Sunday, March 23
Mind Games: Are those Pentagon leaks the truth or "psy-ops"?
Fred Kaplan, Slate.com, March 21, 2003
Pentagon officials the past couple of days have been hinting (when speaking on background, they've stated directly) that Saddam Hussein may be dead or wounded, that his command-control apparatus is in shambles, and that U.S. officials are engaged in surrender talks with officers of his Special Republican Guard
The question of the moment: Are these claims part of an elaborate psychological-warfare campaign or are they for real?[...]
We still don't know the effects of Wednesday night's cruise-missile attack on a Baghdad compound where Saddam and his two sons were believed to be holed up. The CIA may not fully know the results, either. However, if they did know that Saddam survived the airstrikes, U.S. officials would be smart to pretend that they did not know—and even to encourage active speculation of his demise. Saddam rules by fear. If the Iraqi people—or, more to the point, Iraqi military officers—thought he was dead or merely weak, they might feel emboldened to rebel or sow discord. For that reason, if Saddam were still alive, he might feel compelled to emerge from hiding to prove the fact—at which point, U.S. air forces would try to hit him again. Saddam knows this, too, which means he's likely to stay hidden—further fueling the belief that he's dead, thus further weakening his authority.
This dynamic of disinformation may also be spurring claims that we're in surrender negotiations with officers of Saddam's ultra-loyal Special Republican Guard.[[...]