by Professor Michel Chossudovsky, Canada
This text is Part I in a two part series.
Part II focuses on ‘Fabricating an Enemy’
Military planners in the Pentagon are acutely aware of the central role
of war propaganda. Waged from the Pentagon, the State Department and the CIA,
a fear and disinformation campaign (FDC) has been launched. The blatant distortion
of the truth and the systematic manipulation of all sources of information
is an integral part of war planning. In the wake of 9/11, Secretary of Defense
Donald Rumsfeld created to the Office of Strategic Influence (OSI), or ‘Office
of Disinformation’ as it was labeled by its critics:
‘The Department of Defense said they needed to do this, and they were going
to actually plant stories that were false in foreign countries—as an effort
to influence public opinion across the world.
And, all of a sudden, the OSI was formally disbanded following political
pressures and ‘troublesome’ media stories that ‘its purpose was to deliberately
lie to advance American interests.’ ‘Rumsfeld backed off and said this
is embarrassing.’ Yet despite this apparent about-turn, the Pentagon’s
Orwellian disinformation campaign remains functionally intact: ‘[T]he secretary
of defense is not being particularly candid here. Disinformation in military
propaganda is part of war.’
Rumsfeld later confirmed in a press interview that while the OSI no longer
exists in name, the ‘Office’s intended functions are being carried out’
(Rumsfeld’s precise words can be consulted at www.fas.org/sgp/news/2002/11/dod111802.html
A number of government agencies and intelligence units --with links to
the Pentagon-- are involved in various components of the propaganda campaign.
Realities are turned upside down. Acts of war are heralded as ‘humanitarian
interventions’ geared towards ‘regime change’ and ‘the restoration of democracy’.
Military occupation and the killing of civilians are presented as ‘peace-keeping’.
The derogation of civil liberties—in the context of the so-called ‘anti-terrorist
legislation’—is portrayed as a means to providing ‘domestic security’ and
upholding civil liberties. And underlying these manipulated realties, ‘Osama
bin Laden’ and ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ statements, which circulate
profusely in the news chain, are upheld as the basis for an understanding
of World events.
In the critical ‘planning stages’ leading up to an invasion of Iraq, the
twisting of public opinion at home and around the World, is an integral part
of the War agenda, War propaganda is pursued at all stages: before, during
the military operation as well as in its cruel aftermath. War propaganda
serves to drown the real causes and consequences of war.
A few months after the OSI was disbanded amidst controversy (February 2002),
The New York Times confirmed that the disinformation campaign was running
strong and that the Pentagon was:
‘[…] considering issuing a secret directive to American military to conduct
covert operations aimed at influencing public opinion and policymakers in
friendly and neutral nations […] The proposal has ignited a fierce battle
throughout the Bush administration over whether the military should carry
out secret propaganda missions in friendly nations like Germany […] The fight,
one Pentagon official said, is over ‘the strategic communications for our
nation, the message we want to send for long-term influence, and how we do
it […]’We have the assets and the capabilities and the training to go into
friendly and neutral nations to influence public opinion. We could do it
and get away with it. That doesn›t mean we should.’
Fabricating the Truth
To sustain the war agenda, these ‘fabricated realities’, funneled on a
day to day basis into the news chain must become indelible truths, which
form part of a broad political and media consensus. In this regard, the corporate
media—although acting independently of the military-intelligence apparatus,
is an instrument of this evolving totalitarian system.
In close liaison with the Pentagon and the CIA, the State Department has
also set up its own ‘soft-sell’ (civilian) propaganda unit, headed by Undersecretary
of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Charlotte Beers, a powerful
figure in the advertising industry. Working in liaison with the Pentagon,
Beers was appointed to head the State Department’s propaganda unit in the
immediate wake of 9/11. Her mandate is ‘to counteract anti-Americanism abroad.’
Her office at the State department is to:
‘ensure that public diplomacy (engaging, informing, and influencing key
international audiences) is practiced in harmony with public affairs (outreach
to Americans) and traditional diplomacy to advance U.S. interests and security
and to provide the moral basis for U.S. leadership in the world.’ (www.state.gov/r/)
The Role of the CIA
The most powerful component of the Fear and Disinformation Campaign (FDI)
rests with the CIA, which, secretly subsidizes authors, journalists and media
critics, through a web of private foundations and CIA sponsored front organizations.
The CIA also influences the scope and direction of many Hollywood productions.
Since 9/11, one third of Hollywood productions are war movies. ‘Hollywood
stars and scriptwriters are rushing to bolster the new message of patriotism,
conferring with the CIA and brainstorming with the military about possible
real-life terrorist attacks.’ ‘The Sum of All Fears’ directed by Phil
Alden Robinson, which depicts the scenario of a nuclear war, received the
endorsement and support of both the Pentagon and the CIA.
Disinformation is routinely ‘planted’ by CIA operatives in the newsroom
of major dailies, magazines and TV channels. Outside public relations firms
are often used to create ‘fake stories’ Carefully documented by Chaim Kupferberg
in relation to the events of September 11: ‘A relatively few well-connected
correspondents provide the scoops, that get the coverage in the relatively
few mainstream news sources, where the parameters of debate are set and the
‘official reality’ is consecrated for the bottom feeders in the news chain.’
Covert disinformation initiatives under CIA auspices are also funneled
through various intelligence proxies in other countries. Since 9/11, they
have resulted in the day-to-day dissemination of false information concerning
alleged ‘terrorist attacks’. In virtually all of the reported cases (Britain,
France, Indonesia, India, Philippines, etc.) the ‘ alleged terrorist groups’
are said to have ‘links to Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda’, without of course
acknowledging the fact (amply documented by intelligence reports and official
documents) that Al Qaeda is a creation of CIA.
The Doctrine of „Self Defense“
At this critical juncture, in the month(s) leading up to the announced
invasion of Iraq, the propaganda campaign is geared towards sustaining the
illusion that «America is under attack». Relayed not only through the mainstream
media but also through a number of alternative internet media sites, these
«fabricated realities» portray the war as a bona fide act of self-defense,
while carefully concealing the broad strategic and economic objectives of
In turn, the propaganda campaign develops a casus belli, «a justification»,
a political legitimacy for waging war. The «official reality» (conveyed profusely
in George W’s speeches) rests on the broad «humanitarian» premise of a so-called
«preemptive», namely «defensive war», «a war to protect freedom»:
« We're under attack because we love freedom… And as long as we love freedom
and love liberty and value every human life, they›re going to try to hurt
Spelled out in the National Security Strategy (NSS), the preemptive «defensive
war» doctrine and the «war on terrorism» against Al Qaeda constitute the
two essential building blocks of the Pentagon’s propaganda campaign. The
objective is to present «preemptive military action» --meaning war as an
act of «self-defense» against two categories of enemies, «rogue States» and
«The war against terrorists of global reach is a global enterprise of uncertain
duration. …America will act against such emerging threats before they are
…Rogue states and terrorists do not seek to attack us using conventional
means. They know such attacks would fail. Instead, they rely on acts of terror
and, potentially, the use of weapons of mass destruction (…)
The targets of these attacks are our military forces and our civilian population,
in direct violation of one of the principal norms of the law of warfare.
As was demonstrated by the losses on September 11, 2001, mass civilian casualties
is the specific objective of terrorists and these losses would be exponentially
more severe if terrorists acquired and used weapons of mass destruction.
The United States has long maintained the option of preemptive actions
to counter a sufficient threat to our national security. The greater the threat,
the greater is the risk of inaction— and the more compelling the case for
taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves, (…). To forestall or prevent
such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary,
act preemptively.» (National Security Strategy, White House, 2002, http://www.whitehouse.gov/nsc/nss.html
into the News Chain
How is war propaganda carried out? Two sets of «eye popping» «statements»
emanating from a variety of sources (including official National Security
statements, media, Washington-based think tanks, etc.) are fed on a daily
basis into the news chain. Some of the events (including news regarding presumed
terrorists) are blatantly fabricated by the intelligence agencies. These
statements are supported by simple and catchy «buzzwords», which set the
stage for fabricating the news:
Buzzword no. 1. «Osama bin Laden’s Al Qaeda» (Osama) is behind most news
stories regarding the «war on terrorism» including «alleged», «future» «presumed»,
and «actual» terrorist attacks. What is rarely mentioned is that this outside
enemy Al Qaeda is a CIA «intelligence asset», used in covert operations.
Buzzword no. 2. The «Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)» statement is used
to justify the «pre-emptive war» against the «State sponsors of terror»,
--i.e. countries such as Iraq, Iran and North Korea which allegedly possess
WMD. Amply documented in the case of Iraq, a large body of news on WMD and
biological attacks, are fabricated.
The «WMD» and «Osama bin Laden» statements become part of day to day debate,
embodied in routine conversations between citizens. Repeated ad nauseam,
they penetrate the inner consciousness of ordinary people molding their individual
perceptions on current events. Through deception and manipulation, this shaping
of the minds of entire populations, sets the stage --under the façade of
a functioning democracy—for the installation of a de facto police State.
Needless to say, war propaganda weakens the antiwar movement.
In turn, the disinformation regarding alleged «terrorist attacks» or «weapons
of mass destruction» instils an atmosphere of fear, which mobilizes unswerving
patriotism and support for the State, and its main political and military
Repeated in virtually every national news report, this stigmatic focus
on WMD-Al Qaeda essentially serves as a dogma, to blind people on the causes
and consequences of America’s war of conquest, while providing a simple,
unquestioned and authoritative justification for «self defense.»
More recently, both in speeches by President Bush and Prime Minister Blair,
as well as in the news, WMD statements are now carefully blended into Osama
statements. UK Defense Minister Jack Straw warned in early January «that
‘rogue regimes’ such as Iraq were the most likely source of WMD technology
for groups like al-Qaeda.» Also, in January, a presumed al Qaeda cell
«with links to Iraq» was discovered in Edinburgh, allegedly involved in the
use of biological weapons against people in the UK. The hidden agenda of «the
links to Iraq» statement is blatantly obvious. The objective is to discredit
Iraq in the months leading up to the war: the so-called «State sponsors of
terror» are said to support Osama bin Laden, Conversely, Osama is said to
collaborate with Iraq in the use of weapons of mass destruction.
In recent months, several thousand news reports have woven «WMD-Osama stories»
of which a couple of excerpts are provided below:
«Skeptics will argue that the inconsistencies don›t prove the Iraqis have
continued developing weapons of mass destruction. It also leaves Washington
casting about for other damning material and charges, including the midweek
claim, again unproved, that Islamic extremists affiliated with al-Qaeda took
possession of a chemical weapon in Iraq last November or late October.»
North Korea has admitted it lied about that and is brazenly cranking up
its nuclear program again. Iraq has almost certainly lied about it, but won›t
admit it. Meanwhile Al Qaeda, although dispersed, remains a shadowy, threatening
force, and along with other terrorist groups, a potential recipient of the
deadly weaponry that could emerge from Iraq and North Korea.
Britain›s Prime Minister Tony Blair listed Iraq, North Korea, the Middle
East and al-Qaeda among «difficult and dangerous» problems Britain faced
in the coming year.
The WMD-Osama statements are used profusely by the mainstream media. In
the wake of 9/11, these stylized statements have also become an integral
part of day to day political discourse. They have also permeated the workings
of international diplomacy and the functioning of the United Nations.
1. Interview with Steve Adubato, Fox News, 26 December 2002.
2. Air Force Magazine, January 2003, italics added..
3. Adubato, op. cit. italics added
4. Ibid, italics added.
5. Quoted in Federation of American Scientists (FAS) Secrecy News, http://www.fas.org/sgp/news/secrecy/2002/11/112702.html
, Rumsfeld’s press interview can be consulted at: http://www.fas.org/sgp/news/2002/11/dod111802.html
6. New York Times, 16 December 2002.
7. Sunday Times, London 5 January 2003.
8. Ros Davidson, Stars earn their Stripes, The Sunday Herald (Scotland),
11 November 2001).
9. See Samuel Blumenfeld, Le Pentagone et la CIA enrôlent Hollywood, Le
Monde, 24 July 2002, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/BLU207A.html .
10. Chaim Kupferberg, The Propaganda Preparation for 9/11, Global Outlook,
No. 3, 2003, p. 19, http://www.globalresearch.ca/articles/KUP206A.html .
11. Remarks by President Bush in Trenton, New Jersey, «Welcome Army National
Guard Aviation Support Facility, Trenton, New Jersey », 23 September 2002.
12. National Security Strategy, White House, 2002, http://www.whitehouse.gov/nsc/nss.html
13. Agence France Presse (AFP), 7 January 2003.
14. Insight on the News, 20 January 2003.
15. Christian Science Monitor, 8 January 2003
16. Agence France Presse (AFP), 1 January 2003