June 10, 2006
In what way can the death of the alleged 'al-Zarqawi' be an important
moment for the occupation of Iraq? The implication is that with
'al-Zarqawi' out of the way, the resistance to the occupation will melt
away. That's nonsense. I suspect that the death of Zarqawi to the Iraqi
insurgency means less than an L.A. drive by. The remainder of the
insurgency--which has far more Iraqi citizens than foreign elements: an
unhappy fact the Pentagon and its complicit handmaiden, the US media,
has gone to great lengths to ignore-- the rest of the Iraqi insurgency
want to see the U.S. Military out of Iraq or dead. Probably, both.
Additionally, there's good reason to suspect that Zarqawi's death is
more a propaganda gambit than a real news event--even divorced of all
the idiotic hype. Here's what one General Kimmit said about a year ago
in a moment of uncharacteristic candor:
"The Zarqawi PSYOP program is the most successful information campaign
to date." -- Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the U.S. military's chief
More beneath the fold...
I think that the 'death' of 'Abu Musab al-Zarqawi' is part of a
carefully planned disinformation campaign designed to divert attention
away from the slaughter of Haditha (and elsewhere). CNN, MSNBC, BBC and
FOX in particular have had a field day with 'al-Zarqawi' calling him
amongst other choice phrases, a "psychopath" and predictably,
describing those who question the role or importance of 'al-Zarqawi' as
"conspiracists" But the charge is ludicrous, the identity of Zarqawi as
a propaganda vehicle is well known. As recently as April, Thomas Ricks
of the Washington Post has been writing about the Pentagon's use of the
Jordanian Al-Zarqawi as a propaganda tool:
The U.S. military is conducting a propaganda campaign to magnify the
role of the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq, according to internal military
documents and officers familiar with the program. The effort has raised
his profile in a way that some military intelligence officials believe
may have overstated his importance and helped the Bush administration
tie the war to the organization responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001,
The documents state that the U.S. campaign aims to turn Iraqis against
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian, by playing on their perceived
dislike of foreigners. U.S. authorities claim some success with that
effort, noting that some tribal Iraqi insurgents have attacked Zarqawi
For the past two years, U.S. military leaders have been using Iraqi
media and other outlets in Baghdad to publicize Zarqawi's role in the
insurgency. The documents explicitly list the "U.S. Home Audience" as
one of the targets of a broader propaganda campaign.
'Abu Musab al-Zarqawi' had actually made his first public appearance in
Colin Powell's infamous disinformation presentation to the United
Nations in early 2003, although his name had already cropped up in a
CIA briefing paper as the alleged leader of a splinter group based in
the Kurdish area of northern Iraq. Apparently, he was dead at the time,
because according to the CIA, the base was flattened by a US bombing
raid in April 2003.
There is also the appearance al-Zarqawi himself, if indeed it is the
'real' Zarqawi. First he lost a leg in Afghanistan, then some pretty
sophisticated surgery apparently restored it. Then even more
remarkably, he rose from the dead again. How? According to a story
dated 4 March 2004, Zarqawi was killed when the US bombed the HQ of the
Ansar al-Ansam where Zarqawi was allegedly hiding out.
Christian Science Monitor October 16, 2003,
If you want to follow the bread crumb trail of this particular
operation, The Editor & Publisher Website details the role of
'al-Zarqawi' as part of a sophisticated US psy-ops disinformation
campaign. The piece is titled 'A U.S. 'Propaganda' Program, al-Zarqawi,
and 'The New York Times' By Greg Mitchell
Not unsurprisingly, it reveals the connection between our propaganda
ministers in the Pentagon and our so called paper of record:
Midway through Thomas Ricks' Washington Post scoop (http://www.washingtonpost.com/...)
on Monday detailing a U.S. military "propaganda program" aimed at
convincing Iraqis that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has a very prominent role
in directing violence in that country, there is one specific tip on how
the plan may have also targeted American reporters and audiences.
Ricks found that one "selective leak"--about a recently discovered
letter written by Zarqawi--was handed by the military to Dexter
Filkins, the longtime New York Times reporter in Baghdad. Filkins's
resulting article, about the Zarqawi letter boasting of foreigners'
role in suicide attacks in Iraq, ran on the front page of the Times on
Feb. 9, 2004.
"Leaks to reporters from U.S. officials in Iraq are common, but
official evidence of a propaganda operation using an American reporter
is rare," Ricks observed. He quoted Brig. Gen. Mark Kimmitt, the U.S.
military's chief spokesman when the propaganda campaign began in 2004:
"We trusted Dexter to write an accurate story, and we gave him a good
scoop ... [but Filkins] told Ricks he was skeptical about the
document's authenticity then, and remains so now.
The story continues
Rod Nordland, [Newsweek's] Baghdad bureau chief, on March 6 wrote: "The
letter so neatly and comprehensively lays out a blueprint for fomenting
strife with the Shia, and later the Kurds, that it's a little hard to
believe in it unreservedly. It came originally from Kurdish sources who
have a long history of disinformation and dissimulation. It was an
electronic document on a CD-ROM, so there's no way to authenticate
signature or handwriting, aside from the testimony of those captured
with it, about which the authorities have not released much
Naturally that doesn't prevent the rightwing Wurlitzers from creating a 'reality' where there is nothing at all...
In his Post story today, Ricks also does not mention what happened next.
William Safire, in his Feb. 11, 2004, column for the Times titled
"Found: A Smoking Gun," declared that the letter "demolishes the
repeated claim of Bush critics that there was never a ''clear link'
between Saddam and Osama bin Laden." Safire mocked the Washington Post
for burying the story on page 17, while hailing a Reuters account
quoting an "amazed" U.S. officials saying, "We couldn't make this up if
Three days later, another Times columnist, David Brooks, covered the
letter as fact under the heading "The Zarqawi Rules." The letter was
covered in this manner by other media for weeks. So clearly, the leak
to Filkins worked.
Read the final sentence, where Ricks reveals an internal briefing,
authored by the U.S. military headquarters in Iraq, which revealed that
Kimmitt had concluded that, "The Zarqawi PSYOP program is the most
successful information campaign to date."
I suspect that his convenient death (real or otherwise) is being
desperately hyped by a psy-ops campaign largely geared towards the
American public. Originally, Zarqawi was used to show that al Qaeda and
the foreign 'terrorists' element were strong in Iraq. He has now
evolved into an ad hoc diversion from the slaughter at Haditha. Don't
believe me? Fine. When's the last story you read about Haditha?
Actually, if Zarqawi is real or not hardly matters. In an increasingly
anti-American Arab world, hostility from the US made it easy for
Zarqawi--or anyone like him-- to develop his own organization and
finance it. The siege of Fallujah in April 2004 and the storming of the
city by US Marines in November led to al-Tawhid wal-Jihad - whose name
was later changed to al Qaeda's Organisation in Iraq - becoming a
powerful force. We pretty much created the monster we just killed with
such ballyhoo and lust, if he ever existed at all...
So the person the US military murdered may or may not be a historical
Zarqawi, but it hardly matters. As a distant correspondent once wrote
to me from his 'data analysis' position in Naval Intelligence at the
Pentagon: Perception is Reality.
I had the distinct impression that he was proud of this particular insight. Worse, that he firmly believed it.