Propaganda

Exposing How the Government Lied about National Security Letters and the Patriot Act

Last week, I was honored to be invited to testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the Patriot Act, a new endeavor for the Center for Media and Democracy, even though CMD has covered national security-related issues in its books and on SourceWatch.

One of the reasons I was so pleased to be able to join CMD is because in Washington, DC, I saw first-hand how propaganda and selective disclosures were used to influence and distort public opinion. In my testimony, I highlighted examples from the Patriot Act debate in 2005 where key information was hidden while the bill for reauthorization was being publicly debated, and did not come out until after the bill had passed. With parts of the Patriot Act up for renewal and reform this fall, I wanted to make sure the public record included the story of how the previous Bush administration misled the American people. I also wanted to share my views about why these extraordinary powers need to be fixed to better protect civil liberties and human rights.

Making War Spin McChrystal Clear

General Stanley A. McChrystal, the top U.S. military and NATO commander in Afghanistan, wants to change strategic communications goals there from a "struggle for the 'hearts and minds' of the Afghan population to one of giving them 'trust and confidence'" in their government and their future. He also wants to focus on exposing insurgents' "flagrant contravention of the principles of the Koran," which is already a talking point for U.S.

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The Lie Machine Killing Health Care Reform

"According to internal documents obtained by Rolling Stone, Conservatives for Patients' Rights had been working closely for weeks as a 'coalition partner' with three other right-wing groups in a plot to unleash irate mobs at town-hall meetings ... .

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The Pentagon's New Multi-Lingual Web

The U.S. Special Operations Command awarded General Dynamics Information Technology a $10.1 million contract to build the "Trans Regional Web Initiative." The project will include "a minimum of two and no more than twelve websites" in languages such as Arabic, French, English, Chinese, Farsi, Russian, Urdu and Malay / Indonesian, in support of U.S.

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Originator of False "Death Panel" Rumor Worked with Philip Morris in 1990s to Kill Health Care Reform

The woman credited with originating the false "death panels" claim about health care reform legislation worked with Phillip Morris in the 1990s to derail the Clinton administration's efforts to reform health care, according to the October 1 issue of Rolling Stone magazine.

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Pentagon Propaganda Gets a Pass

Is there a difference between covert propaganda and secretive campaigns to shape public opinion on controversial issues? The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) apparently thinks that there is.

The GAO recently ruled that the Pentagon pundit program did not break the law against taxpayer-funded domestic propaganda. The program involved some 75 retired military officers who serve as frequent media commentators. From 2002 to 2008, the Pentagon set up meetings between the pundits and high-level Department of Defense (DOD) officials. The Pentagon's PR staff not only gave the pundits talking points, but helped them draft opinion columns and gave them feedback on their media appearances. The Pentagon also paid for the pundits to travel overseas, following carefully-scripted itineraries designed to highlight successes in Iraq and humane measures at the Guantanamo Bay detention center.

Kremlin Comrades Crave Kinder Coverage

In May, the Russian government "created a high-level commission to overhaul its image on the world stage as the first anniversary of Russia's war with Georgia approaches." The commission is chaired by President Dmitry Medvedev's chief of staff, Sergei Naryshikin, "underscoring how serious the Kremlin considers the problem, which it often blames on shadowy external enemies and ill-wishers," reports the Wall Street Journal.

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Exporting U.S. PSYOP that Fools No One

U.S. military psychological operations (PSYOP) campaigns continue in Iraq, though many question their effectiveness. "They have a very crude tone and content, and the narrator sounds like Saddam's own propagandist," said political science professor As'ad AbuKhalil.

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