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April 21, 2008

Bush Propaganda: It Was Worse Than We Thought

by at 12:27 pm.

Everyone online is talking about this new NY Times report on the way the Bush administration used thinly veiled bribery to get retired military officers out on the airwaves to support Bush policies. It’s as big a news story as it sounds.

To the public, these men are members of a familiar fraternity, presented tens of thousands of times on television and radio as “military analysts” whose long service has equipped them to give authoritative and unfettered judgments about the most pressing issues of the post-Sept. 11 world.

Hidden behind that appearance of objectivity, though, is a Pentagon information apparatus that has used those analysts in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration’s wartime performance, an examination by The New York Times has found.

The effort, which began with the buildup to the Iraq war and continues to this day, has sought to exploit ideological and military allegiances, and also a powerful financial dynamic: Most of the analysts have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air.

In other words, those who took full advantage of the industrial military complex’s revolving door for outgoing military personnel. People who had every financial reason to support going to war and staying there, as their companies or clients were, and are, raking in millions.

This is the embodiment of what Eisenhower warned about.

[Retired military a]nalysts have been wooed in hundreds of private briefings with senior military leaders, including officials with significant influence over contracting and budget matters, records show. They have been taken on tours of Iraq and given access to classified intelligence. They have been briefed by officials from the White House, State Department and Justice Department, including Mr. Cheney, Alberto R. Gonzales and Stephen J. Hadley.

In turn, members of this group have echoed administration talking points, sometimes even when they suspected the information was false or inflated. Some analysts acknowledge they suppressed doubts because they feared jeopardizing their access.

A few expressed regret for participating in what they regarded as an effort to dupe the American public with propaganda dressed as independent military analysis.

The article is pages long, and is something every American should read. Why now? Because the information has finally come to light:

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.

The documents released by the Pentagon do not show any quid pro quo between commentary and contracts. But some analysts said they had used the special access as a marketing and networking opportunity or as a window into future business possibilities.

Disgusting. Those are your kids, sons, daughters, fathers, mothers, cousins…your tax dollars…and your country, your media, which have been used, abused, and cynically manipulated for years.

Many also shared with Mr. Bush’s national security team a belief that pessimistic war coverage broke the nation’s will to win in Vietnam, and there was a mutual resolve not to let that happen with this war.

The free press won’t suit us, because they might report things that make people unhappy, so we’ll just stop that little nagging inherent right of all Americans dead cold.

It goes on. Read it.

6 Responses to “Bush Propaganda: It Was Worse Than We Thought”

  1. tblade Says:

    Hmmm…an eleven-page NYT article or a simple four-word word phrase - “The surge is working” - which one will have a greater impact on this year’s election? I’m hoping for the one that happens to be honest, but I’m not holding my breath.

  2. Mr. Lynne Says:

    Crooks and Liars has a pretty good video summation:

    Glenn Greenwald points out that the warning signs were there, and were previously seen in 2003:

    At the same time, though, in light of questions on this very topic raised even by the NYT back in 2003, it is difficult to take the article’s underlying points seriously as though they are some kind of new revelation.

    He goes on to quote a 2003 NYT article about these retired generals as “military analysts” for the media:

    On the other hand, their evident sympathies with the current commanders, not to mention their respect for the military and immersion in its doctrines,sometimes seem to immunize them to the self-imposed skepticism of the news organizations that now employ them.

    Rarely, unless pressed, do the generals bluntly criticize the conduct of the war, a detailed review of their recent remarks discloses. Instead, they tend gravely to point out the timeless risks of combat.

    Worth a read.

  3. waittilnextyr Says:

    A few have the courage to speak out, but their voices are not heard through the MSM.

    Retired General Assails Planning for Iraq War
    Zinni Warns Against Staying the Course
    By Mike Allen
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Monday, May 24, 2004; Page A19

    Retired Marine Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, former U.S. commander in the Middle East, charges in a book to be published today that “everybody in the military knew” that the Bush administration’s plan for Iraq consisted of only half the troops that were needed, and says that country is now “a powder keg” that could break apart into warring regions.

    Zinni has been a critic of the Iraq war since before the invasion and served briefly as a special envoy for President Bush. He wrote that he was moved to speak out by “false rationales presented as a justification; a flawed strategy; lack of planning; the unnecessary alienation of our allies; the underestimation of the task; the unnecessary distraction from real threats; and the unbearable strain dumped on our overstretched military.”

    “In the lead-up to the Iraq war and its later conduct, I saw, at a minimum, true dereliction, negligence, and irresponsibility; at worst, lying, incompetence, and corruption,” he wrote. ” . . . If there is a center that can hold this mess together, I don’t know what it is. Civil war could break out at any time. Resources are needed; a strategy is needed; and a plan is needed.”

  4. Cliff Krieger Says:

    Gee, I thought the WashPost was part of the MSM. At least when I buy it on Sundays, along with the NYT, that is what I am thinking.

    I think that this is overblown and somewhat one sided. What about all the leaks that go to the NYT? De we have a multi-column report on folks who leak information to the MSM? Isn’t that inside briefings from the Pentagon or other Executive Branch officers (and what about the Congress)? Best I can tell, only the Supreme Court doesn’t leak like a sieve.

    Not everyone depicted in the story is a total Bush Administration insider. For example MG Bob Scales.

    Not every retired general or flag officer is in the Bush Camp. Not only General Anthony Zinni, noted above, but also another Marine, Lt-Gen Paul van Riper.

    And what about those 13 retired GOs and FOs who backed Senator Obama? They aren’t pushing the Bush agenda.

    The idea that the military is a monolith or that everyone is either a syncophant of Geo Bush or Dick Chaney, or decieved, is a generalization unworthy of thinking people and bound to limit one’s friends and supporters.

    In the interest of full disclosure, One of the people pictured on page 1 worked for me and I worked for one of them, back when both were colonels. And, I worked with one other of them.

    Regards — Cliff

  5. Mr. Lynne Says:

    One of my favorite (illustratively, not a preference of outcome) stories of these generals is Shinseki. He was asked a direct question from the US Senate and gave a direct answer. The oath for officers is to swear to uphold the Constitution. The commission itself has to be confirmed by the Senate. So when a an officer, sworn to uphold the Constitution above all, is brought before a Constitutionally elected Senate performing its Constitutional duties of oversight, and is asked a direct question, they are oath bound to give a direct and honest answer. He was drummed out for doing his oath bound patriotic duty.

  6. joe Says:

    Man, if you can’t believe military talking heads on cable news who keep saying thte same think as the White House in the runup to a war, who can you believe?

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