Pentagon still tries to steer media coverage on Iraq/Af-Pac Wars


Catching up on the disinformation,  misinformation, or relentless propaganda campaign of our government, the Obama administration, and his Pentagon (well the President thinks it is his, since Obama is about as respected in the Pentagon as Bill Clinton was), I’m amazed that anyone thinks that the Pentagon propaganda apparatus went on sabbatical with the now defunct (well really which has been demoted (no pun intended) to the bowels of the Puzzle Palace.

Robert L. Hanafin, Major, U.S. Air Force-Retired, Veterans Today News

Speaking of PROPAGANDA

Though this should come as no surprise given what most of us know about the now defunct (or impotent) (well really a pet Defense Department propaganda project of then SECDEF Don Rumsfeld, later touted by current Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and led by another Bush DoD civilian appointee Allison Barber.

The Washington Post noted as recently as last May 2010 that the Pentagon IS STILL trying to CONTROL Mainstream Media in its coverage of both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ironically, and we believe this is what really bothers the Obama administration and hold overs from the Bush administration in the Pentagon NOW that these are Obama’s Wars is that the Pentagon has largely been successful at its attempts to turn mainstream media into a propaganda tool of the Department of Defense.

NPR did an outstanding expose on the ‘feel good about the wars’ program

Pentagon’s Fine Line: War Machine, P.R. Machine

But, the Washington Post did an even better expose of Pentagon attempts at propaganda in Pentagon tries to steer media coverage on Iraq

However, today during the Obama administration we note the lack of emphasis or interest on Embedded Mainstream Reporters now played by the Pentagon. Anyone who has spent anytime working at the Pentagon (either civilian or military) knows that our Armed Forces screens all the news coverage it can –  a lesson learned from Vietnam and even the Gulf War. The only news the military wants the America public to hear is good news, news that always shows the Armed Forces in a positive light, and if all combat operations and prison interrogations can be consider good things, the Pentagon rather not have the average American voter exposed to claims of torture and use of concentration or international torture chambers by the U.S. government.

Also note that during the Gulf War mainstream media complained about the lack of First Amendment access to the troops or military operations accepting at face value what the DoD told the public. The Pentagon even historically acknowledges just how successful the propaganda effort for Gulf War One really was.

In fact, a closer look at The Gulf War: The Bush Administration and Pentagon’s Mobilization of the Press to Achieve Favorable American Public Opinion by Bryan Hayes on Military History online notes just how successful the Gulf War propaganda efforts were. As one reads this historic account of the Politics of Persuasion (Propaganda) note just how effective the Pentagon has used the Politics of Persuasion during the administration of G.W. Bush and continues to use such public persuasion tactics TODAY during the Obama administration.

I noted an article written by an Iraq Veteran who served his first and last hitch as a Public Affairs weenie responsible for keeping a leash on mainstream media to ensure reporters only pitch the GOOD NEWS!

The young military reporter said that from day one his college degree in journalism went out the window until he was able to leave active duty (well until his total IRR commitment was up) to get his First Amendment Rights back.

Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus noted about three months ago that the Pentagon was STILL attempting to manipulate public opinion about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan via propaganda.

He accurately noted that as the Obama administration was giving the Pentagon marching orders (prior to the firing of General Stanley McChrystal) to begin thinking about drawing down U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, the military continued plans to step up efforts to influence media coverage in Afghanistan — as well as here at home to win hearts and minds in America and Afghanistan using propaganda.

“It is essential to the success of the new Iraqi government and U.S. Forces-Iraq mission that both communicate effectively with our strategic audiences (i.e. Iraqi, pan-Arabic, international, and U.S. and USF-I audiences) to gain widespread acceptance of core themes and messages,” according to the pre-solicitation notice for a civilian contractor or contractors to provide “strategic communication management services” there.

Calling strategic communications “a vital component of operations in Iraq,” the notice says one goal is “to effectively build U.S. decision makers’ and the public’s understanding of Iraq’s current situation, future and strategic importance as a stabilizing presence and ally against terrorism in the Middle East.”

The notice is a prime example of how the military is increasingly integrating information operations into the heart of its commands. The defense contractor is to serve as “a media adviser/speechwriter for the USAF-I spokesman and shall provide support to the J9 STRATCOM media outreach section,” including prepping military officers for news conferences.

Before interviews with USF-I commanders or spokesmen, the defense contractor will have the task of talking with reporters (“pre-engagement with media outlets to determine the nature of the interview and the questions that will be asked by the media during the interview . . . to ensure that USF-I spokesman has maximum situation awareness prior to the interview”).

Another major effort for the defense contractor will continue to be “media monitoring, assessment and reporting.” Both Arabic and Western sources are to be monitored, including CNN, Fox News, and other U.S. and British television channels, plus the major wire services and the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and The Washington Post.

Why will mainstream international media be monitored by the Pentagon?

Assessments will cover the effectiveness of USF-I strategic communications as well as attitudes among the Iraqi population toward USF-I. Another element is to be the “attitude of pan-Arab/Western media and professionals” toward the government of Iraq.

Interestingly, the defense contractor notice recognizes that other media analyses are being done, saying the contractor should do a cross-check “against DIA [Defense Intelligence Agency] media monitoring reports and other USF-I contracts having media monitoring activities.” It says this contractor’s monitoring “must have at least 95% similarly categorized media” as found in the other contractor reporting.

Monitoring Nationalism or National Loyalty of the public in Iraq and the U.S.

In developing the longer-term strategic communications plans and campaigns, the defense contractor is to focus on areas such as national loyalty and communal factors, inclusion or exclusion of factions within the GoI [government of Iraq] and/or ISF [Iraqi security forces], capacity building.” But the contractor must also work as a team player with the State Department and other U.S. governmental and nongovernmental agencies.

Finally, the defense contractor is to serve as Web site manager for USF-I’s unclassified English and Arab sites, delivering products under Defense Department standards and guidelines for the protection and release of information. This involves “continuous updates on a 7-day, 24-hour basis.”

Now, of course we have the wikileaks adventure and the Pentagon doing a manhunt (how they know a man or men are leaking the 2010 Pentagon Papers?) for whoever is leaking bad news on Iraq or Afghanistan, plus an effort by our government collaborated by mainstream media to deflect attention on Pakistan’s support for the Taliban.

What amazes us at Veterans Today is just how much damage can a very low ranking enlisted man or women do to the federal intelligence apparatus by leaking the vast amount of information he/she is accredited with having access to at the minimum SECRET security clearance level. WO!

If a low ranking PFC or even SP4 can do this much damage to our national security (snicker) endanger our troops, and sabotage our successful military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, we hate like hell to think what a young officer or NCO could potentially do.

These are the hard questions that at least American mainstream media should be asking all concerned, but they won’t Why? Because they are bogged down being controlled or monitored by the Pentagon. (wink).

Frankly, Gordon Duff  has touched on this aspect of the wiki leaks, this IS NOT a scandal nor in reality a threat to our troops or our national security but yet another keystone cops embarrassment for our government that is really doesn’t need going into the November 2010 elections. We have noted what most intelligent people in America already know, both political parties, but primarily the Democratic Party in collaboration with the media is trying best it can to keep AFGHANISTAN out of sight out of mind until after November 2010.

Frankly speaking that ain’t gonna happen.

Seems like the firing of one General with a big mouth was really not enough to get our Armed Forces leadership under control civil control.

Bobby Hanafin
Major, U.S. Air Force-Retired
Veterans Today News

Author Details
Readers are more than welcome to use the articles I’ve posted on Veterans Today, I’ve had to take a break from VT as Veterans Issues and Peace Activism Editor and staff writer due to personal medical reasons in our military family that take away too much time needed to properly express future stories or respond to readers in a timely manner. My association with VT since its founding in 2004 has been a very rewarding experience for me. Retired from both the Air Force and Civil Service. Went in the regular Army at 17 during Vietnam (1968), stayed in the Army Reserve to complete my eight year commitment in 1976. Served in Air Defense Artillery, and a Mechanized Infantry Division (4MID) at Fort Carson, Co. Used the GI Bill to go to college, worked full time at the VA, and non-scholarship Air Force 2-Year ROTC program for prior service military. Commissioned in the Air Force in 1977. Served as a Military Intelligence Officer from 1977 to 1994. Upon retirement I entered retail drugstore management training with Safeway Drugs Stores in California. Retail Sales Management was not my cup of tea, so I applied my former U.S. Civil Service status with the VA to get my foot in the door at the Justice Department, and later Department of the Navy retiring with disability from the Civil Service in 2000. I’ve been with Veterans Today since the site originated. I’m now on the Editorial Board. I was also on the Editorial Board of Our Troops News Ladder another progressive leaning Veterans and Military Family news clearing house. I remain married for over 45 years. I am both a Vietnam Era and Gulf War Veteran. I served on Okinawa and Fort Carson, Colorado during Vietnam and in the Office of the Air Force Inspector General at Norton AFB, CA during Desert Storm. I retired from the Air Force in 1994 having worked on the Air Staff and Defense Intelligence Agency at the Pentagon.
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