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19 April 2008


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michael palmer

Nauseating....sounds like most of the bunch was nothing but military/industrial/media whores doing what whores do.


I thought this brouhaha was first reported back around spring of 2006 when the seven or eight general officers were publicly railing against both the administration and the Pentagon bureaucracy.

These O6-O8 talking heads of the bureaucracy were the counter-balance to retired LTG Van Ripper, MG Batiste, and others.

Jack K


Conflation of terms is a pet peeve of mine, so I appreciate and generally concur with your comments. Thanks.

However, I used the term to imply that the psyops on the American people during the 02/03 marketing phase of the Iraq war is analagous to Volksverhetzung. How else to explain that the American public conflated Iraq with AQ, and was incited to support acts of violence on a part of the (world) population?

James Pratt

The New York Times is caught in a dilemma about Iraq these days. Unlike Vietnam, I believe the ownership of The Times has been in favor of the Iraq War all along as indicated by the clear pro-war bias of the reporters assigned to cover it for the last six years. But The Times also has an interest in maintaining its credibility as the paper of record, so facts that reveal their favored war as a fiasco promoted by liars have to be printed.


Farmer Dan, you struck a nerve. It seems you were being facitious when you said "America is at war." Anyway, I've heard that so much from this administration/Pentagon in their propaganda directed towards the American people. It is probably the most inane talking point of the past 7 years. What is war? Well, this administration has made it a simple tool to further their agenda in Iraq, which has changed, for our consumption, numerous times over the years, but always with the underlying motive of OIL never really disappearing from the blogs. Really, why are we there? This "war" angle is the most ridiculous manifestation of their efforts. WWII was a real war: after the Battle of the Bulge, US forces were hard pressed for manpower - there just did not exist a pool of freshly trained recruits in the numbers that the generals hoped for. Why? Because we actually were at war and every human (American) resource was already in use. Korea was a war, and America fought it to the maximum allowable (i.e. prudent) limit. Then came Vietnam, another war. The draft was in effect, and if you didn't have a deferment (fair or not), then you went. It was a war because of that, and we had half a million troops there for a time. Now comes Ballsy Bush, and by golly we are at WAR!!! Well, look around you here in the good ole USA. Unless you have a direct connection to the GI's actually there, who's to know? Oh, but that is why we don't feel it here - 'cause if we don't stop 'em in Iraq, sure 'nough they will make us feel it right here at home. So pony up the billions of bucks and rest assured - Bush and his Dick will keep us safe, as they conduct this "very necessary war." Or this: how about if we ramp up the forces for a concentrated police action (no, not a "war") and get Bin Laden once and for all, and vindicate those families of 3000 9/11 victims, and send a message to the wannabe terrorists, and not be at war, unless we have to have a REAL war. But, then there's the OIL. Looks like it really is up to the American voter - you want Bush's "war" or face the reality of the new era of expensive fossil fuels. The latter is more fair to our future and our kids future. Yeah, I've had it with this gd "war."


i will try my hand at it parsing the deutsch words since google translate was no help.

agitprop would simply be propganda for agitation or action purposes- to achieve a result.

would be "folk for hate support"= hate crime against the people"= hate crime

remember the german v is a f and the w is v.

to show off my Latin I knowledge, In a similar vein in latin, the j is a y and the c is a k- e.g. yulius kaisaar.


In the US the MSM cleary commit Volksverhetzung against the Palestinians.

Recently my local paper, which only comes out three times a week, but is so right wing that it with no shame or apology carries the Ann Coulter column. Yechh.

It carried a ringing editorial denouncing Prez Carter's meeting with Hamas leaders, damned him w/ laying a wreath on Arafat's tomb. It then resurrected some bus bombing incident attributed to Arafat. So it damned both Hamas and Fatah.

Meanwhile the letters to the editors reflect supportes of this clown running against Rep Walter E Jones, Jr. (R) up for re-election. They accuse Jones of being unpatriotic for wanting to bring the troops home. Jones has zealously supported improving veteran care and bucked the Republican leadership when they tried to gut the VA budget several years ago.


I think of some other former and retired military men who could have served as analysts but were so far off the Pentagon message that they were rarely heard from except by those of us who sought them out. Zinni, Odom and Ritter come immediately to mind.


I kept thinking to myself during the pre and post Iraq war why the corporate media were lining up hacks to provide expert commentary - now we know some of the extent of domestic information operations. The collusion between the Administration and the oligarchs is endemic. I am now convinced that the veins run deep and all we see is the tip of the iceberg. I am also convinced that the depth of treason against the American people is such that none of the perpetrators will be held accountable or brought to justice as that would uncover something massively systemic.

This did not just happen over the past 8 years but has been building over decades. The nexus between the corporate and political elite is longstanding however they have been getting more and more brazen and now are showing us the finger and saying "you can do nothing" we have "full spectrum dominance".

All this became so apparent when the American people spoke in 2006 and Pelosi and the Democrats stated there would be no hearings to determine if there were any constitutional violations that constituted an impeachable offense. We will see that the next Administration, Democratic or Republican will say we need to move on and none will be held accountable for even grievous issues such as treason or war crimes.

No different than the Greenspan "put" that has continuously placed taxpayers at risk to bailout the excesses and misjudgments and even fraud of financial elites, we have inexorably moved down the slippery slope ever since the non-prosecution of the Nixon era "crimes" to allowing all those that perpetrated Iran-Contra to go scot free that those same characters learned that they could go to extremes with no repurcussions. And that's what we have seen particularly over the past 6 years.

We have crossed the rubicon. Can we ever return? How much more extreme will the next episode be like?

Clifford Kiracofe

The Bush Administration out of the gate was organizing its propaganda machine to deceive our republic into an unnecessary war.

1. For example, this from 2002 per the Pentagon "Office of Strategic Influence" linked to the Neocons:
The New York Times reported today that the Pentagon’s Office of Strategic Influence is “developing plans to provide news items, possibly even false ones, to foreign media organizations” in an effort “to influence public sentiment and policy makers in both friendly and unfriendly countries. The OSI was created shortly after September 11 to publicize the U.S. government’s perspective in Islamic countries and to generate support for the U.S.’s “war on terror.” This latest announcement raises grave concerns that far from being an honest effort to explain U.S. policy, the OSI may be a profoundly undemocratic program devoted to spreading disinformation and misleading the public, both at home and abroad. At the same time, involving reporters in Pentagon disinformation puts the lives of working journalists at risk."

2. Not much new under the sun one might say considering the following per WWI by Arthur Ponsonby (1871-1946) from his book "Falsehood in Wartime":

" The object of this volume is not to cast fresh blame on authorities and individuals, nor is it to expose one nation more than another to accusations of deceit. Falsehood is a recognized and extremely useful weapon in warfare, and every country uses it quite deliberately to deceive its own people, to attract neutrals, and to mislead the enemy. The ignorant and innocent masses in each country are unaware at the time that they are being misled, and when it is all over only here and there are the falsehoods discovered and exposed. As it is all past history and the desired effect has been produced by the stories and statements, no one troubles to investigate the facts and establish the truth.

"Lying, as we all know, does not take place only in war-time. Man, it has been said, is not "a veridical animal," but his habit of lying is not nearly so extraordinary as his amazing readiness to believe. It is, indeed, because of human credulity that lies flourish. But in war-time the authoritative organization of lying is not sufficiently recognized. The deception of whole peoples is not a matter which can be lightly regarded....."
Text at:


Col. Lang,
I'm in your state - in Portsmouth. Please pardon my lack of commenting as of late, we're on the road and it's been a string of one nighters. As always, you and SST remain a vital source of information and inspiration. And so much more.
I strongly agree with you.

John Howley

A large part of the blame lies with editors who were not sufficiently skeptical and did not vet conflicts of interest.

Another dollop of blame lies with ourselves, the viewers. In times of fear and stress (911, mushroom clouds, etc) we prefer not to hear authority figures questioned. When we are afraid, we tend to "cling" to authority. A natural reaction but an unfortunate one.

And so the temptation to deploy fear is great for political leaders. (See Machiavelli for further details.)

The NYT article also contained this gem:

Many also shared with Mr. Bush’s national security team a belief that pessimistic war coverage broke the nation’s will to win in Vietnam, and there was a mutual resolve not to let that happen with this war.

This was a major theme, for example, with Paul E. Vallely, a Fox News analyst from 2001 to 2007. A retired Army general who had specialized in psychological warfare, Mr. Vallely co-authored a paper in 1980 that accused American news organizations of failing to defend the nation from “enemy” propaganda during Vietnam.

“We lost the war — not because we were outfought, but because we were out Psyoped,” he wrote. He urged a radically new approach to psychological operations in future wars — taking aim at not just foreign adversaries but domestic audiences, too. He called his approach “MindWar” — using network TV and radio to “strengthen our national will to victory.”


Jack K, Will,
Volksverhetzung has first the hate element, and second a domestic element. I think that at their worst Anne Coulter ('all liberals are traitors for whom hanging is too good') and her ilk commit the elements of the crime.

What you both refer to is certainly propaganda, and at times rather vile one, but the vilification doesn't target parts of the US population. That is more than a technical or semantic difference:

It doesn't disturb the public peace and order in the US - it doesn't pit one part of the US population against an other and creates the risk of inter communal violence. The danger and the 'unwert' (roughly: damnability) inherent in that is in the essence why Volksverhetzung is so specific a crime: It is a crime against the own people.

Bad in their own right, defaming other peoples and countries, or inciting or even preparing for war of aggression are different offences. What you describe is classical demonisation in domestic propaganda, but focused outwards - it targets foreigners in foreign countries.

So far so bad. But it isn't Volksverhetzung. Using the label loosely, and falsely, will gain you nothing. You don't even need it for your argument. Much like comparing or equaling politicians to Hitler, it's a waste of time.

The salient point here is that the Pentagon during Bush's presidency, in all likelihood in violation of the law (surprise!), is engaging in domestic propaganda, aimed directly at the US audience, and that retired Generals as 'military analysts' still try to play with what they apparently see as their old team, rather than providing honest views for the US audience. Doing so they fail as citizens.

In any way, one can get there without labels.


I've been trying to think what questions could have been asked at that meeting which would be construed as being off-the-Reservation. Of course the most potentially egregious, considering that Rumsfeld was there, would have been of the unhelpful, fish-rots-from-the-head variety:

"Say, didn't Les Aspin resign when a national disgrace like this happened on his watch?"

W. Patrick Lang


The discussion at this meeting was a re-statemnt of the things that were in the press then concerning Abu Graib.

My questions were not about that. I critiqued the Rumsfeld reorganization of the Army in some detail. that was not appreciated. pl


Did you hear that Hillary Clinton offered to provide a nuclear shield umbrella for all of the Arab states of the Persian Gulf in an offhand comment on Friday (4/18/08)? This was discussed on the David Gregory show on MSNBC today, 4/21/08. Joe Scarborough former Congressman and Eugene Robinson, an assistant editor at the Washington Post, both thought this was a shocking statement for a presidential candidate to make. Robinson said such a drastic change in doctrine should not be made in such a casual offhanded manner.

Sidney O. Smith III

The key, it seems, is to never sell out.
“To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, thou canst not then be false to any man.” W.S.


What I want to know,

why can't pentagon makes stuff up and lie for free online, just like everybody else?

Why do they have to waste tax payer money for something that obviously doesn't pass chuckle test.

(anybody still remembers zarqawi letters, endless success of killing no.2, Saddam talks to Al Qaeda, Major operation in north east propince. etc. etc...?)

The lies weren't that good, it wasn't even entertaining.

If we gonna spend public money on Propaganda, can we AT LEAST have it come with swelling music and giant military parade and crazy leaders giving froothing speech with funny military gesture?

Margaret Steinfels

And then, we must recognize the degree to which lower levels in DOD, the military, and middle-level bureaucrats in the State Dept. probably believed all of this. Or are they more skeptical than the rest of us?


Pat, if the dial is turned to prick mode: why bother with the observation, the latent sentimentality? This was done to sprinkle some candy, to reward true patriotism. What did Livy say? Down with the defeated. Something.


I don't know how you feel about such things, Mr. Lang, but I've passed on to you an award called the Thinking Blogger award. If ever a place deserves that appellation, this one does. Here's a link with an explanation of sorts.


my [perhaps too] free paraphrase of M. Steinfels post: who knew?

I have been wondering that. Terry Gross's interview with Lincoln Chafee last week suggests the answer is, "many if not most people" and early on. In his case it was from day 1 after the SC decision. He is unlikely to have kept quiet about his experience with Cheney, and the grapevine in DC is as efficient as in any small town.

Another too free paraphrase, this time of Chafee: The Democrats failed the country. They have given us anorchy (sic) [an- = without; -orchy = possessing testicles].

stephen pelletiere

Congratulations. It took courage to do what you did back then in writing that Koolaid piece.
Steve Pelletiere


Think of 4GW what you will, here's a nice one by Fabius Maximus on Information Operations. His bottom line: Armies fight best on their home ground.

Our government’s ability to understand and manipulate public opinion in Iraq has proven to be minimal, but it does so with grace and skill at home (...) The closer to home, the more effective are one’s operations.

stephen pelletiere

Congratulations. It took courage to do what you did back then when you wote that Koolaid article.
Steve Pelletiere

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