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Re: [casi] Iraq 'n 'Linguistics': Prescription for retiring Bush in 2004

Dear all,

Please allow for a little innocent follow up.



June 23, 2003

Washington Lied

An Interview with Ray McGovern

Editors' Note: Former CIA official, Ray McGovern, has leveled serious
accusations at the Bush administration in connection with the war in Iraq.
McGovern served as a CIA analyst for almost 30 years. From 1981 to 1985 he
conducted daily briefings for Ronald Reagan's vice president, George Bush,
the father of the incumbent president. The following interview originally
appeared in Die Tagesspiegel, one of Berlin's largest daily papers. Imagine
this appearing in the Sunday edition of the New York Times.

The US Senate Intelligence Committee this week began hearings on the dispute
over the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. What do you expect
will come of this?

Nothing. The committee chairman, Republican Pat Roberts, has already refused
to ask the FBI to investigate allegations that Iraq has tried to obtain
uranium from Niger. This, despite the fact that in making these allegations,
administration officials knowingly relied on crudely forged documents.

In a Memorandum for President Bush dated May 1 you speak of a "policy and
intelligence fiasco." What do mean by that?

Take, for example, the business about the aluminum tubes that Iraq tried to
obtain. According to National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice, these were
"only suited to nuclear weapons programs." But nuclear engineers have been
virtually unanimous in deciding that the pipes are not suitable for that.
Despite this, President Bush on October 7, 2002 said that Iraq could
possibly produce a nuclear weapon within a year.

These are deliberate distortions. Lies. When a US president decides it is
necessary to go to war, he has to procure intelligence to prove the need for

And what happens, in your experience, if the "proof" is too thin?

In that case it gets inflated. So, for example, an incident in the Tonkin
Gulf involving a North Vietnamese "attack" on a US warship--which "attack"
never took place--nonetheless was deliberately used by President Johnson to
get Congress' endorsement for war with North Vietnam.

This current administration had decided by September 2002 to make war on
Iraq--five months before Secretary of State Colin Powell's speech at the UN.
What was missing was the intelligence basis to justify the decision for war.

But the intelligence is still not conclusive. And in the case of the uranium
Iraq was said to be seeking, it was based on forged documents.

That didn't make any difference. In retrospect, the train of thought in the
White House at the time is clear: How long can we keep the forged documents
from the public? A few months? In that case we can use the documents to get
Congress to endorse war with Iraq and then wage it and win it before anyone
discovers that the "evidence" was bogus.

In addition, the administration has very artfully taken advantage of the
trauma of September 11. So, for example, al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussein were
always mentioned in the same breath, without any proof of a connection
between the two.

Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels said that, if you repeat something
often enough, the people will believe it. On October 7, 2002 Bush said,
without any evidence to support it, that what is to be feared is that in
Iraq's case, the "smoking gun" could come in the form of a "mushroom cloud."
National Security Adviser Rice repeated this on October 8, and Pentagon
spokesperson Victoria Clarke did so on October 9. On October 11 Congress
voted for war.

And no one saw through this?

This is largely the fault of US mainstream media. No one told the people
what was really going on.

But doesn't the US press have a reputation for good investigative reporting?

It did once. But that reputation goes back 30 years to the time of Vietnam
and Watergate. The investigative reporting of those days is a thing of the
past. The mainstream press now marches to the drumbeat of the

----- Original Message -----
From: "AS-ILAS" <>
To: "casi" <>
Sent: Dienstag, 24. Juni 2003 22:40
Subject: [casi] Iraq 'n 'Linguistics': Prescription for retiring Bush in

Dear all,

Some elements of linguistic discourse analysis (ahem, well, sort of) + a
bonus prescription for retiring Bush in 2004
(--> last paragraph)

Being well aware that CASI is not a political forum, I think imagination
does not have to fly toooo high to see a strong link between this article's
objectives and Iraq along the following trajectory:

Bushies exploiting 9/11 --> disinfo campaigns with mass psychological lingo
and propaganda black ops tricking the US into 2 "wars" so far (Afghanistan +
Iraq) --> -->  and of course: reversing that insanity.

First step: Decoding and debunking.



article | Posted June 12, 2003

A Nation of Victims
by Renana Brooks

G eorge W. Bush is generally regarded as a mangler of the English language.
What is overlooked is his mastery of emotional language--especially
negatively charged emotional language--as a political tool. Take a closer
look at his speeches and public utterances, and his political success turns
out to be no surprise. It is the predictable result of the intentional use
of language to dominate others.

President Bush, like many dominant personality types, uses
dependency-creating language. He employs language of contempt and
intimidation to shame others into submission and desperate admiration. While
we tend to think of the dominator as using physical force, in fact most
dominators use verbal abuse to control others. Abusive language has been a
major theme of psychological researchers on marital problems, such as John
Gottman, and of philosophers and theologians, such as Josef Pieper. But
little has been said about the key role it has come to play in political
discourse, and in such "hot media" as talk radio and television.

Bush uses several dominating linguistic techniques to induce surrender to
his will. The first is empty language. This term refers to broad statements
that are so abstract and mean so little that they are virtually impossible
to oppose. Empty language is the emotional equivalent of empty calories.
Just as we seldom question the content of potato chips while enjoying their
pleasurable taste, recipients of empty language are usually distracted from
examining the content of what they are hearing. Dominators use empty
language to conceal faulty generalizations; to ridicule viable alternatives;
to attribute negative motivations to others, thus making them appear
contemptible; and to rename and "reframe" opposing viewpoints.

Bush's 2003 State of the Union speech contained thirty-nine examples of
empty language. He used it to reduce complex problems to images that left
the listener relieved that George W. Bush was in charge. Rather than
explaining the relationship between malpractice insurance and skyrocketing
healthcare costs, Bush summed up: "No one has ever been healed by a
frivolous lawsuit." The multiple fiscal and monetary policy tools that can
be used to stimulate an economy were downsized to: "The best and fairest way
to make sure Americans have that money is not to tax it away in the first
place." The controversial plan to wage another war on Iraq was simplified
to: "We will answer every danger and every enemy that threatens the American
people." In an earlier study, I found that in the 2000 presidential debates
Bush used at least four times as many phrases containing empty language as
Carter, Reagan, Clinton, Bush Senior or Gore had used in their debates.

Another of Bush's dominant-language techniques is personalization. By
personalization I mean localizing the attention of the listener on the
speaker's personality. Bush projects himself as the only person capable of
producing results. In his post-9/11 speech to Congress he said, "I will not
forget this wound to our country or those who inflicted it. I will not
yield; I will not rest; I will not relent in waging this struggle for
freedom and security for the American people." He substitutes his
determination for that of the nation's. In the 2003 State of the Union
speech he vowed, "I will defend the freedom and security of the American
people." Contrast Bush's "I will not yield" etc. with John F. Kennedy's "Ask
not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country."

The word "you" rarely appears in Bush's speeches. Instead, there are
numerous statements referring to himself or his personal
characteristics--folksiness, confidence, righteous anger or
determination--as the answer to the problems of the country. Even when Bush
uses "we," as he did many times in the State of the Union speech, he does it
in a way that focuses attention on himself. For example, he stated: "Once
again, we are called to defend the safety of our people, and the hopes of
all mankind. And we accept this responsibility."

In an article in the January 16 New York Review of Books, Joan Didion
highlighted Bush's high degree of personalization and contempt for
argumentation in presenting his case for going to war in Iraq. As Didion
writes: "'I made up my mind,' he had said in April, 'that Saddam needs to
go.' This was one of many curious, almost petulant statements offered in
lieu of actually presenting a case. I've made up my mind, I've said in
speech after speech, I've made myself clear. The repeated statements became
their own reason."

Poll after poll demonstrates that Bush's political agenda is out of step
with most Americans' core beliefs. Yet the public, their electoral
resistance broken down by empty language and persuaded by personalization,
is susceptible to Bush's most frequently used linguistic technique: negative
framework. A negative framework is a pessimistic image of the world. Bush
creates and maintains negative frameworks in his listeners' minds with a
number of linguistic techniques borrowed from advertising and hypnosis to
instill the image of a dark and evil world around us. Catastrophic words and
phrases are repeatedly drilled into the listener's head until the opposition
feels such a high level of anxiety that it appears pointless to do anything
other than cower.

Psychologist Martin Seligman, in his extensive studies of "learned
helplessness," showed that people's motivation to respond to outside threats
and problems is undermined by a belief that they have no control over their
environment. Learned helplessness is exacerbated by beliefs that problems
caused by negative events are permanent; and when the underlying causes are
perceived to apply to many other events, the condition becomes pervasive and

Bush is a master at inducing learned helplessness in the electorate. He uses
pessimistic language that creates fear and disables people from feeling they
can solve their problems. In his September 20, 2001, speech to Congress on
the 9/11 attacks, he chose to increase people's sense of vulnerability:
"Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any
other we have ever seen.... I ask you to live your lives, and hug your
children. I know many citizens have fears tonight.... Be calm and resolute,
even in the face of a continuing threat." (Subsequent terror alerts by the
FBI, CIA and Department of Homeland Security have maintained and expanded
this fear of unknown, sinister enemies.)

Contrast this rhetoric with Franklin Roosevelt's speech delivered the day
after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. He said: "No matter how long it
may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people in
their righteous might will win through to absolute victory.... There is no
blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in
grave danger. With confidence in our armed forces--with the unbounding
determination of our people--we will gain the inevitable triumph--so help us
God." Roosevelt focuses on an optimistic future rather than an ongoing
threat to Americans' personal survival.

All political leaders must define the present threats and problems faced by
the country before describing their approach to a solution, but the ratio of
negative to optimistic statements in Bush's speeches and policy declarations
is much higher, more pervasive and more long-lasting than that of any other
President. Let's compare "crisis" speeches by Bush and Ronald Reagan, the
President with whom he most identifies himself. In Reagan's October 27,
1983, televised address to the nation on the bombing of the US Marine
barracks in Beirut, he used nineteen images of crisis and twenty-one images
of optimism, evenly balancing optimistic and negative depictions. He limited
his evaluation of the problems to the past and present tense, saying only
that "with patience and firmness we can bring peace to that strife-torn
region--and make our own lives more secure." George W. Bush's October 7,
2002, major policy speech on Iraq, on the other hand, began with forty-four
consecutive statements referring to the crisis and citing a multitude of
possible catastrophic repercussions. The vast majority of these statements
(for example: "Some ask how urgent this danger is to America and the world.
The danger is already significant, and it only grows worse with time"; "Iraq
could decide on any given day to provide a biological or chemical weapon to
a terrorist group or individual terrorists") imply that the crisis will last
into the indeterminate future. There is also no specific plan of action. The
absence of plans is typical of a negative framework, and leaves the listener
without hope that the crisis will ever end. Contrast this with Reagan, who,
a third of the way into his explanation of the crisis in Lebanon, asked the
following: "Where do we go from here? What can we do now to help Lebanon
gain greater stability so that our Marines can come home? Well, I believe we
can take three steps now that will make a difference."

To create a dependency dynamic between him and the electorate, Bush
describes the nation as being in a perpetual state of crisis and then
attempts to convince the electorate that it is powerless and that he is the
only one with the strength to deal with it. He attempts to persuade people
they must transfer power to him, thus crushing the power of the citizen, the
Congress, the Democratic Party, even constitutional liberties, to
concentrate all power in the imperial presidency and the Republican Party.

Bush's political opponents are caught in a fantasy that they can win against
him simply by proving the superiority of their ideas. However, people do not
support Bush for the power of his ideas, but out of the despair and
desperation in their hearts. Whenever people are in the grip of a desperate
dependency, they won't respond to rational criticisms of the people they are
dependent on. They will respond to plausible and forceful statements and
alternatives that put the American electorate back in touch with their core
optimism. Bush's opponents must combat his dark imagery with hope and
restore American vigor and optimism in the coming years. They should heed
the example of Reagan, who used optimism against Carter and the "national
malaise"; Franklin Roosevelt, who used it against Hoover and the pessimism
induced by the Depression ("the only thing we have to fear is fear itself");
and Clinton (the "Man from Hope"), who used positive language against the
senior Bush's lack of vision. This is the linguistic prescription for those
who wish to retire Bush in 2004.

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