By: Cliff Kincaid
Accuracy in Media
We are told that Sergeant Robert Bales navigated his way through Taliban-infested areas and killed 17 Afghan civilians, including women and toddlers. Then he took time out from shooting to stack up several of the bodies and light them on fire. One might expect that such a shooter would be running from any angry mob who identified this obvious intruder in their midst, if not be pinned down in a battle with the local Taliban. Instead, we are told that he walked back alone and calmly surrendered.
How could he have done this by himself? And how could the most horrific case of mass murder committed by a U.S. soldier since Fort Hood just be a case of too much war stress?
Gordon Duff is a favorite of Iranian Press TV. His website says Sergeant Bales was a Christian extremist.
Claims that he suffered from PTSD or a brain injury do not square with the methodological approach that he apparently took in the killings. This was not a madman going berserk. The rampage had the earmarks of somebody programmed or manipulated to kill, with the killings and the aftermath being carefully orchestrated by those in on the secret of what actually happened.
Bales’ lawyer claims he “does not remember everything” from the day of the shootings, and that he has not actually confessed.
It is eerily reminiscent of when fanatical Palestinian Sirhan Sirhan, a Marxist who killed Robert F. Kennedy, claimed he couldn’t remember anything, after initially confessing to the crime. Few today remember that RFK was actually the target of a terrorist attack on American soil motivated by Sirhan Sirhan’s allegiance to Palestinian nationalism and Arab socialism.
What is apparent in the Bales case is that the level of violence carried out against civilians is strikingly similar to the terror and assassination that the Taliban inflicts on communities that dare to oppose them. This was clearly premeditated mass murder. But for what purpose? And who or what was behind it?
What we know, at this point, is that Iranian Press TV and Moscow-funded Russia Today (RT) are blaming the killings not on one man but a high-level U.S. conspiracy. They insist that Bales did not act alone but was assisted by other U.S. military personnel in what was a planned and systematic massacre of civilians. The conspiracies being offered by Press TV and RT should not be dismissed but rather understood in the context of what they want us to believe and why. This is a global information war and the ultimate prize is control of the Middle East.
The stakes are high as President Obama embraces the anti-Semitic and pro-terrorist Muslim Brotherhood, Russia and China continue to support Iran, the regime in Syria hangs on to power with the help of Russia, and the Chinese-backed Islamic regime in Sudan continues to wreak havoc in Africa, including through its support for warlord Joseph Kony.
The malicious charges stemming from the Bales case clearly endanger our troops throughout the world, especially the Middle East. We know that U.S. troops have already withdrawn from Iraq and that a panicked departure from Afghanistan would be a major debacle that would lead to the takeover of the country by the Taliban, the same group which hosted the 9/11 plotters. So the killings play into the hands of our enemies. Iran, which has been working with the Taliban and even Al Qaeda, stands to benefit enormously.
This poisonous coverage will no doubt inspire others to kill Americans—in revenge or retaliation. Jihadist violence and terrorism on American soil are made more possible, perhaps inevitable, by the heavy-handed and vicious anti-American tone of the coverage.
It is significant that China’s news agency quotes an analyst named Wahid Mujda as saying that, “Intentionally targeting civilians and killing innocent people no doubt would enhance anti-U.S. resentment.” He said it would “enable the Taliban to benefit from the situation and recruit more fighters” as it pushed “affected families to join the Taliban and seek revenge.” Mujda used to serve with the Taliban’s Foreign Ministry before that government collapsed after the U.S. and its Afghan allies drove them out. Hence, the tragic killings serve as perfect cannon fodder for those like the Taliban and countries like Iran which want the U.S. out of the region.
What can be safely assumed at this point is that the anti-American narrative that the U.S. was backing Bales with a squad of soldiers in a deliberate conspiracy to massacre civilians is almost certainly a conspiracy theory that is part of a global attempt to convince the world of the opposite of what really happened.
Which means that another theory—that Bales engaged in the killings, with the help of the Taliban, in order to accelerate an American withdrawal—has to be seriously considered.
There is no direct evidence at this stage for the theory of Bales as an enemy agent or dupe. But Bales’ attorney says he has seen “no forensic evidence” and there have been “no confessions” to support the Army’s case. The fact is that so little is known about the killings that both sides of the story—the one told by the U.S. Army and the one told by anti-American foreign propagandists—have to be questioned.
The key to understanding what happened could lie in the blatant lies being told by the other side. It was not enough that Bales was accused of killing, with help, the 17 Afghans; now Iranian Press TV is adding the charge of rape. However, the U.S. has found no evidence of allegations of sexual abuse from villagers.
The killings were horrifying enough that to add to them with embellishments about a deliberate massacre carried out by high level U.S. commanders makes no sense—unless one is trying to further confuse the situation and divert attention away from the real ultimate truth. And that may mean that Bales was an enemy collaborator.
Although the media report that the military is investigating Bales—and that the story has now become that he made two trips outside his military base to carry out the killings—the Obama administration would not likely pursue the question of who was behind a shooter if the answer to that question would implicate the Taliban or other Islamists and if they could get him on an individual criminal charge instead.
Such was the case with U.S. Army Major Nidal Hasan, who killed 13 people in a Jihadist massacre at Fort Hood, Texas. Hasan, who yelled “Allahu Akbar” as he began killing his fellow soldiers and was linked to a foreign Al-Qaeda operative, the assassinated Anwar al Awlaki, engaged in what the administration now calls a case of “workplace violence.” General George Casey, then-Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, sent an e-mail to soldiers following the carnage in which he said that he was “. . . concerned about the potential for this speculation to cause a backlash against our Muslim Soldiers and civilians. We need to be vigilant to ensure this does not occur.”
The Hasan case, however, was not the only example of a Muslim in the U.S. military turning on his fellow soldiers. Ali Mohammed, an Egyptian-born Islamic fundamentalist who helped plan Osama bin Laden’s bombing of the U.S embassies in Africa, had served as a sergeant with the U.S. Army Special Operations at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. And Army Sergeant Hasan Akbar carried out a fatal 2003 grenade attack on members of his Airborne Division in Kuwait in the opening days of [the] Iraq war. He killed two and wounded 15.
If the enemy recruited Bales and then helped him carry out the massacre, so it could be blamed on the U.S., then we gain an additional important insight into the brutal nature of those who want the U.S. to leave so they can take over. Staging a massacre and blaming it on the Americans is something that makes sense, if we examine what is already known about the killings.
Consider that the enemy has infiltrated and recruited among members of the Afghan Army. Is it so far-fetched to believe that an American soldier was recruited as well? Perhaps he was not converted to Islam. But he may have had his outlook on the war completely twisted by the propaganda telling him that he is a member of an occupying force that has to leave the country.
So-called “information specialists” on the U.S. side of the conflict seem to have little understanding of how the Taliban might have used Bales for its own purposes, in terms of carrying out the actual murders, and then exploiting them for propaganda reasons.
One might assume that this story would be told, except that in this case the enemy’s methods might be too sensitive to be discussed officially in public. Perhaps this helps explain why Bales was moved out of the country for protection and monitoring.
The theory that Bales was co-opted by the enemy in some way should be analyzed in terms of who benefits from the disinformation. Clearly, the Taliban and its backers, including Iran in this case, benefit. These are simple facts of the case.
Iranian Press TV is now accusing U.S. troops of rape, on top of deliberate murder.
If the claim is that Bales was working under orders from the U.S. command is clearly false, then the opposite may in fact be true—that he was recruited by the Taliban and possibly Iran to be a shooter who would be prosecuted as a lone gunman, with no investigation of who or what was really behind him.
The truth in this case could be extremely embarrassing to the U.S., which would not want it known that one of its own soldiers could have been used in such a manner.
As such, a cover-up may be underway, intended to obscure the nature of the apparent brainwashing that Bales underwent at some point in his military career. It could be that he was won over to the anti-American cause because of information that he was receiving during or between deployments. What is needed is an examination of what he was saying about the cause for which he was deployed. It is possible that he even thought that a massacre of this kind would accelerate the early departure of U.S. forces from the battlefield.
While these assertions may strike some as fantastic, the official story, as told by his lawyer and others, is itself fantastic—that he either doesn’t remember what happened or suffered from stress or a concussion that made him go on a killing rampage.
The Washington Post reports, “Many details about the killings, including a possible motive, have not been made public.” Indeed, the possible motive only makes sense in the context of an atrocity staged in order for it to be blamed on American forces.
By way of background in the Bales case, let’s look at how the Taliban and other sources have promoted a certain narrative about what happened.
The UK’s Daily Mail reported that the Taliban posted on its website for the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” that “American savages” committed the “blood-soaked and inhumane crime” and that they expressed “doubt that a single soldier could have carried out the shootings in houses over a mile apart.” This propaganda line was then picked up by Afghanistan President Karzai, who stated that witnesses “believe it’s not possible for one person to do that.”
But rather than assume, therefore, that this means that more U.S. troops were involved, it could mean that Bales was part of an operation by the enemy that is using the massacre in a campaign to undermine the American military presence in Afghanistan. The open question is what caused him to go over to the other side.
Anti-NATO activist Rick Rozoff, who appears on Press TV and Russia Today, says the massacre was preplanned and executed by a squad of U.S. troops.
Iranian Press TV is a source that should be examined in detail in this regard. An individual named Gordon Duff, who describes himself as a Marine Vietnam veteran and uses an affiliation with a publication called Veterans Today, appeared on Press TV to offer a fascinating point of view, complete with all kinds of “facts.” Here’s what he put on his own website about the appearance:
In an interview with Press TV’s U.S. Desk on Tuesday, Duff argued that the number of soldiers who committed the crime was more than one—despite earlier claims by the U.S. military that “only one U.S. soldier” was involved in the killings…
Duff insists that new evidence shows those involved “were not drunk.” He said they had “the permission” to leave their base and used a vehicle to drive “two miles” away to get the village where the fatal shooting took place. “They could not have left the base without the permission of the commanding officer revenge raid.”
Duff added that “No vehicle could possibly leave the gate of an American facility without the permission of an officer after midnight unless it were on an authorized military action.”
He also said that the soldiers even carried enough “gasoline cans” which they used to set the bodies on fire.
On the face of it, Duff appears to be very knowledgeable—or else he has been fed a certain set of “facts” that Press TV wanted to be presented to the global media. If a veteran like Duff could openly collaborate with the Iranian government’s global propaganda campaign, perhaps there is fertile ground among other soldiers for this kind of conspiracy mongering.
In an article, “Murder in Afghanistan, the Coverup Begins,” Duff goes further, laying the blame for the killings on Christian extremists, who he says are influenced by Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum. Of course, their strong support for Israel and hostility towards Iran can be compared and contrasted with Ron Paul, who is the unanimous favorite of Islamists and Veterans Today writers. Duff says about Bales:
…this is the act of someone with strong religious and political beliefs. Years ago, initially Pentecostal and then broader Dominionist/Dispensationalist theologies under the broader term of “Christian Evangelism” has been behind the atrocities.
Some are tied to doomsday cults, others toward “racial cleansing” and more fall under the influence of politicians.
Those currently are Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum.
Previously, they were the entire Bush administration, which used communist “brainwashing” techniques on troops to encourage them to torture and kill as part of their patriotic and religious duty.
These messages were instilled during training and continually reinforced through televised psyop sessions on the Armed Forces Network and Pentagon Channel.
Such rhetoric has largely disappeared during the Obama administration with the exception of that which is normally part of the daily broadcasts on Fox News with its extremist pundits.
Their message, of the threat of Islam with its high birthrate, stresses extremist methods. Our “churchgoers” and “conservatives” are taught Islam, even small children, are the “enemy of our blood,” as though we all carried a Torah in our pockets.
Duff also blames conservative and military-oriented media, including Fox News, for the mind-set behind the killings. This would be laughable were it not for the fact that Press TV presents this to the world as legitimate news and information and that millions of Muslims take it seriously.
So who is Duff? The Anti-Defamation League identifies Duff as among the key figures in a group of 9/11 anti-Semitic conspiracists who “blame Israel for numerous nefarious deeds and false flag operations.” ADL explains:
Gordon Duff is an anti-Semitic conspiracist whose innocuous-sounding Web site, Veterans Today, features anti-Israel and Holocaust denial materials. The site also offers a platform for numerous columnists who promote anti-Semitic 9/11 conspiracy theories, as well as Duff’s own screeds.
However, Duff is just one of several Americans portrayed favorably by Press TV. Another is Republican presidential candidate Representative Ron Paul, who claims a significant following in the military. In his article, “Tehran TV Loves Ron Paul,” investigative journalist Ken Timmerman notes that “The Iranian government channel portrays Ron Paul as an American hero, and brings on conspiracy theorists masquerading as political ‘analysts’ to laud him for ‘challenging the American establishment’ and the ‘corporate neo-conservative Zionist consensus,’ that cabal of Jews, banksters, and Reagan Democrats who in Tehran’s eyes (and in the eyes of these Ron Paul supporters) run the world.”
Ron Paul, a military veteran himself, argues that attacks on America and its allies are “blowback” from U.S. military intervention in the Middle East. He does not oppose Iran’s acquisition of nuclear weapons. Is it true that many members of the military share this view? Was Bales one of them? If so, he would have had a reason to do anything he could to undermine the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan.
RT, which is Vladimir Putin’s official propaganda channel and has global reach, has to be examined as well. RT is favored by anti-American conspiracy theorists and, like Press TV, it also promotes the presidential candidacy of Ron Paul.
Moscow-funded Russia Today is exploiting the killings for anti-American purposes.
The RT headline in the Bales case is “Kandahar slaughter preplanned, executed by squad—Afghan top brass“ and charges the killings were “premeditated” by U.S. forces, rather than the work of one U.S. serviceman.
RT actually carries the story another step, insisting that witnesses saw “air support” and “the killers were brought in by military helicopters.”
These claims are clearly fabricated as the U.S. does not have any record of employing any air support or helicopters that night, and certainly they would not be useful against anything but dug-in troop formations behind defined enemy lines.
But just as Press TV uses Duff, RT has its own “expert,” an “international affairs commentator” by the name of Rick Rozoff, who says on his website that he is against NATO and opposes “global militarism.” On RT, he said the Afghan killings were calculated and premeditated—official U.S. policy. He also appeared on Press TV, which reported:
Rick Rozoff, manager of Stop NATO, commented on the recent massacre
of Afghan civilians and said, “The rampage included more than one soldier and the U.S. frankly lied about it.”
Speaking to Press TV’s U.S. Desk on Thursday, Rozoff said the fact that an American trooper has been transferred to Kuwait “certainly has shown total disregard for Afghan national sovereignty or the feelings of Afghan people.”
He added, “The sooner the U.S. troops and their NATO allies leave Afghanistan, the better for Afghanistan and the Afghan people.”
This, then, is the ultimate goal of the propaganda—to force the U.S. out of Afghanistan earlier than expected, benefiting the Taliban, Iran, and Iran’s backer, Russia.
It turns out that Rozoff is a member of the Voltaire network, a Russian-backed international alliance of writers and speakers. We have noted that the network was founded by the French left-wing activist Thierry Meyssan, who made an appearance on Russia Today to argue that the NATO-led intervention in Libya and the unrest in Syria are “steps in a decades-long plan by the US and its allies to completely reshape the face of Africa…” Meyssan hailed Russia for preventing the overthrow of the al-Assad regime in Syria.
Press TV has a “U.S. desk” but operates in the U.S. illegally.
By looking at the propaganda and disinformation in the Bales case, we understand whose interests are being served—America’s enemies and adversaries, including Iran and Russia. Using Americans to make foreign propaganda points is something the old Soviet propaganda apparatus specialized in. Now, all of this is being done out in the open—if only our side paid attention to its significance.
Incredibly, in regard to Press TV, as Ken Timmerman pointed out, “…the Obama Administration permits the channel to operate on American soil without a license and in violation of U.S. sanctions regulations, which ban commercial transactions with Iran. It appears to be another example of Obama coddling the terrorist regime.”
It would be a serious mistake to underestimate the influence of these propaganda channels and the conspiracy realm in general. In this context, we find that the universe of Ron Paul supporters includes many fanatics and 9/11 conspiracy theorists determined to find America and Israel guilty of various international and terrorist crimes. Ron Paul himself has not openly embraced the 9/11 conspiracy theory that the U.S. attacked itself, but many of his supporters do so.
Such a view tends to lead to an embrace of America’s enemies, as if they are victims of U.S. policy and have a legitimate complaint. For example, Paul has said that Army soldier Bradley Manning, now on trial for treason, is a “hero,” and that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, now working for Russia Today television, is a whistleblower. Iraq war veteran Adam Kokesh, a Ron Paul supporter, had a regular program on Russia Today and organized a “Veterans for Ron Paul” group.
Manning, who was an intelligence analyst in Iraq, is charged with aiding Al-Qaeda through his release of classified information to WikiLeaks. Some of the documents he released concern counter-terrorism operations in the Middle East and the vulnerability of top-secret facilities to terrorist attack. Such disclosures increased the dangers to his fellow soldiers and their Afghan allies.
Assange, who has gone on the Russian payroll, stands out as someone openly devoted to the anti-American cause. It is also a fact that Press TV and RT find plenty of willing participants in their propaganda campaigns against America. These channels do not have Washington, D.C. studios and operations for nothing. In addition to their open collaboration with Ron Paul and his many “libertarian” backers, they are actively assisted by “progressives” who repeat the propaganda and want to see American influence in the Middle East reduced, if not eliminated. Liberal activist and RT host Thom Hartmann is perhaps the most visible example of this collaboration.
Part of the answer to why these killings occurred will have to be found in the mind of Sergeant Bales and who or what influenced him. But is this a story that will be told? Or is U.S. leadership blind to the internal threat?
Cliff Kincaid is the Director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism and can be contacted at [email protected].