The Use of Photographs as Propaganda


Go read JimWhite’s diary about the military’s complaints that the Taliban are using a video of a captured American soldier as propaganda.

They’re exploiting the soldier for their own propaganda.


The Taliban are using it as a propaganda tool.

Then read this passage from George Tenet’s book, co-written with Bill Harlow:

By the next morning, Sunday, March 2, US media outlets were carrying news of the [KSM] capture as well. Some of the stories described the worldly KSM as an al-Qa’ida James Bond. To illustrate the point, they showed photos of him with a full beard wearing what were supposedly his traditional robes. It didn’t take long for Marty to phone me and relay his disgust at some of the coverage.


“Boss,” he said, “this ain’t right. The media are making this bum look like a hero. That ain’t right. You should see the way this bird looked when we took him down. I want to show the world what terrorists look like!”

Turns out, our officers on the scene in Rawalpindi had snapped and sent back some digital photos of KSM just after his capture, so I suggested that Marty call the Agency spokesman, Bill Harlow, and work something out. Within an hour, Harlow was in CTC looking over a selection of photos that made KSM look nothing like James Bond. Together they picked out the most evocative photo. Then Harlow, armed with a digital copy, called up a reporter at the Associated Press and told him, “I’m about to make your day.” Asking only that the AP not reveal where they got the picture, he released the image of a stunned, disheveled, scroungy KSM wearing a ratty T-shirt. The photo became one of the iconic images of the war on terrorism. If we could have copyrighted it, we might have funded CTC for a year on the profits. Foreign intelligence services later told us that the single best thing we ever did was release that photo. It sent a message more eloquently than ten thousand words ever could that the life of a terrorist on the run is anything but glamorous.

I hope to hell that soldier comes home safely and I’m sorry the Taliban used his image for propaganda purposes.

But until we stop doing the same–and appropriately deal with those, like Tenet and Harlow, who have bragged of using detainee photos as propaganda (yes, I know they’ll claim he was not entitled to Geneva Convention treatment but there was a written policy allowing use of photos at the time), we don’t have the moral standing to complain.

This is why we can’t just look forward but must fully investigate the past.

  1. Teddy Partridge says:

    The use of Saddam’s photos — from his post-capture oral exam until his hanging — were equally bad. He was a captured head of state, for Pete’s sake.

    Shame on the Taliban for following America’s example and using this young soldier for propaganda purposes. I too hope he returns safely, but we haven’t a leg to stand on to complain about their methods.

  2. WTFOver says:

    What the REAL issue here is is that the USA Military / Industrial / Governmnetal Complex does NOT want the amerikan sheeple to see video / photographs of DEAD, WOUNDED or CAPTURED soldiers because THAT would turn the amerikan sheeple against all of the war mongering and imperialist aggressions – and there is a lot of OIL out there to be stolen, oops, er, a lot of Freedom and Democracy to be spread.

    why do you think cheney / rusmfeld bombed al-Jazeera HQ and had the troops shoot / arrest so many journalists in Iraq ????

    here is the ONLY lesson that the USA learned from VietNam – DO NOT LET THE MEDIA CONTROL THE MESSAGE AT ANY TIME.

    the USA could not give less of a shit about the cannon fodder, oops, the troops than if they tried.

    think about all of the photographs that have come out of Guantanamo Bay.

    give me a f***ing break.


    what a huge steaming pile of HYPOCRISY !!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. Emily68 says:

    Am I the only one who thinks that photo of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed makes him look like John Belushi?

      • acquarius74 says:

        Marcy, over at Jim White’s diary on this I gave 2 links from Asia Times. The first dated 10/30/2002 which links to one dated 09/11/2002, The articles there give specific details of the battle on 09/11/2002 in which KSM was reported to have been killed.

        These reports speak of KSM’s wife/widow and one child; whereas the KSM of the tribunal speaks of his two children – reportedly a boy and a girl who were allegedly tortured by having ants put on their legs to get them to rat on their father.

        The Asia Times states that KSM’s widow was later shipped off to Egypt. It does not mention the fate of the child.

        These report that the FBI was in on the whole deal and concocted the story that KSM was captured in order to lead the other AQ to try to contact him, thus leading the FBI to more of them.

        These reports made at the time of the battle, written by a person of that culture, sound very plausible to me. I’d appreciate it if you would take a look and give your opinion.

  4. JimWhite says:

    My favorite story about propaganda photos of captured military personnel is the use of the “Hawaiian Good Luck Sign” by the crew of the USS Pueblo when they were held by the North Koreans. That story drives home the value of interrogators who work based on rapport-building and a full understanding of the culture of the prisoner.

    Thanks again, Marcy for that quote from Tenet’s book about the KSM photo. It really is stunning how completely that one image inverted everyone’s view of him.

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    I wonder whether the war crimes tribunal will allow use of the photo of Dick Cheney in his flowing robes and, er, closely cropped platinum blond hair, or the one with him looking tired and unshaven from having stayed up all night studying for his two hours of polite questioning by the prosecutor.

  6. Loo Hoo. says:

    Well, at least the American soldier isn’t hooded or shackled, he isn’t being tortured, and he is eating in the video.

    Looks to me like the Taliban is behaving better than the Americans did.

    (And EW, I have a Dr. Seuss bone to pick with you and rOTL!!)

    • Petrocelli says:

      Don’t you believe it for a second, the Taliban use the worst form of torture … running Pox Noise 24/7 …

    • prostratedragon says:

      From the look of the video, you might have hit on the content of the propaganda that the Taliban wanted to convey.

      Still, it’s using a captured p.o.w. for propaganda, and the Taliban, if they want to look at it that way, should not sink to our level even in trying to show that they are not sinking to our level.

      May he be returned soon, and may we start what we need to do soon.

    • Mauimom says:

      I wonder how the US military is feeling right now, knowing that since the US violated the Geneva Conventions, the Taliban could do so also, to an American soldier.

      All of the Jack Bower crowing about ticking time bombs and the “need” for “enhanced interrogation” must sound somewhat different when it’s our own wonderful soldiers being subject to it, not just some “terrorists.”

      I hope, anyway, that this occurs to some.

  7. chetnolian says:

    To me a US military person whining that what the Taliban is doing is contrary to International Law reminded me of what I have read here over the months. Perhaps the Taliban have their own John Yoo.

    I share your hope that the soldier gets released unharmed though. Now that would be successful propaganda.

  8. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    If there were more photos of birth defects that are probably related to the chemicals used in munitions, petrochemical processes, and fuels, this war would be over within 72 hours.

    Given Tenet’s responsibilities, he should have been fired if he didn’t figure out a way to portray a terrorist as unglamorous. Do I like it? No. Does it align with the job responsibilities he had? Yes, it does.

    But as upsetting as this may be, it doesn’t even scratch the surface of corporate propaganda. I’m reliably told that when the ExxonValdez ran aground, one of the first things that ExxonMobil did was to hire every small aircraft it could, in order to ensure that when ‘the media’ arrived, they’d be unable to get good photos of a massive, hideous disaster.

    A related problem with using ‘propaganda’, IMHO, is that it blinds the user at the same time they seek to manipulate others. Rove, Bush, and the GOP ‘good government’ = ‘nice, pretty advertisements.’

    How did GW Bush deal with Katrina?
    He did a photo op.
    That’s the only thing he knew how to do.
    These clowns use media like addicts use meth: to deny, to forget, to delude themselves.

    In contrast, there’s Al Gore, who shows the world as it is.
    No wonder he pisses them off so badly.

  9. alabama says:

    We are learning, ever so slowly, that fighting in Afghanistan is not like fighting anywhere else, and for two reasons closely connected, namely the terrain and the Pathans. In some sense the Pathans are the terrain, warfare (in which everyone gets to participate) being their form of governance, and the terrain being their handiest, trustiest weapon. And when our beloved “drones” are no longer working, and we send our troops into that terrain…..

    • readerOfTeaLeaves says:

      We are learning, ever so slowly, that fighting in Afghanistan

      Yeah, it’s a good thing the Brits never wrote anything about what happened to them in Afghanistan, huh?

      How many land mines are still left there from the Soviets? Anyone know…?

      • skdadl says:

        Afghanistan is the most heavily mined country in the world.

        According to statistics released by British de-mining agency the Halo Trust, Afghanistan is the most mined country in the world.

        The agency, whose operations in Angola drew a great deal of international attention when they were visited by the late Princess Diana, has estimated that over 500,000 landmines could still lie dormant.

        Other agencies estimate there could be as many as 10 million mines in the ground.

      • alabama says:

        I can’t think intelligently about people who go to war in Afghanistan–starting with Alexander the Great. I think professional soldiers just have to fight wars in order to be….professional soldiers? Is it better to be shot dead than not to be shot at at all? Certainly lots of Pathans would agree. And so reason has nothing to do with this enterprise: we are simply feeding a widespread addiction. It’s a military equivalent to sex-traffic in Southeast Asia, and coke traffic in the Andes. It’s a civilization, really, in the sense that Sparta was a civilization…

        Look at McChrystal. Just look at him. Look at his picture, and read his colorful story. This is a man who mainlines Pathans. None of this namby-pamby, Tigris-and-Euphrates flatland girly stuff for him! No, this guy does Pathans on their home grounds. He, too, eats rocks for breakfast….

        Happy the land that has no standing army.

        • stryder says:

          1st anglo aphgan war oct of 1839-1842
          2nd 1878 1880
          3rd may-aug 1919

          1st opium war 1839 -1842
          2nd opium war 1856- 1860
          boxer rebellion 1898-1901 rebellion against “missionary evangelists” and imperialists

          the east india company(brit) tells china ,”We’re gonna shove this opium(grown in India) right down you throat cause silver’s to hard to get” and turns 2 million chinese into addicts and when they threw 1200 tons of the crap in the ocean the brits declared war.The Chinese had been aware of the properties of opium since the 14th cenuty (ming dynasty, and had strict controls on it’s use)This all led to the acquisition of Hong Kong(1841) and later the famed boxer rebellion

          Them Brits were some ruthless bastards
          All over free trade
          Sound familiar?

          That’d be like me getting your son and daughter strung out on heroin and when you showed any opposition I not only kill you and your family but take over the whole town.All the while wearing a cloak of decency and spewing rhetoric like IN GOD WE TRUST !

  10. skdadl says:

    I’ve just caught up with what everyone has been reading and writing today, and I feel overwhelmed.

    I’ve looked at that photo of KSM above so many times, tried to read what he had to be thinking at that moment. I didn’t know that passage from Tenet, and reading it leaves me speechless and despairing. (And yes, I did know someone who died on 9/11.)

    In reaction to the photos from Abu Ghraib, Susan Sontag wrote a meditation on (among other things) how easily available to the North American mind pornography and sadism have become. She was no prig and I hope I’m not either, and reasonable people can disagree about the surfaces of our culture. But people like Tenet and all the other monsters we’ve been talking about today seem to have no grounding in anything else. They honestly don’t know what sadism and vengefulness unleashed can do, which is ‘way more than just destroying a few individuals like KSM. Democracy cannot survive moral idiots with power; it just can’t.

    Many swear words deleted, none of them bricklefritz.

  11. fatster says:

    O/T (Old Topic): More on The Family/Fellowship/C Street Center

    Behind the closed doors on C Street
    The Family — which has counseled Sen. John Ensign — lives and prays as a fundamentalist group with power at the center of its agenda

    Sunday, July 19, 2009 | 2 a.m.

    “Sharlet: Exactly. However you look at it, The Family is effectively a union busting organization. They’re particularly concerned about the Teamsters and the Longshoremen. They thought they were run by some sort of devils. The Family was instrumental in the breaking of the spine of organized labor.

    “One of the things that makes them different from other Christian conservative organizations, and I think even upset some Christian conservative organizations, is that the issues for them are not abortion or morality or same-sex marriage. The important issue to them is what they call Biblical capitalism, and I think what even some conservative observers looking at them call crony capitalism.

    . . .

    “If you want to understand, look at the foreign delegations from around the world. Again and again, you see they send a leader from their country who is spiritually motivated, but it happens to be the defense minister, and the defense minister is coming for meetings with defense contractors, organized by The Family at seminars on how to pursue this business for the glory of God.”


  12. ezdidit says:

    President Obama is distinctively wrong in insisting on no investigations because they are a distraction. In fact, his entire long term economic and political agenda depends on doing them. Without investigation and prosecution of the wrongdoing of the previous administration, he owns both the persistent problems that have directly resulted in the short term now and those that will persist long term.

    If high unemployment persists, for example – and it is now predicted to remain at 9.5% until December 2010 – he will be accused of doing investigations for political expediency, and that will be abhorrent.

    Without investigations now that expose the treachery, manipulation and lawbreaking exercised by Bush and Cheney, he will lose much-needed popularity on the unemployment issue, and he will be defamed for doing prosecutions for political advantage if he does them later.

    The time to do right is, always and ever, NOW“the fierce urgency of NOW!”

    • fatster says:

      I think he looks like one of the characters in a Sergio Leone movie (”Few Dollars More”, “Good Bad and the Ugly”).

  13. Mary says:

    So this would be the same military that took mega portrait size blow ups of Hussein’s dead sons and put them in gilt frames and placed them centerstage for a press conf?

    Prayers for the soldier and his family and fiance.

    A different kind of prayer for those who have taken us to where we are and keep us there.

    • acquarius74 says:

      Mary, O/T: Our wild horses won the vote in the House. I have a diary up on it at Sem…(Oxdown).

  14. esseff44 says:

    Here’s a link to a discussion of photographs and the Geneva Convention:…..f-pow.html

    It seems to me that a photo of a loved one alive and looking well-treated would be a relief whether it was for propaganda or not. The prohibition of photos was to not cause the families added pain at seeing a loved one treated badly or humiliated.

  15. scribe says:

    What I said earlier today over at 42 on the Mitchell/Jensen circular firing squad thread (one former official ready to bust others over torture:

    Just for shits and giggles at the hypocritical naivete of both the Beltway denizens and their media whores, the Taliban video released shows the captured soldier with his head shaved and the beginnings of a beard.

    Remember how the elites derided everyone who got exercised because Americans were doing “forced grooming” and “involuntary shaving” of Gitmo captives? And how they were warned repeatedly – in the press, in legal briefs, in discussions and consultations of all flavors – that by going over to Deadeye’s dark side into violating Geneva, they would both lose the moral high ground and expose Americans to torture. Look at how pissed they are today when it’s happening.

    Of course, if you accept that the purpose of having the war in these furrin’ lands inhabited by browner, heathener people was to have a war, then going over to the dark side in the face of those warnings was, again, not a bug but a feature. It is inevitable that someone is going to get captured and treating the captives we captured shittily guaranteed shitty treatment of our people when captured. Which shitty treatment engendered anger (carefully stoked by TPTB, I’m sure) when publicized. Which anger guaranteed additional support for continuing the war.

    Nothing like some anger to stiffen resolve and to blind people to alternatives to further warring.

    Further warring being, of course, the objective. It facilitates more power and more contracts and, as a collateral benefit, puts a crimp on moving government spending from “Defense” to other social programs.

    You have to remember that, for all their actions which seem stupid, Cheney, Bushie and all the rest are not stupid people. Nor were they advised by stupid people. They chose this course of action quite deliberately, and definitely knowing of all the history and precedent behind all the alternatives. This was an intended result and one in service of their ideology.

    And, now, over at Orange Satan’s place, I see the top diary is headlined “Fox News Guest Wants Taliban to Kill Captured American Soldier“.

    Not for nothing that guest, Ralph Peters, is an uber-wingnut among wingnuts. I remember him being published in professional magazines for the military back in the early 80s, when he was still a young lieutenant and, IIRC, S-2 in a tank battalion in Germany. In other words, just another low-level cog in the green machine. His articles then were actually pretty good and showed some maturity and depth. But that has to be taken with a grain of salt, given their limited topic and scope. They were analyzing stuff like the relative paucity of actual knowledge in USAREUR of the early 80s about possible road route vehicle throughput versus Soviet tank attack doctrine for the various high speed avenues of attack into Bavaria from East Germany, given that all we knew about those roads was vintage WWII route recons taken during the last days of the war. In other words, relatively objective stuff barking about relatively limited topics. Any time he went to something a little deeper, he flailed. He was out of his depth. And he’s been flailing ever since. But, he was getting positive press, so he ran with it.

    In some way, I think because of his relative youth when getting recognition, he got to believe his own press and, since he left the military for think-tank land (getting those gigs based on his reputation), he has to maintain that reputation and patina of brilliance.

    In other words, he’s a bullshitter and a tool who’s been out of his league for a good 20, if not 25, years and is keeping his mortgage paid by continuing to sling the bullshit his funders want slung, when, where and how much all according to their dictates. Whether he actually knows he is bullshitting or is so un-self-aware as to actually believe the shit he is spouting – I don’t know. I don’t know whether even he does. Nor do I much care.

    But, more to the point, Fox and its friends (pun intended) want to see an American soldier killed by his captors for precisely the reasons I set forth above – to engender more anger here, to keep the war going and spreading, and to “make Obama fail”. This is just Republican base-stirring at its worst. They needed someone reliable to put the line out there and Peters was their willing tool.

    Note, of course, that no one else seems to want to touch on that the soldier in question walked outside the wire to meet someone, in his off-duty hours. Maybe even because he was interested in Islam (or so I’ve read). One wonders how that will/would play in Idaho.

    In other words, he could be – quite easily – classed as a deserter. But Peters is attempting to use that for shock value – he had that effect on the Faux hostess. Shock value, of course, will engender angry barroom discussions.

    And that gives Fox and its friends what they want – more anger. Stupid, undirected, raging anger.

    Someone needs to smack down both Fox and Mr. Peters SAP, and hard.

    • fatster says:

      Setting right what has been destroyed is not a panacea for all the ills and craziness that has been loosed in this country alone, but it surely would help. So long as no rigorous investigations and, as needed, indictments are forthcoming for all–including the higher ups who set in motion all the depravity and trampling of our Constitution that has manifested during the past eight years–a kind of tacit ok is granted to the crazies to keep spewing their hatefulness throughout the land. Or, sad to say, that’s how it seems to me.

    • Loo Hoo. says:

      OMG- from the diary, Mr. Peters says:

      Now look, Julie, I want to be clear. If, when the facts are in, we find out that through some convoluted chain of events, he really was captured by the Taliban, I’m with him. But, if he walked away from his post and his buddies at wartime… I don’t care how hard it sounds, as far as I’m concerned, the Taliban can save us a lot of legal hassles and legal bills.

      Hope everyone in Idaho hears this. They might have second thoughts about FOX.

    • acquarius74 says:

      Note, of course, that no one else seems to want to touch on that the soldier in question walked outside the wire to meet someone, in his off-duty hours. Maybe even because he was interested in Islam (or so I’ve read). One wonders how that will/would play in Idaho

      scribe, I believe the soldier said in the video that he was on patrol and lagged behind the others, accompanied by 2 Afghan fighters. I’ll have to watch it again to make sure.

      • acquarius74 says:

        In this google article (text):


        The soldier is shown, dressed in a gray, nondescript outfit, eating and sitting on a bed, and he says the date is July 14. He says he was captured when he lagged behind on a patrol. The military said the soldier was captured July 2.

        The 28-minute video shows the soldier being interviewed in English by his captors, where he states his views on the war, Islam and the morale of American soldiers.

        snip> BTW, soldier says he was captured June 30; Military says July 2.

        • scribe says:

          The only thing which can be deemed “reliable” in a propaganda video such as this is that the person speaking was alive and able to speak as of the time the video was made.

          None of the statements contained in it are otherwise reliable. He could have been saying the quoted statements, or even that he loved his girlfriend and family because the guy sitting next to the cameraman was holding an AK on him and the third guy (on the other side of the rifleman) was holding cue cards. The soldier’s family could be the most miserable bunch of abusers the world has ever seen and he could have run away from home to get away from it and them by joining the army and have shaken the dust of Idaho off his sneakers when he jumped on the bus to the induction station. We just don’t know anything other than he continues to be alive as of the time the video was made.

          I took my note on his having wandered away from his post off-duty and his interest in Islam from earlier articles on his disappearance (before he was even designated by the US military as having been captured and surely before he was named).

          Setting aside all that, the whole idea that he wandered away from or lingered behind his patrol is, in basic military terms, incomprehensibly stupidly implausible. It would not survive the Iqbal test.

          A patrol is a group of soldiers sent out together to work as a team and do a particular task. They are required to stay together. A patrol leader and the subordinate leaders within the patrol are required to keep accountability – for ther soldiers and their equipment – by actually counting them and reporting their status at all times. Afghanistan is not like Vietnam, in that in Vietnam it was plausibly possible to become separated from your unit because of the thickness of jungle vegetation. EVen when you wee within 10 feet of another guy, you could get separated. Not in Afghanistan. Afghanistan is a frickin’ arid/desert climate with no thick vegetation, or at least nothing like Vietnam. It’s more like … Idaho.

          If he “lingered behind”, it would have been as a result of (a) orders to stay there or (b) because he left his post. A patrol leader does not tolerate allowing some soldiers to wander off or hang out in the place they had just been.

          The claim that he was in the company of two Afghan soldiers is a nice touch – it plays right into supporting Westmoreland’s McChrystal’s demand last week for more and more American soldiers. “The damned locals are wholly unreliable – they helped kidnap and take one of ours into Taliban captivity. Send me more Americans!”

          Or, in the words of the Vietnamese captain played by Sulu in John Wayne’s “Green Berets”: “I have Charlie on my Strike Force.”

          If the Afghans were so unreliable and that tendency toward unreliability were known, then the patrol leader was irresponsible by putting only one American with them. Fundamental rule – never create a one-man outpost. Always send him with a buddy.

          That, or the soldier was sent out to get captured. Not unheard of.

          If the Afghans were so unreliable and the US didn’t know of that tendency, then the Americans are even worse fuckups than the most cynical among us thought.

          No, this is a propaganda exercise – on both sides’ part. This kid was dumb enough to believe the recruiter and is either an idiot or a pawn (or both) in this exercise.

          • acquarius74 says:

            Thanks, scribe. Being female (and old), I’ve no experience in military matters. The practice of picking off the last man or wagon goes back to the colonial times and the westward movement. I presumed that was what had happened. As you say, who can tell what really happened?

            All these psychological intrigues are beyond my grasp. I appreciate all who post here who help to explain the crazymaking of it all.

        • scribe says:

          NBC continues to report that he walked away from his base without his weapon and was promptly captured.

          The soldier’s claiming he was left behind on a patrol is consistent with his trying to exculpate himself from the difficulties he would face for walking away from his base.

          Also, the Army keeps quite tight controls – like, serial number checks all the time (why do you think “what is your weapon serial number” is one of those questions drill sergeants pound on and into recruits?) – on weapons. If this soldier walked away without his weapon, that would be immediately apparent b/c the unit would know which weapon was his and, if it were found within the base, would pretty conclusively determine him as a walkaway.

          • acquarius74 says:

            scribe, who in their right mind would “walk away” alone into the wilds of Afghanistan and without his weapon???? This is the most unbelievable story of all. I’m leaning toward his being planted in the Taliban’s camp to somehow get messages back as to troop strength, location, available weapons, etc.. Coded into the video??

            Bizarre, I know, but everything from about 1998 on has been bizarre.

            • fatster says:

              There’s much to be clarified here. I fervently pray the soldier will be rescued unharmed, after which we can learn directly from him what happened. In the interim, it’s just so refreshing to know that the news stories are kicking up a much of sand/smoke/confusion and some of the people on the radio and tee vee are showing their contempt for our troops.

              Just sayin’.

            • scribe says:

              I’ve seen (and heard about) things stranger than that happening in the military.

              I had a troop go AWOL once. In Germany. Right before Christmas. In a very snowy winter. Without a passport. IIRC, he was picked up trying to go home to the good old USA. He wrote his mom telling her I and my platoon sergeant were too mean to him. He wouldn’t do his laundry, so we had him living in his pup tent (in the snow – he had plenty of warm gear) next to the entry door to the company barracks until he decided to become housebroken. She wrote their congressman about it – we had a ball replying to the congressman’s inquiry. Made my Christmas.

              Another story. A clerk in my unit was running a drug ring, which made Joaquin Phoenix’s in Buffalo Soldiers look positively lame. He would get what were called “flag orders” (so called because they had a big US flag on top of them; they were printed in English, French and Russian), which were required to go to Berlin. Using the flag orders, he would take the overnight military train (free) to West Berlin. Again using the flag orders, he would then cross through Checkpoint Charlie into East Berlin in his green dress uniform (as required). While in East Berlin he would meet his contact (doubtless under the watchful eyes of the Stasi and Soviet KGB/GRU) and transfer a substantial amount of cash to the contact, in return for which he would get a substantial quantity of heroin. He would then return to West Berlin, again crossing through Checkpoint Charlie.

              The communists were cool with this because they figured, at a minimum, the dope was sapping the will of The West. If need be, they could turn this guy to be an agent by blackmailing him with his drug-dealing.

              Changing into civilian clothes, he would catch a domestic Lufthansa flight from West Berlin to Frankfurt (no customs). Upon landing in Frankfurt, he would meet his contact there, and transfer the heroin to the contact for a larger sum of money than he had laid out in East Berlin to buy it. He would then make his way to Switzerland and deposit the cash into a numbered account.

              And, if he played it right, he could do this in the course of a long weekend. The only need for the long weekend was to go to the bank on Monday.

              When he was caught and court-martialled, he got something on the order of 10 years. Of course, AFAIK he can’t get a passport and, even if he can, he still can’t get back to Switzerland to get his money. I heard he had something in the high six or low seven figures stashed there. And that was well over 20 years ago. Probably still there.

              Hell. When I saw the synopsis of Buffalo Soldiers, I thought someone else had heard of this troop’s shenanigans and wrote a screenplay around it, leaving out the Berlin Wall-crossing thing because no one would believe it (even though it was true).

              Just remember – the demographic of the average combat arms (infantry, artillery, etc.) unit in the Army closely matches (might even be identical to) the national average demographic of this country’s county jails. Hint: the same guys in the county jail are the guys in the army. OR their equally screwed-up brothers and cousins.

              • acquarius74 says:

                There’s a lot about what makes people tick that I think I will never learn in this life. heh,heh

  16. john2 says:

    It doesn’t matter, it’s too late. The Bushies have already scored their cheap, shallow propaganda points, and the American people lapped it up. We’re Number One! They don’t care what happens afterward, when the truth comes out. The truth is such a slowpoke, America has taken its victory laps, gone home, gotten drunk and fallen asleep in front of the TV, and missed the part where the truth was told.

    The Bushies were playing that game from Day One, and they win the Propaganda Prize of the Century. Have they been held to account for any of their grotesque lies, misrepresentations and abuses? They win the Grand Prize for Most Repulsive Assholes in American History.

      • scribe says:

        While John2’s statement is not inaccurate, a mere “well said” doesn’t really help matters. It is, in reality, no different from the Average American gulping down the propaganda and rolling over and going back to sleep.

        Saying “it’s all lies run by Bushco and we can’t do anything about it, so we’ll sit on the sidelines and pout”, which is pretty much what John2 is saying, doesn’t help matters. Rather, it cedes the field to Bushco and reinforces their ability to continue using the methods they have been using, to whatever level of success you choose to award them. Besides, sneering is something Republicans do really well (it’s like their secret handshake), so we should neither stoop to their level nor try to compete on the ground where they are at their best.

        What does help is parsing out how it works, why it works and how to see through it. Which, FWIW, is what I’m trying to do.

        Because, when you can see through it, you are immune to it. When you can communicate to others how to see through it and what’s behind it (one of the most useful features of the blogosphere), you can make headway.

        • acquarius74 says:

          What does help is parsing out how it works, why it works and how to see through it. Which, FWIW, is what I’m trying to do.

          Because, when you can see through it, you are immune to it.

          scribe, that pretty well lays out the formula for my own survival from childhood on in many situations and phases of my life. I respect the viewpoint of others and try to take into consideration the phase of growth from which they present their ‘take’ on any given situation.

          I especially value the opinions and viewpoints of people with real experience. I give respectful attention to the theories of others, but grant the perspectives of those who have been there a higher value.

          I have never in my life swallowed whole the presentations of anyone as being the whole truth.