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Old 04-22-2008, 09:25 AM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
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Pentagon exposed: Using retired officers as propaganda meatpuppets

And it's been going on at least since 2003, the NYT reports.

Quote:
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.

Those business relationships are hardly ever disclosed to the viewers, and sometimes not even to the networks themselves. But collectively, the men on the plane and several dozen other military analysts represent more than 150 military contractors either as lobbyists, senior executives, board members or consultants. The companies include defense heavyweights, but also scores of smaller companies, all part of a vast assemblage of contractors scrambling for hundreds of billions in military business generated by the administration’s war on terror. It is a furious competition, one in which inside information and easy access to senior officials are highly prized.

Records and interviews show how the Bush administration has used its control over access and information in an effort to transform the analysts into a kind of media Trojan horse — an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks.

Analysts 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.

“It was them saying, ‘We need to stick our hands up your back and move your mouth for you,’ ” Robert S. Bevelacqua, a retired Green Beret and former Fox News analyst, said.
I Pit the Pentagon, and I Pit the ex-officers for letting themselves be so used. What ever happened to an officer's sense of honor?
  #2  
Old 04-22-2008, 10:58 AM
gonzomax gonzomax is offline
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They do not have the guts to stand up to the big power people. Rumsfeld was not going to allow criticism. The generals ran a propaganda campaign with the tacit understanding that standing up to them was going to be labeled unpatriotic. They lie. Politicians lie. Our job is to take everything they say and question it.
Do not thrust anyone to be fair if their lively hood is on line. These guys are just people. They can be bought or cave into pressure .
  #3  
Old 04-22-2008, 11:13 AM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gonzomax
They do not have the guts to stand up to the big power people. Rumsfeld was not going to allow criticism.
No, no, it's worse than that. We're not talking about serving officers who might have to choose between following the Admin line or getting cashiered. We're talking about former officers whoring themselves for money.
  #4  
Old 04-22-2008, 12:53 PM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
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More on the same story.

Quote:
AMY GOODMAN: Colonel Gardiner, can you talk about psychological operations, PSYOP, something you are a specialist in, and whether you see this fitting in?

COL. SAM GARDINER: Well, Amy, it was part of a campaign, and you and I have talked about this before. The campaign that the Pentagon designed had three elements. One element was to dominate the news 24/7. I was at a conference in London in the summer of 2003 at which the Pentagon communication consultant, John Rendon, spoke and gave an assessment of how they had done in the run-up to the war. And he said, “Well, there were three things we tried to do, and we did well on two, but not the third.” The first was to make the news be theirs 24/7, and they did that by the morning briefings from Baghdad—or from Kuwait and then the afternoon press conference from the Pentagon. “We wanted to control the printed media, and that was primarily done by the embedded program.” He said, “The one thing we failed at was we didn’t have people who provided the context. We lost control of the military analysts, and they were giving context.”

So it was about sixty days after that presentation that the Pentagon began this meeting with the military analysts. And I might point out that it was only those who generally agreed. People who had been saying critical things were never invited to this. I was never invited, and I had been saying critical things about the number of troops and, you know, about the argument for the war and even WMD, but didn’t get invited. People that were generally supportive of the Pentagon were the ones that were invited.

But it was certainly part of—and this is where I think I fault the Pentagon. We’re very close to violating the law. They are prohibited from doing propaganda against American people. And when you put together the campaign that Torie Clarke did with these three elements, you’re very close to a violation of the law.
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Old 04-22-2008, 01:07 PM
Spavined Gelding Spavined Gelding is offline
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As a practical matter the system retires officers, even general and flag officers, well before their working life has ended. These men have spent 20 or 25 or 30 years in harness at good but not spectacular wages. All their life they have been connected in one way or another with the so called military-industrial-complex. Many of them are not ready to go to the old soldiers’ home when their time in uniform is over. A fair number of them are bound to take formal or informal employ with military contractors, often with a view to making the sort of money they could never have dreamed of as serving officers.

The scandal is not that these people were presented as experts and that many of them chose to put the best possible light on the situation. The scandal is that the people who were putting them on the public stage and holding them out as persuasive and credible by reason of their experience did not bother to ask about any connection or dependency on businesses that stood to make money from the present fiasco or, more ominously, concealed that connection. The first thing to ask about any expert witness is whether they profit by their testimony. If that question was asked it wasn’t asked very loud.

Of course, anyone who is familiar with the revolving door between government service and government serving industry, should have recognized the potential problem and should have asked. Argument by authority lacks something when the authority has an ax to grind or a brief to carry.
  #6  
Old 04-22-2008, 01:09 PM
gonzomax gonzomax is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrainGlutton
No, no, it's worse than that. We're not talking about serving officers who might have to choose between following the Admin line or getting cashiered. We're talking about former officers whoring themselves for money.
I don't think there is anything worse than lying to push America into a war.
The military learned their lesson in Nam. They saw that reporters that were not controlled often said unflattering things about the war and reported the horrors. They could not allow that to happen again. So they controlled the reporters,the TV news and the print media. It is a horror story . We were spoon fed exactly what the military wanted. I think it was all planned out carefully. It makes me worry for the future of this country.
  #7  
Old 04-23-2008, 09:24 AM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spavined Gelding
The scandal is not that these people were presented as experts and that many of them chose to put the best possible light on the situation. The scandal is that the people who were putting them on the public stage and holding them out as persuasive and credible by reason of their experience did not bother to ask about any connection or dependency on businesses that stood to make money from the present fiasco or, more ominously, concealed that connection. The first thing to ask about any expert witness is whether they profit by their testimony. If that question was asked it wasn’t asked very loud.
You're saying it's all on the reporters? Not the Pentagon? Not the retired officers? I'm not buying it.
  #8  
Old 04-23-2008, 09:51 AM
FoieGrasIsEvil FoieGrasIsEvil is offline
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This is not surprising to me and I'm sure has been done before.

Just because you as an analyst allow one side to present it's information doesn't mean you have to repeat it. If you're a good, objective analyst, you'd weigh what the Pentagon was showing you with the appropriate grains of salt against your own military experiences and what "the other side" is saying and present a balanced view.

The major networks generally softball those military analyst guys anyway, so there's not much that's substantive that you couldn't read about on your own on the internet or in the newspapers
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Old 04-23-2008, 10:12 AM
Squink Squink is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FoieGrasIsEvil
The major networks generally softball those military analyst guys anyway...
That's cuz their long years of service to the nation makes them very honorable men.
  #10  
Old 04-23-2008, 11:16 AM
mlees mlees is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Squink
That's cuz their long years of service to the nation makes them very honorable men.
It's also possible that the journalists realise that the guy may know more about the subject than they do.

If I want to know about the lifestyle of a rock star, we talk to Bret Michaels. He may make crap up, and I wouldn't know he was unless I fact checked it.

This activity is not new, not by a long shot. This has been going on since before the country was founded. They lend a bit of gravitas to a board of directors, and such. They even run for political office.
  #11  
Old 04-23-2008, 11:28 AM
Rhythmdvl Rhythmdvl is offline
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It’s issues like this that makes me wonder what the next president will do with the inherited outrage fatigue. In times past (which are fogged by the view of nostalgia), I daresay these types of shenanigans would spark more of a reaction, whether it’s calls for hearings or investigations of those responsible or at the very least get some sort of –gate suffix added.

So Clinton, McCain, or Obama (alphabetically listed to avoid partisanship in this post) are going to inherit a country almost numbed to this sort of maneuvering by the Executive Branch. Given that if it took the Times two years or so to develop the story, I don’t think it’s unfair to suspect that there are other programs or operations existing on similar scales in other domains— so they’ll also inherit a host of machinery to continue it.

Not that all government propaganda is bad per se, but somewhere there is a line between commissioning an ad agency to sell war bonds and this... this... outright subversion.

So, what is the next president likely to do? Will they carry on similar tactics to support their agenda? Will they clean house and dismantle programs like this? If they don’t continue in the same vein, will they voluntarily bring to light other things that have occurred?

My take: The spectrum goes Clinton—McCain—Obama, moving from negative to positive. Clinton’s past and splintering pursuit of the nomination suggests to me that she’ll take full advantage of any in-place machinery she can. No cleaning up or bringing to light anything that could work to her advantage. The benefit of exposing past programs, while casting Bush in a bad light, won’t serve her as well as continuing them.

McCain I think is honorable and is (IMHO) unlikely to expand or implement similar programs, but won’t shatter what’s in place or expose other misdeeds—that would be too detrimental to his party, whose support he still needs.

Obama is the biggest mystery, but if you believe his rhetoric, or at least accept much of his stance, I think he is the least likely to take advantage of the lows we’ve sunk to. Ending or exposing past chicaneries will further the image he’s been presenting, and without deep ties he’ll have the freedom to do so. Again, this is premised on the credulousness one applies to his campaign.


There remains, though, the question of whether you'd want the next president to continue like this or not.
  #12  
Old 04-23-2008, 11:40 AM
FoieGrasIsEvil FoieGrasIsEvil is offline
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Also, keep in mind that control of intel (and this emphatically includes public info) is a military principle going back as far as Sun Tzu.

Plus, latent attitudes regarding how the media supposedly "lost" Vietnam probably add to the urgency of this as well. Though that old story is bullshit.
  #13  
Old 04-23-2008, 11:45 AM
mswas mswas is offline
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If you think this is new, and are surprised by it, you're an idiot.
  #14  
Old 04-23-2008, 11:47 AM
gonzomax gonzomax is offline
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This is organized and includes disinformation. They were on the payroll of military contractors. This is not the same old thing. It was offered as news without saying who paid them. It was dishonest. It is more control of the media. There was not countering opinions offered.Pure war propaganda.
  #15  
Old 04-23-2008, 11:48 AM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mswas
If you think this is new, and are surprised by it, you're an idiot.
I don't recall Clinton using anything like this to spin his interventions in Somalia or the Balkans. You'd have to go back to the Bush I Admin and Gulf War I to find this tactic being used at all, and even then it would bear no comparison to how the Bush II Admin has used it.
  #16  
Old 04-23-2008, 12:06 PM
Rhythmdvl Rhythmdvl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mswas
If you think this is new, and are surprised by it, you're an idiot.

I understand your point, but it raises a question – where do you (either you-mswas or you-society in general) draw the line between what is acceptable and unacceptable?

Perhaps it would help your point if you can give three hypotheticals. First, an absurd example of a similar operation (media/propaganda) that clearly crosses the line; second, a situation that falls somewhere closer to the line – a gray area that would have you raising your eyebrow; and third, a situation that is clearly innocuous.

Of course, it’s possible—and conceivably rational—that you (not to waggle a finger directly at you or mischaracterize you based on a couple posts) don’t think there is a line, that the Executive branch should be unfettered in their attempts to sway public opinion. If this is the case, can you rationalize the overall outcome on society, and what would happen should a powerful, charismatic president whose beliefs you strongly disagree with would do with such power?

Lastly, I could be reading your post wrong. Do you mean to distinguish between considering it a wrong action, and acting surprised by its revelation?

Last edited by Rhythmdvl; 04-23-2008 at 12:08 PM. Reason: homonym shmonym
  #17  
Old 04-23-2008, 12:24 PM
mswas mswas is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrainGlutton
I don't recall Clinton using anything like this to spin his interventions in Somalia or the Balkans. You'd have to go back to the Bush I Admin and Gulf War I to find this tactic being used at all, and even then it would bear no comparison to how the Bush II Admin has used it.
Yeah, well that's really just evidence as to how much influence Clinton had over the Pentagon, not anything else. The Pentagon has had a Public Relations department for half a century. The Pentagon manages perception just like any other government agency. It's not just a matter of the Bush admin.
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Old 04-23-2008, 12:25 PM
Triskadecamus Triskadecamus is offline
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People respect authority, and seek authoritative opinions. In and of itself that isn't wrong. But, you have to keep in mind what you are asking. If you want to know how to fight a battle, you ask a military man. If you want to know whether to fight a battle, you need an unbiased source.

Tris
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Old 04-23-2008, 12:29 PM
Zebra Zebra is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrainGlutton
And it's been going on at least since 2003, the NYT reports.



I Pit the Pentagon, and I Pit the ex-officers for letting themselves be so used. What ever happened to an officer's sense of honor?

Pit the networks who don't research their 'experts' .
  #20  
Old 04-23-2008, 12:32 PM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
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Originally Posted by Zebra
Pit the networks who don't research their 'experts' .
Them too. But the grifter is always more to blame than the mark.
  #21  
Old 04-23-2008, 12:36 PM
mswas mswas is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rhythmdvl
I understand your point, but it raises a question – where do you (either you-mswas or you-society in general) draw the line between what is acceptable and unacceptable?

Perhaps it would help your point if you can give three hypotheticals. First, an absurd example of a similar operation (media/propaganda) that clearly crosses the line; second, a situation that falls somewhere closer to the line – a gray area that would have you raising your eyebrow; and third, a situation that is clearly innocuous.

Of course, it’s possible—and conceivably rational—that you (not to waggle a finger directly at you or mischaracterize you based on a couple posts) don’t think there is a line, that the Executive branch should be unfettered in their attempts to sway public opinion. If this is the case, can you rationalize the overall outcome on society, and what would happen should a powerful, charismatic president whose beliefs you strongly disagree with would do with such power?

Lastly, I could be reading your post wrong. Do you mean to distinguish between considering it a wrong action, and acting surprised by its revelation?
It's only limited by the ability to counter the disinformation. We live in a society of spin. That's not going to change. Managing psychology and the neurolinguistic imprints of society are big businesses, and that's a more fundamental level than simply managing information. We have factions seeking to manage HOW you think, let alone WHAT you think. There is no such thing as a neutral point of view in this context. Politics is as much about creating reality as it is about reflecting it. They are sharing the opinion they want you to have, it's important to recognize this. It's a matter of better critical thinking. We call them on their shit when they are wrong, but getting incensed that they are pushing an agenda is pointless. Everyone is pushing an agenda.
  #22  
Old 04-23-2008, 12:37 PM
mswas mswas is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Triskadecamus
People respect authority, and seek authoritative opinions. In and of itself that isn't wrong. But, you have to keep in mind what you are asking. If you want to know how to fight a battle, you ask a military man. If you want to know whether to fight a battle, you need an unbiased source.

Tris
There is no such thing as an unbiased source.
  #23  
Old 04-23-2008, 01:30 PM
Zebra Zebra is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrainGlutton
Them too. But the grifter is always more to blame than the mark.


In this case 'the mark' is the American public, not the networks.

The Pentagon didn't sit down and say "Let's fool the networks into presenting our viewpoint in the best possible light" rather they decided to "fool the people into supporting us without question".

The networks are supposed to ask those questions.

Last edited by Zebra; 04-23-2008 at 01:32 PM.
  #24  
Old 05-01-2008, 08:59 PM
BrainGlutton BrainGlutton is offline
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Pentagon suspends briefings for analysts.

Lest you think nothing comes of media exposes any more.
  #25  
Old 05-01-2008, 09:26 PM
Boyo Jim Boyo Jim is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BrainGlutton
Pentagon suspends briefings for analysts.

Lest you think nothing comes of media exposes any more.
Exactly. The networks weren't the marks. WE were the marks, the networks produced the smoke and mirrors.
  #26  
Old 05-01-2008, 11:58 PM
Mr. Moto Mr. Moto is offline
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I'd like to see the Times turn this analysis (such as it is - much of it looks like dressed up innuendo to me) on the thousands of talking heads on TV and in print representing all sorts of industry and interest groups nobody knows much about.

Name a topic - farm policy, education, energy policy, whatever, and the talking heads come out. Everybody knows why they do - anchors and producers know next to nothing about the stories they cover, and talking heads at least know their stuff. But I don't know anyone who thinks these stories are sourced particularly well - it falls to eagle eyed people like us to spot biases and conflicts of interest and report them.

So the Pentagon talked to people who were actually going to be on TV? Big deal. A real scandal is that oftentimes these guys and a very few defense beat reporters are the only ones actually asking questions in the first place. I was just posting in another thread about awful Army barracks conditions - I found in no time a FY 1994 Army report saying they planned to have their barracks modernization done in 23 years. Now, did the press raise a big outcry in the mid-1990s over this fact? I never saw it.
  #27  
Old 05-02-2008, 12:33 AM
elucidator elucidator is offline
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So, if they didn't make a stink about that, then they can't say anything about this? Do you really think a scandal in the procurement sector rises to the level of propagandizing for war?
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