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Deploying the Right, penetrating the Left, how the "Discrediting Committee" works: Salon, NYT, and Ledeen, the real scandal of the Abu Ghraib picture

Posted in the database on Thursday, March 30th, 2006 @ 19:11:59 MST (1113 views)
by Burt Scully    Online Journal  

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One of the most bizarre media tricks we were spooned-fed over the last month was the little psychological warfare drama organized around the issue of torture in Abu Ghraib.

The New York Times published an interview with one of the many prisoners tortured in Abu Ghraib, Ali Shalal Qaissi, now living in Jordan. Qaissi is the leader of an association of the former prisoners of Abu Ghraib and he is trying to have at least a little part of the truth about the torture of prisoners in Iraq come out. Susan Burke, the Philadelphia lawyer who is representing Mr. Qaissi and other former prisoners in a lawsuit against civilian interrogators and translators, has explained in great and compelling details how this interview really worked. And, of course there are official documents confirming the paper work used to set up the tortures, here, here, and here.

And for a background including documents, pictures and films go here and here.

This initial timid attempt to claim the right to speak for those who were tortured and degraded by the whitened sepulchers that had claimed to the world they were invading Iraq to stop torture and to bring democracy did not go unpunished. Indeed, in a situation of generalized lies supported by an enormous media apparatus which has sold out or been intimidated by the dictatorial power of the US government and elite, the simple affirmation of basic truths is, rightly, considered dangerous and intolerable.

Such a power is so arrogant and overwhelming that it has established that the truth is what it says is the truth. This is not an exaggeration, it is a statement of a fact. And in order to enforce this official truth, the dictatorial power has created an enormous, unprecedented, apparatus of propaganda, intimidation, and distortion that has been progressively taking over even the servile news of just a few years ago. By implementing what fascism had only tried, this arrogant power has organized a large network of mignons which is capable of being deployed in a swarming (SWARMING) fashion against those who threaten to break the wall of the big lie.

And so, we have today Fox news et similia in the US; and we have the creation of similar operations in many countries. Media that fill their mouths with the words democracy, freedom, and truth while being their paid executioner. A population that is obviously against the war, against torture, against dictatorship, and against invasions has been intimidated and has lost the most fundamental precondition for democracy and freedom: the ability to express in a meaningful and concrete way what they think. This population has been, intentionally, persuaded that what they think is of no consequence and that what they want has no effect. As in any fascist system, the purpose is to break the resistance of the population and to force them to go to whoever seems the strongest for protection. And the strongest appears to be, for the moment, the likes of O’Reilly and other demagogical liars with the license to intimidate.

This, however, is only a part of the story. The fact is that no Fascism has magic power to control a victim population forever. A spontaneous and, in fact, insuppressible resistance has emerged. It has emerged without, and actually despite, what is presented officially as the institutions of the “opposition.” But the Cheney, Rumsfeld, and Roves of this country have, of course, also, shall we say, a left hand. We saw how the New York Times was used by the psychological warfare and propaganda offices of the Pentagon with Judith Miller’s “revelations” of the nonexistent weapons of mass destruction. We saw how the “liberal” New York Times supplied the best cover to spread that line while being attacked with all the expected vulgarity by the likes of Fox News. It is a perfect system of weight and counterweight that, in the best ying-yang tradition, allows the powers that be to control both, its side and the “other side.” Nothing is really new in fact, any unlawful elite that is determined to govern against the will and the welfare of its population knows that, for example, its control would be more secure if it can use -- in a coordinated fashion -- both police and organized crime -- i.e., if that elite can pull the strings of the law enforcers and the law breakers, the terrorists and the antiterrorists . . . Everyone has his role in the greater scheme, but only if they respond to the puppet master.

So, it wouldn’t be surprising to find that this power has been interested in placing his controlled assets deep inside what is officially perceived as the opposite camp. It does not mean that they can totally control any opposition. The opposition to dictatorship and brutality (torture, for example) is something normal in every human being. No, the trick consists in trying to penetrate, with operatives or controlled useful idiots, any organized form of opposition and to try to subvert it from the inside. It does not always work, of course, but the attempt to do so is what one should expect from such unlawful power. So, when the most conscious elements of a population, deprived of viable institutions and denied a free media and a voice, turn towards new creative solutions like the online blogs, make no mistake that the powers-that-be will try to get inside. They have a huge apparatus, maybe even militarily organized, that is familiar with the Internet (is anybody surprised?) and trained in provocations and “Chaos & Confusion.”

There are certain special moments, however, in which this apparatus runs the risk of being exposed and unmasked. Some informer observers believe that the present situation -- characterized by a large majority of the population being disgusted with the war in Iraq and the criminal insanity of the elite, and rapidly becoming immune to the stimula of fascist propagandists à la O’Reilly -- is potentially one of those moments. When the situation is ripe, as it appears to be now, a relatively small event is enough to produce a chain reaction.

Such a “relatively small event” could very well be the mobilization organized by the secret apparatus of provocation and distortion directed at stopping the truth on the torture in Iraq. What we are doing with this short report is an experiment, and we invite everybody who cares for their country and their own future to do the same, the results could be positively surprising. It could be a first example on how to unmask the “apparatus.”

These are the elements that we have:

1) The tortures that took place, and apparently continue to take place, in Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, Afghanistan, and many other locations in Iraq and elsewhere -- these tortures have popped up in such a way that they are undeniable.

2) The US military -- either because there is an internal resistance in the military itself, or in order to maintain its cover by throwing a small bone to the general outrage -- have themselves opened an investigation and admitted that cases of torture took place.

3) A cover up operation developed with show trials in which the “few rotten apples” were cut loose, but, on the other side, it was determined that the “accepted and unchallengeable truth” was that there was no complicity aside from the “lone torturers.”

4) In particular, despite the evidence, it was determined that the “acceptable truth” holds that the higher level of the Pentagon had nothing to do with ordering torture, despite the evidence available.

5) If the “acceptable truth” is to be pushed down the throat of the majority of the people, then no political institution or major media should be able to oppose such an “acceptable truth.”

6) In order to do that it is necessary to activate an operation of blackmailing, discrediting, confusion, and intimidation.

7) Such an operation must be activated whenever the holy lie of the “acceptable truth” is jeopardized.

8) Thus, if one could discover one of the trigger points that necessarily leads to an activation of the “apparatus,” if one is able to identify clearly which action leads to a reaction by that apparatus, then one would see precisely how the apparatus works; who is part of that apparatus (both in the pro-war camp and otherwise); who is susceptible of being mobilized by that apparatus (by conscious decision or by indirect influence); which media organs , which organs, groups, blogs etc are part of the “rapid reaction response” of the apparatus.

9) In the case of the revelations on the torture in Abu Ghraib, we have a manual-like example. As said before, Ali Shalal Qaissi, one of the tortured prisoners, took the first steps to organize the survivors of the torture camp. The organization does not scream, does not accept provocations, does not use violent words; it just pushes for the truth -- the truth impressed in their skin -- to come out.

10) The potential consequences of such a rupture of the “accepted truth” is huge. The apparatus has a few options. It can try to engineer a provocation in order to extremize or fundamentalize the organization of the survivors, and then denounce it as extremist, fundamentalist and violent. It is obvious that the apparatus prefers always and in any case to deal with an adversary that can be presented as anti-democratic and brutal. When the adversary is not, measures must be taken to reshape it into that particular format through penetration and/or escalating confrontation leading to a reaction. In this case that tactic did not seem to work.

11) Another option is to discredit, i.e. the activation of the so-called Discrediting Committee. For example, the image of Qaissi as a sort of fascist high level leader of the close circles of Saddam Hussein can be created, although he was just one of the representatives of a neighborhood. People do not know that. It is enough to associate the survivor of the torture camp with the now hated (yesterday allied to the Reagan Administration) Hussein and the trick is ready for the public.

12) The “association with Hussein” seems, in fact, to have been spread. Question: Who reported it? People can keep their eyes open and find out. We can say that one of the first to report the handout from the apparatus was an Italian daily, il Foglio, led by Giuliano Ferrara, the scion of a top communist family then passed to the service of the Neoconservatives. In particular, Ferrara is known as a docile instrument of Michael Ledeen, Karl Rove's foreign policy advisor who has been involved in all of the major operations of destabilization -- from the Propaganda Due Lodge to the fake documents of the Niger Uranium. The revelation of the Niger Uranium fakery led to a previous mobilization of the apparatus: the victims of that deployment were Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, his wife Valerie Plame, and the whole intelligence group inside the CIA which is not in sympathy with the Rove-Cheney gang. Ledeen is the advocate of what he calls Universal Fascism, a fascist system similar to that of Mussolini but without the nationalist undertones. It seems that he hopes Rove and Co. would help him to realize his nightmare.

13) However, the initiative of the survivors of Abu Ghraib began to gain ground. The Australian TV news program, Dateline, interviewed Qaissi and, after that, it was the Italian Rainews 24 that aired a factual but powerful scoop that found an Italian and international public ready and eager to finally see fragments of a truth which a majority were already convinced for a long time. The picture of the “crucified” prisoner with electrodes in his hands had finally a face for the public. See original story here.<!--[if !supportFootnotes]-->[1]<!--[endif]-->

Rainews 24 represents a relatively small part of the Italian media that has escaped the regimentation. Among other scoops, the TV station has broadcast an interview with a former National Security Agency analyst who has openly said that one of the top leaders of the Italian intelligence, Nicola Calipari had been killed by American bullets in Baghdad. After Rainews 24, Qaissi was interviewed by PBS's "Now," Vanity Fair, Der Spiegel . . .

14) The dam of the “accepted truth” had been broken. The truth denied for so long was finally reported in major media. Besides the monstrosity of the facts, what worried the “apparatus” was that the large majority of the population was in the process of overcoming the sense of isolation, intimidation, and confusion; it had found the first institutional reference point that was saying: yes, it is true, what you always thought is the reality. Thus, the Qaissi affairs was becoming dangerous for the protectors of lies. Something had to be done, something effective and creative.

15) It was at this point, on March 11th, that the New York Times published its interview with Qaissi accompanied with a picture of another of the tortured prisoners, this one nicknamed by the torturers, Gilligan. Qaissi had been nicknamed by the creative sadists, the Claw, because of a malformation of his hand following an accident.

16) At that point the Discrediting Committee had put together all its pieces.

17) As precise as a chronometer, the online magazine Salon, announces on March 14 that they had been given by anonymous sources material from the archives of the Army's Criminal Investigation Command (CID) concerning Abu Ghraib. Most observers asked themselves why CID material would be delivered to Salon, after it had been denied to the New York Times with the official rationale that it would infringe on the privacy of the prisoners. But this is not the main point. The point is that Salon, sitting tall on the huge material so miraculously gained, launches not a campaign against the torture, but a campaign of discredit against . . . Qaissi!

18 ) Salon’s point -- the point then taken up by the large Court of Miracles that works as mass dissemination for the line of the apparatus -- is “The New York Times tried to tell the story of the man behind the infamous Abu Ghraib photo. But the paper may have had the wrong prisoner.” And this is the point that will be circulated all over the world. The unbelievable statement by the CID that the prisoner nicknamed Gilligan “was the only one to the tortured with electrodes” in Abu Ghraib is swallowed without comment.

19) In rapid succession, the scandal of the torture is forgotten in favor of the “scandal” of the name in the New York Times. Nota Bene: there are pictures of Qaissi hooded, with electrodes and “crucified,” his image is easily identifiable by his malformed hand, but this is not news or worthy to be mentioned. The “acceptable truth” has been reconstituted and pictures and documentation that are not coherent with the official lie are not given the right of existence by the media.

20) On the 14th already Salon announces triumphantly that “The New York Times announced Monday night that it would review the accuracy of a recent Page One story.” On the 19th, incredibly, the New York Times fully apologized. Its source? The military and the CID, i.e. the group that was being investigated. “Cited as Symbol of Abu Ghraib, Man Admits He Is Not in Photo” titles the Times. “The trouble was, the man in the photograph was not Qaissi. [Editors' note] Military investigators had identified the man on the box as a different detainee who had described the episode in a sworn statement immediately after the photographs were discovered in January 2004, but then the man seemed to go silent.”

21) Thus, the New York Times, takes on faith a statement made by a “disappeared” prisoner while its gall is reserved for Qaissi guilty of not having disappeared but having created an organization of survivors which is threatening the whole cover-up by the Pentagon. In a new low, after the Judith Miller saga, the New York Tomes wrote: “Qaissi had energetically filled the void, traveling abroad with slide shows to argue that abuse in Iraq continued, as head of a group he called the Association of Victims of American Occupation Prisons.”

22) However, the various statements of this or that is not what decides the line that will be believed in this world of deformed mirrors. What decides the day is the control over the media and the ability to impose exactly the opposite of freedom of the press. Who controls the media controls the truth. Nobody wants to report the picture of Qaissi with his revealing hand. Nobody wants to draw the obvious conclusion that Qaissi was tortured and thus the spokesman who says that only one prisoner was tortured in that way, is lying.

23) Once established as the “precedent” and the “record” (the apology of the New York Times), such an apology will be used all over the world. Newspapers who spent their editorials in vilifying the hated “liberals” discover the divine authoritativeness of the New York Times. Semi-unknown blogs on the internet who have repeatedly declared their faith in the neoconservative supreme being, are now praising the “leftist” Salon and the “liberal” New York Times.

24) The most repulsive example was that of the Italian il Foglio mentioned early. On the 15th of March, the little (or not so little) poodle of Michael Ledeen, dedicated his first editorial to the spreading of the “velina” from Washington. “Yesterday, a very leftist magazine called Salon revealed another egregious falsification by the Italian TV (Rainews24) that is a servant of the fascists of Tikrit [sic]: the famous hooded prisoner interviewed days before by the New York Times and previously, for the first time worldwide, by Raibufale 24 [an insulting nickname for Rainews 24 ed] is not the man portrait in the [New York Times] picture.”

Qaissi, screams il Foglio “is not the man portrayed in those terrible photos that a brave soldier of the American army had given to his superiors.” “One cannot exclude that Qaissi was also tortured,” the newspaper has to admit “but it is difficult that this is the case and certainly he was not the hooded man in the pictures.” The fact that Rainews published the actual picture of Qaissi does not affect the servile obedience of il Foglio towards the “apparatus.” So, the line from the top is reported perfectly and completely. The revelations of the torture show how good and courageous is the US Army and how fair, democratic, and ready to admit their mistake are the US media, all of them; contrary to the provincial, primitive and anti-democratic Italian media such as Rainews 24. Il Foglio deserves an A+ as chain of transmission for the discrediting committee.

25) There are other clues that lead easily to the puppet masters. Il Foglio labels Qaissi as “gerarca baathista” [Baathist fascist leader] even if any semi-functional journalist could easily find out that he, Qaissi, was just a representative of neighborhood. But the implication here is that the tortured prisoners deserves indeed to be tortured or worse, because he is a “gerarca bahatista.” Second, Il Foglio expresses its “admiration” for the New York Times that, contrary to the “most Bolshevik TV in the Western world” recognized “immediately its mistake by publishing two articles and has immediately opened an inquiry like the one on Jayson Blair.” Il Foglio forgets of course Judith Miller.

26) In the wake of il Foglio, the “line” began to emerged in a few Italian blogs and the dissemination of the talking points from the Discrediting Committee began. [For one of the most transparent example of useful idiocy go here. Now lets see where else the line emerges. It will be an instructive exercise in identifying the network used by the discrediting apparatus.

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