Donald Rumsfeld’s short lived Office of Strategic Influence spawned a termites’ nest of truth ministries; the Office of Special Plans, the Information Operations Task Force and the Iran Directorate are just a few of the ones we know about.  

The Pentagon’s latest information warfare effort involves a network of foreign language web sites that promote U.S. interests.  I doubt whether anyone at the Pentagon seriously thinks foreign language web sites are going to win over any foreign hearts and minds, but foreign language web sites could be neat placea to plant covert propaganda that can migrate into the domestic press without anyone knowing it originated at the Pentagon, huh?

According to USA Today, “Journalism groups say the sites are deceptive and easily could be mistaken for independent news.”

Great. Caesar’s. Ghost.  The time for journalism groups to get concerned about Pentagon propaganda being mistaken for independent news was several years ago.  

How Many Fingers Am I Holding Up?

I’m frankly surprised that any journalism group in America would still refer to such a thing as “independent news.”  Like George Orwell’s hapless 1984 protagonist Winston Smith, we are awash in a sea of political messages, and these days most of those messages seem to emanate from the Pentagon.  America in the time of Bush the younger has become, above all else, a militaristic oligarchy, and the Department of Defense is the ruling government agency.  Who better than the DoD then to take charge of the Big Brother Broadcast?

The Pentagon has plenty of allies in its information campaign against the American public.  By now there’s barely a commercial news organization in the country that isn’t a habitual accomplice.  

At one end of the bandwidth we have conservative talk radio, FOX News and periodicals like Bill Kristol’s Weekly Standard.  These outlets target the segment of the American right that given the question “Nose is to face as blank is to foot” will skip over “toe,” “arch,” and “heel” and answer “shoe.”  Sean and Rush and Bill K. and Bill O. aren’t the Pentagon’s only exho chamberlains, though, and the analogically challenged aren’t the only ones buying the message.

For evidence that the so called “liberal” mainstream press that helped Dick Cheney’s White House Information Group sell the invasion of Iraq is still a vital venue of covert propaganda, one need look no further than the fact that Michael R. Gordon, Judith Miller’s Nigergate partner in crime, still writes for the New York Times.  It doesn’t help that supposedly seasoned military correspondents get goose bumps every time they write about watching General David Petraeus challenge buck privates to one-arm push up contests, or that news editors have granted administration “officials” unrestricted license to spike the public information system with brainwash behind a mask of anonymity.  And I keep wondering how much longer big media will continue to report on the air strikes Mr. Bush has been conducting in Somalia and Pakistan before they start asking when and how Congress gave him permission to do that.

The alternative press has brought important revelations to public attention like Dick Cheney’s attempts at fomenting war with Iran and Admiral William Fallon’s attempts to put Cheney and his neocon “crazies” back in their box.  On May 7, the administration once again failed to deliver on its promise to show proof that Iran is arming Iraqi militants when none of the huge cache of “Iranian” weapons captured in Basra and Karbala turned out to have come from Iran.  That story should have been shouted from rooftops for days, but the only item I could find about it on the web was a piece in the LA Times blog section posted by Tina Susman in Baghdad.  The New York Times and Washington Post didn’t run a single word on the story.  

Can anyone make a compelling argument that the mainstream press isn’t totally immersed in the Bush tank?

Unfortunately, the alternative press also at times takes the sins of the establishment to new sub-standards.  I am predisposed to believe a story that begins, “Dick Cheney practices ritual Satan Worship” until I get to the part that reads “according to those familiar with his evil.”  Thus, I was highly critical of a recent CounterPunch article by Andrew Cockburn that described a finding by Mr. Bush that would escalate covert actions against Iran that “according to those familiar according to those familiar with its contents, [is] `unprecedented in its scope.'”  I can’t help but wonder if all of “those familiar” with the finding used the exact words “unprecedented in its scope” when they told Cockburn about it.  

The American Conservative, perhaps best described as the voice of the alternative right, ran a related piece on May 9 titled “War With Iran Might Be Closer Than You Think” by former CIA agent Philip Giraldi.  Giraldi says “There is considerable speculation and buzz in Washington today suggesting that the National Security Council has agreed in principle to proceed with plans to attack an Iranian al-Qods-run camp that is believed to be training Iraqi militants.”

We’d be living in a much different world if all the speculation and buzz in Washington came true.  For one thing, Karl Rove would be doing time for perjury and obstruction of justice instead of knocking down major mammon as a political analyst on FOX.  

Pardon my skepticism, but I can’t help but wonder if the sources for these kinds of stories are the D.C. Generation Y types who color the PowerPoint slides and run the 4-in-1 printer.  I also wonder if those kiddies aren’t being fed a load of tripe to regurgitate to their pals in the alternative press so they’ll put it on the info highway and make themselves sound like they hang out in belfries after work.  

Don’t get me wrong.  Like my friend Larisa Alexandrovna of Raw Story and at Largely, I’m “convinced that the Cheney-side of the Bush-Cheney administration will take a scorch and burn policy on their way out.”  In fact, I fully expect Cheney to try to torch the entire planet earth before he moves on to the number two spot in hell.  I’m just not wholly certain that the exit strategy includes a full bull military strike on Iran.  

Making everyone think the administration will pull the dreaded October Surprise might just be a ruse to keep everyone from focusing on the administration’s real goal.  I’m quite sure that goal is to transform the Middle East into a neo-incarnation of Cold War Europe in which the neoconservative cabal can keep America entangled in a low intensity but expensive armed conflict of convenience that can endure for a a hundred, a thousand or a million years (whatever it takes!).  

It may require a strike on Iran to achieve that; it may not.  Truly diabolical strategies can succeed in many ways.

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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