The Pentagon and the US media have been exposed for using pre-programmed “military analysts” to win hearts and minds of Americans over the war in Iraq, torture and detentions in Guantanamo Bay.
Kenneth Allard, an NBC military analyst and teacher at National Defence University, described the propaganda exercise as a "coherent, active," sophisticated information operation."
"Night and day, I felt we'd been hosed," he said.
The New York Times revealed that close ties exist between the Bush administration and former senior officers who acted as paid TV analysts on CNN and other channels. The analysts have received private briefings, trips and access to classified intelligence to influence their comments.
Robert Bevelacqua, a retired Green Beret and former Fox News analyst, told the newspaper, "It was them (the Bush administration) saying, 'We need to stick our hands up your back and move your mouth for you.'"
In one episode CNN’s Donald Shepperd, a retired Air Force general, speaking live from Guantánamo said: “The impressions that you’re getting from the media and from the various pronouncements being made by people who have not been here in my opinion are totally false.”
A number of the analysts used by US television also have extensive business interests in promoting the pro administration views.
"Records and interviews show how the Bush administration has used its control over access and information in an effort to transform the analysts into a kind of media Trojan horse - an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks," the newspaper said.
The Pentagon said the analysts were given only accurate information. Many of the commentators have ties to military contractors committed to the US war efforts, but those business links are almost never disclosed to viewers.
The report was based on 8,000 pages of e-mail messages, transcripts and records which described years of private briefings, trips.
The Pentagon documents referred to commentators as "message force multipliers" or "surrogates" who would deliver "themes and messages" on command to millions of Americans "in the form of their own opinions."