Fueling the Flames
Labor and greens must join forces to stop Bushs assault on the planet.
More African-Americans are running for governor than ever before.
Rigged elections are widespread throughout Africa, and not just in Zimbabwe.
A New Detente?
The Bush administration cozies up to China.
No evidence, but a Missouri inmate is facing execution.
Britain passes measures to elect more women.
Seeds of Destruction
Genetic contamination raises stakes on GMOs.
Pennsylvania debates are calculated to exclude Greens.
HMOs aim to stop even modest reform in its tracks.
BOOKS: Israel, the occupation and "apartheid."
Disasters in Waiting
BOOKS: Ahmed Rashid on more impending Jihad.
Play It Again, Sam
MUSIC: How multiple reissues keep record labels flush.
FILM: The moral dilemmas of Storytelling.
An interview with ®mark's Frank Guerrero.
March 1, 2002
ack in the 80s, the Reagan administration established an elaborate
and illegal domestic propaganda apparatus known as the Office of Public Diplomacy
for Latin America and the Caribbean. Its covert mission: Sell Congress, the
media and the American people on the administrations war against leftists
in Central America. The stated objective: Convince Americans that the Contras
are fighters for freedom in the American tradition and that the
FSLN [Sandinistas] are evil.
When the Iran-Contra scandal broke, the Office of Public Diplomacy was dismantled
and its unit of Psychological Operations (Psyops) agents sent home to their
U.S. Army base at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
Three administrationsand several enemieslater, Army Psyops agents
were again deployed in Washington, again fighting evil, but this
time from the Pentagons new Office of Strategic Influence (OSI). The covert
mission: Target foreign media organizations in the Middle East, Asia and Western
Europe with disinformation campaigns. The objective: Convince foreign leaders
and citizens to support U.S. policy.
The difference this time around is that conscientious Pentagon officials leaked
OSIs plans to the New York Times. A senior Pentagon official put it this
way, Everybody understands using information operations to go after non-friendlies.
When people get uncomfortable is when people use the same tools and tactics
The resulting media furor led Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld to close the
program on February 26. The office is done, he told reporters. What
do you want, blood?
How about some honest information?
A good place to start would be the administrations fiscal year 2003 defense
budget. Bush says increased spending is necessary because the nation is at war.
Rumsfeld has explained that he inherited a military that was overused
On February 12, Lawrence Korb (who wrote our April 2, 2001 cover story, Pentagon
Spending Spree) testified before the House Budget Committee. The former
assistant secretary of defense in the Reagan administration, who now works with
Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities, pointed out that should the Bush budget
Defense spending will have risen by $88.2 billion, or 30 percent, since fiscal year 2001.
The United States alone will consume about 40 percent of the worlds total military expenditures.
The United States will spend more on defense than the next 15 countries in the world combined.
Korb refuted Bushs justifications for the increase. Weve
already budgeted for the militarys role in the war against terrorism,
he said. The Defense Department received a $20 billion supplement, about what
the administration calculates the war will cost.
As for the allegedly sorry state of U.S. preparedness, Korb noted the militarys
magnificent performance in Afghanistan and that Bill Clinton
left Donald Rumsfeld with a defense budget that in real terms was $25 billion
higher than the one President Ford bequeathed to him in his first term as secretary
of defense in 1975.
Indeed, Korb testified, the administrations massive military budget increase
can only be explained as a failure of Bush to carry out his campaign promise
to transform the military. Rumsfeld simply layered his new programs on
top of the Clinton programs he inherited, unwilling to exert the political
will needed to cut redundant, unnecessary and, in some cases, unworkable weapons
systems, said Korb. (In fact, fewer U.S. soldiers have died in Afghanistan than
were killed in Osprey aircraft crashes since Dick Cheney tried to cancel the
program as defense secretary in 1989.
The mainstream media rightly condemnedand to great effectthe administrations
plans to deploy Psyops agents worldwide in a covert operation to subvert media
organizations. Perhaps editors and journalists could now take off their red,
white and blue blinders, and focus some of that righteous indignation at Bushs
overt operation to enrich Pentagon defense contractors at the expense of programs
that serve human needs.