Black Programs and the Future of Propaganda
Fri Nov 14 21:06:41 2003
America's Ministry of Propaganda -- Part Four
By Gar Smith / The-Edge
November 7, 2003
Black Programs and the Future of Propaganda
The bogus "surrender" of Iraq's 51st division raised a "profound question" for
Gardiner: "If we would manipulate truth, would we also manipulate evidence? That
would be very serious. Is that what the Secretary of Defense meant when he said
he was going to be doing strategic influence?"
Milt Bearden, a former CIA manager for clandestine operations has a related
question: "It will be important to learn who was behind the fake Niger document
[alleging Iraq's attempt to obtain uranium ore] and why and what other
information driving American policies might carry their fingerprints."
The falsehoods about Iraq's alleged attempt to purchase African uranium turned
out to be based on a forged document. Gardiner wonders why no one in the
administration is asking who forged the document? Who stood to gain from this
unconscionable act of "creating evidence"? Gardiner believes that the American
people have "a need to know."
Another probable "black program" identified by Gardiner involved the planting of
a false story that Saddam Hussein had taken refuge in the Russian Embassy in
Baghdad. The story served to slime the Russians, who had refused to back Bush's
In the oddest example of perception management, Pentagon media masters actually
created a website to promote world peace. The "EmpowerPeace" website appeared to
represent a citizen's anti-war movement. The goal seemed to be to foster the
impression that the US people (and especially US children) were essentially
peace-loving. "It looked like a grassroots effort," Gardiner recalls. "It seems
to have been aimed at the Arab audience set."
The EmpowerPeace website didn't last long. The reason, Gardiner suspects, is
that its creation probably violated the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948, which bans the
domestic dissemination of government propaganda.
Gardiner found another "strange website" called "The Iraq Crisis Bulletin,"
which offered daily updates and reports from around the world. The site was
recommended by the American Press Institute but there was "absolutely no
indication of the sponsor of the site." With a little research, Gardiner
discovered that "the articles were [written] by Voice of America
The problem with this, Gardiner notes, is that "the Voice of America is
prohibited from doing communications for the American press. But, during Gulf
II, it was getting the message to them." The VOA refused to respond to
Gardiner's requests for information on "The Iraq Crisis Bulletin."
America's Ministry Of
Part 1 A Strategy Of Lies
Part 2 Transforming Language
Part 3 Targeting Critics And PsyOps
Part 4 Black Programs And The Future
Solutions Are Needed to Control Information Warfare
Sam Gardiner has become the Paul Revere of our generation. He has raised a cry:
It is no longer "The Redcoats are coming!" but "The PSYOPS are coming!"
"We need a major investigation," Gardiner insists. "We need restrictions on
which parts of the government can do information operations. We should not do
information operations against friends. We have to get this back in control."
One remedy is the Smith-Mundt Act, which was created in the aftermath of WWII
with the intent of protecting American citizens from brainwashing by covert
government propaganda campaigns. Unfortunately, Gardiner has discovered, the
Smith-Mundt Act "no longer works." We became collateral damage, a target group
of messages intended for other groups."
Gardiner's findings have not yet received due attention from the US media and
with good cause. Gardiner's investigation revealed that the mainstream media not
only failed to stand up to the government and insist on the truth, they all too
often submitted in complicit cooperation with the government. Even in peacetime,
the corporate media is an "embedded" media.
Gardiner has some hard questions for America's press barons:
# "How was it that the Washington Post took classified information on the
Jessica Lynch story and published it just the way the individual leaking it in
the Pentagon wanted?"
# "Why did the New York Times let itself be used by 'intelligence officials' on
# "Why did the Washington Times never seem to question a leak they were given?"
# "Why were newspapers in the UK better than those in the US in raising
questions before and during the war?"
Since releasing his study, Gardiner has had the opportunity to talk with many
people in the print media. While many have appeared "quite interested" in his
findings, Gardiner admits that he has "not heard any self-criticism from
reporters to whom I have talked." In conversations with TV producers and
reporters, Gardiner found the prevailing reaction was that "the whole story is
just too complex to tell."
Gardiner's most disheartening reaction came during a presentation at "a major
Washington think tank." Most of the Washington veterans in the audience kept
asking, "So, what's new?" And when Gardiner opined that there was "no passion
for truth in those who were taking us to war," he distinctly heard callous
laughter breaking out among his listeners.
It is the sound of that brittle laughter that keeps Sam Gardiner going. Things
must be changed. The dragons of information warfare must be slain.
As Gardiner says: "I pain for our democratic process when I find individuals not
angered at being deceived."
Gar Smith is Editor Emeritus of Earth Island Journal, Roving Editor at The-Edge
(www.the-edge.org) and co-founder of Environmentalists Against War (www.envirosagainstwar.org).
For more information contact:
Sam Gardiner's complete report is available online in six PDF files at :www.indybay.org/news/2003/10/1653148.php
Sam Gardiner may be reached at: SamGard@aol.com
For more information on the Bush administration's use of propaganda to misinform
the public and promote wars of domination, see Weapons of Mass Deception, by
John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton and visit the website of PRWatch:
Weapons of Mass Deception
by Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber
August 1, 2003
Edge Exclusive! Exceprts from Weapons of Mass Deception
Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber's devastating new exposť, Weapons of Mass
Deception: The Uses of Propaganda in Bush's War on Iraq" is published by Jeremy
# The Bush administration began planning the Iraq invasion even before the 2002
presidential elections and were preparing for a "project launch" on Operation
Iraqi Freedom prior to September 2002;
# The White House used misinformation to create the false impression that Iraq
was behind the 9/11 attacks;
# Forged documents to build the case that Iraq possessed huge stockpiles of
banned weapons, and
# Hired a secretive public relations firm to create the anti-Hussein "opposition
group" that became one of the driving forces behind the rush to war.
The following edited excerpt is drawn from several chapters of the new book in
an attempt to capture some of the range and depth of this extraordinary book.
As US tanks stormed into Baghdad on April 9, 2003, television viewers in the
United States got their first feel-good moment of the war -- a chance to witness
the toppling of a giant statue of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Americans
channel-flipping over breakfast between Fox, CNN and CBS all saw the same
images, broadcast live from Baghdad's Firdos Square. "If you don't have
goosebumps now," gushed Fox News anchor David Asman, "you will never have them
in your life."
But there was also a "self-conscious and forced quality" to the images, observed
the Boston Globe. "Whenever the cameras pulled back, they revealed a relatively
small crowd at the statue." A Reuters long-shot photo of Firdos Square showed
that it was nearly empty, ringed by US tanks and marines. A BBC photo sequences
showed a sparse crowd of approximately 200 people -- much smaller than the
demonstrations only nine days later, when thousands of Iraqis took to the
streets calling for US-led forces to leave the city.
It is worth asking whether the toppling of Saddam was as spontaneous as it was
made to appear. If this sense seemed a bit too picture-perfect, perhaps there is
a reason. Consider, for example, the remarks that public relations consultant
John W. Rendon (who has worked extensively on Iraq-related projects during the
past decade on behalf of clients including the Pentagon and the CIA) made on
February 29, 1996 before an audience of cadets at the US Air Force Academy. "I
am an information warrior and a perception manager," Rendon said. He reminded
the cadets that when victorious troops rolled into Kuwait City at the end of the
first Persian Gulf war, they were greeted by hundreds of Kuwaitis waving small
"Did you ever stop to wonder," Rendon asked, "how the people of Kuwait City,
after being held hostage for seven long and painful months, were able to get
hand-held American, and for that matter, the flags of other coalition
countries?" He paused for effect. "Well, you now know the answer. That was one
of my jobs then."
When Rummy Met Saddam
Although an enormous number of words have been written about Iraq since the
summer of 1992, you can search diligently and find very few references in the
mainstream media to the thoughts and statements that US policy makers and media
pundits made about Iraq during the 1980s while the Ira-Iraq War raged.
A December 20m 2002 story by Washington Post reporter Michael Dobbs offers one
of the rare exceptions. Dobbs reviewed thousands of declassified government
documents and reported that "US officials saw Baghdad as a bulwark against
militant Shiite extremism. That was enough to turn [Saddam] Hussein into a
strategic partner. The administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush
authorized the sale to Iraq of numerous items that had both military and
civilian applications, including poisonous chemicals and deadly biological
viruses, such as anthrax and bubonic plague."
In 1988, reports emerged that Saddam Hussein had used chemical weapons against
his own citizens -- Iraqi Kurds in the town of Halabja. Several US Senators
introduced the "Prevention of Genocide Act of 1988," which sought to impose
sanctions against Iraq for its continuing use of chemical weapons and other
human rights violations.
The act passed the senate unanimously but the Reagan White House launched a
campaign to turn it back and succeeded in killing the bill. Former Ambassador
Peter Galbraith recalls that "Secretary of State Colin Powell was then the
national security adviser who orchestrated Ronald Reagan's decision to give
Hussein a pass for gassing the Kurds. Dick Cheney, then a prominent Republican
congressman, could have helped push the sanctions legislation but did not."
In the fall of 1989, only nine months before Iraq's invasion of Kuwait,
then-President Bush overrode the objections of officials in three different
government agencies and signed a top-secret directive ordering closer ties with
Baghdad and opening the way for $1 billion in new aid.
When asked about the period, Secretary of State Donald Rumsfeld develops a
remarkably hazy memory. During a hearing on September 19, 2002, US Senator
Robert Byrd asked Rumsfeld directly, "Did the United States help Iraq to acquire
the building blocks of biological weapons during the Iran-Iraq War?"
"Certainly not to my knowledge," Rumsfeld replied.
Byrd read a passage from Newsweek in which the US role was detailed.
"I have never heard anything like what you've read," Rumsfeld responded. "IK
have no knowledge of it whatsoever."
Two days later, CNN reporter Jaime McIntyre raised the topic again. This time,
he had video footage on hand that seemed to take Rumsfeld off guard. "Let me
take you back to about 20 years ago," McIntyre began. "The date, I believe, was
December 20, 1983. You were meeting with Saddam Hussein, I think we have some
video of that meeting. Tell me what was going on during this meeting?"
"Where did you get this video," Rumsfeld responded, "from the Iraqi television?"
"We dug it out of the CNN library," McIntyre replied.'
"I see," Rumsfeld said. "Isn't that interesting. There I am." Pressed further,
Rumsfeld suddenly did manage to remember a detail, saying that, "I cautioned him
about the use of chemical weapons, as a matter of fact." There is no record of
any such warning in any official documents or other record from Rumsfeld's trip.
War Is Sell
In 1991, a few months after the end of Operation Desert Storm, then-president
George H. W. Bush signed a presidential directive ordering a CIA covert
operation to unseat Saddam Hussein. In turn, the CIA hired public relations
consultant John W. Rendon to organize anti-Saddam propaganda campaigns inside
In what may have been the Rendon Group's most significant project, in 1992, it
helped organize the Iraqi National Congress (INC), which represented the first
major attempt by opponents of Saddam Hussein to join forces. According to a
February 1998 ABC News report, Rendon came up with the name for the INC and
channeled $12 million of covert CIA funding to it between 1992 and 1996. In
October 1992, Ahmed Chalabi, a Rendon prot?∑ was appointed to head the group.
Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle liked Chalabi in part because he was one of the
few members of the Iraqi opposition who shared their future visions for Iraq. In
September 2002, Intelligence Online, an international newsletter for diplomats,
politicians and business executives, reported that there was "a clear split"
between Chalabi's INC and the other main opposition group, the Supreme Council
for Islamic Revolution in Iraq (CIRI). The two groups differed over "how Iraq's
oil riches should be handled. Backed by Iran, SCIRI believes reserves should be
nationalized and managed in the interests of the country's communities. The INC,
for its part, believes a private consortium should be set up to explore and
extract oil. The consortium would include some of the world's biggest oil
companies, such as ChevronTexaco, ExxonMobil and BP" plus oil companies in
France and Russia, provided they agreed in the UN Security Council to vote for
war with Iraq.
The Washington Post reported that the White House had created an Office of
Global Communications (OGC) to "coordinate the administration's foreign policy
message and supervise America's image abroad." In September, the Times of London
reported that the OGC would spend $200 million for a "PR blitz against Saddam
Hussein" aimed "at American and foreign audiences, particularly in Arab nations
skeptical of US policy in the region." The campaign would use "advertising
techniques to persuade crucial target groups that the Iraqi leader must be
Return of the Repressed
Two days before Saddam Hussein's regime crumbled, the New York Times reported
that the INC had returned to the country. "Hundreds of Iraqi fighters opposed to
Saddam Hussein have been airlifted into southern Iraq to battle the remnants of
his military and, more importantly, to serve as the vanguard of a new national
army," it stated.
The "Free Iraqi Forces," dressed in American military desert fatigues and flown
into a makeshift US air base near Nasiriyah, were not your typical liberation
fighters. For one thing, there were no reports that the actually did any
fighting, or that they were
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