Monday, June 25, 2007

Reading: Psyops fool Blackwater families

I am in the middle of reading Jeremy Scahill's fascinating, well-researched book "Blackwater: the Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army."

Chapter 10 begins with an interesting annecdote about the families of the four Blackwater employees killed in Fallujah in March 2004. The news that four "civilian contractors" had died did not initially worry the victims' relatives, because they didn't think of their loved ones as falling under that rubric.

Before the invasion of Iraq, wen most people heard the term "civilian contractors," they didn't immediately conjure up images of men with guns and bulletproof vests riding around a hellhole in jeeps. They thought of construction workers. This was also true for the families of many private soldiers deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their loved ones were not "civilian contractors," in their minds but were often thought of and referred to in family discussions as "Special Forces" or being "with the military."

So on March 31, 2004, when news began to reach the United States that four "civilian contractors" had been ambushed in Fallujah, several of the men's families didn't draw any kind of connection. After all, their loved ones were not civilians – they were military. In Ohio, Danica Zovko, Jerry's mother, heard the news on the radio that "American contractors" had been killed. After she saw the images coming out of Fallujah, she actually wrote her son an e-mail, telling him to be careful: "They're killing people in Iraq just like Somalia."

Katy Helvenston-Wettengel, Scott's mother, was working at her home office in Leesburg, Florida, with the television on behind her. ... It didn't cross her mind at the time that the footage she was watching was her own son's gruesome death. "When they said contractors, I was thinking construction workers working on pipelines or something."

You know our psyops are succeeding when they manage to fool the families of the people they discuss.

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