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View Full Version : U.S. Issues DOD used TV Military analysts' w/ ties to military contractors to boost war support


jAZ
04-19-2008, 10:14 PM
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/20/washington/20generals.html?hp=&pagewanted=all


Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand

http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2008/04/19/washington/20generals_span.jpg

A PENTAGON CAMPAIGN Retired officers have been used to shape terrorism coverage from inside the TV and radio networks.

By DAVID BARSTOW
Published: April 20, 2008

In the summer of 2005, the Bush administration confronted a fresh wave of criticism over Guantánamo Bay. The detention center had just been branded “the gulag of our times” by Amnesty International, there were new allegations of abuse from United Nations human rights experts and calls were mounting for its closure.

The administration’s communications experts responded swiftly. Early one Friday morning, they put a group of retired military officers on one of the jets normally used by Vice President Dick Cheney and flew them to Cuba for a carefully orchestrated tour of Guantánamo.

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, an examination by The New York Times has found.

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.

Those business relationships are hardly ever disclosed to the viewers, and sometimes not even to the networks themselves. But collectively, the men on the plane and several dozen other military analysts represent more than 150 military contractors either as lobbyists, senior executives, board members or consultants. The companies include defense heavyweights, but also scores of smaller companies, all part of a vast assemblage of contractors scrambling for hundreds of billions in military business generated by the administration’s war on terror. It is a furious competition, one in which inside information and easy access to senior officials are highly prized.

Records and interviews show how the Bush administration has used its control over access and information in an effort to transform the analysts into a kind of media Trojan horse — an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks.

Analysts have been wooed in hundreds of private briefings with senior military leaders, including officials with significant influence over contracting and budget matters, records show. They have been taken on tours of Iraq and given access to classified intelligence. They have been briefed by officials from the White House, State Department and Justice Department, including Mr. Cheney, Alberto R. Gonzales and Stephen J. Hadley.

In turn, members of this group have echoed administration talking points, sometimes even when they suspected the information was false or inflated. Some analysts acknowledge they suppressed doubts because they feared jeopardizing their access.

A few expressed regret for participating in what they regarded as an effort to dupe the American public with propaganda dressed as independent military analysis.

“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.

Kenneth Allard, a former NBC military analyst who has taught information warfare at the National Defense University, said the campaign amounted to a sophisticated information operation. “This was a coherent, active policy,” he said.

As conditions in Iraq deteriorated, Mr. Allard recalled, he saw a yawning gap between what analysts were told in private briefings and what subsequent inquiries and books later revealed.

“Night and day,” Mr. Allard said, “I felt we’d been hosed.” [...]

Five years into the Iraq war, most details of the architecture and execution of the Pentagon’s campaign have never been disclosed. But The Times successfully sued the Defense Department to gain access to 8,000 pages of e-mail messages, transcripts and records describing years of private briefings, trips to Iraq and Guantánamo and an extensive Pentagon talking points operation.

These records reveal a symbiotic relationship where the usual dividing lines between government and journalism have been obliterated.

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.”

Though many analysts are paid network consultants, making $500 to $1,000 per appearance, in Pentagon meetings they sometimes spoke as if they were operating behind enemy lines, interviews and transcripts show. Some offered the Pentagon tips on how to outmaneuver the networks, or as one analyst put it to Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the defense secretary, “the Chris Matthewses and the Wolf Blitzers of the world.” Some warned of planned stories or sent the Pentagon copies of their correspondence with network news executives. Many — although certainly not all — faithfully echoed talking points intended to counter critics.

“Good work,” Thomas G. McInerney, a retired Air Force general, consultant and Fox News analyst, wrote to the Pentagon after receiving fresh talking points in late 2006. “We will use it.”

Again and again, records show, the administration has enlisted analysts as a rapid reaction force to rebut what it viewed as critical news coverage, some of it by the networks’ own Pentagon correspondents. For example, when news articles revealed that troops in Iraq were dying because of inadequate body armor, a senior Pentagon official wrote to his colleagues: “I think our analysts — properly armed — can push back in that arena.”

The documents released by the Pentagon do not show any quid pro quo between commentary and contracts. But some analysts said they had used the special access as a marketing and networking opportunity or as a window into future business possibilities.

John C. Garrett is a retired Army colonel and unpaid analyst for Fox News TV and radio. He is also a lobbyist at Patton Boggs who helps firms win Pentagon contracts, including in Iraq. In promotional materials, he states that as a military analyst he “is privy to weekly access and briefings with the secretary of defense, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and other high level policy makers in the administration.” One client told investors that Mr. Garrett’s special access and decades of experience helped him “to know in advance — and in detail — how best to meet the needs” of the Defense Department and other agencies.

In interviews Mr. Garrett said there was an inevitable overlap between his dual roles. He said he had gotten “information you just otherwise would not get,” from the briefings and three Pentagon-sponsored trips to Iraq. He also acknowledged using this access and information to identify opportunities for clients. “You can’t help but look for that,” he said, adding, “If you know a capability that would fill a niche or need, you try to fill it. “That’s good for everybody.”

At the same time, in e-mail messages to the Pentagon, Mr. Garrett displayed an eagerness to be supportive with his television and radio commentary. “Please let me know if you have any specific points you want covered or that you would prefer to downplay,” he wrote in January 2007, before President Bush went on TV to describe the surge strategy in Iraq.

Conversely, the administration has demonstrated that there is a price for sustained criticism, many analysts said. “You’ll lose all access,” Dr. McCausland said.

With a majority of Americans calling the war a mistake despite all administration attempts to sway public opinion, the Pentagon has focused in the last couple of years on cultivating in particular military analysts frequently seen and heard in conservative news outlets, records and interviews show.

Some of these analysts were on the mission to Cuba on June 24, 2005 — the first of six such Guantánamo trips — which was designed to mobilize analysts against the growing perception of Guantánamo as an international symbol of inhumane treatment. On the flight to Cuba, for much of the day at Guantánamo and on the flight home that night, Pentagon officials briefed the 10 or so analysts on their key messages — how much had been spent improving the facility, the abuse endured by guards, the extensive rights afforded detainees.

The results came quickly. The analysts went on TV and radio, decrying Amnesty International, criticizing calls to close the facility and asserting that all detainees were treated humanely.

“The impressions that you’re getting from the media and from the various pronouncements being made by people who have not been here in my opinion are totally false,” Donald W. Shepperd, a retired Air Force general, reported live on CNN by phone from Guantánamo that same afternoon.

The next morning, Montgomery Meigs, a retired Army general and NBC analyst, appeared on “Today.” “There’s been over $100 million of new construction,” he reported. “The place is very professionally run.”

Within days, transcripts of the analysts’ appearances were circulated to senior White House and Pentagon officials, cited as evidence of progress in the battle for hearts and minds at home.

Much more at the link.
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/20/washington/20generals.html?hp=&pagewanted=all

irishjayhawk
04-19-2008, 11:27 PM
Doesn't this just mean the Pentagon is really smart when it comes to manipulation? Or that the media is a willing partner in manipulation?

jAZ
04-20-2008, 12:09 AM
Doesn't this just mean the Pentagon is really smart when it comes to manipulation? Or that the media is a willing partner in manipulation?

I would say that it's quite possibly a bit more than that. Using war profits to buy propaganda that keeps the war going... would be a big deal.

Targeting the citizens with propaganda at all would be a big deal.

irishjayhawk
04-20-2008, 12:17 AM
I would say that it's quite possibly a bit more than that. Using war profits to buy propaganda that keeps the war going... would be a big deal.

Targeting the citizens with propaganda at all would be a big deal.

Fair point, but I've been criticized for making that point many times. It has to do with nationalization and people aren't willing to accept that it's pretty much here.

mlyonsd
04-20-2008, 09:36 AM
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.



Great reporting as usual from the Times. Make accusations against an entire group without actually naming names. Brilliant.

mlyonsd
04-20-2008, 09:39 AM
With a majority of Americans calling the war a mistake despite all administration attempts to sway public opinion, the Pentagon has focused in the last couple of years on cultivating in particular military analysts frequently seen and heard in conservative news outlets, records and interviews show.

Some of these analysts were on the mission to Cuba on June 24, 2005 — the first of six such Guantánamo trips — which was designed to mobilize analysts against the growing perception of Guantánamo as an international symbol of inhumane treatment. On the flight to Cuba, for much of the day at Guantánamo and on the flight home that night, Pentagon officials briefed the 10 or so analysts on their key messages — how much had been spent improving the facility, the abuse endured by guards, the extensive rights afforded detainees.

The results came quickly. The analysts went on TV and radio, decrying Amnesty International, criticizing calls to close the facility and asserting that all detainees were treated humanely.



More indept awesome reporting.

jAZ
04-20-2008, 09:44 AM
In case you are confused, the reporting is on the 8,000 pages of documents exposing the DOD's covert propaganda campaign aimed at our own citizens. The subject of the reporting is the DOD program itself.

mlyonsd
04-20-2008, 09:48 AM
In case you are confused, the reporting is on the 8,000 pages of documents exposing the DOD's covert propaganda campaign aimed at our own citizens. The subject of the reporting is the DOD program itself.

I'm not confused but would like some facts to be listed the same time as the allegations. The way the peice is written every military analyst you see on tv is now smeared.

patteeu
04-21-2008, 09:02 AM
Stop the Presses! (http://www.commentarymagazine.com/blogs/index.php/boot/3466)
Max Boot - 04.20.2008 - 11:54 AM

Hold the front page! Heck, on second thought, hold three full inside pages as well. Notify the Pulitzer jurors. The New York Times has a blockbuster scoop. Its ace reporter, David Barstow, has uncovered shocking evidence that . . . the Pentagon tries to get out its side of the story about Iraq to the news media.

Are you surprised? Outraged? Furious? Apparently the Times is: it’s found a new wrinkle in what it views as an insidious military propaganda campaign. You see, the Defense Department isn’t content to try to present its views simply to full-time reporters who are paid employees of organizations like the New York Times. It actually has the temerity to brief retired military officers directly, who then opine on TV and in print about matters such as the Iraq War.

As I read and read and read this seemingly endless report, I kept trying to figure out what the news was here. Why did the Times decide this story is so important? After all, it’s no secret that the Pentagon–and every other branch of government–routinely provides background briefings to journalists (including columnists and other purveyors of opinion), and tries to influence their coverage by carefully doling out access. It is hardly unheard of for cabinet members–or even the President and Vice President–to woo selected journalists deemed to be friendly while cutting off those deemed hostile. Nor is it exactly a scandal for government agencies to hire public relations firms to track coverage of them and try to suggest ways in which they might be cast in a more positive light. All this is part and parcel of the daily grind of Washington journalism in which the Times is, of course, a leading participant.

I think I got to the nub of the problem when I read, buried deep in this article, Barstow’s complaint that the Pentagon’s campaign to brief military analysts “recalled other administration tactics that subverted traditional journalism.” But the Times would laugh at anyone who claimed that activities “subversive” of America’s national interest are at all problematic. After all, aren’t we constantly told that criticism–even “subversive” criticism–is the highest form of patriotism? Apparently it’s one thing to subvert one’s country and another thing to subvert the MSM. We can’t have that!

How dare the Pentagon try to break the media monopoly traditionally held by full-time journalists of reliably “progressive” views! The gall of those guys to try to shape public opinion through the words of retired officers who might have a different perspective! Who might even be, as the article darkly warns, “in sync with the administration’s neo-conservative brain trust.”

The implicit purpose of the Times’s article is obvious: to elevate this perfectly normal practice into a scandal in the hopes of quashing it. Thus leaving the Times and its fellow MSM organs–conveniently enough–as the dominant shapers of public opinion.

bango
04-21-2008, 06:41 PM
I do not know if there has ever been a better propaganda machine that the one that the U.S. Government has.

jAZ
04-22-2008, 01:07 PM
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jAZ
05-12-2008, 05:55 PM
ROFL

http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/05/dont_say_softball.php

Don't Say "Softball!"
By Paul Kiel - May 12, 2008, 5:01PM

In our Pentagon military analyst doc dump thread, Kevin H comes up with a beauty. You can see it here.

In the exchange, someone (the name is redacted) emails public relations officials in the Pentagon with news that Jed Babbin, who was deputy undersecretary of defense in President George H.W. Bush's administration and a participant in the analyst program ("one of our military analysts," the emailer calls him), would be guest hosting the Michael Medved radio show. And Babbin wanted to interview Gen. George Casey, then the commanding officer in Iraq. Babbin is the editor of Human Events.

But just in case Pentagon officials were worried that the interview might not be worth doing, the emailer made the case: "this would be a softball interview and the show is 8th or 9th in the nation."

Allison Barber, a Public Affairs official at the Pentagon, responded quickly:

Thanks for sending this.

Just fyi, probably wouldn't put "softball" interview in writing. If that got out it would compromise jed and general casey.

The emailer, somewhat chastened, replied "check, check." Not bad advice at all.

Note: As for who this emailer is, it's unclear. The Pentagon redacted email addresses in the release, so it could very well be an official in the public affairs office emailing from a private address. The use of the phrase "our military analysts" certainly suggests that.

jAZ
05-12-2008, 06:03 PM
"I'm an old 'Intel' and I can sum all of this up... unfortunately... with one word and that is PsyOps. Most people when they hear that they think "oh my god, are you trying to brainwash us?" "


3:00 minute mark of video below.

This is all rather stunning.

http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/05/audio_military_analysts_laud_t.php

Audio: Military Analysts Laud "The Leader" Rumsfeld
By Paul Kiel - May 8, 2008, 2:29PM

Last month, The New York Times published its front-page exposé of the Pentagon's strategy of using military analysts. The retired officers who frequently appeared on TV were the ideal vehicle to broadcast the administration's message on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. "Message force multipliers," Pentagon officials called them.

Well, earlier this week, the Pentagon released all of the documents that had been turned over to the Times. It is a staggering load. But most immediately intriguing is audio of some of the briefings at the Pentagon, including two featuring Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

The audio we've excerpted here comes from a meeting on April 18, 2006. It was an emergency meeting called because earlier in the month, several retired generals had hit the airwaves demanding that Rumsfeld resign. 17 analysts attended the briefing, which featured Rumsfeld and then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Peter Pace. It was a remarkable display of servility, with one analyst at one point proclaiming that Rumsfeld need to get out there on the "offense," because "we'd love to be following our leader, as indeed you are. You are the leader. You are our guy." Here's the audio:

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Another analyst chimed in to the effect that, though PsyOps or "brainwashing" are dirty words, it was necessary to get out there on offense. "You know what they call PsyOps today, they call those public relations firms," another said approvingly. Finally, Rumsfeld had to throw up his hands: "You people should be taking notes. I'm taking all the notes!" It sure was an eager group.

A transcript is available here (pdf) for those who want to follow along at home. The excerpt above begins at the bottom of page 18. It cuts at one point to the top of page 20. The full audio of the briefing is here (wav).

Unfortunately, the transcript does not name the analysts when they speak (it just says "Question"), meaning that it is not easily possible to figure out which of them said what. A list of the participants, however, is here.

The Times reported that the meeting was a rousing success for the Pentagon:

The meeting ended and Mr. Rumsfeld, appearing pleased and relaxed, took the entire group into a small study and showed off treasured keepsakes from his life, several analysts recalled.

Soon after, analysts hit the airwaves. The Omnitec monitoring reports, circulated to more than 80 officials, confirmed that analysts repeated many of the Pentagon's talking points: that Mr. Rumsfeld consulted "frequently and sufficiently" with his generals; that he was not "overly concerned" with the criticisms; that the meeting focused "on more important topics at hand," including the next milestone in Iraq, the formation of a new government.

Omnitec Solutions was the private contractor that was paid "hundreds of thousands of dollars to scour databases for any trace of the analysts." The company "evaluated their appearances using the same tools as corporate branding experts."

Update: The Politico reports on the "deafening silence" created by the networks failure to run with the Times' story.

BucEyedPea
05-12-2008, 06:49 PM
Disgusting.
You used the right prefic icon too. Well done.

Adept Havelock
05-13-2008, 09:25 AM
ROFL

http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2008/05/dont_say_softball.php

Don't Say "Softball!"
By Paul Kiel - May 12, 2008, 5:01PM

In our Pentagon military analyst doc dump thread, Kevin H comes up with a beauty. You can see it here.

In the exchange, someone (the name is redacted) emails public relations officials in the Pentagon with news that Jed Babbin, who was deputy undersecretary of defense in President George H.W. Bush's administration and a participant in the analyst program ("one of our military analysts," the emailer calls him), would be guest hosting the Michael Medved radio show. And Babbin wanted to interview Gen. George Casey, then the commanding officer in Iraq. Babbin is the editor of Human Events.

But just in case Pentagon officials were worried that the interview might not be worth doing, the emailer made the case: "this would be a softball interview and the show is 8th or 9th in the nation."

Allison Barber, a Public Affairs official at the Pentagon, responded quickly:

Thanks for sending this.

Just fyi, probably wouldn't put "softball" interview in writing. If that got out it would compromise jed and general casey.

The emailer, somewhat chastened, replied "check, check." Not bad advice at all.

Note: As for who this emailer is, it's unclear. The Pentagon redacted email addresses in the release, so it could very well be an official in the public affairs office emailing from a private address. The use of the phrase "our military analysts" certainly suggests that.


Oy. Domestic targeted psy-ops. :shake:

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