Pentagon Propaganda: So Much Worse Than We Thought By John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton, PR Watch. Posted April 25, 2008.

Pentagon Propaganda: So Much Worse Than We Thought

By John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton, PR Watch. Posted April 25, 2008.

The Bush Administration has spent millions on deceptive PR to sell the war, as recently documented in the New York Times. Where's the fallout?

David Barstow of the New York Times has written the first installment in what is already a stunning exposé of the Bush Administration's most powerful propaganda weapon used to sell and manage the war on Iraq: the embedding of military propagandists directly into the TV networks as on-air commentators. We and others have long criticized the widespread TV network practice of hiring former military officials to serve as analysts, but even in our most cynical moments we did not anticipate how bad it was. Barstow has painstakingly documented how these analysts, most of them military industry consultants and lobbyists, were directly chosen, managed, coordinated and given their talking points by the Pentagon's ministers of propaganda.

Thanks to the two-year investigation by the New York Times, we today know that Victoria Clarke, then the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, launched the Pentagon military analyst program in early 2002. These supposedly independent military analysts were in fact a coordinated team of pro-war propagandists, personally recruited by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, and acting under Clarke's tutelage and development.

One former participant, NBC military analyst Kenneth Allard, has called the effort "psyops on steroids." As Barstow reports, "Internal Pentagon documents repeatedly refer to the military analysts as 'message force multipliers' or 'surrogates' who could be counted on to deliver administration 'themes and messages' to millions of Americans 'in the form of their own opinions.' … Don Meyer, an aide to Ms. Clarke, said a strategic decision was made in 2002 to make the analysts the main focus of the public relations push to construct a case for war."
Clarke and her senior aide, Brent T. Krueger, eventually signed up more than 75 retired military officers who penned newspaper op/ed columns and appeared on television and radio news shows as military analysts. The Pentagon held weekly meetings with the military analysts, which continued as of April 20, 2008, when the New York Times ran Barstow's story. The program proved so successful that it was expanded to issues besides the Iraq War. "Other branches of the administration also began to make use of the analysts. Mr. Gonzales, then the attorney general, met with them soon after news leaked that the government was wiretapping terrorism suspects in the United States without warrants, Pentagon records show. When David H. Petraeus was appointed the commanding general in Iraq in January 2007, one of his early acts was to meet with the analysts."

Barstow spent two years digging, using the Freedom of Information Act and attorneys to force the Bush Administration to release some 8,000 pages of documents now under lock and key at the New York Times. This treasure trove should result in additional stories, giving them a sort of "Pentagon Papers" of Iraq war propaganda.

In 1971, when the Times printed excerpts of the Pentagon Papers on its front page, it precipitated a constitutional showdown with the Nixon Administration over the deception and lies that sold the war in Vietnam. The Pentagon Papers issue dominated the news media back then. Today, however, Barstow's stunning report is being ignored by the most important news media in America -- TV news -- the source where most Americans, unfortunately, get most of their information.

Joseph Goebbels, eat your heart out. Goebbels is history's most notorious war propagandist, but even he could not have invented a smoother PR vehicle for selling and maintaining media and public support for a war: embed trusted "independent" military experts into the TV newsroom. As with most propaganda, the key to the success of this effort was the element of concealment, as these analysts and the Bush administration hid the fact that their talking points and marching orders were coming directly from the Pentagon.

The use of these analysts was a glaring violation of journalistic standards. As the code of ethics of the Society of Professional Journalists explains, journalists are supposed to:

* Avoid conflicts of interest, real or perceived.
* Remain free of associations and activities that may compromise integrity or damage credibility.
* Refuse gifts, favors, fees, free travel and special treatment, and shun secondary employment, political involvement,
public office and service in community organizations if they compromise journalistic integrity.
* Disclose unavoidable conflicts.
* Be vigilant and courageous about holding those with power accountable.
* Deny favored treatment to advertisers and special interests and resist their pressure to influence news coverage.
* Be wary of sources offering information for favors or money.

The networks using these analysts as journalists shamelessly failed to vet their experts and ignored the obvious conflicts of hiring a person with financial relationships to companies profiting from war to be an on-air analyst of war. They acted as if war was a football game and their military commentators were former coaches and players familiar with the rules and strategies. The TV networks even paid these "analysts" for their propaganda, enabling them to present themselves as "third party experts" while parroting White House talking points to sell the war.
Now that Barstow has blown their cover, the TV networks have generally refused to comment about this matter. Further compounding their violations of the public trust, they are blacking out coverage of the New York Times exposé, no doubt on advice of their own PR and crisis management advisors.

Since the 1920s there have been laws passed to stop the government from doing what Barstow has exposed. It is actually illegal in the United States for the government to propagandize its own citizens. As Barstow's report demonstrates, these laws have been repeatedly violated, are not enforced and are clearly inadequate. The U.S. Congress therefore needs to investigate this and the rest of the Bush propaganda campaign that sold the war in Iraq.

The attack and occupation of Iraq continues, with no end in sight. Estimates of the number of Iraqi dead range from the hundreds of thousands to more than a million. The cost to American taxpayers will eventually be in the trillions of dollars. More than 4,000 US soldiers have lost their lives, and this is just a part of the horrific toll of mental and physical disability that the war is taking on hundreds of thousands of troops and their families.

This war would never have been possible had the mainstream news media done its job. Instead, it has repeated the Big Lies that sold the war. This war would never have been possible without the millions of dollars spent by the Bush Administration on sophisticated and deceptive public relations techniques such as the Pentagon military analyst program that David Barstow has exposed. It should come as no surprise to anyone that Victoria Clarke, who designed and oversaw this Pentagon propaganda machine, now works as a commentator for TV network news. She may have changed jobs and employers since leaving the Pentagon, but her work remains the same.

John Stauber is the Executive Director of the Center for Media and Democracy.

Not quite

Well, it was worse than THEY thought, but still not disclosing as bad as it really is.

limited hangout.

Its much, much worse than this.

THEY are heading in the right direction.

All of the lies exposed wears down the resistance on everybody's part.

I'll take this as a step forward.

It is true that the info in

It is true that the info in this story can be viewed as a "limited hang-out." But it is even more true that this story represents yet another crack--quite a big one--in the neocon lie-machine.

Jesse Ventura's recent statements have been great, not because he is saying anything most of us have not known for years, but because he is Jesse Ventura, a mainstream politician to whom many will listen.

The same logic holds for this story about Pentagon shills being used as media "experts." We all knew something like this was happening, but this is the first time it has received in-depth exposure in corporate press.

Eventually corporate news and the US public will have to deal with the facts of 9/11, plus the wars and all the other lies. As the public and the news media starts to deal with these deep truths, we can expect (and should hope) to see more stories like this one. It may be just another step on the way, but this one is a pretty good step.

JFK on secrecy and the press

There were commenting former US military Generals on 911

Hey Joe,

Great article.

ON 911, as i recall, wasn't there an "expert" general on one of the networks who was already selling the OBL story and squelching the consideration of the possibility that explosives were used to bring down the towers? I would venture to guess that this type of program was in operation on that fateful day, laying the foundation for the official 911 myth.

Oh, now I get it. That is what you were illustrating.

Well done.


It was

Jerome Hauer

On Dan Rather ( who reported the Zapruder-video right - NOT!)

Dan Rather: Based on what you know, and I recognize we’re dealing with so few facts, is it possible that just a plane crash could have collapsed these buildings, or would it have required the, sort of, prior positioning of other explosives in the, uh, in the buildings? I mean, what do you think?

Jerome Hauer: No, I, uh, my sense is just the velocity of the plane and the fact that you have a plane filled with fuel hitting that building, uh, that burned, uh, the velocity of that plane, uh, certainly, uh, uh, had an impact on the structure itself, and then the fact that it burned and you had that intense heat, uh, probably weakened the structure as well, uh, and I think it, uh, was, uh, simply the, uh, the planes hitting the buildings, and, and causing the collapse.

We are now

staring into the abyss

Despite the saber rattling,

Despite the saber rattling, a vast majority of the population will CHOOSE to live in denial and complacency.


The NYT?

"If we carried stories, it was because [EPA head] Christine Whitman and Rudy Giuliani made these announcements," Rosenthal said. "I don't know how the paper can be faulted for doing any more than reporting.",hagey,75979,15.html

I'm sure he didn't mean reporting, but parroting. As with this war-propaganda.

Two weeks after Cheney's speech, the Bush administration leaked the story of the aluminium tubes to the New York Times. It was front-page news. Anonymous officials were quoted saying there was new information that Iraq had embarked on a worldwide hunt for material to make an atomic bomb, and that the specifications of the aluminium tubes had persuaded American intelligence experts that the tubes were for Iraq's nuclear program. Administration officials warned, "The first sign of a 'smoking gun'...may be a mushroom cloud." There was no mention of any debate or dissension about the tubes at all.

PROF. HOUSTON WOOD: My first thought was, "This must be some new tubes", you know. And then...and then when I realised that these were the tubes that I had been looking at a year before, I was just...I was...I was just shocked. I couldn't believe that, you know, here we were, saying that these tubes were, you know, the same tubes that I'd come to the conclusion a year before were not valid for centrifuges, and here they're saying they are. So, er...that was a real surprise.

LIZ JACKSON: Later on the same day that the New York Times published, Condoleezza Rice went on CNN.

DR CONDOLEEZZA RICE, US NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: There have been shipments of high-quality aluminium tubes that are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs.

LIZ JACKSON: And a phrase began to echo.

DR CONDOLEEZZA RICE: We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.

LIZ JACKSON: Later that night, Dick Cheney was on NBC.

US VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: He now is trying, through his illicit procurement network, to acquire the equipment he needs to be able to enrich make the bombs.

REPORTER: Aluminium tubes?

US VICE PRESIDENT CHENEY: Specifically, aluminium tubes. The story in the New York Times...

LIZ JACKSON: The following day, Australia picked up on the story.


Now what should we make with this "confession" from a newpaper which is a hotspot for government propaganda? of these allegations....

....will finally stick! It's a great news story on Pentagon propaganda.

The more of these allegations that are out there for the competing factions of Oligarchs to choose from, the more likely one will be used to bring down this regime!

For some reason, I'm only amazed that we're reading about it!

Military analysts....
...don't believe them!


Government's corrupt
Police force - corrupt.
Education's corrupt.
It's all f****d up.

I read the article

...but I didn't see any names of these military analysts?

If this comes across as a broad statement, I don't think it will have much impact. OTOH, if we can point to a long list of commentators A, B, C, D, E, F, etc.. and give information as to when and where they appeared on television, it can be pretty significant. Something where people can remember seeing a particular show on CNN or Fox or whatever and think, "Yeah, I remember that guy. I didn't know he was a paid shill."

It would also make for some great Youtube videos to discredit the media outlets that treated these shills like legitimate and objective analysts.

Collateral damage statement in Barstow article

On Tuesday, April 18 [2006], some 17 analysts assembled at the Pentagon with Mr. Rumsfeld and General Pace, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

A transcript of that session, never before disclosed, shows a shared determination to marginalize war critics and revive public support for the war.

. . .

"Frankly,” one participant said, “from a military point of view, the penalty, 2,400 brave Americans whom we lost, 3,000 in an hour and 15 minutes, is relative.”

The context is not clear, but this appears to be the logic of "collateral damage," applied to the 9/11 victims.

John Stauber on PBS

Pentagon halts feeding of information to retired officers while

Pentagon halts feeding of information to retired officers while issue is reviewed

By Jeff Schogol, Stars and Stripes

Mideast edition, Saturday, April 26, 2008

ARLINGTON, Va. - The Defense Department has temporarily stopped feeding information to retired military officers pending a review of the issue, said Robert Hastings, principal deputy assistant secretary of Defense for public affairs.

The New York Times first reported on Sunday that the Defense Department was giving information to retired officers serving as pundits for various media organizations in order to garner favorable media coverage.

Some of these retired officers saw their access to key decision-makers as possible business opportunities for the defense contractors they represent, according to the newspaper. The story also alleged that the officers who did not repeat the Bush administration's official line were denied further access to information.

Hastings said he is concerned about allegations that the Defense Department's relationship with the retired military analysts was improper.

"Following the allegations, the story that is printed in the New York Times, I directed my staff to halt, to suspend the activities that may be ongoing with retired military analysts to give me time to review the situation," Hastings said in an interview with Stripes on Friday.

Hastings said he did not discuss the matter with Defense Secretary Robert Gates prior to making his decision. He could not say Friday how long this review might take.

"We'll take the time to do it right," he said.

On Thursday, U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton, D-Mo., said in a speech that he was angered by the allegations raised in the New York Times' story.

"There is nothing inherently wrong with providing information to the public and the press," Skelton said. "But there is a problem if the Pentagon is providing special access to retired officers and then basically using them as pawns to spout the administration's talking points of the day."

Skelton, who is chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said he was also disturbed by the ties between the military officers and defense firms.

"It hurts me to my core to think that there are those from the ranks of our retired officers who have decided to cash in and essentially prostitute themselves on the basis of their previous positions within the Department of Defense," he said.

Hastings, who had not seen Skelton's remarks before Friday's interview, said he is unaware of the Defense Department's past activities with retired military analysts. He took over his current post in March.

"I need a little time to kind of digest that and figure out what the path forward is," he said.

We'll See?

Thanks for the article, Joe, but hoping.... don't believe them!

DoD said they stopped but don't believe them. It's happened time and time again. If it's to the government's advantage, if it allows them more leverage, the government will continue to do it!

...don't believe them!