The NYT exposed the first details of the Pentagon's Military Analyst Program and now there are calls for a Congressional investigation. So, what's this all about?
This program was launched in early 2002 by then-Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Victoria Clarke to recruit "key influentials" such as retired military to help sell a wary public on the planned Iraq invasion. More than 75 retired officers have been coached by government and military officials to spin the news about Iraq or simply lie on countless network and cable channel news programs and talk shows over the course of the past five years or more. Fox News has led the way in presenting these individuals to the public and other networks followed. Watch this short video story.
NYT: "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"
So? Why is this illegal?
Because "covert" propaganda is illegal. Covert propaganda is defined as "materials such as editorials or other articles prepared by an agency or its contractors at the behest of the agency and circulated as the ostensible position of parties outside the agency."
Kathy Gill notes one of many likely illegal uses of propaganda:
"Pentagon officials helped two Fox analysts, General McInerney and General Vallely, write an opinion article for The Wall Street Journal defending Mr. Rumsfeld. The military "analysts" did not disclose to the networks, the papers or the public that they were parroting the Bush party line or working in their defense. Instead, they were presented as "experts" -- one assumes vetted for neutrality by the networks. We're only now finding out that they were in fact paid to appear on TV, [possibly also paid to write the op-eds]."
The most insidious thing was that many of the 'analysts' have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air. They were promoting a war that they stood to profit from.Of course, the Bush family knows a lot about war profiteering.
I urge everyone, read the whole story of how your news was written by the government.