Pentagon used psychological operation on US public, documents show
By Brad Jacobson
Figure in Bush propaganda operation remains Pentagon spokesman
In Part I of this series, Raw Story revealed that Bryan Whitman, the current deputy assistant secretary of defense for media operations, was an active senior participant in a Bush administration covert Pentagon program that used retired military analysts to generate positive wartime news coverage.
A months-long review of documents and interviews with Pentagon personnel has revealed that the Bush Administration's military analyst program -- aimed at selling the Iraq war to the American people -- operated through a secretive collaboration between the Defense Department's press and community relations offices.
Raw Story has also uncovered evidence that directly ties the activities undertaken in the military analyst program to an official US military document’s definition of psychological operations -- propaganda that is only supposed to be directed toward foreign audiences.
The investigation of Pentagon documents and interviews with Defense Department officials and experts in public relations found that the decision to fold the military analyst program into community relations and portray it as “outreach” served to obscure the intent of the project as well as that office’s partnership with the press office. It also helped shield its senior supervisor, Bryan Whitman, assistant secretary of defense for media operations, whose role was unknown when the original story of the analyst program broke.
In a nearly hour-long phone interview, Whitman asserted that since the program was not run from his office, he was neither involved nor culpable. Exposure of the collaboration between the Pentagon press and community relations offices on this program, however, as well as an effort to characterize it as a mere community outreach project, belie Whitman’s claim that he bears no responsibility for the program’s activities.
These new revelations come in addition to the evidence of Whitman’s active and extensive participation in the program, as Raw Story documented in part one of this series. Whitman remains a spokesman for the Pentagon today.
Whitman said he stood by an earlier statement in which he averred “the intent and purpose of the [program]is nothing other than an earnest attempt to inform the American public.”
In the interview, Whitman sought to portray his role as peripheral, noting that his position naturally demands he speak on a number of subjects in which he isn’t necessarily directly involved.
The record, however, suggests otherwise.
In a January 2005 memorandum to active members of both offices from then-Pentagon press office director, Navy Captain Roxie Merritt, who now leads the community relations office, emphasized the necessary “synergy of outreach shop and media ops working together” on the military analyst program. [p. 18-19]
Merritt recommended that both the press and community relations offices develop a “hot list” of analysts who could dependably “carry our water” and provide them with ultra-exclusive access that would compel the networks to “weed out the less reliably friendly analysts” on their own.
“Media ops and outreach can work on a plan to maximize use of the analysts and figure out a system by which we keep our most reliably friendly analysts plugged in on everything from crisis response to future plans,” Merritt remarked. “As evidenced by this analyst trip to Iraq, the synergy of outreach shop and media ops working together on these types of projects is enormous and effective. Will continue to examine ways to improve processes.”
In response, Lawrence Di Rita, then Pentagon public affairs chief, agreed. He told Merritt and both offices in an email, “I guess I thought we already were doing a lot of this.”
Several names on the memo are redacted. Those who are visible read like a who’s who of the Pentagon press and community relations offices: Whitman, Merritt, her deputy press office director Gary Keck (both of whom reported directly to Whitman) and two Bush political appointees, Dallas Lawrence and Allison Barber, then respectively director and head of community relations.
Merritt became director of the office, and its de facto chief until the appointment of a new deputy assistant secretary of defense, after the departures of Barber and Lawrence, the ostensible leaders of the military analyst program. She remains at the Defense Department today.
When reached through email, Merritt attempted to explain the function of her office's outreach program and what distinguishes it from press office activities.
“Essentially,” Merritt summarized, “we provide another avenue of communications for citizens and organizations wanting to communicate directly with DoD.”
Asked to clarify, she said that outreach’s purpose is to educate the public in a one-to-one manner about the Defense Department and military’s structure, history and operations. She also noted her office "does not handle [the]news media unless they have a specific question about one of our programs."
Merritt eventually admitted that it is not a function of the outreach program to provide either information or talking points to individuals or a group of individuals -- such as the retired military analysts -- with the intention that those recipients use them to directly engage with traditional news media and influence news coverage.
Asked directly if her office provides talking points for this purpose, she replied, “No. The talking points are developed for use by DoD personnel.”
Experts in public relations and propaganda say Raw Story's findings reveal the program itself was "unwise" and "inherently deceptive." One expressed surprise that one of the program's senior figures was still speaking for the Pentagon.
“Running the military analyst program from a community relations office is both surprising and unwise,” said Nicholas Cull, a professor of public diplomacy at USC’s Annenberg School and an expert on propaganda. “It is surprising because this is not what that office should be doing [and]unwise because the element of subterfuge is always a lightening rod for public criticism.”
Diane Farsetta, a senior researcher at the Center for Media and Democracy, which monitors publics relations and media manipulation, said calling the program “outreach” was “very calculatedly misleading” and another example of how the project was “inherently deceptive.”
“This has been their talking point in general on the Pentagon pundit program,” Farsetta explained. “You know, ‘We’re all just making sure that we’re sharing information.’”
Farsetta also said that it’s “pretty stunning” that no one, including Whitman, has been willing to take any responsibility for the program and that the Pentagon Inspector General’s office and Congress have yet to hold anyone accountable.
“It’s hard to think of a more blatant example of propaganda than this program,” Farsetta said.
Cull said the revelations are “just one more indication that the entire apparatus of the US government’s strategic communications -- civilian and military, at home and abroad -- is in dire need of review and repair.”
A PSYOPS Program Directed at American Public
When the military analyst program was first revealed by The New York Times in 2008, retired US Army Col. Ken Allard described it as “PSYOPS on steroids.”
It turns out this was far from a casual reference. Raw Story has discovered new evidence that directly exposes this stealth media project and the activities of its participants as matching the US government’s own definition of psychological operations, or PSYOPS.
The US Army Civil Affairs & Psychological Operations Command fact sheet, which states that PSYOPS should be directed “to foreign audiences” only, includes the following description:
“Used during peacetime, contingencies and declared war, these activities are not forms of force, but are force multipliers that use nonviolent means in often violent environments.”
Pentagon public affairs officials referred to the military analysts as “message force multipliers” in documented communications.
A prime example is a May 2006 memorandum from then community relations chief Allison Barber in which she proposes sending the military analysts on another trip to Iraq:
“Based on past trips, I would suggest limiting the group to 10 analysts, those with the greatest ability to serve as message force multipliers.”
Nicholas Cull, who also directs the public diplomacy master’s program at USC and has written extensively on propaganda and media history, found the Pentagon public affairs officials’ use of such terms both incriminating and reckless.
“[Their] use of psyop terminology is an ‘own goal,’” Cull explained in an email, “as it speaks directly to the American public’s underlying fear of being brainwashed by its own government.”
This new evidence provides further perspective on an incident cited by the Times.
Pentagon records show that the day after 14 marines died in Iraq on August 3, 2005, James T. Conway, then director of operations for the Joint Chiefs, instructed military analysts during a briefing to work to prevent the incident from weakening public support for the war. Conway reminded the military analysts assembled, “The strategic target remains our population.” [p. 102]
Same Strategy, Different Program
Bryan Whitman was also involved in a different Pentagon public affairs project during the lead-up to the war in Iraq: embedding reporters.
The embed and military analyst programs shared the same underlying strategy of “information dominance,” the same objective of selling Bush administration war policies by generating favorable news coverage and were directed at the same target -- the American public.
Torie Clarke, the first Pentagon public affairs chief, is often credited for conceiving both programs. But Clarke and Whitman have openly acknowledged his deep involvement in the embed project.
Clarke declined to be interviewed for this article.
Whitman said he was “heavily involved in the process” of the embed program's development, implementation and supervision.
Before embedding, reporters and media organizations were forced to sign a contract whose ground rules included allowing military officials to review articles for release, traveling with military personnel escorts at all times or remaining in designated areas, only conducting on-the-record interviews, and agreeing that the government may terminate the contract “at any time and for any reason.”
In May 2002, with planning for a possible invasion of Iraq already in progress, Clarke appointed Whitman to head all Pentagon media operations. Prior to that, he had served since 1995 in the Pentagon press office, both as deputy director for press operations and as a public affairs specialist.
The timing of Whitman’s appointment coincided with the development stages of the embed and military analyst programs. He was the ideal candidate for both projects.
Whitman had a military background, having served in combat as a Special Forces commander and as an Army public affairs officer with years of experience in messaging from the Pentagon. He also had experience in briefing and prepping civilian and military personnel.
Whitman's background provided him with a facility and familiarity in navigating military and civilian channels. With these tools in hand, he was able to create dialogue between the two and expedite action in a sprawling and sometimes contentious bureaucracy.
Buried in an obscure April 2008 online New York Times Q&A with readers, reporter David Barstow disclosed:
“As Lawrence Di Rita, a former senior Pentagon official told me, they viewed [the military analyst program]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.”
Di Rita denied the conversation had occurred in a telephone interview.
“I don’t doubt that’s what he heard, but that’s not what I said,” Di Rita asserted.
Whitman said he'd never heard Di Rita make any such comparison between the programs.
Barstow, however, said he stood behind the veracity of the quote and the conversation he attributed to Di Rita.
Di Rita, who succeeded Clarke, also declined to answer any questions related to Whitman’s involvement in the military analyst program, including whether he had been involved in its creation.
Clarke and Whitman have both discussed information dominance and its role in the embed program.
In her 2006 book Lipstick on a Pig, Clarke revealed that “most importantly, embedding was a military strategy in addition to a public affairs one” (p. 62) and that the program’s strategy was “simple: information dominance” (p. 187). To achieve it, she explained, there was a need to circumvent the traditional news media “filter” where journalists act as “intermediaries.”
The goal, just as with the military analyst program, was not to spin a story but to control the narrative altogether.
At the 2003 Military-Media conference in Chicago, Whitman told the audience, “We wanted to take the offensive to achieve information dominance” because “information was going to play a major role in combat operations.” [pdf link p. 2]One of the other program’s objectives, he said, was “to build and maintain support for U.S. policy.” [pdf link, p. 16 – quote sourced in 2005 recap of 2003 mil-media conference]
At the March 2004 “Media at War” conference at UC Berkeley, Lt. Col. Rick Long, former head of media relations for the US Marine Corps, offered a candid view of the Pentagon’s engagement in “information warfare” during the Bush administration.
“Our job is to win, quite frankly,” said Long. “The reason why we wanted to embed so many media was we wanted to dominate the information environment. We wanted to beat any kind of propaganda or disinformation at its own game.”
“Overall,” he told the audience, “we’re happy with the outcome.”
The Appearance of Transparency
On a national radio program just before the invasion of Iraq, Whitman claimed that embedded reporters would have a firsthand perspective of “the good, the bad and the ugly.”
But veteran foreign correspondent Reese Erlich told Raw Story that the embed program was “a stroke of genius by the Bush administration” because it gave the appearance of transparency while “in reality, they were manipulating the news.”
In a phone interview, Erlich, who is currently covering the war in Afghanistan as a “unilateral” (which allows reporters to move around more freely without the restrictions of embed guidelines), also pointed out the psychological and practical influence the program has on reporters.
“You’re traveling with a particular group of soldiers,” he explained. “Your life literally depends on them. And you see only the firefights or slog that they’re involved in. So you’re not going to get anything close to balanced reporting.”
At the August 2003 Military-Media conference in Chicago, Jonathan Landay, who covered the initial stages of the war for Knight Ridder Newspapers, said that being a unilateral “gave me the flexibility to do my job.” [pdf link p. 2]
He added, “Donald Rumsfeld told the American people that what happened in northern Iraq after [the invasion]was a little ‘untidiness.’ What I saw, and what I reported, was a tsunami of murder, looting, arson and ethnic cleansing.”
Paul Workman, a journalist with over thirty years at CBC News, including foreign correspondent reporting on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, wrote of the program in April 2003, “It is a brilliant, persuasive conspiracy to control the images and the messages coming out of the battlefield and they've succeeded colossally.”
Erlich said he thought most mainstream US reporters have been unwilling to candidly discuss the program because they “weren’t interested in losing their jobs by revealing what they really thought about the embed process.”
Now embedded with troops in Afghanistan for McClatchy, Landay told Raw Story it’s not that reporters shouldn’t be embedded with troops at all, but that it should be only one facet of every news outlet’s war coverage.
Embedding, he said, offers a “soda-straw view of events.” This isn't necessarily negative “as long as a news outlet has a number of embeds and unilaterals whose pictures can be combined” with civilian perspectives available from international TV outlets such as Reuters TV, AP TV, and al Jazeera, he said.
Landay placed more blame on US network news outlets than on the embed program itself for failing to show a more balanced and accurate picture.
But when asked if the Pentagon and the designers of the embed program counted as part of their embedding strategy on the dismal track record of US network news outlets when it came to including international TV footage from civilian perspectives, he replied, “I will not second guess the Pentagon’s motives.”
Brad Jacobson is a contributing investigative reporter for Raw Story. Additional research was provided by Ron Brynaert.
In case those who are interested want to read Part I referenced above:
Senior official in Bush domestic propaganda program remains Obama’s Pentagon spokesman
By Brad Jacobson
A key senior figure in a Bush administration covert Pentagon program, which used retired military analysts to produce positive wartime news coverage, remains in the same position today as a chief Obama Defense Department spokesman and the agency’s head of all media operations.
In an examination of Pentagon documents the New York Times obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request -- which reporter David Barstow leveraged for his April 2008 Pulitzer Prize-winning exposé on the program – Raw Story has found that Bryan Whitman surfaces in over 500 emails and transcripts, revealing the deputy assistant secretary of defense for media operations was both one of the program’s senior participants and an active member.
Whitman’s conspicuous presence in these records is notwithstanding thousands of documented communications the Bush Pentagon released but for which names were redacted and an untold number the prior administration successfully withheld after its two-year legal battle with the Times.
Barstow’s Times expose revealed a comprehensive, covert Pentagon campaign -- beginning during the lead-up to the Iraq War and continuing through 2008 -- that shaped network military analysts into what internal documents referred to as “message force multipliers” and “surrogates” who could be trusted to parrot Bush administration talking points “in the form of their own opinions.” Barstow’s reporting also detailed how most of the military analysts, traditionally viewed as authoritative and independent, had ties to defense contractors with a stake in the same war policies they were interpreting daily to the American public.
The program was ostensibly run out of the Pentagon’s public affairs office for community relations, as part of its outreach, and attended to by political appointees, most visibly in these records by then community relations chief Allison Barber and director Dallas Lawrence.
But as Barstow noted in his report, in running the program out of that office rather than from the agency’s regular press office, “the decision recalled other Bush administration tactics that subverted traditional journalism.” In addition to concealing the true nature of the program and the retired military officers’ participation in it, this tactic produced one other effect.
It provided Bryan Whitman, a career civil servant and senior Defense Department official who oversees the press office and all media operations, cover if and when the program was revealed.
Additionally, while political appointees tend to come and go with each new administration, Whitman would be there before the program and he would be there after it. His status as a career civil servant, the fact that he’s worked for both Democratic and Republican administrations – something he points out often in public settings and did at the close of his recent phone interview with Raw Story -- has also served to buffer him thus far from scrutiny regarding his involvement in this program.
In a conversation with Mr. Whitman, he denied any involvement or senior role in the program, saying he only had “knowledge” of its existence and called the assertion “not accurate.”
Asked to explain the hundreds of records showing otherwise, Mr. Whitman replied, “No, I’m familiar with those documents and I’d just beg to differ with you,” though he did acknowledge being in “some” of them.
In defending his claim that he wasn’t involved in the program, Whitman reiterated numerous times that since it was not run out of his office, it was not under “my purview or my responsibility.”
Yet records clearly reveal that Whitman was not only fully aware of the program’s intent but also zealously pursued its goal of arming the military analysts with Pentagon talking points in an effort to dominate each relevant news cycle. He was consulted regularly, doled out directives, actively participated and was constantly in the loop.
Documented communications show that Whitman played a senior role in securing generals to brief the analysts, fashioned talking points to feed them, called analyst meetings to put out Pentagon and Bush administration PR fires, hosted meetings, determined which analysts should attend trips to wartime military sites (such as the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba) and received frequent, comprehensive reports detailing the analysts’ impact on the air, in print and online.
In the Mix and Calling Shots
Records reveal Bryan Whitman as an ever-present force in the retired military analyst program, whether utilizing the analysts to push back against negative news coverage on insufficient body armor for soldiers, the abuse of detainees, setbacks in Iraq, and other incidents and war policies.
In David Barstow’s Times expose, a prime example of how the Pentagon “enlisted analysts as a rapid reaction force to rebut” unfavorable coverage was illustrated in an email sent by “a senior Pentagon official” after news broke that troops in Iraq were dying because they had received insufficient body armor: “I think our analysts – properly armed – can push back in that arena.”
That senior Pentagon official, documents show, was Bryan Whitman.
In the complete, unedited January 2006 email (pdf link, p. 84) from Whitman (he sometimes used “military analyst” or “analyst” when indicating the plural form “analysts”), he said:
"In addition to all the nice work yesterday, I think it is still a good idea to have [US Army Maj. Gen.] Sorenson do a phone call with the Military Analyst. There were a number of critical Op-Ed pieces that popped up today and I think our analyst -- properly armed -- can push back in that arena. We can set it all up, just need a time he could do it with a little advance notice to get them all on the phone.”
Whitman sent this email directly to members of US Army Office for public affairs and cc’ed then Pentagon press secretary Eric Ruff and community relations chief Allison Barber. The full communication details Whitman commending the team’s initial efforts to push back against damaging news from the prior day, and defining the strategy and calling for a new military analyst meeting, with the additional directive “[w]e can set it all up.”
The communication displays the range of Whitman’s involvement, his facility within the program’s fluid apparatus, his clout as a senior participant, as well as a full understanding of, and commitment to, its goals.
Other documents also expose Whitman’s breadth and depth of participation and his direct impact on the program’s success.
On March 9, 2005, the day before Vice Admiral Albert T. Church, a Naval Inspector General, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee about his report on detainee detention operations and interrogation techniques, he briefed the military analysts. Whitman hosted the analyst briefing (pdf link, pages 1-13).
Church led with his report’s primary takeaway: “[W]e found no policy that condoned or in any way considered torture” or “condoned or in any way encouraged abuse of detainees.” But he also told the analysts that “interrogators were starting to clamp up and we were losing intelligence,” a point he mentioned he omitted from the report but for which a “debate” was necessary.
Whitman later opened up the floor to other officials who “might be helpful for you tomorrow as you’re having to talk through some of these issues.”
A leader from the Office of Detainee Affairs (whose name is redacted) assured the analysts “that from the beginning of the war on terrorism both the President and the Secretary of Defense made clear that all detainees would be treated humanely.” An Army official (name also redacted) followed by beginning, “Gentlemen, let me give you kind of the big headline up front.”
Whitman closed the military analyst meeting with a “reminder of the ground rules” that “the information is embargoed until 7:00 a.m. tomorrow, with any direct attribution to Admiral Church when the testimony begins and no direct attribution to our other officials.”
They were armed with their talking points before Church’s testimony even began.
He also invited the analysts to give their “feedback on doing this ahead of an event” as “opposed to after we’ve announced something,” with the additional solicitation “[i]f it works for you under these type of conditions I think we would like to bring you in early on something.”
The following day, Church’s report and testimony received withering criticism for failing to assess the accountability of senior officials involved in policies that led to abuse. But that wouldn’t deter the military analysts, especially one of the Pentagon’s most fervent and prolific members, Jed Babbin, former undersecretary of defense during the first Bush administration.
In his March 11, 2005 New York Post op-ed column (pdf link, pages 150-151), the day after Church presented his report to Congress, Babbin published an article titled “Torture Truths,” in which he not only parroted talking points from the briefing but added his own personal touch, warning that the United States must “reject the tide of political correctness that threatens to drown our interrogators.”
That day, Whitman emailed the article to then Pentagon public affairs chief Larry Di Rita (pdf link, p. 150), making clear that they “need to keep this dog fed.”
And with Whitman’s help, that’s exactly what they did.
In July 2005, records show (pdf link, pages 79-86) press secretary Eric Ruff contacting Whitman about a request from Babbin to interview Brigadier General Jay Hood -- then the commander in charge of detainee operations at Guantanamo Bay -- when Babbin filled in as host on “The Mark Larson Show,” a conservative radio program out of KOGO in San Diego.
Whitman replied, “We can work it,” adding, “but I hope you are getting a cut of Babbins [sic]action as his agent.”
In a following email to military public affair officials to secure Hood, Whitman assured them, “As you probably know, Jed is very friendly and supportive.” Soon, Whitman had not only worked it but sealed the deal, writing to Ruff three days later, “FYI – Hood is on with Babbin.”
Throughout the records, Whitman and his team, in return, expressed their fealty to Babbin, realizing a pliant and tireless operative when they saw one.
After members of Whitman’s press office, including then director Roxie Merritt and deputy director Gary Keck, lined up an appearance for Babbin on “The Bill O’Reilly Show” to discuss detainee abuse allegations, Whitman, in a particularly effusive March 2005 email (pdf link, p. 30), commended his crew and gushed, “Good work by all – Babbin will do us well – we should contact him and ask him if he needs anything – I will be happy to talk to him.”
Clearly, however, records also show that Whitman and his colleagues knew when it was time to cut loose a wayward analyst.
When 14 marines died in Iraq on August 3, 2005, military analyst Bill Cowan, a Fox analyst and retired Marine colonel, was scheduled to appear on Fox’s The O’Reilly Factor. Whitman, along with other Pentagon public affairs officials involved in the program, received an email (sent by a redacted source pdf link, p. 3) which said that Cowan “wanted to give us a heads-up about what he’s going to say” and was also requesting “anything and everything we can give him [regarding]the deaths of the marines.” Cowan, though, who Barstow reported had grown frustrated with the Pentagon program, also noted that his comments “may not all be friendly.”
In another email, Whitman offered, “I’ll talk to him if you like.” Within a couple of hours, Whitman also confirmed that he had arranged for one of two generals to speak with Cowan.
Though in this case, Whitman’s efforts notwithstanding, Cowan (Barstow also detailed) went too far off script for the Pentagon’s liking when he said that America “is not on a good glide path right now.”
Cowan told Barstow that the Pentagon “simply didn’t like the fact that I wasn’t carrying their water” so he was “precipitously fired from the analysts group” after the appearance.
Other documented communications illustrate Whitman’s shaping and sanctioning program activities such as an August 2005 email (pdf link, p. 95), which shows Whitman as one of four senior Pentagon officials to approve the list of attendees for a scheduled military analyst trip to the Guantanamo Bay detention center.
“I’ve attached the list discussed and agreed to between Cully, Mr. Smith, Bryan Whitman, and Mr. Haynes," the sender (name redacted) wrote to then head of community relations Allison Barber.
The other three senior Pentagon officials cited include, at the time, acting assistant secretary of defense for public affairs Dorrance Smith, general counsel WJ Haynes and deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs Charles Cully.
Time and again, records show Whitman in the mix, championing the program.
“The analyst[s]are back from Iraq and starting to make do [sic]their thing – very positive contribution to the reporting,” Whitman crowed in this December 2005 email (pdf link, p. 106), on the success of the military analysts latest excursion and subsequent on-air offensive.
And throughout, Whitman is consulted on what messaging to spoon feed them, such as in this October 2006 email from Barber (pdf link, p. 115): “Do we have an official line for the military analysts on this?”
Records also show that Whitman, along with his colleagues in the program, received regular summaries and extensive systematic reports detailing the military analysts impact around the networks, on the radio, in print and online, as in this excerpt from one such typical email from February 2005 (pdf link, p. 97), addressed (from a redacted source) directly to some of the usual senior officials involved in the program – Di Rita, Whitman, Barber and Ruff -- and cc’d to dozens of others:
“TV Broadcast Summary: Analysts Tommy Franks, Jed Babbin, Don Shepperd, Montgomery Meigs and Jack Jacobs were all featured on national news stations (Fox News, CNN and MSNBC). Generally speaking, all agreed that the election was not as violent as expected and that the Iraqi security forces and American troops did a very good job. Several analysts alluded to the fact that there will be more danger ahead. The analyst mood was positive as Iraqi events unfolded. …The attached memo provides information on what each analyst said and how often they appeared on television.”
Whitman even proved a creative force in getting the most out of the analysts, seeing opportunities even in a national disaster, such as Hurricane Katrina.
Two days after Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, then community relations director Dallas Lawrence wrote to Whitman (pdf link, p. 6), “Bryan, per our chat, at the conclusion of our conference call this afternoon with Bg Hemingway, I pulsed our analysts to see if there would be an interest in a 4:15 call today to discuss the DoD response to Katrina. …There was a universal positive response, several said they have been doing radio interviews throughout the day and have been asked several times, what DoD, specifically, is doing.”
Lawrence concluded the email by thanking Whitman and confirming that an RSVP list for the military analyst meeting on Katrina would arrive soon.
Part II of this expose will explore how the Pentagon press office and community relations worked in tandem on the military analyst program, and how "information dominance" drove not only this project but the embed program for reporters, about which Bryan Whitman admits he was "heavily involved in the process."
(Brad Jacobson is a contributing investigative reporter to Raw Story; additional research provided by Ron Brynaert)
April 9, 2009
It's hard to impossible for me to believe that some who post here, hang here refuse to accept the fact that this very subject has been mentioned many times before, not only by myself but a few others. It's common knowledge that the Bush Administration took control of the media and deposition/dispersing of the NEWS to new levels.
I applaud you for posting this piece, maybe some of the more hard headed individuals will cotton on to it, allowing it to seep in a bit. One can hope.
My Mother's favorite line/lines have become :"" Did you see?" " Did you hear?" While mine has become " It's probably propaganda so I'm not interested "
Keeping the focus on the war and spinning all of the positive news is pretty pathetic when it comes to the daily cost.
Bring Em Home Cole
April 9, 2009
Interesting: it seems that all of the mice have run for cover, no one cares to discuss the Pentagon's control of all major media outlets, but I understand it. It's hard to live a lie, maybe a guilty conscience, nah I doubt that
Some say the story was leaked otherwise no one would ever know about it, at least not here in the states anyway.
Oh and of course they were planted a bit prior to 9-11 but that's probably all just a nasty coincidence. 😉
CNN - The CIA's News Network?
In February of this year, a story that had appeared in the European press was reported by Alexander Cockburn - co-editor of Counterpunch - concerning the employment by CNN of military psychological warfare specialists. Other than Cockburn's piece, and the issuance of an 'Action Alert' by the media-watchdog group FAIR (Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting), the report was ignored by the American press.
As originally reported by Abe de Vries in the Dutch periodical Trouw, the story went something like this: "For a short time last year, CNN employed military specialists in 'psychological operations' (psyops). This was confirmed to Trouw by a spokesman of the U.S. Army. The military could have influenced CNN's news reports about the crisis in Kosovo." (1)
Could have? The word 'duh' would seem to apply here. In fact, here's a news flash: the military influenced the news reports of all the media outlets that covered the Kosovo bombardment. The only news coming from the area was coming from NATO and the Pentagon. When you are the sole source of information, you tend to have a lot of influence.
But that's not the issue here. The concern here is with CNN hiring military personnel to package for viewers the information provided as 'news' by other military personnel. This is said to be a most disturbing development, and I suppose it would be were it not for the fact that the U.S. media - as a whole - is infested with so many intelligence assets that it is hard to see how a few more in the mix could make much of a difference.
Of course, most of them are posing as reporters, editors, news anchors, analysts, producers, publishers, etc. The difference here is that these particular spooks were employed openly at CNN, without journalistic cover. As Major Thomas Collins, of the U.S. Army Information Service acknowledged:
"Psyops personnel, soldiers and officers, have been working in CNN's headquarters in Atlanta through our programme 'Training With Industry'. They worked as regular employees of CNN. Conceivably, they would have worked on stories during the Kosovo war. They helped in the production of news." (1)
The phrase "production of news" is notably ambiguous when used in this context. It could easily be defined as the manufacture of news. Manufacturing news is, in fact, exactly what psychological warfare specialists do. As de Vries notes:
"The military CNN personnel belonged to the airmobile Fourth Psychological Operations Group, stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. One of the main tasks of this group of almost 1200 soldiers and officers is to spread 'selected information'. [We should pause here, briefly, to note that in this context, the phrase 'selected information' generally means vicious distortions and outright lies.]
"American psyops troops try with a variety of techniques to influence media and public opinion in armed conflicts in which American state interests are said to be at stake. [We need to pause again to note that 'American state interests' generally means the financial interests of U.S. monopoly capitalists.] The propaganda group was involved in the Gulf war, the Bosnian war and the crisis in Kosovo." (1)
In other words, they did during the war in Kosovo what they have always done. This time, however, they did it more openly. This could have proven to be a major blunder for CNN, with scores of competitors airing this story to embarrass and discredit a rival. But that would require that we have some actual semblance of a free press.
Instead, what happened was that the story got a couple of brief mentions in the alternative press that were easily overlooked and ignored. And this was only after the translated article began appearing on internet sites, most notably on the Emperor's Clothes. Had this not been the case, the story likely would not have surfaced at all on these shores.
Nor would a follow-up article by de Vries in the same publication a few days later. De Vries refers to the Commander of the Fourth Psychological Operations Group, Colonel Cristopher St. John, who described the cooperation with CNN as "a textbook example of the kind of ties the American army wants to have with the media." (2)
The kind of ties that will allow it "to spread handpicked 'information' and keep other news quiet, ... to control the internet, to wage electronic warfare against disobedient media, and to control commercial satellites." (2) Most of which, it should be noted, the intelligence community already does to varying degrees. Still, the control is not yet complete enough.
De Vries reports that the psyops personnel were not completely satisfied with the Kosovo operation: "In their opinion, too much information about the unplanned results of the bombings has come to the surface. [We must pause yet again to note that 'unplanned results of the bombings' refers to the entirely foreseeable civilian carnage.] Rear Admiral Thomas Steffens of the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) reportedly would like to have the capacity to bring down an 'informational cone of silence' over areas where special operations are in place. What that can mean in reality was shown by the bombing of the Serbian state television RTS in Belgrade." (2)
Indeed. And speaking of the bombing of the Serbian television station, there was another story that ran in the European press concerning that particular incident which also happened to cast CNN in a particularly bad light. Considerably more so than the story told in the Dutch publication, in fact.
Significantly, this story was not aired at all in the United States. It did appear, however, in the U.K., in an article by corespondent Robert Fisk in The Independent. The report reveals that:
"Two days before NATO bombed the Serb Television headquarters in Belgrade, CNN received a tip from its Atlanta headquarters that the building was to be destroyed. They were told to remove their facilities from the premises at once, which they did." (3)
Apparently it helps to have those psyops specialists on board. Fisk goes on to recount that the next day, Aleksander Vucic, the Serbian Information Minister, received an invitation to appear on the Larry King Live show, ostensibly to give Larry's audience the Serbian view of the conflict via satellite.
There were two rather serious problems with this invitation, however. First, the notion that CNN would invite a Serbian official on the air to give the Serb point of view is rather far-fetched, to say the least. More importantly, the studio to which Vucic had been invited was now deserted. Nevertheless, he was asked to arrive for makeup at 2:00AM for a 2:30AM appearance.
"Vucic was late - which was just as well for him since NATO missiles slammed into the building at six minutes past two. The first one exploded in the make-up room where the young Serb assistant was burned to death. CNN calls this all a coincidence, saying that the Larry King show, put out by the entertainment division, did not know of the news department's instruction to its men to leave the Belgrade building." (3)
CNN's explanation is, of course, preposterous. In fact, the notion that there is some kind of distinction between CNN's 'entertainment division' and its 'news department' is rather preposterous as well. The truth appears to be that CNN was directly complicit in the attempted commission of a war crime.
And this action was, to be sure, a war crime. The deliberate targeting of a foreign dignitary for assassination - even in time of war - is definitely an international war crime. So it appears that our media have crossed the line from complicity in the covering-up of U.S. war crimes - which has been a mainstay of the press for decades - to complicity in the actual commission of war crimes.
A rather serious transgression, one would think, yet one which has been politely overlooked by the rest of the American media outlets. This is quite likely due to the fact that the intelligence community and corporate America pretty much controls all the media.
That is why even when stories such as the CNN/Psyops reports emerge in the 'progressive' media, albeit in a very limited way, they are accompanied by amusing commentary and analysis intended to downplay the significance of the incident.
For example, Cockburn wonders if: "It could be that CNN was the target of a psyops penetration and is still too naïve to figure out what was going on." (4) To the contrary, it appears that CNN was well aware of - and actively participating in - "what was going on."
Similarly, for FAIR what is "especially troubling is the fact that the network allowed the Army's covert propagandists to work in its headquarters, where they learned the ins and outs of CNN's operations. Even if the psyops officers working in the newsroom did not influence news reporting, did the network allow the military to conduct an intelligence-gathering mission against CNN itself?" (5)
Or, more likely, is CNN itself an "intelligence gathering mission," and has it been from its inception? It was CNN, it will be recalled, that pioneered the concept of military conflict as mini-series - complete with theme music and title graphics - during the Gulf War. That is, of course, the blueprint that has been followed by the media at large for all coverage of U.S. military actions since then.
One of the specific purposes for which CNN seems to have been born is the packaging of imperialist military conquests as humanitarian missions. In other words, "to spread 'selected information'" in order to "influence media and public opinion in armed conflicts in which American state interests are said to be at stake."
Glorification of U.S. high-tech weaponry, vilification of America's enemy of the moment, canonization of genocidal military leaders and advisers, rote reporting of the NATO/Pentagon/State Department line, deliberate avoidance of reporting clear-cut cases of American brutality and war crimes - all of these are indicative of a psyops program, not an allegedly independent news agency.
As the group FAIR noted: "CNN has always maintained a close relationship with the Pentagon. Getting access to top military officials is a necessity for a network that stakes its reputation on being first on the ground during wars and other military operations." (5)
Being first on the ground during military operations is, to be sure, a good place to be if one is a reporter. It is also a good place to be, it should be noted, if one is a member of the spook community.
Whether CNN was born as an intelligence front is probably now largely an irrelevant issue, as the cable titan has since the Kosovo war announced that it is to become a part of the AOL family. And AOL is, as was noted in a recent Spin Cycle article (Sony's Magic Cameras), doing a pretty damn good job of masquerading as an intelligence front itself.
So if CNN was not originally conceived as a psychological warfare entity (which appears to be the case, despite its purported status as the brainchild of Ted Turner, husband of Jane Fonda), it has certainly evolved into one. And by the way, does anyone remember when Jane was supposed to be one of the good guys? Just checking
Bring Em Home Cole
April 26, 2009
http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/ ... -psyop.htm
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Psychologi ... ted_States)
http://onlinejournal.com/artman/publish ... 1754.shtml
http://aconstantineblacklist.blogspot.c ... ainst.html
http://books.google.com/books?id=ccVm7F ... ar&f=false
Total Information Awareness
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Informatio ... ess_Office
April 26, 2009
Our Tax Dollars well spent?
http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009/10 ... ring-firm/
Hey, it beats embedding another Geraldo Rivera. Just in case you forgot about him going live and giving 'his' unit's exact geographic location in the Iraqi desert during Operation Desert Storm.
And how the 9/11 Commission and its report both point to obvious flaws concerning how each Government entity detailed their involvement in stopping such an attack (in spite of almost every C-T 'expert' vehemently denying the validity of the Commission's findings).
And pay special attention to how well the Katrina disaster was 'covered up', and how we didn't learn little details like the fact the original levees around Lake Pontchartrain were only designed to withstand a Cat 2 hurricane, or that FEMA demonstrated substandard leadership, or that every charity/emergency organization that showed up to provide relief failed to cooperate with other organizations.
Which is not to say there isn't 'psyops', but rather if such is involved they've done a piss-poor job, in my humble opinion (IMHO).
April 9, 2009
Yeah it's ALWAYS SOMETHING Always something that can be EXCUSED away and blamed on incompetence. That's rich, maybe a cake recipe or something similar written on the back of a DELI NAPKIN.
Yesterday I watched a bit of Football, 1 st time in weeks, just too busy and too disinterested these days. However I was watching Fox as it was showing the Vikings and the Steelers, during their ridiculously lame pre game show they were discussing the Browns and their troubles this past week with the SWINE FLU.
NOW PAY CLOSE ATTENTION During the discussion the lead anchor called the Swine flu the " MEDIA FLU " I chuckled to myself given the latest tiff between the WH and FAUX News Corp.
What's it mean?: Oh I'm quite certain EVERYONE knows. RIGHT!
It's written in braille, posted by the site host, and researched into the ground by many a GOOD SOURCE yet the same old guard tried to spin it away as " NO BIG DEAL " " INCOMPETENCE " Move along!
Maybe a 2 x 4 between the eyes would work: " Nah I doubt it "
Old-very very old.
Lee Hamilton = Iran Contra = I shredded because it was the right thing to do = we didn't have all of the information = 9-11 commission.
Bring Em Home Cole