If you sit still and listen very closely in any part of the United States, you will hear the sound. That sound you hear would be the sound of war drums being beaten by the usual suspects, as they do whenever they begin to thirst for blood and money. I know that it’s difficult for Americans because they are so used to the sound of war drums that I doubt whether they still notice it.
But I want Americans to notice it. I want Americans to recognize it so they will know when it begins and what to do when they hear it. That is why I will play a beat what was recorded from the past so people can compare it to the beat they’re listening to today.
This is not a regular article but a refresher for Americans on how our media sells wars to us. I will just post these excerpts from America’s major publications on the countdown to the Iraq war juxtaposed with a few headlines today as regards North Korea.
The mini headings in bold letters are mine, but the body are excerpts are from real stories by the quoted media outlet.
No lie is too big or too outlandish to tell.
September 16, 2002
—”DOOMSDAY PLOT” is the New York Post‘s cover story. “Saddam Aims to Give Terrorists Briefcase Bio-Bombs,” was the subhead, accompanied by a photograph of someone holding a metal attaché case. What a scoop for the Rupert Murdoch-owned newspaper—especially since none of the other papers that morning seemed to have even heard this catastrophic news. How did the paper uncover the plot? “U.S. intelligence officials fear that Saddam Hussein has concocted a doomsday plan that would use Al-Qaeda to attack America with Iraqi-provided biological weapons, the Post has learned.” Intelligence officials fear? “The threat has been raised in secret intelligence assessments…. The officials came up with the nightmare scenario—which could include easily concealed briefcase bio-bombs—after concluding that Saddam has few options available once U.S. attacks begin.” Came up with? Could include? Apparently “POST EXTRAPOLATES FROM ALARMIST SPECULATION” was too long for a headline.
September 19, 2002
—The Washington Post publishes an article on page 18 headlined, “Evidence on Iraq Challenged; Experts Question if Tubes Were Meant for Weapons Program.” The article discusses a recent report by the Institute for Science and International Security which questions the Bush administration’s claim that Iraq’s attempt to obtain aluminum tubes proves that Hussein has nuclear ambitions. The report, writes the Post, also “contends that the Bush administration is trying to quiet dissent among its own analysts over how to interpret the evidence.” Unlike the New York Times story eight days earlier, the Post‘s debunking is mostly ignored.
September 25, 2002
—Fox News Channel‘s Bill O’Reilly tells viewers that, according to a September 23 CNN/Gallup poll, “66 percent of Americans support going into Iraq, even without UN mandates.” In fact, the poll to which O’Reilly is referring shows that only 37 percent supports a war in Iraq without a UN mandate.
—The New York Times notes widespread opposition to war in European countries, a sentiment the paper describes as “often virulent.” That adjective is derived, of course, from “virus,” suggesting that something is seriously wrong with opposing the war.
—Pacifica Radio‘s Democracy Now! reports that Senate offices are receiving an “overwhelming” level of calls from constituents opposing a war on Iraq. The show finds 22 of 26 offices that responded reported overwhelmingly critical calls. The media’s indifference to such public concern would also be documented in FAIR’s Extra! (1–2/03).
December 12, 2002
—The Washington Post runs a front-page article by Barton Gellman headlined, “U.S. Suspects Al-Qaeda Got Nerve Agent From Iraqis; Analysts: Chemical May Be VX, and Was Smuggled Via Turkey.” The paper suggests that Bush has “received a credible report” that Al-Qaeda affiliated terrorists have been given chemical weapons by the Iraq government, which gives “concrete evidence” to Bush’s contention that Iraq is aiding Al-Qaeda.
—Washington Post ombud Michael Getler criticizes the paper for ignoring a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in which three former four-star generals warned of the dire ramifications of war and advocated for “determined diplomacy.” Getler notes the paper failed to mention these proceedings, but did publish a piece on an Oklahoma state government official who was caught traveling with a “Ziploc bag filled with condoms.”
Even the president gets the permission to lie.
October 12, 2002
—Neoconservative pundit William Kristol writes an op-ed for the Washington Post giving George W. Bush permission to lie:
He has benefited, in making the case for war, from an impressive clarity of presentation and lucidity of argument. But now his task is not to educate or persuade us. It is to defeat Saddam Hussein. And that will require the president, at times, to mislead rather than to clarify, to deceive rather than to explain. The president’s audience is no longer the American public, or even our allies. It is Hussein. Deceiving him as to the timing of the war and the manner of attack is crucial to success.
People who know and could challenge the lies are ordered to shut up. Those that can’t be ordered to shut up are discredited: today, they’re called “fake news.”
October 15, 2002
—In an article “Energy Dept. Tells Scientists Hush on Iraq,” Steven Aftergood of Secrecy News reports that “scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory are under orders from the Department of Energy to evade public inquiries concerning Iraqi weapons of mass destruction.” Aftergood notes that “the importance of such expert participation in public debate was illustrated by the recent dispute over the significance of Iraqi efforts to acquire 60,000 ‘high strength aluminum tubes.’”
January 17, 2003
—Fox News Channel‘s Bill O’Reilly defends American media coverage of the upcoming war: “Everywhere else in the world lies. If you see the foreign coverage, it’s just a bunch of propaganda.”
They make it sound like a piece of cake that we’ll make short work of.
October 16, 2002
—NBC Nightly News reports that an American attack on Iraq will consist of “hundreds of cruise missiles and thousands of air strikes with new precision-guided bombs far more accurate and deadly than those used against Iraq in the Gulf War 11 years ago.” The report fails to mention that NBC‘s parent company GE works on the engines of the Super Hornet planes that drop the so-called “smart bombs.”
November 14, 2002
—Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld appears on a special national radio call-in on Infinity Radio affiliates, where he says the war will be brief: “Five days or five weeks or five months, but it certainly isn’t going to last any longer than that.”
Anti war rallies are minimized and trivialized.
September 29, 2002
—A September 28 anti-war rally in London attracts hundreds of thousands of protestors, but merits a one-sentence mention in the New York Times in a story headlined “Blair Is Confident of Tough U.N. Line on Iraqi Weapons.” The Washington Post has two brief references, one to thousands of protestors and one to tens of thousands. As FAIR notes in an action alert the next day (9/30/02), both the Times and the Post were far more interested in a comparably large protest in London against a proposed ban on fox hunting.
October 26, 2002
—Reporting on a massive anti-war march in Washington, D.C., NPR‘s Nancy Marshall claims that the event is “not as large as the organizers of the protest had predicted. They had said there would be 100,000 people here. I’d say there are fewer than 10,000.” The next day, the New York Times reports that “thousands” attended the protest, “fewer people attended than organizers had said they hoped for.” The report is under 500 words and appears on page 8 of the paper. The next day (10/28/02), FAIR issues an action alert challenging the reporting of the New York Times and NPR. Thousands of emails later, the Times re-reported the story (10/30/02), admitting that the protest “drew 100,000 by police estimates and 200,000 by organizers’, forming a two-mile wall around the White House.” On the same day, NPR airs a correction.
February 15, 2003
—Mass protests are held around the world against the Iraq War. Hundreds of thousands turn out in New York City. The mainstream media pay more attention than usual, though some outlets were a little confused about turnout. The ABC News website ran this headline over an Associated Press report: “Thousands Worldwide Protest War in Iraq.” The subhead, right under the headline, was “Hundreds of Thousands Worldwide Open Day of Rallies Against Possible Military Action in Iraq.” The first line of the piece: “Millions of protesters many of them marching in the capitals of America’s traditional allies demonstrated Saturday against possible U.S. plans to attack Iraq.”
Anyone who tries to question the rationale for a war is branded an enemy sympathizer.
November 7, 2002
—When anti-war activist Dr. Helen Caldicott blames the dramatic rise in birth defects in southern Iraq on the U.S. use of depleted uranium in anti-tank shells in the Gulf War, CNN‘s Wolf Blitzer defends the Pentagon. When Caldicott brings up the effect of sanctions on Iraq, Blitzer again offers the official line, saying that “the Iraqi regime itself is to blame for all of these problems.” Blitzer goes on to argue that Caldicott’s questioning of U.S. policy is tantamount to “defending the Iraqi regime.
Today, the country is different, the times are different, and the technology is different but the tactic remains the same. It’s the same lies being told and repeated over and over again. Here are today’s headlines about North Korea. As usual, the Washington Post is leading the charge.
Breaking: North Korea has produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles, analysts say https://t.co/lPbtrU6dJr
— Washington Post (@washingtonpost) August 8, 2017
— CNN (@CNN) August 8, 2017
There are no ideological differences when it comes to selling the wars.
In light of dangerous NKorea threat, I'm stopping all petty political disagreements for at least next 12 hours. Let's see what others do.
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) August 8, 2017
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) August 8, 2017
And the president’s permission to lie is alive and well.
After many years of failure,countries are coming together to finally address the dangers posed by North Korea. We must be tough & decisive!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 8, 2017
There aren’t many headlines yet, but the charge is still just beginning, so give it time. The point is that you can see the same pattern being followed, even if it’s still early days.
Of course, there are the ones whose voices you would hardly hear. The ones whose voices are out sidetracked and silenced. They’re speaking out, but you would have to look for them in order to hear them.
The lesson learned from Libya is: “If you had nukes, never give them up. If you don’t have them, get them.” https://t.co/Yiwesj3wdU
— The Intercept (@theintercept) August 8, 2017
Cooler heads must prevail on North Korea. Trading threats isn't working. Listen to South Koreans, who want diplomacy, not war.
— Dr. Jill Stein🌻 (@DrJillStein) August 8, 2017
Senator Sanders Statement on North Korea.
BURLINGTON, Vt., Aug. 9 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) issued the following statement Wednesday after President Donald Trump warned he could unleash “fire and fury” on North Korea:
“President Trump’s bombastic rhetoric is not appropriate when we are dealing with the possibility of a nuclear war that could kill millions of people. North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and missile capability is an enormously serious issue and we need serious people at the State Department dealing with it. Our job now is to work with China and our allies in the region and around the world on a comprehensive diplomatic strategy to address this problem.”