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Fear Campaign Timed to Support Iraq War



Dear friends, received the below email last week from Dan Forbes, an excellent journalist who has appeared in many key publications. As the information he shared in this email was most informative and interesting, I'm passing it on to you. Have a great day!


With best wishes,




Dear Folks:

       Just encountered your site. Any link, dissemination, discussion is much appreciated.

       First, a bit on myself, just FYI: I've testified before both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives at two of the four congressional hearings which my award-winning journalism directly caused. And I've published in Slate, MSNBC, Salon, The Village Voice, Rolling Stone, Reason, The,, Newsday, Alternet, Wired News, New York Press and The Progressive Review. Though I'm a freelancer, I ended up appearing on ABC, FOX, CNN, the BBC and NPR, and actually helping to curtail a covert, federal propaganda program.

       This followed my disclosure in Salon that the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) provided hundreds of thousands of dollars of financial incentives per episode to the TV networks for government-dictated anti-drug scripts. The networks' total haul was over $22 million. I quoted named consultants who promulgated specific changes in specific shows at the government's behest. My disclosures prompted more than 100 articles and broadcasts, including next-day, front-page coverage nationwide, and editorials condemning the practice I outlined. 

       Below are the initial few paragraphs and URL to a national scoop I hope you can feature on your site. This proves that the Dept. of Homeland Security delayed launching $226 million in advertising until a month before bombs fell on Baghdad. Shrouded in a public health message, the campaign was four times bigger than its largest non-government, non-state security competitor for donated time and space. It featured Tom Ridge instructing the public that every family in the land is at risk of attack, and that every American needs to be engaged in supporting the coming war on terrorism. Though Americans were at risk throughout 2002, the ads only appeared just before the Iraq invasion. 

       This article can be found at:

$226 Million in Govt Ads Helped Pave the Way for War
by Daniel Forbes

"To ultimately be the victor in the war against terrorism, we need all Americans to be engaged."– DHS Secretary, Tom Ridge

Department of Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge found this exhortation so fine, he used it in two of the radio and television ads that American broadcasters donated in 2003 to DHS for its ostensible terrorism preparedness campaign. Curiously, though the threat to America had been manifest for some 17 months, the government didn't launch its social marketing campaign until February 2003, less than a month before bombs started falling on Baghdad.

Whether tardy or oh so timely, at $226 million last year, this bellicose DHS campaign received more than twice as much donated time and space as the largest nonprofit ad campaign the year before.

Bellicose? Wasn't this the "Ready" campaign much beloved by Leno and Letterman for pushing duct tape on a scornful public? Yet, consider another line that Ridge liked so much he repeated it in two of the ads: "Terrorism forces us to make a choice: We can be afraid, or we can be ready." One short ad featuring this statement from Ridge included little else. Stock up on water and batteries sure. But don't just stand there quivering in fear, somebody do something – something preemptive.

Ridge also informed us that, "Every family in America should prepare itself for terrorist attack." If indeed every family is vulnerable – and if Saddam was linked to the terrorists, as the administration maintained – then surely our government must do something proactive, something involving jets and tanks. Well, wait a scant month America, for as Bush's designated terror czar promised: "We're asking America to be ready – and we will be ready."

Be ready, for time was short. Though the ads were planned as far back as at least May 2002 – and they employed simple public health maxims of long-standing – there was no perceived need to rush them out despite every reason to fear another attack throughout 2002. Instead, under the overall direction of Bush cabinet official Tom Ridge, the ads were always scheduled for early 2003, as was, apparently, the start of the war on Iraq.

Two private entities and an agency George W. Bush created in the Executive Office of the President joined forces creating the campaign. The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation contributed both advice and between $3 and $4 million to the effort. The Ad Council helped shepherd it on to the nations' airwaves, as it's done for nonprofit advertising campaigns since WWII.

Sloan's president, Ralph Gomory, said that OHS (Office of Homeland Security – predecessor to the DHS), Sloan and the Ad Council agreed to the effort in May 2002 and planned to hit the airwaves in January 2003. Regarding the actual launch in February, Gomory said, "We slipped by one month."

Given the broadcasters' huge donation, this information was obviously deemed important to the public's well-being. So why the many month delay? There was no perceived need to immediately push something on to the nation's airwaves, however rushed and therefore aesthetically less than pristine. No. Dilly and dally until the time was deemed right – some 17 months after 9/11.


Many thanks for your time and consideration,
Daniel Forbes

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