At Least They Asked

“The concern is that WikiLeaks as an organization should not be made more credible by having credible news organizations facilitate what they’re doing.”

–Col. Dave Lapan, Pentagon spokesman (with a straight face…)

The Pentagon, which devours about half of the US budget Defending our Freedom, has “asked” the news media if it would refrain from publishing the latest Wikileaks documents, ostensibly out of a sudden concern with the credibility of the media.  Yes, you read that right.  They’re pleading with the same media who relentlessly promoted the Iraq War, The “War on Terror,” and the “Axis of Evil,” among other stupid, misguided notions of the Bush Era, while unanimously dismissing opponents of torture, wiretapping, war, and indefinite detention as naive and unSerious, despite the fact that they were right.  The same shockingly discredited media that gave us Judith Miller, Tom Friedman, Bill Kristol, Fred Hiatt, David Ignatius, Jonah Goldberg, David Gregory, and on and on is now supposed to be worried about how crossing the Pentagon, for once, might damage its credibility, and thus should keep mum.  What they’re asking is kind of like asking a fish to swim, but the Pentagon’s doing it anyway.  They have a lot of taxpayer-funded spokesmen to keep busy, after all.

But why bother?  The media has fallen hook, line. and sinker for every cockamamie idea that has bubbled up from the bowels of the Pentagon swamp for twenty years; from the Kuwaiti Incubators to the Aluminum Tubes, from Star Wars to Suitcase nukes, no phony pretext was too ridiculous for the mainstream media to toss credibility to the wind and type up whatever some shadowy Pentagon flack said, however often such errant hogwash was initially disputed and subsequently disproven.  Last time the Pentagon had this sort of Wikileaks-related Depends Moment, just this summer, all of its wild threats proved utterly false, but the media published them anyway, basically ignoring what the leaks contained.  There is no evidence that they won’t do so again, but I guess if you’re the Pentagon, and your whole world is a spinning kaleidoscope of imaginary fears, even this one might sound plausible.

Trouble is, the Pentagon has achieved “full spectrum dominance” when it comes to the US media, if not in the real world, where since World War II it loses all its wars, so such dire entreaties are as silly as they are unnecessary.  Nobody at the Pentagon seriously thinks that, say, the New York Times, which obligingly withheld Bush’s warrantless wiretapping until his 2004 reelection was safely past, will suddenly find something the the 400,ooo pages of documents with which to bedevil the war machine.  Nobody expects the Washington Post, no further introduction necessary, to print anything that might send Halliburton or Blackwater stock plummeting.  Everyone knows that on TV, war sells and peace leads to poor ratings, no matter the country/cause/pretext du jour.  What, pray, is the Pentagon pretending, this time, to be afraid of?

The answer lies, I think, in the latter half of the quote above, which is unintentionally (of course) revealing….   The Pentagon has, in effect, gone all Alaska on us.  Like Senate candidate Joe Miller, who had private thugs “arrest” and handcuff an impertinent reporter, and Sarah Palin, who blames the “lamestream media” for making her look like the dangerous idiot she is, the by far largest “branch” of our supposedly Democratic government is out to destroy the credibility of any media source, however tiny and inconsequential, who dares to question them.  When you’re a hillbilly grifter attempting to ride a wave of corporate-funded paranoia to Washington, that’s one thing.  When you’re annually gobbling up $700 billion of money we don’t have creating morally indefensible violence and resentment the world over and calling it “defense,” it’s quite another.  The media have been dutifully ignoring this rather simple fact for many years; indeed, whatever “credibility” they might hope to retain depends on their willingness to cover up their many past errors, incurred mostly by believing the Pentagon, so their interests, once adversarial, have become one.

At one time, the news media felt a responsibility, however often in the breach, to dig beneath shady official pronouncements, and found it both satisfying and economically advantageous to expose official lies; in short, they had credibility, and sometimes even used it, notably during the Pentagon Papers case, when several newspaper publishers risked jail publishing what the military always calls “classified” documents about its deceitfulness and egregious crimes against humanity.

That time has passed, and someone ought to tell the Pentagon to try something else.  Unlike the rest of America, they can afford to lavishly, and perhaps effectively, sell almost anything…   Anything but credibility, that is.


  1. michlib says:

    In a sane world, the bloated waistlines in the military-industrial sector would be the first to be asked to tighten their belts. But sanity fled the Pentagon ages ago. While our infrastructure crumbles/explodes/decays before our eyes, it is the 98% “small people” who are asked to bear the costs of newly found fiscal “consevatism” crowed by tea baggers and the like. I’d love to see the defense budget cut by 25 percent and see if Cuban flotillas flood into Miami.

    • cocktailhag says:

      I’d like to cut it by 50%, then; some of those Cubans are hot. (Or so I’ve heard….)

    • The Heel says:

      80% at least – and I am very serious. in the absence of any serious threat for decades to come.

      One can safely bomb camel jocks with vintage bombers and WWII tanks. No need for stealth technology. No need for anything. They fight with 18th century technology (in essence pure explosives) plus cell phones….

      But that is wishful thinking. The defense budget will continue to increase until our Chinese bankers notice that they are financing their competitor. At which point it will get interesting. Will Chinese government officials be wise or greedy?

  2. dirigo says:

    Reporting today indicates Joe Miller’s private praetorians are actually active duty Army troops.

    There is a bright line within military rules which does not allow active duty troops in this country to participate in political campaigns. It’s been that way for a long, long time.

    This is a breach of some significance. Worse, they didn’t have the courage of their epaulets to identify themselves as such.

    • cocktailhag says:

      It’s pretty remarkable, isn’t it? We are all Blackwater now, and they wear snazzier outfits than those Nazi reenactors, to boot.

      • dirigo says:

        Chris Matthews – MSNBC’s sterling interviewer/commentator extraordinaire el supremo – trying to catch up with the Joe Miller/Praetorian Guard story, asked Tony Hopfinger of the Alaska Dispatch Tuesday night why he allowed active duty Army troops (the Drop Zone security flex hires) to handcuff him in the public school where he, Hopfinger, tried to buttonhole Miller to ask a couple of questions.

        Matthews, hair slightly mussed, tie a bit askew, went on to ask Hopfinger if he – AT ANY TIME!!! – went “beyond the pale” in confronting Miller, beyond aggressive reporters like – get this! – Sam Donaldson! – and, (gasp!) Maria Shriver! – reporters, Matthews waxed, who “worked the rope lines” in political journalism. Back in the day!!!

        Maria Shriver? Working the rope lines ?????? Shouting questions? On what planet did this occur?

        Holy moley.

        Matthews went on to suggest Hopfinger might be a sap if he didn’t sue Miller.

        Stay tuned.

  3. Ché Pasa says:

    Hold on. Julian and WikiLeaks proudly partnered with the “Lamestream Media” to get the eagerly awaited Afghanistan Doc Dump published, a Doc Dump that turned out to be many tens of thousands of raw field reports that sort of congealed into an opaque glob when hardly anyone could translate them into a spoken or readable language. Bueno.

    And you remember what happened with the “Collateral Murder” video? The Good Parts (ie: smoking the ragheads) went into constant rotation on all the news channels, and Julian was on the air again and again and again, almost as often as the massacre was replayed, and who’dathunk it, Americans cheered! Yes they did. They saw a bunch of sand-n****rs get pink misted, Death From Above style, and they hooted and pumped their fists in triumph every time the scene was shown. Which is why it was shown. Over and over and over again. Fuck yeah.

    There’s a very strange interplay between the White House, the Pentagon, the Media, and Julian Assange. The Propaganda — and the Show Business — potential is being exploited fully by all the players. That the Pentagon would “plead” with the Media (or previously, with Julian) is curious, don’t you think? That they would make such a public production of it is even more curious when we all know what they are capable of, if they want to.

    And then there was this:

    On Monday 18th October 2010, @wikileaks said:

    Where do all these claims about WikiLeaks doing something on Iraq today (Monday) come from? A single tabloid blog at Wired Magazine!

    That’s right. Over 700 articles, newspapers all over the world, and newswires fooled by a tabloid blog–and each other.

    Of course you won’t see this blog cited, generally, in the mainstream press articles, because that would lessen the credibility of these articles back to where the belong — unsubstantiated, and indeed, false claims made by a source that is not credible. What is journalism coming to?

    But, Wired’s blog is not just any source that lacks credibility. It is a known opponent and spreader of all sorts of misinformation about WikiLeaks. This dramatically ramped up since we demanded an investigation into what role they played in the arrest of the alleged journalistic source, US intelligence analyst, Bradley Manning:

    We condemned Wired magazine for that conduct and the magazine has been oppositional ever since. The two blogs concerned, “Threat Level” and “Danger Room”, while having produced some good journalism over the years, mostly now ship puff pieces about the latest “cool weapons system” and other “war tech toys” as befits their names — “Threat Level” and “Danger Room”.

    These two blogs, and in particular editor Kevin Poulsen, have been responsible for a tremendous amount of other completely false information WikiLeaks.

    A post today on “Danger Room” begins with:

    “We’re still waiting for WikiLeaks to make good on its pledge to reveal hundreds of thousands of U.S. military documents on the Iraq war.”

    Another fabrication.

    WikiLeaks does not speak about upcoming releases dates, indeed, with very rare exceptions we do not communicate any specific information about upcoming releases, since that simply provides fodder for abusive organizations to get their spin machines ready.

    Julian Assange

    So the Pentagon was pleading with Big Media not to publish what Julian/WikiLeaks wasn’t going to release and hasn’t released. Wha?

    Wheels within wheels is putting it charitably.

    It’s all a Game, isn’t it? Even the active duty thuggery in Alaska.

    • cocktailhag says:

      Well, I do think that “Collateral Murder,” despite its appeal amongst the racists, did horrify a lot of more thinking people and contributed to the low (albeit irrelevant) public support for the war(s).
      So in that one respect, I give Wikileaks a lot of credit. Anyone who hopes to disseminate information in our current media era is going to have to resort to a bit of showmanship, and perhaps some compromises, too, but that beats the uninterrupted cheerleading you hear everywhere else.

  4. mikeinportc says:

    “I’d like to cut it by 50%, then; some of those Cubans are hot. (Or so I’ve heard….)”

    “80% at least – and I am very serious. in the absence of any serious threat for decades to come”
    Is this an auction? ;)
    I’ll bid 95% , with an option to go lower. Given our current inventory, seems as though we could get decent staffng & maintenance for an actual defensive capability, for ~$37.5B
    ( + 5% [indirect costs + the non-DoD "defense" costs] = total of $50-75B?)

    • cocktailhag says:

      Trouble is, if such a thing were to happen, the economy would collapse even worse. We’re now so militarized that an alarming number of Americans, and their communities, are utterly dependent on Pentagon cash. The only reason not to kill it nearly entirely is that the transition period would be brutal, with all the attendant opportunities for demagogues to shoot it back up, maybe with some more wars.
      We’ve made the bed and we’re lying in it.