The Pentagon is expanding “Information Operations” on the Internet with purposefully set up foreign news websites that are designed to look like independent media sources but in reality are nothing more than direct military propaganda.
“The Pentagon is setting up a global network of foreign-language news websites, including an Arabic site for Iraqis, and hiring local journalists to write current events stories and other content that promote U.S. interests and counter insurgent messages.”
The front pages of the sites appear to be populated with regionalized news stories, but the disclaimers buried within the sites and accessible only via small links at the bottom of the pages reveal that all three are run by the US Department of Defense.
See screenshots below for the disclaimers (click to link through):
The Mawtani.com disclaimer is in Arabic. It reads:
“(Mawtani.com is) sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense to support the resolution No. 1723 (of the) Security Council of the United Nations. (Mawtani.com) highlights and emphasizes the move towards greater regional stability through bilateral and multilateral cooperation … and the steps taken by governments towards stability in Iraq.”
Though Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England commented that the sites are “an essential part of (their) responsibility … to shape the security environment in their respective areas.”, other Pentagon spokesmen have claimed that the sites’ content is not intended as propaganda, but is “a counter to extremist propaganda … with truth.”
Michael Vickers, the assistant secretary of Defense in charge of special operations commented that the websites are designed to counter enemies on the internet who put out information that is not in keeping with the interests and goals of the U.S. military:
“It’s important to … engage these foreign audiences and inform,” Vickers said. “Our adversaries use the Internet to great advantage, so we have the responsibility of countering (their messages) with accurate, truthful information, and these websites are a good vehicle.”
Since when has the federal government and its war machine military been concerned with promoting the truth?
Websites are also scheduled to go into operation for Latin America and Asia. The entire network, referred to as the “Trans Regional Web Initiative” will consist of multiple sites throughout the world that will “influence foreign audiences per Government-approved Concepts of Operations (CONOPs), conceptual approaches and previously approved prototypes.” according to a Special Operations Command notice aimed at contractors interested in running the sites.
The notice also states “All contractor personnel shall hold a U.S. SECRET security clearance and be able to obtain a U.S.TOP SECRET clearance. Contractor will require access to both classified and unclassified government computer systems facilities. Contractor will be authorized to courier classified information up to the SECRET level in performance of official duties upon approval of and designation by the Government.”
“Youngsters on the street are into the World Wide Web — that’s how they communicate, how they learn what’s going on in the world, how they stay informed — and they pick and choose what (news sources) they have on their desktop,” says Army Col. Jerry O’Hara, spokesman for the Pentagon’s Iraq command. “We have to be involved in that in order to communicate effectively.”
Does that sound like an operation to spread truthful information to you or does it sound like a covert military operation to shape the views of people around the world to bring them in line with the motivations of the Pentagon’s top brass and to further suppress any dissenting opinion?
Of course, none of this is new, it is merely an expansion of the already vast propaganda network the Pentagon has at is disposal.
In 2005 the U.S. military command in Baghdad admitted that it was paying Iraqi newspapers to carry positive news about U.S. efforts in Iraq. Once again this was passed off as a campaign to counter “insurgent” misinformation.
These operations are not limited to foreign countries however, they are active inside America, where the unwitting population is more aggressively targeted.
CENTCOM has programs underway to infiltrate blogs and message boards to ensure people, “have the opportunity to read positive stories,”presumably about how Iraq is a wonderful liberated democracy and the war on terror really is about protecting Americans from Al-Qaida.
Just last month the New York Times published an expose on privately hired operatives who have been appearing on all major US news networks promoting the interests and operations of the Pentagon and generating favorable news coverage of the Bush administration while posing as independent military analysts.
This operation was formally announced In 2006 when the Pentagon set up a unit to “better promote its message across 24-hour rolling news outlets, and particularly on the internet”.
Again, the Pentagon said the move would boost its ability to counter “inaccurate” news stories and exploit new media.
The program represents another wing of the Pentagon’s Office of Strategic Influence, publicly announced after 9/11 but simply the latest incarnation of a PR brainwashing scam that spans back decades. The OSI exploited legal loopholes by planting its propaganda in foreign newspapers that would later be picked up by U.S. newswires. In today’s environment even that seems quaint, with the Pentagon openly and proudly shouting from the rooftops that they will knowingly violate the law to indoctrinate the American people.
Perhaps the most alarming case of the military’s information tentacles burrowing their influence deep into media circles in recent years was in February 2000, when another branch of the same Pentagon propaganda bureau, Psychological Operations Command (PSYOPS), had placed their operatives “in the news division at CNN’s Atlanta headquarters as part of an “internship” program starting in the final days of the Kosovo War.”
FAIR speculated that the purpose was twofold, one to directly propagandize the American people via CNN and also potentially to allow the “military to conduct an intelligence-gathering mission against the network itself,” because the “military needed to find ways to “gain control” over commercial news satellites to help bring down an “informational cone of silence” over regions where special operations were taking place.”
With the knowledge that government propagandists were utilizing U.S. news network hubs at CNN to run what was described as a “vast psychological warfare operation of the kind the military conducts to influence a population in enemy territory,” and that this took place almost eight years ago – just imagine how infested today’s networks and newsrooms are with paid agent provocateur propagandists whose sole job specification is to orchestrate methods of mind control over the population of the United States.
In October 2005 Government Accountability Office investigators concluded that the Bush administration’s secret policy to pay off influential journalists to plant fake news and positive spin on Bush’s policies was illegal and that the “administration had disseminated “covert propaganda” in the United States, in violation of a statutory ban.”
A study by media watchdog Center for Media and Democracy revealed that, over a ten month span, 77 television stations from all across the nation aired video news releases without informing their viewers even once that the reports were actually sponsored content.
Some of the fake news segments talked up success in the war in Iraq, or promoted specific companies’ products.
The consequences were not the drafting of new legislation that would clearly outlaw such actions in future, nor any form of criminal proceedings against the protagonists. The upshot of it all was a slap on the wrist for conservative commentator Armstrong Williams and a request that he pay back part of the money that the government had given him – not even all of it.
“Armstrong Williams is going to pay back $34,000 to the government for work he failed to deliver, but who’s going to pay the taxpayers for the rest of the quarter million dollars Williams was paid for his propaganda services to the administration?,” asked Congressman George Miller, as the Justice Department hurried a settlement and swept the whole sordid affair under the rug.
See the Prisonplanet archive on Government Use Of Fake News for more examples of these practices.
These operations equate to a formal declaration of psychological warfare on the American people. The Pentagon is engaging in direct propaganda and indoctrination.
Recent history clearly indicates this is just the latest outreach of an insipid brainwashing agenda that is totally unlawful and anathema to the U.S. Constitution.
The White House has made it perfectly clear that it will target American citizens for propagating information harmful to the interests of the U.S. government and classify them as enemy combatants. This is codified in sub-section 27 of section 950v. of the Military Commissions Act of 2006.
Bush’s own strategy document for “winning the war on terror” identifies “conspiracy theorists,” meaning anyone who exposes government corruption and its lies about major domestic and world events, as “terrorists recruiters,” and vows to eliminate their influence in society.
The eminently hypocritical tenet of the Pentagon’s justification for the propaganda program – that they need to correct “inaccurate statements” and “set the record straight” is borne out by the fact that they participated in the dissemination of the most lurid and damaging propaganda since Hitler’s final speech – a deliberately fomented lie about weapons of mass destruction that has killed over one million Iraqis and thousands of American soldiers.
How dare this gaggle of criminals lecture us about how the insurgents control the media while equating anyone who even mildly criticizes their bloodlust with being a terrorist?
They are the liars, they are the crooks, they are the propagandists and it is we the alternative media – the fifth estate – that should mobilize in the infowar to counter their spurious deception.
Steve Watson & Paul Watson
Thursday, May 1, 2008