Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search

 

US Unit Established To Control Info During Crisis

John Howard reports that President Clinton has signed yet another Executive Order establishing a State Department unit that will control the flow of US government news overseas, especially during crisis.

Apparently dismayed by the success of anti-American propaganda worldwide, the new International Public Information group, (IPI) will coordinate the dissemination of news from the State Department, Pentagon and other government agencies.

"What this is intended to do is organise the instruments of the federal government to be able to support the public diplomacy, military engagements and economic initiatives that we have overseas," said David Levy, spokesman for the White House National Security Council.

The IPI group came about partly in response to the spread of unflattering or erroneous information about the United States received abroad via email, the Internet, cellular phones and other communication advances.

In the recent Kosovo war, the Pentagon, State Department and White House poured out information each day but no single agency tried to assemble it so that the United States spoke with a coordinated message overseas.

On the other hand millions of people worldwide joined Internet chat groups during the Kosovo war and sent e-mail's to people directly affected at the coal face of the airstrikes.

People in countries from where US forces were deploying sent email messages advising that air force planes were on the way, their number, and the direction in which they were flying. This gave people in affected towns and villages some time to take preventative action and was said to be a major factor in reducing casualties and death from the bombing raids.

This had a dramatic effect on countering the US Government spin doctors.

Although the new Executive Order was signed on April 30, in the thick of the Kosovo war, the White House at the time did not announce the group's existence or role.

However, an unclassified mission statement just now obtained by reporters describes IPI's role as:

"Effective use of our nation's highly developed communications and information capabilities to address misinformation and incitement, mitigate inter-ethnic conflict, promote independent media organisations and the free flow of information, and support democratic participation will advance our interests and is a critical foreign policy objective."

A media concern is that the coordinated effort may filter information that should be broadly available to foreign reporters.

The IPI will hold its first meeting around October when officials from the Pentagon, FBI, CIA and the departments of State, Commerce and Treasury come together. Regular members will be senior diplomats and others in foreign policy or national security jobs in Washington.

The rationale for IPI dates from the confusion and bad press surrounding the US intervention in Haiti in 1994-95, but Kosovo is the best recent example of how the United States needs to fight a propaganda war in concert with military strikes, officials said.

Anti-American sentiment ran high during the 78-day war, even among Yogoslavs who did not support President Milosevic. Many Europeans were leery of the airstrikes, seen as a US enterprise, and reluctant to levy heavy military power against a modern European capital.

The air war that ended in June also produced one of the worst diplomatic and public relations disasters in recent memory when a US plan mistakenly bombed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade on May 7, killing three Chinese journalists.

Outraged mobs rushed the American Embassy in Beijing, trapping then-Ambassador James Sasser inside for a long time.

It was days before the United States could get its official apology before the Chinese people at large, and the US explanation was greeted with disdain by both the Chinese government and the rock-throwing mobs.

It has been well said that truth is the first casualty of war. Justice Bentham said; "Now and then, it is true, one error may be driven out, for a time, by an opposite error: one piece of nonsense by another piece of nonsense: but for barring the door effectually and forever against all error and all nonsense; there is nothing quite like the simple truth."

As Australian's vote in their November referendum on whether to become a republic with an Australian president, perhaps capable of also issuing executive orders, they should keep in mind Henry Kissinger's words; "Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac."

And ain't that the truth!

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 


Dunne Speaks: Can ACT's Dream Run Continue?

By most reckonings the ACT Party has had a very successful political year. Not only has its expanded Parliamentary team settled in well to its work, without controversy or scandal, but its leader has gained in community respect, and the party’s support, at least according to the public opinion polls, has increased sharply... More>>

Keith Rankin: Basic Universal Income And Economic Rights
"Broad growth is only going to come when you put money in the hands of people, and that's why we talk about a Universal Basic Income". [Ritu Dewan, Indian Society of Labour Economics]. (From How long before India's economy recovers, 'Context India', Al Jazeera, 31 Oct 2021.) India may be to the 'Revolution of the twenty-first century' that Russia was to the 'Revolution of the twentieth century'... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Foreseeable Risk: Omicron Makes Its Viral Debut
It has been written about more times than any care to remember. Pliny the Elder, that old cheek, told us that Africa always tended to bring forth something new: Semper aliquid novi Africam adferre. The suggestion was directed to hybrid animals, but in the weird pandemic wonderland that is COVID-19, all continents now find themselves bringing forth their types, making their contributions. It just so happens that it’s southern Africa’s turn... More>>



Gasbagging In Glasgow: COP26 And Phasing Down Coal

Words can provide sharp traps, fettering language and caging definitions. They can also speak to freedom of action and permissiveness. At COP26, that permissiveness was all the more present in the haggling ahead of what would become the Glasgow Climate Pact... More>>

Globetrotter: Why Julian Assange’s Inhumane Prosecution Imperils Justice For Us All

When I first saw Julian Assange in Belmarsh prison, in 2019, shortly after he had been dragged from his refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy, he said, “I think I am losing my mind.”
He was gaunt and emaciated, his eyes hollow and the thinness of his arms was emphasized by a yellow identifying cloth tied around his left arm... More>>

Dunne Speaks: Labour's High Water Mark
If I were still a member of the Labour Party I would be feeling a little concerned after this week’s Colmar Brunton public opinion poll. Not because the poll suggested Labour is going to lose office any time soon – it did not – nor because it showed other parties doing better – they are not... More>>