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... they want to set the record straight. ...
January 4, 2006 7:02 AM   Subscribe

an example of Operation Homefront? --this news report about a Reservist back from Iraq is apparently part of a new Pentagon propaganda operation aimed at us. ...Did Diaz return to the U.S. on emergency leave with an agenda -- to offer a positive spin that could help counter growing concerns among Americans about the U.S. exit strategy? How do we know that's not his strategy, especially after he discloses that superior officers encouraged him to talk about his experiences in Iraq? ...
posted by amberglow (91 comments total)

 
If it's true, this is a BIG DEAL.
posted by Malor at 7:20 AM on January 4, 2006


The Roanoke paper actually making it part of the story makes it seem so to me. Why would they mention it at all otherwise?
posted by amberglow at 7:21 AM on January 4, 2006


I'm sorry, but the second link is based on a story from CapitalBlue, a site that even a dye in the wool liberal would have to question. It sounds plausible, but I wouldn't go getting excited until you could see evidence from a more reputable source.

Of course if you can prove it's really happening, I have no problems with them passing laws against this. It's no better than extortion.
posted by inthe80s at 7:27 AM on January 4, 2006


Diaz indirectly admits to it:

"Did Diaz return to the U.S. on emergency leave with an agenda — to offer a positive spin that could help counter growing concerns among Americans about the U.S. exit strategy? How do we know that's not his strategy, especially after he discloses that superior officers encouraged him to talk about his experiences in Iraq?"

Replied Diaz:

"You don't.
I can tell you that the direction we've gotten from on high is that there is a concern about public opinion out there and they want to set the record straight."

Diaz, an intelligence officer, knows how to avoid a direct answer. Other military personnel, however, tell Capitol Hill Blue privately that the pressure to "sell the war" back home is enormous.

"I’ve been promised an early release if I do a good job promoting the war," says one reservist who asked not to be identified.


And as is typical of the military, there's a stick to go with the early release carrot promise:

the Army is cracking down on soldiers who go on the record opposing the war.

Specialist Leonard Clark, a National Guardsman, was demoted to private and fined $1,640 for posting anti-war statements on an Internet blog.


Walks like a duck.
posted by nofundy at 7:32 AM on January 4, 2006


Well, I used to have some concerns about the war, but this Diaz fellow seems nice, and if he says everything's going OK, who am I to quibble?
posted by spilon at 7:45 AM on January 4, 2006


I would not believe most stuff I read in the papers any longer. I would certainly not pay much attention to what this or that warrior tells me. After all, the lastest statistics posted this past few days claim that the Bush approval ratings/war among the military has dropped to 54%, a slide of some 10 ooiints since the last poll of military personnel. Now, I have done what I just warned not to do: paid attention to the papers. But in this instance the poll was by a reputable polling group and the papers, clearly with no agenda either way, simply gave the results.
posted by Postroad at 7:49 AM on January 4, 2006


Could the possibility exist that there are some positive things happening that have gone under-reported, and that the people who know about them have been encouraged to let people know about some of these under-reported good things?
posted by dios at 7:52 AM on January 4, 2006


that poll: ...Approval of the president's Iraq policy fell 9% from 2004; a bare majority, 54%, now says they view his performance on Iraq favorably. Support for his overall performance fell 11 points, to 60%, among readers of the Military Times newspapers (85% of those polled are on active duty).
"Though support both for President Bush and for the war in Iraq remains significantly higher than in the public as a whole, the drop is likely to add further fuel to the heated debate over Iraq policy," the report continued. "In 2003 and 2004, supporters of the war in Iraq pointed to high approval ratings in the Military Times Poll as a signal that military members were behind President Bush's the president's policy." ...
posted by amberglow at 7:53 AM on January 4, 2006


Could the possibility exist that there are some positive things happening that have gone under-reported, and that the people who know about them have been encouraged to let people know about some of these under-reported good things?
posted by dios at 10:52 AM EST on January 4 [!]


It is not the purpose of the military to "encourage" soldiers to say "good things". The military is supposed to be politically neutral. That means not officially speaking for or against the war. The military there to fight, not to give out propaganda.
posted by unreason at 8:03 AM on January 4, 2006


Could the possibility exist that there are some positive things happening that have gone under-reported, and that the people who know about them have been encouraged to let people know about some of these under-reported good things?
posted by dios at 7:52 AM PST on January 4 [!]


Bright sides can always be found. Sometimes tho, it's hard to spin anything to be a positive.
It's like saying that the mine blast has loosened up enough coal that the miners have reached their quota, and will receive a bonus.
See, it just doesn't work. Neither does stating just how mant mine workers weren't trapped in a mine last week.
posted by Balisong at 8:03 AM on January 4, 2006


dios: "Could the possibility exist that there are some positive things happening that have gone under-reported, and that the people who know about them have been encouraged to let people know about some of these under-reported good things?"

Yeah, positive things like being offered the chance of getting the fuck out of there early if you play the part and do the right song-and-dance. I'd definitely agree, that is certainly some "encouragement" right there.

I suppose we should all be glad our soldiers are offered such a wonderful opportunity, and otherwise fined & demoted due to expressing dissent.

Hearts and minds, people!
posted by prostyle at 8:03 AM on January 4, 2006


er-- many mine workers..
posted by Balisong at 8:04 AM on January 4, 2006


I'm sorry, but the second link is based on a story from CapitalBlue (sic), a site that even a dye (sic) in the wool liberal would have to question. It sounds plausible, but I wouldn't go getting excited until you could see evidence from a more reputable source.

It is easy to dismiss Capital Hill Blue, but their record is not as bad as you might think. I still look for confirmation from an independent source when I see it is them, but I don't think you can dismiss them out of hand.
posted by caddis at 8:05 AM on January 4, 2006


It's just a matter of time before more soldiers start hearing that little voice in their heads singing... "Well it's one, two, three, what am I dying for?"

Pity too much of the American public thrives on shedding the blood of their glorious heroes for no damn reason whatsovever - other than the fact that it makes them feel alll warm and cozy and "secure."

Cut and run from this disaster and bring them home.
posted by three blind mice at 8:06 AM on January 4, 2006


I am sure you are right dios. If you were the officer in charge of propaganda who are you going to pick for this mission, some bitter soldier who thinks the war was a mistake or a true blue Kool Ade drinker?
posted by caddis at 8:07 AM on January 4, 2006


"Diaz, an intelligence officer, knows how to avoid a direct answer."
---------------------------------
In other words, more military spin, more propaganda, more pysops, more public relations spin.

Nothing to see here, move along, disregard that media PR flack behind the curtain dressed in desert camouflage. . .
posted by mk1gti at 8:11 AM on January 4, 2006


Then rent or buy the documentary 'Control Room' to see how the military trys to spin things on the current Iraq War. . . Pretty illuminating.
posted by mk1gti at 8:13 AM on January 4, 2006


That's too bad, I was enjoying the article because it sounded like a pretty honest on the ground opinion. Of course, what comes out of an intelligence officer's mouth and what comes out of a grunt's mouth will be based on vastly different experiences.

Being encouraged to whisper sweet nothings from your loved one is one thing, but being encouraged to say only good things about your employer and your job is just plain wrong.
posted by furtive at 8:21 AM on January 4, 2006


Could the possibility exist that there are some positive things happening that have gone under-reported...

It's all a liberal conspiracy right?
posted by iamck at 8:25 AM on January 4, 2006


Unbelievable ... not the soldier, the reponses here in the blue.

Why is this a bad thing? Information is a good thing. Of course you should question the agenda of ANYONE that provides information.

And thanks for giving only part of the story there nofundy. You failed to mention that he was putting sensitive information on his blog, such as names of the deceased before their next of kin were notified. Also, I'm not sure if it was his blog, but one blog had a picture of a disabled Abrams tank showing where it was hit to disable it.

Again, so the fuck what if the Pentagon is encouraging soldiers to tell their sides of the story. As long as a) its volunatry, b) they aren't lying, and c) they are upfront about where their loyalties lay, exactly where is the problem?
posted by forforf at 8:27 AM on January 4, 2006


I work for a newspaper and can tell you we've been getting these calls sort of our of the blue from the military, so-and-so from your community is serving in Iraq, would you like to interview him? And it's strange because that's never happened before; public affairs officers calling and trying to set something up is something we've honestly never seen.
posted by kgasmart at 8:28 AM on January 4, 2006


Or, in other words, why is it the only possibility that as long as the military doesn't preach a fatalistic view of Iraq like some of the posters here, they are somehow lying or engaging in false "spin" and "propoganda?"

When you assume your conclusion that it is impossible that there is any good news or positive things that can be said, it is easy to call any efforts to suggest there is good news as a lying propoganda. Another way to look at it might include the idea that the military believes they are doing some good things in the world and might want other people to do believe it so that they can keep support for the men and women fighting and help recruit others to do good.

My point is simple: not suprisingly, amberglow casts this thread as if it is an abolute impossibility that the military could be acting in good faith and that some people might believe good things having occurred. It is hard to analyze the topic when you begin from such a conclusion because you have to assume that the military and the soliders agree. If they don't, suddenly their actions become suspect. But if you believe what the believe, they wouldn't seem so damning.
posted by dios at 8:32 AM on January 4, 2006


Just an observation: one soldier can have a HUGE impact on perceptions when he goes home, through a variety of channels.

Recently, a soldier returning temporarily from the war spoke before our Sunday School class. His comments were pretty one-sided (by anyone's standard), but he's earbed the right to make them, of course.

Not only did he completely sell the 60 people in the Sunday School class, but many of them drafted notes of what he'd said and emailed them around through their contact lists like regular spam. His 10-minute chat in front of one class probably reached several thousand people, not just in our community, before the week was out. The nature of such a communication defies critical rebuttal by recipients, too, since it's a message conflated with being an insider/believer in the faith.

Pretty impressive viral marketing of an idea, from just one soldier. Can't get that kind of penetration for the same money in any other kind of medium. Churchgoers are pretty amazing at this, how they can be a powerful, rapid-deployment mechanism for spreading information even when they aren't part of an organized dissemination effort.
posted by darkstar at 8:33 AM on January 4, 2006


Erm, those last two sentences came out wrong. What I was saying was that: if the military and soliders really do believe there is no good news, like amberglow or others, than their actions are suspect. But if you look at their actions from the perspective that they might actually believe what they are saying, then the actions don't look damning at all.
posted by dios at 8:35 AM on January 4, 2006


Or, in other words, why is it the only possibility that as long as the military doesn't preach a fatalistic view of Iraq like some of the posters here, they are somehow lying or engaging in false "spin" and "propoganda?"

The problem, Dios, is that the military isn't supposed to pitch any kind of a view, positive or negative. Policy opinion is supposed to be directed by the civilian government, not by the military. It doesn't matter whether it is a good or bad opinion, it is not the military's place to talk about it. That is why you don't see generals and admirals on TV endorsing presidential candidates. Because regardless of their opinions, the military is expected to stay out of political debate.
posted by unreason at 8:35 AM on January 4, 2006


The problem, Dios, is that the military isn't supposed to pitch any kind of a view, positive or negative.
posted by unreason at 10:35 AM CST on January 4


Where is that written?

Because regardless of their opinions, the military is expected to stay out of political debate.


And since when did the status of a military action become an issue of political debate? You sure are talking about rules that I never saw, but perhaps you are breaking a rule by assuming the actions of our military are somehow a matter of politics, maybe?
posted by dios at 8:40 AM on January 4, 2006


It's kind of a 'chicken little in reverse' situation. We've been hearing since "Mission Accomplished" that everything is moving forward in a positive direction. Every time it turns out not to be true, to the point that when they push one side of the story, you really have to look at the other side, and assume it to be the more truthful story.
posted by Balisong at 8:41 AM on January 4, 2006


prop·a·gan·da ...
n.

1. The systematic propagation of a doctrine or cause or of information reflecting the views and interests of those advocating such a doctrine or cause.
2. Material disseminated by the advocates or opponents of a doctrine or cause: wartime propaganda....


It most certainly is propaganda. That leaves open the question of whether or not it is appropriate for the military to be spreading propaganda on the home front?
posted by caddis at 8:42 AM on January 4, 2006


dios writes "Erm, those last two sentences came out wrong. What I was saying was that: if the military and soliders really do believe there is no good news, like amberglow or others, than their actions are suspect. But if you look at their actions from the perspective that they might actually believe what they are saying, then the actions don't look damning at all."

You really are stubborn, Dios. Listen, things aren't as black and white as you'd like them to be. I know it makes it a lot easier to write off whatever you feel necessary, but for someone who is constantly bitching about others grinding their axes, this is particularly laughable. You need to stop attempting to frame the debate by classifying skeptics as those who, in your own words - "really do beleive there is no good news, like amberglow and others".

There are enough technical reasons for this to be an illegitimate practice that you can't even begin to start throwing those kinds of stones. Then again, par for the course.
posted by prostyle at 8:42 AM on January 4, 2006


I believe that what dios is looking for is right here. Of course it could be a liberal source, pulled directly from The Uniform Code of Military Conduct and all . . .
posted by mk1gti at 8:46 AM on January 4, 2006


I'm sorry, could you quote from there the section which would support unreason's position? I looked at it, and it doesn't say anything about that topic.
posted by dios at 8:49 AM on January 4, 2006


And since when did the status of a military action become an issue of political debate?
posted by dios at 11:40 AM EST on January 4 [!]


The problem is, this isn't about the status of a military action. If it was, it would be given in an official briefing. It's a matter of spreading favorable propaganda, and you and I both know it. It doesn't matter whether the propaganda is true, it is still propaganda; that is, it is information being released not to inform, but to sway public opinion.
posted by unreason at 8:51 AM on January 4, 2006


(That last comment sounded snarky, but I didn't intend it to---I was wondering because it seems to be saying that individuals can express their own views but cannot act to speak on behalf of official military policy without authorization).
posted by dios at 8:51 AM on January 4, 2006


unreason: doesn't the military have the obligation to recruit? If you put that obligation on them, I find it hard to parse out how they are prohibited from trying to effect public opinion.
posted by dios at 8:52 AM on January 4, 2006


I'm sorry, could you quote from there the section which would support unreason's position?

Sure.

E3.3.9. Participate in any radio, television, or other program or group discussion as an advocate for or against of a partisan political party, candidate, or cause.

The cause in question being advocated is the continuation of the war in Iraq.
posted by unreason at 8:53 AM on January 4, 2006


unreason: doesn't the military have the obligation to recruit?

They do, but this was not done in the form of recruiting. It was an attempt to sway civilian opinion.
posted by unreason at 8:54 AM on January 4, 2006


The cause in question being advocated is the continuation of the war in Iraq.
posted by unreason at 10:53 AM CST on January 4


Yeah, that's my point: you are assuming that it is a "partisan political cause." I am suggesting that such an assumption is not necessarily accurate. It is a military action. They aren't speaking about whether abortion should be legal or whether campaign finance reform is a good thing. They are talking about an on-going military action.
posted by dios at 8:55 AM on January 4, 2006


This is the section I got from the directive signed by Paul Wolfowitz under activities specifically not allowed

E3.3.3. Participate in partisan political management, campaigns, or conventions (except as a spectator when not in uniform), or make public speeches in the course thereof.
posted by mk1gti at 8:55 AM on January 4, 2006


but this was not done in the form of recruiting. It was an attempt to sway civilian opinion.
posted by unreason at 10:54 AM CST on January 4


On what non-conclusory basis can you make that analysis?
posted by dios at 8:56 AM on January 4, 2006


Here's a couple more

E3.3.6. Allow or cause to be published partisan political articles signed or written by the member that solicits votes for or against a partisan political party, candidate, or cause.

E3.3.9. Participate in any radio, television, or other program or group discussion as an advocate for or against of a partisan political party, candidate, or cause.
posted by mk1gti at 9:00 AM on January 4, 2006


Yeah, that's my point: you are assuming that it is a "partisan political cause." I am suggesting that such an assumption is not necessarily accurate. It is a military action. They aren't speaking about whether abortion should be legal or whether campaign finance reform is a good thing. They are talking about an on-going military action.

It is most certainly a partisan cause. There is a political debate between people who feel that the war should continue, and those who feel it should end. This program is clearly attempting to influence this partisan debate. And note that this isn't really talking about a military action. If this was real official information, then why isn't it given to the press through official outlets? Why is it being done on the sly? Official military info is given in press briefings.

Read these quotes from the article:

"My worry is that we have the right military strategy and political strategies now but the patience of the American public is wearing thin."

To withdraw American forces abruptly would be "a critical mistake," said Diaz.

These are both obvious advocacy statements.
posted by unreason at 9:01 AM on January 4, 2006


You can keep citing those; I know what they are saying. But as I said, until you explain how the progress of troops engaged in a military action in Iraq is necessarily a "partisan political issue," then they don't apply. Which was my point...
posted by dios at 9:02 AM on January 4, 2006


but this was not done in the form of recruiting. It was an attempt to sway civilian opinion.
posted by unreason at 10:54 AM CST on January 4

On what non-conclusory basis can you make that analysis?
posted by dios at 11:56 AM EST on January 4 [!]


See my posts above. The quotes are clearly designed to speak to the general public, not to potential recruits.
posted by unreason at 9:02 AM on January 4, 2006


until you explain how the progress of troops engaged in a military action in Iraq is necessarily a "partisan political issue," then they don't apply. Which was my point...
posted by dios at 12:02 PM EST on January 4 [!]


See my posts above. I have already explained. If you choose to ignore the explanation, I cannot be held responsible.
posted by unreason at 9:03 AM on January 4, 2006


I don't think this is against the code of military justice, at least not that specific section. I think there is a broader issue of using government resources to promote a political agenda, ala the payments to Armstrong Williams to promote Bush friendly views. Regardless of its legality, it is bad public policy.
posted by caddis at 9:03 AM on January 4, 2006


There is a political debate between people who feel that the war should continue, and those who feel it should end.

That doesn't make it a "partisan political point."

The term is defined:

E2.1.5. Partisan Political Activity. Activity supporting or relating to candidates representing, or issues specifically identified with, national or State political parties and associated or ancillary organizations.
and then there is:

E2.1.4. Nonpartisan Political Activity. Activity supporting or relating to candidates not representing, or issues not specifically identified with, national or State political parties and associated or ancillary organizations. Issues relating to constitutional amendments, referendums, approval of municipal ordinances, and others of similar character are not considered under this Directive as specifically being identified with national or State political parties.

How do the two comments you cited fit into the definition of "Partisan political activity."
posted by dios at 9:05 AM on January 4, 2006


unreason: the problem is you are using your definitions and assumptions; not the code's.
posted by dios at 9:05 AM on January 4, 2006


issues specifically identified with, national or State political parties and associated or ancillary organizations.

The Republican party supports the War in Iraq. Parts of the Democratic party, many of the third parties oppose it. Therefore, by the definition you cite, this is partisan activity.
posted by unreason at 9:10 AM on January 4, 2006


Also, we were never in an official declared state of war so the political circumstances surrounding the conflict are not as easily mitigated as dios would like them to be.
posted by prostyle at 9:14 AM on January 4, 2006


When the military promises early release from Hell (Iraq) in exchange for publically supporting Bush's "Mission Accomplished" quagmire of a war, then we have a problem Houston.

Dios - (def.) as dense as I want to be or: dancing around the truth
posted by nofundy at 9:16 AM on January 4, 2006


The Republican party supports the War in Iraq. Parts of the Democratic party, many of the third parties oppose it. Therefore, by the definition you cite, this is partisan activity.
posted by unreason at 11:10 AM CST on January 4


That might be your assumptions, but that certainly isn't going to fit the legal defintions.
posted by dios at 9:17 AM on January 4, 2006


That might be your assumptions, but that certainly isn't going to fit the legal defintions.
posted by dios at 12:17 PM EST on January 4 [!]


Exactly why does it not fit the legal definition? I just explained to you how it fits with a part of the legal code that you yourself quoted! It is not an assumption, it is a fact that this is political issue advocacy. I know it, and you know it.
posted by unreason at 9:19 AM on January 4, 2006


at this point dios = spambot . . .
posted by mk1gti at 9:23 AM on January 4, 2006


unreason: the definition of the code clearly deals with partisan issues. A war isn't a partisan issue. I'm sorry. Despite how you want to parse it, it is not.

But if you want to play the games about what the current political situation is: I recall a recent vote where the vast majorities of both Democrats and Republicans voted to keep troops there until the mission is finished. A bi-partisan vote, so to speak. And I seem to recall a bi-partisan AUMF.

By the definition of the statutes, the progress of the military action in Iraq is not a politcally partisan issue. Unless the Democrats have an official policy against progress in Iraq that I am unaware of.
posted by dios at 9:26 AM on January 4, 2006


Shorter dios: If Dear Leader Commander-In-Chief does, it must be legal. How dare you question Dear Leader!

"progress in Iraq" - Gotta remember that one! Depends upon your idea of progress I suppose. Kinda like our national economy.
posted by nofundy at 9:31 AM on January 4, 2006


unreason: the definition of the code clearly deals with partisan issues. A war isn't a partisan issue. I'm sorry. Despite how you want to parse it, it is not.

You are quite correct. A war isn't a partisan issue. However, the choice over whether to continue to prosecute that war is most certainly a partisan issue.

I recall a recent vote where the vast majorities of both Democrats and Republicans voted to keep troops there until the mission is finished

Irrelevant. There is still a political debate. Furthermore, I would point out that there exist political parties that are against the war, and that the law we are quoting does not specify that participation in a political debate is only limited to parties currently represented in Congress.

This is the last post I'm going to make on this subject. Reason being, that you are being intellectually dishonest in this conversation. Normally I respect your viewpoint, but I do not respect it when people deliberately pretend not to see points in an argument. Between this and your calling of Cindy Shehan a bitch, you've lost a lot of my respect today, dios.
posted by unreason at 9:32 AM on January 4, 2006


War is the continuation of politics by other means

- Karl Von Clausewitz
posted by mk1gti at 10:18 AM on January 4, 2006


I work for a newspaper and can tell you we've been getting these calls sort of our of the blue from the military, so-and-so from your community is serving in Iraq, would you like to interview him? And it's strange because that's never happened before; public affairs officers calling and trying to set something up is something we've honestly never seen.

Bingo. I bet this can be corroborated as happening all over the country.

Now, the real test will be cataloging all these stories and whether it's revealed in them that this is part of an orchestrated campaign.
posted by amberglow at 10:22 AM on January 4, 2006


As it stated earlier, this is a clear violation of what's allowed for participation of soldiers on politically related activities. Perhaps we should contact our newspapers and news organizations with the cited parts of that defense department memo?
posted by mk1gti at 10:30 AM on January 4, 2006


Where was the uproar with the soldiers telling how bad it is ... wasn't that violating these same policies?

amberglow, unreason, nofundy, your arguments are disingenous. Either the soldiers are allowed to give their opinion or not.

I will be one of the first to scream bloody murder if a soldier was penalized in anyway for expressing their negative opinion about the war. But if that soldier discloses sensitive information in the process, then I can't fault the military for quashing it.

People seem to be up in arms around an "orchestration" of propagnda ... but what I see is not an orchestration of a particular message, but an orchestration to share observations.

As for the propoganda aspect ... the cure for propoganda is the marketplace of ideas. If people are concerned about "propoganda" then there should be a marshaling of opposing view points .... not claiming some policy is being violated because the content of the message is disagreeable to your world view.
posted by forforf at 10:49 AM on January 4, 2006


Soldiers are actually not allowed to give their open and honest opinion while in uniform. If this Diaz guy and others are being pushed upon local newspapers specifically to spin and spread propaganda intended to shore up support here for the war, then it's illegal and immoral. If the Pentagon is also pushing officers and soldiers who are against this war onto local papers, then it at least would be honest and a diverse spread of views. I'm betting that's not happening, tho.
posted by amberglow at 10:54 AM on January 4, 2006


Soldiers are actually not allowed to give their open and honest opinion while in uniform.

This is clearly wrong. The code above proves it.
posted by dios at 10:57 AM on January 4, 2006


I apologize for the tone of my last post, but I am still firmly behing the point of it ... I should have just stepped back from the computer a few seconds to ponder a better way of phrasing the point before posting.
posted by forforf at 10:59 AM on January 4, 2006


That is, soliders can make comments all they want in uniforms. They do it on the news practically every day.

The issue is more complex than whether they are in uniform. The issue is whether an action is partisan or nonpartisan political action. The issue is what the speaker is doing.

If you ask a solider, what do they think about the weather, the mere fact of him wearing a uniform does not render him opinionless.
posted by dios at 11:00 AM on January 4, 2006


amberglow, you seem to be saying in this thread that Soldiers should be allowed to voice their opinion:

So color me confused ...
posted by forforf at 11:02 AM on January 4, 2006


I'd like to see how Dios would react if we found a second article, in which Diaz says "And the only way to win this great war is to support our president, and his party, in the coming year and next elections."

I imagine his dismissal would be as immediate and unthinking as this one has been.
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 11:03 AM on January 4, 2006


When one wants to perform experiments on certain groups of people, say prisoners, they are referred to as a 'protected' population. The reason being is that they are in a position to be easily manipulated and coerced (ya know... take this experimental drug and we'll take 1 year off of your jail term). Dios, don't you think these protections should be extended to our men and women in uniform? I agree, there is nothing at all wrong with people coming home and speaking their minds. BUT, if you dangle the "Say nice things and you get out early/receive special privileges" carrot in from of an armed forces member you would surely agree that this is entirely inappropriate, No?

Also, if we take this policy to it extreme conclusion, then why couldn't the military merely 'recruit' for this position? That is, join the military, serve three days in a forward position, and spend the rest of the time 'on-leave' touring the country talking about all the underreported good things going on? And here's the kicker, they would never divulge that they were 'encouraged' to do so. How in any possible world is this acceptable?
posted by underdog at 11:23 AM on January 4, 2006


I'd like to see how Dios would react if we found a second article, in which Diaz says "And the only way to win this great war is to support our president, and his party, in the coming year and next elections."

I imagine his dismissal would be as immediate and unthinking as this one has been.
posted by dougunderscorenelso at 1:03 PM CST on January 4


Don't put words in my mouth because that clearly isn't correct. If anything, I have shown that I am rigidly rule-oriented. Such a comment would be in express violation of the code of conduct.
posted by dios at 11:27 AM on January 4, 2006


underdog: the military does have recruiters that only do recruitment. They have press relations departments. And newspapers, and lots of other departments who don't do anything with guns.
posted by dios at 11:29 AM on January 4, 2006


One more thing. IANAL, but it would seem to me that we might be able to set the bar a little higher than "is it legal". After all, i could wander the streets all day and find servicemen arriving home after a tour of duty and greet them with "You Baby Killing, Oil Hungry, War Monger"

It may be legal, but it ain't right.


On Preview: Dios, that's the whole point, they are called "Press Relations". It overt and known, not another example of propaganda.
posted by underdog at 11:32 AM on January 4, 2006


The issue is not whether the soldiers voiced an opinion as a soldier (in uniform or whatever you want to term it) but rather that the army appears to have a program to distribute propaganda on the home front. The soldiers are mere vectors for this. It is a bit insiduous as the impression left to the newspaper reader will be that these guys took it upon themselves to give these opinions rather than that they were recruited by the military to give them. They didn't want that included in the stories because it would reduce the propaganda value.
posted by caddis at 11:37 AM on January 4, 2006


underdog, it may not be "right"---I have no metric with which to judge that, and don't presume to do so.

What I was responding to was the suggestion that military personnel aren't allowed to make comments on the progress of the war. That is just wrong. Whether it is good policy or whether it is wrong morally, I don't have an opinion on that. But it certainly allowed. And as forforf noted, it just seems a bit specious to suggest that troops that say good things about the war shouldn't but then to argue so vociferously that soldiers should be allowed to be critical of it.
posted by dios at 11:38 AM on January 4, 2006


It is a bit insiduous
posted by caddis at 1:37 PM CST on January 4


It is only insidious if you believe the soliders are saying things they don't believe in because they are being told to say untruths.

As I mentioned above, if you accept that they might believe in what they are saying, then it isn't insidious. If it is merely a solider being encouraged to speak about their view, then there isn't necessarily nefarious going on.
posted by dios at 11:41 AM on January 4, 2006


it just seems a bit specious to suggest that troops that say good things about the war shouldn't but then to argue so vociferously that soldiers should be allowed to be critical of it.

Agreed.

What I was responding to was the suggestion that military personnel aren't allowed to make comments on the progress of the war.

Ok, fair enough. However, I believe the point of the post wasn't surrounding the legality of the issue, but rather the issue of the "Pentagon Propaganda Operation". With respect to the latter issue, do you think it's proper to put people in uniform, have them seek out interviews, and disseminate positive information with no disclosure at all?
posted by underdog at 11:51 AM on January 4, 2006


No, it is also insidious that the organized nature of the program is not disclosed right along with the opinion. "It is my opinion that we are doing important work in Iraq, and my commander sent me and others like me back home to give our opinions to the press" is not insidious, but then it also is less effective.
posted by caddis at 11:58 AM on January 4, 2006


amberglow, you seem to be saying in this thread that Soldiers should be allowed to voice their opinion:

I am saying that, but i realize they're not allowed to. And my link here is not this intelligence officer's opinion, btw.

He was specifically sent out to spread propaganda.
posted by amberglow at 12:01 PM on January 4, 2006


I see what you are saying, caddis and underdog. And I would agree that it would be proper to disclose that information if they were there only as a spokeman or at the request of an officer. Transparency is a good thing. But, as a broader rule, I think soliders should be free to comment on the progress of the war, and I don't see anything wrong with the military encouraging comments, as long as they aren't directing the substance.
posted by dios at 12:04 PM on January 4, 2006


...and I don't see anything wrong with the military encouraging comments, as long as they aren't directing the substance

They by definition, the only thing that should be coming from an officer's mouth is "Go forth and seek interviews whether or not you support this war or not". Correct?
posted by underdog at 12:07 PM on January 4, 2006


..crap.. they=then
posted by underdog at 12:07 PM on January 4, 2006


No. I didn't intend my comment to be read that way. I don't so any problem with the military encouraging soldiers with good news to go and tell it. The "directing the substance" comments was regarding telling soldiers to lie. If the solider thinks things are going well and wants to get that information out so the public knows what is going on, I see nothing wrong with the military encouraging soldiers with good news from sharing it. I would be opposed if an officer sat down a soldier and said "Smith, I know and you know this place is going down the tubes, but I order you to go out there and tell everyone it is roses." That would be wrong, in my estimation.
posted by dios at 12:14 PM on January 4, 2006


Now we come to the situation of the soldier who has bad news. I can understand that his commander is not going to want to tell him to get out there and spill all to the press. However, if he does, for instance he says that in his own opinion the situation is hopeless, how is he handled?
posted by caddis at 12:24 PM on January 4, 2006


Handled? Erm, not at all? I don't know how exactly to answer the question. If a soldier speaks to the press about the war, I don't think any consequences should be befall him regardless if he says things are going good or bad--he hasn't violated any code restrictions. Now if he starts giving away sensitive operational information or starts calling the president a liar, he will likely be faced with penalties for that.

But if a soldier just says that the war is going badly and, in his opinion, we should just get out, then I think he is within his rights to say that and shouldn't be dealt with at all.
posted by dios at 12:29 PM on January 4, 2006


Commenting on the progress of the war by a soldier, or lack thereof, should be neither rewarded nor punished.

Being another Armstrong Williams, playing subversive partisan and paid by our tax dollars stinks. Kinda like the many millions given to Chalabi to construct a labyrinth of lies to support the PNAC Mid-East strategy.

Transparency in a propaganda operation such as this is important and lacking here.

Legalize prostitution and let paid whores from any side be overt in the fact they are paid advocates.

I often think MeFi itself has paid advocates that are not revealing themselves such as this guy avoids actually admitting to doing with the Roanoke newspaper.
posted by nofundy at 12:39 PM on January 4, 2006


IMHO, it is moral for a soldier to say whatever they want to. It's a whole other kettle of fish to reward him or her for saying very specific things to very specific people in the attempt to sway public opinion. That's psyops. And frankly, the american people should not be the target of a propaganda machine funded by their own dollars.
posted by Freen at 1:07 PM on January 4, 2006


Quoth Dios:
"For all I care, a democratic majority could authorize public pedophilia sex while smoking crack in public squares as long as one doesn't wear a purple shirt (and if one does, its a life sentence). And I wouldn't have a problem with the person smoking crack and nailing a 5 year old in public, but if that fucker wears that purple shirt, his ass needs to go to the clink for life."


shorter dios: I don't care if it's right or wrong. I only care about the law.

This is why no one should ever listen to a god damned thing dios says. And it's also the reason why he's such an effective shill for the current administration.
posted by Freen at 1:18 PM on January 4, 2006


“What I was responding to was the suggestion that military personnel aren't allowed to make comments on the progress of the war. That is just wrong.”

“It is only insidious if you believe the soliders are saying things they don't believe in because they are being told to say untruths.”

“But if a soldier just says that the war is going badly and, in his opinion, we should just get out, then I think he is within his rights to say that and shouldn't be dealt with at all.”
- posted by dios

Pretty naive.

“...so the fuck what if the Pentagon is encouraging soldiers to tell their sides of the story. As long as a) its volunatry, b) they aren't lying, and c) they are upfront about where their loyalties lay, exactly where is the problem?” -posted by forforf

The problem is that it is indistiguishable from a soldier who is telling the story command wants to hear because he doesn’t want to get busted.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:07 PM on January 4, 2006


To add: you can get an article 15 for just about anything.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:28 PM on January 4, 2006


Instructive:

Campaigning for public office without permission from the secretary of defense while on active duty in the Armed Forces is a violation of Defense Department regulations.
Leonard Clark


John Pippy - was running as a Republican to fill a new seat in the Pennsylvania Senate when he was called up to serve in the reserves.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:32 PM on January 4, 2006


And the problem also is that the military is approaching papers and trying to sell them on running an interview/story. This is not just "our hometown heroes".
posted by amberglow at 3:11 PM on January 4, 2006


kgasmart, I work for a newspaper, too, and I have not received any calls from military PAOs. I do, however receive regular Hometown News releases, and I also have a DFARS press kit, though I have never needed to use it.

Personally, I am less inclined to believe there's an "Operation Homefront" until more than one source can confirm its existence.
posted by bugmuncher at 10:19 PM on January 4, 2006


The problem is that it is indistiguishable from a soldier who is telling the story command wants to hear because he doesn’t want to get busted.

I understand your point, and would agree that if it was mandatory "good news" story OR if there was an official policy to clamp down on soldiers personal opinions that ran contrary to the war, that would be bad.

However, I am not opposed to the command climate encouraging soldiers to share their thoughts with the public on the war (and I'm still surprised anyone would be). But neither do I think that the information they provide would be objective. However, I do believe that they will provide FACTS. I really don't understand the objections to soldiers reaching out to tell their side of the story.

Furthermore, I see a "no-tell" policy would actually translate into only the negative stories being told, which in itself would provide a distorted view, especially because people expect those within an organization to support that organization. While those disenfranchised with it would probably be more likely to flout the rules.

I think the issue is whether its the soldier telling the story or the military. I agree it should be the soldier, and that if the military is coaching, providing incentives, issuing talking points (other than those designed to protect sensitive data), then I think that is wrong.
posted by forforf at 11:41 AM on January 5, 2006


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