Headlines from the Office of Strategic Influence
Last week, news accounts revealed the recent formation of the Office of Strategic Influence (OSI), a government agency designed to unite various propaganda programs within the CIA, FBI and Department of Defense. The most controversial function of OSI is a policy to influence opinion in both friendly and unfriendly nations by distributing deliberately misleading information to foreign news outlets.
In what appears to be the result of the first activity by OSI, numerous news outlets -- in both friendly and unfriendly nations -- reported Monday that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is now mulling the possibility of disbanding the brand new office because of negative publicity. On NBC, Rumsfeld went so far as to insist that, "The Pentagon does not lie to the American people. It does not lie to foreign audiences." (His tanned, chiseled face then broke down in a fit of laughter before he insisted on "buying the next round.")
Just as Rumsfeld's Mobius strip of truth and delusion tightened its slippery grip on the newswires, I received an anonymous fax listing some of the OSI's proposed headlines and subhead along with their targeted publications. Like Dark Matter, the headlines exist only in theory and can never be verified. Nonetheless, the samples below clearly indicate that the administration seeks not only to use foreign and domestic media to sway opinion regarding the war on terrorism, but will also be trying to influence the general perception of America throughout the world.
Office of Strategic Influence Does Not Exist
Heart aglow, Rumsfeld promises to be honest forever and ever and ever as Orwell does triple toe/double flip combo in his grave (New York Times)
Saddam, Khamenei, Kim Jong Il Photographed Playing 'Go Fish'
Weakening "Axis of Evil" on display as fight breaks out when Kim demands Hussein's jacks (Seoul Sun)
New Study Finds Americans Not As Bad As They Seem
"Great Satan" now refers to delicious tofu-like product (Tehran Tattler)
McDonald's Food Found To Be Delicious, Healthy, Uniquely French
Passez moi les pommes frites, s'il vous plait (The Disaffected Parisian Socialist Almost-Monthly)
President Bush Eager To Learn Intricacies Of Our Culture
American leader's thirst for knowledge leaves everyone impressed, exhausted (all newspapers)
Loud Explosion Heard Last Night Was Not American Bomb
Dead civilians later found to just be real sleepy (Baghdad Times)
Afghan Body Count Remains Low
New super-smart bombs kill only bad people (Washington Post)
Modesty Surpasses Entertainment As Top US Export
But we still have a lot to learn from the colonies (London Gloom)
USA! USA! USA!
Let's just hug and forget any of this ever happened (Iraq Post-Intelligencer)
David Turnley (firstname.lastname@example.org) writes satire for AlterNet.org.