Thursday, September 20, 2007

Bush Winning PR War

TV ads - sponsored by a White House front group known as Freedom's Watch - that seek to shore up waning support for the Iraq war by perpetuating the canard that 9/11 was a Hussein production. In their quest to stoke emotions in defiance of fact, the ad-makers aren't exactly subtle. First, some military vets are shown making the case for staying in Iraq. Then, in the key image, we're back on 9/11. The north tower is burning, the second tower is seconds away from igniting, and these words flash on the screen: They Attacked Us.
The ad doesn't state that "they" refers to the Iraqis, but clever advertising is all about connecting the dots. Almost 40 percent of Americans believe Saddam attacked us on 9/11 
1. As early as June 2003, one month after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, a monitoring group appointed by the U.N. Security Council announced that it had found no evidence linking Hussein to al-Qaeda.
2. In 2004, the bipartisan 9/11 Commission concluded: "We have no credible evidence that Iraq and al-Qaeda cooperated on attacks against the United States."
3. In 2005, a newly declassified Defense Intelligence Agency document concluded that a key terrorist informant had been "intentionally misleading" his American debriefers when he claimed that Hussein had been in cahoots with al-Qaeda. The document, written 13 months before the U.S. invasion, also stated that "Saddam's regime is intensely secular and is wary of Islamic revolutionary movements."
4. In 2006, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence - which, at the time, was still run by the Republicans - concluded in a report: "Postwar information supports prewar intelligence-community assessments that there was no credible information that Iraq was complicit in, or had foreknowledge of, the Sept. 11 attacks or any other al-Qaeda strike."
5. In February of this year, the Pentagon's acting inspector general concluded in a report that President Bush's neoconservative war planners utilized "both reliable and unreliable" information to fashion a Hussein/al-Qaeda link "that was much stronger than that assessed by the [intelligence community], and more in accord with the policy views of senior officials in the administration."
6. In April of this year, At the Center of the Storm, a memoir by ex-CIA director George Tenet, was published, in which we read that "there was never any real serious evidence that Saddam Hussein was an ally of al-Qaeda."
7. Last, even some notable Bush administration officials have debunked the myth. Donald Rumsfeld did it in 2004: Referring to Hussein and al-Qaeda, he told the Council on Foreign Relations, "I have not seen any strong, hard evidence that links the two." And the other debunker, way back on Sept. 17, 2003, was George W. Bush. In a news conference that day, the president said: "We've had no evidence that Saddam Hussein was involved with the Sept. 11."
Yet despite all the empirical evidence, a pro-Bush group - financed primarily by some rich Republican donors, and some ex-Bush ambassadors - has nonetheless paid out $15 million to air ads that meet the dictionary definition of propaganda. The ads are airing in 60 districts where Republican congressmen are wavering in their support for the war; Pennsylvania, home to seven targeted GOP House members, is on the front lines of this PR war.

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