowers. They are not a symbol of the resurrection, it said primly. For a couple of weeks there is much grumbling about Britain: at times it feels like a colonial backwater even if the conceit persists, in some quarters, that it plays Greece to America's Rome. Inefficiency and rather cavalier attitudes to work are noticeable and I find myself missing the cheerful neighborliness of Americans. The English are fiercely private. Then there is the issue of road manners; those of Americans strike the spouse and me as decidedly superior. Over there the middle finger is always at the ready and imprecations are needlessly hurled.
However, it only takes a few days of exposure to British media--radio, television and newspapers like The Independent and The Guardian--to realize that the country one has just left is in a propaganda straight-jacket, while the United Kingdom is not. Yes, there is a yellow press in London, much of it owned by Rupert Murdoch, which does its damnedest to manufacture consent. But a paper like The Sun is bought by folk more interested in tits and tall stories than the right-wingery urged on its readers. While the Prime Minister, the unctuous Tony Blair (the satirical magazine Private Eye calls him the Rev. Blair) is foolishly satisfied with his new role as a gauleiter in the American imperium, the British media is conducting a no-holds-barred, rigorous analysis of the people and politics behind George W. Bush's war fever.
On the eve of the commemoration of September 11, the BBC World Service broadcast an interview--unthinkable in this country--with Gore Vidal, the brilliant, skeptical chronicler of US history and politics. Americans, he said, cannot look outside themselves: "they have no windows on the world, surrounded as they are by a corporate wall of propaganda." He thinks one of the falsehoods underpinning the propaganda is the notion that America is a uniquely virtuous country. To that maudlin question asked ad nauseam since September 11th, "Why do they (meaning Muslims, Arabs) hate us?" Vidal replies, reasonably, that an odious foreign policy in the Middle East is the honest answer. The self-serving nonsense that the hatred derives from envy of a democratic, freedom-loving nation is mendacious. (At the end of the interview, he briskly predicted that all these quasi-fascist trends in the US will be shaken by the global economic depression we are now entering.)
If the British press is exercising the responsibility that we should expect from the Fourth Estate in a democracy, the mainstream media in the US has slipped into the role of purveyor of propaganda for Bush's proposed war against Iraq. Americans naively assume that they will always recognize propaganda because it will announce itself in Orwellian strategems. In the collective mind, propaganda is still associated with totalitarian regimes, with Nazi Germany, Goebbels' "Big Lie" and frenzied Nuremberg rallies--so says the spouse's godson who has just published a book on America's development of weapons of mass destruction in the context of the doctrine of Manifest Destiny. He thinks we urgently need a new vocabulary that would educate citizens to understand how propaganda works in modern, democratic societies. Curious about how the word propaganda entered our lexicon, I checked with the dictionary. Collins places it as 18th century Italian and refers to the Sacra Congregatio Propaganda Fide: Sacred Congregation for Propagating the Faith. Here the word conveys a sense of what is to be believed, of proselytizing. Today in the US, propaganda works more to limit the range of discussion and to exclude from the public arena arguments or evidence challenging the prevailing orthodoxy. Former weapons inspector, Scott Ritter, who knows a thing or two about Saddam Hussein, has been travelling around the country arguing against war in Iraq. This former Marine, who reminds us that he is no pacifist, had this to say: "I think the vast majority of Americans are just tragically ignorant--not just about Iraq, but about the rest of the world. They are susceptible to the kind of propaganda manipulation that's taking place."
Recently, I had a brush with the manipulation Ritter was talking about. In early September the Nation magazine published a disturbing article by Jason Vest. This carefully delineated the link between the right-wing Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), the Center for Security Policy (CSP) and the zealous champions of a Likudnik Israel--those Zionist hawks in the Pentagon, Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith (known to Washington insiders as "the Kosher Nostra"). These men have been itching for war with Iraq and saw their chance when George W. Bush was appointed President. They hold as an article of faith, says Vest, "that there is no difference between US and Israeli national security interests, and that the only way to assure continued safety and prosperity for both countries is through hegemony in the Middle East." This of course would pave the way for Israel's Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, to realize his dream of establishing a greater Israel by ethnically cleansing Palestinians from the West Bank--driving them into a destabilized Jordan. For the Bush administration's oil men, hegemony offers full control of the Middle East's oil resources. It is a very wicked plan.
A day or two after I had read the piece, Kojo Nnamdi, the host of NPR's Public Interest, had open phones for the hour to talk about US plans for war. I managed to get a line. As I conveyed the gist of Vest's Nation article, Nnamdi turned nasty. He railed against the Nation (the oldest political magazine in the country)--a bunch of left-wingers of the kind who conspire in dark cellars, he called them. All very Conradian, Secret Agent stuff. I was hectored for buying into such "conspiracy theories." It was stunningly clear that he felt it his duty to keep this sort of information off the air and, should it slip through, to aggressively discredit it. Israel, after all, has become the third rail in American politics. Touch it at your peril. Mary Robinson, the former President of Ireland who went on to be an imaginative and courageous UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, has had to learn this lesson. When she voiced criticism of Israel's continued refusal to comply with the 1967 UN resolution requiring it to withdraw from the Occupied Territories, and called for Israelis to abide by the Geneva Convention after they committed human rights abuses in Hebron, pressure from Washington ensured Robinson was not re-appointed.
Besides accusations of conspiracy, there is a new tactic for dealing with Israel's critics: charge them with anti-Semitism. This is the ploy now being used by the President of Harvard, Lawrence Summers, as a small but growing constituency for divestment from Israel has appeared on his campus and others around the country. Summers' shamelessness is best answered by a fellow Jew, the Auschwitz survivor Primo Levi. Thomas Laqueur, reviewing three new books on Levi, calls him "one of the most resonant witnesses to the greatest human disaster of a disastrous age." However, Levi did not think the Jewish catastrophe should be used to justify "what he regarded as Israeli tribalist and aggressive actions in the name of a sacred history of unique suffering." Laqueur, (who is also Jewish) writes that the Israeli invasion (under Ariel Sharon) of Lebanon in 1982 greatly disturbed Primo Levi, "and on the eve of a trip back to Auschwitz, Levi signed a petition, together with other Jewish intellectuals, calling for the withdrawal of Israeli troops and recognition of the rights of all peoples in the region. 'Everyone is someone's Jew' he was quoted as saying in an interview 'and today the Palestinians are the Jews of the Israelis.'"
"America is Hobbesian, unilateralist, realist and driven by self-interest," so wrote Robert Kagan in The National Policy Review. It is an ugly but accurate description of George W. Bush's ubermensch America. Before we left England, the spouse and I made a pilgrimage to an old Quaker community at Jordans, about thirty miles from Oxford. William Penn is buried there--he had returned to England after his work in Pennsylvania was completed. Penn's headstone is simple and identical to all the others in this tranquil, unadorned Quaker graveyard. The inscription bears only his name and date of death. Nearly three hundred years later, one couldn't help but feel that America's tragedy is that Penn's civilized and tolerant vision of America has been lost--overtaken by the one Kagan describes.
Ann Pettifer is a freelance writer and the publisher of Common Sense, the alternative newspaper at the University of Notre Dame. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The question on the mind of every responsible journalist as of late (indeed, on the mind of every responsible individual, period) is: Has the media officially become the public relations arm of the United States government? And: Have we lost freedom of the press?
Why does our daily news come from some Pentagon briefing room or from some White House spokesperson - fully spun, packaged and pre-interpreted? And more importantly, why does no one care, either professional journalists or average citizens, or worse yet, even notice?
Has it been going on too long? Have Americans become incredibly gullible and apathetic, paralyzed by luxury and convenience to the point of self-destruction? Have we lost the capacity for individual thought accompanied by the awe we feel towards "experts," who treat us like children incapable of analysis? Have we grown to distrust ourselves and lost confidence in our own intellectual capacity? These are all reasons.
When the "war on terrorism" began in early October, the U.S. government severely restricted journalists from entering Afghanistan to cover first-hand the events taking place there in the field. Instead they opted for frequent, well-organized press conferences, only to be attended by journalists of choice, where people like General Tommy Franks, Rear Admiral John Stufflebeam, and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made sure that the reporters got it right.
This was euphemized as being a service to the press, a manifestation of an informationally advanced and enlightened world, or, the next generation in war reporting. No more reporters nervously whispering into their dicta-phones about the horrors of war, or its thrills, while being led around on the front lines.
The apparent reason for this tyrannical information control is really that of public opinion control. Information that makes the U.S. look bad or reveals mistakes (civilian deaths, bombing of Red Cross facilities, oratory blunders, conflicting reports, etc.), whether by the president himself or that of a lone bombing mission, is transformed so as not to resemble its former self or is, quite simply, omitted.
Information that makes the U.S. look good (supports their efforts) is magnified and overemphasized. Statistical information is etched in stone and written in blood if released by the Pentagon, but not "independently verified" if released by a non-Pentagon source and hence thrown out as hysterical anti-American propaganda contrived by people who hate freedom.
Whatever happened to on-the-spot reporting and investigative journalism whose primary aims were to serve the public interest by providing "the story"? Whatever happened to tough questions? Now all we have are staged Q&A sessions designed to provide zero information about anything actually relevant. More ass kissing goes on than questioning.
A reporter might even get thrown out of a press conference or fired for asking "inappropriate" questions - as happened to a reporter who happened to ask George H.W. Bush a tough question several years back.
One only has to turn to their daily newspaper to see the painful truth. A recent article in the Boston Globe (2/20/02) highlights this ever-popular phenomenon quite well. In an article entitled "A tattered al-Qaeda seen with new tentacles" by Anthony Shadid, almost all of the fifteen paragraphs are direct quotes from, or paraphrases of, some government official, usually "speaking on condition of anonymity."
In fact, only three paragraphs aren't directly attributed to government sources and only once is an actual, traceable, human being named with regard to this information - Peter Chalk, terrorism analyst, in paragraph fifteen. In addition, the article contains the sketchiest of information, bordering on being comical at points, and completely fails to convey any kind of new, interesting, or valuable information to a knowledgeable reader beyond the speculation of anonymous "officials."
In the first paragraph we're told: "Al-Qaeda will probably fracture into far-flung networks that operate on their own and blend into murky underworlds that make them more difficult to track " Obviously, al-Qaeda is now fractured (or could become fractured) following the massive bombardment of Afghanistan.
"[F]ar flung networks" is resoundingly vague. "[M]urky underworlds" is straight out of a bad Hollywood script. (Where exactly are the non-murky underworlds?) And we can assume that al-Qaeda is "difficult to track" based upon the success of September 11 and that they will become "more difficult to track" since they are now the focus of the world's most extensive man hunt ever by the United States. One might imagine they'd lay low for a while. To top it all off, this non-insightful vagueness is preceded by "probably," as if to emphasize the statement's complete meaninglessness.
We then learn in paragraph two that: " they [al-Qaeda] will still pose a danger, a U.S. defense official said on condition of anonymity." Wow! This person really goes out on a limb here. I hope they don't get fired for that comment. It was probably a good idea that they kept their identity a secret. Scandalous!
In paragraph three, more cute obscurities: " 'It's going to be more of a franchise-type thing.' "
Paragraph four reads, "Already, there are signs that networks are still viable and possess the logical know-how for attacks, the official added." Why wouldn't networks still be viable - that would imply that they were completely destroyed or destroyed to the point of being inoperative or no longer dangerous? Not all "cells" were in Afghanistan anyway. And why would these long-time, extensively trained groups fueled by religious and nationalist zealotry no longer "possess the logical know-how for attacks" just because some of their members were killed or captured in Afghanistan and a few other places? Maybe they've forgotten what a bomb is or how to use it?
In the next paragraph, though the source is an Arabic-language news agency, the information is still hilariously simple. We read: " groups within the al-Qaeda network are trying to reconstitute themselves after the Afghanistan campaign." That's funny, I thought al-Qaeda was just going to give up, roll over and die. Have they suddenly stopped hating America? Again, individuals risking it all with their bold predictions.
The article concludes with more speculation: "The trails [al-Qaeda's] may prove more difficult for law enforcement to track, as well, he said - a point echoed by other analysts." So we have anonymous analysts echoing another anonymous analyst about the fact that a "terrorist mastermind" and his "cells," who have eluded police, military, and intelligence agencies from multiple countries for decades, while pulling off intricate terrorist attacks all over the planet, are difficult to track and may become even more difficult to track. I thought they were easy to track. I thought that's why the U.S. government and its various intelligence agencies thwarted the September 11 attacks so easily. What's worse is that this is the second time in the article this empty and obvious statement is made.
Upon finishing the article one realizes that the entire text was a string of completely obvious and meaningless statements, attributed almost exclusively to anonymous government officials and analysts that make no attempt whatsoever to actually relay valuable information concerning a certain subject. There' no real flow or chronology to the article, as it seems more accurately like a collection of "safe" generalizations about al-Qaeda and the likelihood of their continued existence.
In another Globe article, from March 4th, entitled "Six Nations join U.S. in fierce offensive," fourteen out of the nineteen paragraphs are quotes or paraphrased quotes from military officials. In this case several of the sources are Afghan - albeit friendly forces fighting alongside coalition troops. This article also affords us the luxury of actually citing individuals or agencies attributed to the various information. (This I thought was standard procedure in journalism.)
Among "U.S. and Afghan officials," "U.S. Central Command," "officials," "Afghan officials," and "Afghan commanders" we actually hear from real people in the form of Central Command spokesman Major Ralph Mills, Abdul Matin (an Afghan commander), Wazir Khan (spokesman for an Afghan commander), and Raza Khan (an Afghan fighter). So this article is a little better. Less direct quoting from Pentagon sources along with greater diversity of sources.
At this point it must be emphasized that these two examples are on the highly inexcusable end of the scale of bad journalism (in terms of percentage of paragraphs that are direct quotes and identification of sources). However, they do represent trends in the corporate media with regard to war reporting. This said, most articles do approach these bleak statistics - reflecting the media's servitude to government. If one begins studying the news with this amount of scrutiny, similar statistics will be found almost across the board, whether it be in the Globe, the New York Times, or the Washington Post.
This kind of reporting raises many obvious concerns: who are our sources and what is their relationship to the reported event (Will they benefit from what is/isn't included? Are they financially affected by what's reported?); how many different sources are used or called upon to create both a thorough and objective report (Are all sides being represented?); does the diversity of sources reflect the availability of sources or simply what the reporter has chosen to include or omit; how speculative is the article (one need not turn to national news agencies for vague and obvious predictions); and is the information being provided, and subsequently reported, actually information, in the sense of new, detailed or semi-detailed data, that could not be accessed elsewhere being presented for the first time?
Said questions when combined with the above analysis should be cause for alarm considering that the very agency who is so often the source of our information is potentially a conglomerate of professional liars. Please consider the following information as provided by the New York Times ("Pentagon Readies Efforts To Sway Sentiment Abroad" 2/19/02):
"The Pentagon is developing plans to provide news items, possibly even false ones, to foreign media organizations as part of a new effort to influence public sentiment and policy makers in both friendly and unfriendly countries, military officials said.
"The plans, which have not received final approval from the Bush administration, have stirred opposition among some Pentagon officials who say they might undermine the credibility of information that is openly distributed by the Defense Departments public affairs officers.
"The military has long engaged in information warfare against hostile nations - for instance, by dropping leaflets and broadcasting messages into Afghanistan when it was still under Taliban rule.
"But it recently created the Office of Strategic Influence, which is proposing to broaden that mission into allied nations in the Middle East, Asia and even Western Europe." [My emphasis]
This indicates that the Pentagon is in the process of creating the so-called Office of Strategic Influence (OSI), whose job it will be to, as the headline puts it, "sway sentiment abroad" through an information campaign possibly including false news (disinformation), otherwise known as lies. This campaign would not only be carried out in enemy countries, but also in friendly ones. Perhaps even as friendly as Western Europe. The article goes on to say that,
"Little information is available about the Office of Strategic Influence, and even many senior Pentagon officials and Congressional military aides say they know almost nothing about its purpose and plans. Its multimillion dollar budget, drawn from a $10 billion emergency supplement to the Pentagon budget authorized by Congress in October, has not been disclosed.
"One of the office's proposals calls for planting news items with foreign media organizations through outside concerns that might not have obvious ties to the Pentagon, officials familiar with the proposals said." [My emphasis]
While its not surprising to read that "little information is available about the [OSI]," it's somewhat comforting to know that even "senior Pentagon officials know almost nothing " considering that the taxpayers know nothing. Or is it? Maybe that's a sign as to its super secrecy? Or are they lying? Or what the hell is really going on? One would not necessarily expect Joe American to know the details about the OSI, but one would surely expect top military people to know.
The article concludes on this note: "O.S.I. still thinks the way to go is start [sic] a Defense Department Voice of America," a senior military official said. "When I get their briefings, it's scary."
Luckily, amidst a wave of criticism from all angles the Pentagon decided to scrap the idea, evidently to remain credible. But what's to say the plan has been scrapped at all? What if that's just the first piece of disinformation?
What's "scary" about this near unbelievable report is the fact that the government agency that has complete control over all information as relevant to any aspect of the war, as well as being the only source of such information for the domestic corporate press, was/is attempting to create an office whose main purpose will be to convince foreigners that America's way is the right way (even at times when it's obviously the wrong way) through extensive propaganda and disinformation.
Many obvious and legitimate questions instantly arise. Although the report only mentions foreign sentiment, surely domestic sentiment is just as important for the continued support of U.S. imperialist efforts? (Though thankfully the American press and public still have enough decency left to make the idea of publicly announcing the intent to "sway domestic sentiment" wholly unacceptable.) Has the Pentagon lied in the past? Will they lie in the future and to what extent?
Moreover, if the Administration's efforts are noble, righteous and just why the need for disinformation - especially in Western Europe? Wouldn't disinformation "planted" abroad eventually make it back home by slowly seeping in unmonitored via the congested information-rich Internet? Is there really a difference between information that's planted abroad and of that planted at home? How could the press or the citizenry distinguish between information and disinformation? Would reporters ask before a press conference what kind it was going to be? When does fact end and fiction begin? What's real anymore in today's age of the information war?
To highlight one of the above questions - if the war on terrorism is just, naturally flowing from all moral, ethical, and humanitarian touchstones, then why the need for an elaborate $10 billion office of lies and propaganda to convince people of this?
The answer, obviously, is that it's not just and that there's plenty of evidence out there that suggests this; since responsible human beings may feel compelled to report and explore this, the Pentagon feels the need to crush those efforts. Therefore, as time has gone on and the U.S. comes under considerable domestic and foreign criticism for its handling of the war, the Pentagon feels the need to influence people with lies because the truth is no longer strong enough. The complicity of the press is all but outrageous with regard to such a threat to the very foundation of journalism and objective reporting.
Isn't this actually what the Enron debacle is about? They manipulated a situation to the benefit of themselves and to the detriment of others. They fabricated and/or omitted accounting information relative to the company's financial strength (which needs to be portrayed accurately to inform investors and Wall Street) to create an environment in which individuals (investors and employees) would gobble up the company's stocks and employees would feel comfortable with having their retirement plans' well-being shackled to the success or failure of the company itself.
Since the factual information regarding the financial strength of the company was such that investors would be cautious and employees would be concerned about depending so much on Enron stock for their 401(k)s the company simply planted disinformation to sway sentiment in their favor. It's ironic and fairly telling that the techniques recently espoused by the Pentagon have already seen extensive use by Enron.
Wouldn't it be great if you or I could apply that same logic to our own lives? Imagine if because we did poorly in college or because we lacked certain job experience that disinformation could be planted on our resume to strategically influence our potential employer? Wouldn't it be great if we could plant disinformation on our credit report so as to sway banking sentiment to give us that big loan that we don't really deserve?
When we get pulled over for speeding we could tell the police officer that our mother is dying at a nearby hospital and maybe we wouldn't get a ticket. What if anytime we couldn't get what we wanted we simply lied so that we could - just like governments and businesses do? Well, most likely, as well as becoming rather despicable human beings, we'd also be arrested and then thrown in jail by a fairly incredulous judge who may even ask how we thought we'd get away with such nonsense, all this lying and all.
So to summarize - instead of having a governmental system displaying clear divisions between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches with a corresponding and effective checks and balances tool, we now have a system featuring blurry distinctions between the governmental branch (perpetuator of war), the media branch (supporter of war), and the big business branch (profiteer of war), accompanied by zero checks and balances. In addition to the fact that this "government" operates in what might as well be complete secrecy, they've now publicly admitted that they're willing to lie to the world to achieve their primary goal of keeping the war machine rolling.
By Stephen J. Hedges - Washington Bureau - Published May 12, 2002
He was in Panama in 1989 for the brief invasion that toppled strongman Manuel Noriega. He was in Kuwait when allied forces took it back from Saddam Hussein in 1991, making sure that citizens had little American flags to wave for the conquering troops and television cameras. He has worked in Haiti and in the Balkans, and is now fully engaged in the war against terrorism.
But John Rendon is not a military officer, government adviser, diplomat, spy or journalist. He is, to use his own words, "an information warrior and a perception manager."
Rendon makes images, manipulates scenes and manages news. He advises politicians and spreads propaganda.
Rendon and his public-relations firm, The Rendon Group, have many clients, but none bigger--or more loyal--than the U.S. government.
Shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the Pentagon gave Rendon a $100,000-a-month contract to track foreign news reports and offer advice on media strategy. Rendon also worked for the Defense Department in the Balkans, according to a Pentagon spokesman.
The State Department, Central Intelligence Agency and foreign governments also have turned to Rendon in recent years for help in relaying and shaping messages for the mainstream, according to government officials and federal records. Rendon has beamed radio broadcasts into hostile countries, helped design leaflets for distribution in war-torn areas, and designed Web sites and run PR campaigns to give the U.S. spin on world events.
When the Pentagon earlier this year wanted to create an Office of Strategic Influence to spread its own version of the news in foreign lands, it asked Rendon for advice.
President Bush ultimately nixed the office after a storm of protest over reports that it planned to spread false information through foreign news outlets. But the controversy raised even more questions about the government's need to pay someone to manage its image, and about the man hired to do the job.
Over two decades of navigating Washington's inner circles, Rendon has built a unique business. While maintaining his political and public-relations credentials, he also has channeled his energies and staff into the murky bog of intelligence and defense work.
In the course of that career, Rendon has garnered contracts worth millions of dollars, a good bit of it, government sources say, from classified work. "I have a feeling that The Agency helped make him, filled his coffers," said one former senior CIA official.
The Rendon Group's current Pentagon work is just one part of a multifront, multimedia assault the Bush administration is waging against terrorism. While propaganda, war and presidents have always gone together, the Bush White House is especially attuned to the public-relations side of military conflict.
Last fall, the White House named advertising executive Charlotte Beers undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs, and she is developing a full-fledged campaign to sway minds abroad. And the administration has been quick to send top officials to appear on Al Jazeera, the Arabic television station.
"Our own government propagandizing its position--it's not like it didn't happen before," said John R. MacArthur, publisher of Harper's Magazine and author of "Second Front: Censorship and Propaganda in the Gulf War." "But this is a sophisticated, mass-market approach to it."
Rendon's admirers say he's perfect for that job.
"He is very knowledgeable, a chess player in the sense that he understands how the bad guys think," said Chuck de Caro, a National Defense University lecturer.
Others in the public-relations business say the secretive work of The Rendon Group, or TRG, makes it difficult to judge its effectiveness.
"They're very closemouthed about what they do," said Kevin McCauley, an editor at O'Dwyer's PR Daily. "They do media monitoring, getting an image of how the U.S. is perceived in the Muslim world. And they're big into video news releases. It's all cloak-and-dagger stuff."
While Washington's public-relations firms usually relish attention, Rendon keeps a low profile. He declined to be interviewed for this story and won't discuss his government-paid work. The company's Web site did offer an expansive list of clients and activities, but for unknown reasons it is no longer available on the Internet.
Rendon's view of his business, however, can be gleaned from his numerous talks to college groups and think tanks.
"I am an information warrior and a perception manager," he told a group at the U.S. Air Force Academy in February 1996.
That wasn't always Rendon's calling. He came to Washington from Massachusetts with President Jimmy Carter, and a colleague described him as a logistics specialist who made the campaign run on time. He then became political director of the Democratic National Committee.
With Carter out of office in 1981, Rendon and his brother, Rick, formed a political consulting business. In 1985, the Rendons went international with a new client, the Christian Democratic Party on the tiny Caribbean island of Aruba.
By 1989, TRG was wading into the civil strife in Panama, where Guillermo Endara, a soft-spoken attorney, had emerged as the opposition candidate challenging the sword-waving, tough-talking Noriega. Endara, who eventually became Panama's president, said Rendon advised him on how to act with crowds and on television.
"He tried to help me with the common things of campaigns," Endara said. "He made emphasis on how I should give interviews, how I should speak when I go out to the voter."
Endara was less certain about who paid for Rendon's work, though he said payments were made through the Dadeland Bank in Miami. Carlos Rodriguez, a party leader, was then a partner in the bank. Press reports at the time noted that the U.S. government openly contributed $10 million to the Panamanian opposition, but it's not clear whether any of that money made it to Endara.
According to The Rendon Group's promotional materials, Rendon's company would offer similar services five years later to Jean-Bertrand Aristide, the embattled Haitian president who in 1994 returned to reclaim the post he lost in a 1991 military coup. Ira Kurzban, Haiti's general counsel, said Aristide's government paid Rendon directly from an account in Washington.
In May 1991, then-President George Bush signed a "finding" that gave the CIA authority to conduct covert operations to undermine Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. But many in the administration were lukewarm about the order, and the CIA faced the challenge of carrying out an edict that did not seem to have real support inside the Bush White House, or in the administration of his successor, Bill Clinton.
"The feeling was, `The White House isn't behind it, there's a lot of money, what do I do with this money?'" a former CIA officer said. "There was a lot of money to spend."
A good bit of that money went to The Rendon Group, which was hired by the CIA in 1991, according to former CIA officials and Iraqi opposition groups.
One of Rendon's chief contacts at the CIA then was Linda Flohr, then a CIA covert operations veteran and now a top anti-terrorism official at the White House's National Security Council. At one point, Flohr actually left the CIA and took a contract job with Rendon before returning to the government.
TRG quickly ramped up its covert effort to vilify Hussein. The company found office space on a street called Catherine Place in London, near Buckingham Palace. Its propaganda included a regular anti-Hussein radio program beamed into Iraq, an exhibit of photos displayed throughout Europe that depicted victims of Iraq's military regime, and video feeds for newscasts that included burning oil wells. Several front organizations were formed, including one called the Coalition for Justice in Iraq.
But CIA officials became concerned about Rendon's spending, knowledgeable sources say. CIA auditors were assigned to investigate, arranging with Rendon to enter his offices at night because most TRG employees were not supposed to know they were working for the CIA.
While The Rendon Group's contract remains classified, a former employee confirmed that the terms were generous. TRG was paid an annual management fee and 10 percent of the entire contract price, which remains classified. CIA officials involved in the work said it was between $20 million and $40 million. The government, the employee said, also covered all overhead costs.
"It was nothing but gravy," said the former Rendon employee. "And in this particular case, we had a very expensive program going."
Former CIA officials familiar with Rendon's work would not discuss specifics but said those terms were generally accurate. Frederick Hitz, then CIA inspector general, confirmed Rendon's accounts came under review but declined to disclose the investigation's results, which he said were classified.
Rendon's government business, though, continued apace. TRG found new work at the Pentagon and State Department, both embroiled in budding military action in Kosovo. The Defense Department hired Rendon to run the Balkan Information Exchange, a news-driven Web site. The U.S. Agency for International Development awarded TRG a $400,000 contract to promote privatization, according to USAID records.
The Rendon Group has since grown out of its simple brick townhouse into a modern suite of offices near Washington's Dupont Circle. Two years ago, Rendon and his wife, Sandra Libby--the firm's chief financial officer--bought a $1 million house in Washington's elegant Kalorama neighborhood, according to public records.
When the Sept. 11 attacks occurred, the Pentagon's office of Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence offered TRG a four-month, $400,000 contract that has since been extended indefinitely.
Lt. Col. Ken McClellan, a Pentagon spokesman, said TRG's work includes monitoring news reports abroad and devising possible responses, such as broadcasting messages to select populations in Afghanistan or composing language on leaflets.
Until February, TRG had done the job with its customary low profile. Then came word that it was advising a new Pentagon operation, the Office of Strategic Influence. TRG's duties there, according to a Pentagon source familiar with the new office, were going to be the same as its earlier Defense Department work--collecting foreign news reports from 79 countries and shaping responses.
Though Rendon's assignment at the Office of Strategic Influence was short-lived, his work with the Pentagon, a Defense Department source said, will continue for the foreseeable future.
Matt Wells, media correspondent - Guardian
Tuesday April 16, 2002
British television news is routinely biased towards the Israeli view of the conflict, according to academic research.
As a result of lobbying by the Israeli government's public relations machine and the difficulties of explaining a complex story in ratings-driven bulletins, few people can understand the roots of the story, the Glasgow Media Group suggest.
Young people in particular are unaware of key elements of the conflict. In a sample of 300 questioned by the researchers, only 9% knew that Israel was the occupying force.
When the intifada began in 2000, a team led by Professor Greg Philo of Glasgow University examined 3,536 lines of text transcribed from 89 news bulletins. Only 17 lines were devoted to the conflict's history.
Consequently, he said, the Israeli side was favoured, because attacks were portrayed as responses to Palestinian acts.
Writing in today's Guardian, he adds: "A news journalism which seeks neutrality should not endorse any point of view, but there were many departures from this principle."
The broadcasters deny bias. Roger Mosey, BBC head of television news, said: "I don't believe there's any institutional bias towards one side or other in the Middle East conflict."
ITN said: "We've been covering this conflict fairly and impartially for more than half a century. We are not in the business of providing a daily history lesson."
"Taliban and al-Qaida fighters, we know where you are hiding," said a voice over frequency 850. "Taliban and al-Qaida fighters, you are our targets." During the most intense combat undertaken by American troops so far in the Afghan war, the United States Air Force is conducting an electronic combat mission.
"We're shooting electrons, not bullets," said an electronic warfare specialist, a Master Sergeant nicknamed D.J., who requested that his real name not be used.
While the U.S. Air Force has air superiority over Afghanistan, it's using highly specialized aircraft to achieve information superiority as well.
This is the brave new world of information warfare. The plane, called Commando Solo II and attached to the 193d Special Operations Wing of the Pennsylvania National Guard, operated without fighter escorts from a classified forward base of operations. Its altitude and route are also classified.
The broadcasting platform can transmit on AM, FM and short-wave frequencies. It's also an airborne TV station capable of using any of the four worldwide television standards. Until recently, these electronic combat missions were considered "black ops", so secret, the crew was forbidden tell their wives or children about them. Commando Solo II's mission was the first electronic warfare combat flight on which journalists were permitted to travel.
The plane, the oldest Hercules aircraft in the Air Force inventory, is crammed with electronic gear, making it one of the heaviest C-130s still flying.
Six 1,000-watt and three 10,000-watt transmitters occupy the back half of the airplane. The front half contains dozens of electronic instruments manned by an electronic warfare officer and three electronic communications specialists.
Once over Afghan airspace, a conical device, or drogue, is lowered over 300 feet from the bottom of the aircraft. D.J. pulls out a minidisk and drops it into a standard commercial minidisk player. He pushes a play button to begin broadcasting a greeting in Dari and Pashto, the main languages in Afghanistan. Then four minutes later, a broadcast is beamed down in Arabic, targeted at al-Qaida fighters.
Then, over a speaker system in D.J.'s console, fast-paced local music is played.
"Music has not been heard for years. It has huge psychological impact," said the mission control chief, identified as Maj. John. The music was followed by a carefully crafted statement about the legitimacy of the Afghan government.
Other messages suggested that Taliban fighters surrender because Mullah Mohammed Omar, the Taliban's supreme leader, and Osama bin Laden have themselves fled the battle. The goal is to destroy the enemy's willingness to fight, Maj. John said. The message is heard on the ground throughout much of Afghanistan.
U.S. Army detachment commander Capt. Mark Mauri was with the 4th Psychological Operations group onboard the plane. Mauri, a special forces veteran, said, "We don't do actual propaganda, we use the truth."
Psychological Operations, known as PsyOps, use country studies, intelligence reports, the current situation on the battle field and knowledge of the local population to shape their message.
The broadcasts are targeted to "hit the heartstrings" of fighters who have family and loved ones back home, Mauri said. One radio script begins: "Attention soldiers of the Taliban! You do not have to risk your lives."
Hard-core al-Qaida and Taliban fighters also hear: "Osama bin Laden has abandoned you ... because he has no concern for your life ... his life is more important than yours ... he does not care if you die ... he hides in safety waiting for your death. You are dying only for a man who has abandoned you."
Do these messages work? Military officials point to the 1991 Gulf War, when an estimated 90,000 Iraqis, in interviews conducted by U.S. military intelligence, said they surrendered as a direct result of PsyOps messages.
The same officials say scores of Taliban now held at a U.S. detention facility in Guantanimo Bay in Cuba say they surrendered after hearing PsyOps transmissions. Broadcasts are supplemented by leaflets dropped on the enemy by military planes.
Special operations officials said their information warfare enhances the effectiveness of U.S. and coalition forces on the ground. They call it a force multiplier.
If we get a thousand Taliban on the ground to surrender, thats a 1,000 fewer Taliban that American forces will have to fight, said Mauri.
After an 8-hour tour of duty, the Commando Solo II returned to its classified base as preparations are made for the next days flight.
Bob Arnot is MSNBCs special foreign correspondent.
Over the years, I have had the privilege of meeting and having discussions with people who came to America from countries known for their adherence to totalitarianism: China, Russia, and former east European satellites of the Soviet Union. When we discussed how the state managed to control public opinion under totalitarianism, these people would usually produce a weary, knowledgeable, cynical smile and point out that propaganda in those countries was really done quite incompetently. If you really want to know propaganda, they said, you need to study American propaganda technique. According to them, it is, undeniably, the best in the world.
"How can that be?" I asked, honestly puzzled.
Propaganda in those countries was too obvious, they told me. As soon as you read the first sentence you knew it was a bunch of propaganda, so you didnt even bother to read it. If you heard a speech, you knew in the first few words that it was propaganda, and you tuned it out.
"But," I then queried, "How do you know when its just propaganda?"
The expatriates explained that bad propaganda uses obvious terminology that anyone can see through. Anyone hearing the phrase "capitalist running dogs", knows hes listening to incompetent propaganda and tunes it out. Lousy propaganda, these knowledgeable but jaded individuals would tell me, appeals to an abstract theory, to a rational thesis that can be disproved. Even though communists had total control of the press, the people just tuned it out (except for those who were the most mentally defective). Most people, they assured me, just went about their lives as best they could, paid lip service to the state, and just tried to keep out of the way of the secret police. But hardly anyone really believed the stuff. The result, after many decades of suffering, was the eventual collapse of the old order once The Great Leader expired, whether his name was Brezhnev, Mao, or Tito.
American propaganda, however, is much cleverer. American propaganda, they patiently explained, relies entirely on emotional appeals. It doesnt depend on a rational theory that can be disproved: it appeals to things no one can object to.
American propaganda had its birth, so far as I can tell, in the advertising industry. The pioneers of advertisinga truly loathsome bunchlearned early on that people would respond to purely emotional appeals. Abstract theory and logical argument do nothing to spur sales. However, appeals to sexiness, to pride of ownership, to fear of falling behind the neighbors are the stock in trade of advertising executives. A man walking down the street with beautiful women hanging on his arms is not a logical argument, but it sure sells after-shave. A woman in a business suit with a briefcase, strolling along with swaying hips, assuring us she can "bring home the bacon, fry it up in a pan, but never let you forget youre a man" really sells the perfume.
Lets take a moment and analyze the particular emotions that this execrable ad appealed to. If you guessed fear, you win the prize. Women often have a fear of inadequacy, particularly in this confused age when they are expected to raise brilliant kids, run a successful business, and be unfailingly sexy, all the time. That silly goalfoisted upon us by feminists and popular cultureis impossible to reach. But maybe theres hope if you buy the right perfume! Arguments from intimidation and appeals to fear are powerful propaganda tools.
American advertising and propaganda has been refined over the years into a malevolent science, based on the assumption that most people react, not to ideas, but to naked emotion. When I worked at an ad agency many years ago, I learned that the successful agencies know how to appeal to emotions: the stronger and baser, the better. The seven deadly sins, ad agency wags often say, are the key to selling products. Fear, envy, greed, hatred, and lust: these are the basic tools for good propaganda and effective advertising. By far, the most powerful motivating emotionthe top, most-sought-after copy writers will tell you, in an unguarded momentis fear, followed closely by greed.
Good propaganda appeals to neither logic nor morality. Morality and ethics are the death of sales. This is why communist propaganda actually hastened the collapse of communism: the creatures running the Commie Empire thought they should appeal to morality by calling for people to engage in sacrifice for the greater good. They gave endless, droning speeches about the inevitably of communist triumph, based on the Hegelian dialectic. Not only were they wrong: their approach to selling their (virtually unsellable) theory was not clever enough. American propagandists (we can be jingoistically proud to say) would have been able to maintain the absurd social experiment called communism a little longer. They would have scrapped all the theory and focused on appealing images. Though the Commies tried to do this through huge, flag-waving rallies, the disparity between their alleged ideals and the reality they created was just too great.
One tyrant who did take American propaganda to heart was Adolph Hitler. Hitler learned to admire American propaganda through a young American expatriate who described to him, in glowing detail, how Americans enjoyed the atmosphere at football games. This American expatriate, with the memorable name of Ernst "Putzi" Hanfstängl, told the Führer how Americans could be whipped up into a frenzy through blaring music, group cheers, and chants against the enemy. Hitler, genius of evil as he was, immediately saw the value in this form of propaganda and incorporated it into his own rise to power. Prior to Hitler, German political rhetoric was dry, intellectual, and uninspiring. Hitler learned the value of spectacle in whipping up the emotions; the famed Nuremberg rallies were really little more than glorified football halftime shows. Rejecting boring, intellectual rhetoric, Hitler learned to appeal to deeply emotional but meaningless phrases, like the appeal to "blood and soil." The German people bought it wholesale. Hitler also called for blind loyalty to the "Fatherland," which eerily echoes our own new cabinet level post of "Homeland" Security.
If you study Nazi propaganda, you will be struck by how well it appeals to gut-level emotions and imagesbut not thought. You will see pictures of elderly German women hugging fresh-faced young babies, with captions about the bright future the Führer has brought to German. In fact, German propaganda borrowed the American technique of relying, not so much on words, but on images alone: pictures of handsome German soldiers, sturdy peasants in native costume, and the like. Take a look at any American car commercial featuring rugged farmers tossing bales of hay into the backs of their pickups, and youve seen the source from which the Nazis borrowed their propaganda techniques.
The Germans have a well-deserved reputation for producing a lot of really smart people, but this did not prevent them from being completely vulnerable to American-style propaganda. Amazingly, a nation raised on the greatest classical music, the profoundest scientists, the greatest poets, actually fell for propaganda that led them into a hopeless, two-front war against most of the world. Being smart is, in itself, no defense against skilled American propaganda, unless you know and understand the techniques, so you can resist them.
American politicians learned, early in the twentieth century, that using emotional sales techniques won elections. Furthermore, they learned that emotional appeals got them what they wanted as they advanced towards their long-term goal of becoming Masters of the Universe. From this, we get our modern lexicon of political speech, carefully crafted to appeal to powerful emotions, with either no appeal to reason, or (better yet) a vague appeal to something that sounds foggily reasonable, but is so obscure that no one will bother to dissect it.
Franklin Roosevelt understood this, which is why he called for Social Security. Security is an emotional appeal: no one is against security, are they? Roosevelt backed up his campaign with a masterful appeal to emotions: images of happy, elderly grandparents smiling while hugging their grandchildren, with everything in the world going right because of Social Security. All kinds of government programs were sold on the basis of appealing images and phrases. Roosevelt even appealed to Americas traditional love of freedom, spinning that term by multiplying it into the new Four Freedoms, including Freedom from Want and Freedom from Fear. Well, what heartless human being could possibly be against that? The Four Freedoms were promoted with images of parents tucking their children cozily into bed, and a happy family gathered around a Thanksgiving dinner, obviously free from want. The campaign was also based on that most powerful of all selling emotions: fear. If you dont support Social Security, the ads suggested, you will live your last years in utter destitution.
Putzi Hanfstängl, viewing Roosevelts evil brilliance from Nazi Germany, was probably jealous.
American advertising executives learned the value of presenting a single image or slogan, and repeating it over and over again until it became ingrained in the publics consciousness. Thus we are all aware that Ivory Soap is so pure that it floats: a point that has been repeated for the better part of a century. Im not sure why I should be impressed that a bar of soap floats, but on the other hand, its not intended that I think that far. Politicians now sell their programs the way the advertising creeps sell soap: they dream up a slogan and repeat it over and over again. Thus we get empty slogans like The New Frontier, The New World Order (that one was poorly chosen; it sounds too much like an actual idea), or Reinventing Government (an idea that everyone should favor, except that the idea behind it really means Keeping Government the Same, only no one is supposed to think that far). Empty grandeur sells political products.
Both German and American politicians carried the use of banners to new heights. Flags are impressive emotional symbols, particularly when waved by thousands of enthusiastic people: its a rare individual who can resist the collective enthusiasm of thousands of his fellow human beings, cheering about their collective greatness. Putzi Hanfstängl understood this, advising Hitler to fill his public spectacles with not just a few, but countless thousands of swastika flags. The swastika, too, was a brilliant stroke of advertising and propaganda: it has become, in the public consciousness, the official emblem of Nazism, even though it had nothing to do with Germany. In fact, swastikas were used by ancient Hindus and American tribes, but Im not aware of it being used by anyone in Germany prior to Hitler.
Now observe how Americans in the current crisis have taken to displaying huge flags on their cars. Flags are not rational arguments; they are instruments for whipping up the Madness of Crowds. Observe how many Americans have, with a straight face, called for a constitutional amendment to outlaw flag desecration, oblivious to the obvious contradictions such an amendment would have with the rest of the Constitution. But again, if you learn nothing else about propaganda, learn that it must not appeal to rationality.
Politicians dont just use warm, fuzzy images to sell us on the road to tyranny. They also need emotional appeals to intimidate their enemies. Thus the small percentage of the population that really does use thought and reason more than emotion must be demonized. Roosevelt managed this with some masterful propaganda strokes. Those who opposed him were Isolationists, and Malefactors of Great Wealth! (The gut-level emotion appealed to here is envy.) Roosevelt thus showed himself to be an early master of what former California Governor Jerry Brown called "buzz words"; that is, words intended to silence counter-argument by appealing to unassailable emotional images. No one is for Isolation, and almost everyone reacts to an appeal to hate anyone who has a lot of money. The latter appeal, of course, had great power during the Great Depression, which Roosevelt managed to maintain for the entire length of his presidency, all the while blaming others for its evils. Was this guy an evil genius, or what?
The propaganda cleverness used in successfully branding anti-war people as Isolationists is breathtaking. After all, a rational person (ah, keep in mind, thats not a common individual) realizes that those who oppose war are the exact opposite of isolationists. The Old Right at the time called for peaceful, commercial relations with all nations, based on neutrality in foreign affairs. If anything, those who oppose war and meddling in other countries affairs are the opposite of Isolationists as they really stand for open, profitable relationships with other countries. The people who stand for such ideas do not "sell" them by means of strictly emotional appeals, so they tend to lose the propaganda wars. When Roosevelt succeeded in whipping the country up into a war-frenzy after steering us into the Pearl Harbor fiasco, the Old Right realized their opposition to the war was hopeless.
The role of the government propaganda camps known as public schools cannot be discounted in all this. Schools are not so much centers of learning as they are behavior conditioning camps in which children are taught to be unquestioningly obedient to authority. Since reason and morality are the death of propaganda, schools busy themselves with systematically stunting students ability to reason and think in moral terms. Because the government owns the propaganda camps, its not surprising that the beneficiary of the propaganda is almost always the government. Americans accept obvious absurdities because they were drilled into their heads, year after year, in the government propaganda camps until they became true and unquestionable. Thus, everyone knows Roosevelt got us out of the Great Depression, even though the worst depression years were precisely those in which he and his party controlled every branch of government. Everyone knows Lincoln was a great president because he saved "government by the people" and freed the slaves, even though he became a war tyrant and only freed the slaves when it was politically convenient to do so. Wilson, everyone knows, made the world "safe for democracy", evidently by instituting a draft and getting America involved in a European war that was fought for reasons no one to this day can fathom. When minds are young and pliablegovernment experts understand this principleyou can fill them with nonsense that is practically impossible to root out. Laughable falsehoods in effect become true because everyone knows them to be true.
Advertising executives learned, early on, that companies could not be too obvious in using their propaganda. If their agenda could be clearly seen, then it could also be rejected. The answer to this problem was the American propaganda technique of the "independent expert" and the "guy on the street." One of these appeals to our timidity before authority, and the other to our smugness when dealing with someone at or below our perceived social level. Of course, these two techniques are really just two sides of the same coin. In product advertising, sports heroes and celebrities are used to sell corn flakes because no one would listen to the president of Kellogg telling us why corn flakes are so good. In selling detergent, plain-looking housewives are preferable to sexy models because they look just like us. In political propaganda, "experts" are often trotted out to tell us, in convoluted, circular reasoning, why minimum wage laws are really good for us, why a little bit of inflation is good, or why we just cant rely on the free market for something so crucially important as education. Or, using the "guy on the street" approach, we are told to support idiotic wars because the common soldiers ("our boys"), cannot function unless they know we stand united behind them. If the rare sensible person tries to argue against war, he is accused of making things harder for "our boys."
This brings us to the latest iteration of masterful American Propaganda: the War on Terrorism. Any attempt to explain why the terrorists (crazed as they obviously were) felt motivated to attack the World Trade Center is looked on as "siding with the terrorists." Indeed, Ashcroft and Bush have said, in so many words, that if you dont support them in everything they do, you stand with the terrorists. Ashcroft and Bush have evidently studied their propaganda lessons from World War II, when Roosevelt silenced all opposition by accusing anyone who stood against him of undermining the war effort. Anyone who suggests we should not risk World War III by invading the Middle East is alternately accused of siding with the terrorists, of slandering the memory of those who died, or (of course) of not "standing by our boys" in times of great need. Its easy to feel alienated in a nation of flag-wavers singing patriotic hymns. The fact that they are marching lockstep to a world in which the government will monitor their e-mail, snoop into their bank accounts, and eventually throw them in jail for voicing opposition doesnt seem to bother them one bit.
Now, most libertarians or otherwise thoughtful people will react with dismay when told that most of their fellow human beings react so unthinkingly to sock-you-in-the-gut emotional propaganda. Unfortunately, most people are not capable of really thinking things out. Most people really do buy perfume because of the emotional imagery. Most people really do believe the "independent expert", whether in politics or buying a car. Most people want to go with the crowd, or follow the leader. To do otherwise requires independent thought and the willingness to be ostracized, which is an unbearable psychological burden for many.
If you want to take heart, remember that the Vietnam War ended because a few people just continued to speak against it, despite the overwhelming government propaganda for it. The fact that a lot of the anti-war protesters were motivated by the wrong reasons (support of commies), doesnt matter in light of the fact they were able to turn the tide. They were right, even if for the wrong reasons. If advocates of freedom continue to speak against the creeping tyranny that our masters justify on the phony grounds of the War on Terrorism, we might just be able to prevent the transition from Republic to Empire. The thing about propaganda is that, once it is exposed for what it is, no one listens anymore. People tune it out, just as the slaves in Russia and China learned to tune out their official propaganda.
Paul Webers novel, Transfiguration, is available at http://www.xlibris.com/Transfiguration.html
by Andrew Gilligan - October 11
When they said it was going to be a different kind of war, they may also have had the war of information in mind. With no independent journalists on the ground it is arguable that the temptation to mislead the public is even greater in this war than in any of its predecessors.
For the last 200 years foreigners have been coming to Peshawar to press their ears up against the all too often closed wall of Afghanistan. It's not difficult to see why. Theres plenty of Afghan frontier atmosphere here - smugglers bazaars, donkey carts in the streets, all that sort of thing.
But there's not such a good supply of reliable information. Con men claiming to have connections with the Mujahedeen are around every corner. In the 1980s the CIA famously wasted a fortune here backing the wrong horse in the fight against the Russians and now, with the total closure of Afghanistan to Westerners, the scope for misinformation by both sides in this conflict has never been greater.
We saw this, in a small way, with the story of the first civilian casualty of the bombing to make the difficult journey from Afghanistan. It's a trip that involves negotiating a closed border, usually by bribing the Pakistani guards. So not many have yet made it. There's no doubt that Mohammed Raza, from a village near Jalalabad, suffered a neck injury from flying shrapnel. I saw Mr Raza and I talked to the doctors treating him. But the stories of the relatives who brought him across the border to the hospital in Peshawar differed rather drastically.
Ali Ahmed, Mr Raza's cousin, told us that he'd been one of 40 people injured in his village alone including many children. Three people he said had been killed in the same attack. They tried to take him to the hospital in Jalalabad but the scene was "catastrophic", with panic stricken women and children and no medicine to be had. The streets of Jalalabad, said Mr Ahmed, were full of frightened people and normal life was on hold.
Mohamed Samadi, Mr Raza's uncle, made the same journey but for him it seemed to be an entirely different trip. "Nobody else had been injured in Mohammed Raza's village", said Mr Samadi, "apart from some very minor cuts and bruises". The streets of Jalalabad were calm and everything was going on exactly as normal. "Is this the best the Americans can do?" Mr Samadi asked, "we went all through 10 years with the Russians and it was much worse than this." A clue to Mr Samadi's political allegiance might come in his praise for the Taliban authorities handling of the situation.
The Taliban aren't really into spin-doctoring as such, but pro-Taliban factions in Peshawar, do appear to be trying to control the information flow. When we tried to interview some fruit traders who'd come across the border, we were chased away by Taliban sympathisers. Yet the near invisibility of the war in Afghanistan will work to the advantage of the US military alliance too. Peter Almond was formerly Defence Correspondent of the Daily Telegraph and is now Chairman of the Defence Correspondents' Association. He says the absence of western journalists from the combat zone gives both sides the opportunity to draw whatever picture of events serve their purposes best. "This is one of the first, if not the first time, that the media hasn't had anybody on the other side. There were people in Baghdad, in Belgrade, who could be taken to attack sites. But in this conflict we have to get all our information from the Pentagon and the MoD. There is no way that we can independently report."
Almond says that Ministry of Defence officials try to avoid lying to journalists - "They don't want to be caught out telling untruths...but as a senior officer has told me, 'my objective is to win and if it means lying to you, I'll do it.'"
Even in wars which weren't so hidden from view, there have been consistent attempts to mislead. On the first day of the Kosovo airstrikes an RAF spokesman told reporters that the operation had "run on rails." It soon turned out that the RAF had failed to drop a single bomb. During the Falklands War, the then Permanent Secretary of the MoD, Sir Frank Cooper, told journalists that there would not be a D-Day style landing. Two days later there was. Most famously, General Norman Schwarzkopf, persuaded the international press - and the Iraqis - that his retaking of Kuwait would come from the sea, thus distracting the enemy from his real plans and probably saving many lives, both allied and Iraqi.
The military analyst Colonel Mike Dewar makes the distinction between lies of embarrassment (such as "run on rails") and lies of deception designed to confuse the enemy, which he says are a classic and vital part of any military campaign. "So a few journalists get their stories wrong. What is that against saving possibly hundreds or thousands of lives?" he says.
The man with the job of mediating between the military's demands and those of the press is Martin Howard, the MoD's Director General of Corporate Communications. I put it to him that in a largely secret, special forces war, such as we now expect to take place in Afghanistan, the MoD need not tell us about anything it does not want to - including failed operations and British deaths. Howard insisted that Britain would be honest about casualties and failures "subject to reasons of operational security." A rather important caveat. "If there's no reason to keep it from you, we won't keep it from you," he said The problem is that many in the military will have no difficulty thinking of reasons to keep things from us.
The test of all this will come when military mistakes are made, and from Washington at least, the spin has already begun: an artful, half-suggestion by Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, that this week's death of the 4 UN workers in Kabul was caused by Taliban anti aircraft fire falling back to earth. Militarily that is almost preposterous. There may not be donkey carts and carpet salesmen in the Pentagon briefing rooms, but they can be every bit as much the scene of con-artistry as the bazaars of Peshawar.
CNN AND PSYOPS Military personnel from the Fourth Psychological Operations Group based at Fort Bragg, in North Carolina, have until recently been working in CNN's HQ in Atlanta.
Article originally published 03/26/00
Military personnel from the Fourth Psychological Operations Group based at Fort Bragg, in North Carolina, have until recently been working in CNN's hq in Atlanta.
CNN is up in arms about our report in the last issue of CounterPunch concerning the findings of the Dutch journalist, Abe de Vries about the presence of US Army personnel at CNN, owned by Time-Warner. We cited an article by de Vries which appeared on February 21 in the reputable Dutch daily newspaper Trouw, originally translated into English and placed on the web by Emperor's Clothes. De Vries reported that a handful of military personnel from the Third Psychological Operations Battalion, part of the airmobile Fourth Psychological Operations Group based at Fort Bragg, in North Carolina, had worked in CNN's hq in Atlanta.
De Vries quoted Major Thomas Collins of the US Army Information Service as having confirmed the presence of these Army psy-ops experts at CNN, saying, "Psy-ops personnel, soldiers and officers, have been working in CNN's headquarters in Atlanta through our program, 'Training with Industry'. They worked as regular employees of CNN. Conceivably, they would have worked on stories during the Kosovo war. They helped in the production of news."
This particular CounterPunch story was the topic of my regular weekly broadcast to AM Live, a program of the South Africa Broadcasting Company in Johannesburg. Among the audience of this broadcast was CNN's bureau in South Africa which lost no time in relaying news of it to CNN hq in Atlanta, and I duly received an angry phone call from Eason Jordan who identified himself as CNN's president of newsgathering and international networks.
Jordan was full of indignation that I had somehow compromised the reputation of CNN. But in the course of our conversation it turned out that yes, CNN had hosted a total of five interns from US army psy-ops, two in television, two in radio and one in satellite operations. Jordan said the program had only recently terminated, I would guess at about the time CNN's higher management read Abe de Vries's stories.
When I reached De Vries in Belgrade, where's he is Trouw's correspondent, and told him about CNN's furious reaction, he stood by his stories and by the quotations given him by Major Collins.For some days CNN wouldn't get back to him with a specific reaction to Collins's confirmation, and when it did, he filed a later story for Trouw, printed on February 25 noting that the military worked at CNN in the period from June 7, (a date confirmed by Eason to me) meaning that during the war a psy-ops person would have been at CNN during the last week.
"The facts are", De Vries told me, " that the US Army, US Special Operations Command and CNN personnel confirmed to me that military personnel have been involved in news production at CNN's newsdesks. I found it simply astonishing. Of course CNN says these psyops personnel didn't decide anything, write news reports, etcetera. What else can they say. Maybe it's true, maybe not. The point is that these kind of close ties with the army are, in my view, completely unacceptable for any serious news organization. Maybe even more astonishing is the complete silence about the story from the big media. To my knowledge, my story was not mentioned by leading American or British newspapers, nor by Reuters or AP."
Here at CounterPunch we agree with Abe de Vries, who told me he'd originally come upon the story through an article in the French newsletter, Intelligence On-line, February 17, which described a military symposium in Arlington, Virginia, held at the beginning of February of this year, discussing use of the press in military operations. Colonel Christopher St John, commander of the US Army's 4th Psyops Group, was quoted by Intelligence On-Line's correspondent, present at the symposium, as having, in the correspondent's words, "called for greater cooperation between the armed forces and media giants. He pointed out that some army PSYOPS personnel had worked for CNN for several weeks and helped in the production of some news stories for the network."
So, however insignificant Eason Jordan and other executives at CNN may now describe the Army psyops tours at CNN as having been, the commanding officer of the Psy-ops group thought them as sufficient significance to mention at a high level Pentagon seminar about propaganda and psychological warfare. It could be that CNN was the target of a psyops penetration and is still too naïve to figure out what was going on.
It's hard not to laugh when CNN execs like Eason Jordan start spouting high-toned stuff about CNN's principles of objectivity and refusal to spout government or Pentagon propaganda. The relationship is most vividly summed up by the fact that Christiane Amanpour, CNN's leading foreign correspondent, and a woman whose reports about the fate of Kosovan refugees did much to fan public appetite for NATO's war, is literally and figuratively in bed with spokesman for the US State Department, and a leading propagandist for NATO during that war, her husband James Rubin.If CNN truly wanted to maintain the appearance of objectivity, it would have taken Amanpour off the story. Amanpour, by the way, is still a passionate advocate for NATO's crusade, most recently on the Charlie Rose show.
In the first two weeks of the war in Kosovo CNN produced thirty articles for the Internet, according to de Vries, who looked them up for his first story. An average CNN article had seven mentions of Tony Blair, NATO spokesmen like Jamie Shea and David Wilby or other NATO officials. Words like refugees, ethnic cleansing, mass killings and expulsions were used nine times on the average. But the so-called Kosovo Liberation Armmy (0.2 mentions) and the Yugoslav civilian victims (0.3 mentions) barely existed for CNN.
During the war on Serbia, as with other recent conflicts involving the US, wars, CNN's screen was filled with an interminable procession of US military officers. On April 27 of last year, Amy Goodman of the Pacifica radio network, put a good question to Frank Sesno, who is CNN's senior vice president for political coverage.
GOODMAN:"If you support the practice of putting ex-military men -generals - on the payroll to share their opinion during a time of war, would you also support putting peace activists on the payroll to give a different opinion during a time of war? To be sitting there with the military generals talking about why they feel that war is not appropriate?"
FRANK SESNO: "We bring the generals in because of their expertise in a particular area. We call them analysts. We don't bring them in as advocates. In fact, we actually talk to them about that - they're not there as advocates."
Exactly a week before Sesno said this, CNN had featured as one of its military analysts, Lt Gen Dan Benton, US Army Retired.
BENTON: "I don't know what our countrymen that are questioning why we're involved in this conflict are thinking about. As I listened to this press conference this morning with reports of rapes burning, villages being burned and this particularly incredible report of blood banks, of blood being harvested from young boys for the use of Yugoslav forces, I just got madder and madder. The United States has a responsibility as the only superpower in the world, and when we learn about these things, somebody has got to stand up and say, that's enough, stop it, we aren't going to put up with this. And so the United States is fulfilling its leadership responsibility with our NATO allies and are trying to stop these incredible atrocities."
Please note what CNN's supposedly non-advocatory analyst Benton was ranting about: a particularly bizarre and preposterous NATO propaganda item about 700 Albanian boys being used as human blood banks for Serb fighters.
So much for the "non-advocate" CNN. CP
ALMOST invisible to radar, the F-117 Stealth fighter is one of the most sophisticated warplanes ever built.
But for seven years the US Government denied that the top-secret aircraft - nicknamed Nighthawk - existed.
Then, in 1991, 40 Stealth fighters were suddenly deployed for action in the Gulf War.
Ranging the night skies over Baghdad on 1,270 missions the Nighthawks struck the most heavily defended Iraqi targets to stunning effect.
Now from the cloak of X-Files denial comes a Stealth successor: more powerful, blacker, faster and even more secret.
Under the codename Project Aurora - which may be a wrap for several secret aircraft - the planes are classified within the US defence department's black programme - one whose existence is not admitted by the authorities.
Experts claim experimental and prototype Aurora aircraft are using Scotland, the skies above the North Sea and the wilderness areas of far-Northern Europe as their testing ground.
Bill Sweetman, former technical editor for Jane's Information Group and an author of three books on Stealth technology claims the areas are ideal proving ranges.
"It certainly keeps them out of the eyes and ears of the US observers," he said.
He claims that after 17 years the US defence department is reaching the latter stages of trialing space-age military aircraft capable of astonishing speeds.
"There continues to be a huge black hole in what we know the Pentagon has spent money on," he told the Press and Journal.
"In 1999 black projects accounted for £12.1billion of USAF research expenditure - that is almost 40% of the £32billion research and development budget."
Advanced secret aircraft developed at highly classified Government facilities in the Nevada Desert almost certainly include both manned and unmanned hypersonic jets designed to perform strategic reconnaissance and other less conventional missions for the US Air Force and its NATO allies.
A number of these aircraft have been seen and heard by ground-based and airborne observers in the western USA and in northern Europe during the past 10 years.
Based on more than 60 eye-witness reports there appears to be at least three distinct types of vehicle:
One is a "triangular-shaped quiet aircraft" observed with a fleet of Stealth fighters several times between 1989 and 1995. This may be a demonstrator or prototype of the much vaunted McDonnell Douglas A-12.
Another is a high speed aeroplane characterised by a very loud, deep rumbling roar, reminiscent of heavy-lift space rockets. In flight it makes a pulsing sound and leaves a segmented vapour trail.
The final contender is a high altitude jet that crosses the night sky at extremely high speed and at altitudes in excess of 50,000 feet. It is usually observed as single bright light but no engine noise or sonic boom is heard.
Observations are augmented by many reports of low-pitched, rumbling sonic booms.
In one seven month period a small team of observers in California logged at least 30 sonic booms believed to be produced by the same unknown aircraft.
Claims have surfaced that booms from Aurora test flights are responsible for sudden avalanches in Norway and an earthquake in the Netherlands as well as unexplained radar blips, eerie noises and isolated UFO sightings in Scotland.
Reporters from Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten say they have received numerous complaints of sudden bass-like booms from isolated fishing communities and farmsteads between Trondheim and Narvik, followed by sudden avalanches of snow.
They say that recently released information suggests that a 1986 avalanche in the Troms area of northern Norway, which killed 16 NATO soldiers, may have been triggered by early tests of a secret supersonic jet.
The P and J understands that Norwegian Government officials are now concerned about Aurora flights, damage caused by sonic booms and the lack of consultation from their US NATO allies.
An Oslo-based Government spokesman said they were carrying out long-standing research into the causes of avalanches and they were aware of the concern over test flights by military aircraft from the UK.
"We always receive a number of complaints from people over low-flying aircraft and sonic booms - and it is probably true that some sonic booms cause avalanches," he added.
However, he refused to comment on the existence or activities of the Aurora.
Dutch scientists have meanwhile blamed the secret jet for causing a sudden earth tremor which jolted the north coast of the Netherlands.
A North-east RAF base recently traced a very fast radar blip across the North Sea. But when the incident was reported to RAF Buchan, superior officers denied all knowledge of it.
Oceanic Air Traffic Control at Prestwick also tracked fast-moving radar blips. It was claimed by staff that a "hypersonic jet was the only rational conclusion" for the readings.
Experts claim the Aurora has probably flown out of RAF Machrihanish airfield in Argyll while hi-tech tracking equipment at Benbecula, RAE West Freugh in Galloway and Fylingdales monitor its progress.
There have been reports of unidentified night-time aircraft noises from Machrihanish for a number of years.
But with the Kintyre base now downgraded to a care and maintenance position, experts are puzzled about the location of the Aurora's new European test base.
Maryland journalist Lee Hickling has studied Aurora sightings in great detail.
"The information currently available shows Scotland and the North Sea are used extensively for the testing of these aircraft," he said.
Mr Hickling, who for nine years covered science and manned space for the Gannet Newspapers Washington bureau, added: "I believe it is extremely likely that the aircraft - test beds for hypersonic engine and control technology - would be unmanned, because human bodies could not stand the G forces generated by manoeuvres at hypersonic speed."
But last night Bill Sweetman said high speed - such as at Mach 7 or 8 - would not exclude manned aircraft. "It is only when you manoeuvre an aircraft at that speed that G forces come into play," he said.
Mr Sweetman said the development of the Aurora within the US defence department's "black projects" was a natural progression from the Stealth fighter, which first flew in 1982.
"They would not have sat still for 17 years," he said.
"The evidence is strong that high speed propulsion and aerodynamics are at the cutting edge of this new development and the long runways at Groom Lake (USA) and Machrihanish would be ideal to fly the plane from."
He said the skeleton staff at the "care and maintenance" RAF Machrihanish would be a perfect cover for further trialing of Aurora aircraft.
"One of the missions of high altitude supersonic aircraft was to operate over the North Atlantic as a reconnaissance strike system against the Soviet Northern Fleet and it would be natural to continue that test range despite the end of the cold war."
The ultimate in aerodynamics the aircraft could reach anywhere in the world in three hours, he claimed.
However an MoD spokesman said last night: "There are no United States Air Force prototype aircraft based at British airbases and no authorisation has been given by Her Majesty's Government to the USAF - or any other US body - to operate such aircraft within or from the United Kingdom.
A spokesman for the US defence department denied any knowledge of Aurora or "Deep Black" aircraft. Mr Sweetman said it was natural for British and US military spokesman to deny the existence of the plane.
"Put it this way," he said, "In 1988 the US Air Force had 50 F-117 Stealth aircraft operating in Nevada and still denied they existed."
A new book exposes how UK spies used dirty tricks to link Parnell with terrorism. Kamal Ahmed reports
Sunday May 12, 2002 - The Observer
It is a story of intrigue to equal anything by John le Carré. A new book says that the British Government colluded in an assassination attempt against Queen Victoria in order to undermine the Irish republicanism with dirty tricks.
In one of the most remarkable examples of a 'black operation' ever revealed, Fenian Fire, by Christy Campbell, says that Ministers were so concerned about the rise of 'Home Rulers' in the 1880s it used secret service agents to infiltrate and support republican terrorist organisations.
Ministers believed that the 'plot' to kill the Queen, revealed with great drama during Victoria's golden jubilee, would fatally undermine Charles Stewart Parnell, the charismatic Irish nationalist leader, in Westminster and destroy the republican movement.
It is is thought to reveal one of the first examples of British 'black ops', schemes which governments use to undermine their enemies. Other examples of the dark art include the Zinoviev letter, a forged note allegedly from the Communist International backing the Labour Government 'leaked' to the Daily Mail on the day before James Ramsay MacDonald stood for re-election in 1924, and the work of Colin Wallace, the government information officer who planted stories in the press about links between Labour and IRA supporters in the 1970s.
The book picks its way through the tortuous events of late Victorian Britain using previously unreleased confidential files and secret service documents. Coded communications between intelligence officials and the Government at the time have also been revealed.
Campbell, an author and historian, is best known for his highly praised book The Maharajah's Box. Fenian Fire is set to throw new light on the Government's relationship with republican forces at a time when Britain was facing its first significant terrorist threat.
During the 1860s and 1870s, Irish-American groups launched a series of attacks across London, most infamously killing six people in an attack in Clerkenwell. The Home Office, the House of Commons and Scotland Yard were all targeted.
With the country in a state of near panic, police revealed evidence of a plot to kill the Queen a few days before a golden jubilee service of thanksgiving at Westminster Abbey in 1887. Victoria was due to attend along with most of her family and most of the Cabinet.
The police said that the plot, as audacious in its target as the 1605 Gunpowder Plot, had been hatched in New York by the Fenian Brotherhood, Clan na Gael, an Irish-American secret society.
Campbell's book, to be published by HarperCollins next month, says that by the time it was revealed to an astonished and fearful public the Government was not only aware of it but had actively supported it.
Intelligence officials based in Dublin and London used the Fenian Brotherhood to stir up violence against British targets. Known republican sympathisers were hired by the Foreign Office to play a leading role in the attacks.
When the bombing plot was revealed, the press jumped on the story, dubbing it the Jubilee Plot.
The Government immediately ordered an inquiry and six months later, with the campaign seemingly neutered, two Americans were arrested and sentenced to long periods in prison for conspiracy to commit terrorist acts. The developments appeared to be a vindication of the British state's methods of handling terrorism and was highly damaging to Parnell.
But Campbell's book reveals that the leader of the Jubilee Plot was a British agent who had been hired with the sanction of the Conservative leader, Lord Salisbury, the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary.
'General' Francis Millen, a Fenian Brotherhood figure who had mysteriously man aged to escape back to New York despite one of the biggest police operations Britain had ever seen, was well known to the British secret service.
He had been recruited in Mexico City a few years earlier. In a letter from the Gov ernment's consul in Mexico, Salisbury was told that 'XXX', the code for Millen, was ready to start his first operation. The Foreign Office paid his salary.
The Times was the unwitting stooge in the affair, publishing sensational accounts accusing Parnell of condoning the crime. The 'evidence' was later exposed as a forgery and when Millen was offered £10,000, a huge amount in the 1880s, to return to Britain and testify about what the Government knew of the plot, he was found dead in New York.
Government Ministers believed that the imaginary plot to assassinate Victoria would fatally undermine Charles Stewart Parnell, right, the charismatic Irish nationalist leader, and destroy the republican movement.
Sunday May 12, 2002 - The Observer
TARGET Labour Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald.
THE STING One of the most infamous examples of disinformation peddled by the intelligence services, the Zinoviev letter was published by the Daily Mail on the eve of the general election. Purported to have been written by Grigori Zinoviev, president of the Soviet Union's Comintern, the international Communist organisation, it called on British Communists to mobilise 'sympathetic forces' in the Labour Party. A study by the Foreign Office in 1999 revealed that Stewart Menzies, a future head of MI6, whose allegiances 'lay firmly in the Conservative camp', sent the letter, almost certainly forged, to the Mail . MacDonald lost the subsequent general election.
TARGET German military command.
THE STING The Royal Navy took a man who had died of natural causes and, after dressing him in Special Services clothing and planting fake documents, dropped him over the side of a submarine patrolling off the coast of Sicily. The documents 'revealed' that the Allies were planning landings in the area, in the hope that Germany would concentrate its forces there rather than in Normandy where the landings were going to take place.
TARGETS The IRA; leading politicians in Northern Ireland.
THE STING During the first half of the decade, Colin Wallace, a government information officer, was used to pass forged and doctored documents to the press about the accuracy of IRA weapons and to smear Labour politicians, notably Harold Wilson and Northern Ireland Secretary Merlyn Rees. The most famous was a forged document which was 'sent' to Rees by the American Congress thanking him for his 'generous donation on behalf of the Labour Party for the Occupied Six Counties of Ireland'.
NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIVERSITY
NDU Press Book - April 1996
Military organizations are, by their very nature, resistant to change. This is, in no small part, due to the fact that the cost of error is exceedingly high. Change, particularly change that may affect the relationships among organizations and between commanders and their subordinates, presents significant risks and generates considerable concern.
The explosion of information technologies has set in motion a virtual tidal wave of change that is in the process of profoundly affecting organizations and individuals in multiple dimensions. The military is no exception. At the very beginning of the information age, technological advances made it possible to provide more complete, moreaccurate, and more timely information to decision makers. As the costs of processing and communications power
tumbled, it became cost-effective for organizations to adopt and utilize information technologies in more and more situations.
Military organizations have traditionally provided information to forces in three ways: commands, intelligence, and doctrine. Commands serve to define the specific task at hand. Intelligence provides information about the environment in which the task is to be carried out. Doctrineprovides the "rules of the game" or standard operating procedures. Doctrine, unlike commands and intelligence, is not provided in real time, but serves to shape the culture and mind sets of the individuals involved. Thus, information has, until recently, been inseparable from commanders, command structures, and command systems. Each of these three ways of communicating information about what is expected of subordinate organizations and individuals has evolved over time to be mutually supportive of an overall command concept or approach matched to the nature of the conflict and the capabilities of the forces. The success of military operations depends to a large extent upon the ability to coordinate activities to achieve synchronized operations. Ensuring that individuals behave as intended or as expected in the face of uncertainty ("the fog of war") and under stress is a key to achieving coordinated activities. The selective dissemination of information has been used as a tool to define and shape the environment in which soldiers operate to ensure conforming behavior.
The military is now on the road to becoming an information age organization. The transformation involved is fraught with both risks and opportunities because it will affect the nature of the information provided as well as the manner in which it is provided.
The C4I for the Warrior (C4IFTW) concept that currently guides the military's adoption of information technologies involves the provision of vastly increased access to information at all echelons. The full implications and consequences of achieving the stated goals and objectives of C4IFTW will, of course, not be clear for years to come. The analysis reported upon herein was initiated as a result of concerns expressed by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff regarding the unintended consequences of providing too much access to information.
Implicit in the concerns being expressed by the Chairman and others throughout the Department of Defense (DoD) are uncertainties about the impact of separating information flows from the command structure and the effects of almost unlimited amounts of information upon decision making. Questions remain regarding exactly how much information should be provided to each echelon. For example, how does the pro- vision of information relate to a unit's mobility and lethality? The appropriate command concepts for an information-rich battlefield have, as yet, not been determined even at the most basic level. Concerns have been raised regarding the potential adverse effects of increased visibility into operations at all levels, including potential for information overload, second guessing, micro-management, stifling of initiatives, and distraction.
A separate but related set of concerns involves the manner in which our potential adversaries adopt and utilize these technologies and the capabilities that result. A final set of concerns involves our ability to protect information and information assets and to deal with failures of and degradations in the systems that provide information to decision makers, shooters, and others with crucial roles.
The purpose of this analysis is to identify a strategy for introducing and using information age technologies that accomplishes two things: first, the identification and avoidance of adverse unintended consequences associated with the introduction and utilization of information technologies; and second, the ability to recognize and capitalize on unexpected opportunities.
Given that our potential adversaries have access to virtually the same information technologies that we have, the margin for victory will be the degree to which we manage our trans-formation into the information age. Our ability to integrate a wide variety of systems into a true system of systems will depend not only upon our technical skills but also upon how well we adapt our doctrine, organizations, and culture to take advantage of the opportunities that technology affords.
In the search for a solution to the problem of adverse unintended consequences inherent in the adoption of information technologies, care must be taken to define an approach that is enabling rather than limiting. Some argue that the problems and risks associated with change can be addressed simply by avoiding significant changes. Others advocate that changes be introduced slowly and systematically, thoroughly testing proposed alterations until the probability of error is acceptably low. In many circum-stances, these very conservative approaches may be appropriate. In this case, they are not.
We are not in a position to take the apparently safe and comfortable road to the introduction of change. The environment in which we must operate is being transformed in a number of critical dimensions; consequently, business as usual (the default decision) carries with it significant adverse consequences of its own. Thus, "doing nothing" is neither conservative nor safe.
The low cost of obtaining information age technologies will help potential adversaries improve their military capabilities as they learn to leverage these technologies effectively. Thus, inaction will lead down a path that exposes us to new and improved adversary capabilities that we may not be able to counter effectively without change. In addition, in an era in which budgetary pressures will continue, a failure to take advantage of opportunities to improve cost effectiveness translates into less capability.
The pace of the advances in information technologies and their adoption make it imperative that our approach to change must be capable of keeping pace or it is doomed to failure from the start. Further, we must recognize that there are two kinds of risks associated with the selection of an approach to change. In addition to the widely recognized risks associated with adverse consequences, there are the risks associated with failure to recognize and capitalize on unexpected opportunities to do things more effectively and efficiently. Thus, risk management becomes the name of the game.
Since we cannot stop, slow down, or control the information explosion or totally prevent unintended consequences, we must design a strategy for introducing information technologies that a) identifies and anticipates negative repercussions and enables us to avoid those repercussions or minimize their impacts, b) recognizes and takes advantage of unexpected opportunities, and c) balances the risks associated with the failure to achieve these two objectives. This strategy must also be capable of facilitating change fast enough to keep pace with exogenous forces impacting technologies and technologies' adoption by potential adversaries.
A technology insertion strategy designed to fully leverage information technologies requires alterations in our concepts of operation, doctrine, organizations, and force structure. Associated changes in logistics, education, and training will also be required. Without these changes, we will only obtain incremental improvements in effectiveness and efficiency while foreclosing opportunities for the order of magnitude improvements necessary to maintain the winning edge.
After analyzing the pros and cons of following the path specified by C4IFTW, it is clear that the potential benefits of information technology far outweigh the potential costs associated with unintended consequences. The specific concerns raised regarding the deleterious effects of excessive information access can be addressed.
However, a cautionary note needs to be struck. The above conclusion is predicated upon the adoption of an effective technology insertion strategy. Without the adoption of a comprehensive and systematic process for introducing and using these technologies, their positive potential will not be realized and the probability of adverse impacts will increase to unacceptable levels.
Business as usual is truly a prescription for disaster. It is recommended that leadership at all levels clearly articulate the need to move out smartly on the transformation to an information age military, a military that embraces rather than resists the changes permitting the full leverage of opportunities afforded by information age technologies. It is further recommended that appropriate investment strategies be developed and supported at the highest levels.
The technological insertion approach proposed here, based upon mission capability packages, stresses that all types of changes required to fully exploit emerging technologies and to manage the consequent risks must be developed as a coherent group. Any new mission capability package also needs to be tested and refined before widespread adoption will be appropriate. Therefore, it is recommended that a joint mission be selected to serve as a prototype to examine the nature of the changes necessitated by the information age and to test the mission capability package approach for developing concepts and implementing change.
Success requires innovative ideas. It is recommended that leaders across the board encourage the development and strengthening of centers of innovation within their organizations.
Information technologies, for the purposes of this analysis, include collection, processing, display, and communications technologies. Processing technologies include data fusion and analysis as well as support for decision making, such as knowledge-based expert systems.
Advances in these technologies have resulted in an enormous amount of near real-time information being potentially available to individuals anywhere at anytime. The "intelligence" level of systems and our confidence in their ability has also increased dramatically to the point where life and death decisions are now routinely being made automatically by computers, albeit with some degree of human supervision.
Even at this early point in the information age, the battlefield is awash with vastly increased amounts and improved quality of information. The dynamics of information dissemination have changed considerably in the latter half of this century, from flowing primarily through command structures to the point where significant amounts of information are obtained outside of the command hierarchy. Thus, what was once a predominantly highly constrained and vertical information flow has evolved into a mix of vertical and horizontal flows. Naturally, the amount, quality, and dynamics of information dissemination have begun to impact the ways decisions are allocated (delegation) and the manner in which those decisions are made.
Thus (as shown in Figure 1), advances in information technologies provide us with significant opportunities both to improve our ability to command and control our forces and to add to and/or improve our force capabilities.
Our information-related vulnerabilities have also increased. Increased reliance on high-tech systems for information collection, interpretation, processing, analysis, communication, and display has made failures in these systems more disruptive. The ubiquitous nature of these technologies provides our potential adversaries with capabilities that help them understand how to attack our information assets and give them the tools to do so. Our command and control systems can no longer be evaluated on the basis of measures of merit (MOMs) related solely to the production of quality information in a timely manner. It is now important to consider such attributes as availability, integrity, and authenticity of the information, its ease of use, and its value-added for decision making.
Command and control has long been a recognized force multiplier, and improvements in information technologies offer tremendous opportunities to perfect existing approaches and explore new ones. Quicker, better decisions will allow us to operate more effectively within the enemy's decision cycle, providing us with an opportunity to control engagements. Improvements in information technologies also enhance the capabilities of our weapons, providing them with increased standoff capability and accuracy.
But the opportunities that new and improved weapons and command and control offer cannot be successfully exploited unless we make appropriate changes to our concepts of operations, doctrine, and organizational structures and provide the required personnel education, training, and programs of exercises.
This is not to imply that we must wait for improvements in technology to actually occur before considering new approaches to command and control, concepts of operation, doctrine, or organizational arrangements. Quite the contrary, if we wait, the inertia associated with developing and implementing these changes will permanently keep us behind the technological power curve. Nor does this imply that changes in command and control or force capabilities must necessarily precede alterations to concepts of operation or doctrine.
In reality, these elements (e.g. concept of operations, doctrine, technology, etc.) constitute a package that, taken as a whole, provides real operational capability that can be applied in a specific mission. A mission-specific perspective is important because no organizational structure or approach to command and control is going to be well suited for the range of likely missions, missions as diverse as an MRC and peace-keeping. New MOMs will be required which must also be mission-related. For example, classic measures, such as taking and holding territory, are not relevant in some mission contexts.
Future war can be envisioned as consisting of three general classes of activities. First, there is the perfection of traditional combat. Second, there is the evolution of what have been called non-traditional missions, a very mixed bag of activities including humanitarian assistance, SOLIC operations, counter-drug operations, peace operations, and counter-proliferation. Third, there is the birth of a form of war unique to the information age.
Information technology not only will change the nature of what we know today as war and operations other than war, but also will spawn a new set of activities that will become familiar to future generations as constituting "warfare" in the 21st century. Today, we might have some difficulty in viewing this set of activities as "war" or as the concern or responsibility of DoD. Current planning and budgeting approaches find it difficult to address these aspects of the future, since they are not extensions of existing military missions and responsibilities.
However, in each of these three cases, information technologies will shape the battlespace and define the possibilities.
The future conventional battlespace will be neither contiguous nor orderly. Tempo will be extraordinarily high by today's standards. Given expected improvements in weapons and command and control, if a target can be seen it will be destroyed. Therefore, survival will depend upon organic defensive capability, suppression, and stealth.
Concepts of operation will center around massing fires rather than forces. Command and control concepts will involve dynamic tradeoffs between ensuring that Rules of Engagement (ROEs) are followed, prioritizing targets, and minimizing the time required to pass information from sensor to shooter.
Commanders will have more direct influence on shaping the battlespace and influencing the initial conditions of the engagement. Staffs will be significantly reduced as organizational structures flatten. Most commands will be automatically disseminated and incorporated in decision aids. Many decisions will be fully automated. Virtually all information will be distributed horizontally.
In short, many significant changes will need to be made to respond to the challenges of the information age. With this much change foreseen down the road, care must be exercised to ensure success.
Since the end of the Cold War, the nation has looked to DoD not only to reduce overall spending, but also to undertake a more diverse set of roles, both at home and around the globe. The unique capabilities developed by the U.S. military to meet the global challenge posed by the Soviet Union and maintained to protect U.S. interests around the world are seen as national assets that can be employed beyond their traditional combat and combat service support roles. Global air and sea lift are important for disaster relief, crisis intervention, humanitarian assistance, and support to peace operations. Similarly, the secure global communications capacity of the U.S. military is a crucial asset in a wide range of situations. The capability of the military to surge from its training bases and to react rapidly when dangerous situations arise far exceeds the capacities of most civilian agencies, for whom surge capacity is a slow and cumbersome process and crisis response is an alien practice. These unique capabilities, combined with the absence of an urgent, direct military threat, have caused the nation to expect greater involvement by DoD in non-traditional missions, such as humanitarian assistance, maintaining law and order when local and state authorities cannot, disaster relief, and countering drug smuggling and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
The international environment has also changed in ways that make non-traditional missions more likely and more diverse. The absence of a single military threat and the need for international legitimacy when force is threatened or used have made coalition operations the norm rather than the exception. International organizations, particularly the United Nations, have become increasingly assertive and have pressed a vision of global interests in peace and cooperation. As the only remaining global superpower, the United States is expected to respond whenever international peace and harmony are threatened and the nations of the world feel action is needed. This has been interpreted to mean that the U.S. must lead when the peace is threatened, international crimes are committed, or human tragedy looms.
The growing internationalism is undercut by parochial clashes and conflicts. Freed from the smothering constraints of communist governments, national movements in Eastern Europe and the former USSR have proven willing to challenge the peace to seek independence. Clans and tribes in Africa have reasserted their interests, sometimes violently. Asia is the site of arms races and uncertain relations between nations. Domestic and international struggles for the long-term control of the Middle East oil wealth and the worldwide resurgence of fundamentalist Islam add to the dangerous international situation. Drug traffickers present a frustrating cross-border challenge. Recent attention has also focused on conflicts arising from environmental issues, particularly disputes over water rights, ocean areas, and transboundary air pollution.
Perhaps most important, media coverage and recent successes have led to very high expectations about the performance of the U.S. military. Minimum casualties among both com-bat forces and civilians is widely perceived as an important and achievable goal. At the same time, the military is expected to be effective by accomplishing missions precisely and quickly. Finally, all this is expected within the context of declining budgets.
As the global society enters the information age, military operations inevitably have been impacted and transformed. Satellite communications, video conferencing, battlefield facsimile machines, digital communications systems, personal computers, the Global Positioning System, and dozens of other transforming tools are already commonplace. Moreover, DoD has gone from being the driving force in information technology to being a specialty user with a new reliance on commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technology in order to acquire and field cost-effective systems. The widespread proliferation of this technology, as well as the increased reliance on COTS, has contributed to a significant increase in our vulnerablity.
The implications of warfare in the information arena are enormous. First, national homelands are not sanctuaries. They can be attacked directly, and potentially anonymously, by foreign powers, criminal organizations, or non-national actors such as ethnic groups, renegade corporations, or zealots of almost any persuasion. Traditional military weapons cannot be inter-posed between the information warfare threat and society.
Second, even where traditional combat conditions exist (hostile military forces face one another in a terrain-defined battlespace), kinetic weapons are only part of the arsenal available to the adversaries. Indeed, electronic espionage and sabotage, psychological warfare attacks delivered via mass media, digital deception, and hacker attacks on the adversaries' command and control systems will be used to neutralize most traditional forces and allow concentration of fire and decisive force at the crucial time and place in the battlespace.
However, warfare in this information age will require enormously complex planning and coordination, very near real time and total situation awareness, decision support systems that filter and fuse information very rapidly and perform simple plan extensions and revisions almost automatically, and massive database and information exchange capabilities to track both friendly and enemy situations as well as rehearse and forecast battlespace dynamics.
This rapidly evolving situation means that the U.S. military must be able to perform the following three fundamental information warfare missions: 1) protect its own information systems, 2) attack and influence the information systems of its adversaries, and 3) leverage U.S. information to gain decisive advantage in a battlespace where national security is threatened.
C4IFTW will bring about a series of changes that will profoundly affect both the nature of information available to the warfighter and how this information will be disseminated. Concerns arise regarding the impacts that these changes will have on the decision process and upon decision makers. Other concerns involve new or increased vulnerabilities associated with information age systems and processes. Finally, a set of concerns centers on our ability to design and acquire systems given the information age realities of increased reliance on COTS hard-ware and software and the ever-shrinking technology life cycle.
An analysis of the specific concerns identified revealed that suggested remedies fell into the following groups:
Education Training, and Exercise
Testing System Design and Specifications
Organization and Procedures
Tools, Models, and Decision Aids
Specific issues, grouped into the five areas identified above, were identified and examined against the types of remedies appropriate to avoid or manage them. As these areas were reviewed and remedies considered, the same basic set of remedies arose over and over again, making it clear that a coherent program of remedies can and should be developed. The remainder of the chapter is devoted to a discussion of each of the following areas of concern and the remedies that are associated with them:
Nature of the available information
Dynamics of information dissemination
Impact on military decision making
Vulnerabilities arising from the information systems themselves
C2 design and acquisition issues
Non-essential information swamping critical information becomes a major issue for C4IFTW. The sheer volume of information received could frustrate the ability to quickly identify critical information for the decision at hand. To avoid situations in which more information than can be processed is presented, decisions must be made about what information is really needed, what is nice to have, what is irrelevant, and what is potentially distracting or confusing.
The requirement for information clearly depends upon both the mission and the situation. Unless individuals are given an opportunity to think through what they really need, requirements for information will always be inflated. Furthermore, this cannot be a "paper" exercise. Individuals with appropriate military experience must be placed in realistic situations and must be allowed to experiment with different amounts and types of information. The lessons learned from these experiments can be used as inputs to requirements and design analyses.
While refining information-related requirements in a more systematic manner will certainly help, it will not be sufficient to avoid the effects of information overload. Better education and training, devoted to information processing under stress and in environments characterized by uncertainty, are needed to develop the necessary skills to handle these information-rich situations. System designs must track these "information domains."
Finally, practice is key to perfecting and maintaining the skills necessary to function in an information-intensive environment. Therefore, exercises, "on the job" training, and continuing professional education need to be added to complete the necessary set of "remedies" associated with increases in the amounts of information that will be provided.
Sophisticated presentations can also obscure vital information and/or mask poor quality or incomplete data. Designing presentations that illuminate issues and facilitate decision making involves tradeoffs and choices between "raw" or unprocessed data and information that contains a mixture of "fact" and inference. Often fusion algorithms or decision aids "fill in the blanks" and provide users with inferences from available data. In some cases, valuable information is lost in the process. The remedies to address this concern include those discussed above as well as the development of better visualization techniques enabling individuals to better understand the nature of the underlying data for a given presentation.
Uncertainty regarding the quality of the information being presented or its integrity could lead to a lack of confidence that inhibits use of information or intelligence systems. Decision makers clearly need confidence in the reliability, currency and accuracy of data in order to act on it. In the information age, the integrity and authenticity of the data are important as well and should be considered as additional MOMs for information. In addition to the remedies discussed above, effective defensive IW protection measures and decision aids need to be developed that can permit decision makers to rely on the authenticity and integrity of the data. Presentation techniques that convey the quality of the underlying data are an important issue in their own right.
Not only is the amount of information available dramatically increasing as the information age unfolds, our ability to widely disseminate this information is keeping pace. As information sources proliferate, individuals are increasingly receiving inputs from multiple sources in a less than coordinated manner. This asynchronous arrival of information has been found to confuse and distract decision makers. Studies have also shown that the weight individuals place upon information may be related to the order in which that information is received. This is potentially dangerous because it can lead to differences in individuals' perceptions of a situation.
The C4IFTW concept virtually assures that individuals will be receiving different information in different sequences. To avoid the potential pitfalls associated with this phenomena, education and training are needed to heighten awareness of these issues and help individuals assimilate new data into their "information domains." Doctrine is needed to ensure that behavior is consistent across the organization. Display techniques are required to facilitate information collection and analysis. Decision aids are needed to help synthesize and fuse information on a continuing basis.
As with other concerns discussed previously, practice is a key element in ensuring that individuals develop and maintain proficiencies in dealing with this potentially confusing phenomenon.
Given the thrust of defense initiatives, particularly DISA's Global Grid and the Army's efforts to digitize the battlefield, there will be an enormous increase in the amount of information moving through communication pipes. With the C4IFTW vision of a mix of information "push" and "pull" with an emphasis on "pull," inability to anticipate or control requests for information could result in system degradation, particularly in times of great stress. In these situations, vital as well as non-vital information flow may be affected. To avoid this potentially crippling scenario, appropriate policy, doctrine, and procedures regarding the use of information retrieval mechanisms need to be developed and instituted. Again, education, training, and practice are required to raise awareness of the problem and to develop the skills needed to operate in a "degraded" information environment. Network tools are also needed to provide warnings when the limits of the distribution system are being approached and to help bring the situation under control. Finally, the design of our information distribution infrastructure needs to maximize robustness. The only certainty is that systems will not be used exactly as intended or under precisely the conditions assumed in their design, development, and testing.
The linkages between information quality, distribution, communications patterns, and decision making are complex and diverse. A review of organization theory, group dynamics, information theory, and past research on command and control offers key insights into these linkages and how they function.
First, when information is freely available, role overlap tends to be commonplace. Superiors tend to micromanage, particularly when the stakes are high; there are no higher stakes than combat. Subordinates, however, when provided with the larger picture historically available only to senior commanders, are also likely to second guess decisions made at higher levels and (in richly connected systems) have the information required to undertake initiatives their superiors may find inappropriate. Avoiding this set of counterproductive behaviors and management practices requires doctrine, appropriate organizational structures, self-discipline, and training.
Second, decision making in an information rich environment increasingly means media attention. The pressures of a "fish bowl" environment affect performance in a variety of often adverse ways. Tendencies to overreact, to act quickly, to appear decisive despite limited information, or to "posture" for the media can only be overcome through realistic training and experience.
When decision making becomes a collective process, which tends to occur when several principals have easy access to one another in a situation they all consider important, decisions tend to converge on options that meet group consensus. This "collective wisdom" has been demonstrated in both theoretical and empirical analyses to tend strongly toward risk averse options or poorly thought out "group-think" alternatives. The "brilliant" alternative or innovative approach foreseen by one individual is unlikely to survive this deliberative process. The potential strength of this collective process, which has excelled at solving complex problems such as those at operational and strategic combat levels, can only be achieved by an open approach to command and control decision making and a doctrine that stresses individual innovation and leadership at all levels.
Fully-connected systems also reduce the need for detailed action coordination by commanders because they make available information that would have to be requested from other elements in a classic military information structure. For example, rather than having to request information about the availability of transportation assets or ammunition needed for a combat operation, a line commander will be able to check stock levels directly through the information grid. This can lead to insufficient or ineffective coordination because subject matter experts are not consulted or because more than one command makes plans to use the same asset but none has a clear commitment of asset availability. Industry experience with richly connected systems has shown that collaborative planning and decision aids (which automatically perform coordination tasks and/or pass information between nodes in decision-making structures) are needed to avoid these problems. In addition, "red team" procedures to cross-check decisions can help to ensure adequate, timely coordination.
As generations of military commanders who have become accustomed to the availability of high density and high quality data about the battlefield mature and move into senior command positions, the expectation of near perfect information and the willingness to delay decisions in the expectation of better information will grow. However, the very rapid pace of future battles, as well as the imperatives of turning inside adversary decision loops, will punish procrastination and inaction severely. The commander who waits for near perfect information will be defeated by one who acts on "good enough" information. Doctrine and effective training for commanders must instill the judgement required to differentiate between sufficient and necessary or desirable information.
Because of the increased pace of battle and the high lethality expected in future battlespace, more and more decisions will be assigned to expert systems. This will include not only "sensor to shooter" linkages where the identification, assignment, and killing of targets must be so rapid that unaided human decision making cannot keep pace; but also other complex domains characterized by rapid developments in logistics planning, air tasking order development, and medivac helicopter routing. However, development, testing, and training are inadequate to ensure confidence in these systems. Testing is particularly important. Technology demonstrations are a good, cost effective way to gain user feedback and to develop positive attitudes toward these systems, but operational testing in realistic field conditions is also necessary to avoid systems failure or lack of use in the field. Failure during early field experience will poison attitudes which can only be overcome slowly and at great expense; thus, care must be taken to involve users early on in the design process.
Finally, by their very nature as automatons, computer systems have no inherent ability to recognize their own limitations. When applied in inappropriate circumstances, they will produce answers which may be "logical" but quite incorrect. The entire process, from concept through design, testing, and doctrine development, must include a recognition of this inherent problem. Ultimately, humans must make sound decisions about when and under what circumstances to rely on automated systems.
As the sophistication of the military information systems support structure grows over time, the inherent vulnerabilities will become more important. Planning and doctrine can minimize these vulnerabilities, but they cannot be safely ignored.
First, all military equipment is in danger of capture. Even rear areas are raided to capture or destroy vital elements of important systems. Hence, steps must be taken to prevent equipment loss, to ensure that losses are known, and to frustrate enemy exploitation of captured systems. Unique keys that identify and authorize users on particular systems, devices that report current locations on key hardware items via satellite, authentication procedures, and security codes will be important defensive systems. Doctrine and training necessary to ensure their proper use will also be necessary.
Moreover, DoD's increasing reliance on COTS hardware and software increases vulnerabilities by making military systems familiar to sophisticated adversaries and by exposing them to soft- ware developers and technicians who are not subject to security regulations. Hence, design and acquisition procedures need to consider security and minimize exposure. Indeed, some systems may be too sensitive to rely on COTS designs or procurements.
As the information "grid" is readily available in the battlespace, the system's vulnerabilities will increase because: (a) the number of valid users with access to the system rises, magnifying the "insider" threat; (b) the number of nodes and connection points grows, providing adversaries with more opportunities to penetrate the system from the outside; and if a compromise does occur, the perpetrator will have access to more information than would have been available in the past.
Indeed, as this system grows and becomes more fully interconnected, the mere task of noticing a penetration or penetration attempt becomes extremely difficult. Often system problems cannot be readily diagnosed as "natural" or the product of information warfare attacks. Even a single penetration can be extremely damaging, particularly in a richly connected information system. Obviously, some data (such as concepts of operations, planning documents, and orders) are extremely sensitive. A well-crafted "worm" or computer virus can spread literally with the speed of light once inside a complex system. Moreover, knowing that databases have been penetrated and may be corrupted can be expected to greatly inhibit decisive and effective decision making. New types of defensive decision aids will be needed to detect, assess, and counter such attacks.
Because the inventory of information systems will inevitably continue to undergo rapid development and replacement, the design and acquisition arenas become crucial in the defense against many vulnerabilities and represent an opportunity for proactive postures to prevent or limit exposure.
As they focus on definitive, exhaustive testing against technical, often arcane, specifications, traditional test and evaluation procedures have developed a bad reputation in the operational community, where they are viewed as often preventing the adoption of a "good enough" system. Technology demonstrations have emerged as a way of exposing new systems to operators and operational conditions without having to address arcane testing standards. Reliance on demonstrations alone can be equally unhealthy because it encourages adoption of systems that have not really been tested at all. A more robust, integrated, and operationally oriented process of user assessment, as well as realistic applications (including baselines and benchmarks to ensure new systems add measurable capability) are needed.
DoD's increasing reliance on COTS is having an almost unnoticed deleterious impact on the U.S. Government's in-house capability to maintain the expertise required to adapt COTS systems and create capabilities not needed by the commercial sector. The engineering base required to meet military standards is an essential element of COTS reliance strategy. A coherent program designed to maintain and exercise this capacity is needed. At least part of this program could be devoted to the post deployment support of information systems. In many cases, these systems will need to be revised in order to maintain interoperability with new systems, a process that necessitates the linkage of COTS systems with military requirements. This means not only building linkages between systems, but also having the capacity to "reengineer" the systems and the processes the systems support.
Because C2 systems are never complete and will be continuously undergoing transitions, the ability to maintain mission capability while upgrading or integrating systems remains crucial. This capability requires planning and creativity. The Army's concept of selecting one unit as a "living test bed" for new ideas and equipment and fielding only what is successful in the chosen environment represents one approach to this problem. Other approaches, such as parallel operation of new and old systems during a test period, may be attractive in some circumstances.
Finally, COTS reliance in military systems is very different from relying on commercial systems. Plans for DoD to rely on commercial satellite communications systems must recognize that other clients can make demands on these systems and may limit DoD's access to them in times of crisis. Moreover, commercial services are not always designed for graceful degradation or fully backed up in the event of system failure. Hence, basic "availability" will be an issue when relying on commercial systems, particularly in times of crisis, and needs to be addressed (a) when contractual arrangements are made and (b) when contingency planning is done for crises.
Some remedies can be built into the processes of technology insertion and utilization. Indeed, these remedies represent a crucial line of defense against unintended consequences. The Mission Capability Package (MCP) approach, which permits analysis of each system in the context of the military mission(s) to be supported and encompasses the full range of tools by which problems can be addressed or managed (from technical requirements to training), is the key to success.
Reviewing the extensive lists of concerns identified and the relevant remedies, five action areas emerge: 1) professional military education and training; 2) doctrine, concepts of operation, and command arrangements; 3) technical requirements to perform missions; 4) system design; and 5) organizational issues. In addition, acquisition reform, particularly transformation of test and evaluation from an arcane process to a robust, holistic, and functionally-oriented process, is essential.
Not all remedies are off the shelf. Basic research, applied research, and programs of development will be needed in some areas. For example, defensive decision aids may require basic research. Similarly, decision maker behavior under stress is well understood in the abstract, but may need applied research in a military context before sound design practices can be specified for information presentation and decision support. The tools for realistic training, simulations, and virtual reality programs may need to be developed, although the technologies for them already exist.
Because the unintended consequences of adopting information age technologies are 1) virtually ubiquitous, 2) complex enough to require more than one type of remedy, and 3) involve actions among various organizations that need to be closely linked or coordinated in order to be effective, the orchestration of appropriate remedies into a coherent solution approach is crucial.
To be successful, the approach must allow, even force, those responsible for conceptualizing, designing, developing, and implementing information age technologies to recognize potential unintended consequences and relevant remedies, and to integrate these remedies into existing structures and processes while facilitating the required changes to those structures and processes. This is a tall order.
The stakes here are very high. The major source of adverse unintended consequences is a lack of coherence or a conflict among the different elements of an existing MCP resulting from uncoordinated changes in MCP components. For example, when an organization is provided information that was previously unavailable,
that organization may take advantage of the opportunity for improvement and perform a task differently. This change in behavior could create a conflict in the way the organization relates to other organizations if other adjustments (e.g. doctrine) are not made. Thus, a major advantage of using the MCP approach is that the approach facilitates the early identification of potential conflicts within proposed MCP concepts and provides a mechanism for testing coordinated sets of changes designed to achieve or maintain MCP coherence.
The MCP approach (depicted in Figure 2) begins with a clearly defined mission or set of missions and seeks to define a) what is required to meet the mission(s) successfully and b) how those requirements may differ from the current force structure, command and control arrangements, organizations, doctrine, and technologies. Solutions, or initial MCP concepts, are developed in the concept development phase based on prior research, lessons learned, and expert judgement. Their strength lies in their thorough-ness and coherence, from a clear mission statement to organizational and force structure, doctrinal approach, and technology needs.
The MCP approach calls for exposing the MCP concept to review and critique by the operational community and domain experts early and often in order to refine and improve the concept. This review may take the form of demonstrations, experiments, exercises, simulations, modeling, or expert criticism. What matters is that, as the concept matures, the process becomes increasingly focused and that required refinements are incorporated into the MCP. As consensus and supporting evidence emerge, the refinement process is transformed into a development process characterized by a "build a little, test a little" philosophy. Finally, the MCP moves into its implementation phase.
This implementation phase is also comprehensive in nature. Systems may be built, but not in isolation. Doctrine development, command reorganization, relevant professional military education and training, as well as the technical systems themselves, are all specified.
This process has the comprehensiveness, coherence, and orientation necessary to transform ideas and technologies into real operational capability while avoiding adverse unintended consequences. Hence, MCPs are the recommended approach to ensure effective remedies and to minimize risk.
This section deals with the specific initiatives and actions that can be under-taken to ensure that the Department of Defense avoids, mitigates, and manages the unintended consequences of adopting information age technologies. There are a number of opportunities for DoD leadership in this arena. These include providing vision to ensure the community understands the problem and the required types of solutions, articulating particular operational needs, influencing the investments in information systems and their implementation, using joint doctrine to reap the benefits of new technologies while guarding against inherent problems, establishing professional military education and training requirements, and providing an operational perspective on research priorities and the test and evaluation process.
The vision needed includes a determination to harness and leverage information technologies as an essential part of the requirement to maintain the military strength of the United States in the global arena and to protect against asymmetric vulnerabilities arising from foreign exploitation of information technologies. More-over, this vision should stress the need to tailor systems to missions and to focus attention on mission capability packages as the vehicle for addressing this problem.
Three types of requirements can be identified: operational, technical, and budgetary. Warfighters can and should help shape the requirements for information systems and influence DoD's investments in these by playing an active role in the MCP process. The technical and operational communities need to work much more closely together to develop new MCP concepts and to refine these concepts. Given the set of inertias involved in some components of an MCP, these concepts need to be incubated and nurtured long before the technology reaches the market-place. Defense planners and budgeteers need to think more in terms of MCPs than in terms of individual programs, using MCPs to link programmatic activities needed to implement or maintain an MCP. This would help ensure that all of the necessary components are adequately funded and properly synchronized, thus eliminating one significant cause for an MCP's lack of completeness or coherence.
The doctrine community should be involved at the beginning of the process. When the nature and distribution of information changes, radically new ways of doing business and complications in the old ways of doing business emerge. In many cases, new or modified doctrine can ease or simplify these changes. Changes in doctrine are often essential if the benefits of new information systems are to be realized and inconsistencies between capacity and doctrine avoided.
Involving the doctrine community early will also facilitate the key process of "embedding" doctrine in new systems. Doctrine is being written or changed when decisions are made about who will automatically receive some class of information, who has the work stations from which a database can be updated, or who is able to access and use some class of data. This process needs to be consciously and carefully monitored. Unless the doctrine community is involved, technical personnel responding to technical criteria and standards will be, in effect, making doctrine. If, however, the doctrine community is involved, new systems being fielded will contain and help support current doctrine.
Finally, the movement toward on-line doctrine delivery systems should be supported and rein-forced. The process of doctrine development tends to be slow and cumbersome, in many ways because of the number of people and organizations involved. Automation of the doctrine development and review process will enable simultaneous review at many locations, ease the process of updating or modifying drafts, and enable almost instantaneous distribution of new doctrine publications. Field units could also reduce the paper they maintain if they had global access to publications they use infrequently.
Professional Military Education (PME) must serve as a change agent for the military grappling with the information age. Raising awareness of the threat, opportunities, and vulnerabilities inherent in the changes underway can best be done through the PME structure. If a "teaching hospital" model is adopted so that this new information is conveyed in the context of "real world" experience and actions, the impact can be direct and effective.
While some progress has been made toward bringing PME into the information age, the process needs to be accelerated. This involves changes in the curriculum so that students become current in information technologies (including their advantages, vulnerabilities, limits, and applications) as these impact and are likely to impact military affairs; developing methods of teaching that enable (and require) PME students to become computer literate and knowledgeable of how to obtain information electronically; and developing connectivity within and between PME institutions as well as between these institutions and the simulation and training centers with which they have natural synergy.
Training is perhaps the arena of military affairs where information technology has already had its most profound effect, but also remains an arena where much more can and should be done. Educated military professionals are ready to train on information systems, but these systems must be mastered and their practical limits learned in the more realistic training environment. Moreover, improvements in virtual reality technologies and connectivity provide options for diverse mission rehearsal and training at a fraction of the cost of field exercises. Defining when and where these lower cost training opportunities exist and taking advantage of them must remain a priority. The most cost effective systems will be those that possess embedded training packages and provide near real time feedback, easing the comprehension and retention of lessons learned.
There is a need for more operationally-oriented command and control research, research that focuses on exploring command concepts and approaches rather than on the technologies that support them.
Another significant contribution can be made to reducing costs, accelerating schedules, and improving the quality of new information systems if the operational, technical, and test and evaluation communities can come together to develop a new approach to T&E. What is needed is an approach that is less "arm's length" and adversarial and is more supportive of an evolutionary design and acquisition strategy.
Currently, the T&E community tends to focus on easily measurable technical standards while avoiding the more difficult task of assessing the operational capabilities and impacts of new systems or their defenses against unintended consequences. Tests are typically pass/fail rather than designed to provide constructive feedback. This approach is more in keeping with traditional acquisition practices than with the evolutionary acquisition processes, adopted more than a decade ago, that have been proven essential in the command and control arena.
A wide range of potential important unintended consequences were identified in the analysis, some representing vulnerabilities, others opportunities that can be exploited if understood, and others that will require or enable new ways of doing business. While these consequences represent challenges, they are changes that cannot and should be neither avoided nor taken lightly. More importantly, those consequences identified can be managed if a coherent, holistic approach, such as the Mission Capability Package, is adopted and pursued energetically.
While systems designers can bypass some problems, the real solutions tend to cluster around PME, training, and doctrine. Success will also require some new knowledge, so both basic and applied research will be needed. Acquisition and T&E reform will also be required if this process is to be fully successful.
Senior DoD management can positively impact the prevention and management of these conflicts by developing and articulating a vision and by demonstrating the importance of these issues through personal involvement and leadership. Mission Capability Packages that ensure linkage between the information systems, the missions for which they are relevant, the needs of the commanders in the field, the force structure, doctrine, training, and education represent the optimal coherent approach.
"The doctrines of Europe," Jefferson wrote, "were that men in numerous associations cannot be restrained within the limits of order and justice, except by forces physical and moral wielded over them by authorities independent of their will. . . . We (the founders of the new American democracy) believe that man was a rational animal, endowed by nature with rights, and with an innate sense of justice, and that he could be restrained from wrong, and protected in right, by moderate powers, confided to persons of his own choice and held to their duties by dependence on his own will." To post-Freudian ears, this kind of language seems touchingly quaint and ingenuous. Human beings are a good deal less rational and innately just than the optimists of the eighteenth century supposed. On the other hand they are neither so morally blind nor so hopelessly unreasonable as the pessimists of the twentienth would have us believe. In spite of the Id and the Unconscious, in spite of endemic neurosis and the prevalence of low IQ's, most men and women are probably decent enough and sensible enough to be trusted with the direction of their own destinies.
Democratic institutions are devices for reconciling social order with individual freedom and initiative, and for making the immediate power of a country's rulers subject to the ultimate power of the ruled. The fact that, in Western Europe and America, these devices have worked, all things considered, not too badly is proof enough that the eighteenth century optimists were not entirely wrong. Given a fair chance, I repeat; for the fair chance is an indispensible prerequisite. No people that passes abruptly from a state of subservience under the rule of a despot to the completely unfamiliar state of political independence can be said to have a fair chance of being able to govern itself democratically. Liberalism flourishes in an atmosphere of prosperity and declines as declining prosperity makes it necessary for the government to intervene ever more frequently and drastically in the affairs of its subjects. Over-population and over-organization are two conditions which ... deprive a society of a fair chance of making democratic institutions work effectively. We see, then, that there are certain historical, economic, demographic and technological conditions which make it very hard for Jefferson's rational animals, endowed by nature with inalienable rights and an innate sense of justice, to exercise their reason, claim their rights and act justly within a democratically organized society. We in the West have been supremely fortunate in having been given a fair chance of making the great experiment in self-government. Unfortunately, it now looks as though , owing to recent changes in our circumstances, this infinitely precious fair chance were being, little by little, taken away from us. And this, of course, is not the whole story. These blind impersonal forces are not the only enemies of individual liberty and democratic institutions. There are also forces of another, less abstract character, forces that can be deliberately used by power-seeking individuals whose aim is to establish partial or complete control over their fellows. Fifty years ago, when I was a boy, it seemed completely self-evident that the bad old days were over, that torture and massacre, slavery, and the persecution of heretics, were things of the past. Among people who wore top hats, traveled in trains, and took a bath every morning such horrors were simply out of the question. After all, we were living in the twentieth century. A few years later these people who took daily baths and went to church in top hats were committing atrocities on a scale undreamed of by the benighted Africans and Asiatics. In the light of recent history it would be foolish to suppose that this sort of thing cannot happen again. It can and, no doubt, it will. But in the immediate future there is some reason to believe that the punitive measures of 1984 will give place to the reinforcements and manipulations of Brave New World.
There are two kinds of propaganda - rational propaganda in favor of action that is consonant with the enlightened self-interest of those who make it and those to whom it is addressed, and non-rational propaganda that is not consonant with anybody's enlightened self-interest, but is dictated by, and appeals to, passion. Were the actions of individuals are concerned there are motives more exhalted than enlightened self-interest, but where collective action has to be taken in the fields of politics and economics, enlightened self-interest is probably the highest of effective motives. If politicians and their constituents always acted to promote their own or their country's long-range self-interest, this world would be an earthly paradise. As it is, they often act against their own interests, merely to gratify their least credible passions; the world, in consequence, is a place of misery. Propaganda in favor of action that is consonant with enlightened self-interest appeals to reason by means of logical arguements based upon the best available evidence fully and honestly set forth. Propaganda in favor of action dictated by the impulses that are below self-interest offers false, garbled or incomplete evidence, avoids logical argument and seeks to influence its victims by the mere repetition of catchwords, by the furious denunciation of foreign or domestic scapegoats, and by cunningly associating the lowest passions with the highest ideals, so that atrocities come to be perpetrated in the name of God and the most cynical kind of Realpolitik is treated as a matter of religious principle and patriotic duty.
In John Dewey's words, "a renewal of faith in common human nature, in its potentialities in general, and in its power in particular to respond to reason and truth, is a surer bulwark against totalitarianism than a demonstration of material success or a devout worship of special legal and political forms." The power to respond to reason and truth exists in all of us. But so, unfortunately, does the tendency to respond to unreason and falsehood - particularly in those cases where falsehood evokes some enjoyable emotion, or where the appeal to unreason strikes some answering chord in the primitive, subhuman depths of our being. In certain feilds of activity men have learned to respond to reason and truth pretty consistently. The authors of learned articles do not appeal to the passions of their fellow scientists and technologists. They set forth what, to the best of their knowledge, is the truth about some particular aspect of reality, they use reason to explain the facts they have observed and they support their point of view with arguements that appeal to reason in other people. All this is fairly easy in the feilds of physical science and technology. It is much more difficult in the fields of politics and religion and ethics. Here the relevant facts often elude us. As for the meaning of the facts, that of course depends upon the particular system of ideas, in terms of which you choose to interpret them. And these are not the only difficulties that confront the rational truth-seeker. In public and in private life, it often happens that there is simply no time to collect the relevant facts or to weigh their significance. We are forced to act on insufficient evidence and by a light considerably less steady than that of logic. With the best will in the world, we cannot always be completely truthful or consistently rational. All that is in our power is to be as truthful and rational as circumstances permit us to be, and to respond as well as we can to the limited truth and imperfect reasoning offered for our consideration by others.
"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free," said Jefferson, "it expects what never was and never will be. . . . The people cannot be safe without information. Where the press is free, and every man able to read, all is safe." Across the Atlantic another passionate believer in reason was thinking about the same time, in almost precisely similar terms. Here is what John Stuart Mill wrote of his father, the utilitarian philosopher, James Mill: "So complete was his reliance upon the influence of reason over the minds of mankind, whenever it is allowed to reach them, that he felt as if all would be gained, if the whole population were able to read, and if all sorts of opinions were allowed to be addressed to them by word or in writing, and if by the sufferage they could nominate a legislature to give effect to the opinions they had adopted." All is safe, all would be gained! Once more we hear the note of eighteenth-century optimism. Jefferson , it is true, was a realist as well as an optimist. He knew by bitter experience that the freedom of the press can be shamefully abused. "Nothing," he declared, "can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper." And yet, he insisted (and we can only agree with him), "within the pale of truth, the press is a noble institution, equally the friend of science and civil liberty." Mass communication, in a word, is neither good nor bad; it is simply a force and, like any other force, it can be used either well or ill. Used in one way, the press, the radio and the cinema are indispensible to the survival of democracy. Used in another way, they are among the most powerful weapons in the dictator's armory. In the field of mass communications as in almost every other field of enterprise, technological progress has hurt the Little Man and helped the Big Man. As lately as fifty years ago, every democratic country could boast a great number of small journals and local newspapers. Thousands of country editors expressed thousands of independent opinions. Somewhere or other almost anybody could get almost anything printed,. Today the press is still legally free; but most of the little papers have disappeared. The cost of wood pulp, of modern printing machinery and of syndicated news is too high for the Little Man. In the totalitarian East there is political censorship, and the media of mass communication are controlled by the State. In the democratic West there is economic censorship and the media of mass communication are controlled by members of the Power Elite. Censorship by rising costs and the concentration of communication power in the hands of a few big concerns is less objectionable than State ownership and government propaganda; but certainly it is not something of which a Jeffersonian democrat could possibly approve.
In regard to propaganda the early advocates of universal literacy and a free press envisaged only two possibilities: the propaganda might be true, or it might be false. They did not forsee what in fact has happened, above all in our Western capitalist democracies - the development of a vast mass communications industry, concerned in the main neither with the true nor the false, but with the unreal, the more or less totally irrelevant. In a word, they failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions.
In the past most people never got a chance of fully satisfying this appetite. They might long for distractions, but the distractions were not provided. Christmas came but once a year, feasts were "solemn and rare," there were few readers and very little to read, and the nearest approach to a neighborhood movie theater was the parish church, where the performances, though infrequent, were somewhat monotonous. For conditions even remotely comparable to those now prevailing we must return to imperial Rome, where the populace was kept in good humor by frequent, gratuitous doses of many kinds of entertainment - from poetical dramas to gladitorial fights, from recitations of Virgil to all-out boxing, from concerts to military reviews and public executions. But even in Rome there was nothing like the non-stop distraction now provided by newspapers and magazines, by radio, television and the cinema. In Brave New World non-stop distractions of the most fascinating nature (the feelies, orgy-porgy, centrifugal bumblepuppy) are deliberately used as instruments of policy, for the purpose of preventing people from paying too much attention to the realities of the social and political situation. The other world of religion is different from the other world of entertainment; but they resemble one another in being most decidedly "not of this world." Both are distractions and, if lived in too continuously, both can become, in Marx's phrase, "the opium of the people" and so a threat to freedom. Only the vigilant can maintain their liberties, and only those who are constantly and intelligently on the spot can hope to govern themselves effectively by democratic procedures. A society, most of whose members spend a great part of their time, not on the spot, not here and now and in the calculable future, but somewhere else, in the irrelevant other worlds of sport and soap opera, of mythology and metephysical fantasy, will find it hard to resist the encroachments of those who would manipulate and control it.
In their propaganda today's dictators rely for the most part on repetition, supression and rationalization - the repetition of catchwords which they wish to be accepted as true, the supression of facts which they wish to be ignored, the arousal and rationalization of passions which may be used in the interests of the Party or the State. As the art and science of manipulation come to be better understood, the dictators of the future will doubtless learn to combine these techniques with the non-stop distractions which, in the West, are now threatening to drown in a sea of irrelevance the rational propaganda essential to the maintenance of individual liberty and the survival of democratic institutions.
Denial of Service Attacks how do they work http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1007-200-1546362.html
Military hacking - cryptome.org http://cryptome.org/mil-hack.htm
Alex's Infowars.com site http://www.infowars.com has specific sections on different aspects of the issue and is essentially a news site
NOT Alex Jones - (pretending to be?) - Electronic civil defence and Military uses of hacking - http://www.infowar.com/mil_c4i/mil_c4i.shtml
Military research/educational sites - http://carlisle-www.army.mil