Friday, January 8, 2010

The U.S. Propaganda Industry: Part II

In the previous instalment I examined the background of the propaganda industry in the United States, its founder Edward Bernays, and his stated purpose for it:


“The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government, which is the true ruling power of our country.”

Before fixing ideas and giving further examples, why the need for an "invisible government" to deliberately confuse and manipulate the public? To mutate them into anodyne, anesthetized zombies who simply parrot talking points of talking heads?

Let's be clear first we aren't talking about any nation, but the U.S.A. which has mutated - arguably since the killing of John F. Kennedy - into a hardcore, capitalist war state. Such a state can only sustain itself if it has near total control of the thinking of the majority of its people, which can be directed toward specific desired ends. There are three basic needs it has on an ongoing basis: 1) preservation of its financial markets and the industrial machine-system, 2) interlinking of these with war making capacity, and 3) fending off threats in perception which may ultimately prove troublesome for long term control.

I am not going to dwell overly much on the preservation of fake financial markets (based in Wall Street) whose real purpose is to soak investors and which (since the Reagan era) has become a standard for wanton speculation, siphoning money from Main Street. At least half a dozen of my previous blog entries deal with this aspect, and the energized reader is invited to consult them. The most recent illustration of its perniciousness was the credit meltdown in 2008 based on the abuse and misuse of credit default swaps - which I've also written about at length.

In terms of the industrial state, the key aspect is to ensure there is no obstruction to its throughput or output. Especially as these may well be elements inextricably tied to war- "defense' production.

In the documentary film 'Atomic Cafe' one beheld a number of stunning propaganda claims and presentations, including:

- Bikini Atoll islanders and inhabitants told their lands would be "used for special purposes" while they were moved elsewhere

- U.S. school children undergoing regular "duck and cover" exercises, and being led to believe that they had a chance of surviving an atomic blast on their towns if they just hid themselves under their desks.

- Soldiers led to exercises in the vicinity of atomic tests in Nevada being told that the radiation would do no harm unless they had open cuts or wounds

Of course, all the above amount to codswallop. But, minus the information to counter the claims, the targets simply acted like sheep and complied. Now, granted, there were times in 1st grade at St. Leo's Paraochial School in 1954 - I felt like telling the nun (Sr. Vivina) to shove it and that ducking under a desk was dumb- but the appearance of the pointer in her hands more or less dissuaded me.

But the atomic testing malarkey was more or less a prelude to the greater malarkey that would come later, and which was incepted in the 1940s with the same atomic tests. In deed, careful examination of public records discloses a government endorsed spin campaign that dates almost back to the Manhattan Project - to try to sell citizens on the howler that products and materials emerging as offshoots from A-bomb production did no harm.

The expose on this, at least one of the best, appeared in Project Censored Yearbook (1999, p. 74) in a piece by Joel Griffiths and Chris Byron entitled: 'Flouride, Teeth, and the Atomic Bomb.' The authors therein note that the original safety arguments for fluoride were "developed by scientists working with the Manhattan Project" - as a ruse to counter possible litigation for atomic workers (since flouride came off as a byproduct). This despite the fact the original atomic bomb scientists had confirmed that fluoride was "one of the most toxic substances known".

They also added that if litigation was to be suppressed, PR had to be confected to blunt any alarm by the public. To that end, government misinformation campaigns began in earnest in the 1950s (around the same time as "duck and cover" gibberish emerged) to deflect the public's toxicity concerns by referring to flouride's benefits in "fighting tooth decay".

This brainwashing has since been sounded so often and convincingly that it's become part and parcel of that vast constellation of accepted national verities - embedded in public consciousness to the extent that only anti-science whackos, rabid anti-tech neo-Luddites or John Birchers dispute it!

The success of the PR campaign, however, paved the way for the concerted work of many thousands of other atomic workers - who were told the radiation from the plutonium they had to work with (for triggers used on nuclear warheads) was "harmless" and who now can't collect a red cent though they are dying like flies from some 22 varieties of cancer. See more at:,8599,1632228,00.html

Meanwhile, on the "health" front, propaganda was pumped non-stop to the effect that "fluouridation re-minerals tooth enamel" - while denying any negatives. This was used to claim that it was essential to fight dental caries (cavities) now widespread in youngsters, by putting fluouride in drinking water. But it wasn't just any fluouride but an industrial waste byproduct called "hydrofluorosilic acid" which has been linked to:

- bone cancer in male children was between two and seven times greater than for non-fluoridated areas

- perinatal deaths 15% higher than in neighboring non-fluoridated areas.

-impairment of immune system function

- skeletal fluorosis, from chronic exposure, including: severe joint and bone pain, sensations of burning, pricking in the limbs, muscle weakness, chronic fatigue, gastrointestinal disorders

- lowering of IQs, in children exposed to fluoride over prolonged time, and animal studies disclose shrinkage of brains of rats exposed to the equivalent of 8 glasses of water per day (See, e.g. Brain Research, Vol. 784, pp. 284-298)

The $50 question is why has the CDC not come out and warned us of these risks? There are at least two plausible reasons: 1) CDC as an arm of government that has actively pursued propaganda (as for the atomic workers, and more recently giving short shrift to toxic chemicals in terms of carcinogenic effects- see 'The Secret History of the War on Cancer') is unlikely to overturn more than 50 years of carefully crafted spin on fluouride. Second, to do so would invite thousands of suits or actions by communities already using it- and vast extra cost to the government!

But fluoride is merely the tip of the iceberg. We're all swimming in a veritable sea of toxic industrial chemicals - for which recent studies have now shown that more than 20,000 have been kept concealed from us in terms of their effects. It is quite obvious, as it is for the fluoride (and as it was for the atomic workers poisoned by radiation) that it is a sacrifice foisted on citizens to preserve industrial capacity in areas related to war expansion. Preservation of that capacity also means not having to pay out enormous sums for cleanups, or cancers, or terrible iillnesses that arise on account of contact with toxins or radioactive materials. Meanwhile, people get told over and over that "too much fat" is causing their cancers - whether of lungs, bladders, prostate gland or breasts. Never mind the evidence from more than 80 years of cumulative data which discloses it's chemicals in the environment that contribute more than fifty times as much! (See 'The Secret History of the War on Cancer', by Devra Davis, Chapters 1-4).

Thus, the Rocky Flats' atomic workers were expendable victims of the war-state, since they were needed to manufacture the plutonium triggers for nuclear warheads to "defend against the Russians". All who suffer effects from hydroflourosilic acid, do so in the interest of ridding the country's communities of vast amounts of this sludge- which has come off as byproducts of defense or related manufacturing. Ditto with all the chemicals around us from dioxins to PCBs.

What has PR and propaganda accomplished then? It has essentially kept the bulk of citizens quiet and unable to counter the blizzard of lies and distortions used to justify the integrity of the war-security state's industrial output and effluent. At this level of chemicals and fluoride, it is somewhat small potatoes - the government simply escapes having to spend untold billions to do cleanups across the country. Including cleaning the residues of rocket fuel from water systems in many parts of the country.

While all the previous focus has been on physical toxins and the use of clever PR and propaganda to cover up their effects, we have yet to speak of political toxins. Arguably, this is even more critical to the preservation of an ongoing war-industrial -security state since its entire raison d'etre is dependent on its political legitimacy. If that legitimacy is in question - by a large enough majority of citizens- it will find it difficult to function.

I submit that it is for this reason the official government position on the assassination of John F. Kennedy is and remains that Lee Harvey Oswald- "one lone nut" - did it. For to admit the opposite: a well-planned conspiracy, would be to admit that a coup d'etat occurred on November 22, 1963, and the elected government - administration was removed by violent force and replaced with ...who knows what? Well, the first three chapters of James Douglass book, 'JFK and the Unspeakable' make clear who the beneficiaries were: entrenched elements of a war-security state which took a very dim view not only of JFK's intention to remove all personnel from Vietnam in 1965 (by way of his National Security Action Memorandum 263), but his rapprochement with Fidel Castro.

And since Kennedy's death what have we beheld? (Think about this now!):

- $269 billion squandered on Vitenam with more than 58,000 Americans killed

- A Watergate conspiracy hatched by some of the same spooks and operatives involved in the JFK assassination (e.g. E. Howard Hunt)

- A mammoth blowout of the national budget to the tune of $2.1 TRILLION during Reagan's administration- using excessive "defense" spending, effectively converting the United States from a creditor nation to the world's foremost debtor - now runaway, what with two wars (actually fruitless occupations) sucking up over $10 billion a month.

A perpetual war state. And one that is ever leveraging the nation toward third world debt status as each buck spent on these absurd "wars" ends up as part of loans from Chinese bankers. Who use it for WHAT? To subsidize green energy, nuclear and other projects in Afghanistan, and Iran!

Kennedy must now be turning over and twisting in his grave thinking of what a mammoth error it was to go to that freak show that was Dallas, in 1963 - where his enemies merely waited for him to show up and then ordered the nearest military contingent (at Fort Sam Houston, that would have ostensibly been responsible for his protection) to "stand down".

And meanwhile, the spin meisters of the anti-conspiracy Weltenschauung, from Gerald Posner to Vince Bugliosi, must be laughing at how many gullible souls still buy their propaganda. As for the CIA, they've already made it clear where they stand whenever conspiracy talk gets going:

CIA document 1035-960 (RE: Concerning Criticism of the Warren Report)

1. Our Concern. From the day of President Kennedy's assassination on, there has been speculation about the responsibility for his murder. Although this was stemmed for a time by the Warren Commission report,(which appeared at the end of September 1964), various writers have now had time to scan the Commission's published report and documents for new
pretexts for questioning, and there has been a new wave of books and articles criticizing the Commission's findings. In most cases the critics have speculated as to the existence of some kind of conspiracy, and often they have implied that the Commission itself was involved.

Presumably as a result of the increasing challenge to the Warren Commission's report, a public opinion poll recently indicated that 46% of the American public did not think that Oswald acted alone, while more than half of those polled thought that the Commission had left some
questions unresolved. Doubtless polls abroad would show similar, or possibly more adverse results.

2. This trend of opinion is a matter of concern to the U.S. government, including our organization. The members of the Warren Commission were naturally chosen for their integrity, experience and prominence. They represented both major parties, and they and their staff were deliberately drawn from all sections of the country. Just because of the standing of the Commissioners, efforts to impugn their rectitude and wisdom tend to cast doubt on the whole leadership of American society.

Moreover, there seems to be an increasing tendency to hint that President Johnson himself, as the one person who might be said to have benefited, was in some way responsible for the assassination. Innuendo of such seriousness affects not only the individual concerned,
but also the whole reputation of the American government. Our organization itself is directly involved: among other facts, we contributed information to the investigation. Conspiracy theories have frequently thrown suspicion on our organization, for example by falsely
alleging that Lee Harvey Oswald worked for us.

The aim of this dispatch is to provide material countering and discrediting the claims of the
conspiracy theorists, so as to inhibit the circulation of such claims in other countries. Background information is supplied in a classified section and in a number of unclassified attachments.

3. Action. We do not recommend that discussion of the assassination question be initiated where it is not already taking place. Where discussion is active [business] addresses are requested:

a. To discuss the publicity problem with [?] and friendly elite contacts (especially politicians and editors), pointing out that the Warren Commission made as thorough an investigation as humanly possible, that the charges of the critics are without serious foundation, and that
further speculative discussion only plays into the hands of the opposition. Point out also that parts of the conspiracy talk appear to be deliberately generated by Communist propagandists.

Urge them to use their influence to discourage unfounded and irresponsible speculation.

b. To employ propaganda assets to [negate] and refute the attacks of the critics. Book reviews and feature articles are particularly appropriate for this purpose. The unclassified attachments to this guidance should provide useful background material for passing to assets. Our ploy should point out, as applicable, that the critics are (I) wedded to theories adopted before the evidence was in, (I) politically interested, (III) financially interested, (IV) hasty and
inaccurate in their research, or (V) infatuated with their own theories.

In the course of discussions of the whole phenomenon of criticism, a useful strategy may be to single out Epstein's theory for attack, using the attached Fletcher [?] article and Spectator piece for background. (Although Mark Lane's book is much less convincing than Epstein's and
comes off badly where confronted by knowledgeable critics, it is also much more difficult to answer as a whole, as one becomes lost in a morass of unrelated details.)

Next: Part III: The Media as the Willing Partners in Propaganda

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