Sunday, June 11, 2006

The Zarqawi myth. Again.

* perhaps it's time for a little "tick-tock" on the outing of the zarqawi propaganda story
April 10, 2006
Washington Post, Page A01
Military Plays Up Role of Zarqawi
Jordanian Painted As Foreign Threat To Iraq's Stability
By Thomas E. Ricks

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...

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.

Some senior intelligence officers believe Zarqawi's role may have been overemphasized by the propaganda campaign, which has included leaflets, radio and television broadcasts, Internet postings and at least one leak to an American journalist.
The military's propaganda program largely has been aimed at Iraqis, but seems to have spilled over into the U.S. media. One briefing slide about U.S. "strategic communications" in Iraq, prepared for Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the top U.S. commander in Iraq, describes the "home audience" as one of six major targets of the American side of the war.

That slide, created by Casey's subordinates, does not specifically state that U.S. citizens were being targeted by the effort, but other sections of the briefings indicate that there were direct military efforts to use the U.S. media to affect views of the war. One slide in the same briefing, for example, noted that a "selective leak" about Zarqawi was made to Dexter Filkins, a New York Times reporter based in Baghdad. Filkins's resulting article, about a letter supposedly written by Zarqawi and boasting of suicide attacks in Iraq, ran on the Times front page 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.
The Zarqawi campaign is discussed in several of the internal military documents. "Villainize Zarqawi/leverage xenophobia response," one U.S. military briefing from 2004 stated. It listed three methods: "Media operations," "Special Ops (626)" (a reference to Task Force 626, an elite U.S. military unit assigned primarily to hunt in Iraq for senior officials in Hussein's government) and "PSYOP," the U.S. military term for propaganda work.

One internal briefing, produced by the U.S. military headquarters in Iraq, said that Kimmitt had concluded that, "The Zarqawi PSYOP program is the most successful information campaign to date."
"Through aggressive Strategic Communications, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi now represents: Terrorism in Iraq/Foreign Fighters in Iraq/Suffering of Iraqi People (Infrastructure Attacks)/Denial of Iraqi Aspirations," the same briefing asserts.
ok. so they got busted on the front page of WaPo on april 10.

April 16:
"a special operations raid killed five of (Zarqawi's) men, captured five others and apparently came within a couple of city blocks of nabbing Zarqawi himself.... Among items recovered from the safe house, the special operations source said, was a video...
The source said the video seized in Yusufiyah was the same one released April 25."
(we dont learn about this until the 28th. see below.)

April 25: Zarqawi's video is released. Prior to this point, we've only ever seen three photos of the guy.

April 28 comes this long piece in the Army Times: "SpecOps unit nearly nabs Zarqawi" by Sean Naylor - where we 'learn' about a whole bunch of 'close calls' where they nearly caught zarqawi - going back to feb 05 when Task Force 145
"set up an elaborate ambush. But ... Zarqawi was late.

The U.S. troops were preparing to leave when his vehicle came into view. He and his driver blew through a Delta roadblock before nearing a Ranger checkpoint. The Ranger M240B machine-gunner had Zarqawi in his sights and requested permission to fire, but the lieutenant in charge of the checkpoint did not give the OK because he did not have “positive ID” of the vehicle’s occupants, a TF 145 source said.

To the intense frustration of other Rangers on the scene, Zarqawi’s vehicle hurtled past, with the Jordanian staring wildly at the Rangers, while wearing a Black Hawk vest and gripping a U.S. assault rifle, the TF 145 source said. Delta operators took up a high-speed pursuit, while a Shadow unmanned aerial vehicle tracked the action from above.

But the Delta men fell victim to bad timing. When he realized he had a tail, Zarqawi’s driver took the vehicle — with Zarqawi inside — off the main highway and onto a secondary road. With the TF 145 operators perhaps 30 seconds behind, Zarqawi jumped out and ran for it, leaving his driver, laptop, and $100,000 in Euros to be captured by the Americans.

As staffers in an operations center tried to vector the chasing Americans toward him using the UAV’s pictures, the Shadow’s camera chose that moment to “reset,” switching from a tight focus on Zarqawi’s vehicle to a wide-angle view of the town. By the time the staffers frantically zoomed the camera back in, Zarqawi had vanished.

It was an extraordinarily frustrating experience for the members of TF 145; they knew how close they had come, and how infrequently such opportunities arise.

Zarqawi also seemed to realize the peril he was in.

“He was sh---ing his pants. ... he was screaming at the driver,” the special operations source said. “He knew he was caught.”"

May 3 we get Inside the Hunt for al-Zarqawi from Arkin:
Is the U.S. military just a hair away from killing Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq?

Last week, readers of an insider military publication have been treated to an unprecedented look inside "Task Force 145," the U.S. special operations group responsible for the manhunt inside Iraq.
Naylor describes the organization and work of Task Force 145, an extension of the U.S. Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), headquartered at Pope AFB, North Carolina...

By force of habit, and with rote justification for protecting operational security, the Pentagon doesn't release even the most trivial details of JSOC's organization, budget or strength. This is the clandestine force of the American military, whose secrecy gives it greater flexibility and more freedom of action.
Ok. so two weeks after zarqawi is outed as a propaganda campaign, we get an 'unprecedented' look into JSOC who normally don't even discuss the 'most trivial' items - up to and including their budget. Coincidentally, this window into JSOC happens to focus exactly on the hunt for zarqawi - and how they've nearly caught him a few times.

May 4. Blooper tape released by US military. "The video was found during a series of raids in April"

A month later, someone looking like the guy in the video was murdered by two 500 pound bombs. or gunshot wounds. or something. We won't know exactly how he died for a while, but thankfully the USG is responsibly on the job:
""I think if we don't do a full autopsy then that might irresponsible on our part," Caldwell said. "I think we sort of owe that just for this reason: How did he actually die?"

He said the U.S. government thought it was important enough "that we grabbed two people in the last 48 hours and told them pack up and move to Iraq.""
Apparently both the myth of Zarqawi, and the guy in the video/morgue, have outlived their usefulness.

As a bonus aside, compare the Army Times version of the Feb 20, 05 incident with contemporaneous versions (actually, 2 months later) of the story:
Following a tip off from a Zarqawi network insider, the task force placed troops, checkpoints and Predator drones to monitor Ramadi, said the report. The senior official said that troops pulled over a car as it approached a checkpoint and noticed that a pickup truck a kilometre behind quickly turned in the opposite direction.

The US believes the Zarqawi was in the truck, “Zarqawi always has someone check the waters,” said the official. US teams pursued the truck and stopped it, however the militant leader was not inside it. He said they found out later that Zarqawi had jumped out when the vehicle passed under a bridge and hid there before running to a safe house in Ramadi. He added that Zarqawi’s computer and US $104,000 were found inside the truck.

The military official described the find as “a seminal event.” The computer had “a very big hard drive,” and recent pictures of Zarqawi
And how did they know it was Zarqawi? This from Christian Science Monitor:
In 2005, he barely escaped a US checkpoint that apprehended two of his colleagues and his computer, which had many photos of him in the "My Pictures" folder. At the time, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Richard Myers said in a Pentagon briefing: "We were close."
They knew that it was Zarqawi because there were 'many photos' of Zarqawi in the 'My Pictures' folder. According to this logic, a large portion of the computer-using male population are actually naked nubile teenage women. At the time I wrote:
"is that the funniest thing you have read in a while? i literally choked as i read it... how do they keep a straight face?"
I still don't know how they keep a straight face - but keep these stories in mind as you listen to the blow-hard pundits speculate about the implications of the death of zarqawi on the war in iraq and the TWOT.

Lesson for the day: if a stranger asks you to make a video pretending to be an evil terrorist, politely decline the offer.


C.D. said...

"Rumours" of War

The Chicago Tribune reported the latest allegation raised by AP Television News in a story that appeared in the newspaper's Sunday edition. But the New York Times did not. Or more accurately the version of the story that appeared on the New York Times' web site Sunday morning failed to mention the allegation. A reprinted version of the same story that appeared at the Toronto Star web site, however, did at least indirectly refer to the claim made by Mohammed.

I discovered this discrepancy by doing a simple Google News search using the keywords "al-Zarqawi" and "rumours." My reasoning was that by employing the British spelling of the word "rumor" I might find information not being reported in the American press. And that's exactly what I found. The U.S. newspaper of record -- The New York Times -- was censoring the news to its American readership. I guess we should feel fortunate that the Trib decided not to follow suit and play along with the Mighty Wurlitzer.

Bob Waters said...

Let's see: the most notoriously anti-Bush, Left-wing, anti-war paper in the United States- the New York Times- conspiriatorially suppresses a not particularly credible paranoid fantasy with nothing in particular to support it.

It must provide you with a great deal of security to live in an internally self-consistent, self-adjusting and self-protecting paranoid dream world in which your irrational world view is automatically guaranteed iron-clad self-validation by every nutball rumor
that floats by.

Kathleen said...

Is it time to call in Oprah to give our Prevaricator In Chief a Fact or Fiction tongue lashing?

And, ooooo, a troll. Does that mean you've made it to the public enemy list, Lukery? If the NYT is an anti-Bush paper, somebody better tell Judith Miller. Don't you love the way the NeoNutzis project their own singular tunnel vision on to the dreaded liberals?

lukery said...

mmm - trollls.