The Pentagon’s PR scandal, and the silence that ensued thereafter

If you were looking for an incident from straight out of a movie plot, what was revealed last week was definitely one of them. A scandal that you would probably expect in a Jason Bourne movie was actually part of OUR reality… yet, no one cared. You’d be hard pressed to find any mention by a major news outlet like the BBC, The Guardian, Sky Sports News on the matter. Actually, I searched, and the only articles from a major news company I found about the situation where by the Independent and Russia Today (with the credibility of the latter questionable depending on whom you talk to).

So why the MEDIA BLACKOUT? Surely the Pentagon paying over $500 million to a British PR firm to make fake Al-Qaeda videos is news worthy right? Apparently not.

With the lack of attention this story has received, you would have thought that this was a conspiracy reported by those small online news outlets with a name like “secretnews.com.” But no, this was a legitimate story, a fact, and one that has actually been proven to have happened before in the past. The company in question is Bell Pottinger, a British PR firm which was paid by the Pentagon to produce fake Al-Qaeda videos to help justify their foreign war policy, and much more. The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported that Bell Pottinger was approached in 2004 to promote “democratic elections” by the interim Iraqi government, created by the U.S. and its allies. This relationship lasted until 2012 after which it was restructured after a buy out and has reportedly held no connection with the U.S. government since.

So what were they contracted to do?

Well, in essence, it was used to create support for the U.S.’s ongoing war in Iraq, essentially propaganda. More specifically this was done through three tasks. The first was creating television commercials portraying Al-Qaeda in a negative light. The second were news items which were made to look as if they had been “created by Arabic TV.” Bombings were recorded on low quality cameras and edited to make them appear as if they were pieces of news footage along with an “Arabic voice,” and then sent to TV stations. The third, and regarded as “black ops,” was to create fake Al-Qaeda propaganda films and then drop them off at various locations and trace who watched them. A lot of the time, this would be done during a raid; the house would be cluttered from the raid and if nothing was found, they would drop these fake videos via CD’s and trace who watched them.

The videos themselves could only be watched on RealPlayer, which quite conveniently, requires an Internet connection to play. It is through this and a code embedded in the CD that they would track who watched the video, where they watched it and in what time frame since the video was first released. Videos which received high viewership in a short amount of time and were spanned globally were analysed further to track down viewers for suspected terrorist links.

You might ask yourself, “So why did the U.S. contract out and not do it themselves and save some money to help people in their own country?”

Good question, but the answer is that it is illegal. See it’s illegal in the U.S. for the government to create and distribute propaganda. Funnily enough, it’s not illegal for them to contract this out to a third party (yeah, you’re right, it makes no sense). More surprisingly though, this isn’t the first time that this has been reported. In 2005, it was released that a PR firm called the Lincoln Group placed news articles in Iraq which were secretly written by the US Military. An investigation was conducted by the Pentagon which ultimately cleared the group of any wrong doing. Shocking, right?

What is more eye opening than the revelation itself is probably our response to it, or lack thereof. Major news corporations, aside from the ones listed previously, have not reported on this and if they have it has not gained the publicity that it deserves. Imagine if roles were reversed. Imagine if news came from North Korea that Kim Jon-un hired a Chinese PR firm to make fake videos and news about South Korea to justify its war with the country, or how it pays a PR firm to campaign about how brilliant its leader is. It would be plastered on every news channel, which it has been, and mocked on every ‘Have I Got News For You’ comedy sketch there is out there. But when we found out our own society was doing it… Silence.

It adds to a plethora of evidence that the media has its own agenda. The Wikileaks documents on Hilary Clinton have received 13 minutes of media coverage by American news channels over the course of the weekend. In comparison, the Trump tape received 198 minutes. That’s 15 times more coverage than the PR company which proves, once again, that he is a sexist, amongst other things. However, the Wikileaks emails represent a line of evidence which outlines that our democratic system, the democratic party and Hilary Clinton are corrupt, not genuine and willing to go to any length to ensure victory. If this is what they’re doing at home to win an election, imagine what they’re doing abroad to ensure they stay in power.

How many of you would be surprised if you were told that the U.S. had just gone to war in Yemen. The U.S. sanctioned a bombing on Yemen in response to two missiles harmlessly hitting the waters near a U.S. Navy warship. The response of the U.S. in this harmless attack was to kill, something which has become a typical response. But the point is that this wasn’t covered by the media. The Trump tapes covered all media outlets, and this was almost hidden. What’s more important; a presidential candidate talking about women in a derogatory manner, or the U.S. killing Yemeni’s in an over the top retaliation of a Saudi led war?

There’s so much to choose from, including Wikileaks showing that Hilary Clinton knew that Saudi Arabia and Qatar are funding ISIS to the Dakota Pipeline protest. The media is systematically deleting scenes from current events to rewrite history as it is happening, which is only counteracted when famous people get involved. What makes it more aggravating is the message/propaganda portrayed on every semi-serious TV show that reporters are fighting for “freedom of speech” and that the public has a “right to know.” How many times have we heard that and how many times have we seen it actually happen?

“The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.” – Malcom X

In honesty, this is all our own fault.

We have let the media drive us, when it should be the other way round. The current message from the media is a reflection of what we deem interesting and entertaining. Stories like the Trump tapes gain our attention and approval while stories of war show our neglect, or maybe just how accustomed we have become to this, that we turn a blind eye and prefer not to hear about it any longer. We’ve become numb to death and disaster but we are delighted of gossip and personal scandals. The Kardashians are a personification of this societal degradation. As much as we disapprove of them, we can’t help but check up on how big their… assets have become, or who they’re dating next and the media feeds off it all. They see the viewership increase and like any business they produce what sells.

It’s time to take back control.

We need to stop making it acceptable for the media to push their own agenda and missing vital news stories. The only way we can do this it through our choice of purchase. Stop watching mainstream news, stop buying mainstream newspapers and start signing up and purchasing smaller and more organic news groups which look to push the truth. Obviously, it is impossible to stop all bias within reporting as everyone has a viewpoint, but it can be limited and the main point is that they actively try to share and promote the truth.

Scandals like the Pentagon authorising fake terrorist videos for propaganda need to be more widely recognised and demand our attention to ensure journalists keep investigating and reporting on events that are crucial to a more enlightened society. The worst part about the Bell Pottinger story is that, while they specifically haven’t worked on these propaganda videos recently, there probably is another firm doing what they once did.

How can we ever control what is going on if we don’t know what is going on? That’s exactly how the media has played us. The majority don’t know the details of the Bell Pottinger, Wikileaks, Non-Muslim terrorist scandals and that is why we continue to be oppressed. It’s all taking us one step closer to a future that will closely resemble the dystopian society from The Hunger Games, which no longer seems like something out of the pages of a book, but our modern day reality.