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CNN's Military Ties
BY ALEXANDER COCKBURN
A handful of military personnel from the 4th Psychological Operations
Group(i.e. PSYOPs) based at Fort Bragg in North Carolina have until recently
been working in CNN's headquarters in Atlanta. An enterprising Dutch
journalist named Abe De Vries came up with this important story in mid-February, and he remains properly astounded that no mainstream news medium in the United States has evinced any interest in the story.
I came across translations of De Vries's stories on the matter, after they had
appeared in late February in Trouw, the foremost quality newspaper in Holland.
De Vries later told me he'd originally come upon the story via an article
in the French Intelligence newsletter (available on a pay-per-story basis on the
Internet) Feb. 17, which described a military symposium in Arlington, Va.,
held at the beginning of that same month, discussing use of the press in military
Col. Christopher St. John, commander of the U.S. Army's 4th PSYOPs Group, was quoted by a French Intelligence correspondent, present at the symposium, as (in the correspondent's words) having "called for greater cooperation between the armed forces and media giants. He (St. John) pointed out that some Army PSYOPs personnel had worked for CNN for several weeks, and helped in the production of some news stories for the network."
Reading this in Belgrade, where he's Trouw's correspondent, De Vries saw a good story, picked up the phone, and finally reached Maj. Thomas Collins of the U.S. Army Information Service, who duly confirmed the presence of these Army PSYOPs experts at CNN. "PSYOPs personnel, soldiers and officers," De Vries quoted Collins as telling him, "have been working in CNN's headquarters in Atlanta through our program 'Training with Industry.' They worked as regular employees of CNN. Conceivably, they would have worked on stories during the Kosovo war. They helped in the production of news."
I reported this interesting disclosure in my newsletter, CounterPunch, and made it the topic of my regular weekly broadcast to "AM Live," a program of the South Africa Broadcasting Company in Johannesburg. Among the audience of this broadcast was CNN's bureau in South Africa, which lost no time inrelaying news of it to CNN headquarters in Atlanta, and I duly received an angry phone call from Eason Jordan, who identified himself as CNN's president of newsgathering and international networks.
Jordan was full of indignation that I had somehow compromised the reputation of CNN. But in the course of our conversation, it turned out that, yes, CNN had hosted a total of five interns from U.S. Army PSYOPs, two in television, two in radio, and one in satellite operations. Jordan said the program had begun on June 7 (just before the end of the war against Serbia), and only recently terminated, I would guess at about the time CNN's higher management read Abe De Vries's stories.
Naturally enough, Eason Jordan and other executives at CNN now describe the Army PSYOPs intern tours at CNN as having been insignificant. Maybe so. Col. St. John, the commanding officer of the PSYOPs group, certainly thought them of sufficient significance to mention at that high-level Pentagon pow-wow in Arlington about propaganda and psychological warfare. Maybe CNN was the target of a PSYOPs penetration and is still too naive to figure out what was going on.
It's hard not to laugh when CNN execs like Eason Jordan start spouting, as
he did to me, high-toned stuff about CNN's principles of objectivity
and refusal to relay government propaganda.
During the war on Serbia, as with other recent conflicts involving the
United States, CNN's screen was filled with an interminable procession of U.S.
officers. On April 27 of last year, Amy Goodman of the Pacifica Radio network put the following question to Frank Sesno, who is CNN's senior vice president for political coverage.
GOODMAN: "If you support the practice of putting ex-military men -- generals
-- on the payroll to share their opinion during a time of war, would you
also support putting peace activists on the payroll to give a different opinion
during a time of war?
SESNO: "We bring the generals in because of their expertise in a particular
area. We call them analysts. We don't bring them in as advocates. In fact,
we actually talk to them about that -- they're not there as advocates."
Exactly a week before Sesno said this, CNN had featured as one of its
military analysts, Lt. Gen. Dan Benton, U.S. Army Retired.
BENTON: "I don't know what our countrymen that are questioning why we're
involved in this conflict are thinking about. As I listened to this press
conference this morning, with reports of rapes, villages being burned, and
this particularly incredible report of blood banks, of blood being harvested from
young boys for the use of Yugoslav forces, I just got madder and madder. The
United States has a responsibility as the only superpower in the world, and
when we learn about these things, somebody has got to stand up and say,
'That's enough, stop it, we aren't going to put up with this.'"
Please note what CNN's supposedly non-advocatory analyst Benton was ranting
about: a particularly preposterous NATO propaganda item about 700 Albanian
boys being used as human blood banks for Serb fighters.
Let's give the last word to the enterprising Abe De Vries. "Of course, CNN
says these PSYOPs personnel didn't decide anything, write news reports, etc. What
else can they say? Maybe it's true, maybe not. The point is that these kind
of close ties with the Army are, in my view, completely unacceptable for any
serious news organization. Maybe even more astonishing is the complete
silence about the story from the big media. To my knowledge, my story was
not mentioned by leading American or British newspapers, nor by Reuters or
Heres a quickie from degenerate RVI:
Here's my ode to Kurt Cobain for this year, seeing it's his deathday:
six years ago today you shook hands with the shotgun
and said good-bye to the rain and the uplifted eyes
and life buzzed out of an amplifier
did her eyes cross your mind in the terrible darkness
and if they did what difference could it have made?
impulses and women's eyes are magician's hands
at the moment of crisis
hands that one day worked magic
with bent guitar strings the next might
still themselves in a haze of shotgun smoke
silence is always the final note
some send you to heaven
some send you to hell
some don't know which way you went
and others don't even care
you are one of the dead now
I do not judge you
you're beyond verdicts any way
I had despair of my own to wrestle with
while you fell back onto the floor
how many preceded you, how many followed?
when the world disappears from beneath one's feet
there isn't much left to do but fall
fall or spin helpless into the chaos of an unmade future
approaching like a bullet fired point blank
there were only two songs left for you to play - live or die
you played the one and set the other aside
static on my radio is the aftermath
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