The Austin Chronicle-


The Hightower Lowdown

November 23, 2001:


The Brainwashing War on Us

While the air in Afghanistan is filled with a cacophony of U.S. bombs, our airways here at home are increasingly filled with a cacophony of official propaganda.

The bombs seek to destroy terrorism's threat to our freedom, but our government's propaganda is a threat to truth, which is the essential underpinning of our freedom and democracy. During the past 40 years the American people have learned, after the fact, that we were blatantly lied to by top officials who ran the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, and assorted other military actions. But now, the White House and Pentagon are engaged in the most massive, ambitious, and expensive wartime propaganda effort in our nation's history.

Theirs is a double-barreled ploy: First, to suppress any independent information coming out of the war itself. The New York Times reports that Pentagon chief Don Rumsfeld has gone all-out in an unprecedented effort to lock out journalists who are on the scene of the war, prohibiting any contact with our troops and allowing our supposedly free press to see only the officially sanitized version of what's happening. Rumsfeld and the White House have set up an around-the-clock war news bureau in Pakistan that spoon-feeds the videos, photos, and "message of the day" that ends up on the nightly news and in your morning paper.

The second ploy is even more blatantly propagandistic, with White House operatives orchestrating news feeds, staging pro-Bush extravaganzas, and organizing Hollywood executives to produce movies that will sell the war to American audiences. Top White House media manipulator Karl Rove has held two closed-door meetings with Hollywood big shots asking them to help market the war, promising film footage, use of military hardware and facilities, and other government support.

Something as big as war -- where life and death are at stake -- ought to stand scrutiny in the light of day, without the artificial push of marketing gimmicks. Democracy requires truth ... not brainwashing.