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In response to issues raised in an April 20, 2008, New York Times article, Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand, the Pentagon has issued a new report.
- Review of Matters Related to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs) Retired Military Analyst Outreach Activities (PDF 1.69MB) (Redacted), U.S. Dept. of Defense. Inspector General. Office of Deputy Inspector General for Intelligence and Special Assessments. Report no. DODIG-2012-025.
We found that the OASD (PA) conducted the RMA outreach activities in compliance with policy and regulation; and, with the exception of two classified briefings to those with a security clearance, did not provide access for RMA participants to travel, classified information, and senior officials that was special or different relative to other outreach groups or the mainstream media. The exceptions we found did not, in our opinion, affect our conclusion or lead us to make recommendations to change or modify the DoD directives and regulations.
- Pentagon Finds No Fault in Ties to TV Analysts, By DAVID BARSTOW, The New York Times (December 24, 2011).
A Pentagon public relations program that sought to transform high-profile military analysts into “surrogates” and “message force multipliers” for the Bush administration complied with Defense Department regulations and directives, the Pentagon’s inspector general has concluded after a two-year investigation.
The Iraq Papers, Edited by John Ehrenberg, J. Patrice McSherry, Jose Ramon Sanchez and Caroleen Marji Sayej. Oxford University Press, 2009.
No foreign policy decision in recent history has had greater repercussions than President George W. Bush’s decision to invade and occupy Iraq. It launched a new doctrine of preemptive war, mired the American military in an intractable armed conflict, disrupted world petroleum supplies, cost the United States hundreds of billions of dollars, and damaged or ended the lives of hundreds of thousands of Americans and Iraqis. Its impact on international politics and America’s standing in the world remains incalculable.
The Iraq Papers offers a compelling documentary narrative and interpretation of this momentous conflict. With keen editing and incisive commentary, the book weaves together original documents that range from presidential addresses to redacted memos, carrying us from the ideology behind the invasion to negotiations for withdrawal. These papers trace the rise of the neoconservatives and reveal the role of strategic thinking about oil supplies. In moving to the planning for the war itself, the authors not only provide Congressional resolutions and speeches by President Bush, but internal security papers, Pentagon planning documents, the report of the Future of Iraq Project, and eloquent opposition statements by Senator Robert Byrd, other world governments, the Non-Aligned Movement, and the World Council of Churches. This collection addresses every aspect of the conflict, from the military’s evolving counterinsurgency strategy to declarations by Iraqi resisters and political figures-from Coalition Provisional Authority orders to Donald Rumsfeld’s dismissal of the insurgents as “dead-enders” and Iraqi discussions of state- and nationbuilding under the shadow of occupation. The economics of petroleum, the legal and ethical questions surrounding terrorism and torture, international agreements, the theory of the “unitary presidency,” and the Bush administration’s use of presidential signing statements all receive in-depth coverage.
The Iraq War has reshaped the domestic and international landscape. The Iraq Papers offers the authoritative one-volume source for understanding the conflict and its many repercussions.
Thanks and a tip of the FGI hat to Steven Aftergood who says that “Somewhat heavy-handedly, [the editors] offer their own interpretation of events involving the decisive influence of neo-conservatives, the unitary executive, and a U.S. drive to global hegemony, among other factors. Alternative explanations are not considered here.”
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.