Tag Archives: propaganda

A pollster under oath

A pollster under oath

By JOSH GERSTEIN

When a pollster or strategist for a struggling political campaign presents what seems like a sugar-coated view of his candidate’s chances, do you ever think: I wish I could give that adviser some truth serum, or maybe put him under oath?

Well, truth serum may be pushing it, but the put-him-under-oath part has actually happened. And when a pollster is required to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, under penalty of perjury, what emerges is quite a bit different than what you hear in the waning days of a presidential campaign.

In May, the pollster for Al Gore’s presidential bid in 2000 and John Edwards’s in 2004 and 2008, Harrison Hickman, took the stand in the federal criminal case against Edwards over alleged campaign finance violations stemming from payments to support Edwards’s mistress.

Under oath, Hickman admitted that in the final weeks of Edwards’s 2008 bid, Hickman cherry-picked public polls to make the candidate seem viable, promoted surveys that Hickman considered unreliable, and sent e-mails to campaign aides, Edwards supporters and reporters which argued that the former senator was still in the hunt —even though Hickman had already told Edwards privately that he had no real chance of winning the Democratic nomination.

“They were pounding on me for positive information. You know, where is some good news we can share with people? We were monitoring all these polls and I was sending the ones that were most favorable because [campaign aides] wanted to share them with reporters,” Hickman testified on May 14 at the trial in Greensboro, N.C. “We were not finding very much good news and I was trying to give them what I could find.”

Hickman testified that when circulating the polls, he didn’t much care if they were accurate. “I didn’t necessarily take any of these as for—as you would say, for the truth of the matter. I took them more as something that could be used as propaganda for the campaign,” the veteran pollster said.

Edwards’s viability from late 2007 through January 2008 was a hotly disputed issue at his trial because federal prosecutors were seeking to prove that nearly $1 million in expenses Edwards backers paid for his mistress in and around that time frame amounted to donations to advance his bid for the presidency. Edwards’s defense contended that his inner circle viewed his prospects of winning the presidency as zero or close to it, once Sen. Barack Obama’s juggernaut gathered steam, so the payments must have been made out of personal affection for Edwards or for some other reason unrelated to the presidential campaign.

However, Hickman’s testimony also opened a rare window into the way major presidential campaigns try to use polling numbers to spin the press and laid bare the fact that top campaign operatives sometimes propound a version of the truth starkly at odds with what they themselves believe.

Hickman, called by the former senator’s defense, testified that he told Edwards in “early to middle of November 2007,” that the campaign wasn’t going to succeed.

“I told him that the odds were overwhelming that we were not going—that he was not going to be the nominee for president. I mean, we talked about a variety of things might change, do differently, and all that, but none of them translated into winning the nomination,” the North Carolina-based pollster told Edwards attorney Alan Duncan.

However, under cross-examination by lead prosecutor David Harbach, Hickman acknowledged sending a series of emails in November and December, and even into January, endorsing or promoting polls that made Edwards look good. Asked about what appeared to be a New York Times/CBS poll released in mid-November showing an effective “three-way tie” in Iowa with Hillary Clinton at 25 percent, Edwards at 23 percent and Obama at 22 percent, Hickman acknowledged he circulated it but insisted he didn’t think it was correct.

“The business I’m in is a business any fool can get into, and a lot can happen. I’m sure there was a poll like that,” the folksy Hickman told jurors when first asked about a poll showing the race tied. “I kept up with every poll that was done, including our own, and there may have been a few that showed them a tie, but… that’s not really what my analysis is. Campaigns are about trajectory, and… there could have been a point at which it was a tie in the sense that we were coming down, and Obama was going up, and Clinton was going up.”

Hickman also indicated that senior campaign staffers knew many of the polls were poorly done and of little value. “We didn’t take these dog and cat and baby-sitter polls seriously,” he said.

Hickman acknowledged that on January 2, 2008, a day before the Iowa caucuses, he sent out a summary of nine post-Christmas Iowa polls showing Edwards in contention in the Hawkeye State. However, he testified two-thirds of them were from firms he considered “ones we typically would not put a lot of credence in.” Hickman put Mason-Dixon, Strategic Vision, Insider Advantage, Zogby and Research 2000 in the “less reputable” group. He also told the court that ARG polls “have a miserable track record.”

Hickman said he considered the Des Moines Register polls, CNN and Los Angeles Times polls more accurate. (A full transcript of his testimony is posted here.)

The prosecutor was clearly trying to suggest that Edwards was more viable than Hickman, a longtime friend of the ex-senator, admitted in his initial testimony. Harbach may have even been trying to suggest that Hickman’s basic credibility was impugned by the heavy spin he acknowledged offering late in the 2008 primary campaign. However, the line of questioning was baffling to reporters in the courtroom who seemed not at all surprised that a campaign would insist on its viability until moments before the candidate dropped out or lost.

In short, to many journalists, what Hickman admitted doing in late 2007 and 2008 was no more a sign of bad character than an actor spinning a yarn on stage during a play or a lawyer mounting an implausible defense for a clearly guilty client.

When the defense got to question Hickman again, he was unapologetic about what he termed an effort to “keep up morale” among Edwards backers and aides.

“They were being inundated with bad news. I didn’t have to give them bad news. I was trying to pick out morsels, you know, acorns. Out of a big stack of acorns, I was trying to pick out a few good ones that they could pass along to other people, you know, to keep them working,” Hickman testified. “I mean, I wasn’t going to say, you know, all hope is lost, you know, take a couple of weeks off. I mean, that was not the object of it. I mean, the object was to keep going as hard as we could. And we all worked as hard as we could. I mean, the working hard and promoting the candidacy are independent, in my mind, to the evaluation of what the likely outcome is.”

Asked if what he did to that end in the 2008 race was at all unusual when compared with other contests, Hickman told Duncan: “No. No. I did — you know, I did what I was supposed to do…. I did my job the way I’ve always done my job.”

While the discussion of polling and the legitimate bounds of spin did offer an unusual behind-the-scenes look at a major presidential campaign, it’s not at all clear that it had any impact on the outcome of the case against Edwards. Indeed, U.S. District Court Judge Catherine Eagles at one point admonished Hickman and Duncan that the grad-school polling seminar seemed pretty tangential to anything jurors were being asked to consider.

“I don’t think we need quite this much detail about particular polls,” the judge said.

“That’s fine, your honor,” Duncan replied.

“I’m sorry,” Hickman quickly chimed in.

After nine days of deliberation, the jury revealed on May 31 that it had acquitted Edwards on one felony count and was hopelessly deadlocked on five others. The Justice Department quickly announced that it would not retry the case.

SOURCE

Osama bin Laden’s Useful Death

Osama bin Laden’s Useful Death

Paul Craig Roberts

In a propaganda piece reeking of US Triumphalism, two alleged journalists, Adam Goldman and Chris Brummitt, of the Associated Press or, rather, of the White House Ministry of Truth, write, or copy off a White House or CIA press release that “Osama bin Laden, the terror mastermind killed by Navy SEALs in an intense firefight, was hunted down based on information first gleaned years ago (emphasis added) from detainees at secret CIA prison sites in Eastern Europe, officials disclosed Monday.”

No credible image to show Osama killed by U.S. Special Forces.

How many Americans will notice that the first paragraph of the “report” justifies CIA prisons and torture? Without secret prisons and torture “the terror mastermind” would still be running free, despite having died from renal failure in 2001.

How many Americans will have the wits to wonder why the “terror mastermind” ­ who defeated not merely the CIA and the FBI, but all 16 US intelligence agencies along with Israel’s Mossad and the intelligence services of NATO, who defeated NORAD, the National Security Council, the Pentagon and Joint Chiefs of Staff, the US Air Force, and Air Traffic Control, who caused security procedures to fail four times in US airports in one hour on the same day, who caused the state-of-the-art Pentagon air defenses to fail, and who managed to fly three airliners into three buildings with pilots who did not know how to fly ­ has not pulled off any other attack in almost ten years? Do Americans really believe that a government’s security system that can so totally fail when confronted with a few Saudi Arabians with box cutters can renew itself to perfection overnight?

How many Americans will notice the resurrection of the long missing bin Laden as “terror mastermind” after his displacement by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the Guantanamo prisoner who confessed to being the “mastermind of 9/11? after being water-boarded 183 times?

Americans are too busy celebrating to think, a capability that seems to have been taken out of their education.

Americans are so enthralled over the death of bin Laden that they do not wonder why information gleamed years ago would take so long to locate a person who was allegedly living in a million-dollar building equipped with all the latest communication equipment next to the Pakistani Military Academy. Allegedly, the “most wanted criminal” was not moving from hide-out to hide-out in desolate mountains, but ensconced in luxury quarters in broad daylight. Nevertheless, despite his obvious location, it took the CIA years to find him after claiming to have gained information of his whereabouts out of captives in secret prisons. This is the image of the CIA as the new Keystone Cops.

In an immediate follow-up to the announcement that the Navy SEALs and CIA mercenaries acted in an exemplary fashion following the rules of engagement while a cowardly bin Laden hid behind a woman shield when the gunfire erupted, we have from the pressitutes that “U.S. officials conceded the risk of renewed attack. The terrorists almost certainly will attempt to avenge bin Laden’s death, CIA Director Leon Panetta wrote in a memo. . . . Within a few hours, the Department of Homeland Security warned that bin Laden’s death was likely to provide motivation for attacks from ‘homegrown violent extremists’.”

John Brennan, White House counter-terrorism adviser, told reporters that “it was inconceivable that the terrorist fugitive didn’t have support in Pakistan where his hideout had been custom built six years ago in a city with a heavy military presence.”

So the claimed murder of bin Laden by the US in a sovereign foreign country with which the US is not at war, a crime under international law, has set up three more self-serving possibilities:

Terrorists will avenge bin Laden’s death, says the CIA, setting up another false flag attack to keep the profits flowing into the military/security complex and the power flowing into the unaccountable CIA. Homeland Security can extend the domestic police state, abuse of travelers, and arrests of war protestors. And Pakistan is under the gun of invasion and takeover (for India, of course) for shielding bin Laden.

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The Israel Lobby’s representatives in the US Congress quickly fell in with the agenda. Senator Carl Levin, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, declared that the Pakistani Army and intelligence agency “have a lot of questions to answer, given the location, the length of time and the apparent fact that this was actually ­ this facility was actually build for bin Laden, and its closeness to the central location of the Pakistani army.”

The two reporters question nothing in the government’s propaganda. Instead, the reporters join in the celebration. Nevertheless they let slip that “officials were weighing the release of at least one photo taken of bin Laden’s body as part of what Brennan called an effort to make sure ‘nobody has any basis to try and deny the death.’”

As the Guardian and European newspapers have revealed, the photo of the dead bin Laden is a fake. As the alleged body has been dumped into the ocean, nothing remains but the word of the US government, which lied about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and al Qaeda connections, about yellowcake, about Iranian nukes, and, according to thousands of experts, about 9/11. Suddenly the government is telling us the truth about bin Laden’s death? If you believe that, I have a bridge in Brooklyn that I’ll let you have for a good price.

My initial interpretation of the faked bin Laden death was that Obama needed closure of the Afghan war and occupation in order to deal with the US budget deficit. Subsequent statements from Obama regime officials suggest that the agenda might be to give Americans a piece of war victory in order to boost their lagging enthusiasm. The military/security complex will become richer and more powerful, and Americans will be rewarded with vicarious pleasure in victory over enemies.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts is the father of Reaganomics and the former head of policy at the Department of Treasury. He is a columnist and was previously an editor for the Wall Street Journal. His latest book, “How the Economy Was Lost: The War of the Worlds,” details why America is disintegrating.

http://www.infowars.com/osama-bin-ladens-useful-death/