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.  


  1. Good luck trying to get your head around what the career American military like to call "strategic thinking." To get a real insight into the madness of destroying villages in order to save them, I find it most useful to focus on the bizarre metaphors the brass uses to illustrate what otherwise might pass for "figuring out how to take and occupy the low ground." For example:

    “In early 1967 [General William] Westmoreland gave a most complicated and interesting explanation for the rationale behind the President’s “ceiling” on the number of American troops. “If,” he said, “you crowd in too many termite killers, each using a screwdriver to kill the termites, you risk collapsing the floors or the foundation. In this war, we’re using screwdrivers to kill termites because it’s a guerrilla war and we cannot use bigger weapons. We have to get the right balance of termite killers to get rid of the termites without wrecking the house.” To continue this extraordinary metaphor, the American force had managed to wreck the house without killing the termites; they had, further, managed to make the house uninhabitable for anyone except termites [emphasis added]. In a different manner, they had made the [American-created puppet government] house unlivable as well.” -- Frances Fitzgerald, Fire in the Lake: the Vietnamese and the Americans in Vietnam, p. 460-461 (Westmoreland quoted in Newsweek, 27 March 1967 – almost a year before the Tet Offensive of 1968

    As for retired Army colonel Jack Jacobs, in his forgettable little book, If Not, Now When?, he criticized former Secretary of War, Donald Rumsfeld for not providing adequate resources for the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Quote he: “To employ the military instrument of power knowing it was inadequately resourced is a bit like baking a chocolate cake and having all the ingredients except chocolate. You’ll get something, but it won’t be what you want. It’s much better to wait until you have all the ingredients. Or better yet, skip dessert altogether.”

    A superficially glib metaphor, I suppose, but it begs the question of why the American military would want to bake a cherry pie while complaining that they did not have enough chocolate as required by their cake recipe. In fact, the American military owns stock in bakeries all over the world and could care less what particular pastry any particular government says it will pay for with no questions of cost -- or even delivery of the pastry -- whatsoever.

    “All institutions do their thing; in the case of the military and generals, wanting troops is their thing.” David Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest, p. 166

  2. Hear, hear, Michael. Thanks.


  3. Yep, Amerika owned by dod/vendors and ws. Thanks Jeff and Michael.

  4. It isn't as if we haven't had warnings about this. Plautus and that crowd of satirists tried to warn the Greeks and Romans about the dangers of letting the military take over, and that was a long time ago (and look what happened to the Greeks and Romans).

  5. "[The Cold War] was "cold" only in the sense that the two antagonists did not engage each other in a shooting war. During that era, which lasted until the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1987, the United States fought two very hot wars, first in Korea, then in Vietnam. It suffered a stalemate in one and defeat in the other, both by Soviet proxies. If we add the defeat in Iraq, we might be tempted to redefine Superpower as an imaginary of power that emerges from defeat unchastened, more imperious than ever." Sheldon Wolin, America, Inc.

    Speaking of the Greeks: King Pyrrhus famously said after winning a battle but losing most of his army: "Another victory like this and we are ruined!" With the super-duper American military, however, no one gets canned and disgraced for decades of squandered blood and booty. Instead, the Joint Chiefs get a fifth general, this one for the [formerly state-run] National Guard, and the losing geniuses get lucrative gigs as Pentagram RMA propagandists.

    Move over, George Orwell, the American Janus Party now has a forth slogan, to wit:

    War is Peace
    Freedom is Slavery
    Ignorance is Strength
    Defeat is Victory

    Or, to summarize and condense them all into one:

    Oxymoron is US