Feingold to GAO: Was Pentagon Propaganda Program Legal?
by Josh Orton, Thu May 01, 2008 at 03:00:36 PM EDT
Today, Senator Russ Feingold sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office to ask the crucial question - did the Pentagon's secret propaganda program break the law?
From Feingold's letter:
According to the article, the documents suggest that the Pentagon supplied retired officers serving as analysts for several major American broadcasters with private briefings with Sec. Rumsfeld, talking points in anticipation of appearing on TV, and commercial airfare. Allegedly, the Pentagon discouraged the analysts from publicly describing the nature of their relationship with the Pentagon. This clearly violates the spirit, if not the letter, of the law.
Feingold wants the GAO's "legal views as to whether the Department of Defense violated appropriations prohibitions on publicity or propaganda activities."
Full letter here.
But the Pentagon's role is only half the problem. The same traditional media outlets that used the analysts without any disclosure have said nearly nothing about their own responsibility. Since the New York Times story uncovered the (now suspended) nefarious program that used military analysts who had financial interest in Pentagon policies to "generate favorable news coverage of the administration's wartime performance," the traditional media is either ducking responsibility or just avoiding any mention of the program at all.
Potentially illegal government war propaganda? Yes.
Media watchdog and war critic Arianna Huffington? Not so much.
Will any media outlet cover the potential illegality of the program?Update [2008-5-1 19:11:6 by Josh Orton]: Yes, PBS ran the story several days after the NYT story broke. But does anyone think a network will touch it?