April 21, 2008

Amerikanisches Ministerium der Propaganda

It just sounds more sinister in German, and anyway Pravda doesn't quite get the idea across. America is Right Wing, not Left, and our propaganda ideas rest more on the techniques and legacy of Joseph Goebbels than Josef Stalin.

For those who missed it, David Barstow in yesterday's (Sunday) New York Times wrote a very long article (11 pp. online) concerning the "military analysts" you've perhaps been watching over the last five years or so on network and cable news shows. Men like Barry McCaffrey, Ken Allard, Thomas McInerney et al., who appear as a head and shoulders on Chris Matthews and give us the real story about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction or progress in the American occupation. It turns out that very little of this stuff was actually "objective." In my own American, patriotic naivete, I simply assumed that these uniformed talking heads were gung-ho because they're lifers; if the U.S. military is doing it, then it's the right thing to do. Depressingly enough, not in modern Bushian America.

After a Freedom of Information lawsuit and two years of investigation, the Times came up with about 8,000 pages of documents demonstrating that these retired opinionators for hire were part of an orchestrated program directed by Donald Rumsfeld and his propaganda minister, Victoria Clarke (now gracing us with her insider dope via "panel" discussions on Sunday mornings). It worked this way: the retired brass made about $500 to $1,000 a pop by talking about Iraq or Guantanamo or whatever for a couple of minutes. This, however, was (is, because it's still going on) not where the action was (is). These guys tend to sit on the boards of lots of defense contractors who want "access" to the Pentagon's very lucrative contracting biz. So the "influentials," as Victoria Clarke called them (the favored brass), attended meetings with Rumsfeld, flew to Iraq and Cuba at Pentagon expense, were made to feel important and still relevant, and given talking points (or a script) to recite as they appeared with Chris or Sean Hannity or Wolf Blitzer, etc. The meetings served as a means of delivering the Party Line to the generals (who are, after all, very comfortable in hierarchical situations) and also acquainting the brass with current military needs, such as up-armoring Humvees or the latest night-vision requirements. The generals took the contracting info back to the board room, appeared on Hardball to spout official propaganda, and the only loser was the American public who were duped by their own government.

A general, colonel, admiral or whatever rank was monitored closely by the Pentagon's propaganda department (with the assistance of a private company specializing in tracking public appearances - paid for by the taxpayer, of course) to determine how closely they hewed to the Official Story. Serious variances were punished by denial of future access.

The networks and cable shows did very little to ascertain whether their paid experts had serious conflicts, such as a vested interest in guaranteeing that their corporate clients remained on the government procurement list. And with all that taxpayer money shipped to Iraq and Afghanistan via supersonic conveyor belt, there was clearly a lot at stake. After all, in modern America, only about 12% of its GDP is still attributable to any kind of manufacturing. In a dwindling market, the merchants of death look for any angle to maintain a competitive edge.

I don't think there will ever be any end, or bottom, to the corruption in the Bush Administration. This is a sideshow, one of many variations on hiding the truth which have become the modus operandi of the Bush years. Reporters like David Barstow still labor to get at the facts, against a government that fights tooth and nail to hide what are, after all, public documents paid for and owned by the American citizenry. And by the time the Times or some other still semi-independent media company can write up the story (delayed by official obstruction), Bush&Co. have moved on to the next outrage.

One thing is clear: next time you see an "influential" on Hardball or The Situation Room, remember that he's just selling the company line so he can keep his client plugged into the Pentagon disbursement office. That's become his high calling. And don't believe a word he says.

1 comment:

  1. Who is this clown Dallas Lawrence? He has raised kissing ass into a whole other dimension, as in his April 14, 2006 memos to somebody named Paul Vallely regarding "SECDEF OUTREACH".