As Jonathan Stein reported on Wednesday, Sen. Carl Levin has begun putting pressure on Defense Secretary Robert Gates to investigate allegations made in last Sunday’s New York Times report regarding the Pentagon’s use of “ex”-military officials to shape public perception of the Iraq War.
Yesterday Congressman Paul Hodes of New Hampshire joined in by officially requesting Chairman John Tierney of the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs to hold a hearing on the matter. Hodes asserts that “the Department of Defense used these analysts to manipulate public opinion toward supporting the Administration’s policy in the War in Iraq.”
From Congressman Hodes’ letter:
Dear Chairman Tierney:
I respectfully request that the Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs hold a hearing on the information contained in an article in the New York Times published on Sunday, April 20, alleging that the Pentagon used undue influence with former military officers serving as “independent” military analysts commenting on developments on the war in Iraq for network news stations.
The report detailed a concerted effort by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield and Department of Defense officials to manipulate network news military analysts to promote Bush administration spin on the war in Iraq, even though many analysts knew the information not to be accurate. In fact, one analyst referred to the efforts by the Pentagon as “brainwashing.”
It’s important to criticize the Pentagon for this, and I applaud both Levin and Hodes for speaking out. But I’ve come to expect, as I think many Americans have, a certain amount of military meddling in public discourse—it’s naive to think otherwise.
What I’d really like to see is some pressure put on the media networks that gratuitously supplied the national platform for the Pentagon. What is their responsibility to ensure their “independent” analysts are legit? After all, they’re using public airwaves.