Monday, September 04, 2006

Truth from These Podia

Truth from These Podia

Summary of a Study of Strategic Influence, Perception Management,
Strategic Information Warfare and Strategic Psychological Operations
in Gulf II

Sam Gardiner1
Colonel, USAF (Retired)

October 8, 2003

1 The author has taught strategy and military operations at the National War College, Air
War College and Naval War College. He was recently a visiting scholar at the Swedish
Defence College. During Gulf II he was a regular on the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer as
well as on BBC radio and television, and National Public Radio.
The study was not funded by any organization, and the author’s arguments are not meant
to represent those of any organization.
He can be reached at

page 2


My intent was not to do this myself. The work had to be a combination of the
kind of research I was doing and investigative journalism. I could do the outside part.
Someone had to talk to those inside. After my return from an information warfare
conference in London in July, I began looking for interest in one of the major
newspapers. I found that interest in Mark Fineman at the LA Times.

Mark had covered the war and previously had been bureau chief for the paper in
Philippines, India, Cyprus and Mexico City. Although he had covered some of the
stories I examined in my research, he saw very early the point I was making about the
implication of their being seen as a whole, the strategic picture. We continued to
exchange e-mails, talk by phone and met four times after our initial session. He shared
information he was uncovering. I shared my developing research.

Mark Fineman died of an apparent heart attack while on assignment in Baghdad
on September 23, 2003.

Truth from These Podia

It was not bad intelligence. It was much more. It was an orchestrated effort. It
began before the war, was a major effort during the war and continues as post-conflict

The title of this study was difficult for me. When I began I thought it was going
to be an analysis of Pentagon spin. I was going to call it, “Truth from this Podium.” That
was to be a play on promises we were given before the war. The more I did, the more it
became clear that it was not just the Pentagon. It was the White House, and it was
Number 10 Downing Street. It was more than spin.

I though about calling it “Apparatus of Lies,” connecting to a title the White
House gave a paper on Iraq’s decade of fabrication, mostly about weapons of destruction.
Although lies were part of the effort, that title would have been off the mark because the
story is more about aversion to truth rather than the open lie.

I also missed on the subject. I thought it was going to be about spinning the
stories of the conflict. I was wrong. The real essence of what I found was a much
broader problem. It is a problem about the future as much as the past. This problem
became the story of the study.

This is one way of summarizing the study:

The United States (and UK) conducted a strategic
influence campaign that:
• …distorted perceptions of the situation both
before and during the conflict.
• …caused misdirection of portions of the military
• …was irresponsible in parts.
• …might have been illegal in some ways.
• …cost big bucks.
• …will be even more serious in the future.

I know what I am suggesting is serious. I did not come to these conclusions
lightly. Because my plea is for truth in war, I have tried to be very careful not to fall into
a trap of describing exaggerations with exaggeration. I hope I’ve done that. I expect
some will believe I have been guilty of the same sins. As long as we can have some
discussion about truth in war, I accept the criticism.

Truth from These Podia

You will see in my analysis and comments that I do not accept the notion that the
first casualty of war is truth. I think we have to have a higher standard.

In the most basic sense, Washington and London did not trust the peoples of their
democracies to come to right decisions. Truth became a casualty. When truth is a
casualty, democracy receives collateral damage.

My plea is for truth. I believe we have to find ways to restore truth as currency of
government in matters as serious as war. My story would be important if it were the last
chapter of the book. It’s not. There is more to come. As the United States struggles with
a post-conflict Iraq, distortions continue. Probably of more concern, major players in the
game are working on ways to do it “better” in future conflicts.

In other words, it appears as if the issues of this war will become even more
important for future wars. We have reason to be concerned.

Another way to summarize the study:


• Clearly, the assumption of some in the government is the people
of the United States and the United Kingdom will come to a
wrong decision if they are the given truth.
• We probably have taken “Information Warfare” too far.
• We allowed strategic psychological operations to.
become part of public affairs.
• We failed to make adequate distinction between strategic
influence stuff and intelligence.
• Message became more important than performance.

The concepts of warfare got all mixed up in this war. I’ll come back to this
subject later, but what has happened is that information warfare, strategic influence,
strategic psychological operations pushed their way into the important process of
informing the peoples of our two democracies. The United States and the UK got too
good at the concepts they had been developing for future warfare.

The best way to describe my methodology is to use words that came from
Admiral Poindexter’s unfunded project, Total Information Awareness, later known as
Terrorism Information Awareness. What I have done is look for “inconsistencies in open
source data with regard to known facts…and goals.”

Again to use the words from the Terrorism Information Awareness Program, by
discovering linkages, it was possible to identify intent, methods of operations and
organizational dynamics.

Truth from These Podia

Through this methodology, it was possible to do what the Pentagon wanted to do,
“to reduce vulnerability to open source information operations.”


• “The purpose…is to reduce vulnerability to open source
information operations by developing the ability to detect
inconsistencies in open source data with regard to known facts
• “One of the characteristics…is that their organizational structures
are not well understood and are purposefully designed to conceal
their connections and relationships. DARPA’s premise is that by
discovering linkages among people, places, things and events…to
recognize patterns of relationships that are representative…, it
can help identify…intent, methods of operation, and
organizational dynamics.”
Report to Congress Regarding the Terrorism Information
Awareness Program, May 20, 2003

My definitions are sloppy in this paper. Some would say I don’t know the
definition of information warfare. It’s not because I don’t appreciate the clarity that
comes from precise meaning. It’s because almost all of the pre-war definitions were
violated in implementation. I was left with a couple questions, “What was true and who
was affected by the non-truth?

They told us what they were going to do. The Department of Defense created a
rather significant press storm early in 2002 when it was revealed that there were plans to
create an office to do strategic influence. Efforts to create the office were brought to a
halt with White House agreement. In November, the Secretary of Defense announced in
a press conference on board an aircraft on the way to South America that he was just
kidding when he said he would not do strategic influence.

The White House gave a similar warning. Andrew Card, the President’s Chief of
Staff told us they would do a major campaign to sell the war. Alastair Campbell, Tony
Blair’s just-resigned Strategy (and communications) Director, was orchestrating the same
on the other side of the Atlantic.

The research then was to discover what they did and how they did what they said
they were going to do.

I’m not going to address why they did it. That’s something I don’t understand
even after all the research. I would like to ask them, “Why do it?” “Didn’t you know
there would be consequences?’ It was not necessary. You could have told the truth.
You don’t defend democracy by making light of its most basic elements. The American
people would have supported the war. Why do it?

Truth from These Podia

Announcing the Effort

• “And then there was the Office of Strategic Influence. You may recall that.
And ‘oh my goodness gracious isn't that terrible, Henny Penny the sky is
going to fall.’ I went down that next day and said fine, if you want to
savage this thing fine I'll give you the corpse. There's the name. You can
have the name, but I'm gonna keep doing every single thing that needs to
be done and I have.” Rumsfeld, November 18, 2002

• From a marketing point of view, you don't introduce new products in
August," White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. told the New York
Times in September. Card was explaining what the Times characterized as
a "meticulously planned strategy to persuade the public, the Congress,
and the allies of the need to confront the threat from Saddam Hussein."
• It would cost over $200 million. Times of London, 9/17/02

These two chart are the results of my investigation:

The Stories of Strategic Influence (1)

• Terrorism and 9/11
• Lt. Commander Speicher
• Drones
• Mohammad Atta meeting with Iraqi
• Ansar al-Salm
• Chemical and biological weapons
– Quantities
– Location
– Delivery readiness
• Weapons labs
• WMD cluster bombs
• Scuds
• Cutting off ears
• Cyber war capability
• Nuclear materials from Niger
• Aluminum tubes
• Nuclear weapons development
• Dirty bombs
• Humanitarian operations
• Attacking the power grid
• Russian punishment
– Signing long term oil
– Night-vision goggles
– GPS Jamming equipment
– Saddam in embassy
• German punishment
• Surrender of the 507th

Truth from These Podia

The Stories of Strategic Influence (2)

• Red Zone
• 51st Iraqi Mechanized Division &
• Uprising in Basrah
• Liberations of Umm Qasr and Basrah
• Iraqi white flag incidents
• US and UK uniforms to commit
• Execution of prisoners
• Salman Pak training facility
• Private Lynch rescue
– Language
– Holding the story
• Children soldiers
• 1000 Vehicle attack from Baghdad
• Civilian casualties
• Woman hung for waving
• French punishment
– High precision switches
– Smallpox strains
– Signing long term oil contracts
– Spare parts for aircraft
– Roland missiles
– Passport for Iraqi leaders
• British Parliamentarian punishment
• WMD location
– Moved to Syria
– Hidden
– Just-in-time program
• The post-conflict enemy
• Status of infrastructure repairs

` 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

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.

Recognizing I said I wouldn’t exaggerate, it would not be an exaggeration to say
the people of the United States and UK can find out more about the contents of a can of
soup they buy than the contents of the can of worms they bought with the 2003 war in the

Truth from These Podia

The Theory

In Strauss’ view, liberal democracies such as the Weimar
Republic are not viable in the long term, since they do not
offer their citizens any religious and moral footings. The
practical consequence of this philosophy is fatal. According
to its tenets, the elites have the right and even the obligation
to manipulate the truth. Just as Plato recommends, they can
take refuge in "pious lies" and in selective use of the truth.
Der Spiegel

I’m not writing about a conspiracy. It is about a well run and networked
organization. My basic argument is that very bright and even well intentioned officials
found how to control the process of governance in ways never before possible.

I have no way of knowing intent. Those who believe the Administration
influenced by a small group could point out that manipulating the truth is an important
and even necessary dimension of governance.

Standing back from the details of the stories, the strategy of strategic influence
and marketing emerges.

Gulf II Influence Strategy

• This is a struggle between good and evil.
– Major theme of the war on terrorism as well as Gulf II.
– The mirror of this is in the Muslim world is when the U.S.
is often called the “Great Satan.”
• Iraq was behind the attack on the World Trade
– The subtle theme throughout Gulf II.
– The mirror of this is the rumor that Israel was behind the
World Trade Center bombing to embarrass the Arabs.

The major thrust was to make a conflict with Iraq seem part of a struggle between
good and evil. Terrorism is evil. We are good. The axis is evil, and we are the good

The second thrust is what propaganda theorists would call the “big lie.” The plan
was to connect Iraq with the 9/11 attacks. Make the American people believe that
Saddam Hussein was behind those attacks. The effort followed the basic framework of
effective propaganda.

Truth from These Podia

Gulf II Influence Strategy

• 24/7 News require different techniques
– Saturate the media time and space.
– Stay on message and stay ahead of the news cycle.
– Manage expectations.
– No matter how bad the story, it tends to level; accelerate the
process as much as possible.
• Keep the message consistent daily: Qatar, Pentagon, White
House, London
• Use information to attack and punish critics.

Beyond the themes we can see these strategic techniques. One of the media
organizations hired by the Department of Defense, the Rendon Group, was deeply
involved in selling the first Gulf War as well at this one.2 The first two points on this
chart came from John Rendon. The last seems to have come from others within the

It’s possible to get a sense of how strategic influence and the organization for
combat came together by looking at a pattern from before Gulf II campaign.

In November 2001, the White House Coalition Information Center initiated an
effort to highlight the plight of women in Afghanistan. Jim Wilkinson, who was working
with the Center at the time, called this effort “the best thing we’ve done.”

Republican National Committee Web Site
Laura Bush on Rebuilding the Afghan Family

Earlier Stuff

“The Afghanistan women’s campaign
which was the best thing we’ve done…”
Jim Wilkinson
Source: The White House Coalition Information Center

When he said it was the best thing they’ve done, it was not about something they
did. It was about a story they created. It was about story. It was story. Story was most

2Four or five contracted media groups were probably involved in one way or another in
the Gulf II effort. John Rendon call himself an information warrior.

Truth from These Podia


The White House Coalition Information Center became the Office of Global
Communications officially in January 2003. It was in full operation, however, by the
time the White House began its marketing campaign in September 2002.

What we saw in the Afghanistan effort were patterns that would continue through
Gulf II. It was designed to “build support.” It was not a program with specific steps or
funding to improve the conditions of women.

Earlier Stuff

• “Women’s campaign was designed to build support in
countries in which there is heavy skepticism of the antiterrorism
coalition.” Washington Post, November 16, 2002
• “Only the terrorist and the Taliban threaten to pull out
women’s fingernails for wearing nail polish.” Laura Bush,
November 17, 2001
• “In Afghanistan if you wear nail polish, you could have your
nails torn out.” Cherie Blair, November 20, 2001
• Human Rights Watch, 2003 report: Situation still bad for

The other pattern in the Afghanistan family campaign that is important is the
close coordination between the White House and Number 10 Downing Street. The
coordination was so close that Laura Bush and Cherie Blair used almost the same phrase
in speeches only separated by three days. The message was coordinated in the
Afghanistan campaign. It would be coordinated for Gulf II.

Make the humanitarian dimension of the operation part of marketing, another
pattern I’ve done some work with relief organizations. When these professionals talk
about Afghanistan, I very often hear their disdain for the U.S. effort to air drop food
packets into Afghanistan. There was almost no real benefit from that part of the
operation, We would have expect the same in Gulf II.

Another pattern emerged that we would see in the run up to the war. One might
even say they followed the concept that if you don’t know the truth, fill the vacuum with
speculation that would support policy. That certainly was true during the period of
anthrax uncertainty; US and UK “intelligence sources” told the sources” told the press that everything
pointed to Iraq.

Friday, March 10, 2006


How many years have we been strung along with promises of a Country of Origin Labels for our food? It keeps getting moved farther out because it is too complicated to keep track of where our food is comming from.

So it is too difficult to keep track of which cows and pigs are being shipped INTO the country but it is not too difficult to chip and track every single farm animal and backyard flock in the nation?

Are we to believe that changing existing food labels is more convenient or cost effective than allowing consumers to know what they are eating despite the very real risks to the public health?

Thursday, March 09, 2006

A Serious Warning To My Friends

This is from the electronic mail bag

To all my friends:

This is a heads-up to those friends who haven't experienced it yet, and an
explanation to those friends and family who have. Most of you have read
the scare-mail about the person whose kidneys were stolen while he was
passed out. Well, read on. While the kidney story was an urban-legend,
this one is not. It's happening every day.

My thighs were stolen from me during the night a few years ago. It was
just that quick. I went to sleep in my body and woke up with someone
else's thighs. The new ones had the texture of cooked oatmeal. Who would
have done such a cruel thing to legs that had been mine for years? Whose
thighs were these and what happened to mine?

I spent the entire summer looking for my thighs. Finally, hurt and angry,
I resigned myself to living out my life in jeans and sheer Energy

Then, just when my guard was down, the thieves struck again. My butt was
next. I knew it was the same gang, because they took pains to match my new
rear end (although badly attached at least three inches lower than my
original) to the thighs they stuck me with earlier. Now, my rear
complemented my legs, lump for lump. Frantic, I prayed that long skirts
would stay in fashion.

It was two years ago when I realized my arms had been switched. One
morning I was fixing my hair and I watched horrified but fascinated as the
flesh of my upper arms swung to and fro with the motion of the hairbrush.
This was getting scary. My body was being replaced one section at a time.
How clever and diabolical these fiends were!

Age? Age had nothing to do with it. Age is supposed to creep up,
unnoticed, something like maturity. NO, I Was Being Attacked repeatedly
and without warning. In despair, I gave up my T-shirts. What could they do
to me next? My poor neck disappeared more quickly than the Thanksgiving
turkey it now resembled.

That's why I decided to tell my story. I can't take on the medical
profession by myself. Women of the world, wake up and smell the coffee.
That really isn't plastic that those surgeons are using. You KNOW where
they are getting those replacement parts, don't you?

The next time you suspect someone has had a face "lifted," look again. Was
it lifted from you?

I think I finally found my thighs and I hope that Julia Roberts paid a
really good price for them.

This is not a hoax. This is happening to women in every town every night.

PS I must say that last year I thought someone had stolen my breasts. I
was lying in bed and they were gone! As I jumped out of bed I was relieved
to see that they had just been hiding in my armpits as I slept.

Now I keep them hidden in my waistband.

I Don't Want To Shut Up

Hi Anybody, this is grannyinsanity on the run from the indifferent censor bots that have threatened to delete grannyinsanity on the edge in montana

Sensor Bots Smite Grannyinsanity

I logged on after looking at my local paper to post about the invisible Senator Burns and to Update Agribusiness's Stealth Takeover with some links that Sarpy Sam left in the comments.

This is what I arrived to

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Did somebody "Flag As Objectionable" here or what the devil has gone on here?