From: Gary Hunt at the Outpost of Freedom

A Prima Facie Story,
Or, Manipulated By The Government, And Its Press

Gary Hunt,
Outpost of Freedom

October 25, 2000


While I was in Waco, during the siege on a Church, I was able to witness, first hand, many of the tactics of government in its manipulation of the press. Now, don’t get me wrong, the press wasn’t really duped. They had a job to do, and they did it – as effortlessly as possible. If all that needed to be reported was, so conveniently, provided by the government – along with coffee and donuts – at the press conferences. All they had to "put up with" was motels, restaurants, lounges and expense accounts.

The tactic that I want to talk about is what I call the "prima facie story" tactic. It is a rather encompassing tactic. It can be applied in little pieces, yet it will have a cumulative effect. It can be applied in medium sized pieces, which will serve to enhance the whole. Finally, the entire story can be "prima facie" and it can be 'proved' with the little and medium sized pieces.

The beauty of the tactic is that, once it is found out, the residual of the tactic will be in place for years to come. It will be used by ‘shills’ in Internet discussions, it can be used in newspapers, radio shows and television, and no fault can be found for believing something that had been "prima facie" back when the event under discussion first occurred.

It must also include elements of ‘befuddlement’, where variations of a specific are changed, from time to time, so as to cause those following the story to throw their hands of in befuddlement, and leave the decisions as to what is true to the ‘experts’.

To be most effective, the "prima facie story" has to have some doubt interjected. So, let’s look at a recent event that has all of the earmarks of a Prima Facie Story:

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

On October 12, 2000, we began to hear of an event, off the coast of Yemen, just across the Gulf of Aden from Somalia, scene of another military disaster just a few years ago, which would soon cause many to become extremely outraged. Of course, outrage would have probably been an appropriate reaction, even if the truth of the event were presented at the time -- but the government has become so engrossed in the manipulation of the populace that they plied their trade on this one, too. It will be used even more to demonize certain people. The effect of the prima facie story will simply add substantial acceptance to the hate mongering that will, in a short period of time, evolve from the ‘story’.

The first details of the blast came through the Department of Defense. The blast, which tore a gapping 20-foot by 40-foot hole in the USS. Cole (DDG67), a 505 foot long, 8,300-ton Aegis guided-missile destroyer, occurred as the Cole was docking for refueling at the Port of Aden. The blast occurred at 12:15 a.m., local [Yemen] time, as a rubber speedboat, which was assisting in the mooring of the Cole, came alongside. The destroyer, part of the George Washington Carrier Battle Group, was on its way to the Persian Gulf after transiting the Red Sea. The ship was due to join the Maritime Intercept Operation in the gulf. (DOD press release, 10/12/00, 2:30 p.m. EDT)

Just half an hour later, in a press briefing, Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen told us "the blast occurred when a small boat that was participating in the mooring approached the USS Cole. I want to repeat that we do not yet know the cause of the explosion. If, however, we determine that terrorists attacked our ship and killed our sailors, then we will not rest until we have tracked down those who are responsible for this vicious and cowardly act."

During the course of the briefing, a reporter asked if "this [is] an example of asymmetric warfare that you've warned about as in our future?"

Cohen replied "Well, the answer's yes. This is precisely the kinds of threats that we face where countries are unwilling to take us on head to head, but will resort to acts of terrorism in order to achieve their goal."

Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Vern Clark, then took the briefing over. He gave the time of the blast as 5:15 a.m., East Coast Time (EDT) [12:15 a.m. Yemen Time], "as she was mooring." Clark went on to explain that when a ship visits a port, it must "submit a [force protection plan] for every port visit that they are involved in. Such was the case here. The planning was done, it was approved by the immediate superior in command, and they executed the plan as it was specified." We were told that they were on "Threat Condition Bravo".

Clark explained how the fueling operation proceeded:

"… This small boat, by report, was involved in the mooring evolution. This was not a conventional pier, if you will. Rather, it was a fueling -- it's called a fueling dolphin, but it is, in effect, a fueling facility out in the middle of the harbor."

"The mooring evolution, instead of being alongside of a pier, there are several mooring buoys that the ship attaches lines to."

"Small boats come to the ship and the lines drop down to them and the boat takes the line to the mooring buoy. This is what happened in this circumstance. And the report I have is that this small boat was involved in that activity, and when returning from one buoy came alongside."

When Clark was asked why a decision was made to refuel at Aden, a known headquarters for Hamas, and other terrorist groups, he explained the decision.

"I can just say this: We have been working to improve our relations with Yemen for some time. And I'm sure that that was at the heart of the motivation of the unified commander as they are improving our relations in that part of the world.

And, in a subsequent series of questions, more specifics are provided:

Question: "And the fueling hadn't started yet, right?"

Clark: "No. They were still tying up when this happened."

Question: "So the fuel couldn’t be exploding because it didn't leak from the line?"

Clark: "That's correct. No, that's right."

The next day, Cohen, in a press release, was quoted as saying, "that while the United States could not definitively prove terrorism, "If … [ellipses in original press release, for emphasis] we determine that terrorists attacked our ship and killed our sailors, then we will not rest until we have tracked down those who are responsible for this vicious and cowardly act."

Later, in an October 13 press briefing, Rear Admiral Joseph G. Henry, Director, Military Personnel Plans & Policy Division, who was providing information from the Commanding Officer of the USS Cole, provides us the following:

Q: Did the CO say anything about what he thinks happened? Did he explain his view of what –

Henry: I think -- I think it's been explained that there was a ship that originally handled one of the Cole's lines and that that tending ship then came alongside and while it was alongside, the explosion took place.

Q: Did he add anything to the understanding of what happened?

Henry: No, he didn't. That's a very normal occurrence, when you pull into port, for a tending ship to come up and take the lines and take it over to the dolphin, so --

Q: Admiral, yesterday the Pentagon asked the news stations not to put -- use Yemeni television footage showing wounded sailors.

Henry: Sure.

Q: Was the effort done in time, or did you get feedback from families saying, "Jesus, I saw my son on CNN," or one of the stations --

Henry: We have not gotten personal feedback, although we know there were a number of pictures on the TV where you could identify a sailor from. We certainly prefer to get to the family first so they don't see it on TV before we've seen it. That's why we have preferred not to have those pictures shown.

Q: But you haven't got any outraged families at this point?

Henry: No, not that I know of.

During this same briefing, Mr. Kenneth H. Bacon, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, gave us some more insight into the government’s position on the matter:

Q: Going back just for a moment to the eyewitness yesterday, the Army major with the State Department, with the embassy over there, can you clarify what he says he saw? As we understand it, two men stood up in the boat shortly before the explosion. Did they stand at attention, did they put their hands in the air, do we know if two men did stand up and if so what they did? And were they the only two men aboard the boat?

Bacon: I don't have anything to add to the reports on that yesterday. Obviously, one of the things the FBI is going to do is talk to everybody in a position to have seen what happened and try to put together the best possible report. There's a -- I'm not casting any aspersions on the major, but there are a lot of data points that have to be checked, and the information has to be correlated before we can make a -- give a full picture.

By the October 17 briefing, Rear Admiral Craig R. Quigley, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, began to back away from the now planted seed:

Q: Among the initial reports was one that this small craft assisted the USS Cole in attaching the mooring line to a buoy. Is there any reason now to think that -- is there any less confidence in that account at this point, after all the people on the ship have been interviewed?

Quigley: Another great question to ask the FBI. I'm sorry, I can't provide that.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

So, now we have the foundation which was set by the government, and which became the basis for the proliferation of news stories about the event. This is the Prima Facie Story. We can probably summate the initial entire series in this way:

Just after Midnight, October 12, 2000, the USS Cole, an electronic destroyer, arrived in the Port of Aden to take on fuel. As she was mooring, a rubber speedboat came alongside. The speedboat appeared to be one of the many vessels necessary to moor a larger ship, like the Cole, so that she could be fueled.

As the speedboat approached the Cole, the two men aboard saluted as they rammed the Cole with explosives. The explosion ripped a 20-foot by 40-foot hole just above the waterline, and killed a number of sailors. The carnage is not fit for American television (since the DOD decided that it should not be aired).

The Cole was in the process of mooring, and was still under way, so the security that would normally protect the ship had not been in place. This may be an act of terrorism.

The reason given for the Cole fueling in Aden is that we are trying to improve our relations in that part of the world. This does not increase the risk to the sailors, as a force protection plan would have been implemented as soon as the ship was moored.

This scenario leads us to feel that every precaution that could be taken had been taken. Under the circumstances, it appears that a couple of men conducted a terrorist attack at the only moment that the ships guard was at a reduced level. A very dastardly deed, indeed!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Now, having spent a little time in Vietnam, it is safe to say that if a position did not properly protect and defend itself, then what happened, if the enemy attacked against the unprepared defense, was their own fault. When you know that you are in hostile territory, you are – must be, prepared, at all times. The press briefings made clear that the ship knew that it was in potentially "hostile waters."

Regardless, the image that is presented is one of absolute innocence on the part of the Cole, and her sailors. Conversely, absolute guilt is implied for the modestly suggested "possible terrorists" (as if there were any other possibility).

There are, also, occasional references to potentially inaccurate sources. This plausible deniability is a mainstay in this sort of story. It is clear that, in this age of advanced communications and cell phones in every pocket that the accurate description of the events would be easily obtained.

Now, Cohen did suggest that, "This is precisely the kinds of threats that we face where countries are unwilling to take us on head to head, but will resort to acts of terrorism in order to achieve their goal." Now, I suppose that he is suggesting that a country of just a couple million people and a budget comparable to a large American city, if she should have disagreement with the US government, or has been subject to destruction of her cities and population, by smart bombs and not so sanitary remote electronic destruction – maybe even attempts at assassinating her leader, or using covert means to achieve removal of same, and should she have cause to, she should be open and up front about it. His suggestion appears to be that she should challenge the US government to a duel, each using the weapons available to them – and see who wins.

Now, it is ludicrous to suppose that any more than, perhaps, two countries in the world would be in any position to ‘take on’ the US government with any hopes, at all, of prevailing. So, the obvious conclusion is that, with the exception of those two, anybody who has a grudge against the US government has no choice but to submit to its overwhelming power – and its demands, regardless of their nature – or, be deemed a terrorist.

As subtle as this all seems, in time even those dupes of the US government, the press, especially the foreign variety, through persistence in the pursuit of a story, begin to uncover the truth.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

By October 23, The London Times was able to piece together a more plausible picture of the events. Their reporter in Washington, Ian Brodie, along with a few other sources, provide us the following information:

The bombing occurred two hours AFTER the ship was moored to the fueling dock, which was actually October 11, 11:18 p.m., Yemen Time. This was sufficient time for the force protection plan to be fully implemented. The force protection plan and Threat Condition Bravo required that observer teams, including an observer and a rifleman equipped with an automatic rifle be on constant patrol. A number of these teams would be posted around the perimeter of the deck.

It also means that the small boat did not approach the Cole under cover of a flotilla of working boats, but was probably the only moving vessel in the area – a conspicuous target, to say the least.

The boat was, apparently fiberglass, which would be much more capable of carrying a concealed load of explosives than a rubber boat. It is estimated to have had about 500 pounds of plastic explosive on board.

As it circled the bow, and then came alongside, the two men on the boat waved to the crew. The crew, apparently, waved back, as boaters (not fighting men) usually do. Then, the two aimed the boat amidships, stood at attention and saluted, probably to Allah, without any effort to stop them, and then delivered their ordinance -- in a very effective manner.

It also appears that the Cole had sufficient fuel to reach Bahrain, its destination, aboard. It appears that 250,000 gallons of the total capacity of 480,000 gallons, was still in the tanks. This would indicate that the vessel and its crew were put at risk "to improve our relations in that part of the world." Not a very nice message to deliver to the family of those injured, or killed in this political expediency. But, this may be the key – this may be what necessitates the "prima facie story", so that the blame can be placed on others. Unfortunately, the American press failed to pick up on this line. Or, was it left out of the evening news for a reason?

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Suffice it to say that the ‘prima facie story’ has established a conclusion in the minds of most. There will not be an enquiry into what effect decisions made by bureaucrats had, instead, ALL blame will be directed at those who, using initiative, were able to inflict so much damage on such a sophisticated weapon of war as the USS Cole. The prima facie story has detracted from what should be the real focus of the story – and allowed the US government to continue on in the same manner that it has – propagandizing the American people and lulling them away from any criticism of the government.

Subtle though it is, the effect of the prima facie story tactic provides an edge that can change the balance of the conclusion come to by the majority of the American people. Though we know, after time, what the truths of the events really are, the seed has planted itself, germinated and grown. The reaction that we should have as a result of the events has been moderated away. The US government, once again, has duped us.

And, their means are, at least, contemptible. Deceit, fraud and guile are the tools of politician, not statesmen; the tools of dictators, not true leaders.

I hope that we all remain unconvinced that it is proper to pay officials in government to use these means to achieve THEIR end. If you had an employee that, intentionally, lied to you so that you did not know the true circumstances of what he did, as your employee, would you not be fully justified in firing him – on the spot?

As time goes on, more and more of the truth will, slowly, be exposed. It will be presented in much less limelight that the original, sensational Prima Facie Story. It will be there for the critical student of government, but for the average voting American, the Prima Facie Story will always be the ONLY TRUTH.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

prima facie – at first sight; on the first appearance; on the face of it; so far as can be judged from the first disclosure; presumably; a fact presumed to be true unless disproved by some evidence to the contrary.

deceit – A fraudulent and deceptive misrepresentation, artifice, or device, used by one or more persons to deceive and trick another, who is ignorant of the true facts, to the prejudice and damage of the party imposed upon. To constitute 'deceit', the statement must be untrue, made with knowledge of its falsity or with reckless and conscious ignorance thereof, especially if the parties are not on equal terms, …

Fraud – An intentional perversion of truth for the purpose of inducing another in reliance upon it to part with some valuable thing belonging to him or to surrender a legal right.

guile – deceitful, cunning

Return to Outpost of Freedom - Today