A Pro-War Front Group Rallies With Republican Senators

This post, written by John Stauber, originally appeared on PR Watch.org

Vets for Freedom (VFF), the well-funded pro-war lobby group, is cranking-up its PR campaign on behalf of President Bush's war in Iraq with a news conference held July 17th in the US Capitol. A slate of pro-war Republican Senators including Mitch McConnell, Jon Kyl, Lindsey Graham, along with former Democratic (now independent) Senator Joe Lieberman, all participated with Pete Hegseth and other VFF lobbyists.

In June 2006, I reported that:
Citizen journalists on SourceWatch have been investigating and exposing the many Republican connections and the partisan pro-war political agenda behind Vets for Freedom, a new organization with mysterious funding and a flashy website designed by Campaign Solutions, part of the Donatelli Group. Vets for Freedom's hollow claim of "non-partisanship" took another blow Sunday, June 25, when the Buffalo News published a front page story by Jerry Zremski, their Washington correspondent, linking Vets for Freedom to the Bush White House.
Describing Vets for Freedom as a "pro-war group with deep Republican ties," the Buffalo News revealed that Taylor Gross, who until last year worked as a spokesman for President Bush under White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan, is conducting PR work for Veterans for Freedom. Gross attempted to convince the Buffalo News and other papers that two decorated military veterans with the group, Wade Zirkle and David Bellavia, could report cheaply for the newspapers from Iraq while embedded with the US military.
VFF is today a powerful, well-funded pro-war lobby, essentially a front group for Bush policies in Iraq that is often treated with kid gloves by reporters unfamiliar with its funding and connections, journalists who often depict the lobby group as simply another military veterans organization. In fact, the group's sole mission is to lobby on behalf of Bush's global war on terror.

Republican funders and PR experts have created and bankrolled astroturf pro-war groups including Vets for Freedom and Move America Forward. However, there is a genuine grassroots movement of Iraq war veterans, but it doesn't have the budget or political backing of pro-war lobby groups like VFF, and it is truly non-partisan, criticizing both Republicans and Democrats for failing to end the US occupation of Iraq.
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