TV Military Analysts Co-opted by Pentagon

The NYT today runs an incredibly long feature by David Barstow entitled “Message Machine: Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand.” The gist of the piece is that the retired military officers you see on television are often currently employed as defense contractors, and thus have a vested interest in the war machine, and are targeted by the Defense Department for special briefings and given talking points.

TV Military Analysts Co-opted by Pentagon

There are some damning quotes.

“It was them saying, ‘We need to stick our hands up your back and move your mouth for you,’” Robert S. Bevelacqua, a retired Green Beret and former Fox News analyst, said.

Kenneth Allard, a former NBC military analyst who has taught information warfare at the National Defense University, said the campaign amounted to a sophisticated information operation. “This was a coherent, active policy,” he said. As conditions in Iraq deteriorated, Mr. Allard recalled, he saw a yawning gap between what analysts were told in private briefings and what subsequent inquiries and books later revealed. “Night and day,” Mr. Allard said, “I felt we’d been hosed.”

It’s hardly surprising, though. Press briefings are quite naturally going to be aimed at generating the best spin, whether they’re run by the DoD or any other organization.

Moreover, the fact is that these analysts were all perfectly free to be critical of the Bush administration and its handling of the war. More importantly, they frequently were. Even though I don’t watch much television news these day, and really haven’t for more than five years now, I’ve seen enough to know that many of these retired generals have been second guessing the war strategy from Day One. Indeed, many conservative commenters — and Don Rumsfeld — were angry at them for using their status as retired generals to criticize their successors.

Despite the nefarious undertones of Barstow’s piece, this throw-away really explains much more than any Pentagon info-op:

Even analysts with no defense industry ties, and no fondness for the administration, were reluctant to be critical of military leaders, many of whom were friends. “It is very hard for me to criticize the United States Army,” said William L. Nash, a retired Army general and ABC analyst. “It is my life.”

A retired colonel soldiered for a minimum of twenty-five years; a retired general, thirty or forty years. If you put them on television, they might second guess war planning and boast that things would be better if they were calling the shots. But they’re not going to be too critical of the brotherhood. You don’t spend the best years of your life in the profession of arms unless you love the institution and its people.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Bithead says:

    Isn’t this in the end simply more of the left complaining about the access some reporters had to the Pentagon?

    If there are people in the ‘news’ business who will invariably give you bad press, and those who will give you better press, are the ones who give you better press co-opted, or are the ones who invariably give you bad press, co-opted by their own anti-military mindset? And how is knowing which is which, dishonest?

  2. Hal says:

    Isn’t this in the end simply more of the left complaining about the access some reporters had to the Pentagon?

    Obviously, you can’t be bothered to actually read the NY times piece or you’d understand how laughable your comment is.

  3. Our Paul says:

    A hat tip to you Mr. Joiner, and a strong Bravo!!! from the Peanut Gallery for alerting you readership of this article.

    It is going to take some time to digest NY Times article. You are quite right in characterizing it as “incredibly long”. On the Web, the article lists a multi-media section well worth tuning in too, as well as one of those new fangled document dump… David Barstow is not writing off the cuff, the article is based on documents garnered by the Freedom of Information Act.

    At present I refrain from further comments, but I would not minimize this article.

  4. legion says:

    While it’s important for any country’s military to understand & even use propaganda, I want to point out that this is another example of _our_ military using propaganda _against_ US citizens. And if your immediate reaction to that is “well, they’re just countering the anti-US propaganda of the MSM”, then you’re a damned idiot. The purpose of the military is to defend the US, not lie to the American people in order to keep the President from looking incompetent.

  5. Andy Vance says:

    I’ve seen enough to know that many of these retired generals have been second guessing the war strategy from Day One.

    What do you mean by “these?” Those (meaning most) who are feeding at the Pentagon trough (who are as “free” to criticize as I am “free” to tell my boss to go lick himself), or those few who dared criticize and were attacked by the “surrogates” at the behest of Rumsnamera?

  6. Hal says:

    perhaps rather than asserting, James could cite actual examples…

    Just kidding, of course. I know how the game is played here.

  7. Christopher says:

    OMG you are so right, James! Military people charged with protecting American and her people now are being biased toward…protecting American and her people!!!!

    What a conspiracy you have uncovered, James. All your years of blogging and posting and writing to convince and report has now come to fuition with the exposure of generals being (gasp!) generals! With military officers having an obvious bias toward (those scoundrels!) the military.

    Hey legion…I hear that Switzerland has a pretty darn good military (their lances they keep shiny and sharpened) and that they refuse to fight. Maybe you should move there….

  8. jpe says:

    The problem here isn’t with the analysts, but with the media that takes the voice of retired military as gospel.

  9. Al Bee says:

    TThe other side is cutting off frigging heads and you are worried over talking heads. Let’s prioritize the crap, ok. Talking heads are a dime a dozen. Every administration since Nebuchadrezzar has thrown the country a curve ball. Don’t get your equipment in an uproar. Let’s take off the manacles and let the troops get the guys cutting off heads. An old Sarge

  10. Hal says:

    Funny you should mention “curve ball”, considering that was the code name for another pipeline of misinformation the American public had to endure.

  11. Hal says:

    Indeed, many conservative commenters — and Don Rumsfeld — were angry at them for using their status as retired generals to criticize their successors.

    Again, James, you’re mixing apples and oranges. No one has charged that there weren’t ex military critics. The article isn’t saying anything about this. Rather, this is the simple matter of PAID consultants who are constantly on the air and writing OpEds in a coordinated effort by the Pentagon. Your claims that there were “plenty of others” is a red herring and irrelevant to the issue because even given that this was true (no one disputes your assertion), they were NOT the paid consultants and employed experts for the papers and networks.

    Really, James. You’ve completely and utterly missed the point of the article if this is your reply. But it would be nice if you spoke to the issue raised by the article rather than try to spin it away with irrelevant arguments.

  12. Triumph says:

    You’ve completely and utterly missed the point of the article if this is your reply. But it would be nice if you spoke to the issue raised by the article rather than try to spin it away with irrelevant arguments.

    Given the fact that the article was “incredibly long” James may not have gotten through the entire article.

    The problem was stated clearly in the article: the DoD wrote Op-Eds and provided propaganda content for purported military “experts” who not only had financial interests with the Pentagon, but who presented their “analysis” as independent.

    At the very least, their ties to the propaganda campaign and their financial interest in Pentagon business should have been disclosed.

  13. anjin-san says:

    Hey legion…I hear that Switzerland has a pretty darn good military (their lances they keep shiny and sharpened) and that they refuse to fight. Maybe you should move there….

    Actually, Switzerland has a highly professional, tough as nails military that is well respected by people who know a damn thing about military affairs, which of course leaves Christopher out.

    Arrogance & Ignorance – the mainstays of the Bush GOP

  14. anjin-san says:

    TThe other side is cutting off frigging heads and you are worried over talking heads

    .

    Ummm……… yes.

    A strong, independent and vital free press is critical to democracy, which is, after all, what America is all about.

    There have been evil men who do evil things as long as our country has been in existence. It is nothing new. Simply because they exist and present a threat to us is no reason to flush our way of life down the drain. Bin Laden wants to destroy our way of life. Why help him?

  15. Christopher says:

    Military people the world over are familiar with the fighting prowess of the Swiss military?!?
    Wow, anjin-san. Those Swiss must be right up there with the Japanese. (and anyway, I hear they can brew a cup o instant hot chocolate in nothing flat!)

    anjin-san, your comment has to be about the funniest thing I’ve ever read here!

  16. legion says:

    Funny stuff Christopher – the Japanese military is (much like the Swiss, as Anjin-san noted) very advanced, well-trained & equipped, highly professional, and not one sensible countries want to tangle with. Again, your ignorance of, well, pretty much every subject under the sun, continues to shine through.

    You don’t even grasp the subject of the discussion – nobody expects _serving_ officers to bad-mouth their civilian superiors. In fact, they tend to get cashiered out for such talk. But _former_ officers, portrayed as neutral analysts, blatantly lying about their opinions and neutrality _is_ newsworthy.

  17. anjin-san says:

    TARGET SWITZERLAND
    Swiss Armed Neutrality in World War II

    This book examines German plans for the conquest of Switzerland, as well as Swiss preparations to resist the assault. After the fall of France the German Army was at the height of its power-but would “blitzkrieg” have worked in the Alps? On the other side stood General Guisan, with the best armed and trained citizens army in the world. Guisan planned to concede the lowlands and take his forces to the mountains-an “Alpine Redoubt” the Germans would later consider as unassailable.

    Stephen P. Halbrook provides a brief military history of Switzerland, from the days when its pikemen ruled supreme on medieval battlefields, through the American Constitutional debates during which Swiss militia example was considered by the United States, to the 20th century, when Switzerland fielded Europe’s highest per capita of trained riflemen. European neutrality has never been a “gift” but a status, earned through armed deterrence. The little-known magnitude of Alpine fortifications is examined, as well as Swiss military doctrine, including its concept of instant mobilization, and the record of its air force in border skirmishes with the Luftwaffe. The Swiss have remained armed and free, ready to combat any aggressor, since 1291. When the ultimate cataclysm came to Europe in the 1940s, even the Nazis were deterred by the Swiss.

    Beneath their benign “Heidi” image the Swiss have never trumpeted the fact of their military preparedness. The book will be an eye-opener to many Americans, who never imagined that the nation that retained its straight cross, not a twisted one, was a nation of shooters, fully prepared to turn the Alps into a deathtrap for the panzers, if the Germans had dared to attempt a conquest.

    More at: http://www.stephenhalbrook.com/target.html

    The lapel pin patriots would not understand Switzerland, where they expect you to be ready to act tough if necessary, not just talk tough while somebody else does the fighting.

  18. Mike says:

    Greetings,

    I am confused… Only 4 years ago the charge was that the Pres and Mr. Rumsfield were not listening to the generals. Now we aren’t supposed to?

    I am one of these scum bag military contractors – I use that term as term of endearment – who reads reports, talks with people from in theater, works with those going into theater, and actually can see what is going on from some 1st hand sources.

    Why is it ‘propaganda’ to report good things that are happening, when it is ‘speaking the truth’ when you report the bad? Jeez guys, go look. You need a complete picture to see the whole thing.

    Regards,

  19. Christopher says:

    Good points, Mike.

    But c’mon, we all know, according to liberals legion and anjin-san, that the Swiss and Japanese militaries (that just cracks me up to even think it again! LOL!) are tops compared to today’s American forces.

    If only those countries had volunteered to take out the terrorists…Oh! if only!

  20. Bithead says:

    The problem was stated clearly in the article: the DoD wrote Op-Eds and provided propaganda content for purported military “experts” who not only had financial interests with the Pentagon, but who presented their “analysis” as independent.

    Perhaps someone can coherrently explain how this is somehow less valid than the left generating it’s own propaganda, which invariably is hyper critical of the military, (unless there’s a Democrat in the white house, of course)… and how that leftist propaganda is somehow ‘independant’.

    But, I doubt it.

  21. Hal says:

    But, I doubt it.

    Man, do you need some serious remedial civics classes. It’s almost as if you simply were asleep in all of them. It’s quite sad that James – someone who actually taught this stuff and has a Phd in it – won’t use his forum to educate you on this subject. Bizarre, actually.

    Look, Bithead. This is a democracy. The government doesn’t work for the right. Even when the right is in power. It works for *all* of us. A political party using the government for its propaganda purposes goes against the fundamental principles of a democracy. The American public is not the enemy, and you are *consistently* putting them in that role. In a democracy, the *people* make the policy and they cannot do that if their own government is lying to them. This is not an information war against the american public.

    The problem, since neither you nor any of the other critics of this article in the NY Times seem to be willing to invest the time it takes to actually read it, is that you have people who are crafting the plans out there selling the plans without telling the people their stake. This is a huge conflict of interest. A conflict of interest that, if it was known and clearly explained, would have significantly changed not just the tone of the debate, but the content of it.

    When you rely on experts who claim to be neutral but who are, in fact, part of the defense department’s campaign, you are subverting democracy. If you’re down with that because in your paranoid mind you think it’s balance for the vast left wing anti-military conspiracy, then you simply have no idea what this country stands for and what countless lives have been sacrificed to keep. I’m pretty much ashamed to realize you’re an American citizen if this is your position.

    Seriously, dude. You need some schooling about citizenship in this country and what our democracy is all about.

  22. Steve in wNY says:

    anjin-san,

    Not having read the Halbrook book, I can’t comment directly on that. However, you might be interested in another reason for Nazi Germany’s reluctance to invade Switzerland. (Hint: might have been something of a symbiotic relationship)

    No, it’s not established fact, but the Frontline piece brings to light some interesting and relatively little-known inquiry into Swiss neutrality in WWII.

  23. Bithead says:

    Man, do you need some serious remedial civics classes

    Look, Bithead. This is a democracy

    Actually, it’s a Represtitive Republic. But don’t let mere facts intrude on your rant. but you may want to hold up on arranging for those remedial civics class schedules until you arrange one for yourself.

    The government doesn’t work for the right. Even when the right is in power. It works for *all* of us.

    When I see you complainig about the government working for the left you’ll have some credibility on this point.

    The problem, since neither you nor any of the other critics of this article in the NY Times seem to be willing to invest the time it takes to actually read it, is that you have people who are crafting the plans out there selling the plans without telling the people their stake.

    So, leftists who claim to be ‘independant’ and who are invariably hypercritical of the military are somewhow more credible?

    When you rely on experts who claim to be neutral but who are, in fact, part of the defense department’s campaign, you are subverting democracy.

    When you’re part of the anti-military band of numbskulls working against out interests, and yet claiming to be ‘independant’ how are you any more credible?

    If you’re down with that because in your paranoid mind you think it’s balance for the vast left wing anti-military conspiracy

    Ummm, you could help yourself greatly by explaining to us how it’s not that.

    Again, I doubt you can.

  24. Anderson says:

    the DoD wrote Op-Eds

    That is all anyone sensible needs to read, to realize that something very wrong (if not illegal) was going on.

    As for the Swiss, Steve is right to point out that the myth of stalwart neutrality is just that, a myth …

    … but why let that spoil my favorite, perhaps only, Switzerland joke?

    The story is that Goering was meeting with the Swiss ambassador, shortly after the fall of France. Goering: “So, your country has only a 10,000 man army. What if we send 10,000 soldiers to invade Switzerland?”

    The ambassador replied that the Swiss army would do its duty and defend the country.

    Goering: “And what if we send 20,000 soldiers to invade you?”

    Ambassador: “Then each of our soldiers would have to shoot twice, Herr Field Marshal.”

  25. Steve Plunk says:

    I’ve only seen short mention of how the lazy media is ultimately responsible for not properly vetting these “experts” before presenting them as independent analysts.

    The Pentagon has an interest and a right to use those sympathetic to their mission as proxies in the media battle. Stephen Green at Vodka Pundit wrote an excellent piece a while back about how an arm of decision decides many wars. In this one that would be winning the over the people at home. Like two opposing attorneys in a courtroom the Pentagon and the anti-war crowd face each other with facts and with interpretation of facts to sway the country to support or not support this mission. There is nothing wrong with using these experts in this way.

    The media battlefield is not a place for lessons in democracy. It is a tough place and those looking for information there must do some thinking on their own and not rely on CNN, CBS, Fox, et al to do it for them. Everyone brings some bias to the table and to think they don’t is naive. To ask your opponent in the war of ideas to disarm is absurd.

  26. anjin-san says:

    Steve…

    My point is simply that the Swiss have an excellent military.

  27. James Joyner says:

    It’s quite sad that James – someone who actually taught this stuff and has a Phd in it – won’t use his forum to educate you on this subject. Bizarre, actually.

    Talking heads are on television giving opinions and insights on the news. They are not reporters. There is no subversion of democracy in having the Pentagon issue talking points to retired generals so that they have the official inside word on what’s going on.

    The idea that this is some shocking departure from protocol is absurd. Every administration in history has courted the press and opinion leaders in an attempt to get its message out.

  28. Hal says:

    Actually, it’s a Represtitive Republic.

    Yea, pinheads like you think that rejoinder is always something that makes up for your totalitarian rants.

    When I see you complainig about the government working for the left you’ll have some credibility on this point.

    Dude, I’ve read your rants in the late nineties. For mine, you have to go pre-internet to compuserve and other BBSs. I had a sh*tload of problems with Clinton and his adminstration. But regardless, your innane reply doesn’t excuse what you’re saying. It’s rather revealing that you think this is some sort of game whereby you’re only going to play by the rules well after you see me play by the rules. Dude, the measure of a man is playing by the rules, not tit for tat.

    So, leftists who claim to be ‘independant’ and who are invariably hypercritical of the military are somewhow more credible?

    Dude, they are NOT THE GOVERNMENT. Can’t you get that into your single bit head?

    When you’re part of the anti-military band of numbskulls working against out interests, and yet claiming to be ‘independant’ how are you any more credible?

    Really? Like who? In your paranoid fantasies, that’s *everyone*. Label them. Point to them. And if you say “the New York Times” I’m just going to laugh at your idiocy. But even so, the NYTimes is NOT THE GOVERNMENT. Something you just can’t seem to comprehend.

    Ummm, you could help yourself greatly by explaining to us how it’s not that.

    Wow. Just wow. Seriously, dude. They have medical treatments for this kind of sickness now. I’ll bet it’s even covered by your medical plan.

    My god. You really believe in conspiracies. Birchian level conspiracies. No wonder you can’t understand simple democratic principles.

  29. Hal says:

    The idea that this is some shocking departure from protocol is absurd. Every administration in history has courted the press and opinion leaders in an attempt to get its message out.

    Wow. Just wow. It’s not *courting*, James.

    The full dimensions of this mutual embrace were perhaps never clearer than in April 2006, after several of Mr. Rumsfeld’s former generals — none of them network military analysts — went public with devastating critiques of his wartime performance. Some called for his resignation.

    On Friday, April 14, with what came to be called the “Generals’ Revolt” dominating headlines, Mr. Rumsfeld instructed aides to summon military analysts to a meeting with him early the next week, records show. When an aide urged a short delay to “give our big guys on the West Coast a little more time to buy a ticket and get here,” Mr. Rumsfeld’s office insisted that “the boss” wanted the meeting fast “for impact on the current story.”

    That same day, Pentagon officials helped two Fox analysts, General McInerney and General Vallely, write an opinion article for The Wall Street Journal defending Mr. Rumsfeld.

    “Starting to write it now,” General Vallely wrote to the Pentagon that afternoon. “Any input for the article,” he added a little later, “will be much appreciated.” Mr. Rumsfeld’s office quickly forwarded talking points and statistics to rebut the notion of a spreading revolt.

    “Vallely is going to use the numbers,” a Pentagon official reported that afternoon.

    The standard secrecy notwithstanding, plans for this session leaked, producing a front-page story in The Times that Sunday. In damage-control mode, Pentagon officials scrambled to present the meeting as routine and directed that communications with analysts be kept “very formal,” records show. “This is very, very sensitive now,” a Pentagon official warned subordinates.

    On Tuesday, April 18, some 17 analysts assembled at the Pentagon with Mr. Rumsfeld and General Pace, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

    A transcript of that session, never before disclosed, shows a shared determination to marginalize war critics and revive public support for the war.

    “I’m an old intel guy,” said one analyst. (The transcript omits speakers’ names.) “And I can sum all of this up, unfortunately, with one word. That is Psyops. Now most people may hear that and they think, ‘Oh my God, they’re trying to brainwash.’ ”

    “What are you, some kind of a nut?” Mr. Rumsfeld cut in, drawing laughter. “You don’t believe in the Constitution?”

    There was little discussion about the actual criticism pouring forth from Mr. Rumsfeld’s former generals. Analysts argued that opposition to the war was rooted in perceptions fed by the news media, not reality. The administration’s overall war strategy, they counseled, was “brilliant” and “very successful.”

    “Frankly,” one participant said, “from a military point of view, the penalty, 2,400 brave Americans whom we lost, 3,000 in an hour and 15 minutes, is relative.”

    An analyst said at another point: “This is a wider war. And whether we have democracy in Iraq or not, it doesn’t mean a tinker’s damn if we end up with the result we want, which is a regime over there that’s not a threat to us.”

    “Yeah,” Mr. Rumsfeld said, taking notes.

    But winning or not, they bluntly warned, the administration was in grave political danger so long as most Americans viewed Iraq as a lost cause. “America hates a loser,” one analyst said.

    Much of the session was devoted to ways that Mr. Rumsfeld could reverse the “political tide.” One analyst urged Mr. Rumsfeld to “just crush these people,” and assured him that “most of the gentlemen at the table” would enthusiastically support him if he did.

    “You are the leader,” the analyst told Mr. Rumsfeld. “You are our guy.”

    At another point, an analyst made a suggestion: “In one of your speeches you ought to say, ‘Everybody stop for a minute and imagine an Iraq ruled by Zarqawi.’ And then you just go down the list and say, ‘All right, we’ve got oil, money, sovereignty, access to the geographic center of gravity of the Middle East, blah, blah, blah.’ If you can just paint a mental picture for Joe America to say, ‘Oh my God, I can’t imagine a world like that.’ ”

    Even as they assured Mr. Rumsfeld that they stood ready to help in this public relations offensive, the analysts sought guidance on what they should cite as the next “milestone” that would, as one analyst put it, “keep the American people focused on the idea that we’re moving forward to a positive end.” They placed particular emphasis on the growing confrontation with Iran.

    “When you said ‘long war,’ you changed the psyche of the American people to expect this to be a generational event,” an analyst said. “And again, I’m not trying to tell you how to do your job…”

    “Get in line,” Mr. Rumsfeld interjected.

    The meeting ended and Mr. Rumsfeld, appearing pleased and relaxed, took the entire group into a small study and showed off treasured keepsakes from his life, several analysts recalled.

    Soon after, analysts hit the airwaves. The Omnitec monitoring reports, circulated to more than 80 officials, confirmed that analysts repeated many of the Pentagon’s talking points: that Mr. Rumsfeld consulted “frequently and sufficiently” with his generals; that he was not “overly concerned” with the criticisms; that the meeting focused “on more important topics at hand,” including the next milestone in Iraq, the formation of a new government.

    Days later, Mr. Rumsfeld wrote a memorandum distilling their collective guidance into bullet points. Two were underlined:

    “Focus on the Global War on Terror — not simply Iraq. The wider war — the long war.”

    “Link Iraq to Iran. Iran is the concern. If we fail in Iraq or Afghanistan, it will help Iran.”

    But if Mr. Rumsfeld found the session instructive, at least one participant, General Nash, the ABC analyst, was repulsed.

    “I walked away from that session having total disrespect for my fellow commentators, with perhaps one or two exceptions,” he said.

  30. Bithead says:

    Yea, pinheads like you think that rejoinder is always something that makes up for your totalitarian rants.

    When you can come up with something better than this, get back to us.

    Dude, I’ve read your rants in the late nineties.

    For mine, you have to go pre-internet to compuserve and other BBSs. I had a sh*tload of problems with Clinton and his adminstration. But regardless, your innane reply doesn’t excuse what you’re saying. It’s rather revealing that you think this is some sort of game whereby you’re only going to play by the rules well after you see me play by the rules. Dude, the measure of a man is playing by the rules, not tit for tat

    .

    I’m looking at a somwhat broader picture. The reaction to your complaints that you would prefer is that nobody speak in support of the military. That much is very clear.

    Really? Like who? In your paranoid fantasies, that’s *everyone*. Label them

    You, for one, apparently.
    You’d have us accepting such ‘unbiased’ sources about things Military, as the New York Times, and this is suppsoedly legit… despite the fact of their anti-military bias.

    Ummm, you could help yourself greatly by explaining to us how it’s not that.

    Wow. Just wow. Seriously, dude. They have medical treatments for this kind of sickness now. I’ll bet it’s even covered by your medical plan.

    Care to try explaining that again? I mean it, now… explain to us how this is not a nifty little lever to stop anything positive about the military from leaking out. Be sure to use the word ‘pinhead’ again, that is SOooo helpful.

  31. anjin-san says:

    the left generating it’s own propaganda, which invariably is hyper critical of the military

    This is simplistic crap. Except for at the far fringe, “the left” is highly supportive of the military. Some senior leadership has come under criticism. The main ire of the left has been directed at the political leadership in the White House & DOD.

  32. Hal says:

    The reaction to your complaints that you would prefer is that nobody speak in support of the military. That much is very clear.

    As the saying goes, “there you go again”. Never said it. Never implied it. It’s only your paranoid ravings and twisted world view which made it up out of whole cloth. Cute.

    You’d have us accepting such ‘unbiased’ sources about things Military, as the New York Times, and this is suppsoedly legit… despite the fact of their anti-military bias.

    Really. You mean the newspaper that published Judith Miller? In any event, again for that single bit brain of yours: THEY AREN’T THE GOVERNMENT. I don’t know why that is so hard for you to figure out. They’re a newspaper.

    explain to us how this is not a nifty little lever to stop anything positive about the military from leaking out.

    Again, you’re simply putting words in my mouth and arguing against them. It’s childish, moronic and insulting. Just stop it.

  33. Anderson says:

    There is no subversion of democracy in having the Pentagon issue talking points to retired generals so that they have the official inside word on what’s going on.

    JJ, if the “analysts” tell the media they’re regurgitating these talking points, and the media tell that to the public watching these “analysts,” then no harm done.

    If the “analysts” tell that to the media, but the media omit to mention that to the viewers, then it’s the media’s fault.

    If the “analysts” DON’T level with the media — “just so you know, my opinions have been handed to me by the Pentagon” — then it’s the “analysts'” fault.

    (Leaving aside the media’s duty to exercise skepticism, which seems to be wholly disfunctional except as regards Democratic candidates for high office.)

  34. Bithead says:

    As the saying goes, “there you go again”. Never said it. Never implied it. It’s only your paranoid ravings and twisted world view which made it up out of whole cloth. Cute.

    Really? Explain to me how having only the anti-military speaking,doesn’t amount to that.

    Really. You mean the newspaper that published Judith Miller? In any event, again for that single bit brain of yours: THEY AREN’T THE GOVERNMENT. I don’t know why that is so hard for you to figure out. They’re a newspaper.

    A leftist newspaper with a history of printing naught but, where military matters are concerned, anti-military screeds.

    Let’s test your position, though, because I think this will be amusing; Should we silence Jack Murtha, since he’s part of the government, when he starts speaking of matters military?

  35. Anderson says:

    A leftist newspaper with a history of printing naught but, where military matters are concerned, anti-military screeds.

    Bithead, why are you acting stupid? or ill?

    You reprint in your own comment the fact that the NYT published Judy Miller. Are you pretending to be unaware of her breathless boosterism for the government’s claims of WMD’s in Iraq?

    There is such a disconnection between what you write and the facts at hand that I wonder what on earth is wrong with you.

    Take your latest:

    Should we silence Jack Murtha, since he’s part of the government, when he starts speaking of matters military?

    No one here has proposed “silencing” anyone. The idea is simply that if the Pentagon is going to disseminate its views, it should do so openly, through its own public representatives, rather than surreptitiously, through ostensibly independent figures who in fact are secretly repeating talking points handed to them by the Pentagon. If nonetheless it does the latter, then it shouldn’t do it *secretly*. DISCLOSURE, not SILENCING. That is easy to understand.

    You make no sense at all, and it’s embarrassing to watch.

  36. Bithead says:

    You reprint in your own comment the fact that the NYT published Judy Miller. Are you pretending to be unaware of her breathless boosterism for the government’s claims of WMD’s in Iraq?

    Maybe… just maybe she was telling te truth?
    Nah, I don’t suppose that to be something you could ever accept.

    No one here has proposed “silencing” anyone.

    That is the end result of what you propose.
    Did you think that point would get by without comment? I note also you ignored the question. So, being a nice guy, I’ll gve you a second chance to answer it. Should we be reining in Murtha? Or is he immune, since he’s a LEFTIST member of the government?

    And if you want Judeth Millar as the token centrist, shall we examine the lion’s share of the paper’s output as well? Or does that not support your position?

  37. Hal says:

    I hate it when people go off their meds like that.

  38. legion says:

    The Pentagon has an interest and a right to use those sympathetic to their mission as proxies in the media battle.

    Ummm…. no. No they do not.

    The US government has a right to sell its positions & convince the citizenry to support them. But the US military is one particular part of the government, and has a very specific mission – defend the US from physical threats. And there are two major issues here as a result:

    a)There’s a big difference between trying to convince the citizens to support a course of action and actively lying to the citizens to keep them from being pissed off about the actual results of those courses. The former is a legitimate governmental interest; the latter is evidence of a failed and illegitimate government.

    b)Something a lot of you people who aren’t upset about this seem to be forgetting – This is tantamount to the US military being used against the US populace. If the charges & implications of this article are true, the military’s propaganda functions are being used, not against our enemies, but against the possibility that our own citizens will decide that the current administration’s policies are failing.

    If you think that’s OK, you’re in the wrong country – go move to China or Russia.

  39. Bithead says:

    a)There’s a big difference between trying to convince the citizens to support a course of action and actively lying to the citizens to keep them from being pissed off about the actual results of those courses.

    Now there’s a charge you’ll have to prove. Yes, you’re being called out.

    Something a lot of you people who aren’t upset about this seem to be forgetting – This is tantamount to the US military being used against the US populace.

    That would aonly be true if you can show us where the military is taking a false position.

  40. Steve Plunk says:

    Legion, I have to disagree. There is a battle of ideas going on domestically over the war effort. This is not all out false propaganda but is simply giving the right information to the right people to state your side of the case. It’s very fair and I believe they have that right. I would say many citizens would say they have the right.

    I’m lied to every day by school board, city council, and state legislature. I have seen no evidence of Pentagon lies here so why would I move to Russia? In my country accusations need to be backed up stronger than we see here before I see a problem.

    I still say this is selective outrage. People need to get some perspective.

  41. legion says:

    Well, Bithead, that’s exactly why I used the caveat “If the charges & implications of this article are true..,”

    I freely admit that this article is not conclusive evidence. But it’s the first step in getting just that. If more people with inside knowledge come forth and substantiate the accusations here, then we need to have some trials.

  42. legion says:

    I guess the same goes for Steve’s comment – the article brings up some important questions that need answerin’.

  43. Hal says:

    Steve, this isn’t about whether or not the analysts are telling lies. This is simply about whether or not they have disclosed their incredibly close ties with the defense department. So close, in fact, that some are actually part of the planning process. If this relationship is fully disclosed and is revealed, then who the heck has a problem with it? No one – except the evil leprechauns that dance in the fevered mind of Bithead.

    The problem is that there is a serious ethical breach here. It’s not simply the case, as James is trying to assert, that there are ex military folk with a natural bias towards the military. I can’t imagine anyone who thinks that they would have otherwise – it’s a banal explanation. It’s not that they are spouting the DOD spin. That’s also common enough for ex military. The problem is that they are *presented* as untethered, objective analysts when they are, in fact, part and parcel of the DOD war effort. This creates a serious conflict of interest in the vital process of informing the public such that they can come to valid conclusions about what is going on – that’s how we run the USA.

    Again, it isn’t about the pentagon lying. It’s about the analysts and consultants lying about their conflicts of interests with the pentagon. Again, you people really should read the article in question instead of arguing about straw men you imagine the article is constructing.

    Now, if James is down with that, then I think he should likely take a refresher course in ethics. I’d really love to hear why that is something to shrug off and claim is simply a normal matter of course.

    It isn’t.

  44. Steve Plunk says:

    But Hal, who needs to retake an ethics course, James and many of us, or the media hacks who fail to disclose some of these ties? I think perhaps neither. Being ex-military implies that ties exist and inside information is available. Anyone who wouldn’t see that is naive.

    If an analyst is hired by a news agency and doesn’t disclose his relationships that is a problem between them and only if they asked for disclosure. I suspect they didn’t care as long as they got something newsworthy.

  45. Hal says:

    If an analyst is hired by a news agency and doesn’t disclose his relationships that is a problem between them and only if they asked for disclosure.

    Apparently, you’re in need of a refresher on journalistic ethics wrt disclosure as well.

    Really, guys. It’s quite simple. Just put yourself in the position where this is a hated liberal administration doing this. What would be your response? Luckily, we have all of the nineties in the Clinton administration as historic record, so we already know and don’t need to listen to any theoretical promises.

    One thing that will be extremely sweet, though, is watching the glass shatter from all your high pitched screams come November 8th.

  46. Christopher says:

    Hal,

    We conservatives have never had a problem with the military. Only you liberals have.

    Lesson for ya: the military is run by civilians. Oh! Didn’t you know that? Well, it is a learning experience here, huh Hal?

    You liberals crack me up!

  47. Hal says:

    You really are incoherent, Christopher.

  48. Bithead says:

    Oh, you may disagree with him Hal, but incoherrency doesn’t seem to be a problem for him.