Democracy

Pentagon Pundit Scandal Broke the Law

The Pentagon military analyst program unveiled in last week's exposé by David Barstow in the New York Times was not just unethical but illegal. It violates, for starters, specific restrictions that Congress has been placing in its annual appropriation bills every year since 1951. According to those restrictions, "No part of any appropriation contained in this or any other Act shall be used for publicity or propaganda purposes within the United States not heretofore authorized by the Congress."

As explained in a March 21, 2005 report by the Congressional Research Service, "publicity or propaganda" is defined by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to mean either (1) self-aggrandizement by public officials, (2) purely partisan activity, or (3) "covert propaganda." By covert propaganda, GAO means information which originates from the government but is unattributed and made to appear as though it came from a third party.

Pushing Back Against the Pentagon's Pundits

Pentagon pundit Ken AllardIn addition to helping research the "Pentagon's pundits" on SourceWatch -- those retired military officers who took part in the Pentagon program to promote Bush Administration talking points on the Iraq and Afghanistan wars,

No

Extinguishing Media Coverage of Olympic Torch Protests

Pro-Tibet groups plan protests when the Olympic Torch procession gets to Canberra, the Australian capital, but the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG) has taken pre-emptive steps to minimize unfavourable media coverage.

No

Featured Participatory Project: Who Are the Pentagon's Pundits?

On Sunday, the New York Times outed the Pentagon's "military analyst program," an extensive effort to cultivate retired military officers as "message force multipliers" or "surrogates" spouting Bush administration talking points on Iraq and other hot-button issues. We've compiled a list of known participants, and started SourceWatch profiles on each. Can you help us uncover more about the Pentagon's pundits? What did they say, on what news programs?

Yes

Media's Military Analysts Involved in "Psyops on Steroids"

Victoria "Torie" ClarkeIn early 2002, as "detailed planning for a possible Iraq invasion" began, then-Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Victoria Clarke launched the Pentagon military analyst program as "the main focus

No

Audit Reveals the PR Machine Behind Canadian Global Warming Skeptics

An audit review (pdf) of over $507,000 (Canadian) contributed to two University of Calgary "research accounts" has revealed that C$123,427 was routed to Friends of Science (FoS) -- a group lobbying the Canadian government against taking action on global warming.

No

A Bad Week for Corporate Spies

From MAD magazineIf Cara Schaffer contacts you, be wary. Take emails and online comments from "activist2008" and "stopcorporategreed" with a grain of salt. Londoners, be on the lookout for Toby Kendall, a.k.a. "Ken Tobias." And activists everywhere should think twice before putting documents in the recycling or trash bins.

Over the past week, reporters and activists outed three different corporate spying operations. As John Stauber and Sheldon Rampton wrote in their 1995 book "Toxic Sludge Is Good for You!": "Movements for social and political reform have often become targets of surveillance. ... The public relations industry has developed a lucrative side business scrutinizing the thoughts and actions of citizen activists, using paid spies who are often recruited from government, military or private security backgrounds."

Last week's revelations show that these underhanded tactics are very much in use today. And they don't just impact the groups being infiltrated. By privileging corporate interests, effectively giving them the first and last word on an issue, they distort vital public debates.

Spinners Queue Up to Help China

Free Tibet protest in LondonThe Free Tibet Campaign in the UK has warned that "any PR agency that is trying to assist China in its twisted distortion of the truth would be potentially exposing itself to protests outside its offices." Despite this, PR Week reports that Ogilvy,

No

Pages

Subscribe to Democracy