Obama’s Credibility Crisis

Exclusive: Inside Official Washington’s bubble, the Important People believe their “group think” is the envy of the world, but the truth is that their credibility has collapsed to such a degree that their propaganda can’t even match up with the head-chopping videos of the Islamic State crazies, writes Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

Like the old story of the little boy who cried wolf, the U.S. government is finding out that just when its credibility is most needed it doesn’t have any. With all its “soft power” schemes of “perception management,” funding “citizen bloggers” and sticking with “narratives” long after they’ve been discredited, the U.S. government is losing the propaganda battle against ISIS.

That was the conclusion of outside experts who examined the State Department’s online campaigns to undercut ISIS, according to an article by The Washington Post’s Greg Miller who wrote that the review “cast new doubt on the U.S. government’s ability to serve as a credible voice against the terrorist group’s propaganda.”

President Obama and King Salman Arabia stand at attention during the U.S. national anthem as the First Lady stands in the background with other officials on Jan. 27, 2015, at the start of Obama’s State Visit to Saudi Arabia. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza). (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Obama and King Salman Arabia stand at attention during the U.S. national anthem as the First Lady stands in the background with other officials on Jan. 27, 2015, at the start of Obama’s State Visit to Saudi Arabia. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza). (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

In other words, even when the U.S. government competes with the creepy head-choppers of ISIS, the U.S. government comes in second. Of course, the State Department remains in denial about its collapse of credibility and typically won’t release the details of the critical study.

Instead, Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy Richard Stengel insisted that the State Department’s messaging operation “is trending upward,” although acknowledging that his team is facing a tough adversary in ISIS and must “be equally creative and innovative.” [For more on Stengel’s falsehoods, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Who’s the Propagandist: US or RT?”]

But the U.S. government’s problem is much deeper than its inability to counter ISIS propaganda. Increasingly, almost no one outside Official Washington believes what senior U.S. officials say about nearly anything and that loss of trust is exacerbating a wide range of dangers, from demagogy on the 2016 campaign trail to terrorism recruitment in the Middle East and in the West.

President Barack Obama seems to want so desperately to be one of the elite inhabitants of Official Washington’s bubble that he keeps pushing narratives that he knows aren’t true, all the better to demonstrate that he belongs in the in-crowd. It has reached the point that he speaks out so many sides of his mouth that no one can tell what his words actually mean.

Indeed, Obama arguably suffers from the worst “credibility gap” among the American people since Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon on the Vietnam War or at least since George W. Bush on the Iraq War. As eloquent as he can be, average folk in the U.S. and around the world tune him out.

White Rage

So, on the domestic side, when the President tells Americans that another trade deal this one with Asia is going to be good for them, does anyone outside the opinion pages of the elite newspapers and the big-shot think tanks believe him?

America now has a swelling underclass of formerly middle-class whites who know that they’ve been sold out as they face declining living standards and an unprecedented surge in dying rates. Yet, because they don’t trust Obama, these whites are easily convinced by demagogues that their plight stems from government programs designed to help blacks and other minorities.

This white rage has fueled the race-baiting and anti-immigrant campaigns of billionaire Donald Trump and other political outsiders in the Republican Party. Trump has soared to the top of the GOP presidential field because he says a few things that are true that rich people have bought up the political process and that trade deals have screwed the middle class giving him an aura of “authenticity” that then extends to his uglier comments.

Americans are so starving for a taste of honesty which they’re not getting from Obama or other members of the elite that they will believe a megalomaniacal huckster like Trump. After all, they know that what they get from Obama and his clique is manipulative spin, treating them like dummies to be tricked, not citizens of a Republic to be respected.

The hard truth is that the Great American Middle Class indeed has been sold out, often by fast-talking neo-liberals like President Bill Clinton who with the help of many centrists and conservatives pushed through trade deals and banking “reforms” that gussied up Wall Street while boarding up Main Street. The neo-liberals, working with Republicans, also promoted trade deals with Mexico and other low-wage countries that sent millions of U.S. jobs overseas.

From this experience, many Americans see “guv-mint” to blame for their plight, enticing them down the right-wing path that seeks to negate government power. What these Americans don’t grasp is that this Tea Party ideology is further selling them out to the corporatists and the speculators who will be put in an ever stronger position to gouge what’s left of the Middle Class.

In other words, at a time when Americans need their government to collectively represent their interests to provide for “the general Welfare” as the U.S. Constitution mandated they have no faith that the government is theirs or will protect their interests.

The Propaganda Imperative

A similar realization holds true with foreign policy. The U.S. government has so thoroughly bought into the concept of “perception management” and “strategic communications” blending psy-ops, propaganda and P.R. that the government has decoupled from facts. Information is just there to be exploited for geopolitical gain, usually to pin some offense on the latest “designated villain.”

We saw this in 2003 with the disinformation campaign about Iraq’s WMD, but it didn’t stop there. The U.S. government has used its control of important media levers to demonize a variety of world leaders who have gotten in the way of Official Washington’s desires. Meanwhile, equal or worse abuses by “our guys” are downplayed or ignored.

For instance, Libya’s secular dictator Muammar Gaddafi was mocked when he warned of Islamist terrorists rampaging in eastern Libya. Indeed, Gaddafi’s vow to fight them became the pretext used for a “regime change” operation under the “human rights” banner, “responsibility to protect.”

That operation promoted by then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton who gloated over Gaddafi’s murder (“We came, we saw, he died”) has transformed Libya into a land of anarchy with the Islamic State and other terror groups seizing ground and chopping off heads. But Clinton, like other architects of this disaster, won’t admit to a mistake.

Similarly, the Obama administration and the compliant mainstream U.S. media pushed a propaganda campaign against Syria’s secular leader Bashar al-Assad, blaming him for virtually all the violence that engulfed Syria despite the awareness of senior U.S. officials, including Vice President Joe Biden, about the key role played by Sunni jihadists and terror groups with the backing of Sunni-ruled Gulf states and Turkey.

So, when a lethal sarin gas attack struck a suburb of Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013, the Obama administration and key “human rights” groups blamed Assad’s forces although some U.S. intelligence analysts and independent observers quickly smelled a rat, the likelihood of a provocation sponsored by Al Qaeda operatives possibly aided by Turkish intelligence trying to induce the U.S. military to destroy Assad’s army and clear the way for a terrorist victory.

Though that “false flag” scenario became increasingly likely as the case against Assad’s forces essentially collapsed Obama and his administration have never corrected the record. They just left what now appears to be a false narrative on the record, so it can still be cited by neocon opinion leaders or “human rights” advocates and thus be used to mislead the American public.

Some people defend Obama for not admitting a mistake because to do so would undermine U.S. credibility, but I think the opposite holds true, that a frank admission that there was a misguided rush to judgment would be refreshing for Americans who are sick and tired of spin.

Similarly, there’s the case of the July 17, 2014 shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine, which the Obama administration pinned on ethnic Russian rebels and indirectly on Russian President Vladimir Putin. The case whipped up a frenzy of Russia-bashing across the West and thus became a valuable propaganda club.

But again, as U.S. intelligence analysts shifted through the evidence, some moved off in a different direction, blaming a rogue element of the Ukrainian government, according to a source briefed on these findings.

Yet, instead of either correcting the record or presenting evidence to buttress the initial judgment, the Obama administration has gone silent, refusing to make public any evidence that it possesses about the killing of 298 people. That has allowed the West’s mainstream media and some supposedly “independent” bloggers to continue to push the Russia-did-it line.

Shifting Blame

More recently, the Obama administration has reacted to overwhelming evidence that some of its Mideast “allies” have been aiding and abetting the Islamic State, Al Qaeda and other violent jihadists by trying to shift the blame to the Syrian government and Russia.

In other words, we’re told not to blame the Saudis and the Qataris for funding and arming these jihadists (despite admissions from Vice President Biden, former Secretary of State Clinton and the Defense Intelligence Agency). Nor should we notice that the Islamic State has been shipping its illicit oil into Turkey in large truck convoys through Turkish border crossings which also allow jihadist fighters to go back and forth.

The evidentiary record of Turkey’s covert support for these radical jihadists is a long one, including many admissions from Turkish officials and reports from major Turkish media outlets. But we’re told to ignore all that evidence and trust that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is doing all he can to seal off his border and stop the terrorists.

Instead, though the Syrian and Russian governments have been delivering heavy blows to the jihadists, including Russia shaming the Obama administration into belatedly joining in the bombing of those ISIS oil convoys, we’re supposed to believe that Damascus and Moscow are actually in cahoots with ISIS. This storyline amounts to the U.S. government’s own crazy conspiracy theory.

We’re also supposed to believe that the Saudis, the Qataris and the Turks are seriously engaged in the grand U.S. “coalition” Obama has boasted of its 65 members to fight ISIS, Al Qaeda and other terrorists. But these “allies” are mostly just going through the motions.

The overall impact of the U.S. government’s years and even decades of public manipulation has been to “trifurcate” the American people into three groups: those who still believe the official line, those who are open to real evidence that goes against the official line, and those who believe in fact-free conspiracy theories positing that nothing from any official source can be true.

To say that such a division is not healthy for a democratic Republic is to state the obvious. Indeed, a democratic Republic cannot long survive if government officials insist on managing the people’s perceptions through propaganda and disinformation. Nor can it long survive if a significant part of the population believes the craziest of conspiracy theories.

Yet, it seems that President Obama and other senior officials simply can’t resist taking the easy route of deception to reach a compliant consensus, rather than engaging in the hard work of presenting clear evidence and engaging the American people in serious debate.

Or, perhaps Obama and his advisers are too deep into the lies and thus fear the consequences of admitting that many of their claims were false or misleading. That would be like Toto pulling the curtain away from the Wizard of Oz and the wizard immediately confessing. The instinct is to tell the populace to ignore that man behind the curtain.

The Impossible Speech

I have long advocated that Obama should go on television in the style of President Dwight Eisenhower’s farewell address in 1961, sitting in the Oval Office, hands-folded, none of Obama’s glitzy stage-craft, and simply level with the American people.

Before the speech, Obama could release the 28 pages from the congressional 9/11 report about Saudi support for the hijackers. He also could release other U.S. intelligence analyses on the role of the Saudis, Qataris and Turks in supporting Al Qaeda and ISIS. He could toss in what U.S. intelligence analysts have concluded about the 2013 sarin gas attack in Syria and about the 2014 shoot-down of MH-17 in Ukraine.

To the degree that the U.S. government had misled the American people, the President could fess up. He could explain how he and other government officials were seduced by the siren song of the propagandists who promised to line up public opinion behind a policy with no muss or fuss. He could admit that such manipulation of U.S. citizens by the U.S. government is simply wrong.

Obama could explain that he now realizes that elitism in the pursuit of the people’s subservience is incompatible with the principles of a Republic in which the citizens are the sovereigns of the nation. He could ask our forgiveness and recommit himself to the government transparency that he promised during the 2008 election. (While at it, he could pardon and apologize to the whistleblowers whom he has prosecuted and imprisoned.)

Having reestablished a foundation of trust and repudiating the past decades of deception he could explain what has to be done in Syria. Most significantly he could demand that Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Turkey and other countries helping ISIS and Al Qaeda shut down that assistance immediately or face severe financial and other consequences, “allies” or not.

Then, he could promise that after reasonable stability is restored to Syria the people of Syria would be allowed to decide who they want as their leaders. Right now, the key obstacle to a new power-sharing government in Syria is the West’s insistence that Assad can’t compete in future democratic elections. Yet, if President Obama is so sure that most Syrians hate Assad, nothing could demonstrate that better than Assad’s resounding defeat at the polls. Why avoid that?

But it’s become painfully obvious that Obama does not have it in him to give that speech or take such actions. It would require defying Official Washington’s neocon-dominated insider community and “allies,” such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel. To appease those forces, he will continue to play word games and to spin propaganda narratives. He is too much of an elitist to inform and empower the American people.

Thus, the Obama administration’s credibility gap won’t be closed. Indeed, it will widen into a chasm, with Official Washington sitting on one side and the vast majority of humanity on the other. The undeserving winners will include the terrorists of ISIS and Al Qaeda. There will be many losers who deserve better.

[Update: Obama’s Oval Office speech on Sunday night attempted to calm the fears of the American public and to defend his anti-ISIS strategy, but the President offered no new information about how U.S. “allies” — such Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey — have been implicated in the rise of Al Qaeda and ISIS.]

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com). You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

39 comments for “Obama’s Credibility Crisis

  1. December 7, 2015 at 09:55

    “America now has a swelling underclass of formerly middle-class whites who know that they’ve been sold out as they face declining living standards and an unprecedented surge in dying rates.”

    In relation to the New York Times link to an article headlined: ‘Death Rates Rising for Middle-Aged White Americans, Study Finds’ Dr. Deaton and Dr. Case might like to look at the increasing use of statins as one possible explanation.

    Dr. Case is said to have found “… matching increases in the numbers reporting pain and the numbers reporting difficulty socializing, difficulty shopping, difficulty walking for two blocks.”

    One of the most over-prescribed drugs, especially for those in the 45 to 54 age bracket, statins are used in order to reduce cholesterol. One of the potential side-effects of statins is muscle pain. In some patients they can produce leg pains so severe that even walking small distances becomes virtually impossible. Statins can affect the brain too, as cholesterol is vital to the proper functioning of the brain. There are some medical experts who believe statins may cause Alzheimer’s. They have also been linked to depression and suicide, yet pharmaceutical companies are trying to persuade governments to advise doctors to prescribe them even more widely for the very age group causing most concern.

    I have to emphasize strongly that I am not a medical professional and therefore cannot say anything with any degree of certainty. But, as a former user of statins, I can say that my own experiences with the drug included pains in my calves sufficiently uncomfortable to necessitate rests after ten minutes or so of walking. Upon stopping use of statins, the pains ceased within a couple of weeks.

    Anyone using statins should not cease use without consulting a medical expert. If not satisfied with their own physician’s advice they should seek a second opinion.

  2. December 7, 2015 at 08:39

    “I have long advocated that Obama should go on television in the style of President Dwight Eisenhower’s farewell address in 1961, sitting in the Oval Office, hands-folded, none of Obama’s glitzy stage-craft, and simply level with the American people.”

    If only. Alas, I feel it’s far too late for that. The biggest shame for Obama is that Putin has a far better TV presence than he does. Even with subtitles he comes over as far more honest, far more intelligent and far more aware of what is happening in the world. That’s why we don’t see much of him on Western TV screens.

    Obama couldn’t do much better than locking himself in a room for twenty-four hours to view as much footage of the Russian leader as possible. Putin gives the impression of a statesman actually in charge.

    It is little wonder increasing numbers of Americans believe Obama isn’t in charge, because he looks more and more like a temporary stand-in as each day passes; a man who doesn’t like playing at being president of the most powerful nation in the world anymore.

    The terror a good deal of the rest of the world feels is that we no longer knows what the US government will do next. Would you give anyone in the US goverment access to nuclear weapons? I’d be reluctant to hand over the keys to my car.

  3. Abe
    December 7, 2015 at 00:27

    “it’s become painfully obvious that Obama does not have it in him to give that speech or take such actions. It would require defying Official Washington’s neocon-dominated insider community and “allies,” such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Israel. To appease those forces, he will continue to play word games and to spin propaganda narratives.”

    The neocon-dominated insider community is directly and primarily allied with the pro-Zionist government of Israel.

    The roster of additional “allies” — Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar, and the NATO satrapies — have been recruited to serve the primary deep state alliance between the neocons (both red and blue) and Israel.

    Why avoid that?

    One of the best-known and most-discussed examples of literary forgery is The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an antisemitic fabricated text purporting to describe a Jewish plan for global domination.

    Elements of the Protocols were plagiarized from Dialogue aux enfers entre Machiavel et Montesquieu (Dialogue in Hell Between Machiavelli and Montesquieu), an 1864 political satire by Maurice Joly. Joly’s text was itself a plagiarism, at least in part, of a novel by Eugène Sue, Les Mystères du Peuple (1849–56). Additional elements of the Protocols were plagiarized from a chapter from Biarritz, an 1868 novel by the antisemitic German novelist Hermann Goedsche. A major source for the Protocols was Der Judenstaat by Theodor Herzl, which was referred to as Zionist Protocols in its initial French and Russian editions.

    The Protocols forgery was first published in Russia in 1903, translated into multiple languages, and disseminated internationally in the early part of the 20th century. The origins and purpose of the text were obscured.

    The Protocols are widely cited as an early example of “conspiracy theory” literature.

    However, the accusation of “conspiracy theory” has been used to deflect any discussion of Israel’s well-publicized aspirations for regional hegemony, or any suggestion that Official Washington’s neocon-dominated insider community and the pro-Zionist government of Israel are up to no good, when the literature and evidence clearly indicates such.

    Hasbara (Hebrew: הַסְבָּרָה‎ hasbará, “explaining”) propagandist trolls strive to discredit websites, articles, and videos critical of Israel and Zionism.

    Hasbara tactics of deception include:

    1) accusing anyone who offers legitimate criticism of Israel or Zionism of being “anti-Semitic”, and

    2) deliberately posting incendiary comments with links to “anti-Semitic”, “Holocaust denial”, and blatant fact-free “conspiracy theory” material.

    Such Hasbara efforts are promptly trounced in the comments here at Consortium News.

    It is high time to directly and courageously confront Israel’s prominent and direct role in the epidemic of global terrorism, and its potential to instigate an escalation of conflict that the world may not survive.

  4. Gar
    December 6, 2015 at 23:40

    The look on that 15th century sheik’s face belittles hand on heart and apple pie. Who will refute it?

  5. F.G. Sanford
    December 6, 2015 at 22:42

    “Nor can it long survive if a significant part of the population believes the craziest of conspiracy theories.”

    After providing us with a veritable litany of well-documented conspiratorial behavior, with all due respect, Mr. Parry, I am slightly bewildered. Some of those “theories” are the only way to make sense of this mess. The apologists may have at it till their heart’s content. But some of the actors in this scenario remind me of an energetic and annoying fly in a room full of people with fly swatters. Sooner or later, someone will swat the fly responsible for all of this. No one will weep. Many will rejoice. Most will pray that the repercussions do not initiate a global conflict. Avoiding that is hardly likely…unless the “conspiracies” are honestly addressed. We’ve all seen the proof that Turkey is doing exactly what the “conspiracy theorists” claim. That’s the least significant of many revelations. There is no way out of this without full accountability.

    • Joe Tedesky
      December 7, 2015 at 16:36

      From time to time, I like to read past out of date articles. This allows me the opportunity to see what authors may have had it right, and how close to the truth they got. Often, it is the crazy tinfoil hat authors who are almost right about everything. My take on this, is that the MSM lies about most things, while they push the official narrative down our American throats. My problem is, I find it hard to believe the one bullet theory, or to believe that two 102 story buildings collapse, as if demolished by a controlled demolition. Then, I stop to wonder who really are the ones wearing that darn tinfoil hat. In fact, I’m getting to a point where I have become proud to be considered a ‘conspiracy nut’….just say’n!

  6. ltr
    December 6, 2015 at 18:58

    Terrific essay as usual. Worth a couple of careful readings for me.

  7. Ivy
    December 6, 2015 at 18:19

    Obama the Manchurian Candidate can only rely on his Journolist/Cabalist supporters so much before the cracks widen and his edifice crumbles. Trump, Sanders and various others tap into the flyover mistrust of official Washington pronouncements.

  8. Pablo Diablo
    December 6, 2015 at 15:59

    Time for the Supreme Court to step in and “select” Trump to be sure Reagan, Bush, Clinton, W.Bush, Obama policies as President are continued until they work.
    “our” government has served the interests of people with money since day one. A few people make money off of war so they can buy politicians who promote war.
    “Greed is good” — Ronald Reagan.
    WAKE UP AMERICA. A huge military build up, more than “daily” mass shootings = a sign of a declining empire.

  9. Abe
    December 6, 2015 at 15:21


    Michael J. Morrell, former Acting Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), appeared in a December 2, 2015 interview with Charlie Rose.

    Morell stated that “Prior to Paris, there seemed to be a judgment that … look, we don’t want to destroy these oil tankers because that’s infrastructure that’s going to be necessary to support the people when ISIS isn’t there anymore, and it’s going to create environmental damage. And we didn’t go after oil wells — actually hitting oil wells that ISIS controls because we didn’t want to do environmental damage and we didn’t want to destroy that infrastructure, right.”

    Morell’s statement reflects the spectacular depth of cynicism that drives the U.S. policies on global terrorism.

    Morell’s background in the CIA merits consideration.

    Morell joined the CIA in 1980 as an analyst covering international energy issues. He later worked on East Asia for 14 years, holding a number of jobs in analysis and in management before his selection in 1999 as Director of the Office of Asian Pacific and Latin American Analysis.

    Morell managed the staff that produced the Presidential Daily Briefings for President George W. Bush. Morell was Bush’s briefer during the September 11, 2001, attacks, and has been quoted as saying, “I would bet every dollar I have that it’s al Qaeda.”

    Later, Morell was a trusted asset to President Barack H. Obama in the Osama bin Laden raid on May 2, 2011.

    Morell served as the CIA’s first Associate Deputy Director from 2006 to 2008.

    Before his 2010 nomination as Deputy Director of the CIA, Morell served as Director for Intelligence, a position he had held since 2008.

    In May 2010, Morell was sworn in as the deputy director of the CIA, succeeding Stephen Kappes.

    From July 1, 2011, to September 6, 2011, he served his first stint as Acting Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, replacing Leon Panetta who was named as secretary of defense.


    In August 2011, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), formerly known as Al-Qaeda in Iraq, began sending Syrian and Iraqi ISI guerillas across the border into Syria. Led by Abu Muhammad al-Jawlani, this group began to recruit fighters and establish cells throughout the country.

    Al-Qaeda is viewed by many as a long-term CIA asset. ISIS actually started as a Petraeus-supervised Counter-Insurgency (COIN) project in Iraq.

    The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), the Al-Qaeda re-boot, rapidly expanded during Petraeus’ tenure as CIA Director (September 6, 2011 – November 9, 2012).

    On 23 January 2012, the group announced its formation as Jabhat al-Nusra, more commonly known as al-Nusra Front. Al-Nusra grew rapidly into a capable fighting force with popular support among Syrians opposed to the Assad regime.

    In July 2012, al-Baghdadi released an audio statement online announcing that the group was returning to the former strongholds from which US troops and their Sunni allies had driven them prior to the withdrawal of US troops. He also declared the start of a new offensive in Iraq called Breaking the Walls, which was aimed at freeing members of the group held in Iraqi prisons. Violence in Iraq began to escalate that month.

    Jihadists who had fought in Iraq and Afghanistan were recruited to overthrow Gadhafi in Libya. Weapons had been shipped to these forces through Qatar with American approval. In the spring of 2012, Petraeus made several trips to Turkey to facilitate the supply operation.

    According to multiple anonymous sources, the diplomatic mission in Benghazi was used by CIA as a cover to smuggle weapons from Libya to anti-Assad rebels in Syria.

    Petraeus allegedly was running the CIA ratline, transferring Libyan arms (and possibly Al-Qaeda forces) to southern Turkey so the terrorists could launch attacks into Syria.

    Seymour Hersh cited a source among intelligence officials, saying that the U.S. consulate had no real political role and that its sole mission was to provide cover for the transfer of arms.

    The September 11-12, 2012 attack on this hub of CIA activity allegedly brought end to active US involvement, but did not stop the smuggling of weapons and fighters to Syria.

    When Petraeus resigned on November 9, 2012, purportedly due to the FBI’s discovery of the Broadwell affair, Morell once again became acting director of CIA.

    In fact, Petraeus was scheduled to testify under oath the following week before power House and Senate committees regarding the attack on the Benghazi consulate.

    Petraeus’ official actions as CIA Director, not his personal indiscretions, were a political liability to Obama during the 2012 election. Petraeus and Obama were spared many pointed questions about how the US as “all in” with Al-Qaeda in Libya, Syria and Iraq.


    President Obama replaced Petraeus with John Brennan, who was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on March 5, 2013.

    Morell announced his retirement from the CIA on June 12, 2013.

    The term “revolving door” refers to persons with government experience moving to jobs in the private sector, including the media and lucrative advisory firms, and vice versa.

    In November, 2013, Morell stepped through the revolving door to join Beacon Global Strategies, a strategic advisory firm with deep connections the Pentagon, NATO and military intelligence. The company’s team includes Panetta and James G. Stavridis, who was NATO’s 16th Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR, 2009-2013).

    In January, 2014, Morell joined CBS News as a contributor in intelligence and national security.

    Morell’s book, The Great War of Our Time – The CIA’s Fight Against Terrorism–From al Qa’ida to ISIS was published in May 2015.

    • Abe
      December 6, 2015 at 20:06

      In June 2015, Morell’s interview with the Jerusalem Post was billed as “the first of its kind to an Israeli media outlet” http://www.jpost.com/International/A-Mideast-briefing-from-Customer-No-1s-briefer-406523

      Noting that Morell had “visited Israel and met in Washington many times for professional meetings with his Israeli counterparts from the Mossad, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and Aman, Military Intelligence, known in foreign encounters as Israeli Defense Intelligence”, the Jerusalem Post praised Morell’s “impressive honesty”.

      Discussing the relations between the CIA and Mossad, Morell said, “I won’t go into details, and I am going to be careful. I can say that the CIA has ties with many intelligence agencies in the world. Some of these relations are more developed and others are less developed. With Israel’s intelligence community – not just the Mossad – the relations are some of the best in the world.”

      Asked specifically whether Israel had manipulated intelligence information to influence American intelligence officials, Morell insisted that “I have never experienced anything like that, and I never thought that the Israeli intelligence was trying to ‘sell’ us something that we didn’t believe or that we thought was untrue. Nevertheless, certainly, sometimes your political leaders take stances that are not compatible with your intelligence positions.”

      Echoing Netanyahu’s rhethoric about an alleged Iranian nuclear weapons program, the impressively honest Morell insisted that Iran was potentially “two to three months to weeks” away from posessing a nuclear bomb.

      After the token cautionary remarks about the dangers of blowback, Morell took pains to emphasize that “actually I believe that al-Qaida poses a greater threat to the US and the West than Islamic State”.

      Morell somehow neglected to mention the long history of CIA support for al-Qaeda forces in Iraq, Syria and Libya, as well as Afghanistan, the Balkans, and the Caucasus region.

      Al-Qaeda forces, including both al-Nusra and ISIS/ISIS/Daesh are the brand ambassadors of “regime change” for the U.S.-Israel alliance (which includes Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, France, and now Germany).

      The primary beneficiary of the ISIS oil extraction operation, Israel is ISIS’ “Customer No. 1”.

  10. jaycee
    December 6, 2015 at 14:57

    Any potential “transformational” leader would face a barrage of attacks from the political and media establishment similar to that faced these days by Corbyn in Britain. Obama never was a target as such, and that was the clue his rhetoric was a cynical smokescreen. Remember what happened to Howard Dean after he began to talk up single payer health care.

    The two-party system has paralyzed US politics, and it will remain as such until some viable third force can achieve a breakthrough – probably at a state level.

  11. craig hill
    December 6, 2015 at 14:43

    What credibility? Therefore, what cirisis? The credibility issue i’m having is with Robert Parry, who is a typical mainstream Washington-fed non-thinker inside the box Washington puts him in. ISIS is a US creation a la al-Qaeda. When Putin announced he was attakcing ISIS, the Obama adminstration had group diarrhea. ISIS, which should be called ISUS, is the US’ proxy in Syria to overthrow Assad. Therefore, Putin knows even if Parry pretends not to, or is completely unaware, Putin was going to show up Washington by doing what Obama couldn’t/wouldn’t, “defeat” ISUS anywhere. So they orchestrated the bomb/missle? on the Russian airliner and have followed up with Manchurian Candidate killers running amok in San Berdu, taking all eyes and minds off Russia v ISUS, which is held in abeyance by Putin while he licks his wounds after NATO’s Turkey destroyed a second Russian jet for having the impertinence of attacking the US’ proxy in Syria.

    • Gregory Kruse
      December 6, 2015 at 20:16

      I think cirisus is some kind of radio. I get that free on my pacemaker.

  12. Bill Bodden
    December 6, 2015 at 14:27

    It appears as far as the American people are concerned it is Obama and, to some extent, his administration with the credibility problem. Nevertheless, the American people remain a fertile mass for liars to sow seeds. To the contrary, a sizable portion are hostile to whistleblowers and others who tell them the truth.

  13. Bill Bodden
    December 6, 2015 at 14:14

    Instead, Undersecretary of State for Public Diplomacy Richard Stengel insisted that the State Department’s messaging operation “is trending upward,”…

    That could be true. When you’re down at rock-bottom there are two options: one is to stay there, the other is to move up. The slightest up-tick would qualify in Washington-speak as “trending upward.” President Hillary will likely keep national credibility down there in the pits.

    On behalf of those of us who can’t bear to listen to President Obama, I would like to thank Robert Parry and others who will endure President Obama’s talk tonight to report on what he said.

  14. bfearn
    December 6, 2015 at 13:55

    It is simply not possible for the terrorist organization that has killed millions of innocents since WW2 to look better than ISIS.

    Although propaganda has convince some americans that they are actually the good guys the truth is still a powerful force that is getting more difficult to deny.

  15. Abe
    December 6, 2015 at 13:28

    Turkey and Israel both have been playing the role of “wild cards” NATO and the US in particular have attempted to feign an inability to control. This allows the US to carry out acts of aggression by proxy through the use of conventional military forces it itself could never justify carrying out.

    Turkey and Israel’s use by the US in this manner was revealed as early as 2012 in the Brookings Institution’s “Middle East Memo #21,” “Assessing Options for Regime Change,” which stated:

    “In addition, Israel’s intelligence services have a strong knowledge of Syria, as well as assets within the Syrian regime that could be used to subvert the regime’s power base and press for Asad’s removal. Israel could posture forces on or near the Golan Heights and, in so doing, might divert regime forces from suppressing the opposition. This posture may conjure fears in the Asad regime of a multi-front war, particularly if Turkey is willing to do the same on its border and if the Syrian opposition is being fed a steady diet of arms and training. Such a mobilization could perhaps persuade Syria’s military leadership to oust Asad in order to preserve itself. Advocates argue this additional pressure could tip the balance against Asad inside Syria, if other forces were aligned properly.”

    It appears an uninspired rewriting of this plan is being put into effect now, despite the presence of Russian forces in the region. Perhaps the US believes Russia too would seek to avoid a two-front war with Turkey and Israel as the primary combatants with the US itself playing a muted role for the sake of plausible deniability. Even if war was not the intended final outcome, perhaps the US believes this extra pressure could afford them much needed leverage in a conflict already clearly escaping out of their control.

    Russian Retaliation Will Be Defeating NATO in Syria
    By Tony Cartalucci

    • Joe B
      December 6, 2015 at 18:57

      There’s an interesting possibility, Russia at war with Israel, which would likely ease pressures with Turkey. A resounding defeat of Israel would win Russia allies throughout the region. Probably Israel would much fear that, and accept defeat of its insurgents there.

  16. dahoit
    December 6, 2015 at 13:27

    Mr.Parry,we have repeated instances in your report of Saudi,Gulf State and Turkish influence on the region,but not one mention of the tie that binds them all,Zion,and Israel.
    Who is lying to US?Who owns the MSM?
    This whole shebang started in 48,with the illegal insertion of the Israeli state by the West,a most idiotic and destructive act,which is the catalyst for all subsequent events.And yes,we,America,are to blame also,but its not the people,but the whores of Zion,who make the policy,we just endure it.

  17. onno
    December 6, 2015 at 13:19

    Sorry, but I didn’t know Obama had any credibility to start with. During his first presidential campaign he lied to the American people and he obviously didn’t have ANY executive experience for the presidential job. His CV was of an ordinary college professor nothing more and nothing less. He was always a smooth talker but not a thinker or decision-maker It’s a shame that the American voters were fooled so much that he ended in the White house thanks to MSM propaganda paid for by the American banks and conglomerates and now the American taxpayers have paid the bill.

  18. Skip Edwards
    December 6, 2015 at 12:59

    Yes, I agree on the point that Obama can no longer be believed. I believe that to the point that I usually turn off the media source that brings him into my house just like I did with GW Bush.

    As for the ending paragraphs of Parry’s always good articles, Obama could take those suggested steps. And by doing so he could lose the opportunity to attain great wealth from those post office speaking fees which should be treated as bribes, he could display the bravery he asks (demands) from America’s troops and divulge all that Parry suggests and end up like JFK, MLK or the many CIA assainated heads of state in other countries. Yes, he could do all of that and lay his life on the line for all of his fellow countrymen and his country. But don’t count on it. Obama has demonstrated that he is no Congressional Medal of Honor candidate.

    • Skip Edwards
      December 6, 2015 at 13:02

      Please read that as assassinated heads of state. My apologies for the misspelling.

    • WG
      December 6, 2015 at 17:48

      Yea Ray McGovern wrote about Obama’s failure to follow through on his promises in May 2013 stating…

      Last year, pressed by progressive donors at a dinner party to act more like the progressive they thought he was, Obama responded sharply, “Don’t you remember what happened to Dr. King?”

      Ray McGovern story-quoted above

      Mr. McGovern’s opinion on why Obama acts the way he does has likely changed since this was written but the poor performance of the Secret Service probably wouldn’t fill Obama with any confidence regarding his safety.

      Look at these security breaches-

      None of this is to excuse his performance but it’s certainly something he might be considering

      • Abbybwood
        December 6, 2015 at 19:21

        Obama was singing the praises of a “Single Payer Health Care Universal Program” until he got elected.

        He ran so far away from that that he even personally killed “The Public Option” which AHIP (America’s Health Insurance Plans) was vehemently against.:


  19. WG
    December 6, 2015 at 12:55

    In an ideal world reality should dictate what the messaging is, however in the US today there is a general belief that messaging can dictate what reality is.

    When Obama won the 2008 election I actually thought he was going to be a transformational leader. I naively thought he had the potential (and desire) to make big changes to the way Washington works. Seven years later, we’ve all learned that Obama is the presidential equivalent to a substitute teacher. He’s incapable of changing the curriculum and things continue to run on auto pilot indistinguishable from when George Bush was in office.

    When looking at the potential presidential field for 2016 the only person I can imagine giving a speech like the one Robert Parry mentions is Donald Trump. His recent performance at the Republican Jewish Coalition perfectly illustrates his ability to say things no candidate has uttered in 50 years. It’s not that I think he’d be a good president, there’s numerous things he says that are demonstrably false or simply ridiculous, but nobody else would dare say even one of those things let alone all of them other than Trump.

    At this point I don’t even believe it’s possible for a president to say those things let alone radically change any policies at a fundamental level. Whoever takes over as the next substitute will continue the course as planned, without any deviation other than the style in which the material is presented.

    • Bob Van Noy
      December 6, 2015 at 14:23

      I agree with your analysis WG, I too bought President Obama’s “line” even though I’ve been A skeptic for many years. I now think that the President is the latest in a long line of posers going back to LBJ and including every administration but the Carter administration, and I think, President Carter and Stansfield Turner were good people, in over their heads in a corrupted system. I also agree with your substitute teacher metaphor, it seems appropriate to me. The only contemporary president we’ve experienced with “real power” was George HW Bush who was unelectable because of his personality much like JEB.
      Hillary is a neocon, and all for more war, and could be easily defeated by a Rovian political attack, thus giving the USA its first real fascist administration.

      • Bob Van Noy
        December 6, 2015 at 14:40

        BTW, the NY Times is propagandizing again this morning with a piece in Sunday Review by Jessica Stern “How Terror Hardens Us” which feels to me like another Judith Miller moment.
        Apparently Jessica is another expert from The Hoover Institute.

        • WG
          December 6, 2015 at 16:46

          Interesting article-lots of mentions of the enemy within, hidden, etc. Also found the social psychology stuff to be particularly relevant.

          ‘terror management theory’ – …many experiments have shown that reminding people of their own mortality (versus a neutral or aversive control topic) leads people to defend their cultural worldviews more vigorously. For instance, people who are briefly reminded of death are more dismissive of someone who criticizes their culture.

          I’ll be looking out for examples of this in Obama’s address tonight.

      • Abbybwood
        December 6, 2015 at 15:12

        Hillary Clinton’s recent statement about what an “outrage!” it was that Luis Manuel Díaz had been murdered in Venezuela is an example of the range of propaganda at play in the United States:


        Now that it has become apparent to those who bother to do the research that Diaz had been involved in a gang style murder in 2010 and that a rival gang member has been arrested for his murder (he rarely went out in public for obvious reasons), does anyone think the U.S. mainstream media will properly cover his murder prior to the election in Venezuela?

        Not. A. Chance.

        • Bob Van Noy
          December 6, 2015 at 20:36

          “The Devil’s Chessboard” at work even w/o Alan Dulles. I’m now reading “The Essential Mye Brussell” and becoming a Brussell sprout, I think. A brilliant woman who saw all of this coming!

  20. paul wichmann
    December 6, 2015 at 12:45

    Maybe the best of Robert Parry.
    One of the least and latest consequences of the lie is the loss of credibility. When an individual or an institution hits this milestone it’s as good as over, whether or not he or it holds its power and place. Overthrow is of course the end, but continuance in a state of illegitimacy (fraud and delusion) is a lazier and uglier, though no less certain end.

  21. Abe
    December 6, 2015 at 12:35

    ISIL/ISIS/Daesh = IS (abbreviation for so-called “Islamic State”) supplies IL (abbreviation for State of Israel) with OIL

    The “Caliphate” is an oil extraction operation designed to supply Israel with energy.

    U.S. and NATO bombing is designed to protect this operation, not destroy it.

    If any NATO states threaten to disrupt with this operation or waver in their commitment to “regime change” in Syria, “Islamic State” attacks conveniently occur in their capitals.

    IS-controlled oil fields in northern Iraq and eastern Syria have been in production between seven and nine hours a day, from sunset to sunrise.

    IS sells Iraqi and Syrian oil for a very low price to Kurdish and Turkish smuggling networks and mafias, who label it and sell it on as barrels from the Kurdistan Regional Government.

    The oil is then most frequently transported from Turkey to Israel.

    Raqqa’s Rockefellers: How Islamic State oil flows to Israel

    It is easy to understand why the “ex-CIA analysts” (Graham E. Fuller, Paul Pillar) so fervently insist that the destruction of ISIS requires the dismemberment of Syria and Iraq, and the creation of Sunni and Kurdish states.

    This is precisely what Israel wants in order to secure its energy supplies.

    The full spectrum of al-Qaeda forces, including al-Nusra and ISIS/ISIL/Daesh, protected by U.S./NATO air attacks, are the boots on the ground to enforce this “regime change” agenda and secure Israeli hegemony in a shattered “New Middle East”.

  22. December 6, 2015 at 11:57

    “Here’s what Ellsberg thought the New York Times was good for:
    … to see what the rubes and the yokels are thinking about and what they think is going on and what they think the policy is….
    Later, in 1998, he said this in an interview:
    The public is lied to every day by the president, by his spokespeople, by his officers. If you can’t handle the thought that the president lies to the public for all kinds of reasons, you couldn’t stay in the government at that level….”


    I would have to say I am on the border between the second and third group. I want to believe our government just most things they say don’t make any sense to me. I know our government is for the most part filled with well meaning hard working people but unfortunately it seems once the messaging is decided on it becomes the ‘reality’.

  23. Tom Welsh
    December 6, 2015 at 11:22

    “To say that such a division is not healthy for a democratic Republic is to state the obvious. Indeed, a democratic Republic cannot long survive if government officials insist on managing the people’s perceptions through propaganda and disinformation. Nor can it long survive if a significant part of the population believes the craziest of conspiracy theories”.

    Come off it, Mr Parry! Surely you, of all people, cannot pretend that you believe the USA is still a representative democracy? Two words: Gilens and Benjamin.


    • Erik
      December 6, 2015 at 18:47

      He is merely playing innocent so as to communicate with the naive.

  24. Tom Welsh
    December 6, 2015 at 11:19

    “…even when the U.S. government competes with the creepy head-choppers of ISIS, the U.S. government comes in second”.

    Maybe that’s because so many citizens realize that ISIS is merely an agency of the US government, so there is not really any difference between them. (Although admittedly ISIS is much less cynical and bloodthirsty than Washington).

    • Anthony Shaker
      December 7, 2015 at 01:09

      This has to be one of the most passionate pieces by Mr. Pillar in a good spell. We are living in troubled times and he has homed in on a particularly nasty source of trouble. It’s very frustrating watching mediocre leaders from one end of the world to the other lying their way from calamity to calamity. There seems to be no relief from either the mediocity or the calamities.

      Our leaders lie continuously. What kind of strategy is that?

      I would say this is the strategy of the desperate. And lest we forget, our leaders lie on our behalf, not someone else’s. I feel sick to my stomach thinking about the dirt done in my name. Still, it’s the lying that this article gets me fuming about. What is so unclear about the age-old sin of lying that we should prefer to dig ourselves deeper and deeper into that hole we know exists around us and that we’re tyring to size up?

      Lying has always been an unsavory part of governing, ruling or subjugating–whichever the case may be. So, let us not be too naive. The real trouble is when the lying devours that minimal trust we all rely on for the most basic relations and transactions. What happens when a lunatic “ally” like Erdogan lies incessantly and bald-facedly? Or, when John Kerry keeps singing the same tune about Syria and Iran and Russia in a world where one week barely resembles the previous week?

      Sometimes I think that lying can be as bad as murder. It can destroy the whole house. Then what? The murder of fellow human beings begins to seem benignly necessary and natural.

      The future may appear dark and unpredictable when lying destroys trust between friends and with electorates. But it is downright dangerous when enemies, above all, lose that minimum trust they need to recalculate the prospects of some future resolution, much less reconciliation.

      Enough lying!

    • MarkB A
      December 7, 2015 at 23:44

      Bingo Tom. ISIS is the US State Dept, Deep State and others. ISIS is new and improved Al Qeada. The State Dept and MIC plus spy agencies repackaging bogeymen to keep MIC’s coffers flush.

      They want endless war because it is good for the weapons business and for stealing away the last freedoms away from American citizens. Endless war allows them to loot the final wealth from the USA carcass. War is always theft with mass murder thrown in.

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