Saturday, February 24, 2007

Fox's "24": Free Speech? Education? Incitement to Torture? PSYOP? MindWar?

The power of the media to create and destroy fundamental human values comes with great responsibility. Those who control such media are responsible for the consequences.

Prosecutor v. Nahimana, Case No. ICTR 99-52-T, Judgment para. 945 (Dec. 3, 2003), available online at:

also in paragraph 8 of judgment summary at:

Three hostile newspapers are more to be feared than a thousand bayonets.
Napoleon Bonaparte

If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.
Malcolm X


Today's Democracy Now did a show on Fox's show "24," interviewing a military interrogator who says that "24" torture scenes have influenced interrogators in Iraq and have interfered with West Point's education in interrogation and the laws of war. The show is not yet posted at the Democracy Now website, but much of the content has been reported in articles linked below.

Democracy Now interviewed David Danzig, director of the "Prime-Time Torture Project" for Human Rights First.

Human Rights First organized a meeting between military interrogators and the creative team of Fox's "24." Democracy Now interviewed Tony Lagouranis, a former Army interrogator in Iraq and one of the meeting's participants. According to Op Ed News, Lagouranis told the show's staff that DVDs of "24" are circulated widely in Iraq. Lagouranis said, "People watch the shows, and then walk into the interrogation booths and do the same things they've just seen."

According to OpEd News, the Army's Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan, dean of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, told Fox's "24" creative team that "24" is popular with his students, and that they ask "If torture is wrong, what about '24'"?

Co-creator and executive producer Joel Surnow was quoted in the New Yorker:

“People in the Administration love the series, too,” he said. “It’s a patriotic show. They should love it.”

So the Bush Administration is supportive of the show and thus complicit.

I was shocked and outraged to learn that in March 2005, Amnesty International was telling the press that "24" was a good show:

Alistair Hodgett of Amnesty International credits 24 and A&E's MI-5, which follows the British security service, with realistic depictions that provide "a clearer idea of what torture involves. ... They do more to educate than desensitize."

Amnesty International is the group that gave credence to the blatant propaganda of the "Kuwaiti incubator" story, which was later shown to be the work of PR firm Hill & Knowlton.

This "story was cited frequently in the congressional debate over war authority, which was approved by only five votes in the Senate. President Bush mentioned it often as a reason for taking firm action. It was a major factor in building public backing for war."

Professor of International Francis Boyle, formerly on the board of Amnesty International, was heavily critical of the group's actions in relation to the "Kuwaiti incubator baby" propaganda:

See also:

I hold Amnesty International responsible for the first Gulf War, and all the death and destruction that has followed, for giving credence to this story without first carefully investigating. This group, and Human Rights Watch, acted in a similar fashion before the bombing of Serbia in 1999, giving instant credence to the "Racak massacre" story, which many believe was propaganda. without careful, independent investigation. These groups should be aware that "crimes against humanity" have become a causus belli, and that by lending their names to alleged crimes against humanity without adequate investigation, they are complicit in the wars that follow, which inevitably lead to death and destruction, whether "collateral damage" or crimes against humanity.

Now I find that Amnesty International has supported a show that appears to have incited U.S. military interrogators to torture. I will have to write more about this later, but this is the final straw for me with that group.

As readers of this blog know, I am very suspicious of the role of the media in propaganda and psychological operations against the American people. Based on the physical impossibility of images of a plane flying into the South Tower on 9/11 like a knife into warm butter, I am firmly convinced that the media broadcast false images on 9/11, and believe that it was likely intentional at some level of some media organizations.

I discussed my reasons for believing the images to be faked in my first post to this blog:

and more recently:

I am suspicious that the media is working with the military and conducting psychological operations against the American people. It is documented that Army psy-op personnel from Fort Bragg's 4th Psychological Operations Group were stationed at CNN during the war on Serbia.

Psychological warfare has a long history:

It is also called "information warfare"

The Wikipedia article on information warfare says:

"Television and radio transmission can be hijacked for a disinformation campaign."

I think television was hijacked on 9/11, probably with the high level complicity of the media, for a disinformation campaign aimed at the people of the United States and really the entire world. The elites wanted a "New Pearl Harbor," so they made one.

Here is a key article, "From PSYOP to MindWar: The Psychology of Victory"

This 1980 article makes the revealing statement that the United States lost the Vietnam War because of enemy propaganda:

[W]e lost the war - not because we were out-fought, but because we were out-PSYOPed. Our national will to victory was attacked more effectively than we attacked that of the North Vietnamese and Viet Cong . . . our own PSYOP did not really change the minds of the enemy populace, nor did it defend the U.S. populace against the propaganda of the enemy.

This is a remarkable statement, because the North Vietnamese government and the Viet Cong did have not control of U.S. television, radio, or newspapers. Therefore, what this statement implies is that media outlets and citizens in the antiwar movement were acting as agents of the enemy in disseminating enemy propaganda.

The pretense for public consumption is that PSYOP is based on truth, not lies, and is directed only at foreign audiences:

PSYOPS, according to Chuck Payne, is "the dissemination of truthful information to foreign audiences in support of U.S. policy and national objectives." As a form of nonviolent force, it relies on "logic, fear, desire or other mental factors to promote specific emotions, attitudes or behaviors" through persuasion. And these attitudes and behaviors that are promoted "can range from gaining support for U.S. operations to preparing the battlefield for combat" (Payne). The U.S. military considers successful PSYOPS to be a "force multiplier," that is, the maximum non-violent resource capability to fulfill force protection during operations.

This pretense must be maintained not only because psychological operations by the U.S. military against the American people are illegal, but because they go against fundamental principles of democratic governance, fair play, and due process, the illusion of which must be maintained:

Lies, Damned Lies, and PSYOPS

PSYOPS and its practitioners are often misunderstood, and the discipline is alleged by even senior NATO military commanders to be a 'black art' practiced by dealers of lies and deceit. This is very far from the truth and does a great deal of harm to those trying to conduct effective PSYOPS in NATO operations.

Still, it is important to recognize that people from an egalitarian cultural heritage have an innate distaste for the concepts of perception manipulation and deception. Notions of fair play, due process, and an open society are seemingly placed in jeopardy by the prospect of psychological operations – even if directed towards an adversary. Many in positions of authority often tend to dismiss the psychological dimension and feel uncomfortable with the implications.

Psychological operations by the U.S. military against the American people are of course illegal:

So is lying to the American people, but the Downing Street memos show that this was high level policy before the Iraq War.

The media parroted without question the propaganda leading up to the current Iraq War.

The Gray Lady's attempt to shake the blood dripping from off her skirt is described here:

As shown in the "9/11 Solution," by, within 30 minutes of the "collapse" of the World Trade Center towers, the media was broadcasting explanations of how the planes and fires destroyed the buildings, and identifying "Al Qaeda" as the culprit:

In 1919, Upton Sinclair, author of The Jungle, published The Brass Check: A Study of American Journalism, which was based on his experiences in trying to get a publisher for The Jungle. He was forced to publish The Brass Check himself. You can read it now on the Internet:

The title of the "Brass Check" was "a reference to the chit issued to patrons of urban brothels at the time. Sinclair drew an analogy between journalists and prostitutes, beholden to the agenda, ideology, and policies of the monied elites that owned and controlled the press. "

The media had already expanded beyond prostitution and into racketeering:

By propagandizing the American people to hate Middle Eastern peoples and to support bombing and torture, the media is now, I would submit, engaged in the incitement of terrorism and the incitement of war crimes. The media is also acting to terrorize the American people.

The United States military bombs foreign television stations. Neo-con Frank Gaffney calls for the bombing of Al-Jazeera here:,2933,98621,00.html

Under present wartime circumstances, though, the United States has the ability -- and, indeed, an urgent responsibility -- to take more comprehensive action against Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya. Unless the two networks adjust their behavior so as no longer to act as the propaganda arm of our enemies, they should be taken off the air, one way or another.

To those who will decry this as censorship, they should be reminded of President Bush's injunction shortly after we were attacked two years ago: In the War on Terror, you are either with us or with the terrorists. It would be no more sensible for us to construe the masquerading of enemy propaganda, the communication and amplification of its calls to jihad and the legitimacy that attends transmission of such messages and images via television than it would be for us to regard bin Laden's messages, or Saddam's, as mere "news."

The bombings of Al Jazeera and Serbian television are discussed here:

A laws student has written a note proposing prosecution of Al-Jazeera based on the theory of "incitement to genocide" in the Rwanda media trial decision by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), which was quoted at the beginning of this post:

Spencer W. Davis, Incitement to Terrorism in Media Coverage: Solutions to Al-Jazeera After the Rwandan Media Trial, 38 George Washington International Law Review 749-778 (2006).

Diane Orentlicher is professor of international law at American University School of Law and co-director of the law school's Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law.

Here is her article "Criminalizing Hate Speech: A Comment on the ICTR's Judgment in The Prosecutor v. Nahimana, et al.

The Nahimana judgment convicted two defendants of (1) genocide, (2) direct and public incitement to genocide, and (3) persecution as a crime against humanity based on the defendants' responsibility for incendiary radio broadcasts and newspaper articles. The defendants were convicted because of their roles in Radio Television Libre des Mille Collines (RTLM), which played a central role in inciting and directing the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

The decision was reported here:

ARUSHA, Tanzania, Dec. 3 —In the first case of its kind since the Nuremberg trials, an international court here on Wednesday convicted three Rwandans of genocide for media reports that fostered the killing of about 800,000 Rwandans, mostly of the Tutsi minority, over several months in 1994.

A three-judge panel said the three men had used a radio station and a newspaper published twice a month to mobilize Rwanda's Hutu majority against the Tutsi, who were massacred at churches, schools, hospitals and roadblocks. The court said the newspaper "poisoned the minds" of readers against the Tutsi, while the radio station openly called for their extermination, luring victims to killing grounds and broadcasting the names of people to be singled out.

The three men convicted were Hassan Ngeze, who owned the newspaper Kangura, Ferdinand Nahimana, who controlled the popular radio station RTLM, and Jean-Bosco Barayagwiza, the station's co-founder. Each of the three were found guilty of three counts of genocide and two counts of crimes against humanity. Mr. Ngeze and Mr. Nahimana were sentenced to life in prison. Mr. Barayagwiza was sentenced to a lesser term of 27 years because, the judges said, his rights had been violated early in the case. All had been in the court's custody for years.

In 100 days in 1994, prosecutors in Arusha contend, about 7 out of 10 of Rwanda's Tutsis were wiped out with a brutal efficiency. The United Nations, which failed to intervene during the massacres, set up the international court in the relative safety of Tanzania three months after the killings ended to bring the main perpetrators to account.

Wednesday's verdicts were the first convictions of media executives for crimes of genocide since 1946, when the Nuremberg tribunal sentenced the Nazi propagandist, Julius Streicher, to hang for his campaign against the Jews.

In a 29-page summary of the Arusha judgment, which was read aloud in court, the judges pointed out that they were addressing issues that had not come before an international court for many decades. "The power of the media to create and destroy human values comes with great responsibility," the summary said. "Those who control the media are accountable for its consequences."

Elated prosecutors called the verdicts a historic victory. "This is really a groundbreaking decision," said Stephen Rapp, the lead prosecutor. "The court said there is a wide range for free expression, but when you pour gasoline on the flames, that's when you cross the line into unprotected expression."

John Floyd, Mr. Ngeze's lawyer, called the judgment a major setback for free speech and an invitation to dictators to close down any media outlet on the grounds it could provoke violence.

"This is a terrible, terrible decision, the worst decision in the history of international justice," he said. He claimed that American courts, with their great concern for free speech, would have thrown the case out.

Floyd Abrams, a legal expert on the First Amendment disagreed. He said in a telephone interview that while the United States protected free speech more fiercely than any other country, it did not shield statements intended to provoke violence and likely to do so. "We would have protected some of the materials that were before the court," he said. "But even the First Amendment would not provide a basis for acquitting these defendants."

Mr. Nahimana, who argued that his radio station was taken over by extremists during the killings, and Mr. Ngeze intend to appeal, their lawyers said. Mr. Barayagwiza refused to go to court, and his lawyer made no statement after the verdict.

Besides drawing a legal boundary between free speech and criminal incitement to mass murder, tribunal officials said the verdicts vindicated the court's slow and expensive approach to delivering justice in a region where the powerful have long enjoyed impunity.

First Amendment issues are further discussed here. These are certainly valid concerns, but I cannot help but sense an undercurrent of concern in the media that they might be held responsible for their actions.

Murder by Media
Why the Rwandan genocide tribunal went too far.
By Joel Simon

It is beyond the scope of this post to analyze whether or not the actions of Fox in broadcasting "24," which arguably has incited torture, should be considered a crime. Is this
"incitement to torture," and is it or should it be a crime? Can the actions of the media in broadcasting false images and false stories about 9/11 be considered the crime of "incitement to terrorism" or "incitement to genocide" or "persecution as a crime against humanity"? Is the media's parroting of government lies leading up to the current Iraq war, which according to an article in The Lancet has led to more than 600,000 deaths, to be considered a crime?

These questions raise difficult issues of U.S. law and European and international human rights law that I hope to study and perhaps write about here at a later date.

But it is clear to me that what the media has done before and especially after 9/11 , both in its "fiction" and "non-fiction" roles that are so blurred, is morally wrong and should subject the media to public condemnation, and civil if not criminal liability.

A fundamental principle of jurisprudence is that legal norms, whether domestic and international, must be universal. Other than exceptions like Francis Boyle of the University of Illinois, it seems that all of our students and professors of international law write only about the actions of foreign persons and governments, and do not seem to seriously consider whether the legal principles they invoke should be applied to their own government, military, and media.

I have long felt that as long as international humanitarian law is not applied to powerful states such as the United States, then it is susceptible to being used as a cynical propaganda tool for "humanitarian" interventions that have ulterior geopolitical motives. I hope that lawyers and commentators will consider whether principles of media incitement to torture, terrorism , and genocide should be applied to the most powerful media in the world, which it appears has become a tool of or co-conspirator with the most powerful military force the world has ever seen.

At the very least, the media's role post-9/11 should be revealed and given the highest and loudest public condemnation, both to hold them accountable and to free us from the pernicious hold they have on our minds.

The media has invaded the sovereignty of our minds and encouraged us to commit terrible acts for which we all should feel responsible.

The reputation of the United States is at an all-time low - allies consider us one of the greatest dangers to world peace:,,1938434,00.html

The human rights violations of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo have hurt this country's reputation:

Our country's reputation is in tatters:

Yet I have to wonder if even Abu Ghraib could be a PSYOP against us, as this writer claims:

Naomi Klein writes in the Nation that the threats of surveillance and torture are intended to intimidate Muslims:

The fear is even thicker among Muslims in the United States, where the Patriot Act gives police the power to seize the records of any mosque, school, library or community group on mere suspicion of terrorist links. When this intense surveillance is paired with the ever-present threat of torture, the message is clear: You are being watched, your neighbor may be a spy, the government can find out anything about you. If you misstep, you could disappear onto a plane bound for Syria, or into "the deep dark hole that is Guantánamo Bay," to borrow a phrase from Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

She concludes:

As an interrogation tool, torture is a bust. But when it comes to social control, nothing works quite like torture.

The question for me is whether this social control is intended only for Muslims in the United States, or is intended for all Americans. Is that the message being sent to our subconscious by shows like "24"? And is that by design?

Regardless, it needs to stop.

Those three hostile newspapers Napoleon feared? The purpose of this article was to question whether the media is hostile toward us, and should be feared more than a 1,000 bayonets aimed at our hearts.


A great summary by Gerard Holmgren of the evidence that 9/11 was manufactured terrorism

Why the didn't use planes:

Blogger "Spooked" writes a lot about 9/11 media manipulation:

"9/11 Octopus," a movie about 9/11 as a PSYOP is here:

or a shorter version, "The Rabbit Hole"

Many other videos on 9/11 media manipulation are here:


Here are more articles about "24"

Group says torture on TV influences interrogators
February 24, 2007
By David Bauder Associated Press

Yahoo! News
Group: TV torture influencing real life
By DAVID BAUDER, AP Television WriterSun Feb 11, 12:12 PM ET;_ylt=ArqMgoDPNhbgyzxU3I_oMBhI2ocA

'24' gets a lesson in torture from the experts
Their advice: Make the scenes more realistic, not bloodier. And don't rely on tidy conclusions.
By Martin Miller
Times Staff Writer,1,6701156,full.story?ctrack=1&cset=true

US military tells Jack Bauer: Cut out the torture scenes ... or else!
By Andrew Buncombe in Washington
Published: 13 February 2007

The politics of the man behind “24.”
New Yorker Issue of 2007-02-19
Posted 2007-02-12 - The Christian Science Monitor Online
posted February 12, 2007 at 12:30 p.m. EST -
Does '24' encourage US interrogators to 'torture' detainees?
Some top military and civilian experts say yes, but others call accusation 'ludicrous.'
By Tom Regan |

Alistair Hodgett of Amnesty International credits 24 and A&E's MI-5, which follows the British security service, with realistic depictions that provide "a clearer idea of what torture involves. ... They do more to educate than desensitize."

Torture Chamber
Fox's 24 terrifies viewers into believing its bizarre and convoluted plot twists.
By Matt Feeney
Posted Tuesday, Jan. 6, 2004, at 12:20 PM ET

Fictional ‘24' brings real issue of torture home
TV hero's tactics debated in world after Abu Ghraib

USA Today | March 15, 2005

OpEd News
February 24, 2007
Fox TV Series "24" Encouraging Torture In Iraq
By Sherwood Ross


After interrogators began torturing Iraqi prisoners using methods they saw on Fox TV's popular "24", Army's Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan warned the show's producers "24" is negatively impacting the training and performance of American troops.

Finnegan, dean of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, accompanied by veteran military and FBI interrogators, met with "24's" creative team in Southern California last November to tell them "I'd like them to stop. They should do a show where torture backfires," according to an article in the Feb. 19-26 issue of The New Yorker by Jane Mayer. "24" is said to have a weekly audience of 15-million viewers and reaches millions more through DVD sales.

The general, who said "24" is popular with his students, told Mayer, "The kids see it, and say, 'If torture is wrong, what about '24'?"


Ningen said...

I'm not calling for what Diane Johnstone questions here, and agree with her on the problem of human rights imperialism. Still, if we are going to have these laws for application to others, we should be willing to apply them to ourselves.

Ningen said...

More from Diane Johnstone on the quandery of international criminal law. This is also from Electric Politics, the website of George Kenney, who resigned from the State Department in 1991 in protest of U.S. policy toward the Yugoslav conflict.