The Propaganda Campaign Dissected

By Dan Froomkin
Special to
Friday, June 6, 2008; 1:22 PM

Yesterday's long-awaited Senate Intelligence Committee report further solidifies the argument that the Bush administration's most blatant appeals to fear in its campaign to sell the Iraq war were flatly unsupported.
The White House response? That officials in Congress and elsewhere were saying the same things about Iraq. Or in other words, that other people bought the administration line. It takes a lot of chutzpah to defend yourself against charges that you've engaged in a propaganda campaign by noting that it worked.

It didn't work though. There were many millions of people who didn't ever buy it. I was one of them.

About the Report

"There is no question we all relied on flawed intelligence. But, there is a fundamental difference between relying on incorrect intelligence and deliberately painting a picture to the American people that you know is not fully accurate."

Jay Rockefeller claims to have relied on flawed intelligence. Let him speak for himself. He's claiming to have been a dupe.

Writes Feingold: "Even the deeply flawed October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) did not support the claims made by the President and the Vice President regarding an Iraqi nuclear program. That NIE assessed that Iraq did not have a nuclear weapon or sufficient material to make one, and that without sufficient fissile material acquired from abroad, Iraq probably would not be able to make a weapon until 2007 or 2009. Yet the President made the following statements: '[Saddam] possesses the world's most dangerous weapons' ( March 22, 2002); '[w]e don't know whether or not [Saddam] has a nuclear weapon' ( December 31, 2002); and, of course, '[f]acing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof - the smoking gun - that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud' ( October 7, 2002). Meanwhile, Vice President Cheney insisted that assessments related to Iraq's nuclear program that were disputed within the Intelligence Community were known 'with absolute certainty' ( September 8, 2002) and through 'irrefutable evidence' (September 20, 2002). And, on the eve of war, after the IAEA had reported that its inspectors had found 'no evidence or plausible indication of the revival of a nuclear weapons program in Iraq,' the Vice President asserted, '[w]e believe [Saddam] has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons' ( March 16, 2003).

"Administration officials' claims of a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda were even more outlandish. Before the war, the Central Intelligence Agency assessed that 'Saddam has viewed Islamic extremists operating inside Iraq as a threat,' that 'Saddam Hussein and Usama bin Laden are far from being natural partners,' and that assessments about Iraqi links to al Qaeda rested on 'a body of fragmented, conflicting reporting from sources of varying reliability.' Moreover, the Intelligence Community consistently assessed that Saddam's use of weapons of mass destruction against the United States rested on his being 'sufficiently desperate' in the face of a U. S. attack and his possible desire for a 'last chance at vengeance.' Yet the President not only repeatedly suggested an operational relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda, but asserted that Saddam would provide weapons of mass destruction to al Qaeda for an unprovoked attack against the United States: 'you can't distinguish between al Qaeda and Saddam when you talk about the war on terror' ( September 25, 2002); '[e]ach passing day could be the one on which the Iraqi regime gives anthrax or VX - nerve gas - or some day a nuclear weapon to a terrorist ally' ( September 26, 2002); '[Saddam] is a man who, in my judgment, would like to use al Qaeda as a forward army' ( October 14, 2002); '[Saddam] is a threat because he is dealing with al Qaeda. . . . [A] true threat facing our country is that an al Qaeda-type network trained and armed by Saddam could attack America and not leave one fingerprint' ( November 7, 2002); and '[t]he danger is clear: using chemical, biological or, one day, nuclear weapons obtained with the help of Iraq, the terrorists could fulfill their stated ambitions and kill thousands or hundreds of thousands of innocent people in our country or any other' ( March 17, 2003)." [Emphasis added]

Russ Feingold didn't buy what Jay Rockefeller claims to have bought. Rockefeller had the same information Feingold had and more.

Q. "But you understand the differences they're making, that they think that the claims — understanding that the intelligence was wrong — but that the claims went far beyond what the intelligence community was giving the White House, and that it ignored significant dissent within the intelligence community — the White House."

Perino: "That dissent, amongst experts within the intelligence community at some levels, did not reach the President. The process that I just talked about, in terms of how we've improved the process, would hopefully make sure that now that we have this different levels of confidence, so that the President now knows if there is dissent amongst them. And that is all now coordinated by the Director of National Intelligence — Mike McConnell in this case.

That's a lie. George Tenant said that he told Bush that the CIA was divided about 50/50 on the issue.

The New York Times editorial board writes: "We cannot say with certainty whether Mr. Bush lied about Iraq. But when the president withholds vital information from the public — or leads them to believe things that he knows are not true — to justify the invasion of another country, that is bad enough."

How stupid is that? "We cannot say with certainty whether Mr. Bush lied about Iraq. But when the president withholds vital information from the public — or leads them to believe things that he knows are not true," then he's lying. Bush withheld vital information from the public and led them to believe things that he knew were not true. He did that via lying boldfaced. The New York Times is still engaging in propaganda. They are taking this position, because they aren't willing to call for Bush's and Cheney's immediate impeachment and removal from office.

The USA Today editorial board writes: "For this and future administrations, the lesson is that White House officials need to weigh and study all available intelligence, not seize on only what supports their preconceived notions. They mustn't present ambiguity as certainty. They mustn't launch pre-emptive attacks without bulletproof evidence. And never again should they treat war as a marketing campaign, like selling a new brand of toothpaste."

Oh please! They didn't seize on preconceived notions. They made it all up on purpose from the start. Where are the brains?

Here's MSNBC'S Keith Olbermann talking to former White House counterterrorism czar Richard Clarke last night:

Olbermann: "I use the word lie. The report does not use the word lie. Are there lies?"

Clarke: "There certainly are and this is a big report. What it says is statements by the president were not substantiated by intelligence. And then it stays statements by the president were contradicted by available intelligence. In other words, they made things up. And they made them up and gave them to Colin Powell and others who believed them."

Good for Olbermann and Clarke except that Colin Powell didn't believe them. He lied too.

The Second Report

John Walcott writes for McClatchy Newspapers about a second report issued by the Intelligence Committee yesterday: "Defense Department counterintelligence investigators suspected that Iranian exiles who provided dubious intelligence on Iraq and Iran to a small group of Pentagon officials might have 'been used as agents of a foreign intelligence service . . . to reach into and influence the highest levels of the U.S. government,' a Senate Intelligence Committee report said Thursday.

"A top aide to then-secretary of defense Donald H. Rumsfeld, however, shut down the 2003 investigation into the Pentagon officials' activities after only a month, and the Defense Department's top brass never followed up on the investigators' recommendation for a more thorough investigation, the Senate report said. . . .

"The revelation raises questions about whether Iran may have used a small cabal of officials in the Pentagon and in Vice President Dick Cheney's office to feed bogus intelligence on Iraq and Iran to senior policymakers in the Bush administration who were eager to oust the Iraqi dictator.

"Iran, which was a mortal enemy of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and fought a bloody eight-year war with Iraq during his reign, has been the primary beneficiary of U.S. policy in Iraq, where Iranian-backed groups now run much of the government and the security forces."

Oh, this is false propaganda through-and-through. It's trying to blame Iran for Dick Cheney's covetousness and sadism. It was Cheney who used Ahmed Chalabi, not the other way around. Stop twisting.

For more on that Independent news article, see yesterday's column. Today, Patrick Cockburn had a followup: "The US is holding hostage some $50 billion of Iraq's money in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to pressure the Iraqi government into signing an agreement seen by many Iraqis as prolonging the US occupation indefinitely, according to information leaked to The Independent. . . .

"The threat by the American side underlines the personal commitment of President George Bush to pushing the new pact through by 31 July. Although it is in reality a treaty between Iraq and the US, Mr Bush is describing it as an alliance so he does not have to submit it for approval to the US Senate.

"Iraqi critics of the agreement say that it means Iraq will be a client state in which the US will keep more than 50 military bases. American forces will be able to carry out arrests of Iraqi citizens and conduct military campaigns without consultation with the Iraqi government. American soldiers and contractors will enjoy legal immunity.
How We Became Torturers

From a Fox News report last night by Jim Angle: Hayden: "And keep in mind, this is a time when we didn't know nearly as much about al-Qaeda as we know today, and you have the nation suffering, reeling from a recent attack in which 3,000 citizens had been killed, until it was the collective judgment of the American government that these techniques would be appropriate and lawful in these circumstances."

Bull. "... the collective judgment" Hayden, you're a liar. The American government did not come to a collective judgment that torture techniques would be appropriate and lawful in these circumstances. The just powers of the government are derived from the informed consent of the people, and the people did not authorize torture. The people hate torture. The people want to fight against those who torture. Only the insane torture. Torturers have been roundly condemned by the American people. Hayden is spreading false propaganda. Only dupes will believe it. He didn't even know that Habeas Corpus was constitutionally guaranteed and that it is expressly stated in the U.S. Constitution. What business does he have running the CIA or NSA? He has no business running either or any other part of the government.

Hayden: "Yes. But there's a question of lawfulness. Now, if you ask me was it lawful, the answer is absolutely.

Angle: "Though he says the legal landscape has changed as a result of court cases and legislation, back then, the U.S. government as a whole gave the green light. Key members of Congress from both parties were briefed and none raised objections, in part, perhaps, because the U.S. had long experience with waterboarding, a matter raised with Hayden."

"...the U.S. government as a whole gave the green light. Key members of Congress from both parties were briefed and none raised objections." That doesn't make it legal. Anyone who believes otherwise is a fool. You're not going to trick the people into believing that it was ever legal. All those so-called key members of Congress are duplicitous in the heinous crime of torture.

Here's how Angle finished up the report: "Whether the effects are transient or permanent has legal significance, because the law defines torture as mental harm that is either prolong or permanent, and some say waterboarding is neither. Controversial yes, but inappropriate for terrorists who know of ongoing plots to kill innocent civilians? After 9/11, the government's answer to that was no."

Hogwash. Inflicting pain to get answers is torture. It always leaves lastly psychological and spiritual scars until God heals the wounds. Many people are permanently damaged by torture. It ruins them. It makes them sick and leaves them that way. Only the most insensitive, brainwashed, damaged people themselves see it otherwise.

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  • Tom Usher

    About Tom Usher

    Employment: 2008 - present, website developer and writer. 2015 - present, insurance broker. Education: Arizona State University, Bachelor of Science in Political Science. City University of Seattle, graduate studies in Public Administration. Volunteerism: 2007 - present, president of the Real Liberal Christian Church and Christian Commons Project.
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