It was a shocking revelation. Exactly one year ago today, the New York Times published an in-depth account of the Pentagon military analyst program, a covert effort to cultivate pundits who are retired military officers as the Bush administration's "message force multipliers." The elaborate -- and presumably costly -- program flourished at the nexus of government war propaganda; the private interests of the officer-pundits, many of whom also worked as lobbyists or consultants for military contractors; and major news organizations that didn't ask tough questions about U.S. military operations while failing to screen their paid commentators for even the most glaring conflicts of interest.
Worried about "increasing international willingness to negotiate with Tehran over its nuclear program," the Israeli government is ramping up its anti-Iranian messaging. Israel has committed 8 million NIS, or around U.S.$2 million, for the campaign.
We recently received an email query from a high school student asking some questions about one of the books that John Stauber and I have written about the war in Iraq. Rather than answer those questions individually, I thought I'd answer them publicly here:
1. What are the top techniques deployed by the government to falsely inform the public?
There are a range of techniques used by governments, corporations and other parties to misinform the public. Some of the techniques that I find most objectionable are:
In February, the U.S. Army asked for proposals to boost its Iraq public affairs work with "three civilian PR specialists and two Arabic-speaking media monitors to work in Iraq and two staffers stateside." Then, the deadline for proposals was extended to mid-March.
"Over the past five years, the money the [U.S.] military spends on winning hearts and minds at home and abroad has grown by 63 percent, to at least $4.7 billion this year," reports the Associated Press. "That's almost as much as it spent on body armor for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2004 and 2006. ...
"I want to make sure that we strengthen prohibitions against domestic covert propaganda campaigns aimed essentially at breaking down the Constitutional barriers between who controls policy and who makes war," stressed Representative Paul Hodes.