Published on Wednesday, October 16, 2002 by CommonDreams.org
Killing the Political Animal:
CIA Psychological Operations and Us
by Heather Wokusch
Dysfunctional Bush and his anachronistic cronies are leading us right into a catastrophic Middle Eastern blowout. That much is apparent. But what's not so clear is why we're allowing it to happen.
Analyzing Dubya's psychological challenges is not enough - he's the symptom not the cause, and while the rapidity of societal decline has seemed to accelerate since 2000's farcical US presidential election, the framework for rollback was in place long before. If it hadn't been, citizens quite simply wouldn't have tolerated the rigged results.
But what mechanisms could have been used to facilitate the rollback? How can an unwilling population be trained to blindly accept a new, repressive social order?
A CIA instruction manual entitled "Psychological Operations in Guerrilla Warfare" provides some clues. Written in the early 1980s (coincidentally, soon after Bush Sr. headed the Agency) the document was part of the US government's crusade to bring down Nicaragua's leftist government, by providing training and weapons to the Contra rebels. Detailing how to gain a community's support through propaganda and selective violence, the manual begins "In effect, the human being should be considered the priority objective in a political war ... Once his mind has been reached, the 'political animal' has been defeated, without necessarily receiving bullets."
The following are quotes from the original psyop textbook, along with contemporary examples-
PSYOP quote: "It is appropriate ... to guide the discussion of a group to cover a number of points and to reach a correct conclusion." The people "should feel it was their free and own decision."
Interesting to note that up until early 2000, military personnel from the Fourth Psychological Operations Group based in Fort Bragg, North Carolina were active at CNN's Atlanta-based headquarters - and left only after public outcry when CNN admitted to employing them. Their presence was perhaps not surprising given former CIA director William Colby's boast that "the Central Intelligence Agency owns everyone of any major significance in the major media."
So much for a democratic free flow of information.
Also striking is how the "discussion" around attacking Iraq is being guided "to reach a correct conclusion." After both the House and Senate agreed to give Bush his blank check to attack Iraq (requesting only that Bush report to Congress every 60 days if he does decide to take action) Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle called the endorsement of war "a statement of American values and resolve." Apparently Daschle was unaware of the large anti-war street protests taking place across the country, and the overwhelming number of anti-war phone calls flooding House and Senate offices.
Now that the vote is finished, the media will no doubt bombard with messages echoing Daschle's myopic observation, and assuring the American population the vote for war was their "free and own decision."
PSYOP quote: "Always be prepared with simple slogans in order to explain to the people, whether in intentional form or by chance, the reason for the weapons." Reasons such as: "The weapons will be for winning freedom; they are for you," or "Our weapons are, in truth, the weapons of the people, yours."
The Bush administration proposes to increase its annual military budget by $120 billion (over one third) by 2007, which would bring the total annual budget to $451 billion; this while the economy crumbles and social services get left behind. The justification?
George W. Bush "Nothing is more important than the national security of our country. So nothing is more important than our defense budget. The price for freedom is high, but it's never too high as far as I'm concerned.”
Donald Rumsfeld “The defense budget is cheap when one compares it to putting our security at risk, our lives at risk, our country at risk, our freedom at risk.”
PSYOP quote: "In places and situations wherever possible ... explain the operation of weapons to the youths and young men."
A endless war requires an endless supply of cannon fodder; lucky for the military if enough recruits succumb to the sexy hype about weapons and enlist. If they don't though, there's always the Universal Military Training and Service Act (H.R. 3598) which, aiming to bring back the draft, states: "ALL males residing in the U.S. between the ages of 18-22 (must) receive military training for at least 6 months" and imposes additional time on high school dropouts.
Chew on that quote for a second. The high school dropout part is self-explanatory; longer military sentences would effectively be forced on poor kids and minorities, those most likely to drop out of school. The "residing" part is odd though - apparently, even citizens of other countries who happen to live in the US will be obligated to complete military service for Uncle Sam.
So it appears every trick in the book will be used to get our youth on the battlefield, but once those boys come home wounded or in body bags, they and their families will be abandoned, at least if Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has his way. Addressing the Armed Services Committee, Rumsfeld recently claimed he had no knowledge of the US having ever shipped any biological weapons to Iraq; Rumsfeld said he had no knowledge despite the existence of substantial proof, including a widely-distributed 1994 Senate Report documenting the US sale of bacteria and viruses to Iraq.
The medical issue becomes even more serious when considering the fact that biological warfare agents don't affect only those service members directly exposed: they can lie undetected and later be transferred to family and friends back home. This is the stuff of epidemics, and the DOD's head-in-the-sand handling of the physical maladies of Gulf War veterans has only exacerbated the danger to us all.
Small wonder that, unlike hawkish politicians who have never seen battle, many Gulf War vets oppose an attack on Iraq. And Rumsfeld had better take notice: the American Gulf War Veterans Association (AGWVA) is so appalled by his claim of ignorance about the weapons sale - and attending denial about the dangers of a new war with Iraq - they've officially called for his resignation.
PSYOP quote: "Established citizens ... will be recruited initially as 'Social Crusaders' in typically 'innocuous' movements in the area of operations. When their 'involvement' with the clandestine organization is revealed to them, this supplies the psychological pressure to use them as 'inside cadres' in groups to which they already belong or of which they can be members."
Operation TIPS, US Attorney General John Ashcroft's plan to enlist citizens in spying on one another is down, but definitely not out. Due to public outcry, postal and utilities workers may have been exempted but employees of "industry associations and groups" in the broadly-defined transportation sector are still being "invited to receive information" on the program. It's anyone's guess who the invitation will be extended to next...
PSYOP quote: "Bring about uprisings or shootings, which will cause the death of one or more persons, who would become the martyrs ... in order to create greater conflicts."
In "Body of Secrets," respected journalist James Bamford explores official government records in which the Pentagon "called for innocent people to be shot on American streets, for boats ... to be sunk on the high seas, for a wave of violent terrorism to be launched in Washington D.C., Miami and elsewhere," for "people to be framed for bombings they did not commit" and for planes to be hijacked, all in the name of convincing Congress and the American public to support a new war. Bamford writes about the early 1960s, but many of the Pentagon's proposals then seem uncomfortably reminiscent today.
So whatever happened to the basic foundations of "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness"? Have we really gone so far astray that independent thought is a thing of the past, trampled in the dirt by an artificial psyop reality?
Time to read through those Amendments once again, slowly. Then take a careful look at the insidious ways we're being controlled, and throw off the shackles.
Heather Wokusch is a free-lance writer. She can be contacted via her web site: www.heatherwokusch.com