By David Swanson
Responses to the exposure of corporate media military “experts” being secretly told what to say by the Pentagon have ranged from yawns to shouts to ass-scratching. On Wednesday, the Center for Media and Democracy ( http://www.prwatch.org ) published this comment:
“As Paul Schmelzer wrote on the Minnesota Independent website, ‘There were two National Conferences on Media Reform in Minneapolis over the weekend: the one I attended and the one Bill O’Reilly, Juan Williams and Fox News talking head Mary Catherine Ham didn’t.’ O’Reilly’s show tried to manufacture controversy about the conference, which I and others from the Center for Media and Democracy attended. But before addressing that, how about some real news on a genuinely controversial issue? During Sunday’s closing plenary, FCC Commissioner and fake news foe Jonathan Adelstein pledged to push for multiple thorough investigations of the Pentagon military analyst program. So far, the Pentagon’s Inspector General and the Government Accountability Office (GAO), the investigative arm of Congress, have launched inquiries into the Defense Department’s secret cultivation of military pundits. But those investigations aren’t enough.”
Hmm. Multiple thorough investigations? By a Bushite dominated commission? Or even Bush’s (In)justice Department? Sounds serious. But the Center for Media and Democracy has done a better job than anyone else in laying out the criminality involved in Pentagon punditry – the obvious and indisputable criminality not requiring even a single unthorough investigation. And that work was heavily drawn on, and is credited in the footnotes to, the very first of the 35 articles of impeachment that Congressman Dennis Kucinich introduced on the House floor on Monday evening.
Yes, investigations are not enough. Nothing short of impeachment is.
CREATING A SECRET PROPAGANDA CAMPAIGN TO MANUFACTURE A FALSE CASE FOR WAR AGAINST IRAQ
In his conduct while President of the United States, George W. Bush, in violation of his constitutional oath to faithfully execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty under Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution “to take care that the laws be faithfully executed”, has both personally and acting through his agents and subordinates, together with the Vice President, illegally spent public dollars on a secret propaganda program to manufacture a false cause for war against Iraq.
The Department of Defense (DOD) has engaged in a years-long secret domestic propaganda campaign to promote the invasion and occupation of Iraq. This secret program was defended by the White House Press Secretary following its exposure. This program follows the pattern of crimes detailed in Article I, II, IV and VIII.. The mission of this program placed it within the field controlled by the White House Iraq Group (WHIG), a White House task-force formed in August 2002 to market an invasion of Iraq to the American people. The group included Karl Rove, I. Lewis Libby, Condoleezza Rice, Karen Hughes, Mary Matalin, Stephen Hadley, Nicholas E. Calio, and James R. Wilkinson.
The WHIG produced white papers detailing so-called intelligence of Iraq’s nuclear threat that later proved to be false. This supposed intelligence included the claim that Iraq had sought uranium from Niger as well as the claim that the high strength aluminum tubes Iraq purchased from China were to be used for the sole purpose of building centrifuges to enrich uranium. Unlike the National Intelligence Estimate of 2002, the WHIG’s white papers provided “gripping images and stories” and used “literary license” with intelligence. The WHIG’s white papers were written at the same time and by the same people as speeches and talking points prepared for President Bush and some of his top officials.
The WHIG also organized a media blitz in which, between September 7-8, 2002, President Bush and his top advisers appeared on numerous interviews and all provided similarly gripping images about the possibility of nuclear attack by Iraq. The timing was no coincidence, as Andrew Card explained in an interview regarding waiting until after Labor Day to try to sell the American people on military action against Iraq, “From a marketing point of view, you don’t introduce new products in August.”
September 7-8, 2002:
NBC’s “Meet the Press: Vice President Cheney accused Saddam of moving aggressively to develop nuclear weapons over the past 14 months to add to his stockpile of chemical and biological arms.
CNN: Then-National Security Adviser Rice said, regarding the likelihood of Iraq obtaining a nuclear weapon, “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud.”
CBS: President Bush declared that Saddam was “six months away from developing a weapon,” and cited satellite photos of construction in Iraq where weapons inspectors once visited as evidence that Saddam was trying to develop nuclear arms.
The Pentagon military analyst propaganda program was revealed in an April 20, 2002, New York Times article. The program illegally involved “covert attempts to mold opinion through the undisclosed use of third parties.” Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld recruited 75 retired military officers and gave them talking points to deliver on Fox, CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, and MSNBC, and according to the New York Times report, which has not been disputed by the Pentagon or the White House, “Participants were instructed not to quote their briefers directly or otherwise describe their contacts with the Pentagon.”
According to the Pentagon’s own internal documents, 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.” In fact, they did deliver the themes and the messages but did not reveal that the Pentagon had provided them with their talking points. Robert S. Bevelacqua, a retired Green Beret and Fox News military analyst described this as follows: “It was them saying, ‘We need to stick our hands up your back and move your mouth for you.'”
Congress has restricted annual appropriations bills since 1951 with this language: “No part of any appropriation contained in this or any other Act shall be used for publicity or propaganda purposes within the United States not heretofore authorized by the Congress.”
A March 21, 2005, report by the Congressional Research Service states that “publicity or propaganda” is defined by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) to mean either (1) self-aggrandizement by public officials, (2) purely partisan activity, or (3) “covert propaganda.”
These concerns about “covert propaganda” were also the basis for the GAO’s standard for determining when government-funded video news releases are illegal:
“The failure of an agency to identify itself as the source of a prepackaged news story misleads the viewing public by encouraging the viewing audience to believe that the broadcasting news organization developed the information. The prepackaged news stories are purposefully designed to be indistinguishable from news segments broadcast to the public. When the television viewing public does not know that the stories they watched on television news programs about the government were in fact prepared by the government, the stories are, in this sense, no longer purely factual — the essential fact of attribution is missing.”
The White House’s own Office of Legal Council stated in a memorandum written in 2005 following the controversy over the Armstrong Williams scandal:
“Over the years, GAO has interpreted ‘publicity or propaganda’ restrictions to preclude use of appropriated funds for, among other things, so-called ‘covert propaganda.’ … Consistent with that view, the OLC determined in 1988 that a statutory prohibition on using appropriated funds for ‘publicity or propaganda’ precluded undisclosed agency funding of advocacy by third-party groups. We stated that ‘covert attempts to mold opinion through the undisclosed use of third parties’ would run afoul of restrictions on using appropriated funds for ‘propaganda.'”
Asked about the Pentagon’s propaganda program at White House press briefing in April 2008, White House Press Secretary Dana Perino defended it, not by arguing that it was legal but by suggesting that it “should” be: “Look, I didn’t know look, I think that you guys should take a step back and look at this look, DOD has made a decision, they’ve decided to stop this program. But I would say that one of the things that we try to do in the administration is get information out to a variety of people so that everybody else can call them and ask their opinion about something. And I don’t think that that should be against the law. And I think that it’s absolutely appropriate to provide information to people who are seeking it and are going to be providing their opinions on it. It doesn’t necessarily mean that all of those military analysts ever agreed with the administration. I think you can go back and look and think that a lot of their analysis was pretty tough on the administration. That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t talk to people.”
In all of these actions and decisions, President George W. Bush has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and Commander in Chief, and subversive of constitutional government, to the prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore, President George W. Bush, by such conduct, is guilty of an impeachable offense warranting removal from office.