Come take a walk with me

First published on ASRM Jul 2 2004 in response to a "redneck" Bush supporter.

Either you know very little about, or refuse to acknowledge, tools used in effective perception management - the art of getting the message you want into the minds of your target audience.

One way to achieve this, is to plant the idea with the use of cleverly crafted statements, deliberately avoiding any direct statement.

You said, "The COMMENTATORS alleged that Bush had misled the public.But theycould not produce a quote showing that either Bush or Cheney had said Saddam was involved with 9/11."

The key words in your sentence are "misled" and "had said."

It is not necessary to directly state something as fact to mislead your audience. You plant the seeds and let the listener or reader do the rest.

When you post your views on issues such as this, are you not a commentator? Are you not interpreting the news based on your own "personal biases andprejudices"?

I can provide a number of documented quotations from members of the Bush administration in which they have *linked* Sept 11 to Iraq and Hussein. In fact, I have a database of well over 200 quotations of misleading statements made by the Bush administration about Iraq in general, and why they are misleading.

Incidentally, I also have a database on John Kerry and his wife, so don't get the idea that I just keep tabs on the Bush administration.

If the public repeatedly hear or read statements that are misleading, or in which Sept 11 is mentioned in the same quote, article or speech as Hussein/Iraq, it doesn't take an Einstein to realise the impact this would have on public opinion.

Perhaps it, shouldn't have an effect, but the fact is, it does. And the Bush administration know that.

I will give you an example of misleading information *suggesting* ties between 9/11 and Hussein/Iraq. I have plenty more.

Cheney, Meet The Press. NBC 9/14/2003
"With respect to 9/11, of course, we've had the story that's been public out there. The Czechs alleged that Mohammed Atta, the lead attacker, met in Prague with a senior Iraqi intelligence official five months before the attack, but we've never been able to develop anymore of that yet either in terms of confirming it or discrediting it. We just don't know."

As you will see, Cheney uses this example again in 2004, and we will look at the construction of the quotation in a little more detail.

Cheney, in an interview with the "Rocky Mountain News" 1/9/2004

"We did have reporting that was public, that came out shortly after the 9/11 attack, provided by the Czech government, suggesting there had been a meeting in Prague between Mohammed Atta, the lead hijacker, and a man named al-Ani (Ahmed Khalil Ibrahim Samir al-Ani), who was an Iraqi intelligence official in Prague, at the embassy there, in April of '01, prior to the 9/11 attacks. It has never been -- we've never been able to collect any more information on that. That was the one that possibly tied the two together to 9/11"

The last two sentences appear to be an attempt to "water down" the alleged link. However, this again is a common and effective tool. How many times have you heard people try to "play down" something they actually want you to believe?

The bulk of the statement is cleverly crafted, containing enough well positioned key phrases and "grabs" to put a very definite perception in the minds of many of his intended audience. Notice too, how he does not directly deny any connection between Iraq and 9/11.

Look at the positioning and content of the phrases. The detail of the information, the inclusion of a foreign government source, (which serves two purposes. It adds credibility while offering the "they said that, we didn't" escape route),all in the beginning.

By the time the text book, "let's not get carried away with this though" remarks came in at the end, it would be fair to say that a number of people would have already made up their mind. The closing - "grab" - the last sentence, would be a clincher for many.

It is even more misleading because US Intelligence had evidence that Atta was in Virginia at the time of the alleged meeting, the FBI and CIA had concluded that the meeting did not occur, and Czech intelligence officials were sceptical of the report. Yet that did not stop Cheney using the same example on two separate occasions. I will come back to this particular quote later.

> What the public opinion polls show is meaningless. A significant number
> people believe that Elvis is alive and that the JFK assassination was
> That does not make either allegation a fact.

In politics, what the public believes is everything for Christ sake. Why do you think good spin doctors are worth their weight in gold to a politician?

Do you know how Pentagon planners define perception management? I will tell you. “actions to convey and (or) deny selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, and objective reasoning. … In various ways, perception management combines truth projection, operations security, cover, and deception, and psyops (psychological operations).”

Ironically, in this case it has worked better on US audiences than those overseas.

Why do you think that perception managers, The Rendon Group, received a $100,000 a month no-bid contract for assistance with the "war on terror"? The same group was hired by the CIA to wage a propaganda campaign against Saddam Hussein after the Gulf War, earning them a reported $23 million in the first year alone.

In Afghanistan, John Rendon, (who describes himself as an information warrior and the guy responsible for hundreds of Kuwaitis suddenly being able to get their hands on US flags to welcome US troops),joined a conference call with the Pentagon each morning to decide the message for the day.

Another one of his creations is Ahmed Chalabi and the Iraqi National Congress. That particular project was a bit of a waste of money wasn't it?

According to you, "What the public opinion polls show is meaningless" Not according to Brent Scowcroft, national security advisor at the time of the Kuwait baby incubator deception. Years after that scam, Scowcroft said it was, " useful in mobilizing public opinion" Not only that, for several Congressmen it was the main factor in voting for the Gulf War.

You say public opinion does not make an allegation fact. The public believed that the Kuwaiti incubator scam was a fact. It wasn't, it was a deception. However, public opinion was an invaluable tool for the pro war brigade.

That deception involved PR company Hill & Knowlton deciding that the best way to get the public to respond to going to war, was to give the public that old emotional heart string puller - mistreatment of infants.That's why a 15 year old girl, weeping her poor little heart out, described how she had witnessed Iraqi soldiers taking babies out of incubators and leaving them on the cold floor to die.

Gets you right in the heart doesn't it. The bastards, lets bomb the crap out of those goddamn sonsovbitches. Lets send John Wayne and Randolph Scott and kick their arses.

What she didn't say, and which was later revealed, was that she had no connection with the hospital, was a member of the Kuwaiti royal family and her dad, the Kuwait Ambassador to the US. The whole thing was a scam.

You may think public opinion polls laughable, but people like John Rendon are laughing all the way to the bank - with taxpayers money.

A survey of Americans showed that 70% believed Hussein/Iraq were tied to Sept 11. That is more than a significant number, it is a tremendous victory for perception management.

What is more, many American soldiers believed they were in Iraq because of Sept 11 and Cheney was aware of that perception.

The quote from the "Rocky Mountain News" was part of his answer to the interviewer who told him, "Sir, I was one of the embedded reporters with the 101st in Iraq" and "It was amazing, yeah. When I was in Iraq, some of the soldiers said they believed they were fighting because of the Sept. 11 attacks and because they thought Saddam Hussein had ties to al Qaeda. You've repeatedly cited such links. I heard your speech in Denver a while back."

Are you saying that those who lost their lives, those who are still risking their lives, and the families and loved ones waiting back home for them, that what they think or believe is meaningless!

Every time an American soldier gets killed in Iraq, or dies in Germany from injuries, I get news from the local newspaper or media. What school they went to, what church they attended. Perhaps you would like me to say to their families and friends, "Even though your son believed he was fighting because of Sept 11, this guy I know thinks his opinion is meaningless"?

What is more, Cheney had a chance to correct that perception, but he didn't. Not once in that interview did he *directly* state that there was no evidence of links between Sept 11 and Hussein. He focused on the quote I used an example.

Do you not think it likely that a number of soldiers, who as we already know, believed they were there because of Sept 11, would continue to do so after hearing or reading that quote?

But of course, it doesn't matter does it. As you have already said, what they, their families, their loved ones think - is meaningless.


No one is talking about public opinion making anything a fact. We are talking about two things;

(a) the millions of people globally, including your allies, who formed a perception based on the tone, context and content of statements made by the Bush administration. Statements that were deliberately crafted to put a particular message into the minds of their audience.

(b) the millions of people globally,who believe they have been misled (same reasons as above.)

Let me recap.You do not need to directly state anything to get your audience thinking the way you want them to. I can write a statement or a presentation for a client, and make a good deal of the audience believe anything I want them to believe, without making any direct statements.

You say "People are confused about 9/ll and al Qaeda because the news media - right and left - has distorted the facts."

The quote I used was not written by a reporter. The quotes I have available, were not written by reporters. They were written or spoken by members of the Bush administration.

You do not like the media distorting the facts, but you have no problem with Cheney, Bush or any one else doing so as long as they are on your side.

Although the following does not refer to links between Hussein and 9/11, it is an illustration of the type of distortion of the facts, that you criticise in the media. In the same interview, the reporter asks Cheney

"So you stand by the statements?" This was his response

"Absolutely. Absolutely. And you can look at Zarkawi, (Abu Mussab) al-Zarkawi, who is still out there operating today, who was an al-Qaida associate, who was wounded in Afghanistan, took refuge in Baghdad, working out of Baghdad, worked with the Ansar al Islam group up in northeastern Iraq, that produced a so-called poison factory, a group that we hit when we went into Iraq."

The statement refers to the Ansar al Islam group in Northeastern Iraq. What Cheney fails to mention is that this area was not controlled by Saddam Hussein. Possibly he used the phrase "so called" because when the US Special Forces raided the camp in March 2003, nothing resembling chemical or biological weapons was found. How many people do you think would realise that?

It is a distortion of the facts - out of the mouth of Cheney himself. Just one of many from the Bush administration that I can produce in a matter of seconds.

And yes, I do know all about Ansar al Islam and al-Zarkawi.

If the public is confused, it is because of a deliberate campaign by the Bush administration.

BTW, I wonder if Don Rumsfeld asked Hussein about his links to terrorist organisations, when Rumsfeld visited him in Baghdad in December 1983 to communicate Regan's support for Iraq?

Perhaps if Rumsfeld visits Iraq in the near future, he will shake hands with him again, just like he did in the photo that was taken at the time and which is publicly available.

We know that he cautioned Hussein about chemical weapons, because he said so in an interview, and as we all know. Mr Rumsfeld is an honourable man. Pity there is no mention of chemical weapons in the documents of the conversation, which were declassified in 2003, (he later raised the issue in a meeting with Tariq Aziz)

Or perhaps Rumsfeld didn't visit Hussein, it was a distortion by the media, the same as the media distorted the CIA's connection with their former blue eyed boy, Osama Bin Laden?

Let's look at something else now shall we?

I find it interesting that you have responded to this thread a number of times. Yet when over 90 Australians were killed by terrorists in Bali, there was not one single post of sympathy or support from you, despite the fact we are allies.

A few months ago, I made a post concerning the bombings in Madrid. Over 200 of your allies were killed as a direct result of Spain's participation in the coalition of the willing. Four people responded.

Your name was predictably missing in action.

In fact, the silence of yourself and others like you when your allies suffered, was as deafening as it was during the bombing campaign in Britain waged by the American backed and financed IRA.

Don't forget, the British were scared to use trains, enter department stores, or fly anywhere, long before you. I know, I was working in London at the height of it.

It is evident that when it comes to issues such as this, your interest, time and energy is reserved for purposes that suit your own political agenda and propaganda.

When tragedy hits your allies, allies like Spain whose troops have been killed in Iraq, all we hear is the silence of the hawks.

Even one of the few references you made to Australia's involvement in your war was not only incorrect, it was an insult.

You dismissively implied that half a dozen Aussies had been killed in Iraq, yet despite a number of highly dangerous and successful missions, not one Aussie solider has been killed or injured in Iraq.

Al Qaeda and the insurgents in Iraq do not need to use electronic or conventional media to discredit America. They have the Bush administration to do it for them.

I am good freinds with Americans and the majority of Americans like them, represent the true America. The America that the world once believed the US stood for.

But thanks to Bush they have been obscured by deceit, deception, theposturing and the pictures of the mangled bodies of innocent women andchildren in Fallujah. You can add to that the prison abuse scandal and the secret global network of jails operated by the US, in countries where torture is legal.

Because of Bush, America has now come to represent what our fathers and grandfathers fought against.

Wether it's right or wrong, or if you like it or not, that is the undeniable effect of the God almighty mess Bush has created. The effect comments such as "The sky lit up like the 4th of July" as one American pilot said after bombing Baghdad, has had.

BTW, isn't it funny how many terrorists and insurgents are still operating, while so many citizens of Baghdad and Fallujah aren't.

Come over and take a walk with me. Take off the spectacles obscured by the stars and stripes, and see what your traditional allies now see.

Not the radicals, activists, liberals, Saddam lovers and all the other labels that are bestowed upon those who question what they read and hear - but ordinary people with far more access to informed news than you are used to.

Take a look at how the stars and stripes have become an icon for lies, treachery, deceit, murder and kicking your allies in the teeth.

How, because of the actions, policies and statements of the Bush regime and those who carry out their work, the flag that we once believed stood for freedom, is now viewed as a strutting, arrogant banner of moral, political, social, judicial and religious hypocrisy. Scorned, laughed at, mistrusted and no longer attracting unquestioning sympathy, support or tears on demand.

Read how the Bush administration used bully boy tactics on Australia. Forcing us to go against our own democracy by closing Parliament to the public; the US Secret Service refusing security clearance to all Australian journalists - in their own country. The exception being Alan Jones, good friend and supporter of our Prime Minister who himself has waged a campaign of lies and deceit.

The US Ambassador repeatedly and publicly telling our politicians what they can and can't say in their own Parliament.Two of our citizens allegedly tortured and held without trial in Cuba.

We send our troops to fight in your war and what happens? We get screwed in a Free Trade Agreement, (which btw, according to US Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage, is dependent on our troops staying in Iraq), Whitehouse officials hand out a press pack to US reporters accompanying Bush on his visit to Canberra, referring to our Prime Minister as John Major, and our nations capital as boring, a place where nothing happens.

Sept 11 was a great tragedy, but the damage done to Americas credibility by Bush and his cohorts milking it for all it's worth, is perhaps as great, if not a greater tragedy.

In other words, thanks to George Bush, the John Wayne rhetoric, the boasts he has failed to deliver and the blind nationalism he has encouraged, has caused everything American to be looked at in a different and cynical light.

The phrase "9/11" or "Sept 11" no longer has the effect it once had. It can no longer be used like American Express, flashed around to get unquestioning sympathy and support, or as payment for other agendas.

To be blunt, we are tired of hearing it, because people know why we are hearing it. We do body counts as if it were a footy match. WTC 3,000, Iraq 10,000.

We ask ourselves what would have happened, if Australian pilots hadn't aborted over 40 missions assigned to them by US Commanders, (we made it clear from the start, we operate under our terms). Once over the target, the pilots realised that the intelligence they had been given was wrong. The targets were of no military significance. This is again a fact, confirmed and admitted by our Defence dept.

A US spokesperson said that these aborted missions would have gone back "into the mix". As we officially operate under terms of engagement different to yours, do you honestly believe that US pilots, operating under US command, would have made the same decision in all 40 cases?

It is not the ordinary Americans who have done this, it is George Bush.the reviled Don Rumsfeld and the rest of the adminstration.

The George Bush, who back in 1998 (yes, 1998) was warned by Andy Messing, family friend, war hero and adviser to numerous Presidents, that the US military were unprepared for major combat, training was inadequate and morale low; neglect that would result in the sight of "flag draped coffins of our young men and women" And yes, I do have the document to prove this little known fact. He was warned of a lot of other things in that document as well.

This is not an attack on Americans, it is an attack on the image and perception the Bush regime has created. It is no longer ally against foe, brothers/sisters in arms. He has pitted ally against ally, or as we say on the footy field, mate against mate, But with this, sadly, we don't always hug and go for a drink in the bar together afterwards.

Marines may take Fallujah, a puppet regime installed in Baghdad. a tyrant paraded in public. But who has really won? Has not George W Bush achieved one of the objectives of Al Qaeda and other terror units by creating an environment that is divided, has split friends and allies and an atmosphere where true freedom of speech is no longer tolerated?

For days I was reluctant to post this. And then It dawned on me that by not posting, I was in fact insulting the real America and real Americans.

I have very few offline friends, the vast majority are Americans online. Not just friends - damn good friends. Often politically we are poles - not just distance apart.

But they understand how I feel and what I believe, and that I have the right to feel that way based on what I see, read and hear. They do not resort to labels, the way your overuse of words such as "liberal" betray your prejudice and bigotry.

They believe I have the right to say publicly what I feel to be true, even if they disagree. They believe in my doing, what George Bush and our own Prime Minister, has made it so hard to do. They believe in true freedom of speech, not freedom of speech Bush style - available to approved applicants only, terms and conditions apply.

No doubt you will respond, and I have heard all the excuses, the explanations, the John Wayne rhetoric before. My mail box is full of them, resulting from articles I have written for a news service.

That's fine - bring them on - because I can shoot them down as quickly and easily as your rough men who stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm, can shoot up wedding parties, coalition troops, mosques, schools, marketplaces and unarmed civilians.

Maybe the Bush administration has yet to directly lie. But they have deliberately embarked upon a campaign of deception and misinformation.

God Bless America, because thanks to the man and the action you so staunchly support, the US needs all the help it can get to restore the respect of their traditional allies.

Wherever you may be - be safe

Copyright Mike Hitchen Online, Lane Cove, NSW, Australia. All rights reserved