Calming the Troops…Or Propaganda?

A reader sent me something interesting: It seems that just before the July 4th holidays, everyone at Andrews Air Force Base — including the local contingent of the Air National Guard — was sent a power point file of talking points about the Iraq War and the Abu Ghraib scandal produced by the Office of the Assistant Secretary Of Defense for Legislative Affairs.

The two-pager includes some information about what the public can do to support the troops, but the main thrust of it is how important intelligence is to the war effort…

The United States is at war. In the Global War on Terror, the most important weapon in our arsenal is intelligence. Because of the intelligence gathered from interrogations we have thwarted enemy attacks and saved American lives.

… how important interrogations are to intelligence…

  • Intelligence gathered from detainee interrogations contribute to Coalition success in the Global War on Terror.
    • Interrogations played a key role in the capture of Saddam Hussein.
    • Interrogations are critical to determining how foreign fighters get into Fallujah and Ar Ramadi.
    • Interrogations are critical to discovering improvised explosive devices targeted at Coalition force

… and how much the Bush administration wanted and wants everything to be humane…

  • The President directed in February 2002 that all persons in U.S. custody are to be treated humanely. This decision was made by the President and it is in accordance with all applicable national and international laws.
    • The so-called “torture memo” was a speculative work that explored the limits of detainee treatment under U.S. and international law. It was not a policy recommendation.
      DoD policy requires that all interrogation practices be humane.

Of course anything to the contrary is just bad apples:

  • The actions of the soldiers in the Abu Graib photographs were perpetrated by a small number of U.S. military, they were also brought to light by the honorable and responsible actions of other military personnel.
  • Eight Iraq-related detention lines of inquiry have been ordered by DoD.
  • At least seven soldiers now face or may soon face criminal charges. Three of them have been preferred for court martial

    • Charges include dereliction of duty, conspiracy to maltreat subordinates, maltreatment of subordinates, indecent acts, and battery.
    • Additionally, two noncommissioned officers were charged with aggravated assault.

  • Since the onset of the war in Iraq, the United States government has recognized and made clear that the Geneva Convention applies to our activities in Iraq. General Sanchez has instructed the forces under his command of that obligation.
  • Orders placing Abu Ghraib under the tactical control of the 205th Military Intelligence Brigade in no way changed the rules governing the conduct of the military police and military intelligence personnel in Iraq with respect to the laws of war or the Geneva Convention.
  • Contractors at the prison were primarily used for translation, interpretation, and interrogation purposes. Felony criminal sanctions for any crimes a defense contractor may commit are available under U.S. Federal law.

Repeat, we are NOT guilty of torture:

  • Development and approval of interrogation techniques were done in a deliberate manner with strict legal and policy review to ensure the protection of detainees, our institutions and our troops responsible for carrying out those operations.
  • Throughout this conflict the procedures have been constantly reviewed and modified when deemed necessary and appropriate.
  • The implication that the United States government has, in one way or another, ordered, permitted, or tolerated torture is simply not true.
  • Individuals who have abused the trust and confidence placed in them, regardless of rank or position, will be held accountable

Leaving aside the question of why the Pentagon uses Powerpoint for two pages of crowded three-column text, one might ask why the troops are getting this message, and why just before a weekend in which many of them would either be going home or having other July 4th related contact with the public.

In normal times, one might look at this document, complete with the centered and inset quote from a Bush Presidential directive, and say that it’s just normal to give the troops information about issues that would obviously be of concern to them. (Although in fact I have no idea how common this is — not very, I’d imagine?) It’s surely a sign of the times that at least some of the recipients saw it as a clumsy way to prime the recipients with pro-administration propaganda.

Read it for yourself and decide. In case the original powerpoint doesn’t work, I’ve converted it to a much larger .pdf version, but it may be harder to read.

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14 Responses to Calming the Troops…Or Propaganda?

  1. MP says:

    “It’s surely a sign of the times that at least some of the recipients saw it as a clumsy way to prime the recipients with pro-administration propaganda.”

    Huh? What are “the times” you are talking about?

  2. michael says:

    Times in which everyone — even soldiers in uniform — suspects the worst of this administration. With reason.

  3. libertas says:

    Clearly intended to be printed and handed out to folks as a two-fold pamphlet.

  4. JadedEye says:

    “In normal times, one might look at this document, complete with the centered and inset quote from a Bush Presidential directive, and say that it’s just normal to give the troops information about issues that would obviously be of concern to them. (Although in fact I have no idea how common this is — not very, I’d imagine?)”

    Actually, in my experiences with the Air Force (and according to several friends/family members who have served) such presentations are very common. The *contents* of that presentation probably were propaganda in my opinion, but there’s nothing suspicious about just *having* such a presentation. They’re often a twice weekly occurance.

    I love your blog, BTW.

  5. MP says:

    “Times in which everyone — even soldiers in uniform — suspects the worst of this administration. With reason.”

    1. “Everyone” is just you folks in the ivory tower who scorn anything that isn’t liberal.
    2. The majority of soldiers support the administration, that’s why democrats will try to hard this year to deprive them of absentee ballots as they did in 02. Oh yes, we support the troops, but God forbid they should be allowed to vote.
    3. This undermines your theory that Abu Gharib goes all the way to the top, as you are conceding that soldiers do indeed think for themselves and decide right and wrong. Surely if they can, as you say, think criticaly about information from the government, then they must also do so about “torture”. Funny how they are portrayed as robots when it suits one allegation, but as free thinking individuals when it suits another.

    Well, I guess that’s why this site is called discourse.net and not clearthinking.net.

  6. Kimberley says:

    MP,
    I love the “ivory tower” bit… You go, with your anti-intellectual self. Woot, woot!!
    I’ve got to hand it to you; you read us like the Fab Five, dude. I, for one, feel so…exposed. When you’re right, you’re right. We toplofty ‘librul’ types dig hanging out in our proverbial tower and watching America careen into one national catastrophe after another – just for chuckles. We have no dog in this hunt. In fact, our very presence is all an elaborate ruse. Actually, we’re all living safe and secure in a massive utopian metropolis under the continental US. Here’s the kicker; we’ve been deploying pod-grown clones to buy fat books and pricey coffee at Barnes & Noble and take up space at universities for decades – just to jack your heads up. When the fecal matter starts to really fly in this country – the population of America will drop by 50%, when we store the clones, hunker down out of range, nosh on scones and wait for our evil liberal plan to consume all of the “little people”. Mwuhahahaha.

    Dude, you’re a clown.
    I don’t know who’s paying you to disseminate the baloney lore and logic you unloaded here, but you’ve earned every cent of your paycheck. You’ve made one small step for delusional inanity and one giant leap for paranoid propaganda. Your masters will be proud of you.

  7. MP says:

    Kimberley,
    Unfortunately, your post does nothing to address the very comment you criticise me for.

    My comment points out that “everybody” is usually just a perception a person has, shaded and influenced by the people surrounding oneself by choice or circumstance.

    Were you properly informed, you would be aware of a growing perception among students and others that “academia” (professors and other administrators) is being increasingly dominated by like-minded, liberal thinkers who teach courses with a spin and discriminate against their conservative collegues.

    Had you really wanted to respond to it, you should have advanced some notion that the writer’s environment had not necessarily made him miopic.

    Instead, you merely prove my point that academia scorns anything that isn’t liberal or voting democratic. Rather than engage my points, you so elequently write: “Dude, you’re a clown.”

    I hope that other readers can now clearly see my point, that liberal academics so childlishly ignore and exclude conservative thinking that sheep-like group-think is bound to follow.

    My original response stands, that not everyone suspects the worst of the administration (not even a majority), and the majority of soldiers are strong supporters of it.

  8. fibo says:

    MP,

    You wrote: “Surely if [the soldiers] can, as you say, think critical[l]y about information from the government, then they must also do so about “torture”. Funny how they are portrayed as robots when it suits one allegation, but as free thinking individuals when it suits another.”

    Looking skeptically at information provided by the government and disobeying immoral orders are two extremely different things. The latter takes self-confidence and great moral courage; the former only requires rational thought. I understand, though, that some people in this day and age might not understand the difference between skeptism and disobedience… or between disagreement and treason…

    You wrote: “Had you really wanted to respond to it, you should have advanced some notion that the writer’s environment had not necessarily made him m[y]opic.”

    Believe it or not, MP, there’s something called a ‘presumption of innocence’ in this country. Why should Kimberly need to defend the writer from an unsubstantiated accusation? If you’re interested in a discussion on the writer’s ‘ivory-tower liberal bias’ – and please note that I’m extending that same presumption of innocence to you, in assuming that you’re a thoughtful conservative interested in rational discussion instead of a half-baked troll – please provide evidence supporting your hypothesis.

    You also wrote: “My comment points out that “everybody” is usually just a perception a person has, shaded and influenced by the people surrounding oneself by choice or circumstance.”

    Since you understand that perceptions, including your own, can be shaded by preconceptions and environment, I’d like you to provide evidence for the following unproven assertions:

    “The majority of soldiers support the administration.”

    “[D]emocrats will try to hard this year to deprive [the soldiers] of absentee ballots as they did in 02.”

    [Academia] “is being increasingly dominated by like-minded, liberal thinkers who… discriminate against their conservative collegues.”

    I’m also curious about your own environment, and how you’ve avoided being made myopic by it, but I won’t insist on details.

  9. MP says:

    fibo,

    You make a good point regarding the difference between skepticism and disobedience. Nonetheless, skepticism is a form of free will and acknowledges that the specific low-ranked soldiers at Abu Gharib may have played a large role, with lessor degrees of culpability up the line. It is very likely that the soldiers involved were not “merely following orders” issued by superiors.

    However, fibo, nobody is on trial so your discussion of any sort of presumption is irrelevant. Quite frankly, one would have to be quite blind to read the author’s other posts on this board and not conclude that he or she is squarely aligned with liberal thinking generally, as well as a visceral dislike for Bush. It is quite clear to me, that the author chooses not to expose himself to advanced conservative thought by choice. I do not know why that choice was made. Even if I am wrong about him, I was merely speculating on why one would think that “everyone” disagrees with this administration when it is common knowledge that reliable opinion polls show significant, if not at times majority support. Perhaps he or she is unaware of or simply distorting this truth. I personally think it most likely that he surrounds himself with media and persons he agrees with. Mere speculation, perhaps I am wrong. Anyhow, the question is only relevent as to why the word “everyone” was used.

    My own environment is also irrelevant, since I rely on scientific polls that show that not everyone thinks negatively about this administration. Visit any news site you trust, and you will see whatever (dis)approval rating you are able to find for Bush, it would torture the meaning of “everyone” to say that number equates to “everyone”.

    Evidence requested:

    “The majority of soldiers support the administration.”
    I am unable to locate any hard evidence such as a recent poll yet. Quite frankly, if they did not, I’m sure we would have read about it on this board by now.

    “[D]emocrats will try to hard this year to deprive [the soldiers] of absentee ballots as they did in 02.”
    Sorry, I meant 2000:
    http://www.newsmax.com/archives/articles/2000/12/8/22222.shtml

    [Academia] “is being increasingly dominated by like-minded, liberal thinkers who… discriminate against their conservative collegues.”
    http://www.lawschool.com/natelson.htm
    http://www.chronwatch.com/content/contentDisplay.asp?aid=7692&catcode=13
    http://www.renewamerica.us/columns/voigt/040510
    And I will also submit as evidence the “clown” language used by another poster.
    You may find literature discussing the reasons for the trend, but very few denying its existence.

  10. Pingback: RANDOM THOUGHTS

  11. Kimberley says:

    MP,
    “Unfortunately, your post does nothing to address the very comment you criticise me for.”

    There’s a reason for that. I don’t take any portion of your post seriously enough to pick it apart. Why in the world should I bother to debate factless, hideously distorted assertions? You are where you are and you mean to stay there – come hell or high water. I don’t need “discourse” to figure that out.

    For the record, I am a proud liberal but I’ve respected many conservatives I know as sincere and honorable people, despite our disagreements. They don’t feel the need to make things up or pervert information. We just have dissimilar views on the issues and the conclusions we draw differ as a result. As far as I can tell, they come by their convictions honestly, which is infinitely more than I can say for your performance upthread.

  12. Kimberley says:

    MP,
    There is this one last thing I wanted to share with you.

    My most recent contact with the world of acedemia: Airframe & Powerplant program at Colorado Aero Tech. Prior to that, I was a freight-side ramp operations supervisor after working my way up from being a ramp agent and dock worker.

    Welcome to the “ivory tower”.

  13. MP says:

    “Why in the world should I bother to debate factless, hideously distorted assertions?”

    Its people like you that made Michael Moore a millionaire.

  14. Kimberley says:

    “Its people like you that made Michael Moore a millionaire.”

    Yawn.

    —–

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