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imperialism & war | media criticism

Truth and Deception in the Information War

With the global news streams, allied and friendly countries as well as the American media and people are disinformed.. Amrican media and people up to the highest authorities lied when they cobbled together the arguments for the Iraq war.

The Pentagon seeks support by supplying the media and the foreign public with manipulated information

By Florian Roetzer

[This article published in the German-English cyber journal Telepolis, 12/14/2004 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,  http://www.telepolis.de/r4/artikel/19/19014/1.html.]

The Pentagon is actually obligated not to deceive its own population and the American media. This is also true for secret services like the CIA but may quickly disappear toward foreign media to keep information or give false or falsified information to the "enemy" in the national interest. This separation has long been obsolete. With the global news streams, allied and friendly countries as well as the American media and people are disinformed.

The Pentagon once suddenly ducked [From the Propaganda Division of the Pentagon (1)] when the establishment of an "Office of Strategic Influence," a division for manipulating opinion becvame known after 9/11. To many representatives, thiswent too far even in times of the war against terrorism. Defense secretary Rumsfeld attempted in vain to represent the Pentagon as the epitome of honesty and truth [Rumsfeld: The Pentagon does not lie (2)].

PsyOps, psychological operations paraphrasing the old terms propaganda and disinformation, are everyday routines that are concealed. The British and American governments impressively demonstrated that the American media and people up to the highest authorities lied when they cobbled together the arguments for the Iraq war. On 11/18/2002 Defense secretary Rumsfeld subsequently explained the closing of the propaganda office of the press as only a symbolic act:

And then there was the office of strateegic influence. 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.

One need not lie in order not to say the truth. To manage this, "experts" on information design are employed. Things are hidden, omitted and given the desired "spin" so that information "seeps through" and spreads without official responsibility for that information.

Whether the information given unofficially by the Pentagon to the media was strategically framed or hyped-up can hardly be judged. Skepticism toward information from the US government is generally great since the opinion-spin is driven to a new high. While the Pentagon intends to deceive the enemy by floating "official" false information, will our own population ber deceived?

As the New York Times reports [4], the Pentagon emphasizes manipulated information again and again. The dissemination of false news, the creation of misleading websites and falsification of documents, critics of the Pentagon fear, could damage the credibility of the Defense Department. This could blur the distinction between official reports and military information operations insofar as this difference exists at all.

These information operations for manipulating opinion have been underway for a long time. The New York Times points out that General George W. Casey, the commander-in-chief of US armed forces in Iraq, approved the combination of the press division with the division responsible for information operations in an "Office for Strategic Communication" although General Myers warned that the commander's credibility in themedia and the public would be endangered.

Strategic communication or PsyOps was clear in October 2004. On October 14, 2004 a spokesperson of the marines claimed on the American TV news station CNN [5] that US troops had already set out for Falludscha and that it would be a long night. In reality, the battle began weeks later. Presumably the military only wanted to see how the insurgents would react. CNN explained that viewers were quickly informed what really happened. The Pentagon [6] said they would see whether anyone was "too creative" since soldiers may not lie to reporters. CNN declared the case was extraordinary because the military first turned to the news broadcaster and said they had someone who could say something about the actual events. One Pentagon official said the remark was "technically correct but misleading."...

The purpose of the information that emanated from the US that an al-Qaida computer expert was caught remains open. Information about this was passed on through very concrete advertising plans in the US. Successes and terror threats were good strategic means in the time before the election. Then British and Pakistan secret services allegedly protested because they said the Americans had unmasked a double agent who was now worthless. Whether strategic communication for political and military purposes got mixed up or the communication of different secret services collided is left unsaid. Neither concrete terror plans nor the computer expert with his many E-mail accounts were later identified [Folly or a political coup? (7)].

The case of Pat Tillman, a football star whowas killed in Afghanistan, is instructive. He was celebrated by the Pentagon as a hero who gave his life for America in the war against terrorism. Later it turned out he was killed mistakenly by "friendly fire." During the Iraq war, thee were several stories that can only be understood as an information operation toward the US population. The "most beautiful" was the story [8] about Jessica Lynch [The Hollywood-Heroine Drama in Iraq (9)]. In 2005, a private satation, the Military channel, will report from the "fascinating" world of the military:

Compelling, real-world stories of heroism, military strategy, technological breakthroughs and turning points in history.

Information operations staged in the past seem tohave accomplished little. The terrorism and resistance in Iraq were not essentially subdued. The policy of the US government in Iraq, the Muslim world or other foreign countries does not trigger the desired positive response. One report [10] of the Defense Science Board recently corroborated a failure of strategic communication in view of the widespread and increasing rejection of the US in the Near East. More funds must be invested in strategic communication, the Pentagon said again. Communication must be better coordinated by installing a director for strategic communication. The report makes very self-critical statements that are seldom heard from the Bush administration:

Muslims do not `hate our freedoms,' but rather, they hate our policies. The overwhelming majority voice their objections to what they see as one-side3d support in favor of Israel and against Palestinian rights, and the long-standing, even increasing support, for what Muslims collectively see as tyrannies, most natably Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Pakistan and the Gulf states.

Thus when American public diplomacy talks about bringing democracy to Islamic societies, this is seen as no more than self-serving hypocrisy. Moreover, saying that `freedom is the future of the Middle East' is seen as patronizing - in the eyes of Muslims, the American occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq has not led to democracy there, but only more chaos and suffering. U.S. actions appear in contrast to be motivated by ulterior motives, and deliberately controlled in order to best serve American national interests at the expense of truly Muslim self-deterination.

Besides the politics, the previous strategic communication may be involved in that. However the Pentagon obviously does not see that. Ultimately they fight with noble ideals against terrorist whowage their media war more with pictures and information than with bombs and shots. The information battle is not waged wrongly; it only has to be waged more strongly. The motto seems to be: fight for credibility and a better image. That is the theme with Lawrence di Rita, the spokesperson of the Pentagon:

In the battle of perception management, where the enemy is clearly using the media to help manage perceptions of the general public, our job is not perception management but to counter the enemy's perception management.

Obviously di Rita protests, no one thginks of bluriring the line between information operation and public information. The Pentagon is committed to the truth, One member of the Bush administration declared [11] to the Los Angeles Times:

Information is more part of the battle field than ever before. We would be dumb if we did not use it to our advantage.

In a 2005 order titled "Information Operations Roadmap," steps are underway to establish "information operations as a central military competence."


The Defense Department seeks more effective "information campaigns" in the "war of ideas'

By Florian Roetzer

[This article publishd in the German-English cyber journal Telepolis, 12/8/2003 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,  http://www.telepolis.de/r4/artikel/16/16266/1.html.]

Wars are not only won with destructive weapons and armies. The mood of combative parties dependent on the informaqtion situation, their allies, the population and the world public are also factors decisive for war. Atttempts at influencing the mood of the troops and the population through targeted information, "psychological warfare" and "information operations" are probably as old as war itself. With the mess in Iraq, in the whole region and also on the homefront, the Pentagon again tries to support the power of weapons through "strategic communication."

Since the "war against international terrorism" as a reaction to the attacks of 9/11, the Bush administration gained rapid military victories and repositioned itself worldwide militarily. However the successes were only short-term. While the battles flared up again in Afghanistan, Iraq has changed through war and the occupation into a troublespot with daily casualties. The "liberators" are transformed into unwanted occupiers. Many Muslims feel attacked by the "West" that intensifies the rebellion or even the "clash of cultures."


The Jihad-extremists have found a new front and develop on their side "strategic communication" or propaganda. Videos [1] showing their achievements in the conflict zones [2] circulate worldwide and demonstrate the victorious attacks of the "resistance movement" organized as nets in enlisting new recruits for the liberation struggle of Islamic countries (the Pentagon does the same and attracts new recruits with the computer game "America's Army"). However the Arab mass media reports from the Muslim perspective. The US presents itself as a global power of liberation of all the oppressed but always proves to be a selfish power.

The Bush administration comes under increasing pressure on account of the war, the strategic frauds for its justification and the deficient planning of post-war situations [Without Plan and with Dubious Success (3)]. In February 2002 when the Bush administration was occupied with Afghanistan and preparing the next war adventure, it became known that the Pentagon wanted to influence the population in hostile countries through fabricated information and also befriend the people in other countries who were often not convinced of the power politics and war policy of the superpowers. Some governments were on the side of Bush.

At that time after making known its intention of establishing the "Office for Strategic Operations" [The Pentagon will supply better propaganda (4)], the Pentagon officially decided for this plan [From the propaganda Division of the Pentagon (5)]. The Pentagon in no way always tells the pure objective truth to the public. A so-called division for "strategic communication" is necessary. Finally, the warfare in Iraq with the concept of embedded journalists was a perfectly successful propaganda measure from time to time.

The Arab broadcasting stations al-Arabya and al-Dschastra have long been thorns in the eye of US Defense secretary Rumsfeld because they allegedly make propaganda for the enemy although they should cooperate with the US [Problems with Press freedom in Iraq (6)]. On the other hand, while Americans provide live reports from Baghdad directly from the Pentagon by bypassing the "filter" of the media [Bush administration bypasses the "filter" of the media (7)], building a mdia corporation in Iraq with American funds on the foundation of the Hussein-broadcast station may not be a good omen. This was pursued for a long time by the armament firm SAIC [8] responsible for "electronic combat/warfare" and "information warfare/information operations" including state-owned media alongside the military C41 systems (command control, computing, communication and intelligence).


SAIC is now also commissioned by the Pentagon, as the New York Times reports [9], for $300,000, peanuts, to battle against global terrorism through "effective strategic influencing." A document from September 2003 was passed on to the New York Times that emphasized the long unsuccessful engagement in the "war of ideas" with al-Qaida. This is certainly true since the conflict with terrorism is waged in the media public and not primarily militarily on the battlefield. Since its beginning, terrorism has been a media strategy, an uncommon asymmetrical warfare, even if the quantitative aspect of dead and wounded are means in the spectacular attacks spreading fear, demonstraing power and gaining attention.

Our inability to take the initiative in the war of ideas with al-Qaida has long been our most important shortcoming in the war agaisnt terrorism. We do not completely understand al-Qaida and its relations to supporting communities in the Islamic world. Therefore we cannot develop an effective strategy for stopping their propaganda in these communities, let alone win the information campaign in the war agaisnt terrorism.

The Pentagon seems to hold the belief deeply rooted in the Bush administration that only inadequate communication is the problem, not the practiced policy. Thus the spin of the terrorists who deceive and seduce people with a more effective spin must be broken so the blinded deluded people see the truth and join the view of the US government whose president believes he is acting on an historical or divine mandate.

One goal of the mandate, according to the document, is developing "an effective capacity of the Defense department to carry out effective campaigns on strategic influence as well as operational and tactical perception management." The Pentagon obviously dreams of manipulating people with information as well as killing people and destroying property. Seduction is ultimately involved in psyhcological warfare, not only deterrence and intimidation.


The paper passed on to the New York Times was dated 0/17/2003. Around this time, the mysterious "European Security Advocacy Group" began its campaign against terrorism with advertisements in large European newspapers [Who is Behind the "European Security Advocacy Group"? (10)]. The group is allegedly an endowment. Funds for the Europe-wide campaign come from firms and private persons who want to remain anonymous [Anonymity is a question of security (11)].

Strangely enough, the advertising campaign does not seem to be noticed by many. With the advertisements, readers who feel a certain nearness to terrorists should be convinced that an anti-human fraud is perpetrated. Justifications and promises of terrorists remain unclear. These groups should be unmasked; their relation to Islamic attacks is always in the foreground.

A kind of refutation of their "strategic communciation" was central in the advertisement after the first attack in Istanbul in SZ (11/22-23), not the background that made persons terrorists or sympathizers. The attack in Istanbul "misused faith and religion as justifications in an absolutely blasphamous way" and "destroyed the legend of the holy war." The casualties were innocent. The culprits were nourished by an "unholy alliance of hatred and wrongly understood nationalism." Hatred is also the main motive that the Bush administration sees behind al-Qaida and other terrorists.

Terrorism will accomplish nothing; it cannot create peace or remove poverty. "To a deceived youth, terrorism brings the promised future, death." This is all correct and yet the moral judgment is simultaneously too simplistic and blind to complexity. That the goals of hate and false nationalism remain systematically unnamed is striking as though "terrorism" were a phenomenon that falls from the sky for completely inexplicable reasons and continues until the terrorists are eliminated and their propaganda does not spread any more.

The situations from which "terrorism" draws its justification and robs youth of their future will not be dissolved without probing the background and thematicizing the entanglement of the West. Whoever does not want to kill people in a cold and instrumentally rational way but forfeits his life with the human sacrifice sees a promise for the future in his own death, his own sacrifice and suicide. This could hardly happen under normal circumstances and presumably cannot be combatted through rational arguments.

Enlightenment is necessary, including an enlightened Islam and an emancipation of women. But enlightenment can only take place where an ending of the minority status is possible and sought. Enlightenment cannot be forced from the outside by foreign interests. How can a "deceived youth" be given a desirable future not purchased with death and blood? Every careless killing of innocents like the children in Afghanistan killed by a US bomb plays to the "terrorists" especially when the offense is covered up by the Pentagon to back up its own soldiers.

[The umbers in parentheses refer to notes in the original German Telepolis article.]

homepage: homepage: http://www.mbtranslations.com
address: address: http://www.fair.org

forgetting something? 06.Mar.2006 15:05


"American governments impressively demonstrated that the American media and people up to the highest authorities lied when they cobbled together the arguments for the Iraq war."

Uh...and 9/11.