Piss On My Leg
By Stan 0aGoff
Friday 17 October 2003
What do Lieutenant Colonel Dominic Caraccilo and CIA Director 0aGeorge Tenet now have in common?
Answer: They lied for the same bosses for the same reasons in the 0asame war.
Second Answer: They have both been reduced from professionals to 0atools by Bush administration to cover up hoaxes.
Caraccilo is a battalion commander with the re-activated 173rd 0aAirborne Brigade, the same unit with which I did my hitch in Vietnam, that was 0adeactivated in August 1971. His battalion, 2nd Battalion/503rd Infantry, is 0astationed in Iraqi Kurdistan's Kirkuk, near some of the richest oil fields in 0athe world. While they are certainly living in comparatively austere 0acircumstances, separated from loved ones, with many beginning to question the 0ajustifications for this war, they have not undergone the same kind of combat 0astress as soldiers around Falluja and Tikrit.
Last week, 500 identical letters-to-the-editor were received by 0ahometown newspapers across the United States, all from LTC Caraccilo's unit, but 0asigned by dozens of his troops, some with apparently forged signatures from 0atroops who were unaware of the letter at all. The letter said, among sundry 0adescriptions of New Eden, "After nearly five months here, the people still come 0arunning from their homes, into the 110 degrees heat, waving to us as our troops 0adrive by on daily patrols of the city... There is very little trash in the 0astreets, many more people in the markets and shops and children have returned to 0aschool... This is all evidence, that the work we are doing is bettering the 0alives of Kirkuk's citizens."
This letter stunt was pulled, coincidentally, at the same time 0athe Bush administration launched its counteroffensive against critics of the war -- and given the progress of the war, a counteroffensive against reality. To 0akick it off, George W. Mouth was at it again, telling National Gaurd troops in 0aPortsmouth, NH, that "Americans are not the running kind."
Just when we thought -- in the wake of the outrage at his "Bring 'em on" remark -- that he might be chastened enough to refrain from talking 0abacklot shit, as if any of those preppy pricks had ever seen a backlot! But 0awhat's interesting is that this time, it seems, the line was crafted by the 0ajunta's weird spin staff, because Paul Wolfowitz said exactly the same thing, in 0aa different venue, on the same day.
George and his cabinet ministers transformed into Taxi Driver 0aTravis Bickles, practicing armed confrontations in the mirror, the post-90s 0apolitics of megalomaniacal machismo dressed up as statecraft, like sunglasses on 0aa pig.
The old official masculinity, enduring, quiet, emotionally 0adistant, and unconcerned with its coiffure -- illusory and oppressive as it was -- now looks almost attractive in the face of the new one -- immodest, loud, and 0afascistic -- and one that is played out on stages and in studios, vicariously, 0aby those who have the freedom to indulge l'imaginaire, that habit of 0aconsiciousness that Sartre characterised as an escape from social reality.
There's sure a lot they need to escape from. And escape is 0aexactly what this public relations counteroffensive was all about. Escape from 0aaccountability.
That's also why George Tenet was forced to march into Congress 0aand eat a pile of shit after the Niger uranium story hit the floor and 0asplattered into sixteen embarrassingly malodorous words. At all cost, protect 0athe king. Now LTC Dominic Caraccilo is telling the Stepford press -- who seem 0adisinclined to ask the obvious -- that he cooked up the letter scam to "share 0athe pride with people back home."
As part of his confession, he preempts the felony by saying no 0aone was forced to sign the letter (before the question is even asked!), and 0aconsistent with the Psyops playbook, the administration is exercising "plausible 0adenial" and hoping this, too, will blow over. They are counting on the US press 0anot to ask how curious it is that this "letter campaign" coincided with the PR 0acounteroffensive of their very own National Command Authority -- the same one 0athat has openly declared its intention to manage public perception, even 0aattempting to develop a perception management agency, the Office of Strategic 0aInfluence, then Office of Strategic Information (OSI). This puppy died when 0asomeone from the Pentagon with a conscience leaked that its purpose was to lie 0ato Americans to gain their acquiescence on Executive Branch schemes. Or did 0ait?
Soldiers from 2/503 Airborne Infantry have already given the lie 0ato the official story that the Pollyanna form letters were seen by all whose 0anames were forwarded to the press, but the story is the Public Affairs Office 0aline: "The intention was good, but the delivery system was probably not a good 0away to do it." Caraccilo's intentions were honorable. Like Tenet, Caraccilo will 0aconsign himself to history as a willing pawn and no official action will be 0ataken against him.
The king is safe. The Stepford press is not asking just what in 0athe hell the intention was, even though a child could figure it out. The ruling 0aclass can always count on careerism.
I should explain something about the military for readers 0aunfamiliar. No Lieutenant Colonel -- a person with around 15 years in the 0aOfficer Personnel Management System, one of the most ruthlessly unforgiving 0abureaucratic ladders in existence, where someone is always waiting for you to 0afuck up -- is unilaterally going to cook up and carry out something this 0aharebrained. He doesn't have the time under normal circumstances, because 0arunning an infantry battalion that is deployed into a hostile fire zone is very 0atime-consuming, and he doesn't want to commit career suicide five years from his 0aeligibility to draw a pension.
The directive to write those letters came from higher, and at 0aevery step up the ladder, where the career competition becomes tighter and more 0apitiless, the liklihood of this particular brand of stupidity diminishes by 0aorders of magnitude. To my mind, that means the buck stopped past the uniforms, 0aat the suits, that is, worn by the National Command Authority itself. It is a 0astupidity that is to massive to ascend. It can only descend.
In other words, this kind of stupidity could only have come from 0athe very top, probably with the able assistance of the PR industry.
Enter the Rendon Group.
The Rendon Group has been around through both the Clinton and 0aShrub administrations. It is not the only PR outfit feeding at the public trough 0afor the purpose of shovelling bullshit at the very public who signs its checks, 0abut Rendon is emblematic. Rendon stage managed much of the runup to the current 0aquagmire in Iraq, to include being largely responsible for the organization of 0athe new Iraqi quisling regime -- dubbed by Rendon the "Iraqi National Congress," 0acomplete with the changed regime head and convicted embezzler, Ahmed Chalabi. 0aSaid one unnamed State Department official in a moment of anonymous candor, "Were it not for Rendon, the Chalabi group wouldn't even be on the map."
Rendon has picked up where Hill & Knowlton, the Gulf War I 0aperception managers, left off. You remember H&K. On contract with the US 0agovernment, they hatched the 0aKuwaiti-babies-thrown-from-their-incubators-by-Iraqi-soldier s story that 0amobilized massive press and public supprot for the Bush I invasion. Of course, 0athe story turned out to be complete horseshit, but it proved so persistent that 0aan HBO movie about Gulf War I this year actually echoed it again as fact. It 0ashould not surprise anyone that Torie Clarke, Pentagon spokesperson during the 0astop-and-start blitz at the beginning of this invasion, is a former Hill & 0aKnowlton staffer.
Rendon Group was founded by the fomrer Democratic Party operator, 0aJohn Rendon (Anyone is still clinging to lesser-evilism, take note.). Rendon 0aGroup worked alongside Hill & Knowlton during Gulf War I, inside Kuwait, 0awhere they learned quickly how to mine America's consumerist witlessness. Rendon 0aeven boasted about it to the National Security Council, saying, ""If any of you 0aeither participated in the liberation of Kuwait City ... or if you watched it on 0atelevision, you would have seen hundreds of Kuwaitis waving small American 0aflags. Did you ever stop to wonder how the people of Kuwait City, after being 0aheld hostage for seven long and painful months, were able to get hand-held 0aAmerican flags? And for that matter, the flags of other coalition countries? 0aWell, you now know the answer. That was one of my jobs."
Did you ever stop to wonder...
Well, no. We don't. That's why we keep signing checks for 0adull-witted gangsters pretending to be statesmen. Some of us are even sent to 0adie or be maimed for them. Hill & Knowlton actually published a pack of lies 0adsguised as a book, called The Rape of Kuwait, that was sent directly to troops 0aprior to launching Desert Storm, presumably to remove their inhibitions and 0aimbue them with the proper fighting spirit by dehumanizing their new enemy.
Retired Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner recently published a 0aremarkable document on line, Truth 0afrom These Podia, that I highly recommend. Gardiner is not a left-winger 0alike me who sees war in the very genetic code of imperialism. He is just a 0aretired military guy who studied the stories coming out in the press last year 0ato justify then spin the invasion. He found over 50 systematic and intentional 0alies that were generated for the express purpose of deceiving not some putative 0aenemy, but the press and the people of the United States and Great Britain. 0aGardiner is pissed off, and he's not dropping dimes. He's dropping manhole 0acovers.
He describes the evolution and structure of the White House's 0aOffice of Global Communications -- an office almost run by Rendon people -- and 0ahow they generate news stories out of CENTCOM and elsewhere faster than the 0apress can keep up in order to push deadlines and competition and inhibit 0afact-checking, then as the stoires come apart, sometimes in mere days or hours, 0aallowing the fabrications to "linger" without comment. This tactic is combined 0awith language control -- explaining why "Americans are not the running kind" can 0ashow up in two separate speeches in the same day by different members of the 0aadministration -- redefining all opposition to US actions as terrorists, and 0abuilding false associations through repetition; "echoing." How many times did we 0ahear "September 11", "terrorists", and "Saddam Hussein" in the same breath. 0aGardiner shows how this is a Psyops technique, a method to "construct memory," 0aand the "target audience" is not the enemy, and not the "indigenous population." 0aIt is us.
When they get caught, they reconfigure the story with elliptical, 0asome would say obtuse, language, then let it linger some more. Weaons of mass 0adestruction become a "weapons program," a "seeking" of WMD. George Tenet's CIA "had questions" about the British forgery... er, dossier. Caraccilo just "wanted 0ato share pride with the people back home." And let the "lingering memory" kick 0ain as the next flurry of stories is released to bury the newly emergent lie. 0aCaraccilo, paradoxically, will take the heat off of Wilson-Plame, and who can 0aremember the Jessica Lynch fable, the stage management of Basra, the yellow-cake 0auranium, the Iraqi anthrax, the bio-weapons trailer, the Iraqis using American 0auniforms, the Iraqis who used white flags to lure in their prey, the 0aten-year-old soldiers, the disappearing Scuds, the Iraqi killer drones, the 0aIraqi woman hanged by the Fedayeen for waving to an American, and the whole 0awretched list of fabrications that came and went -- what I referred to in my 0abook, Full Spectrum Disorder, as the CENTCOM lie-of-the-day. And will the 0aStepford press ever admit that they were sucked in no less than 50 times, en 0amasse, like a herd of lemmings on perpetual replay? Nah. Career matters.
Tenet be damned. If you lie down with pigs, you'll stink, and he 0awillingly climbed the ladder all the way to the big pen. But I confess I feel a 0abit of shame and empathy for LTC Caraccilo, who was probably just as ingenuous 0aas most of the rest of us, taken in by the whole good and evil thing, the US 0amytho-history, never asking how often George Washington whipped his slaves, and 0awho probably took pride in being a competent professional with the parachute 0ainfantry.
He is as familiar as I am with the old saying in the military 0awhen someone insults your intelligence with a transparent lie. Don't piss on my 0aleg and tell me it's raining.
Now he has followed orders, and in doing so abandoned his own 0aintegrity. He may not even realize it yet, but someday he will. Sins of the past 0asneak up on you in the middle of the night, sometimes long after their 0acommission. I know.
Maybe he'll be the one, the someone somewhere forced to humiliate 0ahimself for this administration for the last damn time, and decide to reclaim 0ahis integrity -- as John Dean did in 1973 -- then America will look up and see 0ano rain, and look down at its dripping pantleg, and lose its sense of humor.
Jump to TO Features for Sunday 19 October 0a2003