Pentagon Puppets: Where is the Accountability?

It has been close to two months since the NYTimes story about the retired general Pentagon propaganda program broke. What followed was a tiny smattering of outraged statements from a few politicians, some outrage from retired military and active media folks not on the DOD dole, and very little media coverage or self-examination. (This Democracy Now report being a notable exception.)

Along with Free Press and others, we are pushing for more oversight, more information and more action on this issue. You can help here.

What little to no coverage or oversight means is that the program -- which is not exactly on sound legal and ethical footing under current US law and regulations -- may have simply morphed into something else. Even though the Bush Administration knows that this sort of "psy-ops" activity is prohibited, because they have been caught with their hand in the propaganda jar before:

...Since 1951, Congress has enacted an annual, government wide prohibition on the use of appropriated funds for purposes of "publicity or propaganda." For instance, in 2005, the prohibition stated:

No part of any appropriation contained in this or any other Act shall be used for publicity or propaganda purposes within the United States not heretofore authorized by the Congress. Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2005, Pub. L. No. 108-447, div. G, title II, 624, 118 Stat. 2809, 3278 (Dec. 8, 2004). (The language of the prohibition has remained virtually unchanged since 1951.)

All of these ginned up propaganda programs started hitting the public consciousness in 2005, causing a public outcry and Congressional calls for an investigation, which was undertaken by the Government Accountability Office. The GAO issued a formal report in February 2005 indicating that the Bush Administration efforts to shape the news via the prepackaged video news releases were inappropriate. The GAO subsequently issued similar opinions on the other Bush propaganda programs....

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