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Pentagon Reveals News Correction Unit 757

Jonas Wisser writes "BBC is reporting that a newly created Pentagon unit has a mandate to fight 'inaccurate' news stories. From the article: 'The Pentagon has set up a new unit to focus on promoting its message across 24-hour rolling news outlets, and particularly on the internet. [...] A Pentagon memo seen by the Associated Press news agency said the new unit will "develop messages" for the 24-hour news cycle and aim to "correct the record". A spokesman said the unit would monitor media such as weblogs and would also employ "surrogates", or top politicians or lobbyists who could be interviewed on TV and radio shows.'"
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Pentagon Reveals News Correction Unit

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  • Astonishing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by locokamil ( 850008 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @05:23AM (#16654907) Homepage
    Clearly, the US military now officially has its spending priorities correct. Who gives a damn about winning the bloody war, or setting Iraq's forces straight so that they don't get knocked up like cheap hookers every time they set foot outside their barracks?

    No-- this is more important by far. The Pentagon really does need to be fighting a press war with hairy-assed, unemployed bloggers operating out of their mothers' basements. They also need more lobbyists and politicians on their payroll, because if they don't win the war for the US, nothing else can.

    Astonishing. Just astonishing.
  • by BadAnalogyGuy ( 945258 ) <> on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @05:23AM (#16654911)
    Either you're someone who already believes what's on the news or you're someone who already distrusts the media.

    So if you're the first type, this is no big change. Your disinformation now comes directly from the source.

    If you're the second type, you won't be able to believe anything on the DailyKos and other "contra-news" sources since you will believe that they have been infiltrated as well.

    Any attempts to route around damage will lead you to either the BBC (but how long can you trust Bush's lapdogs?) or totally foreign sources like Al Jazeera (CIA counter-intelligence operation).

    Naturally, this is not really that big of news. This has been going on since Eisenhower and bringing it into the open is just another way to manipulate the populace.
  • Bring on the war! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by rufusdufus ( 450462 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @05:27AM (#16654927)
    President Bush has said recently that terror groups were trying to influence public opinion in the US, describing their efforts as the "war of ideas"

    What, are we afraid of ideas? Is a war of guns and bombs better? If the people of the world are trying to influence our thinking, should we ignore them or should we listen? Who knows better about the problems of their part of the world than them? Do the Generals in the Pentagon know whats better for people across the world than their own leaders?
  • The unit will also (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Timesprout ( 579035 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @05:36AM (#16654983)
    Correct the misunderstanding that Iraq did not have WMD
    Correct the misunderstanding that the Iraq war did not actually end when GB said it did
    Correct the misunderstanding that Iraq is not a nice place to be now
    Correct the misunderstanding that several US interrogation techniques are actually torture
    Corrent the misunderstanding that there are not hordes of rabid terrorists queueing up to kill each and every last one of us

    And we used to laugh at the attempts of TAS to 'enlighten us'
  • by Filik ( 578890 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @05:38AM (#16654985)
    ...we are effectively loosing.

    This rapid walk away from democracy in the name of democracy is frightning .

  • by citanon ( 579906 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @05:39AM (#16654997)
    Has there been any instance in our nation's military history where we've won a war without a successful propaganda effort? From the Revolutionary War to the Civil War to WWII and Vietnam, we have won wars where propaganda was relatively successful and lost when it was not.

    People who think that the military doing propaganda is wrong/evil/unprecedented have never taken an honest look at history.

    Get over it people, this is not 1984, this is trying to do a much scaled back version of what we have always done in the past.

  • by RAMMS+EIN ( 578166 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @05:45AM (#16655027) Homepage Journal

    ``The Bush administration does not believe the true picture of events in Iraq has been made public, the BBC's Justin Webb in Washington says.''

    Well, I don't believe so, either. If the true picture had been made public right from the beginning, popular support for the war would probably have been so low that the government wouldn't have dared to go to war in the first place.
  • by tibike77 ( 611880 ) <> on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @05:47AM (#16655039) Journal
    Ah, so nice to see that even if Soviet Russia (apparently) failed miserably, its ideas live on strong and spread to its former enemies. Heck, I thought Romania was so-so ok under Communism as long as you kept your mouth shut (hey, I was 12 years old at the time, so what did I know), apparently now USA is heading the same way. Slowly, but surely.
    And they have the guts to "condemn" China for the "great internet firewall" ? Talk about hypocrisy.

    Just goes to show, in all human forms of gov't, whoever HAS the power is the one least worthy to HAVE it in the first place.
  • Its news not law (Score:3, Insightful)

    by el_womble ( 779715 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @05:48AM (#16655043) Homepage
    I'm all for this. As long as they don't demand that newspapers publish their stories and only their stories (or more likely that the major netwoprks get lazy and just go to them to get their stories) or make it illegal to believe anything else, this is democracy and freedom in action.

    Knowing what the military want you to think is fascinating, providied its balanced by the free press. Having the news delivered by different agendas is what makes watching modern history unfold so exciting and makes it easier to get down to the facts and through the bullshit.
  • by LQ ( 188043 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @05:48AM (#16655045)
    Correct the misunderstanding ...
    that Iraq had anything to do with 9/11.
  • by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @05:50AM (#16655057)
    The question is, though, whether this "war" is supposed to be won or if it's supposed to be running. The war on (insert idea) cannot be won. You can't wage a successful, finite war on an idea. A "war" on terror or drugs is a "war" that you cannot win with firepower.

    That's what is being suggested, though. People are sent to the place where whatever idea is fought, they die there and nothing is gained. You can't gain ground in this battle. There is no big leader, no key figure, no enemy headquarter to be conquered to end the battle.

    Ralleying your population behind a war against a common enemy is a necessity. But this time the war has become an end in itself, it's not the means to the end. The war on (idea) is not fought to end (idea), because it cannot end it. The goal is simply to strengthen the economy, to reduce unemployment (as hard as it sounds, but killing people (or having them killed) reduces your workforce...) and to distract the population from other problems.

    And a war with these goals cannot be won. It never was in history.
  • great (Score:5, Insightful)

    by illuminatedwax ( 537131 ) <stdrange@alumni.uchic a g o . edu> on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @05:59AM (#16655111) Journal
    This has been a great eight years! I always wanted to know what it was like to live in China, and now we keep getting closer every day! :)
  • Re:In related news (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @06:04AM (#16655137)
    Is that what it'll take for people to wake up?

    It's getting pretty insanely ridiculous. Our government runs military detention camps in other totalitarian regimes, simply to skirt the law requiring trials in America. Congress has allowed our spy agencies to watch American citizens without probable cause. The Executive branch has condoned and practiced torture of untried suspects -- torture to any person with senses intact, which the perpetrators would never submit to themselves -- and half of the American public has gladly cheered them on.

    Now we've suspended the Writ of Habeas Corpus and given the President the power to deploy troops domestically. Is it really any surprise there are agencies paid with our tax money to spread pro-government propaganda?

    The only thing surprising is that so many Americans are still looking up with worshipful puppy eyes -- at the leaders who pretend to protect them while stealing their wealth, liberty, and lives.
  • Re:Astonishing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Vintermann ( 400722 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @06:15AM (#16655197) Homepage
    And to think they criticised Hugo Chavez for using government funds to promote his own social policies. Talk about not seeing the beam in their own eyes.
  • by knipknap ( 769880 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @06:40AM (#16655329) Homepage
    Corrent the misunderstanding that there are not hordes of rabid terrorists queueing up to kill each and every last one of us

    Well, there may be soon, the administration is working on it. Terrorists are too helpful to ignore, they have worked beautifully in their favor before.

    I am a German, and we still get to see a LOT of information on the history of the second world war in school, including videos of the propaganda machine of that time, political strategies, and their mindless followers.
    Now what is happening in America is beginning to remind me more and more of the propaganda machine that I saw in those videos from before the second world war. It is a trend that has gained intensity over the last couple of years. Whenever you tuned into US national news during the Iraq war, it's been a display of the technological advancement of the war machinery and one-sided government-friendly reporting. 50% airtime for one side, 50% for the other? It simply does not happen in popular media.

    My point is: The goverment has now started to broaden the definition of terrorism, so these things will give them even more power. If you control public opinion, democracy is not much different from a monarchy. When more power is given to anybody, the greed for more power will grow. In my opinion, it is not a question of whether the power will be abused. It is a vicious circle and only a matter of time.
  • in other words (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @06:48AM (#16655363)
    a local branch office of foxnews. :)

    They are not afraid to tell it like it is. That everything is alright.
  • Re:In related news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Yvanhoe ( 564877 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @07:15AM (#16655493) Journal
    For me the red line has been crossed in 2003 when I read two report of the same news, one from France, saying "Kofi Anna has qualified the attack on Iraq as illegal" and the second, from MSNBC, saying "Kofi Anna has (wrongly) qualified the attack on Iraq as illegal"

  • by fantomas ( 94850 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @07:28AM (#16655587)

    "In the old days, respectable news outlets could be counted on to check their sources and accurately report the news coming out of the defense department."

    Alas I think you're a misguided romantic. Can I ask what experience you have of 'news outlets' in 'the old days'?

    I am afraid I am deeply suspicious of anybody who tries to tell me they have solid facts after they start with "in the old days".

    In the UK this is a bit close to Tory MPs telling us about warm beer and cricket on sunny Sunday afternoons while coppers cycled past and clipped kids round the ear for scrumping apples from Farmer Giles' orchard. I guess in the USA these 'old days' were when kids ate blueberry pie and fished in the hollow and were called Huckleberry Finn or something.

    Define "in the old days" please. 1980? 1950? 1785? (last being first publication date of the Times)

  • Panem et circenses (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @07:29AM (#16655593)
    You have food. Enough food. Cheap food. From burgers and fries to "TV-Dinners", from Pizza Hut to Taco Bell.

    You have entertainment. From TV to movies, malls and Sunday Night Football.

    It worked 2000 years ago. Why do you think anything changed? That's what most people are simply content with. They want to be fed and they want to be entertained. They don't want to deal with complicated problems. The leaders don't want to deal with the problems at hand but distract the population by war and spectacles.

    The similarities between the US of today and the Rome at the change from republic to empire are stunning.
  • by Pharmboy ( 216950 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @07:40AM (#16655651) Journal
    And they have the guts to "condemn" China for the "great internet firewall" ?

    It seems to me that the government isn't trying to control ideas, it is trying to compete in the market place of ideas. Just because the Pentagon will issue some press releases, this doesn't stop you, me or anyone else from putting our ideas out there as well. It seems to me that it is the government's DUTY to release information if they think the news is reporting false information. We can still choose to research it, compare it to other sources, and accept or reject it.

    I didn't see anywhere in the article that every US citizen was being forced to watch these new media channels, or being forced to accept the information as the truth. Funny, while I am as skeptical as they come when it comes to any government, I am not afraid of letting them release their response to news reports. Kinda fits in with the whole idea of free speech.
  • Re:In related news (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Gablar ( 971731 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @07:56AM (#16655751) Journal
    The only thing surprising is that so many Americans are still looking up with worshipful puppy eyes -- at the leaders who pretend to protect them while stealing their wealth, liberty, and lives

    see, this is where your wrong. Most americans have not lost wealth, the loss of liberty is not obvious, and the lost of lives are not american. The regime in power wont use any of these powers unless there is a threat. What real threat does the "bush" regime faces?


    they have efectivly silenced most dangerous oposition in the United States, and they know that if they use their powers too often, all its going to happen is creating new enemies. They want power, but they also want stability. The only way they get stability is if the economy is good and the citizens are relatively happy.

    while it's true that there is a segment of the population that knows of the potential for abuse and openly speak against it, its not a real threat for the regime. We herre writing angrily about the government are too confortable in our jobs to do anything real about it. Even if we wanted to do something about it, because they have had monitoring systems in place for so long, they probably will know exactly how to take you down.

    To those not in the know, it doesnt matter who wins the next elections, they are still in power.

  • by misanthrope101 ( 253915 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @08:13AM (#16655839)
    Firstly, the fact that terrorists and insurgents can make stuff up faster than we

    Well, you don't need to make up "the Marines bombed your house and killed your sister, father, and daughter. Join us in fighting them!" People aren't swarming to fight the US so much because of made-up stuff, but because there are about 150,000 armed-to-the-teeth foreign military, and a few tens of thousands of foreign paramilitary, killing their fellow Iraqis every day, with complete immunity from Iraqi law. It's true that if all Iraqis laid down their arms and did exactly what the foreign occupiers told them to, without hesitation or complaint, with averted eyes and a cowed demeanor, no one would be shot, but there's that pesky "pride" thing that, though a virtue in Americans, is a character flaw in everyone else on the planet.

    it's easier to hate wealthy nations than it is to reform a poor government run by corrupt theologues.

    Well, to be fair, the West has financed and armed many of the corrupt dictators that kept their economies in a state of, well, shit. It's not as if they were free nations that decided to hate us because we were free. Saddam was put in charge by Britain. Other examples abound. No, I'm not saying "the west is evil," only that part of their list of grievances against us is that we have supported dictators in their countries, and actually impeded democracy. See Iran as an example. We overthrew their democracy and installed a dictator--somehow, though they hate us, I don't think it's because of our freedom. No, I don't think their nations would blossom into post-Enlightenment bliss if we pulled our money and influence out, but we have been a very prominent part of the problem for about a century. Even if the problem would have existed without us (as it probably would have), that doesn't negate the fact that we have dirt up to the elbow.

  • by toetagger1 ( 795806 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @08:15AM (#16655855)
    I'm German, and have been living in the US for 9 years. The day I came here, I noticed what you said, and I am reminded of it everywhere I go in the US. And yes, 9 years ago Clinton was in power, and I was afraid of the groupthink mentality then too.

    However, the one thing that makes the US more of a monarchy than a democracy, is that you have the son of a former president as the commander in chief. And the wife of another former president is looking to run for president at the next election.

    The US is not a democracy in the terms of people CHOOSE their leaders, its a democracy in the terms of people THINK they choose their leaders.

    And if you get to know the political system in the US a bit closer, it becomes clear that the choices people think they have, are actually very carefully screened and selected by the most powerful parties in the country. This opens the door wide for a puppet government, where the president is a prominent public figure, and the policy is done by players in the background. Look for Cheyney to run for President in 2 years!
  • Re:In related news (Score:2, Insightful)

    by slowdive1979 ( 568234 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @08:44AM (#16656061)
    oh please, quit being so melodramatic. i encourage any organization to try to ensure the media (whether MSNBC, fox news, or a blogger) is putting out correct information and to state their viewpoint if they disagree. when google wants to run queries in real time to attest to the truth of a politician's statements, everyone is in favor of stopping the liars. when it is the government who wants to correct false claims in the media, suddenly they are evil. simply because the government disagrees with a story, it does not mean you must believe what they say. this just gives them a chance to find these stories before false information results in riots and killing. considering how easy it is for anyone (government or otherwise) to lie, it makes sense that they are trying to see who may be making things up so that they can publish their point of view.

    another thing to consider is that the stories the mainstream media gives you are not the real stories from iraq. how often do you hear about military units building schools or local governments restoring infrastructure? it happens, but you don't hear about it. how often do you hear about the latest bombing in baghdad? every time - and the terrorists know that a lot of the media like to stay in their hotels and report from there. that's why bombs typically go off just in time to make the morning news on the east coast. i guess it's okay for terrorists to take advantage of the media, but not okay for the pentagon to try and correct false stories.

    flame on, ACs.
  • by argStyopa ( 232550 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @09:03AM (#16656213) Journal
    blah blah blah...the US government is starting to look like Nazis...blah blah blah

    What's so ironic is that at the same time you point the finger at the US government propaganda efforts, I'm certain that you believe YOUR media is objective.

    I've never seen people so willing to swallow unquestioning propaganda by the Left - I'm not sure if it's not some psychological knee jerk against the pervasive guilt of your older generations, or some deep Teutonic need to be told what to think (possbly both). Since the fall of the Iron Curtain, we now know from Soviet and East German archives that the younger generations of Germans were flat-out MANIPULATED by rather simplistic disinformation techniques, cheerfully marching into the streets to (sometimes violently) oppose "Reagan's Kernwaffen" and American militarism while the Soviets chuckled all through the 80s.

    Frankly, you don't know crap about the US aside from the nonsense that comes out of Hollywood or from OUR media sources who themselves are deeply opposed to the war and don't mind letting that bias inform their view (example: New York Times) or other news services who are also made up nearly 100% of people who oppose the war (example: BBC). But I'm sure you're CERTAIN that, despite their political leanings, these people are the soul of objective reporting. HINT: you're being manipulated again.

    One would think that one would be a little more questioning about one's own motivations and information sources, particularly when pointing the finger at someone else. What's the word for 'hypocrite' in German again?
  • Re:In related news (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Himring ( 646324 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @09:09AM (#16656255) Homepage Journal
    [Yes, I've brought this up before]

    Pardon me for being incensed, but where were you people when the Reeves family was slaughtered on Ruby Ridge? Sure, a guy who was a white, racist bigot, living in the mountains -- away from everyone where a bigot should be -- who was having charges brought against him, unproven charges. The response of -- not the local or state law enforcement agencies, but of the federal government -- was to go in to his domain, para-military style. The apex of the event was when his wife, carrying their infant, had her head blown off. What about that family's rights? It took a very long time for any justice to remotely happen, and no one from the government served any time for those murders.

    Yes, I'm conservative, but I'm independent in my politics, and the left simply was quiet, or jumped on the band-wagon, in the whole Ruby Ridge affair. There were either crickets from the left as the agencies under their control slaughtered this family and/or there was a basic, "well, he had it coming. He was a bigot after all."

    Had it not been a white family, the left would have risen up in arms.

    I appreciate the defense to freedom and human rights you offer, but I am appalled at the existence of an overt double-standard....

    Freedom is freedom and human rights are human rights. When you valiantly defend the rights of your enemy as well as you would defend your own, then you have arrived.... (queue Voltaire).

  • Re:In related news (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Foggerty ( 680794 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @09:36AM (#16656491)
    You're quite right - taken of itself this isn't a huge deal outside of a third world dictatorship.

    But coming in after the Patriot Acts One and Two, after suspension of right to trial, waltzing in after allowing for the extradition of people (including American citizens) to 'detention camps' in countries that happen to have lax laws when its comes to torture, coming in after Bush and his whole fucking government lied through their teeth about the reasons for the illegal invasion and continued occupation of Iraq, bouncing along after stolen elections, skipping along to the the tune of "warrentless wiretapping" and getting down to the beat of "corporate kickbacks for Bush's buddies" - ya just gotta sit back and wonder if maybe its symptomatic of a government gone horribly wrong.
  • Re:The other war (Score:3, Insightful)

    by h4rm0ny ( 722443 ) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @10:55AM (#16657507) Journal

    Okay, so now instead of talking about "terrorists" we're talking specifically about Iraq. That's fine, so long as it's recognised we're moving on. One of the worst things the US government's spin department has done has been to try and represent everyone from Al Quaeda to the government of Iran to Hezbollah to the people of Iraq as a great homogenous mess of "terrorists."

    As to Iraq, you have a grossly distorted world view if you think people are being killed by their thousands to make the US government look bad or have an ulterior motive of making democracy look bad. It's a mess of blood feuds, of you killed my brother, I kill two of yours, a power struggle between different ethnic factions, a struggle over strategic resources and a break down in social order. I think the rest of the World has a much clearer idea of the relationship between the US government and the US people than the US people do on the whole and few Iraqi people expect the US people to suddenly reign their government in after they let their government invade in revenge for attacks perpetrated by citizens of another (intensely disliked) country. There's a lot of rage against the US invaders and attacks against them are certainly motivated by an attempt to make them withdraw, but not shiite-sunni or anti-kurd violence.

    I'm curious for some examples of this anti US government bias, by the way. Iraq has been a humanitarian disaster and the US has lost what control it thought it had over there. The sole beneficiaries of it have been a handful of Iraqi ex-pats who convinced the US government that they could be re-introduced as part of the new governing order, the 48,000 mercenaries euphemisitcally called private security that are employed mainly by the UK and US governments at the cost of hundreds of millions of $US, and of course US corporations such as Haliburton. Quite frankly, any coverage of what's going on in the Middle East right now is going to reflect badly on the US government. That can't really be helped. The only way that this can be countered in the media is to give less information on it to the US public. Which brings us back to this new agency and why I believe that its purpose is to paint a less clear picture of events to the US public. Every additional bit of accurate information on a situation as bad as this, is really only going to damn them more.

I THINK MAN INVENTED THE CAR by instinct. -- Jack Handley, The New Mexican, 1988.