Pentagon exposed: Using retired officers as propaganda meatpuppets

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?

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 .

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.

More on the same story.

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.

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.

:dubious: You’re saying it’s all on the reporters? Not the Pentagon? Not the retired officers? I’m not buying it.

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

That’s cuz their long years of service to the nation makes them very honorable men. :wink:

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.

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.

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.

If you think this is new, and are surprised by it, you’re an idiot.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.


Pit the networks who don’t research their ‘experts’ .

Them too. But the grifter is always more to blame than the mark.