Saturday, February 25, 2006
War On Blogging
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was warmly greeted at the recent meeting of the Council on Foreign Relations. The CFR is the hand-picked assemblage of western elites from big-energy, corporate media, high-finance and the weapons industry. These are the 4,000 or so members of the American ruling class who determine the shape of policy and ensure that the management of the global economic system remains in the hands of U.S. bluebloods.
As the Pentagon’s chief-coordinator, Rumsfeld enjoys a prominent place among American mandarins. He is the caretaker of their most prized possession; the high-tech, taxpayer-funded, laser-guided war machine. The US Military is the crown-jewel of the American empire; a fully-operational security apparatus for the protection of pilfered resources and the ongoing subjugation of the developing world.
Rumsfeld’s speech alerted his audience to the threats facing America in the new century.
He opined: “We meet today in the 6th year in what promises to be a long struggle against an enemy that in many ways is unlike any our country has ever faced. And, in this war, some of the most critical battles may not be in the mountains in Afghanistan or in the streets of Iraq, but in newsrooms—in places like New York, London, Cairo, and elsewhere.”
“New York”?“Our enemies have skillfully adapted to fighting wars in today’s media age, but for the most part our country has not”.
Huh? Does Rummy mean those grainy, poorly-produced videos of Bin Laden and co.?
“Consider that the violent extremists have established ‘media relations committees’—and have proven to be highly-successful at manipulating opinion-elites. They plan to design their headline-grabbing attacks using every means of communications to intimidate and break the collective will of free people”.
It’s foolish to mention “intimidating and breaking the collective will of free people” without entering Abu Ghraib, Guantanomo and Falluja into the discussion. Rumsfeld is just griping about the disgrace he’s heaped on America’s reputation by his refusal to conform to even minimal standards of decency. Instead, he insists that America’s declining stature in the world is the result of a hostile media and “skillful enemies”; in other words, anyone with a computer keyboard and a rudimentary sense of moral judgment.
(Our enemies) “know that communications transcend borders…and that a single news story , handled skillfully, can be as damaging to our cause and as helpful to theirs, as any other method of military attack”.
If the Pentagon is really so worried about “bad press coverage” why not close down the torture-chambers and withdrawal from Iraq? Instead, Rumsfeld is making the case for a preemptive-assault on free speech.
“The growing number of media outlets in many parts of the world….too often serve to inflame and distort, rather than explain and inform. And while Al Qaida and extremist movements have utilized this forum for many years, and have successfully poisoned the Muslim public’s view of the West, we have barely even begun to compete in reaching their audiences.”
“Inflame and distort”?
What distortion? Do cameras distort the photos of abused prisoners, desperate people, or decimated cities?
Rumsfeld’s analysis borders on the delusional. Al Qaida doesn’t have a well-oiled propaganda mechanism that provides a steady stream of fabrications to whip the public into a frenzy. That’s the American media’s assignment. And, they haven’t “poisoned Muslim public opinion” against us. That has been entirely the doing of the Pentagon warlords and their White House compatriots.
“The standard US government public affairs operation was designed primarily …to be reactive rather than proactive…Government, however, is beginning to adapt”
“Proactive news”? In other words, propaganda.
Rumsfeld confirms his dedication to propaganda by defending the bogus stories that were printed in Iraqi newspapers by Pentagon contractors. (We) “sought non-traditional means to provide accurate information to the Iraqi people in the face of an aggressive campaign of disinformation….This has been deemed inappropriate—for examples the allegations of ‘buying news’”.
A brazen defense of intentionally planted lies; how low can we sink?
This has had a “chilling effect for those who are asked to serve in the military public affairs field.”
Is it really that difficult to print the truth?
Rumsfeld boasts of the vast changes in “communications planning” taking place at the Pentagon.
A “public affairs” strategy is at the heart of the new paradigm, replete with “rapid response” teams to address the nagging issues of bombed-out wedding parties, starving prisoners, and devastated cities. No problem is so great that it can’t be papered-over by a public relations team trained in the black-art of deception, obfuscation, and slight-of-hand. Trickery now tops the list of military priorities.
“US Central Command has launched an online communications effort that includes electronic news updates and a links campaign that has resulted in several hundred blogs receiving and publishing CENTCOM content.
”The military plans to develop the “institutional capability” to respond to critical news coverage within the same news cycle and to develop a comprehensive scheme for infiltrating the internet.
The Pentagon’s strategy for taking over the internet and controlling the free flow of information has already been chronicled in a recently declassified report, “The Information Operations Roadmap”; is a window into the minds of those who see free speech as dangerous as an “enemy weapons-system”.
The Pentagon is aiming for “full spectrum dominance” of the Internet. Their objective is to manipulate public perceptions, quash competing points of view, and perpetuate a narrative of American generosity and good-will.
Rumsfeld’s comments are intended to awaken his constituents to the massive information war that is being waged to transform the Internet into the progeny of the MSM; a reliable partner for the dissemination of establishment-friendly news.
The Associated Press reported recently that the US government conducted a massive simulated attack on the Internet called “Cyber-Storm”. The wargame was designed, among other things, to “respond to misinformation campaigns and activist calls by internet bloggers, online diarists whose ‘Web logs” include political rantings and musings about current events”.
Before Bush took office, “political rantings and musings about current events” were protected under the 1st amendment.
The War Department is planning to insert itself into every area of the Internet from blogs to chat rooms, from leftist web sites to editorial commentary. Their rapid response team will be on hair-trigger alert to dispute any tidbit of information that challenges the official storyline.
We can expect to encounter, as the BBC notes, “psychological operations (that) try to manipulate the thoughts and the beliefs of the enemy (as well as) computer network specialists who seek to destroy enemy networks.
”The enemy, of course, is anyone who refuses to accept their servile role in the new world order or who disrupts the smooth-operation of the Bush police-state.
The resolve to foreclose on free speech has never been greater. As for Rumsfeld’s devotees at the CFR, the problem of savaging civil liberties is never seriously raised. After all, these are the primary beneficiaries of Washington’s global resource-war; should it matter that other people’s freedom is sacrificed to perpetuate the fundamental institutions of class and privilege?
Rumsfeld is right. The only way to prevail on the information-battlefield is to “take no prisoners”; police the Internet, uproot the troublemakers and activists who provide the truth, and “catapult the propaganda” (Bush) from every bullhorn and web site across the virtual-universe. Free speech is a luxury we cannot afford if it threatens to undermine the basic platforms of western white rule.
As Rumsfeld said, “We are fighting a battle where the survival of our free way of life is at stake.”
Indeed, it is.
************* Mike Whitney