Bush Turned Military Into Propaganda Machine / Bush verwandelte Pentagon in eine Propagandamschine

Der Chef der Nachrichtenagentur AP fährt schwere Geschütze auf: 27.000 Mitarbeiter im Verteidigungsministerium betreiben Imagewerbung

Der Chef der US-Nachrichtenagentur Associated Press (AP), Tom Curley, enthüllte vor wenigen Tagen eine fast unglaubliche Geschichte über die globale PR-Arbeit des US-Verteidigungsministeriums. Das Pentagon beschäftigt nur für ihre Öffentlichkeitsarbeit fast so viele Spezialisten, 27.000, wie das gesamte Außenministerium Beschäftigte hat (30.000).
Im Folgenden dokumentieren wir einen Artikel hierzu (deutsch) sowie Auszüge aus Originalartikeln in amerikanischen Zeitungen.



AP-Chef kritisiert Manipulation

Pentagon beschäftigt 27000 Spezialisten mit Jahresbudget von 4,7 Milliarden Dollar

Von Peter Wolter *

Bei Staaten, deren Politik ihnen nicht paßt, ziehen die USA und andere NATO-Regierungen gerne als erstes den Vorwurf mangelnder Presse- und Meinungsfreiheit aus dem Hut. Dabei wird in der Regel andersherum ein Schuh daraus – nirgendwo wird die öffentliche Meinung so schamlos manipuliert wie in den »westlichen« Staaten. Nur einige Themen der Berichterstattung: die DDR, das Attentat vom 11. September 2001 oder die Kriege gegen Serbien, den Irak und Afghanistan.

Daß viele »westliche« Medien lügen, was das Zeug hält, ist kritischen Beobachtern seit langem klar. Neu hingegen ist, daß jetzt auch die US-Nachrichtenagentur Associated Press (AP) etwas gemerkt hat: Ihr Chef Tom Curley kritisierte am Wochenende in der Universität von Kansas, der Druck der US-Streitkräfte auf Berichterstatter werde allmählich unerträglich. Hohe Generäle hätten gedroht, daß man »die AP und ihn zerstören wird, wenn er und die Nachrichtenagentur weiterhin auf journalistischen Prinzipien bestehen«. Seit 2003 seien elf AP-Journalisten für längere oder kürzere Zeit festgenommen worden.

Dem Agenturchef zufolge hat das US-Militär seine Propagandamaschine enorm ausgebaut. Laut AP-Recherchen verfügt das Pentagon für dieses Ressort über ein Jahresbudget von 4,7 Milliarden Dollar und 27000 Mitarbeiter. Wozu diese Mittel eingesetzt werden, bleibe meist geheim. Wenn Journalisten sich an die Pressestelle des Pentagon wendeten, sei die Chance größer, daß Geheimdienste gegen sie ermittelten, als daß sie Auskunft bekämen. Es sei auch ständige Praxis, daß Experten des Ministeriums Webseiten ins Internet stellten, die den Eindruck erweckten, von unabhängigen Organisationen zu stammen.

Eine für den Informationskrieg zuständige Dienststelle namens »Joint Hometown News Service« ist nach AP-Informationen auf einem früheren Luftwaffen-Stützpunkt in San Antonio, Texas, untergebracht. Dort würden Wort- oder Bildberichte produziert, die unter falscher Quellenangabe in die Medien lanciert werden. Für 2009 sei die Herausgabe von 5400 Pressemitteilungen, 3000 Fernsehspots und 1600 Rundfunkinterviews geplant – doppelt so viel wie vor zwei Jahren.

Hinter solchem Einsatz mag die Bundeswehr nicht zurückstehen: Wie Spiegel online am Wochenende berichtete, wird zur Zeit eine Internet-Spezialtruppe aufgebaut, die jetzt schon 76 Mann stark ist.

* Aus: junge Welt, 9. Februar 2009


Dokumentation

AP CEO: Bush Turned Military Into Propaganda Machine

JOHN HANNA | February 6, 2009

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 [February 6].

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.

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."

The Huffington Post, February 5, 2009

AP Impact: Pentagon boosts spending on PR

The Associated Press *
Published: February 5, 2009

(...) 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.

(...)

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.

(...)

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. (...)

International Herald Tribune, February 5, 2009




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