Ike was Right
The story from the New York Times tying media-darling military analysts
to the Pentagon and contractors is not really surprising at all. The fact is that many retired upper-level military brass still have financial interests within the spectrum of military spending. What's disturbing is the fact that this effort to spin the press appears to have been so coordinated and purposeful. It smacks of the payola mini-scandals of Armstrong Williams
being secretly paid to propagandize No Child Left Behind and of the Iraqi journalists
who were bought and paid for. It is worth noting that it is illegal for the government to propagandize to the American public. There are legal issues as well as ethical ones involved here.
But the reason that this sounds so eerily true to me is a second-hand story from the winter of 2003 that I was told while I lived out in Tacoma, WA, the home of Ft. Lewis. Let me start with the basic facts that are not hearsay and second-hand:
A friend of mine and my wife is the daughter of a retired Army officer at Ft. Lewis. Her father worked alongside of a very famous military figure when he was the C.O. of Ft. Lewis. The two men were, and remained, quite close. The families were so close many years ago that our friend, when she was a teenager, was the regular babysitter of the children of the famous General.
The above is pretty much fact. I have seen the mementos and met enough of the people involved to have no doubts about the relationships.
Skip forward to early 2003. The famous General was interviewed in the Washington Post questioning the Bush Administration's run-up to war with Iraq. If you've figured out who I am referring to, you might remember the shockwaves that this interview sent through the flag waving, lapel-pin-wearing press. The criticism was doubly compounded by the role that this particular General had played in the recount of Florida presidential ballots in 2000. This guy was supposedly a Bushie through and through.
This is where the hearsay comes in. You can believe me, or you can think I am full of crap. That's up to you.
Our friend told us that, according to her father, the day the article appeared, the famous General got a call from the highest ranking civilian in the Pentagon. This person, who was becoming as much of a media darling as the General had once been, told the General in no uncertain terms, that if he expressed his opinions via the media again, he would have all of his clearances revoked and his professional consultant career would be over.
And that is where this second-hand tale and the story currently in the Times cross paths - Retired military brass who disagree with policy decisions are evidently biting their tongues out of fear of losing lucrative income. The consistency between these two stories leads me to give even more credence to both.