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19 April 2008

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Jack K

Agitprop/Volksverhetzung.

The demise of TV news and upsurge of content-rich blogs like SST is a good thing for the USA.

VietnamVet

Colonel,

You sure can ask some awkward questions.

The one that is never asked by corporate media including NewsHour is why has the federal government ceased to serve its citizens.

One answer is that it is run by radical ideologues who know that “Greed is good. Government is Evil”. They have no second thoughts on authorizing torture or lying. Agitprop by military consultants builds the corporate bottom line.

egl

"I asked some awkward questions and was not invited again. pl"

I am not surprised. Your independence is one of the key reasons that I am a regular and grateful reader.

alnval

Col. Lang:

Just read the NY Times story. What a sad day.

No wonder the Pentagon is unable to cope with the reality of PTSD and TBI. Dealing with reality is not part of the game.

We reap what we sow.

Montag

So these Greenroom Generals get $500-1000 per appearance to catapult Pentagon propaganda onto an unsuspecting public? Well, the price used to be 30 pieces of silver. Inflation, no doubt.

Your experience reminds me of the story of when Napoleon played chess with a young French Lieutenant. The young man assumed that The Great Man wanted a fair game and wound up beating him. Napoleon didn't take defeat well, expressing his displeasure by breaking the chessboard over his importunate subordinate's head. To quote the robot C3PO it's always prudent to, "let the Wookie win."

Paul

At best, some of the characters can be classified as whores. That they are serving as mouthpieces for a criminal enterprise (and they all knew it) might be fodder for more serious charges. Treason has many variables. Remember that part of the oath: "...enemies, foreign and domestic.."?

A huge uproar ensued when a left-leaning blog affixed "Betraeus" to that allegedly brilliant phony. Given the Times' story, that moniker might now stick.

The trial lawyers will soon have a field day associating the "quid pro quo" (ID/IQ contracts) conveyed to the private companies these chaps represent.

Where is Gates in all of this: hunkered down with his hat pulled over his ears?

This episode is a black eye to the majority of the loyal Americans serving out of a sense of duty.

Gene in Chicago

I often don't agree with you, but you always force me to think. That's why I keep coming back.

If only folks in the Pentagon prized that quality.

emptywheel

Colonel Lang:

I'm wondering--do you remember what the awkward questions were, and would you be willing to share what they were?

I think it'd illuminate what kind of issues they refuse to deal with.

Leila  Abu-Saba

Well, the Times article is at least a sign of hope. Turning on the lights in the kitchen at 3 a.m. to document the cockroaches before they scuttle away.

I agree with commenters above that the internet, especially the political blogosphere, is another sign of hope for democracy and the free flow of information. If our paid commercial press won't fulfill its function of watching the government, then unpaid commenters step into the gap, essentially as a public service. Col. Lang, for one, could make plenty of $$ commenting for Fox if he would parrot the talking points.

So let's all be grateful for these green shoots of liberty, and keep nourishing them with our attention and support.

jon

It's called propaganda. It's purpose is to confuse and deceive. Our military (among other branches of the government) is happily practicing it on our citizenry. Which is illegal.

Col., the decision was the Pentagon's loss. And it was all of our's loss as well.

As has been painfully revealed over the past few years, the 'leadership' systematically stifled and avoided being exposed to any contradictory information and analysis, in order to foment an unnecessary war. The used the same methods, inversely, to avoid recognition of and action upon the gathering al Qaeda threat prior to 9-11.

Propaganda's not new, and neither are its misuses. History is replete with examples of what befalls leaders who surround themselves with yes-men. 5 O'clock Follies, anyone?

It is also our fault, for accepting a situation where we are shielded from truth. We prefer to let others make hard decisions, trusting only that life will go on as before.

Although it was exceptionally obvious at the time that information and news was being gamed to maneuver a willing country into preemptive war, our fourth estate was entirely silent on the subject. When Colin Powell and Condi Rice (among others) spun on their heels to retract statements that Iraq was at best a nuisance and not related to 9-11, there was no discussion or investigation, no followup questions. Only slavish stenography.

The First Amendment is still important. Media have a crucial role to play. If they can't do their job, then they should not enjoy reduced postage rates or free use of the airwaves. They should cede the field to those who will do the work.

The NYT can be counted on to be a vigorous defender of the First Amendment, in their own interests. Their responses to Judy Miller and other stovepipers was late, meek and halfhearted. And it has not been accompanied by any new skepticism for what they are fed, nor any enthusiasm to uncover and broadcast the truth. Yet they wonder why they are losing market share.

When Dan Rather brought an old story about George W. Bush's National Guard service, or lack of same, to national TV, a howl erupted over the originality of some documents. And Rather got his ass handed to him. But nowhere near as much effort was expended on trying to find out the actual truth of W's wherabouts and activities during the time in question. Sort of like the difference between wearing a little flag pin and having any demonstrable acts of patriotism to your credit.

We have not been well served by those elected and anointed to represent, serve and inform us. The stables must be cleaned. There will always be a place for circuses, but it's time they resume being a sideshow.

lina

The public should demand that every analyst/expert who appears in broadcast or print media have their associations and consulting relationships labled at the time they are delivering their opinion. The only way to discern fact from fiction is to disclose everything.
If I want to stop consuming sodium nitrate, I need to read the label to see if any has been added to the can of soup I'm about to eat.

William R. Cumming

I believe it was Col. William Greener (Ret.) who first served Richard Nixon at the Internal Revenue Service during the Economic Stabilization Program and then went to DOD as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs who constantly lectured his staff and others that the real purpose of appointees and staff doing Public Affairs work in the Excecutive Branch was to be expert at Counter-Propaganda. Interesting choice of words. I believe all governments learned from the totalitarian dictatorships of the last century, and in particular, the skilled Joesph Goebbels, that truth is not something that is loved by governmental entities. Exactly, how much of the Pentagon's Public Affairs budget and staff is devoted to Col. Bill Greener's counter-propaganda or is it just propaganda. Chicken or Egg? By the way public affairs should never be confused with the highly technical subject of Emergency Public Information, warning, notification, alerting, issuance of PAR's (Public Action Recommendations--e.g. shelter-in-place or evacuate) although clearly both Public Affairs and EPI can get innocents killed, just that the latter one is at least trying to help them survive. And of course would be interesting to know how many Public Affairs personnel, news personnel, and the Congress know the difference. Interesting that many Schools of Journalism and other sources of news personnel, print and media, don't know the difference.

Serving Patriot

"We reap what we sow."

And we will be reaping the whirlwind for a long, long time to come my friend.

And not just overseas - but here at home as well.

SP

Farmer Don

The USA is at war. Is this not to be expected?
The amount of reaction to this story will help gauge the mood of the Country.

Mad Dogs

As I commented over at Emptywheel's place:

The NYT’s article reads like:

1. Pick on the former military "analysts". They’re easy targets with little ammunition to shoot back with (though I’m in no way excusing the former military "analysts" for shilling for shekels).

2. Pick on the Administration. They too, are easy targets these days, and like the "analysts", have little ammunition left with which to shoot back.

3. Pick on the complicit corporate MSM enablers? Not so much ’cause that would mean fingering themselves as "Propagandists for Profit™. Don’t want that to take hold with the unwashed masses. Ain’t good for business if we figure out the truth.

I certainly don't approve of what these former military "analysts" do, and with respect to the Pentagon itself, it is against US Federal law to make and direct propaganda at the US public, but given all the evidence of the Bush/Cheney Administration's proclivities towards being above any law, I'm less than sanguine about anyone holding them to account.

But, and it is a big but, I'm totally appalled at the lack of self-criticism, heck, even the total lack of self-awareness of the NYT and its fellow corporate MSM propaganda enablers.

To me, the story totally misses the fact that the messengers are willingly complicit in the delivery of the message.

As I also commented on over at Emptywheel's place:

Shorter corporate MSM enablers including the NYT: "We’re just the medium, we’re not the message."

To which I call @%#&*!

Marshall McLuhan spoke the truth! The MSM are Propagandists for Profit™!

Even shorter MSM: "Trash is cash!"


Walrus

What little respect I have left for America is shrinking faster day by day.

I fail to understand how you can recover from this spiral dive to nothingness.

crf

This is amazing.

Some of those "analysts" do not actually believe in democracy, in practice.

One of them doubted the evidence presented at a private briefing by the government about wmds, and questioned their handler, who then admitted that the evidence was insubstantial.

And then he, and everyone else there shut up about it! Those people at this analyst briefing on wmds and the case for war were some of the only people who possibly could have told the public about this situation. It was their duty to do this as citizens in a democracy.

Instead, fast forward to today, when a new administration is about to take over, and now they are spilling this, and other info to the Times. Presumably they think their sudden truthfulness about the total corruption in Bush's pentagon will ingratiate themselves with the next (democratic? anti-Bush at any rate) administration. In other words, they still don't really care about democracy, they only care about their next job opportunity.

"Yes. Stalin is Dead. Now we renounce Stalin."

They are (ex) military men. And yet they are quaking cowards when tasked to do their democratic duty.

Tara

Those you have led and continue to lead salute the fierce integrity of your character.

searp

Have to understand the media, and "commentators" participation in same, as nothing more than an entertainment business.

Pat Lang isn't alone in his clear-eyed assessments, but the media must have access, so that trumps reality, every time.

In other words: it is more important to be able to say you have good Pentagon contacts than it is to actually add value to the discussion.

The analysts in question either don't have good contacts or aren't getting the straight talk. Plenty of O7s, active and retired, hate the Iraq war and are more than willing to say so in private.

Cold War Zoomie

...“message force multipliers” or “surrogates”...

Considering an earlier post on SST, let's translate this into simple English:

"Shill"

Brian Hart

A betrayal of public trust.

Paid liars masked as independent military analysts.

Media complicit in psyops.

Willing stooges traded integrity for access at the Pentagon.

Give them their thirty pieces of silver. Be gone.

Shoddy body armor, unarmored vehicles, contractor corruption, political corruption, torture, thrived within their shadow of deception.

When historians at West Point write papers about why it lost the trust of the American people. They need look no further.

The military lost trust because it betrayed trust.

So much that is good and true within our country betrayed.

For what? For what?

alnval

Col. Lang:

After reading the NYT article this morning, my wife reminded me of the McClatchy story of 4-17-08 “Pentagon institute calls Iraq war 'a major debacle' with outcome 'in doubt'” by Jonathan Landay and John Walcott, and we wondered how the Pentagon is going to direct its “analysts” to spin this sudden eruption of reality about the conflict in Iraq.

The report Choosing War: The Decision to Invade Iraq and Its Aftermath was prepared for the Institute for National Strategic Studies of the National Defense Institute by Joseph J. Collins and published by the National Defense University Press in April 2008. It can be found at: http://www.ndu.edu/inss/Occasional_Papers/OP5.pdf

I’ve cited below the opening section of the McClatchy article:

The war in Iraq has become "a major debacle" and the outcome "is in doubt" despite improvements in security from the buildup in U.S. forces, according to a highly critical study published Thursday by the Pentagon's premier military educational institute.

The report released by the National Defense University raises fresh doubts about President Bush's projections of a U.S. victory in Iraq just a week after Bush announced that he was suspending U.S. troop reductions.

The report carries considerable weight because it was written by Joseph Collins, a former senior Pentagon official, and was based in part on interviews with other former senior defense and intelligence officials who played roles in prewar preparations.

It was published by the university's National Institute for Strategic Studies, a Defense Department research center.

"Measured in blood and treasure, the war in Iraq has achieved the status of a major war and a major debacle," says the report's opening line.

condfusedponderer

Jack K,
while you are rather correct about 'Agitprop', you are wrong about Volksverhetzung. Agitprop and Volksverhetzung are not the same.

Agitprop is agitation and propaganda - as for the propaganda part you are perfectly right, as for agitation you're probably right.

Volksverhetzung however, § 130 StGB, is a much more specific criminal offence on Germany's criminal code, where the term is described as:

(1) Who, in a way that is suitable to disturb the public peace,
1. preaches hate against parts of the population, or incites to acts of violence or wanton destruction
2. who denigrates the human dignity of others by maliciously denouncing, defaming or insulting parts of the population...

Penalties are higher if

  1. the act is directed against a racial, religious or ethnic minority
  2. the act glorifies, justifies national socialism or denies the genocide the Nazis committed,
  3. is committed in print
  4. or broadcasted.

Using both terms synonymously is unwise because conflating Volksverhetzung with lesser evils belittles the particular viciousness and dangerousness of the offence; it's also simply false.

PeterE

Do you think the article will discredit all those military analysts mentioned in the article and cause the networks to drop them, or at least monitor the analysts' financial ties, etc? I think the answer to my question is "No". Instead, the NYT or the journalists responsible for the article will be vilified.

Cujo359

It's a sad day, alright. This process has effectively shut out dissenting voices like Col. Lang's, and at tremendous expense for both us and Iraq.

What's worse, the folks who most need to learn from this will be the ones saying that, once again, the NYT has shown its "liberal bias".

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