Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Pentagon Propaganda Programmers Pardoned; Pro-War News at Eleven

by Jeff Huber

The man who was perhaps the last of the true investigative reporters on the Pentarchy beat may have just taken a swan dive into the canvas.

Look at those yo-yos. That's the way you do it.
For years, David Barstow of the New York Times, amid a phalanx of the warmongery’s favorite echo chamberlains, the likes of Michael R. Gordon and Dexter Filkins and the disgraceful Thomas E. Ricks, managed to dig up unpleasant truths about our Whack-a-Doodle Wars on Evil.  Even more incredibly, Barstow was able to get the truth to us via the NYT, the propaganda conduit of record that abetted Dick Cheney and his malignant mob in selling the snake-oil intelligence to the American public that led to the invasion of Iraq. 

Barstow’s crowing coup against American’s military-media junta was his 2008 expose of the Pentagon’s gray propaganda operation know as the Retired Military Analyst (RMA) program.  The RMA was launched by Donald Rumsfeld’s Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs (aka Head Assistant Bull Feather Merchant) Victoria Clarke in early 2002 to recruit “key influentials” to peddle Operation Iraqi Freedom on the Big Brother Broadcast. 

RMA was a glad-handing, highway-robbing, war-hawking, hootenanny.  Clarke’s spin commandos wined, dined, sipped and supped a gang of retired senior officers who had gone into the defense contracting and tank thinking field, and fed them an endless supply of finely crafted pro-war talking points.  The RMAs went on air and a) palmed off said talking points as their own original analyses and b) neglected to mention that they stood to profit from extension and escalation of the war by way of their business connections in the defense industry.  

That's "General Evil" to you. I didn't slaughter
my way to the four-star level to be called
"Mister Evil." 
Retired Army Colonel Ken Allard, one of the most prominent RMAs who, during his active duty career, taught information warfare at National Defense University, admitted the program was “Psyops [aka ‘psychological operations’] on steroids, a “coherent, active policy.”  If you played ball with your information handlers, you thrived.  If you didn’t, you got shut out and the news networks lost interest in you.  “Night and day,” Allard said, “I felt we’d been hosed.”  (So sad, Ken, but I’d feel a lot sorrier about you getting so wet if you hadn’t jumped up and volunteered right away when Dad asked who wanted to help wash the car.)

Along with Ken Allard, the names that go with the faces on the RMA Wall of Shame include Wayne Downing, Rick Francona, James Marks, Thomas McInerny, Monty Miegs, Bernie Trainor, John Warden, Thomas Wilkerson and Jack Jacobs, the Yoda-like war wonk who has forged a lucrative retirement career out of shamelessly shilling his Vietnam War Medal of Honor.  But the most heinous the RMA rangers was retired four-star general Barry McCaffrey, who so brazenly used his military credentials and his Washington insider influence to reap war profits that Barstow described his racket as a “one man’s military-industrial complex.”

It’s little wonder that McCaffrey stood head and haunches above the rest of the retired war panderers.  During his active duty days, he was one of the most malevolent military men to ever sport a service dress uniform.  If the military had a real judiciary instead of its Uniform Code of Marsupial Justice*, McCaffrey would have been convicted of capital felonies after the first Gulf War for the Massacre at Rumalia during which McCaffrey disobeyed direct orders to commit the premeditated mass murder of retreating Iraqi soldiers during a declared ceasefire. (According to a colleague, McCaffrey exhorted his subordinate commanders over the radio to find a way for him to “go kill all of those bastards.”)  Army investigators later exonerated McCaffrey of wrongdoing, just as Pentagon investigators later exonerated everyone at the Pentagon involved in the RMA Program.

What a bitter sample of uneven-handedness it was that Barstow had to be the one to write the Christmas Eve NYT story titled “Pentagon Finds No Fault in Ties to TV Analysts.”  One has to wonder if Barstow volunteered to write the story or if the onerous task was crammed past his tonsils by the NYT’s war-worshiping editorial staff.  Whatever the case, irony, if it were still alive in the collective American consciousness, would have savored the way that Barstow told the story.  If this was his last round, at least he went out fighting.

Hi.  I'm Jack Jacobs.  Aren't I cuddly?
Do you like my Medal of Honor?
Then please buy more of the wars I sell
here on NBC so I can make more
 money from them.  And don't forget to
You’re not far into the story before you realize that the title should have read “Pentagon Finds No Fault with Itself in Ties to TV Analysts.”  It turns out that the recently completed two-year Pentagon inspector general (aka IG) inquiry is the second such inquiry into the RMA shenanigans Barstow tells us.  The IG’s office issued an earlier report, in 2009, that exonerated Pentagon Public Affairs and the RMAs and everyone else involved in the RMA program after it interviewed Pentagon Public Affairs personnel and RMAs and everyone else involved in the RMA program.

Shortly after 2009 report hit the streets, someone in the IG office who was senior to whoever had put it on the streets pulled it back off the streets, saying that it was so riddled with inaccuracies and flaws that none of its conclusions could be relied upon.  Later that year a second report was ordered, the one just released. 

The investigators who conjured the second report claimed that they could not find sufficient documentation to determine the program's strategy, objectives or intent.  So the “investigation” consisted of interviews with former Rumsfeld public affairs aids, including Victoria Clarke, who created and ran the RMA program.  From those interviews the “investigators” concluded that the “outreach activities were intended to serve as an open information exchange with credible third-party subject-matter experts” who could “explain military issues, actions and strategies to the American public.”

Though Barstow did not offer an authorial judgment statement on the second IG report’s conclusion, a slow child can see that it is the exact equivalent of a police chief pulling over a visibly, audibly and aromatically obviously intoxicated mayor, asking him if he has been drinking, and letting him drive away when he answers “No.”  The second IG RMA investigation has not been recalled, so whoever spiked the first one must have retired and been replaced by a, ah, less principled officer who more suitably conforms to the military's Petraeus-era standards of ethics.  

I didn't make my
first billion until
after I was a general.
Lamentably, much of the American population’s cognizant skills have fallen far beneath the level of a slow child’s. So when standard citizens see the likes of McCaffrey and Jacobs appearing on NBC as military analysts (yes, they’re baaaaaaaaaack), it won’t occur to them that these are the same retired bums who have been lying to them about our Woebegone Wars all along.  Or if they do remember anything about the RMA scandal, one of their FOX News aficionado chums will chime in with “Nah, they had two big investigations of those guys, went on for four years, didn’t find nothin’ on ‘em.  It was all bull roar.”

*The UCMJ is the justice system that sent retarded Army Private Lynndie England to jail over prison abuse while Donald Rumsfeld, chief architect of the prisoner abuse program, retired high on the dole in his mansion on the eastern shore, the one next to Dick Cheney’s multi-million dollar monstrosity.

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) is author of the critically lauded novel Bathtub Admirals, a lampoon on America’s rise to global dominance.  

Monday, December 26, 2011

Moving to Wednesdays

I completed the first draft of Sandbox Generals on 21 December.  Now it's time to take an operational pause for the cause and wait for a better sun angle before I re-attack and revise.  In the meantime, I'll be filling the psychic space with a number of other projects, among which will be mounting a slightly more fully developed version of the weekly P.S. column that I'll post on Wednesdays instead of Tuesdays, beginning on Wednesday 28 December.

I hope you're enjoying your holidays.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Newt the Impaler

By Jeff Huber

Newt circa 1465.
President Newt Gingrich (shudder) is likely to have a foreign policy as draconian as his domestic policies were during his reign of terror as House Speaker.  Newt’s cockamamie “Contract with America” that, if successful, would have impaled the nation’s middle and poor working classes ala Vlad Tepes, the real life model for Bram Stokers Dracula, long before young Messrs. Bush and Obama ever got a chance to.  While Newt’s domestic agenda channels Marie Antoinette’s infamous “Let the eat cake” decree, his attitude toward the rest of the planet can be best summarized as “Let them eat shrapnel”—the “them” in that statement being people who are Muslim and living anywhere within a B-2 bomber’s combat range of Jerusalem or American Israel Public Affair Committee (AIPAC) headquarters on H Street in Washington D.C., which pretty much includes all people who are Muslim.    

At the top of Newt’s wrong-color, wrong-creed, wrong-color target list are the Palestinians, who Newt claims are an “invented people.”

When criticized by his fellow GOP presidential hopefuls for his remark, Newt responded that what he said was “historically true” and “factually correct.”  That’s only the case if we view the term “true” in the context of Steven Colbert’s “truthiness” rubric, and if by “factually correct” we’re referring to the kinds of fabricated facts that conform to the sort of political correctness that resonates with Newt’s prospective rabid right voter base whose “conservative values” are rooted in cherished traditions like cross burnings and lynchings. (I'm in persistent wonderment at how American bigots who once hated Jews became I-Stand-with-Israelites once they were programmed to hate Muslims instead.)

The “invented people” meme was invented by AIPAC bull feather merchants to refute Palestinian claims of a right to a homeland.  AIPAC’s tank thinkers haven’t bothered to clarify who exactly they think invented the Palestinian people.  I’m guessing it wasn’t Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein or Mel Brooks’ either.  

It doesn’t take a historian, either a real one or a fake one like Newt, to realize that the people who invented the Palestinian people were other Palestinian people, and that Palestinian people have been making replicas of themselves since before the days of old testament references to Palestine.  If ever there were an invented people, it would be Americans like Newt whose ancestors, at the time that Old Testament Palestinians were making babies in Palestine, were making babies somewhere other than in America. 

Speaker Newt seduces an intern.
But that kind of clear thinking doesn’t interest a phony intellectual like Newt, who dedicates his acumen not to the acquisition of truth but to the acquisition of power.  And one of the best ways for Newt to acquire the kind of power he’s running for now is to align himself with whatever malignant purposes Israel would have him pursue, and to appeal to a fearful and hateful voter base.  

In that light, Newt’s stance toward Iran is hardly surprising.  Newt says we face a protracted ideological struggle with the Muslim world that will resemble he Cold War, and he casts Iran in the role of the old Soviet Union. 

Just shuck my jive, will you Newt?  Newt reminds me of a hard drinking retired Vietnam era Army veteran of my acquaintance who we’ll call Johnny Shiloh.  About seven Budweisers into lunch not long ago, the subject of refusing to hold diplomatic talks with Iran came up, and well, Johnny came to life and said the best story he ever heard on that there situation was about the hunter who ran into a bear in the woods.

The bear says, hey, don’t shoot, now.  All I want is a full stomach and all you want is a bear coat.  So why don’t you put that gun down and we’ll talk, and I’m sure we can come up with a solution that will give us both what we want.

So sure enough, Johnny said, the hunter put his gun down and the bear got a full belly and the hunter got a bear coat.  Johnny slapped his knee, and said, “Yep, best story on that subject I ever heard,” several times.

I said, “Johnny, in your story, the hunter is the United States and the bear is Iran, right?”

Johnny, taking a slug of Bud, shook his head hesitantly, figuring I was maybe about to shoot his allegory full of large caliber holes.  “Now Iran’s military budget is less than one percent the size of ours," I continued.  "In fact, our total defense related expenditures exceed Iran’s entire Gross Domestic Product.  Iran can’t project conventional power more than a stone’s throw from its borders and regardless of what Israel and its UN Stoogette Susan Rice bullied the International Atomic Energy Agency into saying in its latest report, Iran doesn't have a nuclear weapons program. 
Newt's lighter side.

So if Iran is the bear in this story, I told, Johnny, it’s not even a teddy bear.  It’s more of a gummy bear.  And how on earth, I asked Johnny to explain, did the hunter manage to get himself swallowed by a gummy bear?

Johnny took another slurp of Bud suds and said, “Best story I heard yet on the subject.”

By comparing Iran to the Soviet Bear, Newt is crafting a comparison every bit as asinine as Johnny Shiloh’s metaphor.  Yet people throughout the country are taking Newt seriously. 

It may be that America is finally ready for the Full Newt Monty.  He brings out the very worst in the very worst element of the American body politic.

So there’s an excellent chance he’ll win the GOP nomination. 

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) is author of the critically lauded novel Bathtub Admirals, a lampoon on America’s rise to global dominance. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Dumb, Dumber and Doonesbury

by Jeff Huber

I’ve been mourning the lamentable state of the anti-war movement lately, especially the portion of it populated by the political left, a great percentage of whom appear to be more concerned with the slaughter of baby seals than with the slaughter of baby humans.  And why wouldn’t they be?  We’ve actually seen more images in our warmongering mainstream media of ice floe carnage than we’ve seen of the carnage of armed conflict.  Nobody in the deep-pockets pocket of the Pentarchy really cares if liberals manage to curb baby seal hunting.  There’s not that much money in it. 

Must remember...this is my shoulder,
this is my elbow, this is my shoulder...
To be fair, a considerable number of liberals have enough angst left over for a healthy hand-wringing or two about those pesky old wars after they’re done saving a) wild animals from hunters so they can be killed by other wild animals instead and b) trees that were grown for the specific purpose of being cut down and used in construction.  Lamentably, though, the few progressives who have the staying power to protest the uniquely American brand of man’s inhumanity to man can seldom discriminate between their shoulders and their elbows. 

Doubly disconcerting is that so many of these feckless war protesters are high-profile humorists, comedians, satirists and other makers of malcontent merriness who enjoy the uncritical adoration of The Huffington Post’s circulation, especially of those callow-eyed progressive cadets of Generations X, Y, and now even Z (nine-year olds who can’t stay up to watch Stewart and Colbert can catch them on reruns the next day).  

Case in point is Doonsebury cartoonist Garry Trudeau who, as friend of Pen and Sword J.P. White recently suggested, is living proof that one doesn’t have to be especially funny to be a commercially successful humorist, especially when said humorist attended Yale like Trudeau did.  As our present president and his immediate predecessor have proven, you don’t need talent to succeed in your chosen field if you have Ivy League credentials.    

When it comes to our woebegone Wars on Evil, Trudeau’s heart generally seems to be in the right place, but he has a penchant for letting his head hobble off to some cozy cranny where it’s isolated from the light of day and breathable air, like it appears to have done when Garry penned his 7 December strip in which a junior U.S. Army officer concedes that the omnipresent evildoers in Iraq are still able to bring the fight to us thanks to “a little help from Iran.”

I don’t dig trolling into other people’s web sites, but this couldn’t go unchallenged.  Here’s what I left in Garry’s “Blowback” inbox:
What a crushing disappointment to see in your 7 Dec. strip that you too have chugged the propaganda that blames Iran for our failures in Iraq.  The recent IAEA report was the latest piece of kangaroo courtliness to accuse Iran of malfeasance—this time in regard to its nuclear program—and support the charge with pure poppycock. 
The loop-tape allegations that Iran has armed and trained Shiite Iraqi rebels have never been substantiated.  The only verifiable outside aid and comfort to Shiite militiamen was the training and weapons then Lt. Gen. David Petraeus gave to Iraqi security force recruits—predominantly Shiites—who disappeared into the night with 190,000 AK-47s and other combat gear. 
Shame on you, Garry, for allowing yourself to become one of the warmongery’s leading echo chamberlains. 
 Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired)     
Someone named “Editor” posted my comment, and added the following curious caveat: “This seems a good occasion to remind readers that if GBT shared the beliefs of all of his characters, he would be deeply schizophrenic.”

Holy non-rebuttal.  Knowing it was a waste of effort, I further submitted this:
Satirists, perhaps more so than other literary figures, present a worldview of moral judgments, and owe it to their audience to indicate when their characters’ actions and words reflect their vision of the truth and when they do not.  Mark Twain knew exactly how to do this.  Garry does some of the time.  This time he did nothing to indicate that his character’s “with a little help from Iran” was intended with any degree of sardonicism.
...and dumber...
That submission hasn’t been blessed for live bandwidth at the Doonesbury site.  Maybe they have a one-per-disgruntled-customer policy.  Something that did make the cut, however, was an attempted disproval of my original post by one Dean Mitchell that began: “The evidence of Iranian involvement has been continuous, with lots of reporting.”  If you click on the “lots” and “reporting” links of Mr. Mitchell’s sentence, you’ll discover what kind of “evidence” he considers convincing. 

The “lots” link, as I noted in my second, unpublished Blowback submission, leads to “a story with Iran allegations penned by Michael R. Gordon, one the Pentarchy's very favorite echo chamberlains.  I'm sure [Mr. Mitchell] had no idea that Gordon was one of the journo-cads who helped Dick Cheney's mob pull the Nigergate hoax on us that led to the invasion of Iraq, and has been a go-to war propaganda conduit to this day.” 

...and BlackFive's Uncle Jimbo
The “reporting” link leads to a July 2011 piece from Britain’s right-wing The Telegraph that features the standard laundry list of unsubstantiated charges against Iran straight from the mouth of then Joint Chiefs chairman and Bull Feather Merchant Marine Corps Commandant Mike Mullen. 

It’s downright horrifying to reflect that not only are the likes of Mr. Mitchell gullible enough to guzzle undiluted war propaganda from the likes of Gordon and Mullen but, apparently, the likes of progressive icon Garry Trudeau are too!

Jesus, Mary and Curly Joe DeRita.  With anti-war liberals like these, who needs Pavlov’s Dogs of War like bathetic BlackFive pundit Uncle Jimbo?

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) is author of the critically lauded novel Bathtub Admirals, a lampoon on America’s rise to global dominance. 

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Open Letter to Gary Trudeau

7 Dec. 2011

What a crushing disappointment to see in your 7 Dec. strip that you too have chugged the propaganda that blames Iran for our failures in Iraq.  The recent IAEA report was the latest piece of kangaroo courtliness to accuse Iran of malfeasance—this time in regard to its nuclear program—and support the charge with pure poppycock. 

The loop-tape allegations that Iran has armed and trained Shiite Iraqi rebels have never been substantiated.  The only verifiable outside aid and comfort to Shiite militiamen was the training and weapons then Lt. Gen. David Petraeus gave to Iraqi security force recruits—predominantly Shiites—who disappeared into the night with 190,000 AK-47s and other combat gear. 

Shame on you, Gary, for allowing yourself to become one of the warmongery’s leading echo chamberlains.

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired)  

Monday, December 05, 2011

All Aboard for Zombieland!

by Jeff Huber

Elder Lady, a long-time friend of Pen and Sword and a keen observer of the sorry scene playing out across our country and the world, recently shared this quote from British author John le Carré

"God appointed America to save the world in any way that suits America. God appointed Israel to be the nexus of America's Middle Eastern policy and anyone who wants to mess with that idea is a) anti-Semitic, b) anti-American, c) with the enemy, and d) a terrorist."

 -- Published in The London Times, 15 Jan. 2003

Nine years after le Carre published that statement, America and its snippy British lap dog are imposing all new and improved set of draconian sanctions on Iran that, the political theory goes, will coerce Iran into doing things that the old shopworn set of draconian sanctions failed to make Iran do. 

American Diplomacy: It's code for "war."
The pretext for this latest round of “diplomatic” preparations for all out war on Iran was the recent International Atomic Energy Agency report
that said Iraq might still have a nuclear weapons program.  The report, which has been thoroughly refuted in every forum except the war wagging mainstream media, was based on hearsay evidence from “member nations” that could only have been Israel, the UK and the US, and on the activities of a “nuclear scientist” who turns out not to have been a nuclear scientist at all but a pioneer in the field of nanodiamond technology that is use for industrial and medical purposes.

Iranian Students stormed the British Embassy in Tehran, the Brits closed the embassy and hauled scones, and now we don’t even have second-hand diplomatic lines of communication with Iran. Still, the bull feather merchant marines who spin our foreign policy shenanigans can replay the Team Cheney meme that said "we tried diplomacy and it didn't work," even if said diplomacy consisted of refusing to speak directly to parties we were punishing with sanctions until they agreed to pre-conditions that no country in its right national mind would agree to.  (In the case of Iran, we insisted that they give up their UN guaranteed right to pursue nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.  What a surprise that they passed on the offer.  Telling the Iranians they could have a nuclear energy industry if they got their nuclear fuel from us was like telling them they could have an auto industry as long as they made their cars in Detroit and called them Buicks.)

I’ve delineated many times how possession of nuclear weapons would be, for the Iranians, the equivalent a doomsday device that would spell doom for the entire ancient Persian race.  I only know of one group of people crazy enough to take those sorts of risks in the name of acquiring more power, and that group of people is the group of people who led us down the Long War path that began in Iraq and that is about to intersect with the road to ruin.  

Who's your worst nightmare now?
It is perhaps because of the state of the economy and because our  our body politic has become such a FOX News driven menagerie that the American public continues to allow its government to slaughter hundreds of thousands of innocents overseas over…what?  Certainly not 9/11.  The evildoer young Mr. Bush swore to bring in dead or alive is sleeping with the whales.  Certainly not to preempt an invasion of our soil.  Despite what Mr. Bush’s speechwriters told us, the oceans still protect us from that sort of thing.  Nobody has the kind of army or air force or navy required to invade and occupy us the way we’ve made a national pastime out of doing to everyone who is a supposed threat to us, and nobody ever will have that kind of military force.   

We have gone from a mighty nation dedicated to become Ronald Reagan’s “shining city on the hill” to a global bad guy; a global bad guy who is about to dwarf the malignant accomplishments of every global bad guy who came before us.  As le CarrĂ© put it in 2003, “America has entered one of its periods of historical madness, but this is the worst I can remember: worse than McCarthyism, worse than the Bay of Pigs and in the long term potentially more disastrous than the Vietnam War.”

Countless sages of eastern and western cultures have noted that human events have a way of leveling themselves in the same manner that nature does.  Actions produce opposite but equal reactions among societies just as they do in the physical universe.  As one popular volume of spiritual guidance admonishes us, “ye shall reap as ye shall sow,” and as we used to say in the Navy, “What goes around comes around.” 

The 2012 Tea Party Convention.  
The longer we as a nation stay on this neoconservative, post-modern imperialist crazy-train joy ride, the further we’re going to fall when China calls in our debt or the tea baggers turn the country into Zombieland or a space ship lands and a guy who looks like Michael Rennie steps out of it and tells us to pack our bags for a one-way trip to oblivion.

Say goodbye to hegemony.
My biggest concern regarding our inability to correct our behavior before God, nature or Mr. Spock’s relatives correct it for us is that the anti-war movement has been hijacked by paleo-conservative libertarians who don’t want to pay for roads because they don’t think we need roads and by latter-day hippies who are more interested in legalizing pot than in putting an end to self-defeating wars. 

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) is author of the critically lauded novel Bathtub Admirals, a lampoon on America’s rise to global dominance.