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April 20, 2008

NY Times - Military Analysts a bunch of war profiteers in thrall to the Pentagon (chad)

I am taking a chance that open blog is still open, it looks like it is and this is just burning me up so here goes.

Today's NY Times carries an article entitled "Behind Military Analysts, the Pentagon’s Hidden Hand" by Davide Barstow The basic thrust of which is that the Pentagon has a vast disinformation campaign aimed at the American people utilizing network military analysts which they secretly control through a complex web of social and financial ties.

Sort of like a latter day Bildeburgers

Really they actually say that:

To the public, these men are members of a familiar fraternity, presented tens of thousands of times on television and radio as “military analysts” whose long service has equipped them to give authoritative and unfettered judgments about the most pressing issues of the post-Sept. 11 world.

Hidden behind that appearance of objectivity, though, is a Pentagon information apparatus that has used those analysts in a campaign to generate favorable news coverage of the administration’s wartime performance, an examination by The New York Times has found.

The effort, which began with the buildup to the Iraq war and continues to this day, has sought to exploit ideological and military allegiances, and also a powerful financial dynamic: Most of the analysts have ties to military contractors vested in the very war policies they are asked to assess on air.

They do at least have the decency 3 pages in to admit that the documentation they have obtained doesn't show a quid pro quo.

The problem is despite the claim to have over 8000 pages of documentation that shows how the Pentagon is controlling these analysts the times only presents about 40 pages and none of it shows what they claim.

Actually in my opinion this article is actually the opposite of fake but accurate it is factual but without accuracy (or context). One example is a meeting between General Pace, Secretary Rumsfeld and a group of analysts following the "General's Revolt". The article presents the meeting in this way:

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.”


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.

The document is available online. The way I read it is the Pentagon responding to a controversy and asking for and accepting advice on how to respond. I don't really see anything wrong with that. They didn't come out with a point paper hand it to these guys and say "here read this on air". The analysts are presenting their views, but because of this meeting and because the Pentagon was tracking news coverage, then there has to be a major conspiracy.

The most delicious part (and I just realized this) The New York Times, which has staunchly defended not revealing the conflict sof interests of it's former Supreme Court reporter complains about a lack of disclosure of potential conflicts of interests by the analysts and the networks that employ them:

Some networks publish biographies on their Web sites that describe their analysts’ military backgrounds and, in some cases, give at least limited information about their business ties. But many analysts also said the networks asked few questions about their outside business interests, the nature of their work or the potential for that work to create conflicts of interest. “None of that ever happened,” said Mr. Allard, an NBC analyst until 2006.

“The worst conflict of interest was no interest.”

Mr. Allard and other analysts said their network handlers also raised no objections when the Defense Department began paying their commercial airfare for Pentagon-sponsored trips to Iraq — a clear ethical violation for most news organizations.

CBS News declined to comment on what it knew about its military analysts’ business affiliations or what steps it took to guard against potential conflicts.

NBC News also declined to discuss its procedures for hiring and monitoring military analysts. The network issued a short statement: “We have clear policies in place to assure that the people who appear on our air have been appropriately vetted and that nothing in their profile would lead to even a perception of a conflict of interest.”

Jeffrey W. Schneider, a spokesman for ABC, said that while the network’s military consultants were not held to the same ethical rules as its full-time journalists, they were expected to keep the network informed about any outside business entanglements. “We make it clear to them we expect them to keep us closely apprised,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Fox News said executives “refused to participate” in this article.

CNN requires its military analysts to disclose in writing all outside sources of income. But like the other networks, it does not provide its military analysts with the kind of written, specific ethical guidelines it gives its full-time employees for avoiding real or apparent conflicts of interest.

Sauce for the goose baby

posted by xgenghisx at 01:34 PM

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