do Lieutenant Colonel Dominic Caraccilo and CIA
Director George Tenet now have in common?
They lied for the same bosses for the same reasons
in the same war.
Answer: They have both been reduced from professionals
to tools by Bush administration to cover up hoaxes.
is a battalion commander with the reactivated
173rd Airborne Brigade, the same unit with which
I did my hitch in Vietnam, that was deactivated
in August 1971. His battalion, 2nd Battalion/503rd
Infantry, is stationed in Iraqi Kurdistan's Kirkuk,
near some of the richest oil fields in the world.
While they are certainly living in comparatively
austere circumstances, separated from loved ones,
with many beginning to question the justifications
for this war, they have not undergone the same
kind of combat stress as soldiers around Falluja
week, 500 identical letters-to-the-editor were
received by hometown newspapers across the United
States, all from LTC Caraccilo's unit, but signed
by dozens of his troops, some with apparently
forged signatures from troops who were unaware
of the letter at all. The letter said, among sundry
descriptions of New Eden, "After nearly five months
here, the people still come running from their
homes, into the 110 degrees heat, waving to us
as our troops drive by on daily patrols of the
city... There is very little trash in the streets,
many more people in the markets and shops and
children have returned to school... This is all
evidence, that the work we are doing is bettering
the lives of Kirkuk's citizens."
letter stunt was pulled, coincidentally, at the
same time the Bush administration launched its
counteroffensive against critics of the war and
given the progress of the war, a counteroffensive
against reality. To kick it off, George W. Mouth
was at it again, telling National Guard troops
in Portsmouth, NH, that "Americans are not the
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 backlot
shit, as if any of those preppy pricks had ever
seen a backlot! But what's interesting is that
this time, it seems, the line was crafted by the
junta's weird spin staff, because Paul Wolfowitz
said exactly the same thing, in a different venue,
on the same day.
and his cabinet ministers transformed into Taxi
Driver Travis Bickles, practicing armed confrontations
in the mirror, the post-90s politics of megalomaniacal
machismo dressed up as statecraft, like sunglasses
on a pig.
old official masculinity, enduring, quiet, emotionally
distant, 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 fascistic -- and one that
is played out on stages and in studios, vicariously,
by those who have the freedom to indulge l'imaginaire,
that habit of consciousness that Sartre characterized
as an escape from social reality.
sure a lot they need to escape from. And escape
is exactly what this public relations counteroffensive
was all about. Escape from accountability.
also why George Tenet was forced to march into
Congress and eat a pile of shit after the Niger
uranium story hit the floor and splattered into
sixteen embarrassingly malodorous words. At all
cost, protect the king.
LTC Dominic Caraccilo is telling the Stepford
press -- who seem disinclined to ask the obvious
-- that he cooked up the letter scam to "share
the pride with people back home."
part of his confession, he preempts the felony
by saying no one was forced to sign the letter
(before the question is even asked!), and consistent
with the Psyops playbook, the administration is
exercising "plausible denial" and hoping this,
too, will blow over. They are counting on the
US press not to ask how curious it is that this
"letter campaign" coincided with the PR counteroffensive
of their very own National Command Authority --
the same one that has openly declared its intention
to manage public perception, even attempting to
develop a perception management agency, the Office
of Strategic Influence, then Office of Strategic
Information (OSI). This puppy died when someone
from the Pentagon with a conscience leaked that
its purpose was to lie to Americans to gain their
acquiescence on Executive Branch schemes. Or did
from 2/503 Airborne Infantry have already given
the lie to the official story that the Pollyanna
form letters were seen by all whose names were
forwarded to the press, but the story is the Public
Affairs Office line: "The intention was good,
but the delivery system was probably not a good
way to do it." Caraccilo's intentions were honorable.
Like Tenet, Caraccilo will consign himself to
history as a willing pawn and no official action
will be taken against him.
king is safe. The Stepford press is not asking
just what in the hell the intention was, even
though a child could figure it out. The ruling
class can always count on careerism.
should explain something about the military for
readers unfamiliar. No Lieutenant Colonel -- a
person with around 15 years in the Officer Personnel
Management System, one of the most ruthlessly
unforgiving bureaucratic ladders in existence,
where someone is always waiting for you to fuck
up -- is unilaterally going to cook up and carry
out something this harebrained. He doesn't have
the time under normal circumstances, because running
an infantry battalion that is deployed into a
hostile fire zone is very time-consuming, and
he doesn't want to commit career suicide five
years from his eligibility to draw a pension.
directive to write those letters came from higher,
and at every step up the ladder, where the career
competition becomes tighter and more pitiless,
the likelihood of this particular brand of stupidity
diminishes by orders of magnitude. To my mind,
that means the buck stopped past the uniforms,
at the suits, that is, worn by the National Command
Authority itself. It is a stupidity that is too
massive to ascend. It can only descend.
other words, this kind of stupidity could only
have come from the very top, probably with the
able assistance of the PR industry.
the Rendon Group.
Rendon Group has been around through both the
Clinton and Shrub administrations. It is not the
only PR outfit feeding at the public trough for
the purpose of shoveling bullshit at the very
public who signs its checks, but Rendon is emblematic.
Rendon stage managed much of the runup to the
current quagmire in Iraq, to include being largely
responsible for the organization of the new Iraqi
quisling regime -- dubbed by Rendon the "Iraqi
National Congress," complete with the changed
regime head and convicted embezzler, Ahmed Chalabi.
Said one unnamed State Department official in
a moment of anonymous candor, "Were it not for
Rendon, the Chalabi group wouldn't even be on
has picked up where Hill & Knowlton, the Gulf
War I perception managers, left off. You remember
H&K. On contract with the US government, they
hatched the Kuwaiti-babies-thrown-from-their-incubators-by-Iraqi-soldier's
story that mobilized massive press and public
support for the Bush I invasion. Of course, the
story turned out to be complete horseshit, but
it proved so persistent that an HBO movie about
Gulf War I this year actually echoed it again
as fact. It should not surprise anyone that Torie
Clarke, Pentagon spokesperson during the stop-and-start
blitz at the beginning of this invasion, is a
former Hill & Knowlton staffer.
Group was founded by the former Democratic Party
operator, John Rendon (Anyone is still clinging
to lesser-evilism, take note.) Rendon Group worked
alongside Hill & Knowlton during Gulf War I, inside
Kuwait, where they learned quickly how to mine
America's consumerist witlessness. Rendon even
boasted about it to the National Security Council,
saying, "If any of you either participated in
the liberation of Kuwait City ... or if you watched
it on television, you would have seen hundreds
of Kuwaitis waving small American flags. Did you
ever stop to wonder how the people of Kuwait City,
after being held hostage for seven long and painful
months, were able to get hand-held American flags?
And for that matter, the flags of other coalition
countries? Well, you now know the answer. That
was one of my jobs."
you ever stop to wonder...
no. We don't. That's why we keep signing checks
for dull-witted gangsters pretending to be statesmen.
Some of us are even sent to die or be maimed for
them. Hill & Knowlton actually published a pack
of lies disguised as a book, called The Rape of
Kuwait, that was sent directly to troops prior
to launching Desert Storm, presumably to remove
their inhibitions and imbue them with the proper
fighting spirit by dehumanizing their new enemy.
Air Force Colonel Sam Gardiner recently published
a remarkable document on line, < http://www.usnews.com/usnews/politics/whispers/documents/tr
uth.pdf> Truth from These Podia, that I highly
recommend. Gardiner is not a left-winger like
me who sees war in the very genetic code of imperialism.
He is just a retired military guy who studied
the stories coming out in the press last year
to justify then spin the invasion. He found over
50 systematic and intentional lies that were generated
for the express purpose of deceiving not some
putative enemy, but the press and the people of
the United States and Great Britain. Gardiner
is pissed off, and he's not dropping dimes. He's
dropping manhole covers.
describes the evolution and structure of the White
House's Office of Global Communications -- an
office almost run by Rendon people -- and how
they generate news stories out of CENTCOM and
elsewhere faster than the press can keep up in
order to push deadlines and competition and inhibit
fact-checking, then as the stories come apart,
sometimes in mere days or hours, allowing the
fabrications to "linger" without comment. This
tactic is combined with language control -- explaining
why "Americans are not the running kind" can show
up in two separate speeches in the same day by
different members of the administration -- redefining
all opposition to US actions as terrorists, and
building false associations through repetition;
"echoing." How many times did we hear "September
11", "terrorists", and "Saddam Hussein" in the
same breath. Gardiner shows how this is a Psyops
technique, a method to "construct memory," and
the "target audience" is not the enemy, and not
the "indigenous population." It is us.
they get caught, they reconfigure the story with
elliptical, some would say obtuse, language, then
let it linger some more. Weapons of mass destruction
become a "weapons program," a "seeking" of WMD.
George Tenet's CIA "had questions" about the British
forgery... er, dossier. Caraccilo just "wanted
to share pride with the people back home." And
let the "lingering memory" kick in as the next
flurry of stories is released to bury the newly
emergent lie. Caraccilo, paradoxically, will take
the heat off of Wilson-Plame, and who can remember
the Jessica Lynch fable, the stage management
of Basra, the yellow-cake uranium, the Iraqi anthrax,
the bio-weapons trailer, the Iraqis using American
uniforms, the Iraqis who used white flags to lure
in their prey, the ten-year-old soldiers, the
disappearing Scuds, the Iraqi killer drones, the
Iraqi woman hanged by the Fedayeen for waving
to an American, and the whole wretched list of
fabrications that came and went -- what I referred
to in my book, Full Spectrum Disorder, as the
CENTCOM lie-of-the-day. And will the Stepford
press ever admit that they were sucked in no less
than 50 times, en masse, like a herd of lemmings
on perpetual replay? Nah. Career matters.
be damned. If you lie down with pigs, you'll stink,
and he willingly climbed the ladder all the way
to the big pen. But I confess I feel a bit of
shame and empathy for LTC Caraccilo, who was probably
just as ingenuous as most of the rest of us, taken
in by the whole good and evil thing, the US mytho-history,
never asking how often George Washington whipped
his slaves, and who probably took pride in being
a competent professional with the parachute infantry.
is as familiar as I am with the old saying in
the military when someone insults your intelligence
with a transparent lie. Don't piss on my leg and
tell me it's raining.
he has followed orders, and in doing so abandoned
his own integrity. He may not even realize it
yet, but someday he will. Sins of the past sneak
up on you in the middle of the night, sometimes
long after their commission. I know.
he'll be the one, the someone somewhere forced
to humiliate himself for this administration for
the last damn time, and decide to reclaim his
integrity -- as John Dean did in 1973 -- then
America will look up and see no rain, and look
down at its dripping pantleg, and lose its sense
Goff is the author of "Hideous Dream: A Soldier's
Memoir of the US Invasion of Haiti" (Soft Skull
Press, 2000) and of the upcoming book "Full Spectrum
Disorder" (Soft Skull Press, 2003). He is a member
of the BRING THEM HOME NOW! coordinating committee,
a retired Special Forces master sergeant, and
the father of an active duty soldier. E-mail for
BRING THEM HOME NOW! is email@example.com.
can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
October 20, 2003