"In recent months, the U.S. command in Afghanistan has begun publicizing every single enemy fighter killed in combat, the most detailed body counts the military has released since the practice fell into disrepute during the Vietnam War," reports the Wall Street Journal. The change comes in response to concerns "that at home, the common perception is this war is being lost," explained a military spokeswoman. Enemy body counts are only released for U.S.
The Victorian government has spent $222,000 Australian on a television program promoting the attraction of living and working in areas outside the major metropolitan areas. The program, ''Changing Places: Life in Provincial Victoria,'' was broadcast on commercial television at Easter.
The continuing saga of the Pentagon pundit program just keeps getting curiouser and curiouser, as Alice in Wonderland might say.
From 2002 to 2008, the Defense Department secretly cultivated more than 70 retired military officers who frequently serve as media commentators. Initially, the goal was to use them as "message force multipliers," to bolster the Bush administration's Iraq War sell job. That went so well that the covert program to shape U.S. public opinion -- an illegal effort, by any reasonable reading of the law -- was expanded to spin everything from then-Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's job performance to U.S. military operations in Afghanistan to the Guantanamo Bay detention center to warrantless wiretapping.
In April 2008, shortly after the New York Times first reported on the Pentagon's pundits -- an in-depth exposé that recently won the Times' David Barstow his second Pulitzer Prize -- the Pentagon suspended the program. In January 2009, the Defense Department Inspector General's office released a report claiming "there was an 'insufficient basis' to conclude that the program had violated laws." Representative Paul Hodes, one of the program's many Congressional critics, called the Inspector General's report "a whitewash."
Now, it seems as though the Pentagon agrees.
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.
The story was huge, but it wasn't easy to break. It took two years for reporter David Barstow and others at the Times to pry the relevant documents from the Pentagon. Seven months later, Barstow helped us further understand how the U.S. "military-industrial-media complex" works, with another front-page exposé on one spectacularly conflicted Pentagon pundit, Barry McCaffrey.
On April 20, David Barstow received the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting, for his work on the Pentagon pundit story.
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:
Liberal think tanks and advocacy organizations formed during the Bush/Cheney regime are working in close and well-funded coordination as a PR messaging machine for the Obama Administration's foreign and domestic policies. A Washington Post blog noted that the Center for American Progress is now running Progressive Media which was begun by Tom Matzzie and David Brock in 2008 and now "represents a serious ratcheting up of efforts to present a united liberal front in the coming policy wars." Progressive Media is a joint project with CAP and Brock's Media Matters Action Network and "headed by well-known liberal operative Tara McGuinness." Matzzie recently reminisced about his work with MoveOn's "Tara McGuinness, Eli Pariser and others" organizing Americans Against Escalation in Iraq. Today MoveOn, USAction and others in that coalition are working hard to push Obama's policies, including rationalizlng or defending his escalation of the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan as "sustainable security."