Archive for April 20th, 2008

The Goodness of the Mighty

Raging news exclusive as the New York Times reports on how the Pentagon mounts vast propaganda operations to give a false impression of U.S. military activities in the media.

The Times successfully sued the Defense Department to gain access to 8,000 pages of e-mail messages, transcripts and records describing years of private briefings, trips to Iraq and Guantánamo and an extensive Pentagon talking points operation.

These records reveal a symbiotic relationship where the usual dividing lines between government and journalism have been obliterated.

Internal Pentagon documents repeatedly refer to the military analysts as “message force multipliers” or “surrogates” who could be counted on to deliver administration “themes and messages” to millions of Americans “in the form of their own opinions.”

Though many analysts are paid network consultants, making $500 to $1,000 per appearance, in Pentagon meetings they sometimes spoke as if they were operating behind enemy lines, interviews and transcripts show. Some offered the Pentagon tips on how to outmaneuver the networks, or as one analyst put it to Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the defense secretary, “the Chris Matthewses and the Wolf Blitzers of the world.” Some warned of planned stories or sent the Pentagon copies of their correspondence with network news executives. Many — although certainly not all — faithfully echoed talking points intended to counter critics.

Good work. The Times had a couple of other stories today of interest – one was an exposé of the Pope’s Catholicism, and another one about bears…you know the rest.

Still, well worth reading for the ‘human interest’ side of things:

Many also shared with Mr. Bush’s national security team a belief that pessimistic war coverage broke the nation’s will to win in Vietnam, and there was a mutual resolve not to let that happen with this war.

This was a major theme, for example, with Paul E. Vallely, a Fox News analyst from 2001 to 2007. A retired Army general who had specialized in psychological warfare, Mr. Vallely co-authored a paper in 1980 that accused American news organizations of failing to defend the nation from “enemy” propaganda during Vietnam.

“We lost the war — not because we were outfought, but because we were out Psyoped,” he wrote. He urged a radically new approach to psychological operations in future wars — taking aim at not just foreign adversaries but domestic audiences, too. He called his approach “MindWar” — using network TV and radio to “strengthen our national will to victory.”

What I like about this man is that he doesn’t appear to be some sort of neo-conservative technocrat who thinks that one should lie to the public for its own good, because the truth would be too much to bear. He seems to be a genuine honest-to-god fascist who thinks people should be brainwashed for the glory of the nation.

Slightly related, I was wondering the other day about the lack of decent popular songs about US imperialism  played on the radio these days. This may have something to do with the fact that the only radio I get to listen to is ten minutes of Risin’ Time with Maxi.

Anyway, here’s a couple. Hurt Me Soul by Lupe Fiasco isn’t so much about US imperialism as about everything ever.

It goes:

So through the Grim Reaper sickle sharpening
Macintosh marketing
Oil field auguring
Brazilian adolescent disarmament
Israeli occupation
Islamic martyrdom, precise
Yeah, laser guided targeting
Oil for food, water, and terrorist organization harborin
Sand camouflage army men
CCF sponsorin, world conquerin, telephone monitorin
Louis Vuitton modelin, pornographic actress honorin
String theory ponderin, bullimic vomitin
Catholic priest fondlin, pre-emptive bombin and Osama and no bombin them
They breakin in my car again, deforestation and overloggin and
Hennessy and Hypnotic swallowin, hydroponic coughin and
All the world’s ills, sittin on chrome 24-inch wheels, like that

Love that last line.

Then there’s this one, Empire, by Dar Williams, which I heard on Democracy Now! the other day. The music isn’t my tasse de thé, but the lyrics are strong stuff.

An excerpt:

Who’s afraid of the sun?
Who’d question the goodness of the mighty?
We who banish the threat,
When your little ones all go nighty-nighty.

Well, there’s no time for doubt right now
and less time to explain.
So get back on your horses,
kiss my ring, join our next campaign.

And the empire grows with the news that we’re winning.
With more fear to conquer
and more gold thread for spinning.
Bright as the sun, shining on everyone.

Rest here.

I on Twitter

April 2008