In our second installment of RFK Jr.’s most recent “Unearthed” column, we learn more about the Pentagon propagandists who sold us on this illegal, idiotic occupation of Iraq prior to the 2003 invasion.
UNEARTHED: NEWS OF THE WEEK THE MAINSTREAM MEDIA FORGOT TO REPORT
By Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Brendan DeMelle
Menage a Trois – A Criminal Act
The Pentagon announced that it has suspended its illegal Retired Military Analyst Program. The program described in The New York Times exposé involved an illegal ménage a trois including: 1) the corporate television news broadcasters; 2) media military analysts employed by arms dealers and military, and 3) neocon Pentagon big wigs. The program violates federal “covert propaganda” laws.
Despite the official suspension of the illegal program, Fox News is continuing to feature these compromised mercenaries in its war mongering propaganda broadcasts. Last Sunday, a week after the Times published its finding, Fox aired jingoistic commentary by disgraced pundit Thomas McInerney without disclosing his affiliation to the illegal Pentagon group or the war profiteering arms dealers that pay his salary.
McInerney is a director of NetStar Systems, a technology firm which described itself in 2005 as “a prime contractor for the Department of Defense.” NetStar lists government clients including:
* Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA)
* Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI)
* National Security Agency (NSA)
* Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
* Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)
* Department of Homeland Security (DHS)
* Department of the US Army
* Marine Corps Intelligence Association (MCIA)
* Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)
In 2000, McInerney founded his own arms dealership firm called “Government Reform Through Technology (GRTT)” to market advanced weapons and government agencies.
McInerney appeared April 28, 2008 on the 11am hour of FOX NEWS LIVE. On April 23, another compromised contractor Robert H. Scales promoted the war on the 6:00 PM “FOX Special Report with Brit Hume.” Thousands of Americans are calling on Congress and federal prosecutors to launch criminal investigations and Congressional hearings and hold accountable the Pentagon criminals and corporate media moguls who staged this propaganda pitch.
Samples of the high quality analysis offered to Fox News viewers by Pentagon’s propaganda poodles
The Pentagon’s military media mercenaries who continue to appear shamelessly on Fox News played key roles in marketing the Iraq War to the U.S. public. Some samplings:
During a February 3, 2003, edition of On the Record with Greta Van Susteren, Robert H. Scales claimed that since “this operation is going to go so quickly,” and would “be over so fast,” the U.S. military wouldn’t have to worry about “suicide attack[s] or even a conventional defense, for that matter.” Additionally, Scales asserted that “[o]nce the campaign starts,” it would last “weeks, certainly not months,” and “[t]he only thing that would cause the campaign to last any length of time are the distances that are involved” between Iraqi cities.
During the December 20, 2002, edition of Fox’s On the Record, Thomas McInerney predicted that, should U.S. forces invade, “I think he’s [Saddam] going to use chemical weapons and biological” weapons on the Iraqi people because “he wants the collateral damage on his own people.” During the January 3, 2003, edition of On the Record, McInerney declared that “in the final analysis, France and Russia roll in” to assist in the Iraq war “even if it’s outside the U.N.” He concluded: “There’s no question if it’s inside the U.N., they’ll be there.”
McInerney also asserted during the same episode that invading Iraq and overthrowing Saddam would actually improve public opinion of America in the Arab world, and predicted that the “jubilation in Mosul, Basra, and Baghdad” after the invasion “will silen[ce] the Arab street.” According to McInerney: “There has not been a family in Iraq who has not been hurt by that man [Saddam], and so, once that is opened up, once those weapons of mass destruction that are exposed over there, once all this evil that this man has done, they’re going to go dead quiet, as will the critics in the United States.” Further, McInerney claimed on the February 3, 2003, edition of On the Record that the Iraq war would last “at the most one month,” but it would “probably [be] a two-week campaign.”
Rumsfield Propaganda Push Violates Federal Anti Propaganda Statutes
Donald Rumsfeld’s military analyst program violated federal anti propaganda statutes. Federal law prohibits the use of federal funds to propagandize the American people.
According to laws officially enacted in 1951 and affirmed by every appropriations bill since, “No part of any appropriation contained in this or any other Act shall be used for publicity or propaganda purposes within the United States.”
The Government Accountability Office’s definition of “publicity or propaganda” includes [PDF] “‘covert propaganda‘ (i.e., the communication does not reveal that Government appropriations were expended to produce it).”
The White House’s own Office of Legal Council further clarified the law in a 2005 memorandum following the controversy over the Armstrong Williams scandal (when it was discovered that the Bush administration had actually paid willing to publicly endorse its No Child Left Behind Law):
“covert attempts to mold opinion through the undisclosed use of third parties” would run afoul of restrictions on using appropriated funds for “propaganda.”
As Sheldon Rampton points out, the key passage here is the phrase, “covert attempts to mold opinion through the undisclosed use of third parties.” As David Bartow’s excellent New York Times report demonstrated in detail, the Pentagon’s military analyst program did exactly that.
1. It was covert. As Barstow’s piece states, the 75 retired military officers who were recruited by Donald Rumsfeld and given talking points to deliver on Fox, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS and MSNBC were given extraordinary access to White House and Pentagon officials. However, “The access came with a condition. Participants were instructed not to quote their briefers directly or otherwise describe their contacts with the Pentagon.”
2. It was an attempt to mold opinion. According to the Pentagon’s own internal documents (which can be downloaded and viewed from the New York Times website), the military analysts were considered “message force multipliers” or “surrogates” who would deliver administration “themes and messages” to millions of Americans “in the form of their own opinions.” According to one participating military analyst, it was “psyops on steroids.”
3. It was done “through the undisclosed use of third parties.” In their television appearances, the military analysts did not disclose their ties to the White House, let alone that they were its surrogates. The military analysts were used as puppets for the Pentagon. In the words of Robert S. Bevelacqua, a retired Green Beret and for Fox News military
analyst, “It was them saying, ‘We need to stick our hands up your back and move your mouth for you.”
In a February 1, 1988 memorandum by the White House Office of Legal Council. Conservative lawyer Charles Cooper (then head of the OLC), explaining the legal limitations to White House efforts to win support for the Contra War in Nicaragua. Cooper declared that the Reagan Administration “can make available to private groups, upon request, printed materials that explain and justify the Administration’s position on Contra aid. These materials must be items that were created in the normal course of business and not specifically produced for use by these private groups.” Cooper continues:
It would be unwise, however, for the Administration to solicit the media to print articles by or interviews with anyone not serving in the government. And, of course, the Administration cannot assist in the preparation of any articles or statements by private sector supporters, other than through the provision of informational materials as described in the preceding paragraph.
In the case of the current Pentagon pundit scandal, however, the Pentagon clearly was assisting in the preparation both of articles and statements by private sector supporters. It did not simply provide “informational materials” that had been “created in the normal course of business.” Rather, it sat down with the retired military analysts, many employed by arms dealers in business with the Pentagon and worked closely with them to draft talking points and script language to deploy them as message amplifiers and surrogates without disclosure.
Rumsfeld knew he was breaking the law
Donald Rumsfeld was evidently told by advisors that his propaganda program was illegal and insisted to go forward anyway. In a transcript of one his meetings with his propaganda team of military media analysts, Rumsfeld complains that he has been warned that his “information operations” directed at U.S. citizens are “illegal or immoral“:
“This is the first war that’s ever been run in the 21sth Century in a time of 24-hour news and bloggers and internets and emails and digital cameras and Sony cams and God knows all this stuff. … We’re not very skillful at it in terms of the media part of the new realities we’re living in. Every time we try to do something someone says it’s illegal or immoral, there’s nothing the press would rather do than write about the press, we all know that. They fall in love with it. So every time someone tries to do some information operations for some public diplomacy or something, they say oh my goodness, it’s multiple audiences and if you’re talking to them, they’re hearing you here as well and therefore that’s propagandizing or something.”
This transcript demonstrates that Rumsfeld was aware of federal prohibitions on domestic propaganda operations. Although it is illegal to target propaganda at the America people, the law does not forbid propaganda aimed at foreign audiences. Rumsfeld has been warned, however, that in today’s world with “bloggers and internets and emails,” even information operations overseas reach “multiple audiences” including U.S. citizens who are “hearing you here as well and therefore that’s propagandizing.” Rumsfeld, however, made these statements during a conference with military pundits whom he had recruited specifically for information operations targeting U.S. audiences. Yet he went ahead and did it anyway. In another part of the transcript, he explained why. In fighting the war on terror, Rumsfeld said, the “center of gravity’s here in Washington and in the United States.” In other words, he intended specifically to break the law by targeting the American public to put pressure on Washington law makers to go along with his war. That transcript alone provides the smoking gun with clear enough evidence for any prosecutor to convene a grand jury.