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911 Redux: Where is that decoder ring when we need it?

By       Message Danny Schecter     Permalink
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New York, New York. In times like these, wouldn't it be great if we all had what, "Captain Midnight," A TV hero from my youth brandished as a "decoder ring?" As we get ready to begin September's fifth year anniversary commemoration of events of 9/11, we all need help in sorting out--"decoding"--the dramatic changes that followed the "Day That Changed Everything."

And, yes, there is a "code," a top secret code, a clear understanding among many in power that the American public would never understand, much less support, what would be done, what "had to be done" in their/our name unless it was coded, renamed, reframed, and in effect, hidden in a very public language that made it culturally acceptable, and politically palatable.

And so it was "concealed in plain sight," as language used to convey its opposite meaning in the way that George Orwell anticipated so many years ago, when "peace" meant war, and black was really white in his prophetic book Animal Farm. He was decoding a Soviet Empire then. We are confronting an American one now.

But the challenge is the same.

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In that fallen empire--fallen, let us remember, as a result of its military defeat in faraway Afghanistan, the place that consumed them then, and still consumes us now. The State was their key player with the old party apparatchiks clinging to an unrealizable ideology. In ours, the " private sector"--the corporations, multinationals and the media they own--are the prime movers behind the scenes as lobbyists and linguists advancing their special interests in the name of, and as, the public interest. Their new world order of top-down, stage-managed control is no different in its essentials than the shadowy machinations of the Comintern.

They know how the game is played now and how "the cheese has moved," and that the informal institutions of influence are far more powerful than the formal institutions of democracy. They know that reality is what people perceive it to be and that "managing" those perceptions, spinning and sloganizing them, is far more essential than explaining anything.

The Bolsheviks did it crudely in the name of their party line for seventy-five years. Now, the Busheviks are doing the same with neoconology in a very different setting where back room players and corruption by avaricious industries call the shots, usually out of sight. The media knows it but no rarely shows it until it becomes too blatant, or "Enronesque, " to ignore.

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To shape and a manage public opinion and even attempt to manipulate it, you need more than message points. You need to know more than you can learn from monitoring what we say to each. Illegal Wiretapping can handle that but brain tapping demands more sophisticated research and modalities,

The DC-based "Mellman Group" (which works for Democrats by the way) is just one of the many firms on the cutting-edge of "perception management," based on a deep understanding of mass psychology and strategies for applying findings from sophisticated research. Here's how they explain their mission:

"People often make decisions that they themselves cannot explain. These decisions emerge from the complex interplay of attitudes, emotions, beliefs, values and perceptions. At The Mellman Group we design our research to probe beneath the surface, to lay bare the structure of decision-making and individual choice. The result? An ability to read the complexities of attitudes and opinions and a track record of successfully changing them."
One of the techniques is called "strategic mapping:" "Strategic mapping graphically represents the psychology of choice. Each combination of techniques we choose helps us reveal the underlying structure of decisions for consumers and voters around the world."
Which brings us to 9/11 and its conflicting theories:

There have always been two often intersecting theories of history: the conspiracy theory referencing action by deliberate design, and then the "f*ck up theory" that implies incompetence and unintended consequences. Sometimes these two theories morph and merge.

Ironically, it was the Bush Administration that first rolled out its own conspiracy theory: the "Al-Qaeda did it" conclusion. It seemed so obvious. "They" conspired. "They" planned it. "They" hijacked the planes. "They" crashed them into buildings--except when they didn't.

And the media bought it and recycled this storyline endlessly in print, radio and TV, as part of a relentless scattershot chronicle of demonization filled with contradictions and omissions that at different times included the Saudis, the Pakistanis, the city of Dubai, Saddam Hussein and just about every Immam and Mullah out there. On September 11th an AMTRAK passenger train was stopped when a rider suspected that an Indian traveler with a turban was part of the Taliban. Others have been denied air passage because of their T-shirts.

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It often seems as if the "terrorists" are everywhere and nowhere at the same time. It is us versus them.

(This rampant paranoia reminds me of the old joke about the cop about to arrest a communist during the bad old days of the Red Scare. The man protests that he is an "anti-communist." The cop responds, "I don't care what kind of communist you are.")

This is the official narrative repeated without pause, legitimated by the 9/11 Commission, signed, sealed and delivered. It is always offered up as 'just the facts, ma'am' "real story" by some self-styled "terrorism expert."

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News Dissector Danny Schechter is blogger in chief at Mediachannel.Org He is the author of PLUNDER: Investigating Our Economic Calamity (Cosimo Books) available at Amazon.com. See Newsdisssector.org/store.htm.

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