In September, the New York Times reported that the White House front group Freedom’s Watch, led by former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, was considering a “national advertising campaign” to make the case for war with Iran, claiming that “Iran poses a direct threat” to U.S. security. Previously, Freedom’s Watch doled out $15 million to flack for the Iraq escalation.
While 63 percent of Americans oppose to military action in Iran, Freedom’s Watch apparently believes it can coax the public into another war. Laura Rozen reports that Freedom’s Watch is involved in test-marketing “language” to sell war with Iran. Laura Sonnemark, an attendee of the sessions, describes her experience:
After joining a half dozen other women in a conference room, she found, to her surprise, that she had been called in to help some of the country’s most prominent hawks test-market language that could be used to sell a war against Iran to the American public. […]
“He was asking questions about [Iranian president Mahmoud] Ahmadinejad going to speak at Columbia University, how terrible it was that he was able to go to Columbia and was invited,” Sonnemark says. “And he used lots of catch phrases, like ‘victory’ and ‘failure is not an option.’” […]
“After two hours, [the leader] asked three final questions,” Sonnemark recalls: “How would you feel if Hillary [Clinton] bombed Iran? How would you feel if George Bush bombed Iran? And how would you feel if Israel bombed Iran?”
While the focus group was commissioned by another organization, Freedom’s Watch reportedly “shared information” produced by the session.
In the next step of their PR campaign, the Freedom’s Watch announced a redesigned website yesterday, complete with a new blog, “guest posts by prominent conservative figures,” and ways for visitors to be “heard directly by their members of Congress.” In an e-mail blast to supporters today, President Bradley Blakeman states, “our efforts have just begun.”
These attempts to sell war with Iran smack of the White House’s efforts to sell the Iraq war. In August 2002, Karl Rove chaired the White House Iraq Group, whose mission was to “develop a strategy for publicizing the White House’s assertion that Saddam Hussein posed a threat to the United States.” At the same time, Fleischer was propagating these false assertions to the public.
As a founding member of Freedom’s Watch, it is no surprise Fleischer is importing his White House propaganda tactics for war with Iran.
UPDATE: Phoenix Woman at FireDogLake has more.