The US under Bush regime is well known to have cooked the evidence to justify invading Iraq. The Pentagon even used a secret media cell to fool the American people into going along with Bush’s military misadventures.
The inspector general’s office at the Defense Department announced on Friday that it would investigate a Pentagon public affairs program that sought to transform retired military officers who work as television and radio analysts into “message force multipliers” who could be counted on to echo Bush administration talking points about Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo and terrorism in general.
When I read this, I could not help but laugh at how familiar it was. Retired military officers joining the media to peddle propaganda to their own people. Where have I heard of such a thing before? Another sign that we and the Americans are more alike than we choose to believe? There is a difference, though, and an important one.
When Bush’s secret program to use propaganda against his own people was discovered, the American Congress was outraged and took action to stop it.
The House amendment, adopted by voice vote on Thursday night, would make permanent a domestic propaganda ban that until now has been enacted annually in the military authorization bill; the Senate is still working on its version of the bill.
In debating the amendment, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Representative Ike Skelton, Democrat of Missouri, said he was “sorely distressed” about the Pentagon campaign, and Representative Rosa DeLauro, Democrat of Connecticut, argued that it amounted to nothing more than illegal “domestic propaganda.”
“It is a military-industrial-media complex,” Ms. DeLauro said.
Representative Paul W. Hodes, Democrat of New Hampshire, added: “The American people were spun by Bush administration message multipliers. They were fed administration talking points believing they were getting independent military analysis.”
Compare this with our own country where the ‘military-industrial-media complex’ fills the airwaves daily with planted stories and disinformation targeting not our enemies but our own people, while parliament sits quietly on the side line and says nothing.
I was reminded of this again when I read Kamran Shafi’s direct challenge to ‘the managers/puppeteers/paymasters’ of those ‘who live and do their dirty doings in the shadows’ and ‘egg them on with fake information’. Kamran Shafi, despite having spent 11 years in Army, has found himself in the sights of the ‘military-industrial-media complex’ and is subjected to all manner of threats and abuse, even having his house attacked by faceless gunmen.
Jihadi militants are attacking our security forces with impunity, infiltrating our armed forces to wage a cover war against Pakistan, and openly spreading jihadi propaganda on the front lawn of GHQ. Meanwhile, unknown sums are spent spreading propaganda against honest citizens and beating the drum of intolerance and isolationism.
In 1971, propagandists filled the media with lies to drum up support for the misadventure that dismembered Pakistan.
After being misled into one disaster, the Americans learned from their mistakes and banned propaganda against their own people. Today our own propagandists are still at it, lying to us about the fight against militants that threatens to finally unravel the fabric of Pakistan for good. Will we learn from our own past mistakes and stop this madness before it’s too late?