Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Goebbels Watch: Towards a Grand Unified Theory of Republican Governance (cont.) 

Following up on my earlier post on Colonel Gardiner's research:

Yes, I'm quite taken with the idea that the right model for Republican governance is strategic Information Warfare against the American People (IWAAP) (thanks, farmer, for that meme) (or those, at least, who are "oppositional" or presumed to be—i.e., about half the country).

I'm hoping that building this model can become the story of 2006, which it can be, if we work it. On a purely sense-making level, the story is appealing because it explains so much; IWAAP really is a Grand Unified Theory (wait for the first and predictable denunciations to use the words "conspiracy theory"). Further, it Roves the Rovians, by turning their greatest strength, the ability to stay on message, into a weakness ("they'll say anything to hold onto power"). Finally, it re-frames and leverages the hard work we've done over the last year on Republican lying. But lying is something a six year old does, or an average politician; a carefully planned and extra-constitutional campaign of strategic deception, directed against the very people who must support—and fight and die in—the war... Well, if we can make that stick, and there are free and fair elections in 2006 and 2008 (I know, a big assumption), and the Dem regulars don't screw the pooch (another big assumption), the nation's experiment in Constitutional government may have another 200-year run.

Republicans identify governance, politics, and war
We've always known that the Republicans identify governance, politics, and war; in their minds, there really is no difference between (say) an Iraqi suicide bomber and a Democrat trying to get into a Bush rally wearing a Kerry t-shirt; both are "oppositional" and to be dealt with by any means necessary. (It's too bad for the country, and for the dead, that the Republicans, though brilliant at political warfare, are appallingly bad at the real thing—probably because they have no skin in that game.) Another way of putting this is that Limbaugh and the rest of the VWRC aren't engaging in rhetorical flights, or entertainment, when they call anyone who opposes them a traitor; it's what they really believe, and we should take them at their word. It's the same with the 101st Fighting Keyboarders; they too, really believe they are fighting the same war that the troops are fighting.

How are the Republicans using Information Warfare against the American people?
So the question becomes: How does IWAAP work? Obviously—on the theory of "know your your enemy"—research and study (and experimentation and new tactics and new language) are needed; but Colonel Gardiner's thinking is a good place to start.

One aside: We know from the Howler that the SCLM "Doesn't do self-critique". That means that not only is there no coverage of the IWAAP story, there isn't even a language to discuss it! (As Orwell knew well, you can't think the thoughts if you don't the words.) So I've had to invent the words—and lots of times I wish the words could be improved—after all, in Information Warfare, words are weapons! "IWAAP" is awkward; "Goebbels Watch" should be replaced; and so on. Alert readers, please help!

So let's start with Colonel Gardiner's key use case:

From my research, the most profound thread is that WMD was only a very small part of the strategic influence, information operations and marketing campaign conducted on both sides of the Atlantic. These are the stories on which I ended up doing detailed research. In each case, I attempted to find when and where the story originated, which officials made statements related to the story and then look at how it came out. Obviously, I am reporting on those where the outcome differed from the story. My research suggests there were over 50 stories manufactured or at least engineered that distorted the picture of Gulf II for the American and British people. I'll cover most in this report. At the end, I will also describe some stories that seem as if they were part of the strategic influence campaign although the evidence is only circumstantial. What becomes important is not each story taken individually. If that were the case, it would probably seem only more of the same. If you were to look at them one at a time, you could conclude, Okay we sort of knew that was happening. It is the pattern that becomes important. It's the summary of everything. To use a phrase often heard during the war, it's the mosaic.

And now let's assume that Colonel Gardiner's use case is true (as I believe it to be). What are the logical consequences? What institutional structures would need to be in place in order to plant 50 false stories about Iraq in our "free" press?

1. What is the terrain on which IWAAP is being fought? The SCLM (right there, it looks like we need a better name. MSM doesn't cut it, either). Note that in order to "plant" stories, you must have a writer's active cooperation, but you may need an editor's, since a story must pass an editor to get into print. (Most leftish vituperation focuses on "name" writers like Judy "Kneepads" Miller and not, oddly, on management.) It would be interesting to know if any editors are on the IWAAP payroll; see "Six Bush media whores down. 194 to go. Who are they?".

2. Any war has to be run by somebody, so Who is the IWAAP high command? Well, there's that vocabulary thing again. "High command" is the wrong word, because the IWAAP is obviously extra-constitutional. So let's call the high command the IWAAP Junta, and ask ourselves who would be in it? [NOTE: Alert readers, please suggest better words for this. "Junta" connotes the extra-constitutional nature of the Bush regime, and will be all-too familiar to Latin American voters, but perhaps is too close to the F word to be persuasive.] Short answer: Bush, Rove, Cheney, and anyone else who got promoted after election (or, if you will, "election") 2004. Poor old Colin Powell, obviously, was not part of it. However, Rice is; as is Karen Hughes. Some heads of private corporations are, as well. After the election, we all wrote "Look how all the liars got promoted!" That was true; but what we should have written was that Bush was using a performance-based metric: Those who successfully planned and executed a successful IWAAP campaign were promoted.

3. A war takes money to fight, and cost is generally no object, so What about the money? As we know from previous Republican attempts to set up extra-Constitutional forms of government (Nixon's plumbers and Reagan's Iran-Contra "off-the-shelf" program of covert operations), IWAAP needs a slush fund. Off the top of my head, I can think of three sources of slush fund money available to the Information Warfare Junta: (1) The $9 billion that is mysteriously missing (Chump Change) in Iraq (here one recalls that the Coalition Provisional Authority was infested with Republican operatives (back), and that the entire effort was rife with possibilities for money laundering; (2) the $200 million or so that Bush is using for PR; and (3) laundered campaign contributions, as in Coingate (a story which died down awfully suddenly, didn't it?)

4. Warfighters are organized into a chain of command, so What is the IWAAP order of battle? I suggest that there are two main components: Call them IWWAP Grey and IWAAP Black (as in black operations; obviously (?), there is no IWAAP white; IWAAP is, by definition, covert).

Planting the 50 pro-Iraq war stories in the MSM would fall under the heading of IWAAP Grey (what Colonel Gardiner calls "Strategic Influence"). So would PR stunts like "saving" Jessica Lynch, or concealing the fact that Pat Tilman was killed by friendly fire. So would the administration's "public diplomacy" efforts (example) Karen Hughes would be the obvious candidate to run IWWAP Grey for Bush.

But Republican history with the extra-constitutional structures they set up is that they always slip into illegal campaigns, financed by slush funds, to destroy "opposition"—including domestic, political opposition. (In the Republican mindset, or at least the mindset of those Republicans who enable the Informational Warfare Junta, there is no such thing as a loyal opposition, since opposition is by definition disloyal; hence, it's not merely morally justified, but necessary, to use the weapons of information warfare domestically. So this behavior is to be expected.) Let's call these efforts IWAAP Black; Karl Rove would be the obvious candidate to run IWAAP Black.

5. So, Are there dots to connect in the domestic operations of IWAAP Black? I think there are. Off the top of my head, here are the names of some stories that, though they are treated as separate, are all starting to look like skirmishes in the same big war, IWAAP. the Plame Affair (what did Rove know and when did he know it?); Guckert/"Gannon" (Ol' Eight-inch, cut was an IWAAPS foot-soldier, since he was planting stories. But who gave him his White House pass?); Killian Memos (Who was the woman who gave Killian the memos? Or was Killian himself the cutout?); Coingate (Noe's "missing" coins and campaign contributions are an obvious slush fund; what was it used for?); The Denver Three (the Secret Service didn't throw the Denver three out of a Bush rally, but someone impersonating the Secret Service did; but how did this someone get Presidential access?) The dots common to all of them are: planted stories; slush funds; IWAAP foot-soldiers with mysterious access; Karl Rove. Not all stories have all dots; as Colonel Gardiner says, "It's the mosaic."

6. And Are there dots to connect in the PsyOps of IWAAP Grey? I'm sure there are, but the research is harder to do. It might be useful to take Colonel Gardiner's work as a starting point, see who the reporters with whom the stories were planted were, then see who their editors were, and look for correlations with other administration actions. That would probably take a LexisNexis account, though. Would anyone like to donate one to Corrente, so that we can conduct a program of research?

I'd like to sum up... But right now I feel this is too big to sum up. Readers?

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