Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld created the Office of Strategic Influence shortly after the 9/11 attacks to bolster support for the Bush administration’s war on terror.  Air Force Brigadier General Simon P. Worden, OSI’s director, envisioned the organization as having “a broad mission ranging from ‘black’ campaigns that use disinformation and other covert activities to ‘white’ public affairs that rely on truthful news releases.”

The furor over his establishment of what amounted to an Orwellian Ministry of Truth caused Rumsfeld to disband the OSI in February 2002, but he later promised that when it came to manipulating public perceptions to suit his agenda, “I’m gonna keep doing every single thing that needs to be done and I have.”

There’s one nice thing you can say about Rumsfeld: he keeps his word.

Before its timely end, Rumsfeld’s OSI spawned an assortment of covert propaganda caliphates.  We only recently learned of the clandestine operation that uses retired military officers to place administration war propaganda in news network programming, a stratagem that began with the run up to the Iraq war and is still in place.  The Office of Special Plans (OSP) helped cook the intelligence on Iraq and create the case for invading it, and the White House Iraq Group (WHIG) peddled the invasion to the American public.

In June 2006, journalist Larisa Alexandrovna and others exposed the Iranian Directorate, a spin-off of the OSP that delivered cherry-picked intelligence on Iran to Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney.  For evidence that the Iranian Directorate is still in action, one need look no further than an April 26 New York Times article titled “Questions Linger on Scope of Iran’s Threat in Iraq.”

Though the article ostensibly refutes the Bush administration’s claims of Iran arming and aiding militia groups in Iraq, it actually repeats and reinforces those accusations.

“Shipments of arms” continue to flow from Iran to Iraq, according to the article.  Iran seems to be focusing now on “training Iraqi Shiite fighters inside Iran.”  The Iranians provide “weapons to militias fighting the Shiite-led government in Baghdad as well as to militias supporting that government.”  “American commanders” now have “a clearer picture of how Iranian weapons have entered Iraq.”  “Iran’s Quds Force” has developed “a formal and sophisticated training program.”

By what burden of proof did these condemning allegations earn their way into America’s newspaper of record?  Why, by the brave new world order’s highest standard of bedrock evidence: the testimony of anonymous “officials.”

That’s What Everybody Says So It Must Be True

Dick Cheney is the post-modern master of feeding “background” information to the press to create a one-man echo chamber.  To review his technique: Cheney gathers his press retinue in a room and shuts the door.  Some time later the door opens and the retinue rushes out and writes multiple stories that cite a White House source and a senior official and a confidante of the president and so on, all of whom spoke under condition of anonymity because all of them are Dick Cheney.  If you get four or five “officials” pulling the same number Cheney pulls, by the time lipstick neocons like Joe Lieberman and Lindsey Graham start chanting the talking points on the floor of the Senate nobody questions what they say because, Heck, everybody already knows that!

The authors of “Questions Linger”–Mark Mazzetti, Steven Lee Myers and Thom Shanker– directly or indirectly quoted unnamed officials an astounding 30 times, which must be an unofficial record for a single newspaper article:

Officials say…intelligence and administration officials said…American officials have publicly portrayed…military, intelligence and administration officials showed…officials said…some officials said…a senior official familiar with the intelligence about Iran said in an interview…officials said…top American officials in Iraq have portrayed…none of the officials interviewed disputed…officials said…the officials offered an assessment…statements by Mr. Bush and other officials…officials declined to detail publicly…one of the officials said…according to two senior administration officials…those and other officials said…A senior administration official described…the officials said…the officials said…the officials said…a senior official said…the officials said…the official said…the officials said…a senior official familiar with the intelligence reports on Iran said in an interview…according to other officials…the officials said…officials said…according to a senior American official…

When you read the entire Times article, please don’t confuse what the “senior official familiar with the intelligence about Iran said in an interview” with what the “senior official familiar with the intelligence reports on Iran said in an interview.”  Those were two completely different senior officials from two completely separate interviews, I’ll bet you a wet new dollar bill they were.  Also, don’t worry about what the difference is between an administration official, an intelligence official and a military official, or about who among the three of them is the most reliable, and whatever you do, don’t try to figure out just how senior all those senior officials are, or if any of them are as senior as top American officials; you’ll just get more confused.

And if it seems to you that the article essentially says that Iran hasn’t stopped beating its wife like it promised to, but that’s okay because Iran’s not beating her as bad as we thought, but it also seems like the article never quite shows that anybody ever proved Iran was beating its wife in the first place, you’re in good company.  

But gosh, it’s all so official sounding, isn’t it?

Related article: “When Did Iran Stop Beating Its Wife?

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes at Pen and Sword . Jeff’s novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books) is on sale now.

“Populated by outrageous characters and fueled with pompous outrage, Huber’s irreverent broadside will pummel the funny bone of anyone who’s served.” — Publishers Weekly

“A remarkably accomplished book, striking just the right balance between ridicule and insight.” — Booklist

View the trailer here.

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