Coalition Information Center

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The Coalition Information Center (CIC), "the propaganda wing of Operation Enduring Freedom, [was] known among journalists who tried to cover the war in Afghanistan as a veritable disinformation center."—Roger Ricardo Luis, Granma Internacional, August 22, 2002.[1]

The CIC was the Bush administration's "'rapid response' team", "created to wage the propaganda war" against Osama bin Laden.[2]

White House spokesman Ari Fleischer said November 2, 2001, that the CIC would "operate around the clock in Washington, London and Pakistan to stop the Taliban from scoring propaganda points during the wee hours in Washington."

  • After the September 11, 2001 attack, Karen P. Hughes, counselor to President George W. Bush, "launched a quick-response war room at the White House to counter the Taliban's anti-American propaganda." [1]
  • "In October 2001, Hughes worked with PR specialist John Rendon to create the Coalition Information Center (CIC), which Laura Flanders describes as a 'fast-response network [with offices in Washington, London, and Islamabad] set up to respond to anti-US news that appears anywhere in the world.' ... 'It will take probably 10 or 15 or even 20 years for the kind of campaign we are talking about to have an effect,' Hughes said at the time. 'We have not done a very good job in America over the past 20 or 30 years of explaining our values to the rest of the world and talking about the values we have in common. And we're obviously behind.'" [2]
  • Hughes worked closely with "three other women: Victoria Clarke, chief Pentagon spokeswoman; Charlotte Beers, under secretary of state for public diplomacy; and Mary Matalin, chief political adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney. ... The four [were] among the Bush administration's most important shapers of the words and images that the allies [sought] to convey to a global audience. (Others include[d] Ari Fleischer, the president's press secretary, and James Wilkinson, a Hughes deputy who ... set up a comprehensive center to counter Taliban propaganda.) They talk[ed] several times a day -- including a daily 9:30 a.m. agenda-setting conference call, presided over by Ms. Hughes -- and bounce[d] ideas off one another frequently." [3]
  • Hughes also consulted Margaret D. Tutwiler, then Ambassador to Morocco, "regularly for a candid read on Muslim opinion, and it was Tutwiler who reported that official government statements were not credible or effective in reaching ordinary people." [4]
  • The CIC became the Office of Global Communications in October 2002. [5]

Controlling the Message

"When it became apparent that the United States and Britain were not winning the public relations battle in the Middle East, the White House established the Coalition Information Center, with offices in Washington, London and Pakistan, to react in real time to breaking news and present the American side of the conflict to Mideast viewers." [6]

"A little-noticed but critical component of the war on terrorism operates beneath lamp-bearing cherubs in a building next door to the White House. There, amid message boards that list upcoming events and clocks that display the time in Washington, London, Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Coalition Information Center has a mission nearly as important as winning the war: controlling the story," Judy Keen reported December 18, 2001, in USA Today.

"The public-relations operation stretches from downtown Washington to London, Islamabad and Kabul, where people are stationed to help choreograph foreign reporters' perspectives on the war. 'We've learned that you either start the news wave or you're swamped by it,' says Jim Wilkinson, a White House communications aide who runs the center," Keen wrote.

Criticism

"It took more than six weeks since the bombs started falling in Afghanistan for the United States and Britain to establish a public information center here in the region to explain their actions and rebut allegations by the Taliban," Peter Baker wrote in the November 21, 2001, Washington Post. "For all the advances on the battlefield, officials in Washington and London have come to realize they may be losing the propaganda war in the Muslim world. ... The new Coalition Information Center [in Pakistan] was the third opened in an effort to get ahead of the public relations curve but, unlike those in Washington and London, it has been assigned the critical mission of convincing Muslim countries that the United States and its allies are waging war on terrorists, not on Islam."

"The U.S. government shares direct responsibility for its poor public campaign so far. It is not doing enough, including failing to enlist the support of the private sector. The Pentagon and the White House have been too focused on programs like the Coalition Information Center and have missed that this is not simply a war of information flow and press releases, but a long-term battle of ideas." --Brookings Institution Project on U.S. Policy Towards the Islamic World, Task Force Meeting Report #9, December 18, 2002.

CIC Updates on the "war on terrorism"

"The Global War on Terrorism: The First 100 Days"

"The White House's Coalition Information Center, the office charged with drumming up support for the War on Terror both at home and abroad," released the "official report card on the administration's efforts to date" -- "The Global War on Terrorism: The First 100 Days" -- on December 20, 2001.

180-Day Anniversary

Concurrent with the six-month anniversary of September 11, 2001, and Vice President Dick Cheney's visit, "the London branch of the Coalition Information Center published a report ... outlining the achievements in the war on terror so far.

"The 35-page document included a thorough country-by-country list of military support, law enforcement activity, diplomatic and financial action, and humanitarian aid to Afghanistan," Cybercast News Service's London bureau chief Mike Wendling reported March 11, 2002.

About CIC

  • Three Coalition Information Centers: Washington, DC; London; and Islamabad, Pakistan, working together to "help serve the President and coalition partners in their efforts to communicate to the world about the war on terrorism." [7]
  • Washington: Jim Wilkinson
  • London: Tucker Eskew, White House Director of Media Affairs
  • Pakistan: Greg Jenkins, White House representative
  • "The State Department works closely with Al Jazeera and other middle east media outlets. We are working to get as many US officials on these outlets to help tell our story about the war against terrorism." [8]

Notes

  • Ambassador Kenton W. Keith: "the U.S. State Department's Special Envoy to Islamabad from November 2001 to January 2002, ... set up the Coalition Information Center in Pakistan following the September 11 terrorist attacks and served as spokesperson on Coalition activity in Afghanistan." Keith served as "U.S. Ambassador to Qatar from 1992-95." [9][10]
  • State Department (Free Republic), November 20, 2001: "The U.S. Embassy in Islamabad opened a Coalition Information Center. Kenton Keith served as the Center's director."
  • Dan Senor: Google hired in May 2005 "as VP of global communications and strategy. Senor was a senior advisor to Paul Bremer, the former U.S. administrator in Iraq. ... Prior to his advisory role, Senor was director of the Coalition Information Center for the Iraq war." [11]
  • Greg Lagana was "a White House official with the Coalition Information Center (CIC)" in November 2001. [13]

Resources and articles

Related SourceWatch articles

References

  1. Roger Ricardo Luis, "A Pretty Face for the United States," Granma Internacional], August 22, 2002.
  2. Martha Brant, "Bush's New War Room. Tired of losing the propaganda battle, a 'rapid response' White House is now fighting bin Laden word for word," Newsweek, November 12, 2001.

External articles

Web Series

  • Gar Smith, "America's Ministry of Propaganda Exposed", WorldNewsstand.net, December 2003; (also as full document):
Part 1: "A Strategy of Lies: How the White House Fed the Public a Steady Diet of Falsehoods"
Part 2: "Transforming Language to Market the 'Big Lie'"
Part 3: "Targeting Critics, Spreading Lies, and PSYOPS"
Part 4: "Black Programs and the Future of Propaganda"

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External resources