For the past two decades, the U.S. Army has been shipping out career officers for a year-long PR training at the Pittsburgh office of global PR firm Ketchum, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. "The two sides were paired through a call from the Pentagon. It seems someone thought it would be a good idea to get public relations training," the Post-Gazette's Teresa F. Lindeman writes.
"The White House is shifting James Wilkinson, who helped run the U.S./U.K. coalition communications office in the aftermath of the invasion of Afghanistan, to the Pentagon's U.S. Central Command to serve as spokesperson for Gen. Tommy Franks," O'Dwyer's PR Daily writes. "That move is a 'big signal' that the U.S. is 'getting serious' about Iraq, according to a report in The Washington Times. Wilkinson has just returned from a trip to Morocco, where he practiced his Arabic language skills on the streets.
"The US Army is considering a proposal to privatize more than 200,000 jobs, a move that could displace thousands of public affairs officers worldwide - and yield a wealth of opportunity for private firms," PR Week's Douglas Quenqua writes.
"President Bush is a liar. There, I said it, but most of the mainstream media won't," writes Eric Alterman.
Veteran journalist Helen Thomas is angered by the Bush administration's "bullying drumbeat" of war. "Where is the outrage?" she said in a talk at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. "Where is Congress? They're supine! Bush has held only six press conferences, the only forum in our society where a president can be questioned. I'm on the phone to [press secretary] Ari Fleischer every day, asking will he ever hold another one? The international world is wondering what happened to America's great heart and soul. ... I do not absolve the press. We've rolled over and played dead, too."
"We know that secrecy by its very nature may affect the personality of its practioners," wrote the still-secret author of a 1977 secret study by the CIA, which noted that these "unintended psychological effects ... seem to diminish rather than enhance security." The author, whose study was finally declassified last month, pointed to the example of Pearl Harbor: "That most disastrous of intelligence failures was due in no small measure to the mishandling of compartmented intelligence.
"As soon as the results of Tuesday's mid-term elections are known, a small group of influential right-wing hawks with close ties to the offices of Pentagon chief Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney will launch a new political campaign to rally public support for the invasion of Iraq," writes Jim Lobe.
Award-winning journalist Gary Webb was hung out to dry by his newspaper, the San Jose Mercury News, after writing "Dark Alliance," which showed how the CIA and drug dealers fueled the epidemic of crack cocaine in Los Angeles in the 1980s. As the first Internet-based expose in journalism history, it was seen by millions worldwide, but caused such a firestorm of controversy that the paper's editor later apologized and shut down the website to keep the stories from ever being seen again.
OMB Watch, a nonprofit organization that monitors the White House Office of Management and Budget, has issued a working paper titled "The Bush Administration's Secrecy Policy: A Call to Action to Protect Democratic Values."
Speakers at a recent symposium of the Public Relations Society of America said that "U.S. support for Israelis over Palestinians, President Bush's 'crusade' against the Taliban and the presence of American troops in Saudi Arabia contribute to the rising anti-American sentiment in the Middle East," reports O'Dwyer's PR Daily. "According to Denise Gray-Felder, VP of communications for the Rockefeller Foundation, 'Americans persist in operating like a nation of ignorants.' She has noticed in her international travels that foreigners are far better educated on world affairs than U.S.