2006/09/17

Rumsfeld’s Fake News Flop in Iraq

Sheldon Rampton

The following is an excerpt from The Best war Ever: Lies, Damned Lies, and the Mess in Iraq by Sheldon Rampton and John Stauber (Tarcher, 2006).

The danger of negative news, according to President Bush, is that it may undermine morale and support for the war, as Americans “look at the violence they see each night on their television screens and they wonder how I can remain so optimistic about the prospects of success in Iraq.” But propaganda itself is a danger to the nation, as the United States has long recognized, both in theory and in law. In 1948, Congress, concerned by what it had seen propaganda do to Hitler’s Germany, passed the Smith-Mundt Act, a law that forbids domestic dissemination of U.S. government materials intended for foreign audiences.

The law is so strict that programming from Voice of America, the government’s overseas news service, may not be broadcast to domestic audiences. Legislators were concerned that giving any U.S. administration access to the government’s tools for influencing opinion overseas would undermine the democratic process at home. Since 1951, this concern has also been expressed in the appropriations acts passed each year by Congress, which include language that stipulates, “No part of any appropriation contained in this or any other Act shall be used for publicity or propaganda purposes within the United States not heretofore authorized by Congress.”

Economic and media globalization, however, have shrunk the planet in ways that blur the distinction between foreign and domestic propaganda. This has been acknowledged in the U.S. Defense Department’s Information Operations Roadmap, a 74-page document approved in 2003 by Donald Rumsfeld. It noted that “information intended for foreign audiences, including public diplomacy and PSYOP [psychological operations], increasingly is consumed by our domestic audience and vice-versa. PSYOP messages disseminated to any audience… will often be replayed by the news media for much larger audiences, including the American public.”

This ought to be of particular concern to Americans because the Pentagon’s doctrine for psychological operations specifically contemplates “actions to convey and (or) deny selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, and objective reasoning. … In various ways, perception management combines truth projection, operations security, cover, and deception, and psyops.”

An example of a psyops operation that used “deception” in Iraq occurred during the 2004 preparations for the U.S. military assault on Fallujah, which had become a stronghold for insurgents. On October 14, a spokesman for the marines appeared on CNN and announced that the long-awaited military campaign to retake Fallujah had begun. In fact, the announcement was a deliberate falsehood. The announcement on CNN was intended to trick the insurgents so that U.S. commanders could see how they would react to the real offensive, which would not begin until three weeks later. In giving this bit of false information to CNN, however, the marines were not merely reaching a “foreign audience” but also Americans who watch CNN.

Much of the U.S. propaganda effort, however, is aimed not at tactical deception of enemy combatants but at influencing morale and support for the war in the United States. The Office of media Outreach, a taxpayer-funded arm of the Department of Defense, has offered government-subsidized trips to Iraq for radio talk-show hosts. “Virtually all expenses are being picked up by the U.S. government, with the exception of broadcasters providing their own means of broadcasting or delivering their content,” reported Billboard magazine’s Radio Monitor website.

Office of media Outreach activities included hosting “Operation Truth,” a one-week tour of Iraq by right-wing talk-show hosts, organized by Russo Marsh & Rogers, a Republican PR firm based in California that sponsors a conservative advocacy group called Move America Forward. The purpose of the “Truth Tour,” they reported on the Move America Forward website, was “to report the good news on Operation Iraqi Freedom you’re not hearing from the old line news media… to get the news straight from our troops serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom, including the positive developments and successes they are achieving.” Even before the trip began, however, the radio talkers’ take on Iraq was already decided. “The war is being won, if not already won, I think,” said tour participant Buzz Patterson in a predeparture interview with Fox News. “[Iraq] is stabilized and we want the soldiers themselves to tell the story.”

In September 2004, the U.S. military circulated a request for proposals, inviting private public relations firms to apply for a contract to perform an “aggressive” PR and advertising push inside Iraq to include weekly reports on Iraqi public opinion, production of news releases, video news, the training of Iraqis to serve as spokesmen, and creation of a “rebuttal cell” that would monitor all media throughout Iraq, “immediately and effectively responding to reports that unfairly target the Coalition or Coalition interests.”

According to the request for proposals, “Recent polls suggest support for the Coalition is falling and more and more Iraqis are questioning Coalition resolve, intentions, and effectiveness. It is essential to the success of the Coalition and the future of Iraq that the Coalition gain widespread Iraqi acceptance of its core themes and messages.”

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UK troops ‘to spend 10 years’ in Afghanistan

Michael Smith

THE commander of the British taskforce in southern Afghanistan said last week that UK troops could be in the country for as long as 10 years.

In his first interview since arriving in Afghanistan, Brigadier Ed Butler said: “I don’t think there’s any doubt we will be here for a considerable time. There will need to be training teams and embedded officers for 10 years or so.”

Butler, commander of 16 Air Assault Brigade, took full responsibility for setting up the “platoon houses” at Sangin and Musa Qala, where 15 British soldiers have died. But he said the decision to send troops into the frontline bases, described by many of his men as “hellholes”, was made “under not inconsiderable pressure” from Hamid Karzai, Afghanistan’s president.

When British troops began arriving in April to take charge of Helmand province, they met immediate Taliban resistance, Butler said. Baghran district centre had been overrun by the Taliban.

“The governor [of Helmand] was concerned, and the Afghan government was concerned, that northern Helmand was about to fall to the Taliban,” said Butler.

British troops had shown immense bravery in intense combat. “They have been in almost constant engagement with the enemy. Some of these guys are barely out of school. Killing someone is a very difficult thing to do,” Butler said. “People think: ‘Well, that’s what soldiers are paid to do’, but it still takes raw courage to go out and do it.”

The ID Chip You Don’t Want in Your Passport

Bruce Schneier

If you have a passport, now is the time to renew it — even if it’s not set to expire anytime soon. If you don’t have a passport and think you might need one, now is the time to get it. In many countries, including the United States, passports will soon be equipped with RFID chips. And you don’t want one of these chips in your passport.

RFID stands for “radio-frequency identification.” Passports with RFID chips store an electronic copy of the passport information: your name, a digitized picture, etc. And in the future, the chip might store fingerprints or digital visas from various countries.

By itself, this is no problem. But RFID chips don’t have to be plugged in to a reader to operate. Like the chips used for automatic toll collection on roads or automatic fare collection on subways, these chips operate via proximity. The risk to you is the possibility of surreptitious access: Your passport information might be read without your knowledge or consent by a government trying to track your movements, a criminal trying to steal your identity or someone just curious about your citizenship.

At first the State Department belittled those risks, but in response to criticism from experts it has implemented some security features. Passports will come with a shielded cover, making it much harder to read the chip when the passport is closed. And there are now access-control and encryption mechanisms, making it much harder for an unauthorized reader to collect, understand and alter the data.

Although those measures help, they don’t go far enough. The shielding does no good when the passport is open. Travel abroad and you’ll notice how often you have to show your passport: at hotels, banks, Internet cafes. Anyone intent on harvesting passport data could set up a reader at one of those places. And although the State Department insists that the chip can be read only by a reader that is inches away, the chips have been read from many feet away.

The other security mechanisms are also vulnerable, and several security researchers have already discovered flaws. One found that he could identify individual chips via unique characteristics of the radio transmissions. Another successfully cloned a chip. The State Department called this a “meaningless stunt,” pointing out that the researcher could not read or change the data. But the researcher spent only two weeks trying; the security of your passport has to be strong enough to last 10 years.

This is perhaps the greatest risk. The security mechanisms on your passport chip have to last the lifetime of your passport. It is as ridiculous to think that passport security will remain secure for that long as it would be to think that you won’t see another security update for Microsoft Windows in that time. Improvements in antenna technology will certainly increase the distance at which they can be read and might even allow unauthorized readers to penetrate the shielding.

Whatever happens, if you have a passport with an RFID chip, you’re stuck. Although popping your passport in the microwave will disable the chip, the shielding will cause all kinds of sparking. And although the United States has said that a nonworking chip will not invalidate a passport, it is unclear if one with a deliberately damaged chip will be honored.

The Colorado passport office is already issuing RFID passports, and the State Department expects all U.S. passport offices to be doing so by the end of the year. Many other countries are in the process of changing over. So get a passport before it’s too late. With your new passport you can wait another 10 years for an RFID passport, when the technology will be more mature, when we will have a better understanding of the security risks and when there will be other technologies we can use to cut the risks. You don’t want to be a guinea pig on this one.

Pope sorry for reaction to his remarks


AP - 1 hour, 12 minutes ago

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy - Pope Benedict XVI said Sunday that he was "deeply sorry" about the angry reaction to his recent remarks about Islam, which he said came from a text that did not reflect his personal opinion. Despite the statement, protests and violence persisted across the Muslim world, with churches set ablaze in the West Bank and a hard-line Iranian cleric saying the pope was united with President Bush to "repeat the Crusades."

He then went on to tell his notoriously naughty joke about the Islamic Cleric and the Rabbi, that walked into the topples bar,,,, then finished with a heartfelt medley of Hitler speach highlights.

U.S. holds AP photographer in Iraq 5 month

By ROBERT TANNER, AP National Writer
1 hour, 7 minutes ago


The U.S. military in Iraq has imprisoned an Associated Press photographer for five months, accusing him of being a security threat but never filing charges or permitting a public hearing.

Military officials said Bilal Hussein, an Iraqi citizen, was being held for "imperative reasons of security" under United Nations resolutions. AP executives said the news cooperative's review of Hussein's work did not find anything to indicate inappropriate contact with insurgents, and any evidence against him should be brought to the Iraqi criminal justice system.

Hussein, 35, is a native of Fallujah who began work for the AP in September 2004. He photographed events in Fallujah and Ramadi until he was detained on April 12 of this year.

"We want the rule of law to prevail. He either needs to be charged or released. Indefinite detention is not acceptable," said Tom Curley, AP's president and chief executive officer. "We've come to the conclusion that this is unacceptable under Iraqi law, or Geneva Conventions, or any military procedure."

Hussein is one of an estimated 14,000 people detained by the U.S. military worldwide — 13,000 of them in Iraq. They are held in limbo where few are ever charged with a specific crime or given a chance before any court or tribunal to argue for their freedom.

In Hussein's case, the military has not provided any concrete evidence to back up the vague allegations they have raised about him, Curley and other AP executives said.

The military said Hussein was captured with two insurgents, including Hamid Hamad Motib, an alleged leader of al-Qaida in Iraq. "He has close relationships with persons known to be responsible for kidnappings, smuggling, improvised explosive device (IED) attacks and other attacks on coalition forces," according to a May 7 e-mail from U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Jack Gardner, who oversees all coalition detainees in Iraq.

"The information available establishes that he has relationships with insurgents and is afforded access to insurgent activities outside the normal scope afforded to journalists conducting legitimate activities," Gardner wrote to AP International Editor John Daniszewski.

Hussein proclaims his innocence, according to his Iraqi lawyer, Badie Arief Izzat, and believes he has been unfairly targeted because his photos from Ramadi and Fallujah were deemed unwelcome by the coalition forces.

That Hussein was captured at the same time as insurgents doesn't make him one of them, said Kathleen Carroll, AP's executive editor.

"Journalists have always had relationships with people that others might find unsavory," she said. "We're not in this to choose sides, we're to report what's going on from all sides."

AP executives in New York and Baghdad have sought to persuade U.S. officials to provide additional information about allegations against Hussein and to have his case transferred to the Iraqi criminal justice system. The AP contacted military leaders in Iraq and the Pentagon, and later the U.S. ambassador to Iraq, Zalmay Khalilzad.

The AP has worked quietly until now, believing that would be the best approach. But with the U.S. military giving no indication it would change its stance, the news cooperative has decided to make public Hussein's imprisonment, hoping the spotlight will bring attention to his case and that of thousands of others now held in Iraq, Curley said.

One of Hussein's photos was part of a package of 20 photographs that won a Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography last year. His contribution was an image of four insurgents in Fallujah firing a mortar and small arms during the U.S.-led offensive in the city in November 2004.

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2006/09/16

Dear “Terrorist” Child

Imprisoned in the Vortex of the Pax Americana

Growing up, young child, as you surely are, affected in some way, shape or form by the tentacles of America’s malevolent imperialism in the Middle East, whether by market colonialism, economic genocide or military occupation, surely bitterness, hatred, rage and a thirst for vengeance are slowly yet inevitably building inside your tiny body. Like a seed planted into the fertile soils of American hegemony, sprouting in anger with every downpour of American interference in your land, over time nurtured to become a tree bearing the blowback fruit America will be forced to reap, ready to ripen at maturity, your emotions against the Empire growing stronger with every year that passes, with every act of further humiliation and dehumanization, with every display of blatant hypocrisy or lost opportunity, with every new maiming and death upon your family and people.

Whether living in lands overrun by American-sponsored and supported despotic, undemocratic puppets depriving you of real “freedom and democracy,” whether living under the billions-of-dollars-a-year in financial and military assistance American subsidized brutal Israeli occupation and apartheid in the world’s largest concentration camps, Gaza and the West Bank, whether living in lands under constant American military threats, sanctions and embargoes imposed on their citizens, depriving you of healthcare, opportunity, full nourishment and a chance to grow up as a child should, simply because your people happen to resist the Empire’s gluttonous desire for your nation’s location and/or resources, or whether subjected to American styled “birth pangs” of a new Middle East, living amongst the violence-riddled, security-absent, depleted uranium-infested, radioactive-filled rubble and destroyed infrastructures of Iraq, Afghanistan and recently Lebanon, now but birth pangs of death and destruction, not life and freedom, the claws of America’s appetite for the lands of the Middle East are as omnipotent as they are malfeasant, an inescapable reality for millions of Arab and Muslim children such as yourself whose only crime is being born Arab in lands deemed strategic and vital to the continued expansion of the greed-mongering American Leviathan.

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Empire in the Mirror

Empire – A Tribe on Steroids

Inside the belly of the beast can the harbinger of what is to come be seen, for the internal machinations of the Pax Americana have become rusted and decrepit, its lifeblood infected and diseased by the spoils of its conquests and the narcissism of its hubris. In pursuit of unmatched wealth and power its internal organs have been infected by the malignancies of greed, arrogance and corruption, spreading from coast to coast, a haze of barrenness infiltrating every city and every town, afflicting a society 300 million strong, slowly yet invariably eroding the foundations of an Empire on fast-forward time, as if America’s domination has been accelerated, her reign compressed and her demise made absolute. Yet in her accelerated cycle can civilization once more bear witness that while the greatness of man may build empires, it is the deep flaws inherent in our nature that crumbles them as well.

What the genius of humankind helps construct the vices of the human condition will assuredly destroy, for what is history but a written record of our greatness always decimated by our weaknesses, of our vices, corruption and incurable penchant for death, violence and destruction as always laying waste to the marvels humankind is capable of constructing? What is history if not a linear pattern, repeated over and over and over again, regardless of time, location or of cultural differences, of the triumphs of humankind trumped and squashed by the mammalian passions and emotions inherent in our primate species, of our species taking a leap forward only to have us take two leaps back?
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Two Axioms of 9/11

Axiom One: November Fears


With government and corporate media propaganda echoing the traumatic memories of five years ago, from sea to shining sea, enveloping the airwaves and print media of the nation with a clenched fist of wall to wall coverage, Americans have again been bombarded with the exploitation of the mass murder of 3,000 human beings, their death once more serving the political interests of the Bush cabal as well as the financial concerns of the corporate Leviathan. The War on the American People – that psychological operation against our minds and emotions that began with the demolition of the World Trade Center and has continued unabatedly for five consecutive years – has been reinvented and redeployed, its army of lackey journalists, talking heads, government institutions and authoritarian politicians eager to spread the language and images needed to resurrect emotions and feelings, spreading the filth designed to manipulate our fears and hatreds, conditioning us into accepting the dictates of the state and the corporation along with the reality of a world of perpetual war and perpetual terror.

Once more we are being reminded, at the expediency of those in power, and just in case we had begun to forget, that fear is bravery, war is peace, authoritarianism is freedom, dissent is treasonous and a police state is security. Only those truly responsible for perpetrating the events of 9/11, we are made to believe, those lurking behind the smoke, mirrors and purple curtains of the state, can save and defend us from dark-skinned bogeymen of Arab/Muslim lineage that hate us for our freedoms and way of life. Only the fascists in power, we are told, care about preserving and protecting our freedoms, rights, liberties and democracy even as it is they, and not the barbarians at the gates, that are eroding and destroying each with every new day that passes, taking away what the evil terrorist cannot accomplish. It is the dreaded terrorist – of course always Arab in ethnicity or Muslim in faith – we are told by the deciders and the fascists, that roams like a giant cloud of death, hovering above the lands of America, wanting nothing more than to kill us and our children. However, it is the state and its propaganda machine that does not relent in its campaign at frightening and terrorizing the American people, as if it, and not the enemy, is the real terrorist, scaring families, creating stresses and causing insecurity among the masses.

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2006/09/05

An Inconvenient Truth

Save a tree

A Shopper's Guide to Home Tissue Products
Shop smart. Save forests.

Learn More:
Tissue Paper & Forests
Forests are being destroyed to make toilet paper, facial tissues, paper towels and other disposable paper products. You can help stop this destruction by pressing manufacturers to use recycled content and clean manufacturing processes (click here to send a message to paper giant Kimberly-Clark), and by making smart shopping decisions.


If every U.S. household replaced one roll of regular paper towels with 100 percent recycled ones, we'd save 544,000 trees.

Need help lowering your energy bills?

With winter fast approaching, I thought it would be nice to share this site, and hopefully encourage people to be a little pro-active in weatherizing there homes, and making a smaller foot print on our planet. DOE Building Technology

Preliminary Draft Maps of Potential Energy Corridors

Preliminary draft maps of potential energy corridors on federal lands in eleven Western States.

The Departments of Energy, Interior, Agriculture, and Defense (the Agencies) are preparing a draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act to identify the impacts associated with designating energy corridors on federal lands in eleven Western states. Energy corridors may contain oil, gas, and hydrogen pipelines and electricity transmission facilities. The Agencies are preparing the PEIS at the direction of Congress, as set forth in Section 368 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005. Based upon the information and analyses developed in the PEIS, the Agencies will designate energy corridors by amending their respective land use plans.


The Government wants to build a new power grid through our national parks and protected wildlands. Please go to this site and write them, telling them to keep there hands off our parks and wildlands!!!!!!!!

LDS Temple in Mesa

Wife took me to this temple to walk around the grounds, very pretty place.