Hersh: The Next War is on, apparently. Damn. Better Yet: the Zarqawi media campaign IS a Pentagon PSY OPS operation!!!! Really!!

Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt: "The Zarqawi PSYOP program is the most successful information campaign to date."

I have billed this website to be about spinstorms, Information Operations and latent contradictions. Here are two crucial elements of the current political environment that have to be fully confronted.

One: There are clandestine U.S. military operations in Iran today - which Congress really has no clue about, and are not at all in our country's interests. This is insane.



Two: The military has a specific psychological warfare campaign to manipulate the perception of the "Abu Musab al Zarqawi" figure in Iraq - and the American audience is an official target of this psychological warfare, the Washington Post rather explosively confirms today. This indicates that PSY OPS planning and operations are integrated into the basic structure of how the U.S. media is fed information by the Pentagon. Your brain is currently contaminated with the results of military psychological operations. This is also insane.

Sy Hersh has been telling us for a while that the situation between the United States and Iran is getting hot very quickly. A new report: The Iran Plans: Would President Bush go to war to stop Tehran from getting the bomb? is decidedly alarming. There are plenty of horrible things in here, but why not mention the beginning:

The Bush Administration, while publicly advocating diplomacy in order to stop Iran from pursuing a nuclear weapon, has increased clandestine activities inside Iran and intensified planning for a possible major air attack. Current and former American military and intelligence officials said that Air Force planning groups are drawing up lists of targets, and teams of American combat troops have been ordered into Iran, under cover, to collect targeting data and to establish contact with anti-government ethnic-minority groups. The officials say that President Bush is determined to deny the Iranian regime the opportunity to begin a pilot program, planned for this spring, to enrich uranium.

One former defense official, who still deals with sensitive issues for the Bush Administration, told me that the military planning was premised on a belief that “a sustained bombing campaign in Iran will humiliate the religious leadership and lead the public to rise up and overthrow the government.” He added, “I was shocked when I heard it, and asked myself, ‘What are they smoking?’ ”

Surely we'll get back to this. But it seemed an appropriate thing to throw in right before I go to bed and start a new week, pondering how these ethnic minorities will be manipulated -- who will be the next Hmong-like ethnic group, used and abused as a tool of American war policy, then left to twist in the wind? Azeris? Baluchis? Turkmen? Kurds?

iran ethnic map

What could possibly go wrong?!!!? Note Khuzestan, down there next to Iraq. Apparently, since it has many (Shia) Arabs, it is considered a prime area for ethnic fragmentation that will somehow serve American interests.... (And Baluchistan is another key angle for stirring up trouble). Get your popcorn ready, the new Great Game with Nuclear Chips will really be an entertaining one.

By the way, isn't it interesting to live in a country that launches preemptive covert operations into various places without informing Congress or the public it is supposed to serve? What is the appropriate response from Iran? What of this American public, swiftly led into yet another strange and ugly Eurasian trap? What the fuck are we supposed to do?

Now a turn to the even more surreal. Today, The Washington Post confirms that "Abu Musab al Zarqawi", the vaunted evil terrorist, has officially been used as an instrument of psychological warfare by the Pentagon. Last September I posted "Zarqawi == Emmanuel Goldstein". I said:

The image of Senior Demon Abu Musab al-Zarqawi is an essential element of the Bush Administration's strategy to manage perceptions of their disastrous war - diverting blame and creating an attractive 'negative image'. Zarqawi is one of the principle Hollow Lies of the war.

.....Let me offer a theory: Abu Musab al-Zarqawi may actually exist, but his "existence" in the media is an essential element of the Bush Administration's Public Relations strategy to manage perception of the war. He is a personification of malevolent intent: if he wasn't around, we are told to believe, things would sort themselves out, so our motive has to be to crush him instead of confronting the Pentagon's essentially racist, disastrous policies.

.....There's probably a real Zarqawi figure out there, but basically, these days I generally believe he is a media construction designed to provide a narrative that Joe Six Pack can understand. The exciting Zarqawi Chase (with, say, captured laptops and narrow escapes) is the kind of story that the NASCAR dad needs to stave off cognitive dissonance.

Now the Washington Post sets this off:

Military Plays Up Role of Zarqawi: Jordanian Painted As Foreign Threat To Iraq's Stability

By Thomas E. Ricks, Washington Post Staff Writer

Monday, April 10, 2006; Page A01

The U.S. military is conducting a propaganda campaign to magnify the role of the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, according to internal military documents and officers familiar with the program. The effort has raised his profile in a way that some military intelligence officials believe may have overstated his importance and helped the Bush administration tie the war to the organization responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

The documents state that the U.S. campaign aims to turn Iraqis against Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian, by playing on their perceived dislike of foreigners. U.S. authorities claim some success with that effort, noting that some tribal Iraqi insurgents have attacked Zarqawi loyalists.

For the past two years, U.S. military leaders have been using Iraqi media and other outlets in Baghdad to publicize Zarqawi's role in the insurgency. The documents explicitly list the "U.S. Home Audience" as one of the targets of a broader propaganda campaign.

[Sidebar: Two slides from a briefing prepared for Gen. George Casey, the top U.S. commander in Iraq, describe a U.S. military propaganda campaign that was intended to highlight the role of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian terrorist, in the Iraqi insurgency. By emphasizing his foreign origin, the "psychological operations" effort sought to play on a perceived Iraqi dislike of foreigners and so split the insurgency.]

The military's propaganda program largely has been aimed at Iraqis, but seems to have spilled over into the U.S. media. One briefing slide about U.S. "strategic communications" in Iraq, prepared for Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top U.S. commander in Iraq, describes the "home audience" as one of six major targets of the American side of the war.

That slide, created by Casey's subordinates, does not specifically state that U.S. citizens were being targeted by the effort, but other sections of the briefings indicate that there were direct military efforts to use the U.S. media to affect views of the war. One slide in the same briefing, for example, noted that a "selective leak" about Zarqawi was made to Dexter Filkins, a New York Times reporter based in Baghdad. Filkins's resulting article, about a letter supposedly written by Zarqawi and boasting of suicide attacks in Iraq, ran on the Times front page on Feb. 9, 2004.

Leaks to reporters from U.S. officials in Iraq are common, but official evidence of a propaganda operation using an American reporter is rare.

.....It is difficult to determine how much has been spent on the Zarqawi campaign, which began two years ago and is believed to be ongoing. U.S. propaganda efforts in Iraq in 2004 cost $24 million, but that included extensive building of offices and residences for troops involved, as well as radio broadcasts and distribution of thousands of leaflets with Zarqawi's face on them, said the officer speaking on background.

The Zarqawi campaign is discussed in several of the internal military documents. "Villainize Zarqawi/leverage xenophobia response," one U.S. military briefing from 2004 stated. It listed three methods: "Media operations," "Special Ops (626)" (a reference to Task Force 626, an elite U.S. military unit assigned primarily to hunt in Iraq for senior officials in Hussein's government) and "PSYOP," the U.S. military term for propaganda work.

One internal briefing, produced by the U.S. military headquarters in Iraq, said that Kimmitt had concluded that, "The Zarqawi PSYOP program is the most successful information campaign to date."

Damn, skippy. I have rarely seen better evidence that we will have to defend our brains from military psychological operations directly. The public mood is a battlespace (which of course is exploited for Republican partisan political gains).

I can't wait to see if this gets the proper bounce in the media this week - and better yet, hopefully Republicans will explain why military propaganda is good because it makes us feel good.

Strange times. Stay sharp. We could run out of space real fast.

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