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Uncle J on CNN's This Week at War- There I was....

Posted By Uncle Jimbo • [April 29, 2007]

My guest shot on This Week at War went pretty well I thought, and I finally wrangled the video onto the internets. The topic was the hero-making around the Jessica Lynch and Pat Tillman stories and CNN's Jamie McIntyre did my street cred no help by saying my take was pretty much on, especially since last time on CNN Arwa Damon and I were agreeing too. I would feel bad about that, even though he just agreed 'cuz I was right but then at the end the host teed one up and I whacked it.

The whole bit is embedded below, if you just want the propaganda/sniper vid exchange it is right here. I think Jamie McIntyre should have a blog called the Skeptical Eye(brow) eh? I love the look he gives me after. I emailed a thanks to him, the host and producer and Jamie shot back that he only agreed with me because I was right (true) and that he didn't agree that the sniper vid was propaganda. He said they filmed a rebuttal after I was done, but apparently didn't air it. Probably smart, more ammo.

FOREMAN: Let me ask you quickly, Jim, there's been a lot made of the media improvements by the insurgents, that they're doing a great job of getting their message out. What are we going to see from our military as we move forward against that press machine, when they try to balance it?

HANSON: You make a good point, You force me to point out you guys did put out a pretty heinous video of snipers, of the insurgents killing U.S. troops on CNN, so you guys to some extent helped them with their own propaganda.

One segment of the Friday Freefly was on this topic but the bulk was on Defeatist Dems, and the video channel is here to browse or subscribe. A transcript of the CNN show is after the jump.

CNN This Week at War transcript (I fixed a couple of errors with the names)

FOREMAN: In war, the first casualty is the truth. A quotation that's said so often, we can't figure out who said it first. This week in Washington the question was, who was not telling the truth, and why?

We now know that Private Jessica Lynch wasn't fighting to the death, and that Corporal Pat Tillman was tragically killed by American gunfire. That wasn't what we were told at first. How much was the fog of war and how much was cynical deception?

Senior Pentagon Correspondent Jamie McIntyre has covered the Tillman and Lynch stories. And from Madison, Wisconsin, Jim Hanson, a retired Special Forces Sergeant, who writes a popular military blog at black5.net.

Pat Tillman's brother, Kevin, who served in his brother's unit, spoke Tuesday at a Congressional hearing of the circumstances surrounding his death.

     (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KEVIN TILLMAN, BROTHER OF CPL. PAT TILLMAN: We believe it shifted the focus from the grotesque torture at Abu Ghraib and, in a downward spiral, of an illegal act of aggression to a great American who died a hero's death.

     (END VIDEO CLIP)

     FOREMAN:  Jamie McIntyre, how did it possibly come to this for the Pentagon? 

JAMIE MCINTYRE, SENIOR PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: One of the things about this investigation is despite poor investigations, they still haven't answered that key question. What was the motive behind the lie about Pat Tillman's death?

We don't have any evidence it was part of a P.R. campaign. But on the other hand, we don't have the explanation for who actually came up with the cover story, because all of the investigations make it clear that everyone up the chain of command knew pretty much from the very beginning this was a friendly-fire death, not a death from hostile fire.

     FOREMAN:  Jim Hanson, it certainly looks like a P.R. move.  Why should we not use that as the default position here? 

JIM HANSON, WRITER, BLACKFIVE.NET MILITARY BLOG: I wouldn't disagree that it is a P.R. move. I think when Pat Tillman decided to take off his Arizona Cardinal's helmet and put on a Kevlar, he gave a tremendous gift both to the military and to the country as a whole. It was a boost to the morale of everyone.

I think when his death happened, and the Rangers there on the ground looked at the fact that this was potentially going to tarnish that tremendous gift and that tremendous P.R., you know, upside, that they made a tremendously bad decision and decided to not tell the truth.

     It was an awful choice.  But I think that probably was the reasoning behind it. 

FOREMAN: Jamie, have the right people been held accountable yet? I'm not sure they can't be if we don't know who is involved.

MCINTYRE: Nine different officers have been held accountable, four generals included, all different kinds of things. Who wrote the Silver Star citation which really embodies the lie about what happened to Pat Tillman that day? That is an official document.

It was sort of written by committee, everybody who had a part of it disavows the part that's inaccurate. And despite four separate investigations we don't know who created the lie.

FOREMAN: This isn't just a standalone incident. Let's listen to what Lynch said in her testimony about again a manipulation of information seemingly for propaganda purposes.

     (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JESSICA LYNCH, PRIVATE, FORMER POW: I have repeatedly said when asked that if the stories about me helped inspire our troops and rally a nation, then perhaps there was some good. However, I'm still confused as to why they chose to lie and try to make me a legend, when the real heroes of my fellow soldiers that day were legendary.

FOREMAN: Jim, don't you think that in many ways this really does demean the real heroics and the people who do tremendous work out there, that anybody in the Pentagon let these stories move forward that way, when they weren't sure?

HANSON: I think you're looking at two completely different situations. The Pat Tillman situation was quite obviously a cover-up of a friendly fire incident.

The Jessica Lynch situation was more of what you'd call the fog of war. When that situation, when the ambush happened and she was knocked unconscious, the initial reports probably from her unit, somebody tipped "The Washington Post" that she had been shot, that she had fought heroically and been captured.

     That information was denied by the army spokesmen at the time. They caveated and said we have no confirmation of that. 

So I'm unaware of any official military releases stating that the whole hero story was true. I think what happened was "The Washington Post" wrote their story and the rest of the media picked it up in a feeding frenzy.

FOREMAN: I can buy that to some extent. But at the same time, Jamie, the people who are going to for information about this we all know when somebody says I can't confirm that's true, that's a way of not saying anything about it as opposed to saying actively we don't believe that's true.

MCINTYRE: I think Jim's got it about right. The Pat Tillman case was definitely the army putting out intentionally false information.

The Jessica Lynch case, completely different. It appears that a source was confused about some real heroics by somebody else on the battlefield, thought that was Jessica Lynch and "The Washington Post" failed to follow up their own report because, as Jim said, it was obvious the day the story was in the paper that the facts weren't there to back it up.

The story got out ahead of the ability of the army to catch up. Have very different case, the Tillman case and the Lynch case.

FOREMAN: Let me ask you quickly, Jim, there's been a lot made of the media improvements by the insurgents, that they're doing a great job of getting their message out. What are we going to see from our military as we move forward against that press machine, when they try to balance it?

HANSON: You make a good point. you forced me to point out you guys did put out a pretty heinous video of snipers, of the insurgents killing U.S. troops on CNN, so you guys to some extent helped them with their own propaganda.

     Now the U.S. has never been good at information warfare.  It's probably the weakest part of our military toolbox. 

And another difficulty is any time the military gets involved in trying to change the information war, it becomes a question of, is this propaganda and is this a proper thing for the defense department or military to be doing to attempt to change the information scene in the way the information is put out?

I think there's a difficulty in doing it. It should be our biggest focus. We should be carpet bombing the Middle East with iPods full of good things about America and positive aspects that we are doing for their cultures, and we do a terrible job of it.

FOREMAN: Jim Hanson, we have to leave it at that. People can check out your website for more news. Jamie McIntyre will stay with us.


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