"I'm astonished that anyone's astonished" at the failures of the American intelligence community to detect or prevent terrorism, writes information guru John Perry Barlow. "After a decade of both fighting with and consulting to the intelligence community, I've concluded that the American intelligence system is broken beyond repair, self-protective beyond reform, and permanently fixated on a world that no longer exists." How could it be otherwise, he asks, in institutions that were designed to be paranoid and secretive?
"If you are going to fairly represent the [military] institution to the media, you must know how the boss views various issues," PR Tactics reports Air Force Lt. Gen. Steven Plummer saying. "You have to understand his position vis-a-vis the greater environment in which he works." According to Tactics, loyalty, "strategic communications" experience, "deep insight into the media environment," and "knowledge of all the 'skeleton-in-the-closet' issues" are other key ingredients needed to make a good public affairs officer.
During recent protests in Washington against the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, police deliberately used mass arrests to round up protesters who had committed no crime, writes law professor Jonathan Turley. "All the students were arrested while trying to comply with the law," he writes. "The D.C. and National Park Service police had used the same technique in each instance: Surround the crowd. Tell its members to disperse or face arrest. And then, as people try to disperse, block their escape with rows of officers in riot gear and arrest them. ...
"Congressman Christopher Shays wants to know how U.S. propaganda efforts are being received on the 'Arab Street.'" O'Dwyer's PR reports. "The Connecticut Republican plans hearings Oct. 8 to explore to what extent the State Dept.'s public diplomacy 'understands Arab and Muslim social and political thought.'" Harold Pachios, chairman of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, the State Dept.'s Chris Ross, and Hafez Al-Mirazi, Al-Jazeera's Washington, D.C., bureau chief are scheduled to appear before the National Security, Veteran Affairs and International Affairs subcommittee.
After AIDS activists protested during a speech in Barcelona by US Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson, federal investigators were sent to investigate the groups and their finances. "Federal auditors are now swarming all over American-based AIDS-service organizations," writes John Aravosis.
"More than 35,000 fish lay dead in the bed of the Klamath River and the death count continues to rise. These are not just any fish. They are wild salmon, both coho and chinook, the very totems of the Northwest. They suffocated from lack of cool water," writes Jeffrey St. Clair. "As the death toll mounted, Gale Norton, the grim boss of the Interior Department, acted befuddled and suggested that the die-off in these foul waters was a strange natural mystery.
"The world's biggest oil bonanza in recent memory may be just around the corner, giving U.S. oil companies huge profits and American consumers cheap gasoline for decades to come. And it all may come courtesy of a war with Iraq," writes Robert Collier. But the Bush administration and U.S. oil firms have stayed quiet on the subject of Iraqi oil.
In Afghanistan, BBC correspondent got a revealing look at US military propaganda, when two soldiers showed him the laminated cards they had been given with scripted instructions on how to deal with journalists. The card listed suggested answers to questions like: "How do you feel about what you're doing in Afghanistan"? Answer: "We're united in our purpose and committed to achieving our goals." "How long do you think that will take?" Answer: "We will stay here as long as it takes to get the job done - sir!"
"A federal 'No Fly' list, intended to keep terrorists from boarding planes, is snaring peace activists at San Francisco International and other U. S. airports, triggering complaints that civil liberties are being trampled," reports Alan Gathright. Activists who have been stopped and searched at airports worry that the FBI may be reactivating its old anti-war activists file.
"The Bush administration campaign for war against Iraq has been an extravaganza of disingenuousness," writes Michael Kinsley. "The arguments come and go. Allegations are taken up, held until discredited, and then replaced. ... Two overarching concepts -- 'terrorism' and 'weapons of mass destruction' -- are drained of whatever intellectual validity they may have had and put to work bridging huge gaps in evidence and logic."