Lt. Col. Davis’s ‘Manufacturing Consent’

John Glaser, February 13, 2012

Over the weekend, Rolling Stone magazine published a full copy of the unclassified report that Lt. Col. Daniel Davis submitted to Congress. Davis is of course the army whistleblower who has written and spoken out against the “rosy official statements by U.S. military leaders about conditions on the ground” in Afghanistan, which he claims bear “no resemblance” to the truth.

Unlike other recent leaks – like the January National Intelligence Estimate that concluded the war is still a “stalemate,” or the highly classified report that revealed most Afghans expect the Taliban to retake control of Afghanistan once the U.S. leaves – Davis’s report is not necessarily an expose of the failures on the ground. At its core, the report is a window into the propaganda that the U.S. military continuously disseminates to the American people, which is then eaten up by cowardly politicians and a gullible, uninformed public. And it is not couched in delicate language. He is straightforward.

“Our current military leadership,” Davis writes, “is so distorting the information it releases that the deterioration of the situation and the failing nature of our efforts is shielded from the American public (and Congress), and replaced instead with explicit statements that all is going according to plan.”

Davis goes into the genesis of how the U.S. military handled the media during the first Gulf War as it “began to pay more attention to the role of media in conflicts and how it could be used to support operations.” The Pentagon calls it Information Operations, defined by Brigadier General Ralph O. Baker as “activities undertaken by military and nonmilitary organizations to shape the essential narrative of a conflict or situation and thus affect the attitudes and behaviors of the targeted audience.” The U.S. military considers this a “core competency” in wars that is “on a par with ground and air forces.”

None of these propaganda efforts could work, of course, without a compliant news media. As Davis explains:

The first point is also probably the most obvious: in today’s world of major journalism, it’s all about viewership ratings which directly drive the bottom line: advertising revenue. If CNN doesn’t put more news shows on that draw larger audiences than FOX News, they’ve got to adjust. One of the key permutations of this requirement comes in which reporters get the best, most accurate news and in the world of military and defense news, that means access to senior leaders, whether uniformed or civilian.

The military, of course, is well versed in this game and is keenly aware of the power that gives them. If reporter A does not cover a story the way senior military leader B desires, reporter A suddenly finds his access to B greatly reduced – or in some cases outright eliminated – even if A works for a major outlet. If reporter X shows he or she will routinely give the slant that is supportive of the IO outlined in the section above, military leader Z will not only find time for them, but will from time to time give them a scoop. Other times reporter Z will be invited to a VIP-level tour of certain locations on the battlefield, sometimes with a three-star general as an escort.

That a Lieutenant Colonel with multiple deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan is explaining these propaganda models to Congress, I think, is remarkable. Most Americans get turned off even by the word propaganda, certain such deviousness is only utilized in authoritarian states like North Korea. It gives incredible weight to media criticisms that have been coming from sensible, antiwar voices for years. Or rather, it would…if the media had chosen to highlight Davis’s dissent, which it has not. Instead, a smear campaign has been waged against him by the Pentagon and has been dutifully amplified by the news media, almost exemplifying the predictive power of Davis’s report.




16 Responses to “Lt. Col. Davis’s ‘Manufacturing Consent’”

  1. Excellent analysis. Hopefully the Rolling Stone posting will get at least 10% of the attention it deserves.

  2. The US actually has a long history of propagandizing efforts to go to war against other countries and then even more efforts to continue the war. The Sedition Act of 1917 was an infamous example of crushing any news organization that spoke out against our entry into WWI. The famous Gulf of Tonkin Incident was overly hyped to drastically escalate the war in Viet Nam. More recently, McClatchy was kicked off Bush's 747 for telling the truth about Iraq and told they would have to earn their way back on.

  3. Continuing- Generals Petraeus and Caldwell willingly lied through their teeth about the shaped charge explosive devices from Iran (easily made in Iraq) as part of a Cheneyesque plot to justify an attack against Iran and they were rewarded with promotions. Luckily the top Generals stopped those attempts. General Anthony Taguba was forced into retirement for his scathing Abu Ghraib Report. It is important to have a protector or political patron at the Pentagon. Lt Col Davis has none, so the Perfumed Princes of the Pentagon will try to fry him.

  4. continuing–There is too much money to be made in contracts and more promotions if the quagmire can be kept churning for a few more years. Be willing to write your US Senator and Congressman and ask them to read the Davis Report.

  5. Continuing– I just read 25 pages of the Davis Report and it is scathing towards Petreaus and Caldwell for their spinning and lying about the success of the surge and training and reliability of Afghan troops. He also points out the DOD and Pentagon history of propaganda and the willingness of main stream media to accept it so they will have access to more propaganda.

  6. I have read 52 pages of the Davis report I am mad as hell that our Government here in Oz is giving us the same crap. As yet there has been no mention of the Davis report in ANY media in this country that I know of…..Fairly typical.

  7. Where oh where is my comment Mr Moderator?

  8. "cowardly politicians" – Check out what happened to former Rep.s Cynthia McKinney twice and perhaps Jim Traficant and perhaps others. Cowardly implies being afraid when there is no real danger.

  9. THE FACT THAT THE US IS CONDUCTING UNILATERAL NEGOTIATIONS WITH THE TALIBAN, ie: the Karzai and Afghan government are not involved, CONFIRMS LTC Davis' CONCLUSIONS.

    THIS REPORT IS A MUST READ; ESPECIALLY THE PSYOPS AND INFOWAR CONDUCTED AGAINST THE AMERICAN PEOPLE BY THESE LYING SOB'S THAT USE THE MEDIA AS A WEAPON BY RESTICTING ACCESS TO REPORTERS WHO REFUSE TO GO ALONG. THIS AMOUNTS TO TREASON AGAINST THE AMERICAN PEOPLE AND THE MASS MEDIA IS COMPLICIT.

  10. I am a little surprised that Lt. Col. Davis would submit any report to Congress – they don´t seem likely to be interested in anything negative about their wars and occupations. Did Congress respond to his report?

  11. Thanks for this post, I am a large fan of this website, I would like it to continue being updated.

  12. [...] month, Lt. Col. Daniel Davis embarrassed the U.S. leadership in Afghanistan when he wrote a report arguing “Our current military leadership is so distorting the information it releases that the [...]

  13. too little too late, does this ungrateful person even care about his country and fellow man, ah NO, people are affected by his actions. He is really stupid to do this when the war is almost over! and disrespect his superiors?? how was he raised even to act like an insolent brat. He needs to get over himself, he got his 10 minutes in the spotlight, did he need money that bad to do such an ignorant thing

  14. Great to know the article about the Lt. Col. Davis’s ‘Manufacturing Consent’.If you have more information like this.Please update me time to time now.

  15. I'm not going to lie, I'm really impressed. Its rare for me to find something on the internet that's as entertaining and intriguing as what you've got here.

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