Associated Press via Huffington Post: Washington, August 24, 2007.
“Shaping the Bush administration’s message on the Iraq war has taken on new fervor, just as anticipation is building for the September progress report from top military advisers.”
With news from Iraq continuing to reflect deteriorating security and a crumbling government, the Pentagon is embarking on another surge, this time in public relations, to better shape the administration’s
lies …er … message. The result is a Baghdad operation that might be called a media war room.
To be sure, there is an abundance of news percolating around Baghdad and Washington. General Petraeus is about to deliver the report written for him by the White House. The National Intelligence Estimate was just leaked to the media. The General Accounting Office has an upcoming release. And with Congress back in session next month, there are sure to be some fireworks over these reports and the results of their own investigations (I hope).
So it is not all that surprising that the administration would seek to construct a new and improved platform from which to preempt the anticipated bad news from Iraq, Capital Hill, and Reality.
Dorrance Smith, the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, working under Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England, will manage this new facility that will be tasked with creating…
“…a central clearinghouse of information so we can pull in all that is coming out of Baghdad and Iraq and have it come into one point, so we can better be able to share it with people who are interested.”
When asked, Defense officials denied that the program was a “propaganda tool.” I wonder if the questioner expected them to say, “Of course it’s a propaganda tool. Next question.” They also denied that it was “set up to respond to the eroding public support for the war.” Now that’s an interesting statement because, while it deflects the accusation that the program’s purpose is to shape public opinion, it also concedes that public support for the war is eroding. That sort of accidental release of the truth can get a Bush flack fired post haste.
A little background: Dorrance Smith was a former ABC News producer and a media adviser to Paul Bremer, the administrator of the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq. He received a recess appointment to replace Victoria Clarke as State Department spokesperson and was later confirmed by the Senate.
Gordon England, also a recess appointee, replaced Paul Wolfowitz at the State Department, whereupon he promptly hired Robert L. Earl as his Chief of Staff. Earl’s resume includes an immunized appearance before a grand jury where he testified that he had destroyed and stolen national security documents while working for Oliver North during the Iran-Contra scandal.
I can’t think of a better team to mislead the public and the press as we move into another political season of deception and obfuscation and despair for Iraqis and for America’s soldiers and their families.