It started over lunch: investigating and exposing the Iran-Contra scandal, amid news media silence

From Consortium News
April 16, 2018

The following are remarks at the memorial for Bob Parry delivered on Saturday by Brian Barger, who shared many bylines with Bob (and a drink or two) at the Associated Press, uncovering the Iran-Contra scandal, and provoking the ire of AP editors, nervous about what the two friends were finding out.

By Brian Barger

I remember it was a pleasure to meet Bob in 1984. The CIA was ramping up its covert war in Nicaragua. News reports from the region documented atrocities committed by President Reagan’s “freedom fighters” and their CIA handlers. Congress was starting to take notice, and was threatening to cut off US aid.

I got a call from Betsy Cohn, a Latin America scholar from Georgetown University, saying I should meet this guy from the AP. Over lunch we shared notes. I’d done much of my reporting from Central America and Miami, and Bob from Washington. We agreed there was a lot of low-hanging fruit on this story, and we talked about why there was such reluctance to cover it, particularly among the Washington press corps. We agreed that this could be a good reporting partnership.

And it was in these early days that I learned some important lessons about journalism from Bob.

It started over that lunch, when Bob politely reminded me that I’d buried the lede in a recent story that should have received wide attention – but didn’t. This was Bob Parry journalism lesson number one: Don’t bury the lede.

The story was about a blue, cloth-covered manual produced by the CIA and distributed to contra commanders in Honduras. Bob wanted a copy. So, Bob Parry journalism lesson Number Two: Be persistent. I gave it to him, and Bob produced a deeply reported piece on what thereafter was known as the CIA assassination manual. Lesson number three: Make those ten extra phone calls before calling it a day.

This was the beginning of an enduring friendship that lasted 35 years. It was also the beginning of an enduring work relationship. Over the next two years, we peeled back the story about White House aide Oliver North and the White House role orchestrating a secret war in Nicaragua.

For the rest of the story: https://consortiumnews.com/2018/04/16/it-started-over-lunch-and-ended-with-the-exposure-of-one-of-the-greatest-scandals-in-u-s-history/

Advertisements

How U.S. flooded the world with psyops — newly declassified documents from the Reagan presidential library

“[T]he planned use of communications to influence attitudes or behavior should, if properly used, precede, accompany, and follow all applications of force
Military psychological operations are an important part of the ‘PSYOP Totality,’ both in peace and war. … We need a program of psychological operations as an integral part of our national security policies and programs. … The continuity of a standing interagency board or committee to provide the necessary coordinating mechanism for development of a coherent, worldwide psychological operations strategy is badly needed.”
“Military Psychological Operations and U.S. Strategy”, 1983
Col. Alfred R. Paddock Jr.
Global Research, March 27, 2017
Consortiumnews 25 March 2017

Newly declassified documents from the Reagan presidential library help explain how the U.S. government developed its sophisticated psychological operations capabilities that – over the past three decades – have created an alternative reality both for people in targeted countries and for American citizens, a structure that expanded U.S. influence abroad and quieted dissent at home.

The documents reveal the formation of a psyops bureaucracy under the direction of Walter Raymond Jr., a senior CIA covert operations specialist who was assigned to President Reagan’s National Security Council staff to enhance the importance of propaganda and psyops in undermining U.S. adversaries around the world and ensuring sufficient public support for foreign policies inside the United States.

Raymond, who has been compared to a character from a John LeCarré novel slipping easily into the woodwork, spent his years inside Reagan’s White House as a shadowy puppet master who tried his best to avoid public attention or – it seems – even having his picture taken. From the tens of thousands of photographs from meetings at Reagan’s White House, I found only a couple showing Raymond – and he is seated in groups, partially concealed by other officials.

But Raymond appears to have grasped his true importance. In his NSC files, I found a doodle of an organizational chart that had Raymond at the top holding what looks like the crossed handles used by puppeteers to control the puppets below them. Although it’s impossible to know exactly what the doodler had in mind, the drawing fits the reality of Raymond as the behind-the-curtains operative who was controlling the various inter-agency task forces that were responsible for implementing various propaganda and psyops strategies.

Until the 1980s, psyops were normally regarded as a military technique for undermining the will of an enemy force by spreading lies, confusion and terror. A classic case was Gen. Edward Lansdale — considered the father of modern psyops — draining the blood from a dead Filipino rebel in such a way so the dead rebel’s superstitious comrades would think that a vampire-like creature was on the prowl. In Vietnam, Lansdale’s psyops team supplied fake and dire astrological predictions for the fate of North Vietnamese and Vietcong leaders.

Essentially, the psyops idea was to play on the cultural weaknesses of a target population so they could be more easily manipulated and controlled. But the challenges facing the Reagan administration in the 1980s led to its determination that peacetime psyops were also needed and that the target populations had to include the American public.

Walter Raymond Jr., a CIA propaganda and disinformation specialist who oversaw President Reagan’s “perception management” and psyops projects at the National Security Council. Raymond is partially obscured by President Reagan and is sitting next to National Security Adviser John Poindexter.. (Photo credit: Reagan presidential library)

The Reagan administration was obsessed with the problems left behind by the 1970s’ disclosures of government lying about the Vietnam War and revelations about CIA abuses both in overthrowing democratically elected governments and spying on American dissidents. This so-called “Vietnam Syndrome” produced profound skepticism from regular American citizens as well as journalists and politicians when President Reagan tried to sell his plans for intervention in the civil wars then underway in Central America, Africa and elsewhere.

While Reagan saw Central America as a “Soviet beachhead,” many Americans saw brutal Central American oligarchs and their bloody security forces slaughtering priests, nuns, labor activists, students, peasants and indigenous populations. Reagan and his advisers realized that they had to turn those perceptions around if they hoped to get sustained funding for the militaries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras as well as for the Nicaraguan Contra rebels, the CIA-organized paramilitary force marauding around leftist-ruled Nicaragua.

So, it became a high priority to reshape public perceptions to gain support for Reagan’s Central American military operations both inside those targeted countries and among Americans.

A ‘Psyops Totality’

As Col. Alfred R. Paddock Jr. wrote in an influential November 1983 paper, entitled “Military Psychological Operations and US Strategy,

Continue reading

12 U.S. top political figures murdered like Boris Nemtsov

This article was published anonymously by Oriental Review. Presumably, this was done to protect the author. The article lacks footnotes and references. Hopefully, a subsequent version will contain references. I put footnotes on Sen. Paul Wellstone’s death and the attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan.

From Oriental Review, March 2, 2015

At this moment when Russia is being hit with a new propaganda attack over ‘political murder’ in Moscow it’s a good time to recall 12 notable US national political figures, all found murdered or suspiciously dead – Senators, Congressmen, Federal Prosecutors, Federal Judge, Governor, CIA Director – after questioning corruption or disturbing US oligarch leadership – since the 1963 JFK assassination. With 4 coup d’état ‘hits’ on the last 10 US Presidents themselves.

The list makes clear the ongoing menace of murder of any US prosecutor or national judge or politician who does not serve US ruling political families. Especially note the recent, media-hidden shooting murder of US Federal (national) Judge Roll after ruling against the US regime, along with the ‘suiciding’ deaths of two US Federal Prosecutors Ross and Colbert … ‘hits’ which keep even the US Supreme Court and all US prosecutors in terror and behaving submissively.

1

(1-2) Two Congressmen, Thomas Hale Boggs, Sr, House Majority Leader (right), along with Alaska Congressman Nick Begich, killed in the same plane crash, 16 October 1972; Boggs was involved in JFK assassination investigation.

larry-mcdonald

(3) Congressman Larry McDonald of Georgia was killed on 1 September 1983, booked onto the Korean airliner that was shot down over the ocean; McDonald had filed bills asking the US Congress to investigate the globalist Trilateral Commission and CFR (Council on Foreign Relations).

0213-john-tower

(4) Former US Senator from Texas John Tower, killed in plane crash 5 April 1991, after criticising Reagan-Bush scandals.

colby

(5) William Colby, former director of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, found dead 27 April 1996, laughable story he drowned after paddling his canoe by his Maryland weekend house; Colby had made revelations critical of US policies.

sonny-bono

(6) Sonny Bono, singer from Sonny & Cher, Congressman on key House Judiciary Committee, killed 6 January 1998, after gaining position to investigate corruption at America’s highest levels, Bono handled files on judicial corruption and the CIA drug trade … fake story that excellent skier Sonny went head-on into a tree … even ex-FBI people say it was murder.

Melvin-Eugene-Mel-Carnahan

(7) US Missouri Governor Melvin Eugene ‘Mel’ Carnahan, killed in plane crash 16 October 2000, opponent of vicious US Attorney General John Ashcroft, Carnahan won the election even after being dead.

Paul_Wellstone,_official_Senate_photo_portrait

(8) US Senator Paul Wellstone from Minnesota, killed in plane crash 25 October 2002, after leading opposition to the US Iraq War.[1]

20OWEN

(9) Former US Congressman Wayne Owens from Utah, found dead in Tel Aviv, Israel, 18 December 2002, while investigating the triangle of US-Israeli-Palestinian Authority corruption.

2

(10-11) US Federal Prosecutors Thelma Colbert, US Dept. of Justice in Fort Worth, Texas (left), and Shannon Ross, criminal chief US Attorney in Dallas, Texas, jointly involved in pursuing crimes linked to the Bush family and Novation LLC, both ‘suicided’ within weeks of each other, Colbert drowned in her swimming pool in July 2004, and Ross found dead in her home 13 September 2004, case involving Bushes buried along with them.

200px-Chief_Judge_John_Roll

(12) US Federal Judge John Roll shot dead in Tucson, Arizona, 8 January 2011, shortly after ruling against Obama and the US gov’t … drugged up ‘lone gunman’ promptly supplied, ‘confessing’ and otherwise barely seen. Media almost totally obscured this story in favour of other shooting victims, because the main object was intimidating all other US judges with how they can be killed violently and with few aware of how or why they died.

The murder (6) above, of US Judiciary Congressman Bono supervising the judges, was used in turn to terrorise US Congress Judiciary Chairman John Conyers in 2008-09, and prevent him from enacting a bold plan to remove US corrupt judges, when Conyers was temporarily fooled by the hype of his fellow black Barack Obama being elected President; Conyers wife’ was jailed on charges to drive home the death threats against him.

Note too that of the last 10 US Presidents, 4 have been attacked with coup d’état removal attacks. Two Presidents were shot – John F Kennedy killed in 1963, and then Ronald Reagan in 1981, wounded by a shooter linked to the family of then Vice-President Bush. [2]

Two other US Presidents underwent CIA-tied ‘impeachment’ deceptions, first the 1974 Watergate ‘Silent Coup’ using intel officer Bob Woodward planted as a Washington Post fake ‘brave reporter’, Woodward having worked in intel directly under US Joint Chiefs military head Admiral Maurer. And then Bill Clinton in the 1990s, when he balked at plans to bomb Serbia and kill thousands of people, was hit with the ‘impeachment’ farce with agent Monica Lewinsky  Clinton submitted and began bombing shortly after his stage-managed ‘acquittal’.

Comment For This Post

  1. Red Storm Says: March 6th, 2015 at 9:37 PM

A few years back i red an outstanding essay by Chaim Kaupfberg on islamic terrorism,in it he mentioned that CIA Director William Colby was murdered because he was gathering evidence with the intent to expose a nation-wide paedophile ring being served to a clientele of high-profile politicians in Washington.

Source:
http://orientalreview.org/2015/03/02/12-us-top-political-figures-murdered-like-boris-nemtsov/

[1]

http://warisacrime.org/content/paul-wellstone-tenth-anniversary-his-assassination

[2]

http://theamericanchronicle.blogspot.com/2012/02/did-bush-assassinate-reagan.html

http://www.tomflocco.com/fs/HinckleyAndBush.htm — with several sources

Former CIA official on the secret wars of the CIA — Part 2

From The Other Americas Radio
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info//article4069.htm

Transcript: THE SECRET WARS OF THE CIA

by John Stockwell

A lecture given in October, 1987

Part II – Part I Here

I just got my latest book back from the CIA censors. If I had not submitted it to them, I would have gone to jail, without trial – blow off juries and all that sort of thing – for having violated our censorship laws….

In that job [Angola] I sat on a sub-committee of the NSC, so I was like a chief of staff, with the GS-18s (like 3-star generals) Henry Kissinger, Bill Colby (the CIA director), the GS-18s and the CIA, making important decisions and my job was to put it all together and make it happen and run it, an interesting place from which to watch a covert action being done….

When the world’s gotten blocked up before, like a monopoly game where everything’s owned and nobody can make any progress, the way they erased the board and started over has been to have big world wars, and erase countries and bomb cities and bomb banks and then start from scratch again. This is not an option to us now because of all these 52,000 nuclear weapons….

The United States CIA is running 50 covert actions, destabilizing further almost one third of the countries in the world today….

By the way, everything I’m sharing with you tonight is in the public record. The 50 covert actions – these are secret, but that has been leaked to us by members of the oversight committee of the Congress. I urge you not to take my word for anything. I’m going to stand here and tell you and give you examples of how our leaders lie. Obviously I could be lying. The only way you can figure it out for yourself is to educate yourselves. The French have a saying, `them that don’t do politics will be done’. If you don’t fill your mind eagerly with the truth, dig it out from the records, go and see for yourself, then your mind remains blank and your adrenaline pumps, and you can be mobilized and excited to do things that are not in your interest to do….

Nicaragua is not the biggest covert action, it is the most famous one. Afghanistan is, we spent several hundred million dollars in Afghanistan. We’ve spent somewhat less than that, but close, in Nicaragua….

[When the U.S. doesn’t like a government], they send the CIA in, with its resources and activists, hiring people, hiring agents, to tear apart the social and economic fabric of the country, as a technique for putting pressure on the government, hoping that they can make the government come to the U.S.’s terms, or the government will collapse altogether and they can engineer a coup d’etat, and have the thing wind up with their own choice of people in power.

Now ripping apart the economic and social fabric of course is fairly textbook-ish. What we’re talking about is going in and deliberately creating conditions where the farmer can’t get his produce to market, where children can’t go to school, where women are terrified inside their homes as well as outside their homes, where government administration and programs grind to a complete halt, where the hospitals are treating wounded people instead of sick people, where international capital is scared away and the country goes bankrupt. If you ask the state department today what is their official explanation of the purpose of the Contras, they say it’s to attack economic targets, meaning, break up the economy of the country. Of course, they’re attacking a lot more.

To destabilize Nicaragua beginning in 1981, we began funding this force of Somoza’s ex-national guardsmen, calling them the contras (the counter-revolutionaries). We created this force, it did not exist until we allocated money. We’ve armed them, put uniforms on their backs, boots on their feet, given them camps in Honduras to live in, medical supplies, doctors, training, leadership, direction, as we’ve sent them in to de-stabilize Nicaragua. Under our direction they have systematically been blowing up graineries, saw mills, bridges, government offices, schools, health centers. They ambush trucks so the produce can’t get to market. They raid farms and villages. The farmer has to carry a gun while he tries to plow, if he can plow at all.

If you want one example of hard proof of the CIA’s involvement in this, and their approach to it, dig up `The Sabotage Manual’, that they were circulating throughout Nicaragua, a comic-book type of a paper, with visual explanations of what you can do to bring a society to a halt, how you can gum up typewriters, what you can pour in a gas tank to burn up engines, what you can stuff in a sewage to stop up the sewage so it won’t work, things you can do to make a society simply cease to function.

Systematically, the contras have been assassinating religious workers, teachers, health workers, elected officials, government administrators. You remember the assassination manual? that surfaced in 1984. It caused such a stir that President Reagan had to address it himself in the presidential debates with Walter Mondale. They use terror. This is a technique that they’re using to traumatize the society so that it can’t function.  Continue reading

Former CIA official on the secret wars of the CIA — Part 1

From The Other Americas Radio:

Our ambassador to the United Nations, Patrick Moynihan, he read continuous statements of our position to the Security Council, the general assembly, and the press conferences, saying the Russians and Cubans were responsible for the conflict, and that we were staying out, and that we deplored the militarization of the conflict.

And every statement he made was false. And every statement he made was originated in the sub-committee of the [National Security Council] that I sat on as we managed this thing. The state department press person read these position papers daily to the press. We would write papers for him. Four paragraphs. We would call him on the phone and say, `call us 10 minutes before you go on, the situation could change overnight, we’ll tell you which paragraph to read. And all four paragraphs would be false. Nothing to do with the truth. Designed to play on events, to create this impression of Soviet and Cuban aggression in Angola. When they were in fact responding to our initiatives.

And the CIA director was required by law to brief the Congress. This CIA director Bill Colby – the same one that dumped our people in Vietnam – he gave 36 briefings of the Congress, the oversight committees, about what we were doing in Angola. And he lied. At 36 formal briefings. And such lies are perjury, and it’s a felony to lie to the Congress.
— John Stockwell, former CIA official
October 1987

 Transcript:THE SECRET WARS OF THE CIA:

by John Stockwell

A lecture given in October, 1987

Audio: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info//article4068.htm

Part I – Part II

John Stockwell is the highest-ranking CIA official ever to leave the agency and go public. He ran a CIA intelligence-gathering post in Vietnam, was the task-force commander of the CIA’s secret war in Angola in 1975 and 1976, and was awarded the Medal of Merit before he resigned. Stockwell’s book In Search of Enemies, published by W.W. Norton 1978, is an international best-seller.

“I did 13 years in the CIA altogether. I sat on a subcommittee of the NSC, so I was like a chief of staff, with the GS-18s (like 3-star generals) Henry Kissinger, Bill Colby (the CIA director), the GS-18s and the CIA, making the important decisions and my job was to put it all together and make it happen and run it, an interesting place from which to watch a covert action being done…

I testified for days before the Congress, giving them chapter and verse, date and detail, proving specific lies. They were asking if we had to do with S. Africa, that was fighting in the country. In fact we were coordinating this operation so closely that our airplanes, full of arms from the states, would meet their airplanes in Kinshasa and they would take our arms into Angola to distribute to our forces for us….

What I found with all of this study is that the subject, the problem, if you will, for the world, for the U.S. is much, much, much graver, astronomically graver, than just Angola and Vietnam. I found that the Senate Church committee has reported, in their study of covert actions, that the CIA ran several thousand covert actions since 1961, and that the heyday of covert action was before 1961; that we have run several hundred covert actions a year, and the CIA has been in business for a total of 37 years.

What we’re going to talk about tonight is the United States national security syndrome. We’re going to talk about how and why the U.S. manipulates the press. We’re going to talk about how and why the U.S. is pouring money into El Salvador, and preparing to invade Nicaragua; how all of this concerns us so directly. I’m going to try to explain to you the other side of terrorism; that is, the other side of what Secretary of State Shultz talks about. In doing this, we’ll talk about the Korean war, the Vietnam war, and the Central American war.

Continue reading

Argo vs. Waking up in Tehran — what happened in 1979? Hollywood propaganda vs. historical reality

The book Waking Up in Tehran by Margot Lachlan White, which David Swanson describes as a “magnificent modern epic”, was apparently never published. What happened to her and the book? It is not hard to imagine the pressure from Israel and the United States to make sure it did not see the light of day, especially in light of the experiences she describes. There are a few reviews online and a podcast interview.

It’s more timely than ever to get this book published and/or posted online.

Posted on War is a Crime.org, January 11, 2013
Waking up in Tehran
by David Swanson

According to one theory, U.S.-Iranian relations began around November 1979 when a crowd of irrational religious nutcases violently seized the U.S. embassy in Iran, took the employees hostage, tortured them, and held them until scared into freeing them by the arrival of a new sheriff in Washington, a man named Ronald Reagan.  From that day to this, according to this popular theory, Iran has been run by a bunch of subhuman lunatics with whom rational people couldn’t really talk if they wanted to.  These monsters only understand force.  And they have been moments away from developing and using nuclear weapons against us for decades now.  Moments away, I tell you!

According to another theory — a quaint little notion that I like to refer to as “verifiable history” — the CIA, operating out of that U.S. embassy in Tehran in 1953, maliciously and illegally overthrew a relatively democratic and liberal parliamentary government, and with it the 1951 Time magazine man of the year Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh, because Mossadegh insisted that Iran’s oil wealth enrich Iranians rather than foreign corporations.  The CIA installed a dictatorship run by the Shah of Iran who quickly became a major source of profits for U.S. weapons makers, and his nation a testing ground for surveillance techniques and human rights abuses.  The U.S. government encouraged the Shah’s development of a nuclear energy program.  But the Shah impoverished and alienated the people of Iran, including hundreds of thousands educated abroad.  A secular pro-democracy revolution nonviolently overthrew the Shah in January 1979, but it was a revolution without a leader or a plan for governing.  It was co-opted by rightwing religious forces led by a man who pretended briefly to favor democratic reform.  The U.S. government, operating out of the same embassy despised by many in Iran since 1953, explored possible means of keeping the Shah in power, but some in the CIA worked to facilitate what they saw as the second best option: a theocracy that would substitute religious fanaticism and oppression for populist and nationalist demands.  When the U.S. embassy was taken over by an unarmed crowd the next November, immediately following the public announcement of the Shah’s arrival in the United States, and with fears of another U.S.-led coup widespread in Tehran, a sit-in planned for two or three days was co-opted, as the whole revolution had been, by mullahs with connections to the CIA and an extremely anti-democratic agenda.  They later made a deal with U.S. Republicans, as Robert Parry and others have well documented, to keep the hostage crisis going until Carter lost the 1980 presidential election to Ronald Reagan.  Reagan’s government secretly renewed weapons sales to the new Iranian dictatorship despite its public anti-American stance and with no more concern for its religious fervor than for that of future al Qaeda leaders who would spend the 1980s fighting the Soviets with U.S. weapons in Afghanistan.  At the same time, the Reagan administration made similarly profitable deals with Saddam Hussein’s government in Iraq, which had launched a war on Iran and continued it with U.S. support through the length of the Reagan presidency.  The mad military investment in the United States that took off with Reagan and again with George W. Bush, and which continues to this day, has made the nation of Iran — which asserts its serious independence from U.S. rule — a target of threatened war and actual sanctions and terrorism.

Ben Affleck was asked by Rolling Stone magazine, “What do you think the Iranians’ reaction is gonna be?” to Affleck’s movie Argo, which depicts a side-story about six embassy employees who, in 1979, avoided being taken hostage.  Affleck, mixing bits of truth and mythology, just as in the movie itself, replied:

“Who the FUCK knows – who knows if their reaction is going to be anything? This is still the same Stalinist, oppressive regime that was in place when the hostages were taken. There was no rhyme or reason to this action. What’s interesting is that people later figured out that Khomeini just used the hostages to consolidate power internally and marginalize the moderates and everyone in America was going, ‘What the fuck’s wrong with these people?’ You know, ‘What do they want from us?’ It was because it wasn’t about us. It was about Khomeini holding on to power and being able to say to his political opponents, of which he had many, ‘You’re either with us or you’re with the Americans’ – which is, of course, a tactic that works really well. That revolution was a students’ revolution. There were students and communists and secularists and merchants and Islamists, it’s just that Khomeini fucking slowly took it for himself.”

The takeover of the embassy is an action virtually no one would advocate in retrospect, but asserting that it lacked rhyme or reason requires willful ignorance of Iranian-U.S. relations.  Claiming that nobody knew what the hostage-takers wanted requires erasing from history their very clear demands for the Shah to be returned to stand trial, for Iranian money in U.S. banks to be returned to Iran, and for the United States to commit to never again interfering in Iranian politics.  In fact, not only were those demands clearly made, but they are almost indisputably reasonable demands.  A dictator guilty of murder, torture, and countless other abuses should have stood trial, and should have been extradited to do so, as required by treaty.  Money belonging to the Iranian government under a dictatorship should have been returned to a new Iranian government, not pocketed by a U.S. bank.  And for one nation to agree not to interfere in another’s politics is merely to agree to compliance with the most fundamental requirement of legal international relations.

Argo devotes its first 2 minutes or so to the 1953 background of the 1979 drama.  Blink and you’ll miss it, as I’m betting most viewers do.  For a richer understanding of what was happening in Iran in the late 1970s and early 1980s I have a better recommendation than watching Argo.  For a truly magnificent modern epic I strongly encourage getting a hold of the forthcoming masterpiece by M. Lachlan White, titled Waking Up in Tehran: Love and Intrigue in Revolutionary Iran, due to be published this spring.  Weighing in at well over 300,000 words, or about 100,000 more than Moby Dick, Waking Up in Tehran is the memoir of Margot White, an American human rights activist who became an ally of pro-democracy Iranian student groups in 1977, traveled to Iran, supported the revolution, met with the hostage-takers in the embassy, became a public figure, worked with the Kurdish resistance when the new regime attacked the Kurds for being infidels, married an Iranian, and was at home with her husband in Tehran when armed representatives of the government finally banged on the door.  I’m not going to give away what happened next.  This book will transport you into the world of a gripping novel, but you’ll emerge with a political, cultural, and even linguistic education.  This is an action-adventure that would, in fact, make an excellent movie — or even a film trilogy.  It’s also an historical document.

There are sections in which White relates conversations with her friends and colleagues in Iran, including their speculations as to who was behind what government intrigue.  A few of these speculations strike me as in need of more serious support.  They also strike me as helpful in understanding the viewpoints of Iranians at the time.  Had I edited this book I might have framed them a little differently, but I wouldn’t have left them out.  I wouldn’t have left anything out.  This is a several-hundred-page love letter from a woman to her husband and from an activist to humanity.  It is intensely romantic and as honest as cold steel.  It starts in 1977.

Continue reading

Robert Parry: The victory of ‘perception management’

An exceptional and critically important article.

From Consortium News, December 28, 2014
By Robert Parry

Special Report: In the 1980s, the Reagan administration pioneered “perception management” to get the American people to “kick the Vietnam Syndrome” and accept more U.S. interventionism, but that propaganda structure continues to this day getting the public to buy into endless war, writes Robert Parry.

To understand how the American people find themselves trapped in today’s Orwellian dystopia of endless warfare against an ever-shifting collection of “evil” enemies, you have to think back to the Vietnam War and the shock to the ruling elite caused by an unprecedented popular uprising against that war.

While on the surface Official Washington pretended that the mass protests didn’t change policy, a panicky reality existed behind the scenes, a recognition that a major investment in domestic propaganda would be needed to ensure that future imperial adventures would have the public’s eager support or at least its confused acquiescence.

President Ronald Reagan meeting with media magnate Rupert Murdoch in the Oval Office on Jan. 18, 1983, with Charles Wick, director of the U.S. Information Agency, the the background. (Credit: Reagan presidential library)

President Ronald Reagan meeting with media magnate Rupert Murdoch in the Oval Office on Jan. 18, 1983, with Charles Wick, director of the U.S. Information Agency, in the background. (Photo credit: Reagan presidential library)

This commitment to what the insiders called “perception management” began in earnest with the Reagan administration in the 1980s but it would come to be the accepted practice of all subsequent administrations, including the present one of President Barack Obama.

In that sense, propaganda in pursuit of foreign policy goals would trump the democratic ideal of an informed electorate. The point would be not to honestly inform the American people about events around the world but to manage their perceptions by ramping up fear in some cases and defusing outrage in others – depending on the U.S. government’s needs.

Thus, you have the current hysteria over Russia’s supposed “aggression” in Ukraine when the crisis was actually provoked by the West, including by U.S. neocons who helped create today’s humanitarian crisis in eastern Ukraine that they now cynically blame on Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Yet, many of these same U.S. foreign policy operatives – outraged over Russia’s limited intervention to protect ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine – are demanding that President Obama launch an air war against the Syrian military as a “humanitarian” intervention there.

In other words, if the Russians act to shield ethnic Russians on their border who are being bombarded by a coup regime in Kiev that was installed with U.S. support, the Russians are the villains blamed for the thousands of civilian deaths, even though the vast majority of the casualties have been inflicted by the Kiev regime from indiscriminate bombing and from dispatching neo-Nazi militias to do the street fighting.

In Ukraine, the exigent circumstances don’t matter, including the violent overthrow of the constitutionally elected president last February. It’s all about white hats for the current Kiev regime and black hats for the ethnic Russians and especially for Putin.

But an entirely different set of standards has applied to Syria where a U.S.-backed rebellion, which included violent Sunni jihadists from the start, wore the white hats and the relatively secular Syrian government, which has responded with excessive violence of its own, wears the black hats. But a problem to that neat dichotomy arose when one of the major Sunni rebel forces, the Islamic State, started seizing Iraqi territory and beheading Westerners.

Faced with those grisly scenes, President Obama authorized bombing the Islamic State forces in both Iraq and Syria, but neocons and other U.S. hardliners have been hectoring Obama to go after their preferred target, Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, despite the risk that destroying the Syrian military could open the gates of Damascus to the Islamic State or al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front.

Lost on the Dark Side

You might think that the American public would begin to rebel against these messy entangling alliances with the 1984-like demonizing of one new “enemy” after another. Not only have these endless wars drained trillions of dollars from the U.S. taxpayers, they have led to the deaths of thousands of U.S. troops and to the tarnishing of America’s image from the attendant evils of war, including a lengthy detour into the “dark side” of torture, assassinations and “collateral” killings of children and other innocents.

But that is where the history of “perception management” comes in, the need to keep the American people compliant and confused. In the 1980s, the Reagan administration was determined to “kick the Vietnam Syndrome,” the revulsion that many Americans felt for warfare after all those years in the blood-soaked jungles of Vietnam and all the lies that clumsily justified the war.

So, the challenge for the U.S. government became: how to present the actions of “enemies” always in the darkest light while bathing the behavior of the U.S. “side” in a rosy glow. You also had to stage this propaganda theater in an ostensibly “free country” with a supposedly “independent press.”

From documents declassified or leaked over the past several decades, including an unpublished draft chapter of the congressional Iran-Contra investigation, we now know a great deal about how this remarkable project was undertaken and who the key players were.

Perhaps not surprisingly much of the initiative came from the Central Intelligence Agency, which housed the expertise for manipulating target populations through propaganda and disinformation. The only difference this time would be that the American people would be the target population.

For this project, Ronald Reagan’s CIA Director William J. Casey sent his top propaganda specialist Walter Raymond Jr. to the National Security Council staff to manage the inter-agency task forces that would brainstorm and coordinate this “public diplomacy” strategy.

Many of the old intelligence operatives, including Casey and Raymond, are now dead, but other influential Washington figures who were deeply involved by these strategies remain, such as neocon stalwart Robert Kagan, whose first major job in Washington was as chief of Reagan’s State Department Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America.

Now a fellow at the Brookings Institution and a columnist at the Washington Post, Kagan remains an expert in presenting foreign policy initiatives within the “good guy/bad guy” frames that he learned in the 1980s. He is also the husband of Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who oversaw the overthrow of Ukraine’s elected President Viktor Yanukovych last February amid a very effective U.S. propaganda strategy.

During the Reagan years, Kagan worked closely on propaganda schemes with Elliott Abrams, then the Assistant Secretary of State for Latin America. After getting convicted and then pardoned in the Iran-Contra scandal, Abrams reemerged on President George W. Bush’s National Security Council handling Middle East issues, including the Iraq War, and later “global democracy strategy.” Abrams is now a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

These and other neocons were among the most diligent students learning the art of “perception management” from the likes of Raymond and Casey, but those propaganda skills have spread much more widely as “public diplomacy” and “information warfare” have now become an integral part of every U.S. foreign policy initiative.

A Propaganda Bureaucracy

Declassified documents now reveal how extensive Reagan’s propaganda project became with inter-agency task forces assigned to develop “themes” that would push American “hot buttons.” Scores of documents came out during the Iran-Contra scandal in 1987 and hundreds more are now available at the Reagan presidential library in Simi Valley, California.

What the documents reveal is that at the start of the Reagan administration, CIA Director Casey faced a daunting challenge in trying to rally public opinion behind aggressive U.S. interventions, especially in Central America. Bitter memories of the Vietnam War were still fresh and many Americans were horrified at the brutality of right-wing regimes in Guatemala and El Salvador, where Salvadoran soldiers raped and murdered four American churchwomen in December 1980.

The new leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua also was not viewed with much alarm. After all, Nicaragua was an impoverished country of only about three million people who had just cast off the brutal dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza.

So, Reagan’s initial strategy of bolstering the Salvadoran and Guatemalan armies required defusing the negative publicity about them and somehow rallying the American people into supporting a covert CIA intervention inside Nicaragua via a counterrevolutionary force known as the Contras led by Somoza’s ex-National Guard officers.

Reagan’s task was made tougher by the fact that the Cold War’s anti-communist arguments had so recently been discredited in Vietnam. As deputy assistant secretary to the Air Force, J. Michael Kelly, put it, “the most critical special operations mission we have … is to persuade the American people that the communists are out to get us.”

At the same time, the White House worked to weed out American reporters who uncovered facts that undercut the desired public images. As part of that effort, the administration attacked New York Times correspondent Raymond Bonner for disclosing the Salvadoran regime’s massacre of about 800 men, women and children in the village of El Mozote in northeast El Salvador in December 1981. Accuracy in Media and conservative news organizations, such as The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, joined in pummeling Bonner, who was soon ousted from his job.

But these were largely ad hoc efforts. A more comprehensive “public diplomacy” operation took shape beginning in 1982 when Raymond, a 30-year veteran of CIA clandestine services, was transferred to the NSC.

A slight, soft-spoken New Yorker who reminded some of a character from a John le Carré spy novel, Raymond was an intelligence officer who “easily fades into the woodwork,” according to one acquaintance. But Raymond would become the sparkplug for this high-powered propaganda network, according to a draft chapter of the Iran-Contra report.

Though the draft chapter didn’t use Raymond’s name in its opening pages, apparently because some of the information came from classified depositions, Raymond’s name was used later in the chapter and the earlier citations matched Raymond’s known role. According to the draft report, the CIA officer who was recruited for the NSC job had served as Director of the Covert Action Staff at the CIA from 1978 to 1982 and was a “specialist in propaganda and disinformation.”

“The CIA official [Raymond] discussed the transfer with [CIA Director] Casey and NSC Advisor William Clark that he be assigned to the NSC as [Donald] Gregg’s successor [as coordinator of intelligence operations in June 1982] and received approval for his involvement in setting up the public diplomacy program along with his intelligence responsibilities,” the chapter said.

“In the early part of 1983, documents obtained by the Select [Iran-Contra] Committees indicate that the Director of the Intelligence Staff of the NSC [Raymond] successfully recommended the establishment of an inter-governmental network to promote and manage a public diplomacy plan designed to create support for Reagan Administration policies at home and abroad.”

During his Iran-Contra deposition, Raymond explained the need for this propaganda structure, saying: “We were not configured effectively to deal with the war of ideas.”

One reason for this shortcoming was that federal law forbade taxpayers’ money from being spent on domestic propaganda or grassroots lobbying to pressure congressional representatives. Of course, every president and his team had vast resources to make their case in public, but by tradition and law, they were restricted to speeches, testimony and one-on-one persuasion of lawmakers.

But things were about to change. In a Jan. 13, 1983, memo, NSC Advisor Clark foresaw the need for non-governmental money to advance this cause. “We will develop a scenario for obtaining private funding,” Clark wrote. (Just five days later, President Reagan personally welcomed media magnate Rupert Murdoch into the Oval Office for a private meeting, according to records on file at the Reagan library.)

As administration officials reached out to wealthy supporters, lines against domestic propaganda soon were crossed as the operation took aim not only at foreign audiences but at U.S. public opinion, the press and congressional Democrats who opposed funding the Nicaraguan Contras.

At the time, the Contras were earning a gruesome reputation as human rights violators and terrorists. To change this negative perception of the Contras as well as of the U.S.-backed regimes in El Salvador and Guatemala, the Reagan administration created a full-blown, clandestine propaganda network.

In January 1983, President Reagan took the first formal step to create this unprecedented peacetime propaganda bureaucracy by signing National Security Decision Directive 77, entitled “Management of Public Diplomacy Relative to National Security.” Reagan deemed it “necessary to strengthen the organization, planning and coordination of the various aspects of public diplomacy of the United States Government.”

Reagan ordered the creation of a special planning group within the National Security Council to direct these “public diplomacy” campaigns. The planning group would be headed by the CIA’s Walter Raymond Jr. and one of its principal arms would be a new Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America, housed at the State Department but under the control of the NSC.

CIA Taint

Worried about the legal prohibition barring the CIA from engaging in domestic propaganda, Raymond formally resigned from the CIA in April 1983, so, he said, “there would be no question whatsoever of any contamination of this.” But Raymond continued to act toward the U.S. public much like a CIA officer would in directing a propaganda operation in a hostile foreign country.

Raymond fretted, too, about the legality of Casey’s ongoing involvement. Raymond confided in one memo that it was important “to get [Casey] out of the loop,” but Casey never backed off and Raymond continued to send progress reports to his old boss well into 1986. It was “the kind of thing which [Casey] had a broad catholic interest in,” Raymond shrugged during his Iran-Contra deposition. He then offered the excuse that Casey undertook this apparently illegal interference in domestic politics “not so much in his CIA hat, but in his adviser to the president hat.”

As a result of Reagan’s decision directive, “an elaborate system of inter-agency committees was eventually formed and charged with the task of working closely with private groups and individuals involved in fundraising, lobbying campaigns and propagandistic activities aimed at influencing public opinion and governmental action,” the draft Iran-Contra chapter said. “This effort resulted in the creation of the Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America and the Caribbean in the Department of State (S/LPD), headed by Otto Reich,” a right-wing Cuban exile from Miami.

Though Secretary of State George Shultz wanted the office under his control, President Reagan insisted that Reich “report directly to the NSC,” where Raymond oversaw the operations as a special assistant to the President and the NSC’s director of international communications, the chapter said.

“Reich relied heavily on Raymond to secure personnel transfers from other government agencies to beef up the limited resources made available to S/LPD by the Department of State,” the chapter said. “Personnel made available to the new office included intelligence specialists from the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Army. On one occasion, five intelligence experts from the Army’s 4th Psychological Operations Group at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, were assigned to work with Reich’s fast-growing operation.”

A “public diplomacy strategy paper,” dated May 5, 1983, summed up the administration’s problem. “As far as our Central American policy is concerned, the press perceives that: the USG [U.S. government] is placing too much emphasis on a military solution, as well as being allied with inept, right-wing governments and groups. …The focus on Nicaragua [is] on the alleged U.S.-backed ‘covert’ war against the Sandinistas. Moreover, the opposition … is widely perceived as being led by former Somozistas.”

The administration’s difficulty with most of these press perceptions was that they were correct. But the strategy paper recommended ways to influence various groups of Americans to “correct” the impressions anyway, removing what another planning document called “perceptional obstacles.”

“Themes will obviously have to be tailored to the target audience,” the strategy paper said.

Casey’s Hand

As the Reagan administration struggled to manage public perceptions, CIA Director Casey kept his personal hand in the effort. On one muggy day in August 1983, Casey convened a meeting of Reagan administration officials and five leading ad executives at the Old Executive Office Building next to the White House to come up with ideas for selling Reagan’s Central American policies to the American people.

Earlier that day, a national security aide had warmed the P.R. men to their task with dire predictions that leftist governments would send waves of refugees into the United States and cynically flood America with drugs. The P.R. executives jotted down some thoughts over lunch and then pitched their ideas to the CIA director in the afternoon as he sat hunched behind a desk taking notes.

“Casey was kind of spearheading a recommendation” for better public relations for Reagan’s Central America policies, recalled William I. Greener Jr., one of the ad men. Two top proposals arising from the meeting were for a high-powered communications operation inside the White House and private money for an outreach program to build support for U.S. intervention.

The results from the discussions were summed up in an Aug. 9, 1983, memo written by Raymond who described Casey’s participation in the meeting to brainstorm how “to sell a ‘new product’ – Central America – by generating interest across-the-spectrum.”

In the memo to then-U.S. Information Agency director Charles Wick, Raymond also noted that “via Murdock [sic] may be able to draw down added funds” to support pro-Reagan initiatives. Raymond’s reference to Rupert Murdoch possibly drawing down “added funds” suggests that the right-wing media mogul had been recruited to be part of the covert propaganda operation. During this period, Wick arranged at least two face-to-face meetings between Murdoch and Reagan.

In line with the clandestine nature of the operation, Raymond also suggested routing the “funding via Freedom House or some other structure that has credibility in the political center.” (Freedom House would later emerge as a principal beneficiary of funding from the National Endowment for Democracy, which was also created under the umbrella of Raymond’s operation.)

As the Reagan administration pushed the envelope on domestic propaganda, Raymond continued to worry about Casey’s involvement. In an Aug. 29, 1983, memo, Raymond recounted a call from Casey pushing his P.R. ideas. Alarmed at a CIA director participating so brazenly in domestic propaganda, Raymond wrote that “I philosophized a bit with Bill Casey (in an effort to get him out of the loop)” but with little success.

Meanwhile, Reich’s Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America (S/LPD) proved extremely effective in selecting “hot buttons” that would anger Americans about the Sandinistas. He also browbeat news correspondents who produced stories that conflicted with the administration’s “themes.” Reich’s basic M.O. was to dispatch his propaganda teams to lobby news executives to remove or punish out-of-step reporters – with a disturbing degree of success. Reich once bragged that his office “did not give the critics of the policy any quarter in the debate.”

Another part of the office’s job was to plant “white propaganda” in the news media through op-eds secretly financed by the government. In one memo, Jonathan Miller, a senior public diplomacy official, informed White House aide Patrick Buchanan about success placing an anti-Sandinista piece in The Wall Street Journal’s friendly pages. “Officially, this office had no role in its preparation,” Miller wrote.

Other times, the administration put out “black propaganda,” outright falsehoods. In 1983, one such theme was designed to anger American Jews by portraying the Sandinistas as anti-Semitic because much of Nicaragua’s small Jewish community fled after the revolution in 1979.

However, the U.S. embassy in Managua investigated the charges and “found no verifiable ground on which to accuse the GRN [the Sandinista government] of anti-Semitism,” according to a July 28, 1983, cable. But the administration kept the cable secret and pushed the “hot button” anyway.

Black Hats/White Hats

Repeatedly, Raymond lectured his subordinates on the chief goal of the operation: “in the specific case of Nica[ragua], concentrate on gluing black hats on the Sandinistas and white hats on UNO [the Contras’ United Nicaraguan Opposition].” So Reagan’s speechwriters dutifully penned descriptions of Sandinista-ruled Nicaragua as a “totalitarian dungeon” and the Contras as the “moral equivalent of the Founding Fathers.”

As one NSC official told me, the campaign was modeled after CIA covert operations abroad where a political goal is more important than the truth. “They were trying to manipulate [U.S.] public opinion … using the tools of Walt Raymond’s trade craft which he learned from his career in the CIA covert operation shop,” the official admitted.

Another administration official gave a similar description to The Miami Herald’s Alfonso Chardy. “If you look at it as a whole, the Office of Public Diplomacy was carrying out a huge psychological operation, the kind the military conduct to influence the population in denied or enemy territory,” that official explained. [For more details, see Parry’s Lost History.]

Another important figure in the pro-Contra propaganda was NSC staffer Oliver North, who spent a great deal of his time on the Nicaraguan public diplomacy operation even though he is better known for arranging secret arms shipments to the Contras and to Iran’s radical Islamic government, leading to the Iran-Contra scandal.

The draft Iran-Contra chapter depicted a Byzantine network of contract and private operatives who handled details of the domestic propaganda while concealing the hand of the White House and the CIA. “Richard R. Miller, former head of public affairs at AID, and Francis D. Gomez, former public affairs specialist at the State Department and USIA, were hired by S/LPD through sole-source, no-bid contracts to carry out a variety of activities on behalf of the Reagan administration policies in Central America,” the chapter said.

“Supported by the State Department and White House, Miller and Gomez became the outside managers of [North operative] Spitz Channel’s fundraising and lobbying activities. They also served as the managers of Central American political figures, defectors, Nicaraguan opposition leaders and Sandinista atrocity victims who were made available to the press, the Congress and private groups, to tell the story of the Contra cause.”

Miller and Gomez facilitated transfers of money to Swiss and offshore banks at North’s direction, as they “became the key link between the State Department and the Reagan White House with the private groups and individuals engaged in a myriad of endeavors aimed at influencing the Congress, the media and public opinion,” the chapter said.

The Iran-Contra draft chapter also cited a March 10, 1985, memo from North describing his assistance to CIA Director Casey in timing disclosures of pro-Contra news “aimed at securing Congressional approval for renewed support to the Nicaraguan Resistance Forces.”

The chapter added: “Casey’s involvement in the public diplomacy effort apparently continued throughout the period under investigation by the Committees,” including a 1985 role in pressuring Congress to renew Contra aid and a 1986 hand in further shielding the Office of Public Diplomacy for Latin America from the oversight of Secretary Shultz.

A Raymond-authored memo to Casey in August 1986 described the shift of the S/LPD office – where Robert Kagan had replaced Reich – to the control of the Bureau of Inter-American Affairs, which was headed by Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams, who had tapped Kagan for the public diplomacy job.

Even after the Iran-Contra scandal unraveled in 1986-87 and Casey died of brain cancer on May 6, 1987, the Republicans fought to keep secret the remarkable story of the public diplomacy apparatus. As part of a deal to get three moderate Republican senators to join Democrats in signing the Iran-Contra majority report, Democratic leaders agreed to drop the draft chapter detailing the CIA’s domestic propaganda role (although a few references were included in the executive summary). But other Republicans, including Rep. Dick Cheney, still issued a minority report defending broad presidential powers in foreign affairs.

Thus, the American people were spared the chapter’s troubling conclusion: that a secret propaganda apparatus had existed, run by “one of the CIA’s most senior specialists, sent to the NSC by Bill Casey, to create and coordinate an inter-agency public-diplomacy mechanism [which] did what a covert CIA operation in a foreign country might do. [It] attempted to manipulate the media, the Congress and public opinion to support the Reagan administration’s policies.”

Kicking the Vietnam Syndrome

The ultimate success of Reagan’s propaganda strategy was affirmed during the tenure of his successor, George H.W. Bush, when Bush ordered a 100-hour ground war on Feb. 23, 1991, to oust Iraqi troops from Kuwait, which had been invaded the previous August.

Though Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had long been signaling a readiness to withdraw – and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev had negotiated a withdrawal arrangement that even had the blessings of top U.S. commanders in the field – President Bush insisted on pressing ahead with the ground attack.

Bush’s chief reason was that he – and his Defense Secretary Dick Cheney – saw the assault against Iraq’s already decimated forces as an easy victory, one that would demonstrate America’s new military capacity for high-tech warfare and would cap the process begun a decade earlier to erase the Vietnam Syndrome from the minds of average Americans.

Those strategic aspects of Bush’s grand plan for a “new world order” began to emerge after the U.S.-led coalition started pummeling Iraq with air strikes in mid-January 1991. The bombings inflicted severe damage on Iraq’s military and civilian infrastructure and slaughtered a large number of non-combatants, including the incineration of some 400 women and children in a Baghdad bomb shelter on Feb. 13. [For details, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Recalling the Slaughter of Innocents.”]

The air war’s damage was so severe that some world leaders looked for a way to end the carnage and arrange Iraq’s departure from Kuwait. Even senior U.S. military field commanders, such as Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, looked favorably on proposals for sparing lives.

But Bush was fixated on a ground war. Though secret from the American people at that time, Bush had long determined that a peaceful Iraqi withdrawal from Kuwait would not be allowed. Indeed, Bush was privately fearful that the Iraqis might capitulate before the United States could attack.

At the time, conservative columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak were among the few outsiders who described Bush’s obsession with exorcising the Vietnam Syndrome. On Feb. 25, 1991, they wrote that the Gorbachev initiative brokering Iraq’s surrender of Kuwait “stirred fears” among Bush’s advisers that the Vietnam Syndrome might survive the Gulf War.

“There was considerable relief, therefore, when the President … made clear he was having nothing to do with the deal that would enable Saddam Hussein to bring his troops out of Kuwait with flags flying,” Evans and Novak wrote. “Fear of a peace deal at the Bush White House had less to do with oil, Israel or Iraqi expansionism than with the bitter legacy of a lost war. ‘This is the chance to get rid of the Vietnam Syndrome,’ one senior aide told us.”

In the 1999 book, Shadow, author Bob Woodward confirmed that Bush was adamant about fighting a war, even as the White House pretended it would be satisfied with an unconditional Iraqi withdrawal. “We have to have a war,” Bush told his inner circle of Secretary of State James Baker, national security adviser Brent Scowcroft and Gen. Colin Powell, according to Woodward.

“Scowcroft was aware that this understanding could never be stated publicly or be permitted to leak out. An American president who declared the necessity of war would probably be thrown out of office. Americans were peacemakers, not warmongers,” Woodward wrote.

The Ground War

However, the “fear of a peace deal” resurfaced in the wake of the U.S.-led bombing campaign. Soviet diplomats met with Iraqi leaders who let it be known that they were prepared to withdraw their troops from Kuwait unconditionally.

Learning of Gorbachev’s proposed settlement, Schwarzkopf also saw little reason for U.S. soldiers to die if the Iraqis were prepared to withdraw and leave their heavy weapons behind. There was also the prospect of chemical warfare that the Iraqis might use against advancing American troops. Schwarzkopf saw the possibility of heavy U.S. casualties.

But Gorbachev’s plan was running into trouble with President Bush and his political subordinates who wanted a ground war to crown the U.S. victory. Schwarzkopf reached out to Gen. [Colin] Powell, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to make the case for peace with the President.

On Feb. 21, 1991, the two generals hammered out a cease-fire proposal for presentation to the NSC. The peace deal would give Iraqi forces one week to march out of Kuwait while leaving their armor and heavy equipment behind. Schwarzkopf thought he had Powell’s commitment to pitch the plan at the White House.

But Powell found himself caught in the middle. He wanted to please Bush while still representing the concerns of the field commanders. When Powell arrived at the White House late on the evening of Feb. 21, he found Bush angry about the Soviet peace initiative. Still, according to Woodward’s Shadow, Powell reiterated that he and Schwarzkopf “would rather see the Iraqis walk out than be driven out.”

In My American Journey, Powell expressed sympathy for Bush’s predicament. “The President’s problem was how to say no to Gorbachev without appearing to throw away a chance for peace,” Powell wrote. “I could hear the President’s growing distress in his voice. ‘I don’t want to take this deal,’ he said. ‘But I don’t want to stiff Gorbachev, not after he’s come this far with us. We’ve got to find a way out’.”

Powell sought Bush’s attention. “I raised a finger,” Powell wrote. “The President turned to me. ‘Got something, Colin?’,” Bush asked. But Powell did not outline Schwarzkopf’s one-week cease-fire plan. Instead, Powell offered a different idea intended to make the ground offensive inevitable.

“We don’t stiff Gorbachev,” Powell explained. “Let’s put a deadline on Gorby’s proposal. We say, great idea, as long as they’re completely on their way out by, say, noon Saturday,” Feb. 23, less than two days away.

Powell understood that the two-day deadline would not give the Iraqis enough time to act, especially with their command-and-control systems severely damaged by the air war. The plan was a public-relations strategy to guarantee that the White House got its ground war. “If, as I suspect, they don’t move, then the flogging begins,” Powell told a gratified president.

The next day, at 10:30 a.m., a Friday, Bush announced his ultimatum. There would be a Saturday noon deadline for the Iraqi withdrawal, as Powell had recommended. Schwarzkopf and his field commanders in Saudi Arabia watched Bush on television and immediately grasped its meaning.

“We all knew by then which it would be,” Schwarzkopf wrote. “We were marching toward a Sunday morning attack.”

When the Iraqis predictably missed the deadline, American and allied forces launched the ground offensive at 0400 on Feb. 24, Persian Gulf time.

Though Iraqi forces were soon in full retreat, the allies pursued and slaughtered tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers in the 100-hour war. U.S. casualties were light, 147 killed in combat and another 236 killed in accidents or from other causes. “Small losses as military statistics go,” wrote Powell, “but a tragedy for each family.”

[Editor: This was only the beginning of casualties as Gulf War Illness surfaced. Destroying the lives of veterans, their family members, and non-Iraq soldiers, this ground war ended up being very costly for American soldiers, affecting even those who had never left the States, but unpacked  contaminated gear shipped home from Iraq. The Veterans Administration and the military establishment have denied their crippling and often fatal illnesses. A bioweapon organism, mycoplasma fermentans incognitus, with a United States patent, was discovered in many of these ill veterans. It is contageous.

 A simple treatment with the antibiotic doxycycline over a series of months often can eradicate the organism. However, if not eradicated, it can cause organ failure and death. Though the VA discovered the presence of this organism in a high percentage of ill veterans it tested, it has buried the information and refused to treat veterans and their families. It has often prescribed psychiatric drugs instead.

The excellent HBO film “Thanks of a Grateful Nation” covers some of this story.

Veterans have had no information, no diagnostic help, and no relief except from independent sources. Drs. Garth and Nancy Nicholson have been lead researchers and advocates for veterans and members of the public who have contracted this very serious disease — http://www.immed.org/index.htm. They have saved many people’s lives.]

On Feb. 28, the day the war ended, Bush celebrated the victory. “By God, we’ve kicked the Vietnam Syndrome once and for all,” the President exulted, speaking to a group at the White House. [For more details, see Robert Parry’s Secrecy & Privilege.]

So as not to put a damper on the post-war happy feelings, the U.S. news media decided not to show many of the grisliest photos, such as charred Iraqi soldiers ghoulishly still seated in their burned-out trucks where they had been incinerated while trying to flee. By that point, U.S. journalists knew it wasn’t smart for their careers to present a reality that didn’t make the war look good.

Enduring Legacy

Though Reagan’s creation of a domestic propaganda bureaucracy began more than three decades ago – and Bush’s vanquishing of the Vietnam Syndrome was more than two decades ago – the legacy of those actions continue to reverberate today in how the perceptions of the American people are now routinely managed. That was true during last decade’s Iraq War and this decade’s conflicts in Libya, Syria and Ukraine as well as the economic sanctions against Iran and Russia.

Indeed, while the older generation that pioneered these domestic propaganda techniques has passed from the scene, many of their protégés are still around along with some of the same organizations. The National Endowment for Democracy, which was formed in 1983 at the urging of CIA Director Casey and under the supervision of Walter Raymond’s NSC operation, is still run by the same neocon, Carl Gershman, and has an even bigger budget, now exceeding $100 million a year.

Gershman and his NED played important behind-the-scenes roles in instigating the Ukraine crisis by financing activists, journalists and other operatives who supported the coup against elected President Yanukovych. The NED-backed Freedom House also beat the propaganda drums. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “A Shadow Foreign Policy.”]

Two other Reagan-era veterans, Elliott Abrams and Robert Kagan, have both provided important intellectual support for continuing U.S. interventionism around the world. Earlier this year, Kagan’s article for The New Republic, entitled “Superpowers Don’t Get to Retire,” touched such a raw nerve with President Obama that he hosted Kagan at a White House lunch and crafted the presidential commencement speech at West Point to deflect some of Kagan’s criticism of Obama’s hesitancy to use military force.

A New York Times article about Kagan’s influence over Obama reported that Kagan’s wife, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, apparently had a hand in crafting the attack on her ostensible boss, President Obama.

According to the Times article, the husband-and-wife team share both a common world view and professional ambitions, Nuland editing Kagan’s articles and Kagan “not permitted to use any official information he overhears or picks up around the house” – a suggestion that Kagan’s thinking at least may be informed by foreign policy secrets passed on by his wife.

Though Nuland wouldn’t comment specifically on Kagan’s attack on President Obama, she indicated that she holds similar views. “But suffice to say,” Nuland said, “that nothing goes out of the house that I don’t think is worthy of his talents. Let’s put it that way.”

Misguided Media

In the three decades since Reagan’s propaganda machine was launched, the American press corps also has fallen more and more into line with an aggressive U.S. government’s foreign policy strategies. Those of us in the mainstream media who resisted the propaganda pressures mostly saw our careers suffer while those who played along moved steadily up the ranks into positions of more money and more status.

Even after the Iraq War debacle when nearly the entire mainstream media went with the pro-invasion flow, there was almost no accountability for that historic journalistic failure. Indeed, the neocon influence at major newspapers, such as the Washington Post and the New York Times, only has solidified since.

Today’s coverage of the Syrian civil war or the Ukraine crisis is so firmly in line with the State Department’s propaganda “themes” that it would put smiles on the faces of William Casey and Walter Raymond if they were around today to see how seamlessly the “perception management” now works. There’s no need any more to send out “public diplomacy” teams to bully editors and news executives. Everyone is already onboard.

Rupert Murdoch’s media empire is bigger than ever, but his neocon messaging barely stands out as distinctive, given how the neocons also have gained control of the editorial and foreign-reporting sections of the Washington Post, the New York Times and virtually every other major news outlet. For instance, the demonizing of Russian President Putin is now so total that no honest person could look at those articles and see anything approaching objective or evenhanded journalism. Yet, no one loses a job over this lack of professionalism.

The Reagan administration’s dreams of harnessing private foundations and non-governmental organizations have also come true. The Orwellian circle has been completed with many American “anti-war” groups advocating for “humanitarian” wars in Syria and other countries targeted by U.S. propaganda. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Selling ‘Peace Groups’ on US-Led Wars.”]

Much as Reagan’s “public diplomacy” apparatus once sent around “defectors” to lambaste Nicaragua’s Sandinistas by citing hyped-up human rights violations now the work is done by NGOs with barely perceptible threads back to the U.S. government. Just as Freedom House had “credibility” in the 1980s because of its earlier reputation as a human rights group, now other groups carrying the “human rights” tag, such as Human Rights Watch, are in the forefront of urging U.S. military interventions based on murky or propagandistic claims. [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Collapsing Syria-Sarin Case.”]

At this advanced stage of America’s quiet surrender to “perception management,” it is even hard to envision how one could retrace the many steps that would lead back to the concept of a democratic Republic based on an informed electorate. Many on the American Right remain entranced by the old propaganda theme about the “liberal media” and still embrace Reagan as their beloved icon. Meanwhile, many liberals can’t break away from their own wistful trust in the New York Times and their empty hope that the media really is “liberal.”

To confront the hard truth is not easy. Indeed, in this case, it can cause despair because there are so few voices to trust and they are easily drowned out by floods of disinformation that can come from any angle – right, left or center. Yet, for the American democratic Republic to reset its goal toward an informed electorate, there is no option other than to build institutions that are determinedly committed to the truth.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

A few of the informative comments under the original article:

MarkinPNW

This “Perception Management” is nothing knew. The argument has been made persuasively that the attack on Pearl Harbor actually resulted from a deliberate and successful campaign by FDR to change or “manage” the mass opinions or “Perceptions” of the US electorate from strongly pro-peace and anti-war (what could be called a “Great War syndrome” from the stupid and useless devastation of WW1) to all out pro-war for US involvement in WW2, by provoking the Japanese and refusing all peace negotiations with the Japanese who desperately were trying to avoid war.

In reference to “Orwellian Dystopia”, Orwell’s novels “Animal Farm” and “1984” were based in large part on Orwell’s experience in the Spanish Civil War and WW2, respectively.

hp

The ripened fruit of the pervert Freud’s pervert nephew Edward Bernays.

Jacob

“In the 1980s, the Reagan administration pioneered ‘perception management’ to get the American people to ‘kick the Vietnam Syndrome’ and accept more U.S. interventionism, . . .” 

The management of public perception within the U.S. regarding its imperialistic/colonial ambitions goes back much further than the 1980s. The Committee on Public Information, also known as “the Creel Commission,” was the likely model Reagan wanted to imitate. The purpose of the CPI was to convince the American public, which was mostly anti-war, to support America’s entry into the European war, also known as WWI. The CPI was in official operation from 1917 to 1919 during the Woodrow Wilson administration. But the paradigm for the use of mass propaganda to alter public perceptions is the Congregatio de propaganda fide (The Office for the Propagation of the Faith), a 1622 Vatican invention to undermine the spread of Protestantism by managing public perceptions on religious and spiritual matters.

 

https://consortiumnews.com/2014/12/28/the-victory-of-perception-management/