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Black propaganda

Black propaganda is false information and material that purports to be from a source on one side of a conflict, but is actually from the opposing side. It is typically used to vilify, embarrass or misrepresent the enemy.[1] Black propaganda contrasts with grey propaganda, the source of which is not identified, and white propaganda, in which the real source is declared and usually more accurate information is given, if also slanted or distorted.

Black propaganda purports to emanate from a source other than the true source. This type of propaganda is associated with covert psychological operations.[2] Sometimes the source is concealed or credited to a false authority and spreads lies, fabrications, and deceptions. Black propaganda is the "big lie," including all types of creative deceit.[3]

Ultimately, black propaganda relies on the willingness of the receiver to accept the credibility of the source. If the creators or senders of the black propaganda message do not adequately understand their intended audience, the message may be misunderstood, seem suspicious, or fail altogether.[3]

Governments will generally conduct black propaganda operations for two different reasons. First, by utilizing black propaganda a government is more likely to succeed in convincing their target audience that the information that they are seeking to influence them with is disguised, and that its motivations are not apparent. Second, there are diplomatic reasons behind the use of black propaganda. Black propaganda is necessary in order to obfuscate a government's involvement in activities that may be detrimental to its foreign policies.[4]


[edit] Black Propaganda of the Soviet Union

Disinformation is a useful form of black propaganda due to the fact that disinformation campaigns are covert in nature and use various forms of false information. Disinformation can be defined as false information that is deliberately, and often covertly spread in order to influence public opinion and obscure the truth.[5] Prior to, and during the Cold War, the Soviet Union successfully utilized this form of black propaganda on multiple occasions to their benefit.

The dictatorship of Joseph Stalin was a firm believer in black propaganda and disinformation campaigns targeted against Western nations and the United States. One of Stalin's early successes in these operations targeted the United States through the use of the Moscow Bureau Chief at the New York Times, Walter Duranty. Duranty would ultimately win the Pulitzer Prize for his sympathetic writings praising the Soviet dictator and while also failing to accurately report on the Ukrainian famine of 1932.[6]

The Soviet Union again utilized black propaganda during the Iranian hostage crisis that took place from 1979 until 1981. For strictly political purposes, and to show support for the hostages, Soviet diplomats at the United Nations vocally criticized the taking of the hostages. At this same time however, Soviet "black" radio stations within Iran called the National Voice of Iran openly broadcast strong support for the crisis in an effort to increase anti-American sentiment inside Iran.[7] This represents a clear utilization of black propaganda by the Soviet Union in order to have anti-American broadcasts appear as if they were actually originating from Iranian sources.

[edit] KGB First Chief Directorate

Throughout the Cold War, the Soviet Union effectively utilized the KGB's Service A of the First Chief Directorate in order to conduct its covert, and or, black forms of active measures.[8] It was Service A that was responsible for clandestine campaigns that were targeted at foreign governments, public populations, as well as influence individuals and specific groups that were hostile towards the Soviet government and its policies. A majority of their operations were actually conducted by other elements and directorates of the KGB.[9] As a result, it was the First Chief Directorate that was ultimately responsible for the production of Soviet black propaganda operations.

By the 1980's, Service A consisted of nearly 120 officers whose responsibilities consisted of covert media placements, and controlled media to covertly introduce carefully manufactured information, disinformation, and slogans into the areas such as government, media, and religion of their targeted countries, namely the United States. Due to the fact that both the Soviet Union and the KGB's involvements were not acknowledged and intentionally disguised, these operations are therefore classified as a form of black propaganda.[10] The activities of Service A greatly increased during the period of the 1980's through the early 1990's presumably as the Soviet government fought to maintain control during the declining period of the Cold War.

[edit] Office of Strategic Influence

Following the September 11 attacks against the United States, the Pentagon organized and implemented the Office of Strategic Influence in an effort to improve public support abroad, mainly in Islamic countries. The head of OSI was an appointed general, Pete Worden who maintained the mission of "circulating classified proposals calling for aggressive campaigns that use[d] not only the foreign media and the Internet, but also covert operations." Worden, as well as then Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld planned for what they called "a broad mission ranging from 'black' campaigns that use[d] disinformation and other covert activities to 'white' public affairs that rely on truthful news releases." Therefore, OSI's operations could include the blackest of activities.[11]

OSI's operations were to do more than public relations work, but included contacting and emailing media, journalist, and foreign community leaders with information that would counter foreign governments and organizations that are hostile to the United States. In doing so, the emails would be masked by utilizing addresses ending with .com as opposed to using the standard Pentagon address of .mil. and hide any involvement of the US government and the Pentagon. The Pentagon is forbidden to conduct black propaganda operations within the American media, but is not prohibited for conducting these operations against foreign media outlets. The thought of conducting black propaganda operations and utilizing disinformation resulted in harsh criticism for the program that resulted in its closure in 2002.[12]

[edit] Black propaganda in World War II

[edit] British

In Britain, the Political Warfare Executive operated a number of black propaganda radio stations. Gustav Siegfried Eins (GS1) was one of the first such stations ' purporting to be a clandestine German station. The speaker, 'Der Chef' purported to be a Nazi extremist, accusing Hitler and his henchmen of going soft. The station focused on alleged corruption and sexual improprieties of Nazi Party members.

Another example was the British radio station Soldatensender Calais, which purported to be a radio station for the German military. Under the direction of Sefton Delmer, a British journalist who spoke perfect Berliner German, Soldatensender Calais and its associated shortwave station, Kurzwellensender Atlantik, broadcast music, up-to-date sports scores, speeches of Adolf Hitler for "cover" and subtle propaganda.

Radio Deutschland was another radio station employed by the British during the war aimed and designed to undermine German morale and create tensions that would ultimately disrupt the German war effort. The station was broadcasted from a signal in close proximity on the radio dial to an actual German station. During the war most Germans actually believed that this station was in fact a German radio station and even gained the recognition of Germany's propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels.[13]

There were British black propaganda radio stations in most of the languages of occupied Europe as well as German and Italian.[14] Most of these were based in the area around Woburn Abbey.

David Hare's play Licking Hitler provides a fictionalised account based on the British black propaganda efforts in World War II.

[edit] German

German black propaganda usually took advantage of European racism and anti-Communism. For example, on the night of April 27, 1944 German aircraft under cover of darkness (and possibly carrying fake Royal Air Force markings) dropped propaganda leaflets on occupied Denmark. These leaflets used the title of Frihedsposten, a genuine Danish underground newspaper, and claimed that the "hour of liberation" was approaching. They instructed Danes to accept "occupation by Russian or specially trained American Negro soldiers" until the first disorders resulting from military operations were over.

The German Büro Concordia organisation operated several black propaganda radio stations (many of which pretended to broadcast illegally from within the countries they targeted).[15]

[edit] Japanese

The Tanaka Memorial, a document describing a Japanese plan for world conquest, beginning with the conquest of China, is now believed by most historians to be a forgery.

The following message was distributed in black propaganda leaflets dropped by the Japanese over the Philippines in World War II. It was designed to turn Filipinos against the United States:

Guard Against Venereal Diseases
Lately there has been a great increase in the number of venereal diseases among our officers and men owing to prolific contacts with Filipino women of dubious character.
Due to hard times and stricken conditions brought about by the Japanese occupation of the islands, Filipino women were willing to offer themselves for a small amount of foodstuffs. It is advisable in such cases to take full protective measures by use of condoms, protective medicines, etc.; better still to hold intercourse only with wives, virgins, or women of respective character.
Furthermore, in view of the increase in pro-American leanings, many Filipino women are more than willing to offer themselves to American soldiers, and because Filipinos have no knowledge of hygiene, disease carriers are rampant and due care must be taken.
US Army

[edit] Black propaganda in domestic politics

[edit] Racist black propaganda

[edit] British media

  • In November 1995, a Sunday Telegraph newspaper article alleged Libya's Saif Qaddafi (Colonel Gaddafi's son) was connected to a currency counterfeiting plan. The article was written by Con Coughlin, the paper's chief foreign correspondent and it was falsely attributed to a "British banking official". In fact, it had been given to him by officers of MI6, who, it transpired, had been supplying Coughlin with material for years.[20]

[edit] United States media

  • In the "Roorback forgery" of 1844 the Chronicle of Ithaca, New York ran a story, supposedly by a German tourist called Baron von Roorback, that James K. Polk, standing for re-election as a Democrat to the United States House of Representatives, branded his slaves before selling them at auction to distinguish them from the others on sale. Polk actually benefited from the ploy, as it reflected badly on his opponents when the lie was found out.[21]

[edit] United States Government

  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation's Counter-intelligence program "COINTELPRO", was intended to, according to the FBI, "expose, disrupt, misdirect, discredit, or otherwise neutralize the activities of black nationalists, hate-type organizations and groups, their leadership, membership, and supporters." Black propaganda'that is, propaganda that disguises its source'was used famously on Communists and the Black Panther Party. It was also used against domestic opponents of the invasion of Vietnam, labor leaders, and Native Americans .[22] COINTELPRO's use of black propaganda led to their creation of coloring books and cartoons. The FBI's strategy was captured in a 1968 memo: "Consider the use of cartoons, photographs, and anonymous letters which will have the effect of ridiculing the New Left. Ridicule is one of the most potent weapons which we can use against it."[23]The FBI employed a similar tactic in 1968 to disrupt activities of the Ku Klux Klan, as hundreds of 'racist' flyers with misleading information were fabricated and made to appear as if they originated from known Klan leaders.
  • "The Penkovsky Papers" are an example of a black propaganda effort conducted by the United States' Central Intelligence Agency during the 1960's. The "Penkovksy Papers" were alleged to have been written by a Soviet GRU defector, Colonel Oleg Penkovsky, but was in fact produced by the CIA in an effort to diminish the Soviet Union's credibility at a pivotal time during the Cold War.[24]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ Doob, Leonard (1950-09-13). "Goebbels' Principles of Nazi Propaganda". The Public Opinion Quarterly 3 (Vol. 14, No. 3): 419'442. http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0033-362X(195023)14%3A3%3C419%3AGPOP%3E2.0.CO%3B2-%23. Retrieved 2008-03-06. 
  2. ^ Linebarger, Paul Myron Anthony. 1954. Psychological Warfare, Combat Forces Press, Washington
  3. ^ a b Jowett, Garth S., Garth Jowett, Victoria O'Donnell. 2006. Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, California
  4. ^ Shulsky, Abram. and Gary Schmitt. Silent Warfare. Washington, DC: Brasseys Inc. 2002
  5. ^ http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disinformation
  6. ^ http://westernexperience.wordpress.com/2009/09/25/stalins-most-useful-idiot-walter-duranty/
  7. ^ Shulsky, Abram. and Gary Schmitt. Silent Warfare. Washington, DC: Brasseys Inc. 2002
  8. ^ http://intellit.muskingum.edu/russia_folder/pcw_era/sect_03.htm
  9. ^ The Foreign Intelligence Role of the Committee for State Security. http://www.fas.org/irp/world/russia/kgb/su0521.htm
  10. ^ http://intellit.muskingum.edu/russia_folder/pcw_era/sect_03.htm</ref
  11. ^ http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Office_of_Strategic_Influence
  12. ^ Carver, Tom. Pentagon Plans Propaganda War. BBC 20 February 2002. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/1830500.stm
  13. ^ Allen, Thomas and Normal Polmar. Spy Book. New York: Random House Selection. 2004
  14. ^ The Bletchley Park Reports: Report No. 17 Black Propaganda, John Pether, Bletchley Park Trust 1998
  15. ^ http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2584/is_n2_v14/ai_15588719/pg_1
  16. ^ Philip Graves, "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion: The Truth about the Protocols", 1921 H-net.org (2000-03-22)
  17. ^ Howard forced to fight off dirty tricks allegations - 22 Nov 2007 - Australian Election 2007: Kevin Rudd takes on John Howard - New Zealand Herald at www.nzherald.co.nz
  18. ^ Blog: Howard's speech overshadowed by race issues - 22 Nov 2007 - Australian Election 2007: Kevin Rudd takes on John Howard - New Zealand Herald at www.nzherald.co.nz
  19. ^ Fake flyers derail Howard - 23 Nov 2007 - Australian Election 2007: Kevin Rudd takes on John Howard - New Zealand Herald at www.nzherald.co.nz
  20. ^ Leigh, David (2000-06-12). "Tinker, tailor, soldier, journalist". The Guardian (London). http://www.guardian.co.uk/shayler/article/0,2763,339990,00.html. Retrieved 2007-06-16. 
  21. ^ Byrnes, Mark E. (2001). James K. Polk: a biographical companion. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC CLIO. p. 183. ISBN 9781576070567. 
  22. ^ http://www.ibiblio.org/pub/electronic-publications/stay-free/archives/19/fbi.html
  23. ^ Churchill & VanderWall, p. 187; Martin Luther King, Jr. Papers Project))
  24. ^ Shulsky, Abram and Gary Schmitt. Silent Warfare. Washington: Brasseys, 2002

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