Saturday, September 09, 2006

Rumor Bomb Hussein/Al Qaeda "link" Has Long Life

A Harris Poll in late July 2006 (that's right, this year) found that "Sixty-four percent say it is true that Saddam Hussein had strong links to Al Qaeda (the same as 64% in February 2005)."

If you repeat an assertion enough, people start to believe it. On September 26, 2002, Bush provocatively claimed,"The regime has long-standing and continuing ties to terrorist organizations, and there are Al Qaeda terrorists inside Iraq."

Such statements were repeated and sporadically softened. In 2004, Vice-President Cheney was still emphasizing
long-established ties

Then, today, yet another commission or official study tells us there is no convincing evidence of any such link and that the evidence suggests, on the contrary that the administration manipulated the data and the public's perception of it in order to fulfill their own geo-political agenda--in the name of freedom and democracy, I might add.

"Senate finds no al-Qaida-Saddam link

By JIM ABRAMS, Associated Press Writer 43 minutes ago [September 9, 2006]


Saddam Hussein rejected overtures from al-Qaida and believed Islamic extremists were a threat to his regime, a reverse portrait of an

Iraq allied with Osama bin Laden painted by the Bush White House, a Senate panel has found.

The administration's version was based in part on intelligence that White House officials knew was flawed, according to Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee, citing newly declassified documents released by the panel.

The report, released Friday, discloses for the first time an October 2005 CIA assessment that prior to the war Saddam's government "did not have a relationship, harbor or turn a blind eye toward" al-Qaida operative Abu Musab al-Zarqawi or his associates." Click here for the full article.

Again, what we have here is an illustration of a "rumor bomb." Political actors, here the Bush administration and their extended network of supporters (bloggers, PR, radio and TV hosts, journalists, etc.), deliberately created the appearance of an important connection between 9/11, Al Qaeda, and Hussein, which drew on a tremendous emotional reserve of vengeance and punishment and desire to believe there was an obvious mythical solution, act of just retaliation for 9/11, and that was the invasion of Iraq.

Rumor bombs are assertions that may or may not be true. Importantly, they are deployed by political and business actors in order to respond to a climate of fear, malaise, insecurity, and/or uncertainty and turn it to their advantage or to create such a climate in order to manage a population's beliefs and desires, again to achieve an ultimate political objective (not management of people and belief as an end in itself, but to get other things done).

Once again, these deliberate distortions that circulate in the media make it difficult to counter them on a rational level. They are explosive and viral. They appeal to a simple desire to "make right." And most dangerous of all, they destroy the best spirit of democracy and collective decisionmaking in favor of a Machiavellian disdain for the ability of citizens to rationally decide public courses of action. And to what end? This attempted (that it is attempted is well-documented; whether it succeeds is a contingent matter) management of desire and belief in business leads to productivty, development, a booming consumer economy in some places, and also great problems of pollution and resources. In politics it can lead to far more tragic results, including the deaths of millions of people and the undermining of goals of democracy and justice. Should we really base democratic political communication on the PR and propaganda teachings and successes of Edward Bernays and Joseph Goebbels?

1 comment:

Steve said...

Don't you think these rumor bombs really get legs when they prey upon the hidden fears of our society? For instance, racism, stereotypes of evil, and xenophobic religious belief? It seems our politicos have perfected the technique of identify these in the soft underbelly of the public and exploiting them. In fact, I feel the inability of the democratic party to stand up to the republican party is rooted in their failure to identify fundamental insecurities that are greater than their opponents have exploited. For instance, global warming is scary, but not as much as an islamic religious zealot with bombs (and *our* oil, by god!)