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Ukraine protests

Ukraine Riots 2014 European Union

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#41 Spectacles

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Posted 06 March 2014 - 08:10 AM

The propaganda is so thick there--as it is everywhere (looks at Fox News)--that people really do believe that up is down.

It's been interesting to hear how locked-in to bad intelligence, influenced by the state's own propaganda in a self-perpetuating loop, Putin is. Reminds me a lot of the "intelligence failures" that led to the Iraq War--wherein Cheney and Rummy set up their own "intelligence" agency at DoD: Office of Special Plans--which now sounds Monty Pythonesque given the clusterf*ck that emerged from it.

It was set up as an ideologically-driven "intelligence" source to make the case for war. In other words, it helped to crank out the propaganda that made "real Americans" gung-ho to stop that Hitler Saddam. (Other Hitlers are kinda cool, apparently. See Putin.)

And so the people in charge set up an intelligence agency that they could trust to affirm their beliefs about the necessity of war and the likelihood of its rousing success.



News accounts have placed the origin of much of the bad intelligence in the Office of Special Plans, which was run by Abram Shulsky, a graduate-school pal of former Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. In fact, the bad intel came largely out of something called the Counterterrorism Evaluation Group, which reported to Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith. This group consisted of just two people: Michael Maloof, a controversial former aide to Richard Perle whose security clearances were eventually suspended, and David Wurmser, a longtime neoconservative advocate of toppling Saddam Hussein. (Since late 2003, Wurmser has worked in OVP.)

The information CTEG put together was treated differently than other intelligence. Unlike other reports, CTEG's conclusions about Iraq's training of jihadists in the use of explosives and weapons of mass destruction were never distributed to the many different agencies in the intelligence community. Although CTEG analysts met once with Director George Tenet and other CIA officials, they changed no minds at the agency on the issue of Saddam and al-Qaida, and their work was never "coordinated" or cleared by the various agencies that weigh in on intelligence publications. Top officers in military intelligence who saw the report refused to concur with it.

Nonetheless, CTEG's findings were the basis for briefings in the White House and on Capitol Hill. Some of CTEG's material was leaked to the Weekly Standard, where it was published. In that form, the Feith "annex" achieved some renown as a classic in the genre of cherry-picked intelligence.

Dick Cheney was CTEG's patron. He had the group present its material at OVP and the National Security Council. He made frequent public remarks, drawing on CTEG conclusions, alleging an al-Qaida/Saddam connection. (Even after the 9/11 commission delivered its verdict that there was no collaborative relationship between the two sides, Cheney announced that the evidence of the Bin Laden-Baghdad ties was "overwhelming.") John Hannah, a Cheney aide who became the vice president's national security adviser after Libby's resignation, recycled some of the material into a draft of the speech Secretary of State Colin Powell was to give at the United Nations in February 2003—a draft that Powell threw out, calling it "b*llsh*t."

The wide airing of CTEG material clearly irked George Tenet, who declared at one point when pressed by congressmen in 2003 that he would "talk to" Cheney about some of the claims he was making. Whatever passed between them, Cheney was not deterred. In January 2004, he told a reporter for the Rocky Mountain News that the Standard article was the "best source of information" on Saddam's ties to al-Qaida. In June 2004, Cheney was still claiming that 9/11 conspirator Mohammed Atta met an Iraqi agent in Prague.

We humans, especially those of us who are certain we're always right, always the "good guys," are prone to gobbling up any information that supports our views and vilifies those we perceive as the "bad guys."

And we never learn. This is why it is scary to think about the weapons we have available to us now.

One thing the Cold War gave us was this: the threat of mutually-assured destruction made people in leadership positions be ver-ry care-ful about leaping to conclusions. I don't know, but I suspect that intelligence in those days was much less cherry-picked for fear that some ideological extremists on board were looking for reasons for aggression. Aggression could very well equal the end. So I bet that intelligence analysis was subjected to more rigid applications of logic than is this case today. Which is worrisome considering we humans can still blow up civilization.

Edited by Spectacles, 06 March 2014 - 08:11 AM.

"Facts are stupid things." -Ronald Reagan at the 1988 Republican National Convention, attempting to quote John Adams, who said, "Facts are stubborn things"

"Although health care enrollment is actually going pretty well at this point, thousands and maybe millions of Americans have failed to sign up for coverage because they believe the false horror stories they keep hearing." -- Paul Krugman

#42 ilexx

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Posted 06 March 2014 - 09:01 AM

^ It's always difficult to keep in mind that all information has to be checked and rechecked and counterbalanced with views from the opposite side before anything even remotely resembling anything like accuracy can be at least attempted.

Media coverage is never objective and even the writings that make sense can be flawed by tiny shiftings in wording or fact assessment that can lead to sometimes serious fractions of the situations they're supposed to offer an image of.

Take off-worlder's post with the by and large rather sensible bloomberg-article from the thread on the US' an EU's different approaches:


There are several tiny accents that the article stresses differently from what the basic facts look like:


President Barack Obama and Merkel discussed Putin’s mindset in a phone call on March 2, a German government official with direct knowledge of the conversation said. Merkel said that she thinks Putin is acting very rationally, he simply has a completely different view of the world, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the call was private.
Steffen Seibert, Merkel’s chief spokesman, declined to comment on the call at a government news briefing yesterday.

Steffen Seibert indeed declined to comment, because what Merkel really said was not that she thinks Putin to have a completely different view of the world, but to "have lost touch with reality". And this is really nothing from which one could conclude from that Merkel of all people would suppose Putin to be acting very rationally.

Or here:


With 35 percent of German oil and gas imports coming from Russia and 6,000 German companies doing business there, Merkel is constrained even as her foreign minister threatened “consequences” over what he called Europe’s worst crisis since the Berlin Wall fell 25 years ago in November.

The above statement is quite true, but it wouldn't have been altogether unimportant to mention that only 20% of Germany's overall energy requirements depend on oil and gas. And 30% from a 20% overall need is... still a lot, but manageable.


Other German investments in Russia include Siemens AG, which built the fast train between Moscow and St. Petersburg, and BASF SE’s Wintershall Holding unit, Germany’s largest producer of crude oil and natural gas, which said Dec. 23 that it plans to further increase production of both energy sources in Russia.

Also true, but a lot of time has passed since Dec. 23rd. And the Wintershall people are really clever and always ready to adjust more or less on the spot. As a result, all major investments since 2006 have been targeting the North Sea areas, while the risky Russian business has been outsorced to Achimgaz, a daughter serving the company much in the same manner in which bad banks are supposed to minimize too risky financial adventures of regular banks.


None of the above mentioned details are in themselves earth-shattering, but the opinion one forms can greatly vary according to whether or not one possesses the bits of info above - or not.

And in all fairness: how many of us really feel the urge, inclination or curiosity (or even have the time) to go digging after such things when they don't really need it in their own lives for one reason or other?

Edited by ilexx, 06 March 2014 - 09:03 AM.

#43 Spectacles

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Posted 06 March 2014 - 11:39 AM

^Very true of us average Joes and Janes. I'm worried, though, when the leaders of superpowers are duped by their own propaganda.
"Facts are stupid things." -Ronald Reagan at the 1988 Republican National Convention, attempting to quote John Adams, who said, "Facts are stubborn things"

"Although health care enrollment is actually going pretty well at this point, thousands and maybe millions of Americans have failed to sign up for coverage because they believe the false horror stories they keep hearing." -- Paul Krugman

#44 ilexx

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Posted 06 March 2014 - 12:33 PM

I much suspect that in terms of info, the leaders of superpowers are the average Janes and Joes. They don't go doing research, finding answers and musing for weeks over what conclusions to draw from the answers they've found. They read compilation of info put together by people around them, who are mostly just as short on time as the leaders themselves - and more often than not select facts in the manner that serves best their own foregone opinions.

It's probably a depressing thought, but it seems as if most political decisions (especially in foreign policy) are based on information brought about by different biases, lack of historical knowledge, lack of sleep and lack of imagination.

#45 tennyson

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Posted 06 March 2014 - 02:38 PM

I also ran across this article that deals with what I was talking about earlier a little more systematically,
"Only an idiot would fight a war on two fronts. Only the heir to the throne of the Kingdom of Idiots would fight a war on twelve fronts."

— Londo, "Ceremonies of Light and Dark" Babylon-5

#46 ilexx

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Posted 07 March 2014 - 01:15 AM

^ Excellent article.

BTW, one only has to watch Russia Today for a little while to understand what exactly Russians (including the Russians living in the Ukraine) are being constantly fed. THis is their flag ship Crosstalk about the situatioon in Ukraine:

That's information Putin style - and it applies not only in Russia, but also all over Russian speaking channels in Ukraine. Facts are wrong, rhetorics run high, controversial POVs simply don't exist etc. Now, imagine this being the only POV you see displayed 24 hours / day, 7 days / week on all channels - and that over the past year and a half.

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