General Petraeus White House-written summary of "progress" in Iraq is still about three weeks away, but the forces in favor of staying the course in Iraq can’t wait that long. They are already mounting a major effort to create the illusion that we are on the right track and that pulling back now would create everything from a nuclear holocaust to another Vietnam, Korea and Kosovo combined. The focal point of their assault is the repeated claim that "we are making real progress in Anbar Province," and that that fact, whether true or not, is justification enough for continuing to pour money, lives and American prestige into the quagmire that is Iraq
Wake up America. And please God wake up media. They are rolling you again.
The evidence of what they are up to is everywhere. It has never been more critical that media worldwide take a step back in the face of this onslaught and ask the question we all should ask and demand answers to. That question is "Sez WHO?"
Look at the evidence...it is all there, lying well oiled and glistening in the moonlight....the powerful administration promotion machine.....one surviving vestige of the corrupt bloated bush white house is already in operation....
ORCHESTRATED STEP ONE- July 30, 2007 NY Times Op Ed by Michael O’Hanlon and Kenneth Pollock of the Brookings institution
Here is the most important thing Americans need to understand: We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms. As two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq, we were surprised by the gains we saw and the potential to produce not necessarily "victory" but a sustainable stability that both we and the Iraqis could live with.
However as Salon columnist Glenn Greenwald quickly revealed in an interview with O’Hanlon,
the gains he and Pollock reportedly "saw" were in fact merely the information they have been given by military briefers during a brief visit to Bagdad’s Green Zone. Neither of the two had actually ventured outside the heavily fortified compound for more than a few hours because it was just too risky.
I'm just a layman investigator here, but my first question is, "If you tell me that life outside the fort is going just peachy now, but I run the high risk of getting shot or bombed if I go outside to try and find out whether that is true, I should have a pretty clear answer to my question..Sez WHO?"
As Greenwald reported:
But the far greater deceit involves the trip itself and the way it was represented -- both by Pollack/O'Hanlon as well as the excited media figures who touted its significance and meaning. From beginning to end, this trip was planned, shaped and controlled by the U.S. military -- a fact inexcusably concealed in both the Op-Ed itself and virtually every interview the two of them gave. With very few exceptions, what they saw was choreographed by the U.S. military and carefully selected for them. This is O'Hanlon's description of how the trip was conceived:
GG: I just want to ask you some questions about the trip that you just took. Whose idea was that trip? How did that trip arise and who planned it?
MO: Well, I have wanted to go back to Iraq for a long time. I feel it’s- I've been there once in September 2003 - it behoves anybody who's working on this issue a lot of the time as I've been for a few years trying to get some on-the-ground experience and observations. And so I've been trying to get back for a couple of years and I started putting in these requests a little bit more assertively -
GG: Who did you put them in with?
MO: To the military, starting in about the spring.
GG: And then, at some point they accepted and said that they would organize a trip for you?
MO: Yeah. I think the trip was ultimately originally scheduled for other people as well. I think it's public knowledge that Tony Cordesman was also on our trip, and I think he had plans to go before Ken and I managed to get ourselves invited as well, but --
GG: Why did you need the permission of the U.S. military in order to go? Why couldn't you just go yourself?
MO: I suppose I could have, but I was hopeful that someone could help take care of my security, for one thing. I'm not going to try to sound more heroic than I am. And also I wanted to talk to a lot of military personnel and get their impressions.
The entire trip -- including where they went, what they saw, and with whom they spoke -- consisted almost entirely of them faithfully following what O'Hanlon described as "the itinerary the D.O.D. developed."
But this only begins to convey how ludicrous and misleading a spectacle this whole event was. O'Hanlon and Pollack were in Iraq for a total of 7 1/2 days. They spent every night ensconced in the Green Zone in Baghdad. They did not spend a single night in any other city. As O'Hanlon admitted, they spent no more than "between 2-4 hours" in every place they visited outside Baghdad, and much of that was taken up meeting U.S. military commanders, not inspecting the proverbial "conditions on the ground."
Yet in their Op-Ed, they purported to describe the encouraging conditions in four places other than Baghdad -- Ramadi, Tal Afar, Mosul, and the Anbar Province -- as though they could possibly have made any meaningful observations during their visits which were all roughly the duration of the average airport layover. Worse, both O'Hanlon and Pollack -- and especially Pollack -- in their interviews repeatedly described their optimistic observations about Iraqi cities in such a way as to create the misleading impression that these were based upon their first-hand observations.
And as Greenwald further noted, other members of the media elite, adopting their all too familiar policy of interviewing rather than really probing the veracity of the source, invited the Op-Ed authors to repeat their claims while invariably failing to ask...Sez WHO:
O'Hanlon and Pollack appeared on at least 10 major television news programs. Other than Blitzer, no interviewer even raised the issue of whether they were overly-dependent on the U.S. military for their information, none probed the basis for their claims, and Pollack and O'Hanlon never once even alluded to the questionable nature of what they had been shown (even though O'Hanlon "apologized" for not disclosing it in the Op-Ed when I pressed him on it). And from what I reviewed, not a single one ever identified either of them as having been pro-war and pro-Surge, and they themselves never bothered to mention that as they were hailed as hard-nosed "critics" of the administration -- thus helpfully preserving the dramatic television storyline that "harsh critic of the Bush administration" went to Iraq and found Great Progress.
Glenn Greenwald had the journalistic ingegrity and guts to ask that little question of O’Hanlon....Sez WHO? Virtually nobody else did and the O’Hanlon/Pollack claims that they "saw" progress were given credibility where none existed. It is all part of an orchestrated litany to repeat the core theme...."We are making progress...pulling out now would be a mistake."
ORCHESTRATED STEP TWO- President Bush makes major speech to the Annual Convention of the VFW August 22, 2007
Among his claims:
In Iraq, our troops are taking the fight to the extremists and radicals and murderers all throughout the country. Our troops have killed or captured an average of more than 1,500 al Qaeda terrorists and other extremists every month since January of this year. (Applause.) We’re in the fight. Today our troops are carrying out a surge that is helping bring former Sunni insurgents into the fight against the extremists and radicals, into the fight against al Qaeda, into the fight against the enemy that would do us harm. They’re clearing out the terrorists out of population centers, they’re giving families in liberated Iraqi cities a look at a decent and hopeful life.
Sez WHO? Mr. President? Says you, says your military, but what independent media outlets have or can verify your claims? Why should we believe you alone when you have clearly lied us into this war and lied to us repeatedly ever since to try and justify its continuation.
ORCHESTRATED STEP THREE – $15 Million Ad campaign to put pressure on Senators to Stay the Course
A collection of former Bush administration officials and allies launched a new advertising campaign that uses injured war veterans or relatives of those killed in action to urge a continuation of the US occupation of Iraq by conflating it with the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
"We want to get the message to both Democrats and Republicans: Don't cut and run, fully fund the troops, and victory is the only objective," said former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer in an interview with USA Today.
Fleischer is the founding board member for Freedom's Watch, a newly formed conservative group that says it is spending $15 million to run television and radio ads in more than 20 states urging members of Congress not to support a de-escalation of the Iraq war. The ads also have been posted to YouTube.
Aside from the obvious question of why, despite the fact that it has been clearly identified as a lie, this group continues to "conflate the occupation of Iraq with the attacks of 9/11", the next obvious question is where is that $15 million coming from? Sez WHO?
Interestingly, the mechanics of the ad campaign urge viewers to call a phone number. As Taylor Marsh reports via Huffington Post:
Check out the number at the end of the ad: 1-877-222-8001. Go on, call it.
As I told my radio listeners earlier today, once you get through something amazing happens. The operator asks you a question. Yes, you're expected to take part in a survey before she puts you through to Congress. But there's a catch. The question asked goes something like this: Do you believe the Iraq war is important to the war on terror? They may have changed the question by now, because we're on to them, but that's what I was asked. If you say no, the operator immediately thanks you but doesn't connect you to Congress. Instead, she asks if you have anything else to say and then basically gets rid of you. They're only allowing people who agree with them through.
Yes, it’s the old favorite GOP bubble....screen out all opposition, never allow critics of the President and his policies into supposed public forums, get only the answer you want.....not the truth. What better guy to implement it than the past master of media obfuscation, Ari Fleischer? Sez WHO?
ORCHESTRATED STEP FOUR – Frame your version of the truth using powerful resources at your command and then use a lazy media to spread it. The message, "We’re making progress in Anbar Province. We can win if we don’t pull out."
Here’s a little exercise for you. Go to Google and enter the words..."Anbar province progress" and look at the results. It’s a classic illustration of Sez WHO? Here are just a few links. Notice any similarities..common themes? Notice how many of the stories originated from military sources? Notice how many times the same basic story appears in pretty much the same format but with a different date and on another website of another military service? How many of the non-military pickups are by right-wing sites?
Now ask yourself....how many mainstream media sites do I see here with stories which give credence to this claim?
I ran this exercise and the first page of links Google gave me are a clear illustration of why when you hear the claim that we’re making progress in Anbar (and hence in Iraq), you and the media you read need to be asking that critical question...Sez Who?
In that first page of links I found a total of 10 initial hits:
They fell into several categories –
Military press generated articles:
Progress Continues on Many Fronts in Iraq’s Anbar Province
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 3, 2007 –
Local Government Shows Progress in Iraq’s Anbar Province
By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 22, 2007 –
The Garamone article again, this time in Army Military News
Aug 06, 2007_BY Jim Garamone, American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON (American Forces Press Service, Aug. 6, 2007) - Stabilizing Iraqi communities is the way forward in combating the insurgency in Iraq, the commander of coalition efforts in Ramadi said. Speaking to Pentagon reporters via teleconference Aug. 3 from Ramadi, the capital of Iraq's Anbar province, Col. John Charlton, commander of 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, said counterinsurgencies are fought and won "neighborhood by neighborhood, with the focus on protecting the population and improving conditions in the community." Col. Charlton commands a true joint and combined force in central Anbar province. His brigade combat team consists of about 6,000 Army, Marine, Navy and Air Force personnel. In addition, he has operational control of 12,000 Iraqi police and soldiers.
And then it gets picked up by other news sources like this – cut and paste and the word spreads without anyone ever asking "Sez WHO?" In my search, the non-military postings invariably turn out to be on right-wing sites:
Local Government Shows Progress in Iraq's Anbar Province
By Fred W. Baker III
Local governance is making progress in Iraq's Anbar province, and Iraqis are joining the security forces in record numbers, a top Marine operating in the province said today.
Our buddy Max Boot is part of the effort and (big surprise)
his source is the same Colonel Charlton quoted extensively in the military blogs, although Max claims he gets the Colonel to send him a personal update on how things are going and posts it on the site. (Contentions' blog list of contributors includes all the usual suspects – Victor Davis Hanson, Norman Podhoretz, Boot, etc.)
Out of ten hits on that first page (and yes there were many more but the pattern already seems clear) nearly all were either sourced from the military or copied by right-wing blogs using information from those sources. Like O’Hanlon and Pollock, the military is controlling the message for the White House and administration right wing supporters are doing their part to give it credibility because nobody in the mainstream "professional media" is asking the question "Sez Who?" Eventually the message starts to spread like a cancer...affecting even Democratic Presidential Candidates, clearly worried that they may face charges that they are ignoring the progress to cut and run prematurely:
Hillary, Like McCain, Sees Progress In Anbar
BY JASON HOROWITZ
PUBLISHED: MAY 7, 2007
TAGS: POLITICS, BILL RICHARDSON, HILLARY CLINTON, JOHN MCCAIN
Asked yesterday during a Town Hall-style event in Red Oak, Iowa about what to do about Iraq, Hillary Clinton made the familiar argument that the troops needed to be extricated from a civil war. But she also added some notably optimistic comments about the soldiers' recent success in the mostly Sunni Al Anbar province where Al Qaeda has its stronghold.
Mrs. Clinton -- instead of buying the administration line, why aren't YOU asking that obvious question...Sez WHO? Mr. President.
Who says we are making progress and what is the basis of their claims?
You have been lied to repeatedly ever since you cast your vote to support the start of this war. Why are you suddenly giving credence to these new claims...claims designed to create justification for still more war?
Interestingly, the military has been issuing rosy reports about Anbar for quite a while now. Here’s a report from March of last year:
Iraqi Solidiers on Track for Independent Ops in Al Anbar
Iraqi soldiers are right on schedule with training requirements that will allow
them to eventually relieve U.S. military forces in western Al Anbar Province.
By Staff Sgt. Jim Goodwin
1st Marine Division
CAMP AL ASAD, Iraq, March 15, 2006 — Iraqi soldiers are right on schedule with training requirements that will allow them to eventually relieve U.S. military forces in western Al Anbar Province, according to Marine officials here.
And yet, just six months later, MSNBC found military leaders in Iraq frantically "downplaying" a classified intelligence report which found that Anbar was a big problem:
Updated: 10:06 a.m. PT Sept 12, 2006
BAGHDAD, Iraq - The senior commander of U.S. forces in western Iraq on Tuesday played down a classified intelligence report indicating that American troops had failed to dampen the insurgency in the volatile Anbar province.
The classified report found that political and security conditions in the western province that is the heartland of Sunni Arab-led insurgency were bad and could deteriorate, The Washington Post and The New York Times reported.
The assessment, prepared last month, also found that while the U.S. military tried to bring security to violence-torn Baghdad, the situation was very difficult in Anbar, the Post reported.
And now less than a year later, according to military sources, everything is peachy in Anbar. Oh yeah???
I have listed four clear examples of orchestrated steps being taken by the administration and its supporters to pre-sell the Petraeus report and win the votes needed to keep the war rolling. There are and clearly will be more. The Sunday and cable talk and news shows will undoubtedly be loaded in the next two weeks with apologists and if you had a nickle for every time you hear the phrase "progress in Anbar," you’ll quickly be rich.
Who will ask these Sez WHOs and press for the truth? Russert, Stephanopolos, Suarez, Schieffer, Tweety, Tucker? Hannity, O'Reilly?
Who other than Keith O will ask these Sez WHOs and point out the contradictions and lies from those who claim progress? Who will get to the real sources of information and make it clear to us all that we are being lied to again....lied to in order to continue a disastrous war which itself is based on lies?:
Even if we accept the claim of progress in Anbar, we must ask:
Is there similar success anywhere else in Iraq of this nature? Sez WHO?
Are we gaining military control of the country? Sez WHO?
How much longer can our military handle the strain of Iraq? Sez WHO?
Is there some reason why virtually all reports which are critical of Iraq war progress are classified, while "good news" gets spread far and wide? Sez WHO?
What will we do if Pakistan falls to a fundamentalist political group with access to nuclear weapons? Sez WHO?
Are we going to attack Iran and what will be the consequences of such an attack? Sez WHO?
Is the Iraqi military and police really capable of taking over anytime soon? Sez WHO?
Is the success in Anbar simply sending terrorism elsewhere in the country? Sez WHO?
Is there any viable national government in Iraq now or in the future, which can command and control the support of its people? Sez WHO?
If we are recording some of the highest military death rates in the war today, on what grounds are we "making progress? Sez WHO?
Given ample evidence that the solution to the current crisis in Iraq is not military, but political and diplomatic, why are we continuing to pursue military solutions to the exclusion of everything else? Sez WHO?
How long must the American people wait until the politicians they elected carry out the clear mandate they received to bring an end to this insanity? Sez WHO?
Who will ask these questions....and who will answer them? We need the answers. We are still waiting....waiting for the media, waiting for our leaders, waiting for the truth.