5/30/08

Bush Aide Scores White House War Propaganda

As time unfolds, more and more of what I've been telling my friends at Lucianne.com has come true...... more and more evidence of deliberate deception and incompetence from this Republican administration.

Now it is in a new book by none other than Scott McClellan, a former Press Secretary in Dubya's administration. He is not the first Bush "insider" to come clean, however it is very very difficult to doubt his integrity...... though that is what this Republican adminstration attempted, quite reflexively, to do......

"Oh, that just doesn't sound like Scott!" they whined!

That is the core of modern Republicanism, however...... it is disloyalty, not dishonesty that is the ultimate sin.

Enough of that..... here's a very nice article about the book from The Nation:

Published on Wednesday, May 28, 2008 by The Nation
Bush Aide Scores White House War Propaganda
by John Nichols


The Bush administration employed propaganda techniques, political spin and deception to promote and then justify a war with Iraq that was unwise and unnecessary.

And a “too-deferential” national press corps allowed the president and his aides to get away with it.

Who makes this devastating, if not entirely new, charge?

The man responsible for spinning the story of the Bush presidency, former White House spokesman Scott McClellan.

In a memoir that will be published Monday, What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception, the veteran campaign and White House aide to George W. Bush portrays his former boss and those around him as permanent campaigners who frequently sacrificed the good of the country to achieve dubious political and policy goals.

McClellan is sharply critical of the Bush White House’s handling of definitional domestic policy challenges, particularly Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

But nowhere is the former press aide so devastating in his critique of his former boss as on the issue of how the United States was steered into the quagmire that is Iraq.

Bush, he writes, is guilty of a “failure to be open and forthright on Iraq and (of) rushing to war with inadequate planning and preparation for its aftermath.”

Accusing the president of engaging in “self-deception” when it came to the facts from the Middle East, McClellan explains that Bush “and his advisers confused the propaganda campaign with the high level of candor and honesty so fundamentally needed to build and then sustain public support during a time of war.”

“[I]n this regard, (Bush) was terribly ill-served by his top advisers, especially those involved directly in national security,” argues McClellan, who is blistering in his description of Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, the president’s former national security adviser, as “too accommodating” and too concerned about protecting her own reputation to challenge strategies that she had to know were ill-advised and dangerous.

And what of the free press that is supposed to serve as a watchdog on executive excess and deceit?

“If anything, the national press corps was probably too deferential to the White House and to the administration in regard to the most important decision facing the nation during my years in Washington, the choice over whether to go to war in Iraq,” the former spokesman writes. “The collapse of the administration’s rationales for war, which became apparent months after our invasion, should never have come as such a surprise. … In this case, the ‘liberal media’ didn’t live up to its reputation. If it had, the country would have been better served.”

McClellan, Bush’s traveling press secretary during the 2000 campaign and a former deputy press secretary to the president who served as White House spokesman from 2003 until 2006, is blunt and detailed in discussing administration efforts to destroy the reputation of a critic of the rush to war, former Ambassador Joe Wilson (and Wilson’s wide, outed-CIA agent Valerie Plame).

“I had allowed myself to be deceived into unknowingly passing along a falsehood,” he writes of his defenses of key players in the scandal such as White House political czar Karl Rove and fellow White House advisers Elliot Abrams and I. Lewis ‘Scooter’ Libby. “It would ultimately prove fatal to my ability to serve the president effectively.”

While Bush, too, may have been deceived, McClellan explains that “the top White House officials who knew the truth — including Rove, Libby and possibly Vice President Cheney — allowed me, even encouraged me, to repeat a lie.”

That lie, and the others related to the war, are the bitter legacy McClellan wrestles with in an agonizing account of the White House in which he served. That account will serve as an essential document of the Bush presidency, and of the current campaign to replace it.

Above all, however, McClellan’s book is a cautionary tale that reminds us that powerful men and the governments they guide must never be allowed to wage wars of whim.

“History appears poised to confirm what most Americans today have decided: that the decision to invade Iraq was a serious strategic blunder,” he writes. “No one, including me, can know with absolute certainty how the war will be viewed decades from now when we can more fully understand its impact. What I do know is that war should only be waged when necessary, and the Iraq war was not necessary.”

John Nichols’ new book is The Genius of Impeachment: The Founders’ Cure for Royalism. Rolling Stone’s Tim Dickinson hails it as a “nervy, acerbic, passionately argued history-cum-polemic [that] combines a rich examination of the parliamentary roots and past use of the ‘heroic medicine’ that is impeachment with a call for Democratic leaders to ‘reclaim and reuse the most vital tool handed to us by the founders for the defense of our most basic liberties.’”

5/17/08

Propaganda and the Media

Propaganda. As as pointed out to my friends at Lucianne.com many times, the rightist propaganda effort in America has been particularly insidious and effective.

Now we have a Republican administration that has epitomized "movement conservativism" and is nearly transparent in its efforts to systematically undermine our ability to get to the truth of almost any issue

Here is an interesting article from Joseph Galloway of the McClatchy Newspapers:

Published on Friday, May 16, 2008 by the McClatchy Newspapers
Propaganda and the Media
by Joseph L. Galloway



Once upon a time, it was widely believed that one of the greatest sins the U.S. government or its temporary political masters could commit was to turn a propaganda machine loose on the American people.


Congress viewed this so seriously that every appropriations bill passed since 1951 has contained language that says no public money “shall be used for publicity or propaganda purposes within the United States” without the lawmakers’ prior approval.


The Bush administration has been caught violating the propaganda ban before, notably in 2005 in the case of radio host Armstrong Williams, who was paid to endorse President Bush’s No Child Left Behind law.


Particularly abhorrent to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), which oversees compliance with the ban, is an agency’s use of “covert propaganda” or “covert attempts to mold opinion through the undisclosed use of third parties.”


This is why alarm bells should be ringing all over Washington about The New York Times’ disclosure that then-Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld encouraged a secret Pentagon program to care for and spoon-feed more than 50 retired senior military officers whom the administration deemed reliable friends who could be counted on “to carry our water” on the television and cable networks.
Feeding the military analysts “key and valuable information” in secret briefings by Pentagon and White House officials, the idea went, would make them the go-to guys for the networks and encourage the networks to “weed out the less reliably friendly analysts . . . .”


This 2005 memorandum, addressed to then Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs Larry DiRita, added: “This trusted core group will be more than willing to work closely with us because we are their bread and butter.”


Asked about the case of Col. Bill Cowan, who says he was fired as a military analyst for Fox News and cut off from the briefings for criticizing the war effort, DiRita told Glenn Greenwald of Salon.com: “I don’t know anything. I saw that in the story. I’ve heard other assertions to that effect. It was certainly not the intent.”


In a follow-up e-mail exchange between DiRita and Greenwald, Rumsfeld’s former mouthpiece - now Bank of America’s chief spokesman - elaborated on what he said he didn’t remember: “I simply don’t have any recollection of trying to restrict him (Cowan) or others from exposure to what was going on.”
DiRita added: “There are plenty of examples to the contrary - reaching out to people who specifically disagreed with us. One example I recall is Joe Galloway - a persistent critic and apparently popular with military readers. He came in and met Secretary Rumsfeld and we had other interactions.”
Now that’s a real knee-slapper: Me as a poster boy for how Rumsfeld and DiRita “reached out” to their harshest critics even as they stroked and promoted and schemed to embed the old reliables to wax enthusiastic about a war that was going from bad to worse.
Let the record show that Rumsfelds’ folks reached out to me on these few occasions:


* In early summer of 2003, half a dozen of us were invited to an off-the-record lunch with Rumsfeld in the Pentagon. The defense secretary seemed to have a poor grasp of the reality on the ground in Iraq and was still declaring that we’d do no nation-building there. He saw no insurgency, only a handful of “dead-enders”.


* In October 2005, DiRita called to invite me to travel with Rumsfeld to the Middle East and Australia. I declined because it conflicted with a long-booked graduation speech I was to give at Luke Air Force Base, Ariz. to a class of new Air Force F-16 fighter pilots that included my nephew. DiRita was stunned that I wouldn’t drop a bunch of fighter pilots to be schmoozed by his boss.


* In November 2005, DiRita invited me to a “one-on-one” lunch with Rumsfeld at the Pentagon. This one I accepted. I arrived to find across the table Rumsfeld, the then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Peter Pace; Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Dick Cody; Joint Staff Director Lt. Gen. Walter Sharp and DiRita. We went at it hammer and tongs for an hour and a half over their conduct of the war and the errors that were costing the lives of American soldiers. As I left, I told Rumsfeld that I’d continue to point out those mistakes every week in my column.


* In April 2006, DiRita sent me an e-mail telling me that my most recent column was “silly”. That column had discussed an expensive war game the Pentagon conducted about a U.S. attack on a thinly disguised country that obviously was Iran.


A retired Marine general, Paul Van Riper, had been the commander of the “enemy” forces, and he used unconventional tactics to destroy the U.S. Navy flotilla in the Persian Gulf, leaving thousands of sailors and Marines dead. At that point, the commanders stopped the war game, reset everything and imposed new rules forbidding Van Riper from employing those tactics.


Van Riper walked out, furious, and requested an investigation. DiRita complained in his e-mail that I was silly to blame Rumsfeld for this and for covering up the investigators’ report. After all, he wrote, Rumsfeld couldn’t be expected to know retired generals several levels below him or to bear responsibility for such matters. His complaint sparked an escalating e-mail war that most reckon DiRita lost. The entire exchange was posted on the Internet and can still be found there.


So much for the Rumsfeld/DiRita outreach to their critics. They were much too busy hand-feeding horse manure to their TV generals, who in turn were feeding the same product to the American public by the cubic yard.


There’s little doubt that this program violated the laws against covert propaganda operations mounted against the American public by their own government. But in this administration, there’s no one left to enforce that law or any of the other laws the Bush operatives have been busy violating.


The real crime is that the scheme worked. The television network bosses swallowed the bait, the hook, the line and the sinker, and they have yet to answer for it.


Joseph L. Galloway, a military columnist for McClatchy Newspapers, is the co-author, with Lt. Gen. Hal Moore, of “We Were Soldiers Once … and Young,” a story of the first large-scale ground battle of the Vietnam War.