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Saturday, March 26, 2011


Ergenekon's psychological warfare

Turks, it is said, have not made any significant contributions to technological developments. As technological progress is particularly visible on the battlefield, Turks, as a warrior nation, are said to have not much of a share in warfare technologies and tactics. This is not the case.

First, Turks invented the stirrup, important in that it changed the course of history by allowing nomadic communities to establish great empires. Furthermore, Turks adapted how wolves hunt their prey as a frequently used war tactic. The stirrup allowed riders to control horses using their legs, freeing their hands to shoot arrows. In this way, light cavalry was turned into a highly destructive force. The wolf trap tactic allowed Turkish armies to surround the enemy with a retreat in the center. Later, Turks managed to tackle the issue of financing a big central army by introducing a complex soil management system and eventually created the gigantic power of the Ottoman Empire.

What made Turks successful in battle is their ability to quickly adapt any military innovation developed anywhere around the world. Thus, the Ottoman Empire was quick to implement any development in modern weapon technology. Although Turks' traditions and government systems were very different from those of the modern West, one could not discern any visible difference when the armies of the two worlds collided.

Psychological warfare

The skills of Turks in using psychological warfare techniques -- invented by the US -- during the Cold War period were compatible with their long history of adapting war-related innovations. Thus, even though psychological warfare techniques suffered a loss in popularity after the end of the Cold War, the Turkish army continued to attach special emphasis to the technique.

Psychological warfare was originally invented for the purpose of conducting a propaganda campaign between the two blocs of the Cold War, which relied on ideologies, propaganda techniques and tools more than weapons. In a nutshell, propaganda activities where lies, libel, slander, conspiracies and other dirty methods are stealthily used to manipulate, change or control societies' behavior, thoughts and sentiments are collectively called psychological warfare.

Suppose you wish to convince people that the Soviets are evil and the US is good. If it is not sufficiently clear that the Soviets are evil, then you perform evil acts on behalf of the Soviets to make people believe that they are bad. Indeed, a paramilitary network has been established in order to carry out this war. Called the Counter-Guerrilla, this network waged psychological warfare against the Soviets and its ideology using psychological warfare and guerrilla tactics. Gladio is one of the most famous networks wielding psychological warfare methods, and Ergenekon, i.e., its Turkish version, has risen to popularity only recently.

Something different happened in Turkey. The frequent military coups afforded much functionality to this network. Thus, the military that established a system of tutelage over the civilian population and politics opted to conduct psychological warfare against the public instead of against the Soviets. So ours was a military that waged a war against its own people. For what purpose? To steer the country and manipulate politics. The debates on secularism and threats against the regime -- which were very common in the past and very rare nowadays -- served as the arsenal of this warfare.

There was a Psychological Warfare Department at the General Staff that had the mission of designing and manipulating civilian politics in the country. The "Relations with the Society Unit" served the same purpose in the National Security Council (MGK). These units were abolished when the MGK was turned into a more civilian organization. The General Staff's Psychological Warfare Department was renamed the Information Support Unit, which later prepared the infamous Appendix (Lahika) as well as the Action Plan to Fight Reactionaryism, which became popular as a result of the signature it carried rather than its content.

Ergenekon's war tactics

A document titled "National Media 2010" the police seized during a search of Odatv is one of these familiar psychological warfare texts. It is important as it was seized as part of a probe into a terrorist organization and constitutes the media component of the plans. Talking about this document is like catching the thief in the act or apprehending the assassin as he is about to pull the trigger. It makes the implementers of psychological warfare tactics angry because all the magic of their profession is lost. They are like false artists posing with their hammers and chisels in front of the statues mass produced at a factory. They naively ask, "Can't we raise objections to the Ergenekon case just because this is how it was written in the document?"

What was written in the document is about the intricacies of the psychological warfare: "In order to foil, discredit and neutralize evidence the other side has obtained during the judicial process, arguments developed by the defense authorities should be used. In this context, weak links and claims should be brought to the agenda and these should be identified with the overall lawsuit. In case of strong evidence and theses, the axis of the subject should be changed and gray and black propaganda elements should be used effectively."

Don't these sentences sound familiar to those closely monitoring the Ergenekon process? Since the beginning, efforts to discredit the Ergenekon case have been conducted in line with these techniques. Here is one recent example: The prosecutor asks Nedim Şener 50 questions. Let us now look at which newspapers and columnists single out only three of these 50 questions and ask, "Do these questions imply any offense?" Isn't this how the weak link is identified with the overall lawsuit? Under Article 153 of the Code on Criminal Procedure (CMK), the prosecutor may choose not to disclose some evidence. Despite this, who can say that attacking the prosecutor by looking at only three of 50 questions is an act of journalism? Is this an original comment?

During the Yiğit Bulut-anchored "Sansürsüz" (Uncensored) program on Habertürk TV, Mine Kırıkkanat criticized the legal system, saying the Ergenekon case was unlawful because it was processed by specially authorized courts. I asked her, "Do you know how specially authorized courts differ from normal courts?" Confused, she replied, "No, I don't know." A position on something you know nothing about can only be defended by memorization. And there should be a source of this memorization.

The fact that the Cold War's psychological warfare tactics are also employed in the documents seized at Odatv indicates that the dirty struggle for power is being maintained using the same methods. But does it work? This question should be answered by opinion leaders who wage war against the Ergenekon prosecutors and judges using these tactics, knowingly or not. And those who are under the influence of these tactics should realize how they are being used and for what purpose.

e.babahan --at-

A fish smells from the get go

Turkey is a surreal country for observers from the outside. The nature of relations between the National Intelligence Organization (MİT), journalists and political parties are seldom seen, even in the movies.

The Republican People's Party (CHP) has a TV channel. It is trying to sell this channel to someone arrested as part of the Ergenekon case. The person who wants to purchase the channel is infamous for writing books about people's ethnic origins and publishing stories filled with allegations about journalists and politicians. The current CHP leader, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, meets with this person, bargains with him and promises to give him money from the party's account. In other words, he wants to give money to sell a channel operated by the party. The person, who is sure he is going to buy the channel, even goes and bargains with other journalists.

Things get complicated when the former CHP leader Deniz Baykal intervenes. Kılıçdaroğlu steps in and asks for an appointment from Baykal, but he fails to convince Baykal on the sale of the channel. Upon this, a second tape plan is put into action. The second tape is related to the first tape, which featured Baykal allegedly during an intimate affair with a party deputy.

A woman who works at the news portal that wants to purchase the channel is sent to Baykal to set a plot against him. This woman even asks Kılıçdaroğlu to help her in organizing the plot. This shows the scope of the relationship between Kılıçdaroğlu and Soner Yalçın, who Kılıçdaroğlu stood by when he was being arrested as part of the Ergenekon investigation.

But Yalçın is a journalist that has many sides to him. Searches conducted at Yalçın's home and the home of MİT official Kaşif Kozinoğlu show that journalism and false intelligence gathering have become intermixed. There is concrete evidence and documents showing there was organized activity in progress.

We always suspected there were some journalists who acted as agents and intelligence gatherers. But now there are documents that prove this is real. It is a development that will help those who say they don't understand what's happening in Turkey, including the US ambassador in Ankara and those who say freedom of the press is under threat, to better understand the bigger picture.

Publically exposing the private information about the son of an influential person in the CHP is an indicator of how effectively Odatv was used in shaping the CHP party congress. There was an effort to use the same intimidation and assimilation tactics used in the CHP against the democratic segment of society. People were labeled as cronies and boot-lickers, and married men and women were subject to the vilest allegations. This was not done out of personal anger but rather with the purpose of punishing people within a particular system of discipline.

The fact that this news portal, which has questionable connections, was deemed worthy of an award by the Turkish Journalists Association (TGC) provides a clear picture of the situation of the media in Turkey.

This country has seized a historic opportunity in its fight against Gladio-like organizations.

Ever since this case started, the assassinations of intellectuals have stopped, serving as the most obvious indication that the prosecutors are on the right track. The process we are witnessing today consists of efforts by the remaining parts of the organization to distort and obscure the case.

It is for this reason we need to continue to watch developments objectively.

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