Sunday, April 20, 2008

Another Depressing Facet of the Iraq War

I don't watch TV much these days, but I wouldn't be surprised if the big story in today's New York Times doesn't generate much attention in any of the television news programs. I didn't see any mention of it on's front page (but there is of a car used in the latest James Bond movie plunging into a lake), or's (though a bully apparently tried to poison a student with peanuts), or (an Indiana woman turned 115), or (same bullying piece as CBS). Only's site acknowledges it. Given that the article can be read as completely undermining the various networks' (and many other news source's) coverage of the Iraq War, I suppose it's no surprise. At the same time, it's appalling that they fail to acknowledge the report, or what it means.

Thus, in case you missed it, this article reports on the fact that the "military experts," those retired officers who have been providing the bulk of the analysis of the Iraq War, from the lead up to present day, were routinely briefed and prepped by the Pentagon in order to get out the message that the Pentagon wanted to express. Moreover, most of them work for defense contractors and thus have an interest in currying favor from the Pentagon. The article provides numerous examples where an officer believed the Pentagon's position didn't hold up, but where he nevertheless elected not to reveal his doubts or concerns when given a public opportunity to do so. I could quote the article extensively, but I recommend that you read the whole damning thing, even though it's rather long.

I wish I could say that I was surprised to learn this, but really I wasn't. It greatly saddens me that the invasion and subsequent disaster in Iraq could have been avoided if these officers had spoken up when they had concerns, that they had no qualms about allowing themselves to serve the Pentagon rather than the American public, and that the news media that plays a role in forming public opinion failed to address the conflicts of interest before giving these retired officers a platform to shape public opinion. What could sadden me even more is if the networks' failure to acknowledge what has happened, or their role in it, leads to future such happenings. For this reason, I encourage everyone to get the word out to those who get their news from the very cause of the problem.