Reading at the Crossroads

Reading at the Crossroads is an archive for columns and letters which appeared in the Terre Haute Tribune Star. I also blog here when my patience is exhausted by what I feel is irritating, irrational and/or ironic in life. --gary daily

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Location: Terre Haute, Indiana, United States

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

WAR -- The Money [Part 17]

There is a natural inclination among the American people to want to trust their leaders and believe the experts reporting in the media. Presidents may come and go, but so-and-so is still “our President.” And the experts, especially when they are in uniform, or have worn a military uniform through a long career, are particularly easy to defer to. After all, they’ve seen this war business from the inside. They read all those big fat reports, those detailed manuals, those intricate maps. And they know our enemies. They can even pronounce their names.

But long wars, helped along by an economic recession and a hot political campaign, do serve to slap the people in the face, arouse them from their apathetic stupor in regard to Presidents and military experts and the shaping of the news by the media.

And now we have a detailed 7500 word report (this post is 900 words long) demonstrating to all how the administration’s Defense Department, select military experts and naive, lazy or inept network TV news producers over the past five years worked together to support the Iraq war. This crime happened in the pursuit of dreamy ideological foreign policy goals, personal and business connection interests, and by simply failing to uphold and practice basic standards of journalistic practice. We should all feel embarrassed by our gullibility. We have every right to feel anger about the betrayal of our trust. And we should remember our outrage at the non-performance of so-called professional journalists.

Below are some choice parts from this damning expose. Please read the full story HERE:

The New York Times

You will be reading a piece of investigative journalism that is a shoo-in for a Pulitzer Prize.

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The New York Times
April 20, 2008
Message Machine Behind Military Analysts, the Pentagon’s Hidden Hand
By DAVID BARSTOW

. . . 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, . . .

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. . . .

Five years into the Iraq war, most details of the architecture and execution of the Pentagon’s campaign have never been disclosed. But 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 [for TV military analysts], 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. . . .

On Tuesday, April 18, some 17 analysts assembled at the Pentagon with Mr. Rumsfeld and General Pace, then the chairman of the Joint Chiefs. . . . [these talking points were emphasized for the use by the military TV analysts]

“Focus on the Global War on Terror — not simply Iraq. The wider war — the long war.”

“Link Iraq to Iran. Iran is the concern. If we fail in Iraq or Afghanistan, it will help Iran.”

But if Mr. Rumsfeld found the session instructive, at least one participant, General Nash, the ABC analyst, was repulsed.

“I walked away from that session having total disrespect for my fellow commentators, with perhaps one or two exceptions,” he said. . . .

In an interview, General Marks said it was no secret at CNN that his job at McNeil Technologies was about winning contracts. “I mean, that’s what McNeil does,” he said.

General Marks said his work on the contract did not affect his commentary on CNN. “I’ve got zero challenge separating myself from a business interest,” he said.

But CNN said it had no idea about his role in the contract until July 2007, when it reviewed his most recent disclosure form, submitted months earlier, and finally made inquiries about his new job.

“We saw the extent of his dealings and determined at that time we should end our relationship with him,” CNN said.

CBS News declined to comment on what it knew about its military analysts’ business affiliations or what steps it took to guard against potential conflicts.

NBC News also declined to discuss its procedures for hiring and monitoring military analysts. The network issued a short statement: “We have clear policies in place to assure that the people who appear on our air have been appropriately vetted and that nothing in their profile would lead to even a perception of a conflict of interest.”

Jeffrey W. Schneider, a spokesman for ABC , said that while the network’s military consultants were not held to the same ethical rules as its full-time journalists, they were expected to keep the network informed about any outside business entanglements. “We make it clear to them we expect them to keep us closely apprised,” he said.

A spokeswoman for Fox News said executives “refused to participate” in this article.”

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These brief excerpts only scratch the surface of this report.
Again, read the full report, complete with names and pictures of your favorite TV Majors, Colonels and Generals (retired, and usually working in the lucrative military contracts business) Go here:
The New York Times

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