Controlling the news media
As national sovereignties, infrastructures and alliances are demolished to make way for new ones, it becomes necessary to try out the theories in the real world, in this case on the battlefields. The Gulf War was one such "field test." The Balkan wars were another ... September 11, 2001 was the final dress rehearsal for the terrors yet to come.
Controlling the news media
© 2002 by Jim Moore, from the forthcoming book "Big Oil - Big War: The true story of September 11, 2001 and the 'War on Terror' - Writer's Club Press: San Jose, New York, Lincoln, Shanghai.
As national sovereignties, infrastructures and alliances are demolished to make way for new ones, it becomes necessary to try out the theories in the real world, in this case on the battlefields. The Gulf War was one such "field test," under cover of an "international alliance" to destroy a stubborn nation - Iraq. It provided the opportunity to test the effectiveness of multi-national forces and experimental weapons. For such tests to work, a number of conditions have to be met - control of the news media, effective global propaganda structures, and the economic power to force unwilling or reluctant nation-states to toe the line. The proper provocations must then be manufactured to justify the military actions, even if after the fact.
"As the war in Bosnia-Herzegovina got underway in mid-1992, American journalists who repeated unconfirmed stories of Serbian atrocities could count on getting published, with a chance of a Pulitzer prize. Indeed, the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for international reporting was shared between the two authors of the most sensational "Serb atrocity stories" of the year: Roy Gutman of Newsday and John Burns of the New York Times. In both cases, the prize-winning articles were based on hearsay evidence of dubious credibility."
Source: Seeing Yugoslavia Through a Dark Glass: Politics, Media, and the Ideology of Globalization - Diana Johnstone - Covert Action Quarterly
Where "journalists" could find no evidence of the atrocities they claimed, they manufactured such as evidence, such as CNN did.
CNN: The New Hearst
(Note: William Randolph Hearst openly bragged about using false reports in his newspapers to help start the Spanish-American War.)
The "rationale" for the all-out assault on Yugoslavia, including numerous civilian targets, is that it's needed to stop the atrocities being committed by the Serbs. This one-sided version of events was promoted non-stop by CNN since the civil war in Bosnia. Here's just one example of the blatant misrepresentation that CNN has engaged in while reporting on the tragic situation in the Balkans.
"... Another big CNN story early in the Bosnian conflict was the killing, allegedly by Serb snipers, of two "Muslim babies" on a bus. Who could not have been horrified by the tragic sight of the funeral service for those innocent Muslim babies?
Where were Ms. Amanpour and CNN to set the record straight? If it had not been for French 2 TV that covered the funeral, this writer would never have known that the babies were Serbian (not Muslim) killed by a Muslim sniper, as was made painfully clear by the presence of a Serbian Orthodox priest conducting the funeral service. . . before it was interrupted by a grenade attack.
However, in the CNN coverage the priest had been cropped out, leaving the American audience to believe that Serbs were not only the assassins, but were also responsible for the grenade attack."
Source: Stella Jatras, The Washington Times. March 14, 1999 "Odd alliance at State, CNN?"
This was true in Panama. It was true in Iraq. It was true in Grenada. It was true in Yugoslavia. And it is true in Afghanistan, as well as several other countries where this NOW concept has been tested, refined and strengthened to prepare it for the final battle - that against the American people themselves.
In previous military assaults, the necessary "incidents" have been simply made up. Some recent examples:
In Sudan, a $100,000,000 pharmaceutical plant was destroyed because it was said to be manufacturing "nerve gas." The charge has since been dropped and $25 million of the owner's money seized by the US has been returned - 18 months later.
In Panama, long time CIA asset and George Bush colleague Manuel Noriega was declared an international drug dealer and US special operations units fanned out through Panama creating "incidents," (ex. taking shots at US military installations and, dressed in civilian clothes, provoking Panamanian military into aggressive acts "against American citizens.")
In Grenada, the US claimed the island had been turned into a storehouse for Communist weaponry and that an airfield under construction there was being built to stage attacks on the US. No weapons were found. The airport was in fact being built by European investors to stimulate the tourist trade.
In Vietnam, there was the Tonkin Gulf incident in which Lyndon Johnson falsely claimed that the North Vietnamese attacked US Navy warships thus starting the official US military assault against Vietnam.
If the US decides on a ground war, there *must* be an incident to trigger it. What form will the triggering incident for the next escalation of the war take?
Until now, as America finds itself the target, the target countries have all been small, relatively easy military pushovers. In both Iraq and Afghanistan, the American public was led to believe we faced powerful opposition. After all, Iraq was said to have the fourth largest army in the world. Yet it caved within a matter of days. Afghanistan was the nation that had defeated the mighty Soviet empire. It, too, fell in a matter of days.
The effect, if not the cause, of this pre-invasion propaganda is to fire up the American will and support, to predict a long and bitter struggle against the "enemies of democracy." If we win a swift victory, it makes us look better. If we get mired down in Vietnam II, well, you can't say we didn't warn you.
The lessons learned from Vietnam had nothing to do with morality or ethics or right or wrong, and not a lot to do with military strategy. The lesson learned from that war, fought incidentally for control of the Golden Triangle opium trade, was one of public relations. This time around, virtually all Americans will be wildly waving their flags, drooling with brainwashed patriotic fervor and screaming for the blood of "the enemy."
They will be whipped up into a frenzy by a news media that is controlled by the very global corporations whose agenda is being slavishly followed. Any time the media deviates from its role, it will be properly chastised, through accusations of treason. This may seem like a brash and unsupported allegation. Read on.
Why Telling the Truth Is Treason
In late March 2002, CNN made a big mistake. It dared broadcast the story that US forces were exhausted from their adventure in Afghanistan and were in no shape to turn around and invade Iraq.
Senior White House officials were furious over a CNN report March 28, which claimed the US military is "unprepared" to launch a new offensive in the war on terrorism - possibly against Iraq - because American troops need a rest.
"White House officials watched in disbelief Thursday morning as CNN beamed a report worldwide that stated: "The U.S. military needs more time to retool its ships, aircraft and weapons, restock munitions and to rest its troops."
One Bush official erupted over the story [filed by the network's Jamie McIntyre and slugged 'U.S. Military Not Ready']: "Could they help our enemies any more if they tried! Gee, CNN tells the world: 'Now's the time to attack America! That's what they've just done! We're resting??"
Introducing the report, CNN anchor Carol Costello announced: "The U.S. military is not quite ready for another major war."
McIntyre reported: "While the U.S. has plenty of the latest satellite-guided bombs, it is short of other high-tech assets, such as unmanned spy planes, which commanders now see as indispensable in providing real-time reports from the battlefield."
A Bush official spoke to the DRUDGE REPORT on condition their identity not be revealed.
"This is one of the most unconscionable stories I've ever seen in my years in public life... How could CNN just tell the world how our troops now need a rest... The impression that has been left is: 'We are in retreat!'"
The all-news channel has not yet received any official complaints from the White House, a CNN spokesman said Thursday afternoon. (The Drudge Report, March 8, 2002)
Yet, the criticism of US military adventurism is not coming from the media as much as from the military itself. The media (CNN in this case) made the "mistake" of reporting what was publicly said in Congressional testimony by top admirals and generals.
Commanders for U.S. forces in the Pacific and Europe were asked at a House Armed Services Committee hearing last week whether they had what it would take to carry out all current operations as well as possible military action against Iraq.
"We do not have adequate forces to carry out our missions for the Pacific if the operations in the Central Command (Afghanistan) continue at their recent past and current pace," Navy Adm. Dennis C. Blair, commander in chief of the Pacific Command, told the committee.
Air Force Gen. Joseph W. Ralston, commander in chief of the European Command, gave a similar response. But he added that he would then ask Myers and Rumsfeld for more troops or supplies, and it would be up to them to make new choices.
A week before that, Army Gen. William F. Kernan, the commander in chief of the U.S. Joint Forces Command, told the same committee that troops were hard-pressed given the pace of fighting in Afghanistan, protecting the homeland and other efforts.
"They're tired, sir," Kernan said. "We are busy. We are busier than we have ever been." (Associated Press, 28 March 2002)
Their public complaints are not nearly as bitter as the private complaints.
Military officers are privately criticizing U.S. tactics in the battle of Gardez, saying war commanders should have used air strikes for days or weeks before sending ground forces against 800 enemy troops in Afghanistan.
"The way we lost those seven guys was a repeat of Somalia," said a senior Air Force officer, comparing Monday's clash south of the city of Gardez to the 1993 Mogadishu mission.
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, however, yesterday sternly rejected any such comparison.
The Air Force officer said some Pentagon civilians also are upset with the tactics used in the assault near Gardez in Paktia province. Some informally have discussed firing commanders, but others say any dismissals would send the wrong message to U.S. allies as well as to supporters of terrorist Osama bin Laden.
Seven U.S. combatants were killed in gunbattles Monday after their MH-47 Chinook helicopters were inserted into mountanous terrain fiercely defended by al Qaeda and Taliban fighters. The Air Force source said one chopper on a rescue mission lacked adequate fire support from the air.
Military officers contended yesterday in interviews that there was no need to insert ground forces so early in Operation Anaconda, the first combined U.S. air and ground assault in the war in Afghanistan.
Instead, they said, jet aircraft with precision-guided bombs and the howitzers on AC-130 gunships for weeks should have pummeled caves and compounds where the enemy is hiding. During that period, the critics say, special-operations troops should have been used to find targets for direct aerial bombardment but not to directly attack the well-armed enemy forces.
Only after days or weeks of softening enemy positions and putting fighters on the run should significant numbers of U.S. ground troops have been inserted, they said.
Gen. Tommy Franks, running the war as head of U.S. Central Command, changed tactics for the 5-day-old battle in a mountain region called Shah-e-Kot, southeast of Gardez.
In the mid-December battle of Tora Bora, Gen. Franks employed days of air strikes to hit enemy troops while relying on local, untrained Afghans as ground forces. As a result, the enemy was routed from Tora Bora, north of Gardez. But hundreds of Taliban and al Qaeda fighters escaped because no sizable force was on the ground to stop them.
In what analysts said was a correction of the Tora Bora tactics, Gen. Franks sent in relatively large numbers of American ground troops at the outset of Operation Anaconda and was using U.S.-trained Afghans to block escape routes and do the fighting.
Critics said the blocking technique was correct — but that the rush to put in ground forces was not.
"They didn't learn the right lessons from Tora Bora," said one officer. "If you know where somebody is, why not encircle that group and then bomb ... them and then let the Special Forces and CIA use their ability to direct fire? Make it so painful they have to try to run."
The officer added: "The question is why did Franks and the military abandon what had been spectacularly successful since day one. Bomb them until they're dead or on the run. The only change should be, put up roadblocks so they don't escape."
This source said the "Army mafia" — a Pentagon term typically used to describe a branch's senior leaders — had been pressing for larger participation by conventional forces. Some in the Army were haunted by the 1999 Kosovo operation, when they attempted but failed to deploy Apache attack helicopters in the southern Yugoslav province.
The Gardez fighting for the first time in Afghanistan featured significant numbers of conventional Army forces in the form of 101st Airborne and 10th Mountain Division light infantry and Apache helicopters.
The Air Force officer said that when an MH-47 Chinook entered the battle zone to try to rescue a fallen Navy SEAL, the platoon-size unit lacked support from AC-130 gunships that would have suppressed the enemy. Six commandos from the Chinook died in a firefight. The Navy SEAL had been aboard the first Chinook to enter the area three hours earlier. The chopper was hit by enemy fire and quickly withdrew. The SEAL fell from the aircraft, was seized by al Qaeda fighters and executed.
"Franks made the same mistake Powell made in Somalia," said this officer.
It was a reference to 1993, when Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and former Democratic Rep. Les Aspin was defense secretary.
The local commander in Somalia wanted more armored weapons systems sent to Somalia to support Army Rangers, who were hunting a local warlord in Mogadishu. But the Pentagon denied the request.
Subsequently, 18 soldiers were killed when their Black Hawk helicopter was shot down during a raid. The pinned-down Rangers and Delta Force commandos waged a daylong battle without any air support from AC-130 gunships.
A subsequent Senate report said Mr. Powell could not persuade Mr. Aspin to send more armored weapons. He and other commanders expressed doubts about using AC-130 gunships in an urban environment, the report said.
Mr. Rumsfeld yesterday rejected any comparison between Somalia and Operation Anaconda.
"Other than very brave people being involved, this has nothing to do with Mogadishu," he told a Pentagon press conference. "And the individual who was killed, his body has been retrieved, and so too have the wounded. And I don't see any comparison."
At the same press conference, Gen. Franks said many landing zones were picked for the helicopter assaults and some enemy forces evaded detection.
"I think given the size of an area, perhaps 60 to 70 square miles, one is not going to have the precision of where those forces may be at any point in time," the general said.
Weeks ago, CIA-operated Predator drones and other intelligence assets spotted the enemy assembling in groups south of Gardez. Rather than attack quickly, Central Command let the terrorists gather, presenting a larger target, before mounting the assault on Friday. The battle is being directed by Army Maj. Gen. Buster Hagenbeck from Bagram air base, north of Gardez. (The Washington Times, 7 March 2002)
The press was locked out of the Gulf War, locked out of the Panama invasion, and now finds itself locked out of Afghanistan, dependent only upon military commanders for "the truth." It is imperative, if the NWO is to exercise the control it requires, that the media be subservient.
Déjà vu All Over Again
In the case of the Balkans (which includes the wars of Bosnia-Herzogevina, Serbia and more recently Macedonia), the press was a more pliable servant and played the role of lapdog quite well. The press might have done well to heed a much earlier warning from one of its own, George Seldes. Seldes was one of America's most respected journalists and new media critics who covered World War I, the first time the US got involved in a European war:
"Of the first war years I will say just this: I made a total fool of myself when I accepted as true the news reports from New York and Europe which by their volume and repetition overwhelmed what little objective intelligence I had...
...there was the Lusitania. All the Allied reports told of a "dastardly" and "heinous" crime against civilians, but the German news bureau said the ship carried munitions. Today the sworn statement of the former Collector of the Port of New York, Dudley Field Malone, gives the exact character and tonnage of these munitions, but in 1915 I played the Allied side. I used all the stories of German atrocities including the Baltimore preacher's "unimpeachable" account of the crucifixion of Canadian soldiers by the enemy. In short, in common with about ninety per cent of the American press, I had become a blind but willing agent of the powerful and finally victorious Allied propaganda machine.
...It was not until December, 1918, when I came into Coblenz with the American Army that I realized how fooled I had been by all those years of poisonous propaganda...
...At that time we considered ourselves the most favored and on our return we found ourselves the most envied of mortals, and the journals which printed our stories boasted of the fact their own representatives had been at the fighting front. I now realize that we were told nothing but buncombe, that we were shown nothing of the realities of the war, that we were, in short, merely part of the great Allied propaganda machine whose purpose was to sustain morale at all costs and help drag unwilling America into the slaughter.
...We all more or less lied about the war."
From "One Man's Newspaper Game," Part 1, Chapter 1, in Freedom of the Press, by George Seldes (Garden City, N.Y.: Garden City Publishing Co., Inc., 1937), p. 31-37. Original Copyright 1935, Bobbs-Merrill Company.
George later redeemed himself brilliantly: http://www.brasscheck.com/seldes
Seldes was haunted his entire life by his failure to report the facts about WW I in a timely way. In his defense, when he and some fellow journalists were finally able to break away from their handlers and actually see some of the reality of the war, General Pershing personally threatened them with a firing squad.
Because of his criticism of the media, even the name of George Seldes was officially banned from the New York Times for several decades.
Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary, Tell the Truth and Run, the dramatic story of muckraking journalist George Seldes (1890-1995), is a piercing examination of American journalism.
Eighty years a newspaperman, Seldes was a noted foreign correspondent who became America's most important press critic. Through Seldes's encounters with Pershing, Lenin and Mussolini; the tobacco industry, J. Edgar Hoover and the "lords of the press," Tell the Truth and Run provides a fresh perspective on Twentieth-Century history while raising profound ethical, professional and political questions about journalism in America.
Tell the Truth and Run raises fundamental questions about the recorded history of the Twentieth Century; about freedom, fairness and diversity in the media; about power and abuse of power; and about public citizenship and the democratic process.
Yet another master of the printed word, Mark Twain, said it quite well when he noted, "A lie can make it halfway around the world before the truth can even get its galoshes on."
How the Controlled Media Suckered You Into a War
Concerning the Balkan wars, which are - unknown to most of us - ongoing even now, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) did an online search of the major US news outlets including the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS and NPR's NewsHour to look for reporting on anti-war protests against US involvement in Yugoslavia.
The results? Zero. No reports, not even a passing mention.
How many readers remember the multi-day coverage of a very minor protest in Belgrade that took place a few weeks ago? A few hundred people there protested conscription. If I recall correctly, that story made the AP.
I guess in the case of the New York Times, its editors were too busy Saturday crafting headlines like: "Now, onward to the next Kosovo." (See "Week in Review" June 6, 1999)
Anyone surprised by this should review the record of the major US news media during the 1930s. They lionized Mussolini and news services like Hearst's were actually in the employ of the Nazi government. This episode was best documented by George Seldes in "Even the Gods Can't Change History" (Analysis of the US-led Assault on Yugoslavia, http://www.brasscheck.com/yugoslavia/directory/60899a.html)
In the Gulf War, American television viewers were moved to tears by the Congressional testimony of a beautiful young Kuwaiti "refugee girl" told how invading Iraqi troops entered a Kuwait hospital, picking new-born infants out of their incubators, smashing them to the floor, stomping their heads to a bloody pulp. It infuriated Americans and galvanized Congress; the bloodlust began.
There was only problem ... not a word of it was true. The "young refugee girl" was actually a member of a diplomatic family and had not even been in Kuwait during the invasion, but was comfortably ensconced in Washington D.C. The entire story had been fabricated by a public relations/advertising firm, Hill & Knowlton, hired by the Bush administration to foist The Big Lie upon the gullible American public.
The world was shocked to find out that a PR firm, Hill and Knowlton, had manufactured the "incubator babies" incident in Kuwait which precipitated the Gulf War: Iraqi soldiers ripping Kuwaiti babies out of incubators in a genocidal fashion. Phony eyewitnesses to this atrocity tearfully testified in front of U.S. politicians and the media, adding to public support for the subsequent bombing of Iraq and contributing hugely to the demonization of the Iraqis, leaders and citizens alike. Even Amnesty International was taken in by the falsehood, which was later exposed as such, but only after the military damage was done. (Demonizing the Serbs by Marjaleena Repo - http://www.counterpunch.org/)
Bill Clinton used very similar tactics to force his own Big Lie (one of many) down our throats as well. The entire NATO-KLA alliance was kept secret from the press and the public, and was never admitted until after the war had ended and Milosevic was deposed.
Clinton adopted the very ideas of Adolf Hitler to demonize the Serbs and betray the American people. Hitler's public relations architect, Jossef Goebbels, angered Edward Bernays, US inventor of modern corporate public relations and author of The Biography of an Idea: Memoirs of Public Relations Counsel Edward L. Bernays.
"Goebbels ... was using my book 'Crystallizing Public Opinion' as a basis for his destructive campaign against the Jews ... Obviously, the attack on the Jews of Germany was no emotional outburst of the Nazis, but a deliberate planned campaign."
By the late 20th Century, those ideas of public manipulation and brainwashing had been revived and refined to a fine art, as exemplified in the Clinton-era movie "Wag the Dog."
"We are professionals. We are not paid to be moral."
Brasscheck.com is a liberal web site inspired by George Seldes. It takes the media to task for its deliberate deception during the Balkan wars:
It should be clear to anyone who has done even the slightest research on the subject that there are very, very few true journalists practicing in the world today. Most reporters simply repeat what they are told by authorities and their "investigations" are usually little more than elaborations of the currently fashionable party line.
For those who have tried to battle it, the thick wall of prejudice against the Serbs generated by the mainstream western news media has been all but insurmountable. No atrocity is considered beyond them and if there is no evidence readily at hand, manufacturing it is considered acceptable. No punishment - ruining their food and water supplies, destroying their hospitals and clinics, murdering their children - is considered too extreme.
One question rarely asked is who starts these fashions? When the fashion is to slander one group to the point of death, answering this question is particularly urgent.
The question of the origin of the current hate speech campaign against the Serbs is answerable. Like many 'crystallized' public opinions, it was engineered by professionals who spend their lives creating images for public consumption. (The book "Toxic Sludge is Good For You" by Stauber and Rampton, Common Courage Press, is an excellent introduction to the mechanics of how the public is "sold" ideas.)
The key procedures usually take place in the office of a US public relations company. Since World War One, there has been a great deal of cooperation between those in public relations (PR), the military, intelligence agencies and US corporations.
Surprisingly, it is not that difficult to discover the seed of a manufactured idea. Public relations executives are, like everyone else, fond of their "accomplishments" and often can be found bragging about them.
In 1993, French TV journalist Jacques Merlino published a book entitled: "Les verites Yougoslaves ne sont pas toutes bonnes a dire" - "Yugoslav truths are not all good for telling"
Reviews of this book have appeared in:
1.A Monthly Jewish Review - Midstream, New York, April 1994 ("Stopping the war in Yugoslavia", Author: Dr. Yohanan Ramati)
2.Intelligence Digest, Great Britain, February 4, 1994 ("Manipulating the media")
3.Jewish Chronicle, Great Britain, December 10, 1993 ("The secret weapon? PR", Author Nora Beloff)
In his book, Merlino included an interview with James Harff, director of Global Public Affairs for Ruder & Finn, a top 15 US public relations firm. The interview, which was conducted in October of 1993, follows:
Harrf: For 18 months, we have been working for the Republics of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, as well as for the opposition in Kosovo. Throughout this period, we had many successes, giving us a formidable international image. We intend to make advantage of this and develop commercial agreements with these countries. Speed is vital, because items favourable to us must be settled in public opinion. The first statement counts. The retractions have no effect.
Question: What are your methods of operation?
Harff: The essential tools in our work are a card file, a computer, and a fax. The card file contains a few hundred names of journalists, politicians, academicians, and representatives of humanitarian organizations. The computer goes through the card files according to correlated subjects, coming up with very effective targets.
The computer is tied into a fax. In this way, we can disseminate information in a few minutes to those we think will react (positively). Our job is to assure that the arguments for our side will be the first to be expressed.
Question: How often do you intervene?
Harff: Quantity is not important. You have to intervene at the right time with the right person... ...
Question: What achievement were you most proud of?
Harff: To have managed to put Jewish opinion on our (Croatian and Bosnian) side. This was a sensitive matter, as the dossier was dangerous when looked at from this angle. President Tidjman (Croatia) was very careless in his book "Wastelands of Historical Reality". Reading this writings, one could accuse him of anti-semitism.
In Bosnia, the situation was no better: President Izetbegovic strongly supported the creation of a fundamentalist Islamic state in his book "The Islamic Declaration". Besides, the Croatian and Bosnian past was marked by a real and cruel anti-semitism. Tens of thousands of Jews perished in Croatian camps. So there was every reason for intellectuals and Jewish organizations to be hostile towards the Croats and Bosnians. Our challenge was to reverse this attitude. And we succeeded masterfully.
At the beginning of August 1992, New York Newsday came out with the affair of (Serb) concentration camps. We jumped at the opportunity immediately. We outwitted three big Jewish organizations - B'Nai Brith Anti-Defamation League, the Jewish Committee, and the American Jewish Congress. We suggested to them to publish an advertisement in the New York Times and to organize demonstrations outside the U.N.
This was a tremendous coup. When the Jewish organizations entered the game on the side of the Bosnians, we could promptly equate the Serbs with the Nazis in the public mind.
Nobody understood what was happening in Yugoslavia. The great majority of Americans were probably asking themselves in which African country Bosnia was situated. But, by a single move, we were able to present a simple story of good guys and bad guys, which would thereafter play by itself.
We won by targeting the Jewish audience. Almost immediately there was a clear change of language in the press, with the use of words with high emotional content, such as "ethnic cleansing", "concentration camps", etc. which evoked images of Nazi Germany and the gas chambers of Auschwitz. The emotional charge was so powerful that nobody could go against it.
Question: But when you did all of this, you had no proof that what you said was true. You only had the article in Newsday!
(Editor's note: The Newsday article was based on a photo staged by a British 'journalist' and contained a number of extreme falsehoods.)
Harff: Our work is not to verify information. We are not equipped for that. Our work is to accelerate the circulation of information favorable to us, to aim at judiciously chosen targets. We did not confirm the existence of death camps in Bosnia, we just made it known that Newsday affirmed it.
Question: Are you aware that you took on a grave responsibility?
Harff: We are professionals. We had a job to do and we did it. We are not paid to be moral."
One important question not answered by this interview: Who directed Croatian, Bosnian, and Kosovar separatist movements - all of which have the creation of an "ethnically pure" state as one of their core tenets - to hire this obviously capable firm.
"Our work is not to verify information...Our work is to accelerate the circulation of information favorable to us."
And who, exactly, is the destruction of Yugoslavia favorable to?
To quote Noam Chomsky, who provided this analysis years before Yugoslavia was in the news:
"The West has a plan for (Eastern Europe) - they want to turn large parts of it into a new, easily exploitable part of the Third World."
While the Serb "concentration camp" photo was reprinted across America as "proof" of Serb atrocities, it was a lie.
The PR firm was piling hoax upon hoax. The famous story of Serb concentration camps was built on a photo of a gaunt man surrounded by others, staring at the viewer from behind barbed wire; surely an image to chill one to the bones. It took years before a German journalist Thomas Deichman, in an article titled "The picture that fooled the world," described how the famous photo was staged by its takers, British journalists, who were photographing the inhabitants from inside barbed wire which was protecting agricultural products and machinery from theft in a refugee and transit camp; the men stood outside of it; and at no time was there a barbed-wire fence surrounding the camp. But by that time the image had done its deed, terminally slamming the Serbs as genocidal mass murderers.
(Demonizing the Serbs by Marjaleena Repo - http://www.counterpunch.org/)
MARJALEENA REPO is a free lance writer with a special interest injustice issues. She is also the national organizer of Citizens Concerned About Free Trade. She lives and works in Saskatoon and Toronto (Canada).She can be reached by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
The story of "the photo that fooled the world" is one of the key triggers of the NATO invasion of Yugoslavia. It stands as a monument of shame to those who perpetrated the hoax, and as a lie it was every bit as powerful and effective as the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution which forced us into the Vietnam War. That resolution was passed by Congress with only one dissenting vote, as Lyndon Johnson informed the nation that the USS Tonkin battleship had been "dastardly" attacked by North Vietnam. The story was told in great detail. The only problem - it was a lie in its entirety. It never happened. Still, it got us into a war that cost tens of thousands of American lives.
It is bad enough that government will stoop to level of hurling treason charges against a network or newspaper merely for publishing the truth, as it did with CNN for broadcasting the public Congressional testimony of admirals and generals who felt we were in no position to invade Iraq.
It is even worse when the media itself conspires with that government to punish other media outlets who refuse to parrot the Big Lie. That is what happened in the case of "the photo that fooled the world." It is an important story, not only within the context of what happened to Yugoslavia, but in the context of how the media has been deliberately manipulating Americans throughout the Afghan war and the so-called "war on terror" about which this book was written. The events of Yugoslavia and the media's secret role in it shows a pattern of behavior that rears its head again and again in the years since.
The lie was first manufactured by the British network ITN on August 5, 1992, when an ward-winning team, led by Penny Marshall and cameraman Jeremy Irvin, and accompanied by Ian Williams (British Channel 4) and reporter Ed Vulliamy from the Guardian newspaper, entered a "Serbian concentration camp" to film the emaciated prisoners of war, looking as hollow-faced as the Jews of Dachau.
The photo and story came about as the result of intense media competition for "the story" in that summer of 1992 that preceded the multiple wars and invasions a few years later. On July 19, 1992, American reporter Roy Gutman wrote in Newsday about a "detention camp" at Manjaca, along with Andre Kaiser's pictures of prisoners with shaven heads at Manjaca. (Fast forward to the photos of Taliban and Al Qaeda prisoners at Camp X-Ray at the US Guantanamo base in Cuba and you may begin to appreciate the similarities.)
On July 29, just 10 days later, the Guardian carried Maggie O'Kane's interviews with "eyewitnesses" who claimed Muslims had been crammed into cattle cars and shipped off from Trnopolje station.
Bouncing back quickly, Gutman on August 2 published another article in which he called the Bosnian Serb camp at Omarska a "death camp", also drawing heavily on hearsay and unconfirmed claims. The stories evoked the worst images of Auschwitz and Dachau - internment camps, cattle cars, prisoners who were never to be seen again.
When Marshall and her team arrived in Bosnia at the end of July, they were already far behind the "competition", and under intense pressure to get "the scoop." Marshall herself, according to published reports, told - after she returned - how she and Williams had orders from their manag8ing editors of ITN and Channel 4 to do nothing else before they "had the story in the bag."
"They had set Ian Williams and myself loose with an open-ended brief to find and visit the detention camps, with orders to file nothing until we had come up with the story." (Sunday Times, 16 August 1992).
They were nearing the end of their stay - and had found nothing of the sort described by Gutman and O'Kane. Time was running out. They had visited the Omarska camp, said to be a "death camp" by Gutman. It was a modern facility, pleasant and not at all like a jail, let alone the hated Nazi camps of World War II. Before the war, it had been a mining company's administrative center. Prisoners of war, from the Bosnian Islamist Army, financed by Osama bin Laden, were indeed held there. But they were not shackled; they weren't even behind bars. They lounged around, looking bored, in a cafeteria, and looked well fed. The Serbian guards were friendly, even casual.
The Serb administrator, who was later shot dead by NATO troops while out fishing with his son, gave a brief speech, explaining that the Serbs viewed most of the prisoners as good people who had been suckered into supporting "the rebellion" - a secessionist revolt against Yugoslavia. Only a small group was hardcore, he said. They would be kept in jail, but the others would be let go.
This story is amazingly similar to the US position taken with most of the Afghan prisoners captured by US, Pakistani and Northern Alliance forces in Afghanistan.
Unfortunately, Penny Marshall and her crew didn't find the sensational story they had expected and that the rest of the world was hearing through Newsday and its tabloid British competitors. Omarska just wasn't "ready for prime time." None of that footage was used by ITN. Onward and upward to Kozarac and Trnopolje, their final stop before they would have to return to Britain empty-handed.
The refugee camp at Trnopolje had once been a school, with a community center that had housed a medical center and a public hall, along with a large open sports field. The only fences were about three or four feet high - what you'd expect to find around any school or public building, writes Thomas Deichmann, who exposed the full hoax in great detail ("The Truth vs. ITN - and Reuters" 14 March 2000 - http://www.emporers-clothes.com/images/bosnia/camp.htm).
After taking some rather uninteresting shots of buildings (they were able to enter all areas of the refugee camp) they discovered a group of Muslims who had just been brought from refugee camps in Keraterm close to Prijedor, waiting in the open air to be registered and given food and a place to sleep.
Marshall and cameraman Irvin entered a compound next to the camp area. Inside was a small shed or garage, an electrical transformer station and a brick barn. Before the war, plants and agricultural products had been brought there, and tractors and farm equipment had been stored in the barn. To protect this from thieves, an area of about 500 sq. meters had been fenced in with barbed wire years earlier. (As late as 2000, the poles to which this wire had been attached were still standing and traces of the wire were found on the west side of the compound. At the time of Marshall's visit, the wire was already torn or rusted and broken in several places. They entered from the south through a gap in the fence, approaching from the north side, attracting a crowd of curious refugees inside the camp, but outside the fenced-in area they had entered.
The unused ITN footage showed cameraman Irvin zooming through the barbed wire from different angles to capture the most dramatic shot. At this point, they created "the photo that fooled the world" and made a war "a done deal."
For many, it was this photo alone that became the symbol of Serb horror, just as the photo of the firemen raising the flag over the ruins of September 11, 2001 became the symbol of America's resolution and determination.
The photo shows Fikret Alic, a Bosnian Muslim, emaciated and stripped to the waist, apparently imprisoned behind a barbed wire fence in a "concentration camp" at Trnopolje, Bosnia.
In truth, there was no barbed wire fence. There was no"concentration camp," not even a prison of any sort. It was a collection center for refugees seeking help, who were free to come and go.
Look closely at the photo. There are indeed two strands of barbed wire, but most of the fence is mere chicken wire (barely seen at the bottom). Note also the healthy appearances of all the other men but the one in the center.
It was Penny Marshall and her cameraman inside a fence at the refugee center. The men you see were on the outside, waiting in a long line to get inside to apply for aid. While Marshall and her cameraman did not themselves use the term "concentration camp" they raised not a word of criticism or correction to all those who did, based on this imagery.
The British Daily Mail headlined this story: "The Proof: behind the barbed wire, the brutal truth about the suffering in Bosnia", along with a full-page reproduction of this photo, with the story proclaiming:
"They are the sort of scenes that flicker in black and white images from 50-year-old films of Nazi concentration camps." (Daily Mail, 7 August 1992).
Even a year later, an article in the Independent still milked the "Nazi connection" for all it was worth:
"The camera slowly pans up the bony torso of the prisoner. It is the picture of famine, but then we see the barbed wire against his chest and it is the picture of the Holocaust and concentration camps." (Independent, 5 August 1993)
German journalist Thomas Deichmann, an expert witness at the Bosnian War Crimes Tribunal, spilled the beans.
It was through my role as an expert witness to the War Crimes Tribunal that I first realized that something was wrong with the famous pictures from Trnopolje. As a journalist with a track record of reporting on Bosnia, I was asked to present the tribunal with a report on German media coverage of Dusko Tadic, a Bosnian Serb accused of war crimes. Reviewing press articles and video tapes which had been shown on German TV, I became aware of the major importance of the Trnopolje pictures. The picture of Fikret Alic behind the barbed wire, taken by Penny Marshall's team, could be seen again and again.
One night, while I was going through the pictures again at home, my wife pointed out an odd little detail. If Fikret Alic and the other Bosnian Muslims were imprisoned inside a barbed wire fence, why was this wire fixed to poles on the side of the fence where they were standing? As any gardener knows, fences are, as a rule, fixed to the poles from outside, so that the area to be enclosed is fenced-in. It occurred to me then that perhaps it was not the people in the camp who were fenced-in behind the barbed wire, but the team of British journalists.
My suspicions were heightened by a conversation I had with Professor Mischa Wladimiroff, Dusko Tadic's Dutch defense advocate at the War Crimes Tribunal in The Hague. The main witness against Tadic, Dragan Opacic (later exposed as a trained liar), had told the court about the barbed wire fence surrounding the camp at Trnopolje and had even made a drawing of where it was. But when Professor Wladimiroff went to Bosnia to investigate for the defense, it became clear to him that Opacic had lied in the witness box; he could find no evidence of a barbed wire fence surrounding Trnopolje camp (see interview below).
I decided to go back to Bosnia, and to review the British news team's coverage of Trnopolje, in order to unravel the real story of how those pictures had come about. (Living Marxism, "The Picture That Fooled the World" ("Es war dieses Bild, das die Welt in Alarmbereitschaft versetzte" - Novo, January/February 1997).
Yes, it's true - the story exposing the fraud was first published in a Marxist magazine. Let me make it very, very clear here that I carry no water for Marxists, Leninists or communists of any kind. The communist form of government has been one of the greatest horror stories in the history of this planet, equal to or surpassing the horrors of the Third Reich itself. But the revelations first printed there have been investigated and re-investigated by other journals of all political persuasions - and the story remains - the photo was a hoax.
Yet its impact was so powerful that British Prime Minister John Major summoned his cabinet colleagues back from holiday for an emergency meeting, announcing after the meeting that Britain would send troops into Bosnia. In the US, Democrat Party presidential candidate Bill Clinton and running mate Al Gore used the photo to demand that George Bush take immediate military action against the Serbs. NATO's public response was to announce that it was planning a military invasion - in fact, that invasion had been in the works all along.
Marshall herself knew full well the impact the photo would have, as she proudly pointed out in a German television program "Kozarac - Ethnically Cleansed", where she said:
"That picture of that barbed wire and these emaciated men made alarm bells ring across the whole of Europe. I believe that the report would not have caused such a reaction had it been transmitted without that picture, although the facts woiuld have been the same." ("Kozarac - Ethnically Cleansed" - 11 October 1993).
It wasn't until Marshall and Irvin returned to their editing suite in Budapest, Hungary that they realized the power of the images they had. Writing in the Sunday Times, Marshall said:
"Jeremy Irvin, our cameraman, knew he had come away with powerful images from Prijedor, but only when we screened them in our Budapest editing suite did we begin to sense their impact."
Ed Vulliamy, who had accompanied them, wrote in his book, Seasons in Hell:
"With his rib-cage behind the barbed wire of Trnopolje, Fikret Alic had become the symbolic figure of the war, on every magazine cover and television screen in the world." (page 202).
Mike Jeremy, ITN's foreign editor, later called the picture "one of the key images of the war in former Yugoslavia." (Independent, 5 August 1993)
However, US spy satellite photos taken August 2, 1992, just three days before the ITN crew arrived, showed no such "concentration camp." At virtually the same time as the satellite photos, other reporters claimed that they, too, witnessed the "barbed wire."
Peter Maas wrote in his book Love Thy Neighbors: A Story of War about his visit to Trnopolje in the late summer of 1992:
"When the first journalists had arrived there a few days earlier [than the ITN visit], barbed wire surrounded the place and there was no welcoming banner. I walked through the gates and couldn't quite believe what I saw. There, right in front of me, were men who looked like survivors of Auschwitz." (Love Thy Neighbors: A Story of War, London 1996, p. 41).
Were the reporters in Yugoslavia writing of what they themselves had seen and heard, or were they all parroting some common line, lifting their words from an original and perhaps falsified report of someone else?
The world was told over and over by the media how their reports were being censored by Milosevic, but never once did they mention that their reports were being also censored by NATO. NATO had allowed a "pool" of reporters into the country, reporters they felt confident would "toe the line."
The answer can be found in the following two stories, each supposedly written by two different reporters from two different British newspapers, under two different bylines. Both reporters entered Kosovo alongside British paratroopers June 12.
As a demonstration of the vibrant diversity of Britain's unshackled media, take the stories written as reporters entered Kosovo alongside British paratroopers on 12 June, carried in the following day's Sunday editions. This is what James Dalrymple wrote in the Independent on Sunday, describing the town of Kacanik:
"It looked peaceful and intact - except for the silence... .There were no curtains, no ornaments, no door handles, no light fittings. Every item of value had been removed by the almost exclusively middle-class Serbian population and carried away in any vehicle they could beg, borrow or steal.
Each small community held a mystery. Who had lived here? Serbs or Albanians? What had happened to them? The only witnesses seemed to be the packs of emaciated dogs."
Leave aside the fact that, if he didn't know who lived where, it would be impossible to tell who had taken the door handles. And leave aside the question of how Dalrymple knows middle-class Serbs 'beg, borrow or steal' motor vehicles. Instead, compare his report with that of David Harrison, writing in the Sunday Telegraph:
"It was the silence that gave away the horror. At first sight the beautiful little town of Kacanik looked peaceful and intact... .There were no curtains or ornaments. Even the door handles and light fittings had been removed. This was not random looting or small-scale pillage. Kacanik had been deliberately stripped of everything that could possibly be taken away by the remaining Serbian population and carried off in every vehicle they could beg, borrow or steal...
In most cases it was impossible to know if Serbs or Albanians lived there. The only witnesses seemed to be the roaming packs of pet dogs which had somehow survived in the wild for weeks, now emaciated and savage."
Though uncannily similar, there is one interesting difference. Where Dalrymple's report gives the impression that houses have been stripped by their departing Serbian occupants, Harrison apparently knows the missing curtains had been looted, and that the looting could not have been 'random'. Quite how this insight was gained remains unclear, particularly if dogs were the 'only witnesses'.
For Harrison the sound of silence evoked 'horror'. Others too had sensitive hearing. 'This is a land swept clear of people and the silence is haunting', wrote Ross Benson in the Mail on Sunday:
"Not a child cries, not a mother calls out. Washing flutters neglected on the clothes-lines. And the houses stand empty... 'It's eerie, isn't it?' said Lieutenant Nick Hook... "
Benson's poignant, evocative, first-hand account was equalled only by Ian Edmondson of the News of the World, who wrote that:
" ... at the town of Kacanik, the convoy entered a land swept clear of people. The silence was haunting. Not a child cried, not a mother called out. Washing fluttered neglected on the clothes lines. 'It's eerie, isn't it?' said Lieutenant Nick Hook... "
These reporters' apparent disregard for both journalistic standards and their usual cut-throat commercial rivalry presumably results from the fact that they were under the control of a Nato-run pool system as they entered Kosovo. Yet the existence of such a system was mentioned only once by one TV news bulletin (Channel Four News 11 June), in contrast to the way every single dispatch from correspondents in Belgrade carried the warning that it had been 'monitored by the Serb authorities'. The press did not mention the restrictions reporters were under at all. Instead, near-identical stories were presented as the unique eye-witness testimony of individual journalists.
The uniformity of the articles quoted above is simply the most glaring example of media coverage which, throughout the war, was highly conformist. The case of Kacanik is a particularly interesting one in this respect. Within 24-hours of these articles appearing, Kacanik had become the setting for an international media circus, as reporters jostled to get to the site of 'the first major discovery', a mass grave which might contain 'vital evidence of war crimes' (ITN 14 June). Reports from the site raised more questions than they answered. The Independent (15 June) reported that two bodies were buried under only a few inches of soil because the Serbs 'almost certainly ran out of time'. Yet they apparently did have time to place numbered wooden markers on the graves, to bury at least some of the bodies in coffins, and to dig empty graves 'for victims yet to come' (ITN 13 June). These peculiarities, and the fact the bodies were in a graveyard, were explained as the result of Serbs trying to 'cosmetically rearrange the site' to conceal the evidence of their crime (Newsnight 14 June). Estimates of the number of dead at Kacanik ranged from 81 to 172, but there was unanimity that the graves contained civilians massacred by the Serbs. (Transitions Online, "Reporting Kosovo: Journalism vs. Propaganda" by Phillip Hammond, July 1999) - http://www.emporers-clothes.com/articles/hammond/propagan.html.
As the Balkan war got into full swing, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Kenneth Bacon, himself a former newsman, went on the Lehrer Newshour April 6, 1999 and described NATO's censorship:
"We have adopted a more restrictive policy than in the past. And I think I should ver clear on that. The reason is that this battle in particular, and I think modern times in general, have changed the dynamics of information released for warfare."
Remember that when you are tempted to believe what you see and read about the War on Terror.
First, Bacon claimed, an "alliance war" such as the Kosovo campaign made operational security harder to maintain.
Second, "We now live in an era where information is made available instantly to the enemy. We know that they watch television. We know that they are on the Internet. We know that they have cell phones. So we want to give the enemy as little information as we can in order to help them with their own defenses against the attacks."
Third, the competitive media age requires journalists to go on the air as soon as possible with details of the war.
Fourth, he concluded, the press is much less restrained in the use of operational information today than it used to be.
:Leher Newshour's military correspondent George Wilson asked Bacon how a post-audit of air strikes - after the fact - what the bombs hit or didn't hit, who was involved, how many sorties were flown, etc. could possibly compromise security.
"We've just decided to give them [the media] as little information as possible. That does mean being more tight with information we give to the press, but we've done this purely for operational reasons."
How then, Wilson wondered, was the press supposed to know the Pentagon was telling the truth? "That's a good question," Bacon said. But he gave no answer.
Press coverage of the Vietnam War brought the dying right into American living rooms, and it was an "operational mistake" that haunted the US military for decades. Never again would the press, or the American people, be allowed to know anything but the official, sanitized military version of "the truth."
The saddest chapter of this sordid event was the last chapter, one which should outrage any journalist who truly believes in and loves his/her profession. ITN sued Living Marxism for slander and, in a court verdict many regarded as rigged, won a $589,300 verdict (375,000 pounds) plus costs estimated at 300,000 pounds. It left the tiny little Marxist rag bankrupt and demonstrated, at least to the British media, that if the small, independent press didn't "toe the line" they would be crushed - not just by government, but by the very "big media" that was supposed to be defending the "free press."
There are some footnotes to this story worth mentioning.
The Serbs were well aware of the hostility of the British news media. Does it sound reasonable that they would have invited the British team into a "detention camp", allowed them unfettered access and time to set up their equipment? On the contrary, the Serbs invited the ITN team to a refugee aid center in a PR attempt to show the world they were not the monsters they were being made out to be. The Serbs saw this as an opportunity to "set the record straight" and even had their own cameramen from Serbian Television (RTS) filming the visit. I have not only seen that film, I have a copy of it. You, too, can obtain a VHS videotape for $25 from http://www.emporors-clothes.com/Film/judge.htm.
The "photo that fooled the world" played prominently in the War Crimes Tribunal trial of one, Dusko Tadic. One of the witnesses against him was identified only as "Witness L". "Witness L" gave the court a detailed description of this horrific "concentration camp/detention camp" complete with detailed drawings. Later, "Witness L" was exposed as Dragan Opacic, a trained liar and perjurer.
What is the story of the young man "behind the barbed wire" looking so emaciated? A look at ITN's own un-broadcast tapes tells a far different story from what the world was led to believe. The chicken wire with two strands of barbed wire at the top surrounded a storage shed, a wheelbarrow and some other construction equipment. The fence was old, falling apart in some places. It had been put there to protect the equipment from thieves. In fact, Marshall and her crew entered the compound through one of the holes in the fence; they didn't even bother to use the main gate.
Once inside the fence, Marshall asked if anyone spoke English. One man, standing outside the fence, said yes.
"Are you a prisoner?" she asked.
"No, we're refugees."
Impatient, she pressed the man (not Bosnian Muslim Fikret Alic, the man in the photo, who did not speak English) to criticize the Serbs.
"The Serbs treat us well. They give us food. The only problem is the weather is too hot. Much too hot."
Then Marshall, as shown on the other film, spots tall, emaciated Alic and asks the English-speaking refugee "What is wrong with that man?" The refugee shrugged and muttered that it was "personal." In fact, as later learned, Alic had been stricken with tuberculosis as a child. That's why he was so thin, not because he was part of "a second Holocaust."
None of this footage was used in the ITN report.
Even though Jews in particular were the target of this "Holocaust hysteria" propaganda, not all Jews were taken in by this slick PR campaign that relied upon grossly-manufactured evidence and doctored photographs. Many of them were outraged at the NATO atrocities being committed in the name of "preventing another Holocaust." They felt linking NATO's acts to the Holocaust in this manner was an insult to both the victims and survivors of that Holocaust.
Robert Naiman, who is research associate with the Preamble Center, has organized a petition of American Jews urging the Green Party of Germany (which is part of the coalition government and is meeting tomorrow) to oppose the war and reject analogies to the Nazi Holocaust. The petition, signed by over 200 prominent American Jews, states: "The Holocaust is being invoked in order to justify an unjust bombing campaign against the civilian population of Yugoslavia. Many of us have friends who lost family members in the Holocaust, or have lost relatives ourselves. We are deeply aware of our own history and the need for the world community to intervene in situations where there is a threat of genocide, in order to prevent it. However, this is clearly not what is happening in Yugoslavia today. We do not believe that our government's war against Yugoslavia is motivated by humanitarian concerns. This is evidenced by their refusal to airlift food and water to desperate refugees within Kosovo, as well as the paltry sums allocated for refugee relief as compared to the billions of dollars spent on the bombing. The Clinton Administration's great reluctance to pursue a negotiated solution to the conflict also indicates that this intervention is mainly about power: showing the world that the United States (and NATO, which it largely controls) is the self-appointed international policeman, and stands above international law..."
ROBERT NAIMAN, (202) 265-3263, email@example.com,
One of the most biting observations of "the press as a branch of government" came from Creators Syndicate columnist Norman Solomon, who wrote:
Listen up, future leaders of America. If you want to develop the necessary skills for promoting a war agenda in our country's news media, recent events are instructive.
Going to war is not simply a matter of ordering soldiers to fire missiles and drop bombs. There's a lot more involved. The public must be induced to accept and even cheer the bloodshed. That requires some careful preparation.
Consider the steps taken by our leaders before missiles began to explode in Yugoslavia on March 24. Prior groundwork was needed. Top U.S. officials deserve a lot of credit -- but they couldn't have gotten the job done without assists from reporters in Washington and their colleagues overseas.
Oh yes, there were exceptions -- some skeptical journalists raised pointed questions about the harm done by launching a military assault on Yugoslavia -- but they mostly served to underscore that dissent can be properly subsumed by a war agenda.
Anyone who wants to wield the national-security apparatus of this great nation must learn to steer the mass media in the right direction. It's a matter of sustained guidance rather than turning on a dime.
Let's face it: The world is filled with countries run by governments that abuse human rights. (Yugoslavia is one of many.) But the USA has to be very selective. After all, a lot of those governments are closely allied with Washington. And you can't exactly bomb a government while you're sending it millions of dollars every week!
An evenhanded approach to human rights would seriously damage the capacity of the United States to launch attacks across the globe. If you're going to demonize certain leaders -- and that's just about a prerequisite for building a war agenda -- then you've got to pick and choose.
To create the proper conditions for war, leave as little to chance as possible. Certain criteria must be met in order to exercise appropriate leadership for war:
- If you're going to bomb a country, it may as well be one that arrogantly refuses to allow U.S. troops to be stationed on its soil. (European countries are wonderfully hospitable in this regard, but Yugoslavia is a notable exception.)
- Steadily vilify the leader of the country you're interested in bombing. Repeatedly emphasize his evil deeds so that reporters, editorial writers and pundits will relay the message.
- Meanwhile, to avoid distractions, be careful to downplay or ignore the evil deeds of the governments of countries you're not interested in bombing. If a regime is allied with Washington, you'll want to ignore its human rights violations as much as possible.
- Don't even think about applying a single standard for human rights. The Pentagon would sure look silly firing cruise missiles at countries that receive massive amounts of U.S. aid, such as Egypt, Israel and Turkey. Get it straight: Some torture is deplorable, some is fundable.
Most skills must be learned, so don't hesitate to sit at the feet of the masters of war. You can appreciate -- and emulate - their achievements. The Clinton administration has put its dazzling media acumen behind the NATO forces dropping 2,000-pound bombs on a sovereign nation, in tandem with cooperative American news outlets.
About an hour before the first missiles struck Yugoslavia, viewers heard a Fox News Channel anchor make an understandable slip: "Let's bring in our Pentagon spokesman -- excuse me, our Pentagon correspondent." The fact that it's so often difficult to tell the difference is a triumph for effective perception management.
Soon, all the networks were filled with exciting footage of U.S. planes taking off from bases in Italy and England. And, across television screens, a parade of former military officers began. A retired Marine Corps general named Richard Neal -- now a "CNN military analyst" -- bedazzled a fawning anchor with euphemisms like "neutralize," "take out" and "collateral damage." Just what the spin doctors ordered.
State-of-the-art TV graphics continued to enhance the war-viewing experience for a large nationwide audience of Americans who could see their tax dollars at work -- dramatically underscoring President Clinton's longtime assertion that the government can do some things very well. More than one Pentagon spokesman -- er, Pentagon correspondent -- hailed the "combat debut" of the B-2 stealth bomber.
The war was off to a fine start. The Fourth Estate functioned smoothly as a fourth branch of government. Let that be a lesson to you.
Norman Solomon's book "The Habits of Highly Deceptive Media" will be published in April.
(Reprinted with permission - http://www.brasscheck.com/yugoslavia/directory/32499a.html)
Let there be no doubt, in case there ever was any: we do live in an Orwellian world where "war is peace" and "lies are truths." As the giant media conglomerates continue to devour the small, independent press, whatever chance Americans have to know the truth is being rapidly crushed. You stand a far better chance of getting the truth from your small, local weekly newspaper than you do from Gannett, GE, AOL-TimeWarner-CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC and the rest. But those smaller local papers have neither the interest nor the resources to pursue this kind of investigative journalism, what with international news feeds being pretty much controlled by AP, UPI and Reuters.
The only place you will find any in-depth reporting is in dull, scholarly books (which I hope this one is not) which, forgotten, collect dust on some library shelf, having been published too long after the fact for anyone to even care any more.
Yesterday's allies become tomorrow's enemies, while yesterday's enemies become tomorrow's allies, depending on whatever suits the needs of the moment.
You, dear reader/TV viewer, are bounced around like a yoyo on a string, not knowing what to believe. With "luck" you'll become so confused trying to keep up with it all you will just give up trying and switch channels to some mindless "reality" show or some other form of escapism. Our modern "democracy" (or "republic" as it actually is) is predicated today on the believe, and hope, that you will do just that, leaving the "important matters of state" to those "leaders" you elected, based upon the lies of their campaigns. You can hardly be blamed, yet if our nation, indeed our world, is to survive the coming flood of contrived events, it is vital that you do dig deeper than the glossy veneer of the national-international news media.
There is more - so much more - I could share with you than the limits of these pages would possibly allow. Here are a few resources I urge you to get on the Internet and turn to:
"Lies, Damn Lied ... & Maps: How NATO and the media misrepresented the Chinese Embassy bombing" by Jared Israel, May 1999
The story of how the media and NATO changed their stories almost hourly to try to stay one step ahead of the lies told about the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade.
"Credible Deception: The NY Times and the Sudan missile attack" by Jared Israel, Aug. 28, 1998
How President Clinton bombed a Sudan pill factory in the name of the "War on Terrorism" to divert attention from the Monica Lewinsky scandal.
"Are the Serbs Demons" by Benedict Neumann, 16 July 2000
A long list, with a brief description of each, of examples of how the news media knowingly and deliberately lied about what was happening in the Balkan wars.
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