Thursday, January 11, 2007

General silences soldiers to help Bush

Oh, this is wonderful. Soldiers who are fighting, I'm told, for our rights are now being deprived of their own.
The pictures were just what the White House wanted: A teary-eyed President Bush presenting the Medal of Honor posthumously to a slain war hero in the East Room, then flying here to join the chow line with camouflage-clad soldiers as some of them prepare to return to Iraq.


Assuring there would be no discordant notes here, Maj. Gen. Walter Wojdakowski, the base commander, banned the 300 soldiers who had lunch with the president from talking with reporters. If any of them harbored doubts about heading back to Iraq, many for the third time, they were kept silent.


White House officials had promised reporters they could talk with soldiers. But that was not good enough for Wojdakowski. "The commanding general said he does not want media talking to soldiers today," spokeswoman Tracy Bailey said. "He wants the focus to be on the president's speech." Only hours later, after reporters complained, did the base offer to make selected soldiers available, but the White House plane was nearing departure.
I have been doing quite a bit of research on Bush's political use of the U.S. military for an upcoming book and I shouldn't be surprised, but I am. Today wasn't simply another example of a common theme in his history, the use of service members as props. Sure, in 2004, the Republican National Committee bragged about the fact that a number of active duty soldiers would be attending the Republican convention, despite the fact their doing so is strictly prohibited by regulation. And I spent 2004 in Afghanistan watching military broadcasting which promoted the Bush administration's take on Iraq and other issues, while ignoring John Kerry's campaign speeches about those issues, another violation of regs. But to have a general denying military members the right to speak to the media, while admitting he did so to allow the president's spin to sink in is disgusting.

As a public affairs guy, I know the regulation regarding dealing with the media, people, and that regulation, AR 360-1 (PDF link), says:
5–12. Official discussions with the media
To broaden public awareness of the Army, Army personnel are encouraged to speak with the media factually, candidly, and fully about unclassified matters on which they have personal knowledge and expertise. Senior commanders and staff officers are expected to discuss military matters within their purview with news media representatives.

5–13. Unofficial discussions
Anyone subject to this regulation may agree to a media request for an interview in an unofficial capacity. Army personnel may express personal opinions unless limited by law or regulation. They should discuss candidly matters about which they have personal knowledge if the information is not classified or otherwise non-releasable. When questioned on a classified matter, they will state frankly that the information cannot be discussed.
Soldiers have the right to speak to the press, goddamit. There are limits--an officer can't speak "contemptuously" of his or her leaders, for example--but a Bush-supporting general's desire to provide cover is a poor reason to deny them that right.

Update: The administration better get to censoring National Guardsmen and Reservists, too. Because they just got fucked.
The day after President Bush announced his plan for a deeper U.S. military commitment in Iraq, Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters the change in reserve policy would have been made anyway because active-duty troops already were getting too little time between their combat tours.

The Pentagon also announced it is proposing to Congress that the size of the Army be increased by 65,000, to 547,000 and that the Marine Corps, the smallest of the services, grow by 27,000, to 202,000, over the next five years. No cost estimate was provided, but officials said it would be at least several billion dollars.

Until now, the Pentagon's policy on the Guard or Reserve was that members' cumulative time on active duty for the Iraq or Afghan wars could not exceed 24 months. That cumulative limit is now lifted; the remaining limit is on the length of any single mobilization, which may not exceed 24 consecutive months, Pace said.


Blogger Minor Ripper said...

Regarding politics it's clear this administration has no shame. By 'administration' I mean mostly Karl Rove, because I'm convinced W does just what he's told. Remember 1999 and 2000 when he would surround himself with 50-60 black children at every campaign event? One would be forgiven at the time after seeing that prop for thinking he was running for president of Nigeria or something . And like his using of troops now as props, it was totally fraudulent, hollow PR propaganda aimed at fooling the public. Two more years. Good riddance.

8:08 AM  
Anonymous Sgt. Chris Keller said...


I'm a part of Central Command Public Affairs, on a team that exists to engage the blogosphere. I came across your site today while looking for people talking about Iraq and the war on terrorism.

Here's what my team does, and why I contacted you. Basically, we email bloggers, try and build both dialogue and relationships, and get information from CENTCOM's area of responsbility out to the blogosphere.

Sometimes we get our products (press releases, CENTCOM News, Coalition Bulletin) out to the blogosphere before mass media picks up on it. Sometimes we don't.

Feel free to check out website out We offer up-to-date press releases, photos, audio and stories from the frontline. This information can provide your readers accurate information on what is really happening with the war on terrorism.

If this is something you think your blog readers would be intrested in reading...I would ask you place a CENTCOM link on your website.

Sgt. Chris Keller
U.S. Central Command
Electronic Media Engagement Team

10:48 AM  
Anonymous Reality Check said...

Let's be real. Any soldier, sailor, airman or marine who has a sane thought in their head thinks Bush is the worst leader EVER, but they also think about themselves and their families and about the future, and they all have to believe deep down they are going to make it home and just want to go on with their lives if they can. WIth that in mind.... First, and foremost you follow the UCMJ or you can screw your life or your family's life up forever. People do think about things like that even though fellow soldiers are dying all around them every day. It's all about survival once you are in the $h1t over there. There have been brave men and women who refused to go, go back or who have signed the Appeal For Redress, everyone else is just hanging on until January 2008. Now you also have a smear and fear machine in power that shows no qualms about lying regarding getting us all into this war, lying about a previous Bush Secretary of the Treasury, outing a CIA agent working to stop terrorists from getting nuclear material just for revenge, lying to get various members of the Bush Klan out of a potpouri of illegal endeavors including banking scandals, illegal insider trading, war profiteering starting in WWII through today, Iran-Contra illegalities, Nixonian tricks (Ask Cheney and Rummy about those) and you wonder why more average joes and janes do not speak out, either from the military or from within the government? Here are a few words -- Bunnatine Greenhouse, Iraq spending oversight guy (Sorry too lazy to look up the guys name that the Repugs legislated out of job so he wouldn't have the bookkeeping numbers on all the Million Dollar "bricks" that have been stolen). Now let's think how the average joe or jane would be heard today? Who is going to cover publish their thoughts en masse. Who is going to speak for the military grunt, much less the soccer mom down the street, the middle manager who is struggling to meet production with 10% of his workforce deployed on foreign soil? Do any of those people pay the million dollar salary of any newspaper editor. Not really. Coporations do. And they say what gets printed. Or else we would see coffins every day. Hear about 2 to 3 sets of genitals a day not coming home still attached. We would be at least seeing what this administration has wraught. The conservative/corporate run media didn't even cover a guy who stood on a freaking highway and set himself on fire in protest of this war and the very soldiers you castigate for not speaking out louder.

The only military who get on camera are true koolaid drinkers (aka Christianists or "good little soldiers" ala Colen Powell, spelling intentional, especially since he thoroughly d1cked the military as a civilian) or they suck ups looking for special treatment or jobs if they can suck hard enough and get a contractor job in the next two years we are going to still be in Iraq, or in Iran in the next few months.

7:56 PM  

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