ABC's Agit-Prop: Another Serving From Bush's Poison Kitchen

Kos comes up with this nice catch:

Top Bush counterterrorism official bashes ABC's 9/11 mockumentary

Roger Cressey, former Chief of Staff to the President's Critical Infrastructure Protection Board at the White House from November 2001 to September 2002, told Scarborough:

SCARBOROUGH: Roger, let me begin with you. There are points of this docudrama that are more drama than fact. But talk about Bill Clinton and the central premise by ABC that he should have done more to get Bin Laden.
CRESSY: Joe, it's amazing, based on what I've seen so far is how much they've gotten wrong. They got the small stuff wrong such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed instructing Ahmed Rassam to carry out the millenium attacks. Then they got the big stuff wrong, this fantasy about how we had a CIA officer and the Northern Alliance leader Ahmed Massoud looking at Bin Laden and they breathlessly call the White House to say we need to take him out and the White House said no. I mean it's sheer fantasy. So, if they want to critique the Clinton administration and the Bush administration, based on fact, I think that's fine. But what ABC has done here is something straight out of Disney and fantasyland. It's factually wrong. And that's shameful.
SCARBOROUGH: But at the same time, doesn't history show that Bill Clinton had several opportunities to go after bin Laden, but the President and his cabinet were afraid to do so because they may offend some people in the Arab world?
CRESSY: Actually, Joe, that had nothing to do with it. If you read the 9/11 Commission report, it makes it very clear. In most of those cases, George Tenet, the Director of the CIA, said because there was single source intelligence it was his recommendation to the President not to take the shot. There was never a case where we had a clear shot at Bin Laden and the decision to take it wasn't made. [End excerpt.]

What we are seeing is the deliberate concoction of a pernicious national myth, designed to serve the partisan ends of an extremist movement that despises democracy and seeks to in
stall, by stealth, one-party authoritarian rule. Since we're all tossing around Nazi-era analogies these days – after all, we must follow the example of The Leader – this is another one, and far more apposite than any of the historical tripe Bush and Rummy and Condi have been throwing out. For the ABC movie – and the much deeper revisionism it represents – is another "stab-in-the-back" myth, such as the Nazis and their fellow travellers on the German Right employed to poison the political atmosphere and demonize their enemies.  For them, the lie was that "Jews and liberals" sold out Germany in World War I; today, the myth is that Bill Clinton actually caused the murder of all those Americans on 9/11 by being so weak and liberal and law-abiding. Thus by extension all those who now dissent against Bush's policies are likewise feckless enablers of terrorism, who would unwittingly -- or even wittingly -- allow more Americans to be killed.

Naturally, the crank notion that Clinton had Osama dead to rights in his gunsights but cravenly failed to pull the trigger has been percolating for years in the fetid swamps and fever dreams of the American Right. But the significance of it being taken up like this by ABC, one of the old-line national networks – and being broadcast with such gravitas and fanfare (providing it to schools, airing it with no commercial interruptions for this important production, this vital historical lesson for the American people – as if it were "Schindler's List") – and being broadcast at such a crucial time, in the run-up to a national election – cannot be missed. It is a deliberate act of obesiance to The Leader and his faction. "We are with you, Leader," says ABC; "we will lie for you, we will re-write history for you, we will serve you!"

ABC's executives know that the blatant propaganda of this "docudrama" will obliterate any tiny fragments of the true history and darkly nuanced complexity of the "War on Terror" that at times emerge from its news operations. Simplified, dramatized falsity always trumps murky reality in the broader public consciousness. The broadcast of this series is a remarkably transparent kowtowing to a political faction that is actually one of the least popular ever to hold power in American history. It is certainly far less popular than the Clinton administration now being villified by ABC's lies.

What does this mean? It seems to be an example of a sinister alliance between the corporate elite and an unpopular, authoritarian political faction that can only stay in power by fearmongering and deception. Again, this is an alliance we have seen before, in Germany. (The analogy is not exact, however; for most of his reign, Hitler was far more popular than Bush, and so the corporate bandwagoning is more easily understood.) In return for helping Bush pervert reality – both historical and the here-and-now – the corporations are given a free hand to maximize their profits.

As we all know, the bottom line transcends all other considerations for the corporate elite; recall Sumner Redstone's famous declaration in 2004, when the Viacom/CBS boss said that despite his lifelong support for liberal Democrats, he was voting for Bush, because Bush was better for Viacom – and the needs of the corporation come first. This prostration before the Leader occurred after the imbroglio over the CBS report on Bush's desertion of his National Guard post during wartime – the infamous "Memogate," in which a sideshow about possibly doctored memos (a charge never proven) obscured the basic, corroborated truth of the report. The chastened network then pulled an upcoming major report outlining the Bush Faction's mendacity in hyping Iraq's non-existent nuclear threat in the run-up to its war of aggression. (Invading a country under false pretenses, in the name of national security – there's another Nazi-era analogy for you, George.)

In the same way, the New York Times held its story about Bush's patently illegal warrantless surveillance of American citizens until almost a year after the 2004 elections. So corporate media's cooperation with the Bush Faction's political needs is nothing new. But until now, it has most often been done by ommission – the damning report NOT aired, the obvious government lie NOT challenged, the embarrassing story buried beneath an anodyne headline on page 25, etc. ABC's multimillion-dollar extravaganza of in-your-face lies, revision and demonization, written by a longtime rightwing crank, is something new under the sun.

Perhaps in one strange way, it's a good sign: the Bush Faction's position is getting so desperate that acts of ommission will no longer do the job; they need naked, frenzied propaganda pumped out nationwide in order to cling to power.

We are seeing the beginning of the endgame here. As I wrote – years ago – in the Moscow Times, the worst will come when this gang of gilded, brutal punks feels cornered, when they feel it starting to slip away from them. Then all the stops will be pulled out, there'll be no more pretense, no more sham piety about democratic values or working within the Constitution, no more subtle media ploys, no more restraint of any kind. That "worst to come" is now getting underway: the hysteria and hardball will keep rising day by day, week after week, as we move toward the election.

And if the Republicans lose, it will likely be even worse. As the levers of lawful power will be in the hands of Democrats then – and as Bush and his minions have clearly broken the law and will be subject to prosecution under a lawful Constitutional government – they will finally have to dispense with law altogether…unless of course it's martial law, proclaimed after some timely national emergency.

ABC's little piece of agit-crap is insignificant in itself; as Steve Gilliard has wisely pointed out, it's debuting against a Sunday night Football matchup between the Manning brothers, which will have most of the movie's "Red State" target audience riveted to that channel. But as a first inkling of what's to come in the twilight years of the Bush Regime, it is an important – and disturbing – development.

UPDATE: Another layer of pretense falls away, as Bush finally admits that the CIA has secret prisons around the world.

*This post has been changed to record the correct date of the movie's debut on ABC.*