Member of the reality-based community of progressive (not anonymous) Massachusetts blogs
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.
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