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 of the public relations push to construct a case for war," reports David Barstow. The gist of the program was the recruitment of "key influentials" to help sell a wary public on the war. The former Hill & Knowlton executive and her senior aide, Brent Krueger, signed up more than 75 retired military officers, who appeared on television and radio news shows as military analysts, and/or penned newspaper op/ed columns. The Pentagon referred to the military analysts as "message force multipliers" or "surrogates," and held weekly meetings with them, which continue to this day. The Defense Department also paid for some analysts to travel to Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, encouraging them to counter negative press with Pentagon talking points. Former NBC military analyst Kenneth Allard called the effort "psyops on steroids." Many of the analysts were also lobbyists for defense contractors, and boasted of their Pentagon access to potential clients. This financial conflict discouraged the analysts from questioning or criticizing the Pentagon's claims. The Pentagon also tracked what the analysts said, via a six-figure contract with Omnitec Solutions, as William Cowan learned. He was fired from the Pentagon analysts group after saying on Fox News that the United States was "not on a good glide path right now" in Iraq.


The revelation that the Bush Administration spent millions of dollars in a massive pro-war propaganda campaign using scores of TV analysts - retired officers most of who had a financial relationship with military contractors - is stunning. Of course the story is being blacked out of the most important news media in the US, TV news, where most Americans get their information and through which the propaganda was delivered. Here the NYT reporter, David Barstow, and his editors answer questions about their piece:

Q. One question not pursued in the article, and which may be of continuing relevance, is whether or not it was/is legal for the military to mount a covert "psychological operations" effort whose explicit target is Americans on American soil.

— Bill, Austin, Tex.

A. It is not legal for the U.S. government to direct psychological operations or propaganda against the American people. But the lines between ordinary public affairs and propaganda are sometimes blurry, and there are varying views as to whether this particular campaign crossed those lines. A Pentagon spokesman said its intent was to keep the American people informed about the war by providing prominent military analysts with factual information and frequent, direct access to key military officials. As Lawrence Di Rita, a former senior Pentagon official told me, they viewed it as the “mirror image” of the Pentagon program for embedding reporters with units in the field. In this case, the military analysts were in effect “embedded’’ with the senior leadership through a steady mix of private briefings, trips and talking points. But internal documents show that Pentagon officials also viewed the military analysts as “surrogates” or “message force multipliers’’ who could be counted on to deliver administration “themes and messages’’ as if they were their own views, and several analysts asserted in interviews that they were sometimes given false or misleading information on a variety of topics related to the war.

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This war was one of the biggest mistakes of America, and it's still paying the price without seeing any end to this chaos.