By Muriel Kane | Last April, the New York Times revealed that retired officers serving as military analysts on television news shows had regularly been briefed by the Pentagon and supplied with pro-war and pro-administration talking points.The program was “temporarily suspended” by the Pentagon a week later. Now four senators have introduced legislation to prevent it from resuming.
Senators Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), John Kerry (D-MA), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), and Byron Dorgan (D-ND) have introduced S. 3099, titled “A bill to prohibit the use of funds by the Department of Defense for propaganda purposes within the United States not otherwise specifically authorized by law.”
“This Administration has a history of pushing propaganda on the American public,” Sen. Lautenberg explained. “The American people expect our federal government to tell the nation the truth.”
“There is no need for paid cheerleaders to support an argument,” added Sen. Menendez.
The bill is a companion measure to an amendment to the military authorization bill which passed the House of Representatives on May 23. The television networks, which avoided reporting on the original New York Times story, have also paid little notice to the House ban.
Following the House passage of the amendment, the inspector general’s office at the Department of Defense announced that it would be looking into the program, while the Government Accountability Office said it was already doing so. The Senate bill mandates that both those offices report to Congress within 90 days.
“We’re going to make sure the public money isn’t used for propaganda campaigns that undermine the public trust,” Sen. Kerry stated. “The American people should not have to wonder whether the purportedly non-partisan, expert analysis they see on television might have been shaped by a government propaganda campaign.”