Propaganda and How This Administration Makes War and Treason Acceptable to Republicans
Democracy is dependent on a free press. It's the liaison between government and
the people and another safeguard in our system of checks and balances. Since it
is given special Constitutional consideration in the First Amendment, the press
has a responsibility to keep the people honestly informed about the activities
of our elected representatives. We agree to be governed only by giving our
informed consent to those we choose from among ourselves to act on our behalf.
If the information we're given is manipulated or untrue our consent is gained
under false pretenses and our Constitution is threatened.
When journalists discover wrongdoing within the government they have a duty to report it to the people. Once a journalist deliberately or negligently allows a source to use the press to plant government propaganda to deliberately deceive the people, the press is no longer free and the journalist is guilty of undermining democracy.
We now know this administration attempted to subvert democracy by co-opting the press to spread propaganda. Columnists and media hosts were paid with tax dollars to promote and praise government sponsored programs. Film clips masquerading as legitimate news reports were produced by tax payer funded, high paid marketing and advertising firms. These were sent out and played during TV newscasts, along with scripts to be read by local anchors. All of this was done to systematically manipulate and influence opinions of the American people.
"Rovegate" is the current scandal concerning Karl Rove, top aide and chief advisor to George Bush and I. Lewis (Scooter) Libbey, Dick Cheney's chief of staff, and other senior officials. As the story unfolds about White House involvement in exposing a covert CIA agent and the front company she used as a cover to track sales of WMD, we're discovering a deeper, more sinister plot.
A group of administration officials and advisors were organized in an "unofficial" department called the White House Iraq Group or WHIG. Members included Andrew Card, Bush's Chief of Staff, Condoleeza Rice, while she was National Security Advisor, her deputy, Stephen Hadley, Karl Rove, Scooter Libbey, and Karen Hughes and Mary Matalin, communications strategists. They met every week in the situation room. Their purpose was to plan, develop and execute the most effective propaganda to sell us their pre-planned Iraq war. A prime method used was instilling the fear of a nuclear holocaust into the collective American psyche. Matalin gets credit for the marketing slogan, "We don't want the smoking gun to come in the form of a mushroom cloud." Card let the cat out of the bag when a reporter asked in Oct. why the White House rhetoric was suddenly stressing a nuclear threat coming from Iraq. He replied, "Because you don't introduce a new product in August."
At the time we were too naive to recognize that sentence as an admission that we were being sold a neatly packaged, flag-wrapped set of lies that would lead us into a baseless war of aggression, granting an increase of Executive Branch powers, and accepting the dismantling of the Bill of Rights. We not only bought that package of propaganda, we grabbed it like frenzied shoppers at a sale in Macy's Bargain Basement. It probably ranks as the most successful marketing campaign in history.
Our perception of reality was systematically altered by White House "sources" leaking these devised stories to right wing conservative journalists who reported the "exclusive scoops" under banner headlines. One of the most cooperative was New York Times' Judith Miller. Faithfully reporting the script she was fed, she was prolific in writing stories crafted to psychologically fuel our fears about WMD, in the lead up to the invasion and later in Iraq. As the truth finally became evident that there were no WMD and Miller's scoops were phony, the Times wrote an editorial apologizing for their part in publishing so much pro-war propaganda with no proof other than the word of an "unnamed source". With few exceptions, everything we saw on the news and read in the papers was carefully managed and controlled.
This Ministry of Propaganda in the White House is at the root of the Rovegate investigation. Valerie Plame's identity as a CIA operative was disclosed to discredit her husband, Ambassador Joseph Wilson. He traveled to Niger for the CIA to determine if a report of Iraq buying yellowcake uranium used to build nuclear weapons could be substantiated. He found no evidence to support it, which confirmed previous State and Energy Dept. findings and a subsequent determination by the IAEA that the Niger documents were forgeries.
The claim was included in George Bush's State of the Union address when every senior administration official had known there was no truth to that story for a full year. To play on what analysts determined was our greatest fear, a nuclear attack, we had to believe Saddam was making nuclear weapons since it would be the excuse for invasion. Through clever rhetoric Saddam was falsely tied to al Qaida. Insinuating Saddam could launch a nuclear weapon or pass one to al Qaida triggered a visual recollection of the mushroom cloud and our fear produced support for Bush's war.
Wilson wrote an editorial revealing the lie. Like the Downing Street Minutes, it showed that information was being manipulated, exaggerated and contrived to "fix around policy" and "create the conditions" to support a war. The White House ordered Wilson's truth neutralized.
Again journalists were used to leak administration propaganda. This time the spin was leaked to conservative columnist Robert Novak. His report discounted Wilson's diplomatic experiences in Africa. By implying he was only given the task because his wife sent him, Novak identified her and cited her role with the CIA causing the collapse of that mission.
Plame's intelligence operation was valuable in gathering information about who was making inquiries into buying WMD. The loss of that mission leaves us vulnerable. Senior officials in this administration willfully sacrificed our safety and security to cover up the sophisticated program of propaganda strategically targeted to influence our attitude to accept war.
It's ironic that to conceal the propaganda of a false threat of WMD, the Bush administration sacrificed an intelligence operation protecting us from a real threat of WMD.
National Security is a non-partisan issue. Every American should be outraged at this scandal within a scandal that sacrificed not only America's safety, but also America's sons and daughters in the military, dying in a war contrived by lies. Instead, we see a parade of prominent Republicans out in force doing damage control. Appearing as guests on news shows, they recite the same talking points even after the CIA refuted each point. They condone, minimize, and even approve of these crimes against our nation while wearing American flag lapel pins. Wearing a ten dollar metal flag on a jacket doesn't prove patriotism and can't replace morality. It's time for the Republicans to put loyalty to our country before loyalty to the Party and make a commitment to honesty instead of support for this web of treasonous deceit.