In hindsight, maybe it shouldn't be surprising that the Pentagon has been secretly paying Iraqi journalists and news organizations to write and run positive stories about the war. After all, this is an administration that paid a U.S. columnist and peddled phony video news releases at home, too. But saying it was predictable makes it no less loathsome and damaging to find that the Bush administration has treated the Iraqi press, the Iraqi people and the very idea of Iraqi democracy with even greater contempt.
Yep. And Pentagon public affairs is the outfit that tried to pull the wool over our eyes about Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman.
But, heck, this is just another case of a few bad apples in the barrel, right?
From Jeff Gerth and Scott Shane of Arthur:
The military’s top commanders, including Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, did not know about the Lincoln Group contract until Wednesday, when it was first described by The Los Angeles Times, said a senior military official who was not authorized to speak publicly.
Pentagon officials said General Pace and other top officials were disturbed by the reported details of the propaganda campaign and demanded explanations from senior officers in Iraq, the official said.
When asked about the article Wednesday night on the ABC News program “Nightline,” General Pace said, “I would be concerned about anything that would be detrimental to the proper growth of democracy.”
Pace is a piece of work. Did you happen to catch him shucking and jiving about white phosphorous in the press conference with him and Rummy last week? If you missed it, here's the lowdown from BBC News:
[Pace] said white phosphorus, a chemical that burns on exposure to oxygen, producing a bright light and lots of white smoke, was used primarily to illuminate a battlefield or to hide troop movements.
"It is not a chemical weapon. It is an incendiary. And it is well within the law of war to use those weapons as they're being used, for marking and for screening," he said.
Pace must have forgotten that the Pentagon admitted to using white phosphorous to flush out insurgents in Fallujah last year in a tactic known as "shake and bake." How Pace classifies that as "marking and screening" is beyond me. He must have the latest copy of the Brave New World Dictionary. I understand Uncle Karl issues a new version to key administration officials every three months.
Not a single aspect of our information structure has escaped the invasion of black propaganda by this administration. Remember the Office of Strategic Information? Remember the White House Iraq Group? These outfits were straight out of Orwell's 1984.
Speaking of Orwell…
Judith Miller has put herself back in the news, apologizing for her pre-war stories about Iraq's WMD.
"I am obviously deeply chagrined that I ever write anything that turns out to be incorrect. I'm deeply sorry that the stories were wrong."
How sorry is she, really? She's not sorry that she was wrong.
"I'm deeply sorry our intelligence community got it wrong."
And those mean old intelligence weenies not only made poor Judy look bad.
"I am deeply sorry that the President was given a national intelligence estimate which concluded that Saddam Hussein had biological and chemical weapons and an active weapons program." "I am deeply sorry that the President was given a national intelligence estimate which concluded that Saddam Hussein had biological and chemical weapons and a active weapons program."
Does anybody else smell a "protect the President at all costs" propaganda program going on here?
Consider some of the stories flying around the infosphere about Mister Bush's relationships with his old stalwarts. This from Insight:
…the indictment and resignation of Lewis "Scooter" Libby marked the final straw in the deterioration of relations between President Bush and Mr. Cheney. They said Bush aides expect that any trial of Mr. Libby, Mr. Cheney's long-time chief of staff, would open a closet of skeletons regarding such issues as Iraq, the CIA and the conduct of White House aides.
"There's a lack of trust that the president has in Cheney and it's connected with Iraq," a source said.
The sources said Mr. Bush has privately blamed Mr. Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for the U.S.-led war in Iraq. They said the president has told his senior aides that the vice president and defense secretary provided misleading assessments on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction, as well as the capabilities of the regime of Saddam Hussein.
What do you figure the odds are that these "sources" are leaking this "inside scoop" on their own initiatives? Is there a little fat bald man behind a curtain pulling strings and levers?
Consider this story from The Washington Note:
Barbara Bush is allegedly TICKED off at Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, Andy Card, nearly all of them -- except Karen Hughes -- for how her boy is faring in the hearts and minds of Americans.
The matriarch of the Bush clan is colder than North Pole ice right now to those around her son who she thinks have undermined him. I'll tell who my sources are if Patrick Fitzgerald gives a call and makes me -- but the sources are very close to Poppa Bush (41), who has been traveling a bit with some of his old entourage, including Brent Scowcroft and others of the first Bush regime.
Good old Mom, standing by her boy. Heck, how can anybody blame her little Georgie for anything that's gone wrong--he's only 59 years old!