Pentagon documents released by the Defense Department and posted at its website show that White House officials, including Karl Rove, were aware of the domestic propaganda program under which the DoD coached retired military "analysts" to parrot administration views in television and radio appearances on all the major networks. The Smith-Mundt Act prohibits the federal government from appropriating funds to influence public opinion in the United States. On April 30th George Bush's spokeswoman Dana Perino falsely stated that the WH was unaware of the propaganda program.
The April 20th NYT story on the Pentagon's domestic propaganda by David Barstow has been ignored by nearly all the networks, evidently because they don't care to explain why they gave voice to and employed government propagandists. On April 30th Dana Perino finally was asked whether the WH knew about and approved the Pentagon program. Perino tried to duck the question, but blogger Eric Brewer pressed for an answer: "Did the White House know about the operation?" Perino's response: "I just said: no."
That's false as Glenn Greenwald shows by citing two of the emails the Pentagon was forced to release relating to its program. Both emails were sent by Pentagon official Dallas Lawrence in 2006.
The first email (6137) (PDF) refers to a draft proposal to fly several of the "analysts"/propagandists to Iraq and Afghanistan for dog and pony shows (a proposal that was to be sent to Asst. Sec. of Defense for Public Affairs Dorrance Smith). In the May 23, 2006 email, Lawrence asked that Afghanistan be excluded from the final proposal so that, if that leg of the trip falls through, "we (you) wont find yourself having to explain why it didn't happen after he [i.e. Smith] briefed it to karl at the weekly meeting". That appears to be a reference to weekly briefings given to Karl Rove in which Rove was apprised of the Pentagon's plans under the propaganda program.
The second email (6548) (PDF), from March 16 2006, refers to a conference call for "our retired military analysts" that was intended "to get them on message heading into the weekend on Iraqi troop strength, advances, etc." One anonymous DoD official, who said that he/she would instead be attending a speech by National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley, received this followup email from Lawrence:
Sounds great. I'd love to see if we oculd [sic] get them in with potus as well (I think that was submitted to karl and company from dorrance smith last week).
That clearly is a reference to Karl Rove. Notice that Lawrence not only believes that Dorrance Smith was coordinating the domestic propaganda program with the White House through Rove, but he appears to think there is nothing implausible or unusual about it.
Congress ought to consider whether the White House's complicity in criminal activity has been exposed with these documents.
It's not as if this were a domestic propaganda program on a trivial scale or directed toward insignificant issues. By means of the Nexis database, Media Matters has shown that since Jan. 1, 2002 the "analysts"/propagandists named in Barstow's article...
...collectively appeared or were quoted as experts more than 4,500 times on ABC, ABC News Now, CBS, CBS Radio Network, NBC, CNN, CNN Headline News, Fox News, MSNBC, CNBC, and NPR in segments covering the Iraq war both before and after the invasion, as well as numerous other national security or government policy issues.
They sold the invasion and occupation of Iraq to the American public like so much soap. No amount of silence from the news networks, no lies from the Bush administration, can wash away that stain.
See also the diary by atrexler.