Skip to main content

WikiLeaks paper reveals Congressional think tank specific techniques for 'persuading' audiences

This document was obtained by WikiLeaks from the United States Congressional Research Service. The CRS is a Congressional "think tank" with a staff of around 700. Reports are commissioned by members of Congress on topics relevant to current political events. Despite CRS costs to the tax payer of over $100M a year, its electronic archives are, as a matter of policy, not made available to the public. Individual members of Congress will release specific CRS reports if they believe it to assist them politically, but CRS archives as a whole are firewalled from public access. This report was obtained by WikiLeaks staff from CRS computers accessible only from Congressional offices.


A report from April 12, 2007, was "Prepared primarily for congressional staff members called upon to help prepare speeches for Members,” and “provides basic guidance on obtaining speech material, using it to prepare a speech draft, and presentation.”, as we read in the abstract. However, it seems that it is more than that. In the report we can find specific techniques aiming even to “change an audience's impressions, opinions, or most ambitiously, their convictions.”

Other parts simulate propaganda brainwash, like the one below:

           Complex sentences can be clarified by repeating key words and using simple connections. By numerous rhetorical techniques, the speaker states, restates, and states again in different ways, the central themes of the speech.

Under the headline "rhetorical questions" there is an example that could be used by the speaker to justify wars:

           “Is peace a rash system?” “Is life so dear or peace so sweet as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery?” The speaker leads the audience to the conclusion he hopes they will draw by asking a question that makes his point, and that he intends to answer himself, either immediately, with a flourish, or at greater length during his remarks, through patient exposition.

Under the headline "Imagery" we read that:

           Mere clarity is not enough for persuasive rhetoric, however. Indeed, there are times when clarity, brevity, and the like are not appropriate. The issues, because of their import and complexity, may preclude such treatment; similarly, the gravity or delicate political nature of the occasion may call for some measure of deliberate ambiguity.

Under the headline "Occasion and Purpose":

           Veterans’ Day and Memorial Day are among the most solemn public holidays in the calendar. For these two events, the speechwriter should focus on themes of commemoration, service, and sacrifice. The atmosphere should appropriately be both somber, and hopeful: “their sacrifice led to a better, more secure life for those who followed them.”

Under the headline “Persuasion” we find perhaps the most interesting part of the report because it describes techniques through which speakers could even change (and even reverse) the perception of entire audiences on specific issues:

           The persuasive speech is a two-edged sword: it can seek to instill in the listeners either the acceptance of, or at least a more favorable opinion toward, a particular condition, fact, or concept. This variant is described as advocacy. Conversely, a speech may also attempt to change an audience’s impressions, opinions, or most ambitiously, their convictions. Wiethoff calls this dissent, and asserts that it is more difficult than advocacy, since the speaker faces the burden of proving to the listeners that what they have heretofore accepted should be modified or rejected. In both cases, the writer must marshal the arguments that will convince the audience.

[...]

in order to convince an audience, a speaker often needs to combine persuasion with information. Similarly, while some types of remarks are intended purely for entertainment, such as a celebrity roast, the careful speechwriter will always seek to entertain audiences in order to capture and retain their attention.

But it's getting ‘better'. Under “Techniques of Persuasion” the examples being used are really impressive:

           There are many techniques available for the actual writing of a speech. Almost all speeches delivered by, or on behalf of, Members of Congress, even those for ceremonial or pro forma occasions, will have a certain political character because of the Member’s representative function, and also because of the way in which his or her office is perceived. In the rhetorical context, political means persuasive, including the expression of personal interest and concern, assuring and reassuring, conveying the Member’s identity with each audience, and so creating a community of interest and trust. Three kinds of persuasive techniques are usually distinguished:

the appeal to reasonableness: “Surely Democrats and Republicans alike can agree that there is no excuse today for hunger in the world’s richest nation....”

the appeal to emotion: “Can we, as a nation, close our eyes to the spectacle of millions of children going to bed hungry every night...?”

the ethical appeal (that is, to the character of the audience): “our historic traditions of decency and generosity demand that we face squarely the question of hunger in America....”

All three approaches may be used in any given speech.

This is quite astonishing. The examples being used (especially the latest ones) in this 'manual' provide a perfect proof that politicians speak in standardized terms, even when the refer to the most serious matters. It shows the complete emptiness and hypocrisy of the political establishment that has been bought by the big interests. Most politicians not only ignore the big problems of the society, but act against it while they pretend that they care.

We knew that. Now we have more evidence.

Full report:


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk among the biggest billionaire profiteers of the COVID-19 pandemic

globinfo freexchange

A new report by the Institute for Policy Studies, shows that between January 1, 2020 and April 10, 2020, 34 of the US’s wealthiest 170 billionaires have seen their wealth increase by tens of millions of dollars.

Eight of these billionaires —Jeff Bezos (Amazon), MacKenzie Bezos (Amazon), Eric Yuan (Zoom), Steve Ballmer (Microsoft), John Albert Sobrato (Silicon Valley real estate), Elon Musk (Tesla and SpaceX), Joshua Harris (Apollo Global Management), and Rocco Commisso (Mediacom) — have seen their net worth surge by over $1 billion.

The Jeff Bezos Wealth Surge is an unprecedented dynamic in the history of modern markets. Tracking Bezos’ wealth requires a real-time hour-by-hour tracker. As of the publication of the report [April 23, 2020], Bezos’ wealth has increased over $25 billion since January 1, 2020 and $12 billion since February 21st, 2020, the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. 
The stock market crash initially left Bezos’ net worth deeply damaged, down to…

It has started: Greece becomes the blueprint for the 21st century corporate feudalism

globinfo freexchange
Greece has just become the blueprint for the 21st century corporate feudalism through a preposterous environmental bill passed on Tuesday.
Just when the neoliberal government lifted most of the restriction measures that were imposed to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, it rushed to pass the bill through unconstitutional actions. These have been strongly condemned by the main opposition party, SYRIZA.
As reported by the Associated Press:
Greek lawmakers approved a controversial environmental bill Tuesday that the opposition and environmental groups slammed for opening the door to exploratory oil and gas drilling in protected areas.

[...]

On the eve of the vote, Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund said they had collected 30,000 signatures in an online petition against the legislation, which they say will remove vital safeguards for environmental protection.

Beyond the drilling, this legislation is deeply problematic in many areas, as has already been estab…

New court files expose Sheldon Adelson’s security team in US spy operation against Julian Assange

An exclusive investigation by The Grayzone reveals new details on the critical role Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands played in an apparent CIA spying operation targeting Julian Assange, and exposes the Sands security staff who helped coordinate the malicious campaign.
by Max Blumenthal
I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole.

–Mike Pompeo, College Station, TX, April 15, 2019
Part 2 - Pompeo outlines the attack on Assange
Pompeo’s first public speech as CIA Director, hosted at the Washington DC-based Center for Strategic and International Studies think tank on April 13, 2017, was one of the most paranoid and resentful addresses ever delivered by an agency chief.
The former Republican congressman from Kansas opened his speech with an extended tirade against the “Philip Agees in the world,” referring to the CIA whistleblower who handed over thousands of classified documents to leftist publishers that revealed shocking details of illegal US regime change and assassination …

The neoliberal machine mocks Millennials and Gen Xers through a documentary about Bernie's awful mistreatment by the corporate media!

globinfo freexchange
Now that the "Bernie Sanders" threat for the establishment has been neutralized (for a second time), the neoliberal machine is free to pretend that it cares about the truth.
Kyle Kulinski speaks about a new documentary by VICE about the media bias against Bernie Sanders. Although the doc trailer is pretty impressive, Kulinski starts with a pretty remarkable argument he saw on Twitter:
                         Credit to VICE. Thank you for this documentary. Curious how it released after Bernie dropped out. 

Kulinski finds that the mainstream media still have enough power to neutralize an undesirable candidate, as they did with Bernie, despite the fact that most of the people don't trust them. He also explains the demographics of this year's race for the leadership of the Democratic party.

As he supports, Millennials and Gen Xers overwhelmingly supported Bernie Sanders against the Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation (in which Bernie actually be…

Το κίνημα Slow News: η απάντηση στα Fake News?

globinfo freexchange
Στον θαυμαστό καινούργιο κόσμο, ο αβάσταχτος όγκος πληροφοριών που καταναλώνουμε καθημερινά έχει γεννήσει ένα δυστοπικό παράδοξο: την ίδια στιγμή, αμφισβητούμε και πιστεύουμε τα πάντα. Το μυαλό μας έχει βυθιστεί σε μια δίνη από tweets, αναρτήσεις, βίντεο, hoaxes και fake news.
Τα τελευταία χρόνια, σε διάφορα μέρη του πλανήτη, νησίδες αντίστασης έρχονται στην επιφάνεια. Ολιγομελείς ομάδες ανεξάρτητων δημοσιογράφων αγωνίζονται να οικοδομήσουν ένα εναλλακτικό μοντέλο πληροφόρησης, το οποίο βασίζεται σε μια εξαιρετικά απλή αρχή: πρέπει να κόψουμε ταχύτητα. Ένα μαχητικό ντοκιμαντέρ που έχει βαλθεί να αποδείξει ότι η δημοσιογραφία παραμένει ο βασικός πυλώνας της δημοκρατίας.
https://www.filmfestival.gr/el/section-tdf/movie/1047/13001


Το ενδιαφέρον αυτό ντοκιμαντέρ του Alberto Puliafito, ερευνά ένα νέο είδος δημοσιογραφίας που γεννήθηκε από την ανάγκη για δημοσιογραφική αυθεντικότητα μέσα στο σημερινό, χαοτικό μιντιακό τοπίο.
Σε ένα σύστημα που χαρακτηρίζεται από μια αδι…

Τίποτα δεν σταματάει το νεοφιλελεύθερο "οδοστρωτήρα" τους ...

globinfo freexchange
Αφού τελείωσαν τα χειροκροτήματα για τους γιατρούς του Εθνικού Συστήματος Υγείας, ο Μητσοτάκης επέστρεψε στην "κανονικότητα" της αποστολής του, που, με λίγα λόγια, είναι η ιδιωτικοποίηση και το ξεπούλημα των πάντων. Έτσι, μετά το διάλειμμα λόγω πανδημίας, φανέρωσε και πάλι το πόσο αδημονεί να οδηγήσει το Εθνικό Σύστημα Υγείας στο δρόμο της ιδιωτικοποίησης.
Όπως αναφέρει το tvxs.gr:
                         Δεν πρόλαβαν να περάσουν λίγες μέρες από την άρση του Lockdown και την απομάκρυνση, σε πρώτη φάση, του σοβαρού υγειονομικού κινδύνου της πανδημίας, και ο Κυριάκος Μητσοτάκης επανέφερε τα σχέδια για ιδιωτικοποίηση του ΕΣΥ, εγκαταλείποντας τα «χειροκροτήματα» και τις αναφορές στους «ήρωες» υγειονομικούς και στη σημασία του δημόσιου συστήματος υγείας. Παρά το «σκληρό μάθημα» που έδωσε η πανδημία στους νεοφιλεύθερους λάτρεις της «αγοράς», φαίνεται πως η κυβέρνηση δεν εγκατέλειψε ποτέ τους αρχικούς σχεδιασμούς της, παρά τον τρόπο που το δημόσιο σύστημα υγεία…

New court files expose Sheldon Adelson’s security team in US spy operation against Julian Assange

An exclusive investigation by The Grayzone reveals new details on the critical role Sheldon Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands played in an apparent CIA spying operation targeting Julian Assange, and exposes the Sands security staff who helped coordinate the malicious campaign.
by Max Blumenthal
I was the CIA director. We lied, we cheated, we stole.

–Mike Pompeo, College Station, TX, April 15, 2019
Part 3 - Journey to “the dark side”
On February 26, 2017, Wikileaks announced the forthcoming release of a major tranche of CIA files revealing details of the agency’s hacking and electronic surveillance tools. One such spying application called “Marble” allowed agency spies to implant code that obfuscated their identity on computers they had hacked. Other files contained evidence of programs that allowed hackers to break into encrypted messaging applications like Signal and Telegram, and to turn Samsung smart TVs into listening devices. 
Two days after Wikileaks’ initial announcement, on February …

How the USA erased the USSR victory over Nazi Germany

Moderate Rebels
The Soviet Union played the leading role in defeating Nazi Germany in World War II, but the US government has tried to erase its unimaginable sacrifice. Historian Peter Kuznick discusses the real history of WWII, and how 80% of Nazis were killed on the Eastern Front with the USSR.

Δεν τους βγαίνει με τίποτα η "στρατηγική ήττα" ...

globinfo freexchange
Τα πράγματα φαίνεται να εξελίσσονται σχεδόν όπως τα είχαμε προβλέψει.
Όπως είχαμε επισημάνει ήδη από τα μέσα Απριλίου, στο επόμενο διάστημα αναμένεται να δούμε νέες, αλλεπάλληλες "φουσκωμένες" δημοσκοπήσεις από την φιλοκυβερνητική μηχανή προπαγάνδας, ώστε να προετοιμαστεί ψυχολογικά το κοινό για το επικείμενο αποτέλεσμα των εθνικών εκλογών.
Στις δημοσκοπήσεις αυτές θα βλέπουμε ενδεχομένως την ψαλίδα μεταξύ ΝΔ και ΣΥΡΙΖΑ συνεχώς να μεγαλώνει, με μια ταυτόχρονη πτώση του ποσοστού του κόμματος της αξιωματικής αντιπολίτευσης, σε βαθμό που να δικαιολογεί την στρατηγική του ήττα.  
Ωστόσο, το 20,3% του ΣΥΡΙΖΑ, δεν συνιστά στρατηγική ήττα στο βαθμό που επιθυμεί το καθεστώς και η ντόπια ολιγαρχία, εν όψει μάλιστα και απλής αναλογικής. Οπότε θα πρέπει να αναμένουμε στο αμέσως επόμενο διάστημα ένα νέο βομβαρδισμό από δημοσκοπήσεις στις οποίες το ποσοστό του κόμματος της αξιωματικής αντιπολίτευσης θα "ροκανίζεται" σταδιακά, έτσι ώστε να δημιουργηθεί το κ…

COVID-19 took Chicago black lives first & exposed structural racism

Democracy Now!
The coronavirus pandemic's disproportionate toll on African Americans through the story of Chicago's first 100 recorded deaths. 
A report by ProPublica found that 70 of the first 100 people to die were African American. Black people account for 30% of Chicago's population and 72% of COVID-19 deaths.
ProPublica reporter Adriana Gallardo, who contributed to the report "COVID-19 Took Black Lives First. It Didn't Have To.", says the story paints a picture of "sophisticated structural racism" in Chicago.