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Hullabaloo


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

 
Burrowed In

by digby

Everyone on the right is totally appalled by the NEA enlisting artists to pass on the good word about government and rightly so. Nothing could be worse than using the power of the government for political purposes, right?

Well, unless it has to do with flogging an illegal and unnecessary war (or using the DOJ to tip elections.) Then it's perfectly acceptable. I'll be waiting to see if the right can figure out what they think about this (from Raw Story):

A key senior figure in a Bush administration covert Pentagon program, which used retired military analysts to produce positive wartime news coverage, remains in his same position today as a chief Obama Defense Department spokesman and the agency’s head of all media operations.

In an examination of Pentagon documents the New York Times obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request — which reporter David Barstow leveraged for his April 2008 Pulitzer Prize-winning expose on the program – Raw Story has found that Bryan Whitman surfaces in over 500 emails and transcripts, revealing the deputy assistant secretary of defense for media operations was both one of the program’s senior participants and an active member.

[...]

The program, ostensibly, was run out of the Pentagon’s public affairs office for community relations as part of its outreach and attended to by political appointees, most visibly in these records by then community relations chief Allison Barber and director Dallas Lawrence.

But as Barstow noted in his report, in running the program out of that office rather than from the agency’s regular press office, “the decision recalled other Bush administration tactics that subverted traditional journalism.” In addition to concealing the true nature of the program and the retired military officers’ participation in it, Raw Story uncovered another effect of this tactic.

It provided Bryan Whitman, a career civil servant and senior Defense Department official who oversees the press office and all media operations, cover if and when the program was revealed.

Additionally, while political appointees tend to come and go with each new administration, Whitman would be there before the program and he would be there after it. His status as a career civil servant, the fact that he’s worked for both Democratic and Republican administrations – something he points out often in public settings and did as well at the close of his recent phone interview with Raw Story — has also served to buffer him thus far from scrutiny regarding his involvement in this program.

Speaking with Mr. Whitman, he denied any involvement or senior role in the program, saying he only had “knowledge” of its existence and called the assertion “not accurate.”

Asked to explain the hundreds of records showing otherwise, Mr. Whitman replied, “No, I’m familiar with those documents and I’d just beg to differ with you,” though he did acknowledge being in “some” of them.

In defending his claim that he wasn’t involved in the program, Whitman reiterated numerous times that since it was not run out of his office, it was not under “my purview or my responsibility.”

Yet records clearly reveal that Whitman was not only fully aware of the program’s intent but also zealously pursued its goal of arming the military analysts with Pentagon talking points in an effort to dominate each relevant news cycle. He was consulted regularly, doled out directives, actively participated and was constantly in the loop.

Documented communications show that Whitman played a senior role in securing generals to brief the analysts, fashioned talking points to feed them, called analyst meetings to put out Pentagon and Bush administration PR fires, hosted meetings, determined which analysts should attend trips to wartime military sites (such as the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba) and received frequent, comprehensive reports detailing the analysts’ impact on the air, in print and online.



Now, we all know that artists and poets are far, far more powerful than the military, so it's not fair to compare the two. But still, consistency would require that the wingnuts be just a little bit appalled by the Bush adminstration and Pentagon pushing war propaganda in this blatant fashion. But we know consistency isn't exactly their strong suit.

But as with so many things, they must be confused about what to do about this. This fellow, after all, is now working on behalf of the Obama administration, which makes his activities a dangerous march to fascism where under Bush they were necessary, patriotic defenses of the homeland.


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