War / Peace

Speaking of Monsters...

Retired U.S. Col. Ralph Peters has written an essay calling for military attacks on journalists. Writing for the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs (JINSA), Peters calls the media "a hostile third party in the fight ... killers without guns," and writes, "future wars may require censorship, news blackouts and, ultimately, military attacks on the partisan media. ... The point of all this is simple: Win. In warfare, nothing else matters.

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Astroturf Expert Forms NIMBY Campaign

The new Virginia-based group "Citizens for a Safe Alexandria" describes itself as a grassroots group, but its founder works for a public relations firm that specializes in "'grassroots' and 'grasstops' media strategies." Citizens for a Safe Alexandria's Sara Raak has appeared on local television news, urging the Obama administration not to "

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Pentagon Rejects Its Own Pundit Program Whitewash

The continuing saga of the Pentagon pundit program just keeps getting curiouser and curiouser, as Alice in Wonderland might say.

From 2002 to 2008, the Defense Department secretly cultivated more than 70 retired military officers who frequently serve as media commentators. Initially, the goal was to use them as "message force multipliers," to bolster the Bush administration's Iraq War sell job. That went so well that the covert program to shape U.S. public opinion -- an illegal effort, by any reasonable reading of the law -- was expanded to spin everything from then-Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's job performance to U.S. military operations in Afghanistan to the Guantanamo Bay detention center to warrantless wiretapping.

In April 2008, shortly after the New York Times first reported on the Pentagon's pundits -- an in-depth exposé that recently won the Times' David Barstow his second Pulitzer Prize -- the Pentagon suspended the program. In January 2009, the Defense Department Inspector General's office released a report claiming "there was an 'insufficient basis' to conclude that the program had violated laws." Representative Paul Hodes, one of the program's many Congressional critics, called the Inspector General's report "a whitewash."

Now, it seems as though the Pentagon agrees.

Pentagon Pundit Expose Gets the Pulitzer

It was a shocking revelation. Exactly one year ago today, the New York Times published an in-depth account of the Pentagon military analyst program, a covert effort to cultivate pundits who are retired military officers as the Bush administration's "message force multipliers." The elaborate -- and presumably costly -- program flourished at the nexus of government war propaganda; the private interests of the officer-pundits, many of whom also worked as lobbyists or consultants for military contractors; and major news organizations that didn't ask tough questions about U.S. military operations while failing to screen their paid commentators for even the most glaring conflicts of interest.

The story was huge, but it wasn't easy to break. It took two years for reporter David Barstow and others at the Times to pry the relevant documents from the Pentagon. Seven months later, Barstow helped us further understand how the U.S. "military-industrial-media complex" works, with another front-page exposé on one spectacularly conflicted Pentagon pundit, Barry McCaffrey.

On April 20, David Barstow received the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting, for his work on the Pentagon pundit story.

Afghan Escalation OK with MoveOn, Anti-War Insiders

Washington Post blogger Greg Sargent notes that "President Obama’s announcement today of an escalation in the American presence in Afghanistan is being met with mostly silence - and even some support - from the most influential liberal groups who opposed the Iraq War. ... MoveOn.org ...

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How Obama Took Over the Peace Movement

John Podesta's liberal think tank the Center for American Progress (CAP) strongly supports Barack Obama's escalation of the US wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is best evidenced by Sustainable Security in Afghanistan, a CAP report by Lawrence J. Korb. Podesta served as the head of Obama's transition team, and CAP's support for Obama's wars is the latest step in a successful co-option of the US peace movement by Obama's political aides and the Democratic Party.

CAP and the five million member liberal lobby group MoveOn were behind Americans Against Escalation in Iraq (AAEI), a coalition that spent tens of millions of dollars using Iraq as a political bludgeon against Republican politicians, while refusing to pressure the Democratic Congress to actually cut off funding for the war. AAEI was operated by two of Barack Obama's top political aids, Steve Hildebrand and Paul Tewes, and by Brad Woodhouse of Americans United for Change and USAction. Today Woodhouse is Obama's Director of Communications and Research for the Democratic National Committee. He controls the massive email list called Obama for America composed of the many millions of people who gave money and love to the Democratic peace candidate and might be wondering what the heck he is up to in Afghanistan and Pakistan. MoveOn built its list by organizing vigils and ads for peace and by then supporting Obama for president; today it operates as a full-time cheerleader supporting Obama's policy agenda. Some of us saw this unfolding years ago. Others are probably shocked watching their peace candidate escalating a war and sounding so much like the previous administration in his rationale for doing so.

"Change" Meets Front Groups for the Status Quo

Following President Barack Obama's first address to Congress, which highlighted policy goals "ranging from expanding health-care coverage to cutting farm subsidies to cutting wasteful defense projects," corporate front groups are fighting back.

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