[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]
[infowar.de] WP: Bush Message Machine Is Set To Roll With Its Own War Plan
Bush Message Machine Is Set To Roll With Its Own War Plan
By Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, March 19, 2003; Page A01
When American troops move into Iraq, the Bush administration's message
machine, in its own way as massive and disciplined as the U.S. military,
will be equally ready to roll. Staffed with veterans of countless
political campaigns, and honed on the communications lessons of
Afghanistan, its war plan is in place.
Senior spokesmen and coordinators from the White House, the National
Security Council and the State and Defense departments held their latest
formal planning session last week in the White House's Roosevelt Room,
administration officials said. President Bush dropped by to bless their
efforts and to remind them of the need to get out the news "in a
coordinated way that reflects the truth about our efforts."
More than any other conflict in history, the Iraq war will be conducted
under the staring eyes and within constant earshot of most of the world.
In a new Pentagon strategy both to disseminate and control the news, U.S.
and foreign journalists are integrated into virtually every U.S. and
British unit, with satellite technology enabling them to broadcast reports
on the war on the ground as it happens. A number of journalists remain in
Baghdad, watching, for the moment at least, from the other side.
While many in this country will welcome the opportunity to cheer on the
U.S. forces and watch over their safety on a real-time basis, a large
portion of the worldwide audience is opposed to an invasion of Iraq and
could be quick to criticize the administration in the event of civilian
casualties or other bleak news.
Just as in a political campaign, the Bush administration wants its version
of each day's events to be first and foremost, as it seeks to press
preferred story lines.
"It's a given that we want to draw attention to the truth about Iraq,"
including humanitarian abuses, "as soon as the dictator's grip has been
loosened," one administration official said. "The truth about Iraq has
been at the heart of our arguments for six months," the official said,
"and it's going to be front and center for the skeptics in the weeks
The close attention to its war message mirrors the discipline the Bush
team brought to his election campaign and to the passage of his domestic
political agenda, especially the securing of a $1.35 trillion tax cut from
Congress. Such a comprehensive communications strategy for a war, however,
is unprecedented in the modern White House.
Once the war starts, the administration plans to fill every information
void in the 24-hour worldwide news cycle, leaving little to chance or
At dawn, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer will brief the television
networks and the wire services in a conference call before the morning
news programs. A conference call will follow among Fleischer, Bush
communications director Dan Bartlett and White House Office of Global
Communications Director Tucker Eskew, State Department spokesman Richard
Boucher, Defense Department spokeswoman Victoria Clarke and British Prime
Minister Tony Blair's senior spokesman, Alastair Campbell. During the
call, they will set out thematic story lines for the day and deal with
An afternoon briefing at Central Command headquarters in Qatar will be
held most days, timed to hit the news at noon in the United States.
Supper-time television news in the United States and late broadcasts in
Europe will be fed by the Pentagon's afternoon briefing in Washington,
where military officials will utilize the video images from targeted bombs
that all agree worked well in the 1991 Persian Gulf War and in the Afghan
Broadcasts on the government's Radio Sawa and on other Voice of America
regional outlets will carry the U.S. message to the Middle East and the
Persian Gulf region. A daily grid of senior officials available to be
interviewed by Arab and other media will be prepared and coordinated.
National security adviser Condoleezza Rice and her deputy, Stephen Hadley,
will be available for regular background briefings with selected small
groups of print reporters, officials said.
Every night, the Office of Global Communications will distribute its
"Global Messenger" via e-mail to government offices in Washington and to
embassies and other U.S. facilities around the world. Already in
operation, the Messenger supplies U.S. diplomats abroad with talking
points and key quotes from Bush and senior officials to prepare them for
the day ahead.
Yesterday morning, most of the Messenger was taken up with the text of
Bush's Monday night speech on Iraq, along with a comment Secretary of
State Colin L. Powell made earlier in the day that was critical of
France's position in the U.N. Security Council.
"It's a good way for people to have in one place some key facts and
quotes," Eskew said. "It can fit into a coat pocket or purse very easily."
The Iraq war will be the first test under fire for the Office of Global
Communications, the progeny of the Coalition Information Centers (CIC)
hurriedly set up in Washington, London and Pakistan in late 2001 when the
administration realized it risked losing the Afghan propaganda battle to
Taliban spokesmen and to rumors of hundreds of civilians dying under the
U.S. air assaults. The CIC was set up by Karen Hughes. Bush's closest
adviser, Hughes left the White House last summer but has been a frequent
visitor in recent days.
As the Office of Global Communications, the unit has grown into an
11-person White House operation under Eskew, a longtime Bush spokesman and
political operative. "In a sense, part of our mission has adapted from
what CIC did," Eskew said in a recent interview. "We're here for daily
coordination" among the White House and other government departments,
"midrange planning and long-range strategy. We're working on all three
One administration communications official acknowledged that his political
campaign experience is valuable. "I don't think any of us will be willing
to be seen as saying this is like a political campaign, because it's not,"
the official said. "This is war. It's real life and it's lives, and it's
greater stakes than any campaign that any of us has ever been involved in.
Campaign people take their campaign seriously, but this is a whole other
More useful than any political experience, the official said, are the
lessons they learned in communicating about the war in Afghanistan. U.S.
and British officials were initially taken aback by the flood of quotable
rhetoric that flowed from the Taliban's diplomatic office in Pakistan.
Once the Pakistanis closed it down, new stories emerged from Afghanistan
itself, as reporters crisscrossing the country on their own heard stories
of bombs gone astray, friendly Afghans killed by mistake and military
missions that looked different on the ground from the way they were
described at the Pentagon.
There was no organized response to what the administration felt were
erroneous reports and venomous commentary pouring from Arab media outlets.
In CIC work, now being continued by the Office of Global Communications,
lists were compiled of Arabic-speaking government officials who could
appear on Qatar-based al-Jazeera and other networks. Senior administration
officials were made available for interviews with foreign media,
particularly in the Arab world. A senior CIC official, Jim Wilkinson, was
permanently headquartered at Central Command in Tampa to handle
Wilkinson, a former spokesman for the National Republican Congressional
Committee, is now based at the command's new war-fighting headquarters in
Mail an infowar -
- infopeace -
de mit "unsubscribe" im Text.