Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
April 10, 2006

Zarqawi Blowback

Some nine month ago I came up with a scheme how to Make Your Own "Militant linked to Zarqawi arrested" newsbrief and include some twenty examples of the real ones that did ran on the wire services.

Now the obvious is confirmed. Zarqawi was, at least to large part, a propaganda effort of the U.S. military.

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."

The military asserts that the operation was targeted on Iraqis. But what success was gained by using Zarqawi. How did leverage xenophobia response help the effort in Iraq? I fail to find any positive effect for the Iraqi but also for the U.S. occupation.

But then, maybe that was not the idea at all. See how Bush did use the operation:

Q The Vice President, who I see standing over there, said yesterday that Saddam Hussein has long-established ties to al Qaeda. As you know, this is disputed within the U.S. intelligence community. Mr. President, would you add any qualifiers to that flat statement? And what do you think is the best evidence of it?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Zarqawi. Zarqawi is the best evidence of connection to al Qaeda affiliates and al Qaeda. He's the person who's still killing. He's the person -- and remember the email exchange between al Qaeda leadership and he, himself, about how to disrupt the progress toward freedom?

This was during a press conference on June 15, 2004. Bush was using the content of a military PSYOPS operation to justify the ongoing war as part of his reelection campaign. There it was successful. (Could someone ask the White House if/how Rove was involved in this?)

But as Billmon wrote in reference to the 'Make Your Own' post:

Looking at the episodes mentioned by Bernhard, I'd say the Pentagon is in some danger of overdoing it. There appear to be enough "top Al Qaeda aides" in Iraq to fill Shea Stadium. Zarqawi's inner circle alone would probably take up the entire upper deck. This is not only bad news, but bad storytelling. Shit, the way things are going, I wouldn't be too surprised if some day soon Centcom announces it's captured the Joker and the Riddler, and is hard on the trail of the Penguin. Is it any wonder the ratings are down?
Call it a lack of imagination or just a poor grasp of screenwriting fundamentals, but I get the distinct impression the writers (and the producer and the director) of this show don't have the slightest idea how to end it.

Nine month on we see that Billmon was right. The only idea they have come with to end the crisis is to expand it into Iran. Not really a promising solution.

I doubt that leverage xenophobia response at the domestic front and in Iraq achieved anything but -maybe- the Bush reelection. Bad enough you might say, but other than that?

Bush's domestic poll ratings, especially on Iraq, are the lowest ever. The Iraqis stopped believing in a positive occupation intent a long time ago - the few that ever did so. The military in Iraq, in self-deception, concentrated on raids looking for foreign terrorists while behind there back the local guerilla could build the infrastructure for the coming remake of the Tet offensive.

There will be more negative effects to this PSYOPS operation. Now that the scheme is in the open - and such operations always tend to become public knowledge at one time -, the administrations and the military tenability is deeply hurt.

Whatever General Kimmitt may claim in future press conferences will be doubted. Whenever Bush will talk of terrorists people will think terrorists->Zarqawi->PSYOPS.

The "Leaker in Chief" already stuck, now "Liar in Chief" might be added.

I believe Kimmitt's judgement of the 'most successful information campaign' will turn out premature and wrong. The operation has further lowered the standing of Bush and of the military. Blowback time one might say.

Posted by b on April 10, 2006 at 18:59 UTC | Permalink


from that wapo article

The documents explicitly list the "U.S. Home Audience" as one of the targets of a broader propaganda campaign

will something become of this, or will there be a rush to see who can be the first congresscritter to change the law & make it legal to direct propaganda campaigns internally?

Posted by: b real | Apr 10 2006 19:44 utc | 1

Correct, Bernard: it's all a poorly crafted theater play -- swallowed whole by the great bulk of American propaganda consumers.

That it's taken five years for the tide to turn against W is disheartening; it's hard for me to believe it's true, regardless of the polling evidence. He and his puppet-masters have gotten away with so much for so long, with such complicity from virtually every institutional power center in the country, that I can't bring myself to hope that the end is finally in sight. Will Iran have to be nuked first? Will the entire Middle East have to erupt against the Western occupiers? Will the U.S. have to endure another 9/11 between now and November/January?

I find myself in the Kurt Nimmo school of bullshit detection, especially with regard to the massive false-flag operation known as "al Qaeda" and "international terrorism" -- I think the great bulk of it is a direct product of U.S./U.K./Israeli covert ops, fortified and mythologized by corporatist media here and abroad -- and I hope for the good of all of us that the "Straussian neocons" (Kurt's term) can be cleaned out of power without the world being destroyed in the process.

If it's not too late.

Posted by: Michael Hawkins | Apr 10 2006 19:47 utc | 2

excellent post bernard. you rock.

when i read the Z story this morn i thought to myself, yeah, i alreay know that. we are so lucky to get our news here on moon, months before reality sets in elsewhere;)

Posted by: annie | Apr 10 2006 20:40 utc | 3

whoops, sorry i spelled your name wrong again bernhard

Posted by: annie | Apr 10 2006 20:41 utc | 4

Will Iran have to be nuked first? Will the entire Middle East have to erupt against the Western occupiers? Will the U.S. have to endure another 9/11 between now and November/January?

This is what worries me. A cabal as powerful as this is not going to back down, particularly when (in their estimation) the cost is not theirs to bear and they can monopolize the upside. The only way to inhibit their actions is to establish a credible threat of repercussions against them personally, both internally (eg. impeachment) and externally (eg. war-crimes prosecution). I don't yet see this happening and they will be doing all they can to keep opposition fragmented and on the back foot.

Posted by: PeeDee | Apr 10 2006 23:47 utc | 5

The original post was awesome.

Posted by: whisker | Apr 11 2006 2:42 utc | 6

"I doubt that leverage xenophobia response at the domestic front and in Iraq achieved anything but -maybe- the Bush reelection. Bad enough you might say, but other than that?"

the failed port deal.

Posted by: anna missed | Apr 11 2006 3:40 utc | 7

I'd like to chime in with all those praising Bernhard's
post, one more example of why his work here is so gratefully acknowledged. If you produce only one post like the last one every couple of months, and relax the rest of the time, it's still more than enough to justify keeping MOA open. So relax for a while, if you
so choose, and if by chance you'd like something to deconstruct while relaxing I'd love to read you dissection of Laurie Mylroie and the DIA's latest offering

Laurie Mylroie and the DIA's latest offering

subsequent postings
at the same site. This seems to be
part of an orchestrated counter-offensive against the
depredations wreaked on Bushian redoubts by hordes of
merciless bloggers, but more than mere suspicion is needed to extinguish this latest bit of arson masquerading as a smoking gun. Of course, such
"evidence" is part of a dialogue of the deaf between
Left and Right Blogistan, but at least it is a documented
assertion rather than a mere concatenation of vituperation directed at "the left". Since we can expect this to bubble up to the electoral surface in time
for the November appointment, a reasoned rebuttal would
be useful as well as intellectually satisfying. The "original" document in Arabic seems to download very slowly, and is quite large.

Posted by: Hannah K. O'Luthon | Apr 11 2006 6:01 utc | 8

It seems Robin Cook understood the nature of al qaeda and Zarqawi and tried to warn us log ago. No endorsement of the linked website, by the way, but it has the link to the original Guardian article.

Posted by: ww | Apr 11 2006 6:56 utc | 9

I'm going to have to weigh in with PeeDee above. I've long believed, as did the President of Syria, that the bogeyman of Al Qaeda (and bin Laden, and Zarqawi) seemed to be lifted from a hysterical James Bond movie's screenplay and never had much basis in any objective reality. As long as the majority swallowed this tripe, though, the Rovians were dangerous and insufferable (zum Beispiel; "We have to torture people because what if a terrorist had a bomb set to go off in a major city and Bruce Willis only had an hour to find and defuse it?")

But now, imagine what these sociopaths would have to resort to when people don't believe the sociopathic fantasies they are peddling anymore! I know that weasels get pretty dangerous when they are cornered, I shudder to imagine what a desperate fascist is capable of. Mere descriptions of unlikely supervilliany would no longer be enough for them to continue to remain in power; I'm pretty sure they'd be forced to resort to something more concrete once the average folks threaten to kick their Kool-Aid habit. And, as PeeDee notes, their destructiveness is entirely subsidized by others.

Posted by: Monolycus | Apr 11 2006 7:41 utc | 10

Both Britain and Spain have recently come out with the fact that in their respective bombings there were ‘no links to Al-Q.’ Some nutty U Prof in Britain has even claimed that the London bombings were a ‘demonstration’. So, the London bombing is now a ‘home grown’ affair; in Spain, of course, the link to Morocco remains, but in Morocco, once more, there are ‘home grown’ terrorists. (Remember the bombing in Casablanca...)

Of course, the whole of Europe is very sore at Morocco. Spain ceded the Western Sahara in the middle 70’s, and it was promptly squatted by Morocco and Mauritania. Over the years, King Hassan II and now Mohammed VI have defeated every single EU and International instance, including the US, in the shape of James Baker, who, with Koffi Annan, was the only person to move that dossier a couple of inches forward. Even Baker gave up.

I don’t want to drag in extraneous material here, just to say that people’s interpretations and finger pointing is very much function of perceptions and past history, and the present zeitgeist - AlQ is like a World-Wide Thematic Apperception test - each Gvmt. uses it to its own purposes. And the people follow...thats what you get when you set up straw men, they are exploited by others too. Of course the US did not care.

So it is significant that both these Gvmts. - or their media, in part, which amounts to the same thing - have now more or less given up on the Al Q terror trail, if in a very muted way. Bliar will continue to spout terror..Bush will continue to invoke 9/11, etc. These actions are designed only to keep the convinced on board - at least they should not be lost, as they represent roughly half the people who vote. That is why it is necesary to keep beating the terror drum.

Posted by: Noisette | Apr 11 2006 19:54 utc | 11

I shudder to imagine what a desperate fascist is capable of

It doesn´t need much. And bigger does not meen better. The Antrax scre was intentionally held quite small. As was the Reichstag fire. Imagine a terrorist burning down Congress. That even - mediawise - be more efficient that to have it smashed by a plane.

Posted by: b | Apr 11 2006 20:39 utc | 12

I shudder to imagine what a desperate fascist is capable of

Okay. What would they (try to) pull off that would implicate Iran? A twofer?

Posted by: beq | Apr 11 2006 20:53 utc | 13

beq, the earlier link about liz cheney's ISOG group, i don't really see the difference between this and the OSP. the stated mission daughter leads ‘cold war’ on mullahs is for regime change in iran.

Her official title is deputy assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs and she is in charge of spending the $85m (£48m) — up from $10m last year — recently allocated to promote democracy in Iran. Much of it will be spent on broadcasting the views of exiles, dissidents and reformers inside Iran.

who's their chabali?

Posted by: annie | Apr 11 2006 21:44 utc | 14

@Bernhard and beq

In principle I agree that bigger isn't always necessarily better, but I also think that the Reichstag fire (as well as the politically useless anthrax scare) occured during a different psychological climate. People at that time had not been inurred by nearly seven years of scaremongering. Just as Billmon described in his recent Mutually Assured Dementia posting, even the spectre of nuclear war has become something of a yawner after nearly a decade of phantom terrorists with their imaginary dirty bombs.

Unlike the German's attachment to the Reichstag building, the average American has little love for the building where Congress meets. If it were incinerated seven years ago by a "lone nut", it would probably have been met with some subdued applause in most American circles... less subdued if Congress were actually in session at the time.

But, as beq implied, there is political capital to be gained by implicating Iran. There is also political capital to be gained by hobbling the US Congress as a law-making body. These two factors could dovetail nicely if one happened to be a malicious dictator who was losing political capital, faced censure domestically and met with resistance for the crazy military scheme they had in mind. In this case, the only rational thing for an irrational person to do would be to manufacture a reason to actually employ the shadow government contingency that was so carefully put into place in 2001.

Posted by: Monolycus | Apr 12 2006 4:39 utc | 15

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