The Melbourne Age
By ALAN PHILPS
Wednesday 20 February 2002
An influential group of retired generals and security chiefs is
calling on Israel to break the cycle of bloodshed by withdrawing from
most of the occupied territories, and allowing the Palestinians to
establish their own state.
The proposal is anathema to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who
has refused to meet its authors, the 1000-strong Council for Peace
and Security, and is pursuing a harsh military policy towards the
Shaul Givoli, the council's director-general, said on Monday the
group had decided to rally public support for a pull-out from most of
the West Bank and all of the Gaza Strip, except for a buffer zone
along the border with Egypt. This would involve the dismantling of
some 40 Jewish settlements, home to 30,000 people.
The publication of the plan reflects a mood of despair among Israelis
after 16 months of violence. There are increasing calls for Mr Sharon
to explain his strategy for ending the bloodshed, given he has failed
to provide the security he promised a year ago.
Mr Sharon retains broad support among Israelis but more than 250 army
reservists have signed a letter refusing to serve in Palestinian
areas, saying occupation corrupts Israeli society.
The council takes a soldier's view that the army is over-stretched
trying to protect small Jewish settlements in the middle of a
Palestinian territory. Members say forces should be redeployed along
a line that would effectively mark the border between the two states.
The organisation comprises more than 1000 reserve generals, officers,
and former senior members of Israel's Shin Bet and Mossad security
Israeli political scientist Shlomo Avineri, long a supporter of
establishing an independent Palestinian-state on lands Israel
occupied in the 1967 Middle East War, called the disengagement a
chance to calm tempers before re-engaging for peace talks.
"The aim is first to reduce the daily friction and violence, not to
end it completely ... and to prevent the continuation of occupation
not all of it but most of it," Mr Avineri said.
The Sharon Government fears the plan would be seen as giving in to
terrorism and negotiating under pressure.
The authors believe drastic measures to separate Israel from the
Palestinians are needed and have adopted the slogan "Say shalom to
the Palestinians" a play on the word shalom, which can mean
both "peace" and "goodbye".
The idea of unilateral separation is gaining popularity. It is
supported by two-thirds of Israelis, according to a recent poll. But
a contradictory plan expelling the Palestinians from the West Bank
and Gaza is favoured by 35 per cent.
Israeli leftists oppose building a fence to shut out tens of
thousands of Palestinians from work in Israel.
Unilateral steps would increase resentment and harm future peace
talks, they say.
Palestinian officials would not comment on the proposal, but have
said they would accept nothing less than a full Israeli withdrawal
from the West Bank, including Arab East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip
to build a state.
There is no sign of a let-up in the violence. Four Israelis and up to
eight Palestinians, including a suicide bomber, have been killed in
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Pentagon Propaganda Plan Is Undemocratic, Possibly Illegal
February 19, 2002
The New York Times reported today that the Pentagon’s Office of Strategic
Influence is “developing plans to provide news items, possibly even false
ones, to foreign media organizations” in an effort “to influence public
sentiment and policy makers in both friendly and unfriendly countries.”
The OSI was created shortly after September 11 to publicize the U.S.
government’s perspective in Islamic countries and to generate support for
the U.S.’s “war on terror.” This latest announcement raises grave concerns
that far from being an honest effort to explain U.S. policy, the OSI may
be a profoundly undemocratic program devoted to spreading disinformation
and misleading the public, both at home and abroad. At the same time,
involving reporters in disinformation campaigns puts the lives of working
journalists at risk.
Despite the OSI’s multi-million-dollar budget and its mandate to
propagandize throughout the Middle East, Asia and Western Europe, “even
many senior Pentagon officials and Congressional military aides say they
know almost nothing about its purpose and plans,” according to the Times.
The Times reported that the OSI’s latest announcement has generated
opposition within the Pentagon among those who fear that it will undermine
the Defense Department’s credibility.
Tarnished credibility may be the least of the problems created by the
OSI’s new plan to manipulate media-- the plan may compromise the free flow
of information that democracy relies on. The government is barred by law
from propagandizing within the U.S., but the OSI’s new plan will likely
lead to disinformation planted in a foreign news report being picked up by
U.S. news outlets. The war in Afghanistan has shown that the 24-hour news
cycle, combined with cuts in the foreign news budgets across the U.S.,
make overseas outlets like Al-Jazeera and Reuters key resources for U.S.
Any “accidental” propaganda fallout from the OSI’s efforts is troubling
enough, but given the U.S. government’s track record on domestic
propaganda, U.S. media should be pushing especially hard for more
information about the operation’s other, intentional policies.
According to the New York Times, “one of the military units assigned to
carry out the policies of the Office of Strategic Influence” is the U.S.
Army’s Psychological Operations Command (PSYOPS). The Times doesn’t
mention, however, that PSYOPS has been accused of operating domestically
as recently as the Kosovo war.
In February 2000, reports in Dutch and French newspapers revealed that
several officers from the 4th PSYOPS Group had worked in the news division
at CNN's Atlanta headquarters as part of an “internship” program starting
in the final days of the Kosovo War. Coverage of this disturbing story was
scarce (see http://www.fair.org/activism/cnn-psyops.html), but after FAIR
issued an Action Alert on the story, CNN stated that it had already
terminated the program and acknowledged that it was “inappropriate.”
Even if the PSYOPS officers working in the newsroom did not directly
influence news reporting, the question remains of whether CNN may have
allowed the military to conduct an intelligence-gathering mission against
the network itself. The idea isn’t far-fetched-- according to Intelligence
Newsletter (2/17/00), a rear admiral from the Special Operations Command
told a PSYOPS conference that the military needed to find ways to "gain
control" over commercial news satellites to help bring down an
"informational cone of silence" over regions where special operations were
taking place. One of CNN’s PSYOPS “interns” worked in the network’s
satellite division. (During the Afghanistan war the Pentagon found a very
direct way to “gain control”—it simply bought up all commercial satellite
images of Afghanistan, in order to prevent media from accessing them.)
It’s worth noting that the 4th PSYOPS group is the same group that staffed
the National Security Council's now notorious Office of Public Diplomacy
(OPD), which planted stories in the U.S. media supporting the Reagan
Administration's Central America policies during the 1980s. Described by a
senior U.S. official as a "vast psychological warfare operation of the
kind the military conducts to influence a population in enemy territory"
(Miami Herald, 7/19/87), the OPD was shut down after the Iran-Contra
investigations, but not before influencing coverage in major outlets
including the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Washington Post
The OPD may be gone, but the Bush administration’s recent recess
appointment of former OPD head Otto Reich as assistant secretary of state
for Western Hemisphere affairs is not reassuring. It suggests, at best, a
troubling indifference to Reich’s role in orchestrating the OPD’s
deception of the American people.
Indeed, as the Federation of American Scientists points out, “the Bush
Administration’s insistent efforts to expand the scope of official secrecy
have now been widely noted as a defining characteristic of the Bush
presidency” (Secrecy News, 2/18/02). The administration’s refusal to
disclose Enron-related information to the General Accounting Office is
perhaps the most publicized of these efforts; another is Attorney General
John Ashcroft’s October 12 memo urging federal agencies to resist Freedom
Of Information Act requests.
In addition, the Pentagon’s restrictive press policies throughout the war
in Afghanistan have been an ongoing problem. Most recently, Washington
Post reporter Doug Struck claims that U.S. soldiers threatened to shoot
him if he proceeded with an attempt to investigate a site where civilians
had been killed; Struck has stated that for him, the central question
raised by the incident is whether the Pentagon is trying to “cover up” its
actions and why it won’t “allow access by reporters to determine what
they're doing here in Afghanistan” (CBS, “The Early Show,” 2/13/02).
Taken together, these incidents and policies should raise alarm bells for
media throughout the country. Democracy doesn’t work if the public does
not have access to full and accurate information about its government.
Feel free to respond to FAIR ( firstname.lastname@example.org ). We can't reply to
everything, but we will look at each message. We especially appreciate
documented example of media bias or censorship. And please send copies of
your email correspondence with media outlets, including any responses, to
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Feb 18, 2002
MONTREAL - The RCMP said yesterday it is investigating an alleged plot
kill Robert Mugabe - a plot that a Montreal consulting firm with ties
Zimbabwe's president claims it videotaped last year.
Dickens & Madson, which has worked on and off for the Zimbabwe
for several years, said last week it secretly videotaped a meeting
African country's main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, when he
the company headquarters last December.
Company president Ari Ben-Menashe said he planted a hidden camera in
office and taped Tsvangirai asking the firm Dec. 4 to ``organize"
assassination and a coup d'état "as soon as possible."
RCMP Constable Guy Amyot confirmed the Mounties are investigating but
not say what form its probe would take
Ottawa has confirmed the investigation, Amyot said from Quebec city,
"although we cannot comment on it because it's an ongoing
Federal Foreign Affairs spokesperson Carl Schwenger said yesterday
officials in his department's Africa bureau brought the matter to the
attention of the Mounties.
"These types of allegations are criminal in nature," he said from
"When you've got people (allegedly) conspiring to kill somebody,
ultimately something that should be brought to the attention of the
Schwenger said he did not know whether the videotape of the Montreal
had been handed over to the Mounties.
The bizarre tale came to light last Wednesday in a report on
television. "We're really observers here as much as anyone else,"
"I'm not sure about the tape. We brought it to the attention of the
given the serious nature of the allegations, a conspiracy, or alleged
conspiracy to assassinate somebody."
Tsvangirai has denied he planned to kill Mugabe, saying it was Dickens
Madson, not him, who first hatched the assassination plot.
Tsvangirai has said he broke off contact with the Montreal firm after
made the alleged proposal. Tsvangirai is seen as the main challenger
Mugabe's 22-year reign in the run-up to Zimbabwe's March 9-10
Ben-Menashe, in announcing the taping last week, said that Dickens &
unbeknown to Tsvangirai, has had a long-standing working relationship
Mugabe and his government. The company said it advises Mugabe's
condemned globally for its stifling of dissent - on issues relating to
Tsvangirai said Thursday his party recently learned the firm was hired
the head of Zimbabwe's secret intelligence service and a senior
official to discredit the opposition.
Ben-Menashe, who has denied those charges, did not return phone calls
The man, who claims he's a former Israeli spy, was acquitted by a U.S.
federal jury in 1990 on charges he illegally arranged a deal to sell
military cargo planes to Iran in exchange for release of four American
hostages in the Middle East.
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