“We need to make this style of video and we’ve got to use Al-Qaeda’s footage . . . We need it to be 10 minutes long, and it needs to be in this file format, and we need to encode it in this manner.
These were the specific instructions given to employees of a PR firm responsible for creating fake terrorist videos as part of a top secret propaganda mission paid for by the Pentagon — a mission that cost over half a billion dollars.
This story has come to light thanks to a former employee of the firm, Martin Wells, who came forward to talk about his time working on the project.
While we are now all-too familiar with the word terrorist, it only became popular about 15 years ago, after planes were flown into the World Trade Centre towers in New York. This event was monumental in not only reshaping U.S. security tactics but also policy that impacted the American people greatly.
It also spurred major division and debate, with many people disagreeing over what really happened. Within moments of the crashes, the media was already claiming that Osama Bin Laden had ordered the attacks and the word terrorist was used thousands of times over the next 24 hours. But as the days and weeks passed, it started to become clear that something wasn’t quite right with the official story and facts simply weren’t lining up.
The war on terror has raged on since that day, and although many have challenged the official story, terrorism is still an extremely real and dangerous threat in the minds of many. But how much of it is actually real? Could the U.S. and its organizations be behind some of it? Could they be funding terrorism for ulterior motives?
These questions are becoming more persistent as times goes on, and were a major focus of the International Conference on the New World Order, organized and sponsored by the Perdana Global Peace Foundation. Below is a statement from that conference given by prominent author and Canadian economist Dr. Michel Chossudovsky, who is the University of Ottawa’s Emeritus Professor of Economics, which further emphasizes this viewpoint:
The global war on terrorism is a US undertaking, which is fake, it’s based on fake premises. It tells us that somehow America and the Western world are going after a fictitious enemy, the Islamic state, when in fact the Islamic state is fully supported and financed by the Western military alliance and America’s allies in the Persian Gulf. . . . They say Muslims are terrorists, but it just so happens that terrorists are Made in America. They’re not the product of Muslim society, and that should be abundantly clear to everyone on this floor. . . . The global war on terrorism is a fabrication, a big lie and a crime against humanity. (source) (source)
PR firm Bell Pottinger, well-known for having many controversial clients, worked with the U.S. military to create propaganda in a secretive operation. The firm reported to the CIA, the National Security Council, and the Pentagon during the project.
Their mandate was to portray Al-Qaeda in a negative light and track suspected sympathizers.
Both the White House and General David Petraeus, the former general who shared classified information with his mistress, signed off on the content produced by the agency.
The Bell Pottinger operation began not long after the U.S. invaded Iraq following 9/11. It was at this point that promoting the “democratic elections” became the focus of the mission. Not long after, the priority shifted to shooting and editing video content for psychological and information operations.
Martin Wells, who found himself working in Iraq after being hired as a video editor by Bell Pottinger, told The Bureau of Investigative Journalism that within 48 hours of being hired, he landed in Baghdad to edit content for secret “psychological operations” at Camp Victory.
The firm created television ads showing Al-Qaeda in a negative light as well as creating content to look as though it had come from “Arabic TV.” Crews were sent out to film bombings with low quality video. The firm would then edit it to make it look like news footage.
Propaganda is Illegal in the United States
According to Wells, the videos were picked up in Iran, Syria, and the U.S. Since the U.S. is prohibited by law from using propaganda on its population, they had to hire an outside firm to create it for them.
“If one, 48 hours or a week later shows up in another part of the world, then that’s the more interesting one,” Wells explained. “And that’s what they’re looking for more, because that gives you a trail.”
The Pentagon did confirm that the PR firm worked for them under the Information Operations Task Force (IOTF), and say they were creating content that was “truthful.” The firm also worked under the Joint Psychological Operations Task Force (JPOTF). When asked for a response, the Pentagon said it could not comment on JPOTF operations.
Why the Need for PR?
Given these events, one must begin to ask why there was a need for propaganda and PR in the first place. What is the motivation? Does it seem unsettling that government and military operations have to go to such lengths to get the public on their side? Or to convince people from other nations of things they want them to think? What gives them to right to shape and manipulate public opinion, unknown and unseen?
This reminds me of a great quote from Edward Bernays, otherwise known as the father of public relations. The quote is taken from his book Propaganda, which was written in 1928:
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.
We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of.
It was reported in 2009 that the Pentagon had hired controversial PR firm The Rendon Group to monitor the reporting of journalists embedded with the U.S. military. The goal was to assess whether they were giving “positive” coverage to its missions. This is a clear effort to control the media and what it portrays to the public.
In 2005, an article by Democracy Now revealed that the PR company the Lincoln Group had been hired to produce articles printed in Iraqi newspapers which had been secretly written by the U.S. military. Surprisingly (or not), a Pentagon investigation cleared the group of any wrongdoing.
These actions bring forth a number of issues for people to reflect on and discuss. Why the need for such manipulation? Why is the U.S. trying to police the world? What is the overlying agenda here?
I believe if the people knew what their governments were doing and if they were informed regularly about their shady actions, they might have a different perspective about what’s going on and what story they are being sold on.
The reality of this story brings into question how real the threat of terror truly is and why the U.S. is trying so hard to convince the world that this threat is imminent.