The U.S. government has unleashed a propaganda campaign to support the military conquest and occupation of Iraq. Unfortunately, the current effort to control public opinion represents a secret war against the American people.
If the story hasn’t yet reached your newspaper, Op Ed section or TV station, there’s a good reason; media outlets were duped or turned a blind eye on Bush propaganda, and most highly respected military commentators are implicated.
Called “sycophants” by the Pentagon, these expert, sober news voices merely mouthed Bush “talking points” on Fox News, NBC, CNN, CBS and ABC, on radio programs, or were read or quoted in news articles and op-eds. These military experts, such as Lt. Col. Tim Eads, Major Bob Bevelacqua, Lt. Col. Bill Cowan, Capt. Chuck Nash, Brig. Gen. James Marks, Generals William Nash, Wayne Downing and Joe Rayleton, and dozens of others, appeared in the media hundreds of times to gain public support of Bush’s war, without admitting they are profiting from the death of American troops.
In a blockbuster investigative article on April 20, the New York Times revealed that the Pentagon recruited over 75 retired military officers, many of them working for and profiting from more than 150 military contractors, in what a Fox News analyst called a “Mind War” to “strengthen our national will to victory.” The report is based on over 8,000 pages of email messages, transcripts and records released to the public after a successful lawsuit against the Defense Department.
Polls show that Americans trust the military three times more than the president and five times more than Congress, so it’s no wonder that the Pentagon rounded up military “experts” to orchestrate a propaganda campaign to twist the facts to meet the Bush Administration’s demands: Anyone who disagreed was banned from the group.
Operating through a special Pentagon office of public affairs with the goal of achieving “information dominance,” the Pentagon groomed the group of military commentators to sell its plans for invading Iraq, even though Iraq had no connection with 9/11. These carefully selected and vetted experts that the Times calls a “media Trojan horse,” were spoon-fed information through special briefings, orchestrated interviews, talking points, and VIP tours. Bush insiders participated, including Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Alberto Gonzales, General Petraeus, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and national security advisors.
Operating under the condition that they not reveal their special relationship with these new propaganda committees, the military contractors fanned out to the news media to convince the American people that Iraq was developing nuclear weapons to attack the U.S. and had a stockpile of secret chemical and biological weapons. The attempt was so successful–with military commentators reproducing “talking points” often verbatim–that they were employed again when Bush pushed for $87 billion in extra-budget financing for the occupation of Iraq. Every time a critical news story came out on Iraq, the commentators were rallied to convince the American public, through the media and their supposedly unbiased views, that the opposite was true.
After distorting the facts, the Pentagon brags that it has become a master at “the management of perceptions” by using psychological warfare. The Iraqi rebellion against the occupation was attributed to Al-Queda, as was the civil war in Iraq. After revelations of torture and mistreatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, military commentators were flown to Cuba, the first of six times, and given what the Times calls “a carefully orchestrated tour.” Immediately afterwards, these experts filled the airwaves with the Pentagon’s transcript, claiming the story of prisoner abuse was false. Extrapolating from the Times report, there are no military commentators that can be trusted: they all have backdoor deals.
Such sweetheart deals are lucrative. In addition to $500 to $1,000 for each media appearance, military commentators work for over 150 military contractors and personally benefit from their promotion of Bush’s “War on Terror,” which distributes hundreds of billions of dollars to loyal war interests. These military experts are even given access to military contracting officers in the Pentagon as a reward for their faithful service to Bush’s policies.
Will this report result in a public outrage? How will those who should be the most outraged, the manipulated Fox News viewers, respond? Or can anyone be surprised by revelations that Bush pays Iraqi news for favorable stories, releases staged propaganda shows to TV stations, appoints propaganda ministers to control government agencies, and secretly hires propagandists to support his policies?
On the other hand, one must wonder if the word, traitor, applies. Supposedly in synch with Bush’s military occupation of Iraq, these military men lie about their secret access to the Pentagon and their personal profit from U.S. military operations. They play a vital role in duping the American public into supporting a deadly and costly military misadventure. When does subterfuge, withholding of information and lying about personal profit from public policies become criminal?
One would hope that Americans still have ideals and value honesty and that every one of these military commentators will be imprisoned or at a minimum, hounded off the networks, out of their jobs and forced into hiding.