Regular readers of the Indy may have felt a little déjà vu if they caught the New York Times story this Sunday on the Pentagon’s abuse of retired military generals to promote the Bush administration’s defense policies.
Back in December 2005, the Indy did a feature profile of Bigfork’s Paul Vallely, the retired Army general who was part of the Pentagon’s “military analyst” program. The program allowed Vallely to take carefully orchestrated tours of Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, and he came back and wrote glowing reports about how well the war was going, or how nicely we were treating the supposed villains detained at “Gitmo.”
His reports ended up in stories and editorials in papers from the Daily Inter Lake to the Wall Street Journal, as well as on Fox News, which used him as a military analyst, and in a book he co-authored, Endgame.
The Indy made a straightforward assessment of Vallely’s likely role. It was all in the title, written in bold type across that week’s cover: The Propagandist.
In Sunday’s article the Times exposed the entire military analyst program, showing how an entire coterie of retired generals personally benefited from access and information the Pentagon gave them, not only by being regularly invited on shows like “Hannity and Colmes,” but also in their work as military contractors, where they could parlay info into profits.
Vallely appears to have benefited mostly by becoming a media fixture; Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney, who co-authored many of Vallely’s op-ed pieces and his book, sat on the boards of several military contractors.
Some analysts told the Times they questioned the cheery portraits of Iraq and Guantanamo the Pentagon painted on its scrupulously scripted tours, but few spoke up.
Vallely wasn’t one of the questioners. He continued to toe the line, even though he told the Times, “I saw immediately in 2003 that things were going south.”
Days after the 2003 trip that sparked that statement, he was on Fox News telling Alan Colmes “You can’t believe the progress.”
Interviewing Vallely in 2005, the Indy questioned whether information obtained on a trip sponsored and orchestrated by the Pentagon could be trusted.
“I’m able to see what’s going on,” he said. “They can’t brainwash me anymore.”
He then asked an Indy reporter to scratch the word “brainwash” and write that he “can’t be duped.”
Apparently, he couldn’t be duped. He did, however, prove to be an excellent propagandist.