Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk Myself to Death: And . . . ?

Monday, April 21, 2008

And . . . ?

How precisely are we supposed to react to yesterday's New York Times expose on the Pentagon and the White House's campaign to influence American attitudes about Iraq (both before and after the U.S. invasion) by influencing the network TV military analysts who explain and comment on it. Should we be shocked (shocked) . . . and stunned (stunned)? Should we be outraged? Although it's nice to have some specific details, what part of this did we not already know? The administration was lying to us about the war? You're kidding! And they were persuading military experts to go along with them? Who could ever have expected that?

The more we talk about the administration's lying to us, the better our discourse is, I suppose, but it sure seems that we get more and more blasé about the whole idea. Here's part of the extremely lengthy (but worth it) article. See if any of it officially pushes you over the edge:

Records and interviews show how the Bush administration has used its control over access and information in an effort to transform the analysts into a kind of media Trojan horse — an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks.

Analysts have been wooed in hundreds of private briefings with senior military leaders, including officials with significant influence over contracting and budget matters, records show. They have been taken on tours of Iraq and given access to classified intelligence. They have been briefed by officials from the White House, State Department and Justice Department, including Mr. Cheney, Alberto R. Gonzales and Stephen J. Hadley.

In turn, members of this group have echoed administration talking points, sometimes even when they suspected the information was false or inflated. Some analysts acknowledge they suppressed doubts because they feared jeopardizing their access.

We may not have thought it through in its specifics, but there's not any part of that which should be surprising in any way. If we've been paying attention to the situation at all, we certainly know all of this already. But although we can get our dander up about what's been done, ultimately we suck it up and go on to something else. This article was getting some notice over the weekend, but now that it's been on the record for about 48 hours or so, I'm not seeing a whole lot of action over it. We've pretty much just shaken our heads in despair, thrown up our hands in frustration and then resignation, and shifted our attention to whatever's going to be the next thing (when is Obama going to put a flag back in his lapel?).

At least a couple of the analysts themselves have had second thoughts over the situation.

A few expressed regret for participating in what they regarded as an effort to dupe the American public with propaganda dressed as independent military analysis.

"It was them saying, 'We need to stick our hands up your back and move your mouth for you,' " Robert S. Bevelacqua, a retired Green Beret and former Fox News analyst, said.

Kenneth Allard, a former NBC military analyst who has taught information warfare at the National Defense University, said the campaign amounted to a sophisticated information operation. "This was a coherent, active policy," he said.

As conditions in Iraq deteriorated, Mr. Allard recalled, he saw a yawning gap between what analysts were told in private briefings and what subsequent inquiries and books later revealed.

"Night and day," Mr. Allard said, "I felt we'd been hosed."

I know the feeling. So now what?


At 12:40 PM, April 22, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"So now what?"
I have no plan of action to propose; only a quotation. It has been attributed to many people. I can trace it as far back as Edgar Allan Poe, though I suspect it's far older than that:
"Belive nothing you hear and only half of what you see."
It seems the world is forever in need of learning that lesson.


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