The Role of the MSM* Post-Samarra

Bush’s War on Perception; the bombing of the Golden Mosque
Mike Whitney
January 19, 2007

We’ve heard a lot about the bombing of Samarra’s Golden Mosque lately. Bush has brought it up twice in the last week alone. It’s a critical part of the administration’s rationale for the occupation of Iraq, so we can expect to be reminded of it nearly as often as 9-11.

The destruction of the Golden-dome Mosque took place in February 2005 and has been identified as the “catalyzing event” that plunged the country into sectarian violence. That, at least, is just the official version. No one knows really what happened because the administration refused to conduct an independent investigation and the media excluded any account that didn’t square with the Pentagon’s spin on events.

What we’re left with is mere speculation.

Here’s what we know: Less than 4 hours after the explosion, the Bush public relations team cobbled together a statement that the bombing was the work of Sunni extremists or al Qaida terrorists. But, how did they know? They didn’t have witnesses on the ground in Samarra and they’ve never produced a scintilla of evidence to support their claims. It may be that the administration simply saw the bombing as an opportunity to twist the facts to suit their own purposes?

After all, the incident has been a propaganda-bonanza for the Bush team. They’ve used it to support their theory that Iraq is “the central battle in the war on terror” and that “we must fight them there if we don’t want to fight them over here”. It’s become one of the main justifications for the occupation; implying that the US military is needed as a referee to keep the warring factions from killing each other. It’s all just nonsense that’s designed to advance the administration’s political agenda.

If there had been an investigation, it would have shown whether the perpetrators were experts or not by the placement of the explosives. There’s a good chance they would’ve found bomb-residue which could have determined the composition of the material used. Forensics experts could have easily ascertained whether the explosives came from Iraqi munitions-dumps (as suggested) or from outside the country (like the USA, perhaps?)

The incident may well have been a “false flag” operation carried out by US intelligence agencies to provoke sectarian violence and, thus, reduce the number of attacks on American troops.

In any event, as soon as the mosque was destroyed the media swung into action focusing all of its attention on sectarian violence and the prospect of civil war. The media’s incessant “cheerleading” for civil war was suspicious, to say the least.

In the first 30 hours after the blast, more than 1,500 articles appeared on Google News providing the government version of events without deviation and without any corroborating evidence; just fluff that reiterated the Pentagon’s account verbatim and without challenge.

1500! Now that’s a well-oiled propaganda system!

Most of the articles were “cookie cutter-type” stories which used the same buzzwords and talking points as all the others; no interviews, no facts, no second opinions; simple, straightforward stenography—nothing more.

The story was repeated for weeks on end never veering from the same speculative theory. Clearly, a great amount of effort was being exerted to convince the American people that this was a significant event that would reshape the whole context of the war in Iraq. In fact, the media blitz that followed was grander than anything since 9-11; a spectacular display of the media’s power to manipulate public opinion.

Read all of it here.

* Note: MSM = mealy state mouthpiece

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