Deconstructing recent propaganda surrounding “vigilante groups” in Southern Mexico

The corrupt local government was kicked out of the town, and replaced with a traditional indigenous form of communal self-governance, centered around democratic community assemblies.
The corrupt local government of Cheran, Michoacán, was kicked out of the town, and replaced with a traditional indigenous form of communal self-governance, centered around democratic community assemblies.

There is a lot of propaganda in the corporate media right now regarding community self-defense groups (“autodefensas”) in Mexico. Papers such as the LA Times, the Guardian, and Washington Post are calling them “vigilante groups” to give the image of random gangs of people running around with guns and arbitrarily shooting people they don’t like, and is talking about how the government is coming in to “restore peace”.

First of all, regarding the term “vigilante”, most of these groups are not random individuals with guns “taking the law into their own hands”. They are well-organized groups of trusted/respected citizens, who have decided that they want the cartels out of town. They have also decided that the police and government are controlled by the cartels, and so they need to go as well. Autodefensas are the result of community members coming together and deciding that they wanted to take their town back from the cartels, and that the only way to do this was to take up arms against them.This movement for self-determination and community self-defense is spreading like wildfire, in dozens of towns across southern Mexico.

Formerly housing the corrupt, cartel-controlled local government, this building has now been converted into a community building.
Formerly housing the corrupt, cartel-controlled local government, this building has now been converted into a community building.

Second, regarding the military coming in to “restore peace” — they are talking about the “peace” of living under constant terror from the cartels controlling these towns, people being tortured and beheaded, laws made by corrupt politicians and cops that work for the cartels. This is what the military is coming in to restore. The drug cartels, the rich, and the Mexican government cannot be considered as separate groups — at the top, you have the same people benefiting from all three. These criminal elites are terrified about what is happening in Michoacán — people taking back community power by force, kicking out the cops and governments that give the cartels/rich their power. This is why there is suddenly this wave of propaganda coming out of the corporate media in both Mexico and the U.S. trying to paint these groups as “vigilantes”. This is why the Mexican government is sending in the military to restore the “order” of their criminal syndicates controlling the towns. When you hear the corporate media say that the Mexican army is coming in to “restore order”, know that this is code for the cartel-dominated army coming in to put the cartels back in charge of these towns, and brutally kill all of the people who tried to take back their own communities.

Please, whenever you see your friends sharing these propaganda articles from the NY Times, Washington Post, LA Times, etc. regarding “vigilante groups”, help them understand the reality of the situation. Deconstruct the propaganda for them, and promote the use of the term “community self-defense” instead of the loaded term “vigilante”.

Here is a great documentary (~45 minutes) about the community self-defense groups in the town of Cheran, Michoacán:


Former NSA chief Michael Hayden calls Snowden a traitor in Microsoft-sponsored interview

Former NSA director, calling Snowden a traitor, in a CBS News propaganda message sponsored by Microsoft (which is easily the NSA’s most important corporate collaborator, allowing exploits at the OS level for over 90% of desktop users).

Michael Hayden Calls Edward Snowden Traitor on CBS sponsored by Microsoft (Twitter)

See also:

* Microsoft handed the NSA access to encrypted messages (Glen Greenwald et al., The Guardian,, 11 July 2013)

* To Protect and Infect: The Militarization of the Internet (Jacob Applebaum, 30c3)

John Trudell, Thanksgiving address (1980): “They deal in violence and repression, we are power”

“I’d like to thank all of you for coming here tonight and sharing this evening with us. And tonight I’d like to talk in honor of the water and the earth and our brother Leonard Peltier.

We’re faced with a very serious situation in this generation. There are insane people who wish to rule the world. They wish to continue to rule the world on violence and repression, and we are all the victims of that violence and repression. We as the indigenous people of the western hemisphere have been resisting this oppression for 500 years. We know that the black people have been resisting it for at least that long. And we know that the white people have had to endure it thousands of years. And now it’s come full swing to this generation that we live in: the nuclearization of the world.

You see, this cannot be. We cannot allow this to go on. We cannot do it. We cannot expect that the pro-nuclear oppressor, that other side, we cannot expect that they’re going to change for us. They are going to become more brutal. They are going to become more repressive because it’s a matter of dollars and their illusionary concepts of power.

We have to re-establish our identity. We have to understand who we are and where we fit in the natural order of the world, because our oppressor deals in illusions. They tell us that it is power, but it is not power. They may have all the guns, and they may have all the racist laws and judges, and they may control all the money, but that is not power. These are only imitations of power, and they are only power because in our minds we allow it to be power. But it’s all an imitation. Racism and violence, racism and guns, economics- the brutality of the American Corporate State way of life is nothing more than violence and oppression and it doesn’t have anything to do with power. It is brutality. It’s a lack of a sane balance. The people who have created this system, and who perpetuate this system, they are out of balance. They have made us out of balance. They have come into our minds and they have come into our hearts and they’ve programmed us. Because we live in this society, and it has put us out of balance. And because we are out of balance we no longer have the power to deal with them. They have conquered us as a natural power.

See, we are power. They deal in violence and repression, we are power. We are a part of the natural world. All of the things in the natural world are a natural part of the creation and feed off the energy of our sacred mother, Earth. We are power. But they have separated us from our spiritual connection to the Earth, so people feel powerless. We look at the oppressor and we look at the enemy because they have the most guns and the most lies and the most money. People start to feel powerless.

We are power, we are a natural part of the creation, we were put here on the sacred mother Earth to serve a purpose. And somewhere in the history of people we’re forgetting what the purpose is. The purpose is to honor the earth, the purpose is to protect the earth, the purpose is to live in balance with the earth, the earth is our mother. And we will never free ourselves as human people, we will never free ourselves as sexual people, we will never free ourselves until we address the issue of how we live in balance with the earth. Because all our resistance and all of our struggle is hollow, it’s false, it’s another one of the oppressor’s hypocrisies. If we do not look out for the welfare of the Earth first, because I don’t care who it is, any child who turns on their mother is living in a terrible, terrible confusion. The Earth is our mother, we must take care of the Earth.

They pollute- this oppressor, this machine that has gone mad and run amok, it is beserk. They keep telling us, “progress.” They keep telling us “face reality.” Well, let’s deal with reality. Reality is the Earth can no longer take this attack. We can no longer allow this Thing to continue when it’s polluting the air, it’s polluting the water, polluting our food. They pollute the air, they pollute the water, they pollute our food, they pollute our minds. They put us out of balance.

They have made us be insecure with ourselves. They have put us into a situation where we have to play many roles. You know, we gotta be chauvinist, or we’ve got to be on some kind of a class trip, or some kind of illusionary power trip. We’ve gotta play a role, see? We’ve gotta play a role to communicate with other people. We’ve got to go through this charade because they have attacked our self confidence. They have attacked our self confidence and they have made us to listen to *them.* They have made us to believe that they are power. But they are not- they are violent and they are brutal, but they are not power.

We are a natural part of the earth. As a natural part of the Earth, we have the energy and the power that IS the Earth. The Earth will take care of us if we will remember the Earth- in more than just our words. If we will remember the Earth in our way of life; we are all here to play a role. And all of the animals, and all of the life on the earth is playing it’s proper role except the human people. Somehow we are betraying, we are betraying our purpose here and that is why we live in the confusion that we live in. They tell us, they want us to believe, that we are powerless.

We are a natural part of the earth, we are an extension of that natural energy. The natural energy which is Spirit, and which is power. Power. A blizzard is power. An earthquake is power. A tornado is power. These are all things of power that no oppressor, no machine age, can put these things of power in a prison. No machine age can make these things of power submit to the machine age. That is natural power. And just as it takes millions and billions of elements to make a blizzard to happen, or to make the earthquake, to make the earth to move, then it’s going to take millions and billions of us. We are power. We have that power. We have the potential for that power.

I remember in the 60s and 70s I heard all these things about “power to the people” and I never really understood because everyone was saying “power to the people” when they were talking about demonstrating, they were talking about votes, they were talking about dealing on the terms of the oppressor. Our power will come back to us, our sense of balance will come back to us, when we go back to the natural way of protecting and honoring the earth. If we have forgotten how to do it, or we think that it looks overwhelming, or think that we can never accomplish it, all we have to do, each one of us, an individual, is to go and find one spot on the Earth that we can relate to. Feel that energy, feel that power. That’s where our safety will come.

The Earth will take care of us. We have to understand that the American Corporate State will not take care of us. They do not care about us. Maximize their profit, that is where their whole life’s balance is placed upon- maximizing the profit. They will turn us against each other to maximize the profit, because they have done it in the past.

Nuclear energy. It’s the final assault. Nuclear energy should tell each and every one of us that they have gone beyond the reasons of sanity. That they are no longer sane. That they no longer deal with the real, natural world. Because they want to create a radioactivity that is going to make it impossible for the mother earth to take care of our life. We will not destroy the world. We are arrogant and we are stupid and we are foolish if we believe that we will destroy the world. Man has the ability to destroy all of the people’s ability to live on the Earth, but we do not have the power to destroy the earth. The earth will heal itself. The earth will purify itself of us. If it takes a billion years to get rid of the radiation the Earth will do it, because the Earth has that kind of time. We do not.

Our obligations and our loyalty have to be to the earth, and they have to be to our sense of community and to our people and our relations. Our obligations and loyalty should not be to a government that will not take care of our needs. Our obligations and loyalty should not be to a government that has proven time and time again that it is the enemy of the people unless the people are rich in dollars. That has been the consistent history of Western civilization and the American Corporate State Government- that’s reality. They are not our friends, they do not care about us. We have to face the reality that we have an enemy.

We all want to talk about nuclear war, everyone’s afraid of nuclear war, and it’s going to come between the Americans and the Russians or the Chinese or whoever. But are they not waging nuclear war on us now when the miners die from cancer from mining that Uranium? Are they not waging nuclear war with Three Mile Island? When they release that stuff into the air? Are they not waging nuclear war when they build these nuclear reactors and it’s not safe? Are they not waging nuclear war when they attack the Indian people on their land, militarily attack the Indian people, racistly attack the Indian people, so they can get at the natural resources to feed their radioactive machines? That is war, and they are waging it against us. They bribe congress, they bribe your elected officials, they terrorize and intimidate your elected officials by getting the FBI to blackmail them. Those are acts of war. We have to come to a time in our lifetime, and it will come in our lifetime, where we are going to have to deal with the fact that the enemy has taken over your government. The government is not your ally. The government will use you, chew you up and spit you out.

You think that we are wrong? You think that we are talking unrealistically? Then go look at your elders and see what has happened to your elders in your machine age society. See what kind of respect that they get. See what kind of a voice they are allowed into your society, what kind of input they have. See what their final reward of happiness is after working for this slave state for 30 or 40 years and allowing someone to exploit their labors.

What is racism? Racism is an act of war. What is sexism? Sexism is an act of war. It’s a war against our human dignity and our rights to self respect. This is the war that they wage there. War! They are war-like. And we have to understand that the American Corporate State got to where it’s at through the act of war. The next war… you wanna worry, you wanna think about a war? The next war that you better be concerned about is the one that they’re gonna fight here. Here in the continental United States. They have fought many wars here. They fought us all along, see, because we said ‘it’s ours and you haven’t got a right to it.’ They fought us. Now you all are claiming that it’s yours under this illusionary concept of private ownership of property and they’re gonna fight you. But they’re going to call it “national security” and “national energy crisis.” They’re going to call it “constitutional rights” and they’re gonna call it “judicial proceedings.” They’re going to nationalize… you know, your military coupe is going to come there. They’re going to nationalize the police departments, there’s your military coupe. In the name of “violence.” “Rising crime.” But all we must do is look in the corporate office and see the rising crime that is taking place there and nobody’s going to jail for it. So we’ve got to understand that they are arming themselves to wage a war against us and it’s going to be called the war of “law and order.” Because they’re twisting it around.

For 500 years my people have resisted. For 500 years we will resist again if it becomes necessary. We want to be able to relate and communicate with all of the people who are living on this land, but we want to be able to relate and communicate from a position of truth. You all gotta face the truth. We have had to face it through 500 years of genocide, we have had to face the truth, we have had to live the truth. We have had to die the truth. Before we’re gonna ever see our evolutionary liberation, the people that call themselves Americans are gonna have to face the truth also.

They tell us to “be realistic,” that “progress” means that all these things have to happen. They tell us that we can’t go back to the old way. They tell us “be realistic.” But there is no old way, no new way, there is a way of life. We must live in balance with the earth. We MUST do it. We have no choice. If we allow ourselves to be apathetic, or we allow ourselves to be lied to, or tolerate their lies about what they’re doing to the earth, then we are betraying our intention. We are betraying our purpose here. We cannot protect that 7th generation if we do not protect the earth. We cannot protect ourselves if we do not protect the earth. The Earth gives us life, not the American government. The earth gives us life, not the multi-national corporate government. The Earth gives us life, we need to have the Earth. We must have it, otherwise our life will be no more. So we must resist what they do.

They want to break our spirit. They will do everything and anything to break our spirit, our will to live. We must learn to resist, we much learn to see, we must learn to look. We must learn to step out of this reactionary-ism. All of our lives they’ve had control of us through their schools, their tv, their electronic media.  They’ve had control of us all of our lives. They have programmed us, they have made us become reactionary. We don’t think, we react to what they do. We don’t think, we react. To everything that they do- we react to it. They’re setting us up in the 80’s because they know consistently throughout the past the people have always reacted to their manipulations of circumstance. They know that the people always react. They’re counting on it in the 80’s.

See, and they outnumber us with guns, They outnumber us with money. They outnumber us with votes. They control all the machines that count the votes. They’ve got it all stacked in their favor. Except there’s a key. The key is we must start thinking, and stop reacting. The oppressor has no thinkers, they have no philosophers, it’s all scientific, it’s all economic, it’s all manipulative. They have no thinkers. You go look and you deal with the enemy and what the enemy does is: the enemy will send somebody out on the street to hit you in the head and the guy says “I’m only taking my orders.” And if you can come from a position of strength to this guy whose hitting you in the head and say “Hey, you’ve got to stop hitting me in the head, we want to talk.” then he says “Well I have to go to my superior to see.” They have no thinkers, either.

If we will start to think we will learn to see, to see what reality really is, and we will outnumber them through the thinking process. We will take our minds away from them. Because through their manipulation of our minds they control our spirit, and they know this is true. They tell us, see, they want us to believe that we are powerless. They want us to believe that we are becoming overwhelmed, that they can overwhelm us. You see, but they are paranoid. They are more paranoid than any of us are, no matter what happens to us. You see, because they have to put people in here to come and listen to what we’re saying, so they can go back and tell.

See, so they’re afraid! They’re afraid because they know we’re talking about reality! Now why are they afraid? They are afraid because they know they are dealing with the illusions of power which are based on the realities of violence and brutality. They’re afraid! See, they don’t want people to think, they don’t want people to be talking, and they don’t want people to think about what they talk about.

Because they know. They’ve known it all along, that they built their whole Thing on illusions. And because they have drawn us in to giving this illusionary world all this power, they have taken our power away from us. Because we believe in the illusions.”

U.S. Military Creating Software to Manipulate Social Media

General-David-Petraeus-008‘The US military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media sites by using fake online personas to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda.

A Californian corporation has been awarded a contract with United States Central Command (Centcom), which oversees US armed operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, to develop what is described as an “online persona management service” that will allow one US serviceman or woman to control up to 10 separate identities based all over the world. […]

The Centcom contract stipulates that each fake online persona must have a convincing background, history and supporting details, and that up to 50 US-based controllers should be able to operate false identities from their workstations “without fear of being discovered by sophisticated adversaries”. […]

Once developed, the software could allow US service personnel, working around the clock in one location, to respond to emerging online conversations with any number of co-ordinated messages, blogposts, chatroom posts and other interventions. Details of the contract suggest this location would be MacDill air force base near Tampa, Florida, home of US Special Operations Command.

Centcom’s contract requires for each controller the provision of one “virtual private server” located in the United States and others appearing to be outside the US to give the impression the fake personas are real people located in different parts of the world.

It also calls for “traffic mixing”, blending the persona controllers’ internet usage with the usage of people outside Centcom in a manner that must offer “excellent cover and powerful deniability”.’

(Source: Fielding, Nick & Cobain, Ian. “U.S. Military Creating Software to Manipulate Social Media“. Guardian, 17 March 2011)

From the Pentagon to the Private Sector: Boston Globe Analysis Finds Large Numbers of Retiring Generals Entering Defense Industry

(via Democracy Now!)

A new investigation by the Boston Globe finds that retiring generals are leaving the military in large numbers to take lucrative jobs in the defense industry with little concern for any conflicts of interest. We speak with Bryan Bender, national security reporter for the Globe.

Transcript

AMY GOODMAN: We’re turning now, though, from the Pentagon to the private sector. That’s the title of a new investigation by the Boston Globe that exposes how retiring generals are leaving the military in large numbers to take lucrative jobs in the defense industry with little concern for any conflicts of interest.

The Globe analyzed the career paths of 750 of the highest-ranking generals and admirals who retired during the last two decades. The results are staggering. From 2004 through 2008, 80 percent of retiring three- and four-star officers went to work as consultants or defense executives. That compares with less than half who followed that path a decade earlier.

The Globe analysis found that in many cases the generals are recruited for private-sector roles well before they retire, raising questions about their independence and judgment while still in uniform. What’s more, the Pentagon is aware and even supports this practice.

Bryan Bender is the national security reporter for the Boston Globe. He’s joining us from Washington, D.C.

Bryan, thanks so much for joining us on this very snowy day. The East Coast is blanketed. Talk about this research you have done, which is really a stunning exposé.

BRYAN BENDER: Well, what we did is, as you mentioned, went back and looked at the most senior military officers who have retired in the last 20 years to see where they went and what they did in their post-military careers. And the growth in the share of the three- and four-star generals and admirals who have gone into private defense work has increased quite substantially.

But what we found was not just the numbers. I think some would suggest that the nation has been at war for nearly a decade, so that explains, at least partially, why the rise. But more interesting was the sort of blurred lines between the role of these senior officers in the defense industry and their continuing role as official or unofficial advisers to the military.

AMY GOODMAN: Go through —- well -—

BRYAN BENDER: In other words —

AMY GOODMAN: Go ahead.

BRYAN BENDER: I was going to say, in other words, they’re leaving the military and very quickly taking jobs at defense companies or, increasingly, as private consultants either in business for themselves or in these consulting firms that specialize in what people call the “rent a general” phenomenon. But while they’re doing this private defense work, they’re still shaping, in a very real way, what the Pentagon’s priorities are, where they’re investing money. And so, in any other world, that would seem a pretty clear conflict of interest.

In one example, we found a retired four-star general from the Air Force who had been in charge of weapons programs, including the B-2 bomber, retires and then, within — literally within hours, is hired by Northrop Grumman, the manufacturer of the B-2, as a consultant, and then, very soon after, is called back by the Air Force to help oversee a study of what’s going to replace the B-2 bomber. So, that’s just one example of, again, these blurred lines between a private defense company official or consultant and an adviser to the Pentagon.

AMY GOODMAN: You’re talking about the man you started your piece “From the Pentagon to the Private Sector” with. “An hour after the official ceremony marking the end of his 35-year career in the Air Force, General Gregory ‘Speedy’ Martin returned to his quarters…” And you went from there saying, “almost as soon as he closed the door that day in 2005 his phone rang. It was an executive at Northrop Grumman.”

So, explain then — as you make your bullet points, you say, “When a general-turned-businessman arrives at the Pentagon, he is often treated with extraordinary deference — as if still in uniform — which can greatly increase his effectiveness as a rainmaker for industry. The military even has name for it — the ‘bobblehead effect.'” Explain that.

BRYAN BENDER: Well, that’s one of the things that’s most concerning to observers of this, including some retired generals and admirals themselves, who we interviewed. And that is that it’s quite well known that there’s a revolving door in Washington. If you leave Congress, if you leave an executive department, you go be a lobbyist or a consultant to the very industry that you had a responsibility to oversee while you were in the government.

Where the military is different, people suggest, is this very rigid, ingrained system of hierarchy and deference to seniority. And the old adage, I think, applies: once a general, always a general. When you talk to some of the people who sit in some of these meetings of advisory panels and the sort of mind-numbing number of these commissions and other bodies that advise the military, if there’s a retired four-star general in the room, he’s going to get a level of respect. People are going to hear him out in a very real way, as if he’s still a general and he didn’t leave the military.

And the bobblehead effect is a term that a few people used, which refers to those bobblehead toys where the head goes up and down. You get a retired general or admiral in many of these settings, and everybody sitting around the table, particularly military officers who may have worked for that general when he was in uniform — he or she was in uniform — or, you know, certainly knew of him, knew the command that he or she had had, they will sit around the table and nod their head as the general speaks. So, the bobblehead effect really is something that is sort of specific to the military. You have this deference to seniority, in a way that you don’t elsewhere, that doesn’t go away when a general or an admiral takes off their uniform.

AMY GOODMAN: Talk about the meeting that took place on the National Defense University’s campus on the banks of the Potomac River in June of 2009, Bryan Bender.

BRYAN BENDER: This was a meeting that the Army convened, the vice chief of staff of the Army convened. And the purpose was to lay out a strategy for the Army’s future combat vehicle, something — a program called the ground combat vehicle, or GCV, which is a new program that is potentially worth billions of dollars for the defense contractors that will build it. And at this meeting, the Army invited about a hundred mostly government officials, military officers, congressional staffers. There were a few scholars there from think tanks or academia. Defense companies were not invited, because this was a very initial meeting laying out what some of the specifications might be for this new vehicle. They had not awarded a request for companies to respond to yet. But at the meeting were a bunch of retired Army generals. And it turns out that many of them are private industry consultants, including for the companies that later bid on the ground combat vehicle contract when it came out. And it was just one example that we came across of, again, this blurring of the lines. Here, you know, are a bunch of retired Army generals who are brought in because clearly they have a lot of expertise in military affairs — many of them were responsible for overseeing some very similar programs when they were in uniform — the Army seeking their advice, seeking their input, as they craft this new major weapons program.

AMY GOODMAN: Well, let’s talk about, Bryan —

BRYAN BENDER: At the same time —

AMY GOODMAN: Bryan? Let’s talk about who was there.

BRYAN BENDER: Go ahead.

AMY GOODMAN: Retired Army Lieutenant General William H. Campbell, who oversaw all the Army’s information systems before leaving the service in 2000. Since 2002, he’s been employed as a senior vice president at BAE Systems, one of the Army’s primary weapons suppliers and a major bidder for the new ground combat vehicle. You emailed him. He wrote back it’s not a conflict of interest because he’s in the electronics division of BAE, not the ground combat division. Campbell, you say, and BAE declined to say how much, if any, of the electronics system in the new tank might be produced by Campbell’s division at BAE. But Campbell suggested other generals at the meeting may have been skating closer to the edge. Like who, Bryan Bender?

BRYAN BENDER: Well, there’s a retired Army three-star general, Joseph Yakovac, who specialized in developing weapon systems just like this one when he was in the Army. And he’s a consultant for the same company, BAE Systems, but specifically on this ground combat vehicle program.

And this gets to the issue of disclosure. A lot of these generals will say, “Well, you know, when I was invited to this meeting, I had to fill out an ethics questionnaire.” And many of them, if not all of them, did so, as far as I can tell, but that’s where some people will come in and say, “Well, you know what? Yes, they filled out an ethics questionnaire, and presumably they told the truth, that they have a variety of defense industry clients or they plan to consult in the future on this very program that they’re advising the Army on, but I cannot find an example where anyone in a situation like that has been precluded from participating in a panel like that.” And that’s where some of the critics will say the process is broken. There’s a lot of paperwork these generals have to fill out. They file to the Army ethics questionnaires and nondisclosure agreements. But from what I can tell, in most cases, those documents get stuck in a drawer somewhere or on a computer hard drive and basically disappear. No one ever reviews them. No one ever says, “You know what? General Jack Smith, or whatever his name is, has these industry consulting clients and he’s advising us on some very similar technologies. Maybe we shouldn’t include him in this example.” So, that’s where public disclosure comes in.

And I think most people will say the problem with these disclosure forms is that there’s no way for the public to know who’s working for whom, particularly if they’re a consultant, and that, in the minds of some, there should be more disclosure, because at least there would be some sunlight on this process from the outside that might lead the Army and the other military services to do a better job of policing who is advising the military while they’re also being paid by the very companies who could benefit from that advice.

AMY GOODMAN: You mention retired General William S. Wallace, who ran the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command before retiring in 2008, who said he wasn’t representing one of the prospective bidders at the time of the meeting. Like the other participants, however, one of the ethics questions he was asked to answer, according to a blank copy, was whether he intended to consult in the future for a client that may have a direct interest in bidding on the new tank. Wallace didn’t say how he answered that question. But explain what his job is now, Bryan Bender.

BRYAN BENDER: Well, General Wallace, who, as you mention, ran the Training and Doctrine Command, which is basically the senior Army headquarters for determining what weapons and equipment the military — the Army should buy, he’s now a private consultant. And one of his clients now is General Dynamics Land Systems Division, which is directly bidding on the ground combat vehicle program that he was brought to the National Defense University to advise on. And it gets to my earlier point. I have no reason to believe that General Wallace was, you know, untruthful in his ethics questionnaire. So when the question came up — “Do you have any plans or intention to consult for a company in the future that might have a stake in this program?” — it really doesn’t matter what he said, whether he said yes or no, because obviously, in the end, it really didn’t matter, because he soon thereafter went to work for General Dynamics Land Systems.

And, you know, General Wallace and others I talked to will say, “Well, we signed a nondisclosure agreement before we went to this meeting, so, you know, we promised that whatever we learn here, whatever we find out, whatever this meeting is about, we will not share that with anyone else.” But that gets to this other issue, which some others raised, which is, the policing mechanism basically is inside the brain of the general or admiral. As one put it, you have to have a firewall in your head. So you know some inside information, perhaps, that you got from a meeting like this or a variety of others in the Pentagon, but when you go to the boardroom or when you go meet with your client, you basically have to make sure that you don’t download from one side of your brain to the other the information that you learned that you’re not supposed to share with your client. And I think many will say that that’s a minefield that is very difficult to walk. And that’s why many people think that the generals shouldn’t be in that position to begin with.

And maybe one point I’ll make, which is sort of a broader point: even the most concerned critics of this phenomenon and how it’s grown, no one will say that, “Oh, the generals should just retire and go off to the golf course or sit in their rocking chair and smoke a corncob pipe.” You know, many of them retire at 55, they’re in great health, they’ve spent an enormous amount of years in the military, they certainly have an expertise that is valued. Everyone agrees that they’re going to go do something, like in any other industry, which is their expertise. Where the real concern is is, again, the blurring of the lines. No one’s saying they shouldn’t go work for defense companies. But they probably shouldn’t be also, in so many cases, advising the Pentagon on some of the very same issues that they’re working on in the private sector.

AMY GOODMAN: Brian, I want to —

BRYAN BENDER: And that particularly goes for the consulting arena. Go ahead.

AMY GOODMAN: I want to go to a related issue: David Barstow, the twice Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times reporter, who exposed how dozens of retired generals working as radio and television analysts had been co-opted by the Pentagon to make its case for the war in Iraq and how many of them also had undisclosed ties to military contractors that benefited from policies they defended. This is David Barstow on Democracy Now! in May of 2009 explaining how Pentagon officials developed this program during the lead-up to the Iraq war.

DAVID BARSTOW: The way to really influence the American public was to try and find people who were viewed as independent of both government and the media, people who were considered authoritative and expert, and people who would have an ability to cut through the spin.

And the group that they began zeroing in on were all the military analysts who were being hired in droves after 9/11 by all the major TV networks. In the view of Torie Clarke and her staff, these guys were sort of the ultimate key influencers. They were seen as, most of them, retired decorated war heroes. They were, many of them, retired generals, some three- and four-star generals. They came from an institution that traditionally is extremely trusted by the American public. And they were seen by the public not really as of the media, but not of the government either.

And so, in the fall of 2002, Torie Clarke and her aides, with the strong support from the White House and from her bosses, set out to target this group and to make them, really, one of the main vehicles for reaching the American public and building support for the war on terror. So that’s how it sort of began, was with this idea that they could take this thing, this thing called the military analyst, which is a creature that’s been around for a long time — going back to the first Gulf War, we remember some of the retired generals first coming on air — and they could take this and the fact of 9/11 and the fact of how prevalent they were on air, sometimes appearing segment after segment after segment, getting more air time than many correspondents were getting, holding forth, not just on the issues of where the airplanes are flying and where the tanks are moving, but weighing more heavily on even the strategic issues of what should we do next and how should the war on terror unfold, what should be the next targets.

And they looked at them as effectively what they were doing was writing the op-ed on air for the networks and for the cables. And they noticed the way the relationships between the anchors and their sort of in-house generals, there was a sort of bond between anchor and general. And you didn’t see the kind of challenging questioning that would go on if you had sent, for example, a representative of the Pentagon to the TV station. It was a much more — almost fawning, in some cases, kind of relationship between anchor and general. So they saw this group, and they saw in this group a way of taking the media filter, which politicians are always so fond of complaining about, and turning the media filter into more of a media megaphone.

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