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2 May 2010
This article is part of the series CIA Red Cell.
| 1 | 2 | 3 |
CIA Seeks to Influence Opinion on Wars - 3

By Daan de Wit
Translated by Ben Kearney

Prior to the release of the video by WikiLeaks, the website published a remarkable document. It was the CIA Red Cell recommendations as to what the best strategy would be to influence the European population so that it would continue to support the mission in Afghanistan. The revealing document was received with astonishment. But the reality is that the contents of the document prove the rule, not the exception.

The first group of people to be targeted in a military conflict is the public. They are the first victims, for in a military conflict war is only one stage of the battle. The biggest battle is for the hearts and minds of the public at large.

In my book The Next War - The Attack on Iran - A Preview, I've included some excerpts showing that the CIA document is nothing new. The previous parts of this series contained a number of examples. A few excerpts from the book are included in this article as well. Just like in part two, they cover the military analysts who were deployed by the Pentagon in the news media to promote the war in Iraq.

Page 158: 'In January of 2005 retired U.S. Army Colonel Ken Allard is a guest on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews. After the broadcast Allard emails Larry Di Rita, the most important assistent to Donald Rumsfeld, about his success in taking on journalist Seymour Hersh in connection with his reporting on Pentagon plans for an invasion of Iran: ‘As you may have seen on MSNBC, I attributed a lot of what [Hersh] said to disgruntled CIA employees who simply should be taken out and shot.'

The Pentagon refers to the military analysts as 'message force multipliers' who convey their 'themes and messages' to millions of Americans 'in the form of their own opinions'. For this reason they are known in the Pentagon by another designation, namely 'surrogates'. The analysts are part of a so-called mind war, says a Fox analyst who happily contributes to the project - retired General Paul Vallely, a specialist in psychological warfare. But their interests don't serve the Pentagon alone; the military analysts represent more than one hundred and fifty military contractors in total.

Message force multiplier
One of the 'message force multipliers' is retired General Thomas McInerney. Since 2002 he has appeared on air 141 times to put forward 'his opinion' - his colleague David L. Grange has appeared on television no less than 921 times. In one of McInerney's appearances on Fox News in April of 2008, he said that for every IED that went off in Iraq, 2 IED's should be set off in Iran. The former general sits on the board of directors of various companies who have defense contracts with the Pentagon, among them Alloy Surfaces Company. This company has contracts for munitions and explosives, and has seen the value of its contracts rise from 15 million dollars in 2002 to 169 million dollars in 2006.

Andrew Heyward, president of CBS News from 1996 to 2005, has nothing good to say about the Pentagon's propaganda program, calling it '..a deliberate attempt to deceive the public.' This even though his network was one of the broadcasters who made use of the Pentagon analysts. Former Major-General John Batiste isn't part of this group, though he was an analyst for CBS News for a while. He works with, among others, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, and sees how the Iraq war took shape prior to September 11, 2001. Later he takes command of the U.S. Army's First Infantry Division in Iraq. While his colleagues continue to spread the Pentagon's good news, Batiste is fired by CBS News in 2007 after he criticizes President Bush in a political ad and was thus no longer deemed to be objective.

Research shows that major American media outlets have either hosted or cited the military analysts more than 4500 times. At the same time it appears that of the 1300 news items dispatched in the week after it's made known that the Pentagon is deploying internally trained analysts, only two items are devoted to this scoop, both of them by PBS's NewsHour.'

Operation Mass Appeal
From the chapter The lead-up to the war against Iraq: 'According to former weapons inspector Scott Ritter, it's not the first time that the British intelligence service MI6 is making use of unsubstantiated information, and it could be an extension of a covert program which he personally took part in: Operation Mass Appeal. The goal of the MI6 operation is to influence British public opinion on the danger of Saddam Hussein with manipulated information.

Stories about how Saddam is concealing weapons of mass destruction and building up his arsenal of weapons are placed in Polish, Indian and South African media, which can then be referred to by the British government. By way of this manipulation, the British government hopes to gain public support for sanctions and military action against Iraq. In 1997 Ritter is recruited by MI6 for this program, and he decides to cooperate after receiving permission from Richard Butler, his superior at UNSCOM. After six months Ritter ends his participation in the operation.

Ritter: 'The goal was to convince the public that Iraq was a much greater danger than it actually was.' According to MI6 the program is a success. In 2003 the existence of Operation Mass Appeal is officially confirmed. MI6 denies that use has been made of unsubstantianted information.

Operation Rockingham
Operation Rockingham takes place at the same time as Operation Mass Appeal. Former British Minister Michael Meacher writes that it appears from the testimony of Brigadier Richard Holmes before Parliament's Defence Select Committee that 'within, therefore, the UK intelligence establishment - MI6, MI5, GCHQ and defence intelligence - Rockingham clearly had a central, though covert, role in seeking to prove an active Iraqi WMD programme.' The information from Operation Rockingham and MI6 is processed by the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC), the organization responsible for among other things the 2002 September dossier of British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Scott Ritter confirms the existence of the Rockingham unit. It was established in 1991 by the Defence Intelligence Staff, a division of the British Ministry of Defence, and functions up until 2003, the year in which the Iraq war begins. Ritter, who claims to have been personally acquainted with the members of the Rockingham team, characterizes the unit as 'dangerous', in part due to the support it receives from the government. According to Ritter the policy comes 'from the very highest levels [...] Rockingham was spinning reports and emphasizing reports that showed non-compliance (by Iraq with UN inspections) and quashing those which showed compliance.' The information presented was very selectively chosen, a style which was later employed in America by the Office of Special Plans. Rockingham had to produce information that proved that Iraq was armed to the teeth even though 'UNSCOM was showing the opposite'.

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