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Thread: Pentagon Kills Rumsfeld "Propaganda" Unit

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2005

    Pentagon Kills Rumsfeld "Propaganda" Unit

    Pentagon kills Rumsfeld 'propaganda' unit

    Michael Roston
    Published: Friday July 13, 2007

    Current Defense Secretary Robert Gates has scrapped an institution established by his predecessor Donald Rumsfeld to rapidly counter messages in the press that the Pentagon considered negative, according to a report in Friday's Washington Times.

    "Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has shut down a rapid-response press operation run out of the Pentagon speechwriting shop because it is not suited to his style of press relations," reports Bill Gertz in his weekly 'Inside the Ring' column.

    A former Pentagon official explained to Gertz how the rapid-response unit worked.

    "The unit would monitor U.S. and foreign press reports and highlight stories that were 'missing key elements,'" he writes. "It then would quickly send information to congressional and press contacts 'so people could see the rest of the story.'"

    Rumsfeld during his tenure spoke vocally about America needing to win its wars in the media as well as on the battlefield.

    "[T]hese are terrorists and they have media relations committees that meet and talk about strategy, not with bullets but with words," he warned in a February 2006 speech at the Council on Foreign Relations. "They’ve proven to be highly successful at manipulating the opinion elites of the world. They plan and design their headline-grabbing attacks using every means of communication to intimidate and break the collective will of free people."

    The ex-Defense Secretary tried to use torture and inhumane treatment by the US military to prove the imbalance in the press against the United States.

    "Consider for a moment the vast quantity of column inches and hours of television devoted to the allegations of unauthorized detainee mistreatment," he said. "But weigh the numbers of column inches and hours of television involving that event, for example, against the discovery of Saddam Hussein’s mass graves, which were filled with literally hundreds of thousands of human beings, innocent Iraqis who were killed."

    And, at the time, he outlined some of the requirements for the Pentagon to respond to such challenges.

    "The U.S. government will have to develop an institutional capability to anticipate and act within the same news cycle," he said in the address. "That will require instituting 24-hour press operation centers, elevating Internet operations and other channels of communication to the equal status with the traditional 20th Century press relations. It will result in much less reliance on the traditional print press, just as the publics of the U.S. and the world are relying less on newspapers as their principal source of information."

    While Rumsfeld's media response unit is gone, Gertz noted that Gates had some of its operations "folded into other elements of the Pentagon"s public-affairs office."
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

  2. #2
    simuvac Guest
    Doesn't this sound like exactly the kind of story a propaganda mill would produce?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Meet the Pentagon’s New Spin Unit: Bush Administration hacks court bloggers, talk radio

    BY Ken Silverstein
    PUBLISHED July 16, 2007

    The Bush Administration has installed hacks across the federal bureaucracy, with Michael Brown, the man who helped destroy New Orleans while director of FEMA, as only the most notorious example. Now the Pentagon’s public affairs division has become a dumping ground for administration cronies.

    I touched upon this topic last week in an article about Dorrance Smith, a former senior advisor to President Bush 41 and now assistant secretary of defense for public affairs under Bush 43. In 2006, when the press and retired senior military officials were pummeling Donald Rumsfeld, Smith created a rapid-response team of die-hard loyalists to defend the then-defense secretary.

    The rapid-response team has been shut down but several sources tell me that another of Smith’s spin projects is ongoing. This project seeks to bypass the traditional media and work directly with talk radio and bloggers, mostly those with a heavily conservative tilt. The unit, which one source says was originally called “Surrogates Operation” but was later rechristened “Communications Outreach,” also reportedly provides talking points and briefings to retired military officials who now support the administration in appearances as media pundits. (I haven’t been able to learn which blogs and individuals the unit has been working with, but urge anyone with such information to contact me via email.)

    To head up the unit, Smith brought in Erin Healey, a former junior assistant press secretary at the White House. (Healey has not replied to a phone call seeking comment; if she does, I’ll update this story.) She was reportedly hired as a contractor, and later given a political appointee position. Also reportedly working with the unit is Julie George, who formerly worked as deputy coalitions director for Rick Santorum’s losing senatorial re-election campaign in 2006. Curiously, Santorum was one of only two senators to vote against the confirmation of current defense secretary Robert Gates, who Santorum said was not “up to the task” of fighting terrorism. Another person reportedly involved with the operation is Jocelyn Webster, who formerly worked in the White House’s political operation for Sara Taylor, the Karl Rove aide who now finds herself in a bit of hot water.

    Webster’s name has surfaced twice in investigations led by Congressman Henry Waxman, head of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. First, she was found to be on the list of current and former White House officials who used political e-mail accounts provided by the Republican National Committee. Webster was also found to have used that e-mail account to send a message about the controversial briefing that her former boss, deputy White House political director J. Scott Jennings, gave to Lurita Doan and several dozen political appointees at the General Services Administration. The e-mail contained a copy of the slides Jennings used in the presentation and said, “Please do not e-mail this out or let people see it. It is a close hold, and we’re not supposed to be e-mailing it around.”

    Healey may have some knowledge of defense matters, but she’s certainly no expert. Webster and George were described to me by one well-informed source as “very young with no background in national security or foreign affairs.” This person said that some defense officials have been “put off to say the least by these neophyte political appointees telling retired and active personnel in uniform what to say and what to think.”

    All this is typical of the current dysfunction at public affairs under Smith, who has surrounded himself with inexperienced political staffers. An example came with the bungled announcement last month that Marine General Peter Pace would be replaced as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Pace was widely liked within the military, and the mishandling of his departure–he was not reappointed to his position, and submitted his resignation only after Gates announced he would be replaced–did not sit well with many in the armed forces.

    The irony here is that Gates has a far better relationship with the media than Rumsfeld, who treated journalists as the enemy. But with Smith running amok, Gates’s honeymoon with the media and with the military may be coming to an end.
    No One Knows Everything. Only Together May We Find The Truth JG

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