The media does not only comprise journalists who write for the daily newspapers, but also those who work for radio stations, journals, television, credible research organisations, bloggers and the like. It also includes researchers whose work is often transmitted via the media. Deeply embedded in the fabric of the media are small groupings who strive to misinform wherever possible. Only they can explain their actions.
By fabrication, innuendo, fantasy, grey propaganda, black agents (not skin colour) and regurgitation they weave and twist their lies into an almost believable truth. Those targets that are aware of what they are doing are not hoodwinked but, by and large, the majority of the population swallow their fabrications as “truth”.
Words such as “an unnamed source”, “it is assumed that”, “allegedly”, “intelligence sources believe”, “reportedly” and such like are used to blur their lines between fact and fiction, truth and lies and achieve the impact that they hope for. The impact is even greater when some of them feed this to their secret masters who classify it as “secret” and then distribute it to a select policy-making audience.
Again, and no doubt very tediously, I make my statements based on my experience and the manner in which EO was tarnished in the media by these so-called journalists and researchers. Yet, as I recently discovered, there is great unhappiness when someone is caught out and is then quick to point the finger at others whose “work” was used in the “research” without checking the facts – something that shows that some are unwilling to take responsibility for their actions. They claim “freedom of speech” as a democratic right only they are apparently entitled to. They and they alone reserve the right to pass judgement without any facts at hand. I recall trying to give them my side of the story – along with evidence to back up what I was saying – but I was told that what I had to say was “not in the public interest”.
Of course, it is well known that a journalist is only as good as his/her sources. But when their sources are the actual people/organisations that may be paying them a secret second salary in order to achieve a strategic aim, they become a danger to society. They are the very ones who, instead of honouring their profession and informing the people, fall into the trap of disseminating propaganda, lies and disinformation. Unfortunately, several respectable authors have used this disinformation in their books, thus helping to spread fiction dressed as fact.
All government agencies use journalists to get their message out to the public in a surreptitious manner. The media is also used extensively to counter political opposition and proclaim a government’s holy agenda. This use of the media is well known and has become almost acceptable. But, when government–, semi-state departments and multi-national corporations use these agents-of-influence (witting or unwitting) to negate/counter/smear a private company in order to protect themselves and their illegal activities, the situation begins to change somewhat. When these misinformers start claiming that a company is about to conduct murder, assassinations, are part of a neo-colonising advance guard, are planning coups, are being paid in mineral concessions, imply burglaries of government offices and the like, they deserve to be exposed. Don’t you agree De Wet Potgieter, Stephan Laufer, Anthony Lobaido, Khareen Pech, Ingo Capraro, Jakkie Cilliers, David Beresford, Talif Deen, Bruce Venter, Sean Cleary and your multitude of similar-ilk friends? (To list them all would be a mission impossible – but many of them inhabit the internet and are easily found there).
Ironically, when the misinformers are caught out they act with indignation…
Then of course, there is a despicable little man known as Riaan Stander, an ex-policeman turned National Intelligence agent. Stander penned his now famous “secret reports” which were sent directly to then-President Nelson Mandela and later Thabo Mbeki. Not only were they pure fabrications but they also included the telling comment: “Checked and verified by the analyst”. (For details, see http://cryptome.org/za-disrupt.htm). These fabricated reports were nothing other than a deceptive attempt to prove an undying loyalty to the “new” South African government.
This is the same Stander who found himself irresistibly drawn to secret government funds – of which millions went missing in the process. His secret documents were leaked to selected members of the media who lapped it up – again without checking anything. From there, these documents migrated to the internet. Stander and his documents have subsequently been exposed as frauds – but the damage was already done. These documents have subsequently been taken up by a “historian” in Kwa-Zulu Natal who has almost made it his mission in life to prove them correct.
Apart from maliciously causing companies irreparable damage and the loss of millions of dollars in revenue, their misinformation is used by scholars who write their theses based mainly on mistruths and disinformation. The value of these scholarly works is a big zero, yet in academic circles, they continue to tout their (lack of) knowledge and express their (lack of) understanding on military matters. Some even get awarded international prizes for their “work”. Never mind that a lot of it is made up and cannot even be remotely confirmed…
Some even get appointed to “respected” institutes such as the Institute of Security Studies (in South Africa) where they continue to - under the guise of “researchers” - spurt forth their self-constructed stories. This time their “sources” are people who act as advisors to rebel groups, disgruntled intelligence officers and mining corporations – something that to them is quite acceptable. Yet, these same “knowledgeable” people are not prepared to write about matters of international importance or security as they know that their poisoned pens will be exposed for what they are. Nor are they prepared to write about similar companies operating in areas where the values of resources are higher but where their paymasters have no interests.
When one reads the papers, reports, blogs and books, there appears to have been an entire group working only on EO to generate false stories – or, they were receiving much of their (dis)information from the intelligence services. This “information” was then further shared with their other friends in the media who would publish the story in the mainstream media, quoting from “unnamed intelligence sources”. Once published, a process known as “blow-back” allowed them to re-write their stories and now quote it from the media – the very people they had fed the story to in the first place. Some selected pieces were then also fed to bloggers to help spread the story. Of course, they are also keen to assist authors who are writing on the subject of PMCs and again, this “information” is passed on as fact.
More frightening is the possibility that their misinformation can, regurgitated enough times, become entrenched in the minds of people as “fact”. When these quasi-facts are used to substantiate intelligence they become extremely dangerous and embarrassing, as the US can testify with its invasion of Iraq.
Today, there are still some journalists who generate stories on PMCs based on lies, speculation and political and other agendas. They are the ones who give credibility to rebel and terrorist movements and often champion their causes. Yet, when these journalists find themselves in troubles they are unable to cope with, they expect to be rescued – then even a PMC they have slated will do.
To some journalists and researchers, it appears as though their only aim is to underwhelm the public with information and overwhelm them with propaganda. They are the ones that should be held accountable for the lies and disinformation they spread and the chaos that results from their actions. Their shameful manipulation of information should be stopped by the media bosses.
But, despite these misinformers, there are still honourable journalists and researchers out there who are big enough to admit that they had been hoodwinked. I realised this when I read the full-page apology given to both EO and I in the Star newspaper of 5 November 2007. Others apologised to me in person. But, by then, the damage had well and truly been done.
Added on 7 December: Here is an interesting article on Wars That Matter, That You Hardly Ever Hear About by James Dunnigan:
http://www.strategypage.com/dls/articles/200812701441.asp (see Point #4)