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The White House Propaganda Machine: When the Truth Just Won’t Do

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A well-oiled contrivance, the White House propaganda machine is running at full pitch these days. And, although the evidence is right under our noses, much like a gas leak, most of us don’t smell it. Here, we will describe the key notes to that smell, so that you will learn to detect — from a 10-foot pace — the distinct odor of fat, stinking elephants in the middle of the room.

In Jeff Huber’s excellent April 2008 post, titled, “When Did Iran Start Beating Its Wife Again?” he describes the White House propaganda machine’s ongoing work to prime the U.S. and the international community for war in Iran. As evidence, he cites an April 2008 article in the New York Times, titled, “Questions Linger Over Scope Of Iran’s Role in Iraq Fighting,” which turns out to be a virtual schoolroom for those interested in seeing how the propaganda machine works.

As any good propagandist could tell you, there are three steps to effective propaganda. The 1st step is the easiest: make the stuff up. The 2nd step is to officiate the lies, which goes hand-in-hand with the 3rd step: disseminating the lies. In Huber’s post, he shows us how the above-mentioned NYT article neatly accomplished the 2nd and 3rd steps, as Huber counts no less than 30 references to phantom “official” sources, whose quotes serve to officiate the Bush-Cheney propaganda line on Iran. Most readers of the NYT article would simply skim past the following words, unawares that they’d just been fed a cookie:

Officials say…intelligence and administration officials said…American officials have publicly portrayed…military, intelligence and administration officials showed…officials said…some officials said…a senior official familiar with the intelligence about Iran said in an interview…officials said…top American officials in Iraq have portrayed…none of the officials interviewed disputed…officials said…the officials offered an assessment…statements by Mr. Bush and other officials…officials declined to detail publicly…one of the officials said…according to two senior administration officials…those and other officials said…A senior administration official described…the officials said…the officials said…the officials said…a senior official said…the officials said…the official said…the officials said…a senior official familiar with the intelligence reports on Iran said in an interview…according to other officials…the officials said…officials said…according to a senior American official…

As you read the “facts,” as quoted by these phantom, un-named sources, you may notice that these “facts” bear an eerily resemblance to the “facts” reported by the media during the 2001-2003 lead-up to the war in Iraq. As we learned with Iraq, swaying world opinion is an easy job: just take a handful of lies and repeatedly throw them into the news until the lies become accepted fact. With respect to Iran, just as in Iraq, our government wants us to perceive Iran as an evil, freedom-hating, terrorist empire, actively manufacturing WMDs, specifically nuclear bombs to kill Americans and Israelis, and also working hand-in-hand with Al Queda terrorist cells, crossing the border into Iraq to train and arm Iraqis to kill Americans.

Ideally, by the time the U.S. bombs Iran (in case you haven’t been paying attention, the U.S. is already perched to go to war with Iran — another war for oil, being waged under the false flags of WMDs/terrorism) Bush-Cheney would like the world community — the U.S. citizenry and Congress in particular — to resemble, in spirit, the angry, rampaging villagers in Frankenstein, wielding torches and pitchforks, demanding death to the monster. To that end, our government hires professionals to disseminate propaganda to the American citizens. Your tax dollars pay for our government to, “manufacture and disseminate intelligence leaks to influence the media and the public to support the administration’s policies.”
This is nothing new. What is new, however, is the extent to which the U.S. corporate media uses government propaganda as their primary news source. This has been a growing influence over the past 25 years, as one corporate arm has grown to encompass another and another — the lines becoming increasingly blurred as the media is owned by corporate conglomerates — most of them with ties to military and defense — who almost entirely fund the campaigns of our lawmakers, and whose lobbyists are appointed to government positions and vice-versa — bringing us to our current state, where the distinctions between the independent media, corporate PR and government propaganda no longer exists.

Few in the U.S. realize just how well-organized the White House/Pentagon propaganda machine has become. Here, we offer a quick-sketch chronology of the propaganda agencies utilized by our government over the past 25 years:

  • OPD (National Security Council’s Office of Public Diplomacy) 1983-1986 Started under Ronald Reagan in 1983 and headed by Otto Reich ,whose job was to covertly disseminate intelligence leaks to journalists, to trump up a Nicaraguan “threat,” and to sanctify the U.S.-backed Contra guerrillas fighting Nicaragua’s government as “freedom fighters.” The propaganda was aimed at influencing Congress to continue to fund the Contras. A few of Otto Reich’s planted “leaks” that were later revealed as lies: (1) Nicaragua had acquired chemical weapons from the Soviets, (2) high-level Sandinistas were involved in drug trafficking, (3) the leak that served to discredit and intimidate those in the U.S. media who weren’t following the Reagan war script, that U.S. reporters were receiving sexual favors from Sandinista-provided prostitutes in return for favorable coverage, and (4) the timely leak, on the eve of Reagan’s re-election, that Soviet MiG fighter jets were arriving in Nicaragua. The OPD was declared illegal on September 30, 1987, after an investigation by the Comptroller General, who found that the OPD engaged in “prohibited, covert propaganda activities, beyond the range of acceptable agency public information activities,” and that the OPD also violated “a restriction on the State Department’s annual appropriations prohibiting the use of federal funds for publicity or propaganda purposes not authorized by Congress.” The declassified records of the OPD and Otto Reich are available here, at the National Security Archives website.
  • U.S. Army’s 4th PSYOPS Group at CNN (The U.S. Army’s 4th Psychological Operations Group at Fort Bragg) 1999. Ordinarily, our government only conducts psychological operations in foreign countries, and not in the U.S., where — in theory, anyway — we turn to the media for an independent voice of truth. So you can imagine the surprise of some when, beginning during the last days of the Kosovo War in 1999, the Army’s 4th PSYOPS began working within the news division at CNN, as part of CNN’s ‘Training With Industry’ program. The details on this are sketchy, but it appears that public scrutiny and controversy put an end to the PSYOPS work at CNN several weeks after it started. (As an aside: The 1300-member 4th PSYOPS Group is one of many government PSYOPS groups that works to disseminate U.S. government propaganda. Integral to the U.S. war machine, their work is ongoing. Composed of soldiers and officers, the PSYOPS‘ duties include disseminating “selected information” to “influence media and public opinion in armed conflicts in which American state interests are said to be at stake.” The 4th PSYOPS served various purposes in the 1980s-90s. In the 1980s, they broadcast radio and television programs into Nicaragua, which were intended to undermine the Sandinista government. They were also variously used in the 1980s-90s in the first Gulf War, the Bosnian War and Kosovo War and in efforts to encourage public support for American “peacekeeping missions in the Balkans.)
  • OSI (Office of Strategic Influence) 2001-2002. Started after September 11th, 2001 and headed by Air Force Brig. Gen Robert Worden to “to provide news items, possibly even false ones, to foreign media organizations as part of a new effort to influence public sentiment and policy makers in both friendly and unfriendly countries.” Due to public criticism, the Pentagon was forced to officially “close” the OSI in February 2002, although the closing was in name only. The program, itself, lived on, as Donald Rumsfeld announced in a November 2002 media briefing: “And then there was the Office of Strategic 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.”
  • IAO (Information Awareness Office). Started in 2002 and assumed to be ongoing. Working under the auspices of DARPA (and perhaps as an umbrella to the White House Iraq Group, AKA the White House Information Group or WHIG and the Iranian Directorate, AKA the Directorate for Iran and the Office of Special Plans — and gawdknowswhatotheroffices of propaganda) the IAO may or may not be the successor to the OSI. The Information Awareness Office works to: “imagine, develop, apply, integrate, demonstrate, and transition information technologies, components, and prototype closed-loop information systems that will counter asymmetric threats by achieving total information awareness that is useful for preemption, national security warning, and national security decision making.” Reading this job description, it’s difficult to comprehend just what they do. I don’t imagine they’d have it any other way.
  • The Man Behind the Curtain in Emerald City (Dick Cheney) Somewhere along the way, our administration figured out a more efficient way to disseminate propaganda: straight from the elephant’s mouth. Here’s how it works: Cheney delivers his talking points to an assembly of Pentagon allegiates and corporate heads, who are given officious-sounding titles for the occasion, such as “military expert,” and “military analyst” and “White House Official.” These corporate heads are primarily defense & military contractors, lobbyists, senior corporate executives and board members — many of whom are former military officers, all of whom are already being paid obscene salaries by our government to staff our mercenary armies throughout the world. Once Cheney has delivered his talking points, these “experts,” “analysts” and “officials” they then either report straight to the media, or they conduct whatever “investigations” are necessary to support the talking points. Then they commence to disseminating.

With all of the above in mind, here are a few rules of thumb to follow when trying to discern propaganda from fact:

  1. Credibility. As a rule, when our government wages serious accusations against other countries and individuals (e.g. “They’re making weapons of mass destruction to kill Americans” or “They are freedom-hating terrorists” or “They are a safe-haven for al Queda”) the sources for these quotes should be accountable for what they’re accusing. It is realistic for American citizens to expect legitimate sources for these accusations. It’s called transparency, and allows the rest of us in the world to decide whether the quoted military and White House officials are speaking from a true place of authority, or if we are simply being fed cookies by phantom corporate heads, with conflicts of interest, who are merely echoing our government’s talking points. By the same token, when you hear that evidence exists to support these accusations, you should expect tangible proof of this evidence. While there are exceptions to this rule, these should be rare and only rarely accepted and, even then, only from governments who have proven they own the integrity to be entrusted with such a rare exception.
  2. Gag Orders. Anytime you see a government silencing its citizens, whether through censorship or intimidation, it’s a red flag. This administration has not been favorable to those who dissent their policies, or ask questions, or speak outside of the Bush-Cheney script. To this end, they paint those who protest their policies with the same paint brush they use on rogue terrorists (AKA: peace activist = terrorist appeaser; skeptic citizen who doesn’t believe the Bush-Cheney talking points = conspiracy theorist; Congressman voting against Bush-Cheney agenda = weak on terrorism). When you see this happening, take a whiff. Somewhere in the room is a big, fat stinking elephant.
  3. History. With specific regard to the Bush-Cheney Administration, whenever you hear them accusing citizens or politicians in any country (including our own country) as being terrorists, terrorists-appeasers, or safe-havens for terrorist, check the facts. You are guaranteed to find oil in the equation. The country in question will either have vast oil reserves, or will be strategic to transporting the oil. Anyone who impedes the Bush-Cheney mandate for controlling the oil in that region — be that obstacle a member of the U.S. Congress, or one of our allies, or an international humanitarian group, or the media, or an ordinary citizen — that obstacle will be painted, alike, with the same terrorist paint brush. Check your facts. Look for oil. Don’t believe everything you read.

Bush-Cheney would like us to believe that all versions of the news, except theirs, are the ramblings of left-wing conspiracy nuts. While it’s true that some of the alternative news sites propose far-out theories, none are so outrageous or dangerous as the lies being fed to us by the Bush-Cheney Administration. And I can hardly fault those individuals who have wandered too far, when exploring the myriad webs of deceit spun by Bush-Cheney. These instances are the exception. Most versions of the news that are painted as “conspiracy theories” by Bush-Cheney are actually factual.

Here at the Canary Papers, we are careful to research all of our facts, and aspire to offer credible references, via links within our posts, for nearly everything we write. This site also offers a variety of links to international, alternative and independent media sources, where you can often find more factual accounts of the news. Feel free to send us other links. We’ll post them. And if you have a question, feel free to ask. We promise not to call you a terrorist and will do our level best to point you toward some answers.

p.s. Be sure to check out the 2 videos at the bottom of this page, from the 2006 film, “American Blackout.” The first video, below, is a 6-minute clip. The second video is the full-length, 89-minute version. An artfully produced film, “American Blackout” is primarily a challenge to Americans to refuse allowing the 2008 election be a repeat of the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. The star in this effort is former U.S. Rep., Cynthia McKinney — a rare politician who doesn’t follow the standard script for Washington politicians. An outspoken, straightforward and passionate leader, McKinney is devoted to fighting the corruption and propaganda that both influence and define American politics today. The film documents some of her work to restore truth to the American political process — from her demands for an independent investigation of 9-11, through her battles against voter fraud and voter disenfranchisement in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. She has paid dearly for her efforts. Yet, like David to Goliath, she fights on. America could use more politicians like Cynthia McKinney.

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