BAGHDAD AND INFO WARS (Part One)
The incoming address of this article is : www.malcomlagauche.com/id1.html
There are always some things that have happened in the ongoing U.S. war against Iraq that leave me with a feeling of not having gotten to the bottom of an incident. Many times, research will provide the answers, but some things still stick out as unfinished business.
One of these quandaries was the taking of Saddam International Airport (later renamed Baghdad International Airport by the U.S.) in early April 2003. I read much of the news from the mainstream press of various countries. Most said the airport was taken with ease and few U.S. casualties.
However, there were gaps in the reporting as well as contradictory statements. Initially, most press agencies or publications reported heavy fighting when the U.S. arrived at the airport. Then, there was silence. About four days later, we heard about the airportís fall to the U.S. But, was it all as easy as the press stated?
Russian agencies carried stories of fierce fighting in which many U.S. soldiers were killed. Some Arab news agencies spoke of a bloody battle with heavy casualties on both sides. These reports were totally opposite from the ones coming out of the U.S. and Britain.
To me, it was easy to believe that the public had been hoodwinked, but experience in journalism taught me to be leery of some information that seemed to be far out and research the subject properly before making a judgement. We all have seen the preposterous allegations made by Internet websites from people who opposed and those who supported the illegal March 2003 invasion of Iraq: Saddam was behind the 9-11 attacks; Saddam and the CIA planned the invasion of Iraq; the Bible predicted the invasion, etc.
In 1991, I heard a tape of a battle in which the U.S. lost thousands of troops. The background noise was loud with shooting and explosions. The narrator (supposedly on the spot) spoke in Arabic and talked of Americans falling like flies. This tape was widely spread after the cease-fire in the 1991 Gulf War. It was supposed to show that the media did not report of the tens of thousands of U.S. deaths. It was a fraud perpetrated by a citizen of Saudi Arabia.
Then, a U.S. nurse who used to visit Iraq with teddy bears for the kids during the embargo told of a small island in the Pacific on which 20,000 U.S. soldiers killed in the Gulf War were secretly buried. She lambasted me for not knowing of this. Again, another fraud.
A couple of weeks ago, I read an article written by Captain Eric May, a 14-year veteran of the U.S. Army. He alleges that the Battle of Baghdad, which began at Saddam International Airport, was far more devastating to the U.S. forces than had been reported. I went to various web sites that carried his writings and I was impressed. This was no conspiracy theorist looking for publicity. Additionally, he held knowledge that few writers about Iraq (including myself) have: keen expertise in the areas of military tactics and U.S. military intelligence. I thought it was worth calling him and interviewing him. That same day, we talked for more than an hour and I will publish our conversation in two parts.
Before we get to the interview, I will give you a short background of Captain May. He entered the U.S. Army in 1977 and served for 14 years. Captain May eventually received advance intelligence education and he spent years in deciphering messages, mainly from the former Soviet Union.
In 1990, he returned to civilian life and taught languages (Latin, Greek and Russian) at Mt. Carmel High School in Houston, where he was once elected teacher of the year. In 1995, he changed careers and became a freelance executive speech writer for many prominent companies, such as Texaco, Compaq, Hill & Knowlton, etc. At the same time, he contributed articles to Houston NBC-affiliate KPRC-TV. In addition, he wrote for two Houston daily newspapers: The Houston Post and The Houston Chronicle.
ML: Please tell us what prompted you to begin your questioning of the Battle of Baghdad, primarily the battle for the airport.
CM: I had just come back from teaching a martial arts class on Friday, April 4, 2003. That would have been the morning of April 5 in Baghdad. Immediately, what I saw on CNN, about 9pm Central time, was the Baghdad had been surrounded. We had dedicated the military forces to enveloping and making it succumb piece-by-piece, maybe sending in the 101st Airborne.
Then, all of a sudden, there was a report of explosions and CNN started to act like they were all rattled and didnít know it was coming. Given that I was a prior service and intelligence public affairs office, I knew very well that meant unexpected contact. Pretty soon, they were saying there were huge explosions from the airport, and the next thing you know, theyíre casting over to imbed Walter Rogers from CNN. As heís broadcasting from Baghdad Airport, you can hear artillery hitting around his Humvee and you can hear small arms fire hitting it: a distinct ping, ping, ping. That pretty much told me they were getting fired up bad.
That was when it was still pre-dawn in Baghdad. By dawn, Lt. Col. Terry Ferrell, the 3/7 Cavalry Group commander appeared on TV during CNN evening coverage and he broke down into tears when he trying to say everything was okay at Baghdad Airport. That made it clear to me that the 3/7, the scout unit, the cavalry squadron that attended the 3rd Infantry Division, the U.S. Army division that had surrounded Baghdad, had wound up in a close fight in the Baghdad Airport. Thatís what I picked up at the time.
By the next day, CNN was saying there was substantial contradiction in facts from various media reports. Arab media were putting out 200 U.S. dead at the airport. Russian Intel put out that dozens were dead and a real fight had developed. U.S. media were putting out that Jessica Lynch had been rescued.
ML: How do you account for foreign media reporting about a bloody battle and U.S. media being silent about the airport while highlighting the rescue of Jessica Lynch?
CM: To me, at this point, it was a done deal. The Battle of Baghdad was essentially blocked out from April 5 all the way through April 8. On April 9, you had the pull-down of the Saddam statue which represents a pretty efficient ending of the Battle of Baghdad. But, it really was a propaganda ending. The pull-down was a staged event and Iíve heard that the few Iraqis there were not even Iraqis.
ML: Why have you taken such passion about the Battle of Baghdad?
CM: The propaganda cover-up of the Battle of Baghdad, what we call BOBCUP (Battle of Baghdad Cover-up) was so conspicuously against the United States principles of information, which is what we follow in the Department of Defense Public Affairs operations, was so egregiously out of line, it was then that I self-mobilized my mission of conscience because, basically, it was apparent to me at that point, that we were under dictatorship. Suppressing the events of an entire battle and keeping it suppressed long after the battle was over Ö you know, you could have said, "Well, we didnít want to tell the Iraqis where our troops were," or something else. But, you canít say that months and months and months and years after the event.
Baghdad was he beginning. Iíve finished a successful career; in and out of the active Army and in and out of the reserves. My last gig was that of a general staff officer. Iíve been around. Baghdad brought me out of the observation and analysis of this war to a participant in what we call the "info war." The war to get real information to the public.
ML: Please describe the conditions that make an "info war."
CM: What became apparent to me is that the willingness they have to close down any kind of information that doesnít fit into the big plan. Make it apparent that the whole system of government that we grew up studying in books ó the three systems to keep government honest ó has really become a bipolar government where you have in imperial executive ó we call it King George and the Bush League ó who rule the country. The media translate it like a propaganda ministry. Your other two parts of the triangle, the legislative and the judicial branches of government, are really there just for dressing up. Theyíre just there to make it look like a democracy, but itís not. (Note: to my non-U.S. readers, the term "bush league" in the U.S. represents a low-class entity. Captain May used the term doubly: Bush is the presidentís name and fits right in with the Bush League. ML)
ML: You, like a few other people who can think, predicted in writing the outcome of the invasion. Please elaborate.
CM: Iíve been publishing war analyses for the Houston Chronicle since 1992 predicting this quagmire. In retrospect, now that things have turned out the way they have, it seems obvious what I wrote on April 3, 2003, as we were nearing Baghdad. I wrote in the Houston Chronicle that this would be called "The Quicksand War:" it would turn into quicksand. Now, that looks so transparently obvious. But, I can remember when I submitted it to my editor, he laughed at me and said I was really going to blow my reputation on this one because the U.S. Army was going to reach Baghdad the next day and prove I was wrong.
As with so many people who never served a day in uniform, he just automatically knew that once you got there and knocked the other guyís capital down, they gave up. But, for somebody whoíd been in the military at that time in three different decades, and who had studied the art of war for three decades, the idea that a war is over because you take a capital? I read Napoleon. Also, that what people were saying on the way to Moscow.
ML: What is your opinion about the Iraqi resistance at the time? Few people knew that it had been organized before the U.S. invasion.
CM: When we go into the Battle of Baghdad cover-up, thatís part of what was getting covered up. I was getting from Iraqi resistance reports that they were preparing a resistance movement and I picked up on this as the Battle of Baghdad was occurring. Groups like the Saddam Fedayeen were involved, not just the Iraqi military.
Teaching indigenous populations how to conduct guerilla warfare is like saying you have to teach teenagers on a date alone how to have sex. Theyíre inevitably going to find out what everythingís for if you just leave them alone. Anytime you start a guerilla war, you get involved in attacking and holding a country, the most brilliant work of that campaign is going to come from the people who are trying to get even for your initial attack.
The resistance was planned and according to my research, they were publishing an underground newsletter as early as the Battle of Baghdad itself. Covering up a battle and covering up military reality are only temporary advantages, but they bring long-term problems. The administration became invested in saying that it had a successful war with conclusive results. As a result, the entire paradigm was askew. It went in with the wrong policy in the military sense. Once you deny military reality enough, it screws up your military.
I have connections at Camp Casey. Cindy Sheehanís son, Casey, was killed on April 4, 2004. Hereís the irony. He was killed on the one-year anniversary of the Battle of Baghdad. Letís pretend we just came out of basic Lieutenant school. On the one-year anniversary of a big battle where the Iraqis put up a big show and fought the U.S. to a standstill, wouldnít anyone figure there would be danger of recurrent attacks on a one-year anniversary?
Those guys who got wasted, like Casey, on day-one in Iraq, who just got off the bus, they were sent into a city that was hot with resurgent feelings of nationalism because it was the one-year anniversary of a battle the U.S. covered up and those boys didn't know it. Their officers didnít know it. Their commanders didnít know it. They were not allowed to know this was the one-year anniversary of the April 2003 Battle of Baghdad.
(In part two, Captain May goes into more detail about the Battle of Baghdad as well as media censorship.)
BAGHDAD AND INFO WARS (Part Two)
August 24, 2006
ML: Please explain in detail what you consider the info war and on what kind of battlefield will it be fought.
CM: Itís clear that we are in an info war. When Eisenhower warned of the military/industrial complex, he could have said, in Orwellian terms, the military/industrial/media complex.
The info wars are staged by such things as the manipulation of the capture of Saddam. I remember various media outlets grumbling about it because the story given by the U.S. administration was kind of falling apart.
With every story we discuss, information has been manipulated. If you listen to Rumsfeld, he will always say, "We need to win the propaganda war and we need to win the informational war." Informational warfare is nothing but info war. But, nobody wants to admit info war is going on because then it becomes clear that we have a treasonable condition of affairs.
ML: How can the numbers of U.S. killed in the Battle of Baghdad be covered up? How can they make four or five hundred soldiers disappear?
CM: That formed the first level of my investigation into the Battle of Baghdad. After watching CNN on April 4, 2003, I spent a couple of weeks doing TV analysis. Then, I decided I would go to Fort Stewart in Georgia, which is the home base for the Third Infantry and the 3/7 Cavalry.
When I got there, I immediately confirmed the existence of the Battle of Baghdad with the chaplain, who also told me the constitution was in the tank. They were covering up what they wanted. They control what the public feels, sees and does.
I realized there was a cover-up going on at the home base. Later in the summer, it came out that wives at the home base were being harassed and they were being given pharmacological psychotropic cocktails. There was a news blackout. When they (Third Infantry Division) finally did get back, they came back kind of on the midnight train.
There were many more wounded than the hospital could accommodate. They were sleeping in open fields. The reason for that, I believe, is that they were trying to keep everybody who was at the Battle of Baghdad all located at one Army post so they could control all the information.
Among the survivors and their dependants, there was an attempt to coerce silence. I like to say they were thugged up and drugged up.
In January 2004, I had a freelance journalist from upstate New York start working with me to try to get the story. She found out that there were about 100 backdoor visits, which means the casualty officer would come and inform the widows of what happened. They were taking women and getting them out of town, off the post.
She came up with a number of about 100 war widows. About one out of three soldiers is married. That kind of went well with what I had thought: about 300 to 500 killed in action. Very quickly, after she began investigating, she got a death threat.
Maybe we have 500 dead. That sounds like an immense pile. What happens is that you get 500 coffins that go to 500 different train terminals and 500 disparate cities and small towns. Nobody sends out a card saying there are 499 other ones. Everybody who gets one knows they have a dead G.I. But, nobody thinks their dead G.I. was part of a massive battle. Itís the elephant of truth. Every blind person gets one feel. Everyone gets one pat on the elephant without realizing thereís an immense beast there.
Covering up dead body counts is not hard to do at all. All you do is fail to report in any kind of cohesive order that there has been a massive battle. They proved that again by the fact that the fight of Fallujah, both of them, were covered up.
Itís easy to understand what happened with Fallujah. The same as the Battle of Baghdad. What the public got told was nothing like the carnage that was going on. The U.S. death count was held down. Thereís no way you have street-to-street close urban combat dismounted and have only two guys a day getting killed. It doesnít happen that way. We had regimental operations going on in Fallujah.
ML: If George Bush declared victory on May 1, 2003, why is there still fighting in Baghdad?
CM: The one thing we should understand is we have a Battle of Baghdad going on right now. Itís being covered up. Itís being hidden as a substratum under the greater story, which is the Israeli war on Lebanon.
As an example of what happens when you broadcast propaganda instead of history, the truth gets lost. The American public was told we took Baghdad far easier than we did and that meant clear sailing, when it really didnít. Now, the American public has been deluded. Itís like a magic trick: once you follow the magician, youíre lost. The magician has control of you. The media is a magic trick. That TV is a box and the magic trick that comes out of it tells us that weíre reinforcing our troops around Baghdad so we can take Baghdad back. The screaming question should be, "What the hell? You mean we lost Baghdad?" Weíve been losing Baghdad since we got there.
ML: Have you spoken to any Iraqi participants of the Battle of Baghdad?
CM: A couple of journalists who were in Baghdad proper talked to the people returning from the battle. The most extreme thing I picked up is that the Battle of Baghdad was started at the airport with the U.S. forces being overwhelmed. It wound up being a six-hour firefight at close quarters and my surmise is that our side was running out of ammo and somebody decided to go nuclear. That seems to be universally acknowledged by everybody on all sides, except the American.
Evidently, what happened was the U.S. G.I.s buttoned up inside their armor, which cuts down the transmission of radiation, and some sort of nuclear devices were used at Baghdad Airport. Since then, American battle doctrine has been revised to allow commanders to do exactly the kind of things that Iím inferring from my sources that were done at Baghdad Airport. In other words, they retroactively retrofitted the doctrine.
The nuclear threshold is a very fuzzy thing in this war anyway. We already went over using D.U. (depleted uranium). That already, arguably, makes it a nuclear war. Of course, you see why Battle of Baghdad One had to be covered up. How the hell do you go into a war where you say youíre going to remove an evil madman because he has weapons of mass destruction and you bring them with you?
ML: In your opinion, did the U.S. do anything positive in removing Saddam Hussein and his government?
CM: You remember the first year of the war, the commentators were saying to the naysayers, "Well, what do you mean? Are you saying theyíd be better off if Saddam was still in charge?" That was something that shut everybody up because, one year into this, everybody was still believing the myth that we freed the Iraqis. At this point, the reason why nobody asks if theyíd be better off with Saddam in power is that it has been so transparent to anybody, except a Republican clone, that they were much better off when Saddam was in power.
ML: Do you think the truth will ever come out to the mainstream about the Battle of Baghdad?
CM: The mainstream seems to be irrelevant. Theyíve condemned themselves. They find they formed a Faustian pact when they were all going to get behind a war that was for oil and Israel. They agreed to become an imbedded asset. What could be more shameful than to be imbedded? Theyíre not a media supplying relevant information. Theyíre a propaganda operation providing rationalization.
Thatís what leaves us with the term "info war." Now, the relevant and important information comes out through what you might call the "underground media." Call it alternative media or what you want. What is means is that two guys, like you and me, who both have enough expertise to be on any of the network shows, talk about what we talk about. We canít get on their TV, so we do it through this alternative medium. The best interviews that can be conducted are available outside the mainstream media. The ability of the people who are not plugged into the mainstream media system to do quality work means that the system will inevitably fail.
I compare it to the Catholic hierarchy after the creation of the printing press. The Internet, to us, has become our info war printing press. Information cannot be totally controlled. If you say, "Iím a gatekeeper and Iím plugging up this big old door," the Internet makes it such that information seeps out of the cracks.
What we call media, I call collaborators. All collaborators, throughout history, suffered the same fate. They lost all reputation and dignity after the victory by the right side.
Itís only at the point when the media have been exposed that the real history of the Iraq war will be written. Youíre writing one now. Eventually, there will be acknowledgement of the Battle of Baghdad and the Battle of Fallujah. These things are being kept under wraps now because the very frail Bush League still maintains control of the equally frail imbedded media. That cannot endure.