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Sunday, February 08, 2009

Assoc Press .. report truth? US military will RUIN (kill) YOU!!!

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Tom Curley, president and chief executive of The Associated Press, speaks during the William Allen White Day program at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kan., Friday, Feb. 6, 2009. Curley came to the University of Kansas to receive this year's national citation for journalistic excellence from the William Allen White Foundation. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)


AP CEO: Military emphasizes spin, new rules needed

1 day ago

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — Associated Press chief executive Tom Curley says the Bush administration turned the U.S. military into a global propaganda machine.

In a speech to journalists at the University of Kansas on Friday, Curley said news organizations must demand that the Pentagon negotiate new rules for covering conflicts.

He said both civilian officials and military leaders have cracked down on independent reporting from the battlefield, with the goal of suppressing news that's unflattering. Curley said top commanders warned him that if AP stuck by its journalistic principles, "The AP and I would be ruined."

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Curley came to the university to receive a national citation for journalistic excellence.

www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5hgR0BhkQ5f1cKtQ-q5cNFoJEeYgQD9669OA01



His remarks came a day after an AP investigation disclosed that the Pentagon is spending at least $4.7 billion this year on "influence operations" and has more than 27,000 employees devoted to such activities.



In other words.. the respectable AP -- whose writings are reprinted WITHOUT DOUBLE CHECKING -- cannot report because the US military threatened to kill them?

The CEO is intimidated (scared to death?) to not say "who said AP could be "ruined" for sticking to its principles"..

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"But does America need to resort to al-Qaida tactics?" Curley said. "Should the U.S. government be running Web sites that appear to be independent news organizations?" Should the military be planting stories in foreign newspapers? Should the United States be trying to influence public opinion through subterfuge, both here and abroad?"

Answering questions from his audience of about 160 people, Curley said AP remains concerned about journalists' detentions. He said most appear to occur when someone else, often a competitor, "trashes" the journalist.

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"There is a procedure that takes place which sounds an awful lot like torture to us," Curley said. "If people agree to trash other people, they are freed. If they don't immediately agree to trash other people, they are kept for some period of time _ two or three weeks _ and they are put through additional questioning."

www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/02/06/ap-ceo-bush-turned-milita_n_164812.html

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LAWRENCE, Kan. — The Bush administration turned the U.S. military into a global propaganda machine while imposing tough restrictions on journalists seeking to give the public truthful reports about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Associated Press chief executive Tom Curley said Friday.

Curley, speaking to journalists at the University of Kansas, said the news industry must immediately negotiate a new set of rules for covering war because "we are the only force out there to keep the government in check and to hold it accountable."

Much like in Vietnam, "civilian policymakers and soldiers alike have cracked down on independent reporting from the battlefield" when the news has been unflattering, Curley said. "Top commanders have told me that if I stood and the AP stood by its journalistic principles, the AP and I would be ruined."

Curley said in a brief interview that he didn't take the commanders' words as a threat but as "an expression of anger." Late in 2007, Curley wrote an editorial about the detention of AP photographer Bilal Hussein, held by the military for more than two years.

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Eleven of AP's journalists have been detained in Iraq for more than 24 hours since 2003. Last year, according to cases AP is tracking, news organizations had eight employees detained for more than 48 hours.

AP, the world's largest newsgathering operation, is a not-for-profit cooperative that began in 1846 to communicate news from the Mexican War. Curley has been the company's president and CEO since 2003.

Before his speech, Curley met for about a half-hour with Lt. Gen. William Caldwell IV, a former spokesman for the U.S. military in Iraq. Caldwell is commander at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., where military doctrines are drafted and a staff college trains both American and foreign officers.

"It's important for us to be very transparent," Caldwell said during an interview after Curley's speech. "If we do those things, ultimately, we're both trying to do the same thing."

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Curley came to the University of Kansas to receive this year's national citation for journalistic excellence from the William Allen White Foundation. Curley also won national awards in 2007 and 2008 for his work on First Amendment and open records issues.


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Answering questions from his audience of about 160 people, Curley said AP remains concerned about journalists' detentions. He said most appear to occur when someone else, often a competitor, "trashes" the journalist.

"There is a procedure that takes place which sounds an awful lot like torture to us," Curley said. "If people agree to trash other people, they are freed. If they don't immediately agree to trash other people, they are kept for some period of time _ two or three weeks _ and they are put through additional questioning."

His remarks came a day after an AP investigation disclosed that the Pentagon is spending at least $4.7 billion this year on "influence operations" and has more than 27,000 employees devoted to such activities. At the same time, Curley said, the military has grown more aggressive in withholding information and hindering reporters.

Curley said a military program to embed reporters with battlefield units in Iraq was successful in 2003, the war's first year. But afterward, the military expanded its rules from one to four pages, and Curley said they're now so vague, a journalist can be expelled on a whim if a commander doesn't like what's being reported.

"Americans understand hardships and setbacks," he said. "They expect honest answers about what's happening to their sons and daughters."

Caldwell now requires officers who attend Fort Leavenworth's staff college to blog and "engage" the media. "Not only when it's good stuff, but when it's challenging," Caldwell said.

Curley acknowledged that upon taking office, President Barack Obama rolled back many of the policies instituted by George W. Bush. But he said when the Pentagon faces difficulties again _ perhaps in Afghanistan, with the new administration's focus on it _ experience has shown, "the military gets tough on the journalists."

"So now is the time to re-negotiate the rules of engagement between the military and the media," he said. "Now is the time to insist that the First Amendment does apply to the battlefield."

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He added: "Now is the time to resist the propaganda the Pentagon produces and live up to our obligation to question authority and thereby help protect our democracy."

Curley said examining the Defense Department's spending on its public relations efforts and psychological operations is difficult because many of the budgets are classified.

He said the Pentagon has kept secret some information that used to be available to the public, and its public affairs officers at the Pentagon gather intelligence on reporters' work rather than serve as sources.

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Curley traced the propaganda efforts to former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld. He cited a 2003 operations "road map" signed by Rumsfeld, declaring that psychological operations had been neglected for too long. Curley also noted that the current secretary, Robert Gates, has defended such efforts, including in a speech at Kansas State University in 2007.

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"But does America need to resort to al-Qaida tactics?" Curley said. "Should the U.S. government be running Web sites that appear to be independent news organizations?" Should the military be planting stories in foreign newspapers? Should the United States be trying to influence public opinion through subterfuge, both here and abroad?"

He also said the Bush administration had stripped hundreds of people, including reporters, of their human rights. He noted that when an Iraqi judicial panel reviewed the evidence gathered by the military against Hussein, the AP photographer, it ordered his release. He declined in an interview to say who said AP could be "ruined" for sticking to its principles, but "I knew that they were angry."

"This is how you improve the standing of America around the world, by taking the universal human rights we enjoy as Americans and ensuring them for everyone," Curley said in his speech.

Both the award Curley received at the University of Kansas and its journalism school are named for White, who was publisher of the Emporia Gazette until 1944. A Pulitzer Prize winning editorial writer, White's commentary and friendships with prominent Americans made him a national figure.

"There's no doubt that White would have been angered by the last eight years," Curley said. "The right to access information and the ability to know the source of that information were diminished."

___

Associated Press writer John Milburn also contributed to this report.

___

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On the Net:

The Associated Press: http://www.ap.org

U.S. Defense Department: http://www.defenselink.mil/

William Allen White Foundation: http://www.journalism.ku.edu/school/waw/memorials/foundation/foundation.html


AP Impact: Pentagon boosts spending on PR



As it fights two wars, the Pentagon is steadily and dramatically increasing the money it spends to win what it calls "the human terrain" of world public opinion. In the process, it is raising concerns of spreading propaganda at home in violation of federal law.

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An Associated Press investigation found that over the past five years, the money the military spends on winning hearts and minds at home and abroad has grown by 63 percent, to at least $4.7 billion this year, according to Department of Defense budgets and other documents. That's almost as much as it spent on body armor for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2004 and 2006.

This year, the Pentagon will employ 27,000 people just for recruitment, advertising and public relations — almost as many as the total 30,000-person work force in the State Department.

"We have such a massive apparatus selling the military to us, it has become hard to ask questions about whether this is too much money or if it's bloated," says Sheldon Rampton, research director for the Committee on Media and Democracy, which tracks the military's media operations. "As the war has become less popular, they have felt they need to respond to that more."

Yet the money spent on media and outreach still comes to only 1 percent of the Pentagon budget, and the military argues it is well-spent on recruitment and the education of foreign and American audiences. Military leaders say that at a time when extremist groups run Web sites and distribute video, information is as important a weapon as tanks and guns.

"We have got to be involved in getting our case out there, telling our side of the story, because believe me, al-Qaida and all of those folks ... that's what they are doing on the Internet and everywhere else," says Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., who chairs the Terrorism, Unconventional Threats and Capabilities Subcommittee. "Every time a bomb goes off, they have a story out almost before it explodes, saying that it killed 15 innocent civilians."

___

On an abandoned Air Force base in San Antonio, Texas, editors for the Joint Hometown News Service point proudly to a dozen clippings on a table as examples of success in getting stories into newspapers.

What readers are not told: Each of these glowing stories was written by Pentagon staff. Under the free service, stories go out with authors' names but not their titles, and do not mention Hometown News anywhere. In 2009, Hometown News plans to put out 5,400 press releases, 3,000 television releases and 1,600 radio interviews, among other work — 50 percent more than in 2007.

The service is just a tiny piece of the Pentagon's rapidly expanding media empire, which is now bigger in size, money and power than many media companies.

In a yearlong investigation, The Associated Press interviewed more than 100 people and scoured more than 100,000 pages of documents in several budgets to tally the money spent to inform, educate and influence the public in the U.S. and abroad. The AP included contracts found through the private FedSources database and requests made under the Freedom of Information Act. Actual spending figures are higher because of money in classified budgets.

The biggest chunk of funds — about $1.6 billion — goes into recruitment and advertising. Another $547 million goes into public affairs, which reaches American audiences. And about $489 million more goes into what is known as psychological operations, which targets foreign audiences.

Staffing across all these areas costs about $2.1 billion, as calculated by the number of full-time employees and the military's average cost per service member. That's double the staffing costs for 2003.

Recruitment and advertising are the only two areas where Congress has authorized the military to influence the American public. Far more controversial is public affairs, because of the prohibition on propaganda to the American public.

"It's not up to the Pentagon to sell policy to the American people," says Rep. Paul Hodes, D-N.H., who sponsored legislation in Congress last year reinforcing the ban.

Spending on public affairs has more than doubled since 2003. Robert Hastings, acting director of Pentagon public affairs, says the growth reflects changes in the information market, along with the fact that the U.S. is now fighting two wars.

"The role of public affairs is to provide you the information so that you can make an informed decision yourself," Hastings says. "There is no place for spin at the Department of Defense."

But on Dec. 12, the Pentagon's inspector general released an audit finding that the public affairs office may have crossed the line into propaganda. The audit found the Department of Defense "may appear to merge inappropriately" its public affairs with operations that try to influence audiences abroad. It also found that while only 89 positions were authorized for public affairs, 126 government employees and 31 contractors worked there.

In a written response, Hastings concurred and, without acknowledging wrongdoing, ordered a reorganization of the department by early 2009.

Another audit, also in December, concluded that a public affairs program called "America Supports You" was conducted "in a questionable and unregulated manner" with funds meant for the military's Stars and Stripes newspaper.

The program was set up to keep U.S. troops informed about volunteer donations to the military. But the military awarded $11.8 million in contracts to a public relations firm to raise donations for the troops and then advertise those donations to the public. So the program became a way to drum up support for the military at a time when public opinion was turning against the Iraq war.

The audit also found that the offer to place corporate logos on the Pentagon Web site in return for donations was against regulations. A military spokesman said the program has been completely overhauled to meet Pentagon regulations.

"They very explicitly identify American public opinion as an important battlefield," says Marc Lynch, a professor at George Washington University. "In today's information environment, even if they were well-intentioned and didn't want to influence American public opinion, they couldn't help it."

In 2003, for example, initial accounts from the military about the rescue of Pvt. Jessica Lynch from Iraqi forces were faked to rally public support. And in 2005, a Marine Corps spokesman during the siege of the Iraqi city of Fallujah told the U.S. news media that U.S. troops were attacking. In fact, the information was a ruse by U.S. commanders to fool insurgents into revealing their positions.

___

The fastest-growing part of the military media is "psychological operations," where spending has doubled since 2003.

Psychological operations aim at foreign audiences, and spin is welcome. The only caveats are that messages must be truthful and must never try to influence an American audience.

In Afghanistan, for example, a video of a soldier joining the national army shown on Afghan television is not attributed to the U.S. And in Iraq, American teams built and equipped media outlets and trained Iraqis to staff them without making public the connection to the military.

Rear Adm. Gregory Smith, director of strategic communications for the U.S. Central Command, says psychological operations must be secret to be effective. He says that in the 21st century, it is probably not possible to win the information battle with insurgents without exposing American citizens to secret U.S. propaganda.

"We have to be pragmatic and realistic about the game that we play in terms of information, and that game is very complex," he says.

The danger of psychological operations reaching a U.S. audience became clear when an American TV anchor asked Gen. David Petraeus about the mood in Iraq. The general held up a glossy photo of the Iraqi national soccer team to show the country united in victory.

Behind the camera, his staff was cringing. It was U.S. psychological operations that had quietly distributed tens of thousands of the soccer posters in July 2007 to encourage Iraqi nationalism.

With a new administration in power, it is not clear what changes may be made. Obama administration officials have said they intend to go through the Department of Defense budget closely to trim bloated spending.
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Pat Tillman Army Cover-up 2004

The emphasis on influence operations started with former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. In 2002, Rumsfeld established an Office of Strategic Influence that brought together public affairs and psychological operations. Critics accused him of setting up a propaganda arm, and Congress demanded that the office be shut down.

Rumsfeld has declined to speak to the press since leaving office, but while defense secretary he spoke bluntly about his desire to revamp the Pentagon's media operations.

"I went down that next day and said, 'Fine, if you want to savage this thing, fine, I'll give you the corpse,'" Rumsfeld said on Nov. 18, 2002, according to Defense Department transcripts of a speech he delivered. "'There's the name. You can have the name, but I'm gonna keep doing every single thing that needs to be done and I have.'"

In 2003, Rumsfeld issued a secret Information Operations Roadmap setting out a plan for public affairs and psychological operations to work together. It noted that with a global media, the military should expect and accept that psychological operations will reach the U.S. public.

"I can tell you there wouldn't be a single American disappointed with anything that we've done that might be out there, that they don't know about," says Col. Curtis Boyd, commander of the 4th PSYOP Group, the largest unit of its kind. "Frankly, they probably wouldn't care because maybe they are safer as a result of it."

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above the law? The Hague?
In January 2008, a new report by the Defense Science Board recommended resurrecting the Office of Strategic Influence as the Office of Strategic Communications. But Congress refused to fund the program.

In February, the Army released a new eight-chapter field manual that puts information warfare on par with traditional warfare.

The title of an entire chapter, Chapter 7: "Information Superiority."

___

Associated Press investigative researcher Randy Herschaft in New York contributed to this report.

___

On the Net:

Hometown News Service: hq.afnews.af.mil/hometown/

=================

Although the William Allen White Foundation had been recognizing individuals for outstanding journalistic service since 1950, the first William Allen White medallions were not awarded until 1970. Before then, winners of the Award for Outstanding Journalistic Merit received certificates.

In 1969, however, the Foundation, under acting director Lee F. Young and Foundation president Dolph Simons, Jr., commissioned University of Kansas professor of design Elden C. Tefft to design a medallion worthy of representing the prestigious award. The result was a medallion design that carries a portrait of White on the front and this inscription on the back:

An American Journalist Who Exemplifies
William Allen White Ideals In Service
To His Profession And His Community

The name of the individual medal winner is inscribed directly above this standing inscription.

Medallic Art Company of Danbury, Conn., was contracted to manufacture the medallions and to deliver them by Feb. 10, White's birthday, 1970.

The bronze medallion is two-and-one-half inches, and is mounted in a black morocco/blue-lined easel case. A medallion has been presented to all surviving Journalistic Merit winners, including those cited before the creation of the medallion.

— Taken from The William Allen White Foundation, May 1980


William Allen White Recipients

2008 - Seymour Hersh
2007 - Richard Clarkson
2006 - Gordon Parks
2005 - Gerald F. Seib
2004 - Marlin Fitzwater
2003 - Arthur Sulzberger, Jr.

2002 - Cokie Roberts
2001 - Molly Ivins
2000 - Bob Woodward
1999 - Albert Hunt
1998 - Bill Kurtis
1997 - David Broder

1996 - Hedrick Smith
1995 - Ellen Goodman
1994 - Bernard Shaw
1993 - George F. Will
1992 - Louis Boccardi
1991 - Charlayne Hunter-Gault

1990 - James Batten
1989 - Charles Kuralt
1988 - Paul Greenberg

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