Concrete evidence of government info ops against us, but it’s OK because we are sheep

Summary:  This is another post about psywar, a 4GW skill our military has mastered and uses mostly against us.

Why do we see so little good old fashioned journalism, breaking stories about important issues?  Perhaps because the rest of the media, our ruling elites, and the American people just ignore them.  A nation that ignores these scandals is like a person who has lost the reflex that jerks away his hand from a hot object — and does it again the next day.  No feedback, no learning.  A long smooth route to self-destruction, gazing at the tube the whole day long. 

  1. TV’s Conflicted Experts“, Daniel Benaim, Priyanka Motaparthy and Vishesh Kumar, The Nation, 3 April 2003
  2. How the military analyst program controlled news coverage: in the Pentagon’s own words“, Glenn Greewald, Salon, 10 May 2008
  3. Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand“, David Barstow, New York Times, 20 April 2008
  4. One Man’s Military-Industrial-Media Complex“, David Barstow, New York Times, 29 November 2008
  5. The ongoing disgrace of NBC News and Brian Williams“, Glenn Greenwald, Salon, 30 November 2008
  6. War Machine“, Matthew Yglesias, 30 November 2008
  7. Statement of BR McCaffrey Associates LLC in response to New York Times article by reporter David Barstow on 30 November 2008

Here are General McCaffrey’s website and Wikipedia bio.

It’s appropriate to get mad about this, IMO. 

Excerpts

1.  “TV’s Conflicted Experts“, Daniel Benaim, Priyanka Motaparthy and Vishesh Kumar, The Nation, 3 April 2003 — Excerpt:

One might have expected a pro-military slant in any former general’s initial estimation of the US invasion. But some of these ex-generals also have ideological or financial stakes in the war. Many hold paid advisory board and executive positions at defense companies and serve as advisers for groups that promoted an invasion of Iraq. Their offscreen commitments raise questions about whether they are influenced by more than just “a lifetime of experience and objectivity”–in the words of Lieut. Gen. Barry McCaffrey, a military analyst for NBC News–as they explain the risks of this war to the American people.

… NBC News has yet to disclose those or other involvements that give McCaffrey a vested interest in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

2.  “How the military analyst program controlled news coverage: in the Pentagon’s own words“, Glenn Greewald, Salon, 10 May 2008 — Excerpt:

On the question of whether the Pentagon maintained an illegal covert domestic propaganda program — and on the broader question of whether the American media’s political coverage is largely shaped and controlled by the U.S. Government — I don’t believe it’s possible to obtain more conclusive evidence than this.

These are excepts from a memorandum sent on January 14, 2005 — just before President Bush was to be inaugurated for his second term — from Capt. Roxie T. Merritt, the Director of DoD Press Operations, to several top Pentagon officials, including Larry Di Rita, the top aide to Donald Rumsfeld (pp. 7815-7816 (.pdf)). It reports on Merritt’s conclusions and proposals in the wake of a Pentagon-organized trip to Iraq for their military analysts:

{damming excepts follow from DoD memo’s}

3.  “Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand“, David Barstow, New York Times, 20 April 2008 — Excerpt:

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.

Those business relationships are hardly ever disclosed to the viewers, and sometimes not even to the networks themselves. But collectively, the men on the plane and several dozen other military analysts represent more than 150 military contractors either as lobbyists, senior executives, board members or consultants. The companies include defense heavyweights, but also scores of smaller companies, all part of a vast assemblage of contractors scrambling for hundreds of billions in military business generated by the administration’s war on terror. It is a furious competition, one in which inside information and easy access to senior officials are highly prized.

Records and interviews show how the Bush administration has used its control over access and information in an effort to transform the analysts into a kind of media Trojan horse – an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks. …

4.  “One Man’s Military-Industrial-Media Complex“, David Barstow, New York Times, 29 November 2008 — Excerpt (red emphasis added):

In the spring of 2007 a tiny military contractor with a slender track record went shopping for a precious Beltway commodity.  The company, Defense Solutions, sought the services of a retired general with national stature, someone who could open doors at the highest levels of government and help it win a huge prize: the right to supply Iraq with thousands of armored vehicles.

Access like this does not come cheap, but it was an opportunity potentially worth billions in sales, and Defense Solutions soon found its man. The company signed Barry R. McCaffrey, a retired four-star Army general and military analyst for NBC News, to a consulting contract starting June 15, 2007.  Four days later the general swung into action. He sent a personal note and 15-page briefing packet to David H. Petraeus, the commanding general in Iraq, strongly recommending Defense Solutions and its offer to supply Iraq with 5,000 armored vehicles from Eastern Europe. “No other proposal is quicker, less costly, or more certain to succeed,” he said.

Thus, within days of hiring General McCaffrey, the Defense Solutions sales pitch was in the hands of the American commander with the greatest influence over Iraq’s expanding military.  “That’s what I pay him for,” Timothy D. Ringgold, chief executive of Defense Solutions, said in an interview.

General McCaffrey did not mention his new contract with Defense Solutions in his letter to General Petraeus. Nor did he disclose it when he went on CNBC that same week and praised the commander Defense Solutions was now counting on for help – “He’s got the heart of a lion” – or when he told Congress the next month that it should immediately supply Iraq with large numbers of armored vehicles and other equipment.

He had made similar arguments before he was hired by Defense Solutions, but this time he went further. In his testimony to Congress, General McCaffrey criticized a Pentagon plan to supply Iraq with several hundred armored vehicles made in the United States by a competitor of Defense Solutions. He called the plan “not in the right ballpark” and urged Congress to instead equip Iraq with 5,000 armored vehicles.  “We’ve got Iraqi army battalions driving around in Toyota trucks,” he said, echoing an argument made to General Petraeus in the Defense Solutions briefing packet.

Through seven years of war an exclusive club has quietly flourished at the intersection of network news and wartime commerce. Its members, mostly retired generals, have had a foot in both camps as influential network military analysts and defense industry rainmakers. It is a deeply opaque world, a place of privileged access to senior government officials, where war commentary can fit hand in glove with undisclosed commercial interests and network executives are sometimes oblivious to possible conflicts of interest.

Few illustrate the submerged complexities of this world better than Barry McCaffrey.

Mr. Weiner, the general’s longtime publicist, said General McCaffrey worked with clients “to get your mission achieved in the media.” General McCaffrey, he said, often speaks out with the twin goals of shaping policy and generating favorable coverage for clients with worthy products or ideas.  “His motive is pure,” Mr. Weiner said. “It is national interest.”

5.  “The ongoing disgrace of NBC News and Brian Williams“, Glenn Greenwald, Salon, 30 November 2008 — Excerpt:

Still, what was — and remains — most incredible about Barstow’s April, 2008 exposé was that, to this day, the networks which featured these highly conflicted “analysts” have never uttered a word about the controversy over the Pentagon’s program, despite the fact that it was the subject of an enormous front-page NYT story; members of Congress accused the Pentagon — rightfully so — of operating a potentially illegal propaganda operation and demanded information directly from the networks; both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton spoke out against the Pentagon’s program; and even the Pentagon felt compelled to terminate the program in the wake of the controversy. None of that merited a mention by any of the networks, despite (more accurately: because of) the fact that their own reporting was so directly implicated by the controversy.

6.  “War Machine“, Matthew Yglesias, 30 November 2008 — Excerpt:

But rather than focusing on McCaffrey and his issues, it’s worth contemplating the breathtaking lack of integrity on display from the television networks here. As I said, Barstow published a piece on this back in April. None of the TV networks addressed the issue he raised in anything resembling a serious manner. And, again, we now have NBC News caught flat-out in the midst of corruption, deceiving their viewers. And NBC News isn’t sorry. They’re not apologizing. They’re not ashamed. Because they’re beyond shame. They never had a reputation for honor, so they don’t even see this sort of thing as damaging.

Statement of BR McCaffrey Associates, LLC in response to New York Times article by reporter David Barstow on 30 November 2008 — Excerpt:

1st: General McCaffrey has been absolutely committed to objective, non-partisan public commentary on national security issues since “911”. He is proud of his association with NBC. His on-air commentary is based solely on his personal convictions and experience.

2nd: Check Google for the association of Rumsfeld and McCaffrey. You will find 14,000 hits nearly all hostile to the arrogance and mismanagement of the Rumsfeld War on Terror. …

3rd: General McCaffrey was not part of the Pentagon spin machine. He was persona non grata with the Pentagon public affairs effort:

  • His April 2003 OP-ED in the Wall Street Journal argued that “Defense Secretary Rumsfeld has put us in a …..risky position.”
  • McCaffrey’s critical OP-ED’s continued. On 29 July 2003 in the Wall Street Journal he noted “We risk breaking the back of the US Army and Marine Corps in the coming 24 months.”
  • On 29 November 2003 his OP-ED in WSJ was titled “Rumsfeld in Denial.”
  • On 13 December in the Washington Post his OP-ED noted that “We are in a very difficult position created by a micro-managed Rumsfeld war team that has been incompetent, arrogant, and in denial.”
  • His 28 June 2006 West Point Academic Report: Ø During the first 18 months of the war on terror there were widespread, systematic abuses of detainees under US control in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo. …

4th: The New York Times itself noted his criticism of the war in at least ten major stories over the years. …

5th: Visit www.mccaffreyassociates.com and read General McCaffrey’s West Point academic After Action Reports from his trips to Iraq, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Colombia, Cuba and other hot spots over the years. This is straight talk from a soldier and national security scholar.

6th: General McCaffrey is an expert on national security. He is not a reporter. He is an American war hero from Vietnam (where he was wounded in combat three times) —and the first war with Iraq during Desert Storm. Both his son and daughter served as Army officers. …

Afterword

If you are new to this site, please glance at the archives below.  You may find answers to your questions in these.

Please share your comments by posting below.  Per the FM site’s Comment Policy, please make them brief (250 words max), civil, and relevant to this post.  Or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

For more information from the FM site

To read other articles about these things, see the FM reference page on the right side menu bar.  Of esp relevance to this topic:

Posts on the FM site about psy-ops (aka propaganda, psy-ops):

  1. News from the Front: America’s military has mastered 4GW!, 2 September 2007
  2. 4GW at work in a community near you, 19 October 2007
  3. The media discover info ops, with outrage!, 22 April 2008
  4. Successful info ops, but who are the targets?, 1 May 2008
  5. The most expensive psy-war campaign – ever!, 13 July 2008
  6. A moment of truth about Iraq; apologies quickly follow – please forget this ASAP!, 3 August 2008
  7. Psywar, a core skill of the US Military (used most often on us), 26 November 2008

Posts on the FM site about the American spirit:

  1. Americans, now a subservient people (listen to the Founders sigh in disappointment), 20 July 2008
  2. de Tocqueville warns us not to become weak and servile, 21 July 2008
  3. The American spirit speaks: “Baa, Baa, Baa”, 5 August 2008
  4. We’re Americans, hear us yell: “baa, baa, baa”, 6 August 2008

3 thoughts on “Concrete evidence of government info ops against us, but it’s OK because we are sheep

  1. I caught Barstow’s NYT article yesterday. Your disclaimer “It’s appropriate to get mad about this, IMO” is spot on. Unfortunately, the meme is not catching on–the retired general and flag officers and their compatriots in industry and Congress are lost in the last decade of corporate corruption (or is it decades). As an example, here’s an aside from Tom Peter’s blog:

    Pondering Senator Obama’s recently announced national security team and the Big Three execs returning with their begging bowls to D.C. this week, this thought occurred: While autoworld’s Big Three CEOs took home about $40 million in compensation for their individually and collectively disastrous performance in 2007, the combined pay for the Big Four Generals responsible for our global security (military heads of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps) was about $1 million!

    The thought that came to mind as I read that was, “Don’t worry, there payday is coming.” Part of the psyops is the continued focus on “regular” corporate corruption, which has helped to hide the MICC corruption of the last 25 years in plain view.

  2. It’s been several days since i turned my set on. I don’t remember what i saw. I wouldn’t trust it to explain anything more complicated than a weather report. Audiences have been shrinking steadily for years. Many proclaim they no longer believe what they are seeing. Television news is at risk of becoming irrelevant and ignored.

    * E-media: the decline of television, by the Lab Producer Ian Allen
    * The decline in TV news credibility, Cybercollege, 20 May 2008
    * IBM Study: “Decline of TV as Primary Media Device”, Verge New Media, 23 August 2007
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    Fabius Maximus replies: Having last had a TV in 1973, I have zip to say about this!

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