Commentary and links relating to media coverage of war; both before, during, and after.

William A. Dorman is Professor of Government at California State University, Sacramento, and has taught a course in War, Peace and the Mass Media since 1970.

Web Page

U.S. Foreign Policy Blog

E-Mail: dormanw at

<< current


War, Peace, and the Mass Media
Friday, March 18, 2005  
Secret US plans for Iraq's oil:
The Bush administration made plans for war and for Iraq's oil before the 9/11 attacks, sparking a policy battle between neo-cons and Big Oil, BBC's Newsnight has revealed

By Greg Palast
Reporting for Newsnight
17 March, 2005

Blog editor's note: It will be interesting to see how much and what kind of play American news media give this story.

Two years ago today - when President George Bush announced US, British and Allied forces would begin to bomb Baghdad - protesters claimed the US had a secret plan for Iraq's oil once Saddam had been conquered.

In fact there were two conflicting plans, setting off a hidden policy war between neo-conservatives at the Pentagon, on one side, versus a combination of "Big Oil" executives and US State Department "pragmatists".

"Big Oil" appears to have won. The latest plan, obtained by Newsnight from the US State Department was, we learned, drafted with the help of American oil industry consultants.

To read the full text, see BBC News/Newsnight

10:29 AM

Tuesday, March 15, 2005  
Administration Rejects Ruling On PR Videos
GAO Called Tapes Illegal Propaganda

By Christopher Lee
Washington Post
March 15, 2005

Blog editor's note: Here's the latest development in the matter of the Bush Administration's use of prepackaged video releases disguised as news items. For context, see three items below.

The Bush administration, rejecting an opinion from the Government Accountability Office, said last week that it is legal for federal agencies to feed TV stations prepackaged news stories that do not disclose the government's role in producing them.

That message, in memos sent Friday to federal agency heads and general counsels, contradicts a Feb. 17 memo from Comptroller General David M. Walker. Walker wrote that such stories -- designed to resemble independently reported broadcast news stories so that TV stations can run them without editing -- violate provisions in annual appropriations laws that ban covert propaganda.

But Joshua B. Bolten, director of the Office of Management and Budget, and Steven G. Bradbury, principal deputy assistant attorney general at the Justice Department, said in memos last week that the administration disagrees with the GAO's ruling. And, in any case, they wrote, the department's Office of Legal Counsel, not the GAO, the investigative arm of Congress, provides binding legal interpretations for federal agencies to follow.

To read the full text, see Washington Post

11:54 AM

Sunday, March 13, 2005  

Blog editor's note: The first item below appeared on Wednesday and the second item today (Sunday) in the same week. It should be intresting to see how--or whether-- the press plays the apparent contradiction in what the folks concerned with homeland security are telling us.

Secret FBI Report Questions Al Qaeda Capabilities
No 'True' Al Qaeda Sleeper Agents Have Been Found in U.S.
For all the worry about Osama bin Laden's sleeper cells or agents in the United States, a secret FBI assessment concludes it knows of none


Wednesday, March 9, 2005 — A secret FBI report obtained by ABC News concludes that while there is no doubt al Qaeda wants to hit the United States, its capability to do so is unclear.

"Al-Qa'ida leadership's intention to attack the United States is not in question," the report reads. (All spellings are as rendered in the original report.) "However, their capability to do so is unclear, particularly in regard to 'spectacular' operations. We believe al-Qa'ida's capability to launch attacks within the United States is dependent on its ability to infiltrate and maintain operatives in the United States. And for all the worry about Osama bin Laden's sleeper cells or agents in the United States, a secret FBI assessment concludes it knows of none.

The 32-page assessment says flatly, "To date, we have not identified any true 'sleeper' agents in the US," seemingly contradicting the "sleeper cell" description prosecutors assigned to seven men in Lackawanna, N.Y., in 2002.

Al Qaeda ally may target U.S. theaters, schools

SUNDAY, MARCH 14, 2005

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al Qaeda's chief ally in Iraq, may be planning attacks on "soft targets" in the United States including movie theaters, restaurants and schools, Time magazine reported on Sunday.

White House national security adviser Stephen Hadley would not discuss the specific warning, which Time said was circulated among U.S. security agencies last week in a restricted bulletin.

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al Qaeda's chief ally in Iraq, may be planning attacks on 'soft targets' in the U.S. including movie theaters, restaurants and schools, Time magazine reported on March 13, 2005. But he said the administration was concerned about reports -- "which we think are very credible" -- that Zarqawi is working more closely with Osama bin Laden's al Qaeda organization.

Hadley said movie theaters, restaurants and schools "are the kinds of targets we know that al Qaeda has traditionally been concerned about."

8:22 PM

Under Bush, a New Age of Prepackaged Television News

New York Times
March 13, 2005

It is the kind of TV news coverage every president covets.

"Thank you, Bush. Thank you, U.S.A.," a jubilant Iraqi-American told a camera crew in Kansas City for a segment about reaction to the fall of Baghdad. A second report told of "another success" in the Bush administration's "drive to strengthen aviation security"; the reporter called it "one of the most remarkable campaigns in aviation history." A third segment, broadcast in January, described the administration's determination to open markets for American farmers.

To a viewer, each report looked like any other 90-second segment on the local news. In fact, the federal government produced all three. The report from Kansas City was made by the State Department. The "reporter" covering airport safety was actually a public relations professional working under a false name for the Transportation Security Administration. The farming segment was done by the Agriculture Department's office of communications.

Under the Bush administration, the federal government has aggressively used a well-established tool of public relations: the prepackaged, ready-to-serve news report that major corporations have long distributed to TV stations to pitch everything from headache remedies to auto insurance. In all, at least 20 federal agencies, including the Defense Department and the Census Bureau, have made and distributed hundreds of television news segments in the past four years, records and interviews show. Many were subsequently broadcast on local stations across the country without any acknowledgement of the government's role in their production.

To read the full text, see New York Times

10:59 AM

This page is powered by Blogger.