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THE AMERICAN ARMY LOVES CNN
By Abe de Vries
From Trouw, 21 February 2000
Translated by Emperor's Clothes
Mr. de Vries is author of ''U.S. Army Psyops Specialists worked for CNN," at http://emperors-clothes.com/articles/devries/psyops.htm
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BELGRADE - In the first two weeks of the war in Kosovo, CNN produced thirty articles for the Internet. An average CNN article had seven mentions of NATO politicians like Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, NATO spokesmen like Jamie Shea and David Wilby or other NATO officials.

Words like refugees, ethnic cleansing, mass killings and expulsions were used nine times on the average. But apparently the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army (0.2 mentions) and the Yugoslav civilian victims (0.3 mentions) didn't exist for CNN.

Concentration on one central message is a favorite technique in audiovisual mass media, but it is also important with military personnel trying to win a war using 'Psychological Operations' (PsyOps). A media organization may be interested in the maximum number of viewers and a state may have special goals; these two can share an interest in simplification and mystifying. The news that CNN employed PsyOps specialists really leaves only one question to be answered: Did the military learn from the TV people how to hold viewers' attention? Or did the PsyOps people teach CNN how to help the U.S. government garner political support?

No doubt, CNN will soon declare that the military (of course) didn't influence their news. However, this whole thing looks very bad and appearances count in these matters.

Colonel Christopher St. John is Commander of the Fourth Psychological Operations Group. In a military symposium on Special Operations on that was held behind closed doors in Arlington Virginia in early February, Col. St. John said the cooperation with CNN was a textbook example of the kind of ties the American army wants to have with the media.

According to a report in the latest edition of the French magazine "Intelligence Newsletter" the Kosovo experience was the focus at this symposium. In the Kosovo crisis there was no military censorship of the kind that existed during the Gulf war. This time NATO tried to use more subtle methods to regulate the flow of information. The U.S. Army leadership seems to have concluded that new and more aggressive measures in Psychological warfare are needed. Not only do the PsyOps people want to spread handpicked 'information' and keep other news quiet, the army also wants to control the Internet, to wage electronic warfare against disobedient media, and to control commercial satellites.

NATO's message in the Kosovo war was simple. That's how it's done in PsyOps. NATO's line was: it had had to confront Serbian troops who committed genocide, that it only waged war to allow the return of Albanian refugees, that when it bombed Yugoslavia it was very careful to avoid 'collateral damage'. Mass media like CNN took this message at face value and avoided disturbing questions.

The war in Kosovo was far less bloody than the one in Bosnia; many Albanians fled Kosovo from fear of bombings or on orders of the KLA; NATO killed more than 500 innocent Yugoslav civilians in 'accidents'; by using imprecise and outdated cluster bombs NATO has, according to many experts in international law, violated the Geneva Conventions - but all of that, it seems, was not, or not really, worth mentioning.

Still, the PsyOps people in Arlington were not completely satisfied. In their opinion, too much information about the unplanned results of the bombings has come to the surface. Rear-admiral Thomas Steffens of the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) reportedly would like to have the capacity to bring down an 'informational cone of silence' over areas where special operations are in place. What that can mean in reality was shown by the bombing of the Serbian state television RTS in Belgrade. At least fourteen people died [in that NATO attack].

Another high-ranking officer of SOCOM, Colonel Romeo Morrissey, said in his review that NATO should have taken out the Serbian radio station B-92. The B-92 coverage of the bombings did not correspond with the information NATO brought out on its press shows in Brussels. Journalists who regularly logged in on the internet site of B-92 succeeded, bit by bit, in undermining NATO's message. And that is something PsyOps people don't like.

PsyOps people love CNN.

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Further Reading:

1) or more on the CNN-PsyOps connection see ''U.S. Army Psyops Specialists worked for CNN," by Abe de Vries, at http://emperors-clothes.com/articles/devries/psyops.htm

Here are some articles that examine the techniques by which news is distorted...

* ''Misleading from the Start,'' by Jared Israel. Examines how the 'AP' distorted news about local residents' protest against police brutality during the World Trade Organization demonstrations in Seattle. Can be read at: http://emperors-clothes.com/analysis/misleadi.htm

* ''Credible Deception,'' by Jared Israel. Examines NY Times coverage of the U.S. missile attack on a pill factory in Sudan in 1998. Breaks down specific techniques of disinformation used by the 'Times.' Mind boggling. Can be read at: http://emperors-clothes.com/articles/jared/sudan.html

* "Lies, Damn Lies and Maps," by Jared Israel. A tragedy of errors as the media, NATO & US spokesmen trip over themselves trying to produce an acceptable cover story after the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade. Can be read at: http://emperors-clothes.com/articles/jared/Lies.html

* "Reporting Kosovo: Journalism vs. Propaganda," by Phil Hammond. In which the author examines various newspapers and discovers an amazing continuity of pro-NATO coverage: different journalists post haunting personal accounts - - using exactly the same haunting phrases. Can be read at: http://emperors-clothes.com/articles/hammond/propagan.html

* "Collateral Damage in Seattle," by Jim Desyllus. Can be read at: http://emperors-clothes.com/analysis/collater.htm Possibly the best eyewitness account of the Seattle WTO demonstrations, the writer witnessed the police herding a small group of violent demonstrators from media photo op to media photo op. Can be read at: http://emperors-clothes.com/analysis/collater.htm

***

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