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The Pentagon's front organisation for journalists in London

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Tagged: / Posted: 24 November 2008

Morning Star. November 21, 2008

Agents of war. Hunting out low people in high places. Solomon Hughes investigates how
British papers did Bush's dirty work.

If you or I told the editors of the Times, Telegraph or Sun that their
coverage of the "war on terror" was just a lot of US Department of Defence
propaganda, I am sure that they would say that we were crass and crude and
conspiracy theorists to boot.

The intelligent and well-educated journalists on those newspapers would be
proud to say that they swallowed all the lies about weapons of mass
destruction and failed to see the truth of secret US torture camps entirely
of their own accord.

Well, actually, it turns out that they were helped to these rotten
conclusions over drinks and dinners in smart London clubs and the US
Department of Defence picked up the tab.

Since 2003, the nominally private Policy Forum on International Affairs has
invited British journalists to meet top US politicians in London clubs and
restaurants.

However, the organisation, which introduced British editors and columnists
to mostly neoconservative politicians who were arguing for the "war on
terror," was actually funded by the US Department of Defence.

The Policy Forum is a British-based company with two directors - low-profile
London multi-millionaire Zac Gertler and high-profile New York rightwinger
Devon Gaffney Cross.

They say that they wanted to counteract the way that "American foreign
policy and its goals and motivations in undertaking the war on terror were
increasingly subject to caricature and worse in the European media."

The organisation, "based in London," says that it "began hosting a series of
roundtable discussions, often off-the-record, with key American
policy-makers and leading columnists, editors, writers and producers from
the UK."

People like James Woolsey and Paul Wolfowitz were introduced to British
journalists at posh clubs and restaurants. The Forum says that "editors of
The Financial Times, The Daily Telegraph, The London Times, The Economist,
The Sun and The Spectator have all participated in our discussions" as well
as "leading columnists."

Gertler and Gaffney Cross are independently very wealthy, but they didn't
pay for the dinners after all. At the end of last year, the US Department of
Defence paid the Policy Forum around $80,000 for "consulting services for
public liaison and media outreach services in support of the diplomacy
mission, including addressing and informing European and Middle Eastern
audiences on the challenges facing US national security policies."

Three months later, the Policy Forum officially dissolved itself. It seems
that the Department of Defence was actually paying for the previous five
years of private diplomacy aimed at British journalists.

The forum looks like yet another way that the Bush administration ran
foreign policy outside official structures. As a private organisation, the
forum could invite speakers mostly from the neocons rather than represent
the whole of the US leadership to all British papers. However, the
initiative was ultimately funded by the US government, although, as with
other Bush schemes, through the Department of Defence rather than the State
Department.

Obama's election presumably means the end of this kind of clandestine
diplomacy.

Devon Gaffney Cross's brother Frank Gaffney, a former Reagan official, wrote
in the press that Obama's election would lead to "global theocratic rule
under shariah and the end of our constitutional, democratic government." His
sister Devon may not have made similar comments, but it is hard to imagine
her being invited to run secret lobbying of the British press for president
Obama.

The dinners-with-neocons scheme also shows yet again how London was central
to Washington's propaganda effort over Iraq and the war on terror.

The US government liked placing stories in the British press to pass its
dubious stories out to Europe and the Middle East and back to the US.

Placing lies in the US newspapers was too obvious. Tall tales about
terrorism in the US media look like US propaganda. However, if the same
stories are "confirmed" in supposedly independent British papers, the
propaganda is sanitised.

Our newspapers acted as a laundering scheme to wash the US government
fingerprints from official lies. If we ever get a real inquiry into the Iraq
deception, that inquiry should concentrate on what was written in British
newspapers as well as by British officials.

Thought this was an interesting example of past propaganda

Added: 3 February 2009

The confrontation of the BBC and state elites over the events in the small border area of Carrickmore is one such example. In this case the state prevented the BBC from broadcasting footage of an IRA patrol in the Northern Irish village. Following the controversies during the 1970s between the BBC and state over the seizure, Lord Hill, then Chairman of the BBC Governors, declared the BBC “cannot be impartial” when reporting on Republicanism.
Franck

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