The battle for your hearts and minds in Fallujah

rosscaputi
Aug 24, 2015 · 17 min read

A former soldier unveils how the US coalition is ‘liberating’ Iraq from the Islamic State through war crimes

by Ross Caputi

This exclusive is published by INSURGE INTELLIGENCE, a new crowd-funded investigative journalism project



The secret war to control what you think

To understand how this information campaign nurtured a disengaged public reaction to an occupation characterized by dirty war tactics and daily atrocities, it is important to understand something about the history and culture of the American propaganda apparatus.

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US soldiers in Iraq post-Saddam

“Placing false stories in the media is referred to by the agencies [conducting IO in the US or UK] as ‘playback’, ‘spillover’ or ‘feed back’, especially where the intention is that it will make its way back home.”

Donald Rumsfeld had long been an advocate of using offensive IO. During his time as Secretary of Defense he made several organizational changes to increase the role of propaganda in US diplomacy and military operations.

Truth-telling loses wars

It is widely believed within the US military that the US lost the First Siege of Fallujah due to its failure to control the “informational realm.” In other words, US leaders believed that their failure to either silence Al Jazeera’s reports of civilian casualties or provide a credible alternative perspective to international audiences led to unjustified public criticism and political pressure that forced them to end the operation.

Manufacturing Zarqawi

The US-led Coalition in Iraq used Information Operations in three notable ways to prepare for the Second Siege of Fallujah:

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A soldier grins over an Iraqi in grief

Hiding Fallujah’s dead

It was Lieutenant-General Sattler, Commanding General of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in Iraq in 2004, who issued final approval for all preselected individuals or houses before they were targeted by coalition airstrikes.

“[a] press release went out from us, telling what we did, why we did it, [that] the individual was a thug, a two-bit criminal who has killed ‘X’ number of Iraqi civilians . . . So every time we struck, we told ‘em who [we] went after, who we thought we killed — i.e., a member of the Zarqawi network . . . ”

And yet after each strike, groups from within Fallujah claimed that civilians had been killed, “[a]nd then [Sattler and his team] would try to rebut that.”

Keeping the peace

Another goal of the information campaign was to “put an Iraqi face” on the operation to retake Fallujah from insurgent control.

If you resent civilian casualties, you’re a terrorist

The American bombing campaign on Fallujah intensified through September and October until the beginning of the ground siege in November, and the American leaders insisted all the way that “[e]very bomb . . . we dropped has been a precision munition,” and that civilian casualties were “almost zero.”

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An Iraqi teenager in Fallujah is dragged out of hiding by US troops

Embedded spin-doctors

Further preparations for IO challenges included the coalition’s decree that only embedded journalists would be allowed inside Fallujah during the second siege.

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US troops near the corpse of an Iraqi civilian in Fallujah

Consequences

Not only did the Zarqawi PSYOP create one of the most destructive myths about the insurgency in Iraq, one that contributed to sectarian violence and justified years of continued foreign occupation, but also Zarqawi has survived as an emblematic figure in the American collective memory of the occupation.



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rosscaputi

Written by

Ross Caputi is an anti-war veteran, activist, filmmaker, and graduate student in English studies.

INSURGE intelligence

We are crowdfunding adversarial investigations into power, to empower people and save the planet. Join us via www.patreon.com/nafeez

rosscaputi

Written by

Ross Caputi is an anti-war veteran, activist, filmmaker, and graduate student in English studies.

INSURGE intelligence

We are crowdfunding adversarial investigations into power, to empower people and save the planet. Join us via www.patreon.com/nafeez

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