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Paging George Orwell!

Wired blog Danger Room is reporting that Donald Rumsfeld is proposing creating an agency within the government for the purpose of promulgating propaganda. Sharon Weinberger, the author of the article, quotes Rummy as follows:

“We need someone in the United States government, some entity, not like the old USIA . . . I think this agency, a new agency has to be something that would take advantage of the wonderful opportunities that exist today. There are multiple channels for information . . . The Internet is there, pods are there, talk radio is there, e-mails are there. There are all kinds of opportunities. We do not with any systematic organized way attempt to engage the battle of ideas and talk about the idea of beheading, and what’s it’s about and what it means. And talk about the fact that people are killing more Muslims than they are non-Muslims, these extremists. They’re doing it with suicide bombs and the like. We need to engage and not simply be passive and allow that battle of competition of ideas.”

* * *

In Rumsfeld’s view, the free press can co-exist with government sponsored/produced/paid news. “It doesn’t mean we have to infringe on the role of the free press, they can go do what they do, and that’s fine,” says Rumsfeld. “Well, it’s not fine, but it’s what it is, let’s put it that way.”

Frankly, I am astounded that anyone who has ever been associated with the Orwellian nightmare that is our current administration would have the nerve to suggest a plan so blatantly ripped from the pages of Nineteen Eighty-Four. It screams to be called Minitrue, and should probably be referred to as such should this plan ever go anywhere.

Now I know, some of you are saying, “Well, shouldn’t the government be able to get its message out there to the masses?” And of course, the government has numerous ways of doing so: White House press briefings, photo ops, appearances by representatives of the administration on the Sunday morning talk shows, et cetera. That is kind of the point: if the government wants to get its side of the story out there, it has numerous legitimate means of doing so. Planting stories in the media — including alternative media like blogs and podcasts — without making clear that the story was written by some government agency instead of an at least nominally neutral reporter is just disturbing.

Hey, I know! The administration could start its own newspaper and blog, in order to get its unfiltered story out to the people. They could call it The Truth. Better yet, they could use that phrase’s Russian equivalent:

Pravda.

jane doe


…and entertaining if untrue: At least three web sites are reporting (in identical language) that:

Former US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld fled France [Saturday] fearing arrest over charges of “ordering and authorizing” torture of detainees at both the American-run Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq and the US military’s detainment facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, unconfirmed reports coming from Paris suggest.

US embassy officials whisked Rumsfeld away yesterday from a breakfast meeting in Paris organized by the Foreign Policy magazine after human rights groups filed a criminal complaint againsgt the man who spearheaded President George W. Bush’s “war on terror” for six years.

Under international law, authorities in France are obliged to open an investigation when a complaint is made while the alleged torturer is on French soil.

Major disclaimer: I have absolutely no way of knowing whether any of this is true.

Of the three places I found this story, the only one I have any prior experience with is AlterNet. They seem to be attributing the story to IPS News (Inter Press Service News Agency), which I have never even heard of before. I cannot find the story on the IPS web site, and therefore am uncertain whether AlterNet’s attribution is correct.

One of the three sites reporting the story seems to be based in Iran, although it is an English-language site. Given the current state of relations between Iran and the US, I am likely to be skeptical about anything one of those country’s media report about government officials (or ex-officials) from the other country. (And yes, that works in both directions, given all the untrue things the US mainstream media reported about Iraq back in 2002 and early 2003.)

The third site is something called world news, which looks like a blog and seems to include stories from a variety of reputable sources, including the New York Times, Reuters, and BBC News. However, it does not list any source for this story, either.

None of the stories include an author’s name, though the Iranian site does have some initials at the end of the story (“RZS/BGH”), which might signify a staff author or authors — other stories on the site include similar strings of initials at the ends of the stories. The end result is that we have zero accountability on this story. (Yes, I realize that sounds ironic coming from someone who blogs under the moniker jane doe. But I’m all about irony. Plus, I usually cite sources for any factual assertions I make, unless they are being widely reported already by multiple mainstream sources.)

On the assumption that this might have actually happened but been ignored by our beloved corporate mainstream media here in the US, I did a little searching on some European news sites. Guardian (UK) and the BBC are both silent on this story, and the former of those, at least, would probably mention it if they had heard about it.

All-in-all, I have a lot of doubts about the truth of the story, but I thought it deserved a mention, if only in the hopes that someone who has the ability to investigate whether any of it is true picks up on it.

So my question to you, my dear non-existent readers, is this: has anyone else heard anything about this? Is this story true? A distortion of a true story? An outright hoax?

I don’t know. If you do, please post a reply in the comments.

And by the way, whether this story is true or not, it does not change my position that Bush and Cheney really ought to be impeached.

jane doe

 

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March 2017
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