Friday, September 4, 2009


From the Department of Defense Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, a 742-page and growing work, most recently amended in November (online here); cited in Peter Edidin, "Give a Blood Chit to the Confusion Agent" (New York Times, January 30)

1. "Any thought or idea expressed briefly in a plain or secret language and prepared in a form suitable for transmission by any means of communication."
—Definition of "message"
2. "Any form of communication in support of national objectives designed to influence the opinions, emotions, attitudes, or behavior of any group in order to benefit the sponsor, either directly or indirectly."
—Definition of "propaganda," in above cited dictionary
3. "Those overt international public information activities of the united states government designed to promote united states foreign policy objectives by seeking to understand, inform, and influence foreign audiences and opinion makers, and by broadening the dialogue between american citizens and institutions and their counterparts abroad."
—Definition of "public diplomacy," in above cited dictionary


U.S. Senate, April 14, 2005

Editor's note: On April 14, the Senate voted 98-0 to approve an amendment to a supplemental spending bill introduced by Sen. Robert C. Byrd (D-W.V.) that would prevent any federal agency from using taxpayer dollars to produce or distribute prepackaged news stories which do not clearly identify that the so-called news was created by a federal agency or funded with taxpayer dollars.

The amendment states:

“Unless otherwise authorized by existing law, none of the funds provided in this act or any other act may be used by a federal agency to produce any prepackaged news story unless the story includes a clear notification within the text or audio of the prepackaged news story that the prepackaged news story was prepared or funded by that federal agency.”

Byrd’s remarks are below:

Mr. President, in every year since 1951, Congress has included a provision in the general government appropriations act which states the following: “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 Congress.” [Section 624 of P.L. 108-447]


According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), in an opinion dated February 17, 2005, the Administration has violated the prohibition on “publicity and propaganda.” In a memo sent to Executive Branch agencies, the GAO stated, “During the past year, we found that several prepackaged news stories produced and distributed by certain government agencies violated this provision.” Very simply, according to the GAO, the Administration broke the law.

Here is an excerpt from the PBS site:

JOHN STAUBER, Center for Media and Democracy: Well, Judy, first of all, congratulations to the NewsHour for doing this report. And it’s a shame on the networks who were duped this way that they didn’t show up to defend or explain their actions.

What happened here was a psy-ops campaign, an incredible government propaganda campaign whereby Donald Rumsfeld and Torie Clark, the head of public relations for the Pentagon, designed a program to recruit 75, at least 75 former military officers, as your report said, most of them now lobbyists or consultants to military contractors, and insert them, beginning in 2002, before the attack on Iraq was even launched, into the major networks to manage the messages, to be surrogates.

And that’s the words that are actually used, “message multipliers” for the secretary of defense and for the Pentagon. This program continues right up to now.

JUDY WOODRUFF: And is the essence of this that what they did was — what the Pentagon did was illegal?

JOHN STAUBER: Yes, what they did was illegal. Now, the Pentagon might contest that, but we’ve had various laws on the books in our country going back to the 1920s. It is illegal for the U.S. government to propagandize citizens in this way.

In my opinion, this war could have never been sold if it were not for this sophisticated propaganda campaign. And what we need is congressional investigation of not just this Pentagon military analyst program, but all the rest of the deception and propaganda that came out of the Bush administration and out of the Pentagon that allowed them to sell and manage this war.