Institutional Disinformation v. Alternative News Channels
Disinformation is back on the agenda. It forms part of the battle for “information superiority“ in the current war, and is an essential component of strategic planning, according to the US Forces Joint Vision 2010.
The current surge of disinformation strategies around the Iraq war can now be researched at PR Watch’s superb research tool, the Disinfopedia, the “encyclopedia of propaganda” according to its own definition. Disinfopedia provides insights into the murky world of disinformation, its institutions, strategies, people, and language games (http://www.disinfopedia.com). A fine collection of lies and misrepresentations concerning the current war can also be found at Spinsanity.Org.
It is to be feared that the surge in disinformation underway will strengthen the institutional disinformation structure even beyond the war. Few would believe that the Office of Global Communications (http://www.whitehouse.gov/ogc/) will just discontinue its work once the war is over. After all, there is a “global explosion in anti-Americanism” that needs to be countered. Already public brainwashing in the US has lead to 70 % of Americans believing that the WTC attacks were actually carried out by Saddam Hussein’s people (ARD Panorama, 6.3.2003, http://www.ard.de). Perhaps this was an achievement of the Office of Strategic Influence (OSI) planned in the wake of 9/11 in order to spread false information. Although officially the OSI was never set up, it would be obvious that the denial of its own existence would be a core task of such an agency.
The new phenomenon of Warblogging has tried to oppose limited, but real news to the spate of disinformation on the mainstream media. Instead of journalists dependent on the Pentagon, private individuals post their experience of the war on the Net. As people become fed up with the endless loops of propaganda, they begin to look for unfalsified news online.
German intelligence expert Andreas von Bülow says Internet-based alternative news channels have a “considerable potential” in undercutting the secret services stranglehold on the news (http://world-information.org/wio/readme/992003309/1052744021). According to von Bülow, this is also the reason why US and Israeli secret services might be tempted to confuse these alternative information channels. Strategies could include spreading false stories and swamping alternative environments with information trash. Already the Pentagon can muster the support of willing conservative university students who run pro-war sites, including “Oxblog”
The latter is a product of the conservative Oxford Democracy Forum (http://www.oxdem.org), an offspring of the right-wing “Yale College Students for Democracy” (http://www.yale.edu/ycsd/) which in turn enjoys the support of the notorious former CIA Director and defender of the Echelon surveillance system, James Woolsey. But Woolsey’s influence among right-wing think tanks, the arms industry, and conservative media is strong enough to nurture a much larger right-wing alliance of pro-war student groups (http://www.spiegel.de/netzwelt/politik/0,1518,241199,00.html). As a Rhodes Scholar, he can help provide patriotic graduate students with scholarships sponsored by the British racist and industry magnate Cecil Rhodes
(http://www.disinfopedia.org/wiki.phtml?title=Rhodes_Scholar), as well as with space in the conservative papers (http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110003085).
Against this background, the “permanent war“ in which the US government has engaged following its “war on terror”, with its key tools of preemptive attack and deterrence, the level of contamination by disinformation in the infosphere must be expected to increase and to have wide-ranging and long-lasting effects of “informational weapons of mass destruction”. However, the likelihood of the UN sending weapons inspectors to the US seems very small indeed.
U.S. Office of Global Communications (real)
Office of Global Communications (fake)