|‘Terrorism’ is but prologue to propaganda
(January 3, 2016)
“Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper.
Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle.”
—Thomas Jefferson, 1807.
To all intents and purposes, the U.S. media is a collective state propaganda organ that differs little from that of the former Soviet Union. Five conglomerates controlling 90 per cent of the newspapers, magazines, books, radio and TV stations, and movie studios fabricate crises, misrepresent informed criticism and punish honest reporters to ensure public compliance with official political, economic and moral doctrines. If this seems a tad over-the-top, consider the following unreported (of course!) news item.
In February 2012, the U.S. Congress passed H.R. 5736—The Smith-Mundt Modernization Act, which gave the media the legal authority to spread government lies:
Smith-Mundt Modernization Act of 2012—Amends the United States Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1948 to authorize the Secretary of State and the Broadcasting Board of Governors to provide for the preparation and dissemination of information intended for foreign audiences abroad about the United States, including about its people, its history, and the federal government's policies, through press, publications, radio, motion pictures, the Internet, and other information media, including social media, and through information centers and instructors.…
H.R. 5736 goes on to state that the Department of State and the Board of Governors will not receive funds to propagandize within the U.S., but then says: “Such provision shall…not be construed to prohibit the Department from engaging in any medium of information on a presumption that a U.S. domestic audience may be exposed to program material….” (my emphasis).
Translation: “The media has the legal right—nay, the legal duty—to subvert your judgment and manipulate your emotions in the government’s interest.” This deceit could take the form of warmongering (Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria), disinformation (rubbishing scientific proof of climate change), defamation of people or organizations (Edward Snowden, Vladimir Putin, Bashar al-Assad, Palestinian government, Planned Parenthood, etc.) or outright falsification.
In the U.S., Fox News is synonymous with such warmongering, propaganda and disinformation. According to Punditfact, a branch of Politifact, an independent fact-checking journalism website:
Fox News…only told the truth 18 per cent (15 of 83) of the time for the statements they checked. And even of that 18 per cent, only 8 per cent of what they said was completely “True.” The other 10 per cent was rated as “Mostly True.” A staggering 60 percent (50 of 83) comments were found to be either “Mostly False,” “False,” or “Pants on Fire.” The other 22 percent were rated “Half True.”
Compared to Fox News, CNN enjoyed somewhat better results. (How could it not!) It was found to be honest 60 per cent of the time and dishonest only 18 per cent.
But media dishonesty consists of more than just flogging a false narrative; far more pernicious is the sabotaging of alternative narratives. Propaganda by omission—punishing dissent, censoring news or mentioning a fact only to bury it—is integral for manipulating the public's emotions and stampeding them into acquiescing to governmental dictates. This is the standard operating procedure for all false flag attacks.
Media coverage of the November 2015 Paris attack, for example, followed the same standard script as for the coverage of the January 2015 Charlie Hebdo attack: express outrage, endorse the official cause of the attack, and burn into our consciousness repeated images and accounts of violence, anguish, fear, shock and commiseration. International foreign affairs writer Gwynne Dyer gave this Nov. 23 account of the media coverage:
Most people in Europe, North America and the Middle East have watched at least several hours of coverage of the Paris events and their aftermath – as long as a feature film – and even in more distant parts of the world it has been the event of the week.
Dyer puts his finger on the real role of the media: not to explain the attack but to justify it. The perpetrators wanted the French people to become even more anxious, paranoid and vengeful, and the corporate media dutifully complied. First came the attack; then came the all-important selling of the attack to terrify the masses. Thomas Jefferson's warning can be expanded to North American corporate media in general, for these are the real terrorists who should be attacked and put out of business. Given that Fox News wallows in self-parody, no further comment is necessary, so let us use CNN as an example of how the media bastardizes its ethics to terrify a nation.
CNN—Corporate Narrative Network
One of CNN’s most recognizable faces is Anderson Cooper, although what he’s doing at CNN is, itself, worthy of a conflict-of interest investigation. Cooper is ex-CIA and has no discernible skill as a journalist, unless openly editorializing and putting words into people’s mouths are deemed to be estimable talents.
In March 2012, soon after H.R. 5736 was passed, Cooper was caught participating in a staged crisis interview with someone called Danny Abdul Dayem—“Syrian Danny.” The purpose was to interview an anti-Assad resistance fighter in Syria to manufacture consent for U.S. military intervention. As this YouTube clip shows, however, the entire interview, including explosion sound effects, was stage-managed by Dayem with collusion from CNN. After this scandal broke, Dayem, who is British, admitted to Cooper that he was not a reporter even though he had been a regular news source for CNN for more than a year.
In November, Cooper and CNN came under renewed attack for staging a phony interview, this time after the Paris attack, which claimed 136 people and wounded at least 80 others. Cooper interviewed Isobel Bowdery and Amaury Baudoi, a couple who survived the shooting at the Bataclan Theatre, but whether these people were legitimate sources or crisis actors—like the ones hired for the Boston Marathon bombing—is a matter for debate.
Nevertheless, Bowdery’s robotic, mannered delivery, Cooper’s leading commentary, and the lack of any specific mentions of the attack made the interview comes across as more scripted pseudo-news in the service of the anti-Syrian narrative.
In contrast to Cooper, those who besmirch the narrative in the name of honest journalism do not fare well. On Nov. 19, CNN suspended correspondent Elise Labott after she tweeted her chagrin at Congress’s decision to ban entry to refugees from Syria and Iraq. CNN’s reason was that, as a correspondent, Labott may not editorialize. Within eight hours, she tweeted an apology to that effect. The real story, the one CNN did not report, is that Labott had no reason to apologize. She did not editorialize. She did not express an opinion. She did not compromise her ethics. She simply made a witty contrast between Congress’s xenophobia and the inscription at the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty, which reads in part:
|“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”
Labott’s “crime” was that her honesty made the official, Obama-driven, anti-Syrian narrative look bad, and so she had to be forced to apologize. Still, got off lightly compared to Amber Lyon. In March 2011, Lyon lead a four-person crew to Bahrain to film a documentary for CNN International (CNNi) on that country‘s popular “Arab Spring” uprising with a particular focus on the regime‘s brutal repression and torture of protesters. She came to realize that what the regime was telling her about the government’s behaviour was a lie and that CNN was forcing her to report these lies as facts. By exposing the regime’s brutality she and her crew were subjected to harassment and detention, the anti-government subjects she interviewed were tortured, and CNN told her to stay quiet.
“I realized there was a correlation between the amount of media attention activists receive and the regime's ability to harm them, so I felt an obligation to show the world what our sources, who risked their lives to talk to us, were facing,” said Lyon
It turned out that CNN accepted advertising money from the Bahraini government, which was tantamount to selling out editorial control over the documentary to a foreign government. As Glenn Greenwald wrote in The Guardian:
[T]he regime's press officers complained repeatedly to CNNi about Lyon generally and specifically her reporting for iRevolution. In April, a senior producer emailed her to say: “We are dealing with blowback from Bahrain gov’t on how we violated our mission, etc.”
“It became a standard joke around the office: the Bahrainis called to complain about you again,” recounted Lyon. Lyon was also told by CNN employees stationed in the region that “the Bahrainis also sent delegations to our Abu Dhabi bureau to discuss the coverage.”
CNNi, the most watched arm of CNN, never ran iRevolution. It was only ever shown once in the U.S., but that was enough for it and Lyon to garner multiple awards. Lyon was laid off in March 2012, and her severance package was threatened if she continued to speak out on the iRevolution story. H.R. 5736 may be grossly unconstitutional, but it merely codified what had already been common practice.
Tearing up the script
The standard terrorism script is based on a ludicrous premise. No Muslim group could possibly expect to benefit from killing innocent civilians, especially in a major Western city. It is beyond preposterous to believe that they would repeatedly commit such acts, even to the extent of committing the same blunder. The conveniently found passport allegedly identifying one of the Paris shooters is no more probative than the identity card fortuitously found on a car seat that “identified” one of the balaclava-wearing Charlie Hebdo shooters, and it is thematically identical to the pristine passport found amid the rubble of the World Trade Centre “identifying” one of the “hijackers.”
Second, the beneficiaries of the attacks are not Muslims but the scriptwriters. After the Charlie Hebdo attack, the government of François Hollande ratcheted up surveillance powers against its own people to the point where the police can park outside of people’s homes and eavesdrop on private Internet connections. Free speech itself became criminalized as 69 people were arrested on the pretext of defending, condoning or provoking terrorism. Hollande even asked for sanctions against tech firms that allow “racist and anti-Semitic” speech to be distributed on their social networks.
Mere minutes after the November Paris attack, as if on cue, French media claimed that it originated from Syria and Iraq, and that a “humanitarian war” [sic] would be launched against ISIS in reprisal; however, since Hollande had been aware since October that an attack of some kind was coming, his decisions to close France’s borders, declare a state of emergency and petulantly bomb ISIS targets in Syria had already been set in motion. Later, the British Parliament issued its own declaration of war and also promptly went and bombed Syria.
These declarations are, of course, illegal since “ISIS” is not a political entity and so cannot be the object of a war declaration. Bombing ISIS amounts to bombing Syria, and that was the desired effect of the attack. Time magazine’s cover “World War ISIS” is typical of the imperial Western mentality.
If these attacks are viewed from effect to cause instead of from cause to effect, the ludicrous script goes out the window and the focus turns to the beneficiaries of violence, which just happen to be Isramerica, Britain, France and their Middle Eastern cronies. “Terrorism” is but prologue to propaganda.
Since the corporate media furnish the narrative, they can pass off the indefensible as the truth, but the media-consuming public is not entirely stupid. It can see that the corporate narrative has become unraveled. Essentially, there are three conflicting fictions.
For much of the last 20 years, the Great Enemy has been al-Qa‘ida, a fabricated anti-Western bogeyman blamed for the WTC/Pentagon attack, and which was used to justify the destruction of Afghanistan and Iraq. Today, al-Qa‘ida is seen as an ally against “ISIS,” the new Great Enemy.
Former CIA director Gen. David Petraeus, believes it is possible to co-opt elements of the Sunni groups Jabhat al-Nusra (Victory Front) and Ahrar al-Sham (Free People of the Syrian Area) against ISIS, but this idea amounts to desperation, said Christopher Harmer, a senior naval analyst with the Middle East Security Project at the Washington, D.C.-based Institute for the Study of War: “This is an acknowledgment that the U.S. stated goal to degrade and destroy ISIS is not working. If it were, we would not be talking to these not quite foreign terrorist groups.
But why should the U.S. be fighting ISIS? According to a declassified August 2012 Defense Intelligence Agency report obtained by Judicial Watch, ISIS was a deliberate Western creation to further the anti-Assad narrative:
… there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist [ISIS] Principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran)….” (my emphasis)
On Nov. 6, a week before the attack, the Chicago Post picked up the story and even suggested that ISIS was a U.S.–Israel proxy army. This observation received no national media attention.
But why should the U.S. want to destabilize Syria? It poses no threat, and the Assad government even provided the U.S. with vital assistance in the period just after the WTC/Pentagon attack. Ironically, Syria is not the problem. It, too, is merely a means to an end, and that end is satisfying Israel’s hegemonic ambition in the Middle East. As I wrote previously:
In an article entitled A Strategy for Israel in the Nineteen Eighties, [Oded Yinon, a journalist formerly attached to Israel’s foreign ministry] gave a candid depiction of Israel’s imperial objectives, which we still see unfolding today. The article reads, in part:
“The dissolution of Syria and Iraq later on into ethnically or religiously unique areas such as in Lebanon, is Israel’s primary target on the Eastern front in the long run, while the dissolution of the military power of those states serves as the primary short term target. Syria will fall apart, in accordance with its ethnic and religious structure, into several states such as in present day Lebanon…This state of affairs will be the guarantee for peace and security in the area in the long run, and that aim is already within our reach today.…”
Source: Daily Mail, Sept. 5, 2014, p. 60
As if following the Yinon Plan, New York Times Israel apologist Thomas Friedman mused on March 18, 2015, that it might be a good idea to arm ISIS because the U.S. had systematically destroyed the Sunni opposition in Afghanistan (Taliban) and Iraq (Saddam Hussein) that could have served as “counterbalances” to Iran, the ultimate target of Israel’s aggression in Syria.
Israel wants to preserve its regional nuclear monopoly by preventing Iran from developing civilian nuclear power. Syria is an ally of Iran and plays host to the political/military organization Hizbullah (Party of God), so to get to Iran, the Assad regime must be weakened. Fighting ISIS, Friedman wrote, was tantamount to fighting a war on Iran’s behalf.
The Obama administration’s pathological fixation with overthrowing Assad left it politically paralyzed, and ensured that it would be overtaken by events. On April 10, 2015, the U.S. and its imperial minions at the UN Security Council’s Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee objected to Syria’s request, supported by Russia, to have ISIS included in the sanctions list as a separate terrorist group, not just as a renamed version of “al-Qa‘ida in Iraq.” Russia denounced this decision as an attempt by the anti-Assad coalition to absolve itself of moral and political responsibility for creating ISIS.
For the U.S. and NATO generally, anti-Russian groupthink is taken for granted because Vladimir Putin stands behind Assad. (Despite the overt belligerence of the U.S., Turkey and other states, it is Israel that dictates U.S. Middle East policy, and it is the U.S. in turn that dictates to NATO.)
Nevertheless, Russia managed to do in the blink of an eye what the U.S. could not or would not do. From Sept. 30 to Dec. 25 Russia conducted more than 5,200 aerial sorties against ISIS bases and destroyed ISIS’s oil extraction facilities and truck convoys. More than 1,000 ISIS oil trucks were destroyed in less than one week. Russian reconnaissance even detected and bombed oil-tanker smuggling routes into Turkey through the Zakho checkpoint on the border with Iraq. In the bargain the Russian attacks exposed business links between ISIS’s black market oil operation and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan and his son. It also exposed Israel as the broker for the smuggled oil.
Instead of praising Russia, the U.S. government and corporate media have indulged in character assassinations of Putin and recycled fallacious stories about Russian aggression.
Making matters worse for the U.S. and its imperial minions was Russia’s revelations of the true nature of ISIS. On Nov. 16, Putin revealed that ISIS receives funding from 40 nations, including the G20 and concluded with reason that the U.S. was never serious about defeating ISIS. The next day, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov explained the U.S.’s underlying pro-Israel motive.
[An] analysis of the strikes delivered by the United States and its coalition at terrorist positions over the past year drives us to a conclusion that these were selective, I would say sparing, strikes and in the majority of cases spared those Islamic State groups that were capable of pressing the Syrian army. It looks like a cat that wants to eat a fish but doesn’t want to wet its feet. They want the Islamic State to weaken Assad as soon as possible to force him to step down this or that way but they don’t want to see Islamic State strong enough to take power.
As proof of Lavrov’s observation, the U.S. delayed 15 months before starting to bomb ISIS tankers, and returning U.S. pilots complained that they were not allowed to drop 75 per cent of their ordinance on ISIS targets because their superiors would not give them clearance to do so. In one instance, toward the end of October, the U.S. suspended air strikes so that ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra could collaborate to attack a Syrian government supply line between Damascus and Aleppo.
In mid-December, in the face of Putin’s proof that NATO had been funding ISIS, a humiliated Obama administration capitulated. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry travelled to Moscow where he declared that the U.S. would no longer seek the overthrow of Assad and would work with Russia against ISIS. In the corporate media, the narrative-boosting Washington Post went into full defamation mode depicting Assad as a “blood-drenched dictator” and recycling the discredited claim that he used sarin gas on his own people. (U.S.-backed insurgents with Saudi help did it.)
The anti-terrorism narrative
There are, of course, those who see the narrative for what it is, but their voices are censored. Two such people appear in Military to Military, the latest investigative essay by Seymour Hersh, which appears in the current issue (Jan. 7, 2016) of the London Review of Books. It appears here because Hersh’s writing is now blocked from being published in the New Yorker. Hersh recounts vigorous dissent from the Joint Chiefs of Staff toward Obama’s anti-Russian/anti-Syrian fetishism. Although the JCS kept their dissent private, Lt.–Gen. Michael Flynn, former director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, did not:
“Flynn incurred the wrath of the White House by insisting on telling the truth about Syria,” said Patrick Lang, a retired army colonel who served for nearly a decade as the chief Middle East civilian intelligence officer for the DIA. “He thought truth was the best thing and they shoved him out. He wouldn’t shut up.” Flynn told me his problems went beyond Syria. “was shaking things up at the DIA – and not just moving deckchairs on the Titanic. It was radical reform. I felt that the civilian leadership did not want to hear the truth. I suffered for it, but I’m OK with that.” In a recent interview in Der Spiegel, Flynn was blunt about Russia’s entry into the Syrian war: “We have to work constructively with Russia. Whether we like it or not, Russia made a decision to be there and to act militarily. They are there, and this has dramatically changed the dynamic. So you can’t say Russia is bad; they have to go home. It’s not going to happen. Get real.”
Another exception is Tulsi Gabbard, Democratic Congresswoman from Hawaii and member of the House Armed Services Committee. As Hersh recounted:
In an interview on CNN in October [Gabbard] said: “The things that are being said about Assad right now are the same that were said about Gaddafi; they are the same things that were said about Saddam Hussein by those who were advocating for the US to … overthrow those regimes … If it happens here in Syria … we will end up in a situation with far greater suffering, with far greater persecution of religious minorities and Christians in Syria, and our enemy will be far stronger.”
The disconnect between the world and the media-projected world is now unbridgeable. Short of committing a Project Mayhem against the media conglomerates, the public must block out all corporate chatter and accept that we all live in a police state where truth is to be feared and dishonesty is protected. Muslims are not the enemy. ISIS is US. The Isramerican Empire is collapsing. To update Franklin Delano Roosevelt: “We have nothing to fear but the media itself.”