The House of Representatives moved Thursday to crack down on a Pentagon program that Democrats say planted false and overly optimistic news stories about the Iraq war, using military analysts who appeared regularly on television.
Acting on a 2009 defense policy bill, lawmakers forbade the Defense Department from engaging in “a concerted effort to propagandize” the American people over the war.
The amendment by Rep. Paul W. Hodes (D-N.H.), which passed by voice vote, also would force an investigation by the General Accounting Office of efforts to plant positive news stories about the war. The overall bill passed 384-23.
The action follows an April 20 New York Times article that described how the Pentagon promoted its positive view of the war by cultivating former military officers who became regulars on Fox News, CNN and the broadcast networks.
The report prompted outrage among war opponents, who called it just the latest example of the Bush administration’s secretly trying to manipulate the media. Defenders of the war said the Pentagon merely tried to ensure that its views were understood by the retired officers, who have become a broadcast staple.
The Senate will not take up the defense policy bill until after next week’s recess. Its version does not yet include language about the military analyst program.
The White House, citing concerns with other provisions of the overall legislation, has threatened a veto.
When one tries to recall all the examples of when Bush and Republicans, allegedly Constitutional fundamentalists simply made up rights out of thin air or denied rights with flimsy legal arguments it becomes an exercise in memory overload. Even Superman’s super vision could not find an implicit or explicit passage in the Constitution that allows the executive branch to do its best impression of Mao Tse-Tung (Zedong) style propaganda management. Beyond the probably breaking the law, where are those things, you know, values that Republicans have claimed an exclusive copyright on for the past forty years,
In a related analysis, the GAO explained that “The publicity or propaganda restriction helps to mark the boundary between an agency making information available to the public and agencies creating news reports unbeknownst to the receiving audience.”
In case anyone disagrees with the GAO on this point, here’s what the White House’s own Office of Legal Council had to say, in a memorandum written in 2005 following the controversy over the Armstrong Williams scandal (when it was discovered that the Bush administration had actually paid him to publicly endorse its No Child Left Behind Law):
Over the years, GAO has interpreted “publicity or propaganda” restrictions to preclude use of appropriated funds for, among other things, so-called “covert propaganda.” … Consistent with that view, OLC determined in 1988 that a statutory prohibition on using appropriated funds for “publicity or propaganda” precluded undisclosed agency funding of advocacy by third-party groups. We stated that “covert attempts to mold opinion through the undisclosed use of third parties” would run afoul of restrictions on using appropriated funds for “propaganda.” (emphasis added)
The key passage here is the phrase, “covert attempts to mold opinion through the undisclosed use of third parties.” As the Times report documented in detail, the Pentagon’s military analyst program did exactly that.
VENTURA: “Well, first of all, I made a statement when I was governor and stand by it today. Love is bigger than government. Who the hell are we as a government to tell people who you can fall in love with? I think it‘s absurd that fact it‘s even being debated. “
[ ]…VENTURA: Let me throw something out. You can‘t take a civil rights issue and put it up to a vote. If you did that, we might still have slavery if it was allowed to be voted on.
The first amendment is pretty clear, yet as Ventura asserts about gay marriage and government meddling if you put the five basic rights set out in the first article of the Bill of Rights people like McCain buddies John Hagee and Ron Parsley would probably toss freedom of religion out the window. We’re all free to do a lot of things, but we’re not free to destroy the tenets that allow us those freedoms.
Those charges were relatively benign compared with the questions. One inquired about the link between “the American left and Islamofascists.” Another asked about nefarious influences on Michelle Obama. A third raised the possibility that Obama’s “change” slogan is based on the 1961 communist “Movement for Change.”
This are people that shuttle back and forth between Flat Earth Society meetings and Victims of Martian Kidnappings. Thursday night is free tin foil night.