All governments manipulate the media to garner favorable news coverage and spin the flow of information to put their actions in a positive light. But in a story in Sunday's NY Times (April 20, 2008) entitled "Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand," David Barstow describes a concerted effort by the Bush Administration who used ostensibly objective military analysts to spread propaganda and dupe the American public in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration’s wartime performance in Iraq. It turns out that those "independent military experts" consisted of “more than 150 military contractors either as lobbyists, senior executives, board members or consultants.”
Once again, John Stewart describes this event with wit so that we'll laugh rather than scream. So I'll let him have the last word. And he mentions a GAO report called "Combating Terrorism: The United States Lacks Comprehensive Plan to Destroy the Terrorist Threat and Close the Safe Haven in Pakistan's Federally Administered Tribal Areas" that you can now get your hands on via the Internet Archive.
Five years into the Iraq war, most details of the architecture and execution of the Pentagon’s campaign have never been disclosed. But The Times successfully sued the Defense Department to gain access to 8,000 pages of e-mail messages, transcripts and records describing years of private briefings, trips to Iraq and Guantánamo and an extensive Pentagon talking points operation.
These records reveal a symbiotic relationship where the usual dividing lines between government and journalism have been obliterated.
Internal Pentagon documents repeatedly refer to the military analysts as “message force multipliers” or “surrogates” who could be counted on to deliver administration “themes and messages” to millions of Americans “in the form of their own opinions.”...
...Over time, the Pentagon recruited more than 75 retired officers, although some participated only briefly or sporadically. The largest contingent was affiliated with Fox News, followed by NBC and CNN, the other networks with 24-hour cable outlets. But analysts from CBS and ABC were included, too. Some recruits, though not on any network payroll, were influential in other ways — either because they were sought out by radio hosts, or because they often published op-ed articles or were quoted in magazines, Web sites and newspapers. At least nine of them have written op-ed articles for The Times.
Thanks to Sabrina Pacifici over at beSpacific, FGI learned about a great new FTC video series at YouTube. The most recent videos are warnings against phishing, where bad actors try to trick you into revealing personal information:
While YouTube is great from a publicity standpoint, it would be good from a preservation and reuse/remix standpoint if they'd also put these great videos into the Internet Archive. But we at FGI salute this effort to bring gov't education on phishing into web 2.0 forums.
Several student patrons are working on research papers about the Cold War era and some are focusing on the nuclear arms race and the fear of nuclear attack. It's been fascinating finding and reading materials we have in our print collection, including information published by the Federal Civil Defense Administration (FCDA) in the 1950s and the Office of Civil and Defense Mobilization (OCDM) during the Kennedy administration. (For a concise history of civil defense preparedness, read "Civil Defense and Homeland Security: A Short History of National Preparedness Efforts" published by the Homeland Security National Preparedness Task Force).
The students are just as fascinated (and sometimes amused) as I am with these documents that represent an era we never knew and a fear we can't relate to. Or maybe we can relate...our generation lives in fear of terrorism "code red" rather than the red scare of communism or atom bomb attack, but it's still a fear.
Anyways, the students and I found some more civil defense documents listed in the print Monthly Catalogs (we owned some FCDA and OCDM docs, but not as many as I would've liked), but we also found some on the internet. So I thought I'd share some of these online government sources I've discovered in my hunt for all things Cold War/Civil Defense related:
* Clips of historical "test" films at the DOE agency website.
* "Mr. Civil Defense Tells About Natural Disasters!" A government document comic book!
* The "Survival Under Atomic Attack" booklet can be found in federal depositories, but here is an online transcription.
* NARA records of the OCDM.
* "Atomic Culture" article by the U.S. Centennial of Flight Commission.
* Not a government source, but a virtual Civil Defense Museum website created by a Civil Defense enthusiast.
* "Civil Defense Log Dies at 67, and Some Mourn It's Passing" article at NYTimes.com.
And my favorite...Civil Defense videos!
* Internet Archive's collection of Civil Defense Films and other media/film resources on civil defense.
* Some of YouTube's collection of Civil Defense Films.
Did they really think ducking n' covering under a school desk would protect them from a nuclear attack?
CapNews.net describes itself this way:
CapNews.Net is an Internet News Service covering Congress, the White House, the Supreme Court and executive agencies.... In 2008 CapNews.Net will launch its full operations and begin offering news video syndication services to media organizations and others, and also continue posting videos directly to the public via YouTube.com and other video platforms.
You can find their YouTube videos here and others on Google Video here. I haven't discovered any comprehensive list or index or indication of what their coverage is or will be, but this looks like a service that could develop into a key resource for fast access to Congressional hearings. See for example The Cyber Initiative hearings, Committee on Homeland Security, Thursday, February 28, 2008. A version is also available on the committee's website, here.
Sarah Gewirtz has posted another fun video about government documents, this time incorporating recipes. Please watch it and consider embedding it at your own web site:
For more videos by Sarah and others, please visit our videos page. This page also links to resources that YOU could be using to come up with great promotion ideas!
The pentagon has posted a link to a long version of the Straight of Hormuz incident on page with the transcript of the Cosgriff press conference of January 7, 2008.
- Video - Long version (Three U.S. Navy Ships Approached by Iranian Boats)
[Hosted by a commercial service, feedroom.com, not a .mil or .gov site]
Thanks, and a Tip of the Hat to Steven Aftergood!!
Public Domain superhero Carl Malamud has done it again! Public.resource.org has announced a joint venture with the National Technical Information Service (NTIS) (mmmm NTIS documents!!) to digitize their videotapes and deposit them in the Internet Archive. Carl's announcement doesn't say what kind of videotapes NTIS is offering up, but I'm assuming they're coming from NTIS' National Audiovisual Center (NAC) which "contains over 9,000 audiovisual and media productions ... in occupational safety and health, fire services, law enforcement, and foreign languages. Information and educational materials include areas such as history, health, agriculture, and natural resources." I hope Carl can confirm that. And I also hope he'll send us titles/links every month so we can get them into library catalogs and into library users' hands.
And I'd like to challenge libraries to catalog anything of interest to your local users that you find in the Archive -- audio, video, text. If Carl can digitize 20 videotapes a month, imagine how many digital items the 60,000 libraries in 112 countries in the OCLC cooperative can catalog. In no time, libraries could catalog the roughly 600,000 items in the Internet Archive (206,890 audio, 104,076 video, 290,269 text). If each OCLC library catalogs 1 item/day, the job will be done in 100 days. So get to it, and thanks again Carl Malamud for being such an inspiration!
"Public.Resource.Org is pleased to announce a joint venture with the U.S. government's National Technical Information Service, a program I've dubbed 'FedFlix.' Each month NTIS will send us 10-20 videotapes, which we'll digitize, then send the tapes back. We'll upload all this public domain data to places like the Internet Archive, and also give the NTIS a digital copy of their data."
I think this video makes a good companion piece to the last GAO video I blogged about. I found this video on YouTube and it appears to have been made by a group of GAO analysts trying to form a union on their workplace. It introduces a number of people who appear to be actual GAO employees. It is about seven minutes long and is interesting for giving voice to the people behind the reports that often get so much press coverage. The video is also notable for its positive, non-hostile tone.
I'm not positive that the unofficial union blog at http://gaounion.net is connected to the producers of the video, but it goes give good background about why GAO analysts are seeking to unionize and provides the latest news on that effort. Part of that news is that on September 19, 2007, GAO analysts voted 2 to 1 to form a union. FGI wishes them well in their efforts and hopes that a unionized work force will contribute to government accountability.
I found this video on the Government Accountability Office website. It tells what GAO does through short news clips that appear in my total layman's opinion to be well within traditional fair use guidelines. As a video produced by the Government Accountability Office, an arm of the US Government, the video itself should be public domain.
Because of this analysis and because I think the GAO story is too good to stay locked up in a corner of its web site, I posted the video to YouTube, which is the embedded video here. For preservation purposes and just in case that YouTube doesn't agree with my analysis of the copyright status of the video, I also posted it to the Internet Archive, which is a fierce supporter of the public domain and fair use.
As you should know by now, Free Government Information maintains a listing of video spots promoting government documents and government information. Most of these videos are available at YouTube and the Capitol Hill Broadcasting Network.
But we recognize that a number of organizations ban "commercial/consumer video" sites like YouTube. So I have posted the videos on the list that I personally created over at the Internet Archive, which most filters seem to treat as an educational site and often left unblocked:
- Air Force at Your Library (3 min) - US Air Force documents and other resources set to the official Air Force Song.
- Army at Your Library (1 min) - Selection of Army resources set to Army Song.
- Best Titles Ever! The Video - 13 titles from FGI's Best Titles Ever page set to electronic music.
- Documents on Parade: Criminal Edition - Web sites and Dept of Justice documents set to music familiar to boomers.
- FDLP - The Final Frontier (Approx 2 min) - Space. The final frontier. Available at your Federal Depository Library since the dawn of the space age. Music by Victor Stellar courtesy of Podsafe Audio.
- Marines Get Around! (approximately 1 min, posted 12/24/2006) - Roundup of documents showing how active Marines have been in our nation's history.
- Navy at Your Library (39 seconds) - Sampling of Navy documents and web sites set to music.
- Shield of Freedom (2 min, posted 12/30/2006) - USCG documents set to the tune Coast Guard's Chief Petty Officers March.
Placing these videos in the Internet Archive has another virtue. They can be downloaded, burned onto CD/DVD, remixed, whatever. These videos are under a noncommerical Creative Commons license, so free to use them in your own promotional materials. And if you create your own videos, we at FGI encourage you to upload them to the Internet Archive now that the IA has simplified the upload process. If you need a walkthrough or have other questions, just drop me a line at dnlcornwall AT alaska DOT net or leave a message here in comments.