The FCC Probes Pentagon Propaganda Program – Finally

“World War Three will be a guerrilla information war with no division between military and civilian participation.” ~ Marshall McLuhan, 1968

The FCC is finally beginning to take some action on perhaps the most egregious propaganda assault ever directed at the American people by their own government. From the International Herald Tribune/AP:

“The Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday said it is investigating whether five television networks and 19 former military officers violated government disclosure rules in providing on-air analysis of the war in Iraq and other issues.”

It’s about time! The FCC is only now getting around to reacting to reports, originally published in the New York Times last April, that the Pentagon was actively engaging in possibly unlawful activity wherein they supplied supposedly retired military spokespersons to the media who were in fact trained and deployed to promote views favoring the Bush administration’s conduct of the war in Iraq.

Even worse, these unethical officers were simultaneously employed by defense contractors and received financial gain as a result of their brazen propagandizing. It was further disclosed in the Times that many of these spokespersons provided commentary they knew was false in order to protect either their access to the media or their profits. Was that their idea of supporting the troops?

When revealed, the Pentagon acknowledged the potential conflicts and announced that they would temporarily suspend the program “pending further review.” Barack Obama released a public statement saying that he:

“…is deeply disturbed by this latest evidence that the Bush Administration has sought to manipulate the public’s trust. From its misleading case to go to war with a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, to its argument for keeping our troops in Iraq indefinitely, the Administration has depended on spin because its assertions have not been supported by facts.”

More than 150 retired officers participated in this program, and most of them worked for – you guessed it – Fox News. However, letters sent by the FCC have only been received by CBS and ABC so far. None of the networks have commented on the investigation.

Another prominent figure who has not commented is John McCain, despite the fact that this issue directly impacts the welfare of American soldiers in harm’s way. McCain, of course, has been as vigorous a defender of the administration’s specious war policy as the lying Pentagon mouthpieces that hyped it. And he’s been just as honest as well.

McCain’s silence on this issue is further evidence of the hypocrisy and disingenuousness of his alleged support for soldiers and veterans. It should surprise no one that the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America gave McCain a “D” for his voting record on veterans issues (Obama got a “B”).

Whether the FCC will conduct a fair and comprehensive inquiry under Republican hack Chairman Kevin Martin is uncertain at this time. But commissioners Copps and Adelstein will do their best to make this a productive investigation. And there is a likelihood that the process will extend into the next (Obama) administration and an FCC with a new Democratic majority.