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.

Mind War – The Pentagon’s Propaganda Assault On America

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

SpinComThe New York Times has now documented the sad prescience of McCluhan. In an in-depth examination of supposedly independent, retired military analysts, the Times’ David Barstow has uncovered what may be the most brazen attempt at propaganda ever initiated.

“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.”

“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.”

It should come as no surprise that the Bush administration would manipulate the press to shape public opinion. The press, of course, are their willing accomplices. Rupert Murdoch of Fox News even admitted it publicly. And the Pentagon has been caught doing the same in Iraq. The Associated Press reported that the U.S. military secretly paid Iraqi newspapers to publish stories intended to portray operations there in a positive light.

But the scale of this program, the fact that it was directed at Americans, and the added wrinkle of financial corruption and greed at the expense of thousands of lives, is thoroughly without precedent. The article reveals that there was deliberate intent on the part of the government to define what constituted news and to replace the analysis of independent journalists with that of hand-picked and conflict-laden Pentagon mouthpieces. It was further disclosed that many of these spokespersons provided commentary they knew was false in order to protect either their access to the media or their profits. These former military officers clearly were not protecting their troops.

“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.

That’s just one of the more than 150 retired officers participating in this program, most of whom worked for – you guessed it – Fox News. One Fox News crony, Paul E. Vallely, called it a “MindWar” – using network TV and radio to “strengthen our national will to victory.” Another analyst, General Conway, confessed that “The strategic target remains our [the American] population.” He went on to callously trivialize the loss of U.S. troops as incidental to winning in the court of public opinion and, he might as well have added, in the marketplace of war profiteering.

The scope of deceit and greed that this program encompasses is mind boggling. Read the whole story at the New York Times. Then visit FreePress where they are collecting signatures to urge Congress to further investigate this breach of the public trust.